The new anti-Darwinism—joys and dangers
Between the World Wars, many Christian books smugly provided quotes from prominent scientists which indicated they were opposed to Darwinism. Actually, the scientists concerned were not abandoning evolution, just Darwin's idea of how it happened. The result? One anti-Biblical concept (Darwinism) was replaced with another (neo-Darwinism).
Are we seeing a similar thing beginning today? Recent years have seen a swag of books attacking ‘evolution by chance,’ from authors in high standing, who do not claim to be defending Genesis creation.
For instance, Michael Denton, the molecular biologist whose book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis powerfully exposed the weakness of the evidence for evolution.
Then came Berkeley law professor Phillip Johnson's influential Darwin on Trial. His impact is clear from the way the highly organized US anti-creationist lobby systematically targets him in its publications.
Next was Darwin's Black Box, by biochemistry professor Michael Behe. Behe’s easy-to-understand examples of ‘irreducible complexity’ cry out for ‘intelligent design’ as a serious scientific alternative.
A new book by impeccably credentialed Israeli scientist Lee Spetner may be the most potentially damaging to the neo-Darwinian establishment. He shows why chance mutations are theoretically and experimentally incapable of adding the new information evolution demands. See the review in this issue.
Where do they really stand? Behe has no problem with the idea of man descending from the slime, via fish—so long as it didn't happen ‘by chance.’
Johnson says it would not matter to him if God used evolution or not. He riles theistic evolutionists, because he exposes their surrender to Darwinian naturalism. Nevertheless, it seems he would be comfortable with a Behe-like ‘evolution by intelligent manipulation.’
Denton, who was an agnostic when he wrote his book, has since moved much closer to theistic evolution, not Genesis creation.
In the US a whole new ‘intelligent design’ movement (IDM) is forming around the likes of Johnson and Behe. Its main features:
Not so much attacking evolution as chance evolution.
No real concern with the authority of the Bible regarding such matters as the global Flood, the original perfection of creation, the six days, and so on.1
Belief in billions of years of death and suffering before mankind appeared, which undermines the logic of the Gospel.
It would seem foolish to reject the contributions of the IDM altogether. Many of their works, which we stock, can, if used with care, help bring people to Christ. Even though most of their points were made long ago by overt believers in Genesis, they cannot be as easily (albeit unfairly) marginalised.2
However, believers should not again be lulled into a false sense of security. Assume the IDM succeeds, and the establishment does come to believe in some god-like ‘intelligent force’ which manipulated billions of years of death and suffering. Would that not highlight for people just how far removed such a deity would be from the holy God of the Bible, and how the Bible’s account of the origin of (and solution for) human sin must indeed be flawed?
Man in rebellion against his Maker has obviously found Darwinian evolution (creation by chance) a convenient way to evade responsibility to Him. However, if forced to accept the evidence that intelligent design was in fact necessary, the next best way to avoid unpleasant notions of sin and judgment would be to ensure that the Bible, and the character of God revealed therein, remained discredited. A scientific paradigm of ‘intelligent design’ would, if it rejected the Genesis Creator (the one who became flesh and died on Calvary's cross precisely because of Adam’s rebellion), be just another expression of that rebellion.
The world-wide ministry of Answers in Genesis is involved in opposing evolution; however, this is not for us an end in itself. It comes from striving to base all of our thinking on the authority of God's Word. Only in this way can all believers bring honor to God's name as they uphold, proclaim and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15).3
References and notes
- I have deliberately not included Hugh Ross in this movement. The IDM as a whole does not pretend to hold to a literal Genesis. Ross says he does—then teaches billions of years of death and suffering before sin, local Flood, etc. None of the ID proponents systematically disparage literal creationists (and all have an excellent grasp of biology), unlike Ross. Return to text.
- While this may be tactically useful on occasion, we need to be careful not to swallow the myth that it is somehow less ‘scientific’ to base one’s models, indeed all of one’s thinking, on God’s revelation, the Bible. Return to text.
- 1 Peter 3:15 ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.’ Return to text.