We could even say that Darwinism itself often functions as an alternative religion. In fact, that’s exactly what philosopher of science Micahel Ruse does say. Ruse is a pugnacious and aggressive evolutionist, who testified in court against an Arkansas creationist statute back in 1982. While there, however, he had a conversation with the well-known creationist Duane Gish that brought him up short. “The trouble with you evolutionists is that you just don’t play fair,” Gish told him. You accuse us of teaching a religious view, he said, but “you evolutionists are just as religious in your own way. Christianity tells us where we came from, where we’re going, and what we should do on the way. I defy you to show any difference with evolution. It tells you where you came from, where you are going, and what you should do on the way.” In short, evolution functions as a religion.
The comment rankled Ruse, and he couldn’t get it out of his mind. Eventually, he decided that Gish was right–that evolution really is “more than mere science,” as he put it in a recent article. “Evolution came into being as a kind of secular ideology, a secular religion–a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality.”
Ruse hastens to reassure his readers that he himself remains “an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian.” And yet, “I must admit that in this one complaint…the [biblical] literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution today.”
Ruse announced his new insight at the 1993 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), where his presentation was met by stunned silence. A conference report published by an evolution advocacy group wondered, “Did Michael Ruse Give Away the Store?”
But Ruse wasn’t making wild allegations. He backed them up with solid examples, citing people like Stephen Jay Gould, who once claimed that evolution “liberates the human spirit.” For sheer excitement, Gould added, evolution “beats any myth of human origins by light years.” Since evolutionary history is entirely contingent, “in an entirely literal sense, we owe our existence, as large and reasoning animals, to our lucky stars.”
Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, p. 172