Reasons to Believe

Evolution as Mythology, Part 5 (of 5): Conclusion

The four previous articles in this series have shown that the theory of evolution is more like a creation myth than a scientific theory. A myth may be true or false, but its principle characteristic is that it validates the thinking, practices, and ideals of a culture. Evolution explains our existence within the framework of our modern culture of naturalism, which has no need for a god.

A myth cannot be proved, or disproved, with the technology of the culture; a myth requires faith. Evolutionists must have faith that living organisms appeared spontaneously from nonliving matter on earth (abiogenesis)—or from extraterrestrial sources. Faith is required because no demonstration of this capability has ever been performed on any level and because probability calculations argue strongly against it. Evolutionists must also have faith that simple life-forms evolved over geological ages into more complex life-forms via the extraordinarily rare mechanism of random beneficial mutations, and that dissimilar life-forms evolved from a common ancestor by the same mechanism. But the data support the thesis of a common intelligent designer just as well (or as poorly) as the thesis of macroevolution.

Not only does the theory of evolution meet the criteria of a creation myth, but also it fails to meet a critical criterion of a scientific theory: it cannot be falsified. For a theory to be considered scientific, it must be possible to devise a controlled test such that a negative result proves the theory false. But no such test exists for evolution because it is based on unrepeatable, once-in-a-lifetime random occurrences that can therefore “explain” anything.

Even apparently strong circumstantial evidence against macroevolution-by-random-mutations is readily dismissed. The symbiotic nature of grossly dissimilar life-forms is an example. Why should fruits and vegetables have a taste and smell that appeal to animals and humans, even though plants and animals are believed to have followed totally separate evolutionary pathways? This difficulty caused evolutionary zoologist Pierre-Paul Grassé to comment:

“[According to] the Darwinian theory … a single plant, a single animal would require thousands and thousands of lucky, appropriate events. Thus, miracles would become the rule: events with an infinitesimal probability could not fail to occur… . There is no law against daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it.”1

This emphasizes evolution’s myth like character. Mathematician/ philosopher Wolfgang Smith adds:

“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… . evolutionism is in truth a metaphysical doctrine decked out in scientific garb.”2

As a result, some scientists are beginning to view Darwinism in the same way others view religion. After all, it has a prophet (Charles Darwin), a priesthood, and a secret body of knowledge. Science historian Marjorie Grene says, “It is as a religion of science that Darwinism chiefly held, and holds, men’s minds… . Darwinian theory has itself become an orthodoxy preached by its adherents with religious fervor, and doubted, they feel, only by a few muddlers imperfect in scientific faith.”3

Evolutionary biologist Lynn Margulis believes “neo-Darwinism will ultimately be viewed as only ‘a minor twentieth-century religious sect within the sprawling religious persuasion of Anglo-Saxon biology.’”4

Grassé observes, “Chance becomes a sort of providence, which, under the cover of atheism, is not named but which is secretly worshipped.”5 He feels the “duty (of biologists) is to destroy the myth of evolution … to think about the weaknesses of the interpretations and extrapolations that theoreticians put forward or lay down as established truths.”6

Nevertheless, the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution will probably continue as the prevailing scientific paradigm into the foreseeable future for at least several reasons related to its mythological character:

  1. The theory of evolution is the creation myth of scientists taught to seek naturalistic explanations for observed natural phenomena, and in this context, it’s the only game in town. T. S. Kuhn points out in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, “the decision to reject one paradigm is always simultaneous with the decision to accept another.”7 Therefore, although scientific research may pile up more and more data, no absolute answer or definitive mechanism will ever be found as long as the data is viewed through the lens of the naturalism creation myth. Neo-Darwinism will hence remain the dominant theory - even if modified slightly in its details - because it is the only naturalistic paradigm..

  2. Kuhn also observes that scientists who have written papers supporting a particular idea are reluctant to change their minds.8 Darwinism and neo-Darwinism have been the dominant theories for over 100 years and 50 years, respectively; if evolution-by-random-mutations is wrong, countless textbooks and research papers by prominent scientists are wrong. Therefore, even if new data point to an alternate mechanism, it will probably be a long time before it is accepted as the dominant paradigm.

  3. Perhaps the most compelling argument for the longevity of the theory of evolution is that it is the creation myth of a segment of the population much larger and more influential than scientists, and that is atheists, including cultural Christian nonbelievers. Surveys show confirmed atheists comprise far less than 10% of the American population,9 but their influence—especially in public policy and academia—far exceeds their numbers. Anything that reflects negatively on the evolution mythology will be met with strong and implacable opposition by such people, because the primary alternative to the creation myth of evolution is the idea of a creator-God, and this destroys the foundation of atheism. The over-the-top reaction in the mainstream media against the opening of a Creation Museum in Kentucky in 2007 illustrates this point, as does the fact that a new breed of militant atheists have begun to refer to Christians as “intolerant” and as “terrorists,” and to accuse them of many social ills, including war.

Fundamentalist Christians also contribute to the problem by casting science as an enemy of God, rather than a potential source of support. They fail to understand the subtle—but essential—distinction between a naturalistic cause and a naturalistic mechanism. A naturalistic cause implies something occurs because of self-directed natural processes, but God can use natural processes as a means to affect His will. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that God uses natural phenomena in a hyper-natural way to bring about miracles, of which the Israelite crossing of the Red Sea is the clearest example.10

Scientists who seek to minimize reliance on supernatural arguments and to understand the world in an honest way should be encouraged, not denigrated. Some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs have been made by Christians who believe “knowledge of the Holy One is understanding,”11 and find such knowledge through their work—and who also believe (with Michael Faraday) that “God’s … eternal power and divine nature have been … understood from what has been made.”12

Science is not the enemy, nor are scientists. The enemy is mythology masquerading as science.


Dr. Hugh Henry, Ph.D.

Dr. Hugh Henry received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Virginia in 1971, retired after 26 years at Varian Medical Systems, and currently serves as Lecturer in physics at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, KY.


Daniel J. Dyke, M.Div., M.Th.

Mr. Daniel J. Dyke received his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary 1981 and currently serves as professor of Old Testament at Cincinnati Christian University in Cincinnati, OH.


Dr. Charles Cruze, Ph.D.

Dr. Charles Cruze received his Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences in 1977, and currently works in research at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

 

Subjects: Atheism, Evolutionary Trees, Macro vs. Micro Evolution, Naturalism, Philosophy of Science, Speciation Events, TCM - Speciation, Theistic Evolution, Transitional Forms, Worldviews

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1 Pierre-P. Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, (New York: Academic Press, 1977), 103-4.

2 Wolfgang Smith, Teilhardism and the New Religion (Rockford, IL: TAN Books and Publishers, 1988), 242.

3 Marjorie Grene, “The Faith of Darwinism,” Encounter 74 (November 1959), 48.

4 Charles Mann, “Lynn Margulis: Science’s Unruly Earth Mother,” Science 252 (April 19, 1991): 378-81.

5 Pierre-P. Grassé, loc cit (1977), 107.

6 Pierre-P. Grassé, loc cit (1977), 8.

7 Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1996), 77.

8 Thomas S. Kuhn, loc cit (1996), 59.

9 http://richleebruce/mystat.html ;http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html

10 Exodus 14:21-22, 27.

11 Proverbs 9:10 (NAS).

12 Romans 1:20 (NAS).