One of the problems with many Christians’ initial assault on Darwin, both in the nineteenth century and in the twenty-first, is that it has to do with the timescale of creation. Darwin’s theory of evolution appeared to have knocked chapter one of Genesis into a cocked hat, and many churchfolk were, and still are, instantly on the defensive.

I would suggest that the real problem with Darwin lies not in how he might have tampered with the theology of creation, but rather how the consequences of Darwinism have tampered with the theology of society.

Darwinism has been, too often and too easily, characterised by the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’. Devised by Herbert Spencer, the phrase was adopted by Darwin himself, and many others, as a synonym for ‘natural selection’. However, throughout the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures, the emphasis has rather been on ‘support of the weakest’.

The Old Testament repeatedly adjures the Israelites to look after the poor and needy, the widow and the orphan, even the stranger that is within their gates. The New Testament quickly requires deacons to distribute financial aid to those in need, in accordance with the teachings of Jesus, who instructed us to love our neighbour as ourselves, not just the strong and the fit.

Indeed, it might be argued that only a mild perversion of this version of ‘natural selection’ was needed to bring about the hideous ethnic policies of the Third Reich – have we forgotten that certain vital SS men were coupled with appropriately-featured girls, to help foster the ‘master race’?

And in that context of social improvement, what of pre-natal scans to seek defects for the purpose of offering terminations?

We stand against social Darwinism, not as anti-historical ostriches, but as Christians who believe in the equal value in his sight of all God’s children. Certainly, if survival were only of the fittest, I for one would no longer be here…

Stephen Cope