As I write this, I am sitting in my uncle’s house in Atlanta, and in the room next to me are about a dozen 10 year olds who are hopefully about to fall asleep. This weekend is my cousin’s birthday, and I make an effort to come down and celebrate with her each year, so this time I got slapped with sleepover duty. It’s been an interesting experience.
Although I went to my fair share of slumber parties growing up, I had forgotten how emotionally intense they are. Throughout the course of the night, several girls have ended up crying, one girl chipped her tooth, a couple girls went home, and at the end of the evening we came close to World War III in determining the sleeping arrangements. And no, these girls are not unusually mean or socially maladjusted–this is typical sleeover protocol. Little girls are simply dramatic, competitive, and cut throat, so if you’re weak, you get picked off early and quickly. The weak antelope of this particular group got a busted lip, a headache, and wound up crying in the corner at one point…it wasn’t pretty. But at girls’ slumber parties, it’s all about survival of the fittest.
Watching these girls has caused me to realize more than ever that Darwin was, in fact, very right. Due to human sinfulness, both animals and humans alike will do whatever it takes to stay ahead, even if it’s at the expense of others.
I think this is an important point to note as we inhabit a Christian culture that virulently opposes Darwinism and its connection with the theory of Evolution. Historically, Christians have denounced Darwin’s teachings, especially on Evolution, because they feel it undermines Scripture. And while this is, indeed, a valid concern, I think it has distracted us from a greater problem that has creeped into the Christian mindset.
Many Christians are, for all intents and purposes, practical Darwinists. You see, we might lobby against teaching Evolution in schools all day long, but our lifestyle and our politics are frequently governed by Darwinism. At the end of the day, the way we live, vote and treat others can be boiled down to a kind of survival of the fittest. For example, free market capitalism is a concept that most Americans, if not most Christians, embrace and praise because it allows a great amount of freedom in the marketplace. We are encouraged to strive and succeed because there are no government regulations holding us back. However, we often forget that part of what makes free market capitalism work is that it is fundamentally based upon survival of the fittest. Unlike a communist government which strips its people of their motivation by not rewarding the hardest workers and the most innovative thinkers for their work, capitalism does reward the strongest and the brightest. If you work hard enough, it promises, you will succeed.
And while that is a value to be appreciated, we must not forget that capitalism also has a history of trampling the weak while allowing the rich to grow richer. When left unchecked, free market capitalism displays Darwin’s teachings quite shockingly. That is why our government has instituted checks and balances, such as laws against monopolies–without these regulations, the poor will be exploited.
Now as some are quick to point out, the poor will always be with us, and there will always be “weak antelopes” who get devoured by our culture, so capitalism is not to be blamed. To some extent, this is correct, but that doesn’t mean we should embrace that reality and simply allow Darwinism to play out in its natural way. The reason there are poor people in our country is not because they are lazy and simply haven’t taken advantage of the benefits of capitalism. There are poor people in our country because there is sin in our country,and God’s stance on sin is clear–we must resist it. And that is what I’m getting at here–this is not a tyrade against capitalism. On the contrary, it can be a good thing, but there is no economic system or government that amerliorates sin, so we kid ourselves if we let these systems becomes our saviors instead of Christ. Neither capitalism nor democracy can save us, and both can become evil devices that cause great destruction when perverted by sin, so we must watch them carefully.
Now practically speaking, the key to resisting our survival of the fittest tendencies is to resist putting ourselves ahead of others. That me-centered tendency is at the heart of Darwinism–every person puts themselves first. But instead of blaming the poor for being poor, we must consider if there is anything we have done to put them there. How have we lived or who have we chosen to lead us that exemplifies Darwinism instead of self-sacrifice and charity? Given that the philosophy of Darwinism places the personal good first, it is fundamentally opposed to Jesus’ teachings on the poor and oppressed–God never teaches us to let the poor fend for themselves. If anything, the poor are our responsibilty, so we need to identify those tendencies in ourselves that are more Darwinistic than Christlike. What’s more, we must do all we can to defend the poor and oppressed and make sure they don’t get crushed under the wheels of government or capitalism, and more importantly, human sin.
Perhaps this is a good perspective to keep in mind as we consider our politics, our business, and our lifestyle. Are we good Samaritans, or practical Darwinists? In a culture that places so much emphasis on humanistic success and realism, Jesus’ teachings may seem unrealistic, or idealistic at best. But God is not always realistic–the poor may always be with us, but that doesn’t mean we should simply throw up our hands and let Darwinism take its course. Instead, it means we have an unending call, and that call is to help the weak, not ignore them.