2013-11-16

The Top 10 + 1 Signs You Don’t Understand Evolution At All

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by Neil Godfrey

A theologian prominent in the blogosphere has posted an article Why People Reject Evolution. It is a re-post of one of those flippant smart-alec type blog-posts that put-downs with ridicule those with views the theologian in question himself once held. We can only wonder why he shows so little compassion or understanding as he now mercilessly mocks and taunts those who continue to stand fast where he once stood. Is this some sort of Freudian attempt to suggest one was once a total idiot and therefore deserving of mockery? I’d prefer to think that once we emerge from views we now find embarrassing that we’d attempt to approach others with those views with more depth of understanding and compassion.

The first thing that hit me about the list of reasons people reject evolution was that they bizarrely omitted the central fact about the theory of evolution that probably all the books of evolutionary scientists I have ever read stress most emphatically. How can a list of reasons people reject evolution omit the one thing about the theory of evolution that is most central according to the view of nearly all evolutionists?

Here are the “top ten” reasons in headline form from the linked article. See if you can see the one key fact missing:

1. You think “it hasn’t been observed” is a good argument against it.

2. You think we’ve never found a transitional fossil.

3. You think macroevolution is an inherently different process than microevolution.

4. You think mutations are always negative.

5. You think it has anything to do with the origin of life, let alone the origins of the universe.

6. You use the phrase “it’s only a theory” and think you’ve made some kind of substantive statement.

7. You think acceptance of evolution is the same as religious faith.

8. You think our modern understanding of it rests on a long series of hoaxes perpetuated by scientists.

9. You don’t like Pokémon because you think it “promotes” evolution.

10. You think it’s inherently opposed to Christianity or the Bible.

Hang on! Did the author(s) of Genesis really write account(s) they (if only they knew) would be consistent with evolution?

Ah, the author of this blog-post comes to the rescue and explains: 

[I]f evolution is true — as everything we know about biology, and a number of overlapping fields of inquiry indicate — then it is incapable of conflicting with the God-breathed truth of sacred scripture. If there appears to be a disagreement between the two, then the interpretation of the passage in question must be incorrect. For the Bible-believing Christian, there is no other option.

You may find it hard to believe that this was the blog post linked and endorsed by a real Associate Professor of a real university, Butler University. I don’t know if there is any academic authority that allows the wider public to query the legitimacy of academics employed in American universities who actually appear to endorse the Bible over — or alongside — everything else, simply “because”!

But what is that reason so many evolutionists stress yet was omitted in the above?

Well, what has registered with me so frequently from the likes of Dawkins is that there is nothing pre-planned about evolution. It is totally at the whim of natural forces. Humans are not the ultimate goal of some process. Indeed, we may disappear and prove to the great void of nothingness that intelligent life has less chance of long-term survival than grasses and microbes.

That is, there is nothing whatever that has been guided by some supernatural force.

I don’t understand how a professor (or even a mere “associate-professor”) of any legitimate modern educational institution could still be a devout Christian even mildly disposed towards any of the fundamental precepts at the foundation of the Bible or Christianity could claim to believe in evolution — as understood by the bulk of evolutionists themselves — and still call themselves a Christian, let alone mock Creationists.

It seems the only difference to me is that the debate among such Christians comes down to a fight between “young-earth creationists” and “old earth creationists”.

The only difference between the two is that the latter believes there is divine finger fiddling with the processes at critical steps along the way. And such a belief is not consistent with – it is INconsistent with — a true understanding of evolution.

 

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Neil Godfrey

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7 thoughts on “The Top 10 + 1 Signs You Don’t Understand Evolution At All”

  1. Neil, couple thoughts:

    (1) The post of the 10 points is not by McGrath. You should consider labelling who you are talking about to keep that clear.

    (2) Ex-smokers are notoriously difficultly tough on smokers. Are you an ex-believer? Is it OK to lack compassion either way? Isn’t it OK to be tough on your former self too? I don’t get this criticism.

    (3) I wasn’t clear on what that one missing thing was?

    (4) You made fun of James because he was an Associate Professor. Really, what is that all about?

    (5) Do you think James’ views of evolution involves tinkering? His views are so liberal, I won’t be surprised if he even held a non-tinkering view.

    To me it is unclear if you are attacking a person or an idea. And if a person, even that attack is unclear.

    1. My pointed remark was not about McGrath being an Associate Professor but that someone who boasts that his superior academic credentials put him in the same authoritative status as academics in the fields of the sciences underpinning evolution, yet he himself does not believe in evolution as those scientists understand it. Meanwhile he ridicules his former fellow-creationists — despite himself not being a true believer in evolution. Instead, he believes, in effect, something not far removed from the presence of little angels in the genes or that God is on his throne smashing meteors into the planet at appropriate junctures to get the right outcomes. If McGrath believes in no planning or involvement of any sort from a God in the universe then I don’t know how he can even be a theist.

      As for being hard on myself for my former beliefs, yes and no. Some people probably rightly tell me I am sometimes too hard on myself, but it was only when I did to a significant degree learn to stop being hard on myself and more understanding and compassionate and accepting of myself with all my flaws and failures that I felt I really began to undo the harm that my religious past had done me. (Though I have also said my religious past did me much good, too — it was not all bad.) And yes, I am mindful that but for the grace of my own unique set of circumstances and genetic makeup (we are each unique in these things) I would still be a creationist of sorts myself. And so yes, I am mindful on how I approach such people and their ideas. I do understand how they are me as I once was and I try to remain mindful of why I believed in the things I did, etc.

      I deplore those who were once bullied and who then become (intellectual) bullies themselves once they change sides.

      I had thought that my introduction to the ten points stating that they were from the “linked article” and adding a hyperlink to their original source would have confirmed the site they came from. My point was not explicit, I admit. I suppose I was being indirect. Basically, I find it “bizarre” (for want of a better word at the moment) that a professor (no less) who does not believe in evolution (as it is understood by evolutionists — McGrath does not even understand the theory of evolution!) should be ridiculing others for their lack of belief in evolution.

  2. Is God a trickster? That’s the crux one of the arguments that helped persuade me evolution (biological and stellar) is true. Creationists had taught me that Earth was created “in a mature state, just like Adam.” In other words, though Adam was only a few days old, he appeared to be an adult. And when the earth was only a few days old, it looked millions of years old.

    The same thing goes for the light coming from stars. If they’re millions of light-years away, then we shouldn’t be able to see them yet. “No,” say the Creationists, “all the stars and their streams of starlight were created on the same day. They only seem to have been there for eons.”

    Old-Earth Creationists like McGrath argue that the Young-Earth Creationists’ God is a deceiver, which is incongruous with his nature. What they fail to realize is that the OEC God is a trickster, too. According to Old-Earth Creationists, our DNA may look like the result of unguided mutation and natural selection, but it isn’t — it’s the product a supernatural process, controlled by their invisible friend.

    It’s more than a little odd that the Exploding Cakemix has become such a platform for (supposedly) championing cause of evolution, since McGrath has rejected one of the central tenets of the modern synthesis. The consensus among evolutionary biologists today is that natural selection is the primary driver of change. We don’t need a puppet master behind the scenes, pulling the strings.

    Given his demonstrably weak understanding of science, McGrath really should listen to the experts. Does he believe he understands the underlying science better than people who have spent their entire lives studying this stuff? As far as I know, McGrath has no relevant qualifications in any of the sciences, and yet he casts doubt upon the modern synthesis. Why would he seek to undermine mainstream scholars? Why would he toss out the authentic tools of science? (Yes, I’m quoting some of the accusations he’s hurled at us.)

    The OEC position is nothing more than a desperate attempt to accommodate the observable truth of evolution with an ancient myth. I can understand completely that people want to hold onto their cherished beliefs, but they really should stay out of areas they don’t understand.

  3. That Tyler sounds like a fundie that accepts evolution. After a quick search it seems like he has to mutilate Genesis to make it fit with evolution, e.g. Noah’s flood just being local.

    1. I agree, the author of that post makes an articulate defense of evolution, but then quotes the bible to support his faith in a manner no different than the most ignorant, fundamentalist believers.

      Although, as Neil states, Tyler completely ignores the central agent of evolution, natural selection. Which, by any reasonable standard, is completely contrary to the Christian idea of God.

    2. I had some interaction with Tyler a couple of months ago. He seemed a thoroughly ok guy, but like many liberal evangelicals who accept evolution (or who accept what they think evolution by natural selection is) he didn’t seem to realise fully the massive problems it has for traditional orthodox Christianity. In the end it could all be harmonised with a mostly allegorical reading of Genesis, as well as the bits in the Pauline epistles dealing with Christ atoning for Adam’s disobedience in Eden. As you mention, this can only really be done by violently reconceptualisng the texts in question.

      I detect a real dissonance with liberal evangelicals and acceptance of evolution. The thoughtful and sincere members clearly don’t want a part of the rabid anti science, anti-intellectualism of Ken Ham and the Answers in Genesis crowd, but neither do they want to draw what seems the natural inference: the theory of evolution (which tells us there never was a first human called Adam) vitiates the need for Christ’s work on the cross. No Adam, no need of atonement. But that’s one Rubicon a lot of Christians cannot even contemplate crossing…

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