By Akbar Ahmed
A debilitating tension between Darwin and Jesus lies at the heart of American identity. It is not so much about how society originated and evolved, but whatdefines and motivates it. The core principles of the Darwinian thesis and Christianity are diametrically opposed and cannot coexist simultaneously in one society without causing severe friction.
Darwin represents adaptability and survival, Jesus compassion and universal love. Darwin acknowledges that those who cannot adapt will not — indeed must not — survive.
For Jesus, it is precisely the least privileged members in society who are deserving of support. For Darwin, the concepts of “morality,” “compassion,” “humility,” “austerity,” “poverty,” “shame” or “honor” are irrelevant in the struggle for survival. For Jesus, these are what define a good Christian.
Darwinian principles rest in notions of a struggle to survive. In this struggle, the ruthless will to succeed, strength, speed, stamina and force determine success. In turn, success generates pride and arrogance, the chauvinism of being on top and a belief in the superiority of the dominant group.
The Abrahamic faiths, on the other hand, advocate austerity and humility in a greater cause. They encourage selfless love, care and concern for the dispossessed and the needy. They advocate proper moral behavior, even at the cost of suffering.
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