Darwinism’s Need for a “cruel” God

The unprecedented ascendancy of a Donald Trump in the American political equation raises some very interesting questions about the unfolding culture divide, namely that abyss between the ordinary people and a new ruling class comprised of intellectuals, tech wizards, and politicians which has widened into an insurmountable gulf. One of the more telling fault lines demarcating that growing schism involves the belief, or lack thereof, in a Divine Creator. In fact, religious skepticism has become a widely accepted creed among political elites and academics, many of whom who have adopted philosophical materialism, the belief that the only reality is material reality. That materialist philosophy is primarily buttressed by Darwinian macro-evolution, a corrosive philosophy that has been taught as a scientific certainty in virtually every public school and university in our country for decades.  

A large body of more recent scientific evidence now calls Darwinian evolution into serious question, but those encouraging developments are not the main thrust of this article. It is the social and religious consequences of this modern trend that is of greater concern, for Darwinism has already made its great impression upon the young, many of whom routinely graduate from the local “Public U” with little or no belief in God. So what is it that underpins this modern materialist’s feud with God? For decades scientific luminaries from Carl Sagan to Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould have crusaded tirelessly to erase God from any equation in which man plays any part.

Not surprisingly, one of the favorite straw men in this intellectual dismantling of any notion of a true Deity is the Book of Genesis, whose opening passages are invariably criticized for being “unscientific,” whatever that prejudicial term might mean. A favorite objection goes something like this: How can man be made in the image of God, as Genesis states, if God is an immaterial being? Materialists love this one because, for them, material reality is the only reality, ergo, if God is immaterial then he cannot possibly be real. Simply deny that man has a spiritual nature in conjunction with his material nature and presto! God disappears.

Yet the sense in which Genesis describes man being made in God’s image is a spiritual sense, and the proof of this divine resemblance is found in the fact that we, alone in the natural world, are capable of rational and intelligent thought. Our material bodies represent only the physical element of our nature (although even the symmetry within our bodies bears some faint reflection of the Godhead). But it is our spiritual nature, centered on reason, that truly reveals how we are patterned on God.

But the agnostic aversion to God goes deeper than such distinctions because of some underlying need to indict God in order to justify rejecting him. Materialists often fixate on the so-called cruel, angry, and vengeful God of the Old Testament to justify such rejection. This is how Darwin himself rationalized his own turn from Christianity to agnosticism. However, I would argue that it is the Incarnate God found in the New Testament (who is also conspicuously material) who truly threatens the hard core materialist. For, in the end, it is not God’s implacable justice which repels the nonbeliever as much as his mercy. How can that be? Like the twisted Shakespearean character of Iago who proclaims, “I believe in a cruel God,” the materialist echoes that same chilling creed because it is so much easier to reject a cruel God than a truly loving and merciful one. (Also one who happens to be immaterial as opposed to his later material “Incarnate” manifestation.)

By denying any cause, purpose, planning, or design in the universe Darwinian evolution provides the materialist a plausible reason to eliminate God from the “creation equation.” In fact, this convenient fig leaf for agnostic disbelief has been regularly applied ever since Darwin’s day. For instance, back in 1925 Henry Fairfield Osborn, a leading Darwinist and director of the American Museum of Natural History, admitted that the whole evolutionary project had been to abandon the idea of any supernatural intervention in the order of nature. More recently Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin put it this way, “materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.” For any committed Darwinist then, a God who takes on human flesh poses an immediate threat to his or her materialist philosophy.

The fact is, however, that God manifested himself as a material being openly on the pages of history. Nor was this Iago’s “cruel” God but rather a God of gentleness and meekness, love and mercy ─ willing to go so far as to climb onto a cross for love of mankind. Yet how could the disciples of a “cruel” God reconcile such a phenomenon with their own distorted vision of divinity? For the confirmed materialist the only way to keep God “neutralized” is to present him as being both cruel and utterly spiritual, and therefore just as inadmissible to any rational debate as some other dubious myth would be.

In the end the problem is that our modern materialist refuses to acknowledge the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, through whom God, in fact, became a man in every sense. And there is the rub. It’s easy for someone to snipe at some invisible Supreme Being, only partially revealed in a series of ancient manuscripts. But when that same Being takes on our own human flesh so that we can know and see him directly, the materialist’s challenge becomes to discredit rather than to simply disavow.

The miracles presented in the Gospels are particularly threatening because they so vividly attest to God’s absolute power over all matter. But if the Gospels are true, the materialist’s entire structure must collapse into dust, and Darwinism alongside it. That is why the academics are obliged to keep alive the fable that matter is the only verifiable reality and all else (including ideas, morality, even symphonies) somehow “evolved” from dry lifeless molecules. Of course, such a view represents intellectual trickery, not truth. As Christians we fully understand that the truth shall prevail in the end, but do not expect that those modern day Iagos will change their tune anytime soon, no matter what the facts may show.

Francis Pierson  +a.m.d.g.

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