Every once in a while we get one of those “aha moments” when everything comes together. Phillip Johnson helped me to one of those moments over 20 years ago when I read this passage from an article in First Things (when that journal still permitted dissenting voices to be heard):
For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
Aha! If Darwinism or something like it must be true as a matter of deduction from materialism, then evidence takes a back seat. Dawkins once said he would prefer Darwinism even if there were no evidence to support it. That is hard to understand until one understands Johnson’s point.
I thought about this today when a friend reminded me of this quote from Nobel laureate Jacques Monod:
“We call these [mutations] accidental; we say that they are random occurrences. And since they constitute the only possible source of modifications in the genetic text, itself the sole repository of the organisms’ hereditary structure, it necessarily follows that chance alone is at the source of every innovation of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution: this central concept of modern biology is no longer one among other possible or even conceivable hypotheses. It is today the sole conceivable hypothesis.”
Seriously? No other explanation is even “conceivable”? I can understand how someone could consider the evidence and reject ID. I would believe they are mistaken, but not everyone is going to come to the same conclusion as I do. I get that. But to say that ID is not even “conceivable”? Well, that’s just plain stupid. Why would Monod, obviously not a stupid man, say something so dumb? His faith commitments blinded him and stunted his imagination. A dogmatic commitment to materialist metaphysics makes even very smart people literally blind to alternatives. And it makes them say stupid things.
Another example: Paraphrasing Hawking: Because there is something, the universe can create itself from nothing.