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War and peace

(Illustration by Krieg Barrie)


War and peace

Fighters of Darwinism should strive to remain civil with each other

Daniel in the Bible lived in peace when possible and fought when essential. That's the combination we seek in our Daniels of the Year. They focus on God and His creative process. They do not spend valuable energy attacking each other on secondary matters, such as how long God's process took.

Some faithful Christians defend a 24-hour-day, young-earth position. Others see God's days as longer and believe the earth is old. Still others hold to gaps, frameworks, or other positions. WORLD's editorial policy is to pitch a big tent: God's design rather than purposelessness.

Over the years I've tried, in my amateurish way, to understand these positions and also check out the opposition. This era's leading Darwinist, Richard Dawkins, has a new book out, The Greatest Show on Earth (Free Press), but he strikes out on three pitches: biblical, scientific, and mathematical.

By math I mean the part of the ID argument that works off of probability: If you think that we are what we are by chance over eons, try dialing nine digits at random to get a particular person on the phone, and then think of trying 9 trillion digits. Even that falls far, far short of the odds against life evolving as it has, even with billions of years tossed onto the roulette table. William Dembski's The Design Inference (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2006), or several easier-to-read Dembski books listed at and elsewhere, will help you with the math.

Two other books edited or co-edited by Dembski are instructive: Signs of Intelligence (Baker, 2001) and Uncommon Dissent: Intellectuals Who Find Darwinism Unconvincing (ISI, 2004). Dembski's latest, The End of Christianity (B&H, 2009), has brilliant passages. Books by Phillip Johnson, who began the Intelligent Design movement 20 years ago (and was WORLD's 2003 Daniel of the Year), clearly lay out the ID case: Try Darwin on Trial and Reason in the Balance (IVP, 1993 and 1995). Thomas Woodward's Doubts About Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design (Baker, 2003) is an excellent overview.

If you have more time and wish to learn more about Darwin himself, read Benjamin Wiker's The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (Regnery, 2009), a breezy but angry overview, or David Herbert's Charles Darwin's Religious Views: From Creationist to Evolutionist (Joshua Press, 2009), which has fascinating detail and a kinder tone. For the social effects of Darwinism, read John West's Darwin's Conservatives (Discovery Institute, 2006) and his Darwin Day in America: How Our Politics and Culture Have Been Dehumanized in the Name of Science (ISI, 2007).

Only after you understand the primary conflict should you spend time on the important but secondary issues that divide Christians. The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Day of Creation (Global, 2000) offers quick looks at three major positions. Ligon Duncan III and David Hall defend the six 24-hour-day position; Hugh Ross and Gleason Archer the view that the "days" are eons; Lee Irons and Meredith Kline argue that the picture of God's creating in six days and resting on the seventh is a figurative framework not to be taken literally.

To see why some intelligent people place creation within the past 10,000 years, the late Henry Morris' Biblical Creationism (Baker, 1993) is a good starting point. Hugh Ross, whose books include Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Baker, 2008), offers a strong old-earth perspective. But other interpretations (such as old earth, young humanity) abound: Four interesting ones are Gorman Gray's The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits? (Morningstar Publications, 2005); Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach by Vern Poythress (Crossway, 2006); John Walton's The Lost World of Genesis One (IVP, 2009); and Dembski's The End of Christianity (B&H, 2009).

Jerry Bergman's Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth about Killing the Careers of Darwin's Doubters (Leafcutter Press, 2008) shows how evolution ideologies treat dissent. Let's not have Christians acting that way toward each other.