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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Does evolution contradict Christianity?

This is very interesting. I believe I'll give a shot at answering these questions.

Does evolution contradict Christianity? and If so, how? What is in conflict? What is about evolution that is in conflict? Obviously you're asking about the current "theory of evolution" (as opposed to the "fact of evolution," described later), often referred to as neo-Darwinism. Well, let's see...

The main theory has 2 basic aspects, 1. "Natural selection" favors development in such a way that individuals with traits better suited for a specific environment will thrive; and 2. "Random mutations" change, increase or decrease the genetic code, sometimes in beneficial ways (though primarily in indifferent or harmful ways). Extrapolating these two base points, natural selection combined with these random mutations will cause beneficial mutations to dominate any given gene exchanging group (this includes gene exchange during reproduction into the new being as well as some species apparently which can exchange genes even without reproduction). And, insofar as we can't specifically determine which genetic changes are in fact random and which are part of the existing design (to the point that the gene is actually programmed to alter it's own composition, notwithstanding how it became programmed such), we can say there is overwhelming evidence of genetic change and natural selection. Nothing here contradicts, let's just say, the Bible. This, I believe, is called "microevolution" by both Creationists, Evolutionists and scientists.

Extrapolating further we would see that two identical groups of creatures which have stopped exchanging genes (probably by some physical separation) would eventually develop enough differences from each other genetically that they would be considered different species, naturally selecting genes that are more beneficial to the environment each occupies. Often this even happens to the point that the two different species are no longer capable of gene exchange. This is observable, confirmed and not contradictory to the Bible. On a side note, this extrapolation does not necessarily require both basic aspects, only the first. Natural selection alone could cause this to be seen even if no mutations occurred in either population provided enough original diversity was available in the group before separation. From what I've read, evolutionists primarily consider this the "fact of evolution" because it is a direct observation. Creationists call this "microevolution," and seem to overwhelmingly agree that it is observed. Again, nothing here necessarily contradicts the bible. Evolutionists however, also refer to this as "macroevolution," and when called to prove or demonstrate macroevolution, provide evidence for this mutually agreed upon observation instead of the following extrapolation which Creationists feel is lacking evidence (or worse) and are generally condemning.

Further extrapolation reveals that if we begin with a single population of sufficient ability to continue successful reproduction, it would, via random mutation and natural selection, eventually develop the genetic information required to build more advanced biological structures facilitating more advanced abilities to the point that every biological structure and ability available to all the creatures currently alive and possibly (eventually) even more. Creationists call this "macroevolution." Evolutionists call this "macroevolution" and use the evidence of the "fact of evolution" (see previous paragraph) along with elaborate biological categorization practices to demonstrate that it has already happened. I would call this "an interesting hypothesis," and I doubt a real scientist would comment on it because of the mud-throwing from both sides and I'm sure she's got real work to do. This is moderately contradictory to the bible in the fact that (Romans 8:20) Paul says that the world has been subjected to "futility." Possibly as a result of the "fall?" Additionally, this is also moderately contradictory to the results of breeding experimentation. Breeders simply can't breed horses any faster; they can't breed dogs any bigger or smaller than their current size limits; they can't seem to breed a chicken that will lay more than one egg a day. In fact, thoroughbreds are specifically bred to the point that they statistically should not change in future generations. Pure breeders could be said to rely on the fact that this extrapolation is not true.

Further extrapolation would lead one to the understanding that, notwithstanding a miraculous supernatural creation event, the only plausible explanation for the existence of the exceptional diversity we see is that this has already happened. This final extrapolation I suppose could be called "origin of all species by means of natural selection and random mutation." Because evolutionists are unwilling to admit the possibility of an unexplainable supernatural event and there are no other theories (or even plausible hypotheses) they are compelled to consider this extrapolation as "fact" and often refer to it as the "theory of evolution" or "fact of evolution" (the latter of which would be inaccurate). Creationists refuse to admit the possibility of the Bible being incorrect and are similarly compelled to consider this extrapolation false. Again, scientists are likely to stay out of this and I'm pretty sure you already know where I am on it.

There have been attempts to reconcile this final extrapolation with Biblical creation. One of the most famous is called "Intelligent Design." There are apparently numerous proponents of "Intelligent Design," and they are looked down upon by both Evolutionists as well as "Young Earth" Creationists, like Answers In Genesis. The basis of Intelligent Design is that essentially the final extrapolation is correct, except that instead of random mutations occurring over an extended period of time, some outside force imposed mutations specifically to enhance the otherwise natural process. This is looked down upon by Evolutionists because, like Biblical creation, there is still a problem of an unexplainable supernatural event, the possibility of which they are unwilling to concede. Creationists (which in this reply always refers to Young Earth Creationists) see the same inherent problems in I.D. that there are in the final extrapolation.

As for the contradictions: The final extrapolation requires an excessive period of time. Generally, evolution is paired with The Big Bang Theory (T.B.B.T.) or some other cosmic evolution theory because of the compatible time requirements for each, however, I don't believe many evolutionists would defend T.B.B.T. because the cosmos is not technically part of the biological evolution process. Since all the commonly accepted cosmic evolution theories (i.e. T.B.B.T.) have essentially the same order of events and time frames, I'm going to proceed pairing evolution with T.B.B.T. for the contradictions I list.

Here are some Bible facts that are directly contradicted with a T.B.B.T. based final extrapolation:

  • The sun and stars was created after the earth. (Gen 1:1 - Earth, Gen 1:14 - Sun, Stars)
  • Light was created after water and the earth. (Gen 1:1 - Earth, Gen 1:1-2 - Water, Gen 1:3 - Light)
  • The measurement of a day was created before the sun, the moon or the stars. (Gen: 1:1-5 - The first day, Gen 1:14 - Sun, Moon, Stars)
  • Dry land was created after oceans (Gen 1:9 - Separated oceans to form dry land)
  • Plants (including land plants) were created before the sun, moon and stars, ocean life (Gen 1:11 - Plants, Gen 1:14 - Sun, Moon, Stars, Gen 1:20 - Ocean Life)
  • Fruit-bearing plants were created before insects (Gen 1:11 - Plants, Gen 1:25 - Insects)
  • Birds were created before Dinosaurs (Gen: 1:20 - Birds, Gen 1:24 - Dinosaurs)
  • Whales were created before land mammals (Gen 1:20 - Whales, Gen 1:24 - Land Mammals)
  • Livestock was created before mankind (Gen 1:24 - Livestock, Gen 1:26 - Mankind)
  • Names were given to "all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field" before woman was created (Gen 2:19 - Names Given, Gen 2:22 - Woman Created)
  • Viruses*, Thorns, Death, Sickness*, Thistles developed after Animals, Plants, and all other kinds of life was created. (Gen 3:6 - Death, Gen 3:18 - Thorns, Thistles)
  • Homo (a biological classification including humans) death first occurred after the development of language, animal husbandry, agriculture, labor pains, animal sacrifice, agricultural sacrifice, gardens, clothing**
  • God created Man (as opposed to Man created gods, or at least the idea of gods)
  • Man created death through sin (as opposed to millions of years of death, i.e. natural selection, creating man)
  • Sin predated death
  • Man was created from dust (as opposed to being created from other animals)
* I have starred some items not mentioned this early in the Bible but I believe do not qualify as "very good" as described in Gen 1:31 at the end of creation you make your own interpretation.
** Okay, I started getting lazy. I've been working on this too long.

Can a Christian believe in evolution? I am going to change the question slightly to, "Can a Christian believe in the aspects of evolution that directly contradict the Bible?" The answer is no. I was going to say "yes, but..." but I realized while writing this post that is not true. To be a true Christian, one must believe in Christ. This can be extrapolated many ways, but probably the most obvious way is to trust that what he says is true. He says that the scriptures are true. If you do not believe what He says, how can you claim to believe in Him even in the most basic of ways. He claims to have been there when it happened. He claims Moses told the event correctly. How could someone to claim to be His follower and yet continuously call Him a liar? It would be at minimum hypocrisy and at worst blasphemy or sacrilege.

Final notes: Forgive me not putting any references, despite it's length and the time I spent on it, this is not intended to be a scientific paper, simply my viewpoint of how things are.

Here's a little more I added later:
I was hoping to include this last night, but it just got too late and I didn't have the time to look up the verse (found 3 copies once I started looking). If calling Jesus a liar is a sin, and I believe it is, one should be wary, perhaps very wary of teaching the final extrapolation of the theory of evolution as Jesus gives us fair warning: Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2 say the same thing, this copy is from Mark.
"And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
Originally posted at ibcy.