Editor’s note: We have been delighted to present a series by Neil Thomas, Reader Emeritus at the University of Durham, “Darwin and the Victorian Crisis of Faith.” This is the seventh and final article in the series. Look here for the full series. Professor Thomas’s recent book is Taking Leave of Darwin: A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design (Discovery Institute Press).
In reading Simon Powell’s valiant yet unavailing effort to come up with a corrective naturalistic supplement to Darwin, offered in Powell’s book Darwin’s Unfinished Business, I was reminded of nothing so much as the amusing parable developed by Thomas Woodward about a group of scientists stranded in an extensive underground labyrinth whose exploration of a whole series of tunnels in search of escape quite literally lead them nowhere. All these “natural cause” tunnels, alas, turn out to be dead ends. There is but one remaining tunnel left to explore but this is one that is labelled “intelligent cause.” It is studiously ignored since it smacks of religion, not science, the scientists all aver. And so the prisoners are left to eke out their days “merely mapping, month by month in ever greater detail, the fine contours of an elaborate cul-de-sac.”1
As is the case with the Biblical parables of Jesus, this one is entirely self-explanatory and needs no further comment from myself.
- Thomas Woodward, Darwin Strikes Back: Defending the Science of Intelligent design (Grand Rapids, MI, 2006), p. 134.