the official site of Michael Shermer

top navigation:

God is Only a Theory

July 2007

I have given much thought to the creationists’ demand that evolution be stricken from public school science classes, or that it be taught side-by-side with creationism because “evolution is only a theory” and since “no one was there to witness the creation” we cannot say for sure what really happened.

I have come to the conclusion that what’s fair is fair, and that the creationists have a good point. After all, isn’t education all about hearing both sides of an issue? And they are correct, no one was there to witness the creation, so any ideas about who or what caused the creation can only be speculative theories and therefore never provable.

Therefore, I am certain that Ministers, Priests, Rabbis, and religious leaders of all sects will be pleased to read the following disclaimer to their respective congregations every Sunday morning, or before any sermon delivered:

Good morning ladies and gentlemen, God bless and welcome to [fill in the name of your church, temple, mosque, or center of worship here].
This morning we are going to talk about the creation of the universe and the origins of life on Earth. According to the Bible, Genesis 1:1–3: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

Now, it is important for us to understand that no one was actually present at the creation so we don’t really know what happened. Genesis 1:1–3 is only a theory, and as such cannot be treated as fact. And it is only fair that I share with you that there are other theories of the creation.

For example, some Sumerians and Babylonians, Gilbert Islanders, Koreans, and Greeks believed that the world was created from the parts of a slain monster; some Zuni Indians, Cook Islanders, and Tahitians have a theory that the world was created by the interaction of primordial parents; and some Japanese, Samoan, Persian, Chinese, and Hindu have a theory that the world was generated from an egg.” And, of course, there is that dogma being foisted upon us by the liberal media and intelligentsia, the theory of evolution.

As for the origins of human life, that is spelled out in Genesis 1:27: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Of course, not only was no one present to witness this act — except for Adam and Eve after they were created — I should point out that this theory has a counter theory in Genesis 2:7, where “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” In this theory Adam is all alone without a mate, so in Genesis 2:21–22 “the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

Since everyone here was blessed by the almighty with a brain that thinks, I will allow you to decide which theory is the correct theory of the creation of humans, Genesis 1 or Genesis 2. Weigh the evidence and decide for yourselves. You be the judge.

Oh, there is one other minor detail. Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, and as you all know Cain — as firstborns are wont to do to their laterborn siblings who compete for the limited parental resources — slew him. That left Adam, Eve, and Cain as the only humans on the entire Earth. But in Genesis 4:17 we read that “Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch.” Now, I don’t mean to burden you with more of the liberal media’s fascination with smut and porn, but I think as created beings endowed with intelligence and critical thinking skills blessed to us by the good Lord, it might be reasonable to ask just who it was that Cain “knew.” Unless Adam was himself blessed with both types of reproductive organs, or Cain was capable of parthenogenesis, then we are left with the theory that Cain “knew” his mother. But that’s just a theory, and as we all know, theories are just wild guesses and should not be taken seriously.

This opinion editorial was first published here.

read or write comments (31)
topics in this post: , , , , ,

31 Comments to “God is Only a Theory”

  1. paul Says:

    Actually education is NOT about hearing both sides of an issue, that’s called a DEBATE. Education is about providing facts, scientific and math reasoning skills. In English studies you can engage in discussing different sides and go at it in a debate forum (and furthermore, there are often more than just “two” sides to so many issues). What we do with those memorized factual skills can be debated but shouldn’t be the main provenance of education.

    But I think that you should counter “evolution is only a theory” by quoting Carl Sagan (something like) ” evolution is NOT a theory, it is accepted scientific doctrine”, and further, “No, evolution is not a theory, but GOD is!” “Evolution is no more a theory than is Gravity”.

    And for the Ben Phili-Steins out there who decry “science as evil”, you can say to them “well, if you don’t believe in science, then why not give me your car, house, tv, cell phone, computer, clothes, toiletries, medications, etc, and go and live in a cave somewhere, since everything you use in life is the result of technology and science, dimwit!” And “Well, I don’t see the instructions for making computers, medical cures, airplanes, microwaves, automobiles, etc., anywhere in the Bible. So what is more useful in your everyday life, science or the crappy Bible?”

  2. Bill H. Says:

    I’m a high school science teacher in Montana, and I’ve taught all 4 main disciplines plus Astronomy and Natural History. When I hear the “JUST a Theory” statement, I take a minute and make sure to clarify exactly what a SCIENTIFIC THEORY really is! Most lay-people incorrectly interchange the terms “Theory” and “Hypothesis”, and I go to great lengths to make sure my students have a good handle on what both words mean to scientists. We clarify that
    1) A(n) HYPOTHESIS is an informed prediction about the outcome of a certain investigation, and…
    2) An experiment is meant to find out if the Data and Observations do or do not support the HYPOTHESIS. So…
    after many experiments produce a large enough amount of evidence that support an Hypothesis, we can be safe in stating a
    3) THEORY, which is an explanation or description of a certain phenomenon which is (drumroll, please!) ……
    SUPPORTED BY A LARGE AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE! It is NOT JUST A GUESS!!! A THEORY is a powerful thing in science, much more than a wild supposition! Consequently, the
    THEORY OF EVOLUTION is a powerful statement about how life on Earth (including we humans) ended up in the state in which they are currently found.
    4) There is far, far more evidence for Evolution than there is for, say, Atomic Theory, but you don’t see fundamentalists telling their kids to plug their ears in class when the teacher brings up protons, neutrons, and electrons, etc.
    5) We also discuss the differences between a BELIEF and a SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING, and the requirements of each. A BELIEF requires No Evidence, and that’s fine, as far as it goes. That’s why I don’t necessarily tell students that I BELIEVE IN evolution. It’s not a matter of Belief, it’s a matter of accepting that the Theory of Evolution is, by far, the BEST SUPPORTED EXPLANATION of how life and other things change over time. I

    It is important that everyone involved in the discussions understands exactly the meaning of various terms being bandied about. My most important job as a science teacher is to make sure my students are a little better at critical thinking and evaluating whether the claims made in everyday life have valid evidence to support them.
    In the words of Sherlock Holmes (sic)” It is a capital mistake to THEORIZE before one has DATA. Insensibly, one ends up twisting FACTS to suit THEORIES, not changing THEORIES to suit the FACTS.”
    This approach, when prefaced with ground rules about having a mature, respectful discussion, tends to defuse most resistance, anyway. It’s a great feeling to have a student say “Hmmm, I never thought about it that way, maybe you’re right!”
    There you go!

  3. Harvey Sauter Says:

    Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts
    and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy
    of increasing certainty. Facts are the world’s
    data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and
    interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists
    debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein’s
    theory of gravitation replaced Newton’s, but apples
    did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the
    outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike
    ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed
    mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered.
    [...] Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth,
    though creationists often do (and then attack us for a
    style of argument that they themselves favor). In science,
    “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree
    that it would be perverse to withhold provisional
    assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow,
    but the possibility does not merit equal time
    in physics classrooms.
    - Stephen Jay Gould, “Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s

  4. Kevin Bladsacker Says:

    Excuse me while I turn down the volume on my sarcasmometer. Its making my ears ring. Excellent piece, but you are making me question my skepticism of paranormal events since it seems you may be channeling George Carlin. Obviously equal time is just what they claim they want, not what they really want.

    Just last evening, I heard the same question ending in “then why do we still have monkees around”. I was enjoying the evening too much to even mention that he would accept the concept of dogs evolving from wolves, but didn’t lose sleep about wolves still existing.

  5. sittingbytheriver Says:

    I love the title: “God Is Only a Theory”

    I would happily read anything that followed that statement. : )

  6. epicurus Says:

    To pure empiricists like David Hume and Stephen Hawking, theories exist only in our minds. We make them up to explain what we perceive around us. Only sense-perceptions are real or factual. Hence, gravitational force is a fact. Newton’s law of gravity and Einstein’s general relativity are theories to explain gravitational force. Fossils and diverse life forms are facts. Evolution is a theory to explain them. Of course theories don’t have equal validity. Some theories are more consistent with factual observations than others.

    To the extent that God is elusive to perception and scientific measurements, it is not factual. It is a theory or hypothesis to explain a wide variety of things like life, the universe, morality and so on. It is for us to judge whether or not the God hypothesis can explain things better than science does. Legend has it that after reading the book Celestial Mechanics by the great astronomer and physicist Pierre Simon de Laplace, Napoleon Bonaparte asked why he did not mention God in his book. Laplace replied “I have no need of that hypothesis.”

  7. epicurus Says:

    Let me correct myself. Gravitational force is not factual. Only falling objects and moving planets are. :-)

  8. freetodoubt Says:

    Science is foolproof,
    religion is proof for fools.

  9. Bill H. Says:

    I concur with Harvey S. that Evolution is both a Theory and a Fact. My main point was about how I make sure to clarify the terms we use in class discussions. As would be expected, students often only parrot the same arguments they hear from their parents, and unfortunately many of those on the Right Wing subscribe to the school of “Debate” that says “He who yells first and loudest must be most correct.” Another unsettling pattern is how those who come from homes that are the most “anti-evolution” are often the most rude to their classmates who disagree with them.
    My hope is that by modeling and maintaining a calm, respectful demeanor, a reasonable learning environment will allow good ideas to sink in.
    Thanks.

  10. golfzilla Says:

    All the annoying characteristics Bill H. attributes to the right are doubled down in spades for the left. Until you find something resembling a center, its all BS.

    BTW Michael, this comment box is not properly defined in the HTML for this page. The box is X characters wide, but shows on the screen as X-Y wide (Firefox).

  11. codiferous Says:

    “Just last evening, I heard the same question ending in “then why do we still have monkees around”.”

    Really? I love that band!

  12. frank Says:

    thank god for incest! (re Cain’s wife; if you read on, the bible explicitly mentions other ‘sons and daughters’ of Adam and Eve)

    re yr suggestion that Gen 1 and Gen 2 creation stories differ – you may read it that way, but i think the text allows (and indeed favours) another interpretation that harmonises the two.

  13. Bill H. Says:

    So, Frank is saying that Cain’s wife was also a sister? Are the Other Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve described in more detail elsewhere? Either way, it’s a handy default to the question “Where did they come from?”

    By the way, Golfzilla, you are right about the need for a sensible middle ground for class discussions. However, you never hear about Pro-choice people bombing churches or attacking pastors. The Right Wing seems to feel some sort of Righteous Justification for any and all attacks and arguments, that they are doing “God’s Work”, a sort of Fudamentalist Jihad. Though some far Left Wing folks are definitely out of bounds in their In-Your-Face tactics, their students, at least in my classes, are not the ones ridiculing those who disagree with them with childish sayings.
    I also dig the Monkees. There, I said it.

  14. golfzilla Says:

    Bill H: Pro-choice people are not usually flagrant bombers. But, who are usually rioters? And, what about Bill Ayers and his bombing ilk? Lefties!

    Sorry about the Monkees :-)

  15. Bill H. Says:

    Yeah, most rioters are leftist idiots, true. But then, most rioters in general are knuckleheads, anyway.
    Thankfully,
    Evolutionary theory usually allows for the least “fit” to often be eliminated by the events which happen in riots.

    Thanks for the Monkees condolences (Mickey-con-Dolenzes)
    Ha!

  16. Pablo Says:

    All Superstitions (including the existence of Dieties) can Only be defined as “Beliefs”.
    Superstitions or ‘Beliefs’ are neither “Hypotheses” or “Theories”, because of the absence of supportive Observations, Data and Facts (i.e. Evidence).
    The myriad “Beliefs” that have exponentially appeared during primative Humankind’s evolution merely represent myriad explanations for the ‘Unexplanable’.

    Unforunately, an understanding of Evolution as Fact, requires one to be educated (i.e. in this regard–an understanding of the complex biochemistry of DNA, RNA, Protein Translation and also importantly, how Mutations occur to permit Survival (of the Fittest) and the process of Natural Selection. Unfortunately, only a tiny percent of the world’s population have such an education.

    It is extremely dificult for the uneducated to grasp the concept of evolution, if there is no understading of the Time required for the process. Especially for mankind where reproduction is a 9 month affair. Evolution can, however, be readily visualized where reproductive rates are rapid, as in bacteria or, even faster, in viruses. Even ignoring the scientific method, ‘Antibacterial’ and ‘Antiviral’ Agent Resistance is the most obvious everyday evidentiary support.

    Without the Education, one is left with either the ‘Acceptance’ of the Science Method or its ‘Ignorant Disregard’ and the acceptance of hand-me-down ‘beliefs’ and ‘Delusions’

    Unfortunately, the majority of the world’s population may not be open to the educational process to erase those delusions.
    The ignorance of ‘Fundamentalism’ associated with ‘Beliefs’, ‘Myths and the ‘Religions’ of the world, is the greatest barrier to Education and True Enlightenment.

  17. Bill H. Says:

    Hey Pablo,
    I fully concur. Well said. I like the term ‘Ignorant Disregard’, it really hits the nail on the head. I know a few science teachers who are also fundamentalist Southern Baptists, and have had many interesting discussions with them. One even admits that he has to consciously ignore and/or forget much that he has learned when he walks into the church. One of them often flirts with crossing the line separating church and state in his Biology classes, and I’ve cautioned him about pushing or promoting ANY religious ideology when in his role as a teacher.
    There was previously a Social Studies teacher in the room next to mine who told his students “Your science teachers are lying to you intentionally, and they know it!” Later that day it took a lot of self-restraint to calmly explain to him why that was not only illegal and unconstitutional but unprofessional as a teacher. He stood there non-plussed and said he answers to a higher law and does what God tells him. Fortunately he is no longer employed in the public school system, and is doing well teaching “science” at the local Christian High School. He’s not even certified to teach any science in public schools.
    It is frightening how many “educated” people remain in Ignorant Disregard, and it’s transmitted to the next
    generation just like their DNA. Parents who ridicule science make our job as Science teachers just that much harder, and kids learn most of their political/moral ideas from Mom and Dad, whether they admit it or not.
    Myths vs. Education, which has been around longer? It’s always an uphill battle.

  18. Gary Says:

    For several years I have been observing how people delude themselves and religion is the most delusional “belief” held world wide. Religion and any belief in a god/ deity is just that a “belief.” What a person believes or does not believe is the difference between being delusional (psychotic) or not being delusional (sane). You may wonder how so many people that hold these delusional beliefs can function it is because they are able to compartmentalize their delusional beliefs. When they are no longer able to compartmentalize their delusions they end up as patients in psychiatric hospitals.

  19. Bill H. Says:

    Gary,
    Right, people who can’t compartmentalize their delusional beliefs either end up in psych wards or on TV as Televangelists! Or, like my mother-in-law, as a person totally consumed by an obsession with all things related to Christ. As a widow, she even purports to be a “Bride of Christ” which I have seen characterized as a form of psychosis. Does that mean the Jesus is my Father-in-Law?
    Wow!
    Bill H.

  20. Alan N. Says:

    You give too much credit to the “God notion” by calling it an “hypothesis.” An hypothesis is a conclusion reached after exhaustive examination of data and testing it by empiric means (i.e. measurable, quantifiable, reproducible means) that can result in its future confirmation or contradiction.

    The “God notion” is arrived at by intuitive glimpses of phenomena and not much more. The idea cannot be proven either true or false by empiric means.

    This is the core of the intelligent design (ID) vs. evolution in public school controversy. ID is not a theory. It is not science – full stop.

    What we skeptics must do is teach the ID crowd (especially the general public) what science is so that they can finally see the light.

    …Very clever and funny article, though.

    Alan N.

  21. Jor-L5150 Says:

    actually , there is a third creation story , i beleive in psalms or song of solomon( i will check ) that is ” borrowed ” from babylon , in which yahweh/jehovah builds heaven and earth out of two halves of a monster he destroys called tiamat.

    - the genesis account DOES mention ” other sons and daughters” of adam and eve, but , even then incest was necessary. there are several stories of incest among the ” good guys ” of the bible. in fact , an entire race is said to be from Lot impregnating his daughters when they date-raped him .

    some apologists want to claim that gen 1 and gen 2 are the ” SAME story, but with clarification”. that is hilarious and WEAK. if either story were true, and God wrote it – or inspired it in the first place , then why not get the story right in the first place ? why so many stories being repeated with contradictions?
    why have the book of chronicles if you already have the book of samuel/kings? why bother with genesis 1 if genesis 2 gets it right ? why four gospels? why not ONE ..or ten?

    in reality , these were COMPETING traditions from worhippers of EL ( of the elohim ) and Yahweh/jehovah who lived in defferent regions in canaan/israel and were redacted together.

  22. Jor-L5150 Says:

    its understandable that religious people think evolution is ridiculous- when you realise they have never read darwin and never actually studied what evolution IS , only what the church tells them it is. when it is so mischaracterised and loaded with innane analogies then evolution sounds absurd.

    personally , i couldn’t believe how skillful my church had been at LYING about darwin and evolution ! it was staggering, but then the jehovah’s witnesses are enough to even embarass creationist so……

    my faveorit line is ” evolution is the belief that life ‘just happened’” . ” just happened ” ???!!! JUST happened ?? . lets see, BILLIONS of years of physical law, incomrehensible spans of time , testable chemical reactions , replications …eons and eons of replications with variations ….aaaaand it ” just happened “. ok.
    actually , the only people who belive life ” just happened ” are CREATIONISTS! they believe there WAS NO LIFE- THEN – God said ” let it be ” and then it just happened.
    its absurd to beleive that life ” just happened ” if it took billions of years complying with physical law, but if it took a few days and a magical creature then it makes perfect sense and should be taught in science class….

  23. Duke Says:

    Thanks for the article. I’ve heard of your work but only began reading it. I’ve been a Christian since baptism (going through Catholicism and through Protestantism). I was a creationist and am now an evolutionists. Thanks for your healthy dose of skepticism.

    Peace.

  24. John Crider Says:

    “God is only a theory!” But wait, it’s not even a scientific theory!

  25. Duke Says:

    Thanks for this piece. I am a Christian Theist, but I have started reading some of your work. I’ve always tried to think outside the box, but even more so as I’ve gotten older. Thanks for the intellectual meal. Peace.

  26. Jay M Says:

    I loved the article, and many of the comments. But I have to disagree with those who claim there is no place for God in science.

    Science can explain every step of the evolution of the universe, but it’s my understanding that the first instance of the Big Bang cannot be explained (yet). There is nothing in science, that I’m aware of, the precludes the possibility of a supernatural origin.

    Can you say, “Let there be light”?

  27. agnostic Says:

    I could write a whole load of points I have thought about inspired by this article and all your comments, so here are just a few:

    God said, “Let there be light!”, and there was. God is supposed to be all knowing and all powerful, omnipotent, yada yada. By this statement we can assume that God has been walking around in the dark all these millennia until he created the Earth. What kind of intelligent being does that when they can create light to see with?

    Babylonian mythology has a tale of Gilgamesh, he wanted immortality. One of his uncles had it so he asked him how he got it. He said “the gods gave me it for saving the world’s population.” Know how he did that?

    With a big boat, much like Noah did, but a great deal earlier, years in the order of hundreds I think (can’t remember exactly). So, we can see that those believing in God were “inspired” by all sorts of stories to make another book up.

    A line in the article did stick in my mind, “..not only was no one present to witness this act…”. How can he be so sure as there is no proof either way? Shermer should have more correctly said something like “..not only was there no one, who is currently alive, present to witness this act…”

    As far as creationism goes. Knowing what little I know about genetics. Mixing the gene pool so close to home does not normally result in such a large number of healthy individuals, quite the opposite, it leads to a poorly developed human race with less diversity for survival. That is why it is frowned upon and not generally encouraged. So, with that in mind how did the human race grow so large, diverse and so, generally, well developed?

  28. agnostic Says:

    While I’m on a roll:

    Putting God, Christianity etc. into a more modern perspective, if you went to see a movie at the cinema that had so many holes in the plot that the bible has, would you pay to go see it again? Or better yet, by the DVD?

  29. Broughton Says:

    Education is about brainwashing the most impressionable segment of our society in accordance with the wishes of those with the political power to influence the educational bureacracy. I’m an atheist and a biologist, but I’m more concerned with the arbitrary liberal secular theology being inflicted on children than I am about religious influences. I attended a College of Education at a university, and it was more anti-science than any church I’ve encountered.

  30. Stephen Hawkins Hero Says:

    There is no god , It makes no logical sense that an omnipotant Figure would just appear out of no where to creat a heaven and an earth.Religion was created to serve as a nightlight to humans who are affraid to die , so people follow religion so they have a sense of comfert.It was also created as an institution to controle how people act , if people are afriad to go to “hell” then they will act like good little children waiting for santa

  31. Don Says:

    The Impossible Chasm Which Intelligent Design Cannot Jump

    The fundamental thrust of Intelligent Design is that a design is observable in the universe and is evidence for the Creator God (as opposed to a god-less materialistic universe brought into being by no designed intent whatsover).

    Suppose for the sake of argument that I concede to the Intelligent Design crowd that there must absolutely be a god because I find their Intelligent Design evidence to be too great to resist any longer.

    That will bring the Intelligent Design crowd to their feet in applause.

    But what I say in the rest of these comments, as I concede Intelligent Design for the sake of argument, will leave them hissing at me and calling me an apostate and a heretic.

    Why?

    Because Intelligent Design does not take into account the single, most fundamental question in all of Christian theology: What are the sources of our knowledge about god?

    The Christian answer to that most fundamental of all theological questions proposes that there are two possible sources of knowledge about god. The ‘topic of sources’ is really a consideration of what theologians call ‘the means of divine revelation’, and that is always the very first issue addressed in any theology class. Theology cannot proceed to establish dogma until we know where to look for dogmatic information about god.

    In Christian theology, there are two means of divine revelation, revelation being the communication which god gives to man about himself, his nature, and his requirements for our moral living.

    The first means of revelation which god uses is called ‘general revelation’ or ‘natural revelation’. This is the kind of revelatory evidence promulgated by the Intelligent Design crowd. General revelation is what we can learn about god from the universe we live in.

    Please note carefully: Any design we see in the universe must be subsumed under the broader, theological heading of ‘general revelation’.

    A good example of such revelation is identified in the New Testament where Paul writes in Romans chapter 1, verses 19-20, “. . . . that which may be known of God is manifest in them [mankind]; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead . . . .”

    Then there is the second means of revelation, and it is called ‘special revelation’. It excels over general revelation at those critical points where general revelation falls short and fails to reveal all that men must additionally know about god in order to be saved. General revelation deals with the natural universe. Special revelation deals with salvation and is considered to be special in the sense that the universe, by itself, does not naturally show us how to be saved from our sin.

    In Christian theology, for example, special revelation’s most basic fact is that all men have sinned in Adam and need to be saved. The evidence of general revelation and the evidence for Intelligent Design in particular do NOT tell us how to be saved. Neither the universe nor even Intelligent Design can explicate how to get to heaven.

    So special revelation is needed to spell out the solution to man’s need for salvation. In Christian terms, one must believe that the death of Jesus on the cross paid for our sins and that when god raised Jesus from the dead, he did so to certify that he is now fully satisfied with his son’s sacrifice. General revelation makes no mention of Jesus and says nothing about the power of the cross. That kind of information about salvation is NOT available from the design intricacies which Intelligent Design observes in the universe. Intelligent Design does not unpack the enigma of salvation. Only special revelation, in this case the Bible, informs us of those details.

    Such is the essence of Christianity’s special revelation, as revealed in the Bible’s Old and New Testaments.

    But, other religions have their own scriptures that contain their own special revelation on how to be saved.

    That single fact, the existence of multiple special revelations, completely undermines the entire argument of Intelligent Design.

    (Hissing now audible)

    This is where every religion which depends on a unique, specially revealed holy scripture (particularly the religions of dogmatic fundamentalists) arrives at the Great and Impassable Chasm. I am referring to the unbridgeable gap which separates general revelation (including Intelligent Design’s sub-features) from special revelation (the plans of salvation found in the Bible, Quran, Vedas, etc).

    If there were, down through the entire history of all mankind, but a single, one and only, special revelatory Holy Scripture which god once and for all gave to mankind, then Intelligent Design proponents might have a narrow foothold of logic to stand on. From the precarious ledge above the Unbridgeable Chasm called solitary uniqueness, Intelligent Design proponents could attempt to bridge the Gap. They could attempt to extrapolate to the conclusion that the god generally revealed by Intelligent Design evidence is therefore the god specially revealed in his one and only Holy Scripture ever given for salvation, called, in this case, the Bible.

    But, as soon as even a single, additional special revelatory Holy Scripture appears on the scene to compete with the Bible, the evidence provided by Intelligent Design now belongs equally to both camps to claim it as THEIR general revelation of THEIR god.

    (More hissing can be heard)

    General revelation, even Intelligent Design’s general revelation, by its very ‘natural only’ nature does not contain even one clue to god’s specific identity. Or, in this case, even a single clue to which holy scripture he inspired.

    In the face of other religions’ competing claims to special revelation, Intelligent Design evidence becomes wholly inconclusive.

    (Even more hissing)

    Its corroborates not a single aspect of the special revelation contained in the Bible. Said another way, any attempt to find corroboration for the Bible in Intelligent Design data serves equally to corroborate the Vedas and the Quran. Even if Intelligent Design does suggest that a god exists, its evidence is entirely neutral in answering which religion is the religion of the god who is behind the detected Intelligent Design.

    One cannot jump from my temporary concession, “Intelligent Design proves god exists,” to, “Therefore the Bible is true,” and ultimately on to, “Therefore the Genesis seven-day creation account is literally true.” The Christian theological definitions of the two, and only two, means of divine revelation explicitly prohibit jumping the Gap. They assert that no amount of general revelation ever reveals anything about special revelation. The only allowable logical path permitted by the two means of revelation is from the specific to the general, not the general to the specific. The following is valid: The Bible says that god created the universe in seven days. Therefore, the efforts of Intelligent Design should uncover evidence of that creation in the universe.

    To attempt the reverse jump is not only a totally unwarranted extension of any evidence presented by Intelligent Design. It also flagrantly abuses the delineation so carefully drawn between general revelation and special revelation by centuries of Christian apologists as they sought to preserve the uniqueness of the Bible in the face of competing truth claims.

    But even that conclusion, the uniqueness of the Bible, cannot be supported if even a single competing religion makes the same claim that it, too, expects to find evidence of their god in the created universe.

    Intelligent Design proponents have actually, inadvertently, undercut their case. They have given non-Christian religions the same evidence to use to prove that they are the true religion.

    Whatever general revelation may expose about god, it is incapable of certifying any particular religion’s special revelation. There is an unbridgeable, impassable logical Chasm which separates Intelligent Design from its intended anchor, the Bible. Even if Intelligent Design ultimately proves to be irrefutably true, Christians cannot claim it proves anything about Christianity or the Bible or the Six Days of Creation in Genesis.

    (I need to get out of here. The Intelligent Design proponents are picking up stones!)

Leave a Comment