The most common question evolutionists ask, when presented with the many scientific problems with Charles Darwin’s theory, is “what’s your idea?” The simplest known form of life is immensely complex, if evolution is true then many advanced mechanisms of biology must have evolved early on—before they were needed, new species appear abruptly in the fossil record, adaptation occurs via intricate mechanisms that respond to the environment, similar species reveal profound differences, and different species reveal profound similarities. The fundamental predictions of evolution have gone wrong and so it would seem only natural to question the theory. Is it not reasonable for evolutionists to ask “what’s your idea?” It would seem so, but in fact that simple question reveals what is at the core of evolutionary thinking.
First, one must understand the sense of the question. What do evolutionists mean when they ask “what’s your idea?” What they do not mean is that they are having second thoughts about evolution. The false predictions and other empirical problems are not news to evolutionists. They know there are problems, but they are stored in a box labeled “Research Topics.” All you are doing is removing the items from the box and spreading them out on the floor. So what?
It is not that evolutionists are ignorant of these problems, or that they consider them to be irrelevant. Yes, there are some problems, but they just aren’t that important. Why? Because everyone knows creationism is false. As evolutionists explain, creation is both bad theology and bad science. If this were a multiple choice question, it would have a few choices that are obviously false, no question about it. The final choice makes sense and, in any case, must be the right answer because it is the only choice left.
This is the backdrop from which the question “what’s your idea?” is asked. It is not that evolutionists are following the evidence that leads away from evolution and want to know what direction to go. But on the other hand it is not that evolutionists are unwilling to consider alternatives. Indeed, at the core of evolutionary thought is the evaluation of alternatives.
In a Hegelian-like thesis / anti thesis relationship, evolution plays off of creation. Evolution needs creation’s foolishness. Without creation as the foil, evolution would be left with a box of scientific problems.
And what about these problems? Evolutionists rightly claim that most have been solved. But the solutions don’t make evolution any more likely. They merely shift the problem from a false prediction to a theory complication. One can always resolve a false prediction with a theory patch, but does that really solve the problem?
Evolutionists say that with science there is an inexorable march of progress as problems are continually resolved. In fact, with evolution, there is an inexorable march of just-so stories constructed to explain inconvenient facts.
But do inconvenient facts really matter if evolution is the only choice? At its core evolution is contrastive—it weighs the alternatives and makes the obvious choice. So when evolutionists ask “what’s your idea?,” they are revealing their core thinking. It is all about the failure of creationism. Evolution is a fact because it is the only possibility. But all of this hinges on a deep reservoir of metaphysics. Notions of uniformity, scientific method, what a good god would do, and the absence of unconceived alternatives all lurk beneath the surface. Religion drives science, and it matters.