Friday, December 19, 2014

The presumption of creation

I could be wrong about this. I haven't seen any scientific polling data. But it's my impression that we seem to be living in a time, at least in North America, where a larger that usual percentage of professing Christians have jettisoned the historical Adam for theistic evolution. 

I imagine this is due in no small part to the impression that given the (allegedly) mounting evidence for evolution, that theory is now the presumptive position. Young-earth and old-earth creationists are supposedly fighting an uphill battle. Or a rearguard action. Pick your metaphor. 

However, it's important to keep in mind that there's no antecedent presumption in favor of evolution. Indeed, if you tune out the barrage of evolutionary propaganda and step back a few paces, evolution is antecedently implausible. Monumentally implausible. 

The theory of naturalistic evolution is like a corridor millions of miles long. Every few feet is a door with a combination lock. The blind safecracker must try every possible combination until he hits on the right one. That opens the door, allowing evolution to proceed for a few feet until the next door. 

Of course, Darwinians might take exception to my metaphor. However, I don't think it's a trade secret that mathematicians are more skeptical of evolution than biologists. Biologists say that's because mathematicians don't know much about the life sciences. Mathematicians counter that that's because biologists don't know much about probability. So it's a metaphor with a real-world analogue. 

Hence, there's no antecedent presumption that evolution is true. To the contrary, there's an antecedent presumption that evolution is false. Indeed, a well-night insurmountable presumption to the contrary. It's divine creation that's the default position. 

However, a theistic evolutionists might object. It's not a blind safecracker. Rather, if evolution is divinely guided or front-loaded, then God knows the combination lock. 

And it's fair to say that theistic evolution might not be improbable in the way that naturalistic evolution is. Intelligence has problem-solving abilities that mindlessness does not. 

There are, however, problems with that appeal:

i) If a young-earth creationist or old-earth creationist invokes divine agency to make his theory work, he's accused–often by theistic evolutionists!–of resorting to a deus machine or God-of-the-gaps. He's lectured on the continuum of physical cause and effect. 

ii) If theistic evolutionists need to invoke divine agency to make the theory work, that raises questions about the explanatory power of the theory in the first place. 

Let's assume scientific realism for the sake of argument. Serious scientific theories, even if they are wrong, aren't simply wrong. What makes them serious theories is that they can account for some of the evidence. What makes them lose out to competing theories is if the competition can account for more of the evidence.

A mark of a failed theory is that it only accounts for some of the evidence, not to mention evidence to the contrary. It lacks the explanatory power of a theory that accounts for more evidence, and is at least consistent with all the evidence. 

If the theory of evolution needs God to get the kinks out, isn't that a telltale sign of a failed theory? If we're going to invoke divine agency, why bother with the theory of evolution at all? The theory may need God, but God doesn't need the theory. 


  1. That's an awesome thought.

  2. "The theory may need God, but God doesn't need the theory."

    If only more Christians would understand that one concept. But then they'd have to believe in absolute sovereignty and all that entails.