Post Author: Bill Pratt
In part 1, we looked at 6 definitions of evolution and explained how different Christian creationist positions deal with them. If you recall, definition 6 was the most controversial:
6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.
Jay Richards has several interesting things to say about definition 6 that are worth repeating:
Of all the senses of evolution, this one seems to fit with theism like oil with water. According to the blind watchmaker thesis, all the apparent design in life is just that—apparent. It’s really the result of natural selection working on random genetic mutations. (Darwin proposed “variation.” Neo-Darwinism attributes new variations to genetic mutations.)
The word “random” in the blind watchmaker thesis carries a lot of metaphysical baggage. In Neo-Darwinian theory, random doesn’t mean uncaused; it means that the changes aren’t directed—they don’t happen for any purpose. Moreover, they aren’t predictable, like gravity, and don’t occur for the benefit of individual organisms, species, or eco-systems, even if, under the guidance of natural selection, an occasional mutation might enhance a species odds of survival.
The blind watchmaker thesis is more or less the same as Neo-Darwinism as its leading advocates understand it. It is usually wedded to some materialistic origin of life scenario, which isn’t about biological evolution per se. This so-called chemical evolution is often combined with biological evolution as two parts of a single narrative.
Unfortunately, the blind watchmaker thesis isn’t an eccentric definition of the word evolution. It’s textbook orthodoxy. For instance, Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson explained evolution by saying, “Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind.” Darwin himself understood his theory this way: “There seems to be no more design,” he wrote, “in the variability of organic beings, and in the action of natural selection, than in the course which the winds blow.”
And here’s how the late Darwinist Ernst Mayr put it: “The real core of Darwinism, however, is the theory of natural selection. This theory is so important for the Darwinian because it permits the explanation of adaptation, the ‘design’ of the natural theologian, by natural means, instead of by divine intervention.” Notice that Mayr says, “instead of.”
These are representative quotes from the literature. From the time of Darwin to the present, Darwinists have always contrasted their idea with the claim that biological forms are designed or created. That’s the whole point of the theory.
Theists claim that the world, including the biological world, exists for a purpose; that it is, in some sense, designed. The blind watchmaker thesis denies this. So anyone wanting to reconcile strict Darwinian evolution with theism has a Grade A dilemma on his hands.