It’s a Cruel World

Many scientists grow starry-eyed over the beauty and order of the universe, and conclude that there must be a creator behind it. But not biologist Richard Dawkins. In a new book called River Out of Eden, Dawkins vigorously attacks belief in God. And in the process he reveals just how hostile evolution is to religious faith. Evidence for a creator can be read right off the face of nature: It seems obvious that eyes were designed for seeing, wings for flying, and fins for swimming. But Dawkins dismisses all this as the mere "illusion of purposive design." In his view, Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection makes mincemeat of belief in a creator. Natural selection creates structures that appear to be designed, Dawkins argues, but they are really the product of blind chance processes. Life's only "purpose," he says, is survival: to pass DNA from one generation to the next. Nothing more, nothing less. What we learn from all this is that Darwinism is not just about fossils and mutations. It also entails a complete world view—called naturalism—that allows for nothing but nature and natural causes and denies any transcendent purpose to life. Consider a tragic but real example: News reports tell of a Chicago family that recently lost 6 children in a car accident. For Dawkins, tragedies like this are strictly meaningless. As he puts it, "Meaningless tragedies . . . are exactly what we should expect" in a blindly evolving universe—"along with equally meaningless good fortune." Our lives are shaped by a roll of the cosmic dice. To quote Dawkins again, "Some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice." In other words, once Dawkins accepts Darwinism in science, to be consistent he must accept its harsh implications for all of life: in his own words, that there is "no design, no purpose, . . . nothing but blind, pitiless indifference." But is this hopeless view the only way to understand the world? As law professor Phillip Johnson argues in his new book Reason in the Balance, perhaps the reason eyes and wings and fins look as though they were designed is that they were designed. This is certainly the most straightforward reading of the evidence. And if God created life, we are led to a completely different world view, in which all of life has purpose and meaning. God's original creation has been distorted by sin and evil, yet He still works out His purposes in the world. Dawkins's book is a stark reminder of the profound philosophical issues at stake in the creation-evolution debate—issues you and I need to be prepared to explain when we talk with other people. Please use this special BreakPoint series in your Bible studies and church groups. The evolution controversy isn't just about science. It's about whether our lives are governed by God—or by a roll of the cosmic dice.


Chuck Colson


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