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Is Atheism Dead
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Book Review of 'Is Atheism Dead?' By Eric Metaxas

Lee Duigon presents the author's argument that modern scientific discoveries point towards the existence of God, challenging the commonly held narrative of atheism among scientists. Metaxas' book highlights a number of renowned scientists who see their faith reaffirmed by their scientific work.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon,
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(Salem Books, Washington, D.C.: 2021)

I haven’t the background to weigh arguments involving physics, chemistry, astrophysics, or higher mathematics. But I think I understand the thesis of this book, which can be stated simply:

Far from herding us toward atheism, discoveries in modern science point to God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. Indeed, a commitment to atheism, or to materialism, is not compatible with our current observations of reality.

And there are many more highly qualified scientists who have been moved toward God than away from Him.

But that’s not what we hear from our news and entertainment media (have I just fallen into a tautology?), is it? Who gets the critically acclaimed TV series on PBS? The top guest spots on cable news? Hint: Prominent scientists who are also atheists. Like Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Stephen Hawking toward the end of his life. And Bill Nye the Science Guy when the producers want their “science” flavored with left-wing politics.

Those are the faces we see, the voices we hear—all the time.

Metaxas’s book corrects that false impression and sets the record straight.

A Battalion of Scientists

What impressed me the most in this book is the battalion of working scientists, many of whom have won awards, who buck the atheist narrative and forthrightly state that not only do they believe in God, their scientific work reinforces their belief. The deeper they delve into nature, the more they see God’s hand in it. And they’re not afraid to say so.

Here are a few of them, by name: Dr. James Tour (nanotechnologist); Antony Flew (former atheist); Dr. Ian Hutchinson (nuclear science and engineering); Dr. Francis Collins (headed the Human Genome Project)—and those are only some of the ones who are still alive, as we’re not counting historical giants of science like Newton or Kepler. We are mentioning only a few of the scientists interviewed by Metaxas for this book. (I wish it had an index; the list would be much longer.)

Why haven’t we heard much about them? Maybe pure science doesn’t get high viewership ratings. Maybe the subject matter just eludes too many viewers: they aren’t equipped to follow it. And maybe an angry atheist rant is something that everyone can sink his teeth into, one way or another.

Nevertheless—the good news is that scientists in general are not a crew of atheists trying to estrange us from our God. Much of their work, whether we can understand it or not, is aimed at benefiting the human race. Which, often enough, it does.

It Isn’t Just Metaxas

At the same time, we find quite a few scientists turning away from Darwinism, materialism, a Godless universe that just happened to spring into being for no particular reason. It’s not just Metaxas saying so.

Let’s skip ahead to this year, 2023, and an article in The Christian Post, christianpost.com/voices/dear-pastors-its-ok-to-defend-the-creation-account.html.[i] (1). The focus of The Christian Post article is a peer-reviewed scientific paper by Olen Brown (Ph.D. in microbiology) and David Hullender (professor of chemical and aerospace engineering)—“Neo-Darwinism Must Mutate to Survive,” published in the international journal, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology (founded in 1950).

Here are some of the juicier quotes from that paper. Judge for yourselves whether it supports Metaxas’s thesis. (All quotes via The Christian Post article, which links to the original.)

“Any overall mechanistic explanation of the origin and evolution of life ultimately must satisfy two challenges: the transition from non-life to life, and the blossoming of life forms that is so extreme as to appear outrageous.” (Emphasis added)

No scientist in any laboratory anywhere on earth has ever succeeded in making non-life live. It just plain hasn’t happened.

Brown and Hullender grant that “microevolution” within a species does occur, via mutation. But that’s as far as they’ll go.

“Evolution of a few flowers on a hillside is reasonably explained by mutation and selection; it stretches logic to explain the millions of extremely diverse species seen currently and in the fossil record.”

They’re not done battering Darwinism:

“[S]election based on survival of the fittest is insufficient for other than microevolution.”

It Just Doesn’t Work That Way

Microevolution, dealing with small, incremental changes within a species, does not give rise to entirely new species. How could it? What survival benefit would accrue to a species that still had forelimbs that were neither legs nor wings? Fossils never display such “transitionary phases.” A fish on its way to developing lungs would never get there: of what use would be a lung that’s only half a lung? Fish remain fish: they don’t “evolve” into amphibians. Darwin always hoped the fossil record would provide these specimens that were on their way to becoming something else. He hoped in vain.

One more quote:

“[T]he burden is too great for survival of the fittest to select evolutionary changes that accomplish all evolutionary novelty. Thus, evolution lacks a sufficient mechanism for multifactorial selections because a process that looks forward, is nonrandom, deterministic, or occurs by an unknown biological process, is required.” (Emphasis added)

To say it even more plainly, there is no such thing as “macroevolution” into entirely different species, families, phyla, etc. Earth boasts an untold multitude of species. A chameleon is a chameleon, a highly specialized animal with a flattened body, grasping hands and feet, eyes in turrets that move independently, a prehensile tail, and a shooting tongue that captures insects at a distance: how do you get there in a little bit at a time? If any of those specialized parts is not fully developed, the chameleon doesn’t work.

We don’t have to take refuge in “just so” stories starting with a little lizard that gradually evolves into a chameleon by natural selection. All those transitionary phases would only add up to a defective, incomplete chameleon that was anything but “the fittest.”

We, the living creatures of the earth, are as God has made us.

[i] “Dear Pastors: It’s OK to Defend the Creation Account” (christianpost.com/voices/dear-pastors-its-ok-to-defend-the-creation-account.html)


Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at www.leeduigon.com.

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