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A Maze with One Exit: Why Evolution Had No Choice

Michael Denton

Maze with one exit.JPG

Our Discovery Institute colleague Bruce Chapman writes to me to ask the following question:

From your standpoint, the fine-tuned universe and nature on Earth give evidence of having been ordered for “beings like ourselves.” However, wouldn’t a Darwinist or any other materialist say, “What seems to you a universe and nature designed to accommodate us is really the reverse. We are the response, the consequence of random mutations and natural selection over billions of years to the constraints and requirements of nature.” How do you respond?

Yes, that is the line they take. And yes, it does seem at least superficially reasonable. Here is the problem. Even conceding that our biology was the result of a Darwinian process, given that the laws of nature allow only one biochemistry, one biology, and only one being with our intellectual and physical abilities — capable, for example, of making a fire — then it seems evolution had in effect no choice. The end was already written into the laws of nature before the search began; the process was one of discovering a preexisting blueprint.

Imagine a maze with only one exit. Even allowing that you may find your way by trial and error, the unique end or exit is built into the plan of the maze long before the random search commences. The random search is not a creative process that generates anything new. So even if we were to grant that the Darwinian search mechanism was the means of discovery, man still would be preordained from the beginning and his being still would depend on a vast suite of coincidences in the natural order. Darwinism would be only a means to a preordained end.

Of course I don’t accept that evolutionary ends were achieved as a result of a random search. I believe that there was only one path through the maze built in from the beginning, leading from entrance to exit by a single unique route. The path from chemistry to man was directed from the beginning. I see it as the destiny of science to find that route and reestablish mankind’s central place in nature.

Image by P tasso (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons.