In the following quote, which I consider to be one of the most important in the creation-evolution struggle,
[Graphic: Molecular phylogenetic tree of life, NASA]
Richard Dawkins (citing Darwin) admits that, God could have supernaturally intervened "at any one stage of descent" in life's history. Indeed, that in fact there were some in Darwin's day (like George Douglas Campbell, Eighth "Duke of Argyll", an eminent natural philosopher who accepted common descent but maintained that God "had intervened repeatedly, at crucial points in" it - as I do). But in that case, it would be "not evolution at all" but "divine creation" (my emphasis)!:
"The Duke of Argyll, for instance, accepted the evidence that evolution had happened, but he wanted to smuggle divine creation in by the back door. He wasn't alone. Instead of a single, once and for all creation in the Garden of Eden, many Victorians thought that the deity had intervened repeatedly, at crucial points in evolution. Complex organs like eyes, instead of evolving from simpler ones by slow degrees as Darwin had it, were thought to have sprung into existence in a single instant. Such people rightly perceived that such instant 'evolution', if it occurred, would imply supernatural intervention: that is what they believed in. .... Darwin perceived this too. He wrote in a letter to Sir Charles Lyell, the leading geologist of his day: `If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish...I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.' [Darwin, C.R., Letter to C. Lyell, October 11, 1859, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," , Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.6-7]. This is no petty matter. In Darwin's view, the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection was that it provided a non-miraculous account of the existence of complex adaptations. For what it is worth, it is also the whole point of this book. For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all." (Dawkins, R., "The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design," W.W Norton & Co: New York NY, 1986, pp.248-249. Emphasis original).
That this is no personal foible of Dawkins (apart from the fact that he cited Darwin for support) is evident in that another leading Darwinist, philosopher Daniel Dennett, himself approvingly quotes it:
"Darwin often, and correctly, harped on the claim that evolution could only be gradual (at best, you might say). As Dawkins (1986a, p. 145) says, `For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all. It made a nonsense of the central point of evolution.'" (Dennett, D.C., "Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life," , Penguin: London, 1996, p.290. Emphasis original).
Note that Dawkins' ("the whole point of the theory of evolution by natural selection" - his emphasis) and Dennett's ("the central point of evolution" - my emphasis), and indeed Darwin's ("I would reject ... as rubbish ... the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent" - my emphasis) is religious not scientific.
That is "evolution" is "the standard scientific theory," not just that "human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life" because "God [could have] guided this process" (in which case it would not be "the standard scientific theory") but that "God had no part in this process" (my emphasis):
"In one of the most existentially penetrating statements ever made by a scientist, Richard Dawkins concluded that `the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.' Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," Scientific American, February 2002. My emphasis)
So this exposes one of the main fallacies supporting evolution, the Fallacy of False Alternative, that common descent is "evolution," and therefore "creation" can only be separate creations. Darwin himself employed this fallacy in his Origin of Species, when he depicted creation as "certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues":
"Several eminent naturalists have of late published their belief that a multitude of reputed species in each genus are not real species; but that other species are real, that is, have been independently created. But do they really believe that at innumerable periods in the earth's history certain elemental atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues?" (Darwin C.R., "The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection," Sixth Edition, 1872, Senate: London, 1994, p.423).
But as Christian philosopher Del Ratzsch pointed out, supernatural intervention by God and common ancestry are not mutually exclusive, i.e. "Even were God to intervene directly to inject essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits that miraculous and deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged that all species derive ultimately from some common ancestor," so "Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is just descent with nonnatural elements in the process":
"Suppose contemporary evolutionary theory had blind chance built into it so firmly that there was simply no way of reconciling it with any sort of divine guidance. It would still be perfectly possible for theists to reject that theory of evolution and accept instead a theory according to which natural processes and laws drove most of evolution, but God on occasion abridged those laws and inserted some crucial mutation into the course of events. Even were God to intervene directly to suspend natural law and inject essential new genetic material at various points in order to facilitate the emergence of new traits and, eventually, new species, that miraculous and deliberate divine intervention would by itself leave unchallenged such key theses of evolutionary theory as that all species derive ultimately from some common ancestor. Descent with genetic intervention is still descent-it is just descent with nonnatural elements in the process." (Ratzsch, D.L., "The Battle of Beginnings: Why Neither Side is Winning the Creation-Evolution Debate," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL, 1996, pp.187-188).
It is not surprising that evolutionists seek to maintain their cultural minority rule over creationists by employing this fallacy. But what is surprising is that most creationists meekly (even enthusiastically) accept it! In my debates with creationists and evolutionists, I have called this, "creationists obligingly reading from the script of their part in the play that Darwin wrote for them."
Well, as for me, nearly 40 years ago I determined that I was going to only read from my part in the script of the play that God, not man (i.e. not Darwin, not Henry Morris, etc), wrote for me (one of my earliest tagline quotes in creation/evolution debates was: "Test everything. Hold on to the good." - 1 Thess. 5:21), and He has never let me down.
Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).
`Evolution Quotes Book'
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