Old supernatual wine in a new reasonable bottle
This week (actually back on August 7, 2009) D.J. Grothe interviewed Dr. Benjamin Wiker, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and St. Paul Center for Theology on his book Charles Darwin: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin.
There is far, far too much to unpack in the interview than I can possibly cover in the space of a blog. In fact, there was clearly far, far too much to discuss during the interview of fifty odd minutes. Grothe continually had to reign in the discussion to keep focused. I suspect the interview could have gone on for three or four hours. Wiker discusses how in his study of Charles Darwin, Darwin started out an atheist, or at least non-theist and if I understood correctly wrote On the Origin of Species specifically to cut god out of the process of evolution. The discussion delved into eugenics, of Darwinism vs. evolution. They also discussed Darwinism as the basis for certain National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazi) theories. All of this is discussed ably by Grothe in the time permitted.
What struck me was just how reasonable Wiker sounded to those not steeped in the current creationist/intelligent design/evolution by natural selection controversies. In the first half of the interview that focused on Darwin's life, how Darwin came to write his book, Nazis, Eugenics, etc., Wiker sounded as if he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder. But on the last part of the interview, to someone who knows merely a little about this "Darwin-evolution stuff," he sounded down to Earth. First, Wiker makes a distinction between Darwinism and evolution. Darwinism is wrong, evil, soulless, and godless. Evolution on the other hand is fine. It explains a lot. It's just a question of what guided evolution. Why the creationist out there rejecting evolution are just as kooky as the Darwinist. I think to someone who is casually acquainted with the evolution "controversy" this all sounds pretty good. Darwinist or evolutionist who stick to a purely "silly" reductionist natural world view have blinders on, what Wiker is pitching is being open minded. We get god. We get science with evolution. It all sounds like a pretty good win-win deal. Why not?
The problem is that the theory of evolution by means of other than natural selection is basically the "god of the gaps" wine in a reasonable appearing bottle. (I submit there could be other natural processes at work, but so far natural selection with revisions has been the best explanation.) Wiker indicates that natural selection is insufficient to describe how something as complex as man was formed -therefore it must be you know who? Do not know how something came about . . . well let's take a sip of Chateaux de Deity from this nice new bottle with a twist top and just say it must have been god's plan or will or "intelligent design." To most of the readers of this blog, who value a natural world view studied by the scientific method, it is easy to see the flaw. Basically, you are injecting the supernatural into the study of the natural world leading to an artificial dead end of knowledge. This is when science is suppose to kick in to go about its business of learning what makes the natural world tick. Yet, Wiker in this realm seems safe, compromising, and reasonable. Grothe, given the breadth of the discussion, did a nice job keeping the interview focused while being extremely civil. I tip my hat to Grothe for a job well done. I urge all who read this blod to listen to this podcast even if you are not a POI regular. Wiker is the type of challenge that will be faced when struggling for actual science to be understood and appreciated by society instead of the trying to learn about the world with a mixture of the natural and supernatural as if it were 1009 instead of 2009.