Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil
|Author: Review by Eric Snow
Is the theory of evolution so well established that it can be considered tantamount to a scientific fact? Or is evolution really nothing more than philosophy dressed up in scientific garb? Cornelius G. Hunter’s work, Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001) brilliantly exposes how evolutionists use scientific jargon to conceal anti-supernatural metaphysics (philosophical theories about the nature of reality). Their theory is emotionally sustained by a certain idea of God. So when they perceive the facts of nature as contradicting their a priori (before experience) theology, they conclude God doesn’t exist, or at least, has little or nothing directly to do with nature. Hunter’s work has a particularly important insight when it draws attention to how important a particular idea of God is to evolutionists when they argue for their theory. Creationists must not deem Darwin’s own arguments in the past, or modern evolutionists’ reasonings presently, about God not doing things a particular way based upon what is found in nature as incidental to their skeptical reasonings. The problems they perceive in nature allows them to sustain faith in their theory even when the evidence really isn’t all that convincing; the same scientific facts could be rearranged to favor the model of special creationism as well or better than the model of evolution. Evolution, at its core, is about God, not science, for it’s a theodicy (a way of justifying to humanity God’s actions of allowing evil to exist) that ultimately aims to eliminate pleasing God as a focus of people’s concerns intellectually and emotionally.
DID THE GOD OF THE BIBLE MAKE NATURE EVIL AND DEFECTIVE?
Is nature full of evil? Does it contain structural flaws or inefficiencies? If so, how could an almighty, all-knowing, all-loving Creator have brought such a flawed creation into existence? The evolutionists, as they cavil about the physical world’s defects and evils, are reasoning back from the effect to the cause: Since the effect (i.e., the world) is full of evils and imperfections, therefore, the cause couldn’t be God, but some kind of random natural process instead. For example, the evolutionist David Hull reasoned that because nature produces millions of sperm and ova (eggs) that never result in a fertilized zygote, and that an estimated 95% of DNA in plants and animals has no function, “The God implied by . . . the data of natural history . . . is not the Protestant God of waste not, want not” (cited from Hunter, p. 156). Likewise, Darwin himself thought the existence of animal predation contradicted the existence of a loving, almighty Creator, such as cats playing with mice or (yuck!) parasitic wasps feeding within the bodies of living caterpillars. Of course, the God that Darwin and his evolutionist offspring are criticizing here isn’t the One of Scripture, who by cursing the earth as a result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:14-19), made the world around us deliberately not perfect as far as we humans are concerned. But at the time of the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21), there will be no more curse (Rev. 22:3). The fact that animal predation will be ended during the millennium (Isa. 11:6-9) shows that it wasn’t a permanent part of God’s plan for the earth. The creation, made subject to futility, groans now from corruption (Rom. 8:19-22), but will soon “be delivered . . . into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Natural evil is a soon-to-be eliminated temporary intruder, not a permanent resident, of this world. (Of course, it could be argued that animal death isn’t intrinsically morally significant except in relation to what it teaches people about relations among themselves and with God by analogy, but that raises a whole other subject!)
DO EVOLUTIONISTS ASSUME GOD CREATED SPECIES A CERTAIN WAY?
Evolutionists run other, even more questionable, arguments about God. That’s because they dislike the idea of God being a micromanager carefully concerned with His creation’s activities. For example, they assume that God wouldn’t repeat a pattern with each type of animal or plant He would have created. As a case in point, Mark Ridley reasons that since a similar genetic code is preserved across species they couldn’t have been independently created. He thinks, “If the 11 species had independent origins, there is no reason why their homologies [anatomical similarities used to prove evolution] should be correlated,” and, “If they were independently created, it would be very puzzling if they showed systematic, hierarchical similarity in functionally unrelated characteristics.” Verne Grant thinks “living species would not be expected to cluster in groups within groups if they were products of separate acts of creation,” but undermines his case when noting pre-evolutionary taxonomists fit these facts into their creationist views. Darwin himself argued this way, using classifications of groups of similar animals as supposed proof for evolution: “These are strange relations on the view that each species was independently created” and that this was “utterly inexplicable on the theory of creation.” Alertly exposing the flaws in such reasoning, Hunter notes such arguments smuggle in religious premises, for the similarities aren’t being used to prove evolution, but instead they are being used to refute a particular idea of God, which is a metaphysical claim, not a scientific one: “The experiment [concerning trees by the evolutionists David Penny, et al] did not so much prove evolution as it disproved the evolutionist’s view of creation.” But what does Scripture say about God’s concern for His creation? Is Jehovah a “hands-off” Deity? Or is He the God who made a borrowed but lost ax head float so it could be reclaimed (2 Kings 6:4-6)? Jesus noted that God feeds the birds (Matt. 6:26), that a sparrow doesn’t fall to the ground apart from the will of the Father, and that the hairs of our heads are numbered (Matt. 10:29-30). Scripture reveals that God is detailed-oriented, and cares about the little things too, unlike J.B.S. Haldane assumed when commenting that the Creator had to be inordinately fond of beetles since He willingly populated the earth with a quarter-million different species of them.
MUST GOD MAKE ALL ANATOMICAL STRUCTURES OPTIMAL?
Are the anatomical structures of plants and animals optimal? Evolutionists will find imperfections in nature to argue that a perfect Creator couldn’t have made them. Darwin thought “There is no greater anomaly of nature than a bird that cannot fly.” How is Darwin’s statement here scientific? Why should we expect all feathered creatures to fly, and (as a presumed correlate) all furry creatures to walk? Hunter (p. 105) alertly pounces on such reasoning:
Though Darwin and his peers did not understand nature’s inner workings, they were bold in their pronouncements about what virtues nature should and should not exhibit. And nature’s failure to fulfill our ideals and expectations was considered clear proof of evolution. All birds should fly, but since some don’t, there must be a crude law of nature rather than a Creator behind such incompetence.
For example, the presence of a vitamin C synthesis gene in all mammals except primates and guinea pigs could be deemed a “manufacturer’s defect,” especially when a look-alike but nonfunctional pseudogene exists in both of these groups. This lack sometimes subjects humans, other primates, and guinea pigs to getting the deadly vitamin-deficiency disease called scurvy. Terry Gray ran a negative theological argument based on these facts by skeptically rejecting the arguments that “God’s inscrutable purpose . . . placed that vitamin C synthesis look-alike gene” in these two groups. Similarly, the argument that vestigial organs contradict special creation is based on the assumption that God wouldn’t install such useless structures in His creatures. Of course, the list of vestigial organs has shrunk over the decades because organs previously assumed to have no function have been discovered to have one. As Hunter observes (see pp. 98, 113), just because we humans may not have discovered a function yet for a given physiological structure (such as the appendix) doesn’t mean none exists, for this depends on the current state of scientific knowledge. Parker (What Is Creation Science?, pp. 62-63) notes the historical problem with this pro-evolutionary argument: “Essentially all 180 organs once listed as evolutionary vestiges have quite important functions in human beings.” He also explains that tonsils, which help to fight disease, used to be commonly removed from children in part because they were seen as useless evolutionary vestiges. And this assumption slowed down scientific research on them (!) since: “If you believe something is a useless, nonfunctional leftover of evolution, then you don’t bother to find out what it does.” Furthermore, just because nature isn’t in the habit of producing useless structures doesn’t mean it never does (e.g., arguably from massive mutations a priori). But as Phillip Johnson remarks (see Hunter, p. 155), evolutionary biology should be posing scientific questions in place of questioning the motives of God if it is to be regarded as science instead of as a branch of philosophy.
COULD HUMANS DESIGN CREATURES BETTER THAN THE CREATOR?
Let’s consider a similar argument, once run by Steven R. Heideman, a Michigan State University physiology associate professor, in the student newspaper The East Lansing State News (7/6/87):
He [Eric Snow] claims that the similarity of bone structure of various vertebrates is not evidence of descent but rather of design. If so, the “designer” should be fired. The reason these similarities are evidence of descent with modification (i.e., tinkering with what already exists to get a new job done) is that they make no sense as design—they don’t work that well. The human backbone is an excellent example. In order to walk upright, the backbone of a four-footed ancestor was modified by bending into an S-curve. This adapt[at]ion has a great many limitations giving rise to the human tendency toward hernia, lower back problems, very painful births and cut-off circulation to the legs during pregnancy (milk leg).
But do the (perceived) imperfections in the human backbone really prove evolution? Heideman is engaged in negative natural theology, and assumes God has to make all His creations totally physically perfect from a human viewpoint. Would that mean, for example, He should have made us (say) naturally immortal in the flesh? Could an atheist cavil against the Creator, complaining that because he is mortal, not immortal, that He doesn’t exist or doesn’t care? Would the God of the Apostle Paul agree with this reasoning, when (Rom. 5:12) “just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned”? Only by assuming a certain view of God a priori, and then knocking down that straw man by this or that anatomical structure’s purported defects, can such arguments be deemed convincing. But then the evolutionists have refuted a God of their imagination, not the God of the Bible, who punished Eve (and correspondingly much of womankind) by multiplying the pain of childbirth after she ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:16). (Incidentally, if someone upholds fideism (the belief God’s existence should only be accepted by faith and not proven), he would have to reject all arguments based on nature’s imperfections for evolution made against God on this basis, not just those arguments based on nature’s complexity made for God’s existence and/or particular characteristics He has). Furthermore, such arguments assume we really could have done a better job than God did using our existing medical knowledge without knowing any possible unanticipated consequences from doing things differently (i.e., “fixing” one problem may cause others!) We should be wary of the conceit involved in saying we could have done a better job than the Creator, especially when mankind so often historically has mismanaged nature one way or another (such as by introducing mongooses into the West Indies to fight snakes or bringing rabbits into Australia). Arguments like Heideman’s appear to be nothing more than complaints that would be made regardless of how God made the world since the human mind could always make itself believe something it observes is imperfect somehow. Hunter (p. 47) observes, against Darwin, that though he “did not know how the design of the crustacean or the flower could have been improved, he believed there must have been a better way and that God should have used it. God . . . would not have made the brain or the bat that we find in nature, though [Darwin] had little idea about how they actually worked.” The presumptuousness of the evolutionists brings to mind God’s reply to Job: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” and “Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it. . . . Now gird up your loins like a man; I will ask you, and you instruct Me. Will you really annul My judgment? Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?” (Job 38:2; 40:2, 6-8).
EVOLUTION’S EXTRAPOLATION VS. BUILT-IN LIMITS TO CHANGE
Evolutionists thrive on knocking down straw man arguments about creationism or about God even long after informed creationists have long since dropped them. For example, they still pound the dead horse of the fixity of species even when sophisticated modern creationists have long since rejected this canard. The issue instead is whether or not there are natural intrinsic limits to biological change above the species level taxonomically (such as at the genus or family level) which would render the evolutionists’ extrapolations from monocells to men absurd. Any good creationist concedes microevolution, such as DDT-resistant houseflies and penicillin-resistant bacteria (which, incidentally, aren’t more fit in every way overall, for they take longer to grow to maturity in the case of the former, for example), but he’ll reject macroevolution, which requires the creation of whole new anatomical structures and their necessary rearrangement. The experience of animal breeders and farmers in artificially selecting characteristics in animals and plants to breed reaches a point of diminishing marginal returns long before (even) the species level of change is reached. And artificial breeding, which is guided by an intelligent hand, operates far more quickly than natural selection ever would in apply selection pressure. For example, from 1800 to 1878, experiments in France succeeded in raising the sugar content of table beets from 6% to 17%, but couldn’t make any improvements after that point. In another case, one worker artificially selected and bred fruits flies for a simple characteristic: A reduction in the number of bristles on their thoraxes. After 20 generations, further selective breeding hit a wall; the number of bristles couldn’t be reduced any more. (Examples taken from Duane Gish, Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record (El Cajon, CA: Master Books, 1985), pp. 33-34). Empirical evidence from such cases demonstrates there are natural limits to biological change, and contradicts the evolutionists’ faith in extrapolation as applied to species in the unseen, hypothetical past which can’t be made subject to experimental investigation or be reproduced. Given such evidence from sugar beets and fruit flies, a much more sound extrapolation is that changes above (say) the family or genus taxonomic (biological classification) level are impossible physically, which makes (therefore) the inference to special creation in these cases perfectly rational. For nature doesn’t always explain nature (i.e., it’s reasonable to assume no amount of scientific knowledge gained in the future will resolve all the anomalies against the theory of evolution, such as the yucca plant/moth relationship, but it may well just multiply them instead).
HOW AN IDEALIZED DEITY SET THE STAGE FOR DARWIN’S TRIUMPH
Hunter does important work when describing the theology of God’s nature that rationalizing, modernizing Christians had done in the decades, even centuries, before the time of Darwin. By describing God in ways that removed Him from directly influencing His Creation, they inadvertently helped to pave the way for the acceptance of the theory of evolution. Instead of Darwin (say) making a comparison of nature (the effect) with the God of the Bible (the cause), he was making an implicit comparison with a stripped-down Deity (another cause) that rarely if ever performed miracles and who rarely if ever punished His Creatures. Various Deistically-inclined Christians emphasized the belief that God’s glory and foresight would be enhanced by His ability to plan long in advance natural events to occur when needed to fulfill His plan, rather than periodically intervening ad hoc in His creation as needed to keep His plan on schedule. Hunter (p. 130) uses the reactions of Victorian critics to John Millais’s painting, “Christ in the House of His Parents” (exhibited 1850) to illustrate the negative reactions they had to this portrayal of a young boy Jesus who had His hand wounded in His (step)father’s carpentry workshop:
But the scene was altogether too realistic for a generation whose God had become abstract and spiritualized. The Scriptures say that God became flesh and lived among us. He knew sorrow, pain, temptation, and joy. But this view of God was lost on the Victorians; they emphasized God’s wisdom, power, and transcendence. Could God have bruised his hand in a messy carpenter’s shop? . . . [These Victorians also] would have trouble with the idea that God created the biological world, apparently so full of inefficiencies, anomalies, and useless bloodshed.
Furthermore, many Christians distanced God from direct responsibility for His creatures’ bad moral decisions, such as Milton in Paradise Lost, by placing the blame on the latter’s free will. Although such a theodicy has much to recommend it, Darwin and those evolutionists following in his footsteps simply widened the already-perceived gap between God and His creation into a chasm so wide it (normally) has eliminated any considerations of God’s role in the evolutionary process altogether among the main exponents and developers of evolutionary theory. Indeed, Hunter even compares the evolutionist’s God to that of the first- and second-century Gnostic movement’s portrayal of the Creator: They believed an evil, blundering Deity manufactured the corrupt physical world that includes the bodies, but not souls, of human beings. The God of the Old Testament, the Creator God, Jehovah, was considered to be evil, but the God of the New Testament, the God who sent Jesus, was a God of truth and light. Many centuries later, the natural theology of the Victorians, and those who preceded them, such as William Paley (1743-1805) with his famous “watchmaker” argument, tended to overlook or ignore the problems in nature as we find it. But much like skeptical Scottish philosopher David Hume’s use of the problem of evil to argue against a (good) God’s existence, Darwin used the imperfections and evils found in nature to question God’s power and goodness. By putting forth a non-Scriptural rationalistic Deity, Darwin’s predecessors unknowingly set the stage for God’s nearly complete elimination as a serious concern for modern intellectuals when Darwin and his fellow evolutionists compared the natural world’s defects and evils to this (humanly) idealized Deity rather than the actual God of Scripture, the intervening, wrathful yet merciful Jehovah who, out of love, later dies on the cross for the sins His creatures freely committed that He had allowed.
THE SCRIPTURAL GOD VERSUS THE RATIONALIZED DEISTIC GOD
Although Hunter makes a few off-hand references to Scripture (with the citations and/or actual wording generally buried in the footnotes), he never systematically develops his notions about how the God of the Bible contradicts the assumed modernistic, rationalistic God of the evolutionists. His book cries out for a chapter briefly covering the subject. Now Hunter describes the intellectual history of the Victorian era and earlier in this regard, showing that the God the evolutionists spar against is one who they never feel a need to justify as an accurate depiction of the Creator. That’s because many leading lights in the religious world of Darwin’s time and before had watered-down their view of God, having deemed an intervening, miracle-working, punishing, wrathful Jehovah distasteful. This “high” idea of God, as unscriptural as it is, they saw as honoring God’s power and foresight even more than the views of (say) conventional fundamentalists did about God. Darwin, and the evolutionists following in his steps, simply took over the prevailing non-Biblical ideas of God as their own also, and found Him (the capitalization is questionable!) a good straw man to pummel with the (unpleasant) facts of the natural world. For example (see Hunter, pp. 15-16), the views of nineteenth-century geologist Adam Sedgwick exemplified the selective perception of the Victorians concerning the God of the Bible. He repeatedly described God’s power, wisdom, and goodness as revealed by nature. He selectively cited Scripture to bolster his case by omitting passages that described God as punishing the world, such as by subjecting the creation to futility for the time being. So when Darwin came along, and noted the carnage and waste also found in nature, his theory of evolution wasn’t merely a scientific theory, but also a theodicy that removed God from blame for the world’s defects around us by (ultimately) eliminating Him as the Creator altogether.
DOES THE CREATOR’S WORK HAVE TO BE READILY UNDERSTANDABLE?
Evolutionists also like to assume that each creature God makes has to be put into an environment that they deemed it to be perfectly adapted to. Alec Panchen argues, “It is improbable that the distribution of organisms can be explained by the separate creation of species [because] ecological adaptation in any environment is demonstrably imperfect.” But as Hunter (p. 109) observes in reply, this is an unscientific claim. They also assume God wouldn’t make many different species of a given overall type of animal, and then eliminate all or most of them through mass extinctions. For example, Kenneth Miller (as quoted in Hunter, p. 83) has very specific ideas about how the Creator must go about His work to meet with his approval:
This designer has been busy! And what a stickler for repetitive work! . . . We are asked to believe each one of these species [of Indian elephants] bear no relation to the next, except in the mind of that unnamed designer who motivation and imagination are beyond our ability to fathom. . . . Then, in rapid succession, he designed ten (count’em!) different Elephas species, giving up work only when he had completed Elephas maximus, the sole surviving species.”
Douglas Futuyma (quoted in Hunter, p. 83) doesn’t perceive how he is engaged in metaphysics and natural theology, not science, when he questions God in a manner approaching Job’s: “What could have possessed the Creator to bestow two horns on African rhinoceroses and only one on the Indian species?” (Maybe it’s the same impulse that motivates human artists to use one color rather than another in a given abstract painting or clothes fashion designers to change their dress designs each year!) Obviously, the evolutionists’ theology proclaims the doctrine that God’s work must be sensible to us, not (very) repetitive, and not so detail-oriented that it keeps Him “busy.” But why must the Creator act the way evolutionists assume He has to? How is this “science”? Hunter (p. 84) then skillfully skewers the evolutionists’ reasoning this way:
Evolutionists [here] are using nonscientific arguments for evolution. Their arguments rely on an unspoken premise about the nature of God and how God would go about creating the world. . . . Now we can understand the sense in which evolution is a fact for evolutionists. They may not be able to tell us how evolution works, but they can tell us how it doesn’t work. Evolution by natural means is a fact for the evolutionists simply because creation is impossible. But this whole argument for evolution depends on one’s view of God and his creation.
IS USING NATURAL THEOLOGY AGAINST GOD “SCIENTIFIC”?
One of Hunter’s most significant general insights stems from his observation that evolutionists have rigged their definition of “science” such that arguments against God based on nature are sound and deemed “scientific,” but arguments for God based on nature are automatically unsound and thus “unscientific.” For example, Darwin argued against Owen, who said homologies show God constructed animals on a uniform plan. Darwin deemed such an argument as “not a scientific explanation.” Hunter (p. 151) expertly attacks Darwin’s philosophical inconsistency here:
His main point, that nature fails to reveal a divine hand, was now protected against counterarguments, because such arguments would be unscientific—though he had repeatedly used metaphysical arguments against creation to prop up evolution. Darwin correctly observed that creation and its supporting arguments hinge on one’s concept of God, but he conveniently forgot that arguments against creation equally hinge on one’s concept of God. He found it fair to argue against creation but not for it. . . . In fact, what good science requires is a naturalistic explanation, regardless of what particular explanation is used.
So an evolutionist shouldn’t use some (perceived) imperfection in nature to argue against God, call that “science,” and then turn around, and claim arguments for God based on some amazing perfection in nature are “unscientific” by definition. The evolutionists then have ruled out supernatural explanations a priori in their presuppositional premises in their arguments against special creation. It’s no wonder “God” can’t arise in any “scientific” conclusion when “God” was ruled out in the (implicit) premises! Hence, any evolutionist who makes an argument against God or special creation based upon what is found in nature is just as metaphysical, and just as theological, as any creationist who makes an argument for God or special creation based upon what is found in nature. Why then is natural theology used against God “scientific” but natural theology used for God “unscientific”?
IS A CONCEIVABLE SET OF DEVELOPMENTAL STEPS REALLY SCIENTIFIC?
Consider the pro-naturalistic bias inherent in Darwin’s argument that the eye could arise by evolution based on a “conceivable” series of small steps. If each step could be (subjectively) seen as aiding in an organism’s survival somehow, the sequence is deemed “possible,” and thus “science.” But as the case of the male cricket’s chirp shows (what helps in mating also gives away its position to potential predators), what and how a anatomical structure really aids in a species’ survival (“differential reproduction”) is much more subjective than scientists may want to admit. Hunter summarizes Darwin’s argument this way (p. 74): “If evolutionists by thought experiment, can conjure up any sequences that shows a potential usefulness at each stage, then the problem is solved. We need not pursue what likely happened; what could have happened will do.” But, given the biases inherent in people, including scientists, what’s considered “conceivable” becomes very broad indeed when we’re emotionally inclined to reject God because He has allowed evil to exist. As Hunter notes (p. 153): “We can always contrive naturalistic explanations if we try hard enough. The theory of evolution is an outstanding example. We are told that life and its enormous complexity must have arisen spontaneously, even though we don’t know quite how it happened.” Furthermore, there’s no way to really falsify such a “conceivable” series of small evolutionary developments, for as Hunter (p. 75) asks, “How could a would-be critic show that no such sequence exists?” How “scientific” are such thought experiments then? They are just speculation and guesswork without the fossils to support them, especially when it’s a subjective game trying to figure out how much a given new anatomical structure aids in an organism’s survival rates when it isn’t complete, and supposedly changing function(s) as it develops.
IS EVOLUTION POTENTIALLY FALSIFIABLE?
Evolutionists render the theory of evolution non-falsifiable by the kinds of arguments they thrust forward. Does evolutionary theory ever makes “risky” predictions that could be refuted by experimental observations? Or does it employ tautologies (restatements of the same propositions in different words, such as “it isn’t over until it’s over”), such as in the claim the most fit individuals are those which leave behind the most offspring without further explanation? As Phillip E. Johnson notes (Darwin on Trial, p. 21), “Just about any characteristic can be either advantageous or disadvantageous, depending on the surrounding environmental conditions.” Using Johnson’s example of this principle, consider how the big size of the human brain in increasing intelligence seems to be an unambiguous advantage selection characteristic until one realizes a larger-sized human skull still has to fit through the birth canal of a human woman during birth. (The law of unanticipated consequences indeed!) Compare evolution in this regard to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which was put to the test experimentally concerning the arc of the ellipse of Mercury’s orbiting the sun gradually oscillating and the bending of light from a star passing by the sun during an eclipse by 1.75 seconds of an arc. (See World Book Encyclopedia, 1960, “Relativity,” 15:202-3). By contrast, no conceivable sequence of experiments or physical events could render evolution false since its energetic advocates will construct innumerable ad hoc counter-explanations to “explain” any anomalous facts anyone could uncover. And, unlike what is at risk concerning the falsification of Newton’s laws or Einstein’s theories of relativity, evolutionists are immediately faced with the would-be bogeyman of special creation the moment they admit their theory may be false. And a Creator God is potentially a whole lot more demanding of people morally, such as in their sex lives, than the requirements that belief in general relativity makes of its advocates! Should evolution be overthrown scientifically, a lot more would need to be changed than merely scholarly journals and biology textbooks! (Would we be debating gay marriage in this country today if the ruling elites rejected evolution?) Sir Karl Popper, the philosopher of science, at one time briefly admitted (as summarized by Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial, p. 21) “Darwinism is not really a scientific theory because natural selection is an all purpose explanation which can account for anything, and which therefore explains nothing.” He backed away under heavy pressure from this judgment; after all, to put Darwinism in the same category as (say) Marxism and Freudian psychoanalysis would have been devastating to the respectability and (purported) objectivity generally accorded to the theory of evolution.
Hunter repeatedly draws attention to the problems for any possible scientific fact to overthrow evolution: By having such a flexible paradigm, it can readily absorb anything with the greatest of ease. For unlike Newton’s theory of physics, no set of specific but failed predictions could possibly refute evolution’s (alleged) truth a priori. Hunter describes the weakness of evolution’s ability to “explain” everything and anything (p. 141):
Evolution could have occurred in a variety of ways; in fact, just about everything found in biology could be explained with evolution. The exquisite design and adaptation of the species reflect evolution’s efficiency. On the other hand, the waste and carnage in nature reflect evolution’s limited scope—it only addresses reproduction. And the evolutionary framework leaves plenty of room for adjustments and subhypotheses to explain new findings. . . . evolution does not provide specific and unambiguous scientific predictions.
Hunter (pp. 156-7) also notes the metaphysical problems in upholding evolution as the best theory available until something else better comes along. It’s an informal logical fallacy to presume a theory or proposition is true until something better comes along or that a statement is true because it hasn’t been proven false. Normally, when the merits of competing scientific theories are compared, such as Newtonian vs. Einsteinian physics, the metaphysics aren’t changed. But this hardly true for the evolution vs. special creation (or abrupt appearance) debate since the former makes different assumptions about God than the latter, among other issues. Science doesn’t eliminate metaphysics (such as in its assumptions of the reliability of physical events predicted by natural law and the validity of inference beyond physical observations measured in the past and present), but holds them at a constant when judging what theories are the most correct. But evolution is held harmless against the evidence a priori in a way that no other theory could be, and its frequent employment of metaphysical language, including using negative natural theology against God as the Creator, shows this debate isn’t just about science. As Hunter (p. 157) comments:
The no-alternative defense gives evolution a special status not normally accorded to scientific theories. In fact, the claim that evolution is the best explanation available is itself a nonscientific statement. Evolutionists repeatedly argued that their theory works far better than the notion of divine creation, but in so doing they have made substantial assumptions about the nature of God. Their negative theological assumptions are not scientific. Evolution is the best explanation available of the scientific data only if one adopts a particular metaphysical view.
Popper, having considered the attitudes (not just arguments) of the advocates of pseudosciences of Marxism and Freudian psychology, saw a flaw that actually also applies to evolutionists: “The wrong view of science betrays itself in the craving to be right” (as quoted in Johnson, Darwin on Trial, p. 147). In this case, far more rides on the outcome of the creation/evolution debate than (say) professional reputations or even a sense of security from finding an explanatory device for the world around them, for “God” could pop out of some scientific conclusion if He isn’t ruled out in the premises through insisting that only naturalism is “science” in one’s presuppositions and by using negative natural theology against creationism.
Elsewhere Hunter (p. 101) observes that the fossil evidence only weakly confirms evolution because it accommodates easily many different outcomes due to its flexibility, but only at the cost of eliminating convincing confirmations. If evolution can accommodate in the fossil record both slow, gradual change just as well as abruptness, Hunter asks (p. 70): “Why should we accept a theory that does not provide compelling explanations or bold predictions but rather molds itself to whatever evidence comes along?” Hence, by resorting to the punctuated equilibrium and/or “hopeful monster” (massive mutation) explanations of the fossil record, evolution adopts abruptness instead of being falsified by it. When confronted by the “Cambrian Explosion,” during which in a relatively short time (allegedly about 5 million years starting about 600 million years ago) all the basic types of multicellular life developed, evolutionists are apt to resort to blaming the evidence, such as shells (mollusks) evolving “from soft creatures that leave no mark on the geological record” (Hunter, p. 71). Darwin himself found it easier to question the data of the fossil record rather than modify his theory to fit the known scientific facts: “The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find interminable varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps” (as quoted in Hunter, p. 79). The punctuated equilibrium theory of Gould and Eldredge merely admits that over a century of research and fieldwork since Darwin’s time hasn’t increased the evidence for gradual evolution from the fossil record. By postulating that rapid bursts of evolution occurred in small isolated populations which left few or no preserved remains in the fossil record, Gould and Eldredge are plainly inventing a theory to explain a lack of evidence. They have no concrete evidence that there were such populations except by assuming naturalism to be true a priori, and that therefore they “had” to exist.
CAN MORALLY ABSOLUTE IDEAS OF EVIL BE USED TO ELIMINATE GOD?
The inescapable dilemma skeptical evolutionists face in employing the problem of evil against the existence of God stems from where the origin of our sense of morality, of right and wrong, comes from. As Hunter (p. 18) expertly summarizes the problem (his emphasis): “The existence of evil seems to contradict God, but the existence of our deep moral sense seems to confirm God.” For if we believe all is relative, that there are no absolutes, in a world without God, how can we condemn God for (say) allowing the Holocaust, the Cultural Revolution, or the Ukrainian terror famine? We can’t judge God unless we believe we can derive some kind of system of moral absolutes separately by human reason without recourse to Him or religious revelation. Hunter (p. 154) penetratingly exposes the evolutionists’ moral conundrum, after citing Richard Dawkins’ comment about the universe having no design, purpose, good or evil, “nothing but pointless indifference” thus: “Since there is no evil, the materialist must, ironically, not use the problem of evil to justify atheism. The problem of evil presupposes the existence of an objective evil—the very thing the materialist seems to deny.” If we can’t derive natural moral law separately from God by human reason, if we can’t get an “ought” from an “is” without reference to religious revelation, we can’t condemn God for allowing evil, now can we? If indeed all is relative, and one person’s good is another’s evil, such as for (say) female genital mutilation or Chinese foot binding, which traditional societies affirm(ed) but feminists condemn, on what basis can we criticize God for being a permissive libertarian about the actions resulting from His creatures’ freely chosen moral decisions? If indeed there are no moral absolutes, the ideologies that led to gulags and concentration camps are just as ethical as the ideologies that eliminated them. Hence, our innate moral sense, although it may manifest itself differently from culture to culture and person to person, constitutes intrinsic evidence for something beyond the material world. Otherwise, a fist hitting someone’s face in the street is no more or less morally significant than two rocks hitting each other in the wilderness, since all are composed of atoms in motion coming in contact with each other. True, various philosophical attempts to derive an “ought” from an “is” exist, such as the differing arguments of James Q. Wilson (“the moral sense” that has a psychological/mental/behavior origin in our human natures), C.S. Lewis (“the Tao” or way, of cross cultural ultimate similarities show traditional morality is a kind of irreducible primary), and Ayn Rand (“living entities intrinsically need certain values to sustain life”) show. But unless atheists and agnostics discard their moral relativism, they can’t use the existence of evil to discard God.
Cornelius G. Hunter’s work, Darwin’s God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil is a brilliant work for exposing the philosophical inconsistencies of Darwin and the evolutionists who have risen up after him. He perceives the enormous importance that the (perceived) imperfections and evils of nature have for the evolutionists’ view of special creation. Advocates of creationism must keep in mind this insight when arguing with evolutionists, and be ready to attack any and all references evolutionists make to some assumed natural theology about God that they use to “prove” evolution. It’s necessary to point out to evolutionists that if it’s wrong and “unscientific” to make arguments for God based on this or that marvel of nature, it’s equally unscientific and metaphysical to make arguments against God based on this or that flaw in nature. All evolutionists also need to be asked if they are moral absolutists when complaining about God’s allowing evil in the world but they suddenly transform themselves into moral relativists when making any other moral judgments. The evolutionists should be reminded that they haven’t refuted the God of Scripture scientifically when they attack the straw man Deity of rationalistic, modernistic, liberal Christianity. In reality, all they have knocked over is a God of their imaginations. The God who chose to allow evil to enter His creation, both in nature and among men, also died in terrible pain on the cross for the sins freely and willingly committed by His creatures, thus serving as a substitute for the penalty of their evils while suffering in pain for permitting it. One day, evolutionists will want to repent as Job did, and accept this God who chose to die for their sins and evils: “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You. You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:2-3).