In an epoch-making series of decisions, the California State Board of Education has ruled that the creationist view of the origin of life must be presented alongside the (naturalistic) evolutionary one when the life sciences are taught in California schools. This ruling has been strenuously opposed in the name of “scientific objectivity” by, for example, Stanford University professor David S. Hogness, who said, “Today the arguments against evolutionary principles must, I think, be placed in the same arena as those advanced by the ‘Flat Earth Society.’ ”
Hogness’s statement illustrates the unscientific and dogmatic determination of those who believe in naturalistic evolution to see to it that no alternative explanations of the origin of life get a serious hearing. People who doubt the roundness of the earth can, if it comes to that, be taken several thousand miles out into space, where they can see for themselves. But neither Hogness nor any of his fellow believers, no matter how perfect their evolutionary theory may seem, can take doubters back millions of years in time to show them that the evolutionary theory is not only plausible but in fact describes what happened.
Commenting on the state of mind represented by Hogness, which is widespread in the scientific and educational community, the noted scientist and educator Sir Julian Huxley had the frankness to observe that naturalistic evolution reigns almost unchallenged not because it has been proved but because “the only alternative is clearly unacceptable.” And what is the alternative? Some kind of belief in Creation, which clearly presupposes that there is a Creator.
A non-Christian biologist who himself accepts the concept of evolution, G. A. Kerkut, observed in 1961 that candidates he examined for the Ph.D. in biological science did not even know there are scientific arguments against evolution, and were equally unaware that in accepting naturalistic evolution (that is, evolution on a purely naturalistic basis, with no divine Mind guiding it) one also accepts a number of far-reaching implications that cannot be proved but are of a philosophical or religious nature (cf. Kerkut, Implications of Evolution, Pergamon, 1960).
In other words, to propose evolution as a mechanism while not denying the possibility, or even the probability, that a supernatural intelligence stands behind it is one thing; to present it as self-evident truth, excluding God as an “unscientific hypothesis,” is itself an unscientific hypothesis, because it demands faith in an unbroken chain of natural causes, for which there can at best be supporting evidence but no convincing proof. There are, within the very evidence presented for naturalistic evolution, things that point in a theistic direction. Nobel Prize-winning French biologist Jacques Monod has ruthlessly tried to suppress any lingering belief that the universe has a Designer, attributing everything, without exception, to Chance and Necessity (Knopf, 1972). However, as the Roman Catholic psychoanalyst Marc Oraison pointed out, Monod in effect attributes to “Chance” the qualities of omniscience that theists ascribe to God. (For further discussion of this evolutionary question-begging, see A. E. Wilder Smith, Man’s Nature, Man’s Destiny, Harold Shaw, 1968, and Rachel H. King, The Creation of Death and Life, Philosophical Library, 1970.)
The very determination of the evolutionists to prevent objections to naturalistic evolution from being raised in public school science courses is evidence that the objections have some merit; otherwise simply to present them would be the best way to have them rejected by the students. So what we are faced with is a kind of trial of Galileo in reverse. The “religious” party is saying: “We have questions that may undermine some of your scientific dogmas,” and the “scientific” party is in effect replying: “Your objections are not scientific and may under no circumstances be permitted to threaten the confidence of the students in our teachings.”
Christians and others who believe in God have often alleged that the public schools have reached the point where they impose a doctrine of naturalistic secularism on all their pupils. The emotional reaction of a large part of the scientific and educational establishment to California’s initiative lends support to the charge that for them evolutionary naturalism is not a demonstrable scientific fact but a hallowed religious dogma that must be defended by strict censorship of all contrary arguments and facts.
Christians should not allow themselves to be intimidated by a new kind of obscurantism posing as scientific objectivity. Having been persuaded that suppression by Christians of controversy and troublesome evidence is inacceptable to society at large, we should not be frightened into silence when others attempt similar maneuvers. To present the evidence for evolution and offer a naturalistic explanation for it is one thing; to suppress all evidence and argument that points in any other direction on the grounds that it is “religious” is quite another. Both creation and naturalistic evolution are “religious,” or at the very least philosophical. In Washington, D. C., the religion editor of the Star-News, William F. Willoughby, has filed suit in the U. S. District Court to enjoin the National Science Foundation from excluding everything but the Darwinian view from public schools through its officially endorsed textbooks, and thus in effect coercing him to pay taxes to support “anti-religious acts against his belief that man was created by God.”
Christians cannot expect that the public schools promote a Christian world-and-life view, but they can and should insist that whenever the subject matter moves into the area of philosophical or quasi-religious commitments, the students be told what is happening and made aware that other credible options are available. More than this we should not ask of public schools, but less than it we cannot accept, unless we are willing to make of them established churches of secular materialism.
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