Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why Evolution Cannot Explain a Man Capable of Grasping the Theory of Evolution

Denish D'Souza's book, What's So Great About Christianity (Tyndale, 2007), is an excellent refutation of the "New Atheism." Here, in this passage, D'Souza popularizes skillfully a point made by many others including Pope Benedict XVI in his Regensburg Address.

First D'Souza quotes Stephen Hawking, who articulates the atheist dilemma.
Now if you beleive that the universe is not arbitrary, but is governed by definite laws, you ultimately have to combine the partial theories in science into a complete unified theory that will describe everything in the universe. But there is a fundamental paradox in the search for such a complete unified theory. Our ideas about scientific theories . . . assume we are rational beings who are free to observe the universe as we want and to draw logical deductions from what we see. In such a scheme it is reasonable to suppose that we might progress every closer to the the laws that govern our universe. Yet is there really is a complete unified theory, it would also presumably determine our actions. And so the theory itself would determine the outcome of our search for it! And why should it determine that we come to the right conclusions from the evidence? Might it not equally well determine that we draw the wrong conclusion?" (as quoted by D'Souza, pp. 249-50)
Hawking really cannot give any explanation for why a universe based on chance and natural selection should throw up creatures who are rational and able to see order and structure in nature. Where did the order and structure come from? Why should we be able to grasp it? How does natural selection produce the order and the rational knower?

D'Souza suggests that there is no explanation for Hawkings' dilemma unless you posit the existence of God.
Based on evolution, our ideas may be considered useful to us, but there are no grounds for presuming that they correspond with truth. Indeed a useful lie is preferable to a truth that plays no role in genetic self-perpetuation. In reducing everything to the laws of nature we risk denying that there is any rationality or truth behind nature's laws. (pp. 251-2)
We see contemporary late-modernity (aka "postmodernity") making this exact move; our culture is losing it faith in the existence of truth. And it is a matter of faith. Early modern scientists did not know that there were laws governing the world: they believed there were because they believed in a God who created the world by his Wisdom and Word - in other words by reason.

Augustinian Christianity says that Hawkings' unified theory of everything exists in the mind of God and that we have been created in his image with free will to make moral choices and reason to discern the hand of God in nature.

Christianity allows us to escape both: (1) the deterministic fatalism of Hawkings' unified theory (which is the reduction of human nature to the laws of physics) and (2) the loss of faith in reason that leads to relativism, nihilism and the will to power in post-Nietzschean philosophy.

Pope Benedict makes a similar point about science itself pointing beyond itself to God in his Regensburg Address:
. . . modern scientific reason with its intrinsically Platonic element [i.e. the mathematical structure of reality discussed earlier in the lecture] bears within itself a question which points beyond itself and beyond the possibilities of its methodology. Modern scientific reason quite simply has to accept the rational structure of matter and the correspondence between our spirit and the prevailing rational structure of nature as a given, on which its methodology has to be based.

Yet the question why this has to be so is a real question, an one which has to be remanded by the natural sciences to other modes and planes of thought - to philosophy and theology. For philosophy and, abeit in a different way, for theology, listening to the great experiences and insights of the religions traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding. . .

The courage to engage the whole breadth of reason, and not the denial of its grandeur - this is the programme with which a theology grounded in Biblical faith enters into the debates of our time. (#59-62)
We must believe in God if we want to preserve human dignity, free will and science. This is our urgent message to our culture today.

No comments: