Design, the Designer, and a Singing Lion

Neo-Darwinian evolutionists of our day do not deny that the natural world exhibits many characteristics that give the appearance of design. They call this a case of “apparent design” rather than “actual design”; in other words, the depth, complexity, and integration we observe in nature simply looks like the product of an intelligent designer but it isn’t actually designed. Rather, it is the product of purposeless natural processes that have been plugging along, unguided, for millions of years. Probably the most well-known analogy is Richard Dawkins’ nickname for evolution (and the title of one of his books), The Blind Watchmaker. By contrast, the Intelligent Design advocate sees the appearance of design in nature and attributes it to actual design.

I spend a lot of time pondering how the same observations in nature can produce such drastically opposing viewpoints concerning the origin of the complexity and diversity of life. (Of course, the proponents and opponents of Neo-Darwinism have very different takes on the reasons for these differences.)

I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, this time aloud to my seven-year-old son (what a delight this is!). A passage in The Magician’s Nephew struck me as being completely relevant to the different perspectives that exist when a subject has metaphysical implications. For context, the scene (which gives me chills every time I read it) involves Aslan’s creation of the world of Narnia from a dark, formless place to one filled with light, life, sentience, and the self-awareness of certain chosen creatures. There are several witnesses to the unfolding of the magnificent creation, but one of them perceives things very differently than the others. I’d like to share the passage with you here:

When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, [Uncle Andrew] had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (“only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing–only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to.

May you hear the Lion singing and embrace the song in all its splendor.