How does “survival of the fittest” work with the Bible?

For instance, the Bible often says things like, “the meek will inherit the earth” or “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first”. But that’s not true with evolution. With evolution, the first will be first and the last wil die. There is no room to be “meek” when survival is on the line.

So how would this reality coincide with the words of the Bible?

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Well the first step is to realize it’s talking about two completely different things. One is talking about nature, and not everyone uses survival of the fittest because often it’s not some creatures fitness that gets them through it but by chance they live in a different area from some crazy event and ect… there is a reason why everything is so diverse. It’s not a single set of traits otherwise everything would have evolved very similarly.

But more importantly is that it’s not at all relative to the biblical subject of servant hood. Being a disciple is to serve the world. It’s not to rule over it. Even in the creation narrative we were to be corulers as good stewards of the earth and not as powerful lords ruling over it.

So there is no convention. It’s a false conflict that’s not relative at all to one another.

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Something else to consider, even if they are falsely seamed together , for humanity part of the way we have survived as a species is through strong relationships between our species. Creating tribes, villages, families, congregations, cities, countries and so on. Part of our “fitness” is the fact we are capable of great love serving one one another. Even if it’s not everyone doing it or everyone doing it for everyone. Christ took that and pushed it further saying to care not only for those you love but for all. To love your neighbor.

Isn’t the Bible talking about how we should behave with humility and sacrificial love? Interestingly, that goes against our nature. We tend to want to be the best, the strongest, the first in line. Jesus teaches being a servant.

Doesn’t have anything to do with evolution (which isn’t really “survival of the fittest” necessarily).


Thanks to the faith of Christ, His, not ours, we transcend evolution.

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“Survival of the fittest” doesn’t work with much of anything INCLUDING the facts of evolution.

Making this the basis of social relationships is of course the biggest disaster of all justifying abuses in capitalism as well as the genocidal behaviors of both communism and national socialism.

But it doesn’t work all that well with evolution either, for cooperation is one of the most successful survival strategies. That is why replacing “natural selection” with “survival of the fittest” doesn’t work, because the selection for survival is not just something that works on individuals separately. Furthermore, it is a misconception that evolution is driven by natural selection. It is driven by variation and natural selection is just a filter. Thus far from inhibiting evolution, the community protecting the weaker members of society accelerates evolution by allowing a greater variation of individuals and thus enabling individuals to take specialized roles in the community. This is necessary for all the technological developments of the community whether it is the community of cells in multi-cellular organisms or human communities.

SO… a more appropriate question is how does natural selection work with the Bible? Because it is correct that this is an important part of evolution. It means death is necessary for the development of life. And this means that in order to be reasonable we should not understand the Bible to mean that physical death is a consequence of sin that will be eradicated. The consequence of sin is spiritual death and our resurrection is to a spiritual body (1 Cor 15). With that it becomes an excellent fit, so that I can say I only believe in Christianity because of evolution. Both require us to accept some harsh realities in which death is required for change, and the creationists and anti-Christians shouting at each other about how the other is too callous becomes rather hilarious.


Social evolution includes altruism :slight_smile: and self sacrifice


Humans are more than just animals. Evolution is not a lens that reveals all of reality when it comes to culture, sociology, metaphysics, etc.


@Vivi_O2, Welcome and thank you for raiding this most important question.

@SkovandOfMitaze, it is talking about the came thing. We live in ONE world.

@Boscopup, me first is the way to disaster as the election has shown.

@Randy, @Christy, and @Klax, Human evolution is the same as animal evolution. We all live in the same God created natural world.

So true, but this presents a serious challenge to BioLogos. As I hope you have noticed BL has taken the word Biology and brought out the second part of that word logy, which is based in the Greek word logos which means rational word or study and is also used for Jesus Christ in John 1. John 1:1-3 & 14 says, [John 1:1-3 (NIV2011)]
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
[John 1:14 (NIV2011)]
14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Bible states and the Trinity affirms that God the Father Creator created the universe, including Biology through God the Son, Jesus Christ, the Logos (by means of God the Spirit of Love.)

Evolution does not deny the existence of God because it is natural because Christianity has always said that the universe is natural and created by God. Evolution denies the4 existence of God IF it is without order, based on hatred, and has no purpose.

Is evolution without order? Dawkins says that evolution is without order, this despite the fact that Darwin seems to say that natural selection is deterministic. The problem of order in today’s science seems to center around quantum physics.

Quantum physics is probabilistic and therefore “random” and in the common understanding of that term, without order. Quantum physics is supposed the base understanding of the universe, yet even after its discovery, the earth keeps moving around the sun in a very orderly way.

Nothing has physically changed, except science has challenged our world view. We need a better understanding of the source of order in the universe, instead of jumping to the conclusion that there is none.

Is evolution based on hatred? Survival of the fittest is based on the belief that every biota is forced into a life or death struggle against members of its own species with the strongest to win out. Tis based on hatred rather than love.

Dawkins says that evolution is based on Selfish Genes. He defines the positive motivation, altruism, in a way different and hostile to the Christian understanding of love, that is, self-abnegation and labels Christians as “suckers.”

Again evolution is an observable fact. YEC is not, but the theory behind it is in some cases observably wrong. BioLogos in my opinion has a serious obligation to seek to rectify this situation.

Does evolution have a meaning or purpose? Again Dawkins who is the de facto spokesperson for science says No. Christianity says that it does. Evolution created humans and at the same time created a habitat or home for us. That is self evident.

Christians should be more interested in solving these problems, rather than defending their traditional positions. Faith is trust and belief in God. not traditional philosophy which is based on pagan beliefs.

I hope that BioLogos is based on faith in God and God’s Creation, not faith in Science or faith in Evangelical ideology. It has much work to do.

I would hope that it is based on faith in God AND faith in (the methodology of) science.

There is considerable ambiguity in the phrase “faith in God” and it too often translates to “faith in ones own religious denomination.” As an evangelical Christian I wouldn’t even mind the formula of faith in the Bible plus faith in the methodology of science. For while that may not work the world over, there is no reason why Biologos cannot have such a focus for the sake of Christianity in particular.

I guess it depends on what you mean by it’s about both things we live in one world.

What Jesus is talking about, the servant paradigm of loving your neighbor is not related to the laypersons catch phrase of the evolutionary process as “ survival of the fittest”.

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A more accurate characterization of evolution is “survival of the fit enough” rather than “survival of the fittest”. Indeed, defining “fittest” is quite problematic - what’s most advantageous in one situation can be a major liability in another. This includes a wide range of more cooperative and more competitive behaviors. Popular nature documentaries and the like tend to emphasize “nature red in tooth and claw” (which is actually Tennyson, not Darwin), but a quick look outside shows that most of life is not so dramatic as that. The Bible does call us to use a sensible level of self-interest in trying to survive, but to not be selfish and to recognize higher priorities. Evolution is a great way to produce a vast diversity of life and thus to display God’s creativity. But it’s no more useful for moral guidance than gravity or Maxwell’s equations.


What part does God play in evolution (including abiogenesis)? Evolution is essential for understanding morality. By default, all of it.

No, it doesn’t. As multiple people have already explained so many times.

For the record for everyone reading, no scientists or theologians ever agree with Roger’s description of evolution or reasons why it is incompatible with Christian faith. He’s in his own little world there.


For the record Richard Dawkins is very clear that his theory of evolution is contrary to the Christian faith because it is based on the lack of order, conflict, and the absence of purpose/meaning.
If the fact that I view the world as God’s world which has order and harmony, motivated ultimately by love, and God-given purpose means that I live in a world of my own, so be it, but it is not a world by myself and others are welcome to join me if they desire.

Jesus tells us that our basic stance in life, our basic relationship to other people and I would say to God’s Creation is one of love and acceptance. Survival of the fittest indicates that the basic relationship between biota, including humans, is a negative one including fear, hate, and conflict.

The two concepts are competing, incompatible understandings of how God has ordered the universe.

I understand you objection to the use of faith in God as as the standard of faith, because it is do broad, however I have found the Bible as not very helpful because many people have a corrected view of what the Bible says. A better standard is the Word or Logos of God Who is Jesus Christ, Which excuse the expression trumps the Bible. An even better definition would be a Trinitarian, New Testament understanding of God.

I respect the methodology of science, nut it seems that the methodology of science is changing from an experimental, “hands on” system, which I agree with, to a mathematics based abstract system, which is more descriptive than analytical. Math is fine, but it must not be the only tool in the scientific box.

You may want to rethink that. There are many social animals and symbiotic relationships between species that are very beneficial in an evolutionary sense. Bees are a great example. The worker bees will never have a chance to reproduce themselves, but they work tirelessly to help the hive succeed. In doing so, part of their DNA is passed on by the queen.


Also, rabbits far outnumber wolves. And bold aggressive rabbits probably get eaten first compared to their meeker cousins hiding in the brush.


@Vivi_O2 asked the question, Is the survival of the fittest of the fittest compatible with the words of Jesus Who advocated working with everyone as far as possible?

The answer is they are very different and not compatible, that is the theory of evolution according to Darwin is incompatible with the ethic of Jesus and the way He4 told us to live. .

However your response and the response of others is that Darwin’s understanding that evolution is based on relentless struggle(survival of the fittest) is wrong, because survival is best obtained by cooperation. In other words you mistake the Darwin’s Theory for the reality of evolution. when it is just like any other scientific theory which must correspond to reality to be true.

This raises some important questions. What does the phrase survival of the fittest mean? Does it mean what Darwin said it meant, a struggle to survive, or what we want it to mean, a strategy for survival? Does a biota choose which strategy to follow? If so, how does it choose? Can it change?

E. O. Wilson has recently said that evolution is not based on the Selfish Gene, but on mutuality. This is my position and I think the position of Jesus. This does not mean that there are no biota that try a selfish strategy, but these are aberrations and not ultimately successful.

@jpm Survival of the fittest is not about wolves vs rabbits. It is about wolves vs. wolves and rabbits vs rabbits. Wolves are social animals. They live and hunt in packs. Survival of the fittest does not apply to them.

Being courteous and gentle has survival value in all the many creatures that exhibit that, or they wouldn’t. So please demonstrate that eusociality is an evolutionary failure. Christianity was a great evolutionary success when it was eusocial, it conquered Rome, but unfortunately it mutated, becoming red in tooth and claw. Not sustainable in the long run, up against better eusocial memes. Eusocial Christianity, which is without equal, is still in the meme pool.

The opening post was asking about evolution in general, not Darwin’s understanding specifically.

Ultimately, it is about having grandchildren.

If survival of the fittest did not apply then there would enough rabbits and wolves to fill the entire universe, given their ability for exponential growth rates. The universe is not filled with rabbits and wolves, so why is that?


“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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