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.