Gene Veith writes: “Darwin’s theory of evolution challenged romanticism just as it did Christianity. Darwin showed that nature was not the realm of harmony and goodness that the romantics idealized. Rather, nature is intrinsically violent. The “survival of the fittest,” the raw struggle for survival in which the strong prey upon the weak, emerges as the fundamental law of nature, accounting for the very origins of species.” (Postmodern Thought, 37)
And I don’t think this point can be made too frequently. On one level Darwin’s theory is abhorrent for its arrogance and narrow-minded, materialistic fundamentalism. But on another sense, Darwinism is appalling because it is inherently violent. And that really is a substantial objection as well. Call it the teleological objection. Call it the moral objection. I object to Darwin because I object to senseless violence. I object to Darwin because I object to living in this world as though might makes right, as though the strongest, fastest, and smartest should be allowed to trample the weak and defenseless beneath them.
And of course faithful Christians have been pointing this out for years, but Darwin’s theory essentially says that violence is the answer. It’s the answer to how we got here, and if that is the case, it must necessarily be the answer to our own situations and challenges. But this means that the Darwinian gospel of violence is also an eschatology: the answer is violence.
But the only sense in which this is true is with regard to the cross of Jesus. That was the violent act to end all violence, and ironically it was in weakness that Jesus was made strong. It was the exact opposite of Darwin. The gospel is the declaration that the Weak One has not only survived but is overcoming the strong, overcoming the fittest. Because God has chosen the weak things of this world to overcome the strong, the foolish things of this world to overcome the wise.
And in that sense, we can look back and see the logic of the cross in history, a story of God’s power being perfected in the weakness of His people, calling light out of darkness, children from barren wombs, leading nations through seas and desserts. And the story reveals an inversion of violence, just like the cross of Jesus. It implies a submission to injustice, suffering, and violence in full assurance of the justice and goodness of God.
Darwin felt this tension I think. In his older age he was given to reading the sappiest romance novels and if ever something he deemed too sad happened to its characters he would throw the book across the room in frustration.