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QUIZ & ANSWERS for: One Long Argument: "The religion behind the scientific arguments for evolution" and "Darwinism: Apologetics, natural theology and the religion in evolution (1600-present)"

By: Cornelius G. Hunter, Ph.D.

Short essay answer.
1. Was Darwin an intellectual revolutionary?
2. Did Christians indirectly contribute to evolution?
3. Does modern science rely on religious assumptions?
4. Is it wrong for evolutionists to critique creationism?
5. Are all those scientific journal articles about evolution wrong?
6. How can evolution be so heavily influenced by religion if religion is not presented in biology class when evolution is taught?
7. Isn't methodological naturalism the basis for all science?
8. Doesn't ID require an infinite regress? If the existence of complexity requires a designer, then doesn't the designer require yet another designer?

1. Darwin was a great naturalist. He was a careful and thorough investigator, and he was creative. But his theory of evolution was inevitable given the intellectual environment at the time. In fact, Alfred Wallace came up with a very similar, though less developed, theory as Darwin's evolution. Wallace is known as the co-founder of evolution.

2. Yes, in the centuries leading up to Darwin's time there were Christians who advocated the idea that God seeks to create a perfect world, according to our sensibilities. Other Christians advocated the idea that God should be viewed as distant and not directly involved in creation.

3. Yes, it relies on metaphysical assumptions such as uniformity and parsimony. Compared to this evolution's religious assumptions are greater in scope and they are non Christian.

4. No, but evolution goes far beyond merely pointing out problems of competing theories. Evolution depends on its critique of creationism because the scientific arguments for evolution are weak and there are strong scientific arguments against evolution.

5. Many journal articles report on research that in itself does not hinge on the veracity of evolution. The authors do assume evolution to be true and cast their work into that framework. In general, because life science research operates within the evolution paradigm, it does not support the veracity of the paradigm. To demonstrate the veracity of evolution one must drop the assumption that evolution is true and explain why the evidence supports evolution without first presupposing evolution to be true. Journal articles do not do this because this is not their role.

There is another genre of evolutionary literature that attempts to defend the theory against skeptics and establish the theory from a skeptical perspective. Darwin's book was the first in this genre. It is in these materials (books, articles, web pages, etc.), and the journal articles they refer to, where the arguments for evolution are most effectively given.

6. The religious influence in evolution can be quite subtle. When the teacher says that the universal genetic code is compelling evidence for evolution, it is not obvious that a non scientific premise is required. The student, and even the teacher as well, will not likely be aware of the various problems with the evidence. Nor will they likely be aware of the underlying reasons why the observations have been handed down as compelling evidence.

Certainly this is not peculiar to evolution. Everything from theology to quantum mechanics can be taught at introductory levels where important details are left out to simplify the learning. Just because a young student is unaware of evolution's metaphysical committments doesn't mean they don't exist.

7. No, the history of science in general, and evolution in particular, shows that scientists routinely consider metaphysical aspects of their work. Indeed, if methodological naturalism assumes the natural world can be explained as the result of only natural causes then it is not silent on the subject of God and supernatural forces. Under this definition, methodological naturalism assumes that God did not actively create the world.

Furthermore, the claim that the natural world can be explained as the result of only natural causes is not scientific. The idea that the natural world has no supernatural causes lies outside of science. It is metaphysical and cannot be verified by science.

8. An infinite regress is required only when one assumes there is no God.

Suggested further reading:
1. Paul Nelson, Jettison the Arguments, or the Rule? The Place of Darwinian Theological Themata in Evolutionary Reasoning.
2. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, W. W. Norton, 1959.
3. Anthony Baker, "Theology and the Crisis in Darwinism," Modern Theology, 18:2, pp. 183-215, 2002.
4. John Brooke, Science and Religion, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
5. Cornelius Hunter, Darwin's God: Evolution and the Problem of Evil, Brazos Press, 2001.
6. Cornelius Hunter, Darwin's Proof: The Triumph of Religion over Science, Brazos Press, 2003.

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