Emily Whitten: Beginning with Evolution

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, September 20. Good morning! This is The world and all in it of WORLD Radio supported by the listeners. I am Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next, evolution.

Many people may not realize the far-reaching effect that Darwinian theory of evolution has had on American culture.

WORLD’s Emily Whitten recently read the book Darwin on trial and recommended it as this month’s classic book. Today, she goes further by explaining that evolution is the root and enlightenment is its fruit.

EMILY WHITTEN, COMMENTATOR: If you want to eradicate enlightenment in American society and schools today, start with evolution.

As I recently read Phillip Johnson’s 1991 book, Darwin on trial, it reminded me of a time not so long ago when evolution in schools was a hot political topic. Johnson writes about Louisiana’s 1981 law that sought to require equal class time for “evolutionary science” and “creation science.” It also recounts how the courts struck down this law and, in 1987, how the Supreme Court upheld this decision.

Today, conservatives who fight for traditional values ​​in schools have a lot to do. Why dredge up that old saw?

On the one hand, Marxism and Darwinism are blood brothers. They were born around the same time and into similar intellectual backgrounds. As Johnson’s book reminded me, both teach us to see the real world as matter only – in a box that excludes the supernatural. Both bring human understanding closer to that “immanent framework” that Carl Trueman talks about in his recent book, strange new world.

This naturalistic box is not abstract for me. I’ve been in it before. When I drove the winding Mississippi highways to Ole Miss in 1996 and started studying English literature, I may have heard a professor openly promoting Marxism. I didn’t hear the term Critical Theory until my graduate level courses – if I hadn’t been to Honors College I might not have heard of it at all. What I heard was adopted and taught openly, without criticism from any side – Darwinian evolution.

When we look at literature and, through it, the whole world, Christians know that God is our creator. According to Psalm 100, “He created us, not ourselves.” It took me years to realize that the basic premise of my college humanities program was a direct inversion of that. We were taught: “We are the ones who created ourselves. Just as on-campus science classes excluded God from serious study, our humanities classes did the same. People alone, we have been taught, make art and culture. Only people create languages, societies, relationships and concepts about gender, sexuality and everything else. If we created them, why not change them?

That doesn’t mean we don’t believe in a god. Almost all of my classmates and I believed in some kind of God. But whatever or whoever he was, he was outside the box of facts, reason and reality. As Johnson wrote, Darwinian evolution “relegates both morality and God to a realm outside of scientific knowledge, where only subjective belief is to be found.”

Do you still hear the connection with waking ideas? From gender identity to racial identity, my social studies classes in the 1990s taught me to define myself, to make myself, to be my own Creator. Why? Because evolution had already cut God out of the picture. What God thought of me, or proposed to me, could not be studied.

As new “woke” ideas threaten to upend our society, we are seeing a new drive to push back against academic elites. I am grateful for this and hope that Christians will show how to do this well, in truth and love. But if Christians want to win the war and not just the battle of today, if we want to turn off the tap of all the woke madness, we cannot ignore evolution.

God didn’t design America – or any culture – to work that way.

I am Emily Whitten.


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