I’ve always been and remain a Darwinist, and that typically confuses my Christian and Traditionalist comrades. After all, what’s more despicable than the biological reductionism implied by “survival of the fittest”? What’s more despicable than amoral “Social Darwinism”? What’s more anti-Christian than the famous scientist whose research disproved the Bible? “Darwin” is, along with Marx and Freud, one of the most celebrated heroes of Modernity and its degenerate priesthood of intellectuals and ideologues.
Charles Darwin didn’t engage in his study of “transmutation” in order to threaten the Christian faith or project its conclusions into every aspect of philosophy, politics, and culture. His earliest research was propelled by a sincere Christian’s fascination with God’s creations. Early on, he casually described his scientific findings in biblical terms, but his research led him away from that. He discovered that all the species he observed had evolved gradually over millions of years from a common origin . . . including man.
We’re hyper-cephalic monkeys, with innards pretty much the same as the innards of other monkeys. We’re learning more and more about human origins on a daily basis, as fascinating new archaeological and genetic findings present more and more clues to our temporal history. This would be terrifying news for biblical literalists, as the most explicit and direct reading of Genesis has been proven wrong, counter-factual, literally incorrect. The bible, read as a mash-up textbook on astrophysics, geology, and anthropology, has been completely discredited by the work of Darwin and countless other researchers, many of whom retained their Christian faith despite their research.
Darwin, as we all know, lost his Christian faith. While the natural assumption is that his research led him away from Christianity, the man’s loss of his cherished teenage daughter also rocked his faith in a loving god. He insisted that it was “absurd to doubt that a man might be an ardent theist and an evolutionist”, but the theory of evolution and the natural history implied by it certainly didn’t bolster Darwin’s faith. It certainly hasn’t bolstered the West’s faith in the decades since its formulation. He can claim that evolution and a belief in God are compatible, but his own biography suggests otherwise, as does the biography of the West.
Many Protestant denominations are integrally committed to an extremely literal reading of the Bible and the Bible alone, sola scriptura. Returning to the nuanced and multidimensional approach to one’s faith necessary to read Genesis in a mythic manner undermines the schismatic denomination’s own private creation myth. While visiting the Creation Museum in Northern Kentucky, this point was driven home during the lecture for adults which takes place after the museum tour. According to Answers in Genesis, the “biblical worldview” isn’t really compatible with macro-evolution, the actual age of the Earth, or the actual configuration of the Universe.
While faith itself is hard enough to cultivate and maintain, these Christians pile on a truckload of concretely counter-factual propositions one must also believe in addition to the Trinity and the Creed. The actual amount of cognitive dissonance varies from Christian to Christian of course, largely depending on how curious or credulous they are about science in general. Generally, my Traditionalist take on education leaves me largely indifferent, as the whole notion that every peasant must be thoroughly familiar with global political affairs and scientifically literate is firmly within the mass democratic matrix of Modernity.
Frankly, if you’re not inclined to give a damn about abiogenesis or the dietary habits of early hominins, you shouldn’t be encouraged to. Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, and most Reddit Atheist types push science education so vigorously because they’re attempting to prop up scientific research about our origins as the new Creation Myth, invariably tacking on their entirely unscientific secular humanist egalitarian worldview to the findings.
Both the Fundamentalist Protestants and Reddit Atheists thrive on this false dichotomy between the Christian worldview and the scientific truth, with P.Z. Myers eagerly trying to saddle up on dinosaurs at the Creation Museum and the Creationists accusing the evolutionists of being “racists” because of the obvious implications of evolutionary theory. The “Liberal Creationist” cognitive dissonance required to endorse the theory of evolution yet feign ignorance of meaningful racial differences is another case of the mass adoption of patently counter-factual beliefs in this absurd carnival of farcical and hysterical beliefs.
While this is a death-struggle for Fundamentalist Christians, Traditionalist Christians leave room for mystery, ambiguity, and future growth. To the authentic Traditionalist, sincerely unbiased and methodical scientific research is a theological process, since it’s a process of discerning the truth. In those moments when “truth” and “Truth” appear to contradict one another, we know that our understanding of one or the other must be limited or flawed, as we’re confident in the final and complete synthesis of the latest knowledge and ageless wisdom. We may not figure out what that synthesis is in our lifetimes, and that’s okay. God doesn’t call us to be all-knowing, and he didn’t claim to have delivered us all the answers.
Mythic narratives aside, a disturbing subset of Christians retain a belief in the God of the Gaps, always looking for some irrefutable signature of God’s design in our material world. I find that in the eyes and thoughts of my loved ones and in the serenity of Christ’s message, but many Christians continue expecting to find it in the latest pop science articles. Did neuroscientists find the “soul” part of the brain? Is this or that distant galaxy shaped like a crucifix? Are quantum physicists hot on the trail of the “God Particle” or on the verge of discovering additional dimensions which will unlock transcendent mysteries? I, for one, hope God doesn’t think like a game developer, sneaking Easter Eggs into the code for us to stumble upon at random, or leaving a bug or security flaw that short-circuits the laborious yet necessary work of cultivating sincere child-like faith in Him.
It’s regretful that Darwin faltered in his faith toward the end of his life, though he was consistently supportive of his parish and of his wife’s undying faith. Few historical figures approach Charles Darwin’s degree of discipline, patience, love, and humility. His honesty, integrity, and love for his family and folk shone as brightly as his scientific discoveries and insights. Despite the doubts which nagged him to the grave, he retained a Christian Traditionalist disposition throughout his life. While his work and his legacy have been hijacked by the arrogant nemeses of family, folk, and faith, his life and legacy couldn’t be more dissonant with his modern proponents and the agenda they’re promoting.