Bestselling British journalist, a gay atheist, confirms the toxicity of Darwinism to the Christian faith
A review of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, identity, Islam by Douglas Murray
Bloomsbury Continuum, London, 2017
Author Douglas Murray is associate editor of the Spectator. He also writes in the Sunday Times and Wall Street Journal.
This is not a work on origins. It is largely about the mass migrations of Third-World immigrants to Europe in recent decades. However, author Murray also discusses the decline of Christianity and Christian values in Western Europe (and, of course, in other occidental nations). In doing so, his position, coming from an unbeliever, strongly converges with the ‘fundamentalist Christian’ assessments of the fatal effects of higher criticism and Darwinism.
A synopsis of this explosive book
This book is full of interesting information. The author refutes the argument that mass Third-World immigration to Europe is necessary because white Europeans do not want to have children at even population-replacement levels. He shows that most white Europeans cannot afford to have even one child, let alone several, but would definitely like to have children. Murray also shows the hollowness of arguments involving diversity, compassion for refugees, etc. The author especially takes umbrage with the long-term trend of instilling white guilt that comes by the constant portrayal of Europeans, and their descendants in other First-World nations, as racists, colonialists, and thieves of the lands of native peoples. However, Murray does not go as far as attributing these trends to deliberate agendas of cultural Marxists and globalists. Rather, he seems to see them as uncaused cultural trends.
Europe: once a citadel of Christianity
Douglas Murray writes:
“For centuries in Europe one of the great—if not the greatest—sources of such energy came from the spirit of the continent’s religion. It drove people to war and stirred them to defence. It also drove Europe to the greatest heights of human creativity. It drove Europeans to build St. Peter’s in Rome, the Cathedral at Chartres, the Duomo of Florence and the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice. It inspired the works of Bach, Beethoven and Messiaen, Gruenwald’s altarpiece at Isenheim and Leonardo’s Madonna of the Rocks” (pp. 209–210).
The destruction of the biblical foundation of Christianity
Many creationists (for example, Ken Ham) have spoken about the fall of the building (Christianity) that takes place once its foundations (Genesis 1) are destroyed (Psalm 11:3). Without relying on the Bible, atheist Murray adheres to a very similar template of thinking. He freely realizes that the loss of biblical authority on the subject of factual matters undermines its authority on all other matters. He sagely comments:
“Yet in the nineteenth century that source received two seismic blows from which it never recovered, leaving a gap that has never been filled. The effects of the wave of biblical criticism that swept through German universities in the early nineteenth century is still being felt two centuries later … . Europe had knowledge of the great myths, yet the Christian story was the continent’s foundational myth and as such had been inviolable … . It was joined in 1859 by the other part of the double-whammy to the Christian faith, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection” (pp. 210–211).
Implications of modernism: The Bible relegated to a storybook
Even so, liberal theologians and compromising evangelicals have always assured us that it does not matter, to religious belief and practice, whether or not the Bible is factually accurate. Murray parts ways with this disingenuous narrative. He first recounts the long-term impact of the adoption of biblical errancy that was part of the higher-critical worldview:
“Pulled apart by historical comparison, questions of authorship and questions of fallibility, the generation of believers after [David Friedrich] Strauss would have to find a new accommodation with these discoveries. Some pretended that these changes had not occurred, were not relevant, or had all been answered before. But much of the clergy began to realize that a fundamental shift had occurred and that they must shift too” (p. 211).
Murray leaves nothing to the imagination as he informs the reader where modernism has led us: “It was still possible to find wisdom and meaning in the Scriptures, but the Bible had at best become like the work of Ovid and Homer: containing great truth, but not itself true” (p. 211). Indeed! Clearly, the much-maligned Fundamentalists of the early 20th century were on to something.
Evolution is inherently atheistic, period
The issues go far beyond biblical authority. They strike at the very existence of God. Murray quips:
“Where once divine design had explained all that was awe-inspiring, Darwin [figure 1] put forward an entirely new proposal: that, as Richard Dawkins has summed up, ‘Given sufficient time, the non-random survival of hereditary entities (which occasionally miscopy) will generate complexity, diversity, beauty, and an illusion of design so persuasive that it is almost impossible to distinguish from deliberate intelligent design.’ Darwin’s discovery was fiercely debated at the time, as it is now. But the backlash was doomed to failure. The condition of the argument for the divine scheme after Darwin was not good. This was not about a single discovery—it wasn’t even about the filling in of one particularly large gap in man’s knowledge. It was simply the first wholesale explanation for the world we inhabit that had no need for God. And though the origin of life remained a mystery, the idea that the entire mystery was solved by the claims of religion seemed less and less plausible” (p. 211).
The ongoing legacy of higher criticism and Darwinism
The author twists the knife into those who ridicule conservative Christians for engaging in ‘the battles of yesteryear’. Precisely the opposite is the case, as he makes crystal clear: “Although almost everybody in Europe now knows some version of these facts, we have still not found a way to live with them” (p. 211).
Murray then specifies the reason he thinks European Christianity went into a death spiral:
“The facts of the loss of belief and faith across a continent are frequently commented upon and indeed taken for granted. But the effects of this are less often considered. Rarely if ever is it recognized that the process described above meant one thing above all: Europe had lost its foundational story. And the loss of religion to Europe did not just leave a hole in the moral or ethical outlooks of a continent, it even left a hole in its geography” (p. 212).
That is, the centre of each village in Europe had been a church.
What’s more, what little is left of Christianity in Europe lacks conviction and authority: “Where faith exists it is either wholly uninformed—as in the evangelical communities—or it is wounded and weak. In very few places does it retain the confidence it had in former times, and none of the trends favour these outposts” (p. 212). In addition: “Even someone who regrets their inability to connect with the faith that used to propel them cannot believe again simply in order to regain the propulsion” (p. 213). This can be generalized: “We sometimes behave as though we had the certainties of our ancestors, yet we have none of them, and none of their consolations” (p. 223).
Radical individualism, nihilism, and selfish hedonism have replaced Europe’s Christian heritage
The Bible warns of the love of pleasure exceeding the love of God—a sure sign of terminal apostasy (2 Timothy 3:4). Pleasure is now the end-all, as there is nothing left to hope for (Isaiah 22:13). Enter the extreme secularization of Western Europe. It has largely reduced the population to pleasure-seeking, and this wantonness shows up more and more in academia and media. Murray offers this parting shot:
“We have not become ‘absolute’ cynics, but we have become deeply ‘suspicious’ of all truths. The fact that all of our utopias failed so terribly did not only destroy our faith in them. It destroyed our faith in any and all ideologies. It does seem, living in any Western European society today, that this particular world-view has caught on. Not only the entertainment industries but also the information industries speak to populations intent only on a fairly shallow kind of personal pleasure” (p. 222).
It is counter-intuitive that a homosexual and atheist would agree with conservative Christians on issues related to origins. Yet bestselling author Douglas Murray, to a surprising extent, does. Of course, other atheists have been candid about the fact that God and evolution are incompatible, but they have usually done so from a condescending, triumphalist mindset. Murray does not. In fact, if anything, he seems to have an element of sympathetic regret about the death of Christianity owing to the axe of higher criticism and then Darwinism.
Issues surrounding the inerrancy of the Bible, and the fallacies of evolution, are far from being hopelessly old-fashioned. They are as relevant as ever. So where do we go from here? If Europe, and other European-descent nations, are ever to experience a genuine (and not simply faddish or fleeting) spiritual revival, it will have to be founded on a rediscovery and unambiguous articulation of the absolute truth of Scripture.