Presuppositions of Darwinism

Editorial, October 2011

In his textbook, Philosophical Psychology (FSSP, Elmhurst, PA 1999), Prof. D.Q. McInerny lists and evaluates the six presuppositions of Darwinist evolution. The first presupposition is that life came to be, the way it is on earth, through natural means; there is no need for divine intervention, such as we find in the Book of Genesis. The second element is that life arose from non-life. The claim is that, over millions of years, matter became more complex until, by some chance of volcanic activity or lightning, there was a sudden transformation to the organic state, the beginning of life.

The third element is the idea that all life we know on earth is to be traced back to that first primitive form of life. Once life had gained a foothold on earth, there was more complexification until animal life evolved from plant life. After that, the two kingdoms continued to develop over millions of years to produce the many species of plant and animal life, including man.

According to the fourth element in the theory, it all began with a simple cell that underwent changes. The multiplicity of species in plants and animals is explained by chance mutation. The mutations, they say, must be small so that the new entity can survive; the change is positive, and gives the new entity an advantage over what went before. It is more suitable to survive, and to propagate others like itself. The improved one survives, and its ancestors do not. The process went on for millions of years to produce all the life forms on earth.

The fifth element is natural selection, or the survival of the fittest. The mutated organisms, that have an enhanced capacity for survival, is what Darwin called natural selection. The fourth and fifth elements are the key to the explanation of why one species is formed into another. So the mutations are necessarily very small, with the process requiring an immense amount of time—millions, and perhaps billions, of years.

The sixth, and final element of evolutionary theory, is the idea that the whole process was without direction. There was no purpose or design to it; it all happened by chance. The evolutionists cannot, and will not, tolerate any design or direction to evolution because design necessarily implies intelligence. It implies direction to an end, and that requires a mind, a mind which only could be that of God. For evolutionists, it is all a mindless process; it is purely natural, without need for intelligence.

For a person who seriously analyzes the claims of the evolutionists, a key question is: Where is the evidence? Science is supposed to be based on material evidence, and proof that can be repeated by others. There is no problem with “microevolution,” which refers to gradual changes within a species. The serious problem is “macroevolution,” referring to the changes of one species to another. If the theory were true, there should be millions of examples in the fossil record. But there are none, not one. Because of this lack of evidence, Professor Gould of Harvard University, came up with the new theory of “punctuated equilibrium.” According to Gould, this is a new species which just popped up suddenly. The phrase is clever, but it is a philosophical position, not scientific. Every effect must have a sufficient cause. What caused the new species to pop up suddenly? The affirmation of a Harvard professor is not good enough.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of evolutionism is the denial of design and purpose in nature. One of the most obvious facts about nature is that plants and animals act in a certain way; they are purpose-oriented. Apple trees produce apples. In this regard, evolutionism is self-contradictory because one of its purposes is to deny that there is purpose and design in nature. Theistic evolutionists solve this problem by saying that God gave nature the power to produce life in plants and animals; they make evolution compatible with belief in God.

Professor Dawkins of Oxford University is adamant in maintaining that there is no design in nature. Everything happened by chance and natural selection. He was honest enough to say that: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” So, there is an essential relation between Darwinism and atheism. The reason is that evolution claims to explain the origin of life, and make it meaningful, without an intelligent designer, namely God. One scientist admitted that evolution is “the engine of atheism.”  It makes atheism intellectually possible. In today’s world, we can say, in general, that every atheist is an evolutionist, but not every evolutionist is an atheist.

Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ About Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ

Fr. Kenneth Baker, SJ, is editor emeritus of HPR, having served as editor for over 30 years. He is the author of the best selling Fundamentals of Catholicism (three volumes) and of the popular introduction to the Scripture, Inside the Bible.