Thursday, June 25, 2015

The theory that falls flat . . .

Oh boy.  Here we go. 

If you have been a follower of Jesus for any length of time, you have come upon the problem of the Bible’s account of creation and the theory of evolution.  For some it can cause some serious problems but I don't think it has to.  

I hope this blog article will help you to clear up a few ideas.  There are a couple simple truths about each side that may help you see your faith more clearly.

In a nutshell:

The account of creation is not scientific – and that actually is good.

The theory of evolution does not explain our origins – and that is good as well.

Let's take a look at Creation first:

The book of Genesis gets a raw deal.  It gets compared to the latest discoveries of science and is portrayed by some as ancient mythology.  Genesis is neither a myth or science.

The first couple chapters of Genesis were inspired by God but written by people who had a completely different worldview than we do now.  If the Bible were written today it would most likely have invoked scientific language (hot gasses, matter, molecules etc.).  But it wasn’t written last week.  They didn’t think in terms of science because science didn’t come about until about 1500 AD.   The material for Genesis begins thousands of years before science.  

The ancient people of Sumer, Egypt and Babylon had sky gods, moon gods and water gods.  Everything was a god or goddess. So the opening chapters of the Bible focused on correcting this error.   In Genesis 1 we find a God working solo, introducing the idea that there is only one God, Lord over everything.  The idea was revolutionary for its day.  Genesis 1 and 2 are quite clear:  There are no sky gods, water gods and earth goddesses - there is just one God and He made everything good.   End of story.

So we have an account of something that happened at the beginning that has been preserved for us and passed on to us that is presented in ancient terms because it was passed on from ancient times.  If it didn’t have ancient elements to it, it would be a fake.  You can’t fault it for being authentic.

So it is no surprise that it doesn’t speak the language of science – but that shouldn’t surprise us.  In fact, it should help authenticate it as real.  

Now we might find echoes of what we are discovering in astrophysics . . .

·      Perhaps the great expansion that we call the ‘big bang’ was God speaking at first creation saying, ‘let there be.’
·      The most recent astrophysics talks about a plasma-like state before light flooded the universe (Genesis pictures primordial water before God creates light).

Maybe . . . but we shouldn’t go looking for connections to science in an account that wasn’t thinking scientifically.

The thing we have to remember is that scientific proof isn't always the most important thing in people's minds.  We live in a time in which it is very important.  When the Bible was written, the biggest question wasn't 'is there a god?' but rather 'which God should I be paying attention to?"

Remember that when you read Genesis and it may help you understand that God doesn't feel the need to prove Himself in chapter 1.  I kind of admire that about Him.  You can choose what you want to believe but it seems like God is okay with us getting to know Him before we start looking for proof.

So where does that leave evolution . . .

As a very simplistic recap of the idea, evolution needs the following elements:

·      (1.) Huge periods of time (millions of years).
·      (2.) Biological diversity (genes that can vary or mutate).
·      (3.) Competition (environments supporting natural selection).
·      (4.) Reward (biological advantage over other animals that pass on genes).

So it goes like this . . . (again – majorly simplified for argument’s sake)

Two animals have kids.  Among the kids, one of them has (2.) a specific biological variation or mutation that gives it an advantage over other animals.  It might be faster (to elude prey), taller (to get more leaves on the trees) or what have you.  That advantage means they are able to (3.) Compete well and get more food than other animals.  This translates into (4.) reward by allowing it to live and pass on those genes to the next generation.  Over (1.) Millions of years, this means faster or taller animals become the norm.

And Voila!  Evolution.


This does a great job describing diversity, but how does that explain our origins?  Darwin wrote The Origin of The Species - not How Giraffes got Long Necks.  It might show how things change over time to a specific organism (which we see) but it doesn’t explain how something went from a jellyfish to a human.  This is the problem.

Michael Behe – biologist at Lehigh University wrote a book (to see the book on Amazon, click here)  saying that we have a real problem with the theory of evolution as an explanation for our origins because it breaks down in the process.  The problem is with the reward part.
So imagine you had an animal with no eyes.  How does it eventually get eyes?  Remember, part of the process of evolution is a specific advantage over other organisms.  This is how it survives better and passes on genes more than the other organisms.  You would have to give birth to an offspring with fully formed eyes for it to have an advantage over its blind brothers and sisters.  That is what gives it an advantage to pass on its genes to the next generation.  Fully formed eyes.  Fully formed eye sockets.  Fully formed optic nerve.  Fully formed vision center within the brain.  That is about 10,000 perfect and miraculously timed mutations in one generation that allow this animal to see.

But that is not how evolution works – and that is Behe’s point.

Evolution works over time- gradually.  It is a random process that is not guided by anything other than the environment that favors one trait over another.  

So the way evolution would work with developing eyes would have to be step-like.  One generation has a weird mutation of an eye socket but no eye.  The next generation has the random mutation of the eyeball and the socket.  Then the next generation has a retina, socket and eyeball.  Then the next generation has a pupil, retina, socket and eyeball.  The next generation has a fovea, retina, socket and eyeball and so on.

Do you begin to see the problem?  Each generation needs an amazing and miraculously placed random mutation that builds on the generation preceding it . . .

but . . .

(and here is the crazy part)

 without any advantage over its brothers and sisters.  Each one of those generations is blind - no better off than the other animals who have no eyes.

That is not how evolution works. 

You would have to have 10,000 generations of perfectly placed mutations for it eventually to lead to sight hundreds of thousands of years later in order to have any advantage over the other animals.

And that is just seeing.  Can you imagine what process was involved in develop our immune system?  Skin?  Vascular system?  Brain?

Perhaps God used evolutionary processes (I’m not a big fan for other scientific reasons) but it is clear that as a random process evolution hits a big snag in explaining anything at this point.

So again – the Bible has its limitations in explaining things scientifically but evolution has its limitations in trying to explain our origins without the help of a designer.  Both fields need some humility in the way that they present their view.  In fact, maybe they could work together and figure out how God orchestrated the whole thing.

But that might be too much to ask!

So the next time someone tells you that the Genesis account is a story and evolution is a fact, you might want to ask them how they think the ‘facts’ work out.  Google Michael Behe and find out what problems there are with a theory that claims to explain our origins but falls pretty flat.

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