Science and Sex

Phillip Johnson is a pugnacious law professor who travels to campuses challenging Darwinian evolution. But something funny often happens to Johnson: Debates over genes and fossils suddenly switch to sex and morality. What's the connection between science and sexuality? Here's how Johnson describes it in his new book Reason in the Balance: "I have found that any discussion with modernists [or liberals] about the weaknesses of the theory of evolution quickly turns into a discussion of politics, particularly sexual politics." Why? Because liberals "typically fear that any discrediting of naturalistic evolution will end in women being sent to the kitchen, gays to the closet, and abortionists to jail." In other words, in the debate over creation and evolution, people instinctively sense that much more is at stake than a scientific theory. What you accept as scientific truth shapes your view on a host of moral issues. Darwinian evolution purports to show that the appearance of living things on earth can be explained by natural causes alone—that we don't need God to explain life. Darwinism thus acts as the linchpin in a philosophy known as naturalism—that nature is ultimately all there is. And if nature is all there is, then there is no God, and ethical ideals and standards are not based on what God says; instead, they're based on what human beings think. As Johnson writes, "The famous `death of God' is simply the modernist certainty that naturalism is true and that human beings must therefore create their own standards rather than take them from some divine revelation." Think how this affects debates over, say, sex education. If God created us for a purpose, then the most rational thing a person can do is to find out what that purpose is. A person who ignores the Creator is ignoring the most important part of reality—clearly an irrational thing to do. The most rational approach to sex ethics is to ask what the Creator has revealed about His purpose in creating humans as sexual beings, and what we must do to fulfill that purpose. By contrast, if naturalism is true, then God didn't create us, we created God—or rather, we created the idea of God. God exists only as an idea in the minds of religious believers. In that case, the most rational course is to relegate religion to the realm of wishful thinking and to base sex ethics squarely on our own experience. And so the nondirective approach to sex education, which teaches students to judge for themselves what is right and wrong, is completely logical—once you accept the framework of naturalism. Clearly, the debate over evolution and creation is at the heart of the "culture wars" we hear so much about. It's about world views which govern all of life. In Johnson's words, Darwinian evolution has become the "culturally dominant creation story"—the foundation for liberal theories in law, ethics, and education. I hope you'll read and re-read this special BreakPoint series based on Johnson's important new book Reason in the Balance. Learn how you can engage more intelligently and effectively in the culture war raging around us.


Chuck Colson


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