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Will Darwinists put John Dupré on Display or will they Hide him Away?

Casey Luskin

A couple weeks ago I watched some video footage of the American Museum for Natural History’s 2006 Darwin Exhibit, which showcased a number of Darwinian scientists who were religious. These included Ken Miller, Francis Collins, and Richard Fortey, all of whom were portrayed discussing their acceptance evolution and some form of religion (their specific religious persuasions were not specified in the exhibit footage I saw). No Darwinists were shown stating views which opposed religion. I also recently purchased John Dupré’s book Darwin’s Legacy: What Evolution Means Today (Oxford University Press, 2003). It’s a fairly short book, and given that Dupré is both professor of philosophy of science and Director of the ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society at the University of Exeter in the UK, he has a viewpoint worth reading. In short, Dupré believes that evolution doesn’t mean you can’t be religious, but he believes that “the growth of evolutionary theory that he [Darwin] launched has provided a fatal injury to the pretension of religion.” (pg. 42) That view is not popular to discuss among some Darwinists today who only showcase those Darwinists who fully embrace evolution and religion. Hence the inspiration for the rhyming title of this blog post. Here are some more interesting quotes from Dupré’s short book:

“While seen by some as providing a novel account of God’s ways of world-making, others have seen the theory as the last essential element in a naturalistic and materialistic view of the universe, and as thereby removing the last hiding place for God or gods.” (pg. 2)

“…prior to the development of a convincing theory of evolution there was an argument of sorts for belief in God. … this argument, always problematic, was entirely undermined by the development of a convincing account of evolution. Consequently, I claim, we now have no good reason for belief in God. This is, of course, a very major contribution to our world-view.” (pg. 46)

“Darwinism undermines the only remotely plausible reason for believing in the existence of God. And, some extreme liberal versions of Christianity apart, belief in the existence of God does seem to be a minimal condition for Christianity. Consequently, and contrary to the orthodox philosophical view of the matter, I believe that Christians–not merely fundamentalist Christians–are quite right to try to undermine Darwinism, and Richard Dawkins is quite right that, since their attempts to do this are wholly unsuccessful, there is nothing worthwhile left of the argument from design. More contentiously, I want to insist that without the argument from design there is nothing very credible left of theism generally, and Christianity in particular. Hence Ruse’s argument for compatibility, while generally successful, seems to me largely beside the point.” (pg. 46)

“The most profound implication of evolution is that it should finally make clear to us that we neither have nor need an all-powerful father figure to take on the tasks that seem presently beyond us.” (pg. 62)

Surely many will agree, and many will disagree with Dupré’s viewpoint. But as the title asks, the interesting question is, will leading Darwinists like those at the American Museum of Natural History put John Dupré on display, or will they hide him away?

Casey Luskin

Associate Director, Center for Science and Culture
Casey Luskin is a geologist and an attorney with graduate degrees in science and law, giving him expertise in both the scientific and legal dimensions of the debate over evolution. He earned his PhD in Geology from the University of Johannesburg, and BS and MS degrees in Earth Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, where he studied evolution extensively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. His law degree is from the University of San Diego, where he focused his studies on First Amendment law, education law, and environmental law.