Darwin the Theologian

Darwin’s writings and correspondences make it clear that he was driven by a desire to distance God from the suffering, waste, and (what he perceived to be) gross repetition in the natural world...

Darwin did not liberate biology from metaphysical thought as is sometimes claimed—he merely switched the metaphysics. -Cornelius Hunter, Darwin’s God

When Darwin lived, he looked out and saw the same world that so many others before him had seen. He observed the same diversity, complexity, and uniformities across the plant and animal world. But he eventually came to posit secondary causes, rather than special creation, as responsible for these facets of life. Conventional thought ascribes the origin of Darwinism to a neutral and objective examination of the evidence, but Darwin’s writings and correspondences make it clear that he was driven by a desire to distance God from the suffering, waste, and (what he perceived to be) gross repetition in the natural world. From the very beginning, evolution was not a strictly scientific theory but was developed out of a reaction against special creation.

There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. -Charles Darwin: His Life Told in an Autobiographical Chapter, and in a Selected Series of His Published Letters (1892)

That Darwin was able to compile a seemingly robust body of evidence in support of his new theory should come as no surprise when the reader considers that microevolution was all that was necessary to jumpstart the theory. From there, all that was needed to fill in the preceding intermediary stages was a pen and a good imagination. In regards to the geological evidence, Darwin himself admitted that the fossil record did not corroborate his theory.

Why then is not every geological formation and every stratum full of such intermediate links? Geology assuredly does not reveal any such finely graduated organic chain; and this, perhaps, is the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory. The explanation lies, as I believe, in the extreme imperfection of the geological record.-Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

Even today, over one hundred fifty years later, few fossils are put forward as strong evidence of Darwinian evolution. Among these are Archaeopteryx,Pezosiren portelli, Tiktaalik, Pakicetus, A. afarensis, H. habilis, and Homo erectus, but—significantly—these fossils fit comfortably within the paradigm of special creation.

So, it must be asked: was special creation ever actually objectively ruled out? In answer to this question, I challenge the reader of this article to bring to mind even one fact (any piece of information that is indisputable, being based ondirect sensory input) that successfully topples special creation. In the absence of such a fact, it should be acknowledged that special creation—which was always alogically viable possibility—still stands as a possibility today.

I believe careful research will bear out that the perceived overwhelming success of Darwinian evolution is not owed to its strength as a scientific theory but rather to metaphysical trends that began in the seventeenth century and have continued to the present day. The prevailing metaphysical ideas of our present day—marked by wholesale rejection of the immanence of God—are largely perceived as an aftereffect of Darwinism but were in fact a driving force behind it.

The question is whether the immanence or goodness of God were ever truly threatened by the realities Darwin sought to distance him from. It is possible that the Bible is authentic revelation from God and provides working solutions to the apparent difficulties that Darwin perceived, but that Darwin ultimately rejected these solutions. I believe the wide breadth of evidence bears this out, making Darwinism little more than a product of faulty theology.

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© 2020 by S.P. Clifton