Sunday, December 14, 2008

Combining Evolution and the Bible

ICR recently had an article about Pres. Bush's belief that you can combine evolution and the Bible because he isn’t a literalist when it comes to reading the Bible, but he thinks “you can learn a lot from it.”

There are so many reasons to trust the Bible. It is accurate historically and scientifically. Archaeologists and scientist are discovering more reasons to believe every week. They just aren't what the MSM wants you to hear so you don't. I will give two brief examples here and move on. In 2007, a cuneiform tablet was found by the British Museum confirming that Nebo-Sarsekim mentioned in Jeremiah 39:3 did indeed bring a gold tribute to King Nebuchadnezzar. The RATE project (which studied helium leak and zircon crystals) gives much evidence for a young earth.

It makes me sad that so many Christians, like Pres. Bush, try to combine the millions of years of death and decay with "and God saw that it was good." This is especially bothersome to me because most leading evolutionist would agree with Stephen J. Gould (a big fan of Darwin) who once wrote:
The radicalism of natural selection lies in its power to dethrone some of the deepest and most traditional comforts of Western thought, particularly the notion that nature’s benevolence, order, and good design, with humans at a sensible summit of power and excellence, prove the existence of an omnipotent and benevolent creator who loves us most of all…. To these beliefs Darwinian natural selection presents the most contrary position imaginable.
Evolutionists understand that the two belief systems are incompatible. So why can't we?

The ICR article further laments,
Bush called himself a “simple president,” implying that he does not feel qualified to speak authoritatively on scientific matters. Few people do, since American science education, under the guise of “separation of church and state,” has for decades hindered students from understanding even basic science by limiting their studies to the evolutionary worldview and forbidding an open exploration of the evidence. This effort to suppress sound science continues as special interest groups pressure the Texas State Board of Education to drop the teaching of evolution’s “strengths and weaknesses” from the state science curriculum requirements, which the Board will review in early 2009.

I truly hope that the Texas State Board of Education has the guts to allow children to learn the "strengths and weaknesses" of the theory of evolution. And if they don't, I hope that it motivates more parents to take charge of their children's education.

6 comments:

Raymond V Banner said...

You express my sentiments and beliefs on the reliability of the Bible when compared to opposing views of evolutionists. Same goes for the historical reliability of the Bible.

bobxxxx said...

Oh boy. I feel like I just parachuted behind enemy lines. I'm one of those "evolutionists" who I don't think you like very much.

Evolution has one thing going for it that your "God created people out of nothing" doesn't have. That one thing is tons of scientific evidence. This video explains a small part of that evidence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUxLR9hdorI

Evolution is not a belief system. It's just a branch of science and it's usually called evolutionary biology.

Evolution is what makes biology so interesting. Without evolution, biology is as boring as stamp collecting (not that collecting stamps isn't an interesting hobby for some people). With evolution, scientists and students can learn how each species developed. They can learn the history of life, they can solve problems and work hard to answer scientific questions. This is what makes science so interesting. For example, when an important fossil is found, questions are answered, but more questions are asked. This continuous process of learning more about nature goes on forever. It's very exciting and interesting and it makes young people love science, which can only be good for the future of our country.

The evolution deniers, if they had their way, would take away a student's love for science, and replace it with the boring idea that every creature was magically created.

Evolution deniers, also known as creationists because they prefer magical creation myths instead of evolutionary biology, like to pretend evolution has weaknesses. It's true that biologists will be forever learning more about the history of life. For example today they continue to compare DNA sequences of different species to accurately determine thousands of evolutionary relationships. These are research opportunities, or points for future understanding. Research opportunities are NOT weaknesses. Evolution has no weaknesses for the same reason our planet's orbit around the sun has no weaknesses. Both the earth's orbit and the evolution of new species from ancient species are facts of science. Both facts have overwhelming and undeniable evidence.

To get an idea of how powerful that evidence is, please click my name to see a 10 minute YouTube video.

The reason I'm recommending this video is because it has what a biologist would call lead-pipe evidence, or what I would call smoking gun proof, for the idea that people and chimps share an ancestor, ape-like creatures who lived more than 5 mllion years ago.

This evidence can't be denied by anyone who understands it, and the video makes it easy to understand.

Unfortunately, many or perhaps virtually all creationists never understand it. Why? It's not because they are unable to understand. It's because they don't want to understand. For some reason they feel threatened by evolution, so they just do whatever it takes to not understand the evidence. They either refuse to look at the evidence, or they look at the evidence not wanting to understand it. Instead they look for problems with the evidence. But the problems they find are imaginary. Unfortunately, no matter how patiently and politely a biologist tries to make them understand, they just never get it. There's a religious boundary they are unable to cross. Perhaps the creationists think accepting modern biology equals torture in hell. It's hard to fight that kind of bias.

Evolution is not any more atheistic than gravity, but it's fair to say evolution does have major religious implications, especially for religions that invoke God for the magical creation of people and other animals. Some people are flexible enough to modify their religious beliefs to accommodate modern scientific discoveries. Other people decide the best way to solve religious implications is they throw out the religion and become atheists. The rest are like you. They completely reject modern biology. They would rather call the entire scientific community incompetent liars than accept their discoveries. Their belief in magical creation is so important to them, they prefer to remain scientifically illiterate, and they even try to suppress and/or dumb down the teaching of evolutionary biology.

Unfortunately these Christian attacks against America's science education is bad for everyone, both Christians and non-Christians. Biologists and other people who are interested in the future of our country are not too pleased with these Christian attacks against science education, especially since scientists don't try to dictate what preachers say in church.

Applied Christianity said...

Bob,
Since you have the ability to civilly disagree, I published your comment. Though I will not likely convince you, I am going to respond to your post for the sake of other reading.

There are hundreds of PhD's from prestigious secular universities that doubt Darwin because of the lack of evidence supporting his theory. You can view them at www.dissentfromdarwin.org. Please note that many (if not most) of these people are not Christians (maybe agnostic).

Creation Science is not boring. There are new discoveries being made all the time. Each discovery leads to more questions and more investigating. The questions are just different than an evolutionist would ask.

Love of God and His creation often sparks scientific interest not squelching it. Take George Washington Carver for example. He believed that God had many reasons for every creation. His experiments with the uses of the peanut came from this belief.

You talk of macro evolution as though it has been elevated to a scientific fact. It is actually still a theory. The earth's orbit is a fact. Gravity is a fact.

bobxxxx said...

Sometimes I'm censored, so thanks for publishing my comments. I greatly respect you for that.

You talk of macro evolution as though it has been elevated to a scientific fact. It is actually still a theory.

If you watched the video I recommended (just click my name) and if you understood the video, I think you would have to agree evolution (or what you called macroevolution) is a fact.

When creationists say they deny macroevolution I think they are saying new species can't develop from ancient species. They accept evolution, but believe some invisible barrier makes evolution come to complete stop before a population of animals starts looking too different from their ancient ancestors.

There is no barrier. Evolution never stops. If a species is doing OK, surviving just fine in its environment, and if the environment doesn't change much, that species will not change very much. But the history of this planet includes many major changes, and these changes required species of the past to either adapt to their new environment or go extinct.

Biologists are certain new species can develop because of what they can see when they compare DNA sequences of different species. The video I recommended explains some of this extremely powerful evidence for what you call macroevolution.

The "hundreds of PhD's" is a list from the Christian creationist organization called the Discovery Institute. Virtually nobody on their list is a biologist, and biologists of course have a better understanding of evolutionary biology than scientists who work in other branches of science. Also, their list, about 700 or 800 people, is much less than one percent of the world's scientists.

You said "It is actually still a theory" and you're absolutely correct to say that, but I don't think you understand the meaning of the word "theory" as it's used by scientists. Most non-scientists, when they use the word theory, are talking about a hunch, for example "I have a theory the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in my lifetime". Of course that's probably never going to happen so their "theory" is just wild guessing.

In science a theory has a completely different meaning. Here's a dictionary definition.

theory: A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.

Evolution has been repeatedly tested for 150 years and it's passed every test. Evolution is used to make predictions about the natural world. For example biologists can predict what must be in the DNA of humans if people really do share an ancestor with chimps. So far these predictions have been correct, and they have been correct with an extreme level of detail.

Evolution is widely accepted. What you call macroevolution is accepted by virtually every biologist in the world. The small handful of exceptions have never contributed anything important to biology.

The theory of evolution explains the facts of evolution. The basic facts of evolution, including the fact that people and chimps developed from the same ancient ape-like creatures, are the strongest facts of science. The reason these facts are so strong is they have powerful evidence from molecular biology and genetics, and some of that evidence is explained in the 10 minute video I recommended.

So yes, evolution is a theory, but no scientist would ever say evolution is STILL a theory as if evolution is waiting to get promoted to a higher level of understanding. A theory IS the highest level of understanding in science, higher than an hypothesis, higher than a law, even higher than a fact.

I think religious people who deny the facts of evolution should do what religious scientists do. All scientists, no matter what supernatural beliefs they have or don't have, accept or reject ideas only based on the evidence. They leave any bias they have at the door when they work in the lab. They worry about the religious implications later, and they don't let their religion get in the way of their understanding.

I know I shouldn't care what other people believe, but it bugs me that so many millions of Americans completely reject my favorite branch of science, evolutionary biology. The history of life is perhaps the most interesting subject of science, and I think these people don't know what they're missing. They are letting their religious beliefs get in their way of understanding how their species and how all other life developed, and I can't imagine anything more important than having this knowledge. If only they took the time to study and understand, they would have to agree the evidence is massive, powerful, and undeniable, and they would be amazed at the power of natural selection and the other natural mechanisms of biological evolution.

Applied Christianity said...

Bob,
Since this is obviously a passion of yours I will watch the video and look into it.

I would be interested in your opinion about the main point of the post which is that the first 11 chapters of Genesis and evolution do not mix.

bobxxxx said...

I would be interested in your opinion about the main point of the post which is that the first 11 chapters of Genesis and evolution do not mix.

I completely agree. Evolution most definitely has major religious implications. I think anyone who really understands evolution and how it works, and if he wanted to be honest with himself, would have to completely reject all of Genesis. Some Christians say they can interpret Genesis so it doesn't conflict with modern biology, but I think that's crazy. Genesis says what it says, and what it says is the complete opposite of the scientific explanation for the diversity of life.

Another interesting question: If Genesis is wrong, is it fair to say the entire Bible is wrong? Personally I think that's a reasonable and logical conclusion. I don't trust books when the entire first chapter is completely wrong.

Fortunately the religious implications of evolutionary biology are not a problem for me. For other people, especially Christians who have taken their religious beliefs very seriously their entire lives, accepting the evidence for evolutionary biology could cause major changes in their lives, and I can understand if they would be reluctant to accept those changes. I personally think throwing out religious beliefs can give a person a wonderful feeling of being completely free. But that's just my opinion and of course everyone is different.

What I want more than anything is the truth. I feel certain I have found it, and I like it a lot.