Friday, January 22, 2016
Touching Base, Part 293
Part 3 -
Should Christians Embrace Evolution?
NOTE: This is one of TWO Touching Base postings this week. Don't forget to also read TB 292, Bethel Update, by Mark Kotchapaw.
The Church must always be willing to deal with important issues, and this is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching in this series is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
This week, our lesson had a simple Big Idea: MACROEVOLUTION SHOULD NOT BE EMBRACED BY CHRISTIANS.
When we ignore evolution in our churches, youth group meetings, and Sunday school classes (or, Christian school classrooms), we do a huge disservice to our ourselves and our students. Many of our science students will go on to university where they will hear the arguments for evolution. Hearing the arguments for the first time from an evolutionist without any defense against it will almost certainly end in disaster.
The theistic evolutionist’s rationale isn’t that hard to understand. They are committed to two basic convictions that they attempt to bring together. First, they are committed to maintaining that God is the Creator in some sense. That is the theistic side. Second, they believe that the neo-Darwinian paradigm is true. That is, they believe that the evidence for evolution is overwhelming.
Q. In your groups, take a minute to discuss some of the possible motivations for trying to bring evolution and Christianity together?
Before you can even begin to answer the question, “Should Christians embrace evolution?", you must first answer the question, “What do you mean by evolution?"
1. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY EVOLUTION?
On some definitions of evolution, I am an evolutionist. On other definitions, I am not an evolutionist. Evolution can have at least six different meanings:
1. Evolution can mean change over time.
2. It can mean change in gene frequency in a population.
3. It can refer to the mechanism of natural selection acting on random mutations.
4. It can mean limited common descent.
5. It can also refer to universal common descent. This is the idea that all of life is related.
6. The Blind Watchmaker Thesis: All organisms have descended from a common ancestor solely through an unguided natural process. This is the textbook definition of evolution.
Q. Why is it important to define what we mean by our terms?
The blind watchmaker theory (also refer to as the Neo-Darwinian synthesis) logically cannot be squared with a Creator of life in any meaningful way.
Either evolution is guided, or it’s unguided. If God guides it, then it's not evolution. If God (an intelligent Being) is guiding and designing the outcome of evolution, then you no longer have Darwinian evolution. You have a form of intelligent design. However, if God doesn't guide it, then it's not theistic. If evolution is unguided, then God has no part in guiding it!
Q. In your groups, take a minute try to articulate why Neo-Darwinian evolution is logically incompatible with a Creator of life? How might the theistic evolutionist try to avoid this dilemma?
Furthermore, if Neo-Darwinian evolution is true, then God is unnecessary in the Creation of life. Wayne Grudem, professor of theology and biblical studies, says,
“To put it in terms of an equation, when atheists assure us that matter + evolution + 0 = all living things, and then theistic evolutionists answer, no, that matter + evolution + God = all living things, it will not take long for unbelievers to conclude that, therefore, God = 0.”
2. WHAT ABOUT SCIENCE?
Is the evidence for macroevolution overwhelming? I do a whole talk on looking at the evidence for evolution offered in the high school textbooks. I break down the evidence for evolution into three broad areas. These include Exaggerated Extrapolations, Egregious Errors, and Equivocal Evidence.
Let’s look at one of the egregious errors that evolutionists use as evidence for macroevolution:
A. Negative evidence against macroevolution
In the late 1800’s, German biologist Ernst Haeckel drew a series of embryos from different animals (e.g. a human, a chicken, a salamander, a fish, etc.). These embryos showed remarkable similarity in their earliest stage. Darwin understood this to be confirming of his theory. The early similarity of the embryos shows that they came from a common ancestor. The problem is that Haeckel faked his drawings. The early embryos don’t actually look similar. The Journal Science wrote a short piece on Haeckel’s embryos. In it, they said, “It looks like it’s turning out to be one of the most famous fakes in biology.”
Q. What are some of the other evidences for evolution that are offered to substantiate the theory?
B. Positive Evidence for intelligent design
One of the hallmarks of intelligent design is specified complexity. It’s the combination of high improbability with the independently-given pattern. The over-3-billion-letters-long DNA molecule is a textbook example of specified information. We know from our uniform and repeated experience that complex specified information (like what we find in computer programs, books, fridge magnets, and the DNA) always comes from an intelligent mind.
Q. Why is it that we recognize intelligence behind the license plate TIM1983 and when fridge magnets spell out “Take out the Trash,” but some fail to see intelligence in a message over 3 billion letters long?
3. WHAT ABOUT THEOLOGY?
Theistic evolutionists almost uniformly deny the existence of Adam and do not see this as a problem. Theistic evolutionist Denis Lamoureux says, “My central conclusion in this book is clear: Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.”
I adamantly disagree! Here are two biblical problems:
1. The consistent testimony of Scripture is that the human race goes back to a historical Adam. The authors of the Bible consistently present genealogies that begin with Adam.
a. Genesis 5 provides a lineage of Adam to Noah and his three sons.
b. Genesis 11 picks up this linage from Noah’s son Shem and continues until Abraham.
c. First Chronicles extends these genealogies even further. Nine chapters are devoted to showing the connection between Adam and twelve tribes of Israel.
d. Luke also contains a genealogy that goes back to Adam. Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, traces the ancestry from Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, back to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38).
2. Paul believed Adam was a real person. Paul refers to Adam as a historical person on numerous occasions.
a. During his sermon on Mars Hill to the Athenians Paul says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth . . .” (Acts 17:26).
b. In his first letter to Timothy Paul writes, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Tim. 2:13-14).
c. In 1 Corinthians Paul writes, “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Theistic evolutionists are left to believe that the Holy-Spirit-inspired apostle Paul got it wrong.
3. Jesus assumes Adam (and Eve) were real people when He addressed the issue of divorce (Matt. 19:4-6). But if Adam was not a real person, then either Jesus didn’t know that (and propagated this error), or he knowingly deceived the Pharisees to make His point. Both of these options are untenable for the believer.
4. Finally, the historicity of Adam is inextricably linked to the redeemer. This means that without a historical Adam, there is no historical Fall. And if no Fall, then no original sin that is passed to all men (we are no longer made sinners as Paul put it). And if there is no original sin, then no need for a redeemer.
Q. Can you think of any other Christian doctrines that are affected by adopting Neo-Darwinian evolution?
Tim Barnett, Stand to Reason
Stand to Reason Ministries
Richards, Jay W., ed. God And Evolution: Protestants, Catholics, and Jews Explore Darwin’s Challenge to Faith. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press, 2010.
Meyer, Stephen. Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne, 2009.
Meyer, Stephen. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York: HarperOne, 2014.