I am not an evolutionist because of what I have come to learn in science concerning Darwinian evolution. Sure, I have reasons for doubting evolution because of what I find in scripture, but in my mind, that just confirms what serious shortcomings evolution already has within the realm of science.
How many of you have had discussions with friends or family who embrace Darwin’s theory and have had nothing to say in response, and feel completely out of your realm? Or if you are on the fence about evolution and struggle how it can fit into your faith because of the seemingly overwhelming evidence for the theory, read on and be encouraged. Setting aside scripture for the moment and approaching the theory of evolution in purely scientific critique can do much to allay the fears Christians have when the topic of evolution comes up.
First, it is important to define our terms and what we mean when we use the word evolution. Above I was talking about Darwinian evolution or macro-evolution. When we hear the word evolution, almost always it is in reference to the classical Darwinian evolution or large changes over time, but evolution typically has three definitions we need to consider when discussing this topic with anyone.
The term evolution in its most basic sense simply means change over time. In that sense, I have no problem with the term evolution, and you shouldn’t either. Just look around, things change over time. Indeed, you have changed over time. You were once a child and now you are an adult.
The second way people, (often found in Jr. High and High school textbooks) use the word evolution is when they are describing micro-evolution or small changes over time. Again I have no problem with this. We see small changes taking place in the world around us. Darwin’s finches are a fine example of micro-evolution and adaptation. Another example is the house sparrows which were introduced to North America in the 1850’s. Over the last 150 years, the ones in the north have become larger because a bigger body bird can survive better in colder climates, while the ones in the south are several ounces less in weight. In fact, if you were to look at a climate map over the U.S. you would see an obvious correlation between the larger and smaller sparrows depending on the climate.
The last way people use the word evolution is when they are talking about macro-evolution or Darwinian evolution. Macro, meaning large changes over time. Not just changes within a species, but a change of species. Reptiles to Redhawks, monkey’s to man, or wolf to whale. It is this meaning of evolution I have serious doubts about.
Now what is important to point out is the examples we see throughout the scientific community for evolution are examples of micro-evolution, (small changes over time) and from there they extrapolate that macro-evolution (large changes over time) is true.
Simple changes in time are not examples of macro-evolution and should not be considered valid evidence for Darwinian evolution. Next time you hear that change over time is proof of evolution, ask them what evidence there is for macro-evolution and odds are very good they will give you an example of micro-evolution.
Now that we have a clear understanding of evolution and what people mean when they use that term I want to share two main reasons I have doubts about evolution.
For Darwinian evolution to be true there are two conditions or two pillars that must support Evolution for it to be true. These two requirements must be answered by those who believe in the third definition of evolution.
The first is abiogenesis or life from non-life. If evolution is true then life must have started by accident. Nothing planned, nothing designed, just a blind haphazard event that took place billions of years ago that kicked off all the life we see around us.
For what it is worth, I don’t have a problem with the time frame. That is the belief that our universe is billions of years old, but I am not going to get into the old earth vs. young earth discussion. However, I need to point out that an old earth is a necessary condition for evolution and because of this some Christians are uncomfortable with an old earth view. Frank Turek said it best, “…we do want to point out that while the age of the universe is certainly an interesting theological question, the more important point is not when the universe was created, but that it was created.”1
I feel there is enough evidence to suggest an old earth and that does nothing to hinder my Christian faith. Yes, you can believe in an old earth and still be a Christian.
The second pillar is transitional forms or simply the fossil record. The evidence of simple to more complex life evolving over millions of years. From invertebrates to vertebrates. The primary differences are vertebrates have a backbone, central system and an internal skeleton, invertebrates have none.2
Abiogenesis and transition from one species to another are the two necessary pillars to hold up evolution and natural selection. Even if just one of those were to fail then the whole theory would crumble due to the necessity of each. As important as those are the good news is they are also the weakest and easiest for us to refute.
Now before we explore these two necessary pillars that hold up the evolutionary theory, I want to deal with a misconception that is perpetrated by many in the scientific community and those who are dismissive of a creator God.
In recent years there has been an effort to dismiss those who don’t believe in evolution as low brow, uneducated, misinformed, unschooled, and ignorant. There have been some studies that support the notion that creationists are simply not as smart as those who believe in evolution.
Sam Harris who wrote The End of Faith, Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason said this about religion to set the stage for anyone who believed in a Creator God. “Once we begin thinking seriously about happiness and suffering, we find that our religious traditions are no more reliable on questions of ethics than they have been on scientific questions generally.”3
He implies not only are creationists unreliable on questions of ethics and morals, they should not be respected in topics of science. Please give this a moments thought. If there is only one thing I want you to grasp in this post, it is this. Science is in the position to tell us why things are the way they are, but it never will be in the position to tell us the way things ‘ought’ to be.
Rafi Letzter wrote a piece titled, ‘Here’s why so many smart people don’t believe in evolution.’ He addresses the research, (one study imparticular) that implies those who don’t believe in evolution as being less intelligent than those that do. He wrote, “It strikes me as an attempt to marginalize and dismiss the perspectives of religious people for the benefit of Right-Thinking and Clever Academia. I suspect, personally, that a determined person could uncover any number of beliefs and attitudes held by academics that correlate with negative scores on tests of mental proficiency. All of which is to say: I think we should be skeptical of anyone who publishes a study explaining why people who disagree with them are less clever.”4
Letzter was addressing the specific test given by two psychologists, Will Gervais and Ara Nornzayan in 2015. This test was just three questions that off hand to the casual observer would seem to have an obvious answer. The intuitive answer was actually not the correct one. This test was called Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT). What Gervais and Nornzayan found was that those who scored higher on the CRT tended to believe in Darwinian evolution than those who did not believe in evolution. Conclusion? Smarter people believe in evolution.
Out the gate, this is an excellent example of the ad hominem fallacy. Someone attacks your character rather than your argument. One example would be insulting someone because of their education level when they don’t agree with you on a particular issue. For example, “You didn’t even finish high school so how could you understand anything about evolution?” Another example would be stating that someone’s argument is incorrect because of her religious beliefs. “Christians don’t believe in evolution and some probably still think the earth is flat, so is a waste of time to even talk to them about evolution.”
If you were to read Letzter’s post you will see some research that counters the claim that creationists are less intelligent than evolutionists, and you can find others out there. Upon further and deeper investigation two other researchers (Kahan and Stanovich) found that secular students with high CRT scores and religious students with high CRT scores tended to stick to their cultural beliefs. This is an indicator that has nothing to do with intelligence.
Kahan and Stanovich concluded, “Far from uniformly inclining individuals to believe in evolution, higher CRT scores magnified the division between relatively religious and relatively nonreligious study subjects. This result was inconsistent with the bounded rationality theory, which predicts that belief in evolution should increase in tandem with CRT scores for all individuals, regardless of cultural identity. It was more consistent with the expressive rationality theory, under which individuals of opposing cultural identities can be expected to use all the cognitive resources at their disposal to form identity-congruent beliefs.”5
In other words, intelligent people can also persuade themselves to accept or not accept an idea that might be counter to their own their upbringing. They call it ‘expressive rationality.’ So those who are brought up believing science is the next best thing to sliced bread are predisposed to stick with that belief just as those in the intelligent design camp will stick with their own cultural identity.
Of course, if you understand the findings you realize that it does nothing to further our position, but simply points out that intelligent people on both sides of the aisle tend to stick to their conclusions. With that in mind, it can be said that many in the scientific community have issues with evolution.
A few years back there were over 500 scientists who signed a document that stated skepticism on random mutation and natural selection accounting for the complexity of life. Evolution News wrote, “The list of 514 signatories includes member scientists from the prestigious US and Russian National Academy of Sciences. Signers include 154 biologists, the largest single scientific discipline represented on the list, as well as 76 chemists and 63 physicists. Signers hold doctorates in biological sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, and related disciplines. Many are professors or researchers at major universities and research institutions such as MIT, The Smithsonian, Cambridge University, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, the Ohio State University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Washington.”6
Finally, Evolution News & Science Today reported on the Royal Society Meeting in London that took place in November of 2016. Their focus was on new trends in evolutionary biology. Evolution News wrote, “First, remember that the Royal Society is arguably the world’s most august scientific body…[and] that such a thoroughly mainstream scientific organization should now at last acknowledge problems with the received neo-Darwinian theory of evolution is also obviously notable.”7In the article, they list three main bullets that are yet unsolved concerning the theory of evolution. The last one mentioned was transitional forms, one of the pillars I mentioned above.
I am not a scientist, but I do my homework because I am concerned about what is being taught in our schools. I also do my homework because I am concerned about our youth in church and what they consume, often unknowingly from our media. Finally, I do my homework because I want to be informed and inform those around me about worldviews counter to Christianity and the consequences of embracing them.
Darwinian evolution is not the ‘case closed’ many in the scientific community suggest, and it is not just dismissed by the country Cajuns found in the backwaters of Lousiana. That may sound racist, but so does the full title of Darwin’s book, “On the Origin of Species. Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Can you imagine a researcher publishing a book with a title of that today? He or she would be vilified! I point this out to show the fundamental conclusion of natural selection and Darwinian evolution, not as an attempt to discredit Darwin as a racist.
Belief in evolution has consequences. If you believe we are just the result natural selection over a period of millions or billions of years, then there is no ‘ought’. No one, not clergy, not science, not presidents or prime ministers, not a government, not the United Nations, not a single one of us can weigh in on the questions of right and wrong because it is simply about reproducing and human flourishing. Survival of the fittest.
Stay tuned for Part II.
1. Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. “The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe.” I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway 2004, Print.
2. Meyer, Stephen C. et al. Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and against Neo-Darwinism. Malvern, Australia: Hill House, 2013. Print.
3. Harris, Sam. “The Science of Good and Evil.” The End of Faith, Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W. W. Norton & Company. 2005
4. Letzter, Rafi. “Here’s why so many smart people don’t believe in evolution.” Business Insider, businessinsider.com, 15 September 2016. http://www.businessinsider.com/christian-jewish-religious-evolution-2016-9
5. Kahan, Dan M., Stanovich Keith. “Rationality and Belief in Human Evolution.” Social Science Research Network ssrn.com, 15 September 2016.
6. Crowther, Robert L. “Over 500 Scientists Proclaim Their Doubts About Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.” Evolution News evolutionnews.org, 20 February 2006. https://evolutionnews.org/2006/02/over_500_scientists_proclaim_t/
7. Evolution News. “Why the Royal Society Meeting Mattered, in a Nutshell.” Evolution News, evolutionnews.org, 5 December 2016. https://evolutionnews.org/2016/12/why_the_royal_s/
Why I Don’t Believe in Evolution Part I by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
- Geisler, Norman. Turek, Frank. “The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe.” I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Wheaton: Crossway 2004, Print.
- Meyer, Stephen C. et al. Explore Evolution: The Arguments for and against Neo-Darwinism. Malvern, Australia: Hill House, 2013. Print.
- Harris, Sam. “The Science of Good and Evil.” The End of Faith, Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. W. W. Norton & Company. 2005
- Letzter, Rafi. “Here’s why so many smart people don’t believe in evolution.” Business Insider, businessinsider.com, 15 September 2016.
- Kahan, Dan M., Stanovich Keith. “Rationality and Belief in Human Evolution.” Social Science Research Network ssrn.com, 15 September 2016.
- Crowther, Robert L. “Over 500 Scientists Proclaim Their Doubts About Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.” Evolution News[i] evolutionnews.org, 20 February 2006.
- Evolution News. “Why the Royal Society Meeting Mattered, in a Nutshell.” Evolution News, evolutionnews.org, 5 December 2016.