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Darwin and Creation

Taking Up the Darwinist Gauntlet

The Darwinists maintain that all their critics lack intellectual courage, are afraid to face the truth. So let us take up the Darwinist challenge and boldly examine their Truth, their certain knowledge. Two of the most thorough and enthusiastic presentations of the metaphysical Darwinist gospel are Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and Daniel C. Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea. The central tenet of Dawkins' book is boldly and succinctly proclaimed in its subtitle: “Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design.”

One must wonder if Dawkins actually realizes the full implication of what he is saying. It is overwhelming. If Darwinism — as Dawkins meticulously explains it — is true, then there is no such thing as design in the universe. It is not merely that living things are not designed; nothing is. The universe is literally “without design.” There is no such thing as “purpose.” There is pattern and order in the universe, but not design. All of the order and complexity to be found in the cosmos is created by purely blind mechanical forces.

How can this be? For Dawkins and other mechanists, all explanations of everything that happens or has ever happened must derive from the laws of physics. The kind of explanation we come up with must not contradict the laws of physics. Indeed it will make use of the laws of physics, and nothing more than the laws of physics (15, emphasis added).

Dennett likens Darwinism to a kind of universal acid that has the power to dissolve everything. By that he means that it is not limited merely to explaining variations in species, but spreads inexorably to everything else: all biology, psychology, sociology, law, religion, morality—all human and animal behavior is brought relentlessly by Darwinism into the remorseless, inexorable jurisdiction of material law. He sees Darwin as the conquering general who has brought unruly barbarians like biology and psychology, to say nothing of art, music and theology, inexorably under the sway of the supreme emperor of the cosmos: physics.

There is absolutely no reason to be found in logic or fact to believe that the laws of physics, as presently constituted, can account for everything that exist or occurs in the universe. The hypothesis that everything that occurs or exists is subject to a single, simple and coherent set of rules is both plausible and attractive, but that is emphatically not the same as saying that we now know what that set of rules is. There may come a time when we have such rules and can demonstrate how they account for everything that exists, but that time is not now. To insist, as Dawkins does, that the present laws of physics constitute such a theory of everything is pure faith, unsupported by logic or fact. It is no more scientific than the doctrine of the Trinity.

Physics was not always seen as a body of laws governing absolutely everything. It became successful in the first place by very carefully restricting itself and isolating the objects of its study from all other considerations and influences. The world is a complex and consequently confusing place in which everything that happens is potentially influenced by a myriad of forces. Much of the amazing success of science stems from rigorous exclusion, from narrowly focusing on a very few phenomena and eliminating all else.

But alas, there is an unfortunate tendency to slip thoughtlessly from methodology into metaphysics, to move from saying sensibly “I will study only thus-and-such, excluding all else” to proclaiming grandly “Only thus-and-such exists.” It is perfectly reasonable, for example, for behavioral scientists, despairing of the great complexity and uncountable unknowns in the study of human psychology, to announce that they would restrict their discipline to behavior alone. It is another matter, however, when they become “Behaviorists” by declaring that there is no such thing as “psychology,” and that only “behavior” exists.

Popular discussions of science are filled with these kinds of metaphysical pronouncements, sometimes referred to as “nothingbuttery” by critics because of the mechanists's favorite phrase. Thus we are assured that “the brain is nothing but a computer made of meat,” “the mind is nothing but the electrochemical activity of the brain,” “living organisms are nothing but machines,” and (my personal favorite) “living things are nothing but machines by which DNA reproduces itself.”

Making the laws of physics the supreme arbiter of the universe is simply the logical extension of all this kind of thinking: physics is the study of motion, of what makes things move. Physics essentially looks at everything as part of a virtual machine, so if physics rules the cosmos then the mechanists can confidently proclaim that the universe is nothing but a giant, infinitely complex machine.

The tenets of the mechanist's faith are marvelously simple, but they lead inexorably to an absurdity. If the universe is “nothing but” a gigantic machine, then the living creatures in it—ourselves included—are “nothing but” unconscious automata. We must be automata because we must be machines in a universe in which only machines exist. And we must be unconscious because a mechanistic universe cannot produce consciousness.

But consciousness exists. We can vouch for consciousness only in ourselves, but it is reasonable to believe that others like ourselves, who came into existence in the same manner as ourselves and who behave as we do in our conscious states, are also conscious.

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