"Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the earth."
Never in history have atheists enjoyed such roaring intellectual fulfillment. Triumphantly parading a ragtag procession of kowtowed cultural Darwinists, browbeaten boards of education, a few fawning federal judges and (on a special float) a collection of tamed and harmless theists, today's atheists strut brashly down Main Street Everywhere shouting "up yours!" to every measured glance from the sidelines. Give them credit--atheists have won the day, if not the era, by ushering in a world of practical public atheism where God is not even dead, he simply is not. Someone help us.
Atheists have always been a temerarious lot. But in the lost age of reason thoughtful atheism was more a philosopher's leisure, something of a private intellectual indulgence, like pondering perpetual motion or musing Zeno's paradoxes, suitable for thought-play among friends but little else of practical value. By all accounts being against logic and human nature (the two being inextricably bound), atheism remained for most of history a young man's comfort and an old man's folly, but in public the evidence of those thought fools.
That was then, this is now; a few short years of remarkable activity successfully transformed Western culture into a God-free zone marked by public institutions which, formerly God-filled in thought and speech, now permit their foundational lingua franca only as an anti-intellectual private indulgence. As the torch was passed the past was torched, with the last public vestiges of any Godly heritage reluctantly endured only as cultural artifacts--offensive but harmless reminders of a very different time. Not permitted to inform law, policy, or education at any level, God-thoughts are now a young man's folly and an old man's comfort, but in public the evidence of those thought fools.
Fools thought wise and wise thought fools, what in the world happened? Future generations will look back and marvel at the unfortunate complexity of fortuitous events, but simply speaking, Darwinism happened. In perhaps no other age has an elixir met a mood the way Darwin's notions met a cultural temper. Decades before Darwin various lines of evolutionary thought developed, not only in biology but in geology and cosmology as well. In a sense, the world was primed for a catalyst to set off an irresistible movement toward a materialistic world view. For this reason scientists are correct when they maintain that Darwinism is "more than a theory." It is much more. As stated by leading 20th-century Darwinist Ernst Mayr, "The Darwinian revolution was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, as had been the scientific revolutions in the physical sciences, but rather the replacement of a world view, in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle, by a new world view in which there was no room for supernatural forces."
That is, as every leading Darwinist maintains proudly, Darwin invented the missing link necessary to consummate Western civilization's growing love affair with materialism, handmaiden to atheism herself. Previously limited only to longing glances and burning infatuation, materialism's frequent flirtatious forays on atheism's behalf seemed destined for perpetual frustration for one simple reason: life and its evident purpose and design. Without a plausible creation story offering an explanation for nature's living designs by purely unintelligent causes, materialism seemed doomed as serving naught but a bitter spinster. But Darwin miraculously made materialism seem coherent, giving atheism herself a reason to be seen preening in public.
Armchair Darwinists may take offense, but they, like all cultural Darwinists must own up to what arch-atheist and outspoken Darwinist professor William Provine insists: "Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented." Likewise, Niles Eldredge, co-developer with Stephen Jay Gould of punctuated equilibrium stated, "Darwin did more to secularize the Western world than any other single thinker in history." And of course, everyone's favorite contemporary atheist, Richard Dawkins, spewing bilious hatred of God like a burst sewage pipe, thanks Darwin for making "it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist."
The miracle of Darwinism is that, despite the fact that the author of Origin of Species assumed origin of life in the first place and presented absolutely no data or examples (except an admitted indulgence of the imagination) for the origin of any species by natural selection (a practice followed by his disciples to this day), Darwin's theory swiftly became sacrosanct among institutions of science. Now thrust to the vaulted and singular status in science of incontrovertible fact, Darwinism, like a big stick, is used both to prod the reluctant materialist and to beat the unwilling theist into devoted public homage to the new author of life and life more abundantly, Lord Darwin, King of the Zoos.
And to atheists' delight the miracle story of Darwinism's origin unfolded with scripted perfection as 19th-century scientific materialists found the wise men of liberal theology bearing gifts of guilt, appurtenance and error, as they welcomed the humble birth of a new world order. As noted by Owen Chadwick, Regius professor of modern history at Cambridge, "At first much of the opposition to Darwin's theory came from the scientists on grounds of evidence, not from theologians on grounds of scripture." It seems the good churchmen of the day either ignored the bad news to preach the good news or compromised the old word adherence to fit the new world appearance.
Bowing to what was perceived as one more of nature's immutable truths, 19th-century theologians already sensitized to a growing onslaught of scientific hegemony yielded authority, their weak spines bent to form a perfectly stable fulcrum that alone transformed Darwin's stick into a lever. Yes, the irony of atheism's remarkable rise in the last century is that it came not by the unwavering work of atheists, but the wavering word of theists. Believing another of nature's gaps closing so tightly even a paper God would be displaced, leading theologians embraced Darwin's theory as the better part of valor and accommodated a theory with no need of God to protect a God in no need of theory.
And the world moved.
Thus began a long tradition of adapters, reconcilers, mollifiers and appeasers, quick to find a way to salvage a respectable private belief in light of what appeared to destroy its very foundation. But attempting to reconcile the work of God with the word of God is always tricky business, and it's rationally impossible when one assumes materialistic evolution is true, in which case there is no work of God. And because materialism requires a science of unintelligent and purposeless causes, if Darwinism is assumed true it is the word of God's guided purpose that must yield to some ultimately meaningless indeterminate status, such as metaphor or allegory. That's why the question, "is Darwinism (or any other materialistic evolution of life) true?" remains the seminal question of our age. And on exactly this point atheists have clinched their greatest victory: in spite of a growing mountain of evidence to challenge Darwinism the very question is not permitted.
Atheists owe much to their handmaiden. And their handmaiden owes much to timid theists, who, believing Darwinism to be true before tested jumped to clever "both are true" irrational schemes like "theistic evolution" to accommodate what they saw as nature's public truth to their private belief. Too bad. If only they had held fast they would have found themselves vindicated by evidence. Were materialistic Darwinism not already deified in science as eternally omnipotent, it could not survive 21st-century scientific evidence. As journalist Denyse O'Leary writes of theistic evolutionists, "The problem to which they are a solution--evolution can explain everything (but we can still know God through faith alone)--doesn't exist." But the accommodators remain, no doubt believing themselves useful to both God and Godless man with odd ideas that neither find rational.
Fortunately, the objective truth of our origins is not changed by anyone's theory. Either the evidence weighs in favor of life created by intelligent design or it supports a theory of life occurring by unintelligent, purposeless causes. There is no other choice; only one can be true. To date atheists lean hard on the lever of Darwinism, intent on forcing compliant theists in place as they continue to move the world. Will they remain in control?
Maybe. But not on my back.
Roddy Bullock is a freelance writer and the Executive Director of the Intelligent Design Network of Ohio and is the author of The Cave Painting: A Parable of Science, published by and available from Access Research Network. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like this essay, go here for many more.
Copyright (c) 2008 Roddy M. Bullock, all rights reserved. Quotes and links permitted with attribution.
Publisher and agent inquiries welcome.
For the quotes of scientists about evolution and theism: http://bevets.com/evolution.htm#atheism
For an excellent detailed account of the history of Darwinism in the context of Christian theologians of the 19th-century, see, Dr. Henry Morris, The Long War Against God, (Green Forest, AR, Master Books, 2000).
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