“We’re trying to get our kids to do the right thing,” the parent of an elementary student told me in obvious frustration. “Then these books come along and say that sometimes the wrong thing is the right thing. We just don’t believe in that! The Ten Commandments are the Ten Commandments.”
“Let me put it this way,” he said. “If Darwin’s right, we’re just sophisticated monkeys. The Bible is wrong. There is no God. And without God, there’s no right or wrong. We can just make up our morals as we go. The basis for all we believe is destroyed. And that’s why this country is headed to hell in a handbasket. Is Darwin responsible? I’ll say this: people have to choose between science and faith, between evolution and the Bible, between the Ten Commandments and make-’em-up-as-you-go ethics. We’ve made our choice—and we’re not budging.”
Even biochemist and spiritual skeptic Francis Crick, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA, cautiously invoked the word a few years ago. “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going,” he said.
When Darwin’s The Origin of Species was published in 1859, he conceded that “the most obvious and gravest objection which can be urged against my theory” was that the fossil record failed to back up his evolutionary hypothesis. “Why,” he asked, “if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms?” He attributed the problem to the fossil record being incomplete and predicted that future discoveries would vindicate his theory.
. . . [T]he universal experience of paleontology . . . [is that] while the rocks have continually yielded new and exciting and even bizarre forms of life . . . what they have never yielded is any of Darwin’s myriads of transitional forms. Despite the tremendous increase in geological activity in every corner of the globe and despite the discovery of many strange and hitherto unknown forms, the infinitude of connecting links has still not been discovered and the fossil record is about as discontinuous as it was when Darwin was writing the Origin. The intermediates have remained as elusive as ever and their absence remains, a century later, one of the most striking characteristics of the fossil record.
Before I packed my belongings and grabbed a cab for the airport, I wanted to ask Wells a few closing questions about the overall case for Darwinian evolution. “After years of studying this,” I said, “when you take the most current scientific evidence into consideration, what is your conclusion about Darwin’s theory?” Wells’s answer began as soon as the words left my mouth. “My conclusion is that the case for Darwinian evolution is bankrupt,” he said firmly. “The evidence for Darwinism is not only grossly inadequate, it’s systematically distorted. I’m convinced that sometime in the not-too-distant future—I don’t know, maybe twenty or thirty years from now—people will look back in amazement and say, ‘How could anyone have believed this?’ Darwinism is merely materialistic philosophy masquerading as science, and people are recognizing it for what it is. “Now, having said that,” he continued, “I still see room for some evolutionary processes in limited instances. But saying evolution works in some cases is far from showing that it accounts for everything.”
I asked, “If macroevolution has failed to prove itself to be a viable theory, then where do you believe the evidence of science is pointing?” There was no equivocation in Wells’s voice. Speaking with conviction, he said: “I believe science is pointing strongly toward design. To me, as a scientist, the development of an embryo cries out, ‘Design!’ The Cambrian explosion—the sudden appearance of complex life, with no evidence of ancestors—is more consistent with design than evolution. Homology, in my opinion, is more compatible with design. The origin of life certainly cries out for a designer. None of these things make as much sense from a Darwinian perspective as they do from a design perspective.” “Let me get this straight,” I said. “You’re not merely saying that the evidence for evolution is weak and therefore there must be an intelligent designer. You’re suggesting there is also affirmative evidence for a designer.” “I am,” he replied. “However, the two are connected, because one of the main functions of Darwinian theory is to try to make design unnecessary. This is what you experienced as you became an atheist. This is what I experienced. So showing that the arguments for evolution are weak certainly opens the door to design. “And then,” he said, “when you analyze all of the most current affirmative evidence from cosmology, physics, astronomy, biology, and so forth—well, I think you’ll discover that the positive case for an intelligent designer becomes absolutely compelling.”
He became a spiritual skeptic when he learned about Darwinism as a student. He worked for a while at a major Chicago newspaper and went to graduate school at an Ivy League university. Spurred by his wife’s Christianity, he later began investigating the evidence for a Creator. With his mind opened by the facts, he ended up shedding his atheism and embracing God, eventually writing a book that recounted his intellectual journey to faith. If that sounds like my story, it is3—but, coincidentally, it’s also the story of Patrick Glynn, a former arms-control negotiator for the Reagan administration and currently the associate director of the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Glynn first encountered evolutionary theory while a student in parochial school, immediately recognizing that it was incompatible with the Bible. “I stood up in class and told the poor nun as much,” he recalled. Convinced that reason was “the only path to truth,” Glynn became a confirmed atheist by the time he received his doctorate from Harvard University in the 1970s. “Darwin had demonstrated that it was not even necessary to posit a God to explain the origin of life,” he said. “Life, and the human species itself, was the outcome of essentially random mechanisms operating over the eons.” After marrying a Christian and finding himself in frequent debates with her over spiritual matters, Glynn said his mind “became sufficiently open” so that he was willing to check out whether there was any rational evidence for the existence of God. He was hardly prepared for what he would learn: Gradually, I realized that in the twenty years since I opted for philosophical atheism, a vast, systematic literature had emerged that not only cast deep doubt on, but also, from any reasonable perspective, effectively refuted my atheistic outlook. . . . Today, it seems to me, there is no good reason for an intelligent person to embrace the illusion of atheism or agnosticism, to make the same intellectual mistakes I made.
To me, the range, the variety, the depth, and the breathtaking persuasive power of the evidence from both science and history affirmed the credibility of Christianity to the degree that my doubts were simply washed away. Unlike Darwinism, where my faith would have to swim upstream against the strong current of evidence flowing the other way, putting my trust in the God of the Bible was nothing less than the most rational and natural decision I could make. I was merely permitting the torrent of facts to carry me along to their most logical conclusion.
However, that’s certainly not my understanding. I see faith as being a reasonable step in the same direction that the evidence is pointing. In other words, faith goes beyond merely acknowledging that the facts of science and history point toward God. It’s responding to those facts by investing trust in God—a step that’s fully warranted due to the supporting evidence.
On the other hand, the available evidence from the latest scientific research is convincing more and more scientists that facts support faith as never before. “The age-old notion that there is more to existence than meets the eye suddenly looks like fresh thinking again,” said journalist Gregg Easterbrook. “We are entering the greatest era of science-religion fusion since the Enlightenment last attempted to reconcile the two.”
To many people, including physicist Paul Davies, this is a shocking and unexpected development. “It may seem bizarre,” he said, “but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.”
Added nanoscientist James Tour of Rice University: “Only a rookie who knows nothing about science would say science takes away from faith. If you really study science, it will bring you closer to God.” 29 Astrophysicist and priest George Coyne put it this way: “Nothing we learn about the universe threatens our faith. It only enriches it.”