Doubting Evolution

In Note 47, sent to Kelly Letter subscribers on Sunday, Oct. 17, I ended as I usually do with a non-financial life observation, here in its entirety:

That’ll do it for this week.

I like keeping perspective on the relatively small part of our lives that financial management should comprise, despite its filling up a large portion of my days. It helps that I love it. Even I, however, step away from time to time and come back stronger for having done so.

In such a mood I caught up on non-financial reading, part of which included back issues of the inestimable National Geographic. If a publication can be a testament to the better angels of human progress, it must be Nat Geo. No celebrity gossip. No dieting tips. No fashion updates. No romance reports. For me, the magazine is a supply of information I can’t believe anybody is willing to live without.

The July 2010 issue’s cover story, “4 Million Year Old Woman,” is a fabulous update on humanity’s evolutionary road. The author, Jamie Shreeve, walked with paleoanthropologists over the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia where “members of our lineage have lived, died, and been buried for almost six million years” and from which their bones are “eroding out of the ground.”

Shreeve traipsed millions of years of fossil history and discussed with scientists the recently announced discovery of a skeleton 4.4 million years old belonging to the species Ardipithecus ramidus, or “Ardi” for short. Ardi is more than a million years older than the famous Lucy skeleton, “and much more informative about one of evolution’s holy grails: the nature of the common ancestor we share with chimpanzees.”

The detailed rundown of what we know so far about our biological origins impressed upon me how hard nature worked to enable us to walk the way we walk, live the way we live, and especially think the way we think. Just powering our big brains is challenging, and represents an evolutionary leap of faith, a big bet, really, that paid off handsomely. It’s humbling to realize that we had nothing to do with our brain’s development. We were just born with it because our nameless ancestors struggled on our behalf for millions of years to deliver it anonymously to our craniums. Somebody sacrificed a lot to give us these brains.

Toward the end of the piece, University of California, Berkeley paleoanthropologist Tim White says, “A car assembly line is an apt analogy. Bipedality is the frame. Technology is the body. Language is the engine, dropped in toward the end of the assembly; iPhones are the hood ornaments.”

Appreciate that. Enjoy your bipedality and big brain today.

Yours very truly,
Jason Kelly

I was surprised to receive in response a barrage of emails from readers upset that I assumed evolution to be a fact. All of my readers communicate in a respectful manner, no ranting or personal attacks, but the messages they sent were pointed. The following from Dan encapsulates what most of the others thought as well:

I need to bring one point to your attention concerning this week’s end notes. I did not evolve from an ape but was created in the image of God Almighty as He clearly states in His written Word (Bible). Many scientists fall on both sides of the evolution/creation debate and the arguments can be quite convincing if you don’t have a solid baseline by which to measure their findings. I would recommend you read the book of Genesis (1st book of the Bible) to learn of your true origin. There are also several other scientific works written by creation scientists that I have found helpful.

I say this respectfully as I’m concerned you may have wiggled God out of your thinking and logic — I pray that isn’t the case.

Please keep an open mind, challenge their research but most importantly know that God created us in His image and our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t manifest Himself as an ape but as a man. Evolution and the Bible cannot co-exist. We obviously can get into a much deeper debate over these issues but that isn’t my intent at this point.

I replied thusly:

Thank you, Dan.

I grew up Catholic and as such am familiar with the Bible. I remember studying this issue as a student in public school in my town and in religious studies at the church, and I never understood the conflict between evolution and religion. You wrote that “evolution and the Bible cannot co-exist,” but it seems that God could well have used the Garden of Eden as a parable to show His wonderful biology at work over time.

I may be overstaying my welcome here, but to add one more perspective of mine: I find the idea that this universe sprang from nothing to be almost more miraculous than the idea that God created it in six days. So, a nice middle ground would be evolution, wouldn’t it? By that token, God did create the universe and us in His image, and He did so through a dazzlingly complex and magical process that we’re now privileged to study and understand.

I’m not trying to change your point of view, but rather share my own. Maybe more than anything else, it’s important for you to know that I’m not hostile toward spirituality. I think faith is beautiful.

The discussion grew. Dan suggested that I spend time at the Institute for Creation Research, and other readers pointed me to Clarifying Christianity. I paid them the courtesy of visiting the sites they suggested, and came back with ideas like this:

Evolutionary anthropologists now say that Homo sapiens existed for at least 185,000 years before agriculture began, during which time the world population of humans was roughly constant, between one and ten million. All that time they were burying their dead, often with artifacts. By that scenario, they would have buried at least eight billion bodies. If the evolutionary time scale is correct, buried bones should be able to last for much longer than 200,000 years, so many of the supposed eight billion stone age skeletons should still be around (and certainly the buried artifacts). Yet only a few thousand have been found. This implies that the Stone Age was much shorter than evolutionists think, perhaps only a few hundred years in many areas.

— Full article at ICR.org

And this:

Charles Darwin studied wildlife while on a voyage and he noticed the variation in the appearance of the individual animals. He guessed that this variation, given enough time, would allow these animals to change to the point that they looked different. This was not a surprising discovery, by the way. Anyone can examine different varieties of roses or cats to see this. This process of changing an organism’s appearance through a series of small changes is correctly called “microevolution” (with an “i”) and is not what we are referring to when we write “the theory of evolution” on this page. After a series of microevolutionary changes, a frog may be larger or changed in color, but it is still a frog — not a fish or a lizard.

— Full overview at Clarifying Christianity

Most of my readers do not share the viewpoints above, and consider it generous to call them “viewpoints” at all. Having an opinion on whether evolution happened or the Earth is 4.5 billion years old is to them like having an opinion on whether two plus two equals four. “Why must we exchange opinions when we can just look at the facts?” they ask.

One of them, Dr. Terry Sandbek, graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, wrote the following, presented outside of blockquote due to its length:

______________________________

Here are thoughts on some of Dan’s points, directed to him:

“I did not evolve from an ape.”
That is absolutely correct. Not a single working biologist would ever believe this. Unfortunately, many people hold this belief who have never made any serious attempt to understand evolution. Many prestigious devout, evangelical Christians who are serious scientists accept the totality of evolution: Dr. Francis Collins (Director of the National Center for Human Genome Research and currently Director of the National Institutes of Health), Dr. Kenneth Miller (biology professor at Brown University), Dr. Alister McGrath (professor of molecular biophysics at King’s College in London) and Dr. LeeAnn Chaney (professor of biology at Whitworth College — a Christian institution), to name a few. To expand your reading on the subject you may want to read books written by these scientists who believe in theistic evolution. Here is a sampling:

Additionally, there are prominent Christian organizations composed of working scientists that maintain an acceptance of both evolution and their Christian faith. Again, a few examples:

“Many scientists fall on both sides of the evolution/creation debate.”
First of all, there are very few scientists that do not accept evolution. It must be remembered that not all scientists are biologists and speak with less authority when they discuss evolution and other scientific matters outside their area of expertise. I would be interested in the names of working biologists (engaged in ongoing research that is published in prestigious biological journals) who reject evolution. I suspect the list will be quite short or even non-existent. For a biologist to reject evolution would be like a physicist rejecting relativity.

“The arguments can be quite convincing if you don’t have a solid baseline by which to measure their findings.”
The problem here is that scientists and Christians use a different baseline to measure their findings. Scientists use data that is replicable, while religious people use dogma. There are also other differences. Scientists try to disprove their understandings of nature, while religious people are averse to trying to disprove their beliefs of nature. Scientists are overjoyed to find out their research has been overturned because it means they now know more than they did before, while religious people get upset to discover what they believed is no longer true. They believe their whole faith structure seems in jeopardy.

“I would recommend you read the book of Genesis (1st book of the bible) to learn of your true origin.”
To take Genesis literally is a disservice to understanding it. If one reads the first two chapters with deep understanding they quickly recognize that there are two creation stories, both of which contradict each other. If you read Hebrew writing, you would understand these two stories were also written by two different sources. In the first account man is created after the animals; in the second story, man was created first and was lonely so God created the animals as a “help meet.” Many evangelical Christians today find much deeper meaning in Genesis by taking these stories metaphorically. Remember back to your literature classes in school. You were taught that to read a classic story literally was to miss much of what was imbedded in the story. It seems to me that God would be insulting the intelligence he gave us if he expected us to read Genesis literally. What kind of a God would treat his creation as stupid and unthinking?

“There are also several other scientific works written by creation scientists that I have found helpful.”
There is much to be said about this comment that must go unsaid because of space restraints. First, there is really no such thing as creation science. Calling something science does not make it science. It would be accurate to call it creation philosophy. Scientists do not debate each other because of their different beliefs but rather based on the data at hand. I have read the works of these “creation scientists” (mathematicians, engineers, lawyers — not biologists) and they are not doing science but merely talking about it as if science were a debate. Not a single “creation scientist” has ever performed a single piece of scientific research that supports their view. All they do is criticize evolution and they do so disingenuously by taking information out of context and arguing against outdated science. As you say, the Bible speaks for itself. Well, science says the data speaks for itself. When scientists disagree it is because the data is incomplete. Once all the data is in, they all come together to accept the proposed theory.

“I’m concerned you may have wiggled God out of your thinking and logic.”
God has nothing to do with the thinking and logic of science. Science deals with what can be known by evidence and the tools of science. I’m always chagrined that some Christians think they can “prove” God’s existence. This approach contradicts the Bible. Hebrews 1:11 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In other words, the Bible clearly says that faith and evidence are totally different. If we could “prove” God’s existence, then there would be no need for faith, would there? Faith is believing in something for which there is no evidence. This is the heartbeat of Christianity — believing in things for which there is no proof. If there were scientific evidence for God’s existence, every scientist on the planet would believe in God. Science and religious belief are two separate domains (read Dr. Collins and Dr. Miller). The problem is that “creation science” wants to blend in with the scientific community while masking its refusal to use the scientific method. Additionally, these folks refuse to extend their version of “objectivity” to their own belief system.

“Evolution and the Bible cannot co-exist.”
Christian theistic evolutionists (see above) would disagree with you. Speaking of being open-minded, please be careful that you don’t fall into the well of hubris because open-mindedness cuts both ways. Remember that every battle the Bible has had in the last 2500 years has been a losing one. Here are only a few examples of beliefs that religious people have based on the Bible:

  • The earth is flat — wrong.
  • The earth is the center of the universe — wrong.
  • The stars are openings in a celestial shell (firmament) — wrong.
  • The earth is only 6,000 years old — wrong.
  • Slavery is a good idea — wrong.
  • Genocide in God’s name is okay — wrong.
  • Women are inferior — wrong.

There are hundreds of more examples. Remember, we are not living at the end of history. Hundreds of years from now religion will continue to lose battles it need not and should not fight. There are many versions of Christianity and all of them claim to be true. This is impossible, so you are free to choose the version of the losing side or the side of Dr. Collins and other theistic evolutionists.

______________________________

Another reader, Jerry, weighed in on Dan’s side: “The faith it takes to assume the universe began, as a random expansion of all matter from a point the size of a pinhead, to its current dark-energy-driven, ever expanding unexplainable state, far exceeds the faith it takes to embrace a creator.”

To which Chris replied:

It’s simply incorrect to say an atheist must have faith to believe the universe was created from a “pinpoint.” Religious people love to use the notion that atheists and scientists must have “faith” in something. A lack of faith does not imply a faith in nothing.

Instead we use reason, mathematics, physics, science, experiments, and observable facts to gather knowledge and make informed, reasoned decisions about the Earth and the universe around us.

Just because scientists don’t have the answer to everything doesn’t mean we default to the ridiculous notion that a magical being must be the answer.

Dale, however, agreed with Dr. Sandbek that evolution can be seen as God-driven and therefore acceptable to both religious and non-religious people, but says random evolution is unsupported by evidence:

______________________________

Any discussion about evolution falls mainly into two possibilities — random evolution and God-driven evolution. Therefore, neither side of the argument can use it because it just becomes a matter of opinion. If anyone wants to claim the random evolution theory to be true, though, it brings forth a serious problem that, as far as I know, is overlooked: Where are all the mistakes?

In order for random evolution to occur, there has to a certain sequence of events that has to have happened in a particular order. When you deal with sequences, the possibility of one sequence occurring can be determined by using the factorial of the length of the sequence. Therefore, if 10 conditions have to be met in the same place at the same time in a particular order, the desired sequence would occur once in 3,628,800 times, on average. Therefore, there would be 3,628,799 mistakes each time the desired sequence occurs.

If we look only at DNA, we find a blueprint of the organism in each cell of the organism. DNA may be made up of simple substances by some standards, but those substances are organized in a particular order to produce the desired result. The number of conditions that must be in a certain order are quite large. Consider the following from The Physics Factbook discussion on DNA:

The DNA molecule is threaded so fine that it is only possible to see it under high powerful electron microscopes. To get a sense of exactly how long an uncoiled DNA molecule is compared to a typical cell, a cell is magnified 1000 times. At this scale, the total length of all the DNA in the cell’s nucleus would be 3 km — the equivalent distance of the Lincoln Memorial to the capital in Washington, DC.

The human genome comprises the information contained in one set of human chromosomes which themselves contain about 3 billion base pairs (bp) of DNA in 46 chromosomes (22 autosome pairs + 2 sex chromosomes). The total length of DNA present in one adult human is calculated by the multiplication of

(length of 1 bp) (number of bp per cell) (number of cells in the body)

(0.34 × 10-9 m) (6 × 109) (1013)

2.0 × 1013 meters

That is the equivalent of nearly 70 trips from the Earth to the sun and back.

2.0 × 1013 meters = 133.691627 astronomical units
133.691627 / 2 = 66.8458135 round trips to the sun

On the average, a single human chromosome consists of a DNA molecule that is almost 5 centimeters.

Our universe has been estimated to be less than 14 billion years old with the Earth around 4.5 billion years. If a sequence of conditions is met every micro second, it would take only 24 conditions over 19 billion years to produce the one correct result among all the errors. Just imagine how many errors that would be. The errors would probably be many more than a googol in number during that period. Where is the evidence for all those errors today? If you are going to believe in any scientific theory, there must be some evidence to support it.

Every form of life on this planet is evidence of intelligent design. A few examples might be how a giraffe can drink water without blowing its brains out from the normal blood pressure it has when its head is raised, how all the conditions could occur randomly to allow a woodpecker to do what it can do, how could random selection produce a bombardier beetle, how about the spookfish that has mirrors for eyes, how does a monarch butterfly in Canada and a few generations from its ancestor know it must travel to a certain place in Mexico — extending its normal lifespan a few times in the process, etc.

If anyone unfamiliar with buildings walked into one and found plans for the complete building in each room, they would say this was intelligently designed. Yet, when many consider the plans for the total living organism in each cell of most living organisms, they claim they can say this happen through some form of random evolution. Unfortunately, for them, this can easily be countered with God-driven evolution.

Fossils don’t support random evolution because they don’t show unaccountable mistakes. There are large gaps (jumps) in the “evolutionary” chain. Even without the gaps, God-driven evolution can be claimed, which makes much more sense — few, if any, mistakes; and that is what we see: few, if any, mistakes. What man may call mistakes can actually be caused or incorrectly interpreted by man through ignorance, greed, and/or the lack of understanding of God’s purpose.

I challenge anyone to provide me with one scientific piece of evidence that refutes what we see as not being from intelligent design.

Naturally, this is only a scientific refutation of random evolution on the physical plane we sense. When you take random evolution away from atheists, their entire belief system falls apart. If they had any other scientific evidence to support their beliefs, they could accept my challenge. So far that has not happened. Since there may be some evidence in support of evolution, the only other answer is intelligent design — pointing to a designer, creator, God. It must also be pointed out that any form of natural selection cannot take place until the selection pool actually exists.

______________________________

I told Dale that another reader is likely to accept his challenge and provide scientific evidence that we are the result of random evolution, not God-driven evolution. If that reader is you, then by all means take advantage of the comments section at the end of this article.

Another reader, Kent, wondered what all the fuss is about. He wrote:

As far as the question of men and monkeys, I thought that was solved decades ago. I am willing to accept that the answer is whatever anyone wants to believe. I don’t care if people believe or don’t believe… it changes nothing. Sort of like don’t ask, don’t tell. Who cares? We humans are what we are no matter where we came from… the question is not important. But the reaction to your statement speaks volumes about us humans, and human beliefs, behavior, and emotional overload. Now we know why investing is so difficult… it is conducted by humans with their emotional baggage, beliefs, and predjudices. And that is what makes life so interesting.

While it may be true that nobody’s opinion changes the facts, it’s a weight on human progress to continue debating solved puzzles rather than moving on to new ones. Discussing whether two plus two equals four is not as valuable as using the knowledge to design space ships and medicines and smartphones. Those who accept the evidence for evolution as sufficient to declare it a fact of our biological heritage consider it tiresome and a waste of energy to continue explaining to skeptics why their skepticism is unfounded.

Speaking of such people, Charles Belser, author of Larry the Penguin Searches for the Meaning of Life, sent the following to me in response to Dan’s note:

______________________________

The late scientist, Carl Sagan, said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” In the last issue of your newsletter, your subscriber Dan made some rather extraordinary claims that deserve to be addressed.

He starts by saying he didn’t evolve from an ape, and on that point he is almost correct. The scientific evidence shows that hominids split off from a common ancestor of modern apes. Homo sapiens (that’s us) evolved from hominids. Why did I say Dan was almost correct? Human beings are apes. We’re not the same as those you see in the jungles or the zoo and we didn’t evolve from them, but we are cousins (no other two species on this planet are as closely related to each other as humans and chimpanzees. There’s only a 2 percent difference in our DNA). We’re just a different kind of ape.

Dan says humans were created in the image of “God Almighty.” How does he know that? Does he have a photograph of God? He says he knows this is true because God “clearly states (it) in His written Word (Bible).” Unfortunately, Dan fails to specify which of the hundreds of different and often conflicting Bibles he claims God wrote and, sadly, there is no original to compare any of them to for accuracy. He also does not mention why he believes God wrote “The Bible.” Nobody yet has been able to quote anything from that tome that only a God could write or inspire. Not one word.

Dan makes the claim that, “Many scientists fall on both sides of the evolution/creation debate,” but fails to tell us why he thinks this is true. The evidence for evolution is overwhelming as is its support by the worldwide scientific community and it is not up for debate. On the other hand, there is zero evidence that any “god” created anything. Creationism, also known as “Intelligent Design,” is not a “competitive theory” as its proponents insist — it is an unfounded belief based solely on wishful fantasy and it is unsupported by credible evidence. As for the existence of a “god,” the scientific evidence is clear. As Richard Dawkins explains, “Nothing we know of requires the existence of a god to be explained.” There doesn’t even appear to be any need for such an entity, nor is there a definition that makes any sense. (For example, the contradictory attributes of the Judea-Christian-Islamic God render His existence impossible.)

But as the saying goes, “Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.” My mother was a devout evangelical Christian. Her parents, brothers and sisters were Bible-banging, hellfire-preaching, born-again Christians, praise Jesus! Yet she accepted evolution as an indisputable scientific fact. So did her church and her family. None of them saw any conflict with their deeply held Christian belief.

Dan might want to give this some thought: I don’t believe in any “god” only because I’ve seen no rational reason to do so. Although I think it highly unlikely, there could be a god of some sort. So let’s say, Dan, that God exists and that He created everything. If that is so, and since evolution is a solid, unwavering, scientific fact, then evolution must be the way God chose to create living things. That’s what my mother believed. In fact, that’s what the very institution responsible for Christianity — the Catholic Church — believes.

Dan recommends reading from the Bible to learn of our “true origin.” He also claims “There are also several other scientific works written by creation scientists,” but the Bible is not a scientific work and “creation science” is an oxymoron. True, there are a few people who claim to be scientists who promote creationism, but they are on the extreme fringes of the scientific community, have no credibility and can be easily dismissed as crackpots or scam
artists.

Jason, you were asked by Dan to keep an open mind. I am asking Dan to do the same, and to consider the fact that, like my mother, many millions of devout Christians have accepted the coexistence of evolution and the Bible. The Bible claims a day to God is like a thousand years to man (I don’t know if all 600 plus versions make that claim, but at least one or more do). A thousand years to the ignorant, primitive nomadic goat herders who began the tales which became the Bible may have seemed like an infinite period of time. I don’t know if they even had a word for “billions” or “millions,” but perhaps the Bible’s six days of creation actually meant 4.5 billion years? Did God form Adam from the dust of the earth? I don’t think so, but for the sake of this discussion, maybe. There is evidence the first protocells formed in clay.

Evolution should not frighten Christians and other believers. We know it is a fact, so if God exists, evolution must be God’s way. Thank Him for it, Dan.

______________________________

I hope you enjoyed this discussion as much as I did. Many will wonder why I hosted it on my financial site: Because it was my writing at the end of an issue of my financial newsletter that aroused passions among my readers. Out of respect to the people who took time to share their viewpoints on a subject that’s obviously important to them, I provided a platform. Further, the comments section below opens the forum to whomever would like to join in.

In closing, I still feel as I always have that a belief in God and an acceptance of evolution are not incompatible. Members of my family believe in both. I’m not among those who look down their noses at people who profess a personal relationship with God, either. I find the most reasonable spiritual viewpoint to be agnosticism because it notes the lack of evidence behind any religion’s god while leaving open the possibility that something greater than our daily lives exists. An angel appearing in one’s bedroom might alter one’s viewpoint in a hurry, don’t you think? The agnostic recognizes that no angels have yet appeared and sees no reason to expect that they will, but is open to the possibility that they might.

We could go so far as to hope that they do. Those who don’t share the faith that religious people feel are not necessarily cold, hateful people. They raise families, take care of their communities, and otherwise participate in life. They are not a threat to anybody’s spirituality. The difference between them and religious people is that they refuse to believe anything unsupported by evidence, while religious people are drawn to beliefs unsupported by evidence. As Dr. Sandbek wrote above, belief without evidence is called faith.

Even people who don’t share faith can find it beautiful. Even when we don’t find a person’s faith beautiful, we can hold dear the one who believes it.

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46 Comments

  1. Larry Fowler
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I would like to know that if the universe was formed from matter the size of a pinhead, where did that matter come from? How do you get something from nothing?

  2. Mathew G
    Posted November 18, 2010 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    I’m a bit late to this discussion. I invite anyone interested in the history of the universe and evolution to read the works of the integral theorist Ervin Laszlo. He provides mathematical evidence of an information field that exists throughout the universe and all matter. This leads to the theory that evolution both in astronomical and biological terms is an informed process and not a random one.

    • Posted November 19, 2010 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the idea, Mathew. As long as you’ve raised the subject of books worth a look, here are a few links for people interested in pursuing further research on their own:

      Works by Ervin Laszlo.

      The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as being like “a detective reconstructing a crime.”

      Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne, described by Booklist as “more presentational than disputatious.”

  3. dean thomas
    Posted November 15, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I just finished reading a book titled The Shack. While being a good story, I don’t believe that woman was taken from the rib of man. I also have a hard time with the garden of eden and other bible stories. I like to think that the spiritual concepts outlined in all discussions and stories need to be lived, and free from the countless hours of time spent figuring out fact or fiction. The quote faith without works is dead is what I attempt to strive for on a daily basis. I think that this is extremely important as we search for tips gaining wealth on financial web sites. I think time and research is better spent not so much in evolution verses the bible, but what we do with spirtual principals and what is gained from that knowledge.

  4. R H Peters
    Posted November 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    It’s simple: If you’re an educated person, you accept evolution no matter what religious background you may have wallowed into.

    Because if you don’t, you’ll find there’s literally a worldwide army of educated, intelligent men & women scientists who would disagree with you. If you wanna place your bets against them, go ahead and ultimately embarass yourself – that’s your business. (But I wouldn’t want to. Nor do I have any feeling that I “need” to. Truth & fact have absolutely nothing to do with need, belief, wants, desires, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, or early childhood education.)

    Deal with it.

  5. Posted November 2, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    It seems to me that both positions, or all positions, must be taken on faith and that each belief is
    based on “selective facts” from whichever position that each person believes in already. The
    dilemma is that we each must “choose” to believe something and there is no compulsion. The Bible
    offers it’s answers to these “life questions” and many others have offered their answers as well, you (we) each make a choice and that choice will be so important that it will become the reason
    (driving force) that governs each part of our lives now and perhaps into eternity. The question:
    “Is the universe what it is for no reason or is there a power behind it that makes it what it is?”
    (C.S.Lewis). The discussion is not just about the “why’ and “how” of evolution but the whole
    universe and how you view it (believe), we can see the universe so is there evidence of a power behind everything that we can “see” or not, that is the question. I sincerely hope that each one reading these comments will be seeking truth rather than just accepting someone else’s ideas, it would seem the outcome is too important for that.
    Thanks Jason for this discussion, I believe it will be helpful to many sincere readers.

  6. Steven
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    @Bill Deonshire: I completely agree with you.

  7. Steven
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Great post Gaby.

    I recommend everyone who’s interested in this debate to watch Nova’s “Intelligent Design on trial”, “Becoming human Part 1 and 2 and 3” and “What Darwin Never Knew”.

    Watch these documentaries and you can make up your own minds. But I honestly don’t expect people to change their way of thinking, those who believe strongly in something is not very likely to budge as it almost always is emotionally attached to themselves or those around them, especially when it comes to religion and faith.

    You can always argue that “oh evolution is just a theory..it’s not a law, etc”, which is how some posts above seems to base their arguments on. Well…why not check out: http://www.notjustatheory.com/

    If you want, you can also watch a youtube clip of a peaceful debate between Dawkins and McGrath and judge for yourself. Even better yet, read Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and McGrath’s rebuttal “Dawkin’s Delusion”. However, my favorite has to be Carl Sagan’s “The Demon-Haunted World” 🙂

    As always, thank you Jason for a graceful and thoughtful endnote.

  8. Gaby A.
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    The first question I would like to ask those of faith is do you believe the earth to be around 10 to 20 thousand years old or much, much older, in the billions? If you think the earth to be only old in the thousands of years, then our discussion of evolution can go no further, because the fossil evidence scientists have uncovered, for example, demand that the earth be much older. You would also be ignoring the science behind the measurement radioactive decay and how it accurately lets you know how old the layer of crust is (within a few millions of years, a statistical blip within a scale of billions).

    If you, as a person of faith, DO believe the earth to be much older, then you must believe your chosen deity has a guiding hand in “evolution”. If that is the case, this is a most inefficient way to do so. Why would God tinker with his creations? Why do unrelated animals seem to have similar organs, vestigal in some (useless “legs” in some snakes) and fully functional in others (the snake’s cousin, the lizard)? If God was evolving the snake and lizard from some common ancestor, wouldn’t he have thought to completely remove the leg? I can only speak as myself, so it’s possibly my fondness for elegance and simplicity would require I get rid of those vestigal legs if I were omnipotent, but then you as a person of faith, must believe that God has a reason for leaving those “legs” in place.

    In matters of faith, science doesn’t care. It’s only “purpose” is to measure what can be observed in the physical world. How you interpret what goes on in some non-observable spiritual world is your business. All we ask is that you don’t do the public a disservice by asking school boards to teach “Intelligent Design”. Let the biology teachers do their job: teach what has been observed in nature, how science works, how it can be proven/disproven, and how evidence is presented. Science is amoral, not immoral. It does not question itself with what is right and wrong, it just is. It is just like money. Money is nothing on it’s own, it is just a tool, a piece of metal here, a piece of paper there, or a virtual blip in your online account.

    A person saying he doesn’t believe the earth to be billions of years old or that there is a clear progression in the evolution of animal and plant life, contrary to years of scientific evidence, and with only his faith as proof, is the same as one who refuses to draw a pentagon in geometry class because it looks like part of a satanic symbol (the pentagram), or looks with suspicion at any math results with too many sixes in a row. No student, religious or not, would reject a geometric shape or math result for those reasons, unless they were truly irrational, and yet we give free reign to similar ignorance in matters of evolution.

    I’m sorry, creation science/intelligent design proponents can believe what they want in their churches, but please let science go on with it’s mandate, and let your children learn about the world around them, simply by observing. Don’t try to taint this process in schools by masquerading as science, and yet not being open to peer review or criticism.

    Thank you.

  9. Jesse
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, while all other hominids have 24 pairs. If this can’t be explained, we aren’t related to the other hominids, and evolution as we understand it would be false.

    As predicted by evolutionary theory, a site of chromosome fusion has been identified. Human chromosome 2 has a strong similarity to two ape chromosomes, and vestigial telomeres in the middle. Telomeres are normally found on the ends of chromosomes, and function to protect their interior region from degradation. There is no reason to have them in the middle of a chromosome. No intelligent designer would put them there. Unless perhaps that designer was trying to fool us; but if you’re willing to make that argument, then no amount of evidence will ever convince you.

  10. Posted October 30, 2010 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Quite the topic. Always exciting. I have a few things to add to this discussion.

    1. Science and Religion must be in harmony. Science without Religion is a mindless monster and Religion without Science is superstition. For those that find the word Religion to be disconcerting please substitute Spirituality. For the sake of the progress of humanity a common ground is required.

    2. Humans were always humans, although at one point in their evolution, they looked like apes.

    3. Evolution is triggered by long-term necessity and mutation.

    4. Scientists believe in the unknown, otherwise new discoveries would never occur. A theory is based on a belief that some premise could be true. Without belief in an unknown, science would not progress. This is the same as a belief in God. The difference lies in the outcome. By seeking the unknown, both the scientist and the spiritual seeker progress.

  11. Wesley Sims
    Posted October 30, 2010 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Actually, the animals were not made to be man’s helper, as the Word says, and that text, Genesis 2:19, does not at all imply that the animals had been made after man, but is rather a retelling and a recounting of former events. It appears from the text that it’s rather saying that the animals that had been made from the ground (this does not imply an order, so it does not contradict or indicate a contradicting order) had been brought before the man for naming. The helper of which the Lord spoke, was in fact, woman. In a larger theological truth, “It is not good for man to be alone,” reveals that man, alone without God, is in no good state, as is the theme of the entire Bible.

  12. Steve
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    Discussions like this tend to bring out those who passionately believe one way or another (although there are a few posts that amount to shrugs of indifference). I’m one of the ones who are still conflicted. I guess I would consider myself an agnostic – but definitely not a detached “there may be a God, or there may not be one – I’ll keep an open mind” agnostic. More like a tormented “why can’t I just know for sure what I believe in” agnostic.

    I grew up in what I would call a religious household. We went to our Lutheran church most weeks, I was confirmed in 8th grade, and I spent many hours over the course of my early adulthood in prayer. My first year of college was especially difficult for me, a math-loving introvert, and I prayed a lot as I tried to cope with being on my own for the first time. Whether there is/was a God or not, praying made me FEEL better, and I believed that God was listening to and guiding me.

    As the years went by, and my life experiences piled up, my beliefs began to change. I never set out to prove or disprove the presence of God, but I had to be true to myself and my feelings about what is right and what makes sense to me. At this point I don’t know whether to believe that there is a God (god?) or not – I just know that I don’t believe in religion. If there truly is one almighty God, then how is it that there are so many different religions all proclaiming that they have the one path to him (e.g. how to be baptized, whether to drink wine or grape juice at communion, what to eat when, etc.)?

    I’m not a religion hater – or a people hater. My brother and mother are both very devout Christians, and I admire them for their passionate beliefs about their churches and about God. In fact, sometimes I think that it would be easier if I DID believe in God and in religion. To be an agnostic makes me feel somewhat lonely and even “wrong” in some manner. Many times I’ve wished I could revert back to my beliefs in college when I truly did believe in God and felt that my prayers to Him were being heard and answered.

    However, in the end, I can’t believe in something that I don’t believe in (if that makes sense). None of these posts – even those passionate and articulate ones – have convinced me one way or another. In the end, we each have to come to God on our own, in our own way. If there is a God, I would think he would want it that way.

    • Posted October 30, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      An honest, heartfelt contribution. Thank you for this, Steve. Many others share your feelings.

      It’s wrong to profess belief when we don’t really feel it. As you wrote, you can’t believe in something you don’t believe in. I told my sister long ago, “I believe that you believe” to reassure her that my own explorations did nothing to diminish the certainty that she personally felt. Then, I was amused to find Richard Dawkins using a similar construct when he wrote in The God Delusion, “I believe in belief.”

      Ultimately, as long as everybody recognizes everybody else’s right to find their own way, these discussions threaten nobody.

    • Brent
      Posted January 30, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      Steve,

      I can totally relate. I have pored over the literature and pondered this topic for a long time. I just don’t know how anyone can be sure that there is or isn’t a God.

      That aside, many Christians claim the Bible was God-inspired. To me it was written by people who claim to be inspired by God.

      For now I am satisfied to spend my days admiring and enjoying the beauty of this planet before we destroy it.

      If you wonder why there are so many religions, try reading books by Joseph Campbell — the master of myth. All religions have underlying common mythologies.

  13. John Huynh
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    The evidence that there is a designer is overwhelming so I’m not going to even talk about if God does exist or not.

    What most people don’t know is that there are two types of evolution:

    Micro evolution- are small changes within the same species. Micro evolution is proven and is accepted by Christians. Because there are several types of dogs but they will still always be dogs and never change to cats.

    Macro evolution- is basically this http://tinyurl.com/28orr85 . meaning one specie to another. And Christians do not accept this (or should not).

    But God could not have use Macro-Evolution to create mankind. Many Christians like to believe that there is middle ground so they accept popular trend of Macro-Evolution. But without evaluating the full implications, little do they know, they shoot themselves in the foot when they agree with Macro-Evolution.

    If you are a Christian and accept Macro-evolution and not accepting Genesis 1:1-11 as being literal, you will have to struggle with some VERY difficult implications of God’s Character:

    -Your God is the Author of confusion
    -If the first book isn’t literal, then how and why could you take the rest of the book literal? Did Jesus even exist? What if it was all just one big parable?
    -You contradict New Testament writers. There are numerous amounts of reference to Genesis and the creation account. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v11/i1/gospel.asp
    -You are wiser than God Himself. Because Jesus not only takes Genesis accounts literally, but agrees and refers Him being the creator in Genesis. So either He’s right or you’re wrong, which one is it?
    -In Hebrew the words used for one literally day is called “YOM” and you find that exact same word in Genesis.
    -Your God is the Author of death. Macro-Evolution involves death over a period of time in order to advance or perfect something. By saying God used millions of years imply that He caused destruction and death over. The bible describes God as not simply loving, but that He IS love. But how can a God who is the very substance of love do such horrible things?
    -In the first page of Genesis, you see God saying over and over again that “it was good and very good” so was He implying that death in the process of macro evolution was good?
    -Why did Jesus have to die for us? The bible says that Adam and Eve was the first human beings to sin. it also says that when man sins, the consequences of sin is death that is why there is Jesus because he takes our death; this process is called salvation. If sin wasn’t caused by Adam and Eve then what is the use of Jesus coming do die for us?
    -Your God couldn’t get it right the first time so it took him millions of chances and years to get it right.
    -We are talking about the all mighty powerful God here, so why is it so hard to believe that He spoke the universe into existence in 7 literal days? If you accept millions of years, I’ve got one question for you. What took him so long?

    The list can go on and on. Even hardcore Atheist like Thomas Huxley aka Darwin’s Bulldog, Richard Dawkins and Eugene Scoot say that it is absolutely impossible to hold onto the Christian belief and Macro Evolution.

    So if Macro evolution contradicts Christian beliefs, why do some Christians believe it? It’s because they can’t take the heat of society’s cultural influences.

    We use God’s words to interpret the world not the theories of the world to interpret God’s words. They don’t realize that Christians don’t need to compromise their belief.
    When evolutionist says facts, what perspective lens are we looking through? Because when you dig up a dinosaur fossil, it doesn’t come with a tag that say “Hi my name is Scott and I am 3 million years old”. No scientist have to come up with a story in order to interpret the fossil. The story would go something like this. “I am an evolutionist and I believe in millions of years so that’s why I think the carbon dating calibrations should be according to millions of years. Whereas creationist look at a fossil and say “God said there was a flood and because of that, this explains why the fossil was so well preserved because the flood fossilized it in an instant” (by the way that’s what you actually do find)

    So is evolution or creationist right?

    Genesis says there was a global flood. So is it true? If it is true then we should be able to find millions of dead things buried in rock layers laid across the earth. And that is exactly what we find.
    According to Evolution theories, you should be able find millions of dead animals evolving half of the way like this creature http://tinyurl.com/28orr85 laid across the earth. But that’s not the case, we have yet to find a mermaid or a big foot. In fact that is why they are called the “missing link”

    And we can go on and on for this one so I’ll end there.
    You say that the bible gets it wrong like these things below:
    • The earth is flat — wrong.
    • The earth is the center of the universe — wrong.
    • The stars are openings in a celestial shell (firmament) — wrong.
    • The earth is only 6,000 years old — wrong.
    • Slavery is a good idea — wrong.
    • Genocide in God’s name is okay — wrong.
    • Women are inferior — wrong.

    But the God’s word is never wrong. It is human interpretations that get it wrong. In the same way, God is not evil; it’s his so called “children” who make wrong decisions in His name who presents Him as evil. When you read throughout out that bible God himself disagrees with each and every points you’ve listed.
    You should read the articles at http://www.answersingenesis.org/ they are one of the leading creationist scientist. If you give me your address I’ll even seen you a DVD from them that will leave Christians with absolutely room to accept Macro evolution. until then watch this http://www.answersingenesis.org/media/video/ondemand/state-of-the-nation-2/state-of-the-nation-2

  14. Posted October 29, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    First, let me say that this is a most remarkable investor newsletter! Thank you everyone.
    I enjoyed reading the strong and passionate comments. I thought the Seeker/Investor was an extinct specie. However, it appears, here, to be very much alive. Thank you, again, my friends.
    As for me, my bible is “A Short History of Nearly Everything” – Bill Bryson. It’s a read I most highly recommend for those on either side of the debate genuinely seeking truth.
    Paul Langrock
    I live by, “Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who find it.” – Andre’ Gide

  15. Dan
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I was the one quoted by Jason at the beginning of this thread. I really appreciated reading all the discussions. I will air my response on the spiritual side and reference the scientific side to those much more qualified then me (see the ICR link Jason included at the beginning of this thread as one source).

    Dr. Terry Sandbek, I recommend you especially visit Institute of Creation Research – many reputable, published, Biological Creation Scientists would take exception to your comments. There are also reputable theologians who would differ greatly on some of the viewpoints you raised.

    I’ll share a couple verses from the bible (NKJV) that may be helpful for someone – I would suggest reading the whole chapter so that you understand the context:

    1 Cor 2:14 says, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

    Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

    I’m not a theologian but have read the Bible, and believe it. I’m also a scientist and have examined the facts through the years and believe the evidence favors creationism.

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for being a good sport, Dan. Others given as thorough a once-over as you received in this discussion might not be so charitable. Among people I’ve needed to agree to disagree with over the years, few brought as kind a disposition as yours.

    • Terry Sandbek
      Posted November 1, 2010 at 4:27 am | Permalink

      An Open Letter to Dan

      After reading your reply, I am saddened that you refuse to be open-minded regarding your religious beliefs. You want me to read the works of the creationists yet you did not indicate whether or not you were willing to read the books I suggested. This stance is well know as confirmation bias which means you will only allow yourself to be exposed to resources that confirm your beliefs but will avoid reading anything that might be contrary to your beliefs.

      Additionally, I noticed that the only resources you can depend upon are the Bible and the Institute for Creation Research. Let me address the ICR first. Let us be clear. The ICR is not a scientific organization. They don’t do science, they don’t understand science, they don’t publish peer-reviewed articles in prestigious science journals, and they have a strong anti-science bias. As an organization, their purpose is to denigrate science in favor of a religious belief system. They base their efforts on the authority of St. Augustine when he made the declaration, “Nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind.” No scientist can be an honest scientist by ascribing to this dogma. The ICR takes advantage of the scientific ignorance of the average person. Understanding science is arduous and difficult. Most people don’t want to put in the effort to educate themselves on what science does. Here’s an example. One of the mantras creationists use is that “evolution is only a theory.” The average person in the pew thinks this means, “evolution is only based on someone’s opinion.” They don’t understand that the word “theory” in science means something totally different. A theory is a strong, evidenced-based explanation based on many facts from many sources. The purpose of a theory is to make a testable prediction. In other words, a theory is a “systematic and formalized expression of all previous observations that is predictive, logical and testable.” A theory is not a debate or a controversy (“teach the controversy”). When a scientist finds data that contradicts her theory, the theory is thrown out. Evolution is not controversial. Scientists from many different fields have validated this theory.

      Here are some of the flaws in the way the ICR hoodwinks religious people who are opposed to evolution. They want to be thought of as a scientific organization at the same time they refuse to use the scientific method. They refuse to extend their version of “objectivity” to their own religion. They want to “teach the controversy” but refuse to advocate the teaching the controversy of religions. Would they be willing to teach the controversy of religion as a “theory” and let students decide which one they prefer? An objective comparison of world religions would yield the awareness that there is no evidence that Christianity is a “truer” religion than, say, Islam or Confucianism or Buddhism. The irony here is that there is more debate in the world about religious “truth” than about evolution. Scientists simply do not debate the validity of evolution. To say otherwise is to distort the truth. All working scientists use evolution as the basic framework to understand the world. You would know this if you read scientific journals. ICR pretends that they are merely trying to be even-handed and objective regarding evolution. Yet, they do not apply this same principle to their religious beliefs. If ICR were true to its declaration and really wanted to be even-handed, they would put a warning message on all holy books that would say, “These stories are only theories, not facts. They are unproved, unprovable , and in some cased totally impossible.” By not advocating for religious objectivity ICR displays their hypocrisy. Intelligent Design cannot be taught in science departments because it is not a science. A conservative judge made this quite clear in his Dover decision that Intelligent Design is merely a religion and tries to convince people otherwise by deception, cunning, and duplicity. ICR is a backwater organization that is a joke among practicing scientists. Their members have not made a single, significant contribution to the advancement of science. Until they do, they exist outside the realm of science and all their verbal puffery is merely the ranting of people who are afraid of evolution and the implications it brings.

      Your second resource is the Bible. How strange, since this book is not a science book – nor a book about anthropology, psychology, medicine, or any other field outside of religion. How can a person continually depend on these books when only 37% of Evangelical Christians even read it? And when they do read it, they only read it selectively, namely the parts that support their presuppositions. The Bible is full of contradictions because it is not one book written by one person but an anthology written by many different people over centuries. The writers even had different viewpoints. You refuse to read and understand the scientific evidence for evolution and it appears you are also unaware of the vast amount of literature about what the Bible really says. You are doing a disservice to your faith by refusing to grow intellectually and spiritually. New knowledge is the path to growth. Some day, perhaps, you will find the courage to break the restrictive bonds you are currently living in. Freedom is not living in the cocoon of dogma and religious certainty. True freedom is only achieved when you are willing to challenge your beliefs and become vulnerable to understanding opposing viewpoints. A hundred years from now, our descendants will look back on the resistance to evolution as quaint and with the same smell as prior religious resistance to every other human advance such as a round earth and human equality.

      The fool hath said in his heart “theology must always trump science.” Hezekiah 4:17

      Cordially,

      Terry Sandbek

  16. Anirudh Kumar Satsan
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I know one story (imagination) of H.G.Wells. About 35 years ago when I was doing my first degree course in science, one of my senior colleagues told me a story from Time Machine in which a day comes when the size of humans is the same as the size of rats. Now see what has actually happened afterwards. About 2 or 3 years back I saw in a news paper that a giant sized rodent fossil had been found. This was almost to modern elephant size. This confirmed my belief that dinosaurs had not been wiped out. They are still found in smaller and smaller size, yes of course with some different characteristics. I think Gravitation Force is one of the major cause of genetic mutation. Gravitation Force is gradually increasing towards the centre and compressing all members of the animal kingdom, bringing about genetic change with respect to size. A new evolved species or same species with some new characteristics will be created. I further believe that humans and dinosaurs co-existed. I know one piece of evidence in support of this.

  17. lbrayton
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Wow, this topic always seems to stir people up. First of all let me just say that I am a believer in Natural Creation instead of Supernatural Creation. It is a fitting metaphor that Jesus was the son of a carpenter for God is the master builder and evolution are the tools of creation. Dan stated in his post that he was “…created in the image of God Almighty as He clearly states in His written Word (Bible).”. He either ignores or has not read John 4:24 which states that God is a Spirit and we must worship him in spirit and in truth. This separates the image of God from being a physical entity. We ARE created in the spiritual image of God, but the body is just housing. Just as there is a house of God, the body is the house of Man. It is the temple in which we dwell. The body is constructed of physical materials and eventually returns to the dust of the earth. This is exactly why the body dies but the spirit lives on.

    Secondly, a 6,000 year timeline? According to Genesis 1:13-14, we didn’t get the sun and moon until the 3rd day! Verse 14 says- … let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and YEARS. Years didn’t begin until the 3rd day? A literal interpretation of the Bible destroys the 6,000 year timeline. Apparently time was marked differently, maybe it it was marked in EONS instead.

    Finally, I stated that I believed in natural creation instead of supernatural creation. Think about it, why would God require ANY time whatsoever to create if He could will it into instant existence. For that matter, why create Man in primitive times when He could will us into existence in modern times, perhaps even in the middle of this debate using our computers to communicate? Why create an earthbound form at all, why not create us in the final spiritual form, i.e., heaven? Additionally, why create the laws of the universe — reality — and then ignore them for the rest of the process? Where is all the instant creation? There isn’t any because it was a process of “creation”. God shaped and molded using the tools of evolution.

    Read Genesis chapter 1 and compare the order of events to the process of terraforming a planet. One can only come to an inescapable and startling realization- THIS IS HOW IT WAS DONE. This is how He did it. And He recorded it for us to understand that this is how it was done.

    In the end, it really only boils down to one thing- If the Bible is truth, and science seeks truth, then both should say the same thing. Perhaps it is not the Bible that is wrong, but our perceptions of the Bible that blind us.

    God bless.

  18. William Gilbert
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    It is scary that people are so narrow minded in the face of scientific evidence, that God created everything in 6 days, yet we want them to vote on important issues. That the 6 days set evolution in the correct order is impressive, but the Bible doesn’t say how long each day is. If days could be periods, not 24 hours, then creation and evolution coexist.

  19. Cam
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    For Dale:

    Gould, S.J., 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the nature of history. W.W.Norton and Company: New York, p.1-347.

    This book provided evidence of life that gives an impression of having come from chance rather than intelligent design. I studied both sides of the argument and this book certainly gave me pause. Perhaps it might prove useful in your search. The book was controversial of course and remains so. Best Wishes.

  20. Gregory Iwan
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 2:49 am | Permalink

    It is often amusing as well as challenging, to contemplate “where ‘we’ came from;” what could be more important is to evalute where we might be GOING. If many could acknowledge intelligent design at the least, I wonder if it matters whether homo sapiens sapiens came along over a period of a million years or so, with a number of “false starts,” or arrived like a hailstone: bam! It is difficult for me to imagine that the Earth as we view it originated “auto” — i.e., without some kind of direction. I, too, am a Catholic (a convert), but I consider teaching as I do what I learn and see on my own. A topic for another day, to be sure. The Bible’s historicity is being shown to be quite credible, but we ought to remember that it was written at a time when very, very few were literate. The writers also found it necessary to write from what would to us now be a very limited cultural and scientific perspective. How would your average Joe try to describe a “pillar of fire” in 1250 BCE? I’m not sure I could today. So we spend a great deal of time — even on a “money” thread — mulling over “the facts,” when it can be much more useful to consider what the facts (whichever set is chosen) may MEAN. If my acceptance of one set suggests that I should demean and denigrate all who disagree with “my” facts, then I am no scientist, but rather a pure dogmatist. Narrow vision never gets one through the gate. I hope that how we LIVE takes precedence over how we got here, in any event. Life is brief enough anyway.

  21. John
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    I thought we were planted here by aliens. Isn’t that where the pyrimids came from? I am with the ones here that think it does not matter either way and that dictates how much time I will spend on it.

  22. Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    The religious often regard the bible as the direct message from an all-powerful god. However, recent studies show that atheists and agnostics have a better knowledge of the bible than religious people do, which would indicate that the more you examine the bible, the more likely you are to question its validity.

    Religion has always had an intense appeal and power. It allows us to think we can negotiate with the forces we have no control over. It allows us to accept losses with the assumption that it’s god’s will. It allows us to think death is just a transition in life, a doorway to join the perfect creator in a perfect place. It allows people to think that they are superior to other species, and everything was put here for us to use. It allows us to think that any who think differently than we do are evil and often that god has authorized us to destroy them, and allows some people to control others in the name of it. Certainly very convenient arrangements for us; the kind of things we would write in for ourselves… if we were making up our own rules.

    In fact, about the only thing superior about humans is the capacity of the brain, and if that were not so, we would already be extinct. We are weak, confused, dependent, easily fooled, greedy, abusive and frequently violent without cause. Every other species on earth can do what we cannot — live and thrive using only what nature gave it. The majority of species are faster than we are and proportionately much stronger than we are. Most of them can do a multitude of things naturally that we cannot do without our inventions, such as navigating our world. Humans are far, far from perfect; we are a work in progress that is more likely to destroy itself than to survive another million years. Which one happens depends on how we use the capacity of our marvelous brain, and we are still pretty poor at it.

    It takes a fool to think that there is no higher power than man, and another fool to think that we are the primary image and purpose of that power, or to think that this power designed, planned and created people as they are today. The terms God and Higher Power are not synonymous; “God” implies an all powerful entity and flawless perfection. While we are indeed miraculous in many ways, we are also a species with so many flaws and weaknesses that we could hardly be the intended result of the design of a perfect creator. More likely the result of a process, still unfinished… dare I say, an evolving one?

    Mother nature is the higher power, and she does have a multitude of lessons to teach us about life, logic and all the things that make us what we are and what we might become. Class is always in session, but a great many of us aren’t willing to attend or learn, instead clinging tenaciously to the more comforting things they would prefer to believe. Of course, that has a price because reality is not adjusted by such beliefs — but our choices are. Nature is what it is. It’s not forgiving of ignorance nor listening to your prayers; it doesn’t really care if humans succeed or fail. It has provided the means for either, and indeed that is totally up to us. The possibilities are virtually unlimited if we are willing to observe, study and learn from the true higher power… and that is what science does. It is a reality-based faith, not a lack of faith.

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      The study showing that atheists and agnostics possess greater knowledge of religion than do religious people was discussed on Warren Olney’s program, “To The Point.” If you enjoy this article and its comments, you’ll probably enjoy Olney’s 43-minute program as well. The discussion begins at 7:45 elapsed time:

      http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp101001atheists_agnostics_b

    • Scott L.
      Posted October 30, 2010 at 3:18 am | Permalink

      It’s NOT about RELIGION, it’s about RELATIONSHIP with the One True God, who became a man, sacrificed Himself to atone for our sins (disobedience to God of rules that are FOR our benefit and not arbitrary), then did what no ordinary, sinful man could do, raise Himself from the dead (there IS evidence for these facts unlike evolution, yet people fall for the evolution lie based upon theory, elements of which are being disproved as science develops). For someone without an agenda or preconceived notions, the study, verification, and belief of these truths are easy. The hard part for most people starts within their HEART and involves admitting they are bad and therefore unable to have that direct relationship with God; thus, the need for an intermediary or Savior. No amount of good works will do it, which is the basis of all other religions.

      It must be understood that evolution is a philosophy and not a science. Truth is not a personal decision – whether its true to YOU is irrelevant. Truth, like the law of gravity, just IS. This is based upon two prominent world views today – 1) I believe “it” because it’s true – truth, math, physics; and 2) “It” is true becasue I believe it (this has no objective truth in philosophy or science).

      The presupposition of evolution violates the most basic laws of mathematical numbers theory, the law of probabilities, and the 2nd law of thermodynamics (ever increasing chaos in systems). Consider the rapid decay of data in ALL information storage systems, from the simple to the complex and the ancient to the modern.

      According to Dr. Russell Humphries, physicist at Sandia National Laboratory (thanks to CSE for the summary):

      All modern cosmological models start with the assumption that the universe has neither a center nor an edge. When these assumptions are plugged into Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the result is an expanding universe which is billions of years old at every location.

      Rather than start with these arbitrary assumptions (a universe having no center and no edge), Dr. Humphreys decided to take the most apparent meaning of the Biblical text and see what model of the universe developed. He reasoned that if the Bible was inspired by God, as it claims to be, it should not have to be twisted to be understood. It should have the same straight forward meaning for a “man on the street”, a brilliant physicist, or a theologian.

      The Bible clearly indicates three things about God’s formation of the universe. First, the earth is the center of God’s attention in the universe. By implication, the earth may also be located near the center-perhaps so man can see the glory of God’s creation in every direction. Second, the universe (both matter and space itself) has been “stretched out”. Third, the universe has a boundary, and therefore it must have a center. If these three assumptions are plugged into the currently accepted formulas of physics, and the mathematical crank is turned, we live in a universe in which clocks tick at different rates depending on your location

      Furthermore, the time dilation effect would be magnified tremendously as the universe was originally expanding. As the universe expanded, there was a point at which time was moving very rapidly at the outer edge and essentially stopped near the center. At this point in the expansion of the universe, only days were passing near the center, while billions of years were passing in the heavens. This is the inevitable conclusion based on our current knowledge of physics and starting with Biblical assumptions instead of arbitrary ones. End of summary.

      The Bible contains hundreds of scientific principles (when studied properly), many of which predated their discovery or understanding by scientists/scholars, some of which have only been confirmed in recent years (for example, Isaiah 40:22, written ~5th century BCE, tells us the earth is round, yet it wasn’t until (at the earliest) three centuries later that Eratosthenes of Cyrene proposed the earth may be round and eventually made known scientifically by Galileo and Copernicus in the 16th Century CE). If you don’t understand this in your interpretation, then therein lies the real rub – ultimately, we only see what we care or want to see.

      If you ask God – Yahshua (Jesus), to reveal Himself to you in earnest, HE WILL DO SO AS YOU READ THE BIBLE (in earnest being the key word as you really must be openly seeking Him).

      Again, it’s NOT about religion (or even science for that matter, although God gave us plenty of that for proof), it’s about relationship. If you want to have a relationship with your Creator, IT IS YOUR CHOICE, and that dear friends, is the bottom line!

      • Posted October 30, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink

        Thanks for illustrating my point. For many, fact has nothing to do with the evolution/creation issue. They don’t accept facts as an argument for evolution, and they don’t think they need facts as an argument for creation. However, if you jump out of the plane believing you wear a parachute in faith rather than in fact, reality will have the final say. That is indeed your choice.

      • Michael Nettrour
        Posted October 30, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        Scott L.

        Great post, our relationship with the creator will be the only thing that matters when we take our last breath. He loves us so much that he gave us free choice. There is a heaven and a hell. Everything in nature has an opposite. We need to choose carefully the decison to we make is final when we die. Many ask how could a loving God send anyone to hell? He doesn’t, he only honors your wishes. This is a quite serious business. I pray that many of the posters do as much research in the Bible as they have in science.

  23. Sally
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    There have been several cataclysmic extinction events across the lifetime of our planet, and each has erased much or most of the “evidence” accumulated to that point. No matter how long and hard and carefully we search we won’t be able to find a complete record of Earth’s past or “how things have come to be”. I guess we’ll be having this debate forever.

    Sally

  24. Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    Creationism is nothing but magical thinking, an attempt to explain something that we don’t understand by saying that there exists an all powerful universal parent and that explains everything.

    Under all the posturing and obfuscation it’s just saying, I want my Daddy. It’s really pathetic.

    Those who believe that the universe is faith driven should refrain from using technological devices that are not based on the Bible. Such as computers.

  25. KH
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    How absolutely entertaining, as always, the debate between creation and evolution is. Thanks Jason, for having enough respect for those who initially responded to your article to go to lengths you have to honor the various sides of this topic. The reason I view your site is related to finances. Neither the birds nor the bees nor the dinosaurs nor the apes needed to concern themselves with finances. I do. Not sure if that is an evolution or a devolution with respect to our current place in the cycle of history, but it is certainly a reality. I kept up with your personal financial research for some time before accepting that it could be a benefit to me. One of the primary reasons I came back, after initially thinking myself to be too much of a financial idiot to be saved, is the in-depth research you put into your subject as well as the respect you show (in your inimitably cheeky way) for the various alternatives. I’ll have to weigh in with Albert Einstein and thank you for this aside.

    Best Regards,
    KH

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

      You are most welcome, and I’d like to thank you for the kind words.

  26. Scott L.
    Posted October 29, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Wow, this proves the effectiveness of repeating a lie so often that people come to believe it even with NO SCIENTIFIC PROOF! Please provide the SCIENTIFIC PROOF of evolution and let’s put this debate behind us. I’ll wait FOR THE PROOF………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Ok, I’ve waited, there is NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA. This is a lie promoted by those who are God-less. Those who believe in God that continue to promote it do so out of ignorance (sorry folks, but its true, you’ve just been falling for this lie produced out of atheism and limited tools for scientific study (referring to Darwin’s limited knowledge of the microscopic). Sorry, the facts support a young earth and a worldwide deluge with archeological proof supporting strictly each being created “according to its kind.” Each creature begets only that same creature and the ONLY evolution is microevolution within a species to adapt to its environment, but there is NO proof of a new SPECIES ever evolving into a different species. Ever.

    That we are still learning about our universe is proven true every day and those who are intellectually honest must admit (like it or not) that we don’t fully understand the nature of light, the movement of mass in the universe (i.e.-red shift produces more questions than answers), etc. We may never fully comprehend our universe sufficiently because we can only have a snapshot in time severely limiting our ability to understand the nature of our universe, especially the relationship between energy, mass, space, and time. A closer examination of evolution demonstrates the essential ingredient being one that cannot be remedied – TIME. Evolution lives and dies on the notion that the universe is millions of years old with the elementary notion that otherwise how could the light from distance objects have traveled so far (assuming the speed of light is and has always been constant, for example, which is NOT known, but we are learning that light may not be (and therefore is not) constant, opening the possibility that our universe may, in fact, be very young, thereby opening the possibility that it was created – wow, what a shocker!). Any young child can tell you that a painting or sculpture has an artist, a building has a builder. In other words, design not only suggests, but establishes that there is a creator! Like it or not atheists, you don’t know all there is to know in the universe, so the existence of a Creator is possible. I suggest you live in that reality for a while, then re-read your Bible and re-study the evidence in our world.

    Even guys like Richard Dawkins are unable to answer the ultimate “begged” question of even if the Big Bang, then who put it there and into motion, or even if a constantly repeating cycle, where did it originate from, originally. Watch the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” by Ben Stein which exposes this atheistic conspiracy. Atheistic because it renders the need for or existence of God as unnecessary, which ultimately leads to the notion that morals are subjective and any behavior, however bad it is perceived by some, even the majority to be, can be justified if there is no God who claims to have imbued us with a sense of right and wrong.

    Regards,
    Scott

    A little science estranges men from God, but much science leads them back to him. – Louis Pasteur, 1822-1895
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. – Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 6:18 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Scott… but please don’t mistake Ben Stein, a money-circuit lecturer, for a fount of logic and wisdom, either, let alone Absolute Truth… 🙂

      Second, as an avowed Atheist, i, too, have been searching for ANY hard evidence that anything resembling a God or other form of Supreme Being exists, too, and have found

      ” there is NONE. ZERO. ZILCH. NADA.” From that, i must conclude that it, too, is a lie promoted by those who are God-full.

      you see, yours is not a “winning argument.” look at virtually all of the religions of the world… they’re based on unverifiable “visions” or “conversations with God” through seers, prophets or otherwise “chosen ones,” none of whom are available for interviews.

      lately, the ones we’d be most likely to be able to interview have died, along with their followers, after committing mass ritual suicide.

      also, not a great argument to get someone to “follow the leader.”

      and “finally,” for those who think we popped into existence from a pinpoint of infinitely dense matter/energy/space-time, i suggest some more research into current theories.

      some months back, Astronomy Magazine had a beautiful article on the possibility of a “cyclical universe,” one which expands, contracts and re-expands, with a cycle time of MANY billions of years.

      nope, can’t prove it, and it CERTAINLY doesn’t answer the fundamental question you’re about to ask, of “ok, who kick-started it?” but it IS yet another theory…

      one which can be described, one from which guesses and predictions can be made, in terms of “if it’s valid, what should we be able to observe that would prove or disprove it,” and from that, we can try to create experiments to look for positive OR negative evidence.

      that, again, is the fundamental difference: negative evidence for Creation is dismissed immediately and not tested or evaluated under the really nice rules of science or logic. Creation “Theory” has only the foundation of Belief, and anything that doesn’t fit is tossed away.

      and… that makes ALL the difference.

      ciao!

      • Scott L.
        Posted October 30, 2010 at 3:21 am | Permalink

        Thanks for your kind reply. I hope you will also read my subsequent post that addresses some of your remarks. I hope and pray you find what you’re looking for!

  27. Luigi Morelli
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Jason,

    It is depressing that in this day and age there are so many ignorant people.

    We have plenty of antropological evidence on evolution and they have ZERO evidence of a God.

    And will continue having zero. And the conclusion to be drawn from this is beyond their intellectual capabilities, assuming they have any, which doesn’t seem to be the case.

    There is no worse deaf than he who doesn’t want to hear and no worse blind than she who doesn’t want to see.

    Fell free not to post my note.

    Luigi

  28. D Curry
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    Okay, I just had to share my viewpoint.

    I will start by stating that I am a Christian that has studied science, or perhaps a Scientist that has studied Christianity. Is that the same thing? It has taken me years to come to a determination in my brain that allows me to accept both which is taken to be fact with the scientific community and which is taken by faith with the religious community. I will also mention that I am no Scientist, and I am not a Biblical scholar either. Mainly, this is written from a lay person’s perspective. As such, I will have no references.

    Based on readings I have done from both sides of the argument for evolution, I do not think that there is enough concrete evidence to suggest that we evolved from a single random event in the thick protoplasm (or whatever that was called) early in the earth’s existence.

    Evolution can be defined as the “process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage)”.

    With this definition in mind, I can believe that we have evolved. Early man, has always been man, called by another name. You wouldn’t plant a pumpkin seed and expect a watermelon. However, by selecting the largest pumpkins and planting those seeds, you will increase your odds to get a larger pumpkin. A person could argue that you a pumpkin may cross with a watermelon and develop some new fruit. Perhaps this fruit would have the best qualities of both and replace both the watermelon and the pumpkin over time. You still have a fruit. But this is not the same sort of macroevolution that the scientific community believes: to have some sort of life form and end up with a completely different life form, or to have no life and end up with the evolution of man.

    We are continually evolving. Natural selection does occur. In my mind an example of this is our body’s ability to fight diseases. I know that some of this is due to the advances in modern medicine, but this is evolution in a sense. Once you get sick with some virus, you body makes antibodies. These antibodies will be in your body to fight off that particular infection the next time. So your immune system has evolved after this event. Our bodies continue to change and adapt to changing surroundings. So in essence, we are still evolving.

    Natural selection does occur, which is part of the whole evolution theory. This can be seen in the animal kingdom. Only the strongest male lions, or the birds that build the best nests or have the best display of color get to mate. Almost every (if not all) animal has some sort of selection process in order to mate and produce offspring. Those species are evolving by passing on the most desirable traits for their species.

    As far as belief in intelligent design, it is basically a choice to believe or not believe. There is no proof that God exists. However, there is also no proof that God doesn’t exist. You can argue the existence of God with someone until the end of time, and never change their mind. To rationalize intelligent design with evolution, for me, was relatively easy. I had to come to the understanding that there are things I will not know, and there are things that mankind may never know. Just because you believe something, doesn’t make it true. Conversely, just because you don’t believe something doesn’t make it untrue, either.

    With that being said, what I believe is an intelligent being (God to me) made the entire universe over time and set the physical laws in which it operated. The story in Genesis has an order to it, and from what I remember, how life is known to appear on the earth follows the same basic sequential outline: earth, light, land, plants, moon, sea creatures, birds, animals, man. So in my mind, God created each one at a different time which roughly corresponds with what the scientific community knows about how long each of these has been in existence. In a single day, God created each category. However, who are we to say how long a day to God is. For Someone who has no beginning or no ending, a day can be an eternity to us. A day could be 1,000,000 years to us. So, perhaps he developed some of the sea creatures earlier than others in the same “day”. Perhaps he created some type of plants earlier than others.

    I have yet to see any scientific evidence that a virus evolved into a fish and a fish into an animal and an animal into man. Or for that matter, that a sea slug evolved into a fish or a snail evolved into a dinosaur. This is where the theory of evolution fails in my mind. The concept that all life on earth came from the same virus or bacteria, or whatever random event the scientific community is using is difficult to prove or believe.

    I believe that God created everything, and he created it to evolve as the natural order of things. And perhaps he made monkeys so similar to man that we would have something to study and to argue about.

    Just my two cents worth.

    -D. Curry

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      D. Curry… spot on…
      some months ago, i met a young scientist who’d made a fascinating discovery: he’d found a frog that has no lungs. no, not a tadpole with gills… a mature frog with no lungs.

      the species lived in hyper-oxygenated mountain streams and had “evolved” to absorb oxygen through their skin, and lungs became superfluous.

      yet it WAS a frog.

      so, yes, there is evidence of evolution. the discovery of that frog species or variety is barely on the verge of publication today, and i don’t think you can find ANY references to it anywhere in the literature of the past few hundred years….

      so, a few months later, i wasn’t surprised when i read of a similar discovery of a new species of fish in the same kind of mountain water, hyper-oxygenated environment: a fish without gills.

      yep, didn’t need ’em any more. they absorb oxygen from the O2-rich water THROUGH THEIR SKIN.

      now, here’s where i like science better than “creation”:

      as soon as the frog was discovered, analyzed and shown to be “real,” one could immediately create a hypothesis that a similar adaptation or “evolution” could occur in other species. and then look for evidence to prove or disprove it.

      and then someone came across the fish.

      creationist “theory” is fine and good and a fun belief, but it does lack ONE basic thing that scientific method doesn’t… the Ability To Predict or Forecast a future possibility of a discovery or event, and then run experiments to test the possibility.

      and that, in my never so humble opinion, makes all the difference.
      +af

  29. Michael Nettrour
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I will attempt to keep my comments simple. Evolution is a theory and has many holes in it.
    I believe in creation. So many things here on earth are so perfectly “tuned” in order for this planet to support life. The earths tilt on its axis (23 degrees I think its been a while since high school) produces the seasons that we have. The earths distance from the sun. Much closer we would die from the heat, much further then from cold. The perfect layers of atmosphere that protect us from the dangers of radiation. The mix of O2 in the air just the right balance to support life. The moon being spaced just right to create the gravity necessary for the tides, and to reflect enough light from the sun to provide some light on most nights. (the earths gravity and suns also play in the tides but it would take a whole page to explain it). The complexity of our DNA, the water cycle, how certain animals, fishes, birds, etc can return to the same places for migratory purposes or breeding.

    I find to much perfection in all of the above for random chance to have created it all. So you may call me what you will, God created this magnificent place we call home.

    Sure it is by faith I believe this, but facts around me support my faith. If I’m wrong and the Jesus, who I believe was God manifested in the flesh does not exist, I will have lived a quite blessed life die happy and just turn into dust. If however I am correct, I am going to eventually be ressurected like he was and live in a place far more beautiful than this earth. Someone has given this wager theory a name and I forgot what it is called. But either way with this wager I am going to win. I won’t make you unhappy, or call you a fool for not believing. I just tell you what I believe and insist in my right to believe it.

    My beliefs are no threat to you and yours are no threat to me. The problem seems to be these days many folks don’t seem content to allow others to be free in their beliefs. That’s a bit ironic when you consider why many of our ancestors came to America.

    I will leave you with what Albert Einstein said when he was expressing his views about quantum mechanics. He said God does not play dice with the universe. Now I will tell you he did not believe in a personal God but he thought the universe was to well ordered for quantum mechanics to explain the things going on in physics. I think he was right but for reasons he did not understand.

    And yes I believe in the literal Genesis creation and think the earth (at least in the form it is in today) is 6,000 years old. The Bible does say the earth existed before creation but without form and void (Genesis 1 :2) It may well have been here for millions of years before that.

  30. Sean Thomas Karcher
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I think the discussion has gotten off course. Jason was referring to a “4 Million Year Old Woman” article in NG. Instead in talking about linear evolution, adaptation, and the bible. First start off with the method of fossil dating used. Was it carbon dated? Is that a proven scientific method? I feel like the debate of whether we have apes as ancestors (linear evolution) or with we have evolved through genetic mutation (adaptation) have bypassed the 4 million year old woman completely. Also, just so everyone knows. The Catholic church has stated that one can choose to believe either evolution theory or creation science theory as they are both just theories, haven’t been proven, and don’t effect the teaching of the Christian faith either way.

  31. DojiTrader
    Posted October 28, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    It’s called the “Theory” of Evolution because it’s not fact. If it was proven it would be called the “Law of Evolution”.

    That being said, here’s my take on it.

    I think the mistake that Evolutionist make is that they say that “evolution” is a random, accidental process. There is no spirit. No intelligence.

    I think the mistake that the Creationist makes is that they say that they say there is no “evolution” at all and follow a Biblical time line that is absurd.

    The reality is probably somewhere in the middle. Something like, there is “evolution” but it is directed by” Spirit”. It is meaningful and intelligent.

    • Posted October 29, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink

      re: DojiTrader… “I think the mistake that Evolutionist make is that they say that “evolution” is a random, accidental process. There is no spirit. No intelligence.”

      in all fairness, the claim of a need or necessity of a “spirit” or “intelligence” does not validate the EXISTENCE of such an entity or force. it’s, again, a human construct, unobservable and unprovable. “that it must exist” is NOT a proof.

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