A Discussion in Evolution

Authors

Here is a little discussion board that is mostly arguments between me and one other person regarding Christian perspectives on Evolution. Feel free to read the articles and chime in on your evaluation of the debate, I end with my definition of Theistic Evolution and how I feel it differs from the many varying versions of Intelligent Design (ID).

BillyTalty:
I would like to know if there are those on here that believe evolution is false, and if so what are your arguments against it? I used to be strongly creationist but only because of ignorance.I do not think it contradicts the bible to say that we evolved. Here are some articles regarding virus evolution, cross-bred sharks creating new species, and ignorance of the facts from “ID”er’s:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/How-do-we-know-evolution-really_happens-.html

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-01-03-sea-scientists-startled-by-hybrid-supershark-discovery

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/11/no-dinosaurs-in-heaven-ex_n_1005849.html

I have been reading a fascinating little book by peter atkins which also brings up some interesting points regarding evolution; one being that evolution is the FACT, while natural selection is the THEORY. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts and arguments! Please keep all comments informative, constructive, and well researched.

Ben:
The shark hybrid is itself no evidence for evolution, but it is precisely what I expect if special creation is accurate. Why is it no evidence for evolution? Precisely because there’s no observable, testable process by which natural selection actually forms evolution. These sharks are still sharks. I would be more impressed if they had turned into guppies.

The article about “evolution really happens” is the modern, narrow circular reasoning assuming that natural selection (or adaptation) and macroevolution are in fact one and the same. This conclusion must be thoroughly demonstrated, not assumed. Note the language used: “viruses evolve” and “thanks to evolution”, etc. Evolution seems to be assumed as fact and retrospectively forced onto evidence.

Pardon the long post, but I was on a bit of a roll.

By “Evolution”, I mean the Neo-Darwinian process of change from one species into an entirely different species, whether by graduated change or puncutated equilibrium.

Theistic Evolution has not only theological objections to contend with, but all the scientific weaknesses of current evolutionary theory as well. Following are theological objections:

1. If theistic evolution is accurate, then death is a required part of the process–which means God must have called death a “good” part of the first Creation. This contradicts 1 Corinthians 15:26, which refers to Death as the last enemy–most definitely not a part of a good creation.

2. The necessity of death in Theistic Evolution also contradicts Genesis 2:17, where God first promises death as a result of sin–not as a function of the created order. Similarly, the idea of theistic evolution contradicts 1 Corinthians 15:21, which specifically states that death came through the first man; it was not a design of Creation.

3. By this, theistic evolution then turns God into an inept Being who cannot even manage to avoid death in His own creation–a flaw, it would seem. If He could choose to avoid death, then the existence of death as a “good” function makes Him perhaps the most vicious tyrant ever to exist, a Being who would willingly subject millions of creatures to the cessation of His life in them. Either option makes God imperfect and therefore not God–in which case either 1. God does not exist (and the following points against atheistic evolution apply) or 2. God does exist, but He is not the God of scripture. If 1, then Christianity is false. If 2, then Christianity is still false–and “we are of all men most miserable”.

Objections to Atheistic Evolution:

4. It seems that if evolution, theistic or not, were accurate, we would see much greater relationships between species than we actually see–not to mention the lack of usual evolutionary weaknesses.

5. The evidence we do possess points away from evolution. Neo-Darwinian theory necessitates the creation of previously non-existent, beneficial, transferable information–particularly of the sort that successfully creates a different plant or animal from the one before it. To date, we have zero examples of this. In fact, this lack is well known to artificial breeders–there’s no such thing as a blue rose or black tulip outside of genetic manipulation, precisely because the information for such colors in those flowers does not exist. Furthermore, naturally, this information will not exist because there is no known foundation for creating such fundamentally new information in those genetic structures. Even allowing the existence of such a possibility, such blue roses and black tulips would still be roses and tulips–not daffodils and daisies (hence, no evolution has taken place–merely variation within a species, which is expected within a framework of special creation).

6. Mutations themselves must be 1. beneficial at every step of the evolutionary process, 2. must not cause other harmful effects (as seen in severe artificial breeding cases), and must also be 3. transmissible at every step. The rate of beneficial, transmissible mutation is grossly overestimated–most rates of mutation include all types of mutation, not the ones needed for evolution to work. Mutations of the necessary type seem to be exceedingly rare. Incidentally, mutations as a whole decrease genetic diversity; evolution requires ever-increasing genetic diversity in order to work as currently hypothesized.

7. Viruses exist, but if evolution is accurate, they must have evolved secondarily, not primarily–they could not cause evolution because they have no interest in survival–they merely pass on information, whether good or bad.

8. “Survival of the fittest” allegedly presupposes a competition in nature “red in tooth and claw”, when in fact the evidence does not fit such a belief. Most animals in this world do not directly compete with one another for the same food sources or habitats. The ones that do are in the minority (lions and zebras, for instance). Despite this, the phrase itself is misleading. Lions and wolves, as well as schools of fish, herds of wildebeest, etc, do not survive on their own. They depend on each other as a group–so even the infirm and the aging survive, if they are part of the group. Therefore, “survival of the fittest” is more aptly called “survival of the luckiest”–and evolution, so far as we know, has no interest in luck. Nor, I might add, are we assured that there is any such thing as luck.

9. Philosophically, evolution seems to be used as a placeholder for a Deity. One sees evolutionists speaking of nature “selecting” various organisms–as if nature has a will. The evidence we have (i.e. the tendency for cardiac cells to clump together and start beating in unison, for liver cells to clump and start detoxing, for kidney cells to start filtering, etc, all apart from their own organs) seems to demand an overarching intelligence. Atheistic evolution to date has not explained the existence of these tendencies nor the processes by which they occur. There is a program being carried out, but where is it and Who designed it?

BillyTalty:
Ben, while i agree with you that If these evolutionary claims are true it puts a damper on the theological aspects, but I’ll leave that to the theologians.

The fact is, death is part of our lives. If nothing died, then how would animals eat? Isn’t even a plant life? So, If nothing ate, Everything would die, and if we didn’t need to eat, why give every animal some sort of digestive system?

We do have Biophilia amongst mammals but that is all I can give you in defense of relationships.

The Shark, cross bred betweeen two species of shark, is a new sub-species, it has new genetic makeup,as are we each time we procreate. What you seem to be looking for is strange half-duck/ half-platypus sort of creatures. I would say Chickens show many similarities to dinosaurs, which there are fossils for, even in tacked fossils.

Your knowledge of mutation I think is severely flawed. Mutation, seems to be random, and can cause harm to the species. Genetic transfer is random and sometimes causes harms Among humans. Mental retardation is clearly a genetic mutation that is not noticeably beneficial. We also have those strange mutations that are at present time beneficial, such as those that have incredible memory or perfect pitch.

Every creature has the will to live and the will to multiply, unless there is some sort of chemical problem, such as depression. I’m not really sure what you are meaning by viruses as a primary cause.

We do see survival of the fittest among the adaptation of flowers, many new breeds have literally bloomed out of others that fit their environment, with different openings that attract the insects around them in order to spread their pollen. Other species die out when a new one is introduced.

I would say there are points I agree are hard to swallow, but certainly the often times random adaptation and change of creatures not just from their environment but through breeding shows flaws unless pointing to random (to us) evolution. Males with nipples, people with tails, and the constant hunger for other animals, the death of cells that occur during blinking, all of this, in my opinion shows evidence for the evolutionary process.

Annie:
Billy, I was in a book club a few years ago and we were discussing this topic. We were reading a book called “The Science of God” by Gerald Schroeder. It explains how there has not been enough time for evolution to be true. It is kinda dense with the math and science, but well worth working through. hope it helps

Ben:
The fact that death exists does not make it natural or normal–and as far as I know, plants are not alive in the same sense animals and humans are. I’m not sure how the rest of your question runs. Could you restate it?

The shark has no new genetic information. It has shuffled old information to produce a previously unknown variation on the shark. This is not macroevolution. As I said before: give the shark completely new, previously non-existing information in either parent shark so that in a few steps or several hundred steps it becomes a guppy, then you’ll have evolution (that is, change from one distinct creature into a another completely distinct creature). If I seem to be looking for “strange half-duck/half-platypus sort of creatures” I do so precisely because that’s what evolution seems to demand.

You would say you see similarities between chickens and dinosaurs, but how do you know those alleged similarities are actually there? Could you not be presupposing meaningful similarities between superficially similar structures? Incidentally, homology falls apart in molecular biology.

It is true that mutations are random, but who says beneficial effects are themselves mutations? Can you demonstrate, for instance, that perfect pitch or eidetic memory are the product of simple one-off mutations? Furthermore, could you consistently demonstrate the evolutionary advantage of such traits? I’m merely asking these rhetorically–I find no reason to believe evolution on the basis of mutation.

Some viral theories of evolution state that viruses must have evolved before actual living organisms, when this isn’t a possible case. Viruses have no capability to evolve–they’re merely genetic transportation pods in a protein membrane. They are not alive and have no vested interest in reproducing themselves. They have not, as far as we know, evolved. Turn a virus into a bacterium or other unicellular organism and then we’ll have evolution. Viruses being shuffled to form different kinds of viruses is not evolution–its merely variation. It won’t go anywhere or do anything except go on making more viruses.

We do not seem to be seeing survival of the fittest in flowers. For one thing, the phrase is wrongly applied. Are these flowers directly competing against one another for food and resources? Or, are we merely seeing the flourishing of one variety among several in its own environment (akin to, say, arctic foxes flourishing in the arctic while red foxes languish there)? What you see are preexisting genetic tendencies coming to the fore under the right sort of environmental pressure. This is not an indicator of evolution. A daffodil with a precisely shaped petal because of an environmental cause is still a daffodil.

“I would say there are points I agree are hard to swallow, but certainly the often times random adaptation and change of creatures not just from their environment but through breeding shows flaws unless pointing to random (to us) evolution.”

How does adaptation and change within a species directly lead to or create an evolutionary change from one species to another? This is precisely the crevasse Darwinians have fallen into for decades, and precisely the one Neo-Darwinians try to paper over with a mantra of “Natural Selection /IS/ Evolution”. Well, I’m asking how and why.

“Males with nipples, people with tails, and the constant hunger for other animals, the death of cells that occur during blinking, all of this, in my opinion shows evidence for the evolutionary process.”

How are any of those things evidence for evolution? They certainly aren’t evidence against a special creation. For example, what is so advantageous about the male nipple that it must be passed on from generation to generation for millions of years? Evolution, if it exists, favors efficiency–not extravagance or features otherwise unnecessary to survival. If males do not use nipples, then by all rights, the nipple should have disappeared. Yet, it remains.

If you’re referring to babies born with “tails”, that’s no sort of evolutionary feature–nor is it embryonic recapitulation as postulated by Hegel. It’s merely the spinal column being longer than the body at the time of birth. Cases do occur from time to time and are resolved in a few weeks or days–the body grows and catches up with the spinal column.

The “constant hunger for other animals” is not exclusive evidence of evolution. It is just as easily explained by a theory of special creation, and so, as far as demonstrating evolution goes, is null and void.

How do cells dying when we blink demonstrate evolution? I can see how they would be explained by special creation, but by evolution? I would like to see that.

BIllyTalty:
Annie, Thank you I will look at that and consider the Evidence put forth.

Ben, what are you meaning by special creation? I assume you are referring to an intellignet design sort of pattern. I do not disagree that the god of abraham creativly made the universe and set forth the patterns and laws of nature that are discovered by us, I just don’t think he did this by creating each species and sub species one at a time with careful consideration and detail 6000 years ago; I think God is much smarter and greater then magic, which is what it would take for creation to be plausible from a young-earth perspective. The fact is Death has to occure in order for life to strive, you are dodging the existence of death. Every creature that is now, is a result of death from something else. I’ll pose a sort of rhetorical question as well.. If Noah had two of every animal on the ark, How are there new species of sharks or new viruses such as AIDS that seem to have been created recently? Did God decide to just now start to create new species of sharks and the AIDS virus, or did he perhaps Allow it (AIDS) evolve out of Man’s sinfulness? I think again you are missing the point of mutation and making it distinct from evolution. Mutation is Evolution.A male with nipples doesn’t have to be benefical or even useful for them continue to have them, just as flightless birds with wings don’t lose there wings necessarily. There are full grown adults with tails. Im just trying to point out that death of our cells is an important part of us living successfully. The Duckbill Platypus is a sort of Half-Duck/Half-Platypus creature.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/05/08/us-platypus-genome-idUSSYD4910820080508

Also this:

http://www.reuters.com/video/1/1/1/reuters-tv?videoId=228031877

Ben:
Special Creation is any sort of Theistically directed creation apart from evolution. Please, demonstrate that death is, in fact, an original necessity of creation. Sure it happens now, but that doesn’t mean it is natural or that it has always happened.

As for Noah’s animals, they were what are known as “base pairs”, containing all possible genetic information for a given species (one pair of lions, one pair of wolves, one pair of horses, etc). Since then, new variations are almost always decreases in genetic diversity. If they happen to increase in genetic diversity, they certainly aren’t made of brand new genetic information (that is, wolves don’t contain genetic information for bears, etc). About the platypus: while there is genetic similarity between different organisms, correlation does not mean causation. In other words, evolution is a /possible solution/, but it is not a /necessary one/. That is, the evidence is not such that it demands that only evolution have occurred. Playpuses live on the same earth as every other organism. They are made from the same organic compounds as every other organism. It makes sense then that they have some genes in common with other animals. Sharing genes, however, does not equal common descent.

You know scripture and what it says. Creation happened in Genesis 1 and 2. Man sinned, introducing Death in Genesis 3. Romans 8 states that God placed all of creation under a curse (humanity is the steward of creation–because we sinned, that sin affected the entire sphere of our authority, the whole creation), and it waits to be redeemed. Isaiah 66 refers to restoration where death is abolished. Revelation 22 refers to the same–a restoration to the original state of Creation. This means, in part, that we look at nature now and see a fallen state, not nature in its intended state.

Please, reconcile evolutionary theory with Genesis 1-3, as well as Isaiah 66 and Revelation 21. If you say that Genesis 1-3 are to be taken allegorically, then demonstrate where such allegory ends–since the form and style (that is, narrative history) of Genesis 1-3 continues until the end of the book.

How do you know evolutionary theory is “smarter and greater than magic”? What is your evidence, your reasoning?

BillyTalty:
Ben I am saying that the evidence for evolution is clearly overwhelming, which I have already demonstrated. What you have done is taken problems that evolution has brought up and re-written your theology, as shown with Noah’s ark. It says nothing about base pairs but in order to make the scripture inherent you have creatively made this base pair idea. I don’t disagree with this, but that is all I would be doing If I said genesis was allegorical in the sense of creation. We Know it probably wasn’t a literal 7 days, or at least most people do not believe it is, yet we have managed to allow the various definitions of YOM to come up with some interesting theories. I am not going to try and reconcile this cause it is diverting of my original argument and is an entirely different topic.

It isn’t that platypus’ have some genetic similarities to reptiles and mammals, they have exact copies of the code that is only common to reptiles and at another part only common to mammals, its not just similar, it is. The fact that we are so similar to the chimps genes also shows a progress between one to the other. What IDer’s are always asking for is an animal in transition, which everything is in transition. The fact is there are not any half bird half monkey creatures, because in most cases the transitions, the mutation, doesn’t take large genetic leaps it is slow and gradual. However, we do see adaptation and we have fossil records like Lucy and Ardipithecus Ramidus that show, now extinct species of monkeys that look very similar to humans. So, maybe God designed so many distinct yet very similar species, all of which adapt and have differences between themselves that lean closer towards another species, Or perhaps it is evidence of Evolution.

If there was no death, how would other animals have survived? Especially the carnivorous animals. Why would they have any need for a digestive system? Unless they Evolved one after god punished everything to death it just seems that god intended animals to eat each other, I don’t know why that is but if animals did not originally eat each other, it seems to be absurd that they would have organs of any kind really. Seeing as Adam had a rib I’m sure he also organs.

As far as evolution is concerned, It is more logical then God magically creating the earth in a literal seven days. It has formulas and scientific reasoning as to why it seems more likely, certain things that require it to be so, such as the things I have listed above. We use reason as the means to knowledge, to discovering truth. Scientific Method is based off of reason, empiricism then is good. Unless we are mistaken that reason is a good thing, then it would be frivolous to discuss and argue anything. Magic is thus not good unless, reason is not good, because magic is not reasonable. Why would God use magic, something that is defiant of reason, which is something most of us collegians find to be good, to create the universe? Why wouldn’t he follow the scientific reasoning he has instilled in us (which seems to be a blessing of development)? Frankly I don’t think I would want to serve a god that didn’t use the reasonable, testable, evidential, proof that is found in evolution.

I don’t wish to discuss with you anymore, Ben.

Andrew:
Why ask questions Billy if you no longer wish to discuss the issue?

BillyTalty:
I would love to hear from other people, just not from Ben. I will certainly take in his response to my last post, But I’m not going to respond to it. He isn’t persuading me. I continue to bring forth more evidence to support my original claims, where as Ben continues to restate. He has certainly made me consider some of the things that I believe but I have heard much of what he is saying from others before. He isn’t swayed though, because he is certain that there is no evidence for evolution and that is fine, but the points he is making are not developing from his original answers, they are redecorated. For example, he is saying that there is no proof for evolution
“Precisely because there’s no observable, testable process by which natural selection actually forms evolution. These sharks are still sharks.”

I give him examples through mutation.

“How are any of those things evidence for evolution? They certainly aren’t evidence against a special creation. For example, what is so advantageous about the male nipple that it must be passed on from generation to generation for millions of years? Evolution, if it exists, favors efficiency–not extravagance or features otherwise unnecessary to survival. “

I give him the fact that Mutation is what Evolution presupposes and that mutation is not always beneficial or tidy, which is evident through flightless birds and mental retardation.

“Since then, new variations are almost always decreases in genetic diversity. If they happen to increase in genetic diversity, they certainly aren’t made of brand new genetic information (that is, wolves don’t contain genetic information for bears, etc). About the platypus: while there is genetic similarity between different organisms, correlation does not mean causation. In other words, evolution is a /possible solution/, but it is not a /necessary one/. That is, the evidence is not such that it demands that only evolution have occurred.”

He continues to restate that although evolution is a possibility it doesn’t have to be so it isn’t. This is very misleading.

Unless he brings something new to my attention that I haven’t addressed I am exhausted and do not wish to continue to re-answer. Although I do thank him for helping me strengthen my arguments against ID.

Andrew:
Stupid question, what do you mean by ID? I know “intelligent design” but how do you understand intelligent design?

BillyTalty:
Intelligent design meaning that God created each specific species with genetic information that was for their species alone and that each species adapts to the environment, thus micro-evolving. I would also consider the idea that God created each and every species and sub species in a seven/split period to be a form of ID. Or even a literal seven day creation with acknowledgement to the adaptation of a sub species within it’s environment, like that of butterflies during the industrial revolution, could be a form of ID. However, what I am claiming as Evolution is common ancestors evolving into what we see around us as various species; which I believe was implemented and carefully laid out, following a strict design that led to the evolution of man into It’s modern form. Even Neo-Darwinist, the atheist that do not except any form of Godly intervention, still believe in the uniqueness and importance of the human species within our biosphere. I believe in not only in our uniqueness, but also in our divine importance within the spiritual realm, the things not yet seen. God set us apart and planned us before the world was here. He had an ultimate plan in mind, one that did not bow away from rational, scientific proof.

*I hope to add either to this post or create a part 2 as more information comes up for discussion. I plan to read the book that Annie mentioned and give the results at least if this conversation does not go farther. I certainly am willing to change my mind, after all, I did once believe in creationism and through reading and discussion it swayed me to believe in evolution. I hope that these ideas not only persuade you to defend your own beliefs, but also that you may come to conclusions after long, carefully thought discussions and enquiries. A continual rehashing only makes one stronger. I leave this post with a quote from Ron Paul:
“No one person has perfect knowledge as to man’s emergence on this earth. Yet almost everyone has a strong religious, scientific, or emotional opinion he or she considers gospel. The creationists frown on the evolutionists, and the evolutionists dismiss the creationists as kooky and unscientific. Lost in this struggle are those who look objectively at the scientific evidence for evolution without feeling any need to reject the notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. My personal view is that recognizing the validity of the evolutionary process does not support atheism nor should it diminish one’s view about God and the universe.
This is a debate about science and religion…and should not involve politicians at all.”

Any Thoughts?...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: