[Here is another of my essays originally posted at Intellectual Conservative and destroyed by leftist hackers. In it, I refer to the evolution in which contemporary atheistic science believes as “Darwinism” or “Darwinian evolution.” This is not the term that most scientists use, but since the word “evolution” has many meanings, and since most scientific enthusiasts of the evolutionary theory originated by Darwin wish to obscure its anti-Christian nature, I have chosen to use a more clear-cut term. Keep in mind also that this essay was written for the general public, not the typical Orthosphere reader.]
Ben Stein’s movie Expelled shines the spotlight on the dispute between Darwinian evolution and its opponents. Although both sides marshal a large array of technical facts, this dispute is really a clash between two fundamentally differing worldviews, that is, basic philosophical systems that people use to interpret all of reality. In fact, the dispute can most accurately be summed up by saying: It’s all about God.
That is, if you can be sure there is no miracle-working God, then something like Darwinian evolution must be correct. But if there is even a chance that such a God exists, then basic intellectual integrity demands that you take seriously the criticisms directed against Darwinism. In other words, you must take seriously any evidence supporting the notion that natural forces are incapable of either originating life or changing it from single-celled organisms to the species we observe now. And you cannot, as the Darwinian evolutionists do, dismiss the possibility of divine action as being outside the scope of science, and therefore de facto false. After all, if natural forces cannot do what obviously did happen, something supernatural must have been involved, and a proper science would acknowledge this possibility.
Definitions Are Everything
In this dispute, proper definitions are everything. For example, the most common defense given for Darwinian evolution is some variation of the following: “Evolution means change over time. We observe that life is changing over time. Therefore evolution is a fact, even if we don’t know all the details.”
And the Darwinists’ second most common line is: “Science is naturalistic by definition. Therefore your alleged evidence that God did it, or that natural forces are incapable of doing it, is invalid. Appealing to God, either overtly or covertly, is not allowed. Case closed.”
(“Naturalism” is the doctrine that only matter exists, and that all knowledge must originate from data provided by the five senses.)
In both cases, Darwinists are appealing to a definition in order to win the argument. In one case, it is the definition of “Darwinian evolution;” in the second, the definition of “science.”
But reality is not determined by definitions. In fact, the reverse is true: we only must use definitions that accord with what we know about reality. And if evidence starts to come in that the definitions we have used are faulty, we must honestly face this evidence.
So before we judge the evidence for and against Darwinian evolution, we must ask: What are the proper definitions of “Darwinian evolution” and of “science?” And how do we decide what the proper definitions would have to be? The answers we give to these questions will largely determine whether we support or oppose Darwinian evolutionary theory.
And please note: These questions are philosophical, not scientific. They concern the most basic issues of human life: What is real? What is true? How does one determine truth? For such questions, scientific data can be useful but will never be decisive. This dispute concerns the basic philosophical assumptions that undergird, and precede, science. Therefore scientific methods cannot answer the above questions.
In other words, the scientist does not have any special authority here. He cannot say, “I am a trained professional, you are not, and therefore you are required to agree with me.” When we discuss questions about basic reality, the scientist and the non-scientist are on equal terms. Each must make a philosophical, non-technical case to support his view, and he must also evaluate the merits of his opponent’s case, rather than just standing on authority or tradition.
Professional philosophers also have no special authority here. The basic natures of thought and of reality are not highly specialized fields of professional inquiry where laymen have no right to take a stand. Thought and reality are everyone’s business, and the philosopher must make his case in non-technical language.
The first of the questions, “What exactly do we mean by ‘Darwinian evolution?’ is comparatively easy to answer. Only members in good standing of the scientific community (especially its leadership) have the authority to answer this question. Scientists use the term “Darwinian evolution” in a special way, as is appropriate to a technically-advanced academic and intellectual discipline, and so laymen do not have the authority to redefine it.
This must be said because private definitions of “evolution” abound. It is common, for example, for believers in God to define evolution as a process of change that appears to the scientist to be random and uncaused, but is in reality guided by God. Call it “theistic evolution. And it is also common for less religiously-orthodox dissenters from standard Darwinian theory to redefine evolution so that, although there is no guiding hand, it is still somehow “predetermined” by the properties of reality itself.
So we need to be clear: the Darwinism that the scientists (and their admirers) demand that we believe means something very specific. This definition is often written down for all to see, and it can also be inferred from what the Darwinists say about their theory.
The scientist’s definition of evolution (expressed in non-technical terms and emphasizing the points which are key for this essay) is as follows: “The development of life by random genetic mutations coupled with natural selection, in such a way that this development was neither guided by any intelligent agent, nor predetermined in any other way.” If you believe in some other sort of evolution, you are not a Darwinist.
And therefore, in particular, Darwinian evolution does not mean just “change in life over time.” Nobody disputes that life has changed over time, and this fact does not prove that the changes were Darwinian, that is, not caused by an intelligent agent.
Revealingly, scientists rarely state the definition as clearly as I have above, at least when they are addressing the general public. One reason is undoubtedly that many scientists are honestly unaware that anyone would regard an intelligently-designed or predetermined evolution as a possibility. Most scientists have a worldview that is naturalistic, meaning they believe that only matter exists (and therefore there is no God), and that all knowledge must originate with the five senses. And if naturalism is true, any sort of evolution obviously would have to be Darwinian, even if all of the details have not yet been discovered: Under naturalism, no God is available to do the intelligent designing, and no “predestination” of material processes can be known. This being the case, natural selection would be the only remotely plausible explanation of life.
But the main reason scientists and their textbooks often downplay (or ignore) the atheistic nature of Darwinism (the “no God did it” part) is because of public opposition. Although roughly 40% of Americans say to pollsters that they basically go along with Darwinism, that leaves a large and often- vocal majority who do not. In the last thirty years or so, anti-Darwinism has become a major force. And as I am attempting to demonstrate in this essay, this is as it should be.
What is Science?
This brings us to the second question: What is the correct definition of science? Should science be naturalistic (i.e., assuming only matter and sensory-based knowledge) by definition?
This question is key. If science really should be naturalistic, then some sort of Darwinism is correct. Period. Even if life on earth were designed by a superior race of extraterrestrial beings (which would be a form of “Intelligent Design”), this could be assimilated to Darwinism, if the ultimate origin of all life in the universe were naturalistic.
Should science be naturalistic? There is only one possible answer: Only if naturalism is true, at least to the best of our knowledge.
Imagine a scientist who has what he believes to be good evidence that an event occurred that cannot be accounted for except through the purposeful action of an intelligent being. But this event occurred long before any human beings, or any other material beings capable of intelligent and purposeful action, existed. What should he conclude?
If naturalism is known to be true, he should conclude that some unknown natural process caused the event. But if naturalism is not known to be true, he should consider the possibility that a supernatural being did it. To entertain this possibility is not to “destroy science.” It is to draw the most likely conclusion.
Consider an analogy: A detective is investigating a murder, and he is beginning to suspect that the butler did it. But the rules of the Gotham City police department emphatically do not allow police to implicate butlers. When the detective mentions his reasons for thinking the butler did it, he is told, “That’s against our rules.” So he decides that he will only believe the butler did it when he’s off duty.
That would be absurd. If there really is good evidence that the butler did it, we should entertain this possibility. There can be only one valid reason to have a general rule that butlers are never to be implicated: if we have good reason to believe that butlers never commit crimes. Otherwise, it would be absurd to say, “The butler may have done it, but if you consider that possibility then it won’t be valid detective work. It will be something else entirely, because, for example, people are so fond of their butlers that they cannot give a truthful testimony about them.”
If you are a scientist, there is only one valid reason to demand naturalism in your investigations: if you have good reason to believe that naturalism is true.
In response to this point, some scientists will declare that “truth” is not the goal of science. Science, they say, is like a game, in which the rules are essentially arbitrary, and are chosen for esthetic or utilitarian reasons. But this assertion is clearly nonsense. The vast majority of scientists believe that their goal is truth (as much truth as human enterprise is capable of attaining), not just adherence to an arbitrary code. Besides, if the goal of science is not truth, then non-scientists are not required to agree with scientists. If you are not claiming that your scientific conclusions are really true, we can ignore you.
Some scientists distinguish between methodological naturalism (“Science must only investigate natural things, even though it cannot know whether naturalism is true”) and ontological naturalism (“Naturalism is true.”) They will demand only methodological naturalism in science, and claim that they are not saying naturalism is true.
But this is to dodge the issue. If naturalism is false, then evidence pointing to the supernatural will eventually be found. And at that point, continuing to insist on methodological naturalism really will be just a disguised ontological naturalism, i.e., a disguised atheism.
So is naturalism true? A full discussion of this point would make this essay much too long, and many others more able than I have written on the subject, so I shall only summarize the argument here:
Naturalism fails for two fundamental reasons: It is logically inconsistent (and therefore necessarily false) and it cannot plausibly account for many of the facts we know to be true.
Here is a brief indication of naturalism’s inconsistency: Naturalism declares that all knowledge ultimately must be based on sense perception. But no sense perception, or an inference from such a perception, can possibly prove that all knowledge must be based on sense perception. So according to naturalism, the doctrine of “naturalism” would have to be false. Therefore, if naturalism is true, then it is false. And if it is false, then it is false. In any case, it is false.
As for a fact that naturalism cannot plausibly account for, consider the Big Bang. Scientists tell us that the universe began with a primordial explosion which created all matter and energy, and also all space and time. In other words, “before” the Big Bang, there was no matter, energy, space or time. But if naturalism is true, matter, energy (in the sense of physics), space and time are the only things that can exist. And so according to naturalism, there was absolute nothingness before the Big Bang, a nothingness that somehow “caused” the universe. Since nothingness cannot cause anything, naturalism radically fails to account for the origin of the universe.
[Naturalism also fails to account for the existence your consciousness, which you know does exist, and for the existence of ideas, which you know do exist because you think about them constantly.]
Brief Summary of the Evidence
Once we understand that naturalism is false, and that the supernatural accordingly does exist, we can interpret the evidence both for and against Darwinian evolutionary theory much more accurately. It would make this essay far too long if it were carefully to consider all of this evidence, but here is a summary. The interested reader can readily find more details in the voluminous anti-Darwinian literature, which makes a powerful persuasive case if you are not burdened by the false worldview of naturalism:
A) The Evidence for Darwinism
- Remember, Darwinian evolution means, not just change, but unguided change. The chief evidence for this is that we do see unguided change in life happening right now: viruses becoming immune to medicines, finch beaks varying in average size, species becoming extinct and new “species” (isolated breeding populations) coming into existence. We do observe natural selection.
- Deliberate breeding of animals and plants by humans (which admittedly is not “unguided”) shows that some species have a considerable capacity for variation. Perhaps these limits can be stretched very far over millions of years, so that we get full-blown Darwinian evolution.
B) But there is no good reason to believe that Darwinian evolutionary theory is true
- We never observe natural forces even coming close to producing life out of non-life. And it is known to be wildly improbably that nonliving elements could randomly combine themselves into life. Therefore there is no reason, other than a presupposition of naturalism, to believe that this occurred in the past.
- All examples of currently-occurring evolution involve “micro-evolution,” that is, minor variations. We never observe radically new organs or species coming into existence through unintelligent natural means. Therefore there is no reason, other than a presupposition of naturalism, to believe that this occurred in the past.
- We never observe consciousness spontaneously evolving out of non-conscious entities. Therefore there is no reason, other than a presupposition of naturalism, to believe that this occurred in the past.
- After more than 150 years of intensive scientific scrutiny, the fossil record shows only a tiny fraction of the vast number of transitional forms that would have to have existed according to Darwinism. The most reasonable inference is that they do not exist.
C) And there is good reason to believe that Darwinian evolutionary theory is false
- The Bible, which is a trustworthy source, says that Darwinian evolution did not occur. God deliberately created, which contradicts Darwinian evolution.
- Darwinism, like all contemporary mainstream science, assumes naturalism, which is false.
- The fossil record often shows the opposite of evolution (Darwinian or otherwise): In the “Cambrian Explosion” of six hundred million years ago, all of the currently-existing phyla (basic body designs) came into existence, along with many phyla which no longer exist. No new phyla have evolved, and many have “de-evolved.”
Why do They Stick to Their Guns?
Aside from the fact that they believe miracles don’t occur, naturalistic scientists apparently are afraid that they will be unable to formulate laws if God constantly interferes with the world. But this is not true, for several reasons:
First, science can certainly describe what happens most of the time, and even according to the most miracle-crazed Pentecostal, natural explanations (i.e., well-established scientific laws) are obeyed at least, oh, 99.999% of the time. And if, as atheists like to claim, there is no solid scientific evidence validating even one miracle (other than the Big Bang!), then science has nothing to lose from admitting that miracles are possible. Furthermore, any physical miracle will leave behind a physical residue that can, at least in principle, be studied by science.
The operation of God is like the operation of human minds: just because an action caused by a mind cannot fully be accounted for in a scientific law, this does not mean that we must never dare to consider the possibility that mind exists. It would be absurd to say, for example, “Even though there is overwhelming evidence that the faces on Mt. Rushmore were produced by the deliberate action of an intelligent agent rather than by natural processes, it would destroy science if we were to admit this possibility.” If the evidence points to action by non-natural entities, that’s what we should conclude.
Partisans of naturalistic science also frequently claim that admitting God is scientifically improper because religious belief is allegedly held with 100% certainty, whereas scientific beliefs are allegedly supposed to be tentative. But the real issue here is not the certainty of the belief, which is just a psychological state. The real issue is the evidence, and the proper conclusion to draw from it. It is always improper, in religion or science, to hold a belief with more certainty than the facts warrant, and there is nothing about religious beliefs that require 100% certainty. If we believe God did it, there is no law of epistemology or of religion that requires us always to have 100% confidence of any belief involving God. This is a straw-man argument.
Finally, naturalistic scientists confronted with an argument against naturalism often will say “It’s not enough simply to find fault with our way of doing science. You need to supply a new model for doing science. Otherwise, you are not doing anything useful.”
Certainly, a non-naturalistic science will have to be developed. (Or redeveloped. Science was not officially naturalistic until the Twentieth Century.) But if I am not a scientist (and I am not, although I have a Bachelor’s Degree in physics from UCLA), then I am not required to develop such a science. That’s the job of scientists, because it is their field. There is nothing improper with a layman pointing out a mistake being made by professionals in another field.
One concrete suggestion for changing how we do science is obvious, though. If no naturalistic mechanism is known that can account for an observed phenomenon, science should say, “God may have been involved,” rather than dogmatically declaring “A naturalistic explanation will eventually be found.”
What’s at Stake?
It is only to be expected that professionals will resent outsiders telling them that they are making a major error in their professional work. “Mind your own business, man!” is the instinctive response. But we non-scientists must not remain silent. Much more than science is at stake.
As I have argued repeatedly, Western Civilization is under the effective control of the worldview of the left, commonly called “liberalism.” I describe liberalism as our “unofficial state religion.” And the philosophical basis of liberalism is atheism: either explicit atheism or the de facto variety that only denies that anything can be known about God. It is this freedom from God and His authority that makes liberalism the radically destructive force that it is.
And Darwinian evolutionary theory, at least in the mind of John Q. Public, is the number one argument for atheism: According to a popular extension of Darwinism, evolution in the broad sense can account for almost everything in the universe, and in human society, without having to resort to God. Or, as Richard Dawkins famously quipped: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” With Darwinism, God appears to be out of a job.
Think about it: According to Darwinism, one of the most important beliefs of theists, that God deliberately created everything, is false. And if this belief is false, all of the other transcendental religious beliefs become suspect. Darwinism leads naturally to atheism.
Furthermore, Darwinism has become an organized force, opposing dissenters and pushing itself on the general public. Think of Eugenie Scott’s National Center for Science Education, dedicated to suppressing dissent from Darwinism in the schools, or evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who has become possibly the world’s leading apologist for atheism. If Darwinism is more than dispassionate academic contemplation, its opponents can be also.
Bottom line: When the Darwinists say their theory is true, they are, for all intents and purposes, telling us that atheism is true. It may be only the de facto atheism that simply ignores God, but the net result is the same: a society whose public policy is based on the denial of God, in which case it is man who is the Supreme Being. And if this is so, then nothing is certain, and everything must change.
If you are an atheist, then you should agree with Darwinism. And if you approve of the way American society is going, they you will have little incentive to oppose Darwinism, other than the disinterested pursuit of truth. But if you understand that America is endangered by the left, and you do not have a naturalistic worldview, then you must oppose Darwinism.
 For a more technical definition of evolution, see the Wikipedia entry for “Modern Evolutionary Synthesis,” especially the section titled “Summary of the modern synthesis.” And observe that naturalism is never mentioned, but is simply taken to be an obvious given. The closest that the article comes explicitly to ruling out the supernatural is when it says “Discontinuities amongst species (or other taxa) are explained as originating gradually through geographical separation and extinction (not saltation).”
“Saltation” means “sudden large change,” such as, e.g., miraculous creation ex nihilo.
 ) See. E.g., Mano Singham, Philosophy Is Essential to the Intelligent Design Debate Physics Today , June 2002. Note especially his concluding sentence: “To be valid, science does not have to be true.” Singham also asserts that science must be naturalistic, but only hints at his reason for believing this, which seems to be the success of science. If truth is not paramount, utility is enough.