Why I am a six-day evolutionist

blind-fish

We all know that fish is a good source of protein, but did you know that some are a good source of information? It’s true – I know that evolution is true and it’s all because a little fish told me.

The Astyanax mexicanus is a cave-dwelling fish. The river-dwelling version of this species can see with the best of them, but this, the cave-dwelling cousin, has adapted to its lightless surroundings by losing its eyes. As a result, the two versions of this fish look quite distinct. However, they can still be interbred which shows that they are the same species.

The evolution of the blind fish

The history of this fish is easy to imagine. At one point some sighted fish made their way into dark caves where they were subsequently trapped. These caves had no light so their eyes served no useful purpose to them. Not only were their eyes useless, having eyes in this environment might actually have been harmful in one critical way: eyes are softer than the rest of a fish, so as these fish bumped around in the dark their eyes were susceptible to gouging and cuts from the rocky protrusions on the cavern walls.

So imagine that a fish without eyes is born into this environment. In the outside world, this would be a disadvantage. But here, in the darkness, no eyes simply means it has no soft flesh to get gouged. This eyeless fish is, therefore, hardier and fitter than its sighted siblings. That makes it more likely that this blind fish will reproduce and pass on its blindness to the next generation.

Over a number of generations this blind fish and its offspring must have competed with the sighted fish until only the blind fish – the fitter fish – remained.

This is a clear example of survival of the fittest, of evolution in action, and it is quite convincing. It is why I am an evolutionist.

Evolution’s two meanings

But while I may be an evolutionist, I don’t deny that God created the world in six literal days, because, after all, that’s what the Bible tells us. I’m an evolutionist, but I’m also a creationist. I was rather shocked when I first came to this realization. I had been raised a creationist and for a very long time I thought that meant I had to reject evolution in any and all forms.

But it turns out that the word “evolution” can mean a number of different things, and some of those meanings do not conflict with the biblical account. There are two very common meanings to the word:

  • Evolution is often used to describe the small changes that animal species may undergo over time. Perhaps a species of bird might, on average, start having larger beaks – scientists would readily call this evolution. This particular use of the word is sometimes referred to as microevolution. Animal species are adaptable (just think of how dogs have adapted in a variety of ways to meet different needs) so this use of the word isn’t particularly controversial.
  • A second use of the word is where the battle actually commences. “Evolution” can be used as a descriptor for the theory that says man evolved from a single cell, which in turn emerged from the primordial soup eons ago. This molecule-to-man hypothesis is sometimes called macroevolution and it directly conflicts with the six-day creation account given in Genesis 1 and 2.

Equivocation

The reason this all matters is because evolutionists often use examples of microevolution to try to prove macroevolution, their molecules-to-man hypothesis. And similarly sometimes amateur creationists waste their time (and their credibility) arguing against microevolution because they think they have to be against all things evolutionary.

The Astyanax mexicanus fish is a good example in both cases. Since this fish seems to have adapted to its dark cave environments by losing its eyes, evolutionists think it is compelling proof of their molecules-to-man theory. It is so compelling that this blind fish might bother some creationists.

But creationists need not worry – the blind fish’s beneficial mutation doesn’t contradict creationism. We live in a fallen world, and that means children and offspring are sometimes born with handicaps via mutations. An eyeless fish is just another normal outcome of this fallen state. Most often these mutations will be harmful but in some rare circumstances, like the Astyanax mexicanus fish, the mutation may actually be beneficial. But it is important to note here that the loss of eyes is an example of devolution, rather than evolution. This fish has lost an ability it once had – the part of its genetic code responsible for making eyes has been short-circuited. The molecules-to-man theory of evolution says that complex life arose from simpler life, but this blind fish is an example of a complex animal becoming simpler and less developed.

If this fish is evidence of anything, it is that we live in a broken world (Rom. 8:22).

Conclusion

In any debate it is vital to first define the terms. This is particularly important in the creation/evolution debate since it is by confusing the terms that evolutionists make their most compelling case. They can’t point to macroevolution in action so instead they use examples of microevolution. Then they act as if there is no difference between the two, calling both the same thing – evolution.

Therefore creationists have to be careful that when they argue against evolution they haven’t made the mistake of arguing against microevolution. Arguing against microevolution is a losing proposition since we see animals undergoing small changes all around us. Evolution in this sense is an indisputable fact.

But evolution on a larger scale – the whole molecules-to-man hypothesis – flies in the face of what God tells us in the Bible, and also what He shows us via the degeneration and decay we see going on in the world around us. So I am, and will remain, a six-day evolutionist.

Science Uprising: a revolutionary case for Intelligent Design

Science-uprisingThe Bible tells us this world and this universe were spoken into being by God Himself, and that Mankind is the pinnacle of His creation (Ps. 8:3-9, Gen. 1:26-28). Meanwhile mainstream science – the sort we read about in the newspapers and get taught in our public schools and universities – says we’re only modified monkeys.

So which is it? Are we a special creation? Or does the scientific evidence show we’re just the products of time and chance?

As the six videos below lay out, there’s evidence aplenty to undermine mainstream science’s modified monkey theory. And while evolution preaches we are matter and nothing more, that turns out to be philosphy, not evidence-based.

Each of the videos are between 6 and 8 minutes long, and all are part of the “Science Uprising” project crafted by the Intelligent Design think tank Discovery Institute to “directly confronts the false views of science held by the growing number of science popularizers like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye.

Be aware, though, that Science Uprising is not a specifically Christian argument. In none of these videos is the Bible mentioned, and the Intelligent Designer the series argues for is never specifically named. That means the project, as compelling as its argument is and as professional as the production values are, has a notable shortcoming: it ably tears down evolutionary arguments, but it never raises up God’s Truth. If we share this material with non-Christian friends, we need to also point out everyone’s need for a Redeemer, and share with our audience who that Saviour is, the God-man Jesus.

That limitation noted, this whole series is remarkable. This is as succinct and slick a presentation of the Intelligent Design argument as you will ever find. So grab some popcorn, shut off your phone, and for the next hour kick back and enjoy the show!

Materialism vs. reality – Episode #1

The Bible says that the universe and all that is in it was created by Someone who is more than it and beyond it. But materialist science tells us “the cosmos are all there is, all there was, and all there ever will be.”

So is our universe matter and nothing more, and is it anti-science to believe that non-material things like love and consciousness are real? Dr. Jay Richards weighs in.

No, you’re not a robot made out of meat – Episode #2

Who are we? The Bible says we are physical and spiritual beings – we have a body, but we are more than our body. If I lose an arm and leg, I may have lost 25% of my body, but am still all there – there isn’t 25% less of me.

And the evidence agrees. For example, it shows that our immaterial minds – our thoughts – can actually change our material brains.

The Programmer – Episode #3

The Bible says we were are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by a Master Craftsman.

And what does Science say? The materialist scientists reduce us to mere machine. And yet they have to acknowledge that “our DNA code is more complex than any man-made software…” And as Stephen Meyer explains, our observations of the world show us “information always arises from an intelligent source.”

You don’t suck – Episode #4

The Bible declares that Man is something special, created in the very image of God (Gen. 1:26-28).

Materialist science has a very different perspective. As Bill Nye puts it, “I am a speck on a speck, a whirling speck, among still other specks in the middle of specklessness….I suck!” At the same time, scientists are discovering that this supposedly purposeless universe seems to be especially and improbably fine-tuned to not just support life but to enable us to thrive.

How do the materialists explain that? By proposing this is just one of millions or billions or trillions of universes out there, and this is the one where everything came out just right. One problem: as physicist Frank Tipler explains there’s exactly as much evidence for this “multiverse theory” as there is for the existence of unicorns and leprechauns

The origins of life – Episode #5

The Bible says that life was designed, and came about by an extraordinary supernatural act of God. In contrast, materialist science says that life came about by simple, random, unguided chemical interactions.

But if life really could come about by sheer unintended luck, then why haven’t the world’s most brilliant scientists – with their billions of dollars in equipment, awesome computing power, refined chemicals, and ready blueprints all around them – ever been able to create life on purpose?

Mutations break; they don’t create – Episode #6

The Bible says that due to Man’s Fall into Sin the perfect world that God created is broken, and wearing out (Isaiah 51:6, Ps. 102:25-25). In this worldview it is no surprise that mutations are harmful, causing things like cancer. It’s no surprise because Christians understand that we as a species are breaking down.

But evolutionary theory says Mankind is the end result of a long process of beneficial mutations that changed us and improved us, progressing upward from life’s simple origins as a single cell, to eventually evolve into the incredibly complex creatures that we are today. Evolution says that we as a species are improving.

So which worldview fits best with the evidence? Do we see mutations improving us, or harming us? A closer look at the science shows that mutations don’t have the type of creative power the evolution proposes and needs.

The picture at the top of the page is a screenshot from episode #6.

 

Hebrews 11:1-3 on Six-Day Creation

This article, by Rev. Williamson, is reblogged with permission from The Aquila Report.

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Hebrews 11:1 gives us an inspired definition of true (saving) faith. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” According to this definition true faith (faith as God has defined it) is concerned with two categories of things:Hebrews 11 on 6 day

  1. “things hoped for” and
  2. “things not seen.”

Furthermore, according to this definition, faith is the source of assurance and conviction concerning both of these categories of things.

THINGS HOPED FOR

What, then, are some of the “things hoped for” in our Christian faith? To name a few:

  1. The visible bodily return (parousia) of Jesus Christ.
  2. The bodily resurrection of the dead.
  3. The judgment of the whole human race.

Since God alone knows the future it is obvious that three these things (and any other future things) can be known by us in only one way. That way is by God telling us in words what is going to happen in the future. The most brilliant scientist cannot know anything at all about any of these three things in any other way than the way you and I can know them. Therefore he cannot speak with any more authority on these things than you or I can as Bible believing people

THINGS NOT SEEN

Parallel to “the things hoped for” which can only be known by faith, are “things not seen.” One such thing of great importance is the creation of the universe. Creation was not “seen” by human eyes. Adam was created last, on the sixth day, so even he wasn’t an eye-witness of these acts of creating. Therefore Adam himself — and all the rest of the human race — could only have reliable knowledge about God’s work of creation if he revealed such information to them in words.

He has revealed them to us in Genesis 1-2.

The most brilliant scientist has no access to information about creation beyond what God has said in the Bible. That is why Hebrews 11:3 says “by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

In other words, in both instances — with respect to future things and past things unseen by human observers — there is only one source of knowledge or understanding. That source is what God says in words in the Bible.

The most brilliant scientist is therefore brought down to the same humble level as any other person when it comes to assured knowledge of creation.

TWO THINGS TO REJECT

Since the truth about creation is found in the Bible alone, two things that are often said to stand in the way of believing in six-day creation must be firmly rejected. One is the claim that scientific evidence in the world itself proves that it is old (meaning that it took a long time to make it). The other claim is that one can hold on to biblical faith and yet allow for evolution.

1) We must reject claims that the world is old

When something is created instantly it has the appearance of age. This clearly seen in two of the miracles of Jesus: creating wine at the wedding feast at Cana, and creating food to feed the 5,000.

If it were possible to go in one of our imaginary ‘time machines’ to visit that wedding feast in Cana, and if a sample of that newly made wine could be taken and whisked back to the famous FBI forensic lab in Washington D.C., those world-renowned scientists would surely say that ‘it took at least 100 years to make wine of this quality.’

And they would be right if they were thinking it was wine made by the usual process! But that is just the point: this wine was not made by ‘the usual process’—it was made by the supernatural power of Jesus, with the appearance of age.

2) We must reject that evolution and the Bible are compatible

Evolution teaches us to believe that the things we see in the world today have evolved out of other things. It teaches that one thing can evolve out of another thing. But God says “that which is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

When Paul stood on Mars Hill in Athens he knew he was facing a people who had once known the true God, but he also knew they did not like the God they originally knew. So they became foolish: turning away from God to worship and serve the creature instead of the creator (Rom. 1:25).

The Greeks had once honored a supreme God whom they called Zeus. But, as Aristophanes put it, “vortex drove out Zeus and came to reign in his place.” Vortex was a Greek name for ever-swirling change. I also read somewhere of a later Greek Philosopher who already said—2,000 years ago—that “the worm, striving to become man, mounts up through all the spires of form” (the equivalent of the modern idea of evolution). How true the wise words of Solomon who said “there is nothing new under the sun!” (Eccles. 1:9) What we face today, in our American culture, is the very same God-denying apostasy, in principle, that Paul faced on Mars Hill.

What we need today in Presbyterian and Reformed Churches is a new surge of faith as God himself has defined it—faith created in us by the word of the wonder-working God of creation as well as redemption.

Is this not the message of Psalm 33?

Let all the earth Jehovah fear
Let all that dwell both far and near
In awe before him stand.

For, lo, he spoke and it was done
And all, with sovereign power begun,
Stood fast at his command.

Conclusion: there is no good reason to abandon—or to qualify by ingenious means so as to water down or weaken—the straight-forward confession of the Westminster divines who said in the Westminster Confession of Faith 4:1, Larger Catechism Q/A 15, and Shorter Catechism Q/A 9, that God “created all things of nothing, in the space of six days, and all very good.”

G. I. Williamson is a retired minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, living in the Orange City, Iowa area. He is the author of study guides on the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Heidelberg Catechism.

Is Evolution Unfalsified?

reblogged from bylogos, the site of Dr. John Byl

In  a previous post (The Myth of the Merely Hypothetical) I noted that several Canadian Reformed supporters of the Reformed Academic blog claim that evolution is “as yet unfalsified.” This reflects the widely held notion that evolution has all the evidence in its favour, and none against. Allegedly,  evolution gives a powerful explanation–the only valid explanation–of biological facts, and is essential to understanding the life sciences.
Is this really the case?

First, let’s be clear that evolution here refers to large-scale biological evolution from one kind of animal to another (i.e., macro-evolution). Small changes within kinds (i.e., so-called micro-evolution) are not at issue; these can be observed to happen in the laboratory.

How well established is evolution, particularly the evolution of humans from apes?

1. Evolution versus Biblical facts
A scientific theory is falsified if it contradicts known facts. To Bible-believing Christians, facts include also those historical facts recorded in the Bible. The plain reading of Genesis teaches that creatures were all made “according to their kinds,” over a span of a few days (Gen.1). In particular, Adam, the first man was created from the dust, and Eve, the first woman, from Adam’s rib (Gen.2). These Biblical facts falsify evolution in general, and human evolution in particular.

2. Evolution versus experiment
No plausible process has yet been found that could produce even the simplest cell (which is amazingly complex). Scientists are as far as ever from creating life in the laboratory. It seems impossible that life ever got started via random physical interactions.

Moreover, macro-evolution has never been observed to happen. Biologist Richard Lenski has an ongoing experiment on the Escherichia coli (E. coli). This is a simple single-celled bacterium, with a generation time of only 17 minutes. Starting in 1988, Lenski observed over 60,000 generations of E. coli. He noted some changes in cell size, genetic makeup, and adaptations. But nothing substantially different was ever produced−E. coli cells always remained E. coli cells [J.W. Fox, R.E. Lenski, “From Here to Eternity—The Theory and Practice of a Really Long Experiment,” PLoS Biol 13(6): e1002185 (2015)].

3. Evolution versus useful application
According to evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, evolution has little commercial application:

Truth be told, evolution hasn’t yielded many practical or commercial benefits. Yes, bacteria evolve drug resistance, and yes, we must take countermeasures, but beyond that there is not much to say. Evolution cannot help us predict what new vaccines to manufacture because microbes evolve unpredictably. But hasn’t evolution helped guide animal and plant breeding? Not very much. Most improvement in crop plants and animals occurred long before we knew anything about evolution, and came about by people following the genetic principle of ‘like begets like’. Even now, as its practitioners admit, the field of quantitative genetics has been of little value in helping improve varieties. Future advances will almost certainly come from transgenics, which is not based on evolution at all. [Jerry Coyne, “Selling Darwin: Does it matter whether evolution has any commercial applications?,” Nature, vol 442:983-984 (August 31, 2006)].

The evolution that might be applicable is merely the uncontentious micro-evolution.

Consequently, Dr Coyne places evolution’s value not in its commercial application, but in its explanatory power. It is often claimed that evolution is the essential unifying principle in the life sciences, particularly biology.

However, this is disputed by Dr Jerry Bergman (An Evaluation of the Myth That “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution” [2012]). He finds that most university textbooks for the life sciences make little substantial mention of macro-evolution, especially not for experimental biology, or practical applications, such as in medicine. A similar assessment was made by Dr Philip Skell (Why Do We Invoke Darwin? The Scientist, Aug. 29, 2005) who finds that most biologists do their work without referring to evolution, and that evolution provides no substantial guidance for experimental biology.

4. Evolution versus explanation
Evolution was constructed to give a naturalistic explanation of how the diversity of life came to be. However, there still remain huge gaps in evolutionary explanations. For example, Casey Luskin (What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution?) lists the following shortcomings:

1. The lack of a viable mechanism for producing high levels of complex and specified information.
2. The failure of the fossil record to provide support for Darwinian evolution.
3. The failure of molecular biology to provide evidence for a grand “tree of life.”
4. Natural selection is an extremely inefficient method of spreading traits in populations, unless a trait has an extremely high selection coefficient.
5. Convergent evolution appears rampant — at both the genetic and morphological levels, even though under Darwinian theory this is highly unlikely.
6. The failure of chemistry to explain the origin of the genetic code.
7. The failure of developmental biology to explain why vertebrate embryos diverge from the beginning of development.
8. The failure of neo-Darwinian evolution to explain the biogeographical distribution of many species.
9. A long history of inaccurate predictions inspired by neo-Darwinism regarding vestigial organs or so-called “junk” DNA.
10. Humans show many behavioral and cognitive traits and abilities that offer no apparent survival advantage (e.g. music, art, religion, ability to ponder the nature of the universe).

In the ensuing comments, readers suggested also:
11. The problem of the evolution of sex.
12. The problem of accounting for consciousness.

A major problem is that the presumed evolutionary past is no longer directly observable. The well-known evolutionist Ernst Mayr acknowledged:

Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is a historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such 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.

Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb comments:

Darwin’s essential method was neither observing nor the more prosaic mode of scientific reasoning, but a peculiarly imaginative, inventive mode of argument. It was this that Whewell objected to in the Origin: “For it is assumed that the mere possibility of imagining a series of steps of transition from one condition of organs to another, is to be accepted as a reason for believing that such transition has taken place. And next, that such a possibility being thus imagined, we may assume an unlimited number of generations for the transition to take place in, and that this indefinite time may extinguish all doubt that the transitions really have taken place” [Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution (New York: Anchor Books, 1962, 333-335)].

Indeed, many evolutionary explanations are little more than “just-so” stories, hypothetical scenarios that can be concocted to explain almost anything.

5. Evolution versus predictions
According to philosopher Karl Popper, the essence of science is that its theories should be potentially falsifiable. A scientific theory should make clear predictions that can be tested:

In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality [Popper, The Two Fundamental Problems of the Theory of Knowledge (2014 edition)].

The theory of evolution has made numerous predictions, many of which have been falsified. A sample of these can be found at Cornelius Hunter’s site Darwin’s Predictions. Dr Hunter lists 22 fundamental false predictions of evolutionary theory. They cover a wide spectrum of evolutionary theory, reflecting major tenets of evolutionary thought. They were widely held by the consensus. Each prediction was a natural expectation of the theory of evolution, and constituted mainstream evolutionary science.  For example, the following predictions were all found to be false:

● The DNA code is not unique
● Mutations are random to an organism’s needs, not adaptive
● Competition is greatest between neighbours
● The molecular clock keeps evolutionary time
● Similar species share similar genes
● The species should form an evolutionary tree
●Complex structures evolve from simpler structures
● Structures don’t evolve before there is a need for them
● Functionally unconstrained DNA is not conserved
● Nature does not make leaps

6. Is Evolution falsifiable?
The false predictions did not cause mainstream scientists to reject evolution. They merely revised the theory to accommodate the new data. However, these modifications caused evolutionary theory to become much more cumbersome, so that evolution is no longer elegant nor simple.

Evolutionists brush aside evolution’s false predictions because they consider evolution to be the only game in town. They are committed to naturalistic explanations of how life arose and diversified. Supernatural explanations and divine revelation are rejected from the start. Evolution is presumed to be true; it is only the precise method that is up for discussion. Hence, in practice, the basic notion of evolution is not falsifiable because it is driven by a deep metaphysical agenda.

Evolution, the origin myth of our secularized society, is the antithesis of Biblical creation. No wonder therefore that, in the worldview war for human minds–and hearts–evolution is strongly promoted wherever possible in public media, education, and academia. Evolution, the only permissible view, is presented as a proven fact that no rational person would dispute.

Conclusion
To sum up, evolution contradicts Biblical facts, has not been experimentally observed, has few useful applications, fails to adequately explain the origin and diversity of life, and has made many false predictions. In particular, the claim evolution is as yet unfalsified is true only because mainstream science protects evolution from falsification. Whenever evolution is falsified the theory itself evolves, by ad hoc modifications, so as to accommodate any new facts that contradict earlier versions of evolution.

WORLD: A Tale of Two Museums

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 10.40.01 AMThe latest copy of WORLD magazine arrived today. As usual: excellent reporting, and again holding the line on creation in a positive and enjoyable way.

For those not familiar with this fabulous magazine, think the style and appearance of Time (if you’re American) or Macleans (if you’re Canadian), but with content from a biblical worldview.

WORLD offers hard-hitting, truth-telling, uniquely Christian worldview reporting that stands in stark contrast to the mainstream media in these confusing, chaotic days. Our website and magazine feature national and international news; newsmaker profiles and interviews; movie, book, and music reviews; political cartoons; commentary on current issues; and more.

WORLD’s mission statement is, “To report, interpret, and illustrate the news in a timely, accurate, enjoyable, and arresting fashion from a perspective committed to the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.” Its name derives from Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and those who dwell therein.” Thereby the magazine wishes to make a worldview statement: this world is rightfully God’s, every square inch of it belongs to Christ—whether the biological, geological, rational, emotional, academic, business, religious, ecclesiastical, or any other realm.

WORLD is one of my two favourite popular-level magazines; the other is Reformed Perspective. Thankfully both magazines are holding the line on the biblical teaching of creation. Great writers and editors provide tons of good material in each one! Considering the budget these magazines work with, this is all the more remarkable.

This time editor-in-chief Marvin Olasky recounts his visits to two famous American museums, the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. He introduces his reporting as follows:

 A natural history museum in Washington offers Darwinism with no room for doubts, but one in New York offers a dose of refreshing honesty on what science cannot tell us about the past. Could that lead to bigger strides in intellectual honesty later?

 Whereas the Smithsonian welcomes visitors with the words (among others), “Evolution is at the heart of this museum,” and states that there is no controversy about evolution’s truth and power to explain life, the AMNH admits that scientists have made mistakes, need to use imagination to fill in the gaps, and don’t all agree. Olasky provides many interesting examples.

He also makes the point that when a museum is willing to make visitors aware of the many gaps and questions in the theory of evolution, they are making room for further questions. Jane Goodall, world expert on chimpanzees and Darwin devotee, as a child spent hours and hours in a British museum where she was essentially raised on the theory of Darwinian evolution. After noting this, Olasky asks whether a child in her shoes would be better equipped to ask critical questions and see the flaws in the theory of evolution if the museums she visited were at least honest.

A sidebar to the article invites readers to follow an investigation similar to Olasky’s as they spend time in museums, and to share pictures of the results with WORLD.

You can read the article online here, and if you subscribe to WORLD or to Reformed Perspective, you’ll enjoy a regular feast of solid analysis from a biblical worldview.