The Two-Sided Axe
by Darel Rex Finley, November 30, 1997

"There may be many challenging empirical problems with evolution, but right now it's the best theory we have. Until a better theory comes along to replace it, we have to stick with it. That's just the way science works."

This is the fallback position for evolutionists, when confronted by informed skeptics. To really understand it, two qualifications must be recognized. First, the category of "better theory" is not intended to include the possibility that a preexisting intelligence may have designed life on purpose. Evolutionists refuse to let go of their position until a new purely naturalistic explanation is discovered.

Secondly, to "stick with" evolution does not mean teaching new generations that it is the least-inadequate explanation of life we have. It does mean teaching them that evolution is completely confirmed as true. Is this really the way science works?

Duane Gish is a well-known proponent of biblical literalism. Gish insists that the earth and all life was created in six days, and that this occurred less than 10,000 years ago. Gish discounts geological evidence of the earth's age, and rejects the validity of radiocarbon dating.

Suppose, hypothetically, that Gish were to discover a stunning new empirical proof that God exists and did design all life. But to promote this new proof, he would have to admit that the earth is 4 billion years old, that radiocarbon dating is valid, etc. Would Gish be willing to do that? I believe he would, because I think Gish has an axe to grind; an ulterior motive. We all have ulterior motives to some extent, and although we don't have to let them take precedence over our scientific objectivity, I believe Gish does. His axe is a desire to encourage belief in God as our creator. To that end, I am confident that Gish would happily relinquish his current positions — if he could replace them with a much more compelling reason to believe in God.

When evolutionists say that evolution must stand until it is replaced by a better naturalistic explanation, they are occupying the flip side of Gish's axe. Evolutionists want us to believe that we were not designed for a purpose. As they rather frankly admit, they would happily acknowledge the empirical failure of evolution — if they could at the same time propose a revolutionary new explanation that is as purely naturalistic as Darwin's.

If Duane Gish placed scientific objectivity above his personal desires, he would be willing to say "OK, the earth is billions of years old, the biblical narrative is not literally accurate. Maybe the Bible's creation story is generally true, and maybe one day we will find a way to prove it, but for now the evidence looks fairly ambiguous." Gish is not willing to say anything like this, because he doesn't want to do anything that might discourage belief in God.

Likewise, if evolutionists like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Jay Gould, and Daniel Dennet placed scientific objectivity above their personal desires, they would be willing to say, "OK, Darwin's evolution has failed. Natural selection does not seem to have the creative powers that we claimed it did. Maybe a purely naturalistic explanation for life will one day be discovered, but for now the evidence suggests that some kind of intelligent designer may have been involved." I don't expect anything like this from Dawkins, Gould or Dennet, because such a statement might do a lot to encourage belief in God.

Saying that evolution is the "best explanation we have" is like saying that "The cheetah is our best example of an animal that can run at 300 MPH." The statement is comforting to those who cannot bear to consider that there may be no animal capable of running that fast, but science really does not work this way. Part of being a scientist is swallowing one's personal tastes and accepting the evidence for what it is.