Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin's Birthday

Today is also the birthday of Charles Darwin. Darwin has, perhaps, had a more lasting influence on society than Lincoln. It is ironic that Lincoln and Darwin were born on the same day. Lincoln was the great emancipator and the advocate of equality before the law. Darwin’s ideas, by contrast, have been misused to justify racial discrimination, colonialism, and ruthless, almost lawless competition in business. Even more ironically, those who believe, as Lincoln did, that humans are equal because they were all created to be the same kind of thing and share the same ancestry, are commonly held in contempt today by the disciples of Darwin, who consider themselves to be more enlightened.

Darwin and his disciples have convinced most people that common features of biology are not the result of common design for common function, or the result of design elegance, or the result of design unity, or even the result of common needs in meeting design requirements for coping with a common environment, but are instead the result of common ancestry. Thumbs on chimps and humans could be viewed as a result of a designing God finding thumbs useful for his more intelligent creations and unnecessary for his more mundane creations. Elegant design of DNA might mean that whales would also share the “thumb gene” even though they have no thumbs. For Darwin by contrast, the thumb and thumb gene are “proof” of development of humans, chimps, and whales from common biological ancestors.

It is undoubtedly true that animals adapt in minor ways to their environments and that new varieties of species can “evolve” through selective breeding. The modern varieties of dogs, cats, and citrus fruit produced from a few dogs, cats, and citrus fruits show this to be true. But, some people still doubt that chance, solar radiation, and natural selection could create cats from citrus fruit or dogs from cats, or all three from common ancestors without the intervention of God. The problem of life from no life is greater still. The problem of something that cannot last forever coming from a forever of nothing is even greater. The solution of an immaterial eternal God creating time, space, animals and all is much more elegant and satisfying. Sadly, scientific experiments in the present cannot confirm ether historic creation or historic evolution - though they may one day, show the impossibility of evolution as we currently understand it.

Unhappily, believing Darwin undermines the basis of objective human rights, the rule of Law, and belief in a “Common Good” to be sought by human communities. Nevertheless Darwin’s disciples have not abandoned his discipleship and will be celebrating his birth with great joy and some bitterness over hold outs like myself. I wish them well and pray for their enlightenment.

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