In Part 1 of this series of articles I introduced the fact that many biblical creationists have accepted natural selection as a real “thing.” I also looked at the fact that much power and ability has been attributed to natural selection by some evolutionists and other secularists. We also learned that not all evolutionists are so sure of this power that has been peddled by Darwinian evolutionists for all these years. In Part 2 we considered some of the things that Charles Darwin himself had to say about his natural selection. The goal of Part 3 is to answer this question: Was Darwin the first to invent an externalist account for life form adaptation?

It is well documented that Darwin was very familiar with the “design/Designer” argument for the origin and existence of living things. For example: “[William] Paley’s ‘logic’ so delighted Charles that he learnt it by heart. The sheer elegance of the deductions fascinated him: given that God exists, he would obviously reveal himself, and how else but by miracles.” [Desmond and Moore, Darwin—the Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, Warner Books, 1991, page 78.]

Paley’s book was named Natural Theology or Evidence of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity, collected from the appearances of nature, and many biographers have referred to Darwin’s initial love of Paley and this book. No matter what subsequent influences drove Darwin away from the concept of a Christian Designer, the fact remains that Darwin was well aware of this obvious concept. Biblical Christians are also well aware as can be understood from Romans chapter one and elsewhere in the Bible.

One of the most famous and astute evolutionists of the 20th century was Stephen Jay Gould, and he wrote much about Darwin and natural selection. He wrote: “I was struck by the correspondence between Paley’s and Darwin’s structure of argument (though Darwin, of course, inverts the explanation).” [Gould, S. J., The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002, Page 119.]

What Gould meant by “inverting the explanation” is made clearer later in his book where he wrote, “I proceed in this way for a principled reason, and not merely as a convenience. All major evolutionary theories before Darwin…[are] presenting a fundamentally ‘internalist’ account, based upon intrinsic and predictable patterns set by the nature of living systems, for development or ‘unfolding’ through time. Darwin’s theory, in strong and revolutionary contrast, presents a first ‘externalist’… (the summation of unpredictable local adaptations rather than a deterministic unfolding of inherent potential under internal, biological principles)…Darwin overturned all previous traditions by thus granting the external environment a causal and controlling role in the direction of evolutionary change…” [ibid, pages 160-161.]

Other secular writers have agreed with Gould’s assessment of Darwin as the originator of adaptation externalism. “He [Darwin] accepted the view that the environment directly instructs the organism how to vary, and he proposed a mechanism for inheriting those changes…the organism was like modeling clay, and remolding of the clay meant that each of the billions of little grains was free to move a little bit in any direction to generate new form… If an organism needed a wing, an opposable thumb, longer legs, webbed feet, or placental development, any of these would emerge under the proper selective conditions with time.” [Kirschner and Gerhart, The Plausibility of Life, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2005, pages 3, 31.]

And, by looking back at Part 2 of this series, we can see where Darwin called this ‘principle’ or ‘mechanism’ by which with each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection. The above-mentioned metaphor of “clay and potter” reminds me of Isaiah 64:8* where the true potter of life is clearly identified for the understanding of all people.

As an engineer, I instinctively reject the idea that inanimate, external, mechanisms can successfully operate to select, design, improve, and engineer with no purpose and no conscious agency. This is against every fragment of my education and experience. When designed things are left solely to the influences of the environment, the 2nd law of thermodynamics is the mechanism that holds sway. That is the reality not natural selection.

So according to the evolutionary experts above quoted, we can ascribe to Darwin, as the originator, this idea of an external-acting natural selector of organism adaptation. Why was this nonsensical idea so quickly accepted by so many intellectuals? The answer I think is, and we will develop this more later, that by accepting a non-thinking, incapable, mechanism for adaptation there is no need for the Creator God of the Bible. This is what many intellectuals have always longed for. With no God they can have no moral restraints and can be their own god.

In the next article we will examine Darwin’s attempt to conceptually draw a parallel between the work of his natural selection as a “breeder” to that of real human plant and animal breeders. Was he successful and is there any reality involved in this attempt?

J.D. Mitchell

*Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. [Isaiah 64:8 NIV.]

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