Natural Selection

First published May 2018

The Reverend John Chandler reflects on natural selection versus the power of love.

When my wife and I were in Cambridge recently, we visited the Sedgwick Museum and I was enthralled by the exhibition on Charles Darwin, which included some of his notebooks, finds and published books. Darwin trained to be a Church of England Clergyman, but he was always more interested in geology – which led him to fossils, and then to the discoveries and theories which made him famous.

Seeing the fossilised remains of animals which lived millions of years ago, and the changes and development in nature through the ages, leaves me open-mouthed at the glories of creation; and our own bodies, the pinnacle of that development, still show evidence of our journey through time – everything from our DNA to the coccyx!

Natural selection is a rather different topic, but equally convincing. It’s obvious that survival of the fittest improves the genes and will also ensure the survival of dominant species. That got us where we are today, and it’s happening right now with red & grey squirrels, bees and even organisms becoming resistant to antibiotics. It also works in business with takeovers and in world politics, with the strong getting stronger.

But now you might be wondering why I’m reminding you of this, and where I’m leading. Well, I’ve become convinced that there’s a force which is increasing in power and popularity which is working in exactly the opposite direction! It’s a force which only humanity (and I would say God) considers, and you might call it care or even love. Whilst natural selection favours the biggest, the fastest, the brainiest, love is seen in caring for the minorities, the marginalised, the unwell, the disabled. It’s so encouraging to see how pressure groups promote the needs of all kinds of minorities, and we are so good at giving to those charities or joining a crusade. We want to see equality, not domination.

Jesus came into this wonderful, dynamic, exciting world with the message of love for our neighbour, regardless of status, wealth, nationality or condition. He demonstrated his love by healing the sick, calling us to help the poor and showing us the importance of accepting everyone. Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew’s Gospel, chapters 5, 6 & 7) and you’ll see how the way of love is more powerful than the way of the world. I know which way I want to follow – for me, that’s a natural selection!