Darwin’s Dilemma

[This article was taken from our book Don’t Blame God! A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering.]


One man who turned away from God because he could not reconcile a loving God with the suffering he saw all around him was Charles Darwin, whose unbelief eventually contributed significantly to the development of his so-called “theory of evolution,” a myth that has blinded many to the truth of God’s Word. [1] In the January 1992 issue of Impact (published by the Institute For Creation Research), John Morris wrote about Darwin’s dilemma as to how certain complex parts of the human body could have come about by chance:

A favorite example of obvious design has always been the human eye. With its many functioning parts—the lens, cornea, iris, etc., the controlling muscles, the sensitive rods and cones which translate light energy into chemical signals, the optic nerve which speeds these signals to a decoding center in the brain—and on and on. The eye was unquestionably designed by an incredibly intelligent Designer who had a complete grasp of optical physics.

Darwin was frustrated by the eye’s complexity, even though he knew only a fraction of what scientists have now discovered about the eye. In his book, Origin of Species, he included a section entitled, “Organs of Extreme Perfection and Complication,” in which he declared: “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.” Yet in the next several pages, he discussed how he thought it might have happened.

One may wonder why Darwin was forced to adopt and defend what he admitted was an absurd conclusion. His reasoning is made plain in the following quote. Keep in mind that Darwin was raised in a nominally religious home, but whose extended family had a well established anti-Christian perspective. Darwin, himself, studied for the ministry, as was common in those days for individuals of a scholarly bent, but eventually rejected the Christian faith.

In a May 22, 1860 letter to Professor Asa Gray of Harvard, propagator of evolution on the American continent, Darwin wrote, evidently to answer Gray’s advocacy of “theistic” evolution: “I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence [goodness] on all sides of us. There seems to me to be too much misery in the world [Emphasis ours]. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the ichneumonidae [parasites] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed.” [2]

It is noteworthy that Darwin studied for the ministry, but eventually rejected the Christian faith. Apparently, whatever he was taught laid the blame for human suffering on God. Not being able to bring himself to believe that “a beneficent and omnipotent God” could be responsible for the suffering in the world, he concluded that there must be no God. If the teaching Darwin received was anything like what most Christians have been taught about this subject, his disillusionment is understandable. Only God knows how many millions of others have turned away from Him for this same reason.

At one time in his life, nearly everyone asks questions about evil, sin and suffering such as those we mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. Asking the right questions is a big key to getting the right answers. We agree with Kushner’s suggestion that too many people may very well have been asking the wrong questions:

Could it be that God does not cause the bad things that happen to us? Could it be that He doesn’t decide which families shall give birth to a handicapped child, that He did not single out Ron to be crippled by a bullet or Helen by a degenerative disease, but rather that He stands ready to help them and us cope with our tragedies if we could only get beyond the feelings of guilt and anger that separate us from Him? Could it be that “How could God do this to me?” is really the wrong question for us to ask? [3]

We will now attempt to ask the right questions and do our best to show you the biblical answers to them.


[1] For an overview of the creation-evolution controversy, an explanation of why the theory of evolution is scientifically preposterous, and an explanation of what the Bible says about creation, we refer you to our audio cassette seminar, The Creation-Evolution Controversy.
[2] John Morris, “Natural Selection Versus Supernatural Design,” Impact (Institute For Creation Research, El Cajon CA 92021, January 1992).
[3] Kushner, When Bad Things Happen To Good People, page 30.

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