It’s important for all of us to think about this debate. Whether you are a staunch Atheist, or a firm believer in Jesus Christ or anywhere else in between, you must think on this problem and apply logic and reasoning to it if you are to be able to have a coherent input into the discussion. Personally, I try not to get tied up in arguments over time, since a day is like a 1,000 years to The Lord, and 1,000 years like a day. In addition to that Dr. Einstein proved that time is one of those relative things, and time has different meaning for somebody on the moon than it does for somebody on planet earth. So, how does that mean time impacts God? I cannot answer that question except to say “Differently” (or not at all) so I choose not to have time play a role in my argument of Creation vs. Evolution.
With that said, I do follow some of the arguments of folks such as Dr. Ron Carlson who puts it so nicely when he says that Evolution as some propose (Carl Sagan and others) is similar to a deck of playing cards dropped from a ladder. “Oh!” you say, you get it, if Evolution is true, then when I drop those cards from that ladder, then they would quite probably line up by themselves by suit and order from Ace to King all four suits lined up one after another in a row, right? What? You don’t think that will happen? Then we’ll just use the reasoning of the Evolutionists and climb to the top of a 10-story building and drop that deck of cards. Now, they’ll line up perfectly, right? No? You don’t think so? OK, then let’s drop them off the Empire State Building in New York city. Still not? Then let’s charter an airplane to take us up 10,000′ and drop them from there, now they line up – right? But you see, that is the argument of the Evolutionists, that if you just give enough “time” then everything will line up perfectly and you’ll solve the equation for how life came into being.
To a thinking person, obviously there are flaws in that argument. Time is not some “magical” variable that one can plug into an equation and have something come from nothing. Life, by its very essence violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy. Entropy is the principle that ordered systems tend towards dis-order. In other words, things break down, decay is obvious over time. It is a violation of Entropy to say that I can take my bicycle and bury it in my backyard for 1,000,000 years and expect to dig up a Cadillac; it just ain’t gonna happen!
So, while I’ve jumped ahead in this discussion a little bit, I just wanted to show how important it is to think on these problems. I spent nearly 10 years in College, actually at 4 different institutions of higher learning. I am thankful that at least those institutions taught me to think. I didn’t learn much else really, not much practical that I use on the job every day, except how to be an Engineer. I’m more inclined to believe though that being an Engineer is something you are either born with or learn at a very early age. But that’s another discussion isn’t it?
What I really wanted to do in this article was to set out the tenets, the propositions of Evolution and either knock them down one by one, or acknowledge which of those principles there are that Christians (especially The Bible) can agree with. I started looking at this recently and found that “Evolution” in the modern sense is not one theory, but nearly a dozen. There are 11 in the most recent article I came across. Let us list those quickly so we can refer to them:
1. Transmutationism – that species change form to become other species; the alternative view is Statism
2. Common descent – that similar species have common ancestors; the alternative is a view I can only call Parallel descent (a view held by Lamarck)
3. Struggle for existence – that more are born than can survive; the alternate view is sometimes called Commensualism
4. Natural selection – that the relatively better adapted have more offspring, sometimes called Malthusianism; the alternate has no name.
5. Sexual selection – that the more “attractive” organisms of sexual species mate more (and have more offspring), causing unfit traits to spread; again there is no alternate, just a denial that it happens
6. Biogeographic distribution – that species occur close by related species, explaining the distributions of various genera; this view, first published by Wallace, is in opposition to the older “single centre of creation” notion.
7. Heredity –
a. Darwin’s own theory was called “pangenesis” and is no longer accepted (it was a form of what we now call “neo-Lamarckism“, or the inheritance of aquired characters),
b. Weismannism – the more modern view that genes don’t record information about the life of organisms.
8. Random mutation – the notion that changes in genes aren’t directed towards “better” alternatives; in other words, that mutations are blind to the needs imposed by the ecology in which organisms find themselves
9. Genetic drift/neutralism – the view that some changes in genes are due to chance or the so-called “sampling error” of small populations of organisms. Molecular neutralism is the view that the very structure of genes changes in purely random ways.
10. Functionalism – the view that features of organisms are neither due to or are constrained by the shapes (morphology) of their lineage, but are due to their functional, or adaptive, benefits.
11. Gradualism – the view that changes do not occur all at once, and that there are intermediate steps from an earlier stage to the next.
As said, I have borrowed that list from the article I found because it seems to be comprehensive and inclusive of all the ideas current in Evolutionary thought. So, let’s get the parts out of the way quickly that most of us Christians agree with. I know pretty much for sure that we all agree with “Struggle for Existence” and “Survival of the Fittest” (3 & 4 above). Most of us have personally observed these, either in movies, or in the laboratory, or in the natural world close up. At the same time, our techniques in Animal Husbandry, and use of “selection” prove those as well, and in some sense that proves #5 (Sexual Selection) as true also. I was struck by the fact that in the book of Genesis (Chp. 30) in the Bible, Jacob uses a sort of “selection” in his Husbandry techniques to insure that the speckled and spotted sheep mate while the non-speckled and non-spotted sheep do not get to mate, thus insuring that the “stronger” animals have more young. The text never says whether the speckled and spotted are stronger, but since they are to become Jacob’s payment for services, you can say they had more “value” if you like.
Darwin supposedly proved Biogeographic distribution with his published results on a set of finches that lived in a tree. One species was “adapted” to live in the lower branches of the tree, another in the middle part of the tree, and another species lived in the upper part of the tree. In our country we have numerous instances of that happening as well. One of the most striking I can think of is in another species of birds: The Magpies. Specifically, there is a species known as the “Yellow Billed Magpie” that only inhabits the Central Valley in California, and the surrounding foothills, where another species the “Black Billed Magpie” is found everywhere else. We count those as a separate species, when in reality, they could likely interbreed with one another, and the manifestation of a yellow bill on one set of birds that occupies a specific geographic region has more to do with variation and simple inheritance of recessive/dominant characteristics than it does to what Darwin’s followers term “Speciation.”
Another type of variation, selection and demonstration of basic inheritance is demonstrated in the domestic dog. As long as man has had domesticated animals there have been dogs faithfully plodding along with us. They have captured our hearts and have been given the affectionate name “Man’s best friend.” However, 1,000 years ago all dogs had a general appearance of wolf-hounds. There were no breeds such as the St. Bernard or the Chihuahua. Today we have a myriad of breeds that all can trace their ancestry back to some common forms, and they have been selectively bred for certain characteristics that make them the breeds we know and love today. This selective activity is similarly found in horses, cows and sheep in addition to other domestic farm animals that we all are acquainted with.
Again, these types of “selection” activity, whether natural and caused by some sort of environmental boundary or other pressure, these processes agree with the #4, and probably #5 theories (Natural Selection, Sexual Selection), but they do not in any way shape or form prove the #1 and #2 theories (Transmutationism, and Common Descent) and they probably do nothing to support theory #6 (Biogeographic Distribution). Speciation, or the formation of new species from old ones, cannot be explained in terms of geographic boundaries, nor are any other environmental pressures likely to cause a species to give rise to a new species. That’s simple variation, not speciation. In order to prove Either Transmutation or Common Descent you would be required to show that there are what Darwin referred to as “Transitionary” fossils or that one species can indeed become an entirely different species.
Now we’ve moved from the realm of living species to (mainly) discussing species that have become extinct, or are no longer evident as living creatures on the earth. There are numerous examples in the fossil record of species that once roamed the planet but are no longer living species. We are all familiar with Dinosaurs, and many of us know about Trilobytes and another Mollusk type animal known as Ammonites. The interesting thing is that what Mr. Darwin said was that if his theories were true, and speciation was a process that moved forward over time, then there should be evidenced in the fossil record quite a number of “inter-species” or “transitionary” fossils. These fossils would have to appear to be somewhere in between one species and another.
Likewise, since that is practically the only way you can possibly prove that Transmutationalism (theory #1 above) as well as Common Descent (theory #2 above) and in fact Gradualism (theory #11 above), it becomes obvious that since all we find in fossils are distinct species that these parts of Evolutionary thought are either not good theories (at best) or they are bad theories and cannot be proved with anything known in science. Mr. Darwin himself said that if this part of the theory were true that there should in fact be more transitionary fossils in the geologic records than there are distinct species fossils! There are instances of supposed “transition” fossils, but most have been shown to be fakes, or they cannot conclusively be proved to be what they are supposed to be (e.g., Dr. Leaky’s “early man” fossils), and they are so few in number that they do not prove Mr. Darwin’s theories.
So far, I think we can say that as Christians most of us will agree with theories #3, #4, and #5. We can also say that Christians, at least The Bible (what Evangelicals refer to as “The Revealed Word of God”) categorically disagrees with #1 and #2, #6 and also #11 above. The Bible disagrees with those parts of the Evolutionary theories because in the book of Genesis (Chapter 1) it tells us that “God … created them according to their kinds.” The Bible teaches that in both reference to plants and animals. Creation teaching is directly opposed to “Convergent” evolutionary teaching. Man did not descend from monkeys, nor did we all come from slime. Likewise, The Bible and most thinking people would disagree with the notion that geographic differences (or other environmental pressures) can lead to formation of new species (Biogeographic Distribution).
Now, that leaves theories #7 (Heredity), #8 (Random Mutation), #9 (Genetic Drift), and #10 (Functionalism) to cover in the last part of this discussion. As a reasonable thinking person, again, one who has spent many years in college studying the evidence, I think I can safely say that Heredity does exist. In fact, we know now from study of Mendelian genetics that the genetic code exists and encodes all proteins and organs and structures in a life form (whether plant or animal). That genetic code has been shown to be so complex, however, that one wonders how anyone could ever form the opinion that genetic information could spontaneously arise in some sort of “Primordial Soup” as they used to teach us in those same college classes I took? That’s a quite silly notion, and denies the very idea of divine creation. But, that seems to be the point – those who choose to put their faith in spontaneous biogenesis are making a spiritual decision – to deny God!
That’s a very profound statement, and it implies that at this point in the Evolutionary discussion, we are dividing those who believe all these theories of Evolution from those who do not believe all of them on the basis of a Religion. Let’s go back one step and deal with the rest of the theories and decide whether those have any impact on what we’ve just discovered. Mutation is indeed random, as we can all attest, Cancer can be caused by random mutation, but we’re not sure anything good ever comes (or has come) from random mutation. Genetic engineering on food stuffs can take advantage of mutations to increase food yields and so on, but again, there is a tremendous amount of discussion as to whether this is a true benefit to humans, or whether people are messing with things they should not be meddling with. But, it should be noted that mutations are demonstrable, and are real, they do exist.
Genetic Drift as a theory proposes that small populations can “drift” away from the norm. This theory would account for geographic distribution of species leading to characteristic differences in those populations over time (such as the finches in Darwin’s research detailed above, and the Yellow Billed Magpies in California also discussed above). Those characteristic differences are in turn reflected in the genetic variation of those populations, but again, this in no way describes how one species becomes another, nor does it account for any “transitionary” fossils in the geologic record (as far as we can tell).
The last theory to deal with is Functionalism (#10). Again, this is demonstrated again and again in science, especially in Animal Husbandry where animals are selectively bred for their perceived beneficial characteristics rather than allowing random breeding patterns. Beneficial characteristics have many known examples: Dairy cows bred for milk production; beef cows bred for amount and / or quality of meat; sheep bred for wool production; hogs bred for speed at which the piglets grow and mature and can be taken to market, etc… As noted earlier, there is an example of selective breeding (Genesis 30) in The Bible where Jacob breeds his sheep for characteristics that would be economically beneficial to him. I would argue that this also is an example of Functionalism since economic benefit is a functional characteristic.
So now we as Christians find that The Bible and we can agree with many of these principles that are contained in the modern theories of Evolution. The place where we draw the lines are based entirely around the notion that one species becomes another (over time) and that life somehow spontaneously arose from lifelessness. We come back now to the discussion of time, and its impact on life and other processes. The other processes might be noted as geologic processes, climate, and so on. Many factors on this earth have led to the dominance or extinction of various species. It is a fact that Dinosaurs roamed this planet at one point. The question that arises for a Biblical Scholar is whether Dinosaurs and man were here at the same time? The Bible says that we were here at the same time (Job 40) so I believe that in fact Dinosaurs were here when man was created.
According to the evidence I have seen and read about, Dinosaurs were wiped out by a cataclysmic event. Many other species perished around the same time, not all are noted as having been around at the same time. But, when you examine the evidence with clear eyes, I think you too can be satisfied that Dinosaurs were wiped out by the Great Flood of The Bible. Once you hear about Dinosaur nests found whole and intact and on the surface in the Gobi Desert in China (with fossilized eggs and all!), and then you journey to places where dinosaur bones are found such as Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado, USA, you can tell that many of these creatures were wiped out suddenly and quickly, and their carcasses were deposited into mud-filled areas such that fossilization occurred rapidly following their demise.
So, the big question arises, if we (and The Bible) can agree with some of the theories of Evolution, then how is it that Humanists and those who think they want to omit God from any scientific reality cannot agree with Creation or even recognize it as a valid theory? As I said before, The Bible states that God created this universe and all that is in it. In other words, all that we can see, touch, taste, and smell, anything perceptible was created by our God. An interesting corollary to my discussion on time above is that God also created time! If you think about it, if God exists somehow outside of time, and as we know, time is relative to physical realities, then He had to have created it and applied time as a mechanical force in this universe! That’s a pretty awesome statement.
I should note that The Bible states that God “Created the heavens and the earth in 6 days” (Genesis 1) and many who believe The Bible believe that to be a literal 6 days. I have stated before, and will do so again, that the concept of time is not relevant to God, only to us. As I said above, I have no desire to try to understand the implications of all of that. In fact, when I became a Christian at the age of 34, I was already a fully mature adult, having many years of college, and possessing many questions. But, the day I became a Christian, I stopped worrying about all those questions and simply put my faith and trust in God and His Word (The Bible). I was satisfied that someday (when I get to Heaven) I will know the answers to all those questions (1 Corinthians 13). There’s no need to make a big deal about those issues down here on this earth, the definition of “Day” in the Bible is not a crucial question for salvation, and to me it’s not really worth arguing over.
On the other hand, we know our views on Creation and the universe set us up in opposition to modern Cosmologists who refuse to admit a “Divine Principle” in the universe. Folks like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins choose to believe that they can write mathematical formulas for those first few picoseconds of the universe that will somehow make something come from nothing! That’s right – they think they can write a mathematical formula that has zero equal to one (0 = 1)! I learned in Kindergarten (or pretty close to that) that you cannot do that. So what am I saying? Again, I am saying that the group of Scientists and Humanists who cling to their notions that all there is somehow spontaneously came into being are basing their whole “Religion” on the idea that they can somehow magically make something appear from nothing.
When it all came down to it for me, believing in God was not so difficult at that point. Personally, I have many other reasons to believe in a personal, loving God, one who knows me and cares about me, and who walks with me on a daily basis, but again, that’s a different discussion.
Let me conclude this article by stating what we’ve learned, and perhaps what you have gained. First and foremost, God set up the universe the way it is. He created all there is, and He made it such that species of animals and plants can grow and adapt and change gradually over time. This, however, does not make them new species. The world is not a static place, and building in mechanisms into the reproductive processes that allow for small gradual changes within a species is a brilliant adaptive mechanism that insures survival of the fittest organisms in an (dynamic) environment. As humans, our own ability to study and to learn about our environment, to document our findings and to build adaptations for ourselves and our dependents is a part of that same mechanism that God originally designed into this place. Remember, Adam’s first job was to “name the animals.” That was a way of categorizing the things around him in his environment, to study and to learn! I would propose that is one of our primary purposes on this earth: To learn and to study!
But, an even higher purpose than that is to Love God and worship Him, because He gave us all that we have. The Bible has no disagreement with good science, but it does call “Fools” those who say there is no God (Psalm 14:1, 53:1, Romans 1:21-23). I call them fools too, because at the root of their so-called science, they are trying to prove something that violates the most basic mathematical and scientific principle: That you cannot get something from nothing.
I pray that you, the reader of this article may benefit from what I’ve said here. I pray further that you may be blessed this day and that you may Know the living God Jesus Christ in all His glory. He is alive, and He wants to know you! Please feel free to make comments on this article, this is a discussion and I invite you to participate.