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Creation 27(2):48, March 2005

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Evolution and social evil


Do creationists claim that evolution causes immoral behaviour, holocausts, etc.? Not directly; sin is of course responsible. But evolutionary thought permeating a culture will inevitably lead to a magnification of the effects of sin in one form or another. For instance, through the loss of shared cultural restraints generated by a commonly adhered-to basis for morality. If we are all accountable to the biblical God who made (and thus owns) everything, then it makes sense to speak of moral absolutes: the unchanging rules of an unchanging God.

In a consistent evolutionary worldview, there can be no unchanging rules—there is only what is expedient for the society or individual. And there is no distinction in kind between people and animals, nor ultimately between people and grass, nor even rocks. Thus, Stalin is said to have claimed that killing a million people was no different from mowing a lawn. This is chillingly consistent with a materialist view (matter is all there is, we are just evolved arrangements of atoms). [Author’s note added May 2012: this claim of what Stalin said has not been able to be verified and is likely to have arisen as a miscitation in an article I wrote in 1987. I regret the error--CW]

A painting of Lenin
Lenin’s image: once a powerful propaganda tool.

All this does not deny the possibility of moral behaviour by evolutionists or amoral behaviour by Christians. But because amorality is logically consistent with evolution, and inconsistent with biblical Christianity, an evolutionary worldview gives a much more fertile ground for the exhibition of the sin nature in all its aspects. Thus, the famous evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002) could write that the sin of racism, for instance, increased by ‘orders of magnitude’ due to Darwin’s work being used as justification. Antiracist Darwinists (including Gould) howl with indignation that this was a ‘misuse’ of Darwinism. But it was logically consistent with Darwin’s premises.

Gould, despite his evolutionary materialism, was still a person created in God’s image with a God-given conscience, as well as having been raised in a culture founded on Judeo-Christian morality. He would have condemned the actions of Hitler as immoral (felt more keenly perhaps as a Jew), but his materialism could not provide any rational basis for doing so. Hitler might reply: ‘By what standard? I’m doing what is best for the evolutionary struggle between my race and yours, consistent with my belief in evolution.’ Whereas when a biblical Christian does such things, his actions are inconsistent with his professed beliefs.

Goering actually said at the Nuremburg trials that the Nazis did nothing wrong according to their own laws, and were on trial only because they lost. Rebutting this, Prosecutor Jackson invoked a ‘universal law’. But this only has meaning if there is a Creator/Lawgiver!

Thus, given a large enough group of people who share a Darwinian worldview, one will overall see more immoral behaviour, even atrocities. The 20th century of Stalin, Hitler, Mao and Pol Pot made this clear. There were indeed atrocities and wrongful wars in the name of ‘religion’ before then. But many more people were killed (most by their own governments) in the name of evolution-inspired ideologies than in all the wars of recorded history put together, religious or otherwise.