The Naturalist community recently celebrated what would have been the two hundredth birthday of Charles Darwin – the man who came up with the idea that biological evolution could have accounted for the existence of all life on our planet. In celebration of this event, the local university in my hometown held a series of lectures to further lionize this man. One of the lecturers was Harvard professor emeritus and a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Osborne (E.O.) Wilson. In his presentation, Wilson called Darwin “the most important man who ever lived.”
Pondering that comment, even superficially, ought to bring forth raucous laughter. But the fact is, he was deadly serious when he said it, and those who believe in Darwinistic evolution would agree with him wholeheartedly.
Recently I shared with you a conversation that I had on a blog with some believers in evolution who tried to defend their position (See http://badidea.wordpress.com/2008/04/06/ben-stein-continues-to-face-the-hard-questions-on-expelled-from-calvinist-minister/). I believe that the points made in that conversation were quite interesting in and of themselves. But even more enlightening is to see the Naturalists’ blindness to their own worldview presuppositions and the venom spewed forth toward me for challenging their beliefs. These were not the dispassionate arguments of a scientist laying out his research findings that you would expect from university professors holding PhDs. Rather, they were the irrational sputterings of people who were determined that no one was going to challenge their faith assumptions and get away with it. One of the first things I noticed was that no one was making any distinction between micro and macro-evolution.
Micro-evolution is nothing more than what is referred to as natural selection – the small changes that occur within all life forms which allows them to adapt to their environment. This is well documented, and knowledge of this fact is even used by humans to intentionally create hybrids in both plants and animals. But the one thing that is important to understand about micro-evolution is that there is a limit to the amount of change that can take place. At a certain point, a life form cannot progress any further. I don’t know of any Christian who would dispute the process of micro-evolution.
Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is the assertion that it is possible for the process of natural selection to move beyond the boundaries of micro-evolution. This is the part of the theory of evolution which claims that lower life forms can evolve to higher life forms – the molecules to man idea. Believers in Darwinistic evolution, many scientists among them, claim that there is all kinds of evidence demonstrating that this is possible. The only problem with the evidence they point to is that the conclusions they draw from it makes absolutely no sense at all unless the presuppositions of Naturalism are, in fact, true. In other words, their interpretation of all of the evidence depends on the truth of their presuppositions. If the presuppositions are not true, Darwinistic evolution falls apart.
So, I asked one of the participants why he was not making any distinction between micro and macro-evolution in his argumentation. He stunned me with his reply. He said, “That’s because there is no difference. It’s exactly the same process.” He shocked me further when he declared, “I’m a lifelong Christian. I start from the traditional Christian faith statement that God is the motivating force behind all creation.” Without going into any detail, suffice it to say that his arguments over a several week period demonstrated that his definition of Christianity bears no relation to what is taught in the Bible. But back to the main point. None of the assertions he was making about Darwinistic evolutionary theory had any basis in science – even though he insisted that they were purely and absolutely based on empirical science. In actual fact, everything he put forth as an argument was based solidly and squarely on a set of faith assumptions which came straight out of Naturalism.
In order to understand the religious component of Darwinism, we must take a moment to define a couple of other terms. In addition to macro and micro evolution, Darwinists also don’t distinguish between methodological and metaphysical naturalism. But it is in making this distinction that we see where science stops and religion begins.
Methodological naturalism is nothing more than another name for empirical science. It is simply, the use of the scientific method. No Christian that I know of has any problem accepting methodological naturalism. It is practiced every time a scientist goes into a lab to perform an experiment or makes other kinds of observations based on the fact that the world operates in an orderly fashion.
Metaphysical naturalism, on the other hand, is a set of faith presuppositions about the structure of reality. It has no basis whatsoever in empirical science. Specifically, metaphysical naturalism asserts that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality. Rather than use this more technical terminology, we generally just refer to metaphysical naturalism as Naturalism. But in this explanation we need to make the more technical distinction because we have to pry the two apart. The faith assumptions of metaphysical naturalism include:
1) The material that the physical universe is composed of is either eternal or it spontaneously emerged out of nothing (generally it is the former that is asserted),
2) Life emerged out of non-life,
3) Higher life forms evolved naturally from lower life forms, and
4) Consciousness emerged out of non-consciousness.
Metaphysical naturalism asserts that the four beliefs above are true. There is only one problem – none of these assertions are made on the basis of empirical science. There is no empirical science that is available to prove any of these contentions. They are purely religious pronouncements.
The reason this is so critical is that Darwinists insist that a creation model for understanding origins is religion while the Darwinistic model is science. But all they have really done is to combine metaphysical and methodological naturalism and claim that they are one and the same. They do not acknowledge the distinction. In this way, they have been able to kick the creation model out of the classroom claiming it is religion and include metaphysical naturalism under the guise that it is science. Then, based on their assertion that metaphysical naturalism is the basis of science, they go on to claim that Darwinistic evolution is the only way that science can deal with the existence of life.
If metaphysical naturalism is true, then they absolutely have a case. If it really is the truth, they can then turn around and make the claim that macro-evolutionary theory is also a fact based on science. After all, based on the presupposition that there is no such thing as a supernatural existence, what other possibility is there?
But metaphysical naturalism is not based on science. It is a religious belief. So, the evolutionary theory that is being taught in our schools as science is not based on science at all. It is based on a religious belief that God had nothing to do with the creation of life, so life had to have come about by purely natural means.
The fact is, whatever approach anyone takes in trying to understand the origin and development life forms will be based on some set of faith presuppositions. It cannot be any other way. It is also a fact that the set of presuppositions which is chosen as the basis for analyzing evidence regarding life will influence the way that the evidence is evaluated. Naturalistic presuppositions will force scientists to organize the evidence in ways which must follow the Darwinistic model. A Christian Theistic approach will influence scientists to evaluate the evidence based on a belief that God created life and that man is a special creation.
Certainly I believe the latter. And I believe that using a creation model makes more sense in understanding the evidence gathered using methodological naturalism than does the Darwinistic approach. But the point of this article is to demonstrate the religious nature of Darwinism. It is definitely a religion, not science. Based on that fact, it ought not to have priority as a presuppositional base when teaching life sciences in our schools. Also based on that, we, as Christians, ought to be much more confident in our Biblical faith as we live our lives among the religious Darwinists that we are bound to confront in daily life.
© 2009 Freddy Davis