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Is natural selection true, and does it apply w/ disabilities and viruses?

I’ve heard some remarks about the coronavirus that natural selection is taking place when people die from the coronavirus. The strong live; the weak die. I’ve heard this same sort of idea applied as an explanation of miscarriage, that something may have been wrong with the baby. I find the idea of natural selection offensive, for people to be weeded out by “nature” due to weaknesses of some sort. I’m not very scientifically inclined. However, since this idea of natural selection so bothers me I would like to know (I think I would anyway…) if it has any bearing on these things. I absolutely wish to reject it.

The major reason I have a reflex reaction to the idea of natural selection is I have a child who was born with a neural tube defect. Her life has infinite worth regardless of her challenges. The idea that she would be weeded out—she and her lineage—because of them really raises my defenses. Such a scenario doesn’t seem at all like the sort of world God would design. He is good and gracious to the weak and poor. Her life makes me more aware of the value of all life.

Explanations, even bad ones, give us a way to cope with or consent to the absence of control over situations. I am of the opinion natural selection is a bad explanation. Is there any truth to it?

Thank you for your input.

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Leah, I would first like to express my appreciation for your motherly love. God is honoring you for it. He will also use your daughter for his glory. I have family friends whose son suffered profound retardation due to umbilical cord strangulation at birth. He has lived decades beyond his expected life span and has brought much happiness to the people around him despite his unusual needs.

As to natural selection, it is important to understand the context. It is the only mechanism available to naturalists to explain any positive purpose at all to the injuries, disease, and death that they see. They do not distinguish between humanity and animals; there is no overriding moral imperative other than survival of the species that logically coheres to their worldview; so there is no reason to expect them to take care of the weak. We should pity them.

Fortunately their behavior generally belies their worldview. If they truly subscribe to their worldview, then why do they invest billions of dollars of resources in medical facilities that care for the weak? Why not just abandon the weak to their natural fate? If they were to suffer infirmity, would they voluntarily decline medical care and disappear into the woods so as not to weigh civilization down? I am sure that there are some who would do so, but I do not know of any. One historical irony is that nations that take care of their weak typically defeat nations that try to eliminate their weak. This turns natural selection on its head. Murderous regimes have tried to assist natural selection by engineering eugenic programs to their detriment–to their detriment–so it seems that natural selection does not tolerate any unnatural impingement in her domain, if she has a domain at all. Can it be that denigrating God’s image in humankind actually denigrates what is truly natural?

The animal kingdom is a bloody mess. Humanity cries out against animal behavior in its own. This is the human instinct. This is the natural instinct. It is unnatural for humanity to act like the creatures over whom God gave humanity dominion. Therefore you are right to reject the naturalistic notion of natural selection applied to humanity because it is unnatural for human beings to denigrate the image of God in themselves.

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Wow, Bill, thank you for that response. It blows my mind a little. I’m going to reread that and digest it some more. There was a lot in that. It seems like this is something you have encountered and thought a lot about.

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Thank you for your kindness in your remarks as well. I’m thankful your friend’s family has experienced the mercies and beauty of God in the life of their son. Every life is precious and to be valued, bearing the image of God.

One of your remarks gave me some insight into why someone could be motivated to believe the theory of natural selection:

You go on to say something else that causes me to puzzle how natural selection theory enters a Christian worldview:

For a Christian, if natural selection does not distinguish between animals and humans, the idea would cease to hold water from the start, right? People are distinguished from animals in a Christian worldview. Why might Christians accept the theory of natural selection? The examples I shared came from conversation among Christians.

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Leah, it may help to clarify the context. It sounds like you sense that they are serious. Can you describe in more detail what you heard? Did you ask them any questions to clarify what they meant? If so, what were their answers?

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Thank you for your thoughts and the responses - this articulates the truth clearly!

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Here are some details to help with the context of my examples. In both cases they were isolated occurrences.

The exchange about the coronavirus was very brief, making mention that its effect on human life was natural selection. The remarks referred to a previous conversation I had not witnessed. I was not part of the exchange conversation, just in the room, and did not ask any clarifying questions. The folks I heard making these exchanges are not naturalists. They are Bible-believing Christians.

Regarding the exchanges about miscarriage, someone supposed that perhaps a loved one’s baby didn’t survive because maybe it had problems and God had mercy on it, that it would have had a difficult life or the parents couldn’t handle it, that sort of thing. Natural selection was not mentioned. It hit a nerve because of the implication of perhaps it was better for the baby not to survive than to live and have problems. I don’t think natural selection was what the commenter meant.

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Leah, thank you for your clarification.

Everyone experiences situations where they hear comments without the full context and are not sure what to think about them. This is especially disconcerting when people who we expect to share our worldviews say things that seem to contradict those worldviews. Personal sensitivities can aggravate our reactions. We need to be particularly vigilant against overreacting when we do not know all of the facts.

You show great insight when you note:

You acknowledge that you reflexively reacted to what you heard because of your personal experience. Please also know that I intend to give you some feedback with the utmost kindness in my heart for you and your situation. If my response feels harsh, that is not my intent. Let us proceed with these things in mind.

The comments about the coronavirus that you overheard would disturb me if their context supported their surface meaning. In this case we do not know the entire context, so I do not think that it is fair to assume that we understand what their speakers meant without further discovery of the context of the previous conversation. They plausibly may have been trying to process another person’s statement, or they may have been continuing a conversation that they were having that was interrupted by business matters. Who knows? My opinion is that we should give them the benefit of the doubt since you say with apparent certainty that they share our faith. Maybe you can ask for clarification without being a busybody if you feel that you know them well enough. If you are able to get that clarification, I am interested in hearing it.

The comments about the miscarriage sound like many other attempts to rationalize Providence. We hear this type of “comfort” very frequently among Christians. Something traumatic happens, and people who mean well speculate about how the tragedy is for the good. This frequently aggravates the trauma not only for the victim, but also for any like you who may overhear the comment. The BIble tells us to listen before we talk for a reason. That is why you are wise to seek third-party perspectives here.

In summary, given what you have told me I do not think that you have reason to be too upset about what you heard. We frequently misinterpret what we overhear. Maybe God will grant you an opportunity to communicate with the people who you overheard how their statements affected you if you know them well enough. Sometimes people do not realize how their words can hurt. They might be more careful to think through what they say. Or you might learn that you completely misunderstood them.

If I misunderstood you in any way, please let me know. I am interested in further developments, too.

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Hi Brendan,
I find your reply toward Leah most sensitive and fine tuned. The emotional intelligence in your reply touched my heart and mind.
Overall, I agree that we must consider the context in which things are said, as we should do with all things.
Dealing with a world that uses insensitive terminology we must understand their mind in order to communicate with them.
I do work with scientist (entomology) and hear about natural selection ”all day long”, it is up to us to “understand” them and draw the line.

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Hi Leah,
This “natural selection“ is a way for the naturalist to explain why death occurs. It’s the survival of the fittest!
Truly, it is the fact that we live in a broken world. Through sin, death entered.

And yes, you are right! The naturalist view ceases to hold water from the start. “They” originate from animals but as Brendan pointed out, they build hospitals in hope to prolong life, perhaps to proof themselves ethical or moral, which has no room in the natural framework.

In closing I would like to express a couple of biological facts in a spiritual light. (you can extrapolate…)

It is because of the broken world that:

  • Not all immune systems are equally fortified to fight sickness, thus a healthy immune system fights off oxidative cell stress which leads to free radical cells/cancer.

  • A weakened immune system is susceptible to these stressors and gives way to disease; thus a weakened immune system may be affected by Covid-19 (the naturalist hypothesis “survival of the fittest steps into effect)

  • miss-carriages, which generally occur due to hormonal- or chromosomal imbalance, is evidence of the broken world which affects even the unborn :frowning:

  • I dare say, any human born with abnormalities defies the natural framework as they live in spite of the “perceived weakness”!!! (That is what our God does :slight_smile: !)

Mankind suffers not because they are not fit enough for survival, it is because of sin in the world!

Dealing with varying world views, we have to fortify ourselves spiritually and emotionally in hope to shed light into the next persons life. Yes, sometimes we may get offended or hurt by things they say or do, but we can’t stay there. We get strong so that they may be helped. Love has to motivate us, it motivated Jesus. We must reach beyond the break to reach all them that follow a deception in hope that one might receive sight.

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Angelique, thank you for your feedback. You mentioned that you “work with” entomologists. Do you mean that you are one? My going-on-eight son is a budding mycologist, botanist, and most recently a marine biologist who specializes in jellyfish. Now he is discovering bugs. One of his alter-egos is Hairy the Tarantula. Go figure.

I am curious to know what your experience is with your peers. What are the top three things that you hear about natural selection in your daily work? Have you had any conversations regarding how they apply natural selection in their own lives and worldviews?

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Brendan, I realized I called you by the wrong name (Bill) in a previous reply. I am so sorry.

Your responses have each been very thoughtful and helpful. Thank you! Perhaps phrasing my question and background with less emotional/personal content would have made it easier for you and others to respond candidly. I really appreciate your being both sensitive and honest in your feedback.

I agree with you that it would be unfair to assume I understand the speakers’ meaning without further context on the coronavirus remarks. You make a good point that there are plausible explanations for the statements that would give less cause for concern.

So far, the responses I’ve seen in this thread have affirmed that natural selection has no place in a Christian worldview when it comes to explaining physical “weaknesses.” Should the topic of natural selection arise in the future, I would like to be equipped to explain why natural selection is not what is at work and be able to support an alternative point of view. I really need more information in my resource tank to talk about these things. You spoke so clearly on the topic in your first reply! Perhaps you could point me to some concise resources you trust or share more of your knowledge on the topic.

Thank you again. This conversation has been really uplifting and helpful.

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Leah, I have been called worse! :laughing:

How you respond depends on whether you share a common worldview with the other person and how both of you define your terms. If the other person is a Christian then you already share significant common ground. You may be able to ask how their view squares with scripture. If the other person is not a Christian, then of course you have more work to do before you get to that point. Your relationship with the other person is very important in both cases. Be prepared to clarify terms, too. Do not be afraid to ask, “What do you mean by that?” Natural selection typically means the unguided process by which species evolve, but never assume that this is how the other person defines it! “Evolution” and “creation” have been caricatured in public discourse, so make sure to clarify these terms as well. There is a spectrum of views on these.

I do not have specific resources to recommend for the study of natural selection because most of the books that I have read and videos and podcasts to which I have listened discuss a much broader range of topics. I believe that it is most important for you to know what you believe and why you believe it. There is no shortcut for this. I recommend two things:

  1. Immerse yourself in God’s Word with prayer.
  2. Study John Lennox’s debates and lectures.

The former will make you intimately familiar with Truth so that you will recognize falsehood when you see it. The latter will teach you how to interact with philosophical opponents with loving wisdom. There are a number of great figures out there. I recommend Dr. Lennox to you because I believe that his warm approach fits your personality very well. I particularly recommend listening to his debate with Dr. Peter Singer. (You can find it on YouTube.) Most Christians in my circle react to Dr. Singer with disgust. Dr. Lennox expressed such loving empathy for Dr. Singer that he puts me to shame.

I hope that this helps you. Feel free to ask for further clarification.

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Brendan :slight_smile:

I like how your question turns on my thinking on the path to discovery :grin:

Yes, I am a behavioral entomologist on a technical level, which is the most fun level to be on. Over the last 24 years I have earned the respect of our research community which is all to the glory of God.

My observations in regards to how scientists process “natural selection” into their life vary.

The feedback gathered is mixed depending on the person’s field of science, age, family status and cultural background.

All scientific branches or disciplines do believe in natural selection but fight against it on a daily basis in hope to help mankind lol. Sounds miserable coming to think of it. They essentially work against the course of naturalism, the very thing they believe.
Even today as I “inquired” about Covid19 and letting it take its course for a survival of the fittest (of course I was only probing) I got feedback that we are not animals anymore and we have doctors and built hospitals to help them that are less fit. Even as you yourself stated.

I could go into more detail and describe the molecular scientist vs entomologist vs geneticist but that would make it a long post of “just information”.

These hard times now experienced of Covid19 worldwide, swine flu China, bubonic plague (Mongolia) makes all of us look toward our Maker, even the scientists!

The philosopher tends to come out in some, I speak truth only when I see the person is not too busy hearing their own voice. I have learned my lesson to abstain from a heated discussion.

Suffering has a tendency to bring mankind to their knees, and never is it more effective than when we are directly impacted by it, Natural Selection goes right out the window.
Few search for God but it seems most refuse while trying to fight for life by means of GMO, and gene silencing etc.

I think the take away is: scientists, among others, who claim naturalism and deny God, want to manipulate their environment while they mimik to be “little gods” all along.
God knows the heart of man and the aftermath will proof that God knows best.

Thank you for tickling my brain

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Angelique, thank you. You said so many great things and packed practical, helpful info in there and in your response to Brendan, also. The two of you have been absolutely wonderful in your responses, sharing much heart and knowledge.

You said a couple of things, well, several, that stick out to me.

These statements help demonstrate that natural selection theory is contrary to the idea that death and suffering entered through sin. Through sin, not selection. It brings me a sigh of relief to read a simple way to think about and articulate this.

Then you make such a beautiful, evangelistic point with this:

This redirects attention to the real goal of salvation for the lost. It’s truth that sets people free. It comes back to that.

Working as it sounds like you do with people of a different worldview than you, you probably have developed some “thick skin” (that fortification you mentioned). You said that you have to understand their mind and draw the line. What do you mean about drawing the line?

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Hi Leah,
Yes, I developed somewhat of a thick skin dealing with an international work environment. It also has a beauty like non other.
What I mean by “drawing the line”’is:

  1. when we want to help others we have to be open to them and give opportunity to them to speak. As we are open to them, it introduce the risk that we get hurt or if we are not solid in the Word of God, different doctrine can infiltrate our lives and pervert us spiritually. We become diluted even as King Solomon was spoiled by his political marriages and married wife’s who served other gods.
  2. When we listen to people we have to be watchful over ourselves and sometimes when they are not open to receive, instead of engaging in a non-fruitful conversation with them, I draw the line and withdraw from conversing so that I won’t get frustrated or angry and possibly present a bad example for Christ.
    Wishing you well
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@Leah, it has occurred to me that a practical list of questions that you can ask in the course of a conversation might help. @ahoyte and others may have some ideas as well. Here are some that come to mind as I consider your concerns, in no particular order:

  • “What do you mean by ‘natural selection?’”
  • “Do you differentiate between animals and human beings?”
  • “What differentiates humans from non-humans?”
  • “What differentiates persons from non-persons?” (Some philosophers separate personhood from humanity.)
  • “If you see a puppy and a child drowning in a lake, and you can only rescue one, which one do you rescue? Why?”
  • “What is wrong with eugenics?”

These are just a few to get the juices flowing. Any other ideas?

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The questions Brendan poses are good. I would like to attach some questions to Brendan’s.

If a person is a naturalist, then there shouldn’t be any room for a conscience, as they believe the universe somehow created itself; it somewhat mimics evolutionary theory in that both are atheistic.

My questions are:

•where in the process did we develop a conscience/consciousness?

•can a conscience be proven biologically (as naturalism has its roots in science it should be proovable)

•if a naturalist can not proof a conscience than why do we they follow morals and ethics?

•if they say they follow morals where do these morals originate

With that you can lead these questions back to Ravis famous groundwork of the moral law giver :grin:

Wishing you well on your journey of learning.

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Thank you, @Brendan. These are good thought-provoking questions. You raised my eyebrow with the one about some philosophers separating personhood from humanity. That one sounds scary in the sense of containing some pretty cold thoughts. I marvel some at how God’s love and His ways are so different from other points of view. I may be overly optimistic here, but I would imagine when people ponder the questions you raised our default responses would bend toward valuing human life. Maybe that’s because the Lord wrote his laws in our hearts. Like the question Angelique mentioned (thanks @ahoyte for your wonderful input!), do we have a conscience and where does it come from? If we didn’t have one, why would people have to work so hard to shut it up and program it out through its constant violation? I’m wandering down a side path here, but when children are raised up in such a way (to try to make them cruel and void of a conscience like Hitler wanted to do), how do their consciences reactivate for lack of a better word? It’s God given to each individual, so how does one person destroy another’s?

I’m thankful folks like you and Angelique who have so much knowledge are willing to sow that back out and it’s landed in my life.

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You are welcome. By the way it has just occurred to me that it may help you to read a book about the philosophy of ethics. I recently took a college course in this topic and it opened my eyes. It might be good for you to get a general idea of the different ethical models out there so you can develop a general understanding of what you may encounter. Humanity and personhood play a significant role in this field. The text that we used was Doing Ethics, by Lewis Vaughn, for what it is worth. It is a secular text, but has a lot of short readings by different philosophers on lots of different subjects that will give you a solid general understanding of this field.

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