In my last blog post I issued a challenge of sorts regarding the importance to “Man Up” and choose your position when it comes to the forces at work behind human existence. Our choices, as I see it, come down to ‘purposeless accident’ or ‘Divine design.’ It’s one, or it’s the other; we do not have the luxury of remaining neutral. A great question that came out of the ensuing discussion asked, basically— Why is it necessary to equate “purposeless accident” with evolution? Couldn’t evolution be the tool God divinely designed as the means to bring about humanity?
It’s one thing to debate the validity of evolution with the individual who refuses to consider supernatural means in the origin of MAN; it’s quite another thing when the individual proposes that evolution is the means employed by The Supernatural One to bring about the end result that is MAN. But for that person, the Christian evolutionist, there are some interesting difficulties to wrestle with as a result. This post is intended to deal with just a few of these difficulties. In my next post, already in the works, I’ll attempt to deal with a few of the pivotal potholes I see in the pavement of the evolutionary highway itself.
1) False Starts
Interestingly, both camps that support Darwinian evolution as the means of explaining the appearance of mankind (advocates of ‘purposeless chance’ as well as advocates of ‘Divine design’) share a similar problem: the matter of ‘first life.’ “Why can't we say that God "created" life because He created an earth in which various chemicals could interact to eventually become rudimentary DNA?” asked a recent ‘Divine design’ visitor to my blog. As this question seems to imply no need for supernatural “meddling” once all the non-living chemical components for life are created and accounted for, the answer is the same for both camps: Because there is no scientific evidence to indicate that life can spontaneously generate from various, non-living chemicals, any more than there is evidence that my amazing Apple computer can spontaneously generate from a pile of metal bits, loose wire and motherboards. What needs to be understood is that, using the analogy of the computer, there isn’t even evidence to show how the components themselves, the “pile of bits and wire” came into existence, much less the computer itself. It would be helpful if we could simulate an environment, complete with all the necessary, non-living chemical components and then duplicate this “first life” in a laboratory experiment; unfortunately, no one has been able to do so. “Science, you might say,” notes science journalist John Horgan, “has discovered that our existence is infinitely improbable, and hence a miracle” (Science and Christianity: Four Views, 139).
2) Natural vs. Supernatural
‘Fine,’ the Christian evolutionist might say, ‘Let’s say God was necessary to make the first living organism (whatever that was), but— the rest of the process could be done without Him.’ This seemed to be the tone in another recent comment on my blog by a supporter of Divinely-backed evolution, who kept referring to 'random' and 'natural' processes—“Note that both micro and macro evolution use the exact same mechanisms, random mutations being selected for or against by natural selection, the only difference is the degree of change over different lengths of time”(I’ll address ‘micro’ & ‘macro’ evolution in my next blog post). My question is— Isn’t that language contradictory to “Divine design?” Doesn’t ‘random mutation’ by definition mean there was no ‘design’ behind it? That it could just as well have evolved in a different way, along a different evolutionary trajectory that did not lead to the spirit-filled creature that is Man? And what about the “selection” process for the progress of life? When it comes to which mutation is more advantageous and, by extension, which life form is thus “selected” to survive, is it ‘nature’ that is selecting and guiding those mutations, or is it God? ‘Natural selection’ or ‘supernatural selection?’ Random processes imply random results, which is confusing if a person is claiming that God is behind and directing the evolutionary process as a way to arrive at a very specific end result that is Man. If the Christian evolutionist is saying God set up the scientific framework of laws that would make evolution possible, and that that qualifies everything which has emerged since as His ‘design,’ then unless you’re also saying that this creation scenario under the guidance of scientific laws would have produced exactly the same results (humankind) were it repeated hundreds of times with the same beginning variables, what you’re describing is still chance, and not God that brought about the being that is Man. Again, it seems as though a choice needs to be made on this point; I struggle to see how this language is reconcilable. Stephen C. Meyer, director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, put it this way: “To say that God guides an inherently unguided natural process, or that God designed a natural mechanism as a substitute for his design, is clearly contradictory” (Strobel, The Case For Creation p.23). Darwin himself once argued that if we admit God into the process, then God would ensure that only “the right variations occurred… and natural selection would be superfluous” (Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution, 329-30).
But let’s hold off, for the sake of argument, and take either ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’ selection as the means for evolutionary change and increased complexity. Because either way— whether the selection of ‘which life-form would survive’ was truly “natural” or if the selection was “supernatural” and guided subtly by the hand of God— this leads the God-believing evolutionist into another, more complicated difficulty.
3) The Problem of Death (“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men…” Romans 5:12)
According to the Bible, prior to the sin of Adam and Eve, the created world was devoid of sin. There was no wrongdoing, no suffering, no want, no sickness and— no death. Death, according to the Bible, is a bi-product of sin. And not just “spiritual death”— that is not the sole implication of Scripture— but physical death as well. So what’s the problem? Namely this— Darwinian evolution, the theory of change from simple to complex, is a theory dependant on death. Natural selection, evolution’s chief tool, is a process dependant on the death of the weak and the survival of the fittest through competition in order to pass on the favorable traits necessary to live on and evolve in a hostile world, all for the designed purpose (according to the Christian evolutionist), of bringing about God’s finished product that is Man. The problem is… the first book of the Bible depicts a non-hostile environment, free from fear or competition or… death— until, until, fully formed man makes a choice to disobey his Creator. How does a theory of Divine design by means of natural selection (or Divine direction for that matter) address this important inconsistency? There is only one way, as far as I can see, and it’s the same way the atheist would address the problem—by challenging the credibility of the Bible.
A last (but by no means final) difficulty in this brief study that perhaps would have fit better under “False Starts,” comes into focus when the God-fearing evolutionist reads the Biblical order of creation.
4) The Order of Creation (DAY 5: “So God created… every winged bird according to its kind.” DAY 6: “And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.” Gen. 1:20-25)
What we have here is the Bible’s description of the order of creation events. Assuming with the Christian evolutionist that what’s being described is the order in which animals evolved on the earth, you immediately run into what I understand as a basic evolutionary problem of sequence. This is because the evolutionary theory would likely reverse this order of events, having ‘winged birds’ follow or evolve from some creeping reptile. I think this is a fair inconsistency. Again, how would the ‘Divine design by evolution’ respond to this? I would assume by another assertion that the Bible is not a science book, or some similar argument. But it’s important to admit that the more details you “bend” in the Bible to make it match up with unproven theories, the less ground you leave yourself to stand on when it comes to what you can really trust in that Book. In the end, you are unavoidably making a decision about which you trust more.
Surrounded By Grace,