ISSUES IN THE EVOLUTION DEBATE:
5 MINUTES FOR THE TAANZA CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 2008.
- Darwin’s own values have been closely studied and we can see now how profound a shift from Christian belief lay in his values, although extreme caution meant that he often hid this.
- The more we know of Darwin, the more we understand that it involved a very profound shift of worldview, towards what we might call a secular worldview. It was this which profoundly happened in the colonies in particular, creating a process and value that used science as a device to exclude faith.
- The Neo-Darwinians in one sense present a modified and restructured evolutionary model to account for the development and diversification of species, and in particular extend it into the development of human behaviour and changes. In another sense Neo-Darwinianists can be much more defensive and offensive and I think they reflect new challenges to science today.
- It would be very misleading to say that Darwinianism challenged and replaced a biblical worldview. In many respects there is no such thing as a biblical worldview; there certainly have been a number of key Christian worldviews, and the previous worldview in England was a combined Enlightenment – empirical – Deist stance, in which the writings of Paley with their argument from design were adapted from the Enlightenment notion of a good world shaped by natural laws and waiting to be catalogued and ordered by humans.
- The largest challenge to the evolutionary model today lies in new models of an environmentally friendly anti-rationalist view of the world, seeking to overcome alienations which they believe has been shaped by science, empiricism and rationalism, and seeks a gaia notion of the unity of all beings. This view is very hostile to science and has led to widespread scepticism about it, and this has been sharply criticised by the Neo-Darwinians.
- The huge growth of ‘creationism’ in the ‘Fundamentalist’ community in recent years reflects a significant growth of defensiveness within some parts of the Christian community at the moment, and it reflects growing nervousness at current threats to faith from secular voices and other faiths.
- The views of those advocating intelligent design and creationism seem in part to stay within the old natural law and deist model.
- This seems very clearly reflected in their use of the bible as a direct source of scientific knowledge. This does not do adequate justice to the worldview and culture of the bible in its own setting.