Evolutionary faith and the cosmic zoo
It is not hard to find examples of the religious nature of evolution. A recent article in TIME magazine surveys the latest scientific conclusions about the evolutionary origins of our world, and asks the question whether these leave any place for religion.1
It is obvious throughout the article that ‘conventional religion’ (meaning God as He reveals Himself in Scripture) is, logically enough, regarded as ruled out by evolutionary claims. However, ‘unconventional’ religious ideas are becoming ever more popular. Many evolutionist scientists today talk about ‘knowing the mind of God’, and even about their belief that the universe is full of purpose.
What they mean by all that is nothing like the Creator God of the Bible. They believe that the universe is ‘inherently creative’—that the world and its physical laws (which is generally what they mean when they talk of ‘God’) make the appearance of order, from simple to complex, inevitable. Thus, it is claimed, life, even intelligent life, had to appear, given enough time. The universe itself (‘nature’) is increasingly being worshipped as a god.
Hoping for laws unseen
But what is the evidence for this alleged scientific ‘fact’ of a creative universe? Ultimately, nothing but the belief in evolution itself, grasped by faith. The TIME article illustrates this beautifully. It states that the first step in biological evolution, from non-life to first cell, used to be thought of as a simple matter of random shuffling, but now ‘more careful analysis suggests that even a mildly impressive living molecule is unlikely to form randomly’. So how do evolutionists now think it arose?
There is a brief, rather skeptical, mention of some work on ‘complexity’ (dealing basically with such biologically irrelevant matters as how heated water forms into convection currents to try to explain how the first cell arose). Favourable comment is reserved for the now-common idea that:
‘… a basic physical law lies waiting to be discovered, a law defining the circumstances under which systems infused with energy become more complexly structured. This law would carve out local exceptions to the general tendency of things to become more chaotic and bland—higher in entropy—as dictated by the famously depressing second law of Thermodynamics. Charles H. Bennett, of IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, who has deeply shaped the modern understanding of the second law, suspects there is indeed a law that if known would make life’s origin less baffling. Such a law, he has said, would play a role “formerly assigned to God”.’
Please, do not miss the significance of all this. What is being admitted is:
The laws we see, such as the Second Law, confirm the tendency for all raw, undirected, unprogrammed systems of matter/energy to head from complex to simple, from order to disorder. There simply are no known physical laws which will cause simple chemicals to arrange themselves (without external order or information) into the complex machinery of life.
Since evolutionary belief insists that natural law has been the ‘creative principle’ driving molecules uphill to man, it is no wonder that the ‘downhill’ principles observable in the real world are regarded by evolutionists as ‘famously depressing’.
- Belief in this creative process has become immutable dogma, believed purely by faith and in contradiction to all present-day, real-world observations. Thus evolutionists believe there must be some such law. It is hoped that the discovery of such an intrinsic creation-principle in matter will finally put to rest the need for an extrinsic source of creativity/information, namely the true God.
Having brought up the subject of such a non-existent ‘law of universal creativity’, the rest of the article goes on to assume that a creative universe is in the realm of scientific fact, and thus must henceforth be the basis for any valid religious ideas. The meaning of anything must bow to its evolutionary explanation. Thus, love ‘was designed by evolution for one discernible purpose; to spread the genes of the person doing the loving.’
High-profile physicist Paul Davies believes that the universe ‘has organised its own self-awareness’. He says that ‘the universe is creative’ (read: we know that evolution is true, so it must be) and that its ‘laws have permitted complex structures to emerge’. He says this even though no principle of self-organization or creativity has been described, as admitted in the very same article. These are faith statements.
Living in a zoo
Scientists are people, and all people are hungry for meaning to life. All seek to fill the ‘God-shaped vacuum’ inside them in all sorts of ways, at the same time that most of them are actively running away from the true Creator God. The true atheist who believes that all is random and purposeless is rare.
Even Oxford’s William Hamilton, though an agnostic, is not prepared to do without some possibility of purpose.2 He is prepared to speculate, only ‘half-jokingly’, about a ‘theory of the universe that [he] rather like[s]’, and one that he says is ‘very, very hard to dismiss’.
He proposes that our planet may be a zoo controlled by extraterrestrial beings, who have ‘planted the seeds of evolution on Earth hoping to create interesting, intelligent creatures’. Every now and then, he speculates, they see things not working very well and ‘so they insert a finger and just change some little thing. And maybe those are the miracles which the religious people like to emphasize.’
The article’s author goes on to say, ‘An extraterrestrial zookeeper may not strike everyone as the ideal deity’. But the writer gives no hint of disrespect for the views of Hamilton; instead, he is called ‘one of the great scientific minds of our era’.
Hamilton actually says that if he were setting up an aquarium, he would do it that way, to make it really interesting, and would insert a finger from time to time ‘to make sure that this big fish didn’t molest this little fish too much’.
The conclusion of the article seems to be that rational people in the modern age should feel free to choose any sort of ‘deity’ they wish, as long as they accept that evolution is fact and that the biblical God is therefore no longer acceptable. If the idea of living in a cosmic goldfish bowl gives you philosophical comfort, so be it.
Christians need to wake up to these sorts of things, and not feel intimidated by the many ‘put downs’ of creation and the Creator, issued on behalf of ‘big-name science’. The majestic truths revealed in the Bible about the real origin, meaning and destiny of all things are firmly consistent with existing physical laws. To take God at His Word requires faith, but not blind faith. In contrast, the evolutionary religion must hope for the discovery of non-existent laws to maintain the veneer of rationality.
Reference and footnote
- ‘Science, God and Man’, TIME, 4 January 1993.
- William Hamilton is the author of the theory of ‘kin selection’ used to explain away all love and unselfishness in terms of evolutionary theory. He is considered by some to be the most important evolutionary biologist of the second half of this century.