Wednesday, February 28, 2007

why I reject evolution

Disclaimer: BELOW I HAVE SHARED WHY I DON'T BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION. I INVITE YOU TO DISAGREE OR CHALLENGE MY LOGIC. I'M NOT ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE THE ULTIMATE LEAK-PROOF ARGUMENT AGAINST EVOLUTION, BUT AM PUTTING MY REASONS FOR REJECTING IT INTO WRITING TO HELP ME CLARIFY MY OWN THOUGHTS IN A WAY THAT WILL MAKE ME BETTER ABLE TO COMMUNICATE THEM.

When I was in jr. high, high school, and college I remember being taught the theory of Darwinian evolution as if it was verifiable fact. I have since become convinced that it is not at all true. Some of my reasons are obviously religious ones. Here they are:

1) GODLESS BEGINNINGS - From what I understand, evolutionary theory is committed to the trying to explain the origins of the world, our race, etc. through natural causes alone. Since I believe in the supernatural, I have neither need nor desire to try to understand the world as if there is no God. Any supernaturalist should consider that when the possibility of God is thrown into the mix, then the need for the theory of evolution no longer exists.

2) APE-MAN GAP - In my mind I just can't wrap my head around how man could have evolved from apes. Sure, I may have almost as much body hair as an ape. But the fact that I am typing a sentence on a man-made computer alone demonstrates the humongous gap between apes and men. And if survival of the fittest is true, and we are a later stage in the evolutionary process, then why do apes still exist at all? The gap between apes and men is far too great for me to be able to believe in the plausibility of our common ancestory. This may seem like a weak reason to some folks, but logically I just can't make the connection.

3) FOSSIL RECORD - It would seem that if evolution were true then there would be an abundance of fossils that demonstrate transitory stages in evolution. Paleontologists have known for decades that these fossils simply do not exist. The more fossils that are found the greater the distinction becomes between fossil groupings. This has forced evolutionary paleontologists to come up with theories such as Punctuated Equilibrium. To me this idea takes a much greater leap of faith to believe in than I could imagine a naturalist being willing to take.

4) IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY - This is the idea that some things are so complex that they could not function at all in a simpler form. Micheal Behe expounded on this idea in his book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. The human cell, which Darwin was unable to study in great depth, is irreducibly complex and could not have functioned at all unless all of the parts were present from the beginning. In other words, the cell could not have evolved.

5) EVIDENCE OF DESIGN - In so many areas of study, researchers examine data to see if there there is evidence of an intelligent design behind what they see. If an archaeologist finds a small piece of a clay pot, he considers it enough evidence to begin to believe that an intelligent being created it. When someone dies, examiners examine the body to see if the death was by natural causes or if there is evidence that a murder occurred (which is death by intelligent design). When a building burns down, investigators examine where there is evidence that points to arson, or if the fire was an accident. Arson equals fire by an intelligent designer. Contrary to what many believe, the Intelligent Design movement is not a religious movement, but it is a movement within science that says when we look at the complexity of the world, there is clear evidence that points to an intelligent designer. Who would look at something like Mount Rushmore and pretend that it could have occurred by natural causes? Then why would we look at something like a human brain or a human cell and imagine that it could have occurred by natural causes.

6) LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES - As sad as it is, the logical consequences of Darwinian evolution are that some living creatures should die for the sake of the survival of the fitter creatures. This is called the survival of the fittest. If one was committed to this worldview, in my opinion, then destroying people who are inferior in physical or mental ability would be the logical and even the right thing to do. This is what Hitler thought when he convinced his followers that the Jews were subhuman and that the human race would be better off if the Jews were destroyed. The very fact that this idea is so offensive to our minds tells me that evolution is not true. Evolution would say that ideas like compassion, altruism, and love are merely concepts that evolved over time and continue to exist because they aid the survival of the one showing forth the quality. I'm not ignorant of the fact that Christians have done horrendous things throughout history. But I will say that the logical consequences of following the teachings of Christ, though not always carried out, are wonderful and good.

7) SCIENTIFIC DISSENT - This has been a big eye opener to me. When I was taught evolution it was presented as if every intelligent person believed in the theory. I now find out that there are thousands of PhD. level scientists who reject the theory of evolution. There is NOT a scientific consensus about evolutionary theory. For just a couple of examples check out these websites:
http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/
http://www.pssiinternational.com/

8) MICRO VS. MACRO - From what I understand, microevolution is the idea that change takes place within a given species. For example, human beings are taller than they were a century ago. Macroevolution says that the same changes that have taken place within a species over billions of years actually created every species. No one I know denies the findings of microevolution. However, this in no way validifies the theory of macroevolution.

9) EARTH'S UNIQUENESS - The planet we live in is so strangely and uniquely suited for life. So many things had to be just right for life to exist. The odds of it happening by natural causes are so preposterous that I don't buy it. Many scientists do not either. For a few examples go to http://www.privilegedplanet.com/links.php.

10) INFORMATION TRANSMISSION - Many scientists point out that the universe is not merely made up of matter but also of information. In my mind, the large amounts of information in every bit of human DNA needs another explanation besides evolution.

I am obviously not a scientist. I have received some of the information that has led me to reject the theory of evolution from Christian sources who as I am are committed to a supernaturalist worldview. I also have Christian friends who embrace the theory of evolution as the way that God created humankind. I don't doubt their Christian faith or their commitment to seeking true knowledge. I speak for myself alone in saying that I just don't buy Darwinian evolution anymore.

21 comments:

Divers and Sundry said...

For starters, I am a Christian, and I have no background at all in the sciences. I don't have too terribly much invested in a belief in evolutionary theory, and scientists could embrace another theory tomorrow without me losing a bit of sleep over it. I do believe that God could have easily used evolutionary processes during creation. I believe that an acceptance of evolutionary theory does not preclude a belief in God as Creator. I admit my frustration with conversation on this topic comes from having my Christian faith questioned because I currently accept evolutionary theory, so I appreciate your words at the end of your post affirming that a Christian can indeed accept evolutionary theory.

All that said, I offer these links that specifically address the other side of your arguments:

1) An acceptance of evolutionary theory does not preclude belief in God. Either evolutionary theory explains things or it doesn't, regardless of my own belief in God.

2) Humans did not evolve from apes.

3) There are transitional fossils. Fossils themselves are rare, so the rarity of transitional fossils is not surprising.

4) There's an explanation here on the issue of Darwin's Black Box and irreducible complexity that includes responses from Behe. There's more on the topic here and here.

5) There is some information on the issue of inferring design here. There is a response to the claim that design is evident here and a response to the idea that the appearance of design requires the existence of a designer here. Intelligent Design, from what I read, is generally considered a religious belief in search of scientific support.

6) Because things are a certain way does not mean they ought to be that way. We live in a fallen world. To accept the survival of the fittest as an evolutionary concept in no way means that one promotes killing the less fit people among us as a good thing. Knowing what "fitness" means from an evolutionary perspective might be harder than it seems. Hitler's practices were not associated with the idea of evolutionary biology, but could be more closely linked to genetic engineering, I would think.

7) You'd be surprised. A physician or computer scientist may well doubt evolutionary biology without it calling the theory into doubt.

Well lunch is calling, so I'll leave it there. I'll be accepting the scientific consensus. Where the facts contradict my understanding I admit it's probably my own understanding that's at fault. I do appreciate your non-condemning attitude towards Christians who have chosen to accept evolutionary theory.

Jason Woolever said...

hey d&s thanks for sharing your thoughts. thanks for the thoughts on humans not descending from apes. that's nice to know that folks aren't saying that. i wonder why everyone claims that evolution says that? i did hear richard dawkins say "human beings are not descendants of great apes. we are great apes."

Jason Woolever said...

ps. thanks for taking the time to provide the links

Michele said...

I'd love to address each one of these points individually, but right now I lack both the time and the energy. However, I would like to know whether, in the interest of equal time for both sides and learning the truth, you would consider checking a source that does not necessarily share your worldview? Perhaps something purely scientific, with no worldview at all. I respectfully submit this might be a better way to seek out the truth.

Keanus said...

Mr. Woolever, allow me to comment on your rationalizations in order.

Your open by claiming “When I was in jr. high, high school, and college I remember being taught the theory of Darwinian evolution as if it was verifiable fact.” If that and your reasons that follow are what you believe you were taught then either the teacher didn’t understand evolution at all, you weren’t paying attention, or you decided a priori that evolution was not to be believed.

1) GODLESS BEGINNINGS - From what I understand, evolutionary theory is committed to the trying to explain the origins of the world, our race, etc. through natural causes alone.
You fail to grasp that the theory of evolution does NOT offer an explanation for the origin of life, that being the province of abiogenesis. Evolution offers an explanation for the origin of species and common descent. Myriad facts uncovered since Darwin’s time have only make the theory stronger and more robust.

I have neither need nor desire to try to understand the world as if there is no God. Any supernaturalist should consider that when the possibility of God is thrown into the mix, then the need for the theory of evolution no longer exists.” Evolution is entirely silent on the supernatural. By definition the supernatural, whether the God of Abraham, Zeus, Odin or some other deity, cannot be addressed by science. God is neither necessary for evolution nor excluded by it. The same can be said of all of physics, chemistry and the rest of biology. And you would find the many believers, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and of other faiths, accepting the validity of evolution.

”2) APE-MAN GAP - In my mind I just can't wrap my head around how man could have evolved from apes. Nor does the theory of evolution. Man (and woman) and the apes descend from a common ancestor. Each is branch on the shrub of life.

”3) FOSSIL RECORD - It would seem that if evolution were true then there would be an abundance of fossils that demonstrate transitory stages in evolution.” Not so. Fossilization is an extremely rare event. Very few individual animals or plants ever become fossils and most that do are destroyed in the millennia that follow.

”Paleontologists have known for decades that these fossils simply do not exist.” Fossils are rare but the more paleontologists dig, the more they find.

”The more fossils that are found the greater the distinction becomes between fossil groupings.” Not so. An example that contradicts this claim is the recent unearthing of an entire fossil lineage of ancestors to whales, clearly demonstrating that their ancestors were terrestrial (they closest living relative is the hippopotamus), not aquatic.

”This has forced evolutionary paleontologists to come up with theories such as Punctuated Equilibrium.” You misunderstand the point of punctuated equilibrium, and are wrong in asserting that is was an attempt to explain gaps in the fossil record. It’s simply the hypothesis that the rate at which species adapt and speciate (evolve new species) varies over time.

”4) IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY - This is the idea that some things are so complex that they could not function at all in a simpler form. Micheal Behe expounded on this idea in his book Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.”, This idea has no traction whatsoever in biology. Any competent biologist can shoot it down in fifteen minutes. The example that Behe belabors to the point of absurdity is the bacterial flagellum, claiming, without a shred of evidence, that it couldn’t have evolved. At the Dover PA trial in the fall of ’05 he was presented with a stack of more than fifty papers on the evolution of the bacterial flagella. He simply denied it applied, yet Judge Jones in his decision wrote “Professor Behe's claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.”

”5) EVIDENCE OF DESIGN - In so many areas of study, researchers examine data to see if there there is evidence of an intelligent design behind what they see.” Our “design theorists” have yet to offer a single hypothesis how this works. Complexity doesn’t equal design. Furthermore, if nature were designed in any conscious sense, then that designer is one very incompetent designer. Consider our backbone, the appendix, or the existence of the blind spot in vertebrate retina (the octopi which evolved the eye independently of vertebrates has no blind spot and a much superior eye.

”6) LOGICAL CONSEQUENCES - As sad as it is, the logical consequences of Darwinian evolution are that some living creatures should die for the sake of the survival of the fitter creatures. This is called the survival of the fittest.” No it isn’t. You completely misunderstand evolution. No one individual dies for the sake of any other individual, with the exception of when one organism kills another for food. And evolution makes no judgments about superior of inferior physical or mental ability. What matters is differential reproduction. Organism that area better adapted to their environment and reproduce more offspring will pass on more of their genes to succeeding generations. To claim, as you do, that Hitler and the Nazis were a product of Darwinian thinking is absurd and historically inaccurate. Nowhere in Hitler’s Mein Kampf does Hitler mention Darwin or evolution and nowhere is it cited in Nazi literature or Hitler’s speeches. In fact the Nazis banned Darwin’s writing, believing them the subversive. And while I don’t subscribe to the notion that Christianity was at the root of Nazism, Martin Luther’s On the Jews and their Lies was often quoted by Hitler and clearly fed into his ideas about Jews and society. And even it Hitler were to have invoked Darwin, which he didn’t, then why don’t you condemn Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, or Albert Einstein and Edward Teller who made the atomic bomb possible.

”7) SCIENTIFIC DISSENT - This has been a big eye opener to me. When I was taught evolution it was presented as if every intelligent person believed in the theory. I now find out that there are thousands of PhD. level scientists who reject the theory of evolution. There is NOT a scientific consensus about evolutionary theory.” Wishful thinking at best. There is a scientific consensus on evolution and has been for more than a century and a half. The Discovery Institute, a political lobbying group that pretends to be a think tank (almost all of their budget goes for PR, not research despite claims to the contrary) has been laboring since 2001 to sign up scientific dissenters. To date they have just over 600 “scientist” who have signed on. There are several important failings of the list: 1)Fewer than a third hold any kind of biology graduate degree, 2) Those who are legitimate scientist are mostly physicists, chemists, engineers, or mathematicians; and many of the others are theologians, ministers, or lawyers, 3) The American Institute of Biological Sciences encompasses more than 250,000 members, virtually all of whom accept evolution; if they didn’t, their work would make no sense, 4) the statement to which the 600+ subscribe is rather innocuous stating “"We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.” In fact no biologist claims that natural selection and random mutation alone account for the complexity of life. Many other factors beyond those two drive the course of evolution, so even a knowledgeable biologist could sign the statement with complete intellectual honesty. But none have.

”8) MICRO VS. MACRO - From what I understand, microevolution is the idea that change takes place within a given species. For example, human beings are taller than they were a century ago. Macroevolution says that the same changes that have taken place within a species over billions of years actually created every species. No one I know denies the findings of microevolution. However, this in no way validifies the theory of macroevolution.” This claim is a distinction without meaning. To draw a distinction between the two is like saying an inch differs materially from a mile. In fact biologist have witnessed both in the lab and in the field the evolution of a new species, which by definition means the new one cannot breed with its ancestral species.

”9) EARTH'S UNIQUENESS - The planet we live in is so strangely and uniquely suited for life. So many things had to be just right for life to exist. The odds of it happening by natural causes are so preposterous that I don't buy it.” This combines two features, your personal incredulity (the willful disregard of evidence and the conceit that the Earth and mankind are unique. You can offer nothing to support the latter, other than you personal belief. Consider that in the last fifty years, man has gone from knowing of no planets beyond our solar system to having identified a raft of gaseous giants like Jupiter or Saturn and a number of much smaller terrestrial or rocky planets like the Earth, Mars and Venus. We don’t yet know if any support life, or even can, but to exclude the possibility is to slam the door on the question. On the drawing boards currently are telescopes and sensor systems that are expected to give us some answers. And, of course, we may find that life once (and may still) exist on Mars. We at least know now that conditions for life as we know it did at one time exist on Mars.

”10) INFORMATION TRANSMISSION - Many scientists point out that the universe is not merely made up of matter but also of information. In my mind, the large amounts of information in every bit of human DNA needs another explanation besides evolution.” Another case of personal incredulity. That doesn’t hold much water in the science lab. In fact were our ancestors to have taken that view, mankind would still be living in caves, wearing furs or going naked, and with spears and fire our most sophisticated technology.

In the end your entire argument boils down to one of personal incredulity. Take that position in any science lab—chemistry, physics, biology or other—and you’ll be hooted out of the room. You’ve got to muster evidence other than “I don’t believe it.” Evidence is what science is all about and when making a claim, one had better offer some evidence or no one will listen. That’s why ID and creationism are not science. Even you lend support to that point when you start talking about God and Jesus. Neither has anything to do with science; nor does science have anything to do with them.

Anonymous said...

How pleasant to see a page with polite exchange of information on a subject that is normally like a room full of screaming toddlers!

As an addition to some of the other comments, especially that of Michele suggesting that you increase the number of your sources of information:

**Re: Dissent from Darwin - look up "Project Steve" on google. In response to the DI's list someone has created a list of scientists who accept evolutionary theory, but limited the list to people named Stephen, Steven, or variants thereof. Even with this limit they have more signitories than the 'dissent' list...

** i did hear richard dawkins say "human beings are not descendants of great apes. we are great apes."
what he was saying is that we have an ancestor in common with the great apes. going back further in time we have an ancestor in common with all the primates. Further still there's an A in C for all mammals, etc. etc.

The challenge "if we're descended from monkeys why are there still monkeys?" is put about by anti-evolutionists either out of ignorance or as misinformation knowing that most of their audience will lap up the sentiment without intellectually considering the substance.

** “I have neither need nor desire to try to understand the world as if there is no God."
Well you should try. "Occams Razor", also known as the principle of parsimony is a well known logical tool that says, approximately, "where you have two separate explanations for something, the one that requires the fewest or simplest assumptions is most likely to be correct". Applied to trying to explain the origin and diversity of life on earth we have two explanations. One requires us to assume the coming into existence of a single cell, or other simple life form through processes as yet unknown. Evolutionary theory can from then on provide a satisfactory general explanation of the development of life as we see it around us. Hypothesis two requires us to assume the coming into existence of a supremely complex and powerful being through processes as yet unknown. It further requires us to assume that for reasons unknown this being has chosen to create the world around us that contains overwhelming evidence to support the view that life has evolved from simpler forms in the past etc.

I know which assumption I find easier to make.

I hope your quest for answers continues with an open mind and that you find satisfaction in the journey

Jason Woolever said...

hi everyone, thank you all for your passionate responses.

something that I need to be up front about is that I don't put much effort into responding to anonymous comments. its important to me that if i'm going to dialogue with someone that i know who the person is. i give more credence to ideas that people are committed to enough to attach their actual name to (or at least give a name that links to information about the persons identity).

michele in response to your question about whether i'd be interested in reading something purely scientific that holds no worldview at all, i have to say that i'm not persuaded that there is any book written in the world that does not have a worldview. especially in the area of science, if someone has an a priori commitment to explaining information based on materialistic presuppositions that is a worldview that i don't hold and wouldn't spend much time with.

with my openly very biased view, pure science begins with an acknowledgment of God. "the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge." you may see me as a beyond hope on this one!

Divers and Sundry said...

Jason said, "with my openly very biased view, pure science begins with an acknowledgment of God. "the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge." you may see me as a beyond hope on this one!"

Amen! So we agree that God created; we just disagree on how. ;)

My experience is that most folks who believe in Creationism/Intelligent Design reject evolution because it contradicts their understanding of the Genesis creation story. They get their science from the Bible and look for evidence to support it. That's the objection I hear from folks who accept evolutionary theory: that the creationists are basing their science on their Biblical interpretation.

I've never seen a Biblical reason to reject evolution.

Michele said...

You say, "pure science begins with an acknowledgment of God. 'the fear of God is the beginning of knowledge.'" I agree with you completely. But I also accept evolutionary theory.

Science, well taught, does not address one way or the other the workings, or even the existence of God. It's simply not meant to. So I really don't see the problem with checking out a few of the scientists who are respected by other in their fields just to see what they have to say.

No, you're not beyond hope. But I think that to be an effective minister you you need to have an open mind and a willingness to consider new ideas when warranted.

Jason Woolever said...

michele, thanks for your concern for my ministerial effectiveness!

if you would like to recommend some resources, i'd take the recommendations.

to be fair, my rejection of evolution is somewhat of a recent development in my own life, based on considering new ideas.

but you are right about the need to be willing to consider other ideas.

Divers and Sundry said...

Michele,

What books and web resources do you suggest?

Thanks!

Michele said...

I may have to defer to others on this. I used to study evolution but that was in my youth, a long, long time ago. It may take me awhile but I'll do some research and see what I can find.

Jason Woolever said...

no sweat. thanks for the conversation.

Keith Taylor said...

Jason,

Good post and discussion. I am a man of science. I have graduate degrees in engineering and I am a P.E.

The theory of evolution, and the the greater theory of the "evolution" of the Universe known as the Big Bang, are both violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and that is impossible. It is a law of the science that these theories simply cannot have happened as they are theorized. They go against the physical laws of the universe. The universe and the earth had to have been created, the natural law demands that it had to be that way.

As a devout Christian, I can tell you that the earth and the universe had to have been created. As serious man of science, I can also tell you that has to be true as well.

Jason Woolever said...

hey keith,
your comments confirm my belief that there is in no way a scientific consensus affirming the theory of evolution.
thanks for your comment.

Divers and Sundry said...

Keith said, "As a devout Christian, I can tell you that the earth and the universe had to have been created."

And I agree with you.

But I also agree with Michele, who said, "Science, well taught, does not address one way or the other the workings, or even the existence of God. It's simply not meant to."

One can believe that God created and still accept evolutionary theory. They are _not_ contradictory! You do _not_ have to reject one if you affirm the other.

Keith Taylor said...

divers and sundry said,

"One can believe that God created and still accept evolutionary theory. They are _not_ contradictory! You do _not_ have to reject one if you affirm the other.

Science well taught will teach the 2nd Law Of Thermodynamics. It states that in every action, the Entropy (disorder) of the Universe is always increased. Yes, you may do work on a system to lower entropy, but the entropy of the universe outside of the system boundary will still increase. It has to.

What does this mean on a practical level? It means you don't take a bunch of parts from a 1957 Chevy and throw them out in the front yard and come back in 50 years or 50,000,000 years and have a pristine new car you can drive. (although, there are many people in Alabama trying it LOL!)

It means that you don't take a bunch of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and other atoms, throw them together on a planet and come back in a billion years and living complex organisms.

I means you don't explode billions of tons of hydrogen and helium in a gigantic explosion and come back in 5 billion years and find ordered galaxies containing ordered stars, planets & moons all obeying the know fixed laws of the universe.

That is what true science, well taught, will teach you. The Entropy (S) of the Universe will always increase, dS/T > 0.

Ivan Walters said...

Jason,

Also look here
http://www.answersincreation.org

Ivan Walters

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for the link Ivan!

John said...

I saddened to hear that Keith has departed from Christian orthodoxy to accept the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Divers and Sundry said...

TalkOrigins has an interesting refutation of the argument that Keith makes that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics makes evolution impossible.