Emilio’s Mistake

"Why can't evolution and creation both be true?" This is a question Phillip Johnson, author of Defeating Darwinism, encounters often in his visits to college campuses. Christian students often try to reconcile the teachings of their faith with the teachings of their science professors. They want to embrace "theistic evolution"—evolution directed by God. But Johnson argues that this is impossible. Take, for example, an e-mail message Johnson found posted on a public Internet forum. It was from a university student named Emilio, who had believed in creation all his life—until he took a college biology course. "Guess what?" Emilio said, "I am still a creationist— and now I am also an evolutionist!" There is no reason why God could not have taken millions of years to create the earth—just as Darwinists teach, Emilio went on. Evolution, he concluded, is simply "the science that studies how God created the species." What's wrong with this argument? Emilio has committed an error typical of Christians who try to mix creation with evolution. He imagines that evolutionary theory allows for a creator, that evolution could be a God-guided process. But that is exactly what establishment scientists do not allow. Prominent Darwinists from Stephen Gould to Richard Dawkins to Maynard Smith insist that evolution is an unguided, purposeless, and mindless process. As Johnson puts it, "the Darwinian theory doesn't just say that God created slowly [over millions of years]. It says that naturalistic evolution is the creator—and God had nothing to do with it." As the famous evolutionist George Gaylord Simpson put it, "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind." Darwinists cannot afford to abandon this claim, Johnson says, because their whole approach is founded on naturalism, the doctrine that nature is all there is—and if nature is all there is, then nature had to have the ability to do its own creating. Darwinian evolution tries to explain how nature did this without any assistance from a supernatural entity. And that's why evolution, in the Darwinian sense, is both mindless and godless. "Pretending otherwise is an evasion of the conflict, not a resolution to it," Johnson warns. You and I have to help our own children understand why people like Emilio are kidding themselves when they think they can be both a creationist and an evolutionist. We need to help them perceive that the issue is not the details of evolution versus the details of Genesis, as Emilio thought. Rather, the issue is the stark, fundamental claim that life is the product of impersonal forces versus the claim that it is the creation of an intelligent designer. A good place to start is to hand your kids a copy of Johnson's book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. It will teach them that much of what's being ladled out to them as "scientific fact" is actually a big helping of naturalistic philosophy. And they'll learn why they can't reconcile Darwin's theory, with its mindless evolutionary forces, with the God who created the heavens and the earth.


Chuck Colson



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