That’s the challenge for many apologists.  But it’s not the challenge that they think about.  It is my suspicion that the question is more involved that people have considered.

The first thing that comes to mind is the choices: Do I go with some form of Darwinism? Or maybe I should choose a Christianized, sanitized, and modified Darwinism that sounds like it should it?  How about a trip down memory lane to Usher’s dating of somewhere about 4004BC and a universe of only 6 thousand years of age?

But we need to back up a bit and look at the question.  When the choice is given between theism and evolution it seems on the surface to be that old science vs. faith question.  Once we see that the argument has that character then we are half way to a solution.  (By solution I do not mean ultimate resolution, but rather creating a place where we might plant our flag and stand.  It might not be a perfect position but it will be a defensible position.)

Alvin Plantinga challenges the idea that evolution + natural makes sense.  That is if we are evolved then our cognitive capacities would be inadequate for the task.  That would seem to make the combination of naturalism and evolution a self-defeating proposition.  In his material this is seen as (N+E), the initials for identifying Naturalism and Evolution.

Plantinga is of course arguing against Darwinian evolution.  Darwinism is the most developed system today for describing natural origins.  But Darwinism has its weaknesses.  Jerry Fodor with Massimo Piatelli-Palmarini[1] and Thomas Nagel[2] have both raised the question of the existence of mind.  This question is not new to them.  Others have raised it in the past.

The reasoning behind it goes to the heart of Darwinism: They ask if a godless materialism can account for things like “mind” and all that goes with it.  The suggestion is not made that creation be re-inserted into the explanation of human origins but rather that Darwin’s explanation has too many problems.  It should, it appears, suffer major qualifications or be scrapped in favor of another naturalistic system.[3]

Darwinism is of course always, well, evolving.  The “third wave” evolutionary theory is taking neo-Darwinism to new horizons.  By treating the information in our genetic material as real data this new movement is inserting a new type of teleology into evolutionary theory.  This acts as a serious scientific defeater for Darwin’s principle that evolution is unguided.  Today many see evolution as not only not completely unguided but even driven by this data.  Stephen Wolfram treats the data like a recursive computer program where code and data build upon themselves over time.[4]

That means something for EAAN.  It means that defeating N+E should be written as N+E(D) where E(D) is Darwinian Evolution.  Mr. Plantinga’s theory may hold for Darwinism but will it hold up in an alternative syllogism?  What of N+E(d) (where (d) represents the new mathematical foundations of the third wave)?  What if the ends of evolution become predictable, so predictable in fact that if one were to dismantle a full set of genetic material one might discover the evolutionary ends of a class of beings?  What if, if the third wave is correct evolution can produce sufficient cognitive faculties?

The third wave may open new theory structure doors.  Of course there is a discussion going on in naturalistic circles.  Jerry Coyne did a bit of a hatchet job on the third wave proponents.  He suggests that they are either liars, associated with creationism in some manner, or really do not belong in scientific discussions.[5][6]

This leaves the Christian apologist with a new question: What are we challenging?  A. Plantinga challenges naturalism by suggesting that Darwinian evolution is insufficient.  But that leaves other doors open.  So perhaps we should question whether an epistemological syllogism is sufficient.  If something naturalistic other than Darwinism provides a stronger syllogism (having nothing to do with the truth-value of the theory, just its soundness) than we can muster a defeater against, then apparently we began from the wrong position in the first place.

OF course there are no simple answers.  We know that there are sum fundamental logical flaws on both sides.  On the naturalistic side the model is physicalist (E) with a metaphysical assumption (N), but where the assumption seems to always be part of the conclusion of the formula (“there is no god”).  That is question-begging to the highest degree.  On our side we jump into the system by employing their components (E and N) in an attempt to say something about internal inconsistency.  Though we’ve done that well, as has been shown an alternative evolutionary answer would do serious harm to our position and would thus reinforce naturalism as the best (having the strongest support) answer to why the world is as it is.



[1] “What Darwin Got Wrong”

[2] “Mind and Cosmos”

[3] A few years prior to “What Darwin Got Wrong” Jerry Fodor wrote one of the essays contra A. Plantinga in “Naturalism Defeated?”

[4] “A New Kind of Science”

[5] cited 2/7/2015

[6] Let’s grant that Shapiro may be wrong in his understanding of neo-Darwinism.  That leaves unanswered the question of the nature of information, if it can be treated as such, in the genetic material.  From what I’ve read, part of the third wave mentality is an attempt to answer the hard questions which the various Darwinists either ignore or grant only a wave of the hand.  They, the third wave, may end up being wrong but at least they have the courage and integrity to deal with the questions.