chapter  10
14 Pages

Michael Ruse

Darwinism and atheism A marriage made in heaven?

In the past decade, there has been an interesting meeting of minds. One finds, as one would expect, that the Christian fundamentalists – the biblical literalists or so-called “Creationists” – have argued that Darwinism and Christianity are incompatible. This they have argued for the past century. For these Christians, every word of the Bible must be taken at immediate face value: the early chapters of Genesis tell truly of a six-day period of Creation only a few thousand years ago, of humans appearing miraculously at the final moment, and of a universal flood destroying all but a chosen few of those animals living in the earliest times. Hence, understanding by “Darwinism” the belief that all organisms living and dead have arrived by a slow process of evolution from forms very different and probably much simpler, and that the process of change was natural selection – the survival of the fittest – the incompatibility follows at once. On this version of Christianity, one simply cannot simultaneously be a true Believer and a Darwinian evolutionist. Since the fundamentalists tend to regard anyone who does not subscribe to their beliefs as denying just about anything of ontological theological worth, they therefore regard Darwinism and atheism – the absolute rejection of God’s existence – to be tightly linked. Indeed, for the Creationist, Darwinism is simply atheism given a scientific face, and it has to be the main reason why anyone would reject belief in a Christian God.