Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is darwinian evolution compatible with Christianity?

Mark Jones has written two excellent articles (Here & Here) on the compatibility of darwinian evolution and Christianity. The articles were spurred on by the recent dust up at RTS over Bruce Waltke's video for the Biologos Foundation.

Darwinists like [Francis] Collins claim that evolution is a fact. They are not content to admit that it is a theory. Richard Dawkins posits, “no serious biologist doubts the fact that evolution happened, nor that all living creatures are cousins of one another.”[14] Not only are all living creatures cousins of one another, but the Darwinian synthesis also argues that we can extrapolate how single-celled organisms came to produce human beings. Like Religion, science is not neutral, despite its claims. An inherent philosophical presupposition guides evolutionary thinking. And though disagreement exists among a number of leading evolutionists concerning the mechanisms of evolution, they are all in agreement that a supernatural being (i.e. God) must not be invoked to help out with the difficulties. For this reason, evolution is fundamentally atheistic. Professor of biology at Cornell University, William Provine, candidly admits that embracing evolution makes atheists of people: “One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism.”[15] The famous Harvard geneticist, Richard Lewontin, provides further evidence that fully naturalistic evolution is atheistic:

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism.

It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.[16]

Lewontin makes these comments because of his a priori commitment to naturalism. Naturalists operate on the assumption that science would not be science if a non-matieral cause were invoked to explain any part of the theory. The influential American paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson insists that the phenomena of life “can be explained by purely naturalistic […] factors […] Therefore, man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.”[17] Fully naturalistic evolution and God can only co-exist if God acted as a first cause who retired from activity after establishing the laws of nature and setting the natural mechanism in motion. Of course, on this model, even “God” would have been surprised by how things were turning out; after all, creatures developed from purely material forces without any purpose or goal.

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