The Religion of Evolution
For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.1
30 September 2002
Beverly Carol Lucey is a writer living in Covington, Georgia. In an article that appeared in the 19 August 2002, issue of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she attacks Christians, ‘Christian fundamentalists’ to be more precise, who don’t like the idea that evolution can be taught in public (government) schools without scientific criticism. ‘They have power,’ she insists. ‘They are getting elected to school boards.’ Horror! Citizens are actually getting involved in the political process and showing an interest in what their children are being taught in school. Sounds like America to me.
Her horror does not stop with the political involvement of Christians. These ‘Christian fundamentalists . . . are making teachers nervous, not to mention that many teachers are, in and of themselves, fundamentalist Christians.’ Shocking, isn’t it, that American citizens who hold to certain fundamental religious beliefs should even dare to teach in public (government) schools? The Christian heritage of this nation is a historical reality and documented fact, how then could anyone intimate that Christians should be excluded from public discourse on any subject?2 Are Christians to be relegated to second-class citizenship? Ms Lucey shows her ignorance of history with the claim that Christianity is somehow an inhibitor of scientific discovery and understanding. Langdon Gilkey demonstrates quite well that ‘the religious idea of a transcendent Creator actually made possible rather than hindered the progress of the scientific understanding of the natural order.’3
Ms Lucey’s uninformed prose is directed at Cobb County, Georgia, where the school board has stated that science textbooks that teach evolution should carry the following disclaimer: ‘This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.’ Seems reasonable enough, since even the theory of evolution has ‘evolved’ over the years. But this is too much for those who are blinded by evolutionary religious dogma. That’s right. Evolution is more metaphysics than physics; more faith than reason. Is this just the opinion of this anti-Darwinist? Not at all.
Let the Darwinists Speak for Themselves
Michael Ruse, professor of history and philosophy and author of The Darwinian Revolution (1979), Darwinism Defended (1982), and Taking Darwin Seriously (1986), acknowledges that evolution is religious:
‘Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit in this one complaint. . . the literalists [i.e., creationists] are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.’4
|See how the advance of scientific knowledge supports intelligent design!|
Darwin’s Black Box
Ruse didn’t always espouse the religious foundation of evolution. But since evolution asks the same questions as religion—telling us where we came from, where we’re going, and what we should do on the way—he had to admit the religious nature of his chosen materialistic worldview. For Ruse, and he is correct, ‘evolution is a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.’ If evolution is a ‘substitute for Christianity,’ and Christianity is religious, then evolution, as Christianity’s substitute, is religious. The distinction in this debate, therefore, is not between religion and science, as so many claim, but between one religion and science (materialistic evolution) and another religion and science (creation science).
Is it any wonder that Darwin’s most vocal defender, Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), in addition to being called ‘Darwin’s Bulldog,’ was also known as ‘Pope Huxley’? ‘Huxley personalized “nature,” referring to it as “fair, just and patient,” “a strong angel who is playing for love.”’5 How can this be when evolution is described as ‘blind’?6 Huxley’s great-grandson, Julian Huxley (1887-1975), ‘conceded that his beliefs are “something in the nature of a religion,”’7 and described his humanist beliefs as ‘The New Divinity.’ Ruse and the Huxleys are not alone in their contention that evolution is a materialistic religion that is founded on metaphysical assumptions:
The distinguished biologist Lynn Margulis has rather scathingly referred to new-Darwinism as ‘a minor twentieth century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.’ Stuart Kauffman observes that ‘natural selection’ has become so central an explanatory force in neo-Darwinism that ‘we might as well capitalise [it] as though it were the new deity.’8
Professor Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and author of a number of books on Darwinian theory, illustrates the implicit metaphysical starting point of the evolutionary dogma. Even when the facts point away from a certain scientific explanation for a given theory, evolution must be followed because the materialistic religion of Darwin must be protected against any Divine intrusion:
‘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 absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’9
Ms Lucey is under the false impression that science is an objective enterprise, neutral in face of the facts. ‘Science,’ she says, ‘is an intellectual pursuit; it’s being able to let go of ideas that don’t pan out.’ Now go back and read Lewontin again. As a self-professed materialist, Lewontin, by his own admission, is ‘forced by [his] a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive’ Lewontin’s new-found religion, bordering on irrationalism, has nothing in common with Christianity which calls for rational investigation based on known physical properties.
Robert Jastrow, an internationally known astronomer, founder and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy and Geology at Columbia University, and Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, describes science as ‘religion’ in the chapter where the following quotation is taken:
‘Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proven that the Universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks, What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the Universe? Was the Universe created out of nothing, or was it gathered together out of pre-existing materials? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion. An entire world, rich in structure and history, may have existed before our Universe appeared; but if it did, science cannot tell what kind of world it was. A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is.’10
Jastrow is correct about science having a metaphysical starting point. Science asks ultimate questions to which it has no scientifically substantiated answers. According to Jastrow, no evidence exists for the scientist to study on the subject of origins, since it was destroyed at the moment of creation (an idea that is based on the unbiblical ‘big bang’ hypothesis, which even many non-Christian scientists reject). In his book Until the Sun Dies, Jastrow outlines two origin options, both of which he describes as a ‘miracle’: ‘The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science. The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief.’11 These aren’t the words of a ‘Christian fundamentalist’ who is ‘anti-intellectual and where ‘logic takes a holiday,’ to use Ms Lucey’s description of biblical creationists. Jastrow is a well-respected scientist, described as ‘the greatest writer of science living today.’
When members of the First Church of Charles Darwin maintain that only their creedal formulation of evolutionary origins should be taught in public schools, one wonders which denominational variety should it be? Should it be Darwin’s textus receptus version before it underwent its numerous revisions and reformulations? How about the ‘hopeful monster’ version developed in the 1930s by Otto Schindewolf and promoted in 1940 by Richard Goldschmidt?12 Ms Lucey doesn’t say.
Another proposed mechanism of evolution is that of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ by Niles Eldredge and the late Stephen Jay Gould. ‘Punk Eek,’ as it is affectionately called by some and derisively labeled by others, is a radical departure from the confessional statement of beliefs of the First Church of Charles Darwin. Where the Church of Darwin first suggested that changes occur gradually over long periods of time (equilibrium or stasis), Punk Eek adherents conjecture that the ‘abrupt appearance of species (in the fossil record) could be explained by the transition occurring quickly, geologically speaking, in small, isolated populations such that transitional forms would be highly unlikely to be preserved’13. The change in doctrine came when transitional fossils could not be found to support the orthodox Darwinian dogma. Gould, a high priest of the movement before his death this year, had to confess:
‘The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. . . . [T]o preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.’14
Did you get that? ‘We never see the very process we profess to study.’ Not only that, but no one, creationist or evolutionist, has ever seen the beginning of creation. Christians, however, believe that they have been told about it. Science works to reconstruct existing and past data to learn more about the creation process. ‘Christian fundamentalists’ don’t abandon the scientific method when they declare that God designed and created the universe anymore than a mechanic denies the engineers who designed the car he’s working on. It doesn’t make him any less of a mechanic to admit that the car was designed and manufactured by someone he has never seen. In fact, he would be considered crazy if he denied that the car had a designer. Furthermore, knowing that the car was designed leads the mechanic to conclude that the car has a prescribed way of working and predetermined settings that are vital to its functioning optimally. Would you take your car to a mechanic who believes that your car came into existence randomly?
Eldredge, in similar fashion, takes a peek behind the Darwinian altar and admits: ‘No wonder paleontologists shied away from evolution for so long. It never seems to happen.’15 Evolutionists are so blinded by their presuppositions that origins must be explained by their materialist religion. There is no other option even when the facts scream otherwise. Any argument raised against their Darwinian assumptions is dismissed as being non-scientific, a ‘spiritual pursuit,’ or ‘magical thinking,’ in the words of Ms Lucey.
Aliens Did It
If the above evolutionary creedal formulations do not suit you, one can always adopt the view of Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, for which he received a Nobel Prize—‘directed panspermia.’16 Crick, a serious and well-respected scientist, thinks ‘that life on earth may have begun when aliens from another planet sent a rocket ship containing spores to seed the earth.’17 Of course, Crick doesn’t explain how the aliens got there, but, hey, this is science. A theory is deemed scientific as long as it has the imprimatur of at least one member of the Darwinian priesthood.
Sometimes the priesthood objects to one of its own members when he strays too far from the accepted dogma. Crick is one of them. When this happens, a very rare occurrence to be sure, the full force of inquisitional opposition from the scientific priesthood is brought to bear on the heretic. Consider Danish environmental scientist Bjorn Lomborg, a left-wing evolutionary scientist whose specialty is statistics, who dared to stray and state that ‘We are not running out of energy or natural resources.’ A former member of Greenpeace and the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist (1998), Lomborg has been giving the leftist environmental lobby fits. Since his scientific paradigm does not correspond to the prevailing environmental religion, drastic measures had to be taken in an attempt to silence him:
‘Some scientists say they initially hoped to ignore Lomborg but in the wake of the book’s popularity have reacted with a fury rarely seen in academia. . . . A dozen esteemed environmental scientists, including [Peter] Raven and Harvard’s Edward O. Wilson, are demanding that Lomborg’s publisher cut him loose. - “We are deeply disturbed that Cambridge University Press would publish and promote an error-filled, poorly referenced and non-peer-reviewed work,” they write in a letter calling on Cambridge to transfer publishing rights to a popular, nonscholarly press.’18
This ‘poorly referenced and non-peer-reviewed work’ contains 2,930 footnotes. Of course, just because a book includes nearly 3,000 footnotes does not mean the author is right in all his assertions and conclusions, but it does afford critics an opportunity to check out the author’s methodology and debate him on the facts. But because the book does not support the dogma of the scientific status quo, it is dismissed without considering the author’s counter arguments. The facts don’t matter because they do not fit the accepted environmental worldview. Any environmental position that does not begin with a global warming starting point is wrong by definition. Creation scientists find themselves in a similar position. Until creation scientists have their work go through ‘peer review,’ it’s not true science. But no creationist could ever pass a peer-review test, because there is a presuppositional bias against creation science. Consider the following:
D.M.S. Watson, known to the public for his B.B.C. talks popularizing the Darwinian notion that human beings descended from primates, declared in an address to his fellow biologists at a Cape Town conference: ‘Evolution itself is accepted by zoologists not because it has been observed to occur or . . . can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible.’19
C. S. Lewis was astounded at Watson’s frank admission and responded: ‘Has it come to that? Does the whole vast structure of modern naturalism depend not on positive evidence but simply on an a priori metaphysical prejudice? Was it devised not to get in facts but to keep out God?’20 Evolutionists Gould and Eldredge are not reluctant to admit that ‘The general preference that so many of us hold for gradualism is a metaphysical stance embedded in the modern history of Western cultures: it is not a high-order empirical observation, induced from the objective study of nature.’21 Gould adds:
‘But our ways of learning about the world are strongly influenced by the social preconceptions and biased modes of thinking that each scientist must apply to any problem. The stereotype of a fully rational and objective “scientific method”, with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.’22
Ms Lucey’s deepest wound is made when she pronounces that ‘Fundamentalism tends to be literal, not figurative. Hence, it’s anti-intellectual. Logic takes a holiday.’ Who is she describing? No doubt there are Christians who are anti-intellectual. But lots of people are anti-intellectual, including many non-Christians. Lots of smart people hold to some ridiculous beliefs. Some of them are Nobel prize winning scientists like Francis Crick. Who’s defining ‘anti-intellectual’? I find it amazing, illogical, and anti-intellectual that an atheist and evolutionist like Richard Dawkins can deny a designed creation when everything he touches and uses in his life has been designed. The only thing that hasn’t been designed, according to Dawkins and other ‘intellectuals,’ is a marvelously constructed cosmos that got the way it is by chance. To borrow a phrase from Ms Lucey, the notion of random, chance, and undirected evolution is ‘magical thinking,’ and, if evolutionists have anything to say about it, ultimately religious.
Ms Lucey and other Darwinian religionists could take a lesson from Isaac Newton who had no problem mixing his Biblical religion and science: ‘This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. . . . He endures forever, and is everywhere present; and by existing always and everywhere, he constitutes duration and space.’23
- Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1978), 116.
- Gary DeMar, America’s Christian History: The Untold Story, 2nd ed. (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1995) and Gary DeMar, America’s Heritage (Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Coral Ridge Ministries, 2002).
- Langdon Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1959), 110.
- Michael Ruse, ‘Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,’ National Post (May 13, 2000), B3.
- Philip J. Sampson, 6 Modern Myths About Christianity and Western Civilization (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 62.
- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design (New York: WW Norton & Co., 1986).
- Julian Huxley, Evolution in Action (New York: Mentor, 1953), 132. Quoted in Sampson, Six Modern Myths, 62.
- Sampson, 6 Modern Myths, 62.
- Richard Lewontin, ‘Billions and billions of demons,’ The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31.
- Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 114-115. Emphasis added.
- Robert Jastrow, Until the Sun Dies (New York: Norton & Co., 1977), 62-63. Emphasis added. The chapter in which this quotation appears is called ‘The Miracle.’
- Bertrand Russell claimed that ‘large-scale, sudden changes’ could develop through the ‘power of x-rays to alter genes.’ (Sampson, 6 Modern Myths, 59).
- Don Batten, ‘Punctuated Equilibrium: Come of Age’, TJ 8(2):131-137, 1994.
- Stephen J. Gould, ‘Evolution’s erratic pace,’ Natural History (1977), 86:14.
- Niles Eldredge, Reinventing Darwin (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1995), 95. Quoted in Sampson, 6 Modern Myths, 59.
- Francis Crick, Life Itself: Its Origin and Nature (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981).
- Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996), 248.
- Andrew Goldstein, ‘Danish Darts,’ Time (August 26, 2002), A60.
- Quoted in Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Wheaton, IL: Crossway,  1993), 144-145.
- C.S. Lewis, They Asked for a Paper (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1962), 163.
- Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge, ‘Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered,’ in Paleobiology 3 (1977), 145.
- Gould, Stephen Jay, ‘In the Mind of the Beholder,’ Natural History (February 1994), 103:14.
- Quoted in A. R. Hall, The Scientific Revolution, 1500-1800: The Formation of the Modern Scientific Attitude (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1954), 271.
About the author:Gary DeMar grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi (1979). He has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979. He is married with two children. Gary is a member of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).
Gary is president of American Vision, a Christian educational and communications organization whose purpose is to help Christians in their development of a comprehensive Biblical worldview.
Gary is the author of twenty books on a full range of topics. He is also the general editor and author of A New World in View (1996) and Reformation to Colonization (1997), the first two volumes in the To Pledge Allegiance history textbook series.
Gary has been interviewed by Time magazine, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the BBC, Sean Hannity and has done numerous radio and television interviews, including the Bible Answer Man. Newspaper interviews with Gary have also appeared in the Washington Times, Toledo (Ohio) Blade, the Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, and the Chicago Tribune.
American Vision also publishes the Biblical Worldview, a monthly magazine edited by Gary. For further information about the work of American Vision and a sample copy of the Biblical Worldview write to American Vision, 3150A Florence Rd. SW, Powder Springs, GA 30127 or call 1-800-628-9460 or 770-222-7266.