Volume > Issue > Confessions of a Lapsed Evolutionist

Confessions of a Lapsed Evolutionist


By S.L. Varnado | September 1983
S.L. Varnado is Professor of English at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and a Contributing Editor of the NOR.

There was a time, some years ago, when I was a firm believer in the theory of evolution, that ap­pealing doctrine revealed by Darwin, preached by Huxley, and handed down by apostolic succession to the present generation. I was quite content with the theory of evolution, for there is something in­finitely consoling about the doctrine. The evolutionist goes to the zoo, gazes at the monkeys, ac­knowledges his kinship with them, yet prides him­self on his superiority. Thus, evolution combines the satisfactions of democracy with the advantages of aristocracy.

Unfortunately, as the years have passed, I have grown skeptical in regard to this ancient faith and I am now a virtual agnostic. When I was young and innocent, I could take evolution on faith alone. As I grew older, however, and became a Christian, I began to demand facts. That is one difficulty in studying theology: the science of religion tends to weaken one’s faith in the religion of science.

The history of my lapsed faith in evolution goes back to my college days. The college I attend­ed was a denominational institution and a model of liberal or “enlightened” religion. The professors all believed in God, but they saw Him as a more or less cautious and scientific deity who used Darwin­ian natural selection His wonders to perform.

My biology professor, for instance, was a Higher Pantheist. He was a large, rubicund man with a loud voice and an optimistic view of the uni­verse. The geological ages cheered him up immense­ly. If he came to class in a low mood you could en­courage him by mentioning the Silurian, Devonian, or even the Cambrian periods.

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