One problem for modern atheism is that as our appreciation of the vast amounts of information contained within highly complex systems in the natural world grows…all integrated and coordinated toward distinct functions that have the definite and unmistakable appearance of purposeful design…the plausibility of the naturalistic explanation as time marches forward…no longer makes sense.
It is as if the foot-size of our expanding knowledge of the natural world has grown to shoe-size 15 since 1859, yet the philosophical naturalist shoemaker, limited by the now obsolete worldview shaped by Darwinian evolution, has no shoe-size pattern beyond foot-size 8.
As I read through the evolution literature, some books attempt to explain away the intelligently designed brilliance of eyesight by looking at the architecture of the eye in isolation.
An appeal to the plausibility of the argument for common descent is given by identifying many creatures in nature that have varying yet functional qualities of eyesight…the thread of thought being that partial qualities of eyesight are beneficially functional even when evolved through intermediate, transitional increments of quality over time.
These book sections on the hypothetical evolution of the eye are usually well-written, illuminating, and factually instructive, yet not compelling as evidence in an argument in support of Darwinian macroevolution.
Because the same factual evidence could also be used to make a more plausible argument for intelligent agency in the design of the eye and functional eyesight, Darwinian evolution falls short of making a clear demarcation from intelligent design in the all-important area of independently explaining causation through scientific fact-based evidence.
From a big-picture, wide-angle viewpoint, Darwinian macroevolution can be seen as little more than a philosophical overlay…a human interpretational veneer applied to otherwise neutral and unbiased scientific evidence.
One of the problems of looking at the eye in isolation is that eyesight…that enables survivability…integrates every other characteristic of the physical makeup of the functionally mature creature…central nervous system, bone structure, muscles and nerves, internal organs, the five senses, instinct, and such unique features as leaping, running, swimming, burrowing, and flight.
But maybe most important of all are the uniquely different informational programs…lifestyle habits…defining and supporting the existence of each and every species that has eyesight.
Eyesight must be evaluated within the integrated whole of the living creature, in order to give the overall conceptual brilliance of the design of eyesight its full context.
When the unimaginable complexity of this is carried-out down to the last minutest detail of matter, energy, and information, the notion of making this argument for common descent (macroevolution) by reference to the varying qualities of functional eyesight in different species alive today…appears to this student of the creation/evolution debate to be inadequate and too simplistic to pass the rational test of reality.
Appealing to the varying qualities of functional eyesight in living organisms as an argument for incrementally gradualistic eye development fails to account for the big-picture totality of eyesight coherently integrated into the whole program of the lifestyle habits of each individual creature having eyesight.
Again, the size-15 foot of the massive amount of ordered and highly-specified information, plus our new understanding of intelligent agency required in the arrangement and integration of information in complex systems such as computer software code, will no longer fit in the archaic shoe-size 8 of philosophical naturalism.
When we watch DVD documentaries supporting Darwinian evolution, in explaining the hypothetical development of early life just before and just after the Cambrian geologic period according to the naturalistic scenario, we repeatedly hear the vague phrase “and they developed” such features as skin, fins, skeletons, eyesight, wings, et cetera, without any empirical explanation as to how.
“And some crawled up out of the water on to land” requires the precise scientific mechanism to explain this massive change in anatomical characteristics…if Darwinian macroevolution is to rise above the level of a mere philosophical construction overlaid on top of the otherwise neutral facts.
For Darwinian macroevolution to validly connect the dots…to provide a plausible framework…it needs to explain the mechanism that closes the gaps of discontinuity in characteristics that separate creatures in the fossil record, and that separate the vast diversity of current life into the modern taxonomy classifications of today.
Christians should know and understand that Charles Darwin did not produce the methodological and mechanistic evidence for precisely how evolution actually worked on a macro level. This methodological and mechanistic evidence for one species changing into another different species did not exist then, nor does it exist today.
If the incontrovertible evidence for the method of how macroevolution works was discovered anytime between 1859 and today, the debate would be over.
Instead, Darwin proposed a persuasive and well-documented philosophical argument based on circumstantial evidence, connecting the facts of the current living world, and then applying them backwards in time into a hypothetical framework that would support a theory of common descent…a process categorized today as a historical science…like archaeology, historical geology, and modern forensic science reconstructing a past crime scene.
Is it allowed for philosophical naturalism to provide a theoretical hypothesis for a secular interpretation of biological phenomenon, in advance of producing empirical evidence for the connecting mechanism of how Darwinian macroevolution actually works? The answer is…of course.
This is one way in which science works. A new theoretical hypothesis is presented…then tested or argued against the known facts…then either confirmed, refuted, or replaced by a new hypothesis as new incoming evidence grows and is evaluated.