Dinesh D Souza, The Greatness of Christianity: Table of Contents
Cf. Dinesh D’souza, What’s So Great About Christianity, at Amazon
“The ancient covenant is in pieces. Man at last knows that he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance.” —Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity
IN HIS BOOK NATURAL THEOLOGY, published in 1802, Anglican theologian William Paley made what was regarded for more than a century as an irrefutable argument for the existence of God. “In crossing a heath,” Paley wrote, “suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever.” But suppose, Paley continued,
“I found a watch upon the ground, I should hardly think of the answer I had given before.”2
Paley’s point was that you don’t have to be a horologist to see right away that the watch was intentionally designed. You may not know who designed it, but you know that someone did. Paley proceeded to show, with an intricate tapestry of informed detail, how the earth and its life forms, including human beings, display in their constitution the unquestion- able marks of design. Such design, he concluded, demonstrates the presence of a designer who may be considered the divine “watchmaker” of creation.
About two decades ago, biologist Richard Dawkins published his book The Blind Watchmaker, in which he asserts that Paley was “gloriously and utterly wrong:’ Dawkins argued that Charles Darwin had discovered a way for nature to produce the appearance of design—yes, even minute and complex design—without the intervention of a creator. Dawkins declared the “blind, unconscious, automatic process” of natural selection “the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life…. It is the blind watchmaker.”
Dawkins’s argument—widely embraced by biologists—has been hailed as a decisive refutation of the argument from design, one of the oldest arguments for the existence of God. Numerous leading biologists now understand and teach evolution in precisely these terms. They see evolution as undermining the argument for God and discrediting the Christian idea of man created in God’s likeness.
These views are now part of our culture. In his book Revolution in Science, a historical account of the impact of science, Bernard Cohennotes that “the Darwinian revolution sounded the death knell of any argument about design in the universe or in nature.” In a recent article in Harper’s, David Quammen attributed to Darwin a “big scary idea which contradicted … the whole framework of pious beliefs about mankind made in God’s image.” And Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, is typical of many people who were once Christian but who say they lost their religious faith upon embracing Darwin’s account of evolution.
The American public is dubious about evolution. A Gallup survey in February 2001 had 45 percent of responding adults agreeing that “God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time:’ Similar surveys over the past two decades show no real shift in people’s opinions.6 These figures are a source of consternation and distress to many scientists.