In his recent column on Humanevents.com Mac Johnson, a man whose writing I’ve always admired, claimed that the concept of Intelligent Design is a “really, really bad idea –scientifically, politically, and theologically.” He attacked ID using the usual list of specious arguments, distortions, and straw-man fallacies commonly used by the minions of scientism. Since I wrote rather extensively on the subject in a previous article, I won’t rehash it all here in detail. However, I felt the need to respond to at least some of the theological garbage spewed by Johnson in this piece.
The appellation ‘Darwin’s Lapdog’ is a tribute to Johnson’s predecessor Thomas Huxley. Popularly known as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog,’ Huxley, a contemporary of Darwin, had two mitigating factors in his favor which Johnson cannot claim: First, he was an avowed agnostic (in fact he coined the term,) while Johnson claims to believe in God; and second, Huxley, unlike Mac Johnson, didn’t have the advantage of 150 years of scientific research which utterly failed to prove Darwin’s theory.
Johnson claims that “ten years ago, ID had enough confidence and honesty to go by its birth name, creationism. Whereas today, it has been dressed up in a lab coat and a mail-order PhD…” This petty attack on the credentials of the scientists studying ID and the thousands of doctors and scientists who are on record doubting Darwinism is another favored tactic of the left. His over-simplified and inaccurate description of ID has already been addressed by the Discovery Institute, the world’s preeminent ID think-tank: “the charge that ID is ‘creationism’ is a rhetorical strategy on the part of Darwinists who wish to delegitimize ID without actually addressing the merits of its case.” They continue, “Creationism typically starts with a religious text and tries to see how the findings of science can be reconciled to it. ID starts with the empirical evidence of nature and seeks to ascertain what scientific inferences can be drawn from that evidence.” This is the first of many straw-man logical fallacies with which Johnson clumsily tries to prove his point.
Johnson claims that ID is not scientific because “it predicts nothing, since it essentially states that everything is the way it is because God wanted it that way.” In fact, ID begins, according to the Discovery Institute, with the hypothesis that “if a natural object was designed, it will contain high levels of complex and specified information. Scientists then perform experimental tests upon natural objects to determine if they contain complex and specified information.” They cite the concept of irreducible complexity as one example. This conforms to the scientific method of hypothesis, experimentation, and observation, leading to a conclusion.
Johnson, who claims to believe in God and may or may not be Catholic, mocks the idea of a Creator- the most fundamental of the underlying pillars of Judeo-Christian doctrine; one simply cannot be a Christian if he rejects the concept of a Creator. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity, and order.” It further states, “The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all of human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time began.”
The only scriptural reference he uses in defense of Darwin is from the extra-Biblical apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, a rather opaque quote attributed to Jesus: “If the flesh came into being because of the spirit, that is a marvel; but if the spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.” It is more likely this quote refers to the Incarnation of God as man in the Person of Jesus Christ than an endorsement of Darwinian evolutionary theory; but, nevertheless, its use proves Johnson found little validation for Darwinism in the actual Bible.
Bizarrely, he uses an out of context quote from St. Thomas Aquinas (“In the end, we know God as unknown”) to bolster his claims. I wonder why he didn’t pick the following quote from Aquinas’ Shorter Summa: “multiplicity and distinction occur in things not by chance or fortune but for an end…multiplicity in things is not explained by the order obtaining from intermediate agents, as though from one simple first being there could proceed directly only one thing that would be far removed from the first being in simplicity, so that multitude could issue from it, and thus, as the distance from the first simple being increased, the more numerous a multitude would be discerned. Some have suggested this explanation. But we have shown that there are many things that could not have come into being except by creation, which is exclusively the work of God, as has been proved.” He goes on to write, “the multiplicity and distinction existing among things were devised by the divine intellect.” Sounds a bit like intelligent design, huh Mac?
In lieu of any actual argument, Johnson, like all Darwin sycophants, continually uses the straw-man tactic of culling the evolutionary examples he cites from the domain of micro-evolution – the universally accepted (and scientifically observable) concept that small changes occur within a given species such as when a bacterium develops a resistance to antibiotics – rather than citing an example of macro-evolution, or how one species transmogrifies over time into an entirely new species. There is a very simple reason for this sleight-of-hand: there is no evidence to support this, the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory – even after 150 years of looking.
In the 17th century, scientist/philosopher Pascal posited his famous wager: It is better to wager that God is because if you win, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. If you wager God is not, you gain nothing if you win; if you lose, you lose all. An obvious concomitant to this would be: If He is, then we should honor Him and His works, not mock them. Otherwise the wager is a mere intellectual exercise and really quite useless. For his part, Johnson, with customary humility, and heedless of the implications of Pascal’s famous wager repeatedly mocks the God of creation: “I spend most of my time as a pharmaceutical researcher thinking about how to correct the commonly occurring mistakes of our allegedly intelligent body design” (emphasis added) And this: “wouldn’t an omniscient designer have come up with a countermeasure to malaria that, say, wouldn’t kill so many innocent children.” And how about this for a stunning example of child-like theological ignorance: “…have you ever thought about what sort of God it implies we have?” (It being the idea that God made the AIDS virus, smallpox, and polio.) Disease and death, in Christian belief, are the wages of original sin – man’s fall from grace through Adam’s transgression – and are the very reason God sent a Redeemer through Whom death may be defeated and eternal life obtained. Maybe a little less time in the laboratory and a bit more in Sunday school might have paid dividends.
Since he mocks and ridicules the concept of a Just God Who created man in His image, and asserts God had nothing to do with the diversity of life we see all around us, it begs a simple question: just what kind of God does he believe in? What role does he assign God in this new religion he has created outside of scripture and revelation?
If Mac Johnson feels he must defend Darwinism (and he is certainly more qualified than me in this area,) that is his right; but since he clearly has no idea what Intelligent Design theory really is, and is even more ignorant of basic theological concepts, perhaps Mac Johnson (and his readers) would have been well-served by listening to the advice of one of his apparent ancestors, the Geico caveman, before writing this article: “How about a little research first?” And his argument would be more effective if he refrained from the usual straw-man tactic of pretending the ID community rejects micro-evolution and instead produce some evidence to support his position on the real point of contention in this debate: that man was not created by a loving God in His image, but rather developed by mere happenstance along with every other form of life on the planet, over millions of years from a single common ancestor. I won’t hold my breath.