and Recent History:
Darwin, Evolution and His Critics—Part Five
by Dr. John
Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon
II. Darwin’s Escape from God: Why Did Darwin
Continue to Believe in Evolution? (con’t)om
God: Why Did Darwin Continue to Believe in Evolution? (con’t)
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
Darwin’s own 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 Bales observe:
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
In other words, it would appear that Darwin rejected
God not from reason, but "because of some violent prejudice" against
an unreasonable reaction. In the end, "Darwin’s determination not to
believe cost him his mind."23
It also cost him good science.
Having 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 profound consequences:
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
Professor Marvin L. Lubenow comments on this issue
are important enough to cite in detail:
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 not exist....
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 Creation....
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
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
16. Robert E. D. Clark, Darwin: Before and
After (Chicago: Moody Press, 1967), p. 89.
17. Ibid., p. 89.
18. Ibid., p. 87.
19. Robert T. Clark, James D. Bales, Why
Scientists Accept Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1976), p.
38 citing Francis Darwin (ed.), Charles Darwin Life and Letters,
Vol. 1, p. 282.
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. 191-92.
Copyright 2006, Ankerberg Theological Research Institute