"For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries." - Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers



Biological evolution points back in time to the chemical origin of life which points back to the origin of the entire universe: space-time, matter and energy in addition to all of its finely tuned parameters and initial conditions. In short, "Creation preceded evolution and Mind preceded matter." It follows that "evolution" is a rather poor excuse for atheism and the myth that theism conflicts with science.


When asked to provide three examples of modern myths in a dozen words or less, a clever student astutely replied, "The Cosmos is all there is, or was, or ever will be." 


In retrospect, it is hard to imagine how Carl Sagan, an intelligent and well educated astronomer, could utter such foolishness in the latter half of the 20th Century. Even high school students would know that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the Big Bang model of our expanding universe refute such claims.


The answer might be pride, prejudice or peer pressure, but with appropriate gentleness and respect, let us assume that we are dealing with a philosophical commitment. Richard Lewontin put it this way:

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."  

Dr. Sagan's problem was presuming the philosophy of materialism, physicalism or naturalism: the idea that only physical nature exists. But either the universe has always existed or God has always existed, and it's not the universe. If anything, atheism conflicts with science. Facts trump philosophy and science allows us to think God's thoughts after Him.



Evolution as Progressive Creation


Charles Darwin acknowledged that the geologic record was the most obvious and serious objection which could be raised against his theory. Unlike his gradually branching tree, however, natural history reveals a pervasive pattern much better illustrated by a forest. With regard to the sudden explosion of new body plans in the Cambrian, even Richard Dawkins admitted, "It is as though the fossils were planted there without any evolutionary history." 


Indeed, the pervasive patterns of natural history are analogous to the historical patterns found in modern technologies: new designs appear suddenly followed by variations on the pre-existing themes. Consider the evolution of simpler technologies: the automobile or computer. As Bill Gates put it, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created." Both cars and computers are examples of progressive creation: the sudden appearance of major innovations followed by variations on pre-existing themes. It is only logical that the far, far more advanced nanotechnologies found in biology are also examples of progressive creation.  


Did Darwin get it backwards? Let's just say that it is no wonder that he confessed the following in the Introduction to his Origin of Species, 

"I am well aware that scarcely a single point is discussed in this volume on which facts cannot be adduced, often apparently leading to conclusions directly opposite to those at which I have arrived. A fair result can be obtained only by fully stating and balancing the facts and arguments on both sides of each question; and this cannot possibly be done here." 

The most significant "opposite conclusion" to which Darwin should have arrived is the ability of natural selection to prevent major evolutionary change from occurring on a gradual step-by-step basis by eliminating useless transitional stages. (Try evolving a motorcycle from a bicycle on a gradual step-by-step basis and you'll get the idea. Add a new part and all you will do is add weight and cost creating a slower and more expensive bicycle that will naturally be selected against.)


In his book, Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, biologist Soren Lovtrup points out that "some critics turned against Darwin's teachings for religious reasons, but they were a minority; most of his opponents ... argued on a completely scientific basis." He goes on to explain:

"...the reasons for rejecting Darwin's proposal were many, but first of all that many innovations cannot possibly come into existence through accumulation of many small steps, and even if they can, natural selection cannot accomplish it, because incipient and intermediate stages are not advantageous."

Simply put, natural selection can much better account for stasis and the prevention of major evolutionary change than it can Darwinian evolution. While life is certainly programmable, the "evolution" of the major body plans requires a competent genetic programmer who can, metaphorically speaking, "leap tall buildings in a single bound."


The God-of-the-Gaps Problem

Some have argued that because the natural sciences are restricted to the study of purely natural phenomena, invoking God to explain anything cannot be scientific by definition.


While this may be true (assuming definitions trump data), Naturalism has its own "god-of-the-gaps" that is routinely called upon to explain the "arrival of the fittest": Chance. But why should purely random events be considered scientific when they are both unpredictable and unrepeatable? Since when did "it just happened" become a scientific explanation for anything? (Don't answer that. It was 1859.)


Random mutations are generally considered by Darwinian evolutionists to provide the opportunity for evolutionary steps. Pierre-Paul Grasse, French zoologist, author of over 300 publications including the influential 52-volume Traité de Zoologie and former President of the French Academy of Sciences, disagrees vigorously, and says that mutations have nothing to do with evolution. Consider what he had to say in his book, Evolution of Living Organisms. His summary statement is,     

"Some contemporary biologists, as soon as they observe a mutation, talk about evolution. They are implicitly supporting the following syllogism: mutations are the only evolutionary variations, all living beings undergo mutations, therefore all living beings evolve. This logical scheme is, however, unacceptable: first, because its major premise is neither obvious nor general; second, because its conclusion does not agree with the facts. No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution (p.88)." He goes on to point out that bacteria -- the subject of study of many geneticists and molecular biologists -- are organisms which produce the most mutants. Yet bacteria are considered to have "stabilized a billion years ago!" He regards the "unceasing mutations" to be "merely hereditary fluctuations around a median position; a swing to the right, a swing to the left, but no final evolutionary effect (p. 87)." 


He asks, "How does the Darwinian mutational interpretation of evolution account for the fact that the species that have been the most stable -- some of them for the last hundreds of millions of years -- have mutated as much as the others do? 


Once one has noticed microvariations (on the one hand) and specific stability (on the other), it seems very difficult to conclude that the former (microvariation) comes into play in the evolutionary process (p.88)." 


Grasse compares a mutation to "a typing error made in copying a text (p. 96)." He says "Mutations have a very limited 'constructive capacity'; this is why the formation of hair by mutation of reptilian scales seems to be a phenomenon of infinitesimal probability; the formation of mammae by mutation of reptilian integumentary glands is hardly more likely ...(p. 97)." 


He goes on to say, "Mutations, in time, occur incoherently. They are not complementary to one another, nor are they cumulative in successive generations toward a given direction. They modify what preexists, but they do so in disorder, no matter how. ... As soon as some disorder, even slight, appears in an organized being, sickness, then death follow. There is no possible compromise between the phenomenon of life and anarchy (pp. 97, 98)." Grasse in several different places in his book provides devastating evidence to show that "chance" cannot account for evolution. He correctly evaluates the attitude of Darwinists toward "chance" when he says: "Directed by all-powerful selection, chance becomes a sort of providence, which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped (p. 107)." 


Assuming Naturalism to be true, Darwin's god-of-the gaps becomes even less plausible when one realizes that random variations are processed by Naturalism's randomly generated universe and its randomly generated filter of natural selection making the entire process random all the way down. While there is nothing like a good scientific theory, "everything just happened randomly" is nothing like a good scientific theory.


Evolution as a secular religion?*


Grasse is not alone. Even Michael Ruse recognizes a secular religion when he sees one. 


"...And certainly, there's no doubt about it, that in the past, and I think also in the present, for many evolutionists, evolution has functioned as something with elements which are, let us say, akin to being a secular religion ... And it seems to me very clear that at some very basic level, evolution as a scientific theory makes a commitment to a kind of naturalism, namely, that at some level one is going to exclude miracles and these sorts of things come what may."

"Nonliteralist Antievolution" -  AAAS Symposium: "The New Antievolutionism," February 13, 1993, Boston, MA
National Center for Science Education


Evolution as a Gnostic Myth? 

"The point, however, is that the doctrine of evolution has swept the world, not on the strength of its scientific merits, but precisely in its capacity as a Gnostic myth. It affirms, in effect, that living beings created themselves, which is, in essence, a metaphysical claim.... Thus, in the final analysis, evolutionism is in truth a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb."

Wolfgang Smith - Teilhardism and the New Religion


Cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century? 

"Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century. Like the Genesis based cosmology which it replaced, and like the creation myths of ancient man, it satisfies the same deep psychological need for an all embracing explanation for the origin of the world which has-motivated all the cosmogenic myth makers of the past, from the shamans of primitive peoples to the ideologues of the medieval church. The truth is that despite the prestige of evolutionary theory and the tremendous intellectual effort directed towards reducing living systems to the confines of Darwinian thought, nature refuses to be imprisoned. In the final analysis we still know very little about how new forms of life arise. The "mystery of mysteries" - the origin of new beings on earth - is still largely as enigmatic as when Darwin set sail on the Beagle."

Michael Denton - Evolution: A Theory in Crisis


Bottom line?


Always keep "evolution" in context and beware of secular religions.


Creation preceded evolution and Mind preceded matter.


It matters. 



* Author's Note: John Calvert has pointed out that "Like Michael Ruse, I refer to materialistic evolution/origins science as a 'secular religion.'" He goes on to state that "I believe that is an oxymoron as 'secular' means 'not religious.' 'Not religious religion' = an oxymoron. So, I would suggest you change 'secular' to 'non-theistic.'  This is exceedingly important as the Supreme Court has held that the state can promote 'secular' viewpoints but not those which are religious."


While the author agrees, the reader should take Michael Ruse's phrase "secular religion" to mean a non-theistic worldview or ideology. In any event, Darwinian evolution can certainly function as an atheistic creation myth as it has since 1859.







What are the major conflicts between neo-Darwinian theory and  natural history?


Can nature select anything that doesn't already exist? 


How can natural selection inhibit major evolutionary change and account for macrostasis?


Do purely naturalistic evolutionary stories appeal to a god-of-the-gaps, "Chance", to account for the arrival of the fittest?