Adapting Evolution

Posted on January 29, 2012. Filed under: Culture |

Galileo Galilei claimed, “I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” “All variety of created objects which represent order and life in the universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, whom I call the Lord God,” wrote Isaac Newton. I could quote Nicholas CopernicusFrancis Bacon,  Gregor Mendel (though he’d be tough since monks don’t say much), Johannes KeplerRene Descartes,  and the list goes on. So, why are science and Christianity thought to be mutually exclusive today? If scientists and Christians are both in pursuit of the truth, why are they perceived as enemies?

In a word, Darwinism. Today, it seems that questioning evolution surpasses the horrors of the crusades, the atrocities of the Spanish Inquisition, and the monstrosity of prolonging Kirk Cameron‘s acting career.

As an individual born with two left-brains and an over-developed type-A personality, I always argued evolution was the process God used, and that Christians who said otherwise were the blind sheep. But a few years ago, I became painfully enlightened that my understanding of evolution was weak at best, and scientific dogma at worst. So, I decided to follow Proverbs 4:7, “Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”

Lots of people equate evolution as simply ‘adaptation over time,’ but if that was the case Darwin might as well have said the birds have beaks. Obviously, this was common knowledge; humans have been breeding dogs and horses to embody the traits we desire for thousands of years. Evolution, however, argues that random adaptation accounts for all species, which are descendant from the first single-celled organism on earth.

Since no one has ever witnessed a new species actually ‘evolve’ from an old one, scientists collect evidence and theorize about how the species came to their current form. The problem is that (most) scientists now assume evolution is a fact, which leads them to ignore evidence that doesn’t fit the theory (rather than follow Pascal‘s…also a Christian…scientific method, which calls for modifying the theory).

For example, evolution proposes that there was a single living cell that kick-started all life for us. Out of that cell came every life, domain, kingdom, phylum… up to species (remember Linnaeus’ classification?). The ‘Tree of Life‘ would start out at the simplest level of classification (life, domain, etc) and over millions of years branch out to the gazillions of species we have today.

But fossil records indicate that for millions of years earth only had single-celled organisms, and then suddenly the most complex levels of life appeared (the event is referred to as the Cambrian Explosion). The exact time line for this explosion is up to interpretation, but the fact is that life became very complex very quickly (even 50 million years isn’t long when you’re talking about a 4.54 billion year old planet). Darwin acknowledged the Cambrian Explosion contradicted his theory, so he argued that,  “only a small portion of the surface of the earth has been geologically explored” hoping that as time went on, more fossil evidence would support his theory. But 150 years later, we still have the same problem.

Does everyone remember the embryo comparison from biology? It suggested early ebryonic development is evidence of a common ancestor; the earlier the phase of development, the more similar species look. My teacher never pointed out that Haeckel skewed his sample and willfully forged the drawings. The actual embryos look very different, but especially in the earliest forms of development (see Model 4).

Monkeys and men? Well, obviously we’re still waiting for those missing links to be filled in, while current fossil records leave a lot of room for interpretation (they don’t come with birth certificates). Secondly, the argument assumes men and animals do not differ other than in their ‘mental faculties’ as Darwin put it. They  both experience jealousy, love, anger, and other emotions, just in different degrees. But, that’s a pretty big assumption. When was the last time you got into the head of a dolphin to see if they are really feeling jealousy? Couldn’t the argument be made humans are projecting our emotions on the animals? It’s a subjective argument rather than a scientific observation.

What about DNA being the building-block that accounts for all ‘mutations’ into different species? Well, ever think about how a fertilized egg duplicates into cells, some of which start ‘pumping’ while others turn into an early neurological system – all of those cells are genetically the same. Could it be that something else is a factor?

But what about the other big holes in the theory of evolution?  How did life even start in the first place? The odds of amino acids (not life – just the building blocks) coming together alone makes my brain hurt (I’ve read everything from 1 in 1040 to 1 in 10390). Then there’s the question living cells forming. Then there’s the question of where all the ‘stuff’ came from in the first place.  Evolution is silent on these more fundamental questions.

I don’t pretend my examples are complete or exhaustive.  And I’m not saying we should burn every copy of On the Origin’s of Species, replace them with Genesis.  Or that if you believe in evolution that you are stupid and need to jump on the Intelligent Design bandwagon. Evolution has some insights, particularly on explaining variation within species (like bacteria becoming immune to antibiotics). However there are far too many flaws that are not even discussed, which is concerning.

If contemporary dogma bars logical discussion, how are we any different than those who wouldn’t consider the earth revolved around the sun?


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4 Responses to “Adapting Evolution”

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[…] God, Hebrews, Jesus, Judaism, New Testament, Religion and Spirituality, Shema Yisrael | Last week, I tried to illustrate that I was guilty of putting faith in something I knew very little about. […]

[…] I said with my piece of evolution, this isn’t supposed to be a complete or exhaustive list on why the Bible is 100% true. If […]

[…] Last week, I tried to illustrate that I was guilty of putting faith in something I knew very little about. But I’m not so sure that (my lack of) thinking is reserved for the secular world alone. Do Christians today focus too much on how we feel?  Do we rely too much on heart-felt experiences to guide our ‘faith’? Are we just trying to bypass the mind and  fulfill the emotional needs of our hearts? […]

[…] I said with my piece of evolution, this isn’t supposed to be a complete or exhaustive list on why the Bible is 100% true. If […]

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