The Cornerstones of Modern Thought


The three cornerstones of modern thought—evolutionism, pragmatism, and relativism—are all equally impossible to maintain in the light of logic and evidence.

Evolutionism is broader than just the theory of evolution. It involves also the idea that man is progressing to a higher level, and that more advanced beings already exist out in the universe. The theory of evolution is, of course, nothing but mythology for the masses. The really smart people in the world, especially in fields based on biochemistry, have known for at least forty years that complex life forms did not arise by chance. They may believe in some sort of evolution, but they know that evolution by chance is impossible. They are not broadcasting their conclusions to the general public, however, either for fear of censure by their colleagues or for fear of provoking a revival of old-fashioned religion. In their personal views, most have retreated to a worldview that recognizes some sort of higher being or beings.

We mentioned in lesson 8 that the British philosopher Antony Flew, long a well-known spokesman for atheism, abandoned this position some years ago in light of modern discoveries showing the complexity of the living cell. But instead of becoming a Christian, he at first, as we said, "resurrected the eighteenth-century philosophy known as deism, which believed that after God created the universe, He took no further interest in it." But deism is riddled with so many problems that after it arose in the eighteenth century, it did not last long as a popular philosophy. For example, it is naïve to suppose that a universe whose origin depends on a Creator could continue to exist without the Creator’s sustaining power.

Another famous scientist who scorned evolution by chance was the physicist and cosmologist Sir Fred Hoyle. His close associate Chandra Wickramasinghe, also a physicist, said, under oath at a trial concerning the constitutionality of a law requiring balanced treatment of evolutionism and creationism in public schools, that the probability of life accidentally emerging from non-life was comparable to the probability of a tornado sweeping through a junk yard and assembling a Boeing 747. In a book coauthored by Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, they pointed out that the chance development of even a single polypeptide useful to life is absurdly small.

As a scholar whose professional publications are in the field of statistics, I whole-heartedly agree. Origin-of-life studies have failed to demonstrate any natural process for building proteins. Besides, all viable proteins contain only left-handed amino acids. I have written a paper showing that the chance of nature constructing any single viable protein is therefore virtually zero, even if a natural process for building proteins existed. The chance of getting two proteins compatible with each other is incalculably even smaller, and the chance of getting a whole workable unit is, well, so ridiculously small as to confound measurement. And even if the impossible happened and such protolife emerged somewhere in an otherwise dead world, it would be quickly destroyed by natural processes of degradation.

But Hoyle, although he saw the foolishness in chance evolution, was another scientist who did not turn to Bible religion as the obvious alternative. Instead, he offered a theory called Panspermia to explain life in our world. This theory is not science, however, but essentially a retreat to Eastern mysticism. We might even characterize it as a Westernized form of Hinduism or Buddhism. Wickramasinghe, Hoyle’s coauthor for the book presenting Panspermia, came from a Buddhist background. The worldview of these two physicists is Western in the sense that they imagine an ascending series of intelligent beings above man with God at the highest level, yet Eastern in the sense that they define God as the universe itself. Use of the personal name “God” strongly suggests that they regard the universe as a person, at least to the extent of possessing a mind. Given Hoyle’s long commitment to steady-state cosmology, which views the universe as essentially unchanging, we may suppose that he and his colleague believe that this divine person is eternal and self-existing, like the God of Christians. One critical difference is that whereas the god of Hoyle and Wickramasinghe is identical to the universe, the Christian God exists above, before, and beyond it as well as within it. He is both transcendent and immanent.

The most glaring implausibilities in how Hoyle and Wickramasinghe conceive of God are these:

  1. To imagine that the universe has always existed neglects the overwhelming observable evidence that it is in decay.
  2. If the universe is a person, we cannot reasonably account for its behavior. It has a moral complexity never found in the character of a single being. Both good and evil exist in extremes pointing to sources who passionately love the one and hate the other. But to simultaneously bear intense love and intense hate for the same object is impossible for a single person.

Still another scientist who turned against old-fashioned Darwinian evolution, supposing that the only creator is natural forces, was Francis Collins, for many years the head of the Human Genome Project. In his book discussing the significance of recent advances in knowledge, he admitted that anything as complex and sophisticated as the genetic code could not originate by chance. It is essentially a language, whose inventor must be an intelligent being. Indeed, he felt constrained by common sense to describe the genetic code as the language of God. But although Collins rejected the gods of deism and mysticism, he could not bring himself to recommend the God of the Bible. Instead, he adopted the position known as theistic evolution, which affirms that the ascent of life forms from simple to complex took place through long ages, just as evolutionists have always believed, but which also affirms, contrary to their belief, that this ascent was not simply the work of chance. It was the fulfillment of a divine plan. God made it happen.

But my reply is to warn you of the alarming implications if theistic evolution is the right interpretation of the world’s past. It leaves us with a god whose idea of a good world is one of constant violence, bloodshed, and suffering. (The rich and powerful have no trouble drawing out the lesson for them—that bloodshed and violence are legitimate tools for advancing their agenda). But to conceive of god in this manner creates a huge problem. My own conscience tells me that constant violence, bloodshed, and suffering are not good. They are not the natural features of a good world, but the symptoms of an evil world. Where did my conscience come from? If this universe is under divine management, as Collins admits, my conscience must come from God, my Creator. Why would He give me a conscience that finds fault with His own idea of what is good? No, the more logical position is that my conscience reflects God’s character. It is therefore impossible that the true God would have used the ruthless mechanics of evolution to accomplish His purposes.

All these alternatives to Darwinian evolution that we see emerging among well-informed scientists today are just as untenable as the theory they reject. In their desperation to escape from Christianity, they are running to worldviews full of contradictions and wild fantasies. Against evolutionism, the Bible teaches that God created the universe a few thousand years ago. If you are swift to hear, you will open your mind to this teaching. It is all right to respond with many questions, but then it is your duty to do the necessary reading and research to find satisfying answers, and I guarantee you that they exist.

The second cornerstone of modern thinking is pragmatism, which is the belief that nothing in itself is absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the situation. Of course, pragmatism is a simple deduction from evolutionism. If there is no God and man is basically an animal, moral values have no meaning beyond self-interest. The only right thing is whatever you can get away with in defense of your own survival or in pursuit of your own happiness. The funny thing about pragmatism is that nobody believes it. If you take any self-proclaimed pragmatist and step really hard on his toes, what will he do? He will loudly protest, in no uncertain terms, that you did wrong, meaning "wrong" in an absolute sense.

The third cornerstone of modern thinking is relativism, the belief that all truth is relative. From this belief comes the claim that all religions are equally valid. The problem in this claim is that the different world religions all contradict each other. None agrees with the fundamentals of Christianity. So are these fundamentals true or false? You cannot have it both ways. Either Jesus rose from the dead or He did not. If He did not, there is no reason to be a Christian. If He did, there is no reason to be anything else.

Further Reading


If you have found this lesson helpful, you might want to obtain Ed Rickard's commentary on the whole Epistle of James. For a brief description and for information on how to obtain it, click here.