Darwin’s Bulldog

When you ask some people what they believe, they'll say they're "agnostic." What they usually mean is that they don't have enough evidence to decide whether or not God really exists. Agnostics in America today are a lot like Switzerland during World War II -- while the battle rages all around them, they try to maintain neutrality. It's interesting to note the origins of the word "agnostic." It was coined in the year 1870 by Thomas Huxley, who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog." Huxley was an atheist at a time when it was socially unacceptable, so he found a more comfortable word to describe himself: agnostic. In Huxley's sense, agnosticism means there's no credible scientific evidence for the existence of God. So, if God does exist, he's irrelevant. Huxley championed Darwin's evolutionary theory tirelessly -- not because he felt Darwin was infallible but because Darwin's theory helped Huxley ignore the Creator. Privately he admitted that the fossil record seems to suggest that sharks have always been sharks and crocodiles always crocodiles, but Huxley believed it was "more profitable to go wrong than to stand still." He hid his doubts from laymen, making bold statements like, "The whole evidence is in favour of evolution, and there is none against it." To Christians who were alarmed by Darwin's theory, Huxley was reassuring. During a lecture to the Young Men's Christian Association, Huxley declared that the sciences "are neither Christian, nor unchristian, but are extra-Christian." And it's precisely this contention that holds many Christians hostage today. To suggest that science is somehow outside the scope of Christianity is to suggest that Christianity is not a total worldview. Huxley's implication is clear: Christianity deals with the unseen and with faith, while science deals with cold, hard facts and reality. Don't worry if Darwin's description of reality seems to contradict your faith -- just place each one in its own compartment and let them be. When Christians accepted this point of view, they retreated. Suddenly, Christians couldn't take faith into the laboratory or, by logical extension, into other "secular" places like the courtroom, the classroom, or the media. Today's marginalization of Christianity is a direct result of our failure to understand our faith as a total worldview. We've lost our voice in the public square because we forgot, as Psalm 24:1 says, "the earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." God is sovereign over all of reality! Once a Christian understands this, he's prepared to enter the debate. And students who view their faith as a worldview can stand firm on college campuses, even in the face of atheism. How can you help your students understand the Christian worldview? Well, they can attend a program such as those held by Summit Ministries in Colorado or by the Worldview Academy, which travels around offering week-long camps nationwide every summer -- training teens to think and live in accordance with a Christian worldview. To find out how to get your kids involved, call the Worldview Academy at 1-800-241- 1123 or visit their web site at . Darwin's Bulldog caused problems, alright, but he also clarified the debate. Because nothing is "extra- Christian." And remembering this helps us understand the sovereignty of God, and the all-embracing scope of our Christian worldview. For further reading: Desmond, Adrian. Huxley: The Devil's Disciple. London: Michael Joseph, 1994. Huxley, Thomas H. "Lectures on Evolution." In "Agnosticism and Christianity" and Other Essays. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1992.


Chuck Colson



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