Friday, December 17, 2010

Evolution: (Not) Wanted Dead or Alive

Further to my recent posts on luddites, mechanism, and evolution, here’s another post  on Uncommon Descent indicating the anti-evolutionist’s timorousness toward any suggestion that “Natural” mechanism may be a source of form and function. Quoting the salient points:

Rene Descartes … urged evolutionary ideas because of the evident power of natural law. Yes god created humanity, but individuals are born and grow according to law. From people to plants, we observe incredible development brought about by nature. So too, the continental rationalist argued, we should understand the origin of the world as strictly naturalistic as well.

Decades later the influential Thomas Burnet showed how the Cartesian view is theologically mandated. Rather than creating a clock that doesn’t work and needs constant adjustment, the greater clockmaker makes a clock that works by itself. Likewise, the Anglican cleric argued, the greater god makes a world that operates on its own.

Cornelius Hunter, the author of the post, spells out the much dreaded deistical scenario:

And these machines assemble and operate according to natural law—there is no vitalism here, no divine finger adjusting the cogs and turning the crank.

This then is the threat posed by evolution in the minds of the anti-evolutionists and yet at the same time the great joy of the militant atheists: Evolution in the first instance appears to put God out of work, therefore the next logical step is to question whether He was ever there in the first place to be put out of work. Whether evolution works or not the anti-evolutionist doesn’t want it. Whether it works or not the militant atheist wants evolution. Hence for the anti-evolutionist evolution must go at all costs whereas for the atheist it must stay at all costs. It is doubtful in my mind whether such impassioned protagonists can handle this subject with sufficient detachment to arrive at a useful conclusion.

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