God and natural selection, hand in hand

Bill Dembski has a post up about Roger Ebert’s review of Spielberg’s new adaptation of War of the Worlds. It’s actually Jim Emerson’s review on rogerebert.suntimes.com, but whatever. (Roger Ebert, unlike everyone else, didn’t like the movie – he let his inner scientific nit-picker take over on this one). Emerson gets in some good gratuitous jabs at ID, which Ebert himself has done in the past.

Anyhow, the movie is very much worth seeing, and the review is worth reading. As everyone knows, what dooms the aliens in The War of the Worlds is microbial disease, to which the aliens have no resistance (feel free to do the scientific nitpick on this, I would be interested in opinions). What I found striking about the conclusion of the movie (which also struck Emerson) was the voiceover by Morgan Freeman, which is basically a very strong statement of theistic evolution. I can’t find a transcript of the movie version, but here is H.G. Wells’s original version, from an online e-text of War of the Worlds:

In another moment I had scrambled up the earthen rampart and stood upon its crest, and the interior of the redoubt was below me. A mighty space it was, with gigantic machines here and there within it, huge mounds of material and strange shelter places. And scattered about it, some in their overturned war-machines, some in the now rigid handling-machines, and a dozen of them stark and silent and laid in a row, were the Martians – dead! – slain by the putrefactive and disease bacteria against which their systems were unprepared; slain as the red weed was being slain; slain, after all man’s devices had failed, by the humblest things that God, in his wisdom, has put upon this earth.

For so it had come about, as indeed I and many men might have foreseen had not terror and disaster blinded our minds. These germs of disease have taken toll of humanity since the beginning of things – taken toll of our prehuman ancestors since life began here. But by virtue of this natural selection of our kind we have developed resisting power; to no germs do we succumb without a struggle, and to many – those that cause putrefaction in dead matter, for instance – our living frames are altogether immune. But there are no bacteria in Mars, and directly these invaders arrived, directly they drank and fed, our microscopic allies began to work their overthrow. Already when I watched them they were irrevocably doomed, dying and rotting even as they went to and fro. It was inevitable. By the toll of a billion deaths man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his were the Martians ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain.

H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds

There you have it, God and natural selection, hand in hand versus the aliens.

Somewhere or other, probably a creationist, I had gotten the mistaken notion that H.G. Wells was a vehement materialist/atheist. A little googling reveals that he was a student of agnostic T.H. Huxley and was a big fan of evolution, but in 1917 Wells wrote a book entitled God the Invisible King where he apparently argues for a non-trinitarian theistic view.

Discuss amongst yourselves.