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.” [1]

 

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.” [2] 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. [3]

 

And again,

 

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. [4]

 

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? [5]

 

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”.

 


[1]Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Book, 2004), 154.
[2]
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) [3]William Provine, “Evolution and the Foundation of Ethics.” Science, Technology, and Social Progress, Steven Goldman, ed. 1989, pp. 253-254.
[4]
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.
[5]
http://www.cornellevolutionproject.org/purpose.html#whatisit; Internet; accessed 6 January 2006.
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