Even though the adherents of evolutionary naturalism claim cool scientific objectivity and attempt to color the opposition with shades of religious ignorance, the composition of the evolutionary side is not always empirically detached as some would think.
Quite frankly, none of us are completely objective, especially in regards to the question of the origins of life; we all have been indoctrinated to one degree or another, often to the point of inability to listen to coherent engagements of an alternative point of view.
We have our presuppositions. On one hand, one finds a naturalistic worldview that allows for nothing beyond the mindless and ultimately entropic dance of matter and energy. On the other hand, one finds a presupposition that there is something greater than the material world, something above and beyond the natural, something not necessarily confined to the limits of the scientific method.
The crux of the matter is that materialism will always be, without regards to observation, constrained to a naturalistic explanation for life in all its beautiful complexity. There are no options to evolution if a supernatural Creator is excluded a priori. Evolution is not a scientific theory at all, but more it is a metaphysical construct; it does not bear the hallmark of a scientific theory because it is not falsifiable. Not only is it not falsifiable due to the aforementioned and unprovable naturalistic assumptions, neither is it repeatable, and thereby not purely empirically scientific, because of the non-repeatable nature of the process; it happened unobserved in the past., and macro-evolution, if true, occurs too slowly to be observed. If evolutionary theory is not purely scientific, neither is the alternative, special creation. It is not observed to occur and happened in the past unobserved.
When we talk about the origins of life, we leave the world of pure science and enter the realm of the metaphysical, of philosophy. So, the often strident rhetoric of evolutionists attempting to frame the debate as one of science in opposition to religious myth is just that, emotionally manipulative and inflammatory rhetoric, a deceitful myth of objectivity. Both sides bear a heavy cargo of moral and religious implications. To ban one side from the world of academic debate, of academic credibility based on the subjective, un-provable metaphysical bias is pure censorship driven by the status quo. Open the doors wide open to critique. Now, we have only those rotating bars such as those found on a subway entrances that only allow passage in one direction. The only reason to not to open the door is to shield the weakness of the evolutionary framework from public view.
I understand how absurd one view appears to the other. I have been on both sides of the divide. Not to be churlish, but what instigated my doubts about evolution was sex. Before the phrase ‘irreproducible completely’ and ‘intelligent design’ entered the lexicon of the controversy, I wondered how two complex and mutually dependent reproductive systems could have arisen by natural processes. Try hard as I might, I could not fathom how random mutations and natural selection could produce two complex reproductive systems in parallel. Both male and female systems have to be completely functioning for sexual reproduction to occur. It seemed utterly absurd to think that complementary reproductive systems could have evolved by genetic mistakes and natural selection.
From there, I began to think about abiogenesis, of how life could arise from non-life. I found the odds against life arising from non-life stagger the imagination. The further I dug, the more evidence I found that seemed to argue against a purely naturalistic explanation for the origins and complexity of life.
What the naturalist will do when faced with data that seems to undermine macro-evolutionary theory is trot out the hoary ‘God of the gaps’ argument. It used to be that supernatural forces were used to explain natural phenomena. When lightning flashed and thunder rumbled across the night sky, the atavistic man could only suppose that some deity directly caused the phenomena. When pre-scientific people wondered why they became sick, they supposed spirits, the supernatural, was the cause. When ancient people observed someone who behaved bizarrely and claimed to have seen visions, it was supposed that the afflicted were possessed by a spirit rather than suffering from a malfunction of brain chemistry.
As science began to find natural causes for previously unexplained natural phenomena, the realm where the supernatural ruled began to diminish. Soon, science would be able to explain everything, leaving no room, no gaps, for God as an actor on the natural stage.
While the ‘god of the gaps’ argument is superficially effective, if fails on more than one level. First, it seems that evolutionary theory is becoming more a ‘metaphysics of the gaps.’ Given the increased understanding of the complexity of the simplest of single-celled organisms, it becomes increasingly difficult to explain the rise of RNA, of DNA, of the intricate cellular machinery, by natural processes. In light of the increased understanding that so many biological entities exhibit structures that seem to defy naturalistic origins, it is hoped that future developments in scientific understanding will reveal how these structures could have evolved. The problem is that more and more evolutionary myths are falling by the wayside as discovery marches on. Evolution becomes increasing based on the hope that validation will be found in future discoveries.
Secondly, I believe there has been a bit of a false dichotomy in regards to religion and science. The ‘god of the gaps’ mindset infers that natural causes are the base for natural effects and thereby eliminate a place for God in the natural order. What we have to ask is why there is a natural order to begin with. From whence do these natural laws come? Why is there order instead of chaos? Why is there something rather than nothing? Again, when dealing with origins, we enter another realm of inquiry.
Thirdly, we all admit that life exhibits the characteristic of design. Richard Dawkins would say that millions of years of gradual accumulations of genetic errors and natural selection mimic design. I think Occam’s razor would infer a designer behind the design. When I view the Pyramids of Giza, I do not reflect on how amazing it is that eons of natural forces sculpted such magnificent and ordered structures. Rather, I reflect on the creative and ingenious skills of the builders and designers.
The bottom line is this: ideas have consequences and the more profound the idea, the more profound the consequences. I can think of no other arena in the world of thought that carries more ideological, metaphysical, and moral freight than that of the origins of life. I wish that people would care more about this issue and become equipped to understand the ramifications of the debate.
Though I am not a scientist, I have entertained a deep interest in the subject of evolution, of origins, for quite a long time. I have read quite a bit on the subject and I have some thoughts regarding Darwinism. First, I have, to the best of my ability, followed the truth to where ever it might lead, even if the trajectory is counter to the status quo. Here, in a thumb-nail, is where, a number of years ago, I landed . That life could have risen by natural processes and, by descent with modification, grow in complexity, in speciation, is absurd. If honestly examined, the hypothesis of macro-evolution is ultimately believed not because it is observed to occur – which it is not - but because the alternative, creation by Divine fiat, invalidates the preferred worldviews of western humanism and neo-pagan new-age mysticism.
Here is what I find profoundly revealing: that humanity may have been created, that life may be the supernatural work of a divine Creator Who breathed life into humanity is seen to be a far less attractive alternative to the affirmation that life arose by meaningless and random natural processes. One may have thought the world would, at very least, have let a collective sad sigh, would have mourned a bit, if it found that humanity was no longer was the work of divine breath and hands. Instead, the world, for the most part, seems to rejoice in the fact that we arrived on the scene by unconscious natural forces. What does that say about us?
Ultimately, I think the evolutionary hypotheses is accepted not because of unquestioned empirical evidence, but because it is an unquestioned a priori. There are no other alternatives if you start with an unquestioned acceptance that there is nothing beyond matter that acts on matter. You find yourself with such a pliable hypotheses that it fits any observation. It cannot be invalidated; it cannot be falsified. Given such, the question of origins is perhaps not a matter of science, but of metaphysics. It has been stated that evolution is the foundation of science, especially the life sciences. I would say that the discoveries of science are blind to evolutionary presuppositions. Such is parasitically laid on top of that which is discovered. When all is said and done, we will find that macroevolution is a vestigial organ, a broken, obsolete, and failed leftover of the metaphysics of materialism. Wring your hands over the flawed science behind anthropocentric global warming, if you wish, but stand in fearful awe at how quickly we, by blind acceptance of evolutionary philosophy, embrace the created over the Creator.
Over the years, I have done a bit of thinking about evolution, on the issue of the origins of life. I have also followed the issue of anthropogenic global warming, albeit not nearly so closely. I find some interesting parallels between the two issues.
First, there is an amazing plasticity to both. It seems that evolution explains everything. Ultimately, and painting with broad strokes, the declarations of evolutions veracity do not ultimately rest on observed phenomena. The theory is so plastic in its ability to predict that any observation can be made to fit the theory; ultimately, it is not falsifiable. If “A” is observed to occur, a reasonable evolutionary explanation can be made to fit the observation. However, if the inverse of “A” is observed, or “A” is not observed, another reasonable evolutionary explanation for such can be made. It is a malleable template that can conform to whatever it is laid upon. If we had found in the fossil record a gradual progression of speciation, such would dovetail nicely into an evolutionary theory. If the fossil record does not reveal a gradual progression of speciation ( and it does not…think about the Cambrian explosion), then we can formulate a hypothesis to explain that, also. In fact, we a have the theory of punctuated equilibria to explain the fossil records paucity of transitional forms.
The same seems true, albeit to a lesser degree, for global warming enthusiasts. I read an article this morning wherein, ironically, the record cold temperatures observed in many areas is an indication, an effect, of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). AGW theory is still a youngster on the scene compared with evolutionary theory, but it too is developing a dogma that fits any observation, no matter how contradictory to its overarching premise. I remember hearing reports of global warming induced localized increases in sea level that has forced thousands to flee their homes.
Second, both are, in essence, a potential breeding ground for hubris. By way of impersonal natural processes, we arrived on the scene and are now the dominate species because of our fitness, our ability as a species, as essentially apex predators, to survive and surmount. Because of our ability to compete for natural resources, we have apparently developed the ability to outstrip the sun’s influence on the global climate system.
Third, both evolutionary theory and AGW theory are beyond question by their academic and political high priests and adherents. Both resort to ad hominem attacks on those who question the prevailing dogma. Both have vested interests in perpetrating their dogma because so many for so long have based careers and reputations on sustaining dogma. They cannot turn back. Countervailing data, not matter how inditing, is reduced to anomaly.
Finally, both are, to some degree, wrapped around the specter of extinction. What we end up with in the end, when it is all said and done, is essentially the deification of nature.