Debating Evolution

Evolutionby Trevor Thomas   1/18/14
Recently, Answers in Genesis, the Christian organization devoted to teaching “the relevance of a literal Genesis to the church and the world,” announced an upcoming (February 4) debate between Ken Ham, founder and president of the Creation Museum, and Bill Nye of TV’s “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” Such a rare public debate, given the celebrity of both participants, will certainly garner much media attention. This event should be welcome by all who love the free exchange of ideas. However, for a variety of reasons, many evolutionists are opposed to Nye’s participation.

This is no surprise. Just as in the matter of anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW), when it comes to how man came to inhabit the earth, for those who are devoted to a godless worldview, “the debate is over.” Certainly there are many committed conservatives (Charles Krauthammer, George Will, and so on) and even many sincere Christians who have accepted Darwinian evolution, however, along with abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and AGW, Darwinian evolution (DE) is a tenet of today’s liberalism.

It is also quite unsurprising that liberals have united behind both the “science” of AGW and DE. The worldview behind DE in almost every way agrees with those who have turned their eyes toward “Mother Earth”—worshipping and serving “created things rather than the Creator.”

After all, DE teaches that since all life sprang from the same single-celled source, all living things are related. Darwinian evolutionists see humans, along with all other living things, strictly as a product of nature and natural processes. Therefore, to see humans on equal footing with all other life and owing our very existence to the earth are very logical conclusions for such a philosophy. Thus, the earth-worshipping environmentalist is almost always a Darwinist, as well. Again, with both DE and AGW we are often told “the debate is over.”

Nevertheless, evolutionists are right to fear debating Ken Ham, as they should be with anyone who has a significant knowledge of science, is skilled at debate, and most of all, is devoted to the truth of Scripture. They should be especially fearful if Nye tries trotting out some of the familiar, but easily (and often) discredited arguments in favor of evolution.

This is likely to happen, as even those cautioning Nye (with some even urging him to back out), who claim to be well versed in debating evolution, are using these tired arguments. “Evolution is all around us, all the time. Evolution is why we need to get a new flu shot every year,” claims Benjamin Radford. This sounds suspiciously like the “antibiotic-resistant bacteria is evidence for evolution” argument. (Even Doonesbury got in on this one.)

Whether it’s antibiotic-resistant bacteria, insecticide-resistant bugs, or genetic variations within a virus, the genetic information for these changes was already present in some of the creatures. They then reproduce more resistant creatures, but this is not an example of one kind of creature changing to another. In other words, an event such as bacterial resistance to antibiotics is the result of a horizontal transfer of pre-existing information. Such activity is in no way a demonstration of what needs to happen in molecules to man evolution.

Another favorite argument in favor of DE that we are likely to hear from Mr. Nye is that mutations are the “engine” of evolution. However, in almost every case, mutations are either genetically neutral or they yield a loss of information. As Dr. Gary Parker points out, “Mutations are moving in the wrong direction to support the advancement of complexity required by evolution. Almost every mutation we know of has been identified based on the disease it causes.”

Perhaps the most dangerous and deceptive line used by Darwinists is that evolution (meaning molecules to man evolution) is nothing more than “change over time.” This is dangerous because many people have been duped into believing that because in certain situations (but always within the same species) we sometimes observe “change over time,” and this equates to creatures changing into other creatures over billions of years.

This “change over time” is nothing more than natural selection. Natural selection always “selects” from existing information. In other words, no new information results that would allow for creatures to change into different creatures over a long period of time. Not only that, but through natural selection, a loss of information results, as unfavorable (or unlucky) genes are removed from the population.

The phrase “natural selection” gets tossed around a lot in support of DE. This is similar to the mutations argument, and just as mistaken. Just as with mutations, we see natural selection occurring all around us, and natural selection does result in variations within species. But what we never see with natural selection is evidence for one kind of creature changing into another.

In fact, natural selection may not even always result in the “strongest” surviving. The fastest mouse may be able to flee any cat, but the patient mouse that is able to hold still is less likely to get eaten by a soaring hawk. Whichever survives longer to pass on its DNA, mice beget mice, cats beget cats, hawks beget hawks, and so on.

Another popular position taken by Darwinian evolutionists is that evolution is the “foundation of biology,” or the “foundation of modern medicine.” As Bill Nye put it in his popular YouTube video (that played a role in leading to the February 4 debate), “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology.” Nye implies that without evolution, “you’re just not going to get the right answer.”

It seems that Louis Pasteur didn’t have a hard time “getting the right answer.” Known as “the father of microbiology” and operating from a biblical worldview—while strongly rejecting Darwin’s theory—Pasteur did amazing work in a variety of scientific areas. Pasteur, a microbiologist and chemist, who, along with giving us the process of pasteurization, disproved the theory of spontaneous generation (which put him at odds with Darwin and his work) and was a pioneer in the battle against infectious diseases (leading us to the process of vaccination).

At times it seems that the (ridiculous) implication is that nothing in science can get done unless it is done from an evolutionary worldview. This is certainly the case in fields related to biology, but many Darwinian evolutionists would have us believe that everything from anesthesiology to zoology rests upon DE. Given that Darwin proposed his theory just over 150 years ago, it’s a wonder that anything at all was accomplished in science prior to 1850.

Of course, much was. Generally considered the greatest scientist who ever lived, Isaac Newton—inventor of calculus, and famous for his laws of motion and universal gravitation—was a devout Christian and performed his work from a biblical worldview. On gravitation he noted that, “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who set the planets in motion. God governs all things and knows all that is or can be done.”

For DE to be a tenable explanation of all life on earth, extremely long periods of time are necessary. Nye verifies this when he declares that, “The idea of ‘deep time,’ of billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that [the idea of billions of years], your worldview becomes crazy…untenable…inconsistent.” The supposed age of the earth (according to DE, about 4.5 billion years) is often used as a “test” by secularists—especially those in the liberal media—to determine the intellectual capacity of (or to attempt to embarrass) targets. (Remember the question to Marco Rubio by GQ?)

When it comes to the age of the earth, both Newton and Johannes Kepler calculated the earth to be only a few thousand years old. Kepler calculated a creation date of 3,992 B.C. Newton stated that, “For an educated man…any suggestion that the human past extended back further than 6,000 years was a vain and foolish speculation.”

The fact is that even in today’s world it is possible (and has been demonstrated literally millions of times over) to reject completely DE and millions/billions of years and still operate perfectly well in any scientific field. I personally know individuals from virtually every field of science—engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, and so on—who (just as Pasteur, Newton, Kepler, and the like) obtained their degrees and practice in their area of science completely unhindered, all the while operating from a strict creationist worldview.

Even with all that I have presented here and all that we will hear on February 4, the thing that we all need to consider most when weighing evolution against creation is that when the theories of man are in conflict with the Words of God, it is most certainly man who is in error.
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Trevor Grant Thomas At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
www.trevorgrantthomas.com email: tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com
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17 Responses to Debating Evolution

  1. ronlsb says:

    I would beg to differ with you Trevor on your contention that there are “many committed conservative Christians” who adhere to abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, and Darwinian evolution. If one were to say there are many “professing Christians” committed to those ideas, one would be closer to the truth. I believe it is impossible to accept the living “Word”, Jesus Christ, as one’s Savior and then boldly reject what that same living Word has to say about these most fundamental Biblical subjects. This is not to say even the most faithful Christians don’t deviate from some truths of the Scripture. After all, we’re still sinners after salvation and don’t fully see clearly all that God has revealed. The Scriptures are very clear, however, about the sanctity of life, the origin of life, and the nature of marriage. Again I contend, to willfully deny these obvious truths revealed by the Word of God is to reject the author of those Words. To reject Him is to reject His Son as well. Such a view holds well with the “liberal” Christian view as opposed to the “conservative” Christian view. It all boils down to the authority of the Bible. Liberal professing Christians have long since rejected its authority over their lives, as opposed to conservative Christians who hold the exact opposite viewpoint.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      It’s perfectly possible for a believing Christian to accept the scientific basis of evolution, since this only requires not treating the Bible as inerrant and always literally true. (Just out of curiosity, did Noah take one pair of every kind of animal, or 7 pairs of every kind of bird or clean animal and one pair of every other kind?) Similarly, it would be possible for a believing Christian to accept (reluctantly) the legalization of abortion or homosexual marriage. But we’re long past mere reluctant acceptance; the pro-abortion and pro-redefining marriage crowd are not genuine Christians. I see their god as the bastard offspring (neither son nor daughter, of course) of Moloch and Gaea,

      • griffonn says:

        I am very committed to my Christianity, but I have no problem with the idea of evolution as the hand of God.

        I believe the correct line of attack is to find the point or points where scientists jump from what is demonstrable to what is speculative. We can prove XYZ about bacteria, but we can only speculate about some things (like origin stories).

      • griffonn says:

        I should add that I cannot see personally how anyone can be committed to Christianity and still be okay with sexual revolution stuff (abortion and some of the gay rights stuff). I can go pretty far according to an argument by which the price I pay for my own religious freedom is to grant the religious freedom of others, but that isn’t far enough to actually make me comfortable with either the abortion debate or the current definition of gay rights (whereby we break the bonds of kinship to make women rent-a-prostitutes and babies a high-priced commodity).

    • faba calculo says:

      The position of the Bible on homosexuality vis a vis public policy is as follows:
      * Old Testament: kill them
      * New Testament: kick them out of the church

      It would be all but impossible to derive a single, undeniable policy on gay marriage from the Bible without once again taking up the Old Testament law.

      • griffonn says:

        If you (or your friends, whatever) want to sodomize each other, that’s your business.

        If you want to use your homosexuality to redefine the institutions of society, that’s everyone’s business.

        I have no problem with recognizing same-sex unions. I only have a problem with being expected to treat them as the same as and equal to marital unions.

        Marriage = life partnership + procreative activity.
        Same-sex unions = life partnership, but neither any need for, nor right to, claim the procreative benefits of marriage.

        There simply is no reason for all the lies; no reason for the redefinition of “marriage” to prioritize sex at the sacrifice of integrity and honesty; no reason for the redefinition of ‘kinship’ to force a false equality between kinship and friendship (we use different words for those terms for a reason); no reason why we ought to remove the “child’s best interest” standard from adoption so that people who are not committed to the child’s welfare can use the child to “pass for procreative” – if marriage “were not procreative” there would be no need, anyway…wouldn’t there?

        Abortion, of course, is even worse for the child than same-sex exploitation.

        • Faba Calculo says:

          Well, I was discussing whether or not there was a single “Christian position” that being a Christian obligates one to uphold with regard to what the legal status of homosexuality should be in general or gay marriage in particular.

          I should specify that I’m thinking about this from a Protestant point of view. I suppose that, if the Pope has spoken on this, then it would be easy to argue that the Catholic work should tow the line or get out.

          But for sola scriptura Protestants, I think all you have is the Old Testaments to kill gays and the New Testament view that those who are unrepentant in sexual (and perhaps other) sin should be expelled from the church.

  2. Pokey Possum says:

    This is a crucial distinction, Ron. The term “Christian” is a word that has been watered down to the point of losing its true meaning.

  3. Timothy Lane says:

    I was raised an Episcopalian at a time when they still had genuine Christian beliefs, and also accepted the validity of Darwinian evolution as taught in school. In time I rejected the former (and basically consider myself a deist today) but not the latter, having a very strong interest in the subject of natural history. However, in recent years the antics and dishonest arguments of the Darwinists (which is what I call the Darwin cultists, as distinct from the Darwinians who merely accept the scientific case while maintaining an open mind) have increasingly disgusted me. Their insistence that the theory of evolution is now fact ignores that NO theory is ever fact, because it can always be refuted at least partially (as happened to Newtonian mechanics over a century ago, starting with the Michelson-Morley experiment). Their claim that all of biology (as a scientific study) depends on evolution is even more ridiculous.

    Michael Behe in The Edge of Evolution makes a case (supported by looking at the history of the struggle between man and malaria) that Darwinism does work at a lower level, but not necessarily at the highest levels of taxonomy (in other words, the Cambrian explosion and possibly some later changes). This seems reasonable to me. I can accept old-earth creationism and intelligent design; but accepting young-earth creationism requires ignoring the evidence (which the Biblical scholar and scientist Newton didn’t know about over 300 years ago). Kenneth Ham is free to do that if he wishes, and it might be nice to witness his debate with Bill Nye (if the latter doesn’t chicken out, which would itself be indicative of the weakness of his case) if it’s available where I can easily see it.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Timothy, your honest and forthright words are a sort of inspiration.

      I have little doubt, myself, that there is much about how life occurred that current theories of evolution cannot explain. But I expect that some natural theory will eventually explain life. But, like Newton, I readily admit that any such explanation “cannot explain who set the planets in motion.” That is, as the old joke goes: God and a scientist decided to have a contest. The scientist, full of formulas and chemistry, is quite sure that he can create a man out of nothing but dirt. So God accepts the challenge. The scientist reaches to the ground to grab a handful, but God interrupts: “No…you first have to make your own dirt.”

      I think given the wonders of highly-specialized quasi-lifeforms such as viruses (one of which I am recovering from now), it’s hard to posit an Intelligent Designer for a system that has adaptability and contingency to its core. It makes little sense to me that a virus-like thing would ever be the product of an Intelligent Designer, for why would he create these little monsters whose purpose is to subvert the other intelligent creations? A much better explanation to me is more of a deistic god who wound the clock but then let it run.

      Whatever the case may be, even a natural explanation for the emergence of life does not “explain who set the planets in motion.” And it’s worth noting that as science reaches what could be the upper limits of its fundamental knowledge about the physical universe, it begins to act more religious-like. Under the vaunted mask of “science” (but a mask all the same) the priests of science have begun to pontificate upon such subjects as the “many worlds” theory, for example — which is a metaphysics unsupported by observation and whose degree above pure fable depends upon the thin garb of “science” being cloaked over it.

      And just from a general society-wide trend, as the tried-and-true religions are marginalized, we see the culture (under the cloak of “science”) creating a new religion for itself — whether it be the pseudo-science of global warming, the concept of the multiverse, or this Pagan-like worshipping of nature herself.

      As for Darwinian evolution, I’m fine if that is how it happened. I’ve no particular faith to try to defend. And far be it from me how to tell God how he must arrange things, how he would choose to “set the planets in motion.”

      But it would appear that there are at least three or four grand holes in the theory of evolution, as noted by Stephen Meyer and others. One is the problem with point mutations being the mechanism for actually adding information which natural selection can work upon. The second is the problem of the kind of information content required to create just a single protein. Proteins, we can surmise, are not created (and cannot be created) by just one point mutation at a time. These proteins often consist of hundreds of “bits” of data, and the mathematics seem to rule out being able to simply change a bit here, and a bit there, and it will all add up to a new species. The problem with that is that one bit (or two, or three, or more) apparently cannot create a useful new protein.

      And third you have the Cambrian Explosion. Even Darwin understood that unless more fossils could be dug up showing a gradual evolution, his theory was done (and they have not been dug up). And so, to some extent, his theory is indeed done. But because those on the Darwinian side are not just dealing in science but in a cultural identity of themselves as the gatekeepers of truth, this is not easy for them to admit. To be fair, many on the religious side do not want to admit certain things either for fear of giving ground.

      I just happen to think that given the sheer variety and weirdness of life (and its brutal nature) — as well as the many species that are now extinct — the idea of special creation doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. There is some system in operation, for sure. Whether that includes the input of some intelligence on a day-to-day basis, I don’t know. But at some point such “input” becomes but a law of nature if it is constant.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    a very interesting piece….

  5. faba calculo says:

    “When it comes to the age of the earth, both Newton and Johannes Kepler calculated the earth to be only a few thousand years old. Kepler calculated a creation date of 3,992 B.C. Newton stated that, ‘For an educated man…any suggestion that the human past extended back further than 6,000 years was a vain and foolish speculation.’”

    Which is what makes it so interesting how so many young earth creationists deny 6000 years as the age of the Earth in favor of something more like 20,000. Gish, as I recall, spent a number of pages (in The Genesis Flood, if 20 year old memories serve) showing how that wasn’t the age of the Earth. Nevertheless, if one dates the Earth according to the Bible, much more than 6000 years is very hard to arrive at.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      For what it’s worth, the Jehovah’s Witnesses go with the idea that each “day” of creation is a thousand years based on a Biblical verse, which makes the actual age about 10,000 years. (My mother considered the religion for a while in the late 1960s, which is how I know about this.) I haven’t followed young-earth creationism in any detail, but I suspect that’s about as old as they get. Bryan admitted at the Scopes trial (to the surprise of Darrow) that there was no way of knowing how long each day really was, and one recent apologetic argues that if one uses relativistic time dilation, one can fit the billions of years of universe history into the 6 days of creation.

      • faba calculo says:

        The Bible verse (I believe) you’re thinking of says that a thousand years is as a day to the Lord AND a thousand years is as a day. So it doesn’t sound like a conversion formula, it’s a statement that God stands outside of time.

        Throw on top of that the fact that Genesis does just say “this is what happened on the first day” but speaks in the patters of “and there was day and there was night, one day”. It is almost as if the Bible is attempting to preclude the idea of anything but a literal day. Finally, when Moses is laying down the law on working six days and resting one, it references the fact that that is what God did when he created the Earth.

        And the Flood just makes things worse. Instead of just dealing with defending the idea that the Earth was created around 4000 B.C., you’re looking at the Earth having been completely under water around 3000 B.C. Now it isn’t just the natural sciences that are, generally speaking, against you, it’s archeology as well.

        I’m not saying that there’s no wiggle room here. I mean, the whole account of Genesis 1 is a bit confused, as it apparently has the Earth and its waters existing before the creation of light. But as the article here itself notes, when people like Kepler and Newton (plus Usher and a number of others) tried to use it for dating the creation of the Earth, they didn’t wind up all over the place. They wound up right around 4000 B.C. (and, as noted above, there at around 3000 B.C. for the world-wide flood).

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        The spreading of the mid-ocean ridges provides a clock, and a concept, that is easy to understand and follow. And the clock shows a minimum of millions of years for the earth’s age.

        On either side, I dislike it when what one wants to believe blinds one to what is. Doubtlessly, the exact age of anything — including our own universe — is up for grabs. But I think the evidence for the earth being at least millions of years old is indisputable by any fair-minded person.

        I don’t see how anyone can cling to the idea of the earth being just 6500 years old. From a practical standpoint, it makes little difference, so unlike the Marxist Left, I would never require people to believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. But if we wish to teach facts, not myth, then we need to be forthright about the age of the earth and the universe, as best we can calculate it. And 6500 years is not credible in any way, shape, or form.

        If our idea of God demands that 6500 year age, then who and what are we worshipping? Who demands that we remain ignorant? I would never suppose that a benevolent God would want that. And a stout belief in the Bible that requires that we close our minds to the world as it is seems to me to not be the way to the light and the truth.

        Much of this could be said about evolution as well. I don’t give a flying fart if evolution is the way we came about. We came about somehow, and it is good and proper that man try to figure this out using all means possible. And our dogma (on either side) should not be so hardened that we are not willing to look at facts or theories and weigh them reasonably….even noting where there are large, gaping holes in such theories, for who really is threatened by a completely frank and honest discussion of what we know, what we think we know, or what we might never be able to know?

  6. Kaarl says:

    1. Evolution was invented by Anaximander 2,500 years ago as an extension of the Gaea, Mother Earth, religion.
    2. The entire universe, viable and nonviable alike, has always devolved, the exact opposite and excluder of evolved.
    3. Every event in this universe is a devolutional event because some of the converted energy is lost to future events.
    Biology eliminates evolution.
    See: http://www.josephmastropaolo.com/.

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