Consider Rowe’s argument, which is essentially:
- E is an evil for which we have been unable to find a justifier despite serious investigation.
- Therefore, probably, E has no justifier.
- If some evil has no justifier, then theism is false.
- Therefore, probably, theism is false.
And then consider this anti-evolutionary argument:
- F is a major inheritable feature of an organism for which we have been unable to find an evolutionary explanation despite serious investigation.
- Therefore, probably, F has no evolutionary explanation.
- If some major inheritable feature of an organism has no evolutionary explanation, then evolutionary universalism is false.
- Therefore, probably, evolutionary universalism is false.
Here, evolutionary universalism is the claim that all major inheritable features of organisms have their presence explained by means of evolutionary explanations. (There are many ways of spelling out “major” that still leaves (5) plausible in some cases.)
It is an interesting sociological fact that many atheists think 1-4 is a good argument and 5-8 is a bad one, and that many creationists and intelligent design advocates think 5-8 is a good argument and 1-4 is a bad one.
But I think both are bad.
I suspect that if you took an evolutionary scientist and offered 5-8 outside of the politicized context that such arguments as 5-8 these days carry, the biologist would say something like: “Of course, we don’t have all the ramifications of evolution worked out yet. F is a research problem that X, Y, Z and others are currently working on (variant: I haven’t thought about F, but it would be an interesting research problem for one of my graduate students–I have a smart one I may suggest it to). For any major theory like evolution we expect there to be such research problems.” And the theist can say much the same thing, mutatis mutandis. And that can be enough of an answer.
Furthermore, and this is an idea based on what Trent Dougherty has said to me about the problem of evil, the scientist may add: “And while we haven’t found out the evolutionary explanation, here is a story which, if true, would be such an explanation, and which is compatible with what we know.” This is the giving of just-so stories, which is oft derided by opponents of evolution, but which is perfectly legitimate. And the theistic analogue is obvious.