Evolution's Hand: Searching for the Creator in Contemporary Science


200 pages
Contains Index
ISBN 1-896973-00-0
DDC 576.8'01





Reviewed by Hannah Gay

Hannah Gay is a professor of history at Simon Fraser University in
British Columbia.


This is one of many books in the recent revival of natural theology.
Seeking design in nature has a long history, but during the past 20
years there has been great activity in this field. It appears that a
fin-de-siиcle turn to religion and new developments in cosmological and
evolutionary science have combined to allow serious new attempts at
proving the existence of God (or a creator) from evidences for design in
nature. John Cafferky is a professional geologist; yet in this short and
very readable book, he covers not only his own field but also cosmology
and the many other sciences that are part of the modern evolutionary
synthesis. His book recounts a personal journey through all these
sciences and, while not scholarly, is likely to stimulate much thought,
at least among those readers who do not already share his point of view.

Cafferky accepts that evolution has occurred, but is determinedly
against any Darwinian interpretation. He points to some of the standard
difficulties with a strictly Darwinian (natural selectionist) view: for
example, the evolution of complex organs, such as the eye, that require
many different anatomical parts to evolve together, and the historically
sudden appearance of the human brain. He also makes what is a highly
debatable claim—namely, regarding the near-perfect adaptation of all
living things. Darwinians have things to say about these problems, as do
naturalistically inclined promoters of other evolutionary mechanisms.
Stephen Jay Gould, for example, is well known for stressing contingency
in nature and thus the survival of the lucky. But Cafferky is simply
stating his position and is not inclined to debate.

Surprisingly, in his own field he appears to show little imagination,
stating that the early geological conditions of the earth were totally
unsuited to any natural formation of replicating molecules and would
have been a hostile environment for simple life forms. The fact that
even today simple life forms exist deep in hydrogen sulphide
environments might stimulate one to imagine a range of possibilities for
early life. Going further back in time to the origin of the universe,
Cafferky presents views that are now fashionable and supports a strong
anthropic principle. He believes that the world in which we find
ourselves was a highly unlikely consequence of the initial big bang, and
that even slight variation in the universal physical constants would
have resulted in the impossibility of life as we know it. The fact that
we are here is therefore nothing short of miraculous and, according to
Cafferky, proof of the existence of a designer who intended things to be
the way they are.

The arguments against design made by David Hume could be made against
the ones in this book. But the world is an amazing place, and that it
stimulates many to seek signs of the creator within it is, perhaps, only
natural. Such activity contributes to science in pointing to new wonders
in nature and to anomalies in existing theory.


Cafferky, John., “Evolution's Hand: Searching for the Creator in Contemporary Science,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/4688.