May 27, 2006
Is Darwinian evolution—the idea that unguided, natural processes are solely responsible for the existence of the universe—consistent with the religious belief that God created the universe? It is commonly believed that they are, but such a belief is rationally incredible.
If unguided, natural processes are wholly adequate to account for the entirety of the universe, God’s causal activity is excluded, and His existence unnecessary. Are we to believe that if God exists He sat idly by, thoroughly surprised to find time, space, and matter popping into existence from nothing? While Darwinian evolution does not necessarily exclude the existence of God, we must admit that if He does exist (in the words of Phillip Johnson) “He has never found gainful employment.”
Nancy Pearcey echoed similar sentiments: “If natural causes working on their own are capable of producing everything that exists, then the obvious implication is that there’s nothing left for a Creator to do. He’s out of a job. And if the existence of God no longer serves any explanatory or cognitive function, then the only function left is an emotional one: Belief in God is reduced to an escape hatch for people afraid to face modernity.”
This truth was brought to my mind again recently when I was re-reading Judge Jones’ decision in Kitzmiller vs. Dover (regarding the so-called “teaching” of Intelligent Design in Dover, PA, in which he ruled that ID was religious and hence unconstitutional to teach in public schools). He made a comment that was just plain silly: “Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator.” (emphasis mine) Not only does Darwinian evolution conflict with belief in God, but it absolutely rules out the existence of a divine creator by the very definition of the word. If the divine creator isn’t doing any creating then the concept of a divine creator becomes meaningless! If divine creators don’t have to create to be creators then maybe human judges like Jones don’t have to make judgments to be judges. Oh the absurdity!
There are some evolutionists who are much more honest about the implications of Darwinism. For example, the eminent evolutionist, William Provine said “evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented.” In another place he wrote:
[Y]ou have to check your brains at the church-house door if you take modern evolutionary biology seriously. The implications of modern evolutionary biology are inescapable, just as the conclusion of an immense universe was inescapable when we shifted from a cozy geocentric view to the heliocentric conception of our solar system. Stated simply, evolutionary biology undermines the fundamental assumptions underlying ethical systems in almost all cultures, Western civilization in particular. The frequently made assertion that evolutionary biology and the Judeo-Christian traditions are fully compatible is false. The destructive implications of evolutionary biology extend far beyond the assumptions of organized religion to a much deeper and more pervasive belief, held by the vast majority of people: that non-mechanistic organizing design or forces are somehow responsible for the visible order of the physical universe, biological organisms and human moral order.
Of course, it is still possible to believe in both modern evolutionary biology and a purposive force, even the Judeo-Christian God. One can suppose that God started the whole universe or works through the laws of nature (or both). There is no contradiction between this or similar views of God and natural selection. But this view of God is also worthless. Called Deism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and considered equivalent to atheism then, it is no different now. A God or purposive force that merely starts the universe or works thought the laws of nature has nothing to do with human morals, answers no prayers, gives no life everlasting, in fact does nothing whatsoever that is detectable. In other words, religion is compatible with modern evolutionary biology (and indeed all of modern science) if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism.
Evolutionary biologist, Greg Graffin wrote:
The most important feature of evolutionary biology is its integrated view of humankind’s place in nature that easily lends itself to a deeply satisfying metaphysics based entirely on materialist principles. This provision, coupled with the observation that theology has lost so much of its appeal to the average citizen, leads to the controversial conclusion that, in the modern world, Naturalism is a substitute for, and provides all the benefits of, traditional religion. If the naturalists have their day, theism is effectively dead.
We still live in a world, however, that is predominantly theist, particularly in America where 95% of the citizens believe in God (according to the Gallup Poll of 2001). In this environment, many evolutionary biologists are reluctant to carry the implications of Darwinism to their logical extent. Theists vote, pay the taxes, and support the research institutions where most naturalists work. Theists do not appreciate hearing the vulgar truth of evolutionary theory, that mankind is no fallen angel, has no immortal soul, nor free will, and was not specially created. So what is a naturalist evolutionary biologist to do in this climate?
I hope our culture will wisen up to the notion that Darwinism and Christianity are not compatible. For further reading see my article entitled “Theistic Evolution: The Illegitimate Marriage of Theism and Evolution”.
Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Book, 2004), 154.William Provine, “Evolution: Free will and punishment and meaning in life.” Slide from Prof. William B. Provine’s 1998 “Darwin’s Day” address, “Darwin Day” website, University of Tennessee Knoxville TN, 1998) William Provine, “Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics.” Science, Technology, and Social Progress, Steven Goldman, ed. 1989, pp. 253-254. William Provine, review of Trial and Error: The American Controversy over Creation and Evolution, by Edward J. Larson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1985, 224 pp.), in Academe, January 1987, pp.51-52.http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/purpose.html#whatisit; Internet; accessed 6 January 2006.
May 23, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Quote of the Day
- “There is no reason why debates in ivory towers should not also take place at water coolers.”—Darrel Bock, Breaking the Da Vinci Code, 158
“There is a difference between an argument and a sophisticated assertion.”—Greg Koukl
May 23, 2006
Richard Dawkins of Oxford University wrote that “biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” The appearance of design in the cosmos is so strong that Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA) felt compelled to warn that “biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
The absurdity of such statements can be seen when we apply the logic to other areas of life. Can you imagine Crick’s advice being given to a car mechanic: “Mechanics must constantly keep in mind that what they see under the hood was not designed, but rather evolved.” Cars have the appearance of design because they are designed. Why should we believe anything different when it comes to the physical and biological worlds if they display the same tell-tale signs of design? Both contain specified and irreducibly complex systems, and the only known generator of such is intelligent designers.
The only reason to believe something different about the cosmos is an a priori commitment to philosophical and/or methodological naturalism. If you start off with the presupposition that there is no God (or if there is He is not involved with the universe) then it must be true that the appearance of design in our universe is only apparent, not real. But why should we believe God does not exist, or is not involved with our universe? These presuppositions must be defended before philosophical materialism should be taken seriously, and the random and purposeless evolution it supports.
If the world looks designed as Dawkins and Crick admit, why deny that it was indeed designed (it would be the simpler explanation)? What compelling evidence is there that would cause us to opt for a naturalistic explanation over some kind of theistic explanation? There is none! Only a predisposition to look for a naturalistic explanation that leaves God out. That’s why evolutionary theory is becoming less of a scientific theory and more of a philosophical (if not religious) dogma that cannot be questioned. That is why Darwinists all over the land are doing everything they can to run intelligent design theorists off the map. They can’t defend their philosophical viewpoint with solid empirical data so they resort to name calling and dismissals.
Darwinism has dominated science for the last 150 years, not because there is a plethora of evidence for the theory, but because the modern definition of science presupposes methodological materialism (you act as if the only thing that exists and is causally active in the world is matter), if not philosophical materialism itself (you actually believe nothing exists except the material world). If you arbitrarily define science as the pursuit of material causes, it should be no surprise that evolution will be the undisputed king of the scientific hill. By fiat definition it is the only game in town. That’s why the main thrust of the Intelligent Design movement has been to challenge the very definition of modern science itself, exposing the fact that it is presupposes philosophical materialism. If we have good reason to believe philosophical materialism is false (and we do), then much of the evolutionary theory comes crashing down with it like a house of cards in the wind.
The evolution vs. intelligent design debate is not a debate between science and religion or science and faith, but a debate over the very definition of science itself. It is a debate of science vs. science. Each side offers a competing scientific account of the physical world, but each driven by different philosophical presuppositions. May the best philosophy win!
May 18, 2006
Posted by jasondulle under Theology
I was listening to Dennis Prager this morning, the connoisseur of moral clarity. He made a point that is worth repeating. He said one cannot truly love good without simultaneously hating evil. Someone who is not morally outraged by atrocious acts of evil cannot claim to love the good. It’s like trying to have one side of a coin. A one-sided coin cannot exist.
I thought this point was fitting in a day when we have become so accustomed to seeing and hearing about evil that we are desensitized to it. It seems to me that we have nearly lost our ability to feel moral outrage. Do we really hate evil anymore? If not, we can’t truly love the good.
See Psalm 91:10 and Proverbs 8:13
May 18, 2006
An obnoxious abortion advocate posted some rants on Scott Klusendorf’s Pro-Life Training blog asserting that we are not pro-life, but rather anti-choice. You can check out the full string here, but I wanted to post the heart of Scott’s response so you can see how a pro-lifer responds to the argument that we are opposed to choice. Scott wrote:
You next claim that Penner is anti-choice, but this, too, begs the question by assuming, without argument, that the unborn are not human. Should we be “pro-choice” on the question of men beating their wives? Parents torturing toddlers? Look, the abortion debate is not a dispute between those who are pro-choice and those who are anti-choice. Let me be clear. I am vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. I support a woman’s right to choose her own health care provider, to choose her own school, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, to choose her own religion, and to choose her own career, to name a few. These are among the many choices that I fully support for the women of our country. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves. No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that. Hence, the real issue that separates you from me is the question “What is the unborn?” Until you address that issue with a compelling argument, you appeals to “choice” are nothing but question-begging rants.
You might want to read my short article entitled “Do You Support a Woman’s Right to Choose?” in which I argued in a similar fashion. My article goes into a little more detail and explains the tactical nature of this approach. Check it out.
May 16, 2006
Many people believe scientists have demonstrated that homosexuality is genetically determined. While scientists have proven no such thing, what if they did? What follows from such a discovery morally speaking, and what might follow from that legally speaking? Let me deal with each in turn.
What would the moral ramifications of such a discovery be? Would the existence of a gene that predisposed (if not determined) one towards same-sex attraction tell us whether homosexuality is morally good or morally bad? No, for two reasons. First, you can’t get a moral ought from an ontological is. What is, and what should be do not necessarily coincide. Just because it is the case (for the sake of argument) that homosexual attraction is genetic does not mean homosexual attraction is good and desirable.
Secondly, genes determine things we consider both good and bad. For example, genes code for colored eyes (good) and some forms of cancer (bad). This invites a question for the genetic reductionist: should homosexuality be viewed as a genetic disease like cancer, or should it be viewed as a genetic “good” like eye color? Even if we start with the presupposition that homosexuality is genetically determined it does not tell us whether the genes have determined something that is good or bad. Something more is needed to determine that, and that something more is ethics. That’s why any possible future discovery of a genetic link to homosexuality is morally irrelevant.
While the moral ramifications would be moot, what about the legal ramifications? The discovery that homosexuality is genetically determined could have severe legal ramifications that will have a great impact on the church’s ability to condemn homosexuality as a moral evil. If homosexuality is genetically determined on the same level as race or sex, then it could be considered a suspect class by the courts (suspect classes require the strictest level of Constitutional scrutiny). You can’t discriminate against a suspect class for the specific property that classifies them as a suspect class without feeling the weight of the law coming down on you.
If homosexuality is genetically determined on the same level that race and gender, then any discrimination against a homosexual because of his homosexuality could be considered equivalent to discriminating against a black man because of the color of his skin. In the same way that the latter would be racism and punishable by law, the former might be considered homophobic and punishable by law. This could prevent Christians from making moral judgments against homosexuality.
You say, “That would never happen in America!!” Really? Would a church face legal action if it used the Bible to promote racism? Yes (correct me if I’m wrong Andy). If the government can prosecute those who express certain religious views on the issue of race because it’s a suspect class, why couldn’t they prosecute those who express certain religious views on the issue of “sexual orientation” if it were also a suspect class? The fact that those who use the Bible to promote racism are misinterpreting the Bible is irrelevant. All that is relevant is that certain expressions of religious views are punishable by law because those expressions violate the law. If there is a law that says homosexuals are a protected class, any discrimination against them—whether religious or secular in nature—can be punished.
If I remember correctly, in Sweden a pastor cannot even read a passage from the Bible that condemns homosexuality. Freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression are being honed in by political correctness in the West. America is no exception to this trend. If we continue in the ideological vein we’re heading in this country, what’s happening in Sweden may be coming to a theater near you!
(Political commercial) How do we stop it? We vote! We are in the majority, and yet we are silent. The only way the majority can become captive to the minority in a democratic society is if the voting public stays home on election day. If you stay home on election day don’t be surprised if the world you walk out to the next day is a world you don’t want to be in. The world is ours for the making. Let’s make it right by making our voices heard to our representatives on issues that are of moral importance to us. Remember, we are the government!
May 16, 2006
As another example of poor thinking consider the following story (thank you Max for bringing this to my attention).
The management group (One Management) of a senior apartment complex is banning a group of tenants from having Bible studies, singing hymns, and displaying nativity scenes in the common areas of the complex because they say it may violate the Fair Housing Act. Vice-president of One Management, Jenny Petri, described the rationale for the policy change as follows: “Allowing religious ceremonies or displays of religious items in the property’s common areas may create the appearance that Heritage Court prefers or limits one religion over another, or even that it prefers residents who are religious over those who are not. To comply with Fair Housing laws, Heritage Court must remain religiously neutral.”
So let me get this straight, to avoid the appearance of discrimination against any one particular religion they discriminate against all religions by banning all things religious from the common areas of the complex? In the name of religious neutrality they are being anything but neutral, and yet they fail to see how self-contradictory their policy is. To ensure religious freedom it is believed we must ban the expression of religion in the public square. Such is the deception of political correctness.
The rationale isn’t even legitimate. Allowing a group of Christians to practice their faith in the common areas of the complex does not discriminate against other religions. The only way discrimination would be involved is if the complex allowed Christians to use the common areas for religious purposes, but not other religious groups.
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