Darwin is Winning the Culture War Against Moses

Moses & Charles Darwin
Darwin is defeating Moses in American culture today.

For the purposes of this post, "Darwin" is shorthand for the basic theory that all species of life originated and developed through natural processes involving chance, "selection," and vast periods of history. Many today endeavor to tell this story as somehow involving the God revealed in the Bible. However, from its beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, Darwien's evolutionary theory has been championed as requiring no appeal to any supernatural power.

In contrast, "Moses" is shorthand for the ancient Christian doctrine of "special creation." This is the view that the way the origins of all things living and inanimate in the universe were directly created by God at the beginning of the universe. In other words, all things began as miracles worked by God. As miracles, then, "creation" is by definition a supernatural account of the beginning of the universe and everything in it, including human beings. Further, the traditional biblical view of miraculous creation requires no time at all, much less vast eons of millions or billions of years.

Versions of both stories--evolution and creation--have been told for thousands of years across various cultures. However, it happens that it was not until Darwin's Origin of Species (1859) that the evolutionary story gained the upper hand in Western culture.

For at least a century now, Darwin's theory of evolution has been taught in public schools as the scientific explanation for the beginning and development of humankind. Recent sociological research appears to show that this has produced a general preference for Darwin over Moses in American culture today.

According to a 2019 report by the Pew Research Forum, 98% of scientists associated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science affirm a Darwinian account of human origins and development.

That same year, Pew Research also reported that a vast majority of Americans agree with those scientists. Pew reported that 81% of Americans believe in the evolution of human beings in some sense the way Darwin proposed. Furthermore, 33% of Americans believe the natural processes of "selection" do not involve any supernatural power, Pew Research reported in 2019.

Perhaps some good news from the 2019 Pew Research data is that 48% of Americans credit God as somehow involved in the Darwinian process of evolution. In light of this, it would seem there might be some hope for the biblical story of human origins to continue to be heard in American culture.

But whatever hopes for traditional Christian teaching on human origins might be encouraged by that 48% statistic are dashed upon the growing number of testimonies like that of Thomas.

Thomas was at one point a resident in a Doctor of Medicine program in New York City. Timothy Keller reports Thomas saying, "My scientific training makes it difficult if not impossible to accept the teachings of Christianity...As a believer in evolution, I can't accept the Bible's prescientific accounts of the origin of life," (The Reason for God, p. 87).

Efforts continue that hope to discover a theory of natural origins in which modern science and the Bible can agree. Bible believers propose various forms of "theistic evolution." All such theories have in common that the plain sense of the biblical text must be explained away. "Days" in Genesis 1 cannot be in the normal sense of that word, but perhaps may be understood as epochal phases in the development of the cosmos. Yet, the biblical text repeatedly describes these days as one "evening and morning" cycle.

The root issue, then, is well represented by such sentiments as Thomas expressed: if eons of time and chance physical interactions have accidentally produced the orderly existence we find today ("evolution"), then the Bible doesn't know about it. In that case, Thomas and many others would have good reason to doubt many other things about which the Bible bears witness.

But the dominance of Darwinist understandings of the natural world is cultural more than factual. That is, American cultural institutions have presumed the truth of an evolutionary account in order to explain the universe as it is today. This is a story imagined by human beings observing features of the natural world and guessing what it all may mean.

However, the bias this creates in our culture is evident in a tendency to minimize or ignore problems in the evidence. There are natural facts that seem to suggest a very ancient universe that has evolved to include the forms of life we see today. Stars from billions of light years away from earth, complex rock layers, and apparent stages in the "fossil record" give examples of such evidence. Yet, it is also true that there is not a single, clear specimen documenting the evolution of one species into a different species (for ex., from apes to humans). If Darwinism were a true account of the origin and development of life, then the fossil record should have abundant specimens of such transitions.

On the other hand, the biblical account proposes to be information revealed by the Creator who is responsible for all that exists in the universe, including the universe itself. This is a Creator who, in this same body of writings, claims to work supernatural miracles: bringing dead people back to life, instantly calming a raging storm and the waters it was churning, and instantly creating physical and psychological capacities for a forty-year-old man--who had never been able to walk--to be able to not only walk but also to jump for joy (the Bible, Acts 3).

It makes sense why Darwinism has the upper hand in our culture. Our institutions are devoted to understanding our world and changing our world according to our own resources. Modern science does not allow any consideration of supernatural power when trying to explain natural facts. But, in the end, these can only ever be best guesses. Scientists can observe the world as it is today, but they cannot observe the world as it used to be.

Perhaps it makes better sense to believe the Creator's own testimony about how things were in the beginning. If we believe the Bible is the Creator's testimony, then we must do so.

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