Millions of Christians are rejoicing over the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion. Countless Christians have prayerfully labored for decades to protect pre-born children. With the answer to these prayers in the recent Dobbs decision, more children may now continue life—and a shameful blight on our nation has been diminished.
Why are so many Christians strongly pro-life? The Bible teaches that in the original creation, God bestowed something only on humans—His image. “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Unlike animals, humans can “know” and “understand” their Creator (Jeremiah 9:24). And specifically because humans bear God’s image, they’re not to be murdered, abused, misused, or even cursed (Genesis 9:6; James 3:8-11).
It’s been both troubling and revealing to witness the response of many who detest the Dobbs decision. Numerous people now vocalize even less regard for the lives of pre-born children than before. It’s palpably obvious that the same spirit that animated Pharaoh and King Herod to have no regard for the lives of children has continued unabated (Exodus 1:15-18; Matthew 2:16). Many of those who touted the term pro-choice and hailed Roe as a hallmark of liberation have now been shown to actually be pro-abortion.
Abortion isn’t the only expression of the current disregard for human life. Other plagues of society include infanticide, mass shootings, euthanasia, and a resurgence of eugenics. Their growing frequency reveals the population’s increasing desensitization to death and the woeful ease with which perpetrators kill. How did whole sectors of Western civilization that were once constrained by Christian teachings dignifying human life ever get to this point?
I used to put the whole blame on a worldview called evolutionary humanism. By not acknowledging the Creator, man puts himself in the place of God and presumes to usurp the rights of the Almighty regarding life and death. When people are taught they’re no more than evolved animals, we shouldn’t be shocked when they behave like animals. Human life is therefore increasingly devalued.
But this view fails to explain the cause of societies’ change in thinking from firmly believing humans have a God-given right to life to an ever-increasing ease with killing and a corresponding numbness to death. To understand that problem, creationists must be mindful of what Darwin and his disciples have introduced into Western cultures. We must probe deeper into the worldview of Darwinian selectionism to see how it pioneered a way for people to see death as a good thing.
What links selectionism to a culture easy with death?
Selectionism Is a Death-Driven Worldview
What is the difference between “a sick child died” and “a sick child was weeded out”? They’re not equivalent in any way. The first is a statement of fact that should elicit a feeling of sorrow. The second highlights the pivotal role death plays in Darwin’s concept of natural selection. Specifically, it acts as the mechanism that adapts populations of organisms to their environments. It also highlights the underlying mystical choice-making agency attributed to nature that’s inherent to selectionism.
Darwinian evolution has an upward trajectory toward improvement that’s imparted by deadly intraspecies competition. For Darwin, death was the discriminator between improved and less improved organisms. He incorporated British population theorist Thomas Malthus’ assertion that creatures compete for scarce resources just to survive.
This is the doctrine of Malthus, applied to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms. 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….I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man’s power of selection. But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.1
Harvard’s renowned evolutionary theorist Ernst Mayr conceived of natural selection as “the process by which in every generation individuals of lower fitness are removed from the population.”2 And two evolutionary developmental biologists said simply, “Death is selective.”3
Stephen J. Gould, another evolutionary theorist from Harvard, didn’t shy away from the centrality of death within selectionism. Extolling the selectionist worldview’s “power,” he wrote:
Moreover, natural selection, expressed in inappropriate human terms, is a remarkably inefficient, even cruel process. Selection carves adaptation by eliminating masses of the less fit—imposing hecatombs [great slaughter] of death as preconditions for limited increments of change. Natural selection is a theory of “trial and error externalism”—organisms propose via their storehouse of variation, and environments dispose of nearly all.4
A subsequent article finds Gould chiding the hypocrisy of those believing they can embrace a benevolent view of God and pro-life positions while simultaneously commending the virtues of selection.
The radicalism of natural selection lies in its power to dethrone some of the deepest and most traditional comforts of Western thought, particularly the notion that nature’s benevolence, order, and good design, with humans at a sensible summit of power and excellence, prove the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent creator who loves us most of all….To these beliefs Darwinian natural selection presents the most contrary position imaginable. Only one causal force produces evolutionary change in Darwin’s world: the unconscious struggle among individual organisms to promote their own personal reproductive success—nothing else, and nothing higher (no force, for example, works explicitly for the good of species or the harmony of ecosystems).5
One man who fully understood the weight of Darwinian thinking was the co-founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs. Facing a life-threatening disease, he expounded on the Darwinian meaning of death in his 2005 commencement address at Stanford University, saying, “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.”6
Natural Selection Applied to Populations
Darwin was fully in accord with the vision that “Natural Selection almost inevitably causes much Extinction of the less improved forms of life.”1 That influence has extended to the most prominent mass-murdering dictators.7 Today, increasing numbers of commonplace citizens are adopting Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” (i.e., selectionism) for their worldview—with the same deadly consequences.
Most of us are horrified by school and mass shootings, and they seem to be increasing in frequency. The Intelligent Design advocates at the Discovery Institute have done the best job of tracing—and documenting—the role of natural selection in motivating many of the people bent on mass killing. David Klinghoffer’s thorough report on the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado revealed:
When one of the assailants, Eric Harris, was autopsied, the medical examiner found that under his black trench coat the boy had on a white t-shirt emblazoned with a peculiar slogan. The slogan was “Natural Selection.” It was later reported but little commented upon that, on his website, Harris had written, among other paeans to the Darwinian mechanism, “Natural SELECTION!!!!!! [Expletive] it’s the best thing that ever happened to the earth. Getting rid of all the stupid and weak organisms…but it’s all natural!!! YES!”8
Klinghoffer then described the mass murder of seven students and a school headmistress on November 7, 2007, by Finnish high school student Pekka Eric Auvinen, who also committed suicide.
On a website, it was later learned, [Auvinen] described himself as an “anti-social social-Darwinist,” declaring that “I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.”8
More recently a white supremacist, Payton Gendron, murdered 10 people in Buffalo, New York. John West, also with Discovery Institute, reported:
In his purported manifesto, [Gendron] asserts that blacks “are a different subspecies of human.” Why? Because “Whites and Blacks are separated by tens of thousands of years of evolution, and our genetic material is obviously very different.” Elsewhere he suggests that Europeans and Asians are more recently evolved than blacks.9
West noted that Darwinism also played a motivating role in the thinking of the Holocaust Memorial Museum shooter in 2009 and the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter in 2019.9
The selectionist worldview not only poisons minds but also breeds a callous attitude toward death—including toward the hundreds of thousands of people who have died from Covid-19. One believer in natural selection used the outbreak to expound on the virtues of the selectionist worldview. Writing anonymously, this person sees value 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….But I argue that we should welcome the illness as Earth’s natural selection.”10 He adds:
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.10
For this anonymous author, “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.”10 So, death has been reduced to merely “pruning.”
Finally, we see advocates of abortion becoming increasingly cavalier about the death of human life. They’ve covered all the bases. Some simply deny that a pre-born baby is human. Perhaps the most outspoken popularizer of Darwinian selectionism is Cambridge University professor and atheist Richard Dawkins. In response to some powerful pro-life messaging, he tweeted, “With respect to those meanings of ‘human’ that are relevant to the morality of abortion, any fetus is less human than an adult pig.”11
An even more jaded approach is expressed in the social commentator Mary Elizabeth Williams’ Salon article titled “So what if abortion ends life? I believe that life starts at conception. And it’s never stopped me from being pro-choice.”12 She says:
Here’s the complicated reality in which we live: All life is not equal. That’s a difficult thing for liberals like me to talk about, lest we wind up looking like death-panel-loving, kill-your-grandma-and-your-precious-baby storm troopers. Yet a fetus can be a human life without having the same rights as the woman in whose body it resides. She’s the boss. Her life and what is right for her circumstances and her health should automatically trump the rights of the non-autonomous entity inside of her. Always.12
Gould identified a key element of the selectionist worldview as self-promotion, and Mary Elizabeth Williams’ views are the contemporary embodiment of it. People don’t like to think of themselves as self-centered because being self-centered just sounds so, well…selfish.
Even though Roe v. Wade has been overturned, we still live in a culture that’s easy with death since it’s permeated with Darwin’s deadly competition and survival-of-the-fittest thinking. In order to fix a problem, we must make the correct diagnosis. The powerful evidence straight from the mouths of Darwin, his followers, and his current advocates cannot be ignored.
Believing that death brings good things is the root cause. But ICR affirms that death is a curse resulting from Adam’s sin and is an enemy (Romans 8:18-23; 1 Corinthians 15:26). We’ll do all in our power to counter the selectionist worldview that opposes and subverts God’s truth. And we’ll do all we can to point people to our Creator, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ, who has given us life.
- Darwin, C. 2009. The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition. New York: Penguin Publishing Group, 29, 75.
- Mayr, E. 2001. What Evolution Is. New York: Basic Books, 288.
- Gilbert, S. F. and D. Epel. 2009. Ecological Developmental Biology: Integrating Epigenetics, Medicine, and Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 292.
- Gould, S. J. 1994. The Power of This View of Life. Natural History. 103 (6): 6-8.
- Gould, S. J. 1997. Darwinian Fundamentalism. The New York Review. (44) 10 (June 12, 1997 issue). Emphasis added.
- ‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says. Stanford University News. Posted on news.stanford.edu June 14, 2005, accessed November 5, 2019.
- Weikart, R. 2022. Darwinian Racism: How Darwinism Influenced Hitler, Nazism, and White Nationalism. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.
- Klinghoffer, D. Slouching Toward Columbine: Darwin’s Tree of Death. Discovery Institute. Posted on discovery.org April 20, 2009, accessed June 29, 2022.
- West, J. G. How Science Fueled the White Supremacist Mass Murderer in Buffalo, NY. Evolution News & Science Today. Posted on evolutionnews.org May 16, 2022, accessed June 29, 2022.
- Coronavirus Is Just Natural Selection. The Complete Thinker. Published on thecomplethinker.wordpress.com March 16, 2020, accessed April 8, 2020.
- Freeman, D. and E. Sankar-Gorton. 15 Of Richard Dawkins’ Most Controversial Tweets: His posts about Ahmed Mohamed are just the latest in a long series of provocative online comments. HuffPost. Posted on huffpost.com September 22, 2015, accessed June 29, 2022.
- Williams, M. E. So what if abortion ends life? I believe that life starts at conception. And it’s never stopped me from being pro-choice. Salon. Posted on salon.com January 23, 2013, accessed June 12, 2022.
* Dr. Guliuzza is President of the Institute for Creation Research. He earned his Doctorate 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 and holds a B.A. in theology from Moody Bible Institute.