The Lookout | 11.1.09
By Alan Dowd
Charles Darwin turned 200 this year. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t throw a party.
After all, Darwin is the father of a theory that changed the way the world looked at creation and for that matter, the Creator. Before Darwin, there was broad agreement that creation had to have a creator. After Darwin, that consensus evaporated. In its place, Darwin’s hypothesis that all life can be traced to a universal common ancestor evolved from theory into dogma.
It’s telling, however, that Darwin’s own papers sketching out his “tree of life” concept—which explained what he surmised as the evolutionary relationships between different species—begin with a powerful disclaimer: “I think.”[i] Not “I know.” Not “This is what science tells us.” Not “Here are the facts.”
They were bold and big thoughts, to be sure, but they were just that—the thoughts and theories of a 19th-century thinker. Yet as science writer Graham Lawton observes, Darwin argued that “the tree of life was a fact of nature,” adding, “Without it the theory of evolution would never have happened.”[ii]
Today, Darwin’s tree of life has been uprooted and disproven by science itself. The wondrous universe within the cell and molecular DNA—both hidden to Darwin—were the culprits.
Lawton notes that molecular DNA revealed that life was infinitely more complex than Darwin theorized. Instead of a “neat branching pattern,” as Lawton writes, there is an “impenetrable thicket of interrelatedness.”[iii]
Just as bad for the Darwinists, for Darwin’s theory to be correct the fossil record would include countless “transitional links,” as Darwin labeled them—branches and limbs bridging one species and another. He predicted these links to be “inconceivably great.” Yet the fossil record, which, again, was hidden to Darwin, reveals no such evidence. (See the “Expelled” Leaders Guide.)[iv]
But incredibly, the offspring of Darwin’s tree of life—his twin theories of natural selection and survival of the fittest—not only persist but are considered beyond dispute by many in power.
John A. Campbell and Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute, for example, report that when a school district in Georgia proposed adding a sticker declaring evolution a “theory, not a fact” to biology books, a federal judge blocked the disclaimer.[v]
Despite the claims of their opponents, the Discovery Institute and other groups that are dubious of Darwinism are not proposing that we begin teaching creationism in public schools. Rather, they recommend that teachers, in Campbell and Meyer’s words, “present the main arguments for Darwinism and encourage students to evaluate them critically,” which is exactly what Darwin would have expected. Campbell and Meyer remind us that Darwin conceded in his landmark Origin of Species, “This whole volume is one long argument.”
So how should believers—especially believers who are still in school—answer the argument, challenge the Darwin status quo and defend their faith?
Remember that how you say something is sometimes as important as what you say, so “let your gentleness be evident to all,” in Paul’s words.[vi]
Take your cues from Peter, who in Acts 4 and 5 firmly but politely defended his beliefs. When people were ready to listen, he explained the truth calmly. When ordered to be silent, he declared, “We must obey God rather than men.”[vii]
Remember that you are probably dealing with non-believers—people who may know about God but do not know Him. Non-believers are held to a different standard than believers. Consider how Jesus dealt with the Pharisees, who knew the scriptures and the prophecies, as compared to how he dealt with the Samaritan woman or the pagan Romans.
Remember, too, that it takes a lot of faith to be a Darwinist. As Paul once said to Timothy, there are people in this world who are always “learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.”[viii]
A posture of humility will serve you better than an in-your-face swagger. Again, Peter is instructive. “Clothe yourselves with humility,” he declares.[ix]
To keep yourself humble, remember that even as we recognize that God created our world, we do not know how He did it. Much of creation—from the infinite expanse of the universe to the infinite complexity of the cell and the atom—remains a mystery to believers and non-believers alike. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the specifics of how and when God created the earth and the life teeming on it.
While there may be limits to what a teacher can say in a classroom, students still have a right to free speech.
When you speak, remember that you are in good company when it comes to the creation-evolution debate. There are scores of scientists who reject Darwin’s creed. In fact, the Discovery Institute’s running list of scientists skeptical of Darwinism numbers some 738 names. A teaching companion to the documentary film “Expelled” adds some specifics:
- “There are no detailed Darwinian accounts for the evolution of any fundamental biochemical or cellular system, only a variety of wishful speculations. It is remarkable that Darwinism is accepted as a satisfactory explanation for such a vast subject—evolution—with so little rigorous examination of how well its basic theses work in illuminating specific instances of biological adaptation or diversity,” observes Dr. James Shapiro of the University of Chicago.
- “I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science,” concludes Dr. Soren Lovtrup of the University of Umea in Sweden.
- “The findings of more than 50 years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design,” concedes atheist philosopher Anthony Flew.
- “The temptation to believe that the universe is theproduct of some sort of design, a manifestationof subtle aesthetic and mathematical judgment, isoverwhelming. The belief that there is ‘somethingbehind it all’ is one that I personally share with, Isuspect, a majority of physicists,” says physicist Paul Davies.
- “The harmony of natural law,” Albert Einstein concluded, “reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.”
Not only are a growing number of scientists with you; the God of creation is on your side. He reminds us that no matter what the textbook says, “the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom.”[x]
As the world shouts at you, He whispers a timeless warning: “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”[xi]
And from Genesis to Revelation to today, His interaction with humanity is a constant reminder that He rejects one of Darwin’s central tenets: survival of the fittest. After all, in God’s kingdom and our faith, it is the last who are first. And it is the weakest who have a special place in God’s heart.
Before you speak, be informed and equipped. To be sure, scripture will be helpful in giving you strength and boldness. But Darwinists don’t accept scripture as the final word on the subject. So draw your arguments from a broad spectrum of sources. The following offer a good start:
Paul appealed to people on their terms, and we should follow his lead.
While Paul was visiting Athens, for instance, the Book of Acts reports that he “reasoned…in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.”
He debated philosophy with Epicureans and Stoics. “As some of your own poets have said,” he explained, speaking on their terms of the one true God, “‘We are His offspring.’”[xii]
He even attended a meeting of the city council. While there, he used one of Athens’ own pagan altars, bearing the inscription “To An Unknown God,” to explain the Good News.
After they heard Paul’s views, Luke reports that “some of them sneered,” others wanted to hear more on the subject, and “a few” believed.
“A few” believed him. Remember that. Paul was perhaps the greatest evangelist ever, yet he only persuaded a few. Even Jesus—the Word made flesh—didn’t convince Pilate or the Sanhedrin or Judas or Herod of the Truth.
There’s a lesson in that for us. Accept that there are some things you cannot do—that no matter how hard you try, how boldly you speak, how respectful you are, how eloquent or passionate your argument, you will not succeed at convincing everyone that God created us—that if there is a design there must be a Designer, if there is creation there must be a Creator.
Some will sneer, some will want to hear more, and only a few will believe.
[i] Graham Lawton, “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life,” New Scientist, January 21, 2009. Graham Lawton, “Why Darwin was wrong about the tree of life,” New Scientist, January 21, 2009.
[iv] “Expelled” Leaders Guide
[v] John Angus Campbell and Stephen Meyer, “Darwin himself argued for critical evaluation,” The Commercial Appeal, April 19, 2005
[vii] Acts 4:18-29; 5:28-29
[viii]II Timothy 3:7
[ix] I Peter 5:5
[x] I Corinthians 1:25
[xii] Acts 17