|Creation and evolution|
| Belief in naturalism is a driving force among scientists today, and this brings us to the theory of evolution. Naturalists begin with the assumption that nature progresses all by itself, without a purpose, and this leads them to conclude that life came spontaneously and evolved into complex forms.
Of course, they think this is purely scientific: based on empirical evidence alone. They think this is merely “methodological” naturalism; it simply limits scientists’ studies to what they physically observe. They don’t see how this “method” forces the conclusion.
Ancient Greek philosophers did not have the vast fossil evidence that we have collected over the past two centuries. Yet, some of them subscribed to naturalism and, as a result, developed a theory of evolution by natural selection more than two thousand years ago. Naturalism was enough to lead them in that direction.
Creation and evolution are philosophies about origins. Both are models for guiding scientific inquiry and interpreting data. They are scientific in the sense that they involve empirical study, but they depend primarily on assumptions about the past, which cannot be observed first-hand. Origin theories involve more speculation and depend less on hard data than the operational sciences do.
When scientists study the fossil record, they see the remains of species that still exist today and many more that no longer exist. Evolutionists with their model see a common family tree, and they work to fit all creatures into that tree. Creationists with their model see a forest, and they fit the creatures into their respective trees.
Another difference in perspective involves the Flood. While evolutionists read rock strata like the rings of a tree trunk, Creationists see much of the fossil record as a single catastrophic event. They point to evidence for a worldwide flood such as fossil graveyards, sea creature fossils at high locations, transcontinental rock layers, rapid or no erosion between strata, folded (and not broken) rock layers, and flood stories in every culture around the world.
When Christians point to scientific evidence for creation, it is often dismissed as “religion.” The debate is reduced to a game of semantics. Naturalists don’t realize the double standard, because they define their view as “science.”
Like creation, evolution is an ideological doctrine. Naturalists treat it as fact, because it is the only conclusion their paradigm allows.
Naturalists do examine evidence, but any obstacle to the evolutionist view can be explained away. For example, when Louis Pasteur disproved the idea of spontaneous generation, Thomas Huxley used the term “abiogenesis” and explained that it was only possible in earth’s distant past. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of the DNA molecule, had another explanation: “life on earth may have begun when aliens from another planet sent a rocket ship containing spores to seed the earth.”
The “Cambrian explosion” presents another obstacle; animals in all their diversity appear in the fossil record suddenly and fully formed. Stephen Jay Gould proposed “punctuated equilibrium” to explain the absence of transitional forms; creatures can evolve quickly in certain conditions.
Even if evolution were true, there would have to be a reason for it, a mechanism to cause progress. Naturalists look to mutations, random chance, and natural selection: things that don’t know or care. Mutations are mistakes, a loss of information. Evolution needs an increase of information. Chance cannot help, because it doesn’t exist. Natural selection exists, but it cannot help either, because it only eliminates creatures that do not adapt to their environment.
Some people say that an intelligent designer could guide the process of evolution, but this also misses the point. There is no need to accept macroevolution apart from a belief in naturalism. Theists who believe in evolution do so because they were taught it as fact.
It all comes down to a definition of “science” that only allows natural explanations. Any supernatural explanation such as the creation account of Genesis is automatically excluded, and any empirical facts that we throw at the naturalist paradigm are reinterpreted to its favor. As Richard Dawkins says, “The big war is not between evolution and creationism, but between naturalism and supernaturalism.”
How should science be directed then? I would say, as others have, that science should seek only logical explanations. We should interpret data according to a worldview that fits the order that we observe in the cosmos. We build good science with good logic, and naturalism fails to be a valid guide.
|* Empedocles proposed a theory roughly similar to Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Robert Sherrick Brumbaugh, The Philosophers of Greece, pg 74.
* Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution (New York: The Free Press, 1996), pg. 248.