Gary North’s Reality Check
The Darwinists developed a strategy for promoting their outlook over a century ago. It was first articulated by Lester Frank Ward in 1883. To understand the nature of the Darwinists’ strategy for education, we must first understand established churches.
In 1833, the state of Massachusetts passed a law ending the 200-year-old state subsidy to Congregational churches. This was not the last trace of the established church in America. Local governments throughout the United States continued to subsidize local denominations in various ways. One way was to provide a subsidy in the form of access to tax-funded meeting houses. Competing churches had to build their places of worship. As towns grew, the churches that had built in the path of development prospered. The story of government subsidies to local churches and their subsequent demise is told in a great book by sociologists Rodney Stark and Roger Finke, The Churching of America. Its message: government subsidies weaken those who receive them. The recipients fail to keep up. They cannot compete.
This is another example of how bad ethics, coupled with government coercion, produces bad results. Special-interest groups that resort to state coercion to maintain their dominance eventually lose influence when the state ceases to support them. The subsidies weaken them. Then the subsidies are removed.
This brings me to the subject at hand: Darwinism.
A MINORITY POSITION
Believers in Darwinism in the United States have a major problem. Almost nobody thinks they are correct.
In 1982, a total of 9% of the people surveyed by the Gallup organization said that they believed that man evolved over millions of years, and that God had nothing to do with the process. This is straight Darwinism. It is the theory of evolution through natural selection. In 2012, 15% of those surveyed said they held to this view. In other words, 153 years after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the Darwinists have failed to persuade 85% of the American population of the truth of their position.
Why have they failed? Because they have relied on the state to promote Darwinism and to defend it against rival views. Once any idea becomes dependent on federal money and federal law, its failure is guaranteed. Its promoters lose their ability to compete in the marketplace. Then the government pulls the subsidy.
MEDIA CONFUSION OVER EVOLUTION AND DARWINISM
When this Gallup poll was released, the media picked up on it. But the entire media misunderstood the poll. They reported that half of Americans believe in evolution. This missed the main point. What is the main point? This: 85% of Americans reject Darwinism.
Darwinists do not rejoice when somebody says that he believes in evolution, but an evolutionary process guided by God. This idea is anathema to the Darwinists. Darwin took his stand against exactly this position. In his day, intellectuals believed in an old earth. They believed in God-directed evolution. God imposes order on the universe, they argued. Darwin’s idea of evolution through natural selection was the answer to this view. This is why the Darwinists are passionate in their rejection of the ideas promoted by a movement that calls itself “intelligent design.” Darwinists reject intelligent design as being as unscientific as the six-day creation movement.
The main point of Darwinism is not the idea of evolution. That idea long preceded Darwinism. It goes back to classical Greece. The main point of Darwinism is to promote the idea of purposeless life prior to the advent of man. It promotes the idea that all life came out of a purposeless universe, and until the advent of man, there was no purpose in the universe.
The main motivation of Darwinists has always been to elevate man as a replacement of God. What God is not allowed to do, namely, shape history, including cosmic history, in terms of His purposes, man is now said to be able to do, and therefore he has a responsibility to do it. It is the elevation of man as the new God that is the essence of Darwinism, not the doctrine of evolution. This is why Darwinism is a religion.