I heard a restaurant owner on the news this morning talking about Darwin and COVID. He was talking about how Darwin didn’t say that the strongest survive. Rather, Darwin said it was the most adaptable who survive. And this particular person wanted to be one of the adaptable ones who survive.
Darwin and Covid
There is, of course, a problem with that. Well, a few problems. The first one is that Darwin never actually said it was the most adaptable who survive! Here’s some background on that.
“According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”— Leon C. Megginson, Civilisation Past and Present, 1963
As you can see, the quote “sort of) is from Leon C. Megginson, while he was summarizing what Darwin said. But even there, it’s not quite right! Here’s a bit of background from It is not the strongest that survives.
His paraphrase of Darwin’s theories was cleaned up, at some point attributed directly to Darwin, and then turned into a meme.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from the Commonplace Book Project is that the quotes that I thought I knew? They aren’t always what I thought they were. They’re often just nice things that someone said, but not always the person they’re attributed to.
So even though Darwin didn’t specifically say either of the quotes here, it’s still interesting that it started as a paraphrase of him. Because what most people associate him (with) is simpler, and meaner — Survival of the fittest.
Only the strong survive.
Lean. Mean. Take care of yourself. Let others worry about themselves.
Yeah – that’s more in line with Darwin.
And seemingly more in line with the restaurant owner. He’s concerned about himself. About his business. If others fail, it’s because they didn’t adapt. But that’s not his problem.
It’s also very much in line with the way many people tend to react when something like COVID happens.
Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity
So now we turn to a second problem with using Darwin and COVID to find a way to survive through the troubles.
Some non-Christians will adopt this adaptability approach. Honestly, while I don’t agree with it, I also can’t really judge it either. I’d like to. Truth is, sometimes I even do react to it. Eventually I realize that’s not right. Not from a Christian point of view. We’re supposed to remember things like the passage below from Paul.
Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity — non-Christians who adopt the “Darwin” approach
1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1Co 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1Co 5:9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
1Co 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
While I included the entire passage, the key for today’s topic is the last couple verses:
1Co 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
As Christians, we are not to judge those outside the church! That’s true no matter how much we want to do it. And no matter how often we actually do judge them. It’s hard not to. And yet, that’s what we’re called to do.
Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity — non-Christians who do not adopt the “Darwin” approach
On the other hand, there are many non-Christians who are concerned about other people. Who don’t, at least fully, adopt the approach of taking care of themselves and not caring about others.
Remember what I said about the way the restaurant owner seemed to feel? He’s concerned about himself. About his business. If others fail, it’s because they didn’t adapt. But that’s not his problem.
The thing is, many non-Christians do not share that view. They do care about other people. They do things like wear a mask and practice social distancing. Even the restaurant owner, and those like him, should care about others as well.
Think about this question – shouldn’t the restaurant owner care about his customers and even potential customers? It’s very short-sighted, in addition to uncaring, to not consider other people. What good is a restaurant, or any other business, if it has no customers?
Yes, it’s a selfish reason for being less selfish. But there are some others, non-Christians, who do have a sense of what’s the “right” thing to do. The excerpt from C. S. Lewis’ offers the beginnings of an explanation for this.
Men have differed as regards what people you ought to be unselfish to—whether it was only your own family, or your fellow countrymen, or every one. But they have always agreed that you ought not to put yourself first. Selfishness has never been admired. Men have differed as to whether you should have one wife or four. But they have always agreed that you must not simply have any woman you liked.Lewis, C. S.. Mere Christianity (C.S. Lewis Signature Classics) (p. 6). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
I suggest to non-Christians that when you feel this type of unselfish urge, it comes from God. We just need to follow up on it.
I’ve removed part of the passage below, but only in order to focus on the part related to my point about non-Christians. Feel free to use the link to bring up the entire passage.
Ro 2:1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Ro 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
And so, if someone is following that unselfish urge given to us by God, why not acknowledge it, follow up on it, and be saved? I think that, in the process, or maybe even to start the process of doing that, we must remember the end goal for Christians. We don’t become perfect here in this life. We should get closer to it, but cannot achieve it. It’s only in the next life that we are able to resist the temptations of this life – because they won’t be there any longer.
Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity — Christians who adopt the “Darwin” approach
No, that’s not a typo in the subheading – Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity — Christians who adopt the “Darwin” approach.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, all Christians will sometimes do just that. As also mentioned, it definitely should not be the norm for us.
But then, there’s no such thing as an instant “good” Christian. I invite you to check out Pop Tart Christians for a deeper look at that. Over time, we grow in our faith. We increase our ability to resist temptation. Adopting this Darwin type COVID approach is just one of the temptations everyone faces. Having said that, we should get better at resisting as we grow in our Christian faith. More on that thought can be found in Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?
Darwin and COVID – versus Christianity — Christians who adopt the Christian approach
Finally, this is where Christians should aim to be. In fact, this is where we should be, at least most of the time.
1Jn 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
1Jn 4:13 We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17 In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1Jn 4:19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
That’s how Christians should love. Not only each other, but everyone.
It’s not love or caring that’s just like even the best example of someone who’s not Christian. I don’t say that to put anyone down. Nor do I say it to make me or any other Christian seem better than we are. I say it out of the knowledge that God makes anyone who follows Him better than we ever could be on our own. I say it in the same spirit as when Paul wrote the passage below.
1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
1Co 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
All of this has to do with “knowledge”. Knowledge, as in the things we learn in school versus knowledge we gain from the Bible and through faith. I have a deeper look at this in Can I trust what I think I know? We tend to “learn” that the Bible can’t be scientifically proven. And so we also tend to “learn” to reject it. And along with rejecting the Bible, of course, we also reject God.
And yet, those things aren’t really true. While much in the Bible cannot be literally scientifically proved, much of what science “proves” and what the Bible has said for thousands of years actually line up quite well. Please see It’s time for Christians to acknowledge what Darwin REALLY did for more on that.
Ultimately, as the Creator of everything, God’s knowledge is always superior to ours. As is His love for us. God’s love for us is always stronger than our love for each other. More than we can ever do on our own.
1Co 1:26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
So, when we begin to realize the reality that the knowledge from God is the true knowledge, we can begin to allow God to work through us. Because of that, because of God, “we” are able to do things we could never do on our own. “we”, of course, is us and God.
As a result, if we’re going to brag about anything, it’s about God. We can’t brag about what we did, because we didn’t really do the thing we’d brag about. God did it.
1Co 2:1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Here, Paul says that whatever we do, it’s because of God.
What I write, I pray, isn’t really from me, but from God by way of the Holy Spirit. I know me. What’s my first instinct isn’t always, maybe even often, what you should be learning. I know I’m getting better, but not because of me. Rather, it’s because there’s less of me and more of God. For a more detailed explanation of what that means and how it comes to be, I urge you to check out Blessed are the poor in spirit. It’s part of a series on The Beatitudes, which goes through the entire process of what and how we learn to be more like Jesus.
Conclusion – Darwin and COVID
Ultimately, our goal as Christians is to reach the last step in the process I outlined above. And yes, it really is a process. And we go through that process in pretty much the same way we grow through the Beatitudes. We start off looking out for number one – ourselves. At some point, we hopefully start to care about others.
The real growth can begin when we first become Christians. True Christians, who really want to follow Jesus and what He taught. People who want to grow in the manner of the Beatitudes. Then, and only then, can God work through us to show a more genuine love. One that’s patterned after His love for us, His creation.
I wish I could say I went through that process really quickly. Unfortunately, I didn’t. It took a long time.
Maybe that’s part of why I can write some of the things I do. God can use all the messed up parts of me to try to reach others.
Paul wrote about that as well. Everyone sins. The thing is, it’s only when we start to grow that we realize just how much. And that it’s always with us. Paul wrote about that as well.
Ro 7:7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Ro 7:13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Ro 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
Ro 7:21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
All that’s just natural. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It just means we need to pay attention. To ask God to help us. And to listen when He does try to tell us something.
Then, and only then, can we truly make a move from the Darwin and COVID approach to life towards a GOD and COVID style of living.