May 19, 2004

God and Evolution

Michael Williams goes to bat against evolution, pointing out that “belief in evolution is based on faith.” I certainly agree that God could have created the universe as it is now, complete with its fossil record. Why He would do that, just to confuse us, I don’t know, but it’s possible. What’s not possible is that evolution is not ongoing from this point on – unless you subscribe to the belief that God recreates the world at every moment – our false memories and all – which, I think, is position of Islam.

However, those who try to disprove evolution usually have a secret agenda. They falsely think that belief in evolution is incompatible with the belief that God created the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Did God part the Red Sea? Not according to the anti-evolutionists – the Red Sea was parted by a strong east wind!

Posted by David Boxenhorn at May 19, 2004 04:10 PM
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I have no problem with micro-evolution, where a single species may adapt and even differentiate slightly (just look at people to see how much variation is possible within a single species). But the idea of macro-evolution, where one species evolves into another by random mutation is simply ludicrous and statistically untenable.

Posted by: Scott at May 19, 2004 04:20 PM Permalink

Where does micro end and macro begin? There are many, many examples of cases where it's hard to say.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 19, 2004 05:11 PM Permalink

If you have any, I'd like to hear about them.

Posted by: Scott at May 19, 2004 05:27 PM Permalink

Here are four:

Of the 27 species previously dropped from the endangered species list (four more since Edwards’ statement), USFWS notes scientific revision as the primary reason for delisting the Mexican duck, the purple-spined hedgehog cactus, the spineless hedgehog cactus, and the Bidens cuneate.
Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 19, 2004 06:10 PM Permalink

Not sure how that muddles the distinction between the two. As I noted, looking just at people, there is remarkable variation within just one species (skin color, height, hair, and numerous other characteristics). Or dogs. Or horses. An alien coming to earth for the first time might mistake many people as being different species. When Darwin noted the variation among finches, he wasn't identifying anything more than normal differentiation from the different populations being isolated over long periods of time. WE might called them different subspecies, but that's just our our own desire to classify and differentiate. They can interbreed, the variation was always in the genome, and if the different populations were to be brought together, the distinctions would disappears within a few generations.

You should read some of the well-known critiques of macro-evolution, like "Not by Chance!" by Lee Spetner, who argues from a statistical and mathematical perspective and points out that many of the classic mutations (like for bacteria acquiring immunity against antibiotics) actually REMOVE information from the genome. Great reading. Others that I haven't read include "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis" and "Darwin's Black Box." Admittedly, these are all written for the layperson, but they make many, many good points and raise so many questions you have to conclude that evolution is a theory, and a hotly debated one at that, and not scientific writ as many people insist on treating it.

Posted by: Scott at May 19, 2004 06:24 PM Permalink

Darwin himself raises these questions, and gives very good answers (without even knowing about the existence of genes, by the way).

These are the questions he raises:

These difficulties and objections may be classed under the following heads:-Firstly, why, if species have descended from other species by insensibly fine gradations, do we not everywhere see innumerable transitional forms? Why is not all nature in confusion instead of the species being, as we see them, well defined?

Secondly, is it possible that an animal having, for instance, the structure and habits of a bat, could have been formed by the modification of some animal with wholly different habits? Can we believe that natural selection could produce, on the one hand, organs of trifling importance, such as the tail of a giraffe, which serves as a fly-flapper, and, on the other hand, organs of such wonderful structure, as the eye, of which we hardly as yet fully understand the inimitable perfection?

Thirdly, can instincts be acquired and modified through natural selection? What shall we say to so marvellous an instinct as that which leads the bee to make cells, which have practically anticipated the discoveries of profound mathematicians?

Fourthly, how can we account for species, when crossed, being sterile and producing sterile offspring, whereas, when varieties are crossed, their fertility is unimpaired?

I refer you to Origin of Species for the answers, in particular chapter 6

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 19, 2004 07:50 PM Permalink

Thanks for the link.

I didn't "go to bat against evolution" per se, but my general point is that, yes, believing in evolution is a decision of faith. What's amusing to me is that some people are so in love with the idea of having no faith whatsoever that the resist this notion.

As if they went and did the research themselves, and weren't putting faith, at least, in other human scientists.

Posted by: Michael Williams at May 25, 2004 03:24 AM Permalink


This brings us to the most important question.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at May 25, 2004 12:20 PM Permalink

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