Natural Evil

One species of firefly has perfected the art of deception. Hungry males too lazy to go hunting have learned to mimic the distinctive flash of the female. When a would-be suitor is attracted and comes courting, the fake female gobbles him up. Examples like this were the stock in trade at a recent symposium entitled "The Evolution of Deception." Another example cited at the symposium is a species of African beetle that sticks ants on its body as camouflage. Disguised this way, the beetle can gain entry to an ant colony and devour the inhabitants. It may not be nice to fool Mother Nature, but some animals seem to be masters at it. Scientists at the symposium concluded that deception can be a helpful evolutionary adaptation. Which raises a haunting question: If deceit is a normal part of nature, is it natural for humans as well? A similar question was raised several years ago when scientists studied chimpanzees and monkeys that kill their infants. If evolution has selected the behavior, scientists argued, it must confer some kind of adaptive benefit. Newsweek ran an article entitled "Nature's Baby Killers," which said, "Infanticide can no longer be considered `abnormal.' It is, instead, as `normal' as parenting instincts, sex drives, and self-defense." This is horrifying—and yet it is perfectly logical once you accept the premise of evolution. If human beings are kin to the beasts, if we are merely part of nature, then whatever exists in nature must be normal. The evolutionist has no higher standard. The only way to avoid these ghastly conclusions is by accepting the biblical concept of a transcendent standard. The Bible teaches that the world as it exists today is far different from the world God originally created. The world was created good, a reflection of God's character. But that reflection has been darkened by sin and evil. In the book of Romans, Paul says even nature was affected by the fall into sin. The world we see around us today isn't normal, it's abnormal. It falls short of God's original plan. That means we don't take our standards from the world as it exists today. We have a higher standard in God's revelation. But evolution doesn't recognize any higher standard. Whatever people do, whatever beetles do, whatever chimpanzees do, is normal. Things like deception and killing aren't sins, they're just part of the natural order. They may even be helpful evolutionary adaptations. Over the past several days I've been talking about many different ways we can challenge the reigning dogma of evolution. I've discussed breeding and fossils and the big bang. But nothing is so important as this final point. At stake in the evolution controversy are not just esoteric scientific details about genes and fossils. At stake is the entire biblical system of ethics. Christianity teaches that we are governed by a law higher than natural law. For we are not animals in a state of nature. We are sinners in the hands of a holy God.


Chuck Colson


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