Evidence and Evolution (The Debate)

RETIRED ARTICLE
Evidence and Evolution. This article has been retired. Please visit the new version of the article. The new article is truer to my original intent, which got sidetracked by an unexpected debate with the Discovery Institute. In fairness to them, I will leave our interactions up on this page, but request that future links associated with the scientific debate continue to be directed here, and all other links go to the new article.

As of May 21st 2016, I am no longer planning any more public responses to this ongoing debate. To be clear, I 100% stand by all the scientific claims made in this article. To the teachable and curious that would meet me face-to-face, I am willing to explain in detail the scientific reasons why all of existing critiques of this article are incorrect. However, public arguments about non-intuitive facets of science are not helpful. I am much more interested in creative collaborations with philosophers, theologians, historians, and scientists to think about science together.

My Response to Critics
Not surprisingly, many people reading this article see the word “evolution” and fixate on the science, instead of thinking of the theology. I do want to highlight Vincent Torley’s very kind and accurate defense of my science.  Moreover, I have included a detailed FAQ at the bottom of this page, which also addresses Dr. Michael Behe’s clever response to this conversation. Thank you all for raising awareness of the strong scientific evidence for common descent.

Science aside, I am still curious about the theology. Consider responding to my theological question here.

Is this article really an olive branch?

Recently, several curious religious leaders privately asked me to explain the genetic evidence supporting evolution. They found out about me through my prior work on faith and evolution (WSJ, Nature, Ken Fong,  Creation Pacifism and Multnomah) and my work with the Science for Seminaries Program. After several emails and conversations with these open-minded leaders, I decided to summarize my response here. In particular, be sure to check out the links to Dr. Dennis Venema’s more complete explanations of the evidence for the general public: common ancestry and genetic similarity (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4), synteny (parts 1 and 2),  pseudogenes (parts 1 and 2), egg yolk (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4)  and hominid evolution (hominid genetics1 and chromosome 2).

In my opinion, the most compelling and theologically important evidence for evolution is the genetic evidence for the “common descent of man:” the scientific hypothesis that humans evolved from a shared ancestor with the great apes (chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans).

Before summarizing the evidence supporting the common descent of man, I want to start with a story. This story is meant to reduce the fear some feel when encountering evidence that might contradict their understanding of the Bible. This is the story of the scientist, the theologian, and the 100 year-old tree.

Tree Rings
This shows a trunk with several rings, each of which usually corresponds to a year of growth.

 

Let us imagine that God creates a fully grown tree today, and places it in a forest. A week later, a scientist and a theologian encounter this tree. The theologian believes that God is trustworthy and has clearly communicated to him that this tree was created just a week ago. The scientist bores a hole in the tree, and counts its rings. There are 100 rings, so he concludes that the tree is 100 years old. Who is right? In some senses, both the scientist and the theologian are right. God created a one week old tree (the true age) that looks 100 years old (the scientific age). Moreover, it would be absurd for the theologian to deny the 100 rings that the scientist uncovered, or to dispute the scientific age of the tree. Likewise, the scientist cannot really presume to disprove God. Instead, the theologian should wonder why God would not leave clear, indisputable evidence that this 100 year-old tree is just a week old.

I tell this story because it might encourage some religious thinkers to fearlessly approach the very strong genetic evidence for human evolution. Currently, it appears that, for some reason, God chose to create humans so that our genomes look as though we do, in fact, have a common ancestor with chimpanzees. If we allow for God’s intervention in our history, it is possible we do not share a common ancestor with apes. Adding God into the picture, anything is possible. Still, even if evolution is wrong, God did created us to appear as if we do have a common ancestor with apes.

What is the evidence for human common ancestry with apes?

The strongest evidence is a series of stunningly accurate predictions about human genomes that have been confirmed in recent decades as the human and ape genomes have been sequenced. This is analogous to a DNA sibling test between us and apes, but even more comprehensive.

As predicted by common ancestry,  human and chimpanzee genomes are extremely similar (greater than 98% similarity in coding regions), much more similar than we would expect without common descent.2 Remarkably, just as predicted by the fossil record, humans are about 10 times more genetically similar to chimpanzees than mice are to rats.

nature04072-f9.2
This remarkable figure from the first chimpanzee genome paper in 2005 (doi:10.1038/nature04072), illustrates that humans are about 10 times more similar to chimpanzees than mice are to rats. Horizontal (but not vertical) length plots the genetic differences. By amino acid sequence (Ka), the comparison is 0.245% vs. 2.61% difference. By codon difference (Ka + Ks), the comparison is 1.219% vs. 18.74%. A different or better analysis would adjust these percentages, but not by much. Common ancestry predicts this by recognizing that genomes are better explained by evolutionary history than readily observable differences between species.

In fact, if “microevolution” (a concept many religious leaders affirm)3 can explain the similarity between rats and mice,4 it is reasonable to infer it explains the similarity between humans and chimpanzees. Genetically, humans and apes are the same “kind.” We do not even need to accept “molecules-to-man” “macroevolution” to appreciate the compelling evidence for common ancestry of humans and chimpanzees. Maybe this evolutionary story is false (just like the 100 rings in the tree), and it is certainly incomplete, but it is by far the best scientific explanation of our origins.

This is just the beginning of the evidence in our genomes for common ancestry. In addition to overall similarity, there are several more precise and independent patterns clearly detectable in our genomes, all of which are predicted by the hypothesis of common ancestry but not otherwise expected. In particular, I recommend these carefully explained blog posts about common ancestry and genetic similarity (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4), synteny (parts 1 and 2), egg yolk (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4) , and pseudogenes (parts 1 and 2) at BioLogos. Each of these patterns is an independent test for common ancestry, and by all these tests we clearly look as though we are related to chimpanzees through a common ancestor. This result was predicted by scientists, using the common ancestry hypothesis, and confirmed over the last decade.

Not only do human genomes look like genetically modified chimpanzee genomes, there are also several even more closely related but extinct non-humans, e.g. Neanderthals and Denisovans (see the featured image of the human child with a recreated Neanderthal). For a long time, some religious leaders have hypothesized that Neanderthals are just modern humans with diseases and Denisovans are wishful fictions based only on tiny bone fragments that are likely human. Remarkably, we can now sequence the genetic material in Neanderthal and Denisovan remains, and test if they are just modern humans or not. Confirming the predictions of scientists, these genomes look like sibling species, not modern humans (see hominid geneticschromosome 2 and mtDNA).

All this evidence, and more, is why scientists say that we share a common ancestor with the great apes. It is as if they bored a hole into the tree, counted the rings, and concluded it was 100 years old. Of course, adding God back into the picture, anything could have happened. An omnipotent God could have created us 6,000 years ago. For some reason, however, He created us to look as if we are uncommonly intelligent apes, more closely related to chimpanzees than mice are to rats, as if we share a common ancestor with them.

So how does the theologian respond to this account?

Denying or ignoring the evidence serves no one. The theologian could look for an overlooked genetic signature that shows that humans were created in a special creative act of God or he could look for errors in the scientific analyses. Still, even if he found standing for quibbles here and there, the overall picture would remain the same and the evidence against common ancestry, at best, would be subtle and debatable. Even if the experts are wrong, they certainly are not ignorant. Human and chimpanzee genomes are very similar, and currently appear consistent with common descent.

Ultimately, even if errors in the scientific account are uncovered, the theologian is left with an important question: why didn’t God make it clear and obvious, in our genomes, that humans did not evolve from apes? It would have been very easy for God to design humans with genomes that were obviously different than apes, and clearly not a product of evolution. From some reason, He did not. He did not even make us as different from chimpanzees as mice are from rats. Why not?

Perhaps, the theologian could consider the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s assertion, “A god who let us prove his existence would be an idol.” If God exists, maybe He makes Himself known another way.

Baby orangutan and baby human.
This human and this orangutan toddler have very similar genomes, more similar than rats are to mice, that look like the product of evolution from a common ancestor. This is not the whole story, of course. Humans are so much more than that of which we are made.

 

Some might be concerned that God made us to look like genetically modified apes, as if we were merely the dust of the earth.  Scientifically, this certainly seems true, and it seems senseless for religious leaders denying this evidence. Of course, the scientific account is not the whole story. It is an open theological question how to complete the scientific account, and theological debate surrounding this question is important and engaging. One thing all should agree on; we humans are certainly more than just apes.

What, exactly, is the olive branch?
Why won't you respond to all the scientific critiques of your position?
Doesn't design-reuse explain why humans and chimps are similar?
How does common descent explain the differences between chimps and humans?
What about the unexplained variation in divergence across the genome?
Could creation-by-modification, a type of progressive creation, explain this data?
What about Cornelius Hunter and Vincent Torley?
What do you think of Michael Behe's response to this exchange?

 

Show 8 footnotes

  1. This link is not from Dr. Venema.
  2. A common lawyerly objection to this evidence is that these similarities are “equally” explained by common “design.” As scientists, our response to this objection is data. Many modern creationists think that the genetic evidence shows that mice and rats share a common ancestor, even though they are 10 times less similar than humans are to chimpanzees. Starting from the genetic evidence, why is it hard to believe chimpanzees and humans are related (<1.5% codons different), when we readily accept mice and rats are related (>15% different)? Of course, on the outside, not looking at our genomes, humans are very different than chimpanzees, much more different than mice are from rats.  Common ancestry predicts this discrepancy between function and genetics by recognizing that genomes are better explained by evolutionary history than readily observable differences between species; mice and rats are more different because they changed more quickly (because of their shorter generation time) for a longer period of time than humans and chimpanzees.  What design principle can explain why humans are 10 times more similar to chimpanzees than mice are to rats? No one knows
  3. This is consistent with the “Orchard of Life” model that evolution is allowed within groups of the same “kind.” For example, one creation group writes “Rats may actually share ancestry in the same created kind as mice.” Follow these links at your own risk. They are all to sites that I cannot endorse.
  4. I only mention rats and mice here, but many very similar organisms (that are the same “kind”) are just as different in their genomes as mice and rats. I leave finding more examples to the readers. Send me what you find. The common pattern: divergence time, mutation rate, and mutation mechanisms explain genome structure better than organism similarity.
  5. To be clear, in this case I do not think Dr. Hunter was missing my argument. I just think he accidentally neglected to click the footnote on the sentences he chose to argue against. Sloppy but not malicious.
  6. In this case, however, I think the oversight was unintentional. I think Dr. Hunter never actually looked at the footnote to the two sentences he focused his criticism on.
  7. My first pass through this computation made a mistake in the computation, computing 8 mutations per generation, and used a faulty number of 10 from memory. Sorry about the errors. Remember, however, that the numbers we are using here are very very rough
  8. This is one reason why Dr. Hunter’s calculations are off. He claims, “the mouse-rat genetic divergence should be much greater—at least two orders of magnitude greater—than the chimp-human genetic divergence.” Humans and chimps are 1.2% different, and 100 times (two orders of magnitude) greater is 120% different. This is not possible of course. Dr. Hunter’s math does not make sense because it does not take into account reversion to the ancestral sequence, identical coincident mutations, and genome size (the denominator on percents). It turns out that the actual formulas are more complicated than what I have shown here. The simple formulas break down as the divergence grows larger.

53 thoughts on “Evidence and Evolution (The Debate)”

  1. Science tells us the how; revealed religion tells us the why. It seems that many people believe in a god who is a magician; who acts independently of natural law. These people believe in the “poof” theology: god created a stationary non changing universe. Unfortunately such a childish notion of God, faith and the Bible has down irreparable harm since the dawn of science. The Bible depicts a different Creator: one who structured a universe according to natural law; that unfolded according to a design plan, that obeys natural law, the fully embraces an evolutionary and changing univesre and ended with the pinnacle of creation: the human mind reflecting the image of God.

    1. The Creator God of the Bible created things “out of nothing”. He sits outside of His creation; He is not part of it. It is impossible by natural law to create anything (matter cannot be created or destroyed). So either the visible universe always was, or it was created by someone out of nothing. There is no natural law or science to explain that; that is always a matter of faith/world view.

        1. You raise a great point here… so much of what is espoused as biblical “fact” cannot be found in the Bible. For instance, “God had formed out of the ground all of the wild animals and all of the birds” has no intimation of “out of nothing”. And if one is desperate for a marriage of religion and science we can simply note that the top 4 reactive elements of the universe are C, N, O & H, which are also the same top 4 elements of the human body. We can also see eukaryotes come from the same “ground”.

          At a certain point you have to wonder at the desperation. If when Moses raised his rod there was a lifting of the floor of the sea of reeds, would this nullify science or religion? If I look at the stars and see nuclear reactions and my friend sees romance, is she wrong? Give to Science the things that are Science’s and to God the things that are God’s.

          1. You may have read the Bible but I do not think you understand the verses of Creation. One needs to understand that ancient Hebrew, about the time of Moses, had only about 10,000 words. The people did not have scientific sophistication. When the Bible speaks of water in the Creation, the Received Tradition, over 2000 years old, tells us that this is not the water that we now of today. It was a cosmic fluid; highly fluid and shimmering like water, but not water in the sense of H20.

            So let’s review the creation.

            In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

            Stop: in the beginning: at time zero. The universe did not exist until time grabbed hold.

            God created. Hebrew: barah (b’-through or by means of) r(uach/spirt) elohim (the power of God)
            God, through His spirit and by His power created “et”. The aleph-tau (or alpha omega in Greek).
            God created a language that could be understood by mankind.

            The Heavens and the Earth. In Hebrew, the Heavens: shmayim (water s found there) and the Earth (aretz-an area). Not Earth as in the planet; that word will be olam.

            God said (implied, not stated) Let there be time and time grab hold.
            By the power of His spirit he made two potential points: Heaven and Earth (two physical dimensions and one metaphysical dimension call time).

            2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

            Now (a new point): the earth (aretz, the metaphysical field) was tohu v’bohu . Usually translated as formless and empty but this is not correct. Tohu literally means that which is to come (potential; or the future) and bohu (through or by it). Aretz was field with potential that actuated. It was the immense energy of the vacuum.

            Darkness was over the face of the deep: the face of the deep: the third dimension of reality. Darkness: in Hebrew hoshek, the primordial substance of the universe. As Isaiah said, “Behold I create the darkness (hoshek) and form the light.

            At this point a transition phase occurs by which potential is becoming actuated in 4 dimensions (dimensions of space and 1 dimension of time).

            3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

            The light separated from the darkness. As the immense energies of the early universe cooled photons escaped from the darkness and the universe was full of light.

            4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

            God called the light day and the darkness night. But note: And there was evening and morning day one.

            The universe went from disorder (evening or erev in Hebrew) to order (morning or boker (from beekor; to seek out or discern). And God saw that this order was good.

            Perhaps you need to study the Bible as little more astutely.

        2. The Bible states: In the beginning G-d created the Heavens and the Earth. In Hebrew created is barah; it is short hand b” (through or by way of); (ruach: spirit) (H; the name of G-d). Only G-d can create; man can form things from (or transform) things that are already in existence.

          In the beginning: clearly implies there was time zero. The universe did not always exist.

          1. Which is great until one reads the complete text… “and the spirit of God hovered over the waters, and God said ‘let there be light'”. For those who wish everything to be literal, the waters already exist. The introductory text is one of creation but the words “separate” and “made” are more frequent. In my view, an edifice has been built around which people have plastered the text instead of letting the text speak for itself (with no presumptions or assumed foreknowledge).

            So far as whether the universe did not always existed, there is no disagreement on either the evolutionary or the creation side on that point…

      1. It is clearly stated in the Bible; In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.
        It was not always; it has time zero.
        For centuries science embraced the Aristotlean view of the eternal universe;
        These two views have been in conflict for almost as long as civilization.
        Science has essentially settled the issue: the universe has a time zero. We can almost look to that point but we are blocked at time zero by a singularity where all physical laws break down.
        Science is slowly unveiling the how.
        Most humans confuse how and why.
        In a trick of logic many mal-educated assume that if we know the how there is neither a who or a why.
        But this is not the case. In every story there is:
        a who
        a what
        a when
        a where
        a why
        and a
        how.

        We know a what: the natural universe.
        We now know a when: about 14 billion years ago (as time is reckoned from the Earth; or 7 days ago if time is reckoned from relativity)
        We now know a where: in the time-space continuum that we know as the universe
        We are slowly understanding a how: that metaphysical quality known as “information” is made real through a multitude of vessels (fundamental particles, virtual particles, force fields, quantum fields, atoms, molecules, DNA).
        We now know that the Earth exists because a multitude of supernovas existed in the vicinity of our sun and gave us the heavy elements by which all life could emerge.
        We know now that complex life appeared on Earth almost as soon as the Earth was cool enough to support life (which coincided with the settling of the massive and life destroying environment that preceded life). Life capable of using photosynthesis and energy conversion. (As stated in the Bible on day 3).
        We know that the atmosphere changed from a murky twilight to an optically clear atmosphere able to seen the sun, the moon (which appeared larger than the sun in the early days of the Earth), and the stars (as sen on day 4; as the air cleared orb of light and finally the stars appeared).
        And then we the emergence of the tannim gdolim (giant giant lizards or dinosaurs on day 5) and finally the pinnacle and point of creation: mankind at the end of day six.
        We now know that the universe requires a stationary point of absolute rest for it to exist (as stated, and God rested on the seventh day).
        We now know that the first human being was a man and that man mated
        Where science and the bible disagree the resolution in every case has indicated that the Bible is correct.

        And Science is slowly coming to the Who:
        Even secular scientists speak of the creation of the universe. If there is a creation there is a creator.
        The periodicity of DNA is 10-5-6-5. This is the numerical equivalent of YHVH, the sacred name of God as He interacts with HIs creation. For God has written His name in every living thing.

        But Science cannot answer the Why for Why speaks to motivation. And hear we have a hint;
        God created man as a reflection of Himself; not the physical body (for that is borrowed from the environment and returns to the environment) but that metaphysical quality we know as information (which cannot be created or destroyed and is the fundamental reality of our universe).

        And the deeper science looks into reality the more there is a revelation that our universe is “information made real” through a variety of carrier vessels.

        So it is no longer a question of belief (a state of unquestioned acceptance)
        but of faith (revealed knowledge that the Bible is the word of God for no other explanation can be found).

      2. Not exactly. The signs are there if one looks. Modern Day cosmology has embraced the “big bang” theory of the universe It is trying to figure out how we have a universe. The fine tuning of the variables necessary is near beyond comprehension.

        Even more fundamental: The Creation, either according to the Bible or according to the cosmologists violates the second law of thermodynamics.

        So if one embraces science one must embrace the cosmological understanding of the creation of the universe. But the cosmological creation of the universe violates the second law of thermodynamics.

        This leads to paradox. How can one accept the creation (even from the scientific cosmological point of view) if it violates the second law of thermodynamics (the law of entropy and decay)/ It is the resolution of paradox that leads to deeper truth.

        The relativity astrophysicists embrace a concept of the block universe in which all points in the universe are on a time-space continuum. The block universe requires there to be nothing outside of the universe in which to measure time. In this sense there is no true past, present or future. However this is absurd. We see aging and decay and the passage of time all around us.

        The Copenhagen school of Quantum Physics states that an action must be observed to transition from potentiality to actuality. Who was the observer at the time of the Creation? There is only one and that is God.

        Early in the evolution of the concept of space-time it was understood that there must be a point of absolute rest in the universe by which all clocks/passage of time are measured. This point of absolute rest/this point of the universal measurement of time is outside the universe. Hence the Bible says, “And God rested on the 7th day.” He rested in that He withdrew from active creation in the universe; but He remained outside the universe so that there would be a universal clock to measure all other time against. And thus we are told in the Received Tradition, “God is the habitation of the universe but the universe is not the habitation of God.”

        Faith is an interesting concept. I have faith in reality. I know that if I step on a floor it will support me. If I walk past a plant it will not grab me. One who is insane has lost this faith. So what is faith?

        Jeff

      1. To an extent this is true. The resurrection is the final moment of the how of the universe.

        Our bodies are borrowed from the environment. The atoms that make up our bodies, or at least the protons, appear to be eternal (or exist as long as the universe). They are continually recycled. My body is literally not the same body it was five years ago. In fact, some one else has used the very same material that I used for my body.

        This is not to say that a physical resurrection is impossible. It is information who makes us who we are; our bodies are merely a vessel for that actualization of information. In the resurrection it is just as likely or even more likely that the vessel which actualizes our information is made of a more spiritual material.

        God created the universe and mandated what we know as natural law. As long as the universe exists, and to the extent that God intervenes in the world, He interacts in the universe in accordance with the very laws that He mandated.

      2. hi dr joshua. here is an interesting argument: what if we will find a self replicating watch on another planet. lets say it even have DNA. is this kind of watch will be evidence for design or evolution?

        1. It should be noted that we have naturally existing watches some which are accurate to billionths of a second – in astronomy they’re called pulsars. If you believe that our super accurate clock (the pulsar) might exist without a designer, then you are one step closer to believing that a design does not require a designer. And the challenge inherent in the “design vs evolution” debate is precisely that thing we call design, without which we would not know what evolution is. After all, evolution takes one design and produces another design. We might note, for instance, the recent discovery that formamidopyrimidine in low ph conditions produces purines – the bicycle form of nucleotide bases like adenine and guanine. It is a naturally occurring chemical reaction and yet it produces a design. As such, design cannot tell us if there is a designer – it cannot tell us one way or the other because there is no experiment that can tell us what would exist without a designer.

          1. The basic argument is this: intelligent design requires an intelligent designer.
            If one sees a building, one knows there is a builder. Even if we don’t see him or know him/her directly.
            If one sees a table, ones knows there is a carpenter.
            If one sees a computer, one knows there is a computer manufacturer
            If one uses a computer one knows there is a software engineer.
            Of course we can call on and on; no matter how; no matter how small.
            If one sees a universe of immense size that is built along identifiable and repeatable patterns, one knows (or should know) there is a designer.
            If one sees a quark of infinitesimally small size, in which we know it is information made real, and that information is repeated to build an elemental unit (proton, neutron, etc) we know there is a designer.

            Those who deny the existence of a designer have to suggest the following:
            An infinite number of multiverses (of which no one has ever seen; or is even capable of seeing by the very logic of those promoting the idea of the multiverse)
            A block universe that is literally an infinite number of points along the space-time axis but which is frozen (and thus deny the very fact of our consciousness) and even the concept of meaningful choice that has consequences. And thus the concept of morality; right and wrong; good and evil.
            And thus in a sense they have been greater faith then those who accept the Bible and the Creator.

            BTW, the Bible does not deny the existence of a multiverse. As Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions”. He is referring to the Received Tradition that Before the Beginning God Created the Universes. As we are told in the Gospel of Thomas (not accepted as one of the Gospels) “Jesus knew the secrets of the aleph.” This refers to the Received Tradition that “In the Beginning God created “et” (aleph-tav) or (alpha omega in Greek) or language so that He could communicate with mankind in our language. And human understanding begins with the bet (the second letter) as it is stated “B’reshit (in the beginning ; the first letter of the Revealed Law is the bet and this is the limit of human knowledge). But the multiverse only moves the problem; it does not solve the problem of “who designed/created the multiverse.”

            And it does not solve the more basic problem: After everything is stripped away the perceived universe is information (a metaphysical concept) actuated into the physical.

            Jeff

          2. hi ttaerum. im talking about a regular watch and not a pulsar. so if you will find such a watch but with speciel trairts like dna and self replication system. do you will think that such a watch was designed or evolved?

          3. Unfortunately the web site is set up so I can’t directly respond to Gil’s or Jeff’s points.

            Gil apparently lives in a primitive culture where only “regular” watches are permitted… which is quite peculiar – why is a pulsar not a “regular” watch? Does Gil needs a big hand and a little hand and a smiling character in the background? Besides which, why is your watch “regular” and mine not – my watch keeps much better time and the battery won’t run out for another billion years.

            So far as Jeff’s points are concerned… Prov 10:19 notes that “when words are many, transgression is not lacking” and my experience is most people who have to use many words lack a firm grasp on the foundations. They find themselves quoting stuff about original deep meanings of words – a particular art form which requires being immersed in the culture and speaking the native tongue and they’ve been dead only a few thousand years. It does bring to mind King Saul calling on the spirit of Samuel from the dead at Gilboa.

            In the end it is impossible to take seriously arguments which permits only Gil’s notion of a regular watch or Jeff’s particular and deep mystical mind meld with a writer dead for thousands of years.

  2. Thanks for this clear explanation and for raising important theological questions. You mentioned the Science for Seminaries Program – are you involved in the retreat(s) this summer? I am attending the evangelical retreat in July as a participant. Looking forward to the opportunity to reflect deeper and an informed matter about engaging this issue theologically. I’ve begun to do that – if you’re interested, here’s an article I wrote a little while ago (for Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith): https://patrickfranklin.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/pscf9-14franklin.pdf

    1. ” patrick-franklin”— “Science for Seminaries Program …..” All your DOCTRINE come out of the “Church-of Rome” and not from God’s Word for ALL Souls. God speak to EACH man….INDIVISUALLY not only Scholars.!
      (64 years in Gen. Sciences!)

  3. Let’s remember that only a minority of Christians believe in a 6000 year old universe and a six 24 hr day creation (certainly less than 70%). Same is true of evolution. I am Catholic. The Catholic Church by itself has 1.2 billion members. The Catholic Church has no problem with humans having a common ancestry with other primates; however, at some point God intervened to give man an immortal soul. The Catholic Church teaches that the Bible teaches truth–truth as intended by God, written through the inspired human author. The Bible is not a documentary nor a science book, though it often contains specific documentary passages and also science information. The truth of Genesis includes that God created the universe (or the mulitiverse) out of nothing (physics also requires the multiverse to have a beginning), God did this orderly, God did this out of love for mankind. Man sinned causing separation. The lists of truths goes on. The fact that Genesis may not state the order of creation correctly was not the intent of the human author. These events did occur, but not necessarily the specifics. It is a genre of writing. As I understand it, Science supports through the studies of mitochondrial Eve that mankind apparently had a common ancestor. If God chose to establish a process for the development of mankind using evolution that is his choice, but in the end a soul was inserted and elevates man. it is hard to imagine a conscience arising out of mutations, There is also modern evidence for the existence of the soul through Near Death Experiences where individuals, scientifically investigated report, clinically die and see and hear things, experience emotions through overhearing of conversations in another room—I am not talking about going to the light! Even individuals blind from birth describe objects which they have never seen. The whole point is that the issue of common ancestry maybe just be a interesting scientific question–How was this done? There are so many aspects of life/existence that science can never explain because the science view of existence is so limited and does not begin to be able to explain other realities, such as truth, beauty, love, or even undeniable miraculous events (by definition events outside the laws of physics). Science explains well what it can, but will never explain everything. Theology can explain many aspects of the other side of existence, but also will never explain everything.

  4. In responding to ttaerum:
    Except we are not using modern day understanding but the understanding as recorded in Onkelos, the Talmud, and the Received Tradition.
    At some point we are restricted to words:
    And I may point out that if one does not understand Hebrew then one is restricted to the translation, whether it be King James or whatever.
    Some words do not translate well.
    In context of the text and the culture and time it was revealed we must allow some degree of updating.
    If the Bible is the word of God then it must speak to all generations for all times and must be given in the language of mankind.

  5. Hi Dr. Swamidass,

    Thank you very much for your kind remarks about my post on Uncommon Descent.

    I’d just like to comment briefly on what you said about Dr. Hunter in the FAQ:

    “Third, I do believe that Dr. Hunter is not being intentionally deceptive or manipulative. I believe he is making a good faith effort, to the best of his abilities, to engage the evidence I have raised.”

    I would like to endorse what you said. I pulled no punches in my post, and on a few occasions, I did criticize Dr. Hunter for relying on flawed arguments. I also wrote that he “neglects to inform” his readers on a couple of basic points. For the record, I wish to make it quite clear that I am not accusing Dr. Hunter of being intentionally deceptive. All of us are, at times, guilty of an unintentional bias towards arguments that we personally favor, and it is all too easy to ignore what we might perceive as very minor or trivial problems in these arguments, when presenting them to an audience. That was what I had in mind when I wrote about Dr. Hunter’s “neglect.”

    Despite my differences with Dr. Hunter, I have the greatest respect for him as a Christian, and I would like to thank him for his forbearance and courtesy.

    1. Sadly Dr. Hunter has allowed his desire to protect his YEC beliefs to override his sense of honesty. His Darwin’s Blog website is little more than a venue for Creationist apologetics and attacking science. It’s been a pattern for years that posts with strong evidence against Dr. Hunter’s anti-evolution claims tend to mysteriously disappear.

        1. I’ll try to do screen grabs before future posts are deleted. The post count in the thread discussing your human-chimp writings decreased by 10 since last night. The post count in the V.J. Torley thread has similarly dropped by 5. The amazing vanishing scientific data! 🙂

  6. It appears that after reading this response about spatial variation (in the FAQ), Dr. Hunter has removed this critique from his original article. Thankfully, at the Discovery Institute ENV blog, we can still see what he wrote before the edits. Charitably speaking, his removal of this section reflects a recognition, on his part, that common descent, in fact, does explain spatial variations in chimp-human divergence. I’m glad he can silently retracts his point, but I would prefer if he would admit that the correlation between mutation/recombination rates and spatial variation is actually another independent line of evidence in support of common descent.

  7. Update on 5/16/16. I am no longer sure if I can that Dr. Hunter is making a good faith effort. Dr. Hunter silently retracts bad arguments from his blog as it becomes clear (based on extensive conversations with me) that he is wrong. In fact, in many cases, his arguments only drawn attention to additional evidence for common descent. Rather than admitting this, he continues arguing. This is not what I understand as a good faith effort. Quite the opposite.

    1. Welcome to the club Dr. Swamidass. Those of us who have been interacting with Hunter have know for years about his disingenuous shenanigans. Hunter is a Fellow at the right wing religious think-tank Discovery Institute, a paid propagandist still pushing the DI’s religious “wedge strategy”. His blog is nothing but one dishonest hit piece after another on evolutionary theory and the honest scientists who use it. Scientific rebuttals often vanish as I have described.

  8. Heard about the dustup.
    The author says the most compelling evidence for evolution/common descent is human/ape genetics.
    In other words for common descent of us./apes not to be true we must have different genes.
    That would mean God would have us looking exactly alike but not have alike genes.
    This is very unlikely in biology. It would overthrow the whole concept of a common biological foundations. It would overthrow any concept of a common blueprint for biology.
    Alikeness in genes easily could come from alikeness in looks/body.
    As a YEC creationist i would predict we have almost perfect dNA with primates because we have a almost perfect sameness to our bodies.
    The only thing is why God would give us a ape body and not something radically different to justify a segregated creation.
    Another issue.
    yet the authors alikeness equals common descent is just a line of reasoning. its not biological evidence .

    1. Robert, are you trying to tell me God is not powerful enough to make us as different from chimps as rats are from mice? Are you trying to tell me it is not possible for God to make it obvious in your genomes that evolution is false? I find this very hard to believe. In my understanding, God can raise Jesus from the dead. I’m certain He could do this if He wanted. He did not. Why not?

      1. god is powerful however he does make systems. a physics system and a biology system. All biology is off the same rack. its the same head, butt, digestion, eyeballs, spleen, skin etc etc.
        Its a great blueprint. a common blueprint.
        Man is within this biological blueprint. We are not special.
        However we are special in our identity. We alone are made in Gods image. SO its impossible to have our own body representing our identity. Whereas with animals, originally, they are defined in thier identity by their body mostly.
        So we uniquely, of all creatures, do not have a body of our own but like another creature. No other creature is like this. We are renting the ape body type.
        It is the best body in nature for fun and profit and driving cars.
        We were given the best body type. No other body type is good enough.
        Thus we stay within the blueprint but uniquely our likeness to another creature is the evidence we are special.
        Oddly enough our non-animalness is due to a unique likeness to another creature.
        An equation.

        1. Exactly; our bodies are merely the vehicle for the actualization of information; a metaphysical quality that underpins reality. As it is written, “The Lord (God in HIs manifestation in the universe) made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding stretched out the heavens.” Jeremiah 51:15
          for what is wisdom and understanding but information?

  9. Dr. Swamidass:
    Please consider my response as from someone who is interested in that common ground if not fully convinced of creation pacifism.

    Common descent and design would necessarily show common evidences. (yes I read the response to that but found it unconvincing) What we (Christians) all should agree on is that God, through the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1), created everything including the world and all that’s in it. We don’t need to agree on how or when.

    The evidences for common descent may seem profound, but the theory is based on secular naturalism which fails to explain how these marvelous mechanisms credited could even come to be. Whether you ascribe to special creation YEC style or TE or whatever, creation calls on the power and mind of God to account for what is implausible by naturalistic forces alone. By allowing for God to create these mechanisms the whole thing becomes an argument over speculation and pride for who can tell what part of creation is direct and which is indirect? Sorry if this seems harsh.

    “The only thing is why God would give us a ape body and not something radically different to justify a segregated creation.”

    “That, of course, is exactly my theological question. =)”

    You do pose an interesting question, but is it really so difficult? It’s common theology that man was created as a spiritual being. That we are in the “likeness” of God has never meant God has an ape-like body, we know God is spirit. So our likeness is in that we are created spiritual beings.

    Why wouldn’t God make our biology unique? First, I caution anyone who would presume to divine the mind of God beyond what He has revealed; and inference is not always revelation (but science is often born of inference). But if I were to hazard a guess I’d simply say that God created all life on earth to be compatible with all life on earth. The fact that we have DNA like all other life on earth would always be conflated to common descent, if our DNA was further removed from chimps it would only push the common ancestor further back in the evolutionary construct (evolutionary theory says we have a common ancestor with the banana right?). If we had a completely different genetic code (as in not the quaternary code that life shares) would we be compatible with the world? Would fruits or meat be food for us? God originally created all biology to be compatible with all biology. What each biological organism looks like and is capable of is a product of the DNA used to make it. God had specific traits he wanted for us and our DNA is just the combination required to accomplish that, according to His creative purpose using His created code.

    You could just as easily ask why God created apes to look so much like us.

    Surely God could have made us completely unique. God could have created a completely different code for us. It’s like asking why would I program a web event with CSS rather than JavaScript? Perhaps the people who will maintain the web event don’t know JavaScript, or the network using it disables JavaScript. Even though both languages can perform a particular function, one is more compatible with the environment (programmers/users) than the other.

    So whether you want to believe:
    1. that God caused evolution to produce an advanced ape, into which He breathed spiritual life (this requires some editorial license from the Genesis account), or
    2. if you choose to believe God created all creatures individually in a single day (demanded by a literalist view of an apparently poetic account),
    3. or some derivative of these…
    That evolution appears true means two things; God is wise in how He creates and that creation is (mistakenly) being viewed as a strictly natural event.

    In my opinion, this “dust-up” need not have happened.

    Dr. Hunter, as I understand his writings, presents his analysis of research so as to combat what he’s dubbed the “Warfare Thesis”. That science and religion are separate and incompatible. He cleverly points out how science, particularly evolutionary biology, relies heavily on metaphysical (religious) proclamations. He focuses on where the theory breaks down into implausibility and the silly things scientists say to overcome problems. The “just-so” stories.

    When Dr. Hunter wrote his critique of your article he was challenging the premise of evolution as a viable naturally occurring mechanism (trying to be careful of tall weeds here, the term “evolution” is meant strictly in the broad “theory of” sense). The mechanisms by which adaptive change occurs are fantastic and amazing. A pathway for such mechanisms to evolve is implausible. This is my understanding of Dr. Hunter’s articles and I tend to agree with him.

    Having read your article, I got the distinct impression you start with the assertion that evolutionary theory is true and ascribe to the naturalistic process of evolution in the Darwinist sense. Perhaps this is not true, but that is the sense I, and presumably Dr. Hunter, got when reading it. Whenever someone produces an article which supports the premise that evolutionary theory can account for the diversity of all life Dr. Hunter points out that the theory is inadequate to the task and relies on a metaphysical (again, religious) premise. Namely that evolution is true.

    Your article fit well into this category and in doing so it presented itself as a challenge to the arguments, made consistently, by Dr. Hunter. Your olive branch to someone of this mind reads this way:
    “you can disagree with me, but you have to deny science to do so”
    I’m sorry if this isn’t your intended message but I find it hard to criticize Dr. Hunter for taking exception to this inference.

    Unfortunately, where this difference might have been hashed out between you, the article by Vincent Torley dug deep into the division leading to a highly defensive article by Dr. Hunter and galvanized support towards opposing positions, making common ground much more difficult if not impossible.

    Your article didn’t appear intentionally divisive and Dr. Hunter was simply being consistent. I believe he did express a tone which was less than graceful but I also believe he is frustrated by positions such as expressed in your article which adopt a premise that is, as he chronicles, religiously driven and inconsistent with science. Again, the premise that evolution is true.

    By appealing to supporters you (both) are allowing them to define your intended tone which is increasingly combative. Dr. Hunter is outnumbered by academic colleagues who oppose his position and prone to taking a highly defensive position. It’s unlikely you will both come to complete agreement, but before you further the divide Christians into camps I encourage you (both) to seek what common ground you do have. Correctly identify that on which you disagree and you will likely find it’s a premise, not really science.

    Thanks for reading
    Mark

    1. Mark,

      I very much appreciate this note and your obvious desire for peace.

      I have many disagreements with Hunter, the Discovery Institute, and (for that matter) my atheist colleagues. These disagreements are not the focus of this article. The focus here is on a place where we could find agreement. “Strong scientific evidence for common descent exists, but when taking God into account it is not definitive.” This is not a religious statement. It does not presume that evolution is true. And it does not end all our disagreements. And it should not be controversial.

      I think Hunter is ignoring the intention of this article, to argue about everything we disagree, rather than pausing and considering a genuine bid for peace from the opposing side. I think this resistance is from before Torley’s defense. I think that Dr. Hunter wants war.

      Both Hunter and I are Christians too. It is understandable that tempers can flare and rise in controversies like this. As Christians, however, we look to Jesus as our example. Even when treated unfairly, he was willing to love his enemies, even to death on the cross. I see this example, and I realize that no matter what slights I perceive, I am to seek peace. And I diligently work for it, even now, even as others plot for war.

      I want to point a few things that may not be obvious:

      1. I have emailed with Dr. Hunter in private several times, often correcting his misunderstandings of science and my offer in private. This has no effect on his views. I am left to wonder what to make of that. One thing is clear, he does science entirely different than we do in biology. Charitably speaking, he does not do mainstream science, he has his own version of the scientific method.

      2. In response to his concerns, I have much more carefully qualified the common ground I offer. This reflects a good faith effort on my part to compromise and meet creationists halfway here. I now write, “strong scientific evidence for common descent exists, but when taking God into account it is not definitive.” That clause is to make clear that I am not using science as a weapon here. So many people, including young earth creationists, can meet me here. I’m not sure why Hunter wants war.

      3. I am no longer convinced Dr. Hunter is dealing with me in good faith. I do not make this charge lightly, and will present evidence here. I took the time to carefully hear out from him why he thought spatial variation in divergence was evidence against common descent. If you look at the text he wrote on this, he committed hard to this. Saying that the absence of an explanation was a “special pleading” like “epicycles.” In about 5 minutes of googling, I found an experimentally verified mechanism that explains the pattern. I showed him the paper, and he initially did not understand it. I explained it to him, and then he silently removed the obviously wrong text from his blog. I ask him, “why not actually publicly admit that you just inadvertently discovered a pattern explained by common descent?” He refused, and wrote his next attack piece. This is not arguing in good faith. This is intellectually dishonest. Please read this note here, which is adapted from the email I sent him: http://swami.wustl.edu/evidence-for-evolution#spatial.

      4. In his ongoing critique, he has taken to taunting me to respond, claiming I won’t respond because I cannot explain all the new patterns he has dug up. The beautiful irony is that all the patterns he points to, are actually cleanly explained, and often verified by experiment. But what is the wise response now? He is not an honest man. He will not admit when I answer his questions and show these as patterns explained by common descent. Instead, he will attack me a new. I’m making such a limited argument here. Just that there “exists” evidence for common descent.

      To be clear, I am not appealing to my supporters. I have no supporters in the ID movement, because I am a theistic evolutionist. I’m appealing to Hunter’s community (like you) to police their own. This is appalling behavior that does not convince skeptics, and makes me wonder if all he wants is war. I however am working hard to choose peace.

      That being said, Vincent’s blog commenters have been working through how they want to respond in a more productive way. http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/in-defense-of-swamidass/. They have proposed a compromise term that might work in the ID community “descent with designed modifications,” which we agree is largely consistent with “common descent.” I’m comfortable with that dialogue.

      So, it appears you know Dr. Hunter. Knowing this background, how do you think we move forward from here?

    2. I also want to point out a few comments I agree with you about:

      “That evolution appears true means two things; God is wise in how He creates and that creation is (mistakenly) being viewed as a strictly natural event.”

      “You could just as easily ask why God created apes to look so much like us.”

      I think you are right about this. This is infact my point.

      Also, I agree with your theological response, but there is a deeper puzzle here. So much of the Church’s voice in science is focused on arguing against evolution, instead of declaring Jesus. How do we reconcile this with a God that made us in a way so consistent with evolution? I need a theological clear explanation of why God did not include disproving evolution in His design goals. Moroever, if this is not part of His design goals, why disproving evolution so important to the ID community? I cannot reconcile this theological puzzle. Maybe you can help.

      Here is my best bet:

      God reveals himself to us in Jesus, through the Resurrection, so He has no need to reveal Himself again 2000 years later to western scientists through subtle signatures in DNA. In fact doing so would likely distract from his primary revelation to us in Jesus. This traces back to God’s character that we see clearly at play in the Babel Tower. God reaches out to us, to make Himself known. Our attempts to reach Him without His revelation might even be insulting to Him, with the naive presumption that created humans might build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. God is so much greater than our ability to reach Him. He wants to rely on Jesus, His effort, not science, to reach Him. For me, Jesus is enough for confident belief.

    3. One more reply to your thoughtful note..

      “Common descent and design would necessarily show common evidences. (yes I read the response to that but found it unconvincing) What we (Christians) all should agree on is that God, through the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:1), created everything including the world and all that’s in it. We don’t need to agree on how or when.”

      Amen. We have expansive common ground here Mark.

      “The evidences for common descent may seem profound, but the theory is based on secular naturalism which fails to explain how these marvelous mechanisms credited could even come to be.”

      Not exactly. In my opinion, this dependent on how science works with the rule of methodological naturalism. This is different then secular naturalism, and was a rule put in place by Christians (http://biologos.org/blogs/ted-davis-reading-the-book-of-nature/the-miraculous-meniscus-of-mercury). This is part of what gives science its power, and also its limits. This is also why I cannot say the evidence for common descent is definitive. If God was involved (and He was) we cannot say for sure.

      “Whether you ascribe to special creation YEC style or TE or whatever, creation calls on the power and mind of God to account for what is implausible by naturalistic forces alone. By allowing for God to create these mechanisms the whole thing becomes an argument over speculation and pride for who can tell what part of creation is direct and which is indirect? Sorry if this seems harsh.”

      I totally agree. Which is why I do not argue “for’ theistic evolution. I frankly do not care what you believe about our origins. This article is not an attempt to convince people to believe in evolution. Rather it is attempt to give an answer to some honest questions, and make a bid for peace in the Creation War. The much more relevant question is the one asked by Jesus, “who do you say that I am?”

      Mark, we have so much common ground. I agree with you on so much. That is exciting.

    4. One more point on your very thoughtful post:

      “Why wouldn’t God make our biology unique? First, I caution anyone who would presume to divine the mind of God beyond what He has revealed; and inference is not always revelation (but science is often born of inference). But if I were to hazard a guess I’d simply say that God created all life on earth to be compatible with all life on earth. The fact that we have DNA like all other life on earth would always be conflated to common descent, if our DNA was further removed from chimps it would only push the common ancestor further back in the evolutionary construct (evolutionary theory says we have a common ancestor with the banana right?). If we had a completely different genetic code (as in not the quaternary code that life shares) would we be compatible with the world? Would fruits or meat be food for us? God originally created all biology to be compatible with all biology. What each biological organism looks like and is capable of is a product of the DNA used to make it. God had specific traits he wanted for us and our DNA is just the combination required to accomplish that, according to His creative purpose using His created code.”

      I have a hard time with this story because it seems to argue that God has limits in His autonomy. I think He absolutely could have made use with unique biology, or even with a clear signature in our DNA that made it 100% clear we could not have evolved from apes. I just cannot believe that this would be a hard task for the God that raised Jesus from the dead.

      If I believe that (which I do), I have to explain why He didn’t. One explanation for me that makes sense is that disproving evolution was not part of His design goals. As one theologian commented on the related article, perhaps His goal was the joy and delight of artistically creating everything, not arguing against evolution.

      If that is true, it calls us into account. Why is the Christian voice in science so intent on disproving evolution? Is this really God’s purpose for us here? It does not seem to be His purpose here.

  10. The arguments boil down to this:
    God created a complete unchanging universe from the start or God created a dynamic evolving universe. The first six days of Creation clearly show an evolving, ever finer refined universe until Mankind appears and God recedes from active creation.

    The first six days are given in relativistic time for if God is to interact in the Universe He created then it must be by the very laws He set in motion. From a relativity point of view, the Universe is six days old looking forward and 13.8billion years looking backward.

    If one believes the Bible, then one accepts evolution. And it is clear that the Bible is not literally speaking when God says He makes mankind in His image. First of the word is not image but the image cast by a shadow. So it is clear the Bible is talking of a spiritual reflection. Second, humankind is male and female; as the Bible states, ” In the image of God He made them; male and female He made them and called them Adam.” So that only a man and women united as one is a reflection of God
    .
    God made gave us and every living thing the ability to adapt to a damaged environment. This is evolution. He gave us the ability to repair DNA (the very vessel by which the metaphysical quality we call information is actuated into the physical universe). There is sickness and disease everywhere and if not for our immune systems we would be consumed.

    If there is not common descent there is an awful lot of commonality. But mankind is special as he received the n’shamah (the ability to hear the word of God) and this is what separates us from the animals. So special was this gift that the Lord had to take the first Adam in the Garden, away from other contaminating blood lines. The aspect of God known as Lord is YHVH, God as He interacts in the Universe according to natural law. Physical separation is the key of evolution.

  11. Dr Swamidass,

    I do not know Dr. Hunter personally or otherwise, only by reading his work. Perhaps you are correct and he is on a war footing, but given the positions of academia and the general scientific community towards his critique of evolution it wouldn’t be peculiar.

    Let me back up a bit and start with my interest. I’m not a scientist, my degrees are computer science and MBA. I’m a youth group leader and father to three teenagers. My interest in this began as personal but has become much more than that, I want my kids to know that the Christian worldview is legitimate, and not only because I say so. I agree that we Christians should not be at war with one another, but the world is at war with us. The question “Is God” rings loudly in student’s ears every time they open a science book. What parent doesn’t feel a protective rage against the evolutionist who tells their child God didn’t do it and it’s all fairy tales? Atheism has been accepted as the default position (and only acceptable one) in academic science, most notably in regards to evolution. So when someone like Dr. Hunter goes on a war footing against evolution it shouldn’t be surprising. It is the most natural response when war has been declared against you.

    But you’ve said so much since I began pondering my response. You’ve asked some very relevant questions. I’d like to start with “why fight evolution”.

    “So much of the Church’s voice in science is focused on arguing against evolution, instead of declaring Jesus.”

    And the apologist answers “for so many years the church has ignored the assault of academia. By relying on superficial doctrines the church has allowed its youth to become deluded into unbelief”

    Darwinist evolution has become synonymous with atheism in academic culture. Only egg-heads (like us?) who really delve in to this stuff think otherwise. I’m talking High School, not doctoral programs. By middle school most of our (Christian) youth have all but completely lost faith, so we have to look at the influence causing this. Cornelius calls it the Warfare Thesis and I would say with great accuracy.

    Biologos has staked an interesting position which isn’t yet clear to me or many other Christians. Is it a new (relatively speaking it is new) approach to reduce the authenticity of scripture? Given the relentless attacks against Christianity by academic sciences you can expect a hesitancy to give quarter by those who have battled so long. The term Theistic Evolution is perceived as an oxymoron by many rank-and-file Christians, at best it’s misunderstood. I’ve been to Biologos and the comments have not been inspiring. Just another something for Christians to fight amongst themselves over as YECs are mocked by many as unlearned.

    I do honestly and earnestly share your desire for peace within the Christian community for the sake of unity. I also agree that the infighting has distracted from our true calling. The truth of scripture is that the war has been won and as a Christian, I’d like to see as many as would come over to the winning side to enjoy the victory. Word that the war is over hasn’t made it to the front lines, battles still linger for the hearts and minds of my kids. Showing the implausibility of RMNS remains an effective way of keeping young minds engaged in the legitimacy of the Christian worldview. Remember, RMNS has long been and is still used to discredit Christianity, the battles linger.

    Until you can effectively separate evolutionary theory and atheistic naturalism you will not be properly understood by the majority of the Christian community. If evolution is true, why do you need the “theistic” part? You must answer this question often.

    This is why evolution is railed against by Christians today.

    I’ll continue…

    1. It boils down to two issues:
      If the Bible is the Word of God then it must be true.
      Therefore there must be some degree of reconciliation between science and revealed religion.
      We have generation of young people who have been mis-educated as to the Bible by their secular education.
      In order to counteract this bias, it behooves all believers to see if there is a conflict between the Bible and Science.
      In a world such as ours, the message of the Bible may be drowned out in all the noise.
      For some it doesn’t matter; for many it does matter.

      It behooves us to be able to speak to those who are mislead in the language that they understand: As Paul stated,

      I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some
      I Corinthians: 9;22

      Personally I do not see a conflict.
      I do see a conflict between some theological positions and the Bible.
      for the most part these theological positions do not seem to embrace the entire Bible but only isolated segments, and they certainly don’t seem to understand science.

  12. continued…

    I’ll do my best on this next question.

    “I need a theological clear explanation of why God did not include disproving evolution in His design goals.”

    I think you are exactly right when you say God isn’t concerned with defeating evolutionary theory. But the opposite of creation isn’t evolution, it’s spontaneous generation by natural forces, or atheistic naturalism (naturalism for short).

    I believe God, by General Revelation, has already disproven naturalism. Cosmologically, philosophically, and biologically, naturalism fails. But in a very real sense, naturalism has coopted evolution. As I stated in my previous response, the two are understood synonymously in common vernacular. The argument presented to the world is that if evolution is true, so must naturalism be true.

    So what’s a Christian to do when an atheist science teacher waves evolution as the refutation of God? The obvious answer is to question that premise, and in questioning that premise there are found some very serious flaws in RMNS. Perhaps it was a mistake, but in disputing the premise that evolution refutes God, evolution was made the center of the God v naturalism argument.

    So when a Christian comes along and exclaims that evolution is true, the Christian community is dumbfounded and perplexed. The two have been defined as mutually exclusive by the atheists.

    So at the risk of answering a question with a question, do you desire to know this theology to be comfortable believing evolution? Are you looking to justify your place in the TE camp to the ID or YEC camps? Perhaps justify it to yourself?

    These are hard and perhaps terrible questions and I don’t intend disrespect. If you ever get a definitive answer to your question you would have a definitive answer as to which camp is right. Would that bring the results you hope for? How would that change your dealings with the YEC camp? Would you have greater patience with them or less? Would you be more gracious with Dr. Hunter or more aggravated by his stubbornness? Would your attention be more on the Gospel of Jesus Christ or more on the rightness of one theology over another?

    I have to conclude that God intended to allow the delusion of atheistic naturalism by which many will condemn themselves. I always think of Paul’s letter

    “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

    If we as a church can ever find a way to reform the battle lines away from evolution and towards atheistic naturalism, with which we cannot have peace, then we will be a giant leap forward towards the unity Christ expects of us.

    It is good to remember that you have more in common with a YEC special creationist than you do with an atheist evolutionary biologist.

    Thanks for reading
    Mark

  13. I have time for one more…

    “I have a hard time with this story because it seems to argue that God has limits in His autonomy.”

    It is by no means my intention to argue limits on God’s abilities. So he could have made us 100% unique and still made us compatible with all other life. Agreed.

    I also agree that my story is just that, a story. My own rationalization to illustrate God’s autonomy to create as He would without once worrying about whether we would approve how he did it.

    I once made an argument against relative morality in a class which taught it. In a nutshell, I said there is a best right choice among all choices. Just because we can’t see which one it is doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I trust God to know which was the best right choice and since he created us with DNA that shares commonality with chimps I have to trust that it was the right thing to do. So I disagree that we must know why common descent appears valid.

    I will agree however that disproving evolution isn’t our purpose. We are to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples. So I’ll restate from my last post, separate evolution from atheism and you will be significantly further along towards unity. Join the anti-evolutionists in proclaiming general revelation that says GOD IS. You will have created a unity that can withstand differences in creation theology. I truly believe anti-evolutionists are in reality anti-atheistic naturalists.

    To draw close to God you have to believe that He exists.

  14. The bible says we are the CHIEF of creation (Pslmans) .
    That means we are within creation. We are part of the biological equation for life. All biology looks alike.
    Ears, tongue, mouth, liver, you name it. pretty much in the same places.
    We are within this blueprint. its undeniable.
    So how to stay in the blueprint but me unique as a kind?!
    What would you do?
    What did God do?
    he made us exactly alike with a ape he had made a DAY before.
    He noticed this.
    What does he expect us to think?
    We are apes? No!
    i suggest he expects to notice we have the same body as another creature. This is the only case in biololgy especially relative to the looks of the ORIGINAL kinds before the fall.
    I suggest we are to conclude, uniquely, our identity is not in our looks but in our soul. We are , in soul, made in Gods image. the only creature like that.
    We can not have our own body type to represent our identity.
    So we are renting another body type.

    There is no biblical reason to be impressed with our likeness to apes. In fact yEC creationism could easily predict even if no apes were still around or ever seen.
    There is no biological scientific reason to see apes/us in common descent based merely on looks/DNA.
    its just a line of reasoning from a likeness in body.
    Thats all it is.
    is that biological evidence? No!
    Its just using biological data points and then drawing lines.
    Other options for lines can be drawn.
    Also Genesis clearly states we were created separate. Adam had no moma.

  15. May 21, 2016. Hello all. thanks for your participation in this entertaining debate. I hope you continue to follow my work in the future. At this point, I am disengaging from this debate before it gets too far out of hand. Thanks.