Darwin’s Sad Legacy

No one doubts that modern science is a wonderful thing; but no one also doubts that it is a terrible thing. Modern factories everywhere produce a million marvels of invention for our pleasure and convenience, but modern science also produces pollutants that ruin the water we drink and the air we breathe. Scientists can find a cure for thousand of diseases, yet they have invented a man-made virus that can quietly murder millions in just a few months. Warfare used to produce limited killing with rifles and cannons, but now, with an abundance of nuclear weapons, the very existence of civilization is threatened. Some would say there is a spiritual cancer that surely can be traced to the lifetime of Charles Darwin and his famous, or depending on your view, infamous theory of evolution.

Gregg Jarrett and Don Yaeger recently published The Trial of the Century, an account of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial  in Tennessee in 1925. In that year a recently passed Tennessee law (the Butler Act) forbade the teaching of evolution in public schools. John Scopes, a young high school teacher who mentioned the theory of evolution to his class, was subsequently indicted for breaking the law. A circus-like trial followed, with criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow (a self-avowed agnostic) for the defense and the eloquent politician William Jennings Bryan (three-time presidential candidate) for the prosecution. Scopes was convicted and paid a nominal fine, but the trial was a triumphant advertisement for the evolutionists.

Tennessee (sometimes referred to as the nation’s buckle on the Bible belt) had passed the Butler Act, intending to protect the young from the theory of evolution, which since the time of Darwin had been used by many to repudiate the account of Creation given in the Book of Genesis. Evolution had also been taken up by many to advance the cause of agnosticism and atheism, even though Darwin had described himself as a theist in order to dissociate himself from those who cited his theory as a contradiction of Genesis and an attack on religion. As Darwin remarked in his autobiography:

Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

Now this quotation is never cited by many scientists who happen also to be atheists. For example, biologist Richard Dawkins remarked, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” So the theory of evolution (but not Darwin himself) has introduced into modern thought the belief that science disputes the idea of an intelligently designed creation such as the one described in Genesis. Humans, we are told, should not believe they have a destiny beyond the prospects of birth, life, and death, for there is no Creator to give them hope in any such. This, however, leaves the modern evolutionist in a quandary, for he must, if he is truly a scientist, give a convincing reason why the appearance of an intelligently designed planet, such as the one Darwin recognized, is simply delusional.

Indeed, Darwin seems to have at least dimly recognized the corner into which his theory had painted itself. In the preface to his Origin of the Species, the last edition before his death, he wrote: “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

The “one” form Darwin refers to must be the simplest living organism from which all others would later evolve. But the simplest primordial microbe of life itself could not have evolved, for there was no living form from which it could have derived its being. Having been “breathed by the Creator” into life with the complex and wondrous destiny to be the seed for all later forms of life, that first living creature might have inhabited the primordial ocean that science today tells us covered the entire earth before land appeared. Is it mere coincidence that in Genesis 1:20 we would get the same clue that modern science gives about the place where all life began, the primordial ocean? “Then God said: Let the water teem with an abundance of living creatures…” later to migrate from water to dry land and culminate in the appearance of the human race.

No student of human nature can fail to notice the efficiency and haste by which modern atheism has grown and triumphed since the theory of evolution first became popular. Nor can it be doubted that atheist Karl Marx used “evolution” as key to the future communistic happiness of the human race.  But all we have to do is look at the plethora of failed nations under the rule of Marxism to see that communism is not the survival of the fittest so much as the Darwinian survival of the cruelest. A world without God is the world America sees now up close and personal. Christianity is in rapid downward spiral and the new “fittest to survive” remind us more and more of how profoundly degenerate the world was before Christ died to save it from the hell into which it had descended.

The pivotal moment may well have been the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. In the colorful and roaring 1920s the state of Tennessee did indeed roar out a ban on teaching Darwin in public schools. But another, more ominous roar, was heard just thirty-seven years later when the liberal U.S. Supreme Court, as if aiding and abetting the Marxist hatred for God, banned prayer in public schools throughout the nation, effectively banning God from the classroom. Ever since, with this assault on the public sense of the sacred growing through several generations of students, the emotional pitch of the nation has been growing dark and feverish. Ever since, America’s children (born and unborn) have “evolved” to become frequent targets of bold and corrupt practices. Even homicides in school classrooms and elsewhere, not to mention the most fragile children of all, the unborn and nearly born, have reflected a national campaign of slaughter.

That same liberal Supreme Court rendered yet another opinion that resulted in opening the floodgates so wide that sodomy and even child pornography have reached increasingly stunning levels of depravity.

We should not blame Darwin for all the murder and sexual mayhem around us. Yet somehow it’s easy to see how the world might be a much better place if so many perverse souls had not used evolution for an excuse to argue, as Dostoevsky put it, that without God anything and everything is not only possible, but but also to be demanded and permitted. Many thoughtful people have begun to suspect, even if they might not admit it to others, that this ugly and bloodthirsty demand for a world without God has been delivered to us straight from hell as a sign of approaching Armageddon.

 Sic transit gloria mundi, and all that.

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Carl Sundell is Emeritus Professor of English and Humanities at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts. The author of several books including The Intellectual and the Gunman, Four Presidents, and Shaw versus Chesterton, he has published various articles in New Oxford Review and Catholic Insight. He currently resides in Lubbock, Texas where he is developing a book of short essays for students of Catholic apologetics