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Darwinism: the Meaninglessness of Life and of Death

Death-of-Humanity-Weikart [1]

by Richard Weikart [1]
Evolution News and Views [1]

In a video on YouTube [2], University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne states that science has demonstrated that

the universe and life are pointless….Pointless in the sense that there is no externally imposed purpose or point in the universe. As atheists this is something that is manifestly true to us. We make our own meaning and purpose.

He went on:

Evolution is the greatest killer of belief that has ever happened on this planet because it showed that some of the best evidence for God, which was the design of animals and plants that so wonderfully matched their environment could be the result of this naturalistic, blind materialistic process of natural selection.

Coyne is by no means alone in claiming Darwinism, with its insistence that all organisms have arisen through chance events (mutations) without plan or purpose, leads logically to the position that human life has no meaning or purpose. In my book The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life [3], I provide many examples of evolutionary biologists and other intellectuals who argue Darwinism sweeps away the benighted notion that human life has meaning.

n a 1994 debate with Phillip Johnson, a leading figure in the intelligent design movement, the late evolutionary biologist William Provine insisted: “No ultimate foundations for ethics exist, no ultimate meaning in life exists, and free will is merely a human myth. These are all conclusions to which Darwin came quite clearly.”

However, as I also explain in detail in my new book, many Darwinists are unable to really live in accord with their own philosophy. For instance, Coyne has stated that evolution “says that there is no special purpose for your life, because it is a naturalistic philosophy. We have no more extrinsic purpose than a squirrel or an armadillo.” But, in a different blog post, Coyne waxed indignant at those who have blamed mass shootings, such as those at Columbine, on Darwinism. (Coyne will likely be enraged that I explain Eric Harris’s Darwinian motivations in The Death of Humanity.) But why does Coyne care about these people, whose lives — according to his philosophy — have no meaning or purpose? He evidently recognizes that the lives of those teenagers gunned down at Columbine did have some point or purpose after all, greater than squirrels or armadillos.

Duke University philosophy professor Alex Rosenberg shows the same inconsistency. He co-authored an article in 2003, “Darwin’s Nihilistic Idea: Evolution and the Meaninglessness of Life,” in which he dismissed morality as an illusion. However, Rosenberg assured us that we have nothing to fear, because nihilism has no effect on our behavior, since “Most of us just couldn’t persistently be mean, even if we tried.” Rosenberg needs to take some of my history courses — or just read the news — if he doesn’t think many people could be mean to each other.

In a 2013 debate with William Lane Craig, Rosenberg objected to some of Craig’s arguments as “morally offensive,” because some of his relatives were murdered in the Holocaust. But if life is meaningless and morality is an illusion, why does it matter if Hitler killed millions? That would be just another meaningless event in the meaningless flow of history. Rosenberg apparently knows better.

Despite what they may say, many Darwinists are fully aware that human lives have meaning and purpose, no matter how loudly they deny it.

Dr. Weikart is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus, and Senior Fellow with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture; his new book, The Death of Humanity: And the Case for Life [3], has just been released.