Saturday, May 21, 2005


Evolution Won't Evolve

Well, by now, it is probably clear to the reader, I believe in the origin of man, from the book of Genesis, in history. Steven, from World of Sven (at his brand spanking new space!), has discussed his belief in the first three chapters as myth. (It was a comment thing at someone else’s place, so sorry, no link) In sum, Sven sees evolution and creation as compatible since God has His hand on the evolving creation. The six days thing is a story to portray truth in abstract form. (Sven, I hope I got that right). I challenge all thinkers to believe in God’s creative power, from nothing. Evolution, little steps, belittles God to some degree. Do we need to turn Creation into a myth when God really did make man, from the beginning, to be in His image, to have dominion over the earth? The only need for adjusting the Bible into mythological form is to fit it into the evolution mold…no other reason except to also fit creation into our tiny imaginations! I have been mightily tempted in that department! I portend it is not just a story representing man’s coming into being/existence. Stories diminish Truth by allowing fiction into the picture. Stories are changeable as opposed to God/Truth. There are changes in thought that occur when myth enters the picture.
Maybe man isn’t so ‘special’—he’s an evolved animal—maybe he has no right to rule and subdue earth—maybe earth is superior or equal to man. I have a glorious origin in God’s image, in Adam. There is no primate, unfinished, unglorified ancestor. My cells weren’t set in motion to evolve, on their own, or with God’s assist. Perhaps if they were, my reality would be like clockwork, machine-like, robotic responses to “Need”—the god of Nature, even it God were helping my responses along. Can God and Nature’s Need both control who I am? Can God and Need be in conflict? Choice is what makes me human—the ability to control my surroundings. Need has very little to do with humanity. I do not simply respond to need. We do not get better at meeting nature’s needs. We no not evolve—we choose. Evolution omits catastrophe, miracles, something from nothing, and perhaps it even obliterates choice. Evolution is a Utopia waiting to happen. Creation is a man-made disaster in the making with only selfless choices holding it together.
Stubborn rigidity defines evolution. It tries to dictate a false existence and it won’t change. Neither will God. How can they coincide when we obviously do have choice and we are not choosing to please nature, each other, God or anything else but ourselves! Truly, there were no seeds, no embryo or fetus, no roots lying dormant, and nope, not even a complex single cell organism. The earth was void, according to Scripture, according to intelligent design science, according to reality.

Hmmm. I'd disagree. The early chapters of Gensis seem to me to be written in a very poetic fashion. I don't see evolution as belittling God. I see it as more evidence we can't imagine how God does things... The whole "Your God is too small" argument from, was it Littleton?, book

Where does Genesis turn into history? My inspiration is drawn from Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time
Schaeffer was a good sociologist but he lacks a little in the biblical studies department and it shows in his work. By 'myth' I don't necessarily mean something that is not true, but myth is a story used to communicate truth and to give identity.

I think there are of course historical elements in the opening chapters of Genesis, though clearly Genesis 1-3 are composed from two different sources, but they most certainly are truth about God. Bible stories need not be historical for them to be God's word.

For example the story of the prodigal son: the events in the story never happened, and the prodigal son never really existed. Jesus tells it as a story to communicate truth about God, and it is no less God's word for his doing so.

Likewise Genesis is truth, and it is God's word - but this doesn't mean that it has to be a literal history or blow-by-blow account of precisely how God made the world. I mean, when God said 'let there be light' who was around to hear him? What language did he say it in? Why does God's name chnage part way through the story? Why are there different orders in the creation accounts in Gen 1 and 2?

Evolution is a biological theory, nothing more. Yet the power of Genesis does not lie in its use as an alternative scientific theorem, but as a testimony about God and humanity. It vests humanity with importance and purpose in the eyes of God and reveals the wisdom behind the world around us - which evolution alone can never do.

In any case the only reason I posted about this last week was because it was ridiculous idea to suggest that people were homosexual because we have abandoned a belief in a six-day creation. If we use Romans 1 as basis, the list of sins (including unnatural sexual relations) is caused by a rejection of God and the spread of idolatry rather than a rejection of a specific theory of origins as the original article supposed.
Dang! What he said...

I dunno where it turns into history. Somewheres obviously but the tension between allergoical and literal interpertation goes back to the early Christian Church. Note the Jews, who also use Gensis, don't have this issue. I'd suggest its mainly an American cultural thing based in sola Scriptura carried to an extreme.

and if I could remember my passwird, I'd log it, sorry

"Evolution omits catastrophe...Evolution is a Utopia waiting to happen"

I'm sorry to say, though, that evolution (the biological theory) absolutely requires catastrophe, and that evolutionary theory says nothing about Utopia. Evolution talks only about change - how and why animals tend to come in groups with similar characteristics, and why different groups have different characteristics, and about why those groups appear and disappear. And, as a scientific theory and description of the world, it's one of the most powerful we biologists have. Its predicions have proved true again and again, and its descriptions have given us amazing new insights into how organisms work.

However, certain humanist philosophies usurp the language of evolution into what we might call "evolutionism", which includes this idea of Progress (which is completely foreign to the biological theory). In doing so, they offend against both science and Christianity.

As for "evolution versus Creation", it is largely a false distinction, I believe. Evolution describes how the world is now and is demonstrably happening today. It also describes what is shown in the fossil record, in the relationships of different organisms today, and in the genetics of those organisms. As such, it's a scientific theory. Creation talks about the world coming into existence at a specific point; as such, it's not a scientific theory because it's not testable or repeatable (!).

Science can have nothing to say about a universe that came into existence at a specific point other than that, if it was so created, it was made to appear much older. The ongoing processes of this world (in both biology and physics) look like they have been going on for billions of years, but there's nothing to say that God couldn't create it to look like that, just 6000 years ago. But, then, there's nothing to say that God couldn't have done it yesterday, either. Whether God did or didn't is a matter of faith, and not a crucial one for a Christian faith, either. One can accept evolution or Creation without harming one's picture of God. Similarly, though, one can accept either and deeply abuse one's picture of God.

The point, then, is not which theory we accept about the development of life but which theory we accept about the nature of God. And it is this about which Christianity speaks most clearly.

pax et bonum
John makes a good point. One of the theories of evolution does require diasters. I think some people still go with the gradual competion theory. There are several forms of evolution and the form Darwin orginially suggested its really seen as viable.

If you could find it, Genesis and Creation by Archbishop Lazar Puhalo out of western Canada is a good look at Genesis while accepting current evolution theory.
One big part of secular evolution as opposed to evolutionism is that it is undirected. Gould uses the analogy of a drunk walking away from a wall. As a Christian, I think that the direction is there for at what point does concidence become miracle?

I guess my concern with creation science is the stuff you have to take with it. Atomic decay, genetics, geology, gets to the point God lied when he made the world, making it to have a fake history or its wrong. (And I was one of the idoits who thought women had an extra rib when I was 12, so I've been there. But you know, it doesn't say that).

I really think its a minor point. I have yet to meet someone who became a athesist because of this.
(forgive the spelling...I am still smoked).

You guys are taking back and forth about evolution but no one is defining what they really mean by evolution. Do we mean micro or macro? Of course microevolution was occurring, no one would argue that. But, we still have no evidence what so ever for Macroevolution i.e. one species changing into another. Darwin himself stated that if they could not find such evidence for macroevolution within a generation of his death, his theory would be dead. Well, the evidence is still lacking but adherence still clutch to the theory.

Also if you mythologies the first three chapters of Genesis, and say they did not happen that way you end up with years and years and eons of death and disease before the fall. The Bible clearly teaches that the garden was perfect and I would think that would preclude death and disease. This causes a major theological problem. Which one would be true? I would go with the Bible.

Wayne M
Thank you for the micro, macro point, which I was about to bring up. Your final thought about the death and imperfection as things evolved up to the garden does introduce a huge problem. The Biblical order is perfect creation, fall, redemption, restoration (gradual and eventually, complete).
Not that I don't appreciate everybody's comments. I love it! Actually, I didnt know there was an evolution theory which included catastrophe. Um, interesting.
I've decided to add some thoughts in a new post.
As to the molecules-to-man hypothesis (i.e., what most people refer to when they say ‘evolution’), I am not a paleontologist, a geologist, an ‘evolutionary zoologist’ (or whatever they call themselves), or even a Ph.D. biologist. I suspect few of those commenting on this issue are, either. I have a bachelor’s in biology and an M.D., but these do not qualify me to critique the research involved.

There are people with degrees in the relevant fields, however, who deeply question the theory of evolution, and even declare that it should not properly be considered a theory, as it lacks some of the crucial qualifications of one. Many also maintain that the scientific data corresponds nicely with the text of Scripture, and not with evolutionary theory.

Meanwhile, a cursory examination of the tenets of evolutionary theory, and of the book of Genesis, reveals some glaring conflicts.

Absent a compelling reason to do otherwise, I will maintain the truth of a ‘plain face’ reading of the text of Scripture. Compelling reasons to do otherwise generally will fall into only a few categories. Rarely, but occasionally, non-Scriptural sources may inform textual interpretation, usually when reasonable considerations of the form of the text allow or encourage an alternative interpretation. A good example is in Psalms, where the sun is described as moving across the sky. Strong, easily reproducible non-Scriptural evidence indicates that this is not really the case, rather the earth revolves on its axis, producing the appearance of the sun moving. Psalms are generally poetic, and involve poetic descriptions. It is unreasonable to expect them always to be literally true. This is not the case of most of Scripture (e.g., Genesis), however, which is historic in nature, and where therefore the presumption should be that the plain face reading of the text is true.
As to the question 'where does Genesis turn into history', why not at the beginning, eh? The burden of proof should be on the one claiming that it's NOT actually true.
Very nicely put. Amen.
qandablogger commented about micro- versus macroevolution. This is actually a red herring - there's no difference between the two. The problem is this hangup we have over the concept of "species". However, that is entirely a human categorization - nature knows nothing of species, only groups of organisms that are more or less closely related to one another. (For example, all dogs are the same species - and compare a Pekinese with a Great Dane!)

As for Doc's "molecules to man" hypothesis, that's not what evolution is talking about. There are two quite separate aspects to this - the transition from non-living to living, and the development of living organisms. The first of these is not evolution - because until there was life, there was nothing that could evolve! This is the area that the Intelligent Design people are working in (wrongly, in my opinion). The second (the development of life) is the orthodox biological theory of evolution, which has gained immense weight of support. Sure, there are people who doubt it, but there are people who doubt Einstein's Theory of Relativity, and even people who still believe the Earth to be flat and the centre of the universe.

As for Doc's proposition that Genesis is plainly written as history, that's a category error. "History" as we now understand it simply didn't exist at the time Genesis was written (indeed, not until a very few hundred years ago). Genesis (all of it) is an origin myth - which is *not* to say that it doesn't address history, for it plainly does. "Myth" doesn't mean "false", it means (according to the internet dictionary I just looked up) "a story of great but unknown age which originally embodied a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon of experience, and in which often the forces of nature and of the soul are personified". That is, Genesis (with Exodus, Numbers etc.) is the story of the origins of the Jewish people, containing their accounts of the world's Creation, their own origin as a people and their selection by God. Much of it is assuredly based on real historical (as we understand the term) events, but to claim that it was written as history in the way we understand it is to mistake what Genesis is and to miss the points of the story.

pax et bonum
Good point John.

The weight of both Jewish and Christian interpretation of Genesis has been to view it as myth. The idea of treating it as literal scientific truth is a very new idea and is fundamentally anachronistic. Those who hold this view claim to 'take the Bible seriously' but they are actually doing the opposite because they are not taking the historical setting of Genesis or ancient near eastern culture seriously.

The idea of 'perfect creation' is also a potentially misleading one. The text says that creation was 'very good', but this is fundamentally not the same as being 'perfect' in the sense that we have derived from Greek thought (not Hebrew thought as per the Genesis text). For us 'perfect' means being complete, whole and unimprovable - but clearly this cannot be true of Genesis. Where does the evil serpent come from in a perfect creation? Adam is lonely, which God says is not good - it breaks the boundaries of the text to say that Eden was a perfect world where there was nothing bad. Clearly there was.
Evolution is not supported by observable evidence and violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics - hence it is a theory, and not a very good one at that. Genesis has not been interpreted metaphorically or as a creative myth until very recently. Any cursory study of the writings of the early Church fathers demonstrates they considered Genesis to be historical and not allegorical. The real myth is the theory of evolution.
Evolution is not supported by observable evidence and violates the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

Tim, if you can write that I can only suggest that you keep quiet. Neither is even vaguely true - and the second is so false as to be completely ludicrous. (If the 2nd Law forbade the generation of complexity from simplicity, life itself would be impossible because nothing could grow from eggs/seeds to adults. What the 2nd Law talks about is the increase of entropy [or, loosely, disorder] within entire systems - in this case, the Sun/Earth system. Complexity in Earth is driven by the increase in entropy within the Sun [i.e. by light energy, turned into food by plants].)

Genesis has not been interpreted metaphorically or as a creative myth until very recently.

This is only true insofar as the distinction between myth and history has only been drawn recently. To say that people viewed Genesis primarily as an account of the physical events involved is to miss the point completely.

Genesis is the story of the Creation of the world and the choosing of the Israelite people. Thus, it is unarguably a Creation Myth. However, as I've said, this doesn't say anything at all about its historical accuracy - it could be completely true, completely false or somewhere in between. I would have difficulty reconciling its complete falsehood with Christianity, but it in no way requires complete historical accuracy to be true in the sense of accurately describing God's intentions and actions.

As for evolution being "true" or "false", I can only say that if we are afraid of what the world looks like then we have a deeper problem. Science is nothing more than the description of nature, and so what science tells us (if not always what scientists tells us!) cannot be simply rejected without rejecting something of the God who made this world.

pax et bonum
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