Many people have felt the scorn of liberals when expressing doubts about man-made global warming. Just a slight reservation about this liberal dogma will bring down ire upon the person who will be forever branded a “climate change denier.”
Such treatment pales in comparison to that given those that deny Darwin and his theory of natural selection. This much older and fundamental dogma rates higher on the scale of ire.
Nevertheless, a prominent intellectual — no less than a professor at Yale — has publicly disclaimed Darwinism. His name is Dr. David Gelernter. He is a professor of computer science at Yale, member of the National Council of the Arts and a prolific writer. In a major scientific journal, he publicly confessed the reasons why he was giving up Darwinism.
Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Proof from Design
His brave stand goes against the liberal intelligentsia’s attachment for natural selection. Denying this dogma makes another one more probable, that of intelligent design.
Saint Thomas Aquinas offers five proofs for the existence of God. The last, and easiest to understand, is the “proof from design.” In overly simple terms, the great Doctor of the Church teaches that the Earth and everything upon it is too beautiful and intricate not to have been designed by a higher being. Such an elegant explanation is accessible to anyone willing to reason.
It is also amazingly convincing. Whittaker Chambers, in his memoir, Witness, recounts how his conversion from atheistic communism began. In the middle of the night, he was holding his sleeping infant daughter and started contemplating her ear. Surely, he thought, only God could create something so beautiful, small, sophisticated, and yet efficient as a baby’s ear.
Fearing the Truth
Every humanist fears such a revelation, for it deals a devastating blow to the atheist mind-set. Even a fleeting acknowledgment of the possibility of a superior being imperils the whole humanist system. Recognizing a designer, forces one to inquire about the designer’s nature. This search can lead to a face-to-face encounter with Christianity and its inconvenient moral law. Thus, humanists avoid such engagements at all costs.
“It’s a bitter, fundamental, angry, outraged rejection [of intelligent design], which comes nowhere near scientific or intellectual discussion.” Dr. Gelernter notes. “I’ve seen that happen again and again.”
Dr. Gelernter dared to acknowledge the possibility of a designer. His recent article in the Claremont Review of Books was nothing short of earth-shattering.
Reluctantly Rejecting Darwin
The article titled “Giving Up Darwin” begins with a note of nostalgia. The first sentence reads,“Darwinian evolution is a brilliant and beautiful scientific theory.” Dr. Gelernter describes his belief from childhood in Darwin’s theory. However, he explains how his reading and discussions with other intellectuals have forced him to discard it. The professor reluctantly admits that giving up Darwin “means one less beautiful idea in our world, and one more hugely difficult and important problem back on mankind’s to-do list. But we each need to make our peace with the facts, and not try to make life on earth simpler than it really is.”
Dr. Gelernter points to three books that led him to his newfound belief in intelligent design. They are Stephen Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt (2013), The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (2009) by David Berlinski, and Debating Darwin’s Doubt (2015) edited by David Klinghoffer.
Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institute summarized Dr. Gelernter’s position.
“Gelernter notes that there’s no reason to doubt that Darwin successfully explained the small adjustments by which an organism adapts to local circumstances…. Yet there are many reasons to doubt whether Darwin can answer the hard questions and explain the big picture—not the fine-tuning of existing species but the emergence of new ones.”
The Scientific Questions About Darwin’s Theory
Dr. Gelernter’s doubt about Darwin is a step in the process of questioning the modern understanding of the cosmos. His new perspective should lead to inquiries into the nature of the designer. However, he has yet to take this leap.
Indeed, Dr. Gelernter still has reservations that prevent him from fully accepting the concept of intelligent design. However, he takes issue with those who reject it out of hand.
“It’s widely dismissed in my field of academia as some sort of theological put-up job. It’s an absolutely serious scientific argument. In fact, it is the most obvious and intuitive one that comes to mind.”
A “Beautiful” Theory?
Perhaps the most touching passage in his Claremont Review article is his discussion about the need for beauty in science. Dr. Gelernter had searched for this beauty in Darwin and registers his disappointment. He writes:
“Beauty is often a tell-tale sign of truth. Beauty is our guide to the intellectual universe—walking beside us through the uncharted wilderness, pointing us in the right direction, keeping us on track—most of the time.”
The fact that Darwin failed despite its apparent beauty will hopefully lead Dr. Gelernter to search for beauty elsewhere. Perhaps like Whittaker Chambers, he might find it in the human ear. He might look to the marvels of nature that he studies. Anywhere beauty expresses itself, one will find beauty intertwined with goodness and truth.
Having found truth and the courage to proclaim it, he will find beauty if he continues with similar courage and honesty. And should he persist in his noble quest, he will seek after the supreme and highest beauty found in God. At this late point in his life, he will then proclaim with Saint Augustine:
“Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new! Too late have I loved Thee.”
That beauty is open to you, Dr. Gelernter, if only you dare to behold it. The greater revelation awaits.
Written by Edwin Benson