Darwin Made Me Do it

  The late comedian Flip Wilson used to get laughs when, by way of explaining his misdeeds, he would say "the Devil made me do it!" Well, unfortunately, our culture no longer believes in the Devil, so it has to look elsewhere to find explanations for the things men do. Increasingly, evolution has emerged as the explanation of choice -- but it's an explanation that leaves a lot to be desired. Psychologists, biologists and anthropologists have all taken to explaining human behavior in purely Darwinian terms. In the past few years, scientists have argued that behavior such as jealousy, altruism, and even infanticide, have their origins in our ancestors' struggle to survive and pass on their genes. The newest addition to the list is rape. In their book, A Natural History of Rape, to be published this week, Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer, argue that rape is "natural." That is, it occurs in nature and can be explained in biological terms. The authors reject the view, best represented by Susan Brownmiller's 1975 book, Against Our Will, that rape is "an act of aggression, designed to intimidate women." Instead, they contend that rape has its origins in what could be called the "Darwinist imperative," to reproduce and pass on one's genes. According to the authors, rape is what they call "an adaptive reproductive strategy." In other words, males resort to rape when all other efforts to attract a mate fail. They cite examples of rape among animals and point to the fact that most rape victims are of child-bearing age. They conclude that rape must be motivated, however unconsciously, by the desire to impregnate. Not surprisingly, feminists are in an uproar. Thornhill has been the object of protests wherever he speaks. And in the latest issue of Time magazine, feminist writer Barbara Ehrenreich takes the pair to task. It's mildly amusing, I must say, to watch the feminists in their uproar. Whether they realize it or not, they're in a logical bind. Most are avowed evolutionists, and yet here evolution is being used to justify the exploitation of women. They are impaled on the sword of their own worldview. The truth is that the whole evolutionist idea that we are manipulated by our genes is nonsense. Evolution can't explain most human behavior, especially those traits that Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature," like altruism and mercy. No, if you really want to understand what makes us tick, the only sensible answer resides in a Christian worldview. As I wrote in my recent book, How Now Shall We Live?, this worldview centers on three key ideas: creation, fall, and redemption. Since we are made in the image of God, we are capable of acts like kindness and mercy, which reflect the nature of God. Since we are also fallen, we are also capable of great brutality, such as rape. Books like A Natural History of Rape purport to explain reality without reference to the biblical worldview. But, they end up demonstrating that only the biblical worldview offers an explanation of reality that makes sense - and that's a message our neighbors need to hear. Because, in the end, "evolution made me do it," not only isn't as funny as Wilson's line, it's also not true.


Chuck Colson



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