Rome and Darwin Come to Washington

Perhaps you’ve noticed that buildings in Washington D.C., with their columns and facades, are reminiscent of Roman architecture. Interestingly, some early American political writers called themselves by Roman names. The authors of The Federalist, a collection of 85 essays written in favor of the Constitution, did not use their real names.

James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay wrote the essays under the pseudonym, “Publius.” George Washington was known as “Cincinnatus,” a Roman general and patriot who gave up supreme power and went home to his farm after war. In fact, there’s an enormous marble sculpture of our first president — wearing a toga!

The word “Senate” is also borrowed from the Romans. Our early constitutional framers looked to some elements of the Roman Republic and its form of civil government — not to its pagan religious practices — as a model for their political ideas. America’s moral foundation was clearly based on biblical ideals. Reason was viewed as a gift from God, limited in its ability to make absolute assessments of what was right and wrong, a result of men and women being created in the image of God.

Reason was not viewed by the majority of founders to be an independent source of truth. Yes, there were people who took the reason-only approach, but they were a minority. They were living off the borrowed capital of biblical Christianity as most rationalists do today. Natural Law could not function without the revelatory light of Special Revelation.

This was not true of France in the 18th century. Reason was elevated to god-like status. “Europe disintegrated because the goddess of Reason, whom the French revolutionaries placed, in the shape of a Parisian streetwalker, upon the altar of Notre Dame,”1 became France’s new authority. She was “carried shoulder‑high into the cathedral by men dressed in Roman costumes.”2 The church of Notre Dame was reconsecrated to the “Cult of Reason.”

With the advent of Darwinism in 1859, the moral basis of government and culture lost its anchor. (Charles Darwin’s birthday was celebrated in many churches across the country yesterday.) The secular religionists had put their trust in technology and the Darwinian worldview of promised evolutionary advancement. Survival of the fittest had become the new ethical standard. The American industrialist Andrew Carnegie embraced the social implications of Darwin’s theories and applied them to the world of business.3

“That light came in as a flood and all was clear. Not only had I got rid of theology and the supernatural, but I found the truth of evolution.”4

John D. Rockefeller, using Darwinian logic, believed that “The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest.”5

The problems our nation face today, and those of Europe, can be traced back to the claim that God has been displaced with the operating assumption that given enough power and money, everything can be fixed. It might be time for our nation’s leaders to take a look at the demise of Rome.

  1. Richard Hertz, Chance and Symbol (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1948), 100. []
  2. Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (1976) in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview, 5 vols. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1984), 5:122. []
  3. James Rachels, Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 63–64. []
  4. Quoted in John W. Whitehead, The End of Man (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1986), 53. []
  5. James Burke, The Day the Universe Changed (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1985), 271. []

14 thoughts on “Rome and Darwin Come to Washington

  1. "Survival of the fittest" is a misnomer. It is actually survival of the "best adapted". Almost all natural evolution happens after a radical change of environment (e.g. mass extermination, migration etc.). Organisms are always attempting "change" but it doesn't "take hold" until that change makes the organism, as a species, better able to survive it's new environment. So, when the "business environment" changes, business tactics, methodologies, and procedures will evolve to best adapt to the new environment. Example are mass production, automation, specialization, patents and copyrights, regionalizing, multinationalization etc. None of this has anything whatsoever to do with, for or against god.

  2. The founders were highly influenced by Greek democracy and the Roman Republic, they read the authors of the "Age of Enlightenment and Reason) 17th and 18th century, including philosphers Raousseau, Voltair, Cant and John Lock (Natural Rights of man) and of course the Magna Carta. All these Ideas created the Declaration of Independence, theConstitution and the Bill of rights. Darwin brought us out of the dark ages of superstition.

      1. Darwinism has absolutely NOTHING to do with, communism, racism, fascism, or capitalism. It merely points out the obvious progression of simple species' evolution into more and more complex species over a vast span of time.

    1. Darwin took us into the darkness of Jim Crow, Corporate Greed, Nazi Germany, Communism, and Marxism, also the word that will get this post flagged.

  3. Still today, we are constantly influenced by what others are doing instead of trusting ourselves to make our own decisions. We are going to have to take a stand sooner or later and do what we think need to do instead of what others think.

  4. What I find interesting is the notion that nobody from the Pope Down. Not A Rabbi, Not a Pastor, not a Priest. Nobody mentions the fact that, While it is written in the holy books that God Said. "Go Forth. Be fruitful and multiply". Nowhere in any of those books does it say. " Go forth be fruitful and OVER multiply". What that says to me is. None of the organized big religions are credible. I believe in a creator God. Just not the Gods as described in any of the existing corrupted by the hands of man holy books. Simple fact is. Since none of the current faiths address overpopulation which history shows us is cyclical and happens every four to eight thousand years. I can only conclude that most faith based churches serve as tools wielded by our hidden old money masters for self defence and population control purposes.

  5. Due to the word "Socialism" containing the name of a prescription drug, all comments containing the word "Socialism" get automatically flagged for moderation. These comments have to be manually approved so they will not post immediately. We WILL post these comments.
    this is the most stupid reason to flag a comment I have ever read, what dose a drug name contained in Socialism have to be flaged for?

  6. Darwinism is a 153 year old theory constructed without the modern understanding of genetics or microscopes capable of viewing the unbelievably vast complexity of the living cell. Paleontology has failed to find one truly "missing link" for any species. Can you imagine traveling today, or heating and lighting your home, or using the medical science from 153 years ago? It's time to revisit this 153 year old theory with our modern understandings.

    1. Modern science continues to support the theory of evolution as put forth by Darwin. Millions of fossils support the theory. Advances in biology, including DNA research support evolution. The geological record found locked away in the Earth support the theory of evolution.

      Your statement above is so patently false that it's hard to pick just one aspect to correct you on. We continue to address this theory with our modern understandings and we continue to find that it holds true even after 153 years. That in and of itself is strong evidence for the validity of the theory of evolution. That it flies in the face of what you have been told your whole life by well meaning but highly misguided loved ones is entirely inconscequintial. Science lays bare the falsehoods of our past. If creation had any foundation in truth, the evidence would weigh in in it's favor. Unfortunately for religion, it does not.

    1. Ain't that the truth. Perhaps one day, our grandchildren will be able to applaud us for shedding light on this monumental mistake. Hopefully they will get to live in a world ruled by reason instead of superstition.

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