Neo-Darwinian evolutionists of our day do not deny that the natural world has many characteristics that give the appearance of design. They call this a case of “apparent design,” denying that it is “actual design”; in other words, the depth, complexity, and integration we observe in nature simply looks like the product of an intelligent designer but they aren’t. Rather, they are the outcome of purposeless natural processes that have been plugging along, unguided, for eons. (A naturalistic orchestration Richard Dawkins has called the “blind watchmaker.”) By contrast, Intelligent Design proponents observe the appearance of design in nature and attribute it to an intelligent agency.
I spend much time pondering how the same observations in nature can produce such drastically opposing viewpoints concerning the origin, complexity, and diversity of life. Nothing strikes me as more absurd than seeing the world as a fortuitous accident, claiming that the laws of nature alone have produced sentience and human rationality from nonliving matter. But in the end, metaphysical pre-commitments, not everyday sense, tend to rule one’s perspective on such things. If you are a materialist, only material explanations will do, and anything else is ludicrous; repugnant, even.
I’ve been re-reading C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, this time aloud to my son (what a delight this is!). A passage in The Magician’s Nephew is startlingly relevant to this worldview dichotomy. 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, beauty, and the self-awareness of certain chosen creatures. There are several human witnesses to the musical unfolding of his magnificent creation, but one of them perceives things very differently than the others:
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.