Monday, November 21, 2011

Darwin vs. Beauty: The End of the Argument

Psalm 104:24 "O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures."

Dr. Jonathan Witt, in his article in the latest Christian Research Journal (v. 34/no. 05) titled “Darwin vs. Beauty: Explaining Away the Butterfly,” points out the absurdity of Charles Darwin’s attempt to explain “instances of extravagant natural beauty” through his theory of sexual selection. “There Darwin argued, in essence, that the peacock has an extravagant tail, Shakespeare an extravagant gift for spinning tales, and Mozart an extravagant ability to compose, the better to attract a mate.”

Later on in the article, Dr. Witt comments that
A second and more wide-ranging way that Darwinian reductionism* is less than fully rational is in its commitment to the principle of methodological materialism. This is the investigative rule that says that investigators may consider only theories fully consistent with atheism. (It’s not usually described this starkly, but that’s what it boils down to.) According to the dictates of methodological materialism, if the extravagant beauty of butterflies or birds, if the origin of life or the universe or the fine tuning of the laws and constants of nature, if any of these features of our world points strongly toward a creative intelligence beyond the purely material, the flow of the evidence must be resisted.

This is what passes for scientific rationality in our age. But it isn’t hard-nosed realism at all. It’s priggish dogmatism. It’s the man in the seat beside you at a Beethoven concert insisting that everything you’re hearing is only so many notes, which are only so many sound waves, which are only so many perturbations among so many gaseous molecules amidst the machinery of your eardrum, the whole experience a curious stew of physics and sexual selection working its soulless magic on a delusional audience. The prig has talked all about the parts but has missed the whole—has missed the genius.
Fortunately, there aren’t that many people in the world who are so obtuse that they can’t appreciate the butterfly metamorphosing from creepy crawler into winged marvel. While 39% of Americans believe in evolution, 92% of Americans believe there is a God. We simply need roll back in our cubicle and glance out the window to know that this is so. No amount of methodological materialism can prevent this discovery of God, because God Himself reveals it to us:
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:19-20 ESV
In the face of theories of evolution or the big bang, Christians need not feel inadequate because we don’t have “all the answers” in an empirically demonstrable way. Modern science is no threat to Christianity, and is in fact an ally. In some ways, the further we dig scientifically the less we find we know. Our explanatory power as creatures can’t hold up against God’s creation. We still can’t explain the nature of light, a verity which was pointed out by the Lord God Almighty to Job millennia ago:

"Where is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home? Job 38:19-20 ESV
The Big Bang Theory is also proving to be a theory whose foundations are being eroded by both data and philosophy. We can rejoice as Christians - Darwin is no match for the Holy Spirit and the Word of God:
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
You need not fret if you cannot eloquently articulate the cosmological proof for God. The butterfly playing on the wind is proof enough. It is God who creates the world, it is He who sends us our daily bread, and it is He who forgives our sin. A crucified and risen Savior is proof enough. Darwin and his attending methodological materialism cannot compete with the power of the Word. We have seen His glory.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life-- the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us-- that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. 1 John 1:1-4 ESV

*Witt explains Darwinian reductionism: “…The idea that the best way to understand something is to identify its material parts, and to do so at lower and lower levels (from traits to cells to molecules to atoms, and so on). At its most extreme, reductionism views things as ultimately just the sum of their parts. Thus, to a Darwinian reductionist, the grace and beauty of the butterfly or the songbird or the poet ultimately spring from some advantage this beauty lent the creature and its ancestors for survival and reproduction (“survival of the fittest”)."

photo credit: Eddy Van 3000

No comments: