Can Social Darwinism and Christianity Co-Exist?

By Jerde, Lyn | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), June 2, 2012 | Go to article overview

Can Social Darwinism and Christianity Co-Exist?


Jerde, Lyn, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


No matter how many times I watch the movie "A Fish Called Wanda," I always laugh out loud at this line: "The central tenet of Buddhism is NOT 'Every man for himself.' "

Neither is it the central tenet of Christianity.

If this opening line seems familiar, it might be because you've monitored a recent Facebook discussion of a lengthy commentary, originally published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, titled, "Is It Raining Libertarians or What?"

The writer, Stephen B. Young, is talking about Social Darwinism, which he defines in a nutshell as a belief in "individual self- reliance, free markets and limited government."

That sounds a lot like the politics espoused by many who would assert that such a philosophy is Christian - by some who, in fact, score the votes and positions of politicians on how closely they adhere to this world view, then hand those scorecards out at churches to guide Christians in whom to elect.

Young asserts that Social Darwinism comes not from Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, but rather from the philosophy of 19th- century Englishman Herbert Spencer.

"Especially annoying to Spencer was the argument that government should interfere with life's natural operation of weeding out the losers among us," Young wrote. "Spencer argued for the least government possible " Since animals had no checks on their power save natural selection and fate, why should we?"

I posed the question to my Facebook friends: Can a person believe that this is a dog-eat-dog world where the strong and deserving ones should survive, and the physically and spiritually weak should be weeded out naturally - can one believe that, and still call himself or herself a follower of Jesus Christ? …

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