Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Education and Intelligent Design

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I recently read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. Good book. I did not agree with everything he said all the time. Unfortunately, I don't know where the book is now, so I can't quote from it. But the chapter about evolution and the origin of life was fantastic. It is really sad how people cling to the "evolution" hypothesis in the name of "science" without actually knowing anything about evolution. Yet, so many are totally closed off to the idea that the order and complexity and beauty of the universe might possibly suggest that an Intelligence has caused it.

This issue isn't about science; if it was, then people would be at least as open to the idea that God created the universe and life as they are to the idea that we have somehow morphed from non-living matter to living matter. From a purely scientific perspective, neither theory can be soundly "proven" (certainly not deductively). On the other hand, good scientists would use the principle of induction to investigate both hypotheses and to develop conclusions that are "strong" or "weak."

For those of you who might not know the difference, deductive reasoning is valid or invalid. In deductive reasoning, the conclusion is contained within the premises and is as certain as the premises are certain - if the argument is valid. But inductive reasoning is not valid or invalid; it is strong or weak. Inductive reasoning takes "facts" as observed empirically and extrapolates from the facts. The conclusions are only probable. The more examples you have supporting your stance, the stronger your arugment. The fewer examples you have, the weaker your arugment. But one counter-example, can kill your conclusion. For one counter-example can put you back into deductive reasoning, which, as I said before, is valid or invalid.

And so you see, for the fair minded scientist, the idea of evolution came from a series of "facts." There are similarities between the species, and there is all kinds of scientific data confirming this. So, Darwin induced from this data that we came from common ancestors. It is a hypothesis. As a scientist, it is a fair hypothesis. But, as the case is made in The Case for Faith, the abundance of evidence that has come up (and more notably, that has not come up) does very little to confirm this hypothesis. Indeed, from a scientific perspective, many have argued that the evidence tends to point to the idea that the hypothesis of evolution is false.

And so why not present a hypothesis that says that we may have been created? When all the evidence is gathered, it seems reasonable to induce that ordered-complexity, beauty, and life do not spontaneously appear from nothing or from a chaotic explosion. On the contrary, when you see a painting (and I mean a real painting, not this modern art crap), you induce that a painter put some real effort into that painting. When you see a sculpture, you do not induce, "Wow, what are the chances of this happening to happen by chance?" No, you induce, "Wow, some talented craftsman must have worked really hard on this." And when you see beauty, ordered-complexity, and life, it seems reasonable to induce that some Intelligence designed us.

But, like I said, this debate is not about fair-minded science. It is about politics. There are people in power who hate the notion that we have been created by a God to whom we obviously must be held accountable. So, if science suggests that for a moment, then it is a political necessity to suggest that those scientific ideas are not real science. Of course, they fear what God is going to do. They fear that God is going to disrupt the whole public educational structure - which is rooted in the idoltarous religion of secular humanism - and that a whole generation will see and be taught the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They have dedicated their lives against the propagation of the gospel. Oh, they don't mind if we Christians have our little "religion." Can you hear them? "Just keep 'religion' in that 'religion' compartment of your lives. Don't you dare bring that into the public domain. There is no room for God in the public domain. It is fine that you worship. But you must respect our ideas of separation of church and state." In other words, "Secular humanism is the 'real' religion. That is what we base our lives on. You can have your religion, as long as you observe the foundational tenets of our religion - which is that religion has no place in the public sphere. Our religion demands that, and that is the religion we insist on. And don't tell me that I'm contradicting myself either. "

See, there is no middle ground. All things exist for the glory of God. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. There is a reason why the enemies of God are scared. Just as there was a reason why the enemies of God in Gideon's day were scared. Check out Judges 6-7. The enemies of God recognize that they are in trouble, and if they do not take desperate measures, then this Christian gospel might take root in the next generation! And what would that do for their voting base on whom they depend?

So, praise the LORD. God is on the move. There will be terrible times in the last days, but in the church, there will be an increase of glory. Little by little, we will take ground. We are taking the land. We will not compromise. We are not looking to be respected as "another" group. We are out to destroy our competitors - that is with spiritual and intellecutal weapons. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood." (Eph 6:12)

Christians should reject any notion of a defeatist mentality. Rather, we must stand on the promises of God. Do not compromise with the world. Rather, search the Scriptures, and prayerfully and thoughtfully form a theology for education. God cares deeply about education. And He insists very loudly that education is not to be based on agnosticism. See Exodus, Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, Ephesians, and the rest of the Bible.

For more, check out my other blog: debatingeducation.blogspot.com.

7 Comments:

Blogger MarcoConley said...

So, I've been slowly evolving a "Truce on Evolution / Intelligent Design" that I'm really proud of. If anyone makes it through it, feedback greatly appreciated. I'm particularly proud of Scientist section #4 Christian sections #2, #5, and #6, which feature genuine original Marco-created thoughts, rather than re-using the old ideas. I'm so proud of this and my hubris is such, that I'm dreaming I might even convince the Dan-meister with this one! Here's the manifesto:

A Proposed Treaty for the Evolution / Intelligent Design Debate

Scientists need to understand some things:

1. Scientists need to undestand that Evolution is VERY counterintuitive. The idea that order can emerge spontaneously out of randomness may be the most surprising thing in the entireuniverse. People have the right to be skeptical, and the burden of proof is on science to convince people of such a radical notion. It's easy to make fun of people who think the world's flat, but, when I walk down the street, it sure looks flat to me. If I find a watch on a beach, I sure assume someone made it. Now, if you want me to believe that a watch can sponteously assemble itself over the course of four billion years.. you're going to have to prove it to me. And if you can't do a good job of proving it to me in a way that's easy to understand... don't get mad at me if I remain a tad skeptical.

2. Scientists need to understand that direct sensation and direct revelation will always come before secondary evidence. If I personally see the color blue, no amount of evidence will make me believe blue does not exist. If I feel afraid, no amount of evidence will ever convince me that fear does not exist. And if I believe God told me not to believe in Evolution, no amount of evidence will dissuade me, and rightfully so.

3. Scientists need to understand that science has its axioms, it's unspoken assumptions about the universe. One of those assumptions is that the universe is inherently rational, and open to rational inquiry. But it might not be. For all we know, we could be brains in vats, being fed false information. For all we know, there could be an evil demon that can control everything we see and hear. For all we know, we could be in the Matrix. And most relevant, for all we know, God could have created the universe in such a way that it would look like it was exactly 13.7 billion years old, when in fact it was created five thousand years ago, or a century ago, or last month. The universe could have been created last friday, complete with fossils of dinosaurs that never actually lived, stars that never actually were born, and memories already-formed in our brains of things that never actually happened (This is called the "Omphalos hypothesis" to it's friends, and it was first suggested in 1851 by a christian philosopher). This is a valid hypothesis, consistent with all facts, and Science can never, ever disprove it. Philosophy will always trump Science, just as Math will always trump Physics, and Faith will alway trump Pure Reason. As it should.

4. Scientists also need to understand that censoring viewpoints in a bad thing, that people have every right to believe in creationism. And scientists should also realize that understanding Creationism / Intelligent Design is essential to understanding our society, and no one should graduate from a public school without knowing that lots and lots of people throughout history and throughout the world believe an intelligent god created the universe. History and politics are impossible to comprehend without understanding that many many people believe that. Scientists shouldn't be afraid of teaching and talking about all viewpoints-- Truth will tend to win out in the end. The only possible valid reason not to discuss ANY viewpoint in a public school is that we just don't have the time-- and if public schools are still anything like they were when I was student, they'll have PLENTY of time if they cut out the busy work, stop trying to teach us to diagram a sentence, forget memorizing state capitols, or make gym an after-school optional activity.

5. Even if evolution is true, scientists need to cut Creationists some slack. The purpose of life isn't necessarily to be right about everything. People have feelings and spirituality and "meaning" and "purpose". By elevating Correctness over Happiness, Science treats us like adding machines. Maybe people would rather be happy than right. And furthermore, maybe creationists ARE right. Maybe scientists don't have all the answers. Maybe life just looks like it evolved. So cut the Creationists some slack.

Christians need to understand some things too:

1. Christians need to understand that Evolution is about as close to a scientific fact as you can get. Honestly and truly, we are more certain about "What Evolution Is" than we are about "What Gravity Is". By all the rules of science, evolution is exactly what every good scientific theory should be. Creationists like to play word games and say that "Evolution is just a theory"-- but that's disingenious. In colloquial english, a "theory" is just a rough guess, but "Scientific Theory" is the highest level of scientific fact there is. Sure, there are debates about some of the finest details of evolution, but that doesn't mean any good scientist debates evolution's existence. By analogy, if some scientists think the Earth is 24,902 miles around, but others think the Earth is 24,903 miles around-- it's not fair to use that debate to say "Scientists still debate about the Earth being round".

2. There's a myth that goes: "People only believe in evolution so that they can be atheists" It's simply and demonstratably false. Here's a quick trivia question: An American woman believes in evolution-- what religion is she most likely to be: Agnostic, Atheist, Hindu, Buddhist, or Other? The answer is "Other"-- she is probably Christian.

In fact, someone who believes in evolution is twice as a likely to turn out to believe in Christianity than any other religion or philosphy. And since actual atheists (as opposed to agnostics) are so incredibly rare-- it turns out that a believer of evolution is SIXTY times more likely to be a Christian than an Atheist. That's completely true. For every atheist who believes in evolution, there are SIXTY christians who believe in it. If I put 61 evolutionists in a room, it would take you all day to go around talking to Christians before you could find the one atheist in the room, hidden like a needle in a haystack. The simple fact is, most Americans who believe in evolution are Christians.

Many, many christians believe in evolution. The last pope believed in evolution. 25% of American EVANGELICAL christians believe in evolution. Now-- beware the tyranny of numbers-- just because evolution is popular with christians, that doesn't prove that evolution is true. But what the numbers DO prove is that people aren't turning to evolution as a way to justify their atheism-- rather, most people who believe in evolution see it as yet another example of God's infinite creativity and limitless genius.

3. I don't think Creationists should get to use the Big Bang as evidence for God. Everyone loves science when it suits them, but if the same wonderful method that teachs us about the Big Bang also teaches us the universe is 13.7 billion years old, then people hate it and call scientists evil. To chant "God said let there be light, and bang, it happened", while at the same time claiming that the earth is 4,000 years old-- that's just having your cake and eating it too. Evolutionist Christians are hereby allowed to brag about how they predicted the universe would have a moment of creation. Creationists, meanwhile, get to brag about the importance of direct revelation over flawed human knowledge and logic. But using science to prove your point when it suits you, and throwing it away when it doesn't-- that's just plain cheating.

4. Christians need to understand that there's lots of good reasons for believing in Evolution-- life LOOKS as if it was evolved. Simple fossils are deeper in the ground and older than the fossils of more complex animals. Lifeforms are easily arrangable into trees. There are fossils for extinct animals that are 'halfway' in between existing animals, exactly as if they were the ancestors of both. There are thousands and thousands of creatures that have been dug up that certainly LOOK like they are halfway between chimps and humans. What are we to make of such fossils? The logical conclusion is that humans evolved from these half-chimp half-human looking things. Maybe it's not right, but it's certainly a natural conclusion to make. Creationists like to claim that evolution is silly and ridiculous-- really, it's a perfectly logical guess to make. Life looks as it evolved. Maybe it didn't-- but it's an obvious guess, and don't get mad at people for thinking it.

5. Christians need to understand that it is absolutely critical to teach people about Evolution and how it works. Why? Because evolution is going on NOW, all around us. Whether evolution is how humans came to be-- that's trivial, and more of a philosophical question than a scientific one. But, evolution IS happening all around us, and anyone who's going to grow up to be a good biologist, ecologist, or health professional absolutely needs to learn about evolution.

Consider--- our bodies adapt rapidly to viruses, so that we can't get the same cold twice-- yet each year we get sick again from NEW viruses. Where did these new viruses come from, and how do they happen to have precisely the qualities that are necessary to re-infect us? The answer is that the viruses are evolving-- evolving so rapidly and so efficiently that even our sophisticated immune systems can't keep up. Consider-- we are highly resistant to some illnesses that our ancestors were succeptible to. Consider-- we invent a new pesticide. At first it works great, but over time, it becomes less and less effective. Why? because the insects are evolving before our very eyes. Consider-- it's incredibly important to finish all your antibiotics. Why? because if you don't kill off every last bacteria, you're helping to evolve bacteria that will be resistant to antibiotics. Consider-- in the 1940s, a bacteria called Staph. aureus could be easily treated with simple penicillin. Nowadays, the same species of bacteria is completely resistant to penicillin. Why? Because it has evolved over the last sixty years.

Evolution may not have been happening six thousand years ago, but it IS happening now. Creationists call this sort of thing "Mirco-evolution", so that they can admit evolution exists NOW without having to use it to explain the origin of humans. That's fine. Leave the origins of humans to the church and the philosophers, and just talk about "micro-evolution". But you do have to teach at least that much evolution in high school, or else your students are going to be blindsided when they walk into their first day of a university science class and everyone's talking about evolution as if it's a run-of-the-mill fact. If your students are ever going to have anything to do with science or medicine, they need to know about evolution. The only christian schools that are exempt from this advice are the Christian Science schools-- if your students aren't going to be growing up to be doctors then... well, I guess they don't need to know about evolution.

6. Even if evolution is false, Christians need to cut evolutionists some slack. Consider: If evolution isn't real, it sure looks real. Our world looks SO much like the kind of world that would have evolved. In contrast, think of how many worlds God, with his infinite creativity, could have created that would have OBVIOUSLY not been evolved. A world with no fossils, for example. A world with distinct groups of animals, and absolutely no "in between" animals. Or a world that has brand-spanking-new DNA for every single species of animal-- no more reusing 97% of chimp DNA when you make humans-- just make whole new lines of DNA every time you make an animal. An earth that really truly appeared to be only 5,000 years old, no matter what kind of fancy atomic testing or carbon-dating you used. Heck-- even a signature in the sky that says (in every language in the world) "Made by God" in a beautiful Arial font. God could have made a world that could NEVER have been created by evolution-- something super obvious to everyone. But he didn't.

So, is it just a coincidence that we HAPPEN to be in a world that looks so much like a world with evolution? Out of all the possible worlds, why would God create a world that looks so much like it had be evolved, if in fact, evolution was false. Is God trying to trick us? Why would God make a world that looks like it COULD have been created by evolution.

Isn't it obvious? Because if God created a world that could not possibly have been created by evolution, faith would be impossible. Faith is believing without having proof. If God has made a world in which evolution was provably false, we would have proof that God must have created life instead. If evolution was provably false, God's existence would be scientifically proven, and faith would be destroyed. If evolution was scientifically impossible, anyone but the most hard-core atheist would recognize God's fingerprints all over creation, and no one would have faith. God might just as well appear in the sky tommorrow and announce his existence to all!

And ya know, God seems to be sorta big on Faith. Consider Jesus's words to Thomas after 'Doubting Thomas' feels Jesus's wounds: "Because you have seen me, you believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." God intentionally made evolution seem plausible, so that some could believe without being shown. So cut the evolutionists some slack. Faith's hard, it's meant to be. At worst, evolutionists aren't evil, they're just a little slow.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Marco,

Firstly, I have to say that I love the friendly "Dan-meister" reference. It appears that we're becoming friends. It would have been fun to go to college with you. You may have found some of the late night discussions I had with my buddies interesting: politics, theology, women - followed by wrestling, boxing, movies, pranks (that is we wrestled, boxed, watched movies, and did pranks - we didn't just talk about it). I did get around to studying once in a while.

Anyway, you just remind me of some of my pals from college.

So...

Science argument 1: Evolution is very counterintuitive. This is something that most of our society does not even realize, because they have been brainwashed so deeply. To most (uninformed) people, evolution makes a whole lot of sense. People who reject or question evolution are either people who have courage to think or who have been brainwashed by gospel preachers. America is in a pretty sad state. You have believers and unbelievers. But you have relatively few people who think - unless they are thinking about how to make a buck.

Point 2: If you have a false notion of what God has spoken, then it is of utmost importance to have the wisdom, discernment, and humility to recognize and reject that idea. Therefore, no one should reject evolution "on faith" unless God has spoken.

I say this because there were some old theologians who have done bad theology. They said that the world was flat and were ready to burn Galileo at the stake for suggesting otherwise (or was it for suggesting that the earth is not the center of the universe). Those "theologians" were doing "bad theology." They missed. Their interpretation was wrong. The Bible is open to correct intepretation, not inaccurate intepretation.

3. Your philosophical argument on this point was most intriguing. I enjoyed thinking about it. I was considering telling my students about it. Maybe I will someday - when we are not cramming for midterm exams next week. "How do you know that you were not created half an hour ago, and that God created you with a memory and an aged body, etc?" It would be interesting to hear them respond to that.

Obviously, I know that the earth and the universe is much older than 30 minutes by faith. God speaks to me through the Bible and through His Spirit. God will not and can not lie. He is good.

4. This is a discussion of pedagogy and curriculum (not to mention little things like purpose, vision, and mission). See my other blogs, especially debatingeducation.blogspot.com. Also, I encourage you to read The Case for Classical Christian Education by Douglas Wilson. I would argue that defining "education" is an important thing to do - inasmuch as the government is throwing a lot of our money at it, and many want to throw a lot more at it. I know that this is a bit too rational and fair minded for the corrupt powers that be who are controlling education for their own special interests and partisan purposes. But I have never really cared about offending such people. LET MY PEOPLE GO!

5. PUH-LEASE! Come now. I thought you respected me more than that! The goal of authentic science is to ascertain truth. While it is important to convey the truth in love, it is vitally important not to compromise the truth! And, in point of fact, if you let ignorant people continue in their ignorance, (for the purpose of protecting their feelings), then you are not really loving them. On the contrary, you are disrespecting them, and I would go so far as to say that you are holding such people in contempt.

So, Christians should fund authentic science. Science is fantastic. To explore all the intricacies of God's creation - from the tiniest of the sub-atomic "particles" (or is it energy) to the stars and the galaxies, God's universe is majestic! It is wonderful to study. Let us not show contempt for the subject matter by pandering to mystical ignorant brats who might get their feelings hurt if you make some neat scientific discovery.

I only ask that scientific investigation should be fair and accurate. I am not "nervous" that science will "disprove" God. Not in the least.

5:40 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Now to respond to your points toward Christians.

1. I grant you that many uninformed, uneducated Christians don't appreciate the meaning of the word-phrase "scientific theory." Christians should recognize that they should be loving God with all their minds.

This brings up the point: "What does the word 'theory' mean?" For those that might not know, let me inform you of the scientific method.

A man of curiosity studies a particular field and then forms a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess at what might happen given certain conditions to something. A hypothesis could turn out to be true or false. So, then, the scientist performs experiments. A scientific experiment has a "control" and a "variable." Ideally, there is one and only one difference between the "control" experiment and the "variable" experiment. In real life, you might breathe wrong, or the temperature of the lab might drop, or an arctic wind might change directions (believe me; there were times in my electronic labs in college where I was sure that the reason why my experiment didn't "work" was due to some one in China coughing, thereby contaminating the air). But the closer you can get to an experiment with one control and one variable, the more reliable your results are. If you have a perfect experiment, you can then deduce a conclusion. Since, a perfect experiment is pretty much totally impossible, science is essentially a subset of inductive logic - not deductive. The conclusion is only probable. Now, if you perform an experiment 100 times, and get consistent predictable results, you can have a lot of confidence in your inductive conclusion. If you perform an experiment a 1000 times, and you get the same predicted results, your conclusion is even stronger. If you change factors, but still get predictable results consistently, then your conclusion is even stronger! When, not only you, but dozens of other respected scientists perform identical or similar experiments thousands of times each under various conditions, now, you can form a scientific theory. It is still not a deductive conclusion. But your degree of confidence is so high, that you call it "theory." Scientific theory is pretty much truth.

Now, Marco, you suggest that evolution is "pretty much as close to scientific fact as you can get." Well, I am not a biologist or a chemist - nor do I see myself taking a course in organic chemistry any time soon. But I do plan on reading more about the subject. So, I challenge you: Prove it. I know that this is a bit unfair, because I have no ambition to make it my quest to study biology and chemistry all that much; I am a busy person.

But it does seem to me that the claims made in the theory of evolution (that is, macro-evolution) are not claims that can be "confirmed" in the lab. At least, you can not confirm it with the same degree of confidence that I can confirm the nature and characteristics of NPN bipolar junction transistors. I have performed many different kinds of tests on many different transistors, as have millions of other engineers. We know the nature of those transistors. But I don't think biologists and chemists have witnessed primordial goo evolve into living cells and then into more complex living cells and then into animals and then into ape-like creatures and then into human beings.

For the record, I do acknowledge the reality of microevolution. But that is a far cry from Darwinian ideas of macroevolution.

2. Again, I have to apologize to you on the part of many Christians who, when it comes to science, are very ignorant and loud. Believing in evolution does not equate with atheism.

However, when it comes to origin of life issues - how did we get from that non-living material to living matter anyway? There are some "scientists" who, for whatever reasons, will not consider the idea that God did it. Why not? The idea that it happened by chance is much more ridiculous a hypothesis (in my mind) than the idea that God did it. While it is true that you could never test that hypothesis out, there is no reason for so many to show such hostility to the hypothesis. Yet, this seems to be what many people do.

3. I believe in the scientific theory of the Big Bang. (You should have seen the reaction of some of my students last year in my physics class when I said that! They were about ready to burn me at the stake! Fortunately, the headmaster and the board are a little more reasonable.) I think that when properly understood, Genesis 1 and the Big Bang theory fit together in perfect harmony. Check out this link: http://www.kiva.net/%7Ekls/page2.html This is the best explanation that I have ever seen for Genesis 1 and the Big Bang.

Interestingly, according to the theory of the big bang, the first "particles" were photons. "Let there be light." So, I do believe God spoke, and BANG! The universe began about 14 billion years ago.

This does also mean that I believe in "long days." In Genesis 1, the Hebrew word for day is used elsewhere in Scripture and implies periods of time longer than 24 hours. The link I pointed you to has a great explanation of this too.

As far as I know, no Christians believe that the earth is 4000 years old, but there are Christians who believe that the earth is 6000 years old. They could be right. But I don't think they are.

4. You say, "There are fossils for extinct animals that are 'halfway' in between existing animals, exactly as if they were the ancestors of both." Can you prove this? Do you have sources to back this up? Are there a plethora of such fossils? Are you sure that such fossils are not of a deformed man or a taller monkey? As I understand it, Darwin himself noted that there were many "gaps" in his theory. When looking at the fossils, you don't see that much "gray" in between the species. He predicted that such fossils would turn up, but in the The Case for Faith, Strobel says that after over 100 years (or is it closer to 140 years), the vast majority of fossils seem to only solidify the idea that the species are distinct.

Also, if evolution is still happening, then how come, across the world, we don't see a plethora of "people" who are half way, quarter way, and three quarters way between man and ape and monkey. While there are similarities between the species, there are still very distinct differences.

Common traits don't necessarily mean that we have come from a common ancestor. It could just as well mean that we have been designed by a common Designer.

5. I do think that students should learn good science in science class. I think it would be fair to teach students the hypothesis of evolution (and in the meantime, teach them also all the problems with the hypothesis). But to teach students evolution as fact and then to dismiss intelligent design is completely ridiculous.

6. I love evolutionists. But as a science person and as a Christian and as a person who is pursuing truth, I hold everyone's feet to the fire. Reality is often not what it appears. You could have said 800 years ago, "If God created the world round, well, it certainly looks flat." That perception matters not. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. And that is a very good thing. He sees the whole picture. We see glimpses here and there.

All people are evil. "But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8. Faith is hard. But it is also a gift from God. Ask, believing, and you shall receive. (Yes, there is a mystery to the gospel.)

Blessings to all.

7:11 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

So, in the past couple days, I have been reconsidering my stance and my views on evolution. I was talking to one of my good friends, Trevor, the other day about this blog. Trevor (who is a believer) asked (and I paraphrase), "Does the Scripture indicate that evolution is not a possibility?" I thought about it for a little while. The Scripture says that God made Adam from the dust and Eve from Adam's rib. Now, I do not and have never believed that God simply pointed his finger at the dust and ZAP! there is Adam. I do believe that God took a finite amount of time (however long that is is subject to discussion and debate) to form Adam from the dust. Might this process be considered "evolution?"

By no means does this imply that Darwin was right. It seems necessary to define very carefully the words evolution, microevolution, and macroevolution. As Trevor and I were talking, we talked some about microevolution and macroevolution. I believe in microevolution, but not in Darwinian macroevolution. But then the question comes up, "Where is the line?" Since, Trevor and I were both electrical engineering majors, and know very little about chemistry and biology, that is about as deep as the conversation got - scientifically speaking. We then started discussing the politics of public school curriculum decisions.

Then, last night, I was reading that website, "God, Genesis, and The Big Bang" and I started looking at Sluder's argument concerning evolution. Already believing in the Big Bang theory and an "old earth" (and therefore, long days in Genesis 1), I considered Sluder's argument. Sluder used a lot of Scripture.

Genesis 1:11-12 - "Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with sed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

So, plant life was produced by the land according to their various kinds. The idea that plant life was produced by the land seems very "evolutionary." The idea that plant life was produeced according to their various kinds explains the distinction between all the different species and seems to go against Darwinian thought. However, Sluder points out:

"Again what does Scripture really say? Note in particular that grass, herb yielding seed produces after his kind , and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind . Scripture does not say - Oak tree you will produce only exact duplicates of yourself until the end of time. But isn't this the way we are taught to believe? What I am saying is that there appears to be room for variation of plant life in Scripture by what would appear to be natural selection with limits. Not random chance, but God's hand guiding the creation of plant life on Earth.

Do not think that I am giving evolution free reign here. I am not. Please stay with me until the end of this article. The question remains to be asked, did all plant life originate from a few plant cells that God developed into individual forms of grass, herb, and tree or were many types of fully formed plants created initially? We cannot be certain since Scripture is silent on this issue, but the first view seems to be more consistent with the fossil record. Either way this should not be of great concern to us. The fossil record is very clear; plants have changed tremendously through time. No matter what mechanism has been used by the earth to bring forth plant life it is God's command that caused it to happen."

Again, Genesis 1:20-21 says, "And God said, 'Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.' So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good."

Unless otherwise noted, I am always using the NIV translation of the Bible. And now, check out the same verses in the KJV translation:

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

"And God said, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.' And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

Notice, the words, "Let the waters bring forth..." It would sure help if I knew Hebrew. But waters bringing forth again seems to imply a kind of God-guided evolutionary process. We may be close or far away from Darwinian thought here. But we do know that the waters brought forth life according to the command of God.

Also, check out the difference between NIV and KJV in verse 21. NIV says, "great creatures" and KJV says, "great whales." Check out what Sluder thinks about this as well as the rest of the passage.

"Again limits have been set but specific species have not been mentioned, with the exception of great whales.

I stated in Understanding Genesis Chapter 1 that this is a mistranslation. Dinosaur fossils would not be discovered for 250 years after the translating of the King James Bible. If this is a correct understanding of God's word then this means that the creatures of the waters developed until on day God made some of them able to live on land. This is a proper understanding of current scientific theory and if correct is not a violation of Scripture.

It is interesting that the waters are mentioned as bringing forth the fowl that fly above the earth. This is a totally foreign idea to the traditional understanding of Biblical creation, yet that is what the Scripture says. It is also interesting that science has been unable to decide how to classify birds, how they originated and whether they were originally reptiles. The Bible says they were created after their kind. It is possible that the birds have no predecessor. Archaeopteryx may have been a flying reptile just as bats are flying mammals. This does not mean they are related to birds. Archaeopteryx may also have been legitimately one of the first birds, despite its reptile features. This still does not prove it had reptile ancestors. The possibility remains though that birds were descendants of reptiles through God's guiding hand on this fifth creation day. There is no conflict here except in our tradition and in our bias. God is in control. The Biblical account of creation is literal. Science agrees with the Bible again."

I'll leave it to you to examine the rest of Sluder's argument, since I am pretty much paraphrasing and quoting from him. I am not sure where I stand on this issue now. But it seems to me that perhaps a kind of evolution (maybe not the same idea that Darwin proposed), when properly understood, does not necessarily violate Scripture.

Of course, it is also possible that the word day in Genesis does mean a 24 hour period and that the earth is 6000 years old and that macroevolution is completely and totally bogus.

I will point this out: There is a fundamental difference between man and animal. We have a spirit. We have been created in God's image. In fact, I will probably address this in more detail later, because many of my Christian friends might be flipping out at this point - and not for bad reasons. To suggest that we are merely an advanced evolved animal is heresy. We have been created in the image of God. We are therefore, not cousins with monkeys and apes.

But I would ask Christians to reread Genesis 1 slowly and carefully, thoughtfully and prayerfully. And I would ask scientists to consider this argument. Evolution happening by chance seems to be a real stretch, statistically speaking. But perhaps God guided the whole process as Genesis 1 declares.

I will return later to discuss the creation of man in more detail. For the record, I maintain my stance that the Scriptures are the inspired, infallible, authoritative Word of God, and that we need to prayerfully, carefully, and thoughtfully consider the whole counsel of Scripture according to the guidelines of proper hermaneutics, being led by the Spirit and the Spirit's wisdom.

Source:
Sluder, Kevin. God, Genesis and the Big Bang:
The Creation / Evolution Controversy - Part II.

http://www.kiva.net/%7Ekls/controversy2.html. January 21, 2006.

7:19 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

Regarding: "I believe in microevolution, but not in Darwinian macroevolution. But then the question comes up, "Where is the line?" "

Fascinating thoughts.

I think that once you're at the point of believing in both microevolution and old earth, you're 99% of the way to believing in evolution itself.

Consider-- I have a species of animals called Widgets living on two different continents. Now, if microevolution exists, the American Widgets and the Eurasian Widgets are going to start changing through microevolution. Now, if the two groups can't communicate, and they keep changing, how can they possibly NOT wind up as two separate species? Microevolution over 180 million years has got to add up to evolution.

My father used to be an amateur carpenter, and one of the things he taught me has always fascinated me: Let's say you want to cut 10 boards to each be 6 ft long. You use the tape measure to measure the FIRST board, draw a line to mark 6ft, and you cut it with the saw. You now have one board that is about 6 ft long. When you start to work on the SECOND board, you don't want to measure again, so you just use the FIRST board as a giant 6ft long rule, and you use that to make a mark. So far so good. You make the mark and you cut the second board. You now have two boards that look like they're both about 6ft long.

Now here comes the tricky part. When you go to measure the third board, you absolutely have to use the FIRST board as a ruler, not the SECOND board. If you use the first board as a ruler, everything is going to work out. If you use the board you just finished cutting as a ruler, you're going to wind up with a problem.

Because let's say that you each time you cut, you have a little bit of error. So, the first board was almost exactly 6ft, but you were off by .05 ft, so it's 6.05 ft long. Now, if you use the first board as a ruler every time, all ten of your boards are going to wind up being very close to the first board.

But, if instead, you always use your most recent board as a ruler, the following will happen:

1st board will be .05 more than the tape measre: 6.05 ft

2nd board will be .05 more than the 1st board: 6.10 ft.

3rd board will be .05 more than the 2nd board: 6.15 ft.

By the time you are done, the 10th board will be 6.50 ft long! a full half foot longer than the first board.

The imperceptible errors will have added up to give you a board that is completely different than the type of board you started out with.

Apparently, among novice carpenters, this problem actually happens all the time, and experienced carpenters find it quite hilarious.

Each small change is so tiny you think "it doesn't matter", but after 10 generations, the difference is so big that you have to go buy new lumber.

So is it with microevolution. If things can evolve a little, how can they help themselves but have all the tiny changes add up to big ones?

---

But evolution needn't be viewed as godless-- anyone who claims to know that God had nothing to do with evolution is a fool-- you can't know that.

Furthermore, there are plenty of good places where science still needs a miracle or two to explain things.

Science isn't yet doing so hot on how the first life got started. Evolution, which concerns how you get from life to all the other kinds of life-- that's pretty ironclad. But it's also the easy part. I haven't heard any good explainations on how you go from organic chemicals to actual life. Science really doesn't have a clue.

In cosmology-- why did the universe get created at all? Why does it have all the properties necessary for life to form? no clue.

In quantum physics- How does an electron's wavefunction collapse? No clue.

In neuroscience-- why am I conscious? is a dog conscious? Why do I remember the past but not the future? no clue.

Science still needs it miracles.
---

Five hundred years ago, the church regarded the concept of a vacuum as complete heresy. They seriously killed folks over it. Anyone who believed in a vacuum was godless and atheistic, because if the vacuum existed, God could not.

And we all know that when it was discovered that Jupiter had moons, the vatican threatened to kill Galileo, because God and Jupiter having moons were so incompatible that to suggest the moons existed was to be an atheist.

Nowadays, we can look back and see how Christianity got all worked up over nothing. A vacuum cleaner is just a vacuum cleaner-- it has no effect whatsoever on the existence of God. The moons of Jupiter are just the moons of Jupiter-- they don't disprove God, nor does anyone want them to.

I think in a century or two (if humans are still around by then), we'll look back on evolution the same way, and find it hard to believe anyone could have looked at evolution as somehow proving that god doesn't exist.

Evolution doesn't disprove the watchmaker. It's just another part of his giant watch-making machine.

5:11 AM  
Blogger MarcoConley said...

"Also, if evolution is still happening, then how come, across the world, we don't see a plethora of "people" who are half way, quarter way, and three quarters way between man and ape and monkey. While there are similarities between the species, there are still very distinct differences."

Science's answer to this:

It's very hard to keep new species from killing off the old ones. If you'd been here 30 thousand years ago, you could have seen the Neaderthals living at the same time as Homo sapiens. If you'd been here about 2 million years ago, you could have seen four different humanoids all living at the same time (erectus, habilis, P. boisei, and P. robustus). As it is, however, we've been pretty good at killing off nearby species, so there are only 4 hominids species left total: Humans, Chimps, Gorillas, and Orangutans.

But on the other hand-- maybe you're lucky to have those! Give it a century or two, and all four may have gone extinct.

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