Furthest Right

Evolution versus Creation: a false dilemma

A common logical fallacy is bifurcation: distill a complex scenario into two logical choices, and try to force your audience to pick one.

“Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Answer YES or NO only.”

“Are you Progressive, or a regressive truck-driving beer-chewing trailer-dwelling redneck uneducated impoverished neanderthal racist?”

“Are you pro-Zionazism or anti-Semitic?”

All of these are to put it mildly, crocks of shit. If you never beat your wife, you cannot answer the first question. The second question oversimplifies a vast political landscape in order to make its point. The third is a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t select that mischaracterizes both approaches. But people will talk this way to you and be outraged if you point out they’re behaving illogically.

“But it’s my right to argue however I want! If you can’t rebut it, it means the problems is yours! The burden of proof is on you!”

One of the biggest wastes of time in politics is Evolution versus Creation. To my mind, there has never been an issue; evolution is a method, creation is the process that uses that method. Luckily, others agree:

Dr. Davies asserted in the article that science, not unlike religion, rested on faith, not in God but in the idea of an orderly universe. Without that presumption a scientist could not function.

There is in fact a kind of chicken-and-egg problem with the universe and its laws. Which “came” first — the laws or the universe?

If the laws of physics are to have any sticking power at all, to be real laws, one could argue, they have to be good anywhere and at any time, including the Big Bang, the putative Creation. Which gives them a kind of transcendent status outside of space and time.

On the other hand, many thinkers — all the way back to Augustine — suspect that space and time, being attributes of this existence, came into being along with the universe — in the Big Bang, in modern vernacular. So why not the laws themselves?

Plato and the whole idea of an independent reality, moreover, took a shot to the mouth in the 1920s with the advent of quantum mechanics. According to that weird theory, which, among other things, explains why our computers turn on every morning, there is an irreducible randomness at the microscopic heart of reality that leaves an elementary particle, an electron, say, in a sort of fog of being everywhere or anywhere, or being a wave or a particle, until some measurement fixes it in place.


What a great summary from a scientist. Science is faith, too.

Even more, we believe in an orderly universe because it acts orderly, even if we cannot predict it.

Naturally, cynics like me think that much of our lack of perception of order is in our own heads. With the sheer amount of error, bungling, incompetence and confusion involved in just registering a vehicle, how is our species ready to tackle anything bigger?

Now from the other side, those weird “Religious” people:

That’s the question John Haught has set out to answer by proposing a “theology of evolution.” Haught is a Roman Catholic theologian at Georgetown University and a prolific author. His books include “God After Darwin,” “Is Nature Enough?” and the forthcoming “God and the New Atheism.” He’s steeped in evolutionary theory as well as Christian theology. Haught believes Darwin is “a gift to theology.” He says evolutionary biology has forced modern theologians to clarify their thinking by rejecting outdated arguments about God as an intrusive designer. Haught reclaims the theology of his intellectual hero, Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who died more than half a century ago. Teilhard believed that we live in a universe evolving toward ever greater complexity and, ultimately, to consciousness.

Haught is an intriguing figure in the debate over evolution. He was the only theologian to testify as an expert witness in the landmark 2005 Dover trial that ruled against teaching intelligent design in public schools. Haught testified against intelligent design, arguing that it’s both phony science and bad theology. But Haught is also a fierce critic of hardcore atheists like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, who claim that evolution leads logically to atheism. He says both sides place too much faith in science. “Ironically,” Haught writes, “ID advocates share with their ideological enemies, the evolutionary materialists, the assumption that science itself can provide ultimate explanations.”

The traditional view was that nature emanates from on high, so that when you get down to matter, you have the least important level. Above that there’s life and mind and God. But in the new cosmography, it seems that mindless matter dominates the whole picture. And many scientists, like Dawkins and Gould, have said evolution has destroyed the notion of purpose. So one thing I do in my theology is to say that’s not necessarily true.

He put the Darwinian story of nature in the larger context of cosmic evolution. He saw the emergence of what he called “more” coming in gradually from the time of the big bang. Atoms become molecules. Molecules become cells. Cells become organisms. Organisms become vertebrates with a complex nervous system. Nervous tissue developed and eventually became complex in humans. He saw this process of growing complexity as something that’s still going on. This planet is itself becoming more complex. And the process is accelerating today at an enormous pace because of communications technology, engineering, economics and politics. The globe is shrinking. We’re able to connect instantaneously with other parts of the Earth, in the same way that nerve fibers carry an electronic message from one part of the body to the other. We should place what’s happening now in the context of the previous phases of evolution and the cosmos. And we should expect — and hope for — the universe to keep becoming “more.”


I guess the problem isn’t science or religion, but people interpreting them to be things they are not. If that isn’t a call for more morally attentive, intelligent and inquisitive people, I don’t know what is.

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