Bishop Robert Barron and others working hard to evangelize the “Nones”—young adults without religious conviction—tell us that a major obstacle to a None embracing Christianity is the cultural assumption that Science Explains Everything. And if science explains it all, who needs God, revelation, Christ, or the Church? To be even more specific: If Darwin and the Darwinian theory of evolution explain the origins of us (and everything else), why bother with Genesis 1–3 and Colossians 1:15–20 (much less Augustine’s “Thou hast made us for Thee and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee”)?
That’s why “Giving Up Darwin,” an essay by David Gelernter in the Spring 2019 issue of the Claremont Review of Books, is both a fascinating article and a potential tool in the New Evangelization.
No one can accuse Dr. Gelernter of being an anti-modern knucklehead. He’s a pioneering computer scientist, a full professor at Yale, and a remarkable human being: A package from the Unabomber blew off his right hand and permanently damaged his right eye but didn’t impede his remarkable intellectual, literary, and artistic productivity.
In his Claremont Review essay, Gelernter gives full credit to what he calls “Darwin’s brilliant and lovely theory” and readily concedes that “there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin successfully explained the small adjustments by which an organism adapts to local circumstances: changes to fur density or wing style or beak shape.” But Darwinian evolution can’t “explain the big picture — [which involves] not the fine-tuning of existing species but the emergence of new ones.” What Darwin cannot explain, in short, is “the origin of species”—the title of the British naturalist’s first, revolutionary book.
The argument is complex, so it’s important to read Gelernter’s entire article carefully, and more than once. But to be desperately brief:
First, Darwinian evolutionary theory can’t explain the so-called “Cambrian explosion,” in which, half a billion years ago, a “striking variety of new organisms—including the first-ever animals—pop up suddenly in the fossil record.” How did this “great outburst” of new life forms happen? The slow-motion processes of Darwinian evolution can’t answer that question. Gelernter concludes that “the ever-expanding fossil record” doesn’t “look good for Darwin, who made clear and concrete predictions that have (so far) been falsified.” (This gaping Cambrian hole in the Darwinian account goes unremarked in the otherwise magnificent new David H. Koch Hall of Fossils at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History….
– From Aug. 21 article by George Weigel in First Things. To read whole article, click here.