Objections to the Gospel Part 1a - Evolution

This is a brief detour from our Sunday youth studies on the Gospel. For the next few weeks, we will be looking at two large objections both society and the church place against the Gospel. For now, we will be looking at the "what" of these objections (modernism and postmodernism), then turning to the "why."

Science is a Gift of God’s Common Grace
First, we must be careful of two errors. As we speak of evolution, we must not say we don't believe in evolution, because evolution does occur in nature -- it is simply change over time. When we say we disbelieve, we really mean we disbelieve in Darwinian evolution, which is the basic model of life springing from non-life.

We also must affirm science, as so many folks seem to believe we are somehow "anti-science." Nothing could be further from the truth. Science is a gift of God to all people. While the Fall and the Curse makes living far more difficult, God allows us to study and understand science. Science grants us added ability to subdue the earth, to rule over it, to bring order out of chaos, and to relieve suffering. We affirm it as a gift, and can be utilized by people whether they believe in God or not.

Indeed, most of the fathers of various scientific disciplines were Biblical Christians. Further, many scientists today at least believe in a higher power, if they not Christian in theology. Christians are not anti-science to any stretch of the imagination.

A brief history of evolution…
Skepticism and agnosticism goes all the way back to ancient Greece. This is because varieties of “atheists” have always existed (not always behaving as some of the world's foremost skeptics today). The one common thread all those doubting a religion is naturalism (somehow, the world made itself).

The Renaissance came on the heels of a resurgence in Greek thought. Aristotle and the many schools of ancient philosophy were once again in the universities, opening the minds of students to fresh thought. Of course, the vast majority of that thought was non-Christian and even anti-Christian worldview, leading to some seeds of doubt being planted in the undiscerning.

Around the same time the Reformers appear, attempting to restore to corruption of the Roman Catholic Church. They stood against Rome valiantly, and we owe them a great debt of gratitude. However, one of the effects of the Reformation the Reformers never expected was the general freedom it granted to question all authority. Sinful rebellion grew in many hearts, manifesting both in battlefields and in academia.

Modernism arose as people began to loose faith in “unseen” forces and instead turned to their senses to understand the world. This gave rise to the so-called “Age of Reason,” which came as more people began calling faith “unreasonable.”

Yet, as Luther freed religion, many turned to an aspiring scientist by the name of Charles Darwin to free them from any kind of God. With Darwin finally came the intellectual justification to be an atheist. Worlds can come into being through random chance and humans can evolve from lower forms of life. All is matter and motion. There is no need for the supernatural.

Charles Darwin: Brief Info
Darwin was an armature geologist and botanist who had dreams of becoming a preacher in a small country church. He was not a Christian in the traditional sense, as his childhood was molded among Unitarians and his aspirations seemed to be for little more than a quiet life as opposed to a desire to propagate the Gospel.

Unfortunately for him, he flunked seminary. He decided to pursue scientific pursuits. This worked for the best, for his father was irreligious and distrusted the church anyway, and his grandfather was a scientist.

He wrote “The Origin of Species” (or, "The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life"). The book caused no uproar. It was widely received, as the West was ready for an alternative to religion. It's work was based largely on observations of minor variations within species.

Darwin would continue to theorize that whole new species could arise from these variations. Among other things, Darwin developed the idea of the simple cell -- “a homogeneous globule of protoplasm” -- from which all life could arise. He also believed we should find hundreds and thousands of transitional species in the ground.

His faith waned the older he got, and the death of his daughter marked the death of any remaining faith Darwin had. Darwin came to see God as cruel and malicious. He would even call Christianity the “damnable doctrine.” He saw himself as doing a great service to the world of science and the nineteenth century culture through the final abolition of religion from science.

His work would lead to the concept of eugenics. Eugenics simply means “good genes,” and was seen as a means of advancing the human condition.

The Encyclopedia of Bioethics:
A science that investigates methods to ameliorate the genetic composition of the human race, a program to foster such betterment; a social movement; and in its perverted form, a pseudo-scientific retreat for bigots and racists.
While eugenics was fairly unique to the post-modern age, seeds of this kind of thinking litter time. Plato, for instance, argued that human baby production should be limited to people selected for desirable qualities.

Enter Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), cousin to Charles Darwin. He was an English scientist, and argued that genius and talent are inherited. He wrote a book called Hereditary Genius, a racist text using statistics to attempt to justify the supremacy of certain people over others. One interesting chapter title was “The Comparative Worth of Different Races.

He advocated a campaign of “positive eugenics.” He believed in improving future generations by encouraging the “best” in society to have more children. Certain communal groups formed based on this notion, gathering certain people of affluence to procreate. (The Oneida silverware company was started to support one such commune.)

We could contrast with “negative eugenics.” This included culling defectives and degenerates from the population to promote and preserve the fittest. Eugenics movements in the US, Germany, and Scandinavia would all eventually favor the negative approach.

Key question: If certain persons are “less evolved” or drag down our genes, then why not stop those kinds of people from breeding?

"Buck v. Bell"
It is at this point sterilization enters the picture. This was the practice of compelling certain persons to receive operations rendering them infertile. This controversial practice led to a famous Supreme Court Case in 1927, Buck v. Bell.

The story begins with sixteen year-old Carrie Buck. She gives birth out of wedlock, and is institutionalized as a result. (Teen mothers were hidden away in that day, a shame on the families.) She was deemed promiscuous and “feeble-minded” while in the institution. ("Feeble-minded" was a term to describe all manner of mental incapacitates.)

Young Carrie was adopted, and workers knew her birth mom well. She was already in an institution for same reason. Carrie was one of the pregnancies she had out of wedlock, and she was likewise deemed "feeble-minded."

The most incredible diagnose was of Carrie’s seven month-old infant daughter, also deemed “feeble-minded” by the attending experts!

Grandmother, mother, and daughter form a perfect picture for the State of Virgina - three generations of "feeble-mindedness." Carrie and her infant were ordered to be sterilized.

Carrie takes fight all the way to Supreme Court. She questions the constitutionality of the decision, and claims there is another side to the story. She had been raped by her cousin, not playing the harlot as her accusers would have folks believe. Further, by the time the Supreme Court heard the case, Carrie's daughter was already in school and on the honor role.

Despite their pleading, the Court was unmoved, passing a nearly-unanimous decision to uphold Virgina's decision. The majority decision reads as follows:
It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. …

Three generations of imbeciles are enough.
As a result of the Supreme Court's decision, Virginia’s law served as a model for similar laws in 30 states. 50,000 U.S.citizens were sterilized without their consent.

Incidentally, "Buck v. Bell" has never been officially reversed by the Supreme Court.

Across the Ocean...
Hilter's Nazi Germany watched such proceedings with delight. He had already read Darwin's "Origin of Species" (among other things) and was deeply moved. Germany had been suffering under heavy penalties since World War I, penalties being paid to banks that seemed to all be owned by Jews.

Germany had been adopting eugenics practices, and was on the road to fleshing out their superior and pure "Aryan race." Here is a brief timeline of their policies:
1920 -Publication of book “Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life, Binding and Hoche.
1920-33 -Widespread recognition of bad genes “mindervertig”
1930 -Production of the movie “I Accuse”
1933 -Germans Hereditary health law adopted, Compulsory sterilization laws passed, Hippocratic oath abandoned
1935 -Nuremberg laws enacted
1937 -Illegal sterilization programs begin
1939 -Hitlers issues secret order permitting infanticide
1940 -Practice of negative eugenics in the hospital psychiatric wards.
1941 -The sterilization and killing of Jews begins.
As a result, roughly 6,000,000 Jews and 11,000,000 Gentiles died (including Soviets, Ethnic Poles, Roma and Sinti, political and religious dissenters, homosexuals, and disabled people).

The Nazi Holocaust was only one slaughter using Darwin as justification.

Carl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Leo Trotsky, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot were all inspired by Charles Darwin.

Some Positive Results of the Holocaust
America (and much of the West) seems to abandon eugenics for a time. Involuntary sterilization laws are overturned. Eugenics would not reappear for 25 years.

That is, until a revival of sorts in molecular biology 1960’s. According to Francis Crick:
No newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment….if it fails these tests it forfeits its right to live.
Many like B. F. Skinner began turning all eyes back to genes and the manipulation thereof.

Today, doctors frequently advise would-be mothers to abort pregnancies if there is a chance the child will be born with mental or physical problems.

Embryonic stem-cell research is frequently debated, as it results in the destruction of infants in early stages of fetal development to harvest stem cells.

There is simply a gradual devaluing human life, not unlike what we have seen in the past. Only technology and the candidates have differed. The number of contraceptive abortions continues to rise - abortions that concern neither the heath of the mother nor the child, only the convenience of life the mother enjoys. Around the world, euthanasia is slowly becoming acceptable again.

In a speech marking 50 years since he jointly discovered the structure of DNA, Dr. James Watson said "presidents and popes" had no right to block the use of genetic knowledge. "We are the product of our genes," he told the Biovision 2003 conference in Lyon. "I'm against society imposing rules on individuals for using genetic knowledge."

So what? Why not accept evolution anyway? We will continue next week...

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