The Bloody Ladder

by The Old Scot

How did man come to be what he is today? Is he the culmination, the topmost rung of a lengthy evolutionary ladder? Or is he the unique creation of a God who formed all life into distinctive and characteristic forms?

Many of those who argue for the "ascent of man" through countless evolutionary states base their belief upon the concept of "survival of the fittest." This concept states that fierce competition for survival has acted, through numberless eons, to improve and develop races and species by allowing only the hardiest specimens to survive and reproduce. This is also called the "Law of the Claw and Fang."

While this theory has a surface plausibility at first glance, it has some fatal flaws, and one of them we wish to consider today:

According to the "Law of the Claw and Fang," those qualities which help in survival are "good," and those that do not help are "not good." Thus, as one writer expressed the situation: "Darwinism regards animals as going upstairs' in a struggle for individual ends, often on the corpses of their fellows, often by a blood-and-iron competition, often by a strange mixture of blood and cunning, in which each looks out for himself and extinction besets the hindmost."

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche carried this to its logical conclusion, late in the nineteenth century. He openly glorified this "bloody ladder of natural selection" as leading to a race of supermen. War, he said, was the chief means by which individuals and states reach higher states of development. Cunning, violence, deceit, and betrayal all serve this higher cause, he argued. But kindness, gentleness, selfless love, and mercy all earned his scorn.

Nietzsche declared that "such ideas as mercy and pity and charity are pernicious, for they mean a transference of power from the strong to the weak, whose proper business it is to serve the strong. Remember," he went on, "that self-sacrifice and brotherliness and love are merely manufactured compunctions to keep you from being your true self."

Adolph Hitler sought to flesh out Niezsche's thoughts, to create an "Aryan super race." At the same time he tried to eliminate supposedly inferior races. The world knows the result as the Holocaust, in which six million men, women, and children perished. They were victims of a terrible philosophy. Their deaths were made more horrible because the underlying premises were false.

But where, in all this, is any ascent? Is this not rather descent? It is outdoing the beasts in bestiality. It is a total perversion of all that civilization holds dear.

To be "civilized" means to have learned to live in harmony with one's neighbors. Peace is something we all yearn for: to be able to go home to a secure hearth, without fear either of intruders or of dread summons to interrogation and torture.

There is a place for kindness and gentleness; there is a need for loving our neighbors. Otherwise, every man's hand is against his neighbor, and there is no security anywhere in the land.

But we know that our hearts harbor very different feelings, also. Hate, greed, envy, the desire for power, money, sexual gratification-these oppose our gentler feelings, and sometimes conquer them. We are often at war within our own hearts, now pulled this way and now that way, as conscience strives with our baser nature.

As a famous writer put it: "Poor wretches that we are, and all the more so than if there were no greatness in us. We have a notion of happiness, and cannot reach it; we are conscious of an image of the truth, and only hold a lie; incapable of (either) entire ignorance (or) of certain knowledge. So obvious is it that we stood once at a point of perfection from which we have unfortunately fallen" -Pascal in Pensees, found in the Great Books Series.

How else shall we account for the opposing groups of emotions we find in ourselves? If Nature has no place for the finer feelings, from whence did they come? The Bible answers that God made man in His own image, but man was corrupted and fell from that exalted character. As a result of that fall, we find echoes of goodness, mercy, and truth, mingled with hardness, hatred, and perversity in ourselves to this day.

God is "merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth (Ex. 34:6), and His desire is for us to regain our full status in His image.

In fact, one of God's purposes in sending His Son, Christ Jesus, to earth was to be a living-and dying-example of selfless love. As those who would not accept His mission to mankind were crucifying Jesus, He implored His Father to "forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

The more important question is not HOW did man come, but WHY? Why were you born, and why do you still live? The Bible says we were created to glorify God (Rev. 4:11).

You will never find your reason for being as part of a mindless desperate drive to survive, at the expense of every competitor. Seek it, instead, as a unique child of God, born to fulfill a unique work for God, which has been waiting for you from time immemorial (see Eph. 2:10).

Source: The Phantom of Organic Evolution," by George McCready Price, Fleming H. Revell, New York, 1924.

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