Evolution

I do not post very often on the great debate between Science and Religion, or whether a debate exists at all. But this post by Luther at the Movies makes me want to note a few things. (First of which is that the Luther here is obviously for entertainment purposes only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the real Luther! I’d stick with movie reviews.)

Evolutionary theory is a shell game. Listen to or read books by the primary players (e.g., Richard Dawkins) and you can easily see the deft maneuvering and illusionary tactics used to make points. The move is essentially this: “Any real scientist knows that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” When asked what that evidence might be, the answer is: “You know, the fossil record, the adaptation of species to their environments, the fact that it explains everything so well.” While you’re trying to say that none of those things have anything to do with the idea of evolution from lesser to greater species, the evolutionist (or Darwiniac) has moved on, as if he has proved his point. When he is asked for the proof that one species has evolved into another, he says, “Imagine…,” or “If such-and-such…,” or some other what-if story. He will then go on to assume that his hypothetical was indeed the case, and pretty soon he’s got the whole cosmos explained from that single what-if. Before you can say, “wait, what about…,” he’s already to “overwhelming evidence.”

Why does this shell game work? Same as any other: while we’re focused on the argument about adaptation of species, the evolutionist has already moved on to adaptation between species. The result is the same as well: any way you choose, you lose.

I’m no scientist, so [the rest of this sentence has been edited slightly to make my meaning clearer] any argument I put forth about the inconsistency I see with particular examples of evidence for evolution will likely meet with a nicely formulated evolutionist’s objection. Thus it is hard for a non-scientist to argue with a scientist, no matter how much knowledge we have gathered from the “outside.” Such objections, however, we might be able to meet if we knew more. But it seems to me that evolution, as a grand theory of everything, simply does not work logically. Missing links, as in transitional fossils, simply, logically, cannot be found. That’s as clear as day to anyone who has not, as Richard Dawkins puts it, had their “consciousness raised” by the idea of natural selection. Transitional fossils (what in the world would that possibly look like, anyway? how would they be fossilized in transition?), to the evolutionist’s mind, are fossils that appear to have similarities to two different species, the evolution of one to the other having already been assumed. Had evolution not been assumed, why would anyone be looking for a transitional fossil in the first place? They will attempt to tell you that macro-evolution is really just micro-evolution with a lot more time. But that is simply one more unsupportable assertion based on the assumption that evolution is necessarily true.

I’m sure an evolutionist out there has a “perfectly” “reasonable” explanation for every one of my questions. Such always-ready explanations have brought me to this opinion: non-scientists are not equipped to argue with scientists, into whom evolutionary science has been irreversibly drilled. Scientists who have doubts about the explanatory power of Darwinism are not allowed to argue, because it is a particularly egregious form of betrayal.

What shall Christians do? 1: Know as much science as possible, while realizing that actual scientists will always have an explanation (though often confusing explanation with proof). 2: Understand that the scientific field is not the real battlefield for non-scientist Christians. Let the scientists from both sides do their work. 3: A real battlefield is over neo-Darwinian implications in the area of bioethics, for example. 4: An ultimately more important battlefield is the theological. That is, perhaps a Christian can shoehorn natural selection into a theistic framework (often resulting in a near-deist god, but we’ll let that slide for the moment), which allows him to make something up about how evolution and Genesis 1-2 can be reconciled. What cannot be reconciled, however, are natural selection and Original Sin, the primary consequence of which was spiritual and physical death. Natural selection requires physical death to work, hence reversing the order of sin and death to death and sin (this is for a “theistic evolutionist,” whatever that is; obviously, atheistic evolutionists are not concerned about something called sin). Death is not “natural;” it does not belong to our God-given nature. If someone suggests that it does, tell them that they simply haven’t read the Bible. The entire narrative of the Scriptures declare with one voice that death is an intrusion into God’s good creation and an enemy to be conquered by Christ. There is no way around this fact. At this point, natural selection/evolution fundamentally contradicts the whole of the salvation history, not just three chapters at the beginning of Genesis. To this I have never been given a good answer. Because there is none.

So go on, Christians, bowing to the experts and giving away ground to the denizens of mere material. But death cannot be reconciled with both creation and evolution. If it fits in one, it cannot fit the other, and vice-versa. They are mutually exclusive here. They move in diametrically opposed directions.

For my money, I’ll take the one where death is unnatural and ultimately conquered by the death and resurrection of Christ over the one where death becomes us as a naturally occurring pheomenon of nature. You cannot make your peace with death. It aims to kill you.

Timotheos

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9 thoughts on “Evolution

  1. A couple important facts about DNA, and “evolution”.

    First. New DNA never contains any coding that was not already in the parent DNA to begin with. Therefore, anything observed as new within a species isn’t really new, it just becomes observable due to a wide number of factors. This includes variations in behavior due to environmental factors.

    Second. Species are defined by the differences between their core characteristics, or DNA codes. If DNA codes cannot be created, nor new codes added, and life can not spontaneously begin, there is absolutely no way any given species we know of could be related at any point in the past.

    Third. Life can not spontaneously begin. All living DNA comes from (must come from) a combining of DNA that is already alive. Think about this one for a bit.

    Fourth. Human skin color is based on the amount of melanin in our skin. Some people have a higher concentration of melanin. Some people have spotty melanin, like freckles, etc. But melanin only comes in one color, brown. This evidence strongly suggests that we are all borne of the same parents.

    Questions:
    1. What explains how life spontaneously began?
    2. What explains why new living DNA can only come from the conjoining of a male parent DNA and a female parent DNA?
    3. What explains why new DNA doesn’t (can’t) contain new DNA characteristics that where not already present in the parent DNA?

    4. Now, try to argue for evolution and against intelligently designed creation.

  2. From Table Talk:

    “There was mention of a certain astrologer who wanted to prove that the earth moves and not the sky, the sun, and the moon. This would be as if somebody were riding on a cart or in a ship and imagined that he was standing still while the
    earth and the trees were moving. [Luther remarked] ‘So it goes now. Whoever wants to be clever must agree with nothing that others esteem. He must do something of his own. This is what that fellow does who wishes to turn the whole of astronomy
    upside down. Even in these things that are thrown into disorder I believe the Holy Scriptures, for Joshua commanded the sun to stand still and not the earth [Jos. 10:12].’

    “I’m no scientist, so I cannot argue about particular examples of evidence” you say. That is just the kind of quote that humiliates Christians in these kinds of debates. “I’m really not sure what I’m talking about because it’s not my field — but I know I’m right and the scientists are wrong.”

    Evolution and a Creator are not incompatible; on the contrary, the science proves — to the extent that science proves anything — that evolution and natural selection are how a Creator (who alone explains the so-called spontaneous appearance of life) guides the changes, development, and adaptations of life, including human life. (And the evidence would also agree that our species did derive from a common parent — probably in Africa. But that parent did not suddenly “pop” into being without antecedents.)

    You can confound nonscientists who “cannot argue about the particular examples of evidence” all you like, but in debate with someone like a Francis Collins or a Stephen Barr — both devout Christians who argue that evolution and natural selection are no longer hypotheses but facts — you would find yourself having to admit that you simply do not know enough about those “examples of evidence.” The past ten years has seen the discovery of a wealth of missing “links” and other evidence for the support of evolution.

    If you believe that all animals that roam the earth are here because Noah rescued them from a worldwide flood for which there is no geological evidence or that all human languages are the result of the Tower of Babel episode because the bible says so and that’s all the “evidence” you need, that is your choice. But please do not call it science. Imagine a young Christian who learns the real science and then becomes convinced that if he or she was misled by uninformed — if well-meaning — clergy on these issues, then he or she was also probably misled about the resurrection.

    Nothing in the science threaten faith in the basics tenets of Christianity, despite all the overblown rhetoric of professional atheists, most of whom are embarrassments to their colleagues who know the limits of scientific knowledge. But because science has limits does not mean that evolution is wrong or a life or a trick, any more than it proves that the earth is really flat because the bible says it has four corners.

    Read the work of evolutionary biologists and geneticists themselves. Do not rely on secondhand “summaries” by people who are keen to to dismiss it all because it does not comport with a preconceived interpretation of what the Bible is supposed to be saying. Or we’ll end up with another generation of Bishop Usshers declaring that the world came into being at 3pm in October, 4004 BC.

  3. “Gregor Mendel” wrote: “I’m no scientist, so I cannot argue about particular examples of evidence” you say. That is just the kind of quote that humiliates Christians in these kinds of debates. “I’m really not sure what I’m talking about because it’s not my field — but I know I’m right and the scientists are wrong.”

    That’s not what I meant, and if you’d read further, you would have known that. I didn’t say anything about being right over against scientists. My point is that, theologically, evolution via natural selection contradicts the Scriptures’ account of sin, death, and salvation. I tried to be clear that I’m talking about natural selection, which, correct me if I’m wrong, requires death to work. At this point, as far as I can tell, it contradicts the Scriptures on death. The other arguments are not mine to make. As I specifically said, “Let the scientists from both sides do their work.”

    He also wrote, “If you believe that all animals that roam the earth are here because Noah rescued them from a worldwide flood for which there is no geological evidence or that all human languages are the result of the Tower of Babel episode because the bible says so and that’s all the “evidence” you need, that is your choice. But please do not call it science.” You’re arguing against someone else. Once again, I didn’t call it science. I called it theology. If you’re a Christian, read the rest of my argument. If not, what I think about sin and death probably doesn’t matter to you.

    Did I say anything about the flood or six days of creation or any of the other typical creationist arguments? No, so go argue against them. Or you can read what I wrote and comment about what I’m actually saying, versus your made up version of what I’m saying.

    Tim

  4. Gregor Mendel states… “The past ten years has seen the discovery of a wealth of missing “links” and other evidence for the support of evolution.”

    A great argument, Gregor, yet you present not even one of the facts of which you speak.

    I attempted to present 4 facts on which to base my arguments. Biological science facts based on the findings of the past 10 years. Facts that contradict a number elements in your argument.

    Can you argue against any one of these facts?

  5. Lawrence, I did not argue against your facts because I am not an atheist. Of course life cannot appear “spontaneously” — which is why I am not a Darwinian, who must argue for a “blind” process of development, which is nonsense. I believe in a Creator who has used evolution and natural selection to grow, adapt, and develop the life that has appeared. The science demonstrates such development and adaptation.

    My primary concern, however, is that broadsides against evolution by nonscientists, or by scientists outside their particular discipline, create a tension between faith and reason — or between God the Savior and God the Creator whose laws of nature we are discovering ever anew — and burdening Christians — especially young Christians — with false choices to make about truth, which will cause them to either abandon the faith as a pack of Bronze Age superstitions or embrace a fundamentalist’s worship of a book that implicitly denies the sovereign God the book is an infallible witness to.

    ID fails as science (as opposed to the belief in a supernatual intelligence that brought life into being in the first place) because it does not meet the criteria of a valid scientific theory. (Please read Francis Collins’ book if you have not already.) ID just throws in “God” whenever it finds a conundrum in the science as it presently exists, as if God were nothing more than a variable in an equation waiting to be displaced by another scientific discovery.

    Can we at lest be agreed that science has explained natural phenomena (the earth’s relation to the sun being the most obvious historical example to use) that the bible gets wrong (and by “wrong” I mean only if you insist on interpreting Genesis and passages in Joshua and the Psalms as scientific texts)– and it gets it wrong because the biblical authors were premodern people who had only their senses and cultural myths to explain their natural world (emphasis on “natural”).

    As someone much wiser than I has said: “The bible tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.” You can use an alternative “science” all you like, but everyone knows it is predicated upon a literal interpretation of the bible in all its parts (a literalism that demands — and this was my point previously, Tim — in a belief in Noah and his ark as zoology and the tower of Babel as an explanation of human diversity). This damages the faith, in my opinion.

    But I thank you for your responses and the opportunity to voice my opinion in this forum.

  6. It is somewhat of a parallel, but recently I’d been reading in the New Yorker some book reviews about physics books. And that article said that these two books, as well as some others, are starting to come out against, or at least question the validity of “string theory”. Now, apparently in academic circles, string theory has been the major theory of choice–the top professors and schools work on it, and getting a PhD in physics is a lot easier if you are working in that area.

    Anyway, what I thought might be a parallel is that some physicists are going against the academy, and much of research to point out faults in a generally accepted theory. I wonder if this point will come for biology, or if modern biology is so entrenched in evolution that without it there would be few biologists left? I know at the research and medical levels there are plenty of biology scientists who don’t really work on evolution or that, but I would bet that every teacher they learned under bought into it wholesale. Is it possible for what has happened in the physics world to happen in biology?

  7. Scott, your point is part of the reason why I don’t get too worked up about evolutionary theory, or Intelligent Design, or whatever–except the theological problems. That is, who knows what scientists will come up with? Science is constantly changing, and there have been many sea changes within the scientific community, not the least of which was the change from scientists who were primarily theists (trying to discover how the creation of God worked) to atheists (trying to prove that “creation” works without God).

    Tim

  8. Agree with you there Tim, I don’t get worked up about the latest evolutionary theory. They obviously start from a position that thinks, “Well, since it isn’t creation, how’d it happen?” Then, they go about and make the evidence fit their latest theory. Evolution slow, over many years? Well, the universe isn’t old enough. Ok, how about evolution that happens really quickly? Sounds good, let’s run with it. And on, and on, until they are proved wrong again. I just wonder if it is possible yet for biologists to even consider something else? At some point, when they all finish arguing about the latest theories, is it even possible to question evolution?

  9. Gregor,
    Firstly, let me say that I believe we both strive to keep and open mind on many of these issues. Even though we may disagre on certain points, it is certainly wise to explore the variety of points of view.

    >>>

    G: “Can we at lest be agreed that science has explained natural phenomena (the earth’s relation to the sun being the most obvious historical example to use)”

    L: Yes. On this we agree.

    G: “that the bible gets wrong (and by “wrong” I mean only if you insist on interpreting Genesis and passages in Joshua and the Psalms as scientific texts)–”

    L: No one is interpreting these as scientific texts. But that does not make them hitorically inacurate, nor does it make them unscientific. For example, Archeology, a science that relies heavily on history. If we look at the science of Archeology, a lot of it relies on cryptozoology. Whereas my examples are based on hard biological science fact.

    G:”and it gets it wrong because the biblical authors were premodern people who had only their senses and cultural myths to explain their natural world (emphasis on “natural”).”

    L: It is just as false to assume that premodern people had no science knowledge to back up their statements. Just because they didn’t explain it exactly the way we would like does not make it wrong. Premodern people build a variety of fantastic structures and mechanical devices requiring extensive engineering and scientific knowledge. They could even circumnavigate the globe by observing the stars, winds, and ocean currents.

    They were not always right in their conclusions of why things worked, but neither are we today.

    And this is the point, neither today are we always right.

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