Creation vs. Evolution reply turned post
In reply to a comment on this blog [http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/wendy-wright-schools-richard-dawkins/#comment-61193]; posted here, because it’s too long to post there.
I’m glad you accept that the discussion is philosophical; most people assume that evolution = science and creation = religion (or philosophy), and this sets up a false dichotomy that arguing against evolution is arguing against established science and against facts, when the reality is that arguing for or against evolution (or creation) is arguing philosophy and worldview. Your response to my example of the impossibility of the solar system forming the way evolutionists claim it happened demonstrates this perfectly: you said that just because science can’t answer it *now* doesn’t necessarily mean it will never be able to answer it, thus their lack of a good mechanism is not necessarily a proof of creation.
[Again, let me point out that your appeal to future discoveries in favor of evolution and naturalistic origins is precisely the same thing that I ask in favor of creation and supernatural origins, in the matter of distant starlight. If you do not discard evolutionary hypothesis out of hand because it has no naturalistic answer for how one planet rotates backward and another on its side, etc., etc., then you cannot logically and consistently discard creationist hypothesis out of hand because it hasn’t figured out precisely the distant starlight problem.]
But back to the original point, you appeal to the evolutionary god of the gaps, and maintain that it *could* have happened this way, even if we don’t know exactly how it worked. I trust that you will likewise admit that the universe *could* have come about by supernatural forces, even if we don’t know exactly how it worked. So in one sense, there is no purely scientific argument for (or against) either creation or evolution, since every roadblock that appears can be waved away by the proponents by appealing to future knowledge settling the question, or, “We don’t know how it happened, but God/evolution must have done it somehow.”
What we are doing is indeed arguing more philosophically than scientifically, but both are using science to back up our arguments. Still, the argument is primarily one about what happened in the past. Science deals with the present — things you can observe, test, experiment upon, touch, etc. We can’t observe the past, only the present relics of past events.
For example, we can’t go back in time to prove that Abe Lincoln lived and was President; we must trust the testimony of people who lived during that time, and accept that they were telling the truth. It would be a grand delusion indeed to refuse to believe in Abe Lincoln, just because we were not there to observe it, since there is so much evidence of his existence, both within the United States and outside of it. One would have to dismiss as forgeries all newspapers printed at that time which mentioned Pres. Lincoln, for example. But there is no scientific way to prove he existed — digging up the bones in his grave only tells that someone is buried there; DNA could possibly show several things about the body; examining the body could even demonstrate that the person buried there was shot in the same way that Lincoln was supposedly shot; people who claim to be Lincoln descendants could come forward for DNA comparison and prove that they were indeed the descendants of the body buried in the grave. Yet that is not science and not proof. I could conceivably knock down all these “proofs”, one by one, by saying that the purported Lincoln descendants are just perpetrating the same fraud; that they buried their great-grandfather in the grave marked as Lincoln’s, so that they could be proved descendants of the body, etc., etc. Nobody would take me seriously, of course, but it’s an analogy to demonstrate a point.
Continuing to use that analogy to demonstrate a further point, I will point out that though all the above scientific ways to “prove” Lincoln’s existence are not truly scientific “proofs”, but they would certainly be used as proof, evidence, and/or circumstantial evidence in a court of law. We would call it “corroborating evidence”, and that’s good enough for most people. So, while one individual claim could be knocked down (by claiming fraud or lying), that argument wears a bit thin when looking at the *entirety* of the evidence for the existence of Pres. Abe Lincoln.
In like manner, I want you to consider the *entirety* of the evidence that could be brought for evolution and for creation. Admitting that it is a philosophical question, we see that most lines of “evidence” could be interpreted as corroborating either creation or evolution depending on how you look at it. For example, evolutionists look at the fact that all living things use the same DNA coding, and say, “Aha! evidence of common descent!” Creationists look at the same thing and say, “Aha! evidence of common design!” As such, DNA coding similarities are *not* necessarily proof for either creation or evolution.
Instead, we’d have to look at everything and say, “Is what we see *consistent with* creation or evolution?” If it fits both (as in the above example), we could place it in both, or in neither/neutral columns. As such, there are ***numerous*** examples of things that either oppose evolutionary theory outright (and by that, I include the origin of the entire universe, including the formation of galaxies and the solar system, as well as the appearance of life out of non-life), or are otherwise inconsistent with what evolutionary theory teaches. [Here is a list of 101 such things — http://creation.com/age-of-the-earth — I don’t expect you to read them all, but I hope you could look through the list to find one or two that are more interesting to you.]
On the other hand, if the Bible is true, then there are certain things in today’s world that we can test. Genesis records that God created the world and all that is in it in 6 days; that He created out of the dirt a man (named “Adam”, from dirt or earth), and from the man’s side a woman; he also created different animals that were to reproduce “after their kind”. In the paradise, the humans were forbidden only one thing, to eat the forbidden fruit; when they ate, sin came upon humans, and they were cast out of the paradise of Eden. Generations later, humans had become very evil so that God determined to destroy the world and start over; there was only one righteous person who found mercy, and he with his wife and three sons and their wives were saved alive. God sent a flood, but provided a way of escape — a large boat big enough for the humans and all the land animals; all other humans and land animals died. After the Flood, while still on the boat, Noah sent out birds to see if the land was dry enough, and eventually it was. Then, God established the rainbow as a covenant sign of His promise never to destroy the world by water again. A few generations later, the humans again disobeyed God, this time at the Tower of Babel, where God punished them by confusing their languages. The people split apart, to populate the entire earth, and not just a small portion of it.
From that short version, what can we test? First, we would expect all humans to be closely related, and this is true. We would expect to see about 3 main Y chromosome lineages and about 3 main mitochondrial DNA lineages (Noah’s sons and their wives), and this is what we find. We would expect to find that people dispersed along the male lineages, so that the same Y chromosomes would mostly be grouped together, while the female lineages would be mixed up, and this is what we find. We would expect not to be able to trace all the languages back to one single language, and so far this is true. There are language families, but no apparent bridges between the families — and this is consistent with God confusing the languages along the male lineages. In Genesis is a so-called “Table of Nations” which records where some of the grandsons and great-grandsons of Noah settled, and we see evidence of cities, countries, areas, rivers, mountains, etc. with the same names as those recorded in the Bible, and the names belonging in the place where the Bible says they should be. We would also expect animals to be unable to reproduce outside of their kind; and this also we see.
Second, is it consistent with recorded secular history? The answer is yes. [Of course, not every record can be tested against the Bible, and some records could be fraudulent; but like the Lincoln example above with the newspaper accounts, to throw out the Bible would have to declare as fraudulent a mass of human records.] I recently read the book “After the Flood”; the author looks at ancient records from various European peoples, and demonstrates that the ruling houses of Europe traced their lineages back to Noah’s son Japheth. The Irish even have a creation and flood account consistent with the Biblical account (well before any Christian missionaries were there), and even consistent with the timing recorded in the Bible (based on the patriarchs’ ages). Many people groups scattered all over the world have creation and/or flood legends that are too remarkably similar to the account in the Bible for it to be happenstance — some including one or more of the “side details” I included above, like the serpent, forbidden fruit, the rainbow, 8 people, a dove being released, etc.
So you see, there is a tremendous weight of historical evidence in favor of the Bible [and I haven’t even touched on the later history of Israel], which is akin to newspaper articles affirming Lincoln’s existence. So, when I say that the distant starlight question doesn’t bother me, because the Bible has proven to be so accurate in the things that it *can* be tested on, I’m not talking about some sort of ethereal hope that there might possibly be some sort of Deity out there, but real, hard facts, and testable evidence. And when I say that the distant starlight question is the only thorny issue that seems to be in favor of evolution, you have to realize that there is a whole long list of very “thorny issues” that plague evolutionists (see the previous “101” article, though there are certainly even more).
Finally, you may be surprised to read some admissions by evolutionists, such as this one which says that evolutionists believe in naturalism not because the evidence demands it, but because they refuse to allow the possibility of a Divine Being [http://creation.com/amazing-admission-lewontin-quote]. Or perhaps of former atheist Fred Hoyle [http://creation.com/big-bang-critic-dies-fred-hoyle]: “But eventually he realised that even this would be woefully inadequate as a materialistic explanation of life’s origin. In his 1981 book Evolution from Space (co-authored with Chandra Wickramasinghe), he calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 1040,000 (one followed by 40,000 zeroes). Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (1080), even a whole universe full of primordial soup wouldn’t have a chance.”
So it’s admissions and calculations like that (and if I wanted to spend more time, I’m sure I could find others, from current or former atheists) that are probably the best fit of evidence or proof of the necessity of some form of Intelligent Design. The possibility of even the bare minimum of a life form evolving is statistically zero. Even taking the false Big Bang theory as true, I could point to “fine tuning” that allows our universe to exist as it does — such “fine tuning” that is extremely difficult if not impossible to account for using solely naturalistic explanations. In fact, some reputable scientists have tried to solve this particularly difficult and thorny question by proposing the existence of many, even of an infinite number of, universes (though we cannot observe them by any methods, so this explanation is not possibly science and is at least as faith-based as any creation or intelligent design scheme could presume), then saying that even though the statistical likelihood of this universe existing as it does is statistically zero, given an infinite number of universes, one of them was bound to come up lucky, and since we are living in that “lucky” universe, that’s how we can observe it. Yet they mock Christians for believing the Bible, that has so much evidence for it!