examinescience

A personal journey into the world of Science and Human History

Month: April, 2016

Nature as the Bible Sees It

In giving evidence for why evolution is a fact, and not actually a theory, Cameron M. Smith says in his book, The Fact of Evolution, “Not only do life-forms come from parent generations, but offspring resemble their parents. Not just on the surface but down to the molecule, life-forms are usually pretty close approximations – replicas – of their parents’ basic form.”[1]

I’d say, “duh” here buy the author is basically saying that with his point. His contention is that evolution is actually easy to understand and that it’s so obvious it’s almost too easy. It’s actually pretty good writing

I’ll get to what the Bible says in just a minute, but notice the key point of Smith’s argument, “Why don’t elephants give birth to fish? The intuitive answer is that there are different kinds of life, and each essentially produces its own kind.”

This is not a foreign concept to believers in God’s creation. All of creation was in fact brought forth and told to reproduce after their kind. Like life gives way to like life (Genesis 1).

It doesn’t take an evolutionary biologist, or a prehistorian (like Smith) to know that life produces after it’s own kind. The interesting thing is that evolution doesn’t actually do that. Of course, for several generations it does, but over the course of millions of years it stops doing that and eventually splits off to become “other” kinds, such as the case of the mammoth and Asian elephant, which were supposed to have a common ancestor some millions of years ago.[2]

In this way, it is difficult to accept evolution when one is a Christian or grew up in church. We were taught from the Bible that everything gives life to its kind. This is what the observable world also shows us. Yet we are also to believe that at specific, accidental times throughout history (a very long history), kinds didn’t necessarily give way to like kinds. At some point, variation allowed for a new species to develop. The easiest way for that to happen in evolutionary science is to geographically separate the two species from each other as they develop so that the Asian elephant, for example, in the southern half or so of the Asian continent, becomes genetically different from the mammoth in the arctic.

This means that, according to science, at one time there actually existed an “Adam.” At some point, enough of the gene differences between our common ancestors with chimpanzees actually created two species (the chimp and humans). We actually have some of this knowledge in the form of mtDNA Eve (mitochondrial Eve).

Evolutionists would argue that an entire generation of Adams would have evolved, in order for the beneficial traits to develop, but the point is the same. At some point in time, Adam came to be. He was like his predecessors, but he was also a new species. No one knows yet when that happened. Many gaps exist in the timeline. Actually, I should be more specific in that science traces Eve more than it traces Adam. Maybe you have heard of Mitochondrial Eve? You will meet her and then get to know her more, as well as her husband Adam over the course of our journey.

We have to be careful here so as not to enter into some sort of “God of the gaps” argument. The idea of the God of the gaps is that, since science can’t always (or even mostly) fill in the gaps between two species (an example is the mammoth), then God must have stepped in and accomplished that task.

This is bad theology because it doesn’t actually give God credit for creation in the first place, and renders Genesis 1-3 unusable. It’s also bad science, because it assumes that God is really just a word for “I give up.”

This is why Christians cannot be afraid to research the issue. In my own review of the research on the evolution of cystic fibrosis, it has become relatively clear that at no time has science shown the cause of the cystic fibrosis mutation, nor what caused it. All that can be speculated on is that it showed up around 50,000 years ago, and that being a heterozygote carrier (meaning a person has one mutation and one good gene) allows for some advantage over tuberculosis.

Our God is not a god of the gaps, but an actual, creative being with power and mercy. He will either show us himself through our scientific processes or he will be proven to be less of a god than we think he is. I believe he will come out as more than we think he is…more sovereign, more powerful, and more loving.

If we remain faithful, and look into the research, we’ll probably find that God is in the details. Debate all you need to, but in the meantime, I’m going to keep reading and learning. I hope you’ll join me. Click this link to do so.

 

[1] Smith, Cameron M. The Fact of Evolution. Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY. 2010. pg 38.

[2] Shapiro, Beth. How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. 2015. pg 108

 

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Worst Case Scenario

It’s in the very back of my mind almost every time I crack open a book on science or read a peer-reviewed journal article. Reading many biblical peer-reviewed journals compounds the issue as well. Some are traditional and evangelically minded, but many are not.

It’s the issue of whether or not Christianity is sustainable as a non-truth. If it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans came from a lower life form and not the direct hand of God, what happens next? Does it spell the end to Christianity? Of religion in general? Will it lead to the loss of faith altogether? Will it remove all barriers to immorality on the earth?

These are very important questions to those of faith, but many fundamentalists are afraid to ask those questions. Well, we can’t be afraid, so we ask the question.

First of all, most scientists already believe that they’ve proven humanity’s evolution beyond a shadow of a doubt. While everyone acknowledges that gaps in the record exist, no one thinks they won’t someday prove how it all happened…through evolution.

Second, AiG, ICR, and other groups continue to think that science does not prove evolution correct. At best, it is a flawed attempt by unbelievers to avoid giving God credit for creation. For some groups, such as the ones mentioned here, any thought other than the traditional six thousand year creation story is heresy, whether it’s OEC, gap theory, or evolution.

Third, it would be very difficult to prove beyond all doubt that evolution is a fact vice a series of hypotheses. What will they find? Another humanoid jawbone? Or a mammal that dragged its useless hind feet on land, but found its home in the water? These things, while possible, are not very probable, and again, it wouldn’t really matter if paleontologists found these items. It wouldn’t change the minds of most fundamentalists.

Maybe this post asks the wrong question. Maybe it has nothing to do with the church in general, and everything to do with the individual Christian that is contained in my skin and bones and the faith in my spirit.

To that end, I have to decide what the scientific evidence means to me. As I continue going through the data, a project that will take me a very, very long time, I continue to be shown evidence that the earth is really old, that dinosaurs lived a really long time ago, and that light from the stars had to start coming toward us an extremely long time ago. Yet the research also shows that science cannot explain how everything really came to be. We have, arguably, millions or billions of years to play with, but no idea where the basic building blocks came from. Oh, there is an answer to that, but it was a dying universe that passed away before the one we have now. That’s not a very good answer, in my unlearned opinion, because it gets circular at some point. It’s as untestable as Genesis One.

And I’ve already shown, in previous research, that genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis are un-provable as microevolutionary events because evolutionary biologists are unable to show exactly when the diseases came about. Unfortunately, this is also true of the Bible’s lack of evidence.

What it means right now is that the earth is older than most fundamentalists want to accept, but not that evolution is a proven fact.

Of course, this is a continuing topic and will be followed up upon in future posts. Click HERE to subscribe to updates.

Apologetics, Science, and the Debate between Evolution and Creation

I’m a big fan of apologetics in theology. I don’t debate all that often, but I’m trained in religion (MAR-Liberty) and I can present most theological arguments regarding Calvinist doctrine, theology, fall of man, etc. I’m certainly no celebrity of course. There are far better men and women out there who know way more than me and how to apply that knowledge. Just the same, I hone my skills with periodic debates and I want my children to understand apologetics as well. My wife and I bought our oldest an Apologetics Bible, which teaches him how to defend the scriptures at different points throughout the Bible. Presumably, our two younger children will also be brought up with apologetics.

Before I go any further, a definition is required. Apologetics is not the art of saying you’re sorry. Rather, it is the art of giving a defense. From the Catholic Encyclopedia: Apologetics means, broadly speaking, a form of apology. The term is derived from the Latin adjective, apologeticus, which, in turn has its origin in the Greek adjective, apologetikos, the substantive being apologia, “apology”, “defense”. The fact that I use a Catholic definition is ironic since I often provide a defense for Protestant views against Catholic dogma. Let me therefore use a standard dictionary definition: systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine). Essentially it’s the same definition.

Most of Creationism is about apologetics. Read through the Answers in Genesis website and much of what you’ll read is why the flood strata (which, as I gather is the same general strata as the Cretaceous period strata in evolutionary science) can prove that the flood is responsible for the death of dinosaurs and only took a few years to develop. I’m still working on this. In fact, I probably won’t really get to the dinosaur issue until I’m at a stopping point in my research on cystic fibrosis (and possibly other autosomal recessive genetic mutations).

Let me remind you of the ExamineScience Project’s methodology: We are going to look at modern science from its own perspective and determine if it allows for God. Then we will look at Creationism and find out if evolutionary science answers some of the questions that the Bible asks but doesn’t answer.

The key to the first part of this is a massive and lengthy review of the scientific data. Key to the second part is a review of the Bible, which will include apologetics. I believe they will both play a role in my life and research in the future.

However, one cannot be used in debating the other. For example, modern scientific data cannot be used to dissuade someone from believing in the Bible because scientific data cannot refute apologetics. Conversely, presenting a defense of the Bible cannot dissuade someone from believing in evolutionary biology. This was proven out in the recent Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. In a supposedly scientific article on the Answers in Genesis website (first published in the Journal of Creation), the author provides ample evidence as to why apologetics and science don’t mix well.

Here’s a quote:

“For most creationists, the extinction of the dinosaurs, as well as other extinctions, is not a mystery. In fact, the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other creatures has an easy answer—they simply died in the Genesis Flood (except those dinosaurs likely taken on the Ark, which probably died soon after the Flood).”

This is not a scientific argument. The rest of the article discredits the scientific theories of why the dinosaurs died out. Again, this is not scientific, but apologetic. Another example is the ICR’s explanation of old earth creationism, wherein unscientific, apologetic debate is used to counter the ideas of OEC.

By the way, I’m not becoming an evolutionist (at least not in the Richard Dawkins vein). Evolutionists have plenty of apologetic persons as well, Bill Nye being one of them, as well as Dawkins (in his many writings against creationism), and others. I think both sides present a defense for their beliefs instead of letting the science tell the story…a story, I hope, which will lead to the God of the Bible being the creator of the world.

As said in other posts, my desire is to be as non-biased as possible, but the reality is that we will all have to pry through the biases of others and ourselves before we find the truth. As always, sign up at this link to keep up to date with additional research!

New Posting Schedule for ExamineScience

As things settle out here at the ExamineScience project, I want to proceed with a posting schedule that allows for better writing, better research, and better use of my time. I want to write constantly for this blog, but alas, the full time job is just that. I am able to continue researching the science record on my spare time, but that doesn’t even account for the writing. Anyway, I need to slow down so I can write better.

My goal is to present good research regarding the evolution/creation debate and to do so with as little bias as I can. Going forward, I hope to post in-depth research that will help you in your own research journey.

If you’re interested in writing for ExamineScience, I’m very willing to entertain the idea. Drop me a note at dan@navychristian.org and we’ll get started! Otherwise, I’ll see you every few weeks. Thanks for understanding!