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"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

A Layman’s Brief Guide to Evolution

While this is not intended to be an exhaustive survey on the "controversy" surrounding evolutionism and creationism, it is my intent to spark a renewed interest in the matter of Science and the Scripture, even if we acknowledge disagreements on our conclusions.

What I commonly observed is that the public at large, including sincere christians, have placed undue authority in the scientific priests and thus causing christians to turn around questioning the authority of God’s word where it should not have been the case. And all these because there is an underlying assumption or trust that evolution has already been well established beyond a doubt by the leading evolutionists.

Not a Soteriological Issue, But…

Before commenting further, it is good to note that the issue in view is not of soteriological importance, meaning that one does not have to subscribe to creationism in order to be a christian or that a christian cannot also subscribe to evolution. But there are definitely implications and consequences to whichever worldviews one may choose to adopt. Please read "Do I have to believe in a literal creation to be a christian?" by Russell Grigg.

If you are a christian reading this, I hope to relieve you of the internal logical inconsistencies you may experience regarding the Scripture and evolution. If you are a seeker, I welcome you to be open-minded and inquire further on this matter, and I pray that you will ultimately know the Creator in the course of your investigation.

Arguments Against Evolution Not Encouraged

Precisely because most assumed that evolution has already been well established beyond a doubt, one of the common charges against creationism is that it is a biased, self-interested effort in vain to protect its own faith for survival in competition with latest scientific discovery - evolution. For those who are already committed a priori to the truthfulness of evolution, there are only the two options left either to (1) reconcile, harmonize and adjust the Scripture to evolution (not the other way round), or (2) give up the faith totally. But how many understand that even evolution has its own biased, even religious, philosophical foundation to build its empire on to begin with?

An exploration on this matter is in order, but let us understands that creationists are not a group of blind or angry religious folks who will strike against evolution for anything. Rather, it is a group of intellectual people including scientists who after close examination found the case wanting, who are also ready to adjust their positions if the evidences point otherwise. Here are some arguments against evolution that are not encouraged, which hints the sincerity of creationists making their case.

Two Categories of Science

What most fails to note is the distinction between normal (operational) science, and origins (historical) science. Operational science deals only with repeatable observable processes in the present, while historical science helps us to make educated guesses about origins in the past.

As believers, we ought to recognize that operational science has indeed been very successful in understanding the world, and has led to many improvements in the quality of life, such as rocket engineering and bio-medical advancement and treatment. In fact, creationists are in no way hindering real operational science research, either in theory or in practice. In contrast, evolution is a speculation with all its assumptions (see "The Parable of the Candle" by Garth Wiebe) about the unobservable and unrepeatable past. Thus it comes under historical science. Also see "Who's really pushing ‘bad science'?" by Jonathan Sarfati for more information.

The difference between operational and historical science is important, for we can observe the motion of the planets, but no one has ever observed evolution of one type of organism to another. In fact, Richard Dawkins, the author of the best selling book "The God Delusion", said something apparently profoundly contradictory when interviewed in the "Battle over Evolution". He said, "Evolution has been observed. It's just that it hasn't been observed while it's happening." So has it, or has it not? Is it science, or is it not?

Naturalism & Evolution

Seldom do people know that evolution is based upon dogmatic exclusion of a miraculous Creation/Creator - in effect, a faith commitment to naturalism, the unprovable, religious belief that no supernatural element exists or is relevant. Check out the evolutionists’ statement of faith and it would not be long to realize that the possibility of the existence of God is not an entertaining thought and therefore a priori ruled out of their expertise and field. Would a worldview built upon the "no supernatural" then be really compatible with the Scripture? See the "The religious nature of evolution" by Carl Wieland.

Take the birth certificate for example, it gives us a measured time scale for our age. It is an eye-witnessed statement that you and I were born on a particular date. Likewise, the Scripture gives us a 'birth certificate' for the universe - an eye-witness statement that God created it in six ordinary-length days in the time of Adam. The family histories and patriarchal ages in Genesis continue this record. God then confirmed it to Moses and wrote it down with His own finger in stone in the Sabbath Commandment.

On the other hand, evolutionists must assume and infer for no evolutionist has any alternative or better 'birth certificate' for the earth or the universe. All scientific estimates of earth and universe age require a whole lot of assumptions. The key assumption is uniformitarianism, which is atheism disguised as science, because it assumes no miraculous interventions in history. Christians have simply no reason to accept, and every reason to reject, atheistic assumptions about the universe. See "The universe’s birth certificate" by Alexander Williams.

Macro or Micro Evolution

Another distinction that will help in discerning the issue in the long run is to understand and appreciate the fundamental difference between macro-evolution (evolution of one type of organism to another) and micro-evolution (natural selection or adaptation). The Scripture is explicit in stating that God created different kinds of organisms which reproduced 'after their kinds'. This is totally consistent with natural selection. Each of these kinds was created with a vast amount of information and there was enough variety in the information in the original creatures so their descendants could adapt to a wide variety of environments.

In contrast, marco-evolution requires that non-living chemicals organize themselves into a self-reproducing organism. All types of life are also alleged to have descended, by natural, ongoing processes, from this 'simple' life form. So the next time you hear the term 'evolution' do clarify whether macro-evolution or micro-evolution is in view, since it's usually used interchangeably and often taken for granted that establishing micro-evolution is tantamount to proving macro-evolution.

For macro-evolution to have worked, there must also be some process which can generate the genetic information in living things today. To convince me of macro-evolution to be scientifically proven, I personally think there must be an overwhelming quantity of evidences showing such cases of an increase in genetic information. Therefore is it so hard for evolutionists to provide just a couple of undisputable and documented cases of such observation of an increase in genetic information? Try asking for such evidences and you will be surprised.

By the way, if mutation is cited as evidence, do note that mutation is more in line with the biblical worldview of sin entering the world and not a case for the increase in genetic information. Also see "Variation and natural selection versus evolution" by Jonathan Sarfati.

Darwin Film: Challenging Darwin in 2009

If you are not aware, the year 2009 will mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of Species" and the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. As foreshadowed, evolutionists and the media have been busy creating special events around these two anniversaries, featuring Darwin as a hero.

In response, Creation Ministries International's major international documentary film will challenge evolution in a fresh way. Based on an original concept, the film revisits some of the places Darwin visited, and ideas he formulated, during his historic 1830's voyage on HMS Beagle. Together with natural history footage from South America, period re-enactments and interviews with leading authorities from around the world, the documentary will illustrate how the evolutionary viewpoint is far from the tried and tested science fact that many believe it to be. It will investigate the man, the legend and the unfortunate world-changing legacy of Charles Darwin.

Please see here for the trailer of Darwin Film. In fact for those interested, the film would be screened in Singapore somewhere in May. So keep a look out for it.

Summary

To reiterate, this is not intended to be an exhaustive survey on the topic. If you are an evolutionist, please do not make use of the comment function for debate, I would suggest that you send your queries directly to Answers in Genesis or Creation Ministries International. If you are living in Singapore, Gary Bates will be in town to answer your arguments during the conferences from 17 to 26 April.

To the Body of Christ, I hope that your faith will be strengthened in this hour as we wait for our Lord to return triumphantly. To the rest, buy the truth, and sell it not.

13 comments:

Jorgon Gorgon said...

A bit of false-dichotomizing there...I am not committed to the validity of the evolutionary theory a priori, but after 20+ years of being involved with the subject at hand I have seen enough supporting evidence to be quite convinced by it. The only thing I was committed to, a priori, was methodological naturalism, but that is part and parcel of scientific method.

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Oh, and no, evolutionary theory is not based on atheism or, really, any metaphysical principle. Again, the only naturalistic committment is nethodological. There are many Christian (and other) biologists.

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Oops! Methodological...;)

Elvin said...

Hi JG,

Just to clarify that when I wrote "for those who are already committed a priori to the truthfulness of evolution", I have in mind most lay persons who simply assume the validity of evolution. That's why the title of the post. :)

I fully understand that different people will look at the same piece of evidence but yet instead arrive at different conclusions. And this is what the issue is about, looking at the same evidences from a biblical worldview or a naturalistic worldview, will arrive at different destinations precisely because the starting points (or interpretative lens) are already different.

In regards to the naturalistic commitment when making assumptions for evolution, it should alarm one of the philosophical nature and assumptions of historical science, if any, rather than accepting evolution (historical science) wholesale as beyond a doubt. That's why it is always about going back to examining the evidence itself.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by. I hope you will enjoy the other blog posts too. :)

Blessings,
Elvin

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Sure, but the problem I have (and I would, of course! ;)) is that the "biblical worldview" cannot be considered fundamental, philosophically. To do so is to be guilty of intellectual laziness. There is nothing wrong with interpreting the evidence from such a viewpoint, but the viewpoint itself must be justified first, and to do so all we have are rules of logic and--voila!--empirical observations. So we are back to some limited form of naturalism. Not metaphysical, mind you, but only methological. Still, all observations seem to directly contradict the Biblical story if it is taken literally. Quite simply, the Universe is not 6000 tears old, and all living forms on this planet have a common ancestor: every observed fact and detail demonstrate this. The alternative is that all of the empirical observations are a massive cover-up and a lie, whether by humans or God, I'll leave you to decide; but that idea is rather unpalatable in either case.

Elvin said...

To reiterate, I do not wish the "comment function" to turn into a debate for there are better platforms to do this. So I will try my best to keep this reply short. :)

As mentioned in the post, empirical observations are simply observations of the present only, while evolution is a speculation about the unobservable and unrepeatable past (historical science). For example, no rock comes with a convenient age tag no matter how much we wish that to be the case, the empirical data (present) doesn't speak for itself and must be interpreted to arrive at an estimate of the age of the earth (past).

And as you agreed, the same data interpreted from different worldviews may arrive at different conclusions. The question then is which worldview (note the philosophical nature of historical science)? I concur with Terry Mortenson that here, naturalistic and uniformitarian assumptions strongly influence the observation and interpretation of the data and can lead to biased conclusions.

Please feel free to send your queries to AiG or CMI directly. As for the biblical worldview, I will gently urge you to consider the claims of Jesus Christ and your conscience towards the Ten Commandments.

Blessings,
Elvin

Jorgon Gorgon said...

I am sorry, but bringing AiG up does nothing for the credibility of your claims. Their problem is not simply misinterpretation of evidence. They actually lie about quite a few things, repeatedly and directly, so it really should be them that pays attention to the commandments.

Elvin said...

It's always easier to fall prey to ad hominem fallacy and genetic fallacy, than examining the evidence itself. Even if I assume your claim to be true, there's still CMI. And if AiG is such a discredible body, I do wonder why you choose not to bring this up in the first comment.

Anyway, thanks for responding so far, hope you will enjoy the other blog posts too! :)

Blessings,
Elvin

Jorgon Gorgon said...

There is no need to assume. AiG claims are simply incorrect: not their interpretation of observations, but specific claims. For example, their ideas of Great Canyon forming during the flood ignore all current knowledge of sedimentary processes. And for a long time they defended Paluxy footprints: something that has been shown to be completely wrong years before.

AFA CMI: being an offshoot (or is is a successor?) to AiG, they have no more credibility than the former.

There are no ad hominem arguments here: all the attempts to debunk evolutionary claims by AiG and Co are clearly incorrect and have been debunked many times, so one tires of repeating something that can be easily found elsewhere. One sometimes wonders how stupid THEY think their audience is.

Elvin said...

See what I mean about committing the fallacies? :( How about passing me the details of your claim that they are incorrect in their sincere conclusions (or did I hear a charge that they knowingly lied in your earlier comment?), as I would love to play postman and pass the details to CMI for comments. Hope to hear from you.

Blessings,
Elvin

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Given already, two examples above. And I have debated with creationists before, in public, until I realized that they are either not interested in any actual knowledge or simply incapable of understanding. Again, these are not ad hominem attacks: how else can one explain their strange claims that no transitional fossils have ever been found (there are, literally, thousands), their demands for some half-duck half-crocodile creature to demonstrate the validity of evolution (when such a fossil would actually serve to disprove evolutionary theory), their wild misinterpretations of radiometric dating methods (as, for example, their claim of dating failure on Mt St Helens), their insistence on the impossibility of creating information within DNA (genetic duplication is creation of new information, from the standard definition of information; moreover, "new" information is a red herring and is rather irrelevant)...the list can go on and on.

I was initially trained as an astrophysicist and am currently interested in astrobiology and related computational methods, but my original major already contains many many observations directly disproving the young universe. What's more, all observations from different fields of science converge on old age, evolution by natural selection, etc. None of it says anything about the existence of god (beyond diminishing its likelihood), and none of them are controversial (until we get to current cosmologies and various theories of abiogenesis: but that is where all the fun really is...)

Jorgon Gorgon said...

And here is another example of AiG specifically *lying* about the evidence: http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2009/03/footprints-thro.html

Elvin said...

JG,

Most of the stuffs that you raised can be searched on AiG and CMI websites, so I am not sure if shouting out loud that evolution is valid, will in reality make it valid. :)

On AiG’s claims and interpretations, are you saying that AiG's interpretations are correct, but their specific claims are wrong? I can’t think of any instances where the interpretations of the observable evidence were correct but the specific claims were wrong for that matter.

I am uncertain which part of all the current knowledge of sedimentary processes did AiG ignore, but Mt St Helens gave us a good understanding that is consistent with the biblical view (i.e. little bit of time but lots of water). See: http://creation.com/believe-it-or-notthe-earth-is-young

Moreover, a biblical creationist was the pioneer of modern geology whose principles of stratigraphy have stood the test of time and are still taught in first year geology courses all over the world. So to say that creationists ignore real science is unthinkable in my opinion.

I am also not sure if AiG ever defended Paluxy footprints for a long time. In any case, even if AiG had once defended Paluxy footprints, AiG now advise against using this as evidence as mentioned in my very post (http://www.icr.org/article/paluxy-river-mystery/). IMO, it’s rather strange when evolutionists did exactly the same thing, it is lauded as advancement and self-correction instead.

Insofar, you have made the allegation that creationists have no credibility at all, but on what basis? That creationists have bogus qualifications from run-of-the-mills universities? Why not do us a favor and challenge the folks at AiG and CMI one on one in terms of their professional qualifications rather than simply brushing them all aside by making a false generalization (another fallacy).

On your discourse with creationists, I am sure many creationists will also share your same experience when discoursing with evolutionists. And yes, while they are literally thousands of fossils, but are they transitional (http://creation.com/that-quoteabout-the-missing-transitional-fossils)?

Further, in what sense is the creationists’ view of radioactive dating methods wild misinterpretation (http://creation.com/radiometric-dating-questions-and-answers)?

By the way, duplication or copying of the same piece of information is NOT the creation of new never before existed information. Someone aptly noted that a copier machine photocopying Julius Caesar would not give us Moby Dick given a million years! :)

Both Jason Lisle and John Hartnett have written books on cosmology that shows that the evidence pointing to a young universe. Maybe you would like to interact with their works.

And of course, science does not say anything about the existence of God (discovering His creation instead), but evolutionists with an atheistic bent are in fact saying that, think Dawkins. And speaking of abiogenesis, there is no evidence of abiogenesis ever having taken place, it's just faith at work.

The controversy will still continue, and so will the debate over the facts. As mentioned in my post, it is my intent to spark a renewed interest in the matter of Science and the Scripture. Disagreements are merely the practicality of life that we live with.

If you really want to continue this discussion, may I request that you post a general topic on the issue at the forum below (also post here the thread you created there). Thanks.

http://www.singaporechristiansonline.com

Blessings,
Elvin