August 29, 2008
This way of understanding things persists even when scientific naturalists employ religious-sounding language. For example, the physicist Stephen Hawking ended his famous book A Brief History of Time with the prediction that man might one day "know the mind of God." This phrasing cause some friends of mine to form the mistaken impression that he had some attraction to theistic religion. In context Hawking was not referring to a supernatural eternal being, however, but to the possibility that scientific knowledge will eventually become complete and all-encompassing because it will have explained the movements of material particles in all circumstances.
The monopoly of science in the realm of knowledge explains why evolutionary biologists do not find it meaningful to address the question whether the Darwinian theory is true. They will gladly concede that the theory is incomplete, and that further research into the mechanisms of evolution is needed. At any given point in time, however, the reigning theory of naturalistic evolution represents the state of scientific knowledge about how we came into existence. Scientific knowledge is by definition the closest approximation of absolute truth available to us. To ask whether this knowledge is true is therefore to miss the point, and to betray a misunderstanding of "how science works."
So far I have described the metaphysical categories by which scientific naturalists have excluded the topic of God from rational discussion, and thus ensured that Darwinism's fully naturalistic creation story is effectively true by definition. There is no need to explain why atheists find this system of thought control congenial. What is a little more difficult to understand, at least at first, is the strong support Darwinism continues to receive in the Christian academic world. Attempts to investigate the credibility of the Darwinist evolution story are regarded with little enthusiasm by many leading Christian professors of science and philosophy, even at institutions which are generally regarded as conservative in theology. Given that Darwinism is inherently naturalistic and therefore antagonistic to the idea that God had anything to do with the history of life, and that it plays the central role in ensuring agnostic domination of the intellectual culture, one might have supposed that Christian intellectuals (along with religious Jews) would be eager to find its weak spots.
Instead, the prevailing view among Christian professors has been that Darwinism-or "evolution," as they tend to call it-is unbeatable, and that it can be interpreted to be consistent with Christian belief. And in fact Darwinism is unbeatable as long as one accepts the thought categories of scientific naturalism that I have been describing. The problem is that those same thought categories make Christian theism, or any other theism, absolutely untenable. If science has exclusive authority to tell us how life was created, and if science is committed to naturalism, and if science never discards a paradigm until it is presented with an acceptable naturalistic alternative, then Darwinism's position is impregnable within science. The same reasoning that makes Darwinism inevitable, however, also bans God from taking any action within the history of the Cosmos, which means that it makes theism illusory. Theistic naturalism is self-contradictory.