Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Is Evolution Evil?

This is from a debate that I had with a creationist who gave six reasons why evolution is evil.

> The "basic axiom" that the evolutionsts neglected to mention:
> Modern science is about the _verification_ of theories
> using observation and experiment, not conjecture and
> "imaginative reconstruction." The Darwinian philosophy
> that violates the philosophical first premises of
> "science:"
> 1] Darwin's theory of evolution "falsifies" teleology.

Not really. Teleology is about purpose. The purpose of Darwinian evolution is to make populations or organisms more well adapted to the environment over time.

Besides, that is a philosophical as opposed to a scientific criticism.

> 2] Darwin introduced historicity into science. Darwinian
> biology, in contrast to physics and chemistry, is a
> historical science - the Darwinian evolutionist attempts
> to explain events and processes that have long, long
> since taken place.


Geology preceded evolution so evolution hardly "introduced" historicity into science.

Even much of astronomy could be considered to be "historicity". When we look at a star a million light years from Earth, we are seeing what it looked like a million years ago.

> 2] Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques
> for the explication of historical biological events
> and processes. Instead one constructs a historical
> narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction
> of the particular scenario that led to the events
> one is trying to explain. Laws give way to concepts
> in Darwinism. In the physical sciences theories are
> based on laws; for example, the laws of motion led
> to the theory of gravitation. In Darwinian biology,
> theories are based on concepts. These biological
> concepts, and the theories based on them, cannot be
> reduced to the laws and theories of the physical
> sciences. Observation, comparison and classification
> became the methods of evolutionary biology, not
> experimentation.

Nothing in biology is subject to the sorts of "laws" found in the physical sciences.

Even if we know the exact moment that a baby is conceived, it is impossible to calculate the exact
moment of birth.

We cannot calculate precisely how many cigarettes someone must smoke in order to develop lung cancer.

We can, on the other hand, calculate the exact time and location of the next solar eclipse.

If you are criticizing evolution for not developing "laws" then you must disqualify everything else in all of the biological sciences as well.

> 3] Darwin's theory of evolution is impervious to
> Popperian falsification.

Of course not!

Darwinian evolution would be falsified if a mammalian fossil was found in pre-cambrian rocks.

The talkorigins web site list about 100 different things which, if found, would falsify evolution.

> 4] Darwin's theory of common descent deprived man of
> his former unique position.

Just as heliocentrism deprived man of the view that he lived on a unique and "special" planet.

We seem to have adapted...

> 5] Darwin's theory of evolution is a "scientific
> foundation" for ethics.

In a positive or negative way?

Some people feel that showing that all life on Earth share a common ancestor gives us an ethical need to care for other life forms on Earth.

That's a good thing.

Besides, surely you can't contend that somehow falsfies evolution!!!

We could have an asteroid heading towards Earth that will destroy all life. If all of us somehow got together and voteed unanimously that the asteroid is morally evil, will it go away do you think?

> 6] Virtually every component in modern man's belief
> system is affected by Darwinian principles.

Some of them are positively affected.

An acceptance of evolution no longer requires a belief in a cruel God.

Here's something that the Scientist/theologian Francisco Ayala wrote:

Christian theology basically recognizes three types of evil: (1) moral evil, (2) pain and suffering, and (3) physical evil. Moral evil, or sin, is the result of free will. Theologians recognize that in order for humans to enter into a truly personal relationship with God, they must experience some degree of freedom. Without sin, there could not be virtue – it is impossible to do good without the capacity for evil. Likewise, pain and suffering are the result of free will. War and other human wrongdoing (like, say, slavery) happen because people chose to inflict harm on one another. However, there are also good deeds whereby people chose to alleviate human pain and suffering.

But what about droughts, floods, hurricanes, and other physical catastrophes? What about cruelty of nature? What about parasites that live only by destroying their hosts, or the carnivore's hunger for flesh, or the venom of a snake, or biological disease? These things are considered physical evils and were a problem for theologians for a long time because, even allowing for the evil associated with free will, there is an awful lot associated with the creation that does not seem to reflect the image of a perfect creator. Enter science. Since the enlightenment, we have known that the way galaxies form, that planets move, and that weather and storms operate are the result of natural processes that have been built into the structure of the world itself. They are not specifically designed by God for punishing or rewarding mankind. Galileo, Newton, and Einstein, therefore, were instrumental in explaining the real cause of physical evils.

In the same way, Darwin explained that predators, parasites, and disease were a consequence of evolution. They were not a result of deficient or malevolent design because these aspects of organisms were not designed by the creator. ...God, in His mercy, had to severely limit His contact with the creation following the fall because, once we became intertwined with sin, the perfect nature of God would have destroyed us on contact. The violence and heartlessness of nature are the result of God's necessary void that was brought about by our fall, not the result of God Himself. Therefore, I thank Darwin for his gift to science and religion.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More Evidence that even Creationists believe in Creationism

I like to visit creationist web sites. They're always good for a laugh.

I found this interesting tidbit today at

"One of the most intriguing facts in the Bible is the immense life spans of the patriarchs before and just after the flood. Adam lived 930 years, Methuselah the longest lived of the patriarchs lived 969 years. Noah lived 950 years. Many scoffers state that these extended life spans are nothing more than myths and legends. "

OOh, ooh...put me on that list! I'm a scoffer.

"They state that the figures given for the various ages of the patriarchs are fabricated.

"There are many factors that could account for the lowering of the life spans after the flood. The Bible states that the flood would not only destroy the land dwelling air breathing animals but it would also destroy the earth (Genesis 6:13; 9:11).

"After the flood the earth was completely different than the earth before. There were widespread global differences. These would include changes in the climate, composition of the atmosphere, hydrologic cycle, geologic features, cosmic radiation reaching the earth, ozone concentration, ultra violet light, background radiation, genetics, diet, and a host of other subtle and/or profound chemical and physiological changes. These changes caused a rapid decline of the longevity of post flood humanity. "


I've seen many creationists say similar things.

Do creationists really believe claims such as this?

Absolutely NOT!

Actions speak louder than words.

**IF** changes to the environment would allow peopleto live ten times longer than they do now, we should be investing millions and millions of dollars in medical research to find out what those factors are!!!

Millions of dollars are invested now in research that might allow a small percentage of people suffering from a specific disease to live an additional few years or so.

Imagine the funding that would be available to study something that might allow ALL people to live for additional centuries!!!

The funding that would be available would approach the US national debt.

This article cites many possible factors. Surely there would be money available to study ALL of them and even more.
Let's pick one. Let's say that cosmic radiation is diminishing how long people live.

It would be trivially easy to devise an experiment where people's homes and offices were designed to remove cosmic radiation. Then we could study the effects on how long people who lived in those conditions lived compared to people who lived as they do now.

It could be the case that this is NOT the factor. Even if it is, people would still go outside (to play golf for example) and so the complete effect might not be present.

That raises two points:

1. We won't know for sure until we run the tests.

2. Even if the effect only adds a few decades to people's lives (rather than centuries) that would still justify the research many times over.

**IF** creationists really and truly and honestly believed in such things, they should be rushing to fund medical research .

So how much research into such things are creationists doing?





There is only ONE possible explanation for that.

That explanation:

Even creationists don't really believe in creationism.

They say these things, but they don't really believe in any of it.

Creationists are obviously smarter than they let on. These long lives listed in the Bible are complete "myths and legends".

Even creationists secretly know that.

Their actions clearly tell us that even if their words don't.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Even Creationists don’t use Intelligent Design Techniques

Here’s something written by Jonathan Sarfati from the Discovery Institute (the primary mouthpiece for the Intelligent Design movement)[1]:


As pointed out in previous chapters, "Teaching about Evolution" frequently dismisses creation as "unscientific" and "religious." Creationists frequently point out that creation occurred in the past, so cannot be directly observed by experimental science - and that the same is true of large-scale evolution. But evolution or creation might conceivably have left some effects that can be observed. This chapter discusses the criteria that are used in everyday life to determine whether something has been designed, and applies them the living world. The final section discusses whether design is a legitimate explanation for life's complexity or whether naturalistic causes should be invoked a priori.


People detect intelligent design all the time. For example, if we find arrowheads on a desert island, we can assume they were made by someone, even if we cannot see the designer.

“There is an obvious difference between writing by an intelligent person, e.g. Shakespeare's plays, and arandom letter sequence like WDLMNLTDTJBKWIRZREZLMQCOP. There is also an obvious difference between Shakespeare and a repetitive sequence like ABCDABCDABCD. The latter is an example of order, which must be distinguished from Shakespeare, which is an example of specified complexity.

“We can also tell the difference between messages written in sand and the results of wave and wind action. The carved heads of the U.S. presidents on Mt. Rushmore are clearly different from erosional features. Again, this is specified complexity. Erosion produces either irregular shapes or highly ordered shapes like sand dunes, but not presidents' heads or writing.”

However I also found this at the Answers in Genesis web site[2] on a web page titled “Controversy over ‘early Paleolithic’ stone ‘tools’ in Canada continues”:

“Have you ever wondered about those stone ‘tools’ that evolutionists discover? Sure, some of them are obviously of human origin—even works of art. Others look more questionable.”

Wow! Jonathan Sarfati says that tools (such as arrow heads) can be identified as “Intelligently Designed” by searching for “specified complexity”. Answers in Genesis talks about a controversy over whether or not some stone tools were intelligently designed. AIG and the DI are allies in suggesting that intelligent design can be found in nature.

It sounds like a perfect fit!

Surely the Answers in Genesis web page promotes the use of some of the techniques advocated by the ID people, right?

Shockingly, the answer is NO!

AIG doesn’t talk about either specificity or complexity. They completely ignore anything that Sarfati talks about.
What possible explanation is there?

Obviously ID is simply a ruse. It has absolutely NO practical value. The only conceivable explanation for AIG utterly ignoring everything that the DI talks about is that ID is simply a political movement intended to allow creationism to be taught in schools.

[1], referenced on July 23, 2009
[2], referenced on July 23, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ten Plagues of Egypt

A recent discussion on the Passover raised a question in my mind.

Before God killed the first born children, he sent nine other plagues. to Egypt .

1. Water turned to blood
2. Frogs
3. Gnats
4. Wild animals capable of harming people and livestock
5. Pestilence (diseases which exterminated the Eagyptian horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep and goats).
6. Incurable boils
7. Hail
8. Locusts
9. Darkness for three days that was so thick people could actually feel it.

None of those plagues achieved the goal of getting the Israelite slaves freed so that they could leave Egypt.

Then with the tenth plague - the killing of the firstof each Egyptian family - that the goal was finallyachieved.

The question is that since God can see into the future,why bring the first nine plagues?

God MUST have known that they weren't going to accomplish anything. So why bring them in the first place?

Most of them cause some amount of pain and suffering to humans or animals. Yet God should have known that there was absolutely no point to having them take place.

Clearly God was saying to Himself, "This isn't going to accomplish anything but I'm going to bring another plague just so people can suffer".

So is God cruel? Incompetent? Or both?

There are no other alternatives.

Of course if you accept the obvious answer - none of this really happened - God can be perfect again.

Even the tenth plague - the one that go the slaves released - is very questionable in terms of moral values. Many of the first born victims were, undoubtedly, young innocent children. Surely there were better alternatives than killing them. One such alternative would be puttingthe children into a coma until the slaves were released and had safely acrossed the Red Sea. At that point the children could have been awakened.

So even with that plague, God is cruel, not very competent or both - **IF** you believe in that the Biblical story is accurate.

I don't expect any creationists to answer this question.After all there are no answers.

But I do wonder why they don't ask themselves such questions.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why Creationism is False Even Though it is not Falsifiable

This is from a debate with a creationist.

> The basic idea in creationism is that life was created,
> an idea which is falsifiable as you require of a
> scientific idea yet you say creationism is not
> scientific.


What specific scientific discovery could be made today that would falsify Biblical creationism?

Example for evolution: a mammalian fossil found in Precambrian rock.

For all I know, as I write this a paleontologist could be digging up a Precambrian rock containing such a fossil.

Where is your specific example that could be made today that would falsify Biblical creationism?

> Above you say that creationism is a false idea...

Of course it is!

Unless you would prefer the alternative explanation: a deceptive God.

> ...indicating that you agree that it is not only
> falsifiable but that it has been falsified...

It's more that evolution has been so well confirmed that all other alternatives can be discarded.

Let me use my favorite analogy again.

Many centuries ago, eclipses (both lunar and solar) were thought to be supernatural messages from the gods indicating an impending significant historical event. For example the death of the Biblical King Herod was preceded by a lunar eclipse.

That idea that eclipses are messages portending a significant event is not really a falsifiable hypothesis. When an eclipse happens, you'll pretty much always find something that can be called "significant" occurring somewhere on Earth, especially when no time frame is given for that event.

Yet you could call the idea that eclipses are messages from the gods of impending events to be false. I don't know of anyone who still believes that.

So what happened?

Why is an idea that can't be falsified ultimately considered to be false by all rational people?

What happened is that an alternative naturalistic explanation was discovered. That naturalistic explanation made PREDICTIONS. Each prediction was falsifiable and therefore the naturalistic explanation was falsifiable. As that naturalistic explanation passed test after test after test, people naturally became more and more confident that the naturalistic explanation was the most valid explanation. Eventually the old idea of supernatural warnings was considered false by everyone even though it wasn't really directly falsifiable.

Such it is with evolution and creationism. Evolution has passed potentially falsifiable test afterpotentially falsifiable test for 150 years. So all rational people consider it to be valid. That means that all competing theories are necessarily false.

Those competing theories that are necessarily false include Biblical creationism.

But that doesn't mean that Biblical creationism is falsifiable as with a real scientific hypothesis.

> ...but of course you can provide no data or
> experimental evidence to this.

In fact there is NO scientific evidence supporting creationism.

That complete lack of evidence, by itself, would convince rational people that creationism is false.

Another one of my favorite examples: finding an out-of-place fossil (such as a kangaroo or a New Worldmonkey) around Mt. Ararat in Turkey would be compelling evidence in favor of the flood account in the Bible. Conditions immediately after the flood - with all of the probable mud slides, tide pools, etc. - would have been ideal for fossilization. Since specimens of all animals were [supposedly] located there immediately after the flood, it would seem to be a strong possibility that such a fossil might be found in that area.

The fact that no such fossil has been found does not immediately falsify creationism, but it means that one opportunity for supporting evidence to be found has been missed.

Eventually when opportunity after opportunity after opportunity for confirming evidence is missed, rational people become skeptical even though any particular failed opportunity doesn't falsify it.

I'm watching a golf tournament as I write this. A comparable example would be someone who said that they were a good golfer. You take them out once and they don't play well. They might say that they had a sore back.Then you take then out again and they play badly and they make some other complaint. While each event by itself doesn't necessarily falsify the claim, eventually any rational person would say - this hypothesis is false. The person who says that he is a good golfer is lying.

Such it is with creationism. There is NO supporting evidence for it despite the fact that there are many opportunities for such evidence. At some point all rational people stop believing in creationism because it has NEVER met a single opportunity for positive supporting evidence.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The God of the Creationists is cruel

This is from a recent debate that I had with a creationist named "Wesley".

>>> Wesley:
>>> believe in a creative God, an all powerful God, and
>>> a just, but merciful God.

>> Me:
>> Then you are logically forced to believe in evolution.
>> Creationism is logically incompatible with a God who
>> is not deceptive.

>> Creationism also demands a God who is cruel and not very
>> competent.

>> It's the sort of logical contradiction that one would
>> see if someone was being physically abused by their spours
>> every day but but then said, "My spouse is kind and gentle".

>> **IF** their spouse physically abuses them every day
>> then their spouse is NOT "kind and gentle". That is
>> a logical necessity.

>> Similarly if Biblical creationism is true, then God is
>> cruel, deceptive and not very competent. That is also a
>> logical necessity.

> Wesley:
> Ok, when God first made the world it was perfect,
> no death, no sin. When WE the humans messed it up sin
> entered the world.

Darn. If I've heard that old argument once, I've heardit a thousand times.
It doesn't stand up to any sort of scrutiny.

> God can't be in the presence of sin, he is holy.
> Because of that, after a while the earth became to
> evil for God. He destroyed all that he had made,
> but being a merciful God he spared the only man and
> his family who followed God.


Just one example; more than 60% of all species areparasites. Parasites, more often than not, causepain and suffering in their hosts.

Supposedly these parasites are simply things that micro-evolved from "perfect" living things that lived in the Garden of Eden.


But that is impossible.

Consider my favorite example; the heartworm.

It causes pain and suffering in animals, particularlydogs - who can certainly feel that pain and suffering.
But it is transported from host to host by yet another parasite - a mosquito.

What, even conceptually, was that "perfect" living thingliving in the Garden of Eden that "micro-evolved" into a heartworm?

Such a thing is beyond anyone's imagination.

Therefore it never existed.

There are many, many other examples among the parasitesthat are IMPOSSIBLE to explain.

**IF** "micro-evolution" didn't create these things from life forms in the Garden of Eden and **IF** "macro-evolution" isn't possible then the ONLY possibility left is that God specifically created these parasites to inflict pain and suffering.

Such a being is cruel.

Therefore, if you are a creationist and accept the story of the Garden of Eden but deny "macro-evolution" thenyou are FORCED to accept a cruel God.


> Noah and his family then built an ark God brought to
> them every kind of land animal. They then endured the
> flood...

And then God destroyed all evidence that such a floodhad occurred.

And while killing all humans except for Noah and his family he undoubtedly killed small, innocent children and even unborn babies.

Therefore if the flood account is true, God is cruel AND deceptive.


> ...and after that the ice age.

There is evidence of at least a half-dozen Ice Ages. God created this evidence of additional Ice Ages to fool humans.

Therefore God is deceptive.


> God made a covanent with Abraham, the first but the
> promise of a second covenant in which things would
> change.

God ordered Abraham to bind and nearly sacrifice his own son. Presumably he did so to test Abraham's faith.But God, being all-knowing, already must have known Abraham's faith.

Therefore God is cruel.


> After the endless wars...

During which God ordered the murder and rape of men,womenn and children.

Therefore the God of the Bible is cruel.


> God sent his son Jesus who dies on the cross for us.

That must be a different God than the one in the OT.

> Making ALL people able to have eternal life.

Which is probably a terrible fate that no one could possibly stand.

> He is just and merciful and competent.

Only if you are not a creationist.

If you ARE a creationist, then God is cruel, deceptive and not very competent.

God could have proven evolution to be false by creating a single organism that evolution could not have produced. For example, God could have created a chimera such as a mermaid or a centaur. Humans, in their imaginations, design all sorts of such creatures. Yet evolution could not possibly explain them. Instead God "created" only organisms that CAN be explained by evolution. Therefore God is deceptive.


God over-designed nature. Based on the huge number of extinct fossils, where was originally at least 10X (and probably more like 1000X) redundancy in nature. No competent human engineers need so much redundancy.Therefore God is not very competent.


> Really we have no right to question God because he
> made us...

Maybe not.

But you have the right to use your God-given brain.

Besides we are not questioning God at all!!! We're actually just questioning the Bible.

The Bible and God are different things.

The Bible is a book.

God is a supernatural being.

They are NOT the same thing.

> ...our "logic" is not supperior to God.

Irrelevant comment noted.

Cop out noted.

We, as humans, are merely questioning another productof humans - the Bible.

That is utterly and completely appropriate.

If the obvious conclusion is correct - that a beliefi n a literal Bible is only logical consistent with a God who is cruel, deceptive and not very competent -then anyone who continues to insist that the Bible is literally true is actually promoting an anti-God belief system.

> He made us with logic, and everything else.

Which is all the more reason why we should use it. You are effectively claiming that God gave us this gift - the ability to think logically - but He then demands that we don't use it all of the time.

That, by itself, makes God cruel and deceptive.

> Why God lets things happen I don't know...

Because you don't allow yourself to think and use the logical skills that God gave you.

You would prefer to turn off your brain and mindlessly believe.

> ...but I do know that he has all things in his hands
> and is in control. I trust him with that.

God doesn't have anything to do with it.

The problem is that you mindlessly accept the Bible.

The Bible is a human created book.

You don't even have faith. You're looking for "proof" that God exists through that inerrant Bible. If a real flaw is found with that Bible, do you continue to believe in God?

If not, you don't really have faith.

And you really worship the Bible rather than God.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Challenge to the Religious

At Jerry Coyne describes one of the beliefs of Scientologists. It has to do with Xenu. Only the most highly trained scientologists (presumably including Tom Cruise) are taught these "secrets". It costs more than $100,000 to go through all of the courses needed to get to the point that you learn these things. Note that I am giving them to you for free.

In summary, about 75 million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a "galactic confederacy" that included Earth. The technology in use was similar to what we had in the 1950's in the United States. Xenu was in danger of being deposed, so he devised a plot where billions of people were paralyzed and frozen. Their souls were stolen (using something called an> "electronic ribbon") from their bodies. These souls (which numbered in the hundreds of billions) were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for thirty-six days. This removed their memories and implanted new thoughts. Then the souls were stored in various volcanoes such as those in Hawaii.

It sounds farily bizarre to me.

Here are the challenges posed by Jerry Coyne:

"For the life of me, I can't see how this differs materially — at least in terms of its truth — from the mythology of any other religion. Could somebody please enlighten me? And am I supposed to respect this view? Do you? If you respect the theologies of Catholicism, Judaism, or Islam more, or give their adherents more credibility than you do Scientologists, why?"

I doubt that creationists can answer any of those questions.

Evolution Test

The Web site has an evolution test. I thought that I would copy it here. (Hint - it's hilarious.)

1. Which evolved first, male or female?
2. How many millions of years elapsed between the first male and first female?
3. List at least 9 of the false assumptions made with radioactive dating methods.
4. Why hasn't any extinct creature re-evolved after millions of years?
5. Which came first:
...the eye,
...the eyelid,
...the eyebrow,
...the eye sockets,
...the eye muscles,
...the eye lashes,
...the tear ducts,
...the brain's interpretation of light?
6. How many millions of years between each in question 5?
7. If we all evolved from a common ancestor, why can't all the different species mate with one another and produce fertile offspring?
8. List any of the millions of creatures in just five stages of its evolution showing the progression of a new organ of any kind. When you have done this, you can collect the millions of dollars in rewards offered for proof of evolution!
9. Why is it that the very things that would prove Evolution (transitional forms) are still missing?
10. Explain why something as complex as human life could happen by chance, but something as simple as a coin must have a creator. (Show your math solution.)
11. Why aren't any fossils or coal or oil being formed today?
12. List 50 vestigial or useless organs or appendages in the human body.
13. Why hasn't anyone collected the millions of dollars in rewards for proof of evolution?
14. If life began hundreds of millions of years ago, why is the earth still under populated?
15. Why hasn't evolution duplicated all species on all continents?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monkeys giving birth to humans?

This is from a recent debate I had with a creationist.

>> [Me]
>> One of the things that I firmly believe is that the majority
>> of creationists don't really believe in creationism. Just
>> as this comment demonstrates, many are more than willing to
>> SAY that they have that belief. But they say such things
>> for reasons having nothing to do with with their actual
>> beliefs. A high percentage are influenced by Pascal's
>> Wager. They think that they have nothing to lose by
>> making such comments even if they are being somewhat
>> disingenuous when they do so.

>> Many others are simply ignorant. They believe that
> >evolution literally requires that a monkey gave birth
>> to a fully human baby some time ago. (Those are the
>> same people who ask, "Why don't we see evolution now?")
>> They also consider Biblical creationism to be the only
>> alternative.

> [creationist]
> Congratulations, Randy, I believe you have reached a
> new low in terms of positively stupid and irrelivent [sic]
> comments. ..And NOBODY believes that a monkey gave birth
> to a fully human baby.

Actually I never said that anyone actually believes that a monkey gave birth to a human. I only said that creationists insist that is a necessary requirement for evolution to be true.

I thought that I would show a few examples to support that claim.Here's an example of sarcasm from:

"...Obviously, the birth of a human baby to human parents happens all the time and thus cannot be a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics."

At the web site we see this question from Scott U, a creationist:

"Hey all,

"I have a question that is commonly asked by Christian fundamentalists but I do not know the answer to. I have heard it asked in the form of "if humans evolved from monkeys, why aren't monkey's giving birth to humans today?

"Note the phrase "a common question".

Then at we read this:

"...there would have to be a singular point in time where a member of a species reproduced something that was not a member of that species. Whereas if you abandon the idea of universals altogether, then you don't have to explain how the monkey gave birth to a human; there is no monkey and there is no human.

"Then at\w_id=268663274745179009 the author says:

"I have actually been called stupid for apparently believing that one day a monkey gave birth to a human."

The Internet is filled with people who believe that evolutionary theory is consistent only with a monkey giving birth to a human baby. Here are even more examples:

[After being told repeatedly there was no "first human"]

"I know better than to waste my time with "scientists." In my opinion, evolution teaches a monkey gave birth to the first human, and if this is how you justify its denial, have a good day."

Here are more creationists misstating the theory of evolution:

"Do darwinists realize how foolish they sound when they go on about darwins monkey-theory as if its a fact? i challenge any darwinist that if they just stopped and thought about what there saying and pushing on our kids - monkey's giving birth to humans and the planet forming by accident?!"\=272594410

"Why else is evolution impossable [sic]??Let me bring on the example of Mr Rat evolving into Mr Bat...Its impossable [sic] unless there was a sudden evolutionary jump, say... for instance, the rat just decided to give birth to a bat, or maybe a dinasour [sic] gave birth to a sparrow, or a monkey just happened to give birth a man."

"...I am also grateful to Answers in Genesis, the organization that also helped lead me out of the Darwinist lie. The Dawkins-worshipping atheists are foolish enough to believe that apes gave birth to humans, and the Bible explains their stupidity perfectly as 'the fool said in his heart that there is no God'!! I am a smart Christian..."\ml

"Fortunately I became more rational, but I still didn't like science but I around the time I was twelve I gained a fascination for astronomy and spaceflight. It seemed so exciting and awe-inspiring. Finally I came to the conclusion; against all odds I was going to be an astronaut. Instantly everything changed. I started to love science, mathematics, and technology. I got way better at math and science and entered a new age. A wonderful age, the age of reason. Now in my research (not in school being that I was homeschooled) I often heard "this rock is 3.5 billion years old," or "the universe is estimated to be 13.7 billion years old" I gradually became used to it. I began to unconsciously accept much of modern science. I realized there were magnetic reversals, I realized that there was an Oort cloud, that there were enoughneutrinos to prove the sun was burning by nuclear fusion, and that evolution did not say we came from rocks, then evolved into rats, then to monkeys, then boom a chimp gave birth to a humans. While still a creationist even I began to take only about half of what Kent Hovind said seriously..."

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Short History of the theological conflicts with evolution

In earlier BLOG entries I gave a history of creationism. Though creationism is based on religious beliefs rather than science, it is really intended as a type of science; specifically its purpose is to make people feel comfortable with a literal interpretation of the Bible. This entry gives a perspective on the problems that theologians had with evolution.

It’s a bit of a shame, at least in my view, that so many people reject the concept of evolution. While no polls were conducted way back then, it might very well be the case that more people accepted the idea that populations of organisms changed over time before Darwin than they do now. In other words they believed in evolution at a higher rate than what people believe now.

It’s always been the case among conservative Christians that humans are considered a ‘special case’ and the result of a ‘special creation’. But people saw new dog and cat breeds all of the time and though they didn’t understand a mechanism for it, most accepted the idea that similar things were probably happening in nature as well.

Effectively the average person, even a few years before Darwin, believed:

1. Life was created as just a few ‘created kinds’
2. Life on Earth has changed to be more diverse since then.
3. That process was continuing.

(Ironically many modern creationists embrace effectively the same idea about what happened in the aftermath of the Flood of Noah.)

The point is that the majority of people didn’t find any conflict between their religious beliefs – even those who believed in an inerrant and infallible Bible – and evolution (though that word had not been used in the same sense that Darwin used it).

Darwin’s “The Origin of Species” didn’t talk specifically about human evolution, but neither did it distinguish between humans and other life forms. If you accepted natural selection for “lower” animals, there is no reason not to extrapolate that to humans as well.

Over time people started to see the conflicts. That was particularly the case when Darwin’s book “The Descent of Man” was published in 1871. People, Christians in particular, started to look at their religious beliefs and found two major conflicts.

1. The Bible “clearly” says that the Earth was created just a few thousand years ago and Darwin’s ideas about the mechanism of evolution require much more time than that.

2. There is no room for “original sin” if humans evolved. But the very reason for Jesus coming to Earth was to save us from that sin. If a literal Adam and a literal Eve and a literal Garden of Eden didn’t really exist, how can there be original sin?

One theologian has put the problem like this[1]:

“The starting point for Christianity is not Matthew 1:1, but Genesis 1:1. Tamper with the Book of Genesis and you undermine the very foundation of Christianity. You cannot treat Genesis 1 as a fable or a mere poetic saga without severe implications to the rest of Scripture. The creation account is where God starts His account of history. It is impossible to alter the beginning without impacting the rest of the story ― not to mention the ending. If Genesis 1:1 is not accurate then there’s no way to be certain that the rest of Scripture tells the truth. If the starting point is wrong, then the Bible itself is built on a foundation of falsehood.”

It is worth noting that over the many years since Darwin most Christian congregations have been able to find an accommodation between Christianity and evolution despite these two seemingly insurmountable issues. As I mentioned previously, I was raised as a Methodist. Here is what the Methodist church's highest legislative body said in a resolution passed in 2008[2]:

“We recognize science as a legitimate interpretation of God’s natural world. We affirm the validity of the claims of science in describing the natural world and in determining what is scientific. We preclude science from making authoritative claims about theological issues, and theology from making authoritative claims about scientific issues. We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.” [emphasis added]

Similar official statements have been issued by many other Christian denominations.

Since the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is the largest Christian denomination in the world, their views are the most significant. Multiple popes have expressed support for evolution. As long ago as 1950, Pope Pius XII stated in an official ruling (called an “encyclical”) that “there is no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of faith about man and his vocation”. However the Pope did not actually endorse evolution in 1950. Instead he merely considered evolution to be a “serious hypothesis’.

However, in 1996, Pope John Paul II, in an official letter, said that “evolution is more than a hypothesis”.

Because of the papal support of evolution, you don’t see many creationists in Latin American and other countries whose citizens are largely members of the RCC.

There are still holdouts, of course. But their number is indeed diminishing.

Thank God. (Wait! Can I say “thank God’?)

[1] Dr. John MacArthur, The Battle for the Beginning (W Publishing Group, 2001), p. 44
[2], referenced on July 2, 2009