In 1859, Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of the Species.” What he did not mention was the future of the species, also known as “Social Darwinism.”
We all know the general idea, Darwin tried to explain the past, or how we got here, with his theory of evolution. What Darwin did not explain was where we go from here. If we evolved to this point, it must also be true that we will continue evolving and become something else. If evolution is true, it did not stop with us.
In practise, this idea of Social Darwinism is one of the most horrible ideas in human history: READ: Social Darwinism
Eugenics is the name for science that aims to improve society by ridding the world of “undesirables” which is similar to a farmer breeding cattle. This includes getting rid of the unwanted cattle, and only keeping the best ones. The evolutionary science of Eugenics was founded by a cousin of Charles Darwin.
Probably the most famous eugenicist, or forward looking evolutionist was Adolph Hitler. He wanted to breed his best human beings, and he eliminated his “undesirables” including six million Jews. If you ever wondered where the Nazis got their ideas, they were Darwinian evolutionists, but forward looking Social Darwinians.
Social Darwinism is mostly not mentioned by experts in evolution today. The topic disappeared at the end of World War 2, when the world saw the horrors of the Nazi death camps, but the idea is still popular in culture, with buzz words like ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced.’ Ideas and culture, and religion can be primitive and simple, or advanced and sophisticated. Usually we see ourselves as evolved and sophisticated. Also, some socialists talk about capitalism as Social Darwinism, and claim it is wrong for that reason.
Probably we have all seen the chart of human evolution, with a hunched-over primitive ape on the left, and then progress through less primitive forms, to a handsome evolved man striding forward into the future, with intelligence and confidence. Those pictures were shown to generations of school children and presented as scientific truth.
There is a problem with those pictures: racism. In my experience, the handsome, fully evolved modern man is always white, and the primitive hunched over one on the left, with a small brain, always has dark skin. Those embarrassing pictures are still being published, but they seem to be less common now. I’m surprised that the people who demonstrate against systemic racism haven’t commented.
Social Darwinism is systemic racism.
So, what does this mean to Christians? I am writing as a Christian.
Since most Christians don’t follow the ideas of Charles Darwin, Social Darwinism isn’t discussed much and it’s easy to think we dodged that bullet. What we can’t avoid is the influence of popular culture, and for many years, our culture divided people into winners and losers, with the survival of the fittest. The Bible clearly warns us “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”(Romans 12:2)
We can walk away from an idea, but culture is a sneaky thing. “The pattern of this world” easily creeps into our churches, and into our lives. One popular name is “Churchianity” instead of personally following Jesus as a Christian. READ: Churchianity
I was raised in a religious family who took me to a church that was strong in its beliefs. I don’t want to criticize those good people, but it was very easy for me to trust in the faith of my fathers, instead of the reason for that faith. You may also know this struggle. It comes with ideas like:
- Our arguments are better than theirs.
- We are more successful.
- We are advanced, and they are primitive and simple.
- We are safe in our own community.
There is some truth to all of those ideas, or they may seem real, but we have one simple truth; someone named Jesus spoke to us and said “Follow me.” We were each called out of our old lives and given a new life, and our churches are homes for recovering sinners. We are not better; we are only forgiven.
The world needs to see that truth.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. (1 John 4: 1 and 2)