Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Darwinian Stamina

The stamina of evolution is well-known. There is no question that it is firmly ingrained in our science and in our culture. This is true partly because a well-developed model of creation has been absent until now. It is also true that the real weaknesses in the naturalistic model of evolution have been shielded from public scrutiny. And finally, it has survived because there is no better naturalistic explanation.

Scientific theories sometimes function better as guides for further research than as statements of truth. When weaknesses in a scientific theory become evident, scientists begin to propose alternate theories. Charles Darwin thought that if numerous successive, slight modifications could not form a complex organ, his theory would absolutely break down. When it became well-known that instead of gradualism, many sudden appearances of new species dominated the fossil record, evolutionists not only gave the phenomenon a name–-punctuated equilibrium–-but also proposed creative, even bizarre naturalistic theories to account for it.

Scientists began to pronounce evolution a “fact” because they “saw” that life forms changed over time. They began to use phrases like “we have discovered” or “we now know.” Inference from the fossil record began to be equated with factual evidence. The theory of mutation acting in concert with natural selection to account for new species became an article of faith. The science community embraced that idea because there was no better theory that conformed to the naturalistic requirements of the science establishment. Evolution was touted as good science, but in reality, it was the only science. A better naturalistic alternative did not exist.

After scientists accepted blind, purposeless processes as the driving force of evolution, it remained for them to convince the public. Included in the basket of belief in evolution is a belief that matter possesses the full capability of self-organizing into complex living systems. Evolutionary scientists, 90-95% of which are self-acknowledged atheists or agnostics, believe matter has this capability. This explains Richard Dawkins’ famous statement that Darwinism made it possible to become “an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Evolution needs no deity to direct the process or to smile on it from afar. While examining evolution’s underlying assumptions, therefore, some may want to rethink their own beliefs about origins. How is it sensible that theistic evolutionists blend a process perceived by scientists as unguided and naturalistic with the concepts of theism, God, and Creator?