The creation evolution controversy continues to heat up and stir debate; praise God for that. Several times a week I read articles appearing in the news stating that teaching creation in schools has a negative impact on “science.” Evolutionists assert that “If we allow creation to be taught, or even allow the review of the problems with evolutionary theory, we will be leaving our children and our nation unprepared for the future, because after all, isn’t this a debate between science and religion? Should we just teach religion in schools and go back to the dark ages? Should we allow the nations of the world to progress beyond us in science because of religious ignorance and Christian creation dogma?” This is an interesting argument, and if pursued properly could shed great light on how evolutionary teaching has done more to hold back the progress of science than to advance it.
Another question is, “What is the value evolutionary theory has actually provided to science?” Ask a doctor how much they studied evolution in medical school. The answer is usually, “Not at all.” Why is that? Because there is no practical application of evolutionary theory, only the advancement of “pure science,” or “theoretical science.” How much does an engineer or rocket scientist use evolutionary theory in their work? Probably not at all. Beliefs and understanding of evolution have no impact on math, spelling, finance, physics, chemistry, or engineering; in fact it’s really hard to see what would be impacted except the theory of evolution itself. Would it impact our ability to compete in the space race? Would we fail to be the first to create alternative fuels? Would it impede our advancements in nanotechnology? Again, the question falls to the floor with a resounding thud, and a great, big, “no.” Questioning the theory of evolution is not questioning scientific fact, it is questioning the atheistic world-view of origins: where did we come from, and usually, where are we going?
The “debate” also shows the grim reality of our sound-bite culture, with bumper sticker slogans in newspapers serving as nearly the full extent of the discussion. Often we can read, “Religious Fundamentalists Attempt to Reverse the Clock in Public Schools,” or, “Creationists Debate Scientists.” The supporting news story will jab at Christian scientists as if they are ignorant of the facts and want to live in a fantasyland of religion that is “taken by faith.” Often there is no public recognition that there are even trained scientists on the creation side, and the picture is painted that all creationists are “just people with religious motivations.” In these cases, even if a person takes the time to read the full article he will not learn much more than the headline, and what conclusion could he draw from that?
But what about the actual debate? Have you seen any real scientific information in the news? Typically it’s sound-bites like, “all reputable scientists believe in evolution” followed by a high-level overview of the “correct scientific position” leaving out any opposing data, assumptions, or problems with their theory. What do they mean by “reputable scientists”? What about the thousands, or possibly tens of thousands of scientists who do not believe in evolution? Since most secular scientists argue with each other’s theories, does that mean that every opposing view of evolution is to be discounted? Or should we only discount the scientists with opposing views who are Christians? Who is deciding who are the “reputable scientists”? What is a “correct” scientific position? Is the media really telling us that scientists with a creation world-view are not reputable?
Starting with the basics, we should give a certain benefit of the doubt to a scientist with a Ph.D. in a specific field. More so if they have worked on research projects in the same area, published papers, worked with other researchers, or been salaried research staff at a corporation or government research facility. We should not disqualify their scientific opinions based on religious beliefs, but should look specifically at the merits of their arguments and theories. This would be fair, this would be logical, and this would be good science. There are documented lists of hundreds of Christian scientists who believe in creation and hold degrees and positions of distinction at the major universities of the world. More profoundly, they believe in creation not because of “faith,” but because that is where the data has led them. A good example of a current list can be found at www.discovery.org, which lists three hundred scientists from prominent universities that question the scientific merits of the theory of evolution. Amazingly, many of these scientists are not Christians, or even theists, but are still compelled by the evidence to see a designer. Is this information you have ever heard on the news? Should we not grant them equal merit and review their scientific positions with the same vigor as evolution based scientists? To deny them a voice would be equivalent to telling a bold-faced lie: that there is no valid scientific position on the creation side. If evolution is based on sound science, then let the open debate begin! That is, after all, good science.
When we look at the impact of evolutionary philosophy in historical science, one shining example of incompetence shows through; the teaching of vestigial organs. According to evolutionary theory, humans have evolved over millions of years. Mutations would always be “creating” new features, whereas natural selection would be preserving those that are beneficial, and removing those that are not. If we examine humans with this view, we should be able to find new features that are not yet beneficial, not beneficial at all, or no longer needed, that are being removed over the course of time. These “vestigial organs,” or “vestiges,” might be partially functional or could have lost all of their function. For many years the tonsils and appendix were considered to be vestigial since scientists could not determine their function. My tonsils were removed when I was nine.
We should also see the development of new organs and features arising through mutation that are not fully functional or perhaps with no function, although Natural Selection dictates that these should be removed on fairly short order. In fact we do not see this at all. Have you heard of anyone, ever, that was born with a new organ? Perhaps X-ray vision? Yet we have many functioning organs. Where is the evidence of new creation? Instead of becoming more evolved, we see the evidence of a fallen creation. Humans born with genetic mutations. Cows born with five legs. A scrambling of the existing DNA information. Sadly, when we see humans born without organs it is not due to Natural Selections removal of vestiges, but from a problem that usually results in the death of the baby. This is not a creative process. Where are all the millions of “good” mutations we would need to go from goo, to you?
For the last hundred years or so, the list of organs and features thought to be vestigial by scientists has gone from over one hundred, down to a small handful. They have been removed from the list as science has determined their function. But for many years organs thought to be useless were removed through surgery, as were my tonsils. The latest news describes parts of DNA as vestigial, or “junk DNA,” but even recently this notion has begun to be rethought as scientists learn yet again that things they do not understand may indeed have a purpose. Articles appearing in Science News during early 2005 showed plants genetically modified by scientists returning to their original state in several generations! Could it be once again that parts of DNA we do not understand are not junk at all but designed? Contemplate for a moment how evolution can even begin to explain the vast amounts of information in DNA. Add to that question how DNA could “fix itself” over multiple generations? How would Natural Selection account for a feature that manifests generationally?
How many times will we have to wade through the arrogant evolutionary position that things we do not understand are junk? How many times should scientists be proven wrong before they stop looking at the world this way? How many times has this view stopped the progress of science?
If we look at the other position, science with a Creation framework, how may we envision a scientist with creation or design viewpoint examining an organ with no apparent function? Perhaps in the same way I approach working on my car. When I discover a part I do not recognize, I know that it has been designed and I must determine the purpose of the part if I want the car to work properly. Have you ever finished building a piece of “ready to assemble” furniture and wound up with extra bits? My first reaction is concern. I know they were probably included for a reason. I could simply throw them away, but I would always have that nagging doubt when I sat down in my newly-assembled rolling office chair that the wheels could just pop right off or the whole thing could collapse. When starting with the concept of design, we are led to look for function and purpose.
When we ask which scientist will find the function of a mysterious organ first, the one that cuts out organs they don’t understand and throws them away, or the one that continues to search for a reason based on design, the question answers itself. I know which I will go to when I have a headache. A hundred years of vestigial organ teaching has done little to further the pursuits of science. Even evolution based researchers should be looking at design, as they believe in Natural Selection as the ultimate designer substitute. Simply to stay true to their own ideas, they should see the idea of “vestigial organs” as irrational and incompatible with evolution. Natural Selection, “preserves features which are beneficial, and removes those that are not.” Their view of evolution as a natural designer should not leave vestiges, only functional components with a purpose. Creationists also believe in Natural Selection, as it is something we can easily observe in nature and duplicate in a lab. Natural Selection demonstrates God’s amazing design; that DNA allows tremendous variations within a species, allowing adaptation in greatly diverse environments, but never allows a creature to change to another species. Look at the hundreds of varieties of dogs in all shapes and sizes, adapted to many environments, and they are still dogs! Scientist or not, none of us expect a cat to be born from a dog.
For several years, the U.S. Government has offered ten million dollars to anyone that can design a robotic car that can navigate its way along a desert road. After many attempts by the best and brightest, no one has won the money. Our collective intelligence cannot even design a robot that can drive through the desert. Why are we asked to believe that nature can blindly design creatures that can see, hear, navigate, eat, reproduce, and through the variation already in their DNA adapt to new and diverse environments? Natural Selection should really disprove evolution and lead us to a Designer.
Many other “evolutionary tales” have had the same kind of bad impact. Secular geology assumes that the earth can be best understood through “uniformitarian” concepts, that is to say processes that work the same way over a long period of time. It sounds good on the surface, but is this the most logical way to view geology? Is it possible that this view could lead us to inaccurate or erroneous conclusions?
If you see me driving down the freeway at 60mph, is it more logical to assume that I have always been driving 60mph, or that I started from a complete stop in my garage, pulled into the street at about 10mph, drove through the neighborhood at 35mph, then got onto the freeway? It would be a good idea to develop practical science around my driving at 60mph. For instance, what would happen if I crashed into a wall at that speed? But if we used my current rate of speed to determine what time I left the house or how far I had traveled within the last hour, it would be pure guesswork, having lost the scientific basis of logic. If I look at a human at the age of thirty, should I assume that the processes in his or her body have always functioned the same, or is it possible that they worked differently at birth and youth, and will work differently in old age? It is hard to think of anything we know of that we can solidly state that it’s always been the way that it is now. Even the precise atomic clocks used to calibrate our advanced technology need to be regularly adjusted because gravity slows the movement of atoms the closer they are to earth. So why is uniformitarianism the best way to look at geological features?
It is important to understand that the founders of uniformitarian geology had their own religious motivations, “to free the science from Moses.” In their own words they were seeking an alternate worldview that would discount the biblical history of Genesis, hence the old-earth concepts of uniformitarian geology were founded. In days before any type of scientific testing was available, amazing ages of millions of years for rocks and dirt were established with no conclusive scientific reason for doing so, and those opposing God jumped in with both feet. Who is really the one with the religious bias?
The below quote from a geneticist, Professor Richard Lewontin, a world leader in evolutionary biology, makes clear the case that secular science is approached with religious bias.
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.
Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, 9 January 1997.
We can and should discuss religious bias in science, and understand that the current “accepted” views of evolutionary theory and origins have been arrived at due to a bias; the bias of secular humanism, which is design without a designer and a creation without a creator. This is clearly a religious view where people have taken a firm position on God; i.e., that He does not exist. If every single piece of data led to God, those with this position would continue looking for a naturalistic explanation for, “we cannot let a divine foot in the door.”
If we want to examine and understand geological processes as they occur today, we can use uniformitarian assumptions to create scientific models for processes and theories like rates of plate movement, but it is obvious we cannot transfer this as a historical “proof” that it has always been this way. You were not there to see it happen; I was not there to see it happen, and geological features don’t have a date stamp or users manual. If there are multiple ways to interpret the data, then they should all be reviewed, we cannot simply insist on a naturalistic explanation because we do not want to believe in God.
As Christians we should be able to provide answers in this area and not be so quick to cave in or compromise. Using an evolutionary framework or a creation framework to investigate science will both continue to yield results over time, in the case of an evolutionary framework we can see that it takes longer. As to the question of which framework will hold back the progress of science, the answer is clear: the illogical conclusions drawn by an evolutionary framework have and will continue to hold back the honest pursuits of science. It is simply most logical to assume that teaching creation and design theory in schools is more likely to advance science. Let’s see this debate for what it is: not a debate between “science and religion,” but a scientific debate between two religions; secular humanism and Christianity.