Darwinism and Christianity: Must They Remain at War or Is Peace Possible?

Michael Ruse

in Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195175325
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784707 | DOI:
 							Darwinism and Christianity: Must They Remain at War or Is Peace Possible?

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This essay considers the arguments of three scholars who have maintained that there is indeed a contradiction between Darwinism and religion. The first is entomologist and sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson, whom Ruse argues is quite sympathetic to religion as an ethical system, but maintains that its existence can be explained on evolutionary grounds; yet, Wilson considers religion to be a necessary illusion, hardly true in its own right. In the case of Richard Dawkins, Ruse considers the thesis — popular among early Christian Darwinians — that God designed life through the process of evolution. One problem with this thesis is the very random, seemingly undersigned nature of evolution, yet Dawkins himself was not worried by random variation. As his third example, Ruse considers his own argument — that the biblical injunction to love one’s neighbor as oneself does not seem to be based on biological fitness as much as would a near-neighbor form of love; yet, Ruse counters himself by arguing that perhaps Jesus’ injunction did not admonish one to love everyone equally, or alternatively. Christianity could be reaching out to extend a system of morality that biology has attuned to only near-neighbor forms of concern. Ultimately, Ruse argues that the conflict between Darwinism and religion was initiated for social and political, not scientific reasons, and that though challenges still exist in reconciling the two viewpoints, there is no necessary contradiction.

Keywords: Christianity; Darwinism; Richard Dawkins; Michael Ruse; Edmund O. Wilson

Chapter.  8806 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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