By Roshan, New Age Islam
14 September 2015
Name of the Book: A Biblical Point of View on Intelligent Design
Author: Kerby Anderson
Publisher of Indian edition: Authentic Books, Secunderabad
A gravely erroneous impression has been created by atheist evolutionists that modern science has conclusively proven Darwin’s theory of evolution of species by ‘natural selection’ to be true, and, in this way, has finally debunked the ‘theory’ of God as well as the belief that life has been created by God. Many ill-informed people with little knowledge of both theology and science have fallen prey to this fallacious thesis. The fact, however, is, as this slim yet remarkably engaging and informative book tells us, not all scientists accept Darwin’s claims, and many scientists are confirmed believers in God. Science, unlike what many biology textbooks written by atheist writers might claim, has not conclusively proved the Darwinian theory of evolution of species to be true. Believing in God as the cause of the universe and of life is definitely not unscientific.
Anderson, an American Christian scholar, is an advocate of Intelligent Design, the theory that the presence of the amazing balance, intricacy and complexity in the cosmos clearly indicates that the cosmos has not come about accidently or by chance (as many evolutionists claim), but, rather, that it has been designed and created by a Master Designer, a Supreme Intelligence—that is, God. Contrary to what its atheist evolutionist critics claim, the theory of Intelligent Design, Anderson says, is not an assault on science. In fact, by recognizing the Intelligent Designer at the centre of scientific study of the cosmos, Intelligent Design science might change the very definition of science, which has been severely limited by the refusal of defenders of ‘scientific naturalism’ to even concede the possibility of the supernatural realm in their definition and understanding of science.
Anderson mounts an impressive critique of the fundamental assumptions of the theory of evolution. The appeal of Darwinist evolution in scientific circles today, Anderson says, cannot be understood apart from the dominance of ‘naturalism’ among large sections of the contemporary scientific community. Naturalism is the framework that most scientists today use in their work. They insist that the first criterion for any scientific theory is that it be ‘naturalistic’. Hence, by definition, they exclude in their investigations and analyses, God, and the presence of Intelligent Design in the cosmos. Even if the data points to an Intelligent Designer, Anderson tells us, many contemporary scientists hurriedly exclude such a hypothesis because it is not based on their worldview of ‘naturalism’, which by definition has no space for the supernatural. Such scientists assume that a theory must be based in a naturalistic framework to be considered science. Because of this, they assume that any theory that brings in the supernatural is, by definition, not scientific at all.
It is not that the available evidence somehow compels advocates of methodological naturalism to accept a naturalistic explanation of everything. Rather, Anderson says, they are forced by their prior adherence to the theory that everything is a result of material causes to create an apparatus of investigation that produces materialistic explanations because they simply do not want to accept the possibly of the existence of the Divine or God.
Naturalism, the belief-system of atheistic evolutionists, is based on the notion that everything that exists is a result of natural or material causes. Because Darwinian evolution appears to be the most appealing naturalistic theory for explaining the origins of life, scientists who believe in naturalism willingly assume it must be true. So much, then, Anderson says, for these scientists’ claim of upholding the scientific method. Simply because the existence of God, the Intelligent Designer, does not conform to their prior assumptions and worldview that are based on the claim that nature is all there is, they insist that nothing beyond and outside nature can exist—and that, therefore, life could not have been produced by anything other than ‘natural’ factors and causes.
By definition, naturalism eliminates from discussion any source or force from outside the natural world—such as God. This, Anderson underlines, is not a description of reality at all. Rather, it is a severe limitation on the way that the scientific method can be used. By defining science as merely the search for natural causes, constraints are put on what can be investigated. Ultimately, then, Anderson writes, methodological naturalism (the stipulation that we can look only for natural causes for all that occurs in the cosmos) leads to metaphysical naturalism (which argues that there is no God or supernatural world).
Darwinism, Anderson explains, generally leads to naturalism and functions as the scientific support for an overarching naturalistic worldview, where theological dogmas are regarded as fraudulent, or at best merely symbolic of deep human aspirations. If Darwinian evolution is true, then religion is not true. Nor are truth, honesty and other such virtues. With no room for God, Darwinism abolishes all morality, all philosophical absolutes, all ethics. There is no ultimate purpose of life, according to Darwin, and no life after death, no Hereafter. Life, accordingly, appears as a mere accident, a product of chance, a result of blind physical forces. Hence, there is no evil, and no good. The implications of this for personal and social morality are frightening.
If today many scientists assume that scientific investigation requires naturalism, this was not always the case, though, Anderson tells us, reinforcing the point that you do not have to adhere to ‘methodological naturalism’ in order to be scientific. When the scientific revolution began in Europe, and for the next 300 years, Anderson relates, many European scientists considered science and Christianity to be compatible with each another (The same was true in the Muslim case too, one might add, with medieval Muslim scholars who made significant contributions to various sciences, finding science in harmony with Islam). In fact, Anderson writes, most European scientists of that period had some form of Christian faith and perceived the world through a theistic framework. Many of them (such as Copernicus, Bacon, Galileo, and Newton) believed in the Creator God. They tried to understand the world as a creation of God, for which purpose they developed the scientific method of observation and experiment.
There is a bitter irony in all of this, Anderson remarks. The scientific method we employ today was built on the belief in a Creator and His creation. Now, a few centuries later, the insistence that only that which can be observed repeatedly is science has been used to replace belief in a Creator or Designer being the origin of the universe and life. Scientists have now shifted their emphasis from the Primary Cause (God) to the secondary causes (natural laws) through which God operates in the natural world. Over time, Anderson tells us, preoccupation with these secondary causes has caused scientists to reject the legitimacy of positing a primary cause for them, taking them to be given and without any cause at all.
In this process of displacing the Primary Cause from the scientific worldview and seeking to appoint secondary causes (the laws of nature) to take its place, Darwin and his theory of evolution had a central role to play, Anderson shows. By the 19th century, secular trends in the West led to a drastic change in the perspective of a significant section of the scientific community, culminating in the publication of Darwin’s thesis, On the Origin of Species. The theory of evolution that this book propounded provided the required foundation for naturalism in order to seek to explain the world without God. Darwin believed, without any convincing evidence to back his claim that ‘natural selection’, rather than Divine creation, could account for the origin of all living things.
Soon, Darwinism became the dominant ‘creed’—a veritable new religion—in the West, being taught as scientific dogma in schools. It became the new established church as it were. It had no room for the Creator. It rendered religious explanations of life superfluous to its believers. And so, scientists who began believing in Darwinism began to see naturalism and science as essentially the same thing. In contrast to early European scientists who believed in God, seeing science as confirming the presence of God, this breed of scientists, believers in Darwinism, veered round to the view that nothing that went beyond the narrow confines of naturalism—Divine intervention in human affairs, miracles, and the belief that all life has been created by God, for instance—could be considered scientific at all. Darwinism thus helped promote the fallacious notion that life was not created by God, but, rather, had come about entirely through blind ‘natural’ processes.
Anderson does a marvelous job of questioning evolutionist claims, using some very persuasive scientific evidence. Darwinists locate principal ‘evidence’ to back the theory of evolution—of one species gradually transforming into another through ‘natural selection’—in the fossil record, but Anderson informs us that this evidence is not very persuasive. In fact, the fossil record, he says, does not support Darwin’s theory at all. The reason? If evolution is true, the fossil record should have been full of fossils of intermediate forms linking the gap between one organism and another. But the fact is that most of these links are even today missing! Effectively undermining Darwinist claims, in the fossil record most new species appear abruptly, and not, as a rule, through intermediate forms. The radical discontinuity between different species in the fossil record and the extreme rarity of fossils of transitional forms that Darwin had predicted clearly undermines the theory of ‘natural selection’ (Proponents of Intelligent Design, Anderson points out, assert that even if intermediate forms are found in the fossil record, it does not necessary prove the theory of evolution to be true, because these fossils cannot demonstrate that these transitions were due to the mechanisms proposed by the theory of evolution).
Furthermore, Anderson writes, the fossil record shows what scientists call ‘stasis’—specific species appear and later disappear in the fossil record looking pretty much the same throughout time, thus challenging the notion of gradual evolution of one species into another.
So much, then, for the main source of ‘evidence’ that advocates of evolution rely on.
If the ‘evidence’ provided by defendants of evolution is weak, there is, Anderson urges us to recognize, ample evidence present throughout the cosmos to support the claims of advocates of Intelligent Design. The remarkable fine-tuning of the universe, the existence of various physical forces in just the right measure for life to be possible on earth, the components of the atmosphere, the size of earth and its distance from the sun and moon being just what it should be to support life on our planet—all these and more clearly point to an Intelligent Designer or Creator God. The mathematical probability that all these forces and balances have come about just by chance is almost zero.
Although Anderson is a Christian, he does not argue the case for Intelligent Design and against evolution from a specifically Christian perspective (despite what the title of the book might suggest). He points out that the theory of Intelligent Design has been embraced by people of widely divergent religious perspectives. The recognition that the cosmos owes to an Intelligent Designer—God—can be affirmed by people of different faiths, not just Christians alone. Although many of the scientists who do Intelligent Design research are Christians, not all are, Anderson tells us. In this way, Intelligent Design has a ready appeal right across the religious spectrum—as does this remarkable little book!