Life, Hope & Truth

From the January/February 2020 issue of Discern Magazine

How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Changed the World

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has permeated nearly every aspect of our world and changed it dramatically. How is Darwinism affecting you?

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Evolutionary thinking is all around us. Anytime we visit a zoo or natural history museum, watch a nature program or read a science or wildlife magazine, we will likely be exposed to evolutionary concepts.

In most public schools and universities, evolution is a major part of the biology and science curricula. We’re bombarded from nearly every avenue with the idea that life originated by chance and eventually developed into the organisms we see today.

It’s had a major effect on our society. A 2019 Pew Research Center study reported that a total of 81 percent of American adults believe in evolution. This includes 33 percent who hold that humans evolved due to processes like natural selection with no involvement by a Creator, along with 48 percent who think human evolution occurred through processes guided or allowed by a higher power.

Rewind 160 years to the beginning of Darwin’s theory of evolution

Historically speaking, the belief in evolution is a relatively new phenomenon. Throughout the history of Western civilization, people in most cultures believed that humankind and all forms of life were specially created by God (or other deities, albeit false).

It wasn’t until 1859, when British scientist Charles Darwin published his book On the Origin of Species, that the public began to think otherwise. This was a major turning point in history, because it influenced people’s decisions to turn their backs on God, the Bible and religion.

In his book, Charles Darwin outlined the basics of his evolutionary theory. He claimed that animal and plant species have changed over time and will continue to change, giving rise to new, more advanced species. He contended that evolutionary changes were a result of natural selection, meaning the organisms with the most advantageous inheritable traits survive and reproduce at a higher rate than weaker individuals, perpetuating the strongest variations and eliminating the unfavorable ones.

Eventually, Darwin reasoned, this could result in a species changing enough of its characteristics to develop into a totally new creature. He maintained that ultimately all life-forms are related, from finches to monkeys to tulips, sharing a common single-celled ancestor that existed millions of years ago.

Human beings weren’t directly addressed in Origin of Species, yet Darwin was convinced that natural selection also applied to mankind. For that reason, he wrote another book. Darwin’s The Descent of Man was published in 1871.

He stated his purpose in Chapter 2: “to show that there is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties.” He insisted that humans are just another type of animal, not much different from the great apes, except for the acquisition of a few beneficial traits.

Charles Darwin wasn’t the first to espouse evolutionary concepts. A number of scientists before him entertained the notion that species could evolve, but had no plausible hypothesis for what caused the changes. It was Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection that provided the world’s scientists and philosophers with the explanation to “prove” in their minds that evolutionary changes could occur and had indeed happened.

Paving the way for disbelief

Today evolutionists hail Charles Darwin as a hero of discovery. But for those who believe in God and that the Bible is His infallible Word, Darwin’s ideas are hardly something to celebrate. Darwinism seeks to explain all the wonder, beauty and variety we see in nature without a supernatural Creator. For those who are so inclined, this means the whole concept of God can be done away with.

Darwinism seeks to explain all the wonder, beauty and variety we see in nature without a supernatural Creator.A move toward secularism started building in Europe during the mid-19th century, right about the time Darwin wrote Origin of Species. Secularism is the belief that mankind does not need God or His laws. It is based on the philosophy known as naturalism, meaning there is no spirit realm and physical matter is all that exists.

Secularists want religion and all references to God and the Bible out of schools, governmental bodies and public life. Darwinism provided them with the fuel to spread their ideology far and wide. Sadly, that’s exactly what has happened.  

Once the Bible is no longer the basis for understanding our lives, life ultimately becomes meaningless. The only purpose evolutionists can claim for human existence is survival—to get whatever they can for themselves in this life (since they do not envision an afterlife) and reproduce and pass on their genes.

Naturalist Chet Raymo admits as much in his book Skeptics and True Believers (1998). He explains that Darwin’s theory of evolution teaches that “our lives are brief and inconsequential in the cosmic scheme of things” (p. 110). He also proposes that Darwinism is a major reason the scientific community concluded years ago that, in the words of Steven Weinberg, “the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless” (p. 154).

Evolutionists don’t believe what the Bible clearly spells out: that God created mankind in His image (Genesis 1:27) with a special plan in mind—to bring “many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10-11)—and that the purpose for our lives is to prepare for future roles in God’s eternal Kingdom.

What about theistic evolution?

Darwinism is opposed to God’s truths. Yet there are those who try to integrate evolutionary theory with the biblical creation account. Known as theistic evolutionists, they believe God created the universe and everything in it, but did so using evolutionary processes over billions of years.

Theistic evolution asserts that God jump-started creation by first creating a single-celled organism, and then stepped back and let it evolve. However, Genesis 1 tells us God created plants, animals and mankind by separate, sudden commands.

Both concepts can’t be true. Trying to reconcile them leads to the idea that there wasn’t a literal creation over a set period of time, and that the biblical creation account is merely metaphorical. This paves the way for disbelieving other parts of the Bible as well.

Like traditional evolution, theistic evolution reduces God’s Word to insignificance and opens the door to ungodly thinking. (See our online article “Theistic Evolution.”)

Immorality—the unavoidable result of Darwin’s theory of evolution

When society stops believing in God and the Bible, people start deciding for themselves how to live. They no longer recognize God’s laws as binding or believe they are accountable to Him. The inevitable outcome is a decline in morality.

Some people are actually drawn to evolution because it gives them a reason to not believe in God and thus free themselves of moral restraints.

Writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley, an ardent proponent of Darwinism, stated candidly in his 1937 essay Ends and Means: “For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was … from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

The apostle Paul addresses this mind-set in Romans 1:28-29. He warns us that rejecting God leads to a “debased mind” and, in turn, unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit and evil-mindedness.

There are other ways, too, that espousing Darwinism can lead to ungodly behavior. Some reason that if mankind is evolving, it follows that what’s right and good also changes. Therefore, morality must be relative to the conditions of life at any given time—spurring the thinking that there are no fixed rules we must live by.

Social Darwinism

Others have applied Darwin’s biological theory to how people interact with each other. This is known as social Darwinism. The thinking is, if animals and plants are locked in a struggle for existence, preserving the strong and eradicating the weak, this same process of “survival of the fittest” also applies to societies.

Social Darwinism has been used to try to excuse some of mankind’s most corrupt and vile practices, including cutthroat business competition, corporate greed, eugenics, racism and genocide.Social Darwinism has been used to try to excuse some of mankind’s most corrupt and vile practices, including cutthroat business competition, corporate greed, eugenics, racism and genocide. These have all been justified under the guise of it being natural to exploit, crush and eliminate weaker individuals and businesses.

The most infamous application of social Darwinism was when Adolf Hitler tried to justify killing millions of Jews—whom he saw as “unfit”—and establish his master Aryan race.

Darwin himself was critical of society’s efforts to help the impoverished and sickly. He wrote in Chapter 5 of The Descent of Man that these practices were “highly injurious to the race of man.” Darwin believed natural selection should be allowed to run its course for those who were destined to be eliminated. That is the terrible, but logical conclusion of Darwinism.

Nothing “right” about evolution

The truth is, nothing good can come from accepting Darwin’s theory of evolution or its modern adaptations. It is a cruel, depressing and hopeless approach to our existence. Without knowing that we have a loving God who’s in control and that there’s an incredible purpose to our lives, it is impossible to have a truly positive outlook.

Moreover, no culture can survive when individuals make their own rules and live for themselves.

Ruthless competition at the expense of others is the exact opposite of how God wants mankind to live. The Bible instructs the strong to help the weak (Romans 15:1-3).

The other major problem with Darwin’s theory of evolution is that it’s unprovable. If evolution were true, there should be abundant evidence in the fossil records of transitional forms between species and proof of new species developing in the wild—but there isn’t. The only proof has been for microevolution—adaptation, or minor changes within existing species—which we do not dispute. (See our online article “Microevolution vs. Macroevolution.”)

Furthermore, neither Darwin nor any other scientist has been able to come up with a credible answer for where the original single-celled organism came from.

Still, many people cling to the idea of evolution and insist it’s true. This is to be expected. Romans 8:7 says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Human nature would rather believe there is no God and no purpose for life, rather than submit to a higher power.

The Bible tells us that “scoffers will come in the last days” (2 Peter 3:3). There will be those who doubt God’s existence and ridicule those who don’t believe in evolution, right up until the time Christ returns.

But that’s when the scoffers and all of mankind will learn the truth—that we do have a Creator, and submitting to Him is the only way to a truly happy, meaningful existence.

About the Author

Becky Sweat

Becky Sweat is a member of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

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