A Letter to Swillpit (All Things Examined)
No sooner had the courier departed with my last correspondence than I was reminded of some aspects in this case that we need to exploit.
Foremost is your man’s intellectualism. By that, I don’t mean his actual intelligence but his self-perception as a member of the smart set, up on all the fashionable trends in thought, subscribing to the positions espoused by the darlings of the media and academia. If he enjoys association in that rarefied circle as much as you have led me to believe, his dabbling with intelligent design will be splendidly fleeting.
Remember the reaction of the cognoscenti, months back when this came up in the brouhaha over school science standards? As I recall, one of them referred to intelligent design as “creationism in a cheap tuxedo.” This is a tape you want to play over and over in his head. If he can be persuaded that ID is merely the latest wrinkle on “creation science,” it will go a long way toward setting him aright our hellbound track.
Don’t misunderstand me; I don’t mean to imply that creationism is a baseless endeavor, harmless to our ends. Quite the contrary. Creation science is not only a frontal attack on one of our most successful contrivances, naturalism, some of its explanations for the fossil record, age of the earth, speciation, and the like are frighteningly close to the truth. And nothing is more dangerous to our cause, or us, than Truth.
Were it not for the associations we have cunningly sowed far and wide, linking creationism with the anti-science fiction of Inherit the Wind and the religious huckstering of Elmer Gantry, our successes in changing default beliefs about a creator would have been marginal, at best.
Your creature knows that to remain in good standing with his elite company, he must distance himself from anything that smacks of science contrarianism or wide-eyed fundamentalism. Keep pressing upon him the “informed” positions of specialists and “what bright people everywhere acknowledge,” and you will be well on you way to reclaiming him.
This is more easily accomplished if you can muddle his understanding of those positions. For instance, of the three major views about evolution, only one brings on vapors in our camp: “micro-evolution”—the change and adaptation of life forms, within in-built limits. This “after-its-kind” evolution—by the way, the only variety that has been scientifically demonstrated—is accepted by creationists and ID proponents alike. But let him hear that Pastor Trimble preached against “evolution” and his trust in the pulpit will falter.
The most useful position for us, of course, is “macro-evolution,” the random, glacial, and unguided process of chance and necessity leading to novel and ever-increasingly robust life forms—from “mud to man,” as we say down here! It should be obvious how this affects the credibility of our Adversary.
Once your man starts to doubt the sudden, kaleidoscopic arrival of nature, he will begin to cast a jaundice eye on claims of other abrupt, “unnatural” phenomena, like the parting of a sea, a virgin birth, a resurrection. If he is the sort to prize congruence in his beliefs and behaviors, he will turn toward that path quickly enough; and when he does, our fun begins.
Spluteen once told of an earthling with a refined taste for eastern philosophy and Darwinism. After a frenzied, life-long quest for self-discovery, the naïf “found himself.” No, it didn’t happen when he looked at his face in the mirror that morning, but when he looked at the face of a canyon wall. Surveying the stratified surface, he caught sight of a 60-million-year-old cephalopod fossil and, straight away, experienced oneness in the evolutionary flow of the cosmos.
In that golden moment, he realized that the “good life” is not about conformance to binary distinctions of right or wrong, good or evil; it’s about being “in the flow.” He is now, I’m proud to report, a most apathetic creature who has lost interest in any objective distinction whatever. Spluteen tells me that, when recently pressed, the creature had a hard time articulating a coherent position about the Holocaust. You can imagine how we have been able to garble his thinking on the latest innovations in lifestyle choices, marriage, and that whole host of moral ambiguities.
Then there was the case of the Human Zoo, a month-long exhibit involving humans aping—huh, huh!—the behaviors of their simian cousins. According to the promoters, the purpose of the exhibit was to educate people about their “place in the animal kingdom” as—wouldn’t you know? —just “another species of ape.”
What joy to see the crowning achievement of our Foe reveling in the indignity of his knuckle-dragging companions! Once they buy the narrative we’ve so skillfully fobbed off on them, what choice do they have? They are like a man with a loutish uncle who can either avoid social embarrassment by denying kinship, or avoid social guilt by admitting it and extending to their coarse relative courtesies given other family members.
If they stay true the logic we’ve laid out, they will eventually advocate or, at minimum, sympathize with granting rights and protections previously reserved for their own kind! It’s gotten to the point that some of their most influential thinkers have moved beyond egalitarianism, suggesting that some animals – an adult chimpanzee, for example – should be afforded more consideration than, say, a newborn infant or senile senior, all for the sake of the common good, of course!
One of the European countries went so far as to include a constitutional provision for the protection of plant dignity—you read that right, plant dignity. One can't be too careful, I suppose, with a daisy's delicate self-esteem. More amusing, yet, is the havoc this is already creating for researchers who have to explain how their studies will affect the “lifestyles” (yes, “lifestyles”) of their flowery subjects. I must confess, even I didn’t see this coming.
Well, you get the point.
Since your man is a Christian, albeit, a fledgling one, an indirect attack on his faith can be particularly effective. Just expose him to the works of Christian thinkers who insist that there is no conflict between evolutionary science and the faith.
Consider this from the current fishhead of
Unqualified statements like this—not specifying what variety of evolution is being referred to—create the impression that even the world’s leading religious figure is on board with mud-to-man evolution. In uneasy religious circles, this has led to an accommodating—no, compromising! —synthesis that accepts evolution as the way He created, either by “front-loading” or guiding.
I sense a question as to why I advise nudging him toward a position that is clearly under the intelligent design umbrella. As I have already suggested, once a man rejects the central claim that “He said...and it was,” he has placed his foot on a path that leads, ever so surely, to a wasteland of disbelief.
For a person of your man’s persuasion, theistic evolution promises a way to maintain standing in his intellectual coterie. But let him notice a slanted grin at the mention of “God of the gaps,” and watch him shrink back from even the minimal position of “front-loading.”
If he is the mawkish type, wringing his hands over all the pain and suffering in the world, theistic evolution offers a way to excuse his beloved Maker for the mess. By allowing an element of free play (read: uncertainty) in creation, it upholds one of His supposed attributes—supreme benevolence—at the cost of His omniscience, omnipotence, or both.
We have gleefully watched this springboard into a new, and growing, branch of theology. Evolutionary thinking has so infiltrated their ranks that the sentiment, “Nothing makes sense, except in the light of evolution,” has become almost axiomatic, extending from creation to Creator. “Open theology,” I think they call it.
Swillpit, we couldn’t have scripted it better. A “God” who is limited and subject to evolutionary development, is one whom, as our Master said at the beginning, is unbefitting trust, obedience, and most definitely, worship. Stirring how this is finally catching on, don’t you agree?
Handle your charge well, Swillpit, and you may yet escape the fate, I have so kindly warned you, for tempters who fail their commission.
Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. His "All Things Examined" column appears on BreakPoint every other Friday. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or Prison Fellowship. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.