By L. Alfred James
It is typically assumed that those who embrace evolutionary theory are unbiased and dispassionate thinkers. They are thought to be champions of science, logic, and objectivity. It is also typically assumed that those who reject evolutionary theory—especially if they are Christians—are paragons of prejudice. They are thought to be hopelessly biased against scientific truth simply because it does not fit with their religious beliefs. “Poor religious folk! Their beliefs blind them to the truth. They have to hide their head in the sand in order to maintain their beliefs.”
I come to you bearing strange news: The exact opposite is actually true. That is, it isn’t Christians who struggle to be objective about evolution. It is atheists. I’ve personally talked with hundreds of Christians on the subject. Almost all of them have told me that they can accept evolution as “God’s way of creating life” if it is genuinely supported by solid scientific evidence. They really don’t have much of a problem with it. Try this experiment yourself. Ask your Christian friends what they would do if evidence were uncovered that proved evolution to be a rock-solid unassailable scientific fact. I’ll tell you what the majority of them will say: “You know, if that is how God chose to do it, I’m fine with it.”
However, the same is not true for atheists. I’ve been friends with many atheists over the years, and have had countless conversations with them on this issue. And I’ve never met an atheist who is willing to reject evolutionary theory, even if the evidence for it is terrible; even if the theory were completely refuted. Indeed, when I ask them how they justify their belief in evolution I am met with stories of finches whose average beak size slightly—ever so slightly—increased during a drought; I am regaled with tales of peppered moth populations that experienced a shift in their ratio (of dark to light-colored moths); I am shown diagrams of fossils that supposedly trace the evolution of modern whales. It all seems so persuasive…at first glance. But a little critical thinking shows otherwise.
I quickly point out to my friend that an increase in a finch population’s average beak size only proves micro-evolution (not the evolution of a new species, which is macro-evolution); that the change in a population’s ratio of dark-colored to light-colored moths only proves, well, a change in population ratio; and that the oft-touted diagrams of whale evolution only show an artist’s renderings of specimens that are not even in their true chronological order, and whose features and sizes have been distorted to make a more convincing story. Thus, none of these things justify the belief that animal life, as we see it today, is a product of blind evolutionary forces.
“So, again,” I ask my atheist friend, “how do you justify your confident belief in this theory?” He may bring up a few points similar to what I’ve just mentioned, but they all lead to the same conclusion. None of them justify believing that all species on earth are the product of evolution. To be sure, we may go round and round a number of times, covering a broad range of topics. But, in the end, he can’t really give any good reasons for this belief. Eventually, he says something like this: “Well, a bunch of scientists say it’s true. So it must be true.” (Yes, I’ve actually heard that on numerous occasions.)
I point out that he is naively believing the pronouncements of scientists in the same way that a medieval peasant naively believed the pronouncements of priests during the Middle Ages. In other words, it is simply an article of faith. It is blind intellectual obedience. I challenge him further: “You let these people think for you, don’t you? You let them decide what you should believe. You don’t think for yourself.” “Well, no!” he protests. “I think for myself. I just believe in sound science.” “Yes,” I respond, “but I’ve been asking you why I should believe evolution is sound science. And, so far, you haven’t given me any reasons.”
It is at this point that I start to feel sorry for my atheist friend and ease up on him a bit. You see, as Christians, we are capable of honestly evaluating the evidence for evolution. We can weigh it objectively. If it is genuinely good, we can say, “Okay, I accept that evolution is how we got here. It must be how God created the life forms we see today.” But the poor atheist cannot do this. Why? Because evolution has to be true for him or her. He or she is incapable, when it comes to this topic, of doing science objectively. He cannot objectively weigh the evidence for and against the theory. He or she must believe it, no matter what. As Alvin Plantinga says, for an atheist “undirected evolution is the only game in town.”
I have been researching human evolutionary theory for a number of years. The deeper I probe this topic the more shocked I am at two things: (1) how weak is the evidence for this theory, and (2) how strong is the faith of those who believe it. I think I now understand one of the major reasons as to why this blind faith is so blind, and why it is so tenacious: It is for religious reasons. Many of these people simply don’t want to believe in God. Hence, they must believe in evolution. That, my friends, is a religious reason for believing in evolution. That is, it is because of their belief about a religious topic (God’s existence) that they cling so tightly to evolution.
To be sure, there are some atheists who are willing to remain completely agnostic on the subject of evolution (because they think, correctly, that the evidence for it is so unconvincing). But they are a very rare breed. I have never met one of these strange creatures myself. I have only heard legends of them. On the other hand, I have encountered hordes of atheists who lovingly embrace anything that a sciencey-sounding person says on the subject, so long as it agrees with the theory.
Thus, I lay before you two options: you can believe in God and objectively weigh the evidence for and against evolution, or you can be an atheist and blindly embrace it, because you have to. In the weeks to come I’ll be evaluating some of the evidence for evolution, human evolution in particular, showing that there is a widespread neglect (on the part of evolutionists) to discuss data that does not fit with their theory. As we will see, it is evolutionists who have their head in the sand.
For Further Reading:
Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution. (Washington D.C.: Regnery, 2000)
Jonathan Wells, Zombie Science. (Seattle: Discovery Institute Press, 2017)
Alvin Plantinga, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011)