believe in evolution for a variety of reasons. As we will see later,
one reason is so they can reject the Christian faith. And, as we also
observe later, the theory of evolution bears great responsibility for
people’s loss of faith, intentional or not.
people during his era, Charles Darwin was raised in a Christian
environment. At one point he made half-hearted attempts toward a call
to the ministry and becoming a clergyman.1
Eventually, however, he lost whatever "faith" he had, concluding that,
"The Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of
the Hindoos [sic]" and "I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity
as a divine revelation."2 As he stated in Life and Letters,
Vol. 1, pp. 277-278, "Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow
rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no
distress."3 In fact, it seems Darwin was determined not to
believe; for example, to rationalize his unbelief he continued to
raise the level of evidence required to sustain faith.4
Unfortunately, Darwin’s loss of faith had more serious repercussions
than he was willing to admit.5
that Darwin could not live with God but neither could Darwin escape
God. The battle endured throughout his life and it not only made him
physically ill, it also cost him, to some degree, his mental health.
Most biographers of Darwin acknowledge his rejection of Christian
faith. What they don’t usually do is reveal the consequences. James
Moore’s definitive biography: Charles Darwin: The Life of a Tormented
Evolutionist is a notable exception as well as the volume by Clark and
Bales (Why Scientists Accept Evolution) and that of Sunderland
E. D. Clark (Ph.D., Cambridge) shows how tortured Darwin’s life was
because of his rejection of God. Darwin even referred to his theory as
"the devil’s gospel." T. H. Huxley was Darwin’s most committed and
vocal supporter. On August 8, 1860 in a letter to Huxley, Darwin
referred to him as "my good and kind agent for the propagation of the
Gospel—i.e., the devil’s gospel."6
Before and After Dr. Clark points out that it was from the beginnings
of Darwin’s unbelief that the first important instances of physical
illness began. Fitting a typical pattern, as his faith in God faded,
his consecration to science became almost religious. Nothing was
physically wrong with Darwin, "but his illnesses became worse and
worse"7 in spite of his "normal" health.
Yet he was a
chronic invalid. Unfavorable reviews of his books gave him continuous
headaches; even half an hour’s discussion with a fellow naturalist
about scientific matters would render him incapable of work for hours.
If he met people in society, anxiety afflicted him. "My health almost
always suffered from the excitement, violent shivering and vomiting
being thus brought on," he wrote. His constant preoccupation became
one of protecting himself from anticipations and conflicts while his
chronic anxiety brought on the usual digestive and nutritional
Charles Darwin was morbid and self critical to an extreme. His letters
abound with the typical language associated with a feeling of guilt. A
letter "was vilely written and is now vilely expressed," his
manuscript was a "foul copy," [etc.]; "Psychologically there can be
little doubt as to the meaning of these symptoms. Charles Darwin was
suffering from a feeling of guilt. But what was worrying him?"8
concerned Darwin was not the initial critical response to his Origin
of Species. Even after the battle was won and his reputation assured,
his psychological suffering and physical symptoms continued. In other
words, Darwin was dealing with a much deeper and fundamental feeling
of guilt. As far as the Christian faith was concerned, he had not only
banished God from his own life, but, it seemed, the entire universe as
real problem lay with the suppression of his religious needs: "His
life was one long attempt to escape from Paley [i.e., his Natural
Theology], to escape from the church, to escape from God. It is this
that explains so much that would otherwise be incongruous in his life
It is clear
both scripturally and psychologically that those who "suppress the
truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18) will pay the price. God tells
everyone, "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows
he will reap" (Gal. 6:7). The truth about God is evident to all men
through the creation because God Himself made it evident:
The wrath of God is being
revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of
men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be
known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to
them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible
qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly
seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are
without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)
documented this perceptual and intuitive knowledge of God in some
detail in our Knowing the Truth About Salvation: Is Jesus the Only Way
to God? (Harvest House, 1996).
this truth is to live in unreality and this is never psychologically
or physically healthy. As noted existentialist psychologist Rollo May
pointed out in The Art of Counseling, unbelief does have its
consequences: "I had been startled by the fact that practically every
genuine atheist with whom I have dealt has exhibited unmistakable
neurotic tendencies. How [do we] account for this curious fact?"10
whatever else it may be, even Darwin’s prized theory of natural
selection appears to be an emotional tool to comfort his unbelief. Dr.
Clark explains that Darwin went to great pains to prove to the world
that he had discovered the truth of natural selection only after two
decades involving a painful collection of facts that was carefully
analyzed over and over. Darwin thus presented himself as a defender of
truth and truth alone; it was only his passionate desire for truth
that now compelled him to make his theories public. But in fact:
That is what Darwin
wished the outer world to believe. No one today accepts his story.
He had thought of natural selection 20 years before and had long
since made up his mind on the subject. Moreover, the evidence shows
that Charles was not primarily interested in the truth or otherwise
of natural selection at all, but he was very much interested in the
possibilities of using it to avoid the force of Paley’s Natural
Ayala of the University of California says natural selection "exclude[s]
God as the explanation accounting for the obvious design of
natural selection became a kind of substitute for God.13
Darwin did his level best to escape God, but God was uncooperative:
For year after year,
Darwin carried on a discussion with various friends on the subject
of design in nature. Throughout he showed the same vacillation. One
moment he thought he could do without design; the next, his reason
told him that the evidence for design by a personal God was
overwhelming. He was forever seeking an escape from theology but
never able to find it.14
exactly what Romans 1 teaches. Thus, despite his faith in evolution,
in other moments, Darwin was
…deeply conscious of his
ignorance. Indeed, he did not really know anything about the origins
of things, and certainly made no pretense of having discovered how
species had come into existence. He very much regretted his
misleading title, the Origin of Species: if only he had been more
thoughtful at the time he would have chosen a different title, but
now it was too late. In revising the Origin he felt he had gone too
far in his rejection of theology and more than once he added the
telling words "by the Creator" when referring to the original
creation of the first forms of life. But again, he could not make up
At one point
in Darwin’s life, a letter from botanist J. D. Hooker brought the
force of Paley’s Natural Theology back upon him. Darwin realized that
Paley could not be disposed of so easily:
No wonder Darwin was
disturbed. He had sought to escape from God: now he found his old
enemy waiting for him in a new hiding place. His confusion can
scarcely be exaggerated. In letter after letter he made the lamest
excuses for his inability to think clearly. Intellectually, he said,
he was in "thick mud."16
reasoning processes became increasingly strained because "Darwin was
determined to escape from design and a personal God at all costs."17
Not surprisingly, Darwin’s letters "exhibit a resolution not to follow
his thoughts to their logical conclusion."18
Of course, there were exceptions. For example, he spoke of the
"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."19
But then, because his mind was really descended from lower life forms
and more kin to a monkey’s mind, how could its reasoning processes
really be trusted? Darwin wondered, "But then arises the doubt, can
the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a
mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animals, be trusted when
it draws such grand conclusions? ...Would anyone trust in the
convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a
As Clark and
Reason led Darwin to God,
so Darwin killed reason. He trusted his mind when reasoning about
evolution, but not about God? What a warning from the author to the
reader this discrediting of reason would have made as a preface to
the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man! …[But] How [then]
could he trust his mind when it thought on the theory of evolution?
As Arnold Lunn put it: "A clear thinker would never have been guilty
of such inconsistent reasoning. If Darwin was not prepared to trust
his mind when it drew the ‘grand conclusion’ that God existed, why
was he prepared to trust it when it drew the depressing conclusion
that a mind of such bestial origin could not be trusted to draw any
conclusion at all?"21
words, it would appear that Darwin rejected God not from reason, but
"because of some violent prejudice" against God22—itself
an unreasonable reaction. In the end, "Darwin’s determination not to
believe cost him his mind."23
It also cost
him good science.
adopted logical positivism with its exclusion of the metaphysical,
Darwin was hardly unbiased in his scientific methodology. Robert
Kofahl, Ph.D., argues that Darwin’s particular philosophy of science
was intended to invoke naturalism and accomplish something heretofore
unthinkable—to remove the concept of divine intervention from the
category of scientific endeavors—a feat that if successful would have
It is this author’s
opinion that Charles Darwin had a hidden agenda for science. There
is much evidence for this in his writings. Neal Gillespie (1979) of
Georgia State University in his important book, Charles Darwin and
the Problem of Creation, established the fact that Darwin espoused
logical positivism as his philosophy of science. His hidden agenda,
then, was to remove from the thinking of all scientists any concepts
of special creation, divine intervention, or divine teleology in the
natural world. That this agenda has been achieved with almost total
global success in the spheres of science, education and scholarly
disciplines is obvious to any informed observer.24
Marvin L. Lubenow comments on this issue are important enough to cite
Not only was Darwin’s
contribution primarily philosophical, it was a philosophy bent on a
specific mission: to show that creation is unscientific. The most
extensive research into Darwin’s religious attitudes and motivations
has been done by historian Neal C. Gillespie (Georgia State
University). He begins his book with this comment: "On reading the
Origin of Species, I, like many others, became curious about why
Darwin spent so much time attacking the idea of divine creation."
Gillespie goes on to
demonstrate that Darwin’s purpose was not just to establish the
concept of evolution. Darwin was wise enough not to stop there.
Darwin went for the jugular vein. Darwin’s master accomplishment was
to convince the scientific world that it was unscientific to believe
in supernatural causation. His purpose was to "ungod" the universe.
Darwin was a positivist. This is the philosophy that the only true
knowledge is scientific knowledge; no other type of knowledge is
legitimate. Obviously, to accept that premise means to reject any
form of divine revelation. Darwin accomplished one of the greatest
feats of salesmanship in the history of the world. He convinced
scientists that it was unscientific to deal with God or creation in
any way. To be scientific, they must study the world as if God did
In all of this, it is
important to realize that Darwin was not an atheist. He did not
exterminate God. He just evicted God from the universe which God had
created. All that God was allowed to do was to create the "natural
laws" at the beginning. From then on, nature was on its own. With
God out of the picture, evolution fell into place rather easily,
since evolution seemed to be the only viable alternative to Special
We are now getting down
to basics. The real issue in the creation/evolution debate is not
the existence of God. The real issue is the nature of God. To think
of evolution as basically atheistic is to misunderstand the
uniqueness of evolution. Evolution was not designed as a general
attack against theism. It was designed as a specific attack against
the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible is clearly revealed
through the doctrine of creation. Obviously, if a person is an
atheist, it would be normal for him to also be an evolutionist. But
evolution is as comfortable with theism as it is with atheism. An
evolutionist is perfectly free to choose any god he wishes, as long
as it is not the God of the Bible. The gods allowed by evolution are
private, subjective, and artificial. They bother no one and make no
absolute ethical demands. However, the God of the Bible is the
Creator, sustainer, Savior and judge. All are responsible to him. He
has an agenda that conflicts with that of sinful humans. For man to
be created in the image of God is very awesome. For God to be
created in the image of man is very comfortable.
Evolution was originally
designed as a specific attack against the God of the Bible, and it
remains so to this day. While Christian Theistic Evolutionists seem
blind to this fact, the secular world sees it very clearly.25
further had the "notorious habit of jumping to conclusions without
adequate evidence" and "of stubbornly maintaining his theories
regardless of the valid arguments and evidence that could be brought
Jacques Barzun, Provost and Dean of the Graduate Faculties at Columbia
University, further observes that the common view of Darwin as an
intellectual and a lover of truth needs qualification.
The phrase "Newton of
biology" now appears as a very loose description indeed. Darwin was
not a thinker and he did not originate the ideas that he used. He
vacillated, added, retracted, and confused his own traces. As soon
as he crossed the dividing line between the realm of events and the
realm of theory, he became "metaphysical" in the bad sense. His
power of drawing out the implications of his theories was at no time
very remarkable, but when it came to the moral order it disappeared
altogether, as that penetrating Evolutionist, Nietsche, observed
with some disdain.27
himself appeared to have serious doubts about how distinctive his
theory of evolution was; in at least 45 instances between 1869 and the
final edition of the Origin, Darwin deleted the word "my" before the
word "theory." As noted earlier, Darwin hardly invented the idea of
evolution, he merely systematized a certain amount of data allegedly
in favor of it.28
To the end of his life,
the old warfare continued in Darwin’s mind. Try as he would, he
could not escape from God. Gradually his emotional life atrophied
under the strain of the battle. Religious feeling disappeared and
with it much else beside. Shakespeare was "intolerably dull." He no
longer took pleasure in pictures, in poetry, or even in music. The
beauty of nature no longer thrilled him. The world became cold and
dead. As we have already seen, even his reasoning powers became
distorted when he dwelt upon subjects even remotely concerned with
his conflict. Finally the time came for Charles Darwin to die with
the conflict still unresolved.29
In the end,
Darwin had simply got a taste of his own medicine. He had deprived the
universe of meaning and paid the price. As Leslie Paul observes in The
Annihilation of Man (New York: Harcourt-Brace, 1945, p. 154), "The
final result of the application of the theory of The Origin of Species
to the whole material universe is to deprive it completely of
meaning." Cambridge scholar John Burrow observes in his introduction
to The Origin of Species: "Nature, according to Darwin, was a product
of blind chance and a blind struggle, and man a lonely, intelligent
mutation, scrambling with the brutes for his sustenance. To some the
sense of loss was irrevocable; it was as if an umbilical cord had been
cut, and men found themselves part of ‘a cold passionless universe.’"30
What Darwin had wrought for modern man is, in the eyes of many, hardly
worth the meager scientific validation it has encountered.
Origin is today much less convincing. As an illustration, we may cite
the esteemed entomologist, W. R. Thompson, who penned the introduction
to the Origin of Species for the "Every Man Library" No. 811 edition
(1956). Thompson reveals not only severe problems with Darwin’s basic
thesis, especially descent by natural selection, he also shows how the
manner in which Darwin argued appeared to give his theory more
credibility than it deserved.
But in a manner of this
kind a great deal depends on the manner in which the arguments are
presented. Darwin considered that the doctrine of the origin of
living things by descent with modification, even if well founded,
would be unsatisfactory unless the causes at work were correctly
identified, so his theory of modification by natural selection was,
for him, of absolute major importance. Since he had at the time the
Origin was published no body of experimental evidence to support his
theory, he fell back on speculative arguments. The argumentation
used by evolutionists, said de Quatrefages, makes the discussion of
their ideas extremely difficult. Personal convictions, simple
possibilities, are presented as if they were proofs, or at least
valid arguments in favor of the theory. As an example, de
Quatrefages cites Darwin’s explanation of the manner in which the
tit mouse might become transformed into the nutcracker, by the
accumulation of small changes in structure and instinct owing to the
effect of natural selection; and then proceeded to show that it is
just as easy to transform the nutcracker into the tit mouse. The
demonstration can be modified without difficulty to fit any
conceivable case. It is without scientific value, since it cannot be
verified; but since the imagination has free rein, it is easy to
convey the impression that a concrete example of real transmutation
has been given. This is the more appealing because of the extreme
fundamental simplicity of the Darwinian explanation. The reader may
be completely ignorant of biological processes yet he feels that he
really understands and in a sense dominates the machinery by which
the marvelous variety of living forms has been produced.
This was certainly a
major reason for the success of the Origin. Another is the elusive
character of the Darwinian argument…. The plausibility of the
argument eliminates the need for proof and its very nature gives it
a kind of immunity to disproof. Darwin did not show in the Origin
that species had originated by natural selection; he merely showed,
on the basis of certain facts and assumptions, how this might have
happened, and as he had convinced himself he was able to convince
others. But the facts and interpretations on which Darwin relied
have now ceased to convince.31
It is worthy
to note that Dr. Thompson penned the above words nearly 50 years ago.
In subsequent years, recent developments and discoveries throughout
the sciences have made belief in evolution more and more difficult. So
much so that some scientists have now abandoned the theory while
others, although continuing to exercise faith that evolution is true,
concede that convincing evidence for it may never be forthcoming.
In the end,
Darwin also continued to exercise faith in evolution because he had
little choice. He found the theory an emotional necessity and had
convinced himself as to its plausibility, despite innumerable
have succeeded in convincing himself about evolution, but as we will
see in Part 3, it was another story entirely for the scientific
1 Robert T. Clark, James
D. Bales, Why Scientists Accept Evolution (Grand Rapids: Baker,
1976), p. 29.
2 Charles Darwin (ed. J.
W. Burrow), The Origin of Species (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books,
1974), pp. 30-31.
3 In Clark and Bales, Why
Scientists Accept Evolution, p. 31.
4 Ibid., p. 33.
5 Ibid., p. 33, cf. Nora
Barlow, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, Collins, 1958, 235-239
and Moore, below.
6 Ibid., p. 45 citing
Life and Letters, Vol. 2, p. 124.
7 Robert E. D. Clark,
Darwin: Before and After (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967), pp. 84-85.
8 Ibid., p. 85.
10 Rollo May, The Art of
Counseling (NY: Abingdon, 1967), p. 215.
11 Clark, Darwin: Before
and After, pp. 85-86.
12 Cited in Charles
Colson, "Planet of the Apes?", Christianity Today, August 12, 1996,
13 Clark, Darwin: Before
and After, p. 87.
14 Ibid., p. 88.
15 Ibid., p. 87.
16 Ibid., p. 89.
18 Ibid., p. 87.
19 Clark and Bales, Why
Scientists Accept Evolution, p. 38 citing Life and Letters, Vol. 1,
20 Ibid., p. 38 citing
Life and Letters, Vol. 1, p. 285.
21 Ibid., pp. 38-39.
22 Ibid., p. 40.
24 Robert E. Kofahl,
"Correctly Redefining Distorted Science: A Most Essential Task,"
Creation Research Society Quarterly, Dec. 1986, p. 113.
25 Marvin Lubenow, Bones
of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils (Grand
Rapids, MI: Baker, 1992), pp. 191-192.
26 W. R. Bird, The Origin
of Species Revisited (NY: Philosophical Library, 1989), Vol. 2, p.
129, citing Canon, "The Basis of Darwin’s Achievement: A
Revaluation", 5 Victorian Studies 109 (1961).
27 Jacques Brazun,
Darwin, Marx, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage (Garden City, NY,
Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1958), pp. 84-85.
28 Bolton Davidheiser,
Evolution and Christian Faith (The Presbyterian and Reformed
Publishing Company, 1969), pp. 38-138.
29 Clark, Darwin: Before
and After, p. 93.
30 Darwin (ed. J. W.
Burrow), The Origin of Species, p. 43.
31 W. R. Thompson,
"Introduction," The Origin of Species (Everyone’s Library, No. 811,
1956. Published separately by EPM, Britain with additional comments
by Frank Cousins), pp. 8-9.