Evolution Wrap-Up (from Sunday, 9/14/08)
(For those just joining us, every we I post the notes from our Sunday School lessons with the youth group. Click “youth studies” to view past entries or to catch up with the current series.)
While this is a great opportunity to discuss a topic we don’t normally discuss in a Sunday School setting, the time has come for us to end this detour and get back on the main road. Besides, there is another scenic detour ahead we can take!
We started this series with the affirmation that science is a gift of God’s grace to all people, Christian, Jewish, Gentile, pagan… all people. It helps us live a little easier in a sin-cursed world, and helps us to know more about the genius of the Creator.
“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.”
– Psalm 139:14
Yet, some have sought to turn this gift against God. We talked a bit about some of the history of this, mentioning that atheism and precursory Darwinistic evolutionary ideas predate Darwin by a couple thousand years. With Darwin, however, finally came the intellectual justification to be an atheist (and a racist, as eugenics would later show).
We also looked at the Flood of Noah, and attempted to answer a few questions. What does the Bible have to say about the Flood? Why would God flood the earth? What effects would a global flood have on the landscape of the earth?
In fact, speaking of the flood, I found a story that I intended to include last time. There is an interesting piece of geology called Burlingame Canyon near Walla Walla, Washington. This canyon almost looks like a miniature Grand Canyon, and is 1,500 feet long and 120 feet deep. What is interesting about this canyon is that it did not exist before 1926 – at least, it existed only as a normal drainage ditch one would find beside a road. The canyon formed from flooding in that ditch – digging it over 100 feet into the earth and proceeding the distance of five football fields – a flood lasting only about six days. What would a flood like the one described in the book of Genesis do to the earth?
The Incredible Creation
The profession of David in Psalm 139 makes a good study for every Christian. In specific regards to the Creator, here are some interesting statistics to help you consider the created body in which you dwell.
- The average person spends a fifth of his life talking! If all of our words were put into print,
- a single day’s words would fill a 50-page book
- in a year’s time the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each!
- Man’s body is the most complex & intricately designed system in the universe!
- Our five senses give us some astonishing capabilities.
- We can see a candle’s flame 30 miles away on a dark, clear night
- smell a single drop of perfume diffused in a three-room apartment
- taste .04 ounce of table salt in 530 quarts of water
- sense of touch can detect a pressure that depresses the skin .00004 inch on the face or fingertips
- tell where a sound is coming from even when it arrives at one ear just .0003 second before its arrival at the other ear.
When I first heard this story, I had to get it for you. This is the “forgotten organ” in your body:
MILLIONS OF BUGS are writhing on your face. More than a trillion live in your mouth, multiplying so fast that you swallow trillions a day. From there on down you’re hopelessly outnumbered, because the body contains 10 times more living, feeding microbes than it does human cells.
“It’s been estimated that there are 100 trillion microbes in the human body and 10 trillion cells, so we like to joke that we’re a minority in our own body,” says Gary Huffnagle. And Huffnagle ought to know: He’s a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.
These are our “normal flora,” and they include “good” microbes that can help us and other microbes that can hurt us. Our good microbes help control bad ones, those inside us and those that invade. They also contribute to our health in ways that range from making the vitamins we need to preventing cancer.
“What scientists have come to really appreciate in the last five years,” he says, “is that this mass of microbes that lives within us has the same function as an organ in our body. It’s like a forgotten organ.”
The average human body carries about 2 1/2 pounds of microbes, Huffnagle says—more mass than that of the heart, kidneys and pancreas combined.
“I call it an organ because all those microbes have DNA and make enzymes and make all sorts of chemicals, and as we eat, we also feed those microbes,” he says. “Because they live right next to cells, they affect how cells in the body respond.”
These little machines keep our bodies working. The more we learn, the more reason we have to praise God’s genius.
Two ways of looking at something
When the naturalist (unbeliever) looks at the world, he may marvel at the effects of Darwinistic evolution. When the creationist (believer) looks at the world, he may marvel at God’s design. The difference between the two is not intelligence, it is simply the foundation upon which either one stands. The creationist believes “God’s Word is our Bible,” while the naturalist responds, “our eyes are our Bible.”
Darwinistic evolution is an accepted fact in the realm of academia. As such, nearly all textbooks from first grade onward which discuss biology or earth sciences include sections devoted to evolution. Thus, the first pages of the science books used for six-year-olds affirm that the earth is billions of years old, a denial of the six-day creation belief taught in Sunday Schools.
It is only natural, then, for so many students entering college to give up their faiths – they’ve been groomed for twelve years to doubt the foundations of their biblical beliefs.
It is difficult for an average student to perceive a non-consensus within a professional community whenever events are spoken of in textbooks as absolute fact. History books are littered with examples of accounts presented as statements of fact that later research disproved. Part of the difficulty for these students proceeds from the absence of a core of critical thinking classes throughout their school terms.
Scientists would not claim infallibility, so we should not demand it of them. The given age of the earth has varied greatly among Darwinists, as they discover more evidence they believe supports their claim. We should not chastise these scientists for updating the numbers, for this is to be expected in any scientific endeavor. It does remind us, however, that textbooks can only show us so much, and are subject to change.
Thus, if a teacher asserts the fact that “We know life evolved x billion years ago,” the student would be within his right to doubt this. The teacher was not there to observe it, and all we have is circumstantial evidence to sort through in order to obtain some general numbers.
Scientists are not always right.
As stated, no scientist would claim infallibility to himself. And, it is good that he wouldn’t do so. We have been wrong about so many things in the past.
For instance, the world accepted the Aristotelian argumentation for geocentricism – the motionless earth with the sun, planet, and stars in its orbit. Even the church would later accept this notion, and read it into the Bible. It was not until the Copernican Revolution that both the academic world and the church realized this error and accepted the heliocentric model.
Another fallacious model stated heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones. Anyone with eyes knows that a rock will hit the ground before a feather will when released at the same time. However, Galileo theorized that in a vacuum, the two objects would fall at the same rate, an experiment we could prove on the moon. Indeed, he showed that an object weighing only one pound and one weighing ten pounds would strike the ground at the same moment when released from any height (say, the Tower of Pisa, for instance).
We each learn as we grow, and our scientific knowledge as a people grows over time. Simply because the consensus is in favor of Darwin at the moment does not mean that this will be true in another fifty years.
The problem is made worse when textbooks incorrectly report issues. For instance, textbooks still report that human embryos have gills like fish during the early stages of development. There are four branchial folds of skin, but they are not used for breathing nor do they later form into any component used for breathing. Folds of skin on the neck may look like gills, but it is somewhat deceptive for the textbook to lead students to believe they breathed like fish at one point in their history, and then present this as evidence of evolution.
Another falsehood still appearing in textbooks are the embryonic drawings of Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel was an embryologist who was impacted by Darwin’s book Origin. He drew pictures of embryos from several species and laid them side-by-side. His presentation demonstrated striking similarities between the embryos, evidencing common ancestry among all. The problem is that drawings were discredited… a long time ago. Modern photography has closed this case (see picture below). Yet, Haeckel’s embryonic drawings still appear in various forms in textbooks.
Perhaps your textbook still features Nebraska Man (Hesperopithecus). This creature evidences a missing link in human evolution. Nebraska Man was imagined and recreated by an artist who only had a single tooth as his model. The problem with this “missing link” (besides the credibility of a drawing made from a single tooth) is that the tooth was later found to be from a pig.
Piltdown Man (Eoanthropus dawsoni) is another improbable “missing link.” It featured human skull and ape jaw, certainly seeming to evidence the common ancestry. However, 40 years later, the hoax was revealed. The skull and jaw did not belong to the same creature.
There is not enough time to go through each of the errors still promoted by science books. However, many people are fighting to encourage states to enforce accuracy laws to clean textbooks of these errors.
Why do people accept evolution, then?
Some creationists call evolution stupid, and, by extension, evolutionists. This is not helpful. We certainly do not like it when we are belittled for believing in a Creator, and it is unbiblical to attack people on such a personal level. We would do better to show the love of Christ we claim to have.
The Bible gives a different assessment.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
– 2 Cor 4:3-4
The god of this world is not the LORD God Yahweh, the LORD Jesus Christ, but the unholy enemy of our souls – Satan. He wants to keep as many people from the truth as possible.
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
– 2 Co 4:6
Why do Christians accept evolution, then?
I suppose the answer to this question comes down to a couple of issues. First, Christians may simply be misinterpreting the Bible. Some Bible teachers accepted Darwin’s theory right away and re-interpreted the Bible to make it fit. As such, some people today may incorrectly believe Scripture has a “gap” allowing for evolution or poetic language that they could interpret with an evolutionary flavor.
There are no gaps or ambiguous language, however. Thus, if evolution is correct, then large portions of the Bible are wrong.
The other issue is the non-lordship of Christ. Within the human heart are many rooms. There is reason, logic, desire, emotions, religion, morality, and the will (to name a few). The human heart rests on the foundation of worldview, a person’s core beliefs about existence.
Some people have heard ambiguous phrases like “come to Christ,” “accept Jesus into your heart,” and “receive Christ” and have, understandably, misinterpreted them. Jesus affects where they go to church, and may even cause them to keep a Bible on the coffee table. However, not much else changes.
The other model where Jesus is the Lord of all one’s life, and effects even one’s logic and desires. These two models are pictured below.
The question extends beyond issues like creationism and evolutionism. It goes into one’s soul. I’m not asking for a show of hands, but only for you to consider this question within yourself – which picture represents Jesus in your life?