Thursday, April 28, 2005
Breaks in the Chain of Being
While the strict idea of evolution moving in an upward direction is no longer the dominant idea in evolutionary thinking, a soft form of it remains, and is in fact required for evolution.
The evolutionary chain of being goes roughly like this:
Inorganic material -> Organic Material -> Self-replicating enzymes -> Simple pseudo-organisms -> Unicellular life -> Multicellular life -> Present Larger Organisms
This is absolutely ingrained into evolutionary thinking. However, there is almost no evidence for any of it.
First of all, there is the inorganic -> organic link of the chain. While there is definitely some links between inorganic and organic material, the fact is that when you look at organic material required for life, then there is a clear break here.
Let's look at the Miller-Urey experiement. While they were able to generate some organic materials (amino acids and nucleic acids if I remember correctly), the problem is that of chirality. Organic material generally comes in both a "right-handed" and a "left-handed" form. In nature, generally half of each type of molecule is made for inorganic->organic reactions. However, one of the characteristics of living organism is that each type of material exists in only one handedness. So, while the Miller-Urey experiment produced organic material, it did not produce the single handedness required for life molecules.
The next break in the chain comes in the organic->self-replicating enzymes chain. The idea is that, because it is so unlikely that an entire system would come out of nothing, perhaps it started out as just one or two self-replicating RNA molecules. Unfortunately, all known replicating systems usually use many, many enzymes to perform replication.
Now, let's say that we were to find a way to generate all of the molecules that we needed. Let's say that we found a way to get the environment to generate every single enzyme, gene, and protein needed for life to function. Certainly then we would have solved the problem! Unfortunately not. Imagine this: take a cell of ANY TYPE, and kill it. In fact, take several cells and kill them, but be sure to keep as much of the organic material in the cell as you possibly can unaltered. Put it all together. Wait. Wait some more. Guess what -- it will never form into life. Life is so complicated, that even if you have every single enzyme necessary for life to work, it still doesn't self-organize into cells. No matter how well the next generation of prebiotic experiments happen, they still won't do anything to tell us how life arose.
The cambrian explosion (perhaps beginning in the precambrian period) is supposed to be where unicellular life morphed into multicellular life. However, there is no real evidence either (a) that this occurred, or (b) how it might have happened. It was assumed that the organisms in the cambrian explosion were "simple" multicellular life, but in fact they are just as complex as modern species -- at least as far as we can tell from the fossil remnants. This is not a gradual transition from simple to complex, but a giant leap from very simple to very complex. In addition, there is an explosion of body plans at this level, which is counter to evolution's "diversity precedes disparity" idea. Also, there is no evidence of relationship between the kingdoms of life.
Then there is the break between the life forms found in Cambrian rock and what I will call generally the modern, higher organisms (like vertebrates). While there are many similarities among the higher organisms, there are distinct discontinuities as certain places (usually at about the family level) which can be confirmed with holistic comparisons of species, as well as by breeding experiments. There are even greater disparities with even fewer links seen between the higher and lower organisms.
So, while there is some evidence of continuity among the advanced organisms, and a little even between the advanced and "simple" multicellular organisms, the rest of the chain of being is completely broken. Now you can see why the origin of life has been separated from evolutionary theory over the last 40 years.
One note to make -- I refer to "no evidence" several times here. This is obviously a subjective statement, so I encourage you to look at all of the evidences evolutionists present for these jumps and see if you think any of it is plausible yourself. When I get some time, I might look up some links that evolutionists use to disprove these claims, or, if you are an evolutionist, I encourage you to post links in the comments.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Overselling Universal Common Ancestry
Evolution, on the other hand, says that all organisms evolved from a single organism, or, at most, a set of unicellular organisms. However, this assumption is entirely based on materialist presuppositions and not on evidence.
Evolutionists almost always say that the origin of life (abiogenesis) has absolutely nothing to do with the theory of evolution. The problem is that other than assumptions about how life came about in the first place, there is no reason whatsoever to assume that there was a single starting point.
The evidence is that there are discontinuous groups of organisms. This has been studied quite a bit by both creationists (called baraminology) and process structuralists. The study of discontinuity in living organisms is actually quite fascinating. These studies show both extreme continuities and discontinuities. For example, the dog family is extremely continuous within itself, but extremely discontinuous outside of the family.
Now, many people, despite the current observed discontinuities, believe that homology and fossil succession show clear evidence of historic vertebrate continuity. I have commented on homology before and will not do so again here. However, even then, the Cambrian explosion gives absolutely no evidence whatsoever of continuity between the many phyla that arose duing that time. All of the supposed links between them are based on pretty much no data whatsoever. Evolution says that diversity should precede disparity, but there is no evidence of that happening in the Cambrian explosion either.
The fact is, though there are many explanations of why there is no evidence of continuity among the phyla emerging in the Cambrian explosion, there still remains the fact that there is no evidence. Therefore, one must ask, why is everyone being asked to believe that all life is related? If (a) there is no data of continuity in the Cambrian explosion, and (b) evolution does not deal with the theory of abiogenesis, then why should one assume, even assuming that all the rest of evolution is true, that Universal Common Ancestry is a sure thing?
Even if you believe in evolution, and even with the fossil record being incomplete, the fact remains that Universal Common Ancestry is a theory that is imposed on the data, not one that arises from it. The overselling of Universal Common Ancestry implies that either (a) abiogenesis is indeed a part of the theory of evolution, but one where the data is so far against it that evolutionists want to separate themselves from that part of the discussion, or (b) it is part of metaphysical assumptions required to get evolution to work. It could be another reason, but I can't think of any others at this time.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Reassessing the Theologic Impact of Evolution
I have long believed that evolution has no theological significance. Probably the biggest reason for this was that a friend of mine was beeh one of the most fervent Christians I knew and also believed very strongly in evolution. He told me that he simply believed that evolution was the method that God used to create.
While I disagreed with him greatly on the issue of creation/evolution, it was obvious to me that this was not a major doctrinal issue, because I had great respect for him. I have held this viewpoint for at least 15 years. Recently, however, others have been pointing out the problem with this view.
Here are the main incompatibilities of evolution with scripture:
|Evolution Says||Creation Says|
|From death came Adam (natural selection operates primarily through death of unadapted species)||From Adam came death (before the fall, death was unknown, and all animals were vegetarian)|
|All animals form a continuity||Animals were created with discontinuities|
|The world is billions of years old||The world is thousands of years old (while some disagree whether or not Genesis is poetic, Exodus 20:11 is very clear|
|The flood was local, and we continue to have local floods||Noah's flood was global, and destroyed the entire Earth, and God promised never again to send a similar flood|
|Creation was not very good||Creation was very good until Adam's sin|
While some of these are minor issues, the first one is not. It is the very basis for the need for Christ. While some have argued that the death of Adam is spiritual only (and he would have died physically anyway), that interpretation ignores many of the aspects of death included in the Genesis narrative, including the ability to eat meat after the fall and not before, and the groaning of creation after the fall through thorns and other problems. While there are several possible interpretations of Genesis, it is clear from their writings that those who have opted for old-Earth interpretations have done so for the express purpose of incorporating prevalent philosophies of the earth into Christianity, and not because that's the best reading of the text. Likewise, that sort of ploy is used unconsciously to include the anti-Biblical ideas of evolution into Christian theology, such as from death came Adam.
This brings up another issue -- that of taking man's ideas over God's ideas. The fact is that the whole point of the Bible is to trust God and what He says over what others say. The Bible repeatedly warns against those who are right in their own eyes. In order to be a Christian you HAVE to be willing to trust God over and above what you think and what others think. The cross is a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others -- to think that we should synchronize their ideas with those of God is a mockery of God.
However, this does not mean that there is one and only one possible interpretation of a verse. The question comes about -- why are you re-interpretting this verse? Is it because you truly think that the verse means something else, or is it because man's ideas force you to re-interpret the verse to read into them man's ideas? If it is the latter, then you are saying that you are smarter than God, and that your ideas are more important. What's really bad about this is that once man's ideas become official Church teaching, when man changes his ideas it is the Church that is left holding the bag.
A clear case of this is in evolutionary racism. During the first part of this century, the evolutionary biology textbooks taught that there were four races of man -- australoid, negroid, mongoloid, and caucasoid -- and had evolved in that order. Caucasians were the most advanced race. While this was not the origin of racism, it has both fueled and solidified racist thinking -- giving people a false comfort of believing based on facts. This led to numerous heinous atrocities including the hunting of Australian aborigines, and the display of a Pygmie from Africa in the Bronx Zoo. This was justified because they were viewed to be from lower forms of life. This thinking infected the Church, too, who had mostly given up to evolutionary thinking. However, after the second world war, the implications of this type of racism were obvious. The mind of the world changed. But, of course, the Church since then has been blamed for producing racist people. And the charge is not that far from the truth. They were a party to it. They forsook the Word of God for a lie, and that is the outcome. Had they remained true to God's word, it would have been a great victory for the modern Church.
All of this has led me to believe that evolution is the modern idolatry. I know there are many idols that we have in our lives -- money, comfort, pleasure, etc. However, I think that evolutionary thinking has plagued Christianity the same way that other syncretisms have in the past. The difference is that the Church isn't seeing it because it isn't an obvious idol. However, secular humanism is the antithesis of Christianity, and evolution is the core foundation of it. Letting evolution modify our understanding of the Bible is the same as syncretism with idol worship.
It's not being anti-science, either. There is nothing wrong with supplemental information to scripture. The difference is that, as Christians, we regard the scripture as authoritative. Other understandings come below that, not above. We are to cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. By its own admission, scientific knowledge is tentative. However, we let the tentative results of science trump belief in the authoritative word from scripture. As Christians, our authority is in scripture. Ceding that to other authorities is the equivalent of idolatry.
So what to do with Christians who are participating in this? I think the best thing to do is to help them see what is happening, and why it is problematic. This is probably the thing which has prevented me from believing this -- I don't like confronting others, especially on matters of faith. But God has really been dealing with me in this area, and I think I'm going to have to start helping others individually to see the conflict between evolution and Christianity, rather than just doing so impersonally on the web.
Also, just to point out for those theological evolutionists that are still out there, the theory of evolution as it is usually formulated is against you, too. Most formulations say that it is both undirected and unsupervised, which specifically excludes you. The idea that evolution is not in conflict with theology is pretty much just a ploy to limit resistance, rather than a real nod to theology. Just like the Churches in the past and racism, you too will be left holding the bag.
Some people have worried about whether such a stance will drive people away from Christianity. This is entirely possible. However, that is the nature of Christianity -- it is a stumbling block to some, and foolishness to others. Christ himself said that in order to follow him that you should count the cost before following Him. This is a far cry from the modern idea of salvation at any price. While our job is to present Christ for and to all people, it is NOT our job to change the message to make it more palatable. The message is what it is, and if proclaiming the true message of Christ causes people to turn away from God, then that will just have to happen. It's sad, but Jesus said that He will divide. We have become so scared of people rejecting us that we have started rejecting scripture in order to bring more people in. In that case, what are we bringing people into? Just another way for people to be right in their own eyes? In that case, we are bringing them to destruction on the pretext of bringing them to life.