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Darwin on Trial

Darwin on Trial

Ten years ago, a small but prestigious group of American scientists met privately on a university campus to discuss the manuscript of a new and devastating critique of the theory of evolution.

The author of the book in question was a law professor named Phillip Johnson. The theme of his book was that Darwinism is nothing more than philosophy dressed up as science. Underneath all the talk about genes and mutations is the philosophy of naturalism, the belief that there is no supernatural realm and that nature is all that exists.

The media, from scientific journals to 13-part BBC documentary series, presents evolution as pure science. But Johnson’s book invites us to ask what’s behind the theory? How do scientists know that natural selection can explain the origin of life, the universe and everything?

Because they’ve seen it happen? Because they’ve proved it through laboratory experiments? No, says Johnson. For example, geneticists can make fruit flies grow crumpled wings or deformed bodies by using radiation. But they can’t make them change into new or better kinds of insects or even grow a new organ.

Fit to survive?

But perhaps scientists can construct a theoretical course for evolution that makes sense of the world as we know it? No, says Johnson. Take, for example, the origin of wings. What processes could turn an animal’s foreleg into a wing? In the first stages of the evolution from leg to wing, the limb would cease to function as a leg. But it could not function as a wing either. By the principle of the survival of the fittest, the poor creature would be unable to either run or fly. It would have evolved into nothing more than a sitting duck.

Any creature unfortunate enough to evolve that far would simply die out.

Dem dry bones…

What about the fossil record? There, least of all, says Johnson, do we find evidence for Darwin’s theory.

According to the theory of evolution, we should find a continuous chain of fossils linking one life form to the next. What we actually find, says Johnson, is just the opposite. New creatures appear fully formed, with no intermediary links leading up to them. The truth is that the scientific evidence contradicts evolution on every level. The central reason many scientists still hold the theory, argues Johnson, is that they are committed to the philosophy of naturalism.

No choice

The scientist who believes that nature is all there is simply has no other option. Because there is no place for a Creator in his scheme of things, he has to accept that the complexity and diversity of the natural world is the result of purely natural processes working to produce complex life forms out of simpler starting materials.

He has to accept evolution.

So, the deck is stacked. Anyone who believes in naturalism is biased in favour of the idea of evolution even before he examines the evidence.

Darwin on Trial.

Phillip Johnson’s arguments are summarised in his book Darwin on Trial. He writes that he became interested in the subject after noticing that evolution has always had a religious dimension. From the time of Darwin to the present, it has been advanced by people interested in undermining the Christian faith. Many scientists see evolution as the key weapon in a war against religion or, as they would say, against superstition and myth.

Philosophy no more

But the theory, as Johnson and many others have demonstrated, does not fit the facts. Increasing numbers of scientists and thinking people are rejecting Darwinism as unscientific. Instead, they are embracing the ancient but reliable account written by Moses in the book of Genesis that all things came into being by the word of an infinite personal Creator.

If evolution is true there is no purpose to life. Yet we find ourselves unable to live without meaning and purpose. We find it impossible to shake off the feeling that we were made for better things. The fact is that we are not the product of blind, random forces.

We were created for a purpose: to know our Creator, to honour him and to enjoy him for ever.

 

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