“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” ~ Ben Franklin
Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of two of the most influential men in world history. Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day, February 12, 1809 (Lincoln in Hardin County, Kentucky; Darwin in Shrewsbury, England.)
To this day, Lincoln and Darwin are controversial figures. Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) is a war hero, or villain, depending on your political perspective. He kept the union together and eliminated slavery, but at great cost in human lives. The Civil War was the nation’s bloodiest, worse than World War II.
George Bush was so impressed with Lincoln and his unpopular war that he transferred Lincoln’s portrait to the Oval Office. Barack Obama is equally impressed by Lincoln’s liberation of his race. He took the oath of office on Lincoln’s Bible.
Most historians rank Lincoln America’s best president, next to George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Conservative Republicans hail Lincoln. In his new book, Vindicating Lincoln: Defending the Politics of our Greatest President, Hillsdale history professor Tom Krannawitter says the following:
Saving the Union of the Constitution, preserving free elections, and placing slavery in the course of ultimate extinction were the goals for which Lincoln fought the Civil War. ….Lincoln was consistent and unswerving in his demand that freedom, choice, and self-government be understood within the moral and political framework of the ‘laws of nature and of Nature’s God,’ first and foremost in the natural right principle of human equality.
Some libertarians, especially Tom DiLorenzo, rank Lincoln the worst president for suspending Constitutional rights (free press and habeas corpus), instituting the draft and the first income tax, going off the gold standard, and in massively expanding the size and power of government. In DiLorenzo’s book, The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, Lincoln is characterized as the first “big government” Republican.
We are planning to big debate this issue at this year’s FreedomFest. Hope to see you there. (For details, go to www.freedomfest.com).
We will also have experts to discuss and debate the impact of Charles Darwin (1809-82), the British naturalist. He was a brilliant biologist who co-discovered, along with Alfred Russel Wallace, the guiding principle of evolution: “natural selection,” or as it came to called “survival of the fittest.”
His magnum opus, The Origin of Species, was published in 1859 and immediately caused an uproar. Darwin introduced a theory that not only explained the variation of species over eons of time but also suggested that man was not the center of creation and could have evolved without divine intervention. God was no longer necessary to explain life or man. According to Darwinians, the creation process was not by intelligent design, as outlined in Genesis, but randomly determined by natural forces.
Secular humanism was born.
The impact was devastating on intelligent-thinking people, especially in science and academia. By the time Darwinian evolution became the generally accepted view in science classes, religion and a belief in God were often ridiculed. As Richard Dawkins, author of The Blind Watchmaker and more recently, The God Delusion, states, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
Darwin himself became an “agnostic” who rejected the Bible account of creation and Jesus’s miracles. Curiously, even though he initially argued in 1859 that “there is grandeur in this view of [evolutionary] life,” he lost all taste for the fine arts. In his Autobiography, he confessed, “But now for many years I cannot endure to read a line of poetry: have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseated me. I have also almost lost any taste for pictures or music.” Darwin complained that his loss for the arts created a “loss of happiness” for him. “My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of facts.”
The majority of scientists, and even most Christian theologians, now accept natural selection and evolution as the driving force in biology, geology, and even many of the social sciences.
But evolutionary scientists with a religious background still reject the idea that life is “a universe without design” or purpose, as Dawkins claims. They prefer a “divine” watchmaker over a “blind” watchmaker, and note the vast superiority of intelligent-thinking and purposeful-acting man compared to other animals. (See especially the book, Do Animals Think? by Professor Clive Wynn.)
They suggest a supernatural “God of the gaps” who intervened in the natural earth history to bring forth man. In his book Nature’s Destiny, micro-biologist Michael Denton offers scientific evidence that the cosmos and earth life are uniquely fit for human existence. The ultimate end of evolution and natural selection is man himself. As Denton states, “Even more radically, I believe that there is considerable amount of evidence for believing that the cosmos is uniquely fit for only one type of advanced intelligent life — Home sapiens.”