Conservative Darwinism

What do you think about this quote?

The irony is that those American churches that protest most vocally against the teaching of Darwinism in their schools are often, in their public policies, supporting a kind of economic Darwinism, the survival of the fittest in world markets and military power.

— N. T. Wright, Surprised By Hope

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5 thoughts on “Conservative Darwinism”

  1. It needs more context, because it seems simplistic. I think it’s a poor analogy because Christians protest biological Darwinism mainly on the grounds of its’ theories of origins as well as its’ atheistic conclusions. Wright’s application of this opposition from Christians to greed as it pertains to global economics is a stretch.

  2. I actually think it is perfectly sufficient on it’s own. He is not conflating these two issues (i.e., biological Darwinism and social Darwinism) but rather imploring Christians to maintain theological consistency. It is logically inconsistent to oppose Darwinism (in its biological form) yet support it in other forms. It would be inconsistent to oppose eugenics or abortion, yet support an economic system that rewards the ‘strong’ irrespective of moral concerns.

    That being said, it’s a thought provoking quote. Go buy the book for more context (I suspect it would infringe the copyright to reproduce the whole chapter here).

  3. There’s truth in the observation. My opinion is that this is the world God created. God gave us challenges to cope with, but he did not leave us powerless in the face of them. Christ taught us how to help one another without taking our personal accountability and growth away. These are the very things that bring us to trust our faith and come closer to God.

  4. I believe logically they are similar but one key difference is that creation/evolution involves an event out of our control, whereas social and military evolution are current and are more in our control (yes this is intentionally simplified). Therefore, from a strict logical point of view, one could support an aspect of Darwinism and oppose the others.

    Taking the Bible and more directly the teachings of Jesus into consideration, the concept of “survival of the fittest” conflicts in all 3 of these areas. It conflicts with evolution because God says he created the heavens and the Earth. In Galatians 2:9-10, James, Cephas, and John, saw that Paul and Barnabas were on a mission for God, and asked them only one thing which was to remember the poor. Helping the poor/weak get strong is against survival of the fittest. Finally Christ spoke a message of peace, not a message of strength through military power to attempt to obtain peace.

    Some reasons why churches might preach one and not the other could be because of direct affect, or political influence. What I mean by direct affect, is that children of parents in the church are being forced to learn evolution. These parents and children are directly affected by this so the focus of the church is on this. It is tough to be directly affected by the negative side of economic Darwinism when the church is made up of middle or upper class members. I would be willing to bet that churches which are made up of poorer socio economic members speak directly against economic Darwinism. It is a simple human trait that when we are negatively affected by something we are more inclined to speak against it. Even though this may be a trait, it is also something the church and Christians should avoid. As a church or as a Christian, to support survival of the fittest in any of these areas, I believe conflicts directly with Christ’s teachings.

    Politics in the church can also cause a church to support economic and military Darwinism. I’m going to leave it at that because advancing to the church and politics could lead to a 200 page book.

    Based on this quote what I see if a call for me to live a life of Christ-like consistency and not a life the focuses only on the things that affect me directly.

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