Michael Dowd, a minister and author of the book Thank God for Evolution!: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, writes the following in his recently published article “Thank God for the New Atheists”:
“Let the story of evolution be told in ways that engender familial love and gratitude, that we are related to everything—not just monkeys, but jellyfish and zucchini, too.”
Dowd is not the first person to claim that homo sapiens are kin to a whole host of lesser species including pond scum. If you’re going to be a real evolutionist, a consistent evolutionist, then you must believe that we evolved from nothing.
Douglas R. Hofstadter, writing in the Preface to the twentieth-anniversary edition of his book Gödel, Escher, and Bach, states that the purpose for writing it “is a very personal attempt to say how it is that animate beings can come out of inanimate matter. What is a self,” he asks,” and how can a self come out of stuff that is as selfless as a stone or a puddle?”1 How indeed! Then there’s Robert Wright’s contention that “genes are just dopey little particles, devoid of consciousness,” like a zucchini. If this is true, how is it that we are conscious beings since we are the product of genes that are devoid of consciousness? One of the first arithmetic truths we learn as children is 0 + 0 = 0. The concept can be applied to dopey little particles + dopey little particles = dopey little particles. This reminds of the Billy Preston (1946–2006) song “Nothing from Nothing” (see lyrics here):
Nothin’ from nothin’ leaves nothin’
You gotta have somethin’
If you wanna be with me.
You gotta have consciousness to get consciousness. If the zucchini didn’t and doesn’t have consciousness, and we are its cousin, then how did we get consciousness and it didn’t? The same is true for meaning and morality.
Dowd is not alone in claiming that homo sapiens are related to animals and fruits and vegetables. To deny these genetic relationships, that we have no more intrinsic value than the innards of a gutted fish, is to be in the same category as a Holocaust denier. Am I exaggerating? Consider these words from evolutionary superstar Richard Dawkins in his latest ode to evolution, The Greatest Show on Earth:
Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eye witnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzees, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips…continue the list as long as desired.
Dawkins compares the denial of evolution with the denial of the Holocaust. We see the same tactic being used by Global Warming enthusiasts. Here’s Ellen Goodman attempt to turn skeptics of man-made global warming into blood brothers of Nazis: “I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” Why deniers of the Holocaust and not deniers of a round earth and manned Moon landings? The goal is to make the denier’s beliefs seem so irrational—look at all the evidence—that no one will take him seriously even when he argues with viable contrary evidence. There is also an emotional side to the Holocaust that is intimate. We’ve seen the horrific images. We’ve heard survivors tell their stories.
But there is a problem with comparing the Holocaust with the evidence necessary to dogmatize about the origin of life. Even Dawkins admits that no one was there to record the first moments of evolutionary life. Here’s what he writes in his book The Greatest Show on Earth.
We have no evidence about what the first step in making life was, but we do know the kind of step it must have been. It must have been whatever it took to get natural selection started. Before that first step, the sorts of improvement that only natural selection can achieve were impossible. And that means the key step was the rising, by some process as yet unknown, of a self-replicating entity.
There is “no evidence about what the first step in making life was.” No evidence. Dawkins’ book is misnamed. There may have been a Great Show, but unlike the Holocaust, no one was there to see it. Even the fossil record will not take you back to the “first step in making life,” and Dawkins knows it. William Watkins is right when he states, “Facts do not come with interpretation tags, telling us how to view them. . . . Both sides haggle over the facts. Both sides search for new facts to add to their arsenals. Both sides raise accusations, yet it’s a rare day indeed when both sides acknowledge that their differences stem from something much more basic than facts. Their differences are rooted in opposing worldviews, which in turn are permeated with philosophical assumptions and commitments.”2 Most evolutionists dismiss contrary evidence because their naturalistic and materialistic worldview, as evolutionist Richard Lewontin has said, “cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”3 Since it can’t be God, it must be dopey little particles that no one can account for and how they went from inorganic to organic from inanimate to animate from amoral to moral. Not only does the evolutionist need the dopey little particles, but he needs the information to turn dopey little particles into smart little particles. So not only wasn’t anyone around to witness the origin of life as evolutionists describe it, but no one was around to record their first utterance of intelligent life.
But none of this stops an evolutionist like Dawkins because he has a worldview to defend. The “key” to it all is there but it’s unknown. I suspect that Dawkins would partially agree with Scott C. Todd’s assessment that in terms of science, God cannot be an ultimate considered: “Even if all the data point to an intelligent designer, such a hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic. Of course the scientist, as an individual, is free to embrace a reality that transcends naturalism.” I wonder how Scott would assess spilled letters from a Scrabble board that spelled out his name, street address, and city and state. Would he assume that they fell on the table randomly with no intelligence behind the order of the letters? Even if his dog had been the room, he never would have assumed that even this minimally intelligent being did it.
There’s one more point I would like to make about the Holocaust analogy. If you’re an atheist, the Holocaust was an illustration of the survival of the fittest, “nature, red in tooth and claw” as Tennyson described evolution. As time passes, the consistent evolutionist is always going to have a problem identifying real evil because good and evil are not biological categories. There’s no way to study a person’s DNA to find “objective truths and lies” markers of right and wrong. Killing “meat machines” buy the truck load will turn out to be no different from turning potatoes into French Fries.
- Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, and Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books,  1999), P-2 [↩]
- William D. Watkins, “Whose Facts Anyway?,” Christian Research Journal (24:2), 60. [↩]
- Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31. [↩]