Dembski: evolution hypothesis, not theory

by Benjamin Hawkins, posted Monday, February 16, 2009 (5 years ago)

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--On the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, William Dembski, research professor of philosophy at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, challenged Darwin's famed theory of evolution during a seminary chapel service.

Christianity and Darwinian evolution put forward "radically different worldviews," Dembski said Feb. 12 at the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary. "I think the real challenge for the church now is not the atheistic Darwinists ... but it is now the church itself and Christian higher education embracing this semi-materialistic worldview."

According to Dembski, every worldview involves a creation story, a problem, a solution for that problem and an expected culmination. For Christians, this involves a world created by a wise God and marred by the sinfulness of man. As the solution to sin, the Son of God entered the world as Jesus Christ and died for the redemption of man. In the end, Christ will return and the creation will be renewed.

"Evolution comes to us and challenges us right at the point of creation," Dembski said, calling evolution a "secular creation story." Darwin wasn't the first to think of a creation that evolved, Dembski added. In fact, some ancient Babylonian myths recount how the waters commingled and evolved "into higher gods." Similarly, Darwinian evolution explains that the process began "with material forces moving about and evolving into something higher."

This materialistic worldview, Dembski said, has been infused even into Christian culture. However, he added, "If you get your starting points wrong, you can count on everything downstream going amiss as well." As a result, some theistic evolutionists, who believe in God while also supporting Darwin's theory of evolution, hold to an unbiblical theology. For example, some have denied the fall of mankind and argue that man's problem is a selfishness caused by the process of natural selection, Dembski said.

The widespread acceptance of Darwin's theory can be seen in the support it has gained in academic circles, even at schools and universities with Christian backgrounds. Some schools even refuse to teach any alternatives to Darwinism, he said.

This same concern was aired in the 2008 documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." In the film, host Ben Stein tracked down scholars, including Dembski, who have been persecuted -- or "expelled" -- by the academic community for their support of Intelligent Design, a research discipline that flies in the face of Darwinism.

Despite this widespread support of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection, Dembski noted that it is a hypothesis. A theory, he said, should both explain what a scientist observes while also gaining support from independent evidence.

"In fact, there is very little evidence for the power of natural selection," Dembski said, adding that the existing evidence concerns small-scale evolutionary changes like the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

As for Intelligent Design, "It is not creationism," Dembski said. "It's engineering." ID entails research that seeks to discover evidence of design, or engineering, within nature. For example, no human engineer has designed technology that can hold as much information in such a compact way as the DNA found in cells, he said.

After Dembski's message, Paige Patterson, Southwestern's president, noted that the College at Southwestern encourages students to explore all worldviews so that they may examine them according to a biblical worldview. Students in the college learn about Intelligent Design, Patterson said, but also are required to read Darwin's "On the Origin of Species."


Benjamin Hawkins is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To access Dembski's chapel message, access Southwestern Seminary's chapel archives at www.swbts.edu/chapel.