God Versus Darwin

Why can't those creationists just be reasonable? The speaker was Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education, in a debate with Phillip Johnson, author of a book debunking Darwin. I have friends who believe God created life, Scott went on, "people of deep faith," yet they accept Darwinism as the mechanism God used. Why are creationists still holding out? That's a fair question. Many Christians do accept both the Bible and Darwinism. What's wrong with that? To answer that question, we need to look closely at what Darwin really said. Even in Darwin's own day, many Christians tried to combine his theory with the idea of divine purpose and design. For example, the botanist Asa Gray tried to find a divine plan in natural selection. But Darwin protested that this was not what he meant at all. If God was behind evolution, he argued, then each variation in living things would be predetermined by His purpose. But in that case, there would be no need for natural selection. Darwin's motives were ultimately religious. After all, the whole point of natural selection is to demonstrate how limbs and organs that appear to be designed might actually result from random changes. The theory is that natural selection sifts through those random changes and preserves those that happen to be beneficial. But if the changes were not random--if God preselected only beneficial changes in the first place--then obviously you would not need any sifting. In Darwin's own words, if God ensured that "the right variations occurred, and no others, natural selection would be superfluous"--unnecessary, redundant. Christians need to understand that the two central elements of Darwin's theory--random random changes and the blind sifting of natural selection--were both proposed expressly to get rid of design and purpose in biology. In the words of historian Jacques Barzun, "The sum total of accidents of life acting upon the sum total of the accidents of variation provided a completely mechanistic and material system" to account for adaptations in living things. What this means is that Darwinism is not merely a biological theory. Instead, it smuggles in a philosophy of naturalism that is implacably opposed to any idea of purpose or design. In The Soul of Science, Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton show that science is always driven by philosophical and religious motivations. Throughout history many biologists, from Ray to Linnaeus to Cuvier, were Christians. They studied the finely engineered structures in living things--eyes and ears, fins and feathers--in order to reveal the wisdom of the Creator. But Darwin's motivations were equally religious: He wanted to get rid of the Creator. He took direct aim at the idea of design and purpose, hoping to replace it with a completely naturalistic mechanism. When Darwinists urge Christians to "just be reasonable," they're papering over the radically opposed religious motivations behind scientific theories. You and I ought to tear the paper off; we ought to demand that Darwinists be honest about the naturalistic philosophy implicit in their theory. You can use this special "BreakPoint" series in your Bible studies and discussion groups to be better informed. The evolution controversy reveals just how much science is driven by deep religious commitments.


Chuck Colson


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