Atheism and the Survival of the Fittest

Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin

Even though Charles Darwin did not coin the phrase “survival of the fittest” (that honor goes to Herbert Spencer), he did acknowledge that it was more expressive than his own phrase “natural selection.”

The doctrine of “survival of the fittest” or “natural selection” has become a telling weapon in the hands of the militant atheists in their quest to subvert and ultimately destroy Christianity. “This century,” writes Robert Ingersoll, “will be called Darwin’s century. . . . Write the name of Charles Darwin on the one hand and the name of every theologian who ever lived on the other, and from that name has come more light to the world than all of those. His doctrine of evolution, his doctrine of the survival of the fittest, his doctrine of the origin of species, has removed in every thinking mind the last vestige of orthodox Christianity” (World magazine, November 17, 2007, p. 38).

Instead of orchestrating a funeral dirge for Christianity, however, Darwin’s theory fueled Hitler’s ovens and stoked Stalin’s communist empire to the tune of millions dead and missing — quite a record for a simple theory of “survival” and “origin of species.” (Incidentally, Darwin never did reveal the origin of species in his 1859 work primarily because he knew nothing of DNA, cells, and genes. (See Geoffrey Simmons’ What Darwin Didn’t Know.)

According to Darwin, three ingredients guarantee survival and multiplicity: vigor, health, and happiness! These three are responsible for the survival and reproduction of all life. Conversely, species that are weak, unhealthy, and unhappy are eliminated in the battle for survival.

With this in mind, have you ever wondered how atheists (who embrace Darwinian evolution) measure up to being happy and, therefore, fulfilling their part in the evolutionary scheme? Are atheists living up to their end of the bargain in propagating and improving the human species? And are atheists, with their doctrine of “no god,” offering humanity more happiness than religious believers in God?

Two recent studies confirm the fact that religious believers in God are happier than their atheistic “religious” counterparts who believe in “no god.” (I contend that Secular Humanists are just as religious as I am.) If the conclusions of these two studies are valid, then atheists need to explain why they themselves won’t be eliminated as part of the unhappy throng who won’t succeed in the battle for survival.

The first study I will highlight is a special Mind and Body issue of Time magazine (January 17, 2005) entitled “The New Science of Happiness.” In an article entitled “The Power to Uplift,” the author concludes that “[r]eligious people are less depressed, less anxious and less suicidal than nonreligious people. And they are better able to cope with such crises as illness, divorce and bereavement. . . . Studies show that the more a believer incorporated religion into daily living — attending services, reading Scripture, praying — the better off he or she appears to be on two measures of happiness: frequency of positive emotions and overall sense of satisfaction with life.” The article also says that “[s]tudies show that those who believe in life after death, for example, are happier than those who do not” (p. A 46).

The second study I draw from is a University of Chicago study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center in April 2007 that found the following: “Clergy ranked tops in job satisfaction and general happiness.” The very group that atheists feel “poisons everything” turns out to be the best friend Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest has. In contrast, I don’t recall ever seeing a study that holds up atheists, atheistic philosophers, or scientists as models of happiness. Christopher Hitchens, for example, although even-tempered, seems angry and mean all the time!

My hope is that this University of Chicago study on happiness will give modern-day militant atheist like Sam Harris second thoughts about eradicating the clergy. In his book The End of Faith, Harris actually says, “The link between belief and behavior raises the stakes considerably. Some propositions are so dangerous that it may be ethical to kill people for believing them.” Harris may honestly believe that some of these dangerous propositions include: God exists, God created the heavens and the earth, God created Adam and Eve, Jesus saves, and so on.

Fortunately, a fellow atheist evaluated Harris’ Bolshevik threat as “quite possibly the most disgraceful [comment] that I have read in a book by a man posing as a rationalist.” We can almost hear in the shadowy distance — Ready, Aim, Fire! Have we forgotten that Columbine High School’s two killers were wearing t-shirts celebrating “natural selection.” And Pekka-Eric Auvinen, an 18-year-old student who murdered eight fellow students at a school in Finland, wore a t-shirt emblazoned with “Humanity Is Overrated.” He is quoted as saying, “I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.” (World magazine, November 17, 2007, p. 20)

Richard Dawkins, like Sam Harris, regards faith in God as an evil to be eliminated. According to Dawkins, “It is fashionable to wax apocalyptic about the threat to humanity posed by the AIDS virus, ‘mad cow’ disease and many others, but I think that a case can be made that faith is one of the world’s great evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.” (If Dawkins had simply read John Warwick Montgomery’s work Faith Founded on Fact, he would not have defined faith as belief based on lack of evidence!)

Harris and Dawkins remind me of the radical Muslims who identify all non-Muslims as infidels and then call for their demise! (See William J. Federer’s What Every American Needs to Know About the Qur’an.)

But let’s continue evaluating why atheists are less happy people than religious believers in God and why atheists, therefore, have a diminished chance to survive and propagate themselves. In his own words, Darwin clearly says in his The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life, “The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply” (Vol. 1, p. 96 in the D. Appleton and Company 1898 edition).

Atheism mandates that humanity was born without design or purpose out of some blue-green foamy algae, the result of some chance explosion of non-living matter, finally settling on a god-forsaken planet in an accident-prone universe or even multiverse (an infinite number of universes). Further, this evolving speck called life ultimately has absolutely no purpose — it is a mere piece of protoplasm floating in a sea of nothingness heading nowhere. Its end is again nonexistence from which it came originally. In the meantime, its present existence (DNA) is no better or worse than a head of lettuce or a bunch of carrots, and none of mankind’s ideas (which include atheism) is any better than a chimp’s ideas (if we were only clever enough to decipher Bonzo’s ideas!). True to form, Christopher Hitchens in his recent debate with Alister McGrath at Georgetown University referred to human beings as “little more than quasi-chimpanzees.”

On the other hand, the traditional theist (the God believer) looks upon the human race as something very special because we were created in the very image of an infinitely wise and powerful God who actually loved us so much that He was willing to give up His only begotten Son in order to give us eternal life (John 3:16). Life is a precious gift from God, planned and perfectly executed (finely tuned) in order to do what the Creator has given us to do — take care of a privileged planet called earth, take care of each other, and take care to pass on the good news of redemption to each generation.

Dinesh D’Souza, in his powerfully argued work What’s So Great About Christianity, suggests we “imagine two groups of people — let’s call them the secular tribe and the religious tribe — who subscribe to these two worldviews. Which of the two tribes is more likely to survive, prosper and multiply? The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe is made up of people who are not sure why they exist at all. The religious tribe is composed of individuals who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all” (p. 16).

And since recent studies (mentioned above) conclude that the religious tribe is much happier than the secular tribe, it should not surprise anyone that the religious tribe is surviving and multiplying while the secular tribe cannot even reproduce themselves.

D’Souza cites sociologists Norris and Inglehart who contend that secular [humanist] countries (i.e., Europe and Russia) are “producing only about half as many children as would be needed to replace the adult population.” D’Souza concludes “the consequence, so predictable that one might almost call it a law, is that ‘the religious population is growing fast, while the secular number is shrinking.'”

Therefore, according to D’Souza, “It is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation.” Atheism can’t provide the means for the survival of the fittest to do its duty and move us from fish to Gish! All atheism is capable of doing is to bemoan the fact that the religious tribe is increasing while the atheist tribe is decreasing. Little wonder that out of a population of 6.5 billion human beings, only 2.36 percent are atheists (see the CIA’s web site World Factbook 2006).