Part 2 – Faulty Logic
Huxley (1960) stated that “in the evolutionary scheme of thought there is no longer either need or room for the supernatural. The earth was not created, it evolved. So did all the animals and plants that inhabit it, including our human selves, mind and soul as well as brain and body” (cited in Lennox, 2009, p.87). These words make evolution compete against God (and please note the overreach of evolution, in Huxley’s words, to now account for the beginning of the earth and not just living things). Huxley makes evolution (a mechanism of how diversities in living things arose) contend against belief in God (an agent or maker of the living things) as the creator. As a computer programmer I would invoke an alert “logical error detected!”
Consider this question:
Which is greater, the number ‘2’ or the letter ‘h’?
The problem here is not with what answer to give but with the question itself. The question is comparing items belonging to different categories – the numerical scheme category and the alphabetical category. This would be the case of category mistake. Comparing God and evolution suffers the same mistake. Evolution and God are not competing explanations. The former is a mechanism that tries to explain how diversity in living organisms arose through natural selection and the latter an agent who brought about the life. Evolution does not explain what caused the beginning of life, but merely attempts to explain how the diversity of its forms arose [It is no wonder that some scientists like Francis Collins believe both in God and evolution: in their worldview God is the agent that caused the mechanism of evolution. This would not be expected if evolution and creator God were mutually exclusive explanations.] Thus, evolution can only be compared to God if it has an agent (other than God) which caused life to begin to exist. An illustration here may save a thousand words:
A cook is asked questions:
HOW did this nice cake come to be? (Note that this question asks for mechanism).
The recipe involved preparing the dough, putting it in an oven, and later icing it with cream.
WHO made this cake? (this question asks for the agent by whom the cake came to be; the rationale is that the process of dough preparation, heating and icing cannot happen on its own, i.e., without involvement of an intelligent entity).
Jack did it!
Of the two answers below, which one gives a more sensible explanation?
Answer (a): Making the cake involved preparing the dough, putting it in an oven, and later icing it with cream.
Answer (b): Jack prepared the cake.
As you may have noticed there is clearly no problem with the first two questions but one in the third because no comparison can be drawn between alternatives (a) and (b) of the Third Question. Q3(a) asks about the mechanism (recipe) used to prepare the cake and (b) about the agent (Jack) who prepared the cake. The recipe and Jack cannot logically compete as explanations. The question will only make sense if there is an alternative person to compare with (say, Peter whom everyone knows has never baked before) or an alternative recipe (say, one which may or may not have led to producing a cake in question). The third question can thus be re-written as follows:
Of the two answers below, which one gives a more sensible explanation as to how the cake was made?
Answer (a): The cake was prepared by first making the dough, heating it in the oven and later icing it,
Answer (b): The cake was prepared by first making the dough, cooling it in the freezer and later icing it?
It can now be clearly seen that both alternatives involve mechanism, and hence can be logically compared. So, the second part of the third question can also be re-written as follows:
Of the three answers below, which one gives a more sensible explanation as to who or what made the cake?
(a) Jack prepared the cake
(b) The cake made itself
(c) The cake has been existing eternally, without beginning or end.
Options (b) and (c) are clearly nonsensical and extending the stature of Jack or increasing the size of the cake until it feels the universe can never rationalize the absurdities!
Read this subject in-depth in the book, “Answering the Question: Who created the Creator?” in a chapter titled “Mechanism Versus Agency”
This book is now available in Lusaka in Grey Matter book store at East Park Mall. Elsewhere buy from Amazon.
Huxley, J. (1960). Evolution after Darwin, Sol Tax ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.