| SOCIAL DARWINISM AND CHRISTIANITY
By: Jerry S. Maneker
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be
comforted. Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the
peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’
sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say
all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:
for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:3-12)
The above verses of Scripture comprise the Beatitudes, or blessings, given by God to those who manifest the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit Who indwells the Christian. We don’t curry favor with God because we exhibit these traits;
the exhibiting of these traits is an indicator of God’s possession of those whom He chose before the worlds were formed
to be His own possession, and do the ministry He ordained for them. (Ephesians 1:4)
The manifestation of the above traits is diametrically opposed to life in this world! Thomas Hobbes, in his book,
Leviathan, summed up the human condition as one that shows us to be inherently mean, brutish, and selfish. Sigmund
Freud saw us as basically aggressive pleasure seekers. Throughout the Bible the human condition is portrayed as a
series of betrayals, murder, rape, and all sorts of predatory behaviors. Clearly, life in this world is the direct opposite of
the Beatitudes that call us to cultivate poverty of spirit.
It is not by accident that the first murder recorded in the Bible is one brother killing another. Nor is it by accident that
Jesus chose Judas as His disciple who was put in charge of the money! Betrayal by those closest to us is frequently the
way of the world.
Social Darwinism captured the essence and origin of much betrayal and brutality as has no other sociological theory.
The origin of Social Darwinism began in the early nineteenth century by the father of English Sociology, Herbert
Spencer. Although it spread worldwide, it particularly took root in our country and maintains its tremendous influence to
In essence, Social Darwinism says that life consists of conflict, a struggle for existence, survival of the fittest, and the
need to adapt to one’s environment, or suffer and even die. It has little or no place for social legislation that benefits
“the least among us,” as to do so would inhibit the progress of society. Only the strongest and most fit should survive!
To help the needy, the weak, and the fragile among us would weaken society and inhibit the inevitable progress of
society that the struggle for existence would ensure. Social Darwinism embraced the values of the new Capitalism, as
those values are to this day quite amenable to corporate interests.
However, when corporate interests are threatened, one of the fail-safe mechanisms in place is to bail the threatened
corporations out. As the author Michael Harrington wrote, “We have socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the
Although it was somewhat misplaced, the Beat Movement in the late 1940’s through the early 1970’s, sought to bring the
kingdom of God to this earth, although most didn’t conceptualize it in this way. They sought, through their writings and
protests, to bring about reconciliation between the kingdom of God and the powers that rule the earth.
The Bible makes it very clear who comprise the powers that rule the earth. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For we wrestle
not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Allen Ginsberg, a major twentieth century poet and major spokesman for the Beat Movement, who sought to reconcile
the irreconcilable wrote, “I think there was one slight shade of error in describing the Beat Movement as primarily a
protest movement. That was the thing that Kerouac was always complaining about: he felt the literary aspect or the
spiritual aspect or the emotional aspect was not so much protest at all, but a declaration of unconditioned mind beyond
protest, beyond resentment, beyond loser, beyond winner—way beyond winner.” (June 1982, at the Jack Kerouac
conference at Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.)
And that’s the key: “way beyond winner.” Given the agendas and institutions of this world, the Christian is a “loser.” We’
re to cultivate humility amidst arrogance; we’re to cultivate love amidst mean-spiritedness; we’re to work toward
righteousness amidst corruption; we’re to encourage peace amongst warmongers and hate-mongers; we’re to bless and
pray for our persecutors.
In other words, to the degree God graces us, we are to lose our lives in this world, keeping in mind the promise of God
of eternal life with Him. And that is a price certainly well worth paying!