Are COVID-19 Deaths Natural Selection? | The Institute for Creation Research
Are COVID-19 Deaths Natural Selection?
As deaths in the United States from COVID-19 now exceed over 24,700, one believer in natural selection has used the outbreak to expound on the virtues of the selectionist worldview embraced by many in education, government, and even some Christian organizations.1 Speaking anonymously, this person sees values in “war, famine and natural disasters” reducing human population and says, “Coronavirus has swept through continent to continent, leaving in its wake only chaos and panic. This newly classified pandemic is certainly causing a few hairlines to recede, but I argue that we should welcome the illness as Earth’s natural selection.”

Since selectionism is a death-driven worldview where natural selection acts as a death-dispensing agent,2 then naturally this anonymous promoter of selectionism believes that natural selection solves overpopulation:

It’s common knowledge that the world is suffering from a horrendous overpopulation problem; resources are running out, natural lands like the rainforests are being desecrated for food, third world countries are struggling more and more to put food on the children’s table, and through it all our population still rises. The way we are living our lives is unsustainable for where we are living our lives. From this, it could justifiably be argued that the coronavirus outbreak is just another of the Earth’s ways of stabilising the population. It is the Darwinian theory of natural selection playing out….Perhaps influenza and the black death were simply methods of enacting the process, making sure the human race evolves into their most able selves.1

Christians should find that statement disturbing for a reason even more important than its callous treatment of death. Like Darwin, selectionists use the concept of natural selection as if it were an intelligent power and also personify nature in God-like ways to intervene in human affairs. In this case, if the active subject “Earth” in the quote above were replaced with the Canaanite god “Baal,” then Christians would immediately spot the idolatry.

This anonymous author continues, “Darwin’s natural selection and survival of the fittest” is “the natural process of pruning out the weak and ensuring the fittest survive and reproduce.”1 The presumed benefit of “selective” death is echoed by a theistic selectionist who said, “Natural selection, thought fueled by death, helps the population by getting rid of genetic defects, etc.”3 Yet, there seems something distasteful about “getting rid” of people and being encouraged to see their death as merely “pruning.”

“Walk it back” is an idiom people use to recast a situation or mistake in a different light to minimize its consequences. We can spot when natural selection is being walked back when it’s arbitrarily redefined as, say, just a process or merely “differential reproduction.” But euphemisms like these seek to avoid the negative connotations surrounding the pivotal role death plays in the concept of selection. If the concept of natural selection is literally “fueled by death,” is it possible to still adhere to a true representation of the concept stripped of the central role of death?

Darwin coined the term natural selection. For him, death was the discriminator between improved and less improved organisms, saying,

As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence…we shall then see how Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life….4

Harvard’s renowned evolutionary theorist, Ernst Mayr agreed that natural selection is “The process by which in every generation individuals of lower fitness are removed from the population”5 While two evolutionary developmental biologists put it simply, “Death is selective.”6

Theistic selectionists also frame the concept in terms of death and survival. As one sees it, “Natural selection is really a very straight-forward, commonsense idea. Creatures with features (traits) suited to survival in a given environment tend to survive better than those that do not have those features.”7 Another correctly links the centrality of death to natural selection to the entrance of sin committed by Adam8 saying, “We must remember that natural selection only exists due to the entrance of death into the world through sin….”9

We live in a culture that’s easy with death because it’s permeated with Darwin’s survival-of-the-fittest thinking. Believing that death itself brings good things is the root cause. That is because death and the concept of natural selection are inextricably linked together. So, how do we navigate this culture while being pro-life and explain biology in a way that honors the Lord?

ICR affirms that death is an enemy and a curse due to Adam’s sin.10 Since the death of creatures with nephesh (soul-life) didn’t happen before the Fall,11 ICR repudiates Darwin’s concept of natural selection and the idolatrous personification of nature that accompanies it. Darwin’s survival of the fittest could not have been God’s mechanism for adaptation. Other mechanisms not driven by death were—and principally still are—the means of adaptation.

Christ is not a eugenicist. So we should eschew believing that “selection” somehow shows His goodness after the Fall in providing a death-driven means to “prune” out unfit individuals from the population and thus preserve a purer gene pool. When a person dies before reproducing due to a genetic disease, it is not a gift to the rest of us—it is a tragedy.

1. Anonymous. 2020. Coronavirus is Just Natural Selection. Posted on March 16, 2020 accessed April 8, 2020.
2. Guliuzza, R. J. 2020. Survival of the Fittest and Evolution's Death Culture. Acts & Facts. 49 (1).
3. Purdom, G. 2006. Is Natural Selection the Same Thing as Evolution? In The New Answers Book 1. K. Ham, ed. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 271–282.
4. Darwin, C. 2009. The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Publishing Group, 29, 74-75.
5. Mayr, E. 2001. What Evolution Is. New York, NY: Basic Books, p.288.
6. Gilbert, S. F. and D. Epel. 2009. Ecological Developmental Biology: Integrating Epigenetics, Medicine, and Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 292.
7. Batten, D. 2014. Natural Selection. In Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels., R. Carter, ed. Powder Springs, GA: Creation Book Publishers, 15-47.
8. Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:6, 7.
9. Whynot, S. 2014. Hijacking Good Science: Lenski's Bacteria Support Creation. Answers In Depth. 9(2014).
10. 1 Corinthians 15:26; Romans 5:12; Romans 8:18-23.
11. Morris III, H. M. What Is Life? Days of Praise. Posted on July 28, 2016, accessed April 14, 2020.

*Randy Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative. He earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Guliuzza is also a registered Professional Engineer.
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