One of the most influential presentations of the design argument was made by English theologian William Paley in his work, Natural Theology, in 1802. In the very first paragraph of his celebrated treatise, Paley contended that if one were walking through a waste area and came upon a stone he might, without evidence to the contrary, assume that it simply had lain there forever. On the other hand, if one stumbled upon a watch, due to the fact that the timepiece had integrated parts that moved in concert for the purpose of marking time, one would be forced to conclude that this object was not an accident; rather, it had been designed, and therefore had a designer. Paley then proceeded, by analogy, to argue that the design apparent in nature was evidence of a Grand Designer, namely, God.
Numerous attempts have been made to negate the force of Paley’s logic. Perhaps one of the most significant of these—at least in our age—has been the work of British scientist, Richard Dawkins, who has described himself as “a fairly militant atheist, with a fair degree of active hostility toward religion” (as quoted in Bass, 1990, p. 86). Dawkins, a lecturer in animal behavior at Oxford University, has achieved a degree of fame from several books he has written. In 1976, he authored The Selfish Gene, in which he set forth his theory of genetic determinism (although he would deny that appellation). Akin to E.O. Wilson’s concept of “sociobiology,” it attempts to explain animal/human behavior on a strictly genetic basis. Genes, Dawkins has contended, are the key to understanding animal behavior. But aren’t men animals, according to evolutionary theory? Yes, but in order to escape the logical consequence of his argument (which would suggest that since man is an animal, he is not responsible for his behavior), the claim is made that humans, in their evolutionary progress, have broken free from the genes that program them.
Dawkins has boasted that his work brings home the reality of the ruthless, mechanistic explanation of human existence. “You are for nothing. You are here to propagate your selfish genes. There is no higher purpose to life” (Bass, 1990, p. 60). And, Dawkins has admitted, he is gratified that in reading his book, people are “losing religious faith” (Bass, 1990, p. 60). According to Dawkins, “religion is very largely an enemy of truth” (Bass, 1990, p. 87). He has characterized the idea that man was created by God as a “blasphemy” that atheists “have to fight against” (as quoted in Watson, 1987, p. 11).
In 1986, Dr. Dawkins authored another significant book, The Blind Watchmaker, in which he attempted to negate the widespread influence of Paley’s work. Dawkins vociferously declared that the intent of the book was to negate the influence of Paley because the “apparent design” that is characteristic of Earth’s creatures “cries out for an explanation” (p. ix). He even defined biology as “the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose” (p. 1). According to Dawkins, however, evolution—with its unconscious, automatic process called “natural selection”—is the blind watchmaker behind the wonderful world of living organisms. Dawkins recognizes, of course, that substituting blind evolution for an Intelligent Creator as an explanation for the “apparent design” upon the Earth is a formidable task. Thus, his attempt to prepare the minds of his readers for this propagandizing venture is quite interesting.
First, the professor complained that “Darwinism seems more in need of advocacy than similarly established truths in other branches of science” (p. xi). What he means is this: whereas in genuine science certain truths/laws are demonstrable, and thus quite evident, such is not the case with evolution. Hence, evolution must have special pleading!
Second—incredibly—Dawkins frustratingly says: “It is almost as if the human brain were specifically designed to misunderstand Darwinism, and to find it hard to believe” (p. xi, emp. added). That is absolutely correct, for the human brain was designed to think logically, and evolutionary theory is not logical. It is not reasonable to assume that chaos gave rise to order, that the nonrational produced the rational, that nonliving evolved into the living, that nonconscious became conscious, that amoral developed morality, etc. The simple fact is, people do not accept evolution because it is the logical thing to do; rather, many believe it because they have a vested interest in not wanting to acknowledge the Creator!
The sacred Scriptures vividly describe those who refuse to have God in their knowledge, indeed, whose senseless hearts are darkened (Romans 1:21,28). Some of them have even written books. But they are blind bookwriters who resist the obvious evidence.
Bass, Thomas (1990), “Interview with Richard Dawkins,” Omni, 12:58-60,84,86-89, January.
Dawkins, Richard (1986), The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton).
Ricci, Paul (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking, (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press).
Watson, David C.C. (1987), “A Reply to Richard Dawkins,” Origins, pp. 10-11, May.
Originally published in Reasoning from Revelation, June 1992, 4:11.
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