If ever there was a man who was out of his depth, it's biologist Richard Dawkins. For those who don't know, Dawkins is a standard bearer for the atheist movement. He travels around the world arguing against faith, intelligent design, and just about anything indicating even in some tangential way that something may exist beyond the material fold. It's a bizarre obsession, really, and I can assure you that what lies at the heart of it isn't at all scientific, but emotional. But more on that at another time.
Dawkins is out of his depth for the same reason many scientists are when commenting on such matters: Having a great scientific mind often isn't synonymous with possession of a great philosophical one. Yet, being highly intelligent, "great" scientists (supposedly, anyway), they overestimate themselves. They lack humility and wisdom and fail to recognize that, as an old commercial pointed out, just because you're good at one thing, doesn't mean you're good at everything.
Consequently, Dawkins often makes very foolish statements. One was in this Washington Times article, in which the scientist questions whether or not Harry Potter books and other fantasies written for children might have a pernicious effect. Said he:
"Whether that has a pernicious effect, I don't know. Looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious effect on rationality, I'm not sure. Perhaps it's something for research."
In saying this, Dawkins contradicts his own world view. By subscribing to classical evolution, he tacitly admits he essentially does believe that frogs can turn into princes. In fact, he believes in something as miraculous as any creation story, that a single-cell organism turned into man.
If he would say in response that it is not at all the same thing because evolution took billions of years, he is not just wanting as a philosopher but perhaps also as a scientist. For scientists tell us just what the best theologians do, which is that time is an invention of man; the latter would say that "God is outside of time," whereas Albert Einstein once called time ". . . a handy illusion." Thus, whether an event occurs quickly or slowly is irrelevant. (I treated this in a soon-to-be-published piece on evolution for the New American -- the December issue, I believe.) The great philosopher G.K. Chesterton once addressed this in a very profound way, writing:
An event is not any more intrinsically intelligible or unintelligible because of the pace at which it moves. For a man who does not believe in a miracle, a slow miracle would be just as incredible as a swift one. The Greek witch may have turned sailors to swine with a stroke of the wand. But to see a naval gentleman of our acquaintance looking a little more like a pig every day, till he ended with four trotters and a curly tail, would not be any more soothing . . . . The medieval wizard may have flown through the air from the top of a tower; but to see an old gentleman walking through the air, in a leisurely and lounging manner, would still seem to call for some explanation. Yet there runs through all the rationalistic treatment of history this curious and confused idea that difficulty is avoided, or even a mystery eliminated, by dwelling on mere delay or on something dilatory in the process of things . . . . The ultimate question is why [things] go at all; and anybody who really understands that question will know that it always has been and always will be a religious question; or at any a rate a philosophical or metaphysical question. And most certainly he will not think the question answered by some substitution of gradual for abrupt change.
Dawkins descended into even greater silliness when interviewed by Ben Stein for the documentary Expelled. When Stein asked him how life originated to begin with -- something evolution cannot explain -- Dawkins admitted that he didn't know and theorized, get this, that perhaps highly-evolved aliens (not the Mexican kind) were responsible. Stein's comeback was ingenius; without missing a beat, he said he had no idea that Dawkins believed in intelligent design.
But Dawkins' musing was anything but ingenius. After all, even if such aliens exist, citing them doesn't bring us any closer to answering the question at hand. For we would still have to ask, from where did the aliens come? How did this life originate? You might as well, when asked where life comes from, just respond, "From its parents."
Of course, a secularist may counter that we can't explain where God comes from, but my response is simple. Christianity may not be able to explain whence the divine comes, but it does explain the origin of life. No materialist creed can even explain the latter. Thus, you may disagree with the Christian explanation, but there is something that cannot be denied:
As far as the truly important matters go -- the origin of life, the nature of right and wrong (consider reading the linked piece) -- Christianity explains far more than evolution does.
© 2008 Selwyn Duke -- All Rights Reserved