Did Darwin Kill God?

By: Michael DiFuccia
Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Last year the BBC aired, “Did Darwin Kill God?”  The program is narrated by Conor Cunningham, assistant director of the Centre of Theology and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. Cunningham, who claims to be a Christian, also refers to himself an “admirer” of Charles Darwin, and believes that creationism and intelligent design are “nonsense.”

Below is an excerpt from the synopsis of the program found on the BBC website:

“There are some who believe that Darwin’s theory of evolution has weakened religion, fuelled in part by Richard Dawkins’ publishing phenomenon The God Delusion. Conor Cunningham argues that nothing could be further from the truth.

Cunningham is a firm believer in the theory of evolution, but he is also a Christian. He believes that the clash between Darwin and God has been hijacked by extremists – fundamentalist believers who reject evolution on one side, and fundamentalist atheists on the other. Cunningham attempts to overturn what he believes are widely held but mistaken assumptions in the debate between religion and evolution.

He travels to the Middle East where he shows that from the very outset, Christianity warned against literal readings of the biblical story of creation. In Britain, he reveals that, at the time, Darwin’s theory of evolution was welcomed by the Anglican and Catholic Churches. Instead, he argues that the conflict between Darwin and God was manufactured by American creationists in the 20th century for reasons that had very little to do with science and religion and a great deal to do with politics and morality.

Finally, he comes face to face with some of the most eminent evolutionary biologists, geneticists and philosophers of our time to examine whether the very latest advances in evolutionary theory do in fact kill God.”

The full program can be found here on youtube.

So….what do you think about what Cunningham is proposing? Does he have a point? Or do you believe that just as all creationists are theists and all evolutionists are atheists?

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Michael DiFuccia
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18 Responses to “Did Darwin Kill God?”

  1. Jason Wermuth says:


    That was a great post. This is certainly a growing issue and it will continue to be a major issue that we must deal with head on as a church. The video was also spectacular! I posted a video dealing with the same issue on my Facebook page, take a look and let me know your thoughts if you get a chance.

  2. Enoch says:

    Thanks for the post. I went through all the videos and I appreciate the research done in this direction. My concern is Cunningham’s main agenda seems to be vindicating Darwin more than anything else. This can lead to a danger of approving Darwinian evolution fully without fully analyzing today’s scientific evidence and discoveries. This also seems to subtly justify Darwin’s rejection of God due to a personal suffering. Hence, I am afraid this presentation that has slightly more sympathetic overtones to Darwin, can lead one to believe what Darwin did is completely right and his theory, however scientific and brilliant it may be, is not grounded in his own presuppositions about God.

    • gary says:


      Can you expand on the statement, “this can lead to a danger of approving Darwinian evolution fully without fully analyzing today’s scientific evidence and discoveries? Are you suggesting that there is evidence today that could destroy evolution? I’m pretty sure the reason Cunningham seems to neglect presenting evidence for evolution is because it has been unanimously decided by the scientific community and many others, that evolution is the “real deal”. There is no amount of evidence that can be presented by the scientific community (short of actually seeing a hominid evolve to a human) that could change the minds of those who still do not recognize evolution. Cunningham has moved past the stage of doubt concerning evolution and is now reconciling it with his faith. Once there is a viable option (hopefully RO) for belief in evolution and the Christian faith, you will see a major movement.


      • Jerrod says:


        No, evolution is not the “real deal.” It is a theory that has been adopted by the mainstream scientific community as a way to conceptualize the origination of all life. Evolution is more akin to “faith” than it is to the Law of Thermodynamics, even though it is supposedly a “science.” It is classified as a theory and not a Law because it has not been proven adequately; they are still searching for missing links, developing new sub-theories, mapping genes, etc.

        Although your question to Enoch about evidence refuting evolution is valid, it is also somewhat disingenuous. The proof against evolution is merely the continued existence of humans and apes separately, the lack of continued macro-evolution, missing-links, and other contradictory questions and facts that are glossed over while evolution is proclaimed as truth. The burden of proof is upon evolutionist scientists to prove the validity of their theory. Critics need only judge their evidence and present other valid alternatives to disprove the theory or relegate it to merely one of many possibilities.

        What I find particularly disturbing about the article/video and those accepting evolution, is the demeaning way they characterize Creationists and those holding to intelligent design — simpletons or extremists. As an undergraduate Biology major, having studied Biology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Biochemistry, Genetics, and many others, I find it incredibly “simple-minded” for anyone to believe that nature could create the building blocks of life through sheer chance, much less continue the evolution of various life forms afterwards. Have you any idea as to the precision and delicacy required in the process of DNA replication?

        Although I guess I should consider myself “extreme” or backwards, I simply do not believe that I must acquiesce to theistic evolution to be grounded — scientifically, theologically, rationally, or otherwise.

      • Gary says:

        I too have taken many of those same classes as a biology major at Old Dominion University, so you can talk to me about the complexity of life all day long and I will not argue with you. You said I find it incredibly “simple-minded” for anyone to believe that nature could create the building blocks of life through sheer chance”. Who said it was chance? Could God not have created those original building blocks, which later gave rise to self-sustaining life? I find it incredibly simple minded for someone to believe God created two whole humans in a fictitious garden that was suppose to be perfect, yet had a snake who has been depicted as Satan and happened to tempt Eve. Talk about simple minded. About the burden of proof being with the evolutionists, you must mean the majority of scientific minds. They have unanimously decided there is enough evidence to suggest macro-evolution, plain and simple. They did so without the approval of the Christian community, and rightfully so. With the exception of the “new atheists”, scientists simply do not care if you believe in evolution or not.


  3. Jesse says:

    Mike, you’re my hero.

    I think Darwin gave science a dagger to stab at God, which they do. The same way Marx/communism gave government a dagger to kill God; the same way Nietzsche (sp?) gave philosophy the death of God.

    what we learn from the bible is that God can be killed. however, God does not stay dead for long! that is the glorious point! Let us as Christians use what has become of these ‘deaths’, that is, the bloodiest most horrifyingly banckrupt century of all time (stalin, hitler, ad nauseum) to show the good news of the resurrection.

  4. Jason Wermuth says:

    Jesse, I am really confused by your post here. First you say “Darwin gave science a dagger to stab at God.” Does all of science use this dagger or just the fringe? I would say the fringe. As for whether God can be killed, huh? I don’t recall God being killed in the Bible. Jesus was certainly killed, but is that the same thing as GOD being killed? Were the Father and Spirit killed on the cross?

    Furthermore, I am not sure why Mike is your hero. Now he is my hero, fer real! :) But, he doesn’t seem to be saying what you are saying. I wonder if Mike would weigh in here and explain his view of the video.


    • jesse says:

      Must i agree with everything of someone for them to be my hero? Mike is so many things I should be but cant be for some reason or another; and for starters, sane.

  5. Jason Wermuth says:

    Btw, Mike, you just broke my brain.

  6. Jerrod says:


    Being a student of RO, please help me understand this seemingly ironic perspective…

    RO rejects Modernity.
    Darwin’s Evolution = the essence of Modernity.
    RO accepts evolution.

    Fundamentalist Christianity rejects evolution.
    Modernity rejects fundamentalist Christianity.
    RO rejects fundamentalist Christianity.

    RO chastises fundamentalist Christianity for rejecting evolution.

    If I’m examining this correctly, which must be unlikely, it seems
    highly contradictory. It is as if RO is merely the bridge by which conflicted Christians can accept modern propositions and their faith through a post-modern, mystical rationale — perhaps a return to pre-modern thought, accompanied with the illumination of modern discovery.

    Thus, RO hates modernity, but depends upon it at the same time?

  7. Jason Wermuth says:


    I am not a biology major, and know very little about the subject, but I have been thinking a lot about this issue lately and your comments make me wonder what you think of Francis Collins’ (a guy who knows a thing or two about biology) claim in this video that “evolution is a theory like gravity is a theory.” If you skip ahead to minute 40:00 or so, he describes a few of the reasons he believes in evolution. As a biology major, how would you refute his evidence? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjJAWuzno9Y

    I do not ask this to be sarcastic. I am genuinely curious how one argues against what Collins is saying here.

    • Jerrod says:


      Having only an undergraduate understanding and a less than ideal grasp of the evidence for and against evolution, it is incredibly difficult to debate Collins and his significant experience in the field. I only referenced my background as an attempt to show that Christians rejecting evolution are not necessarily the mindless lemmings that those, like Gary above, seem to believe.

      However, here are my major problems with Collins’ views regarding evolution…

      1) Fossil record (example of land-fish) – Just as Old Testament critics and historians point toward the subjective nature of archaeological discovery, the same danger of subjective interpretation is found in the presentation of fossils. Often, these “artifacts” are used to support a preconceived notion. Although you may be seeing a progression of organisms from one state to another, we could also be seeing a separate creature living and developing independently of similar animals. Thus, to me, fossils alone are inconclusive. We know they existed, but cannot adequately show progression of a species over time without large gaps.

      2) Genetic similarities – From probability and statistics, we know that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. For instance, these genetic similarities (homology) could be the results of a singular process or it could be the result of a similar creator. Although Collins seems to lead one to believe the only difference between chimpanzees and humans is a single gene, in actuality “scientists have identified some 40 million differences among the three billion DNA molecules, or nucleotides, in each genome.” (National Geographic, 2005) When dealing with genetics, the amount of differences is not as important as the placement and type of difference. Seemingly small differences can make very big changes to the organism. To show how genetic similarity has been over-exaggerated, humans and the nematode worm are 75% similar, genetically. I don’t want to sound like I am trying to refute evolution by minimizing the importance or the discoveries of genetics – I am simply trying to show that evolution, even from a genetic perspective, may not be as conclusive as Collins and evolutionists seems to convey. Every difference requires a separate hypothesis, leaving a lot of room for speculation.

      3) The biggest concern from the video clip is Collins’ interjection of seemingly faulty logic to support his position.

      First, he implies that the genetic similarity regarding the order of genes either means that God is a “charlatan” or that there is a common ancestry among all organisms. Thus, he allows for only two possibilities and falsely removes any pretense of human fault – humans perfectly interpreted the data leading to only one conclusion. Perhaps God made all animals similar and humanity’s limited comprehension moved us to a faulty determination.

      Secondly, the question of irreducible complexity is negated solely due to the existence of similar bacterial parts in various organisms. Yet, this really does not explain the complex design problem; it is just glossed over with the worn-out refrain that everything is possible with “world enough and time” or that we can “imagine” how this could happen. This is like saying the world is full of the ingredients necessary to create a cake and with enough time the eggs from a chicken, flour from wheat, sugar from cane, etc. will all come together perfectly in the right sequence to make a wedding cake requiring 30+ ingredients. As a side note, where did the first cell come from?

      Lastly, Collins seems to disregard his own double standard, which he uses to refute intelligent design while supporting some element of divine intervention in creation. He says that the intelligent design argument is dismissed as soon as anyone is able to derive a natural process by which a complexity can occur. However, he then fails to recognize this same logic when, after evolution, he describes God giving man knowledge of good and evil, a soul, free will, etc. – he can’t have it both ways. If intelligent design is supporting the “God of the gaps,” then is not the creation of man’s psyche or social being also a gap that nature can readily fill? Why is God needed here? It is not hard to “imagine” an evolutionary dynamic within psychology or sociology. Philosophy has already given us a groundwork with its “state of nature,” providing numerous examples of how society can develop from the needs of a single individual. Thus, this “metaphysical gap” in the creation of man need not include God. Faith, then, is really only a mythological creation, which is slowly eroded by the study of evolution in all of the various subject matters. He asks, “Are we prepared to live in a society without good and evil?” If it is true, then we must. After all, we will eventually adapt, right?

      • Jason Wermuth says:


        You make a lot of good arguments. The most compelling of which, and I noticed this as well, was his gloss over of the issue of irreducible complexity. The argument I always hear is, we see it happen, things randomly mutate, that’s just how it happens, which does not seem to really answer the argument. The chimp/human gene issue is certainly a big issue though. I think there are more options than just the one, but it is hard to argue (if he is being totally honest) that this is a coincidence. Again, I am not a biologist, so I cannot make informed decisions about whether what he is saying makes sense or not, but it is compelling. Also. why does he go on to say that “evolution is a theory like gravity is a theory?”

        The thing that continually bothers me is the question why? I understand why Christian scientists try to refute or correct evolution, but what motive does an evangelical Christian have for attempting to prove evolution is true. If it is ideology, what ideological motive could he have for wanting evolution to be true? Why do 99% of biologists in the world believe this is the case (including Christians?). This is why I am seeking these answers, because this is a big issue for our time, and if we continue telling Christians that evolution is a lie, and then archaeologists start finding missing links all over the place, we are going to lose our people, and rightfully so. I would rather admit ignorance than purport to know about something that I really know nothing about. Further, I would rather investigate this as hard and deep as possible before a make blanket statement and lie to people. If evolution is the truth, the what threat is that to Christianity? I say, none. But I will not adopt it blindly.

        As for the first cell, I think Collins would say the first cell was certainly created by God, but it was a self sufficient creation machine once God created it. That is not to say that God is the God of deism, however, but that God is actually just a really good creator and when he creates, he doesn’t have to do it multiple times to get it right.

        I will have a blog post about this on Saturday. I would love for you all to engage my thoughts there to further the conversation.


      • gary says:

        Jerrod and Jason,

        I am not suggesting that anyone who does not embrace evolution is mindless and I apologize if I came off that way. Jason, the concern you have with 99% of biologists (including Christians) embracing evolution and a select few not, is legitimate. I wish I could tell you that you should take the word of the 99% (not sure if this number is accurate) of scientists, since that is there area of expertise, but I know it’s not that simple. The best thing I can tell you is to follow the evidence wherever it leads. If you haven’t already done so Jason, you should read on fine tuning. It is the most effective argument against atheism, and for good reason. Alister McGrath has written on the subject so maybe you should check him out.


  8. Jerrod says:


    Good information…and I assumed that the crux of the matter really was with the “absolute” nature of both camps, the fundamentalist Christian and the fundamentalist atheist; in this sense they are similar.

    To me, the problem with modernity is not so much the maxims that it derives, but the methodology and presuppositions it employs to get there. Ultimately, every age attempts to discover truth — premodern depending heavily upon revelation; modern upon the scientific method and naturalism; post-modern within its existentialist contextualism. It doesn’t seem that RO folks care about the methodological differences, as long as the truths discovered are left open-ended to some degree. Perhaps this is where I perceive some level of contradiction; perhaps this is not true and I just need to study the texts you recommended — the greater of the two possibilities.

    I greatly appreciate the desire to recapture the transcendent nature of Christianity. Ultimately, my concerns about evolution is what it does to Christian theology, which I’m not sure that even theistic evolution can remedy. I’ll post these concerns in another spot…