“It is obvious that the omnipotent power of natural selection can do all things, explain all things….” The above statement came from an early Darwinist, but I have lost the source. It could have come from just about any Darwinist. In fact, just a few years ago I might have said it myself.2When websites show a subterranean water table “selecting” trees with longer roots, intelligence-based power has been ascribed to the inanimate water table—so why not attribute it to some god?
If someone held up a statue and ascribed to it powers to select, naturalists would see this as mysticism and Christians would see this as idolatry. But, in a mental disconnect, in place of a statue they make an identical but more subtle attributions toward an agent like a water table. The trick is to use descriptions such as an “operative force” that can “favor,” “act on,” “pressure,” or “punish” organisms.
Natural selection’s intrinsic spiritual problem was derided by non-theist observers from the outset. In 1861, the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences described Darwin’s Origin of Species as “metaphysical jargon thrown amiss in the natural history.”3 “Darwin pointed the direction to a thoroughly naturalistic—indeed a thoroughly atheistic—theory of phenotype [trait] formation; but he didn’t see how to get the whole way there. He killed off God, if you like, but Mother Nature and other pseudoagents got away scot-free.”4
What is really explained scientifically by merely saying that a trait was “selected for” or “selected against”?Those magical phrases cannot truly be expected to reveal why certain traits originate and exist in populations. A mysterious power that “positively selects,” “operates on,” “punishes,” or “favors” ... try to imagine what evolutionary literature could explain without using them—it would be starved of its mechanism and life. Selection-based accounts end up with mystical forces granting “favor.”
But explanations that honor the Lord will be based on the abilities that he designed into his creatures. So instead of the "god" of the subterranean water table “selecting” trees with longer roots, we recognize that trees have an innate capacity to produce longer roots enabling them to live in areas with deeper water tables.
Selection is idolatrous in the basest of ways. Not only does it ascribe intelligence-like powers to unconscious environmental features, like any other idol, but it induces people not to give the Lord credit for the incredible intelligence and machinery He has built into His creatures that enable them to adapt to environmental features.
(extracted from Randy Guliuzza, Darwin's Sacred Imposter: Natural Selection's Idolatrous Trap, Acts & Facts, November 2011, Institute for Creation Research)
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1. Jones, D. 2010. Evolvability: How to cash in on the genetic lottery. New Scientist. 2766: 46-49.
2. Sanford, J. 2008. Genetic Entropy. Waterloo, NY: FMS Publications, 161.
3. Huxley, T. H. 1894. Darwiniana. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 65.
4. Fodor, J. and M. Piattelli-Palmarini. 2010. What Darwin Got Wrong. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 162-163.