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Is God an Incompetent Designer, or is Fallen Man the Incompetent Observer?

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Published on: October 29, 2015

Darwinists are famous for arguing that God, if He exists, must be a bad designer.  After all, we believe we see biological imperfection, even grotesque biological failure, all around us.  Birth defects, viral and bacterial disease, cancers, death itself, are evidence, according to the Darwinist, that the universe, and biological life in particular, could not have been designed by a competent God insofar as He is also benevolent.

Let us get clear about the Darwinist’s view of Reality before considering whether it is coherent enough to make this claim about God’s competence intelligible.  The claim, once again is

(C1) Either God must not exist or he is an incompetent biological engineer (which is tantamount to His not really existing).

If God is incompetent to any degree then perhaps the engineer, otherwise known as God, might be other finite beings (aliens) or nature acting itself out perfectly, without regard to human values.

Now the Darwinist, as a Naturalist, seems quite clearly to include the following propositions in his view of Reality:

A. The laws of biology and physics exist, even though we do not know in what precise sense they exist.  (Where do they exist?  How do they exist?  Where do they come from?  If they are the dispositional properties of particles why are they so disposed?)  They are the end of explanation.
B. The laws of biology and physics are never violated.  There is nothing, like God, which interferes with Nature from the outside.
C. Disease, biological “failure”, does not exist except as an absurd expression of human values.  Everything is natural, everything is lawful, even though human goals are frustrated by biological and environmental events. 
D. There are no teleological goals for nature to achieve or fall short of.  There are nothing but lawful mechanical processes.  

Nature, for the Darwinist, as Naturalist, is perfect because there is no other standard by which to judge it.  Biological law cannot be violated.  All so-called “disease” and other forms of defects are perfect expressions of biological law.  When mutations are negative, destructive, this is an absolutely consistent, and in that sense perfect, expression of natural law.  Mutations are not destructive in any absolute, metaphysical sense, no matter how many species they ruin or how much suffering they induce.  Although human beings may have goals — values which imply human virtues — nature does not have goals.

E. Nature often frustrates human values.
F. Nevertheless, human values, all normative language, have arisen as an adaptation.
G. Even survival is a purely man-made, socially constructed value.
H. Values, which rely on objective functions (purposes) and social objectives, are not implied by Reality which has no inherent goal or purpose.

But how could human values, as an obvious adaptation, helping people to survive and thrive, be absurd — a non sequitur with respect to the whole?  Apparently, human values have something to do with being fit, and therefore surviving.  Identification with one another, and the selection of moral behaviors, apparently leads to survival.  And believing that these values have no foundation in Reality would have no survival value.  It leads to demoralization, even suicide.

  1. If human values are adaptive at all (even where some are not), then those values must be natural (consistent with the operation of natural laws). 
  2. But these values cannot survive (become rational) within the Darwinist view of Reality.  (See the Nazis.)  They are based on the notion that human life is functional, that it has objective goals and purposes.  Darwinism rejects this notion. 
  3. Therefore, belief in Darwinism is unnatural, non-adaptive. 

Darwinism, Naturalism, implies that belief in Darwinism, is unnatural.  And so Darwinism is falsified by any pragmatic standard of truth.

But, of course, the Darwinist will try to revise (1).  He will argue that human values are consistent with the operations of Nature, but not logically implied by any natural law.  They are practical without being true in any sense.  Ironically, Darwinism rejects the pragmatic standard of truth with which is it usually associated.  It is left with the strange position that human values are not implied by Reality, but are very adaptive; that denying the true nature of Reality (where there are no goals, no objective purpose to human life) is the most adaptive, most fit thing we can do.  The Darwinist must still conclude that he and his Darwinism are dangerous to the survival of humanity.  (And, indeed, they are.)

Of course, Darwinism itself is not logically implied by the laws of biology.  Again, the laws are just the consistency of nature’s operations.  They do not logically imply anything.  The uniformity of nature is the premise, not the implication of any induction.  The “laws” are processes, not premises.  What logically implies Darwinism, along with all “scientific” views of Reality, are dogmatic philosophical premises, like the premise that God does not exist.  (A), (B) and (C), among other propositions, imply Darwinism — not the laws of physics and biology as processes.  Darwinists have no way of justifying their philosophical premises, upon which Darwinism depends, by appealing to the “scientific” truth of Darwinism.  Like all views of Reality, Darwinism is ultimately philosophical.  (More sophisticated Darwinists may retreat from the notion that Darwinism is a view of Reality, rather than just a scientifically useful conceptual scheme.  This essay addresses naïve Darwinism.)

And so, as a philosophical experiment, we might supplement the Darwinist proposition that the laws of physics and biology certainly exist, and cannot be violated, with the proposition that God created them.  In this case what it means for these laws to operate perfectly, as well as inviolably, is that they realize God’s goals.  And it is impossible for the Darwinist to know that the inviolate laws of nature do not realize God’s goals even where it is clear that they do not realize his goals which cannot be normative in a universe where human life has no purpose or meaning.  In attacking God the Darwinist appeals to goals which he otherwise considers absurd.  In attacking the Darwinist God simply asserts His right to His own goals.  In his own universe the Darwinist’s values are absurd and cannot judge a God who does not exist.  In God’s universe the Darwinist cannot know that God is not realizing his goals (His design) no matter how much the Darwinist may not like it. 

God is accompanied by goals, by standards, which the Darwinist thinks he can use against God.  But this is impossible.  If there is no independent source of goals, standards, the purposes of natural law, then there is nothing with which to judge God’s performance as a designer, as the source of inviolable natural law or, for that matter, as someone who interferes with it.  The Darwinist cannot propose a competing set of goals.  He does not believe in them.  Even someone who does believe in them, a naïve Aristotelian, cannot know that God is not realizing his own goals, his own design, no matter how abhorrent to the critic. 

There is no rational way in which to establish the conclusion that God is an incompetent designer from within the Darwinist paradigm of language, or without it.  It is not a serious counter-claim to the assertion that natural objects seem to be designed.  It is just a Darwinian language game, a rhetorical strategy expressing a will to power.  This does not make it any worse than scientific language in general, which far too many people have been taught to take far too seriously.  Science leaves itself open to the postmodern claim that it is no more significant than a competing tradition when it pretentiously asserts itself on the very nature of Reality.  It need not do this. 

In the West, the Christian world view has always asserted that the Fall of Man is damaging to nature, and that God in his wisdom allows the consequences to course through the whole.  The Darwinist may not like this view of Reality, but there is nothing in human experience which can falsify it, just as there is nothing in human experience, for the Darwinist, which can falsify Darwinism.

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