Eric Harris, one of the two young men who committed mass murder at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, had written, "Sometime in April next year, me and V [accomplice Dylan Klebold] will get revenge and we'll kick natural selection up a few notches ..." Harris had once written in a classmate's yearbook, "I am God," and Klebold had spoken of his "wrath" as "godlike."
The application of Darwinism's evolutionary naturalism by these criminals and others has been noted. We should not assume, however, that its primary manifestation is in individual acts of criminal depravity. It was also a factor in gaining popular support for Margaret Sanger's movement to limit the population of certain ethnic groups by birth control. Darwin's legacy has been far more prominent than that of any other single man in modern times, because his theories are the foundation for a host of worldviews that are antithetical to Christianity. Darwin's impact has gone far beyond his theory of origins: it has served to rewrite sociology, anthropology, economics, politics, and other disciplines. Modern man's thought and education now rest on Darwin's mythology.
The Bible presents man with two great limitations. The first is that man is a creature, not a god. Man's second limitation is that he is a sinner. These are the realities of his existence, and when men ignore them, the results are quite ugly.
Man's freedom must be understood within these limitations of creaturehood and sinfulness. Man does not become freer when he ignores these facts; all that happens is that he becomes an outlaw in God's moral order. Man's problem is his sin. This is true in his personal life and in his corporate life, because sin represents his refusal to acknowledge God's authority as his context, His laws as our rules of conduct.
The Context for Liberty
Liberty to an outlaw means freedom to be lawless. It is a license to explore his potentiality which, if seen in Darwinian terms, can be inflated to a vision of god-like being.
The believer sees all men as controlled by creaturehood and sinfulness. God's grace, however, allows him to see an additional defining reality. He is, of course a creature and still a sinner, but he is also a redeemed man, one called and regenerated as a new creature in Christ. God's salvation is a recall to service in terms of submission to God rather than his old rebellion. The redeemed man seeks liberty that he may be free to serve God and to advance His Kingdom.
Liberty is a product of Christianity. This is true both spiritually and historically. The advance of Christendom in the West caused the advance of liberty and a progressive movement toward limiting the power of the state.
Liberty only works within a moral context, a moral order in which men are largely self-governed. Freedom for the morally lawless, like Harris and Klebold, results only in increasing manifestations of evil.
Only the redeemed know the purest form of liberty, freedom from condemnation by God's justice. Only they know the freedom of life that comes through obedience. Their salvation is by faith in the atoning blood of Christ, but their sanctification is their progressive freedom from sin to life in Him.
In Proverbs 8:36 we are told quite clearly, "he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death." That is where the sinner is. His life of rebellion is a self-destructive march toward death.
When God exhorted the people of Israel to obey His commandments, statutes, and judgments, He said, "See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil" (Deut. 30:15). Note the contrast: life and good on one hand versus death and evil on the other. The call to them was to "choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deut. 30:19). To "choose life" or to "live" meant to choose the abundance of life found in the limits God prescribed for man, because outside those lines was man's misery in rebellion and spiritual death.
God's Law or Man's Law
The West has been losing its liberty as it has moved to a bureaucratic, legalistic, regulated statist order. We lost our freedom because we lost our Christian faith which was the context of self-government under God and a limited need for civil government. Christianity built Western Civilization and its decrease has allowed a revival of statism.
Liberty as we understand it was unknown in the ancient world. Generally, the ancient world knew only centralized authority. Moreover, their political leaders were closely related to their religions. Kings were either divine or had some privileged relationship with the gods, so they had both civil and religious power. Rebellion against the king was both treason and blasphemy. Rome's collapse meant the end of that stranglehold on individuals. It was Christianity that made liberty possible. Feudalism was the first imperfect attempt to prevent a powerful state like Rome from reemerging by limiting authority by contractual agreements.
Whatever its shortcomings, the medieval period was Christian in its orientation. The modern era again saw the rise of statism, first of all in the powerful monarchs of Europe. They had to disguise their absolutism in the pious language of the divine right of kings, which was the old pagan absolutism repackaged with a thin veneer of Christian rationale attached. It was Christianity that opposed this revival of absolutism.
Throughout the medieval period there were a number of ideas that impacted Christendom's theology and philosophy. One such idea was "natural law."
There are many ideas and definitions of natural law. Some have used the term to refer to the laws of God readily apparent to man. Some ideas of natural law are far more dangerous, because they are entirely subjective. In this regard, it came to mean that there is a law within nature which man must decipher and by which he can be governed.
Natural law is an abstract, arbitrary construct, and its proponents have never agreed on what it is or how man should apply it. Natural law became a substitute for God's law, for revelation. It gave natural law philosophers a de facto authority because they were the ones who interpreted and applied natural law. Natural law led to a rationalism by which all knowledge had to pass the bar of man's reason, though the context of this rationalism was still in large part in the bounds of a basically Christian worldview.
The beginning of the modern era saw an intellectual struggle in Europe. The Renaissance was a self-conscious return to pre-Christian thought. The Protestant Reformation represented a return to the revelation of Scripture. Then, during the Enlightenment, the pendulum swung back to rationalism based on man's discernment of natural law. We are still living in the intellectual aftermath of the Enlightenment, though natural law has often been seen as a vehicle to understand an absolute moral order in the universe. This has come from the comingling of Christian with purely rationalistic ideas of natural law.
Scripture presents God and His law as over nature and governing it. Nature is not a single entity; it is an abstract construct. It is a collective noun that represents the sum total of God's creation. Nature has no independent mind, will, consciousness, or message for man. The idea of natural law came to be used as a truth that was "out there" but disassociated with God. To it were ascribed revelatory powers. This of course depended on the mind of man, so man's reason really became supreme in natural law thought.
The Reformation denied that nature was normative because it was, like man, a creation of God, and corrupted by the fall. The Reformation pointed beyond nature to its Creator and His revelation as man's standard of knowledge.
Even secularists challenged natural law because it borrowed Christianity's belief in absolute truth and meaning. Positivists saw no real source for a higher law or justice; law was merely what man said it was. The source of law as seen by the pragmatist school of thought was merely what man found worked by his experience; law was no more than a history of trial and error, with man determining what was workable.
Darwin's Blow to Natural Law
Natural law had been the alternative to a distinctly Biblical view of law, but it was dealt a death blow in the nineteenth century by Charles Darwin, whose work was predicated on nature, not as a realm of law, but of chaos and chance. Much natural law theory, especially in the Catholic Church, saw God as a "first cause" and so retained Christian ideas of truth and justice. Natural law was always seen as a higher law which might instruct and inform man.
In Darwinism's thought, there was no need for God as a first cause, and evolution represented the survival of those who changed and adapted, who overcame by redefining the rules to gain an advantage and survive. The chaos and adaptation of Darwinism's biology were quickly adapted to society and law. Men envisioned great changes in society by changing law. Revolution became the Darwinian methodology of forcing change when society resisted it. By forcing revolution, men believed they were accelerating social evolution. The conservative and traditional was seen as regressive and worthy only of contempt.
In terms of Darwinism, man does not deduce a higher law from the order of nature; his intelligence creates a new order from natural chaos. Chaos was thus man's usual context and the environment that fostered social evolution.
Do you see why Marx and Engels were thrilled when Darwin published his work? They saw it as establishing a scientific basis for their own revolutionary ideas based on class struggle.
Natural law borrowed Christian ideas of absolute truth. Darwin's ideology pointed to the ultimacy of change and chaos to revitalize what is stagnant. This was the energizing force for the health and survival of society.
Do you see why the modern advocacies of legal and social change through judicial activism and revolutionary legislative agendas are not concerned with the damage they do? They see such damage as the necessary prerequisite to growth and forward movement. The conservative tendency to preserve and move cautiously is seen as a pathetic clinging to the dead experiences of the past.
A revolutionary slogan of the 1960s American riots that expressed this sentiment was "Burn, Baby, burn!" The destruction of the old was seen as a healthy prelude to a better future.
A Convenient Myth
Evolution is a convenient mythology for modern man, and he clings to it at all costs because the only alternative to it involves accountability to God. Darwinism has itself been completely revised. Darwin based his theory on natural selection (genetics). This was soon found to be a woefully inadequate mechanism, so mutation was added; it is now a mutation-natural selection theory. All the so-called conclusive evidences for evolution at the Scopes Trial which were used to mock the "ignorance" of creationists have long since been debunked.
Still the theory goes on. Why? The assumption remains because evolution is a necessary prerequisite to a non-theistic view of reality.
Evolution is less science than a religious faith. It is also a commitment to revolution waged against all moral law except what is deemed useful and convenient to the revolutionaries.
Darwinism is a worldview that sees law as a means of creating a world of the humanist's imagination. Those who believe in evolution are going to be fine with a social or legal revolution as destructive as the Marxist revolutions in Russia and China. When vestiges of Christian culture are threatened, they cry "Burn, Baby, burn!" and speak of a New World Order. They see this destruction as the opening for their brave new world. What you or I seek to preserve, they seek to destroy, because what we call our Christian heritage is to them the dead experience of the past. The chaos they create is, to them, the living experience through which they can form a new world.
To the extent we hold on to ideas of Scripture's God and Christian ethics, we become a nuisance in the public arena and are demonized.
God, however, will not be so easily dismissed from His world. Already, the humanistic order is tottering. Chaos does not, in fact, bring a new world, only more chaos. God will have the last word. Our duty is to stay faithful to God and His revealed law in our time, place, and calling.
- Mark R. Rushdoony
Mark R. Rushdoony graduated from Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master’s College) with a B.A. in history in 1975 and was ordained to the ministry in 1995.
He taught junior and senior high classes in history, Bible, civics and economics at a Christian school in Virginia for three years before joining the staff of Chalcedon in 1978. He was the Director of Chalcedon Christian School for 14 years while teaching full time. He also helped tutor all of his children through high school.
In 1998, he became the President of Chalcedon and Ross House Books, and, more recently another publishing arm, Storehouse Press. Chalcedon and its subsidiaries publish many titles plus CDs, mp3s, and an extensive online archive at www.chalcedon.edu.
He has written scores of articles for Chalcedon’s publications, both the Chalcedon Report and Faith for all of Life. He was a contributing author to The Great Christian Revolution (1991). He has spoken at numerous conferences and churches in the U.S. and abroad.
Mark Rushdoony lives in Vallecito, California, his home of 43 years with his wife of 45 years and his youngest son. He has three married children and nine grandchildren.