FIRST-PERSON: Darwin Day, a leap of faith

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- What did you do on Darwin Day 2014? If you are like me, you totally missed it. Someone had to call my attention to the celebration of all things evolutionary, after the Feb. 8 event had taken place.

A little research allowed me to discover the website of the International Darwin Day Foundation (IDDF). According to the site:

"Darwin Day is an international celebration of science and humanity held on or around February 12, the day that Charles Darwin was born on in 1809. Specifically, it celebrates the discoveries and life of Charles Darwin -- the man who first described biological evolution via natural selection with scientific rigor. More generally, Darwin Day expresses gratitude for the enormous benefits that scientific knowledge, acquired through human curiosity and ingenuity, has contributed to the advancement of humanity."

The IDDF website encourages enthusiasts to ask elected officials for proclamations declaring Darwin Day a recognized and official celebration in their jurisdictions.

You can even send a festive e-card from the IDDF site. One that caught my eye was a colorful depiction of the ascent of man with the encouragement, "On Darwin Day Let's Resolve to Evolve."

A recent Pew poll on the American public's views on evolution found that 60 percent of Americans ascribe to the belief that "humans and other living things have evolved over time." However, among the number who accept the theory of evolution, 24 percent said that "a supreme being guided the evolution of living things for the purpose of creating humans and other life in the form it exists today."

Intelligent Design theory postulates that an intelligent being, perhaps God, is the cause and orchestrator of the process of evolution. Given the Pew numbers, a majority of Americans, 57 percent, believe that a personal God or a supreme being is behind life as we know it. This does not sit well with evolution's purists who refuse to accept that anything other than material or energy shaped by chance over time has produced the world as we know it.

Robert Stephens, co-founder of the Darwin Day program, is profiled in an interview on the IDDF website and is quoted saying:

"For me, Humanism has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy and if the phenomenon of Christianity had not come along -- I think it is reasonable to suggest that Science and Humanism would have continued to developed [sic] naturally out of the ancient Greek culture. It seem [sic] reasonable, under this scenario, to suggest that the concept of evolution would have been developed much earlier than Darwin's theory in the 1850s -- and it is clear that an understanding of evolution destroys the myth of Adam and Eve, thereby also destroying the need for the myth of God having to send his only begotten son to redeem mankind from their sin...."

According to Stephens, the emergence of Christianity delayed the discovery of evolution. He also makes it clear that evolution debunks any possibility of God. For evolution religionists like Stephens, the thought of an intelligent designer is utter foolishness.

Bill Nye, best known as "the Science Guy," in his recent debate with Ken Ham rejected the very idea of Intelligent Design when he insisted that nature is "inconsistent with a top-down view."

Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, accurately summed up the discord between ardent evolutionists and proponents of creationism and Intelligent Design during his debate with Nye: "The battle is really about authority. It's more than just science or evolution or creation. It's about who is the authority in this world, man or God?"

In the end, those who ascribe to a belief in evolution, creationism or Intelligent Design all have to take a leap of faith. The scientific method can only be applied to independently observable, measureable events that can be repeated. Thus, it has its limits.

When it comes to evolution, creationism or Intelligent Design, the scientific method cannot be applied, thus an ultimate truth will not be discovered in this life. Thus, each requires an element of belief, of faith.

Let's say an adherent of evolution, a believer of creation and a proponent of Intelligent Design are walking together down a road when the trio comes across a turtle situated atop a fence post.

The creationist and the Intelligent Design proponent both agree the turtle did not get to the top of the post by itself. Someone had to have placed it there.

The evolutionist would argue the turtle could have come to rest on the fence any number of ways. Perhaps this particular turtle had mastered the art of climbing. Maybe an eagle scooped it up and dropped it on the post. The evolutionist might even suggest that floodwaters had risen to the height of the fence and deposited the turtle there. Perhaps even a massive gust of wind thrust the turtle atop the post.

The evolutionist could posit hypotheses, seek to formulate theories and test them to see which could be more plausible. However, because none of three was present when the turtle found its way to the top the post, there is no way to know exactly how it got there.

The adherents of evolution have more in common with creationists and Intelligent Design proponents than they are willing to admit. They even set aside a day to honor the chief prophet of their faith, Charles Darwin.


Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention's office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).