Saturday, August 15, 2009

Evolution vs. Creationism - Part2

[Long posts scare me. Read time: 3min]

Before I get started with this book properly, let me set a little context for this discussion.

First: There truly is nothing new under the sun. I see the current disagreement about evolutionism vs. creationism as potentially much the same as geocentrism vs. heliocentrism: The disagreement is fueled by politics, the religious institutions' fear, the lack of good data from the scientific community, and a general lack ignorance all around.

But, eventually, the geocentric model was overturned, Christians embraced the latest scientific discoveries, the misinterpretation of a few passages of Scripture were corrected, and that debate is but a blip on the map of religious history. And the realignment of religion and science ultimately changed neither.

If evolution proves to be true, I predict a similar outcome: Christians will eventually decide science has it right, they will agree they've been reading passages of their Bibles wrong, and will move on--completely undisturbed by the change. Because, honestly, what theological difference does it make?

Yes, we'd need to admit we've read our Bibles wrong. Not the first time that's happened. We'd also need to admit that some of the people we've supported were errant in their thinking. This is also hardly a new event and this too says nothing about God. There may be a few more "sticky" points in the Bible--perhaps--but we've lived with those for thousands of years as well.

Second: There is a ton of confusion--at least, I'm confused--about the use of the word "evolution" which can refer at least three different things:

  1. The natural process of diversification among species (aka "Micro"/"Horizontal" evolution). This happens and works great with Scripture.
  2. Speciation or "Macro"/"Vertical" evolution: The idea that all species have evolved from a common ancestor (what it appears the book of this series purports).
  3. Abiogenesis: The non-supernatural answer for how life got here.

What I have noticed is that I think most of the "debate" rests on a misunderstanding of the last two. The evolutionists I've spoken with say that abiogenesis is not within the theory of evolution. Speciation is the key; how life started is something else entirely. So, creationists are yelling about one thing (genesis of life) and evolutionists are yelling about another (speciation of organisms):


The Possible Confusion of Creationist/Evolutionist Debate

So when we put both perspectives on their proper side of the timeline, we see that we've been incorrectly mashing the two together. Creationism is one thing. Evolutionism is another. And I'm seeing more and more documentation that points to God designing things to evolve. Which, if true, is a win/win: Scientists were right and God is still the Creator. And, what's more: It cleanly leaves everyone where they should be.

Could it be that even the title Evolution vs. creationism is misleading? Is this book really going to focus squarely on the interpretation of Genesis 1:25: How God made everything according to its kind? Or is it honestly going to show the evidence for abiogensis that renders creation needless?

I hope to find out soon enough!

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father

13 comments:

John Umland said...

I think this is where the ID guys show that they aren't different. Both the beginning of life and macroevolution involve an increase in information and order, both unnatural or supernatural. A few blogs I recommend and that I link to regularly are http://www.uncommondescent.com and http://www.evolutionnews.org

God is good
jpu (biologist, BS concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology from UConn)

DyessFam said...

I think this is interesting. First, I wonder have you watched the movie Expelled:No intelligence allowed? Second, I think you might find this interesting: http://karenhancock.blogspot.com/2009/04/fossil-hunter.html It starts with that post and there are another 13/14 speaking on this subject. I also think you might find her books interesting. Third, I must say that even though some say that Evolution doesn't have anything to do with how life started, I find that inevitably that ends up NOT being the case. Case-in-point. If you believe the Bible and Adam and Eve were created without being born and perfect, then after sin entered the world, things did not evolve, i.e. go from simpler to more complex in genetic makeup, it has actually de-evolved. I truly believe we are but a shadow of God's first people. I could totally expound on that, but I'll spare you just this once..mmmwwwaaahahahahaha! The other thing I find constantly is that people interchange evolution for adaptation. Totally different concepts, of course, but apparently that doesn't seem to matter to most people. Also, here is a post I did on this subject, it refs the above mentioned posts: http://dyessfamchronicles.blogspot.com/2009/05/great-stuff.html
I'm pretty sure I did another post about it, but I can't find it...go figure. :p I would like to know what you think, cuz inquiring minds wanna know.

Anne L.B. said...

I'd not considered the difference between macro evolution and abiogenesis, because lacking a credible thesis for the latter, argument for the former is moot.

I appreciate John's remark that both require an increase in information. This is not only foundational to creationism, but one of evolution's most glaring oversights.

DyessFam is certainly correct about us being but a shadow of Adam and Eve. It's not as if God was only warming-up when He created them. (Unless you believe the joke that Adam was just for practice, and then God created Eve.)

Lynn said...

Luke: "There is a ton of confusion--at least, I'm confused--about the use of the word evolution"

Scott: "The broad definition of evolution is a cumulative change through time" (see pg. 23 for this quote - and her in-depth look at the word is defined).

Luke: "Or is (the book) honestly going to show the evidence for abiogensis that renders creation needless?" and "(C)reationists are yelling about one thing (genesis of life)."

Perhaps liberal Christians and OECs care only about "one thing" (genesis of life), but YECs (the focus of this book since they are the ones claiming a "debate") are screaming about what Scott calls the Pillars of Creationism (which you may recognize as this chapter's title).

1. Common Ancestry (the 1st Pillar) is refuted by YECs because, "If Earth was ancient and populated by creatures that lived before humans, death must have preceded Adam's fall - which has obvious implications for the Christian doctrine of original sin." [xxiv]

2. Natural Selection (the 2nd Pillar) is refuted because "If the variety of living things we see today is primarily the result of the incredibly wasteful and painful process of natural selection, can this really be the result of actions of a benevolent God?" [xxv]

As Scott says, antievolutionists' motivations are religious. They provide insight into why YECs dispute some scientific findings, and not others. For them (but not for you, apparently), acceptance of an old earth makes, not a "blip," but a profound "theological difference." If the Christian bible's creation account is "overturned" (as geocentrism was), it would strike yet another hammerblow against the claim that the Bible is a reliable source of information (of any kind). If all that a person knows about God (other than his subjective "feelings") comes from a book riddled with "sticky points," then one can't know much. That's why they spend so much time, effort and money attempting to discredit science that refutes its stories.

Luke: "And I'm seeing more and more documentation that points to God designing things to evolve."

Well, you may be seeing more and more documentation that things have evolved, but you are not seeing documentation that points to God as its cause, because there is none. :)

Luke said...

Lynn,

Thanks for showing up and continuing the discussion. I was wondering when you'd swing by. And I'm truly glad you did!

1. Scott absolutely defines evolution (I know I quoted her somewhere in these posts [smile]). My point, that I make again and again, is that she does not consistently use her own definition.

2. Death before the fall is a very interesting one [smile]. For Adam and Eve to have eaten in the garden we see at least some form of death (plant cell death) happening. Furthermore, it would be odd to think that their skin never flaked off and all those other wonderful things that keep us healthy and alive didn't kick in until after the Fall. So, while there is likely large amounts of debate on this subject--haven't checked--I think there is a good chance that the doctrine of Original Sin has a much wider (or, narrower, depending on how you're looking at it) application then the supposed difficultly Scott sees YECs to have.

3. Again: A rather lame view of God would arrive as this conclusion. Plus, such people obviously haven't read the Bible: It's full of waste, loss, years of sitting around, oppression and murder of God's people...

4. There is no doubt that religion plays a large part in motivating antievolutionists.

5. "If the Christian bible's creation account is 'overturned' (as geocentrism was), it would strike yet another hammerblow against the claim that the Bible is a reliable source of information (of any kind)." Geocentrism was far a religious philosophical idea than a Biblically-based one. Furthermore, while there is likely to be some ripples from rethinking Genesis--if it were to become evident that such a thing is important--I don't think it will be nearly the "hammerblow" that you mention.

6. "...you are not seeing documentation that points to God as its cause, because there is none. :)" Says you [smile]. Your position dictates that you hold to that idea. Mine leaves that possibility wide open [smile].

~Luke

Lynn said...

you: "And I'm seeing more and more documentation that points to God designing things to evolve."

me: (Well, you may be seeing more and more documentation that things have evolved, but) you are not seeing documentation that points to God as its cause, because there is none. :)

you: "Says you [smile]. Your position dictates that you hold to that idea. Mine leaves that possibility wide open [smile]."

Documentation of God as the cause of evolution? Really? You've got it?? You know, I'm pretty sure that whatever you're earning as a salesman for Sonlight homeschool curriculum is mere chump change compared to the big bucks you could be raking in for publishing your documentation. What's holding you back? [smile]

Lynn said...

you: "Geocentrism was far a religious philosophical idea than a Biblically-based one."

You're the one that has made this comparison (once at my blog, too).

You don't see a problem with having to "rethink" your holy book every time science makes it "evident that such a thing is important"? Sounds like your house is built on sand - and you're selling building kits to children. Not nice.

Lynn said...

you: "There is no doubt that religion plays a large part in motivating antievolutionists."

The point is that if Christian fundamentalists didn't see evolution as a threat to their religious teachings, they wouldn't spend *any* time, energy or money trying to refute it. Haven't you noticed that Christians don't attack other scientific theories? No need to "teach the controversy" on germ theory, for example. You underestimate the devotion of most fundamentalist Christians to a literal reading of the Bible - and Genesis, specifically.

Lynn said...

you: "4. A rather lame view of God would arrive as this conclusion. Plus, such people obviously haven't read the Bible: It's full of waste, loss, years of sitting around, oppression and murder of God's people..."

Yes, but most Christians can live with God's murderous ways by rationalizing that death and suffering (in the Bible) was the result of Original Sin and, therefore, justified. So, Luke, here's my lame question: Why would your benevolent god visit such horrific pain and suffering upon innocent men, women, and (born/unborn) children?

Anne L.B. said...

Suffering is the result of the sin mankind chooses, not God. He gives us the freedom to choose to live in harmony with Him or to rebel. Our nature is to rebel, and (like satan the accuser) to accuse Him of no goodness. Thus our sin causes the suffering of the "innocent"--though there is no one truly innocent. We pass on to even the unborn our inheritance of sin's guilt.

All of which God allows, so that He has opportunity to counter suffering with His grace and mercy. Without freedom to choose sin and suffering, mankind is just a dumb animal (as evolutionists purport), not the image of God. Without suffering, we have no way to know God's immense grace and mercy.

All of which He says people of this world will fail to grasp.

And incidently, whether they're creationists or intelligent design theorists, the scientists who've already well-documented that science supports creationism and refutes evolution aren't holding the big bucks. The evolutionistic community (which shuns scientific facts to embrace their own religion of atheism) controls the dollars and pulls the political strings which inflicts evolution on unsuspecting children in public schools. Real scientists continue their work in the face of public opposition and personal sacrifice for the sake of truth, not profit.

Lynn said...

Anne: "Suffering is the result of the sin mankind chooses, not God."

You've lost track of the argument. Luke was criticizing Scott for presuming that Christians have "supposed difficulty" with the idea of death *before* the Fall. (That's death *before* the Fall, *before* Sin entered the world.) Luke is saying that because Adam and Eve ate the apple (causing plant death) and their skin flaked off (cell death), there *was* death (and suffering) *before* Sin. My response was, Why would your benevolent god visit such horrific pain and suffering upon innocent men, women, and (born/unborn) children? (They were innocent because they were still "perfect." According to the Bible, at least.)

Lynn said...

Anne: "Real scientists continue their work in the face of public opposition and personal sacrifice for the sake of truth, not profit."

Ah, yes, the global conspiracy to protect our "evolutionistic community." Countless scientists, spanning all scientific disciplines and all races and cultures have all pinky-sworn to keep the "real" truth under wraps. In exchange for their silence, they are paid "big bucks." (They're saving up money for 2012 when they plan to build homes on Jupiter where they'll live and worship the resurrected Elvis!)

Luke said...

Lynn,

"Documentation of God as the cause of evolution? Really? You've got it?"

I have it? No, but I'm seeing it more and more [smile]. Some very interesting ideas coming from people who are looking at evolution and the design it requires to work. Granted, you don't see that as pointing to God. Fair enough. But, as I said, my position leaves that as a very natural possibility [smile].


"You don't see a problem with having to 'rethink' your holy book every time science makes it
'evident that such a thing is important'?"

No problem whatsoever. Because what we rethink is our interpretation of a few select passages that may--but likely not--change a few small doctrinal ideas. Maybe. And, like the scientists Scott praises in her work, I am happy to continue to adjust my beliefs to more accurately encompass reality. I think all followers of Christ should do that.


"You underestimate the devotion of most fundamentalist Christians to a literal reading of the Bible - and Genesis, specifically."

I don't think I do. I know all too well the fervor certain Christian groups have. And I think there are many aspects of what they say that is wrong. Even so, I think there are people who do question evolution on a purely scientific basis... but perhaps they were first motivated by some other idea.


"So, Luke, here's my lame question: Why would your benevolent god visit such horrific pain and suffering upon innocent men, women, and (born/unborn) children?"

? I'm not sure what context you're asking this question in, and that makes a big difference in what an appropriate response would be. To be more specific as to my confusion: What innocents are you referring to that God has "visited" pain and suffering upon?


"Luke is saying that because Adam and Eve ate the apple (causing plant death) and their skin flaked off (cell death), there *was* death (and suffering) *before* Sin."

Where did I mention suffering prior to the Fall in my comment? I never meant to imply that there was suffering prior to the Fall. Instead, I pointed to several helpful types of "death" that must have existed prior to the Fall.

Thanks for keeping the conversation going, Lynn! [smile]

~Luke