The Case for a Creator, Chapter 2
In the second chapter of Case, Lee Strobel worries whether evolutionary theory, by its undirected nature, rules out the possibility of a creative and purposeful deity. He admits that some prominent evolutionary scientists, like Christian de Duve or Kenneth Miller, do believe in God, but sweeps them under the carpet with little fanfare. Without ever directly discussing their views, he insists that evolution does rule out a creator because:
…textbooks affirm that evolution is “random and undirected” and “without either plan or purpose” and that “Darwin gave biology a sound scientific basis by attributing the diversity of life to natural causes rather than supernatural creation.”
If this is how scientists define Darwinism, then it seemed to me that God has been given his walking papers. [p.22]
Strobel’s argument here is rooted in a profound misunderstanding of what science does. His problem, like that of many Christians, is that he insists on a god whose existence does not rest purely on faith, but on a visible god who is actively involved in the world and constantly performing empirically verifiable miracles. As previously discussed, evolution does not rule out the possibility of any god whatsoever, but it does mean that God is not necessary to explain the diversity of life. That diversity is explained as arising from the interaction of natural forces. A theist could say that there is a god, and that those forces are his tools; an atheist could likewise say that no god is needed, because those natural forces are perfectly sufficient on their own to explain what we observe.
But to creationists, this is anathema. They demand scientific validation of their beliefs, demand that God be not just possible but necessary. But the question suggests itself – why, then, do they focus their ire on evolution? Doesn’t every other branch of science partake of the same atheistic, purposeless, undirected explanations that Strobel finds so distasteful?
After all, doesn’t geology teach that earthquakes and volcanoes occur due to the grinding of the Earth’s tectonic plates, and not because of God’s wrath against sinners? Doesn’t meteorology teach that lightning results from the buildup of electric potential around tall objects during thunderstorms, rather than resulting from divine smiting of the ungodly? Doesn’t quantum physics teach that atomic nuclei undergo radioactive decay at random times, and not when God sovereignly wills?
None of these branches of science clearly indicate the fingerprint of God, but insist that the natural phenomena they study are random and undirected, occurring without discernible plan or purpose. Aren’t they therefore opposed to an active, creative deity every bit as much as evolution is?
This is Strobel’s dilemma: he’s set himself not just against evolution, but against all of science. He demands that science pay proper deference to his religious beliefs, and when it stubbornly persists in discovering natural phenomena that occur without the need for divine intervention, he denounces it as the tool of atheists. It may only be when it comes to evolution that he perceives the conflict, but the problem is all around him whether he recognizes it or not.
Other posts in this series: