My original title for this post was going to be “Three Reasons Why Darwinian Evolution Is So Universally Accepted, and Three Reasons Why It Is Beginning to Crumble.” But you probably wouldn’t have clicked on it to read it.
For many Christians seeking to defend their faith, the question of science’s commitment to evolution over the Christian explanation of creation presents one of the biggest challenges. For anyone without a scientific background, trying to answer scientific objections can be intimidating and overwhelming. The intent of this article is to show you why Darwinian evolution is so fiercely protected in the scientific community, and why the commitment to Darwin’s version of evolution is losing support in the scientific community.
Why is it that among the intellectual elite, evolution is the predominant view of the origin and development of our universe, specifically biological life, and even more specifically, human development and progress? There are at least three reasons for this near-universal acceptance in the sciences and three reasons why it is beginning to crumble in the sciences and among the masses of the world.
- Darwin’s theory of evolution by means of natural selection can seemingly explain so much. That is, Darwin imbued his theory with the ability to explain almost every phenomenon in our world by long periods of time, chance, and a mystical power called natural selection. Add to that our understanding of genetics and DNA, and Neo-Darwinism, as it is called, claims to explain even more.
- In order for science to be possible, the world and everything in it has to be reliable, repeatable, and predictable. Darwin’s theory displaced the idea of a personal Creator with the impersonal force of natural selection, which until recently, could conceivably account for the stability of the world (at least enough to do science).
- Although few scientists and philosophers want to admit this, Darwinism allows them to ignore the question of God in the origin and development of the world, especially human progress. If you think this is biased, a growing chorus of these revered experts are admitting just that. Thomas Nagel, professor of philosophy and law at New York University has written that, “The priority given to evolutionary naturalism in the face of its implausible conclusions about other subjects is due, I think, to the secular consensus that this is the only form of external understanding of ourselves that provides an alternative to theism…” (Mind and Cosmos, 29). In other words, we must continue to accept that there is nothing but the physical universe or else we have to consider the God question, and we certainly can’t do that. This reminds me of Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin who said that we have to start with naturalism despite all its absurdities because, “we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.” (“Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review (Jan. 9, 1997), 31).
These three points seem unassailable in higher education, the sciences, and in any appeal to the relationship between science and faith. Any other theory to explain our universe is vigorously opposed in schools and the public square. Yet, Neo-Darwinism is a minority belief in places of the world where religion is strongest, especially Christianity. And for good reason, too.
- As science progresses in the 21st century, it is becoming apparent to more and more top scientific minds that natural selection and DNA are making the Darwinian consensus unbelievable. As just one example, natural selection is finally being exposed to be the magic show that it is (as C. S. Lewis called it). The further into the depths of genetic mutations we go, the more it is becoming obvious that the statistical chances of functional mutations are abysmally low. Stephen Meyer’s book, Darwin’s Doubt,demonstrates that the chances of a mutation resulting in just one new functioning protein fold in the DNA needed to produce a new species from an existing one (macroevolution) is somewhere in the range of 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Not good odds at the casino, but enough apparently for evolutionists. Genetics is just one of the dozens of scientific realities that reveals that Darwinian evolution fails scrutiny. The more we learn about our world in detail, evolution is simply not plausible.
- The question of unavoidable design in the universe that arises out of these studies is becoming hard to ignore. The complexity of our world screams the intricate intentionality of biological, chemical, and cosmological systems that make life on this earth possible. Richard Dawkins admits that the world seems designed. Thomas Nagel tries to find some answer for an intelligence in the universe because of the undeniability of human consciousness, while yet stopping short of God. They and others are like them live in denial of the divine, just as Romans 1 describes. The obvious alternative is that a personal, loving, all-powerful Creator made the universe, and especially human beings in his image, to inhabit this world. The results of the fall explain the equally powerful testimony of natural brokenness and human depravity.
- The real issue is the white-knuckled determination of secularists in science and philosophy to not allow the Divine Foot in the door. “Anything but God” seems to be the motto. All the while, they seek to conjure a twisted morality out of thin air and cobble together explanations about human behavior through “evolutionary biology,” which even a secularist like Thomas Nagel calls speculation, guesswork, bare assertion, and incomplete (Mind and Cosmos, 43). The root of the problem is a willful rejection of the triune, biblical God who created the world for a purpose and who has revealed himself clearly in his Word and his Son. Modern science began with the conviction of a personal Creator in the 17th century, but now tries to continue without the foundation. To borrow C. S. Lewis’ metaphor in The Abolition of Man about doing away with character and then demanding virtue, we have rejected the rock of truth and then demanded our secular Styrofoam foundations hold up the edifice. This is why the average person in many places around the world does not buy the naturalistic, Neo-Darwinian explanation of all things. He lives in the real world that is much more than biology and knows intuitively that there is a greater explanation than mere mechanics. As Oxford professor John Lennox reminds us, understanding the assembly line and the internal combustion engine does not preclude the need for a Henry Ford to explain the Model T.
In short, the consensus about the Neo-Darwinian explanation of the universe is beginning to crumble, as evidenced by the subtitle of Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False. Yet the scientific community is still by and large committed to it for now. And the vast majority who cling to it do so with outmoded and long-rejected 20th century ideas. Christians can have confidence that the biblical description of our Creator and his work, the fall and its consequent curse, and the redemption found through Christ are rooted in reality and truth. The message of the gospel can overcome the delusion of a universe that came from nowhere and evolved by time and chance in an unguided process going nowhere and for no purpose.