I don’t want to spend my time detailing too many of the issues raised in the article. New Covenant has done a fair bit of that and has dealt with many of the specific issues involved. Ultimately, I want to raise a couple of other issues with the evolution/ID debate, but I can’t pass up at least one specific jab at the article.
One of the favorite justifications of the evolutionary model, and one that is used throughout the article, is any kind of analogy to domestic breeding. Although this has been a favorite argument from the days of Darwin himself, I am frankly shocked that it has not been banished from the evolutionary world due to its clear ID-style implications. The argument is simple-domestically bred animals change over time into new breeds. The implication is also simple-an intelligent mind guided the domestic process to achieve a predetermined goal. Every time that argument is made by an evolutionist, they are cutting off the branch they are sitting upon.
One might wonder why this argument is still in play in evolutionary circles. I have a hunch. It is my theory that evolutionists lack the amount of evidence they need to get rid of bad arguments. Hence, they return again and again to arguments from similarity in shape and domestic breeding.
J.P. Moreland agrees when he writes:
The blind watchmaker thesis is crucial to the naturalist, and it is precisely this sense of evolution that has far less evidence in support of it than is often realized. Whether or not you agree with this statement, one thing seems clear: the certainty claimed for evolution and the ferocity with which it is held go far beyond what is justified by scientific evidence and empirical testing. No one could read Phillip Johnson's Darwin on Trial (Intervarsity, 1991), Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler & Adler, 1986), or JP Moreland, ed., The Creation Hypothesis (InterVarsity, 1994) without realizing that a serious, sophisticated case can be made against the blind watchmaker thesis even if one judged that, in the end, the case is not as persuasive as the evolutionary account.
The curious reader could follow the trail of evidence and argument many places. I want to raise two philosophical arguments against the naturalism of evolution. First, if you are not familiar with the “argument from reason,” you should peruse these posts (here, here), which, if successful, undercut the paradigm of naturalism altogether. Here I want to briefly raise the problems of values and agency.
If naturalism is true, then it would be hard, if not impossible, to account for values. If I noticed that, “the apple is green,” we would be able, in completely naturalistic terms, to account for all the portions of the proposition. We would be able to physically locate the apple, genetically prove it is an apple, and then verify through wavelength experimentation that it might be the most delicious of all apples, the Granny Smith. On the other hand, take a statement like, “love is a virtue.” In short, there is nothing in that statement which can be verified through naturalistic experimentation or verification. Neither “love” nor “virtue” are natural/physical properties or substances, and yet they are real.
The fact that we experience values and act on values stands as a strong argument against a universe which is wholly physical. Atoms and molecules cannot account for love, humility, courage, humor, fear, guilt, altruism, etc. For a fuller treatment, see this article.
This section is, in part, a restatement of the arguments from reason noted above. Kant was famously one of the more dominant thinkers to take naturalism to its natural conclusions regarding agency. He argued that the physical universe acted only as a matter of physical input and output and was hence deterministic. Output could be determined by input, and output could not occur without the right input. At the same time, he was struck by the inescapeable reality of human agency and ethical responsibility. In fact, agency and responsibility were such powerful and intuitive notions for Kant that he built another level into his philosophy to account for them. As a result, he argued that although the physical aspect of the human was guided by deterministic input/output, the non-physical aspects of the human were detached from the cycle of determinism.
Whatever is true or false about the details of Kant’s philosophy, he was right to conclude that we as humans simply cannot get rid of agency and responsibility. “Cannot” in this sense does not mean “we hope to keep these notions,” it means “it is a philosophical absurdity to get rid of them.”
Thanks to New Covenant for the link.