Is Jesus an Evolutionist?
Mike L Anderson
Montane Publishers 2007
First published 2007 © 2008 Mike L Anderson All rights reserved
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Cover design: “Primal Crucifixion” by the author All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means – mechanical or electronic, including recordings or tape recordings and photocopying – without the prior permission of the author, excluding fair quotations for purposes of research or review. Unless otherwise stated, quotations from the Bible are taken from Holy Bible: New International Version, Copyright © 1978 by the International Bible Society, New York.
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Dedication This book is dedicated to all my prayer and financial supporters.
Preface This book recounts how I, as a convinced Christian and student of the philosophy of evolutionary biology, struggled over and came to deal with evolution. It also recounts how I later engaged with others who have struggled with the subject. Michael Ruse, a convinced Darwinian and philosopher of evolutionary biology, wrote, Can a Darwinian be a Christian? My book could have been entitled Can a Christian be an evolutionist? or Evolution for Christians. However, it is more important what Jesus thinks than what Christians think. Hence the title I eventually settled upon. The focus is pastoral and educational rather than academic. I want to pass on that which I found particularly helpful in fostering devotion to Christ and openness towards the scientific evidence. Chapter one addresses who Jesus is that so much focus should be placed on him. Chapter two argues that the greatest potential threat to God is not evolution, but the crucifixion. If God can survive the cross, he can more than survive evolution and through the cross help us to keep evolution in perspective. Chapter three argues from the Bible and in particular, Genesis, that God is not interested in telling us everything he knows - if this were possible - but is calling us into a relationship with him. In chapter four we will see how in Jesus we have a model for how to deal wisely with difficult issues such evolution. Chapter five examines how to determine the position of Jesus on any scientific matter including evolution. The response to the title of the book depends, of course, on whether evolution and Creation are compatible. Chapter six examines whether they are. It also depends on whether evolution has been scientifically confirmed and this is investigated in chapters six to nine. Chapter six discusses the mechanisms of evolution and chapters eight and nine the historical question - whether evolution has happened. Chapter seven examines the possibility of humans creating life. Chapter 10 shows how the example of Jesus is instructive for effectively conveying truth in general and discusses how the principles can be implemented using simulation and other software. I am spiritually and intellectually indebted to many people, but want to especially mention Dr George Murphy for stressing the importance of the crucifixion of Christ, Peter Cherry and Dr John Kent for emphasising the centrality of Jesus, Profs Hugh Paterson and Robin Crewe for mentoring 5
me in evolutionary biology, Prof Mark Leon for mentoring me in the philosophy of science and the late Prof Donald Mackay for relating science and theology in such helpful ways. I especially want to thank my wife, Janice, who has been such a great support and sounding board and so deeply inspiring through her life and devotion to Jesus. A big thank-you is due to our children, Rachel, Nathan and Sharon for teaching me through their fresh and open curiosity about God and the world. My special friends Elroy and Ruth Paulus, Dr Andy Potts, Chris Nursey, Sarah Peacock, Revd Vic and Beryl Smith and Pastor Geoff and Dr Sharon Chapman are greatly appreciated for all their personal support in so many ways. I am greatly indebted to all my financial and prayer supporters. Thank-you so very much for making this work possible. Thank-you very much to all those who commented on this book: Joe Booysen, Prof Sam Berry, Prof George Branch, Dr Bob Carling, Caroline Crump, Prof Georges Delpierre, Dr John Donaldson, Prof Willem Ferguson, John Foord, Prof Jenny Jarvis, Marais Koegelenberg, Barry Lessing, Dr Corrie Loubser, John Mathew, Dr Bernard Musembi, Dr Frank Opie, Revd Dr Neil Oosthuizen, Prof Lincoln Raitt, Prof Doug Rawlings, Graham Ramsay, Revd Claude Ross, Dr Bob Styer, Fred van der Linde, Richard Vowles and Dr Paul Williams. They do not necessarily share my views. For these I take full responsibility. A special thanks to the late Len Coppin for the photographs and to the South African Museum for the fossil preparations.
Part 1: Was Jesus an evolutionist? 1. Jesus and evolution 2. The cross and evolution 3. The wisdom of Jesus and evolution 4. The Bible and evolution
Part 2: Is Jesus an evolutionist? 5. Jesus and scientific reasoning 6. Creation and evolution 7. What if humans created life? 8. Jesus and the fossil record 9. Jesus and living things 10. Jesus, the compassionate persuader
Part I: Was Jesus an evolutionist?
Chapter 1: Jesus and evolution
Jesus is the centre Is Jesus an evolutionist? This might seem a wildly anachronistic question rather like asking whether Confucius was a hippy or whether Socrates was into rock music. Jesus was a carpenter who lived 2000 years ago. What possible connection could he have with evolutionary theory? There are really two questions that could be asked of him and they need to be separated because their answers are quite distinct. One question is, 'Was Jesus an evolutionist?' The other is, 'Is Jesus an evolutionist?' For reasons that will become evident I think the first question is much more significant. It is addressed in part I. It is written for Christians who are perturbed by evolution, but who do not necessarily want to be greatly informed about biology. It argues that there are more than sufficient resources within the Christian faith to cope with evolution. The question 'Is Jesus an evolutionist?' is addressed in part II. It is written to inform Christians of the evidence relevant to evolution. First, we need to begin with whom this Jesus is that these questions could even be asked of him. It makes no sense at all to ask these of someone such as Alexander the Great. Is Jesus greater? Who is he? There is another very important reason to begin with Jesus. The subject of creation and evolution lead many, first of all, to become engrossed in the problem of resolving theology and science. There is certainly place for this, and I do discuss it in later chapters, but there are also great dangers. It is all too easy to substitute knowing about God and his works for knowing God himself. Starting with Jesus fosters a spiritually healthy focus on the person of God. Allow me to begin with how Jesus came to be important to me.
My first love was not Jesus Christ, but biology. I inherited my fascination with living things from my parents. During a soccer match my Dad once just stood there while an opponent dribbled past him and scored a goal. When his teammates demanded an explanation, he replied that he had been watching some ants! Whenever I brought something from the garden to show my Mom she would say, "That's nice." As I result, I never learnt that one was supposed to be scared of spiders. Our children have inherited this condition from me. Our eldest daughter, Rachel, fearlessly picks up the large rain spiders that keep wandering into our home to return them to the garden. My wife, Janice, is the nicest person I know, but she has this quirk of not liking creepy-crawlies in our home. Our son, Nathan, is molly about dinosaurs. He could read the word 'Triceratops' before he could read the word 'they'! Our youngest daughter, Sharon, is as inquisitive as the rest. When she was four years old, she asked Janice, "Mommy, did God build this house?" Even at this young age, she was trying to figure out how God fits into this world. Notice her natural curiosity for understanding the world and Godâ€™s relationship to it. For some, however, this curiosity can turn to dread. This happened to me. With the help of God I got over evolution. Perhaps my story will be an encouragement to you. Before I became a Christian, I thought that science was everything. I even thought it could answer the big questions - such as the meaning and purpose of life. It was with high expectations that I began to study the life sciences at university. I had half expected the big answers to come in a lecture theatre. Instead, they came when two students knocked on my door at the men's residence. They explained that the purpose of life is to have a personal relationship with God and he had made this possible through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ. For the first time I appreciated the extraordinary lengths God went to in reconciling humanity to himself. My heart melted and I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I am very glad about the decision I made for him. This does not mean that everything went well from then on. My chief difficulty was trying to reconcile my newfound faith, which was so important to me, with my studies. At first, it was easy. I dismissed evolution as just a theory. I was sure that evolution was scientifically weak and would pose no threat to my faith. However, later in my studies, my cocksureness turned to confusion. Doubts arose about key tenets of the 10
Christian faith. I would sing hymns and feel hypocritical because I could not sing them whole-hearted; I would skip over parts and still feel guilty – because now I was not worshipping God in the way I felt I should. The spiritual inspiration that my faith provided and the intellectual interest that the life sciences provided dwindled. I fell into intellectual and spiritual anguish. My fascination with the life sciences became submerged by a halfarticulated dread that somehow the theory of evolution would find my faith wanting.
Jesus as the foundation for faith Today I can sing hymns (still badly) Jesus is who he is whether the with gusto and evolutionary biology earth is flat or round, young or is a source of intellectual delight. My old and whether evolution is faith remained intact not because I true or false. And the gospel is discovered some theory that finally true whatever the case about resolved the evolution issue, but evolution. because the Founder of the Christian faith came to be the sufficient Foundation for my faith. Jesus is not just whom I believe, but also the reason for my belief. I came to realise that when Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6), he was saying that he is the uniquely deeply significant truth - not the only truth there is. The centrality of Jesus as the foundation for faith is borne out by the Bible's insistence that Jesus is the fulfilment of God's plan from the beginning (Matthew 26:54, Matthew 27:9, Acts 2:23). His identity is found in Scripture; it does not depend on a resolution of any scientific issue. Jesus is who he is whether the earth is flat or round, young or old and whether evolution is true or false. And the gospel is true whatever the case about evolution. I developed deep convictions about the Person of Jesus - that he is the Son of God and the Messiah. It was in knowing Jesus that my faith remained intact even though I had no answers to some very troubling and difficult questions. To the extent that my faith was truly in him, I found myself unshaken by contemporary scientific controversies and free to follow and be fascinated by the fossil evidence – wherever it might lead. From the point of view of the Christian faith, Jesus is the centre - not creation and From the point of view of the Christian faith, Jesus is the centre - not creation and evolution nor anything else.
evolution nor anything else. The realisation that Jesus is the proper basis for faith did not come over me suddenly (I am still learning). It emerged gradually. I am deeply grateful to God for the spiritual mentors that he placed in my path. It was not always just what was said; I saw it lived out in a senior student who befriended me. Andy's serenity amidst the raging arguments showed me the centre-point of his faith. I am also grateful for the writings of "Put simply, the best reason for theologians and Bible scholars. If I believing that the Christian had read them earlier, I might have religion is true is Jesus, and the been saved a lot of grief. For best reason for believing in Jesus instance, Harrison says "[t]he case for is Jesus Himself" (James Sire). Christianity can be made to rest on his character alone, for he is its supreme miracle."1 Jesus is not only central to faith, but to theology too. Scientist-theologian George Murphy says, "The doctrine of creation is important for Christianity, but it is not what makes theology distinctively Christian. Christian faith is centered on the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth as God's definitive selfrevelation and saving action. Any way of thinking about God and God's activity in the universe must finally be evaluated in terms of its relationship with this center."2 James Sire says, "Put simply, the best reason for believing that the Christian religion is true is Jesus, and the best reason for believing in Jesus is Jesus Himself".3 I think philosopher of biology Michael Ruse understated it when he said, "Darwinian evolutionary theory is simply irrelevant to much of this [gospel] story."4 As theologian Emil Brunner said, "Whether we obey Him or not is a question not of science but of life, and one in comparison with which all questions of science become insignificant."5 Many have fallen into the trap of relegating Jesus to the periphery of some issue. In the past it was the immovability of the earth. It looks ridiculous to us now, but here is what a certain church leader said at the time of Copernicus, "The opinion of the earthâ€™s motion is of all heresies the most abominable, the most pernicious, the most scandalous; the immovability of the earth is thrice sacred; argument against the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and the incarnation should be tolerated sooner than an argument to prove that the earth moves."6
These days, for some, the issue is creation and evolution. For instance, one has written, “It is high time that people in general, and Bible-believing Christians in particular, recognize the foundational significance of special creation. Creation is not merely a religious doctrine of only peripheral importance, as many people (even many evangelical Christians) seem to assume. Rather, it is the basis of all true science, of true Americanism, and of true Christianity.”7 By making special creation the basis of true Christianity, he has relegated Jesus to a peripheral position. The apostle Paul takes exception to those who would demote Jesus. He says, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). The apostle Peter similarly protests that Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone...” (Acts 4:11). Paul and Peter had Christ-centred rather than issue-centred lives. We can represent the two kinds of lives this way:
The Christ-centred life
The issue-centred life
Christ is at the centre An issue (e.g. creation & evolution) is at the centre Issues (e.g. creation & evolution) are peripheral to him Christ is peripheral to the issue
Beginning at the beginning Some want to make Genesis foundational to the Christian faith because it deals with beginnings.8 But Genesis comes far too late. To find the true beginning one needs to study all of Scripture. The last chapter of the last book of the Bible reveals the real beginning. Jesus says, “I am … the Beginning” (Revelation 12:13). The beginning is not an event, but a Person.9 The apostle John agrees, 13
â€œIn the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginningâ€?(John 1:1). We must begin with Jesus. Then, with our faith in him sorted out, we can look at evolution. What does Jesus make of evolution? Is Jesus an evolutionist? We shall see that Jesus and especially him crucified have important implications for evolution. Some might want to question putting Jesus at the beginning. Some think that if you cannot reconcile Jesus and evolution then you should reject him. Others think that if you cannot reconcile Jesus and evolution then you should reject evolution. The trouble with these lines of argument is that they begin by assuming too much. If I find Jesus and evolution incompatible, perhaps the problem lies with me and not with him (or with evolution). Perhaps they integrate at a level that is beyond my present understanding. Perhaps the conflict exists because I do not know Jesus or evolution sufficiently well. A faith that does not wait upon a resolution of the creation/evolution controversy does not necessarily lack objectivity. Surely, an objective faith is one that responds to the evidence? If the evidence warrants faith in Jesus then my trust in him is well founded whatever the case about evolution. The problem of reconciling creation and evolution cannot be any greater than the problem of reconciling the humanity and deity of Jesus Christ. Theologians accept the paradox that Jesus is both human and divine, not because they are able to finally grasp how this can be so, but because the available evidence points to this incredible truth. They are yet to finally resolve how the Godhead can be three Persons and One God at the same time. It is because the biblical evidence teaches both that the doctrine of the Trinity is accepted. A full understanding of the integration between the members of the Trinity is perhaps beyond our present understanding. Theologians are yet to finally resolve the problem of how an all-loving and all-powerful God can allow evil and suffering. Yet, many people not only continue to believe in such a God but in their faith find the sustenance to face awful suffering and evil. Theologian J. I. Packer describes the appropriate attitude a person should take when confronted by an apparent incompatibility between two truths. "Accept it for what it is, and learn to live with it. Refuse to regard the 14
apparent inconsistency as real; put down the semblance of contradiction to the deficiency of your own understanding; think of the two principles as, not rival alternatives, but in some way that at present you do not grasp, complementary to each other."10 Packer was writing about the apparent contradiction between God's sovereignty and human responsibility, but one would do well to apply the same attitude and principle to the creation and evolution debate. Scientist-theologian John Polkinghorne's advice is very pertinent here. "The world is complex, full of surprises, and understanding it often involves notions a good deal more subtle than we could possibly have foreseen.â€? He takes issue with those who "seem obsessed with what it might be reasonable to suppose" and suggests instead that we ask, "What is it that we have evidence to think is actually the case?"11 It is not only theologians that use this principle; scientists use it too. Consider the Italian scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani. He discovered that when he placed plugs in the ears of bats, they could not avoid colliding with obstacles. He began to realise that bats were using sound to navigate around objects even though he could not hear any sound coming from them (they were transmitting the sound at a frequency above the range of human hearing). Bat expert Donald Griffin writes, "He could make no more sense out of this conclusion than could his critics. But he trusted experimentally demonstrated facts sufficiently to be convinced of the correctness of his finding, even though he could not fit them into a satisfactory logical framework."12 Donald Mackay, following the philosopher Alfred Whitehead,13 explains an instance in physics: Physicists had found experimental evidence that light had both a particulate and a wavelike nature and yet at first they could not resolve what looked like an apparent contradiction. Their approach, by and large, was to admit both sets of evidence and to work hard to resolve the tension. It was 25 years later that Paul Dirac was able to provide integration by allowing the particulate and wave perspectives as complementary hypotheses in a single unified theory.14 The honest, open approach to Jesus and evolution is to go with the evidence, however difficult it may be to reconcile him with our current beliefs. God may have his special reasons for revealing himself in Jesus and 15
perhaps creating through evolution. If I close myself to these possibilities, I may be closing myself to reality. God's need for Jesus We have seen that the creation and evolution issue is only one of many seemingly intractable problems for the Christian faith. If we wait for a final resolution of any of these questions, we will never come to faith. To demand final answers to these questions before we are prepared to come to faith is to play down our creaturely limitations and Godâ€™s inscrutability. The difficulties can be appreciated through an oft-used analogy: trying to understand Shakespeare from his plays. "The mind of Shakespeare, we shall readily admit, transcends his work," says Dorothy Sayers. 15 How, then, could the characters in a play know their author? They can know something, but there are limits. It is not that there is something deficient about the author. The deficiency is in the characters. They are locked inside the story whereas the author is outside the story. They cannot see the beginning from the end whereas the author knows the plot. The problem the characters have is that they are not author-sized. Humans have the same problem before God. We are locked in space and time whereas God is eternal. We "cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end" (Ecclesiastes 3:11) whereas God knows the future (Acts 2:23). How, then, can we know God and his purposes? That is the problem. Is there a way forward? Going back to the play illustration, were an author to be scaled down to the size of the characters in the story, he would be able to reach them. Theologian Don Cupitt says that the author could take on the first-person narration within the story16. The analogy works better, I think, if the author writes himself into the play as a character. He would be the perfect representative of the author; he would be the author. Let us view this from the perspective of the other characters in the play. The author-character would be someone with whom they could really communicate; they could get to know him. God needed Jesus to solve the character-size problem. But, a new problem has been created - a problem of credibility. A character has emerged on the scene that acts as though he is actually the author written into the story. How could a fellow-character be assured that this is really the case?
Here are some hallmarks that would be reasonable to expect from this author-character. - He would have an unusual entrance into the play - He would have an unusual exit - He could rewrite the plot (miracles) - He would know how the story ends - He would be uniquely wise. Is there anyone in history who satisfies these criteria? There is - Jesus of Nazareth. The virgin birth (Matthew 1:25), the ascension (Mark 16:19), the prophecies (Matthew 24) and the miracles and the resurrection of Jesus (John 10:18, Luke 24:67) are all indications that he was God incarnate.
The Character of Jesus However, these hallmarks, as significant as they are, do not address the unique character of Christ, which, as a foundation should be placed in a category all by itself. Harrison said, as we have already seen, that "[t]he case for Christianity can be made to rest on his character alone, for he is its supreme miracle."
Jesus seems, in his continuing influence as in his lifetime, both to resonate with men of vastly different experience and also to elude the total grasp of any". (John Polkinghorne)
The Scriptures teach that while God speaks in many ways, he has spoken most clearly through his Son.
“In the past God spoke to our forebears through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being …” (Hebrews 1:1-3a). Seen from the vantage point of Hebrews the creation and evolution debate is not of first Christian interest. Of first Christian interest, given that God has spoken most clearly through his Son, is Jesus and evolution. There is a problem in dealing with Jesus. As C.S. Lewis puts it, it is a little like a fly "deciding what it is going to make of an elephant".17 John Broadus believes that any attempt to describe the character of Christ is foredoomed 17
to failure.18 It is impossible for a mere human to do justice to his Person. John Polkinghorne says "Jesus seems, in his continuing influence as in his lifetime, both to resonate with men of vastly different experience and also to elude the total grasp of any".19 There is always the danger of making Jesus into our own manageable and expedient image. A common slogan during the English-French wars was “The pope is French but Jesus Christ is English”20 The Jesuit George Tyrell "wittily said of Adolf von Harnack that peering at the historical Jesus down the deep well of the intervening centuries he spied his own face reflected at the bottom."21 Dorothy Sayers complained about those who "muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with an atmosphere of tedium."22 The character of Christ is one of the strongest defences for the Christian faith, but it is not a defence that can be reduced to a syllogism. To call him an argument puts it far too narrowly. In the end, one has to say, "go seek him out yourself and see what he does to you." In a Wizard of Id cartoon, the wizard is peering through a telescope while the king approaches. King: "What are you doing Wiz?" Wizard: "I'm looking for the centre of the universe." King: "Speaking." The king's response is funny because it is absurdly inappropriate for a mere mortal to be so egocentric. The striking thing about Jesus is that in his acts of compassion he spoke as if he were the centre of salvation in the universe.23 For instance, he forgave people their sins committed against others. “Some
men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!”” (Matthew 9:2-3). Notice that the teachers were well aware of the implications of his statement. 18
As C.S. Lewis famously expresses it, “He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned, the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin.”24 It is impossible to be neutral about Jesus. He is a stumbling block or … Jesus combined the most foolishness or the power and wisdom of outrageous claims with the God (1 Corinthians 1: 23-24). Why is most believable character. this? Somehow Jesus combines the most extraordinary character with the most extraordinary claims on us. While giving himself the almost self-effacing epithet “Son of Man” and saying that his mission is to serve, he reveals that his mission is to save humanity (Mark 10:45). This is the pattern with him. He is an extraordinary person with an extraordinary mission. The humility of Jesus Consider for, instance, the humility of Jesus. Even while making allusions to his extraordinary identity, he displayed great humility in his actions and words. He surprises his disciples in going so counter to culture that he stoops to speak to an immoral, Samaritan woman. At the same time, he admits to being the Messiah (John 4:7-26). Immediately after making the outrageous claim that his words, unlike heaven and earth, will never pass away (Matthew 24:35), he admits his ignorance of his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36). In the same breath as asserting his privileged knowledge of his Father (Matthew 11:27), he says, apparently without fear of contradiction, "I am gentle and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29). Then there is the incident in Mark 3:31-14. While Jesus is talking to a crowd, his mother and brother arrive and pass on a message requesting an audience with him. If Jesus were merely human, you might expect him to voice some partiality to his relatives with respect to his attention. He does not. Instead, he looks at those seated around him and says, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." In one fell swoop, he identifies himself with ordinary people while making this connection dependent on their obedience to God's will! C.S. Lewis comments on another occasion, " ... this Man is sitting looking down on Jerusalem from the hill above it and suddenly in comes an 19
extraordinary remark - 'I keep on sending you prophets and wise men.' Nobody comments on it. And yet, quite suddenly, almost incidentally, he is claiming to be the power that all through the centuries is sending wise men and leaders into the world".25 In the same breath again, Jesus is not above describing Himself as a hen wanting "to gather her chicks [the Jews] under her wingsâ€? (Matthew 23:37). While making the apparently grandiose assertion that he is essential for humans to produce spiritual fruit, he likens himself to a humble plant (John 15:5). If they came from anyone else, Jesus' claims would be seen as an indication of delusions of grandeur. And yet in him they come across as seemly. The wisdom of Jesus A characteristic of wisdom is unusual insight into reality and in particular into the human heart. The lunatic by contrast is out of touch with reality both with himself and with others. A striking characteristic of Jesus is his ability to apply the moral law to extremely difficult situations. The Pharisees and Sadducees bring to him a woman caught in adultery. According to the law, she should be stoned. It was probably in knowing his penchant for forgiving others that they wanted to trap him against the Law. Jesus responds with a brilliant solution that demonstrates the depth of his understanding of human nature and satisfies the law while allowing him to forgive the woman. His response: "if any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7). The question that arises is how could someone who was so clearly in touch with reality and who displayed such wisdom in such difficult situations be deluded about his own identity? The biologist and student of Darwin, George Romanes, had this to say about the spiritual wisdom of Jesus. "For when we consider what a large number of sayings are recorded of - or at least attributed to - Him, it becomes remarkable that in literal truth there is no reason why any of His words should ever pass away in the sense of becoming obsolete... Contrast Jesus Christ in this respect with other thinkers of like antiquity. Even Plato, who, though some four hundred years before Christ in point of time, was greatly in advance of Him in respect of philosophic thought, is nowhere in this respect as compared with Christ".26
The goodness of Jesus There is one time when we might excuse Jesus for some selfThere is one time when we indulgence. At his approaching might excuse Jesus for some death could we not allow him just a self- indulgence. …. While he little self-pity? While he is dying on is dying on the cross ... the cross, could we not allow him a Instead, we find Jesus, ... prelittle bitterness against his enemies occupied with the needs of for sentencing him to death? Instead, others. we find Jesus, even at this time, preoccupied with the needs of others. Even under the worst circumstances, he is full of selflessness, goodness and love. In the night before his death, we find Jesus preparing his disciples for ministry (John 14-16). In John 17, we find him praying for his disciples. While Jesus is being led off to the Place of the Skull, he tells the woman who are weeping for him to weep for themselves and alludes to the brutal Roman destruction of Jerusalem that would happen in AD 70 (Luke 23:28). While dying on the cross, he makes sure that his mother is cared for. “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27). While dying, he doesn't only show love to his friends but also his enemies. He prays: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Thus after reviewing the evidence on his character, Philip Schaff was able to say, "The hypothesis of imposture is so revolting to moral as well as common sense, that its mere statement is its condemnation. … How, in the name of logic, common sense, and experience could an impostor - that is a deceitful, selfish, depraved man - have invented, and consistently maintained from the beginning to the end, the purest and noblest character in history with the most perfect air of truth and reality? How could he have conceived and successfully carried out a plan of unparalleled beneficence, moral magnitude and sublimity and sacrificed How many people that have ever lived combine all these virtues? Apart from Christ probably none. How many people that have ever lived combine all these virtues and claim to be God incarnate. Only One. Jesus.
his own life for it, in the face of the strongest prejudices of his people and ages?"27 How many people that have ever lived are able to combine unusual wisdom, goodness and humility? We can think of some who were unusually wise such as Socrates, Confucius, Buddha and Solomon. We can think of some who were unusually good such as Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. How many combine all these characters? Very few indeed. The palaeontologist, Stephen Jay Gould, says "With copious evidence ranging from Plato's haughtiness to Beethoven's tirades, we may conclude that the most brilliant people of history tend to be a prickly lot".28 Interestingly, Gould adds, "Charles Darwin must have been the most genial of geniuses." With few exceptions, brilliance in one department is marred by deficiencies in others. So it is with human nature. Wholeness tends to elude us. Not so with Jesus Christ. Schaff again: "His zeal never degenerated into passion, nor His constancy into obstinacy, nor His benevolence into weakness, nor His tenderness into sentimentality. His unworldliness was free from indifference and unsociability, His dignity from pride and presumption, His affectibility from undue familiarity, His self-denial from moroseness, His temperance from austerity. He combined child-like innocency with manly strength, absorbing devotion to God with untiring interest in the welfare of man, tender love to the sinner with uncompromising severity against sin, commanding dignity with winning humility, fearless courage with wise caution, unyielding firmness with sweet gentleness".29 In Jesus we have someone whose acts of compassion combined these virtues and revealed him as the centre of God's mission to rescue the world. Surely, he is perfectly sufficient as the object and basis for faith! This is most clearly seen in his crucifixion. The crucifixion is so central that the entire next chapter is devoted to it. Facing the facts about Jesus The evidence points, paradoxically, to Jesus being both fully human and fully divine. We could avoid the paradox by emphasising his divine attributes over his human attributes or vice versa, but in doing so we fail to do justice to the evidence.
There is an error that baulks at Jesus having human limitations.30 It is very common. Walter Kasper says, â€œThe biblical and church doctrine that Jesus was a complete man with a human intellect and human freedom, does not seem to prevail in the average Christian head.â€?31 Theologian R. T. France points out that when we study the New Testament we cannot but conclude that the biblical picture of Jesus is that of "a real man, with real emotions and human reactions, who had to learn obedience to the will of God, and did not find it easy, whose knowledge was limited, and who lived and spoke as a first-century Palestinian Jew. All this belongs to the essential raw materials of Christology which claims to be based on the evidence of the New Testament."32 The opposite error stresses the human attributes of Jesus at the expense of the divine. It is difficult to hold the human and divine attributes of Jesus together, but this difficulty does not excuse us for trying to make him different from what he is. The evidence of his foreknowledge (Matthew 24:2-25) must be taken together with the evidence of his ignorance (Matthew 24:36). The evidence of his power over death (John 11:32-34) must be taken together with the evidence of his succumbing to death (John 19:33-34). To try to make it easier to hold the facts together in one's mind, I have written a freeware computer program called Face the Facts (see accompanying screenshots) that transforms some of the New Testament evidence for Christ's humanity and deity into facial features. Evidence, such as his forgiving people of their sins, is mapped to a facial characteristic such as sideburns. From the screenshot it is easy to see that Jesus had both human and divine attributes. Actually, the biblical evidence goes much further than this in revealing that Jesus was fully God and fully human at the same time, but discussing this is beyond the scope of this book.
God, Jesus and humanity transformed to human faces
Faith in the wrong places While Jesus is the perfectly sufficient basis for faith, many seem very eager to look to pseudo-science for sustenance (see box: Shroud of Turin: Shroud of Christ?). The danger in this is well illustrated by the following incident. During a practical class, one of my students, a devout Christian, picked up a fossil hominid skull. She did not see me looking at her, but I caught her facial expression as she picked it up. It was full of fear. She put down the fossil and left the class. Her reaction has haunted me from then on. In earlier conversations she would say, â€œevolution is just a theory" reminding me so much of myself as a young Christian. When she was on her own and the matter was between herself, God and the evidence, the bravado was gone and her anti-evolution arguments seemed to fail her. She had come to believe, at least to some extent, that the truth of the Christian faith hinged upon what was found in the fossil record. Palaeontology was not simply the study of fossils; it had serious faith implications for her. Now, imagine that you had peeked through the laboratory door and had seen all that had happened. Imagine encountering this student as she left. Imagine that it fell on you to counsel her spiritually. What would you say? There are Christians who have never picked up a fossil or done a dissection and yet are quite prepared to speak against evolution as if this is the way to encourage faith. But confidence in the sufficiency of Christ rather than the alleged deficiencies of evolution would seem a better approach to counselling. If the student had been solely grounded in Christ, perhaps she could have approached the class with enthusiasm. Some students have even committed suicide because they could not deal with evolution.33 The dangers of a wrong foundation for faith can also be seen in the story of Glenn Morton. While still a student, he ghost-wrote the anti-evolutionary half of the book Reasons Skeptics Should Consider Christianity.34 Years later after becoming a professional geologist and becoming much more acquainted with the scientific evidence concerning earth history, he became beset with doubts about what he had been writing and teaching, to the extent that he was "driven to the edge of becoming an atheist".35 Morton is not alone in experiencing intellectual anguish over trying to relate his faith to accepted science.36
His experiences echo the warnings of Scripture. "Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his Servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches, go, walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze. This is what you shall receive from my hand: You will lie down in torment." (Isaiah 50:10-11) The perplexing creation and evolution issue can easily tempt one to manufacture solutions to massage an inadequate faith. But, the penalty will be torment. Fossil discoveries, far from being a delight, will be a burden. Each represents a potential threat that has to be answered somehow. What a great burden this is, given the pace of the discoveries that I will indicate later in this book. Jesus as the antidote to intellectual weariness There is an easier way. The biblical solution is found in Christ. It is perfectly acceptable to try to resolve the debate, but not as a faith issue. The good news for those who are weighed down intellectually by the creation and evolution debate is that Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). With him at the centre, resolving the debate becomes a work of joy and interest rather than one of desperation. As a Christian in ministry, willing to speak about evolution I have often been invited to give talks to church groups. Sometimes it is just assumed that I am an anti-evolutionist. On one such occasion I found myself being introduced as an expert that would trounce the "fairy-tale of evolution" and that I would be an "encouragement to them in their faith." I felt I had to come clean about my scientific convictions. The effect on the audience was marked. It went from happy expectation to a stern frown. Arms became folded. The atmosphere became heavy. Over the next half an hour as I pointed them to Jesus as the perfectly sufficient object and basis for faith, the audience became visibly relaxed. By the time I got around to discussing the evidence for evolution, they appeared verysignificantly less threatened. 26
I did not convince all of them that evolution was scientifically acceptable, but they began to see it as theologically non-threatening.
Shroud of Turin: Shroud of Christ? "In the darkness of the Jerusalem tomb the dead body of Jesus lay, unwashed, covered in blood, on a stone slab. Suddenly there is a burst of mysterious power from it. In that instant the blood dematerializes, dissolved perhaps by the flash, while its image and that of the body becomes indelibly fused onto the cloth, preserving for posterity a literal 'snapshot' of the Resurrection".37 In such soul-stirring tones, Ian Wilson provides a popular explanation for the haunting image on the most famous cloth in history - the Shroud of Turin. The alleged burial cloth of Christ captivates. Theologian, Robert Perry says the "Shroud is intentionally produced by Jesus as his own record for posterity, as his own gospel"(emphasis his).38 Artist and theoretical physicist Isobel Piczek calls it the "... only window on the future in the cosmos, on the cosmos".39 It has elicited such devotion that Reverend Joseph Marino drew these parallels between Jesus and the Shroud. "When Jesus was crucified, He was mocked ... the British Museum mocked the Shroud in an exhibition about forgeries ... just as Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver for betraying Jesus, the Oxford lab was given 1 million pounds by 45 rich businessmen to establish an archaeological chair for supposedly debunking the Shroud. Do you know when that payment was made? It was made on Good Friday, 1989".40 The breadth of this devotion is also remarkable, as another Shroud enthusiast has noted. "When I first began to lecture on the Shroud of Turin I had very real reservations as to how it would be received by the larger ecumenical community. What I have discovered in the intervening years is that the Shroud needs no such apologist. It is now, as it was on that very first Easter morning, self-authenticating. In presentations ranging from the Salvation Army to the Syrian Orthodox, from the Bible Belt to the Biretta Belt, Christians of all persuasions are beginning to acknowledge not only that the Shroud is Christianity's most precious artefact, but that it is also "the" most significant visual aid available to the religious educator for teaching about our Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection".41 27
The Shroud is not only venerated, it is the most studied relic in history - so much so that its field of study has been given its own name: sindonology. The catalogue of a popular virtual bookstore listed 53 books on the Shroud of Turin compared to 57 books on that other great icon - the painting of the Last Supper.42 Is the Shroud a fake? Is the interest in the Shroud in proportion to the evidence for it? It appears not. There are several lines of evidence that point to the Shroud being a fake including the following: 1. Bible scholars have noted several discrepancies between the gospel records and the Shroud. John describes several burial cloths, including a separate one that covered Jesus' face, which were soaked in a large quantity of spices. The Shroud is a single cloth with no trace of any spices.43 2. The testimony of Bishop d'Arcie in the 14th century is that an artist confessed to painting the image as part of a healing scam to defraud pilgrims.44 3. There is no orthodox history of the Shroud prior to its appearance in the West in the 14th century.45 4. Iconographists (art historians) place its origin in 13th or 14th century Europe.46 5. Three independent radioactive dating laboratories have dated the Shroud to between AD1260 and AD1390.47 The fact that these lines of evidence converge is significant. Notice that the same medieval date for the Shroud keeps cropping up. If this date is in error, how is it that the disparate fields of inquiry yield the same date? How would a medieval bishop's mistake happen to coincide with the mistakes of three independent modern-day laboratories and the evidence of history? The arguments for the Shroud's authenticity only seem plausible when particular lines of inquiry are considered paramount and assessed in isolation. But the evidence must be considered collectively and it mutually supports the case for fakery. The Shroud has spoken and it says it is a fraud. 28
Some writers on the subject make the inference that, since the Shroud is of human origin, it cannot be a divine product.48 Theologically, this is too cursory. If what is meant is that the Shroud is not the result of divine intervention, all well and good. If God performed a miracle on the burial cloth at the time of the resurrection, He would not make it look medieval. This does not mean that God is not involved, however. Just as He sovereignly ordained that Judas would commit treachery, so He has allowed fakes to come into existence. But He is faithful and no cosmic deceiver. He has made a covenant with the fixed laws of heaven and earth (Jeremiah 33:25). It is the coherence of the natural order that makes it possible to reliably reconstruct so much of the past.49 If the evidence points so strongly in the direction of medieval shenanigans, then that is what has happened. It is ultimately God who has spoken and not of his Son, but of the sinful duplicity and credulity of the sons of men. Under the spell of the shroud Rather than submit to the evidence, many Shroud enthusiasts have come up with ingenious arguments to justify retaining their faith in the Shroud. One suggestion is that the resurrection of our Lord changed the composition of the cloth so that the dating was thrown out.50 Another is that the scientists who dated the cloth conspired to switch samples.51 Such ad hoc attempts to rescue a fake, coupled with the all too common assumption that the Shroud "makes it possible for us to believe"52, sends out a clear signal. By dredging the bottom of the bucket to bolster their faith, they are implying that Jesus is insufficient as a basis for faith. This mentality is very different from the apostle Paul's conviction that "each one should be careful how he builds. For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:10b-11). Some have pointed to the Shroud being instrumental in the conversion of agnostics and atheists.53 This does not prove its authenticity. It merely proves that the Lord is humble, gracious and sovereign enough to use a fake or a Judah to bring people to Himself. One can just as easily point to those that have lost faith because of the Shroud. Former member of the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), Walter McCrone writes, "One unexpected result of my experience with STURP has been to convert me from a reasonably faithful Presbyterian to a committed 29
Humanist. If they (STURP) are religious, I want to distance myself from them as far as I can get".54
Behind the spell Why is so much devotion reserved for a fake thing over the real Person? Shroud researcher Thaddeus Trent finds pride to be a factor, "To interpose science as an adjudicator of faith would be but a reflection of human pride. But, perhaps an even greater error would be to interpose the Shroud itself ... Faith in Christ should not depend upon any sort of idol, sacred or profane".55 Excessive value of the material over the personal is another factor. Iconographist Professor Nicholas Allen writes, "If I wanted to present just one tangible piece of evidence of humankind's remarkable ability to transcend the ordinary and to accomplish the most extraordinary technological feats, I would point to the Shroud of Turin ... Ironically, if I wanted tangible evidence of the inability of seemingly intelligent people to see the obvious, I would have to point to the same phenomenon. In fact, it would appear that many still want desperately for this artefact to be some form of material proof of their personal religious conviction".56 Allen's comment hints at another factor: we prefer manageable evidence to an unmanageable Person. An anonymous author puts it this way: "We demand concrete proof to verify and re-verify the substance of our faith. Somehow, the stirring facts of our Lord's resurrection and the testimony of millions that have been glorified in Him has receded into just a dismal memory. Looking for some remnant of existence on earth, we scout for His shroud, or even Noah's ark, or some archaeological artefact that will suddenly scream "the Bible is absolutely true", and when these objects don't come forth in our days, we open yet another crack for doubts to slip in unawares. We let slip away the awareness of the closeness of the one spiritual proof that always bolsters our faith - the presence of the Comforter, the Helper, the Illuminator, the Holy Spirit of God, who, having taken up residence in our lives, in our thinking, and in our hearts forever attests to the truthfulness and rightness of our faith and the One to whom it is directed".57
Rarity is perhaps another factor. It has made the Shroud a priceless piece of memorabilia in a consumer age, whereas the apostle Paul declares that God is freely available anywhere to those who would reach out to Him on His own terms. "God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us ... we should not think that the divine being is ... an image made by man's design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17: 27-30). Forensic scientist, David Stoney, sounds a warning, "The object of faith, of course, is not this cloth nor the image that appears on it, but He who was (or wasn't) buried in it. That is where faith should belong."58 With so much converging against the Shroud, it is a great irony that so many fixate on an image when so much is converging for and in the Person of Christ, declaring Him to be the Son of God. There is, for instance, the witness of Moses and the prophets and his exquisite combination of love, wisdom, truth, grace, power and justice so especially well revealed in His death and resurrection. Perhaps one day the Father will exact an answer from many to this question: "How is it that you tried to shroud the glorified One in a medieval cloth?"59
Was Jesus an intellectual? On the one hand, Jesus praises God when the wise and learned struggle to fathom the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 11:25-26), but on the other commands his disciples to "love God with all their minds" (Matthew 22:7) and to be as "shrewd as snakes" (Matthew 10:16). God declares in the Psalms that we are not to "be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding..." (Psalms 32:9). How can the mind be a good thing when it can keep us from the kingdom of heaven? How can it be a bad thing when we are commanded to use it? Is Jesus for or against the intellect? The evidence seems to point in both directions. The Son of Omniscience did not go down in history for his intellect. He came to be a saviour not a philosopher.
Some time ago, we took our children camel riding. I got talking to the owner. He had some memorable stories about people falling off his camels. You might think that those with horse-riding experience would be the most likely to stay on the camels. It turns out that those with the confidence of cowboys were the least likely to stay on. Camels are not like horses. They behave differently and unexpectedly for the cowboy. Is horse-riding experience a good thing? Yes, ... for riding horses. For camel riding, it puts you at a disadvantage. A shrewd mind is like the ability to ride a horse. It is good for some things, bad for others. Those who try to know God through their shrewd mind end up falling on their behinds. The gospel declares that no human effort can reconcile us to God. Scripture is emphatic: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). When Paul uses the term ‘works’ we usually think of good deeds, but the principle applies no less to intellectual deeds. It is in the context of knowing him that God says: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate” (I Corinthians 1:19). This is why Jesus praised God for keeping the gospel from "the wise and the learned" and revealing it to "little children." The mind is a bad thing when we try to use it to earn God's acceptance. Yet, some would redefine faith to make intellectual performance a requirement for salvation. For example, one Christian philosopher writes, "...biblically, faith is a power or skill to act in accordance with the nature of the kingdom of God...”60 To see where he has gone wrong we can take the term 'faith' in Ephesians 2:8-9 and substitute his definition for it. We get, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through a power or skill to act in accordance with the nature of the kingdom of God - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." We have a contradiction. Either we are saved by some prowess we have then we can boast. Or, we are saved by grace - then we cannot. The Christian philosopher cannot have it both ways. He should have used his mind to pick up the contradiction - that would be is a good use for it rather than making it integral for salvation. The New Bible Dictionary gives the 32
biblical definition for faith: "Faith is an attitude whereby a man abandons all reliance in his own efforts to obtain salvation, be they deeds of piety, or ethical goodness or anything else".61 Was Jesus an intellectual? He did display great knowledge of the scriptures and was able to answer his enemies exquisitely. Jesus was certainly capable in his performance as a rabbi. However, Jesus is remarkable in the complete absence in his thinking concerning the nature of things. The Son of Omniscience did not go down in history for his intellect. He came to be a saviour not a philosopher. However, Jesus creates the impression of being completely at ease with his own limitations. Nowhere do we get the impression that Jesus felt any desperate need to perform to establish his credentials. He was who he was. Any self-disclosure was for the benefit of others. Was Jesus an evolutionist? Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate. Was he also an evolutionist? Later we will look at whether he is an evolutionist - I mean as Creator and as he is now, seated at the right hand of the Father. We have already seen that God incarnate did not know the time of his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36). If Jesus had some theological ignorance, why should he have been scientifically proficient? Jesus willingly took on the limitations of being human - including limitations in knowledge and surely this includes scientific and evolutionary knowledge. Jesus was not an evolutionist. This does not imply that evolution is false, as some people think, but shows the irrelevance of evolution for faith and the primacy of Jesus over evolution. Much of the creation and evolution debate fosters an emphasis on knowing about things, whereas beginning with Jesus helps to redirect our attention to knowing the Godhead. God does not seem to think it necessary that humans be scientifically informed before sending his Son. God incarnate, as a person, stands alone. He is vindicated without the support or the trammels of science. This does not mean that evolution is irrelevant to theology. It is intellectually responsible and necessary to relate theology to the sciences. Knowing God and evolution I had to realise that my acceptance by God does not depend on my taking a position on any scientific issue whatsoever. I can believe that the earth is
flat and still be a child of God. (I would I can believe that the earth is just be a scientifically ignorant child of flat and still be a child of God. God). I am a child of God whatever I (I would just be a scientifically believe about the age of the earth or ignorant child of God). evolution. Taking positions on scientific questions is a matter of intellectual performance, whereas God's acceptance of us (salvation) is by grace through faith; it is based on Christ's performance on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). As evolutionary biologist Sam Berry has said, "Salvation does not depend upon assent or dissent from any claim of science".62 Intellectual performance may well be important for our vocations; how wonderful it is to know that God's favour towards us does not depend on this. I had felt very uncomfortable about my inability to deal with the creation/evolution issue, but came to realise that I do not need to bear such a heavy burden. Christians have not always proclaimed the true gospel in this respect. For example, Morris says: "It is time, therefore, for "all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Repentance means essentially a change of mental attitude, rejecting the man-centred philosophy of struggle and evolution and accepting instead the God-centred truth of creation and redemption".63 Morris has made a particular stance towards evolution a requirement for salvation. This is a false gospel. Morris has failed to distinguish properly between knowing God versus knowing his works. One way to get a handle on the relationship between evolution and salvation is to try and answer the question 'who will inherit eternal life – anti-evolutionists or evolutionists?' The answer is neither - if this is what they are resting in. Jesus tells us the basis of eternal life. He says: "This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Here is an illustration that shows the distinction. There are literary experts today who know William Shakespeare's plays in detail – perhaps even better than he did! Do they know him personally? No, indeed they cannot. Did you know that Shakespeare’s wife was illiterate? She probably could not compete with today's experts in knowledge about her husband’s plays. But did she know her husband? Indeed, despite her ignorance, she knew him personally and intimately. Literary experts can distinguish between knowing Shakespeare’s plays and knowing him personally. Even in knowing this distinction, they do not know the great author personally. 34
It is the same with knowing God. One can know the great God who created the universe while being completely ignorant about how he did it. On the other hand, one can know how his creation unfolded (for example biological evolution) without knowing God himself. These are different issues. Sam Berry once said to a sceptical friend that "... neither belief nor disbelief in evolution had anything to do with his relationship with the crucified Christ...".64 One can even understand the distinction between knowing God and knowing his works, and still not know him. I once made a birthday-card for my son, Nathan, that had him riding atop a Tyrannosaurus rex and which said "We love you, from Dad and Mom." Now as dinosaur-crazed as Nathan is, he did not let knowledge about dinosaurs get in the way of knowing me. He did not say, "Sorry Dad. Sorry Mom. I'd like to believe you but there is far more evidence of the existence of dinosaurs than there is of your love for me. By my empirical standards, I find the evidence of your love for me inadequate. By the way, T. rex was never contemporaneous with humans." Fortunately, my son did not inappropriately bring science into our relationship and was not too affected by his scientific know-how. Far from superciliously dismissing the card's sentiments as empirically sub-standard or unscientific, he revelled in the attention that he and his interests were getting. If we value knowledge in terms of sheer quantity of evidence, then yes, the evidence for the existence of our love for Nathan pales next to the evidence of the existence of dinosaurs. But that is not the only way to value knowledge. There is evidence of our love for Nathan in the time and effort in making the card, but it is not the quantity of evidence that is so telling, but that it was directed at him. While our birthday card is quite worthless as a scientific report, our son values it because it is personal.
Sadly, some adults do not get what my son understands. Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne wrote, "if one applies the same empirical standards to Christianity as scientists do to Darwinism, religion suffers: we have far more evidence for the existence of dinosaurs than for the divinity of Christ."65 This is strange comparison. There were many dinosaurs, but only one Jesus Christ. Dinosaurs merely existed; Jesus came to demonstrate God's love for us. 35
Even theological knowledge can get in Just as man uses his works to the way of a relationship. Martin justify himself, to conceal his Luther pointed out, "For because men anxiety from God and from put to wrong use their knowledge of himself, so too he misuses the God which they had gained from his knowledge of God to serve his works, God determined on the contrary hubris. to be known from sufferings. He (Jurgen Moltmann) sought to condemn that sort of knowledge of the things invisible which was based on a wisdom from things visible. So that in this way those who did not worship God as made known in his works, might worship him behind his sufferings.” 66 Moltmann, following Luther, sounds this warning, “Natural knowledge of God is potentially open to men, but in fact they misuse it in the interest of their self-exaltation and their self-divinization. Just as man uses his works to justify himself, to conceal his anxiety from God and from himself, so too he misuses the knowledge of God to serve his hubris. In this situation, this knowledge of God is useless; it merely does him damage, because it ‘puffs him up’ and gives him illusions about his situation."67
Before rushing off to examine the scientific evidence it is crucial both for our relationship with God and for free engagement in the scientific enterprise to stress that while Jesus was on earth, he was not an evolutionist. Why was he not and why does the Bible not breathe a word about evolution? Does it not suggest the irrelevance of evolutionary biology in knowing God? God is saying in Jesus that it is more important to know him than it is to know about things such as evolution. If there is evolutionary truth, it can only be truth with a lower-case ‘t.’ Those who try to make Jesus and evolution mutually exclusive are really giving evolution too high a status. This is a profound theological mistake. Nothing can compete with Jesus. As Lord and Saviour, he is the supremely significant One. He is Truth with a capital ‘T.’ Is God also not proclaiming the independence of knowing him over knowing things? Is he not saying that in evolutionary and scientific matters we can and must go find out for ourselves? Jesus does not declare what we must believe about the natural We have seen that Jesus was not an evolutionist. This suggests the irrelevance of evolutionary biology in knowing God and it suggests the centrality of Jesus.
order. God has no desire to constrain scientific discovery or intellectual discussion. It is important, however, to keep science in perspective. There is an event in history that can help us to do that â€“ the crucifixion of Christ. The cross enables us to evaluate the significance of all things, including evolution.
Chapter 2: The cross and evolution
It might seem that evolution presents a great or “… the cross is not even the greatest challenge to the Christian faith. only the greatest However, to see it this way is to make a claim threat, but is also the against the overarching significance of the cross. greatest vindication The claim is that the Christian God stands or falls of God and the over evolution. Is this so? Does he not stand or central basis for faith fall on the cross? We shall see that the cross is the in Him.” centre-point of the Christian faith and it is the cross, not evolution, which is the greatest potential threat to the Christian God. The objections levelled against God based on evolution, pale next to the objections that could be levelled against him based on the cross. We shall also see that the cross is not only the greatest potential threat, but is also the greatest vindication of God and the central basis for faith in Him. The cross is the crux "Now the Son of Man is seen for who he is, and God seen for who he is in him"(John 13:31 The Message). Jesus is speaking. It is a climactic moment. Something is about to happen that would reveal God the Father like nothing before. Can you imagine what sort of stupendous miracle this would have to be? Actually, it was not a miracle at all. Jesus was talking about his death on the cross. Jesus was teaching the overarching significance of his crucifixion. The cross is central to the New Testament. The only memorial he instituted (communion) remembers his death (Luke 22:17-20). When Peter baulked at Jesus' prophecy of his death (Mark 8:31, Matthew 20:17), Jesus responded in perhaps his strongest language ever. “But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."”(Mark 8:33). His actions emphasise the importance of the crucifixion as he “resolutely set out towards Jerusalem” and the cross (Luke 9:51). The 38
emphasis on the crucifixion is foreshadowed in the Passover and the prophecies of the Old Testament (for example Psalm 53). And the emphasis came to captivate the gospel writers. As Philip Yancey says,“ Only two of the Gospels mention the events of his birth, and all four offer only a few pages on his resurrection, but each chronicler gives a detailed account of the events leading to Jesus’ death.”68 The apostle John, who was closest to Jesus, devotes almost a third of his gospel to the Passion Week (John 12-17). It is there in the first recorded proclamation of the Gospel by the apostle Peter (Acts 2:23-31). And the emphasis is there in the letters of Paul - the apostle last called by Jesus. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Bible Scholar James Denney says, "… the death of Christ is the central thing in the New Testament and in the Christian religion as the New Testament understands it.”69 Of all events in his life it is noteworthy that it is his crucifixion that is most attested. New Testament scholar, Joel Green says, “Among the data available to us regarding Jesus of Nazareth, none is more incontrovertible than his execution on a Roman cross by order of Pontius Pilate.”70 Perhaps Jesus is speaking through the historical evidence to reaffirm the centrality of the crucifixion. The cross is central to the Old Testament. The crucifixion was not an impromptu act, but central to God's plan from the beginning (Matthew 26:54, Matthew 27:9, Acts 2:23). The Lord revealed in the Old Testament that he would bring his servant, the Branch, and would “remove the sin of this land in a single day” (Zechariah 3:8) and that a time would come when they “will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10). The prophet Isaiah looked forward to that same day, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). The cross is central to the resurrection. To be sure, Paul says that without the resurrection our faith is worthless (2 Corinthians 15:14). The resurrection cannot be separated from the crucifixion since it confirms the significance of the crucifixion. Without the resurrection, Jesus' death would have no more significance than any other human death. "But" says theologian Glebe-Moller, "the resurrection has the crucifixion as its presupposition or foundation."71 Theologian Yacob Tesfai agrees, “… the resurrection has 39
often been viewed as effacing the cross. The latter is seen as being “The meaning of history is tied up overcome and superseded by the with an event which takes place former. It is sometimes argued as if in the depth and hiddenness of a the resurrection has rendered the man who ended on the cross. The cross superfluous. It is often meaning of history is found in the forgotten that the cross comes first humiliated Christ.” and that there is no resurrection (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) without the cross, that it is the way of the cross that leads to the resurrection.”72 The crucifixion is central to Christianity. "The cross stands at the heart of the Christian faith, " says theologian Alister McGrath.73 Theologian Altizer says, "Western, if not Eastern, Christianity primarily knows Jesus by way of the crucifixion."74 The crucifixion is central to history. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, “The meaning of history is tied up with an event which takes place in the depth and hiddenness of a man who ended on the cross. The meaning of history is found in the humiliated Christ.”75 Theologian Tom Wright agrees, “ …the cross, seen in the light of Easter, offers itself as the great turning-point of history. If we are to follow Jesus’ own understanding of his vocation, it was the moment when the evil and pain of all the world were heaped up into one place, there to be dealt with once and for all.”76 The crucifixion may even be central to scientific history and even evolutionary biology. Journalist Bryan Appleyard has an idea that, I think, deserves consideration. He suggests that the cross has a powerful claim to be the sole creator of the modern world. “The world destroyed its saviour. God sent his Son to become human and to suffer and die as a human… Perhaps, in becoming flesh, God died. Perhaps the story tells us that truth is here, now and within, rather than in some distant paradise. And, if that is so, perhaps it us here, now and within Einstein, Newton or Galileo as much as in Jesus or St Paul.”77 If Appleyard is right, why should this insight apply any less to Charles Darwin? If there is important truth in the suffering and death of the humble carpenter, then perhaps studying worms can help us unravel evolutionary history.78 Darwin, perhaps, owes a debt to Jesus. The question of the centrality of the crucifixion for science is best left to historians, so I will not pursue it here. However, there can be no question about the centrality of the crucifixion for Christian theology.79
The crucifixion is central to spirituality. Franciscan Brennan Manning says, "Paschal spirituality is stamped with the signature of Jesus. There is no genuine Christianity where the sign of the cross is absent."80 The crucifixion is central to theology. “The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology,” says theologian Jürgen Moltmann. “It is not the only theme of theology, but it is in effect the entry to its problems and answers on earth. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ. All Christian statements about the future and about hope stem from the crucified Christ.”81 Scientist-theologian George Murphy concurs: “The work of theology must begin on Calvary, where God is paradoxically revealed just at the point where God is most hidden.”82 C.S Lewis says, "Christianity is not the conclusion of a philosophical debate on the origin of the universe: it is a catastrophic historical event … It is not a system into which we have to fit the awkward fact of pain: it is itself one of the awkward facts which have to be fitted into any system we make." 83 The crucifixion is central to ultimate reality. Theologian John Haught writes, “The image of a vulnerable, defenceless, and humble deity may seem shocking to some, but it is crucial to the primordial Christian sense of ultimate reality. It is in a God who submits to crucifixion that Christian faith invites us to put the fullness of our trust.”84 The crucifixion is central to creation. John Haught again, “At the center of Christian faith lies a trust that in the passion and crucifixion of Jesus we are presented with the mystery of a God who pours the divine selfhood into the world in an act of unreserved self-abandonment… The image of a selfemptying God lies at the heart of Christian revelation and the doctrine of the Trinity. And it is just this surprising portrait of the divine mystery that allows us to situate intelligibly the process of the world’s creation and evolution.”85 The crucifixion is central to salvation. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve," says Jesus "and to give his life as a ransom for many." Pastor and Christian leader John Stott explains that "… God in Christ has borne our sin and died our death to set us free from sin and death."86 Paul echoes and explains the significance of the crucifixion for 41
salvation. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice…” (Romans 3: 25). The crucifixion shows that we cannot buy salvation; God had to give it. Philosopher of biology Michael Ruse says it well, “You cannot bribe God. What He gives, He gives unconditionally from the goodness of His own heart. There is nothing that we sinners can do to merit or justify God's goodness or bounty. We are entirely dependent on His Grace.”87 The crucifixion is central to knowing God. Of all the events in the life of Christ it is his death that most reveals God. The Jews wanted to know the power of God and the Greeks the wisdom of God. Paul says all this can be found in the crucifixion. “… but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:23 –24). “So when we look at the cross," says theologian John Stott, " we see the justice, love, wisdom and power of God. It is not easy to decide which is the most luminously revealed, whether the justice of God in judging sin, or the love of God in bearing the judgement in our place, or the wisdom of God in perfectly combining the two, or the power of God in saving those who believe. For the cross is equally an act, and therefore a demonstration, of God’s justice, love, wisdom, and power. The cross assures us that this God is the reality within, behind and beyond the universe.”88
The cross is a greater test of God's character than evolution As we have seen, according to the New Testament, God is especially revealed in Christ and the cross. Others find deep theological significance elsewhere. For instance, philosopher of biology, David Hull asks, “What kind of God can one infer from the sort of phenomena epitomized by the species on Darwin's Galapagos Islands? The evolutionary process is rife with happenstance, contingency, incredible waste, death, pain and horror.” And the answer he gives: “The God of the Galapagos is careless, wasteful, indifferent, almost diabolical. He is certainly not the sort of God to whom anyone would be inclined to pray.”89 For Hull, evolution provides a decisive test of God’s character. 42
“It is natural to ask how a God Some could argue that God's creatures who is all-good and allmay be lacking in either innocence or powerful could create the type sentience so that this suffering is either of world in which processes deserved or diluted in some way or involving massive loss, death, both. However, Jesus, the Flawless and extinction would be One, had no such disability. Animals involved in the development of are certainly innocent because they do life. But things look different if not have the capability that humans we view evolution from have in choosing between good and Golgotha.” (George Murphy) evil. How much more innocent is Jesus who chose good over evil? Yet the truly Innocent One suffered and died unjustly under God’s set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23). As George Murphy says, “It is natural to ask how a God who is all-good and all-powerful could create the type of world in which processes involving massive loss, death, and extinction would be involved in the development of life. But things look different if we view evolution from Golgotha.”90 Golgotha is a greater test of the character of God than the Galapagos. The One the Father abandoned was not only innocent, but also his very own Son. And he sent him not only to die, but also to a humiliating, lingering, tortured death. And he sentenced him not only to physical death but also to spiritual death. God joined men in cursing his very own Son. "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." (Galatians 3:13) Jesus was deeply aware of this curse. He cries, "My God, My God why have you abandoned me." What abandonment. What a terrible way to die. What excruciating pain. What waste. What contingency (see box: The contingency of the cross). What kind of God can we infer from the cross? If evolution is a threat to the character of God, how much more so is the brutal fact of the cross? What kind of God can we infer from the “The cross is the surest, truest cross? The same kind of God that died and deepest window on the on the cross. What the Father did to the very heart and character of the Son he did to himself. Jesus is "the living and loving God…” crucified God," to use Martin Luther's (Tom Wright) phrase. Moltmann puts it this way, “When the crucified Jesus is called the ‘image of the invisible God,’ the 43
meaning is that this is God, and God is like this.91 Tom Wright says, “The cross is the surest, truest and deepest window on the very heart and character of the living and loving God…”92
In the cross, God presented himself with a much more provocative test of his character then that afforded by evolution and not to merely pass the test, but to demonstrate his love and justice and wisdom and power.
In the cross, God presented himself with a much more provocative test of his character then that afforded by evolution and not to merely pass the test, but to demonstrate his love and justice and wisdom and power.
The contingency of the cross The death of Christ on the cross could, humanly speaking, very easily not have happened. The most significant event in all of history was poised on a knife-edge. The Jews who wanted to sentence Jesus to death did not have the power to do so (John 18:31). Pilate, who had the power to condemn Jesus, was sure of his innocence and wanted to release Him (Luke 23:20). There was a problem, humanly speaking, in ensuring the success of God’s salvation plan. Pilate tries three tricks to avoid condemning Jesus. First, he tries to evade the problem by sending Jesus to Herod. Herod sends Him back. Second, he offers the compromise of having Jesus flogged. Will the crowd accept it and thwart God’s salvation plan? Just a few days earlier they were waving palms and singing “Hosanna to the Son of David.” Perhaps there is sufficient residue in this sentiment to keep them from pressing for his death. Perhaps they will remember God’s injunction, “I desire mercy rather than sacrifice.” What is God doing pivoting his salvation plan on the fickleness of the crowd? They don’t accept just flogging. His plan is still on track. Next Pilate offers the Passover amnesty as a way out. The crowd could have Jesus declared a criminal without actually having innocent blood on their hands. Will they take the offer? Cleverly, Pilate tries to force their hand by asking whether they want the innocent Jesus released or the known murderer Barabbas. Given such a choice, maybe the crowd will choose amnesty for Jesus and block God’s salvation plan. They don’t. His plan is still on track. 44
Then Pilate’s wife tries to upset the proceedings. She mentions her troubling dream the previous night as a bad omen and strongly admonishes him to have “nothing to do with this innocent man.” Pilate has to live with his conscience (and his wife). Perhaps this Roman will not bow to the crowd. Even Jesus says words that seem to obstruct Calvary. He had set his feet resolutely towards Jerusalem and the cross – let’s be clear about that (Luke 9:51, 18:31-33). Why, then, does He say things that induce Pilate to make efforts to release Him (John 19:12)? “Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:11). In effect He says calmly that Pilate will commit the sin that he will try to avoid. “From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free” (John 19:12) Will Pilate thwart God’s salvation plan? Jesus knows that he will not. Pilate has the sobering words of Jesus and the shrill voice of his wife ringing in his ears as he faces the clamour of the crowd. Who is he going to listen to? He has exhausted his evasive options. All he can do is try again. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” Their firm answer: “Barabbas.” Pilate asks as many as three times, “Why, what evil has he done?” The crowd is insistent - they want Him crucified. Finally, he cowardly bows to the crowd and delivers Jesus over to be crucified. Why did God not play it safe? Why did he balance such a huge matter as his salvation plan on a knife-edge? Was He not declaring his ultimate sovereignty over the contingent? The cross is a greater test of God's involvement in the world than evolution Evolution and more broadly, naturalism, seems to leave God with nothing to do. Naturalism, the idea that we can explain life, indeed the world, without positing him at all comes in different flavours - but I will not go into that here.
For some it presents God as a problem. If they can do without "Now if God is hidden in his him scientifically, they can do supreme revelation" [the cross]," without him at all. For others it should we perhaps expect God to presents evolution as a problem. be hidden in the everyday They know God is Creator. occurrences of the world." Therefore evolution has to go. But (George Murphy) if "Naturalism makes it logical to banish Jesus from the classroom and science and public debate,"93, the cross seems far more to banish the Father from the world. The problem of God's involvement in the world is, for the Christian, at its greatest on the cross. There is an explanation for the death of Jesus. It is complete and it has to do with the nature of wicked men. God seems to accomplish his greatest act by doing nothing at all. He abandons his Son to murderers. Indeed, it is very clear that, in an important sense, he had to have nothing to do; otherwise, he would be an accomplice in his Son's death. Those who need evidence of the Father's involvement in the cross at the natural level would actually be asking God to be culpable in his Son's murder. No Christian to my knowledge makes this demand even though the biblical position is that Jesus died by the foreordained plan of God (Acts 2: 23). Some people seem to think that life has to be intelligently designed for God to be involved in its creation. But, if God did not intelligently design the crucifixion and yet was involved in it (he intelligently preordained it) why does he need to intelligently design life in order to be involved in its creation? Humans designed the cross and it was cruel and stupid - or at least ignorant. According to Paul, "None of the rulers of this age understood [God's secret wisdom], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory" (1 Corinthians 2:8). Somehow, when it comes to the cross, where the issue is most acute, Christians are able to hold simultaneously to God's sovereignty and human responsibility in the death of Jesus. Surely, then, where it is less acute, we can simultaneously hold to divine action and evolution? Theologianscientist George Murphy says it well, "Now if God is hidden in his supreme revelation [the cross], should we perhaps expect God to be hidden in the everyday occurrences of the world."94
The problem of understanding divine action and natural causation is complex and has been receiving much attention recently.95 However, the cross shows that we do not need to wait for a theory of how divine action is compatible with natural causation before we can accept either.
The cross is a greater test of the purpose of human existence than evolution "Christians have good reason to feel uncomfortable about Darwinism", writes evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne. "â€Ś For many biologists, the knowledge that Homo sapiens is only one of many evolved species - albeit one with a large brain and an extensive culture - makes it difficult to find any preordained meaning or purpose in human existence."96 But if it is difficult here, how much more difficult is it to find meaning in the death of Jesus? Christians, then, should have good reason to feel uncomfortable about the cross. His was one death among many. Indeed, all humans have to die - why should his death be so special? There was nothing special about Jesus by human criteria. He held no political or religious office. He owned nothing. He did not marry. He had no children. He wrote no books. The preordained purpose of the death of Jesus cannot be simply deciphered from the event itself. And, if purpose cannot be read off from the supreme revelation of God, why should biologists be in a privileged position to read it off evolutionary history? Perhaps they should consult theologians and philosophers. Coyne should have heeded the advice that he quotes from philosopher of biology, Michael Ruse, "We are middle-range primates with the adaptations to get down out of the trees, and to live on the plains in social groups. We do not have powers which will necessarily allow us to peer into the ultimate mysteries. If nothing else, these reflections should give us a little modesty about what we can and cannot know, and a little humility before the unknown."97 Ruse has a point in arguing for humility based on our evolutionary heritage, but the strongest argument for humility is found at the base of the cross. While the problem of purpose is most acute at the cross, Scripture unequivocally declares that it had purpose. "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross" (Acts 2:23). And 47
Jesus declares the purpose of his death. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
The cross is the greatest test of our knowledge of God If the cross tests God, it also tests us. It destroys any attempt to know God through our own knowledge be it evolution or other scientific knowledge or anything else. The cross declares that we cannot find a relationship with God through our works or knowledge. What we cannot do, God has done through the suffering and death of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1: 18)” and “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified …” (I Corinthians 21-23a). “To know God in the cross of Christ ... shatters everything to which a man can hold ” (Jurgen Moltmann)
Why is the cross of Christ so central to knowing God? Moltmann explains, “To know God in the cross of Christ is a crucifying form of knowledge, because it shatters everything to which a man can hold and on which he can build, both his works and his knowledge of reality, and precisely in so doing sets him free.”98 The cross demands that we place our entire trust in Christ for salvation and put no trust in our own merits, whether in righteousness, intellect, power or anything else. Allow me to get personal and tell you the story of my dad. He was an electrician by trade but an intellectual by passion. He devoured books and loved discussion, but his life became a spiritual and intellectual selfimprovement treadmill. He was forever striving but never finding peace with God. We had many discussions about the Gospel but we kept missing each other. It seemed to make no impact. Then one day my Dad 48
approached my brother, Gerald. Now Gerald, a fitter and turner by trade, has no great academic ambitions. "You should read this," he said offering him a thick spiritual volume. My brother grinned. "Aw Dad, you know I stopped reading when I left school." This was not really true. He did read, but did not look for spiritual security in the latest book. Whereas I could articulate the distinction between knowing things and knowing God, my brother was content to just know God. My dad needed to learn from the experience of the thief that died next to Jesus. How much self-improvement could he do while dying on a cross? And yet, Jesus could say to him. "I tell you today, you will see me in paradise"(Luke 23:43). Two weeks before my Father passed away he gave his life to Christ. My Dad had heard the gospel. He needed someone to live it for the penny to drop.
The cross is the greatest test of my basis for witness I am learning that Jesus Christ and the cross should stand at the centre of all Christian proclamations to the world. Jesus and the cross should be the subject in my witness.
In reality, I was advertising my ignorance and presenting a Jesus that was less than the Pre-eminent One.
Consider the following attempt by me as a young Christian to witness to a first-year, sceptical physics student. "How is it that protons remain together in the nucleus of the atom? Since like charges repel, the nucleus should split apart." The student was stumped. "The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is holding everything together,â€? I replied triumphantly. You see, whether we like it or not we need Jesus Christ even to keep on existing. We also need him for spiritual life..." How would you rate this attempt at evangelism? I hope you will give me some points for zeal and for trying to be relevant and interesting by using science to pique curiosity. Where would you take points away? The triumphalism was not in the Christian spirit. And then did you notice the fallacy in my argument? Theologians call it the god-of-the-gaps. I was 49
trying to force God into a gap within scientific knowledge. What if science should fill the gap? Actually, physicists have a perfectly acceptable explanation for why protons remain together which has to do with something called 'binding energy'. The student might discover this in his second year. If his faith were resting on my argument where would he be? Jesus does not need my spurious arguments. He can stand on his own. It is too kind to call my argument the god-of-the-gaps since the gap did not genuinely exist in quantum mechanics, but merely in my education. For this reason, it is better to call it the god-ofmy-ignorance, although the god-of-myarrogance would also fit. Since physics was not my major subject, and I was a first year student at that, my assumption that I knew the genuine gaps in quantum mechanics was brash indeed! I thought I was presenting the Christ of Scripture. In reality, I was advertising my ignorance and presenting a Jesus that was less than the Pre-eminent One. It is hard to publically admit that I have done this. The truth is that there was a time when I was somewhat ashamed of the real Jesus. The carpenter from Nazareth seemed such a simple argument in the sophisticated environment of the academy. I still wanted to believe, but I wanted a Christian message with a more intellectual touch. But the gospel exposes my pretensiousness and teaches me not to cover it up with my own crafty decorations. The cross itself is the criterion to evaluate my approach to its proclamation. It is to Godâ€™s glory that he chose a way to reveal himself that does not pander to human pride. For God is a humble, condescending God who speaks to the poor, the ignorant and the helpless. It would have been better to have simply let him be the subject of my witness. Since God has spoken most clearly through the cross, it is brash and presumptuous of me, indeed, to think I can do better than that! To try to add to the cross is to take away from it. I had denied the cross, but I found forgiveness for doing this through the cross that I had denied. Godâ€™s forgiveness is a wonderful thing! The Christian message seemed such a crude argument in the sophisticated environment of the academy.
The cross is the greatest test of my living up to the gospel The gospel has enormous implications for our lives - including the intellect. The cross declares that how much we know does not count in knowing God. 50
Any attempt, then, to separate ourselves Intellectual apartheid is a from others based on how much we know sin that is incompatible is an affront to the cross. A white fellow with the gospel. once said to me that he did not mind blacks living next door - as long as they were educated. He thought he was being racially progressive but was actually mixing racial and intellectual discrimination. The apostle Paul once took issue with Peter for the hypocrisy of discrimination, accusing him of â€œnot acting in line with the truth of the gospelâ€? (Galatians 2:14). Intellectual apartheid is a sin that is incompatible with the cross. I saw it in myself at a religion and science conference. A panel had been discussing the problem of anti-evolutionism and had turned to the floor for questions. I distinctly remember enjoying a feeling of superiority in being involved with an intellectual elite and smiling inwardly, condescendingly and a tad condemnatory at the anti-evolutionists. Then the science writer Margaret Wertheim stood up. I cannot remember exactly what she said. I do remember her empathy. It had the effect of removing my smile smartly and inducing a profound embarrassment before God over my hypocrisy. My attitude was a denial of the gospel. The gospel exposes me for living a life as if my self-worth depends on how much I know. But, Jesus died for me long before I knew anything. Now, Margaret Wertheim believes with me that anti-evolutionism is fundamentally mistaken. The difference was that she displayed a much greater desire to understand anti-evolutionists as human beings. Do not get me wrong, I do think evolutionists are right about evolution and anti-evolutionists are wrong. However, if I know anything about evolution it is first because of my professors and generous bursars. The appropriate attitude is gratefulness towards God and others and not superiority. Furthermore, God reminds me that Jesus died for intellectual sin as much as any other and perhaps anti-evolutionists love Jesus more than I do. The cross should guide me in the way I relate to those with whom I differ. Historian Ronald Numbers had the right attitude when asked whether he had any sympathy towards creationism. He replied that he had not but that he did have sympathy for creationists. I had denied the cross, but I found forgiveness for doing this through the cross that I had denied.
The great omission Now, not everyone will agree with Jesus and Peter and Paul on the centrality of Jesus and the overarching significance of the cross. Surely Christians should. Debates about origins have seduced Christians into forgetting the centrality of Jesus and the cross. A university lecturer once wrote to me, “How could the God of love use such a terrible mechanism [evolution] to create us and say "…it is good…"? Do you honestly think this will advance the cause of Christ?” My response was that by his argument, “Calvary is precluded. How could the God of love use such a terrible mechanism as the crucifixion of His innocent and only Son to save us and call it good news? Do you honestly think this will advance the cause of Christ?” He did not reply. It seems to me that reflection on the cross might be the best antidote to anti-evolutionism among Christians. It was clear from talking to one Christian worker that his anti-evolutionism was grounded in his view that miraculous intervention is God's greatest way of working. I asked, “What is the greatest event in history?” He did not hesitate. “The crucifixion.” “Was that a miracle?” “Yes ... er ... no”, he replied. He quickly realised that the crucifixion cannot be a miracle because then God would be culpable for the death of his Son. He knew the crucifixion story. What he needed to do was apply it to evolution. Far from giving Jesus the prominence that is his due, some Christians seem to ignore him by design. I recently attended a three-part seminar series on origins at a local church in which the speaker stated his purpose as defending the "concept of the Christian God." There was a lot of discussion about “intelligent design” some biology of mixed quality, but I did not hear the name of Jesus or the cross even once! The impression he created was that he was far more against evolution than he was for the Christian God.
After giving a talk in which I emphasised the centrality of Jesus Christ and the cross as the Foundation for faith, a gentleman stood up and said, “The core issue is the Flood!” This misses the boat - even the Flood is not just about the Flood, but also about the Ark and the rescue of those who believed. And it points to a Greater Boat that will rescue all who trust in him. Even an organisation with a track record in Christ-centredness can be seduced into neglecting the cross. Here was a Christian organisation prepared to host a conference on Creation in which the published proceedings made no mention of the cross and very little mention of Jesus.99 The index had an entry for Chief Inspector Clouseau and crop circles, but none for Christ or the cross. It is a small wonder that many come to see Jesus as a quaint auxiliary hypothesis to an obsolete hypothesis about the origin of the world rather than as the pre-eminent One! The irony is that others, such as Bryan Appleyard who do not have a Christian agenda, give Jesus, as we have already seen, much more prominence. Billy Graham had a gospel-inspired sense of proportion about evolution. He said, “The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man. ... whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man's relationship to God.”100 Since the cross is the centre of the Christian faith, any Christian thinking about evolution must start here rather than with creation. Indeed, a Christian response to evolution must come from a mind that is permeated through and through with the cross. Adding a gospel formula to the end of an anti-evolutionary talk is hardly Christian; it is merely paying lip-service to Jesus.101 The cross puts evolution in perspective. It shows that evolution is far from being the greatest threat to God. The greatest threat is the cross, and Jesus has more than survived that.
Chapter 3: The Bible and evolution
The purpose of the Bible Sally and her boyfriend Richard are sitting together at the coast. She whispers into his ear, "Isn't that a beautiful sunset?" Richard replies, "Don't be silly. The sun doesn't set. It is the earth that rotates." Sally wisely drops Richard. She next goes out with Henry. Again she says, "Isn't that a beautiful sunset?" Henry replies, "Anything you say. Copernicus and all the other scientists must have got it wrong when they said that it is the earth that rotates." Now, Richard and Henry disagree sharply. Richard thinks that Sally is making an unscientific statement. Henry thinks that she is making a scientific one. Are Richard and Henry in opposite camps? In one critical respect, they are in the same camp. They both agree that Sally is talking science. They both assume that all valid communication has to have a scientific basis. This viewpoint can be called scientism, but we can simply say they are beings nerds. A nerd is one who is inappropriately scientific. Richard and Henry may think they are taking Sally seriously by interpreting her scientifically. Actually, they are not really listening to her at all; they are foisting their own interests upon her. Sally is being neither unscientific nor scientific. She is not talking about science at all and does not have to. They merely analysed her words. They failed to appreciate the romantic setting; they failed to understand the purpose of her words and they failed to engage her as a person. In the romantic moment, she really could not care less about the precise movements of the sun in relation to the earth. Richard and Henry have not only misunderstood Sally, they have also undermined her message. She called them to enjoy the beauty of an event with her; they put the focus elsewhere. Whether Sally spoke truthfully when she said the sunset was beautiful does not depend on her 54
making a scientific truth-claim. It is important to see this. Henry might say that he has to believe her regarding science in order to believe anything else she says. Richard might say he that cannot believe anything Sally says because she is so obviously wrong about science. Both have got it wrong. What Sally has said has to be evaluated in terms of her intent not theirs. Sally wisely drops Henry. She next goes out with Barry. Again she says, "Isn't that a beautiful sunset?" Barry replies, “Yes it is, but you are even more beautiful!" Only Barry has really understood Sally, the romantic setting and the purpose behind her words and engaged her as a person. The principles behind properly understanding Sally, apply no less to understanding the Bible.102 There is a Person and a setting and a purpose behind Scripture. The Person behind the Bible is God himself. Its overall setting is human estrangement from God and the redemption that Christ achieved for us on the cross. Its purpose is to call us into a loverelationship with God. Jesus expressed the theme of the Bible when he said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). The Bible is much better seen as an extended love-letter from God to humanity than as a scientific or even a theological text. Richard represents the view that the Bible is unscientific.103 Henry represents the view that the Bible is scientific.104 Christians may be tempted to take sides with Henry against Richard, but neither approach takes the Bible seriously enough. Both approaches are inappropriately scientific. Just as Richard and Henry missed Sally’s message, so we can miss and even undermine the Bible’s message by following their approach.105 This is a disservice not only to the written word, but also to the Living Word because it undermines his gospel mission (see box: The Bible Code revealed for an example of how a fixation on science can subvert the message of Scripture). Just as Richard and Henry misheard Sally because they did not engage her as a person, so we will fail to understand Scripture if we fail to engage the Person and purpose behind it. So when Jesus says, “He causes the sun to
rise on the evil and the goodâ€? ...(Matthew 5:45), we are not properly listening to him if we fixate on the relation of the heavenly bodies to one another (see box: Was Jesus a scientist? for an example of how a preoccupation with science can keep us from listening to Jesus. The same thing can happen if we fixate on the creation and evolution issue). Jesus is expressing the universality of God's love. And just as it is a mistake to require that Sally speak scientifically correctly before we will listen to her, so it is a mistake to require the Bible speak scientifically correctly before we will listen to God's Word.
People appear to lose their faith through not appreciating that the Bible does not have a scientific purpose. Professor of theology, Telford Work, mentions a person who gave up the Christian faith after discovering that rabbits do not chew the cud whereas Scripture (Leviticus 11:6) seems to indicate that they do.106 However, as Work points out, Leviticus is not a zoological manual. It has a quite different purpose. Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). It is entirely possible to be a diligent student of Scripture and yet miss its point! The Bible clearly says that its purpose is to teach the way of salvation and righteousness: And how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Was Jesus a scientist? In a Wizard of Id cartoon Gwen sidles up to Rodney. Gwen (fluttering her eyelashes): "look into my eyes, Rodney ... tell me what you see." Rodney: "the conjunctiva, the cornea, the iris, the sclerotic, the anterior aqueous chamber, the...” Gwen: "Forget it." Rodney is extracting more from Gwen's eyes than she intended to convey. She signalled romance; he observed anatomy. He has
read more into her non-verbal cues than was there. And by taking more he ends up with less. Rodney has fallen into a fallacy called overspecification.107 In a recent article physician Demick108 finds evidence in the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount that he was a something of a scientist: "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" (Matthew 6:22-23). He correctly recognises that these verses are a warning against selfishness and greed, but then says that this moral instruction depends on a natural phenomenon. " ... the higher truth has no meaning unless the natural truth is also sound. Jesus' words specifically mention light in the eyes "filling" the whole body, implying a systemic physiologic effect for light perceived through the eyes." He goes on to say "... developments in neurophysiology have shown that light sensation in the eye is indeed important for the healthy functioning of the entire body." Demick may be well intentioned, but do you see overtones of Rodney's overspecification here? Demick does not merely see the simple but profound words of a humble carpenter; he sees the discourse of a physician-scientist. The sermon of the Nazarene becomes the lecture of a professor. And by taking more, he ends up with less. The words of Jesus are no longer allowed to stand alone, independent. Instead, they must be undergirded by neurophysiology. He distracts the eyes of faith from a focus on Jesus towards a focus on a contemporary scientific field. Neurophysiology is a fascinating and successful field, but what a benighted place to look for light for the soul! It is worse than this. Demick goes so far as to make Jesus into a type of Rodney: "Jesus Christ with the all-seeing eyes of the Creator, knew centuries in advance of modern science the incredible microtechnology that is involved in the mere opening of a flower, and the formation and coloring of its petals. Thus, he was able to say with truth and confidence concerning the flowers that "even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." He thinks that one needs scientific knowledge to properly appreciate the beauty of a flower, but that fortunately, Jesus, being omniscient, had oodles of it. 58
Demick seems to have glimpsed less of Jesus and more of a projection onto Jesus of contemporary scientistic foibles. What is remarkable about Jesus is how unlike Rodney He is. Indeed, he " ... did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing" (Philippians 2:6-7). Christologists find this selfemptying of God-incarnate so important that they have a formal term for it, kenosis, from the Greek.109 Jesus is extraordinary in how he did not parade his knowledge about. He spoke "in parables, so that, though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand." He thus reserved the secrets of the kingdom of God for His disciples (Luke 8:9-10) and was cautious to keep things from His disciples when they were not yet ready to bear it (John 16:12). Rodney missed a great opportunity to tell Gwen that he only has eyes for her. The appropriate response to the Bible is to tell Jesus that we only have eyes for him.
Many theologians and Bible scholars have disowned the scientistic approach to Scripture. For instance, J. I. Packer, a leading, conservative evangelical theologian, says the Bible "claims in the broadest terms to teach all things necessary for salvation, but it nowhere claims to give instruction in (for instance) any of the natural sciences ... and it would be an improper use of Scripture to treat it as making pronouncements on these matters."110
How do you tell the sex of a chromosome? I recall a student approaching me with the question, “How do you tell the sex of a chromosome?” My first thought was how could she ask me this question after I had just explained that chromosomes determine sex (not the other way around). I began to launch into an explanation. Then I noticed the glazed look in her eyes. She was trying to tell me a joke. The answer: you pull down its genes. The moral of the story is ‘Do not trust a nerd to understand ordinary discourse.’ And, do not trust a nerd to interpret the Bible correctly.
Barry represents the view that the Bible has neither an unscientific nor a scientific message but a romantic one. Barry’s response is like the one frequently attributed to the great Swiss theologian Karl Barth, ”Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”111 59
Before I became a Christian, I was a lot like Richard. I thought that the only valid statements were scientific ones. After I became a Christian, I became like Henry. I still thought that the only valid statements were scientific ones, but now thought the Bible was scientific. I am a naturalborn nerd. It has taken a while, but with my wifeâ€™s help, I am becoming more like Barry, but with occasional lapses.
The Bible Code revealed The Bible Code has been hailed as one of the most fascinating discoveries of the century. It has been repudiated as anti-Christian. It has been welcomed as good science. It has been dismissed as drivel. What is it and what are Christians to make of it? Consider the following message: "Before I remember the last frenzy of code-prompted drool, let me disclose antics, rudely errant, that bars rest in Gods promises." There is a one surface message. If you pick out the bold letters by omitting intervals of five letters (the skip interval), ignoring spaces, hyphens and punctuation, you get another, coded message, "Bible codes are tripe". I had fun manufacturing the coded message. Bible Code enthusiasts believe that God did a similar thing with the Hebrew text of the Old Testament to help sceptics believe in Him. Using computers, one can place the text in rows and, by trying out different skip intervals perhaps thousands long, sometimes discover hidden words. The Bible Code idea has an ancient history, but the recent resurgence of interest seems to have begun with the publication of an article by three respected Israeli mathematicians in a journal of statistics.112 Journalist Michael Drosnin took the idea further, predicted the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and tried to warn him. His book, The Bible Code has been a best-seller.113 The response to the Code has been mixed. One pastor who believes that "the Bible code supports the ... inspiration of the Bible," wrote warmly, "Consider this: no book other than the Bible has been found to work as a sequence code".114 A host of Christian sites on the Internet favour the Bible Code.115 There is even one, where - for a fee of course - one can have a Bible Code search done on one's name!116
The response of others has been colder. A mathematics professor and observant Jew from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem says flatly, "To the core of the subject matter: Drosnin's technique is totally baseless".117 So what should we make of the Bible Code?
Biblical objections There are several key questions one can ask to biblically evaluate the Bible Code or any new argument for God. From what we know about God in the Bible, would he use the Bible Code as a means to communicate? Christian Bible Code enthusiasts believe that God provided the Code to enable this sceptical, advanced generation to believe in him.118 Pastor John Thomas says, "In the providence of God the Bible Code may just have been published to help the secular, agnostic mind come to grips with the fact that the Bible is the actual, living Word of God.119 But Jesus responded to scepticism by being less inclined to perform miracles (Matthew 13:58) and praised his Father for keeping the things of heaven "from the wise and learned" while revealing "them to little children" (Matthew 11:25). Does it encourage genuine faith in Christ? Genuine faith is directed towards Christ as its basis. Where does the Bible Code direct our attention? Professor Louw Alberts mentions the case of a man who wrote to him "about his faith in the Bible and its message because of discoveries" of a numerical code in the Old Testament. Alberts replied that he would be "well advised to base his faith on Jesus Christ rather than some mystical numerical sequence in the Old Testament however interesting the latter might be".120 Albert's correspondent later learnt that a professor of statistics had refuted the numerical code hypothesis and, sad to say, has now given up his faith because its basis had been destroyed. One commentator says of the Bible Code that it " ... shifts the focus of biblical apologetics from the essential core of the gospel - the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) - to esoteric speculations".121 Notice, too, that Michael Drosnin's extensive investigations into the Bible Code have not done anything to bring him to faith in God, but merely to admit "another intelligence".122
Who does it glorify? On the surface, the Bible Code may seem to glorify God. In reality it exhibits a god who shows favouritism towards the computer-elite over the ordinary person. It compliments human ability to hack code rather than glorifying the God who stooped to reveal Himself through ordinary people. The gospel is the clearest expression of the way God reveals Himself. It gives no opportunity for human pride. God expressly devised the Gospel so that human boasting is excluded (Ephesians 2:89). Why would he devise the Bible Code to exalt the technically advanced? Scientific objections The Bible Code has come in for a great deal of criticism by mathematicians and statisticians123 as well as by Bible scholars.124 One mathematics professor said, "It's complete nonsense. If one has enough data one can project any pattern within it. You could fiddle with letters until you found a message you wanted".125 Squint hard enough and one can imagine almost any shape in the clouds. Drosnin had a quick reply. "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a Prime Minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them." One researcher who took up the challenge was mathematics Professor Brendan McKay. He found several people whose assassination had been "encrypted" in Moby Dick including Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, President John F Kennedy and even Drosnin himself!126 Using and misusing authority There is evidence, then, that the Bible Code is resting on less than a solid foundation. Most of us do not have the background or the inclination to assess the statistical arguments surrounding the Bible Code debate. What does one do? One has to use authorities. Bible Code enthusiasts know this, of course, and have made many arguments from authority, including some very slipshod ones. Much has been made of the three respected Israeli mathematicians publishing in a renowned journal. But one paper in a scientific journal does not supply sufficient authority. The original paper was published not because the editor believed it to be statistically unequivocal, but because it was curious and prompted further investigation.127 Some Code enthusiasts have given titles to people that do not have them and have even listed certain authorities as Code supporters who do not actually support it!128 62
An appropriate use of authority is to depend on the consensus position of appropriately qualified people. A signed statement by more than 50 mathematicians and statisticians, including some who accept the divine inspiration of the Old Testament, is that the "almost unanimous opinion of those in the scientific world who have studied the question is that the [Bible Code] theory is without foundation".129 The real code We have it from divine authority that there is a "code." God is the One who is encoded and he is indecipherable. No one can fathom his understanding (Isaiah 41:28) or his greatness (Psalm 145:3). If humans cannot decode him, how can we know him? The biblical answer is that God has done what we could not do. God has, in a manner of speaking, decoded himself. Jesus is God decoded. "In the past God spoke ... in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son ... The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being..." (Hebrews 1:1-3). The Real Code is different from the fake Bible Code. You do not need a computer or a decryption programme to decipher the Real Code. You simply need to know Jesus in "whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
Understanding Genesis “… Genesis is not about Creation; it is about the Creator.”
Let us take the lessons learnt from Richard and Henry (and Rodney!) and apply them to the Creation account in Genesis.
According to the New Bible Dictionary the biblical doctrine of creation “must not be confused or identified with any scientific theory of origins. The purpose of the biblical doctrine, in contrast to that of scientific investigation, is ethical and religious.”130 Theologian Klaus Nűrnberger puts it this way, “They [modern readers] do not realise that the creation narrative is a soteriological [concerned with salvation] paradigm, which is meant to witness to the power and benevolence of God, rather than a 63
description of how the world came into being”131 (brackets mine). A According to the New Bible pastor friend of mine goes so far as to Dictionary the biblical doctrine say that Genesis is not about of creation “must not be 132 Creation; it is about the Creator. confused or identified with any The literary structure and historical scientific theory of origins.” context of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 suggests that it was not designed to communicate technical information about how God created but rather that he created, and how humans are to respond to this fact. Here are just a few of the lines of exegetical evidence that have lead biblical scholars to these conclusions. a) The sun and moon are not even named in Genesis 1 and 2. This is very strange if Genesis was intended to be a scientific account. The first time the Bible mentions the sun by name is in Genesis 15:2. Before that it says “greater light” and “lesser light” in the original Hebrew. It is not that God does not know the names of these things, of course. It shows that God is not interested in communicating everything He knows. He has something more important in mind. Davidson133 explains. One must take into account that this passage was written, in the first instance, to the Israelites who had slipped into polytheism. The trouble with polytheism is that it fails to distinguish between Creator and creature so that the sun and moon are worshipped as gods. A great deal of religious significance was attached to names of the sun and moon. They were proper names and so could not be used without tacitly admitting that they were beings - even divine beings. Davidson argues that by not mentioning their names, the writer of Genesis is emphasising that they are not gods and not worthy of worship. Theologian Conrad Hyers concurs, “The issue was idolatry not science; syncretism, not natural history; theology, not chronology; affirmation of faith in one transcendent God, not creationist or evolutionist theories of origin.”134 b) What was created first – humans or plants? Before looking at this let us look at another case that is neutral with respect to origins – the sequence of Satan’s temptations of Jesus. In Matthew 4 the temptations are in the order ‘stones to bread, throw yourself down, worship me.’
Now, imagine that an archaeological discovery was made that indicated the sequence of temptations was different – say ‘stones to bread, worship me, throw yourself down.’ How should we respond? Who should we believe the Bible or archaeologists? Now imagine that the gospel account of Luke gave a different sequence of temptations. Who should we believe now – Matthew or Luke? Luke does, in fact give a different sequence – ‘stones to bread, worship me, throw yourself down.’ Is there a contradiction? Well, there would be if the Bible were trying to teach sequence. The fact that we have different sequences is indicating that God is not interested in communicating this aspect of what happened. Anyone who claims that the reader is forced to accept the sequence in Matthew 4 is forcing a conflict between Scripture and Scripture. With this in mind, look at Genesis. In Genesis 1, plants were created on the third day and humans on the sixth. "Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day" (Genesis 1:11-13). But, according to Genesis 2, plants were not around when humans were created. "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-- and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-- the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Genesis 2:4-7). This suggests that Genesis is not interested in communicating chronological sequence. If we get technical about sequence in Genesis we have missed the point of the passage. 65
c) How many days are there in a week? How long does it take for a shrub to appear? Surely it takes longer than six days? Yet Genesis 2:4 says that humans were made before plants had had a chance to spring up. Furthermore, while in Genesis 1 the heavens and earth are created over days, in Genesis 2 it happens in a single day. "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven" (Genesis 2:4 NASB). It seems that chronology was not the concern of the writer of Genesis. Those A truly biblical doctrine who make it so “are guilty not only of of creation should centre creating a conflict between the Bible and on Jesus. science, but in effect, of pitting Scripture against Scripture” says Old Testament scholar Meredith Kline.135 The apparent contradictions disappear, he says, if the sequence of days in Genesis 1 is ordered thematically not chronologically. The arrangement draws attention to the Creator as provider. The New Bible dictionary says, “the first three days are preparatory. The giving of light and the preparation of firmament, seas, land and vegetation are preliminary to the setting of inhabitants in a prepared home.”136
Death and Adam’s sin Some say the Bible conflicts with evolution on the grounds that biological death is the consequence of Adam’s sin (the fall) whereas evolution says that death has been happening for billions of years. The trouble with this argument is that it sets scripture against scripture and it reads too much into the text. The relevant passage is: “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for the day that you eat from it, you shall surely die'” (Genesis 2:16-17 NASB). If Genesis 2 is teaching that biological death is a consequence of Adam’s sin then the Bible contradicts itself since Adam did not die on the day he sinned. Furthermore, biological death must have occurred before Adam sinned, because the plants that God gave him for food (Genesis 1:29) would have had to die for Adam to eat! The death that is a consequence of the fall 66
is spiritual death or alienation from God and that is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve – they tried to hide from God. Did Jesus create poodles? If one takes Genesis scientifically then we are forced to conclude that Jesus did not create poodles. Anti-evolutionist Ken Ham, even admits this. He writes, “Strange as it may sound to some, as a biblical creationist, I can say with certainty that poodles have only come into existence in recent times” and “So we could say that God created the original dogs, and poodles were developed by man from that original but only using the information God put there in the first place.”137 This is not biblical creationism. It is semi-creationism because it flatly contradicts the rest of Scripture! One has to look at the whole Bible, not just Genesis, to discover the Bible's doctrine of creation. "Although it is traditional to base an analysis of the biblical doctrine of creation primarily on the Genesis creation accounts, with which the Old Testament canon opens, says theologian Alister McGrath, “it must be appreciated that the theme is deeply embedded throughout the historical and wisdom literature - the three main types of writing found in the Old Testament. For example, Job 38:1-42:6 (usually regarded as a piece of wisdom literature) sets out what is unquestionably the most comprehensive understanding of God as creator to be found in the Old Testament, stressing the role of God as creator and sustainer of the world."138 Theologian Conrad Hyers gives this advice, “If one really wishes to appreciate more fully the religious meaning of creation in Genesis 1, one should read not creationist or anticreationist diatribes but Isaiah 40.”139 Job 38 and Isaiah 40 stress that God is still creating and sustaining the universe and everything in it. Other passages concur. David says “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13). Psalm 104 says that that the Holy Spirit is currently creating rivers and plants and animals (poodles included). The wise Elihu says that the Holy Spirit has made him and that the Almighty gives him life (Job 33:4). Ken Ham is no less created than Adam and Eve. As Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the architects of the modern theory of evolution said, “Creation is not an event that happened in 4004 BC; it is a process that began some 10 billion years ago and is still under way.”140 67
And one must not forget the New Testament. John 1: 3 says of Jesus, â€œThrough him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.â€? John seems rather emphatic that Jesus has made everything. A truly biblical doctrine of creation should centre on Jesus as Creator of everything. Some claim that Genesis 2 teaches that it is animal death not plant death that is a consequence of the fall. But trying to extract this distinction from the text is going far beyond what Genesis claims; it is to fall into the trap of overspecification (see box: Was Jesus a scientist?). It also assumes that plant and animal death can be neatly divided. This is not the case. There are many organisms that cannot be classified as either plants or animals and have characteristics of each.141 Is Genesis pro or anti-evolution? For reasons such as those outlined above, most Bible scholars do not believe that scientific views of origins should be constrained by the Scriptures. Bernhard Anderson, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary puts it this way: "... the biblical view of creation is not an effort at primitive science. It does not purport to deal primarily with the speculative question of the origin and genesis of earth, the question which lies properly in the domain of the science of nature".142 Instead, the biblical doctrine of creation "affirms that God alone is the creator of the meaning which supports all human history and the natural world"143 and teaches "the total dependence of the world upon God"144 and "affirms that every creature is assigned a place in God's plan."145 John H. Stik says that Genesis "was not intended as a chronicled account of the origins of the cosmos. It speaks of beginnings, but in a manner quite different from that of the historian or scientist. It is a theological word written in the face of ancient Near Eastern myths with their theogonies and cosmogonies".146 Other biblical scholars agree.147 Some have argued that the Church has never interpreted Genesis to accommodate evolution. Several points should be made in reply. First, by this argument we would have to reject the Copernican system of astronomy since before Copernicus no church leader had ever supported the heliocentric model of the solar system. The Bible's omission of evolutionary science should not be taken to mean its denial. Second, church leaders have 68
given room for natural causes in creation. Prof. Christopher Kaiser, an authority both in biblical theology and history of science, shows that Basil of Caesarea (Bishop from 370 AD) had an understanding of the six days of creation that was generally figurative. Basil's view was that nature, once created, developed in accordance with laws assigned to it. This view was an important influence in the development of science.148 Bishop Hedley described Augustine's (Bishop of Hippo from 300 AD) view of Genesis that "... God, at the instant of creation gave to the earth the power or capability of producing in due course the whole of the organic genera [plants and animals] which it was afterwards to produce, and this without any further necessary action of Almighty God Himself than that by which He cooperates in all the operations of second causes".149 This is not to say that Basil and Augustine found evolutionary hints in Genesis or anticipated the modern scientific theory of evolution. Rather, their understanding of Genesis was such that they felt free to speculate about natural causes. The Bible is neither pro-evolution nor anti-evolution. Just as the Living Word was not an evolutionist, so the Written Word is non-evolutionary. And evolution is neither biblical nor unbiblical. It is nonbiblical. The so-called scientific creationists, who believe that the earth was created around ten thousand years ago, foster the impression that they are taking the high road with their view of creation and with their interpretation of Genesis 1. Actually, they have a diminished view of scripture and of Jesus as Creator. Unfortunately, scientific creationists have co-opted the term creationism for themselves and regard anyone who rejects scientific creationism as anti-creationist. For the reasons outlined above, their position is better called semi-creationism or, better still, anti-evolutionism. Are natural explanations unbiblical? Much of the reaction against evolution is based on the view that natural explanations are necessarily alternatives to theological explanations. Does the Bible support this idea? To find out, compare the following passages: "All by itself the soil produces grain; first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head" (Mark 4:28).
you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined …” (1 Corinthians 15:37-38b) Jesus says soil produces grains of wheat "all by itself" whereas Paul says God gives wheat its body. Who is right? The dilemma only exists if we think that natural processes and God's creative activity are mutually exclusive. The Scriptures do not seem to see it this way. Jesus and Paul are both right. Jesus assumes there is a natural explanation that is unknown to the farmer. “Night and day,” he says, “whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how”(Mark 4:27). Scientific endeavour would provide the details only much later. Paul provided the ultimate or theological explanation. As botanist Spanner says: "Now the claim that a successful naturalistic explanation necessarily excludes God-givenness is based on a fallacy widely held by both believers and secularists alike. The Bible flatly denies this claim".150 With this in mind we can turn to the question our daughter asked, "Mommy, mommy, did God build this house." Many people will say, "no," but then in order to give God something to do they will add, "but He did supply the materials." From our study, we can see that this is a profoundly unbiblical answer. It is a semi-creationist answer. My wife wisely replied, "Yes, Sharon, God did and He used people to do it." She knows Psalm 127:1, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain." Perhaps this is best seen by looking “The Bible provides itself, in at the supreme event in Christian effect, with a naturalistic history - the crucifixion of our Lord, explanation of the death of Jesus Jesus Christ. As botanist Spanner Christ" says, “The Bible provides itself, in (Douglas Spanner) effect, with a naturalistic explanation of the death of Jesus Christ - priestly jealousy, an individual's resentment, social unrest, foreign domination. Given these (and a few other common circumstances) the secular historian would be quite satisfied that he knew why events took the course they did. Yet, the Biblical writers robustly affirm that there is a truth taking precedence over any naturalistic explanation - that this happening was both in broad outline and in fine detail God's doing, the central act of his plan for 'reconciling the world to himself’".151 70
In fact, the Bible places both explanations of Christ's death, side by side, in the same verse. The implication is we are forced by the biblical evidence to accept both - even if we find it intellectually difficult to integrate these truths. "This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." (Acts 2:23). Similarly we do not have to choose between creation and evolution. Evolution is a natural explanation for the origin and development of life, while Creation is the ultimate explanation. If we have any problems with evolution it should not be for biblical reasons.152 Evolution is about as "unbiblical" as gravitation or Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the solar system. We might have problems with evolution for logical or scientific reasons, but that is another matter (and will be dealt with in the later chapters). If we do have problems with evolution, the correct course of action is to search for another natural explanation. Coulson put it well, "When we come to the scientifically unknown, our correct policy is not to rejoice because we have found God, it is to become better scientists..."153 The Biblical Doctrine of Creation There are many forms of creationism that are incompatible with evolution, but a truly biblical doctrine of creation is not. The Biblical doctrine of creation has the following characteristics: It is Creator-orientated rather than creation-orientated. As we have seen, the purpose of the Bible is romantic; it calls us into a relationship with the Creator rather than instructs in the mechanism of creation. While the writer of Psalm 104 sees creation as a magnificent robe, his response is to praise the Creator wearing it. The Bible is concerned with practical living rather than academic theory. For instance, one purpose of Genesis is to encourage the Israelites to look to God in the face of oppression. As Alister Mcgrath says, "The declaration that the Lord is creator of all the world is an assertion of the sovereignty of the Lord over all the nations, including those who temporarily oppress the people of Israel."154 It begins at the beginning. As we saw in chapter one, Genesis begins far too late. To find the true beginning one needs to go to the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. Jesus says, “I am … the Beginning” (Revelation 22:13). The beginning is not an event, but a Person. 71
It is biblical. Biblical creation is based not just on Genesis, but the whole Bible (for example Job 38, 39, Psalm 33, 104, 139, 148, Isaiah 40, John 1 and 1 Timothy 4:3). It is total rather than semi-creationist. As we have seen from John 1:3, Jesus has made everything, including poodles. It encompasses the present as well as the past. A wooden reading of Genesis would mean that God has stopped creating. But in passages such as Job 34, 38, 39, Psalm 104, 139, God is currently creating such things as rivers, plants, animals and humans. The six working days of creation and one day of rest in Genesis 1 is a call not to work desperately as if our destiny is entirely dependent on us. We are to work in the knowledge that God is sovereign. The same principle is echoed elsewhere: â€œIt is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleepâ€? (Psalms 127:2 NASB). It encompasses the natural as well as the miraculous. Anti-evolutionary versions of creationism imply that if you can explain something naturally then God is not involved. However, as we have seen, the Bible fully expects natural explanations behind God's creation (Mark 4:28, 1 Timothy 4:3). It is cross-centred. As we saw in chapter two, the key to a biblical understanding of creation is the cross. We will look again at this in later chapters.
Chapter 4: evolution.
The wisdom of Jesus and
The importance of intellectual performance While intellectual performance is unnecessary for faith or salvation, it is still important. Properly understood, the gospel encourages academic freedom and performance. We do not have to fear earning God's eternal disfavour through misinterpreting scientific evidence. Nor do we have to shore up knowledge to derive a sense of selfworth. Our eternal destiny and worth are secured on quite independent grounds. Nor do we need to convince ourselves that we know better than others in order to derive a sense of self-worth. With our eternal destiny and self-worth taken care of, we can pursue intellectual endeavour for other reasons such as out of gratitude for God and the sheer joy of it. We can be sure that the God of Truth will be behind the pursuit of truth wherever it may be found. Properly understood, the gospel encourages academic freedom and performance.
Christians, however should value the importance of intellectual performance because God's reputation and the spread of the Gospel are at stake. We have a credibility problem if we hold up a placard in one hand that says, "The earth is flatâ€? and in the other hand one that says, "Come to Christ." Of course, it does not logically follow that if we Christians are silly about science we will be silly about spiritual things. But it would be quite understandable if the world dismissed our spiritual claims as well. Augustine said it so well: "It very often happens that there is some question as to the earth or sky, or the other elements of this world ... respecting which one who is not a Christian has knowledge derived from most certain reasoning or observation, and it is very disgraceful and mischievous and of all things to be carefully avoided, that a Christian 73
speaking of such matters as being according to Christian Scriptures, should be heard by an unbeliever talking such nonsense that the unbeliever perceiving him to be as wide from the mark as east from west, can hardly restrain himself from laughing".155 Samuel Wilberforce is most known for his debate with Thomas Huxley. In it, he is said to have turned to Huxley and begged to know was it through his grandfather or his grandmother that he claimed his descent from a monkey. Huxley exclaimed “The Lord hath delivered him into mine hands” and said that he would not be ashamed to have a monkey for his ancestor, but he would be ‘ashamed to be connected with a man who used his great gifts to obscure the truth.’”156 Wilberforce's notoriety is unfortunate and unfair on him. His and Adam Sedgwick's advice is still very pertinent today, "We have no sympathy with those who object to facts or alleged facts in nature, or to any inference logically deduced from them, because they believe them to contradict what it appears to them is taught by Revelation. We think that all such objections savour of a timidity which is really inconsistent with a firm and well-instructed faith ...To oppose facts in the natural world because they seem to oppose Revelation ... is ... but another form of the ever-ready feeble minded dishonesty of lying for God, and trying by fraud or falsehood to do the work of the God of truth. It is with another and nobler spirit that the true believer walks amongst the works of nature. The words graven on the everlasting rocks are the words of God, and they are graven by His hand".157 Intellectual performance is something like morality in its relationship to salvation and faith; it is not a cause but an effect. Surely the saved should seek to glorify God in the quality of their craft - whatever this might be? This is no less true with respect to creation and evolution or the science and theology interface in general. The task of pursuing truth in this exciting and burgeoning field will take all the intellectual effort we can muster. There is no excuse for intellectual sloppiness. The limits of individual expertise While intellectual performance has its place, it is impossible for a single individual to be expert in all things. Intellectual performance is not enough. We need wisdom. Wisdom is much bigger than intellectual performance. It is about knowing how to deal with both one's expertise and one's ignorance. 74
Darwin and humbug There is an apocryphal story about two small boys conspiring in a prank on Charles Darwin: “They had caught a butterfly, a centipede, a beetle, and a grasshopper. Taking the centipede's body, the butterfly's wings, the beetle's head and the grasshopper's legs, they had glued them together to make an alarming and original insect. "We caught this bug in the field," they said innocently. "What kind of bug is it, Mr. Darwin?" Darwin examined it with great solemnity. "Did you notice whether it hummed when you caught it, boys?" he asked gravely. "Yes sir," they answered, trying to conceal their mirth. "Just as I thought," said Darwin. "It is a humbug."”158 Now it was not simply Darwin’s great intellect that kept him from being hoodwinked, but his specific knowledge about arthropods (and perhaps mischievous boys). Being a naturalist enabled him to detect this particular humbug. Darwin's wisdom also kept him from being hoodwinked. Stephen Jay Gould said of him, "Despite his firm residence within England's higher social classes, Darwin took a fully egalitarian approach towards sources of expertise, knowing full well that the most dependable data on behavior and breeding of domesticated and cultivated organisms would be obtained from active farmers and husbandmen, not from lords of their manors or authors of theoretical treatises".159 The biological world is too rich, too diverse, too multi-faceted for any single individual to have a thorough handle on it. Darwin knew he needed other minds. And he was being thoroughly wise in knowing it. He was not committing the fallacy of appeal to authority, because their credentials were appropriate. It seems to me that there is a lot of emphasis today on what it takes to be an expert (for example critical thinking and knowing one’s field). There seems to be insufficient emphasis on how to be a wise layperson. But one can only 75
be an expert in a few things; we are laypersons in most. Wisdom should guide our intellectual effort. A good rule of thumb is to be increasingly modest as we move away from our field of expertise and increasingly reliant on the appropriately qualified.
The mind of the Master But it is Jesus who is the very model of wisdom and humility.
Einstein does not know beans! Albert Einstein and the chemist Dr. Henry Eyring also knew they needed other minds. While walking together in a garden, they happened upon a plant they could not identify. They asked the gardener. It was a bean plant. From then on Eyring went around saying that Einstein did not know beans! They had the humility to recognise that one great physicist and one great chemist do not make a gardener, and the wisdom to consult an appropriate authority.
Jesus was both an accomplished expert and a humble layperson. In matters of salvation and morality, in his command of Scripture and his fierce criticism of his opponent's interpretation of the Law he spoke with power and unique authority. But as we saw earlier, God incarnate was also ready to concede when a matter was outside his field he knew how to be a humble layperson. The wisdom of Jesus is seen in how he handled his own ignorance. He admitted he did not know the time of the Second Coming saying, "No one In his humility Jesus accepted knows about that day or hour, not even the limits of his humanity. the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36). Furthermore, he did not take on roles that were outside of his appointment. When someone from the crowd said, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me" Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" (Luke 12:14). He allowed others to take on the role of lawyer. He also accepted that it was not his role to judge those who rejected him, but left that role for Another saying, "For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it" (John 12:47-48). Not even God the Father could die for our sins. It was his Son that did that. If there is division of labour within the Godhead, how much more should there be a division of labour among his mere creatures? Jesus showed us how to handle personal ignorance. We need his example because we are all getting more ignorant. It has been said that scientific 76
knowledge is doubling every seven years.160 My ignorance relative to what is known is doubling even faster! How did Jesus handle his personal ignorance? He did not need to know everything to be secure in his faith and mission. He was sinless so he would never to pretend to possess knowledge he lacked. In his humility, Jesus accepted the limits of his humanity. He was perfectly content to defer to a higher authority, to say in effect, "There is One who knows better than me." In his wisdom, he knew who he should rely on. He chose his authority well.
The superstition of the Universal Humbug Detector Whereas God incarnate admitted his human limitations, his creatures are not uniformly sober in their judgement about themselves! I like to think of myself as a logical animal. When a tax advisor suggested ways that I could avoid tax it looked to me like tax evasion. I want to be conservative about tax. I prefer to pay more rather than end up paying penalties. I refuted his argument. I thought my logic was unassailable. It was. The problem, besides arrogance, was that I was ignorant of certain tax facts. I presumed that knowing something about logic put me in a satisfactory position to evaluate tax matters. My wife saw me less as a logical animal, and more as someone who cost the family money. Some believe they possess a Universal Humbug Detector â€“ a set of intellectual skills that make them immune to any deception. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of that master investigator, Sherlock Holmes, believed as much and yet was taken in by two schoolgirls! (see box: The story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the fairies).
The story of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the fairies Our children have had some fairy-friends. Every now and then they would write a note for the fairies, leave it in our back garden overnight and ... get a reply. Here is a typical message:
"Dear Nathan When people look at us, we turn invisible because we are very shy. Sometimes you see the sparkle of our fairy wands. We brought you a fairy sweet. Love from the Fairies"
We have enjoyed the delight this fantasy has brought our children. However, when Rachel turned eight years old she began to think that fairies are invisible because they don't exist. She had noticed that fairy handwriting is suspiciously similar to her mother's! She was growing up. The naivety of little children is quite excusable, but what of adults believing such fantasies? Sadly, it happens. Several full feature films have been released which are favourably disposed towards fairies. They recount the now famous story of two schoolgirls who claimed to have photographed fairies in Cottingley Glen, in Bradford, Yorkshire. The renowned Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes, investigated. He concluded that the photographs were genuine and wrote a book about it.161 The fairies, however, had been faked162 and one of the perpetrators admitted as much in 1983. How could such a thing happen to the intellectual darling of his day? Let us investigate. This does not have to be in the spirit of gloating over the fall of a famous intellectual. One can have the attitude that if someone of the stature of Sir Arthur could be taken in, then perhaps no one is immune to deception. Who of us can claim to have never been deceived? Learning from his mistakes might be very worthwhile. How to be deceived It might be supposed that Sir Arthur's susceptibility arose from a lack of intelligence, reasoning ability or education. I do not think this can be sustained.163 He was, after all, trained as a physician and his creation, Sherlock Holmes, was masterfully skilled in logic and observation. Furthermore, Sir Arthur showed great ingenuity in attempting to discount his critics. There must have been other factors that conspired to keep him from employing his talents and they must have been powerful. One of the photographs was "so silly" says illusionist James Randi "that its fraudulence can be detected by any intelligent observer, let alone a scientist with modern methods".164 Another photograph had crisp fairies against the backdrop of a blurred waterfall. Why were the fairies not blurred as well? This is hard to explain if they were real; it is easy to explain if they were paper cut outs. Randi lists as many as 19 categories of error made by Sir Arthur and his investigating team.165 What kept him from picking up the mistakes? I will suggest three factors.
First, personal tragedy predisposed Sir Arthur to deception. He lost his beloved eldest son, Kingsley, his brother and his brother-in-law in the First World War. Spiritualism, with its promise of communication with departed loved ones, softened him up for fairies.166 However, we have to have some sympathy with Sir Arthur here. If he had been less devoted to his son, he might have been less susceptible. To call him simply gullible is a little superficial. Second, Sir Arthur believed in the superstition of the Universal Humbug Detector- that a one-sized training fitted him for all fields. James Randi gives some background, "It must be understood that he was considered an absolutely unassailable authority on any subject he chose to expound upon".167 Dinwall, a psychic investigator who knew Sir Arthur personally, said: "Doyle was never wrong, and no-one dared to suggest that he could have been mistaken - in anything ... He was not accustomed to being doubted. For Sir Arthur it was enough to be eminent, and the eminence could be in anything but that which was actually required. This is like choosing a Nobel-prize winning physicist to fix one's teeth or a brilliant logician to fix one's car. In spiritual matters for instance, he dismissed the "pedantry of theologians," calling them "a curse to this world" but welcomed the positive statements of renowned jurists, scientists, and militarists.168 In the matter of sĂŠances, he habitually invited eminent scientists and editors while dismissing from consideration those most capable of detecting cheating - conjurors.169 Sir Arthur was perfectly confident in his own expertise in detecting deception, despite not having the requisite training. His friend Harry Houdini, the great illusionist and escape artist, like Sir Arthur, was devastated by the loss of someone he loved dearly and tried to contact his late mother through mediums. Houdini, unlike Sir Arthur, wasn't taken in for long. His training in magic equipped him to uncover deception and towards the end of his life he devoted a great deal of his time to exposing charlatans. But Sir Arthur, with a less than mature independence, was not prepared to admit his limitations. In the matter of the Cottingley fairies, he took it upon himself to commission an informal inquiry and appoint himself as the sole selection committee. To his credit, he deferred to photographic experts including one that made a hobby out of faked photographs. They let him down badly. (Although it must be said that it was not the photographs that were faked, but the scene). To his discredit, his choice to head the investigation was inappropriate. The gentleman had credentials in theosophy but little in cheat-detection and it showed. 79
Third, Sir Arthur evidently preferred human expertise to divine revelation as his source in spiritual matters. For example, Jesus flatly declares that He came to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Sir Arthur finds no justice in this.170 Rather than believe the One who knew no sin, he trusted mediums that stressed the importance of conduct but hardly ever mentioned redemption.171 Sir Arthur did not account for the extent of human evil. Harry Price, the great psychical investigator, wrote that "Doyle simply could not bring himself to believe that any medium was vile enough to trade on the most sacred feelings of the bereaved by producing ... faked "communications" from the dead".172 While they were stressing the importance of conduct, the mediums were milking their victims of their money. In the matter of the Cottingley fairies, Sir Arthur apparently believed Gardner's report that the girls were "undoubtedly honest, coming from a family of tradesmen and down-to-earth people incapable of guile".173 It is pathetic to see this great writer, after receiving a letter informing him of the evidence of the fairies, writing that it "filled me with hopes".174 The irony of it all. He preferred to believe that the schoolgirls had expertise in the supernatural than expertise in fraud. He believed that since they came from the artisan class, they would not have had the skill to perpetrate such a hoax. He preferred to be seduced by the idea that cameras could penetrate the supernatural than rely on the Spiritual Expert Himself.175 How not to be deceived God is often disregarded in discussions about these matters. All too often purely human resources are sought as antidotes to superstition. The trouble with this perspective is that it cannot account for all the simple folk who cannot boast of the education or cognitive faculties of a Sir Arthur, but who were not fooled by the Cottingley schoolgirls. The artisan father of one of these girls said, " ... how could a brilliant man like him believe such a thing?".176 One has to bank on God knowing how to exalt the humble and humble the proud. He guides those who lean on Him rather than their own inappropriate expertise and sends a powerful delusion to those who refuse to love the truth.177 To avoid being deceived take a leaf from Truth Himself and humbly recognise ones individual limitations. There is no such thing as a Universal Humbug Detector.
It is a curious thing, but I have quite happily slipped into thinking that others do not have a Universal Humbug Detector whereas I do. I am not alone. Here is how one pastor responded to my article on Sir Arthur.
“Dear Mike Thank you for consistently remembering us in your mail. I read with interest your article on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his fairies which highlights the mystery of what and why people believe what they do. … My question is, does this mind set apply equally to the scientific fraternity? I do not know if you've read Richard Milton's book "The Facts Of life?” In the event that you have not I have attached a synopsis that I made of it. Do you have any comments? B.”
The synopsis was in a field, geochronology (geological dating techniques) in which Pastor B. has no background. Here he is questioning whether the scientific community is aware of its limits while not admitting his own! Pastor B. was being like Sir Arthur, and like Sir Arthur, was duped. Milton is a journalist with an engineering background and not the best authority on geochronology. Milton, in turn, was duped by another as I learnt from a geologist.178
Here was my reply: Dear B. ... Yes, I have read Richard Milton's book, but feel I cannot comment on your synopsis … without falling into the same trap as Doyle's. Doyle's mistake was to presume that he had the competence to distinguish between cheating or genuine psychic phenomena. Whether we are talking geochronology or psychic research, the layperson can easily be taken in through not knowing enough background. So, it seems to me that the prudent layperson defers to the judgment of trustworthy authorities...” Mike
Jesus says it with flowers I know a lecturer at a college (let’s call him Billy) who is very smart, articulate and highly educated, but outside of biology. He has made some public pronouncements on “intelligent design” and evolutionary biology that are quite at odds with the facts. In biological matters he sees himself as something of an equestrian. I saw a cowboy on a camel. I decided to try and help him to see that, like all of us, he does not have a Universal Humbug Detector. I invited him to lunch at the University Club. While enjoying our meal, I pointed casually to a vase on the next table and asked, “What colour would you say are the flowers of that plant?” Billy glanced over and replied, "Reddish-pink.” Then, suspecting that I was up to something, he took a second glance and added, “with some blue thrown in." "I say they are a very pale yellow." He examined me for a moment then retorted, “You are either psycholinguistically or perceptually challenged.” “What if a botanist said they were yellow?” I asked. Still he persisted (he knew that ‘Appeal to Authority’ is a fallacy). 179 “What if ten botanists said they were yellow?” Still he persisted (he was not about to fall for ‘Appeal to the People’ or listen to these evolutionary-minded botanists). Let us forget for a moment what the evolutionists and Billy say. Let us find out what Jesus says. How are we going to do that since the Bible does not breathe a word about this plant? Well, as we saw in the last chapter, Jesus created everything – including this particular plant. The way to find out what Jesus says is to investigate the flowers themselves. Then I showed Billy. The plant was a Bougainvillea. What he thought were flowers are actually modified leaves called bracts. The hidden and tiny flowers were indeed pale yellow.180 82
What colour are the flowers?
The pale yellow flower of the Bougainvillea
“Now," I said to Billy, "if in the simple matter of the colour of the flowers of this plant you have been had, what makes you so sure that you are on top of the big subject of evolution?” I have used the Bougainvillea lesson in different settings - on university students, in courses on critical thinking, in church groups and on individuals. Except for botany students (and even then there are occasional mistakes), everyone I have tried it on is insistent that the flowers are not yellow despite the verdict of botanists. One fellow even offered me his spectacles. Why was Billy fooled by the Billy was right to think that Bougainvillea? it is ultimately to the Billy was right to think that it is evidence that we must look ultimately to the evidence that we to decide on the colour of must look to decide on the colour of the Bougainvillea flower, the Bougainvillea flower, but he was but he was naive to think naive to think that his personal that his personal handling of handling of the evidence was ultimate. the evidence was ultimate. Billy fell for the superstition of the Universal Humbug Detector. He thought he had the faculties to see things as they are and that he was a neutral observer. Philosophers of science have shredded this possibility. Norwood Hanson, Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper amongst others have shown that we always come with assumptions or perspectives that constrain the way we see. Billy assumed that the coloured parts of plants are flowers. Botanists do not share this assumption - they know exceptions. I think Billy was labouring under what Karl Popper called the doctrine that truth is manifest. Popper explains that according to this doctrine “... truth, if put before us naked, is always recognisable as truth.”181 He says that Bacon and Descartes defended this doctrine theologically. “What we clearly and distinctly see to be true must indeed be true; for otherwise God would be deceiving us. Thus the truthfulness of God must make truth manifest.” While it it true that God does not deceive and this makes it possible to reliably uncover truth about the world, it still takes considerable intellectual effort to do so. I think he was also labouring under experiential foundationalism. The idea here is that beliefs are confirmed by indubitable experiences. But philosophers such as Willard Quine, Richard Rorty and Wilfred Sellars 84
have discredited this idea.182 It is not that good theories do not have a foundation, but that their foundation is a great set of experiences of many scientists that are individually disputable, but collectively reliable. Philosopher of science Michael Polanyi has argued compellingly that what we know in science is mediated through others and cannot be stated explicitly. 183 This means that to know as scientists know, it is not enough to read what they say; one knows through being a part of the scientific community. What should Billy do to avoid being fooled by the Bougainvillea? Ideally, he should expertly examine the plant himself, but this requires that he get some training in botany. If he does not want to take this trouble, the wise alternative is to go with the consensus of botanists. If Billy wants to hear, there is a message from Jesus through the Bougainvillea. It is a message about the importance of diligence in studying his creation. A casual glance does not cut it. And there is a message about humility and wisdom in listening to what botanists say about it. Philosopher Mary Midgley identifies attitudes of independence and individualism in our post-Enlightenment culture that I think also serve to preserve the superstition of the Universal Humbug Detector.184 These attitudes may be more Western and male than African and female ones. Philosopher Augustine Shutte argues that the African idea of ubuntu (which means humanity) is a welcome corrective both to the excesses of the individualistic spirit and the collectivist spirit 185. Midgley points out it may indeed be progress to go from childish dependence to adolescent independence, but this is not yet maturity. Mature people are interdependent. They lead in their areas of competence, but rely on the competence of others when they need to. Billy thought it intellectually virtuous to persist against botanists over the colour of the flowers. He gave his direct experience of the flowers greater value than the experience of botanists. But reality is much bigger than his personal experience of it. Many botanists had examined Bougainvilleas long before Billy was born. To think that his casual experience was superior to the diligent study of many botanists was arrogant and lacking in wisdom. Billy thought the Bougainvillea was a test of his observation skills; it was actually a test of his humility and wisdom. Billy has also fallen into the trap of disciplinary chauvinism â€“ thinking that oneâ€™s particular field is the key to understanding other fields. This is nicely illustrated in the story of Dr Fleiss, a friend of the founder of psychology, Sigmund Freud. They had a falling out, partly because Fleiss insisted that 85
all psychological ailments have their source in an ear, nose or throat infection! Guess Fleissâ€™s occupation. Yes, he was an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon! His is a particularly extreme example, but the fallacy is prevalent.186 Billy said to me that evolution is "ultimately a matter of metaphysics not biology." This, of course, puts him, as a philosopher, in the ultimate position to evaluate it! However, if philosophy, on its own, could not help him with the colour of the Bougainvillea flower, how is it going to help him with the vast field of evolutionary biology? It is bad philosophy to think that a philosophical training, on its own, makes one competent to evaluate evolutionary biology.
A lesson from the Great Impostor The Bougainvillaea is not the greatest impostor in The mimic octopus the natural world. I think that that title should go is a reminder that to a certain mollusc - cousin of the humble garden God has created a snail. This creature seems to have been fooling world that is biologists up until its discovery as recently as 1998. wonderfully rich The creature is a certain octopus, a very and complex -with remarkable species in a remarkable group. It is an plenty of surprises! extraordinary mimic of other sea animals. It changes its colour, shape, texture and behaviour to resemble crabs, sea snakes, mantis shrimps, flounders and sea horses! When mimicking a flounder, for example, it draws its tentacles together and undulates its body along the sea-bed. Scientists believe that this ability has kept the species from being discovered by researchers. They kept thinking they were seeing a different animal. I have shown a slide of this octopus to honours classes in the life sciences and the vast majority were hoodwinked. This suggests that even a general education in the life sciences is insufficient to prevent one from being conned by the mimic octopus. Indeed, the octopus pulls off its trick just because the students knew what a flounder looked like! One has to have specific knowledge about the mimic octopus to avoid being deceived by it. The mimic octopus is a reminder that God has created a world that is wonderfully rich and complex - with plenty of surprises! Because of the way the world is made, there is no such thing as a Universal Humbug Detector. There is no training that will make one into an allpurpose expert. Whether we are talking insects, photographs, geochronology, marine biology or plants, specific training is required for humbug detection. Observation and logic and critical thinking are very 86
important but not enough. Indeed, philosopher Mary Midgley points out that a posture of pure criticism is self-defeating.187 And the ability to see and reason does not, in itself, enable one to spot the mimic octopus or teach the distinction between purple bracts and yellow petals.
The Universal Humbug Detector and evolution To avoid deception specific knowledge is needed with evolution as much as any other Why should God have field. Yet, there is something about this field made the world such that that draws public and critical comment from ability in one department academics widely outside their field. There grants them ability in is the engineer Henry Morris, astronomer another? Hugh Ross, physicist Louw Alberts, philosopher Alvin Plantinga and lawyer Phillip Johnson to name just a few. Each of these individuals is highly qualified, but has limited or no formal tertiary training in biology, let alone, evolutionary biology. And each, I suspect, strongly believes that they have a Universal Humbug Detector. Each is also a Christian and believes that God made the world. Why should God have made the world such that ability in one department grants them ability in another? Would this not be trivialising this grand, intricate, diverse, rich, multifaceted world? Why, if the world is so simple, does God give wisdom to one and knowledge to another (1 Corinthians 12:8)? Why does he tell us to consult the wise (Proverbs 15:12) and seek out many advisers (Proverbs 15:22)? Paul asks rhetorically, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?” Let us not be too wooden in applying this passage. Are all physicists? Are all plumbers? Are all illusionists? Are all evolutionary biologists? I have even been criticised for publically declining to answer a question on cosmology on the grounds that it was outside of my expertise and almost in the same breath criticised for publically intimating that I knew something about evolutionary biology! We are all equal before God. This does not mean that we are equal in knowledge. Phillip Johnson correctly notes, “When someone claims to have magical powers, the claims must be tested before an audience of stage magicians, who know how the tricks of illusion are done. Scientists are notoriously easy to fool in such matters.”188 Johnson seems to think there is something deficient about scientists, as scientists, that they slip up. No. It is just that 87
training in science does not provide them with a Universal Humbug Detector. Johnson seems to think his own field does. (Here is another instance of someone being quite happy to believe that others do not have the Detector but that they themselves do). “When dealing with an ideology like Darwinism,” he says, “the critical audience needs to include professors of rhetoric and legal scholars, who are skilled at spotting question-begging assumptions and similar tricks of logic.” (Calling Darwinism an ideology is a logical trick in itself). He defines his “baloney detector” as “simply a grasp of logical reasoning and investigative procedure.” Armed with this detector, Johnson freely disparages the work of evolutionary biologists, theologians and AIDS researchers. But his own detector lets him down badly. For example, after noting only one or two reptilian and several avian features in Archaeopteryx he declares it to be “on the whole bird-like” This is false. It is a little like calling Jesus on the whole human-like rather than God-like. We will look at Archaeopteryx in detail in chapter eight. The point here is that despite all his training in logic, this legal philosopher failed to spot his own humbug. In emphasising avian at the expense of reptilian characters, he committed the fallacy of special pleading. Why did he slip up? Part of the answer is that Johnson just does not have the palaeontological training to even begin to sum up Archaeopteryx adequately. Training in logic is just not enough. Johnson fooled himself. The apostle Paul says “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others" (Romans 12:3-5). The principle applies no less to the measure of knowledge God has given us, and no less to evolutionary knowledge. Scientific criticism of evolutionary theory is vital to its continued growth, but not all who engage in it are sufficiently qualified to make cogent criticisms. Of course, not all who engage in criticism of theology are properly qualified either. The evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins, for instance, has rejected a straw-man 'god' that is not accepted by the major world religions either.189 Dawkins’ theology has been likened to the biology of someone whose only knowledge of the field is the British Book of Birds!190 Critics outside their field 88
have no more authority than laypersons. (Since I am not a theologian, the reader should take my theology with a bag of salt. My theologian friends are very gracious with me, but I suspect they think that, at best, I am theologically clumsy). Silly things can happen when one is in a hurry. I needed some computer labels to meet a deadline and rushed off to the stationers. Thanking Jesus for the parking space I found right outside the shop, I decided that to save time I would not hunt around for the labels. Instead, I marched straight up to an assistant and asked, “Do you stock computer labels?” “No,” she replied with an amused smile, “mainly because this is a baby wear shop. The stationery shop is next door.” If you think this was silly, imagine this – my going to science and scientists to support a flagging faith. This is what I did as a student trying to grapple with evolution and my faith. But, scientists are not automatically qualified in matters of faith. In going to them, I was in the wrong shop. A telescope is a wonderful instrument for looking into the heavens; it is a poor instrument for looking into heaven. It is very odd is it not? We are very interested in what scientists say about God even though they are talking outside of their field. And then we are very dismissive when they talk about science even though they are talking within their field. A telescope is a wonderful instrument for looking into the heavens; it is a poor instrument for looking into heaven.
And how silly it is when Christians go to the wrong places for instruction about evolution! “I am certain” says evangelical Denis Lamoureux, “that if … any evangelical reading this paper were to have a decayed tooth, they would surely make their way to the office of a dentist in good standing with his/her professional association. Clearly, no one would seek the services of an engineer, an astronomer, or a lawyer to deal with this problem. My question is this: If evangelicals will not open their mouths to anyone less than a licensed dentist to get a tooth filled, why then on the important topic of origins do evangelicals open their minds and hearts to be filled with the speculations of non-biologists like an engineer, an astronomer, and a lawyer.”191
I have had the experience of finding myself at a seminar in a department of engineering and hearing the speaker, a Professor of Information Systems, claiming that evolution is impossible. However, in walking distance, in the Zoology and Botany departments there were people studying evolution in action. He also claims that there are no transitional forms between major groups.192 This is breathtakingly confident. Currently living are millions of species of animals (never mind plants) and most species that have ever lived are now extinct. Now, I was involved in teaching a course on evolution in the Zoology department. Although we are much closer to the evidence than this computer scientist (and in walking distance if he wanted to consult with us), we were much more modest. Just between reptiles and mammals there are so many transitional fossils (hundreds in fact), that the department brought in a specialist on the mammal-like reptiles to teach our students. Jesus
waited on the appropriate spiritual authority for the timing of the Second Coming - his Father. Should not the wise layperson approach the right source of information on evolution - the consensus among evolutionary biologists? Should not the Christian, of all people, follow the example of the wisdom of Jesus in dealing with evolution? Humbug detection and Jesus If there is any place that we need humbug And yet in Jesus, detection, it certainly must be in the matter of God welcomes knowing God. But it is just here that we are, humbug detection. potentially, most susceptible to humbug. We have not been to heaven to get specific training from God in the field. The apostle Paul puts it this way, â€œHow can we know another's mind unless he tells us? How can we know the mind of God unless He tells us? (1 Corinthians 2:9-13). So, what hope is there for mere humans to avoid deception in this most crucial area? God has solved the problem for us through the incarnation - by simplifying himself in Jesus. Special erudition, far from being necessary to appreciate him, can actually be a hindrance because it can make us trip over the very simplicity of Christ and his Gospel. 90
Yancey notes the “delicious irony” that “the figure who has changed history more than any other managed to escape the attention of most scholars and historians of his own time.”193 We need experts when it comes to insects, photographs, geochronology, plants or evolution. It is not so with character. Jesus says, "by their fruit you will recognise them" (Matthew 7:16) expecting the layperson to be able to evaluate character. Indeed, Jerusalem would be judged for failing to recognise his visit (Luke 19:44). In Jesus an Old Testament prophecy is fulfilled: "No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest" (Hebrews 8:10). To know God does not require that we be scientists or illusionists or philosophers or theologians. And no authority can know him for us. There is no need for great learning to evaluate him, no need to pore through technical volumes. Come simply as a human being with even the faintest understanding of love, justice, power, wisdom and humility. Look at Jesus and look at him dying for you. Ask yourself, “can I believe in him and can I trust him with my eternal destiny?” It is here most of all that we need the wisdom to recognise the limits of our expertise and defer to an appropriate authority. How can we know the way to the Father better than the Professor of salvation can? How can we do better than the one who made our salvation his profession by going to his death on the cross? The truly wise know when to stop relying on their own wisdom; and know when to become like a child and trust in the Jesus "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). And yet in Jesus, God welcomes humbug detection. "Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?" Jesus challenges his opponents (John 8: 46). By coming as a person, a humble carpenter, he made himself testable by all. He popularised God perfectly. We can all keep our humbug detector (actually charlatan detector) with us when considering Christ on the cross and asking, “can I believe this man?” It was as Jesus died that the centurion said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39). If as a layperson in theological matters, it is wise defer to Jesus, the Expert on God, is it not also wise, as a layperson in biological matters, to defer to people who have actually formally studied evolution? Unfortunately, as we have seen, many Christians get their information from pseudo-experts. In so doing they being unwise and are not following the example of Jesus.
Part II: Is Jesus an evolutionist?
Chapter 5: Jesus and scientific reasoning
Silly Sunday Our children awoke one Sunday to discover their shoes on the ceiling instead of under their beds, rice instead of their favourite cereal pouring out of the box and all the dining-room chairs were upside-down! They were a little surprised at first, but quickly laughed over their parent's shenanigans. We were trying to help them appreciate something so very ordinary and ubiquitous that it is easy to miss how extremely wonderful it is. This something is the remarkable consistency of the world. There is a Chinese proverb that goes, "If you want to know about water, do not ask a fish." The world's consistency to us is like water to a fish. A world that was even a little bit otherwise would be a terrible place in which to live. The heavens would be a fearful thing and would no longer declare the glory of God. There would be no guarantee that gravity would not suddenly fail us and we fly into orbit! Anything could happen and at any time. If every day was silly, science would be impossible and there would no such thing as scientific reasoning. We rightly honour the scientific community for their painstaking observation and intellectual effort that has led to our accumulated understanding of the natural world. However, there is something much more fundamental that is needed to make science work â€“ the consistency of the world. To illustrate this and to help foster appreciation for the commonplace, I have written a variant of the familiar game Mastermind. The computer randomly chooses a secret 4-digit code (including 0). In this version no digits are repeated. The object of the game is to determine this code. A flashing cursor will appear in the first row and column. A guess or call is 92
made by typing a 4-digit number. The computer will respond with the number of "bulls" and "hits." If a particular digit is in the code and in the correct position the computer will give a response of 1 bull. If a particular digit is in the code but not in the correct position, the computer will give a response of 1 hit. If the response is 4 bulls, you have discovered the code. The idea is to try to discover the code in as few steps as possible. God's part in science "Mastermind" has been given its name to reflect that it is game of logic. Observe and reason well and you will discover the code sooner rather than later. However, the game requires something else that is as important as observation and logic. It is something we take for granted because the game could hardly proceed without it. The game needs a code-maker (if you are playing against someone else) or a computer programmer and they have to be consistent. They need to faithfully match the responses to the code. The mind of the computer programmer or code-maker is no less important than that of the code-breaker. To accentuate this point I have chosen to call this variant of the game 'Makersmind.' If the computer or code-maker gave arbitrary responses, the code-breaker's efforts to determine the code would be thoroughly frustrated. To see this, try playing the game with a consistency somewhat lower than 100%. As the consistency approaches 0% the game rapidly becomes an exercise in futility. For your own mental health, I recommend that you do not try this for too long! A figure of 0% does not mean absolute inconsistency. The secret code will still be digits (not letters or icons, say). It is hard to imagine what a thoroughly inconsistent game would even look like. Just as consistency in the game makes it possible to discover the code, so the stunning consistency in the real world enables doctors to diagnose, parents to bring up children, detectives to reconstruct a crime, mechanics to identify what is wrong with a car, palaeontologists and biologists to reconstruct the history of life on earth and bible scholars to reconstruct the life of Jesus and indeed, allows all of us to negotiate our lives with any measure of success at all. It is a truly wonderful feature of the world and something for which we can be deeply grateful to our Code-maker.
"This is what the LORD says: `If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Jeremiah 33:25-26). According to Scripture there is an order to the world and that order reflects (Romans 1:19-20) and is sustained by the nature of God (Jeremiah 33:25-26). God is as consistent with his covenant to the Israelites as he is with the order in the world. It is this feature that makes science possible. While we do not have to fall into the trap of the manifest doctrine of truth (see chapter four), Bacon and Descartes had a point in grounding science in the consistency of God in sustaining the world. It gives us confidence that, if we are diligent, nature will eventually reveal her secrets. Philosophers do not agree that science should be grounded in something higher. There is a debate over this in the philosophy of science. One school says that science should just be taken at face value. However, Philosopher Roger Trigg argues, â€œa belief in a God who is the source of reason and the ultimate explanation for an inherent rational structure in the world does provide an instructive alternative model to that of a science which has to be accepted at face value.â€?194 I should emphasise that the consistency or inherent rational structure that Roger Trigg is talking about is not at all incompatible with specific scientific theories such as chaos theory or the law of entropy. Trigg's point is about a level deeper than science. Indeed, it is this consistency that makes chaos theory even possible. From a Christian perspective, it can be argued that science and scientific reasoning begin with Jesus. Just as success in Mastermind leads us to the maker's code so success in science leads us to the Maker's code. And it ends with Jesus. Just as success in Mastermind brings credit to the code-maker, so success in science brings credit to the Code-maker. What applies to science in general also applies to evolution in particular. It is because of Jesus that we can reconstruct the history of life on earth and determine his position on evolution and it is all credit to him that we can do so.
Humanity's part in science What is humanityâ€™s part in science? Ours is to arrive at Most importantly, the Maker's code. There are better and worse ways to good reasoning in arrive at this code. This is not to say that there is one science is listening ideal scientific method. There are, rather, scientific to Jesus. methods and describing them is beyond the scope of this book. Here I just want to make a few basic points about scientific reasoning. Most importantly, good reasoning in science is listening to Jesus. As Johannes Kepler famously expressed it, "I was merely thinking God's thoughts after him. Since we astronomers are priests of the highest God in regard to the book of nature, it benefits us to be thoughtful, not of the glory of our minds, but rather, above all else, of the glory of God."195 Mastermind, even as simple a game as it is, can illustrate points about scientific reasoning that are often not properly appreciated. For instance, it illustrates that scientific reasoning, as powerful as it is, is limited. Reasoning in Mastermind can only lead us to deduce the digit sequence. It cannot help us discover why the code-maker chose that particular number. Similarly, scientific reasoning can only help us understand how the universe works. It is quite unable, for instance, to uncover why the world works the way it does or why it should exist at all. It has been used to teach a systematic and content-independent approach to problem solving because of similarities to scientific reasoning in its game play.196 The object of the game is, as I said, to arrive at the code in as few steps as possible. How do we do that? Let us enter the game after two calls have been made. Call #1 Call #2
0 1 2 7 1 2 3 7
1 hit 1 hit
Let the calls represent experiments, the responses represent observations or data and the code number represent the real world. You might reason this way. Seven is my favourite number. Perhaps it is contained in the code. If so then a call of 4 5 6 7 should elicit a response of at least 1 hit. 95
4 5 6 7
It does. Therefore digit 7 is in the code. At least I have evidence that supports the idea that digit 7 is in the code. You might want to question the quality of this reasoning, but one thing is very clear. To arrive at the code, that is to listen to the code-maker, we need both observation and reason. It is silly to pit observation against reason. We need both. And it is silly to pit either against the Code-maker as if this were “merely human wisdom” as some do. To listen to the Code-maker concerning the real world, we need both observation and reason. From a Christian point of view, scientific reasoning is listening to Jesus systematically concerning the physical universe. Which comes first – the hypothesis or the observation? Notice that in Mastermind the response is only made after the call. Observation, as is common knowledge among philosophers of science is influenced by our framework or theory.197 As Hanson famously expressed it, “... there is more to seeing than meets the eyeball.”198 However, the calls are not wild guesses. You could question the good sense of the calls but they are not entirely inappropriate. Except for the first, each call was made in the light of the responses obtained from previous calls. Similarly theory is constrained by past observations and theory. There is a sense in which observation precedes theory. The relationship between call and response is similar to the relationship between theory and observation; it is one of interdependency. The response to each call depends not only on the call, but also, of course, on the code. Similarly, observation depends on the theory and on the real world. The interdependency of observation and theory means that it is a mistake to ask which comes first. Should we begin with the evidence and try to eliminate all prior conceptions or theories from ones mind (the so-called inductive approach)? Or should we begin with theories and then test them against the evidence (the so-called deductive approach)? Philosopher of science, Karl Popper, pointed out that asking which comes first, the hypothesis or the observation, is like asking which comes first, the hen or the egg. The answer is an earlier kind of hypothesis.199 96
But how exactly should we mix observation and reason? How do we arrive at the code in as few steps as possible? What is good scientific reasoning? Here are some ways to avoid the long route to the code and what this suggests about scientific reasoning.
Do not try to confirm ones theories The reasoning above may look superficially compelling, but it is flawed.200 (Since I made up the code, I happen to know that digit 7 is not in the code). It is common knowledge among philosophers of science that supporting evidence does not confirm a theory. Finding supporting evidence is seductive but intellectually dangerous. The trouble is that such evidence may equally support a rival theory. In the case of the Mastermind game above, the hits were brought about by two different digits resulting in the hit for different reasons, rather than the digit 7 giving rise to the hit in each call. Evolution accounts for design through natural selection acting on heritable variation. Independent origin accounts for design through divine intervention. Since both alternatives account for design, such evidence cannot be used to decide between them. Yet, it is frequently relied on. For instance Henry Morris writes, â€œThere is no reason whatever why the Creator could not or would not use the same type of genetic code based on DNA for all His created life forms. This is evidence for intelligent design and creation, not evolution.â€?201 But a common genetic code is equally well explained through common ancestry, so we have to look elsewhere for a definitive test. As Cracraft points out: "... creationists should not invoke common design because ... statements about functional design ... are consistent with evolution as well."202
It is better to try to falsify one's theories Recall the first two steps of the game Call #1 Call #2
0 1 2 7 1 2 3 7
1 hit 1 hit
A better way to reason is as follows. If digit 7 is contained in the code then a call of 0123 should elicit a response of no hits. Call #3
0 1 2 3
2 hits 97
It does not elicit a response of no hits, therefore 7 is not in the code. This reasoning happens to be valid.203 Karl Popper has argued on this basis that trying to falsify one's theories is good scientific reasoning.204 There does seem to be something right about requiring that conditions be set up under which we will give up our theories, but as an inviolable rule the idea has been criticised by philosophers of science.205
It is best to make theories compete with each other. However, there is an even better way to proceed. Let us go back to the first 2 steps of the game: Call #1 Call #2
0 1 2 7 1 2 3 7
1 hit 1 hit
The trick is to imagine alternative explanations that will account for the data. After the response to call #2 there are two possibilities. A1 : 0 and 3 are hits (i.e. contained in the target number) and 1, 2 and 7 are misses (not contained in the target number). A2 : either 1, 2 or 7 is a hit and 0 and 3 are misses. These alternatives represent scientific hypotheses. Which is correct? This can be established by giving a call for which the two explanations predict different responses. 0 1 2 3 is such a call. For this call one would expect that if A1 is correct then the response would be 2 hits or 1 bull and 1 hit. If A2 were correct then the response would be no hits or 1 hit. Let us try out the call: Call # 3
0 1 2 3
Call #3 gives a response of 2 hits therefore explanation A1 is the correct one. Using this approach is better than the previous one because it gives us more information about the code. Note that call #3 is identical for the last two strategies. This nicely illustrates that good reasoning is not merely about obtaining good data, but also about the best interpretation of the data. There is much agreement amongst philosophers of science of the value of competition between theories or explanations.206 98
I think this approach is best from a Christian point of view because it satisfies two important criteria. First, because we are merely creatures (not omniscient) and this is a big universe, we need to be modest in what we can claim about this world. Theory competition does not claim to establish perfectly true theories, but merely the best on the available evidence. Second, we need to make demands on our theories in deference to the Code-maker, because this is how to hear him best. Through theory competition we get the most information for our effort. What sort of evidence would help us decide between evolution and independent origin? If life has had an evolutionary history there should be transitional forms between, for instance, reptiles and mammals and traces of reptilian features in the anatomy of primitive, living mammals such as the platypus. Independent origin, in contrast, predicts that all forms will be uniformly distributed throughout the fossil record and the so-called primitive mammals will be in all respects as mammalian as the so-called advanced mammals. We will see in chapter eight and nine which theory best fits the evidence. What is a theory and what is a fact?
It is sometimes claimed, â€œevolution is just a theory, not a fact.â€? On the street, theories are held to be little better than airy-fairy conjectures, whereas statements of fact are held to be true. But theories are not necessarily less certain than facts as is popularly thought. Facts do one job, theories quite another. One thing theories do is to explain facts. They are models or maps or abstractions that make sense of data. Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead pointed out that the genius of scientific frame of mind is its twin concern with the particular (the facts) and the general (theory).207 If science were merely concerned with statements of fact then reality would be the best model of itself. Such a model would be useless to humans and biology would be "merely stamp-collecting" as Lord Rutherford famously claimed. A good theory, one that unifies and explains a great many facts, is a very good thing. 99
It is the evidence collectively that properly decides between theories Call #3 and the response seem rather telling. However, we only get the mileage we do by taking this evidence together with the responses to the two previous calls. Even in this simple game, apart from the call that elicits a response of 4 bulls, there is no single call that enables us to finally adjudicate between rival theories. We may have heard the response, but to truly listen, one has to take into account all the code-makers responses. This illustrates an important point about science. Theories do not have to hang or fall upon a single or a few pieces of evidence, but on the evidence collectively. To properly listen to the Code-maker one needs to hold all the evidence we have together. How does this apply to evolution? One of the tricks of anti-evolutionists is to single out isolated pieces of evidence for evolution and to show that on their own they are not very compelling. One classic piece of evidence was found in the peppered moth, Biston betularia. Populations adapted to polluted trees by becoming darker. Huse asks rhetorically "But is this really evolution? Certainly not!"208 He then approvingly quotes another antievolutionist, "The (peppered moths) experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection - or survival of the fittest - in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the population may alter in their content of light, intermediate, or dark forms, all the moths remain from the beginning to the end Biston betularia." Huse adds, "if this is the best example that evolutionists can offer to substantiate their theory, then they are indeed in serious trouble for this is not evolution at all."209 But B. betularia was only ever meant to establish the efficacy of natural selection as a mechanism in evolution. It was never used to demonstrate the historical matter of one species evolving into another. Provide a transitional form and an anti-evolutionist could always claim that this does not show that natural selection was the mechanism. What is impressive about evolutionary theory is how it ties in disparate lines of evidence. It is impossible to do justice to all this evidence, but the little presented in each of the following chapters must taken together to get a feel for the formidable empirical standing of evolutionary theory.
Three theories about theories There has been much discussion among philosophers over exactly what is a scientific theory.210 The common sense view, realism, says that theories are human representations of the real world. The instrumentalist view says that theories are tools for making predictions. The idealist view says that theories are human constructs. Mastermind can help us to see that there is something in each of these views. Each call is the invention of the player. Similarly, the idealist has a point when he says that theories are human inventions. The calls, however, are not merely human inventions. A call may have less or more agreement with the target number. Similarly, the realist is right to ask that theories represent reality. Martin Gardner argued that the role of a theory can change.211 He says that Copernicus' sun-centred theory of the solar system was initially accepted as an untrue prediction device, but later came to be regarded as true or approximately so. In a similar way, the role of a call can change in Mastermind. In some circumstances, the call is most evidently a useful fiction. It is used as a tool for making predictionsthe player reasons (for instance) that if call x is made and digit y is not in the target number, then the response will be z. He does not seriously believe that x exactly matches the target number.
Theories are always tested “in bundles” If you look at the hypotheses A1 and A2 above you will notice that each makes several claims at once. If this is so in this simple game, how much more so with theories about the real world. Hence the famous statement of Pierre Duhem that “Hypotheses are tested in bundles”212 that is now commonly accepted among philosophers of science.213 Theories or hypotheses always make several claims at once and all these claims are tested at once. It is possible to make a good theory look bad by obscuring some of these claims. For instance, a common argument of anti-evolutionists is that if evolution is true we should have innumerable transitional forms between groups. However, bundled along with the evolutionary package is the (not unreasonable) claim that dead organisms tend to get eaten and decompose so that fossilization is rare. We should find transitional forms, but they will not be innumerable. 101
On the other hand it is possible to make a bad theory look better by linking it with unsubstantiated claims. One problem for the theory of independent origin is the observed fact of succession in the fossil record. We do not find mammals appearing before reptiles, apes before monkeys and humans before apes. Anti-evolutionists have attempted to deny that such a succession exists, but more typically they accept it and try to explain it way using tactics like the following. Whitcomb and Morris give three sorting mechanisms purportedly explaining the fossil sequence, all of which involve a global flood.214 One is hydrodynamic sorting. The idea here is that the denser and more streamlined objects would have descended more rapidly and should be found in the lowest rock strata. Another is termed ecological sorting. The idea here is that the inhabitants of low regions would be overcome first by the floodwaters and will be in the lowest strata. Another is anatomical sorting. The idea here is that the least mobile animals would have succumbed to the ravages of the flood first, and would be in the lowest strata. These hypotheses are bad, not because they are unfalsifiable, but because they are mutually incompatible and false. As Gould says, whales, which are streamlined and marine, are found only in the upper strata, contradicting both the first and the second explanations. Sloths, which are not known for their mobility, are also found only in the highest strata contradicting the third explanation.215
Is evolution a theory or a fact? Is evolution a theory? Yes it is. It makes the grand claim that all living things on earth are related through common descent. Is it a fact? Not in the same sense as â€œmy pet crow is black.â€? Evolution is far too important to be a fact in this sense! It can be a fact in the sense of explaining a huge body of data. We shall see in later chapters whether it is such a fact.
Theories are best tested using converging evidence In standard Mastermind only one player cracks a small code. In the real world it is a little like having many code-breakers trying to crack an extremely large code. Imagine that the code-breakers independently obtain responses from the code-maker. The more agreement or convergence we find between them, the more confidence we can have that they are arriving at the code. How does this apply in the real world? Take the matter of the age of the earth. The confidence of geologists that the earth is ancient might seem presumptuous. As some say, â€œHow can we be so sure when we were not around?â€? The answer is converging evidence. The dating of rocks has been corroborated through remarkably disparate lines of evidence. For instance, astronomers have calculated that because of tidal friction, the rotation of the earth has slowed down by two seconds every 100 000 years. This means that Devonian fossil corals that that have been dated, using radioactive isotopes, at 380 million years should have experienced 400 days per year. This is easy to test. Corals have growth rings that vary daily and seasonally. Count the number of daily growth rings in an annual growth ring in Devonian coral. Answer: 400.216
We do not need perfect knowledge to know a good theory when we see one We saw above that hypothesis A1 was better than A2. Notice that we can be very confident about this in spite of not knowing the code. Imperfect knowledge is not the same thing as no knowledge. We do not have to wait until we get 4 bulls before we can claim to know something about the code. It is not intellectually rigorous to require 4 bulls in order to claim knowledge about the code, but pernickety. The real world, as I said, is like an extremely large code. To require perfect knowledge before we can claim any real knowledge about the real world is also ludicrous. It is like saying that unless I hear perfectly from the Codemaker, I will hear nothing at all. But to demand that the Code-maker speak perfectly is to demand to be as perfect as he is. And the net result is that anything goes. All theories are imperfect and so we end up having time for all theories.
And yet, this is how some argue around evolution. They keep asking for irrefutable evidence. It is important to see that merely supplying them with evidence is futile, because their problem is first of all theological and philosophical. They create a superficial impression that theirs is the truly empirical approach, when actually no amount of possible evidence will satisfy them. This is why a full response to anti-evolutionism requires the services not only of biologists but also of theologians such as Conrad Hyers217 and Langdon Gilkey218 and philosophers such as Philip Kitcher219, Michael Ruse220 and Robert Pennock221. That a significant part of the anti-evolutionistâ€™s problem is a philosophical one can be seen from the way they treat transitional forms. Archaeopteryx is a classic transitional form, showing both reptilian and avian features. One objection is that "Archaeopteryx does not qualify as a connecting link between reptiles and birds. But if it did, one step in so large a gap is insufficient, even as we cannot call one stone in the middle of the Mississippi a bridge."222 We can dispute this interpretation of Archeopterix, of course, but the tactic of interest to us here is that when a major gradation is found, the absence of finer gradations is taken to be evidence against evolution. If these were found (and as we shall see in chapter eight, they have) he could point to the absence of even finer gradations and so on. Any evidence can always be explained away because complete evidence will never be available. One anti-evolutionist has even written concerning the recent discovery of a new link between fish and amphibians, â€œI love it when new "missing links" are discovered, because it's then--and only then--that Darwinists admit how precious little evidence had previously existed for the evolutionary transition in question.â€?223 But complete evidence is not needed to decide between independent origin and evolution. A key question as far as the fossil record is concerned, and as I have indicated, is simply whether all forms are uniformly distributed throughout the fossil record or whether as one goes further back in the fossil record, fossil forms become progressively different from the forms existing today and whether there are transitional forms between major groups. Those who want to hear from Jesus regarding the truth or otherwise of evolution, will want to examine the fossil record very carefully. 104
Chapter 6: Creation and evolution
We have seen that Jesus of Nazareth was not an evolutionist for the short time that he was on earth. Is he an evolutionist â€“ I mean in his pre-existence and as he is now seated at the right hand of the Father? Is this even conceivable? Is it logically possible for Jesus to be both Creator and an evolutionist? For many people creation and evolution are logical opposites. Only one can be true. I have written a very simple computer programme to explore the logical situation. It is called Survival of the Florid, and is available as freeware on my website (www.mikelanderson.com).
There are two kinds of organisms in the programme â€“ butterflies and flowers. Each has a single gene that determines its colour. There are only three possible colours red, yellow and blue. The caterpillars will only eat flowers of their own colour. If they do not get enough to eat they will die. 105
Only the survivors give rise to adult butterflies that reproduce - passing their genes onto the next generation. So, a simple form of natural selection happens. I used a random number generator to allow for mutation. In the accompanying screenshot there are a lot of blue butterflies. Red and yellow flower mutants are at an advantage because the blue butterflies will not eat them. As the blue flowers get eaten up, it becomes advantageous for butterflies to mutate to a different colour. When I ran the programme, I noticed that as yellow flowers came to predominate, the butterflies started evolving to match. Eventually yellow butterflies came to predominate. Evolution happened!
How Darwinism works Darwin's theory of natural selection is based on four facts and three inferences. The three inferences could not be directly observed because evolution happens slowly relative to human lifespans. Each of the four facts is modelled in a very simple way in Survival of the Florid. Because of the speed of computers and the short generation time (seconds) what Darwin inferred can be directly observed as outcomes in Survival of the Florid. Some organisms have such short generation times (20 minutes under ideal conditions in certain bacteria) that in this case the inferences can be directly observed. Four facts • All species have an enormous capacity to reproduce. • Natural resources are often limited. • There is great variation between individuals in a population. • Much of this variation is heritable. Three inferences • Production of more individuals than the environment can carry leads to • a struggle for existence. • Individuals that are best suited to the environment (the fittest) will leave • more offspring than the less fit. • Differential success in reproduction will lead to adaptation of organisms • to their environment.
The programme does not merely show that natural selection works, it is also saying something about me as the programmer. It is indicating my position on evolution – that I am an evolutionist with respect to the way I created the flowers and butterflies. I did not directly specify the outcome of the particular colours. I created their colours through evolution. Similarly, natural selection in the real world says something about Jesus. Jesus is speaking through the evidence and revealing how he creates. He is saying, “I am an evolutionist”! Notice how silly it is to discount natural selection in order to defend me as the creator or programmer. This may be well intentioned, but it is a big mistake. Far from defending me, this would constitute a failure to truly listen to me. The programme shows that evolution is logically compatible with a creator. I ... natural selection in the wrote the programme - fact. The flowers real world discloses whether and butterflies evolve – fact. If someone Jesus is an evolutionist. cannot see how these can both be true at the same time, the problem lies with that person and not with evolution in the programme or with me. Here is an instance of evolution being quite logically compatible with a programmer. Similarly, evolution is logically compatible with Jesus as Creator.224 These two facts are not mutually exclusive; they are logically quite compatible. The reason for this is that these two facts exist at quite different levels. A great debt is owed to Donald Mackay for making and explaining this point.225 Consider the following diagram:
At the extreme right are the phenomena as they appear on the screen. Anyone using the programme can look at the screen and view this level. This corresponds to the ordinary observer looking at nature. One level deeper is the computer programme. Running the programme made the phenomena appear on the screen as they did. This corresponds to evolution. Expert computer programmers could peek inside my programme and from that determine how it works. This corresponds to what scientists do when they investigate nature. Finally, at the deepest level is the programmer writing the programme. This corresponds to Jesus as Creator. It is important to understand the distinctions between these levels and it is a mistake to give an answer at one level to a question at a different level. The mistake is often made. For example evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins seems to think God is a scientific theory in competition with evolution.226 For him, if evolution is true then there is no Creator. This is like thinking that the programmer and the programme are opposing explanations for the phenomena on the screen. And it is like wanting my existence as a programmer to be reflected in the particular details of the programme. He has made the mistake of seeking a scientific answer to a theological question. Curiously, he does not make this logical mistake with himself. He has written an evolution simulator called The Blind Watchmaker that generates creatures he calls biomorphs.227 (Strictly speaking, the programme is a simulation of artificial selection rather than natural selection). Either way Dawkins did not specially create biomorphs with the features that users see on their screens. Dawkins is not blind to the fact that he is the creator of The Blind Watchmaker. While he gives himself credit for his own programme, he fails to give God credit for the entire universe. Perhaps this is why he has been called â€œThe Blind Biomorphmaker.â€?228 One can also make the error of seeking a theological answer to a scientific question. If a computer programmer asks for an explanation of my 'Survival of the Florid' programme, what he is after is an account of how the programme works. He is interested in the source code. It would not do to keep repeating that I wrote the programme or to tell him why I wrote the programme. This may well irritate him. True, I wrote the programme, but this does not answer the computer scientist's question. Similarly, to say the God created everything is true, but does not answer the questions that scientists, as scientists, are asking about the mechanisms of evolution. The so-called scientific creationists and other anti-evolutionists make this mistake and irritate the scientific community. 108
Theistic anti-evolutionists and atheistic evolutionists seem to be odd bedfellows, but in an important sense, they are in the same bed. Philosopher Robert Pennock has noted the “surprising similarity of outlook between creationists and some atheists.”229 They live in a flat world where the distinctions between the levels of explanations outlined above tend to be collapsed. What is important to understand is that neither group is doing a service either to God or science. They are, in the words of Pennock, “… reducing God to a scientific object, placing God in the scientific box.”230 He says that Christians would be wise not to even start down the dead-end road of creation- science or theistic science, for it is unlikely that they would find a naturalised God to be worthy of worship.231 The programmer and programme analogy can help us relate science and theology appropriately. If computer scientists talk about the creator of a programme, they are not doing computer science. What they are doing is analogous to theology. They do not even need to know me to do a good job of investigating the programme and their expertise in computer science does not make them know me. People who know me may express confidence to a computer scientist that my programme will make sense based on their confidence in me as a person. In doing this they are doing 'theology'. They are providing a 'theological' underpinning to motivate the investigation of the programme. They could do this without being experts in computer science. In short, theology and science are distinct activities. They are related, but must never be conflated. Here is a different analogy that shows how explanations can be different and yet complementary. It was developed by Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis and later by Donald MacKay.232 Consider an event in Shakespeare's play Macbeth. At one point Lady Macbeth gets out of bed, and, while walking in her sleep say those famous words: "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" This unusual behaviour naturally begs for an explanation. One explanation we could give is that she is feeling guilty. What we are doing here is giving an explanation in terms of other events that occurred earlier in the play. This is the sort of explanation scientists provide. They explain events in the universe by referring to earlier events. Let's call this the natural explanation. But notice that we could give another, very different explanation for the same event. We could say she washed her hands because that's what 109
Shakespeare wrote. He is the author. He can write what he likes. What we are doing now is giving an explanation in terms of the author who is outside the play. This is the sort of explanation theologians provide. They explain events in the universe by referring to Someone outside it. Let us call this the ultimate explanation. Although these explanations are different, they are not mutually exclusive we do not have to choose between them; in Donald MacKay's sense of the term, they are complementary.
Did Jesus really use natural selection to create? It might be objected that my Survival of the Florid programme only suggests the plausibility of microevolution (small evolutionary changes within species). It fails to address whether macroevolution (large evolutionary changes between higher taxa) has occurred. But, the intention was merely to simulate an important mechanism of evolution and to show that evolution is not incompatible with creation. I did not intend to deal with the historical question of whether macroevolution has occurred (This question is tackled in chapters eight and nine). It took the genius of Charles "Even if gene mutation, gene Darwin and Alfred Wallace to recombinations and chromosome develop natural selection as a changes are truly random, divine plausible mechanism for providence is not thereby excluded evolution at a time when the from the evolutionary process. " prevailing paradigm was direct (Douglas Spanner) creation. It should be emphasised that natural selection is not the only mechanism behind evolution and Darwin did not see it as such. My objective in this book is not to get into the mechanisms of evolution in any detail. There are now many good demonstrations of the power of natural selection in explaining adaptation both from field studies and selection experiments. Fine examples include dispersal in daisies,233 colour patterns234 and life-history235 and other traits236 in guppies, bill size in Hawaiian Honeyeaters237 and resistance to dietary cyanobacteria in water fleas.238 There are many examples of the power of artificial selection. In one case, corn selected for height became 15 times taller than corn selected for short height over 24 generations. There was no indication of a tapering off of the upward or downward trends.239 The classic story is that of the peppered 110
moth, Biston betularia. It is not necessarily the best example, and has come under criticism recently, but the criticisms are poorly founded and the case remains as solid as ever. 240 Some object that these cases only show microevolution and do not demonstrate the extent of change needed for macroevolution.241 The fallacy here is that this is the wrong place to expect evidence for macroevolution. It is a bit like expecting funeral music at a party or party music at a funeral to borrow a metaphor from Jesus. These cases have always merely addressed the question of the mechanism of evolution. One has to look at different lines of evidence to answer the historical question. This will be tackled in chapters eight and nine. It is quite often claimed that to say that living things got here "by chance" is antithetical to Creation. Michael Denton, for instance, says, "The suggestion that life and man are the result of chance is incompatible with the biblical assertion of their being the direct result of intelligent creative activity."242 Is this so? Several points can be made in reply. First, Denton has made a scientific error. Evolutionary theory does not make the claim that evolution is the result of chance. This is at best a half-truth. Mutations do arise by chance and there are other chance processes in evolution such as genetic drift, but selection is a powerful anti-chance mechanism. It is the combination of selection acting upon chance variation that produces adaptation. Second, he has made a theological error. The Bible does not teach that divine action is incompatible with chance. Proverbs 16:33 says, "The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is of the Lord." In other words, chance exists, but God is ultimately in control. Douglas Spanner243 explains: "Even if gene mutation, gene recombinations and chromosome changes are truly random, divine providence is not thereby excluded from the evolutionary process. This needs to be clearly understood. Further, the 'creationist' needs to be reminded that the Bible itself strongly supports this conclusion. He need only recall the random arrow that slew king Ahab (1 Kings 22:34) or think of Proverbs 16:33 to be reminded of this." Third, chance does not necessarily mean indeterminate.244 The random number generator used to produce the chance variation in my computer programme is really a pseudo-random number generator. If one had a sufficiently precise specification of the initial state and understood the 111
random-number generation one could predict exactly any state of the programme. Practically this may be impossible, but the system is still determinate. It might be objected that my simple simulation of evolution required a sophisticated computer and at least some intelligence on the part of the programmer. Is it not reasonable to expect that super-intelligence is required to produce the extraordinary complexity in living things? So, natural processes cannot account for living things after all. We need a Creator.245 There is a Creator, but he does not hang on this argument. The adaptations of artificial life can be entirely explained at one level - the internal logic of the computer programme - without recourse to the external computer or the programmer. This does not mean we do not need a computer or programmer; it means we do not need to invoke them at the level of running the programme and observing the output. If we become conscious of the programmer at the level of the programme it is usually because there is something wrong with the programme. We have to call up the programmer to announce a bug for instance. He has to intervene to fix it. It is the programme that runs seamlessly that is the best credit to the programmer. Similarly, a universe that can be accounted for in purely natural terms is a credit to its Creator. One can imagine a world whose laws periodically require adjustment by God. But, the scientist operates under the assumption of seamlessness. He does not expect to find bugs (figuratively speaking of course!) in the universe. He is not tempted to ask God: "What's going on here? My corner of the universe is not behaving as I had expected." Donald Mackay brought this point home using the author/novel analogy, "When we say that a novel has an author, we do not imply that there are inexplicable discontinuities in the past of the world he has created; nor would the discovery of such things strengthen our belief in his authorship."246 Using God as an explanation for puzzles in nature is really doing Him a great disservice. A conspicuous example of this fallacy has been provided by two non-biologists. They start by erroneously claiming that the speciation rate has dropped to virtually zero since humans arrived on the scene. "The best explanation," they write, "given the provable limitations on natural selection and mutations, is a divine Speciator..."247 What a tiny role
to give Jesus! At least Six-day Creationists give our Lord the more ambitious project of creating â€œkindsâ€? of plants and animals. Howard van Till has argued that there is a strong biblical warrant for expecting what he calls the "functional integrity of Creation".248A consequence of this seamlessness or functional integrity of Creation is that it is quite proper for the scientist to operate under the assumption of methodological naturalism - that perfectly satisfying scientific explanations can be found without invoking God at the level of science. Historians of science have argued that elements of this perspective were important in the development of modern science.249 It might also be objected that my programme has artificially kept things simple and that the complex adaptations of living things could never be explained through natural evolutionary processes. This argument is wearing thin. Artificial life programmes are helping to solve evolutionary conundrums. For example, the evolution of metamorphosis has long been a puzzle. In many insects the larval stage (for instance, caterpillars) change into a very different-looking adults (moths or butterflies) in a process called metamorphosis. Conventional wisdom has it that divergent lifestyles reduce competition for food between larvae and adults. There is another possibility. Metamorphosis could be an adaptation for dealing with rich, clumped, transient and widely dispersed food sources. The larval stage of the life-cycle has become dedicated to feeding efficiently before the food resource runs out, the adult stage has become dedicated to finding the other food sources (the dispersal stage). My artificial life programme MetamorphoGenesis (see screenshot) that is available on my website bears out this explanation. Under conditions of rich, clumped, transient, but widely dispersed food sources the artificial organisms indeed evolve metamorphosis. Under conditions of relatively poor, less dispersed but more permanent food sources the artificial organisms lose their capacity to metamorphose. The programme at once sufficiently mimics nature to help solve her puzzles, demonstrates the power of the evolutionary process and, if I may be so immodest, indicates my existence as creator!
Screenshot of MetamorphoGenesis
Interestingly enough nature has performed an experiment that favours the dispersal explanation over the conventional competition-avoidance explanation. The trouble with the conventional wisdom is that some adults (for example, male bagworm moths) do not even have mouthparts to feed. Something else must be going on. Furthermore, the adult female bagworm moth has, in effect, regressed in metamorphosis. She is maggot-like and never leaves the bag in which she develops. There is a curious feature of their life history that suggests what is going on. Newly hatched larvae spin silken threads that catch the wind and facilitate dispersal. The important function is dispersal and the reason that the female can dispense with it is that this role has been taken over by the larvae. Although MetamophoGenesis is more sophisticated than Survival of the Florid, it is still an extremely simple program compared to what is available on the web. There are many artificial life programmes (for example Thomas Ray's excellent Tierra simulator) that are producing very exciting results. Ray points out that, compared to the creatures that evolved under the Tierran system, the one he initially designed was not particularly clever.250 Genuine novelty, unanticipated even by the programmer, has emerged. 114
Zooland has a comprehensive repository of artificial life programmes on the web, many of which are freeware.251 Engineers are harnessing the power of natural selection using genetic programming and patenting â€œdesignâ€? solutions that do not have a human inventor and which no one yet understands!252 This counters the objection that the solutions were informed by the intelligence that went into the programming. Christian zoologist and computer scientist Wesley Elsberry has refuted the standard arguments claiming that artificial life and other simulations of evolution do not adequately demonstrate the power of natural selection.253 It is often falsely claimed that microevolutionary change is not rapid enough to allow for macroevolution. Actually, present-day processes and rates of evolutionary change, as determined by experimental and field studies, are several orders of magnitude faster than that required for the observed change in the fossil record.254 Gingerich says that a microevolutionary rate of 400 darwins255 which has been observed in field studies "is sufficient to change a mouse into an elephant in 10 000 years ... evolution on a microevolutionary scale is invisible in the fossil record, but this does not preclude microevolutionary processes operating over geological time from producing macroevolutionary change on the longer time scale. Microevolution and macroevolution are different manifestations of a common underlying process".256 Ridley257 may have overstated things somewhat when he said, "We can conclude that the known mechanisms of population genetics can comfortably accommodate the fossil observations." However, the point that natural processes can account for the fossil observations is unaffected whether or not the mechanisms of change are fully known. There is, therefore, no scientific warrant for believing that supernatural intervention is needed to account for the development of life. From a theological point of view occasional intervention is actually sub-Christian because, as James Moore pointed out as long ago as 1889, it "implies as its correlative a theory of ordinary absence".258 There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the mechanisms of evolutionary change and their relationship to macroevolution. For example, Mills et al259, in an attempt to correct mistakes made in textbooks, claim that many "proponents of Darwinian natural selection have argued that processes demonstrated for microevolution may be extrapolated to account for macroevolution as well. When this type of extrapolation is used 115
in an attempt to validate a theory, we have moved beyond the reasonable bounds of science. Scientifically, we should simply state that at present, there is no satisfactory scientific explanation for macroevolutionary events." Unfortunately, they are seriously mistaken themselves. Scientists are not desperately trying to defend macroevolution from microevolutionary processes. The validity of macroevolution can be established quite independently on many other grounds (see later chapters). The same authors also claim that there are many "alternative hypotheses" for the "particular explanatory mechanism" of evolution. In using the terms 'alternative' and 'hypotheses' and 'particular explanatory mechanism' they have seriously misrepresented the current evolutionary scene and displayed a serious misunderstanding of evolution. Evolutionary biologists are not trying to find the mechanism behind evolution. There is no doubt that there are several mechanisms behind evolutionary change including natural selection, genetic drift and the very promising and recently discovered mechanisms of self-organisation. Natural selection and genetic drift are not hypotheses; they are well-verified components of evolutionary theory. The debate is about their relative importance in particular cases. Some object that evolution, with its attendant suffering and death, is incompatible with the love of God. However, as we have already seen in chapter two, if evolution is irreconcilable with the love of God, how much more so is the death of the innocent Son of God? God does not explain himself, he just lets the death of his own Son do the talking. There are far more parasites than free-living creatures. What is Jesus doing creating parasites? Is he promoting suffering? What we know is that he, himself went through suffering and death. We may not be able to understand why parasites have to exist (although they could be the inevitable consequence and cost of the evolutionary process). It may be that this is the only way to produce genuinely autonomous creatures. Thomas Ray discovered, without any intention, that parasites consistently emerged from his Tierran artificial life system along with hyper-parasites and forms with immunity to parasites.260 Whatever the case, we know in Jesus that God is not unaffected by suffering. He went through it himself.
Jesus and evolution: logically incompatible? The Survival of the Florid programme shows that evolution is logically compatible with Jesus as Creator. Scripture also reveals that natural processes are compatible with divine action. In John 10:18 Jesus says, "The 116
reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord." Jesus says he gave his own life, but that does not mean that no one took it. In another place He says, "Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you; The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men" (Luke 9:44). Who has decided Jesus' fate - himself or wicked men? Clearly, in teaching both, Jesus does not see these as logically incompatible. Neither should we. Jesus, as Lord, ultimately foreordained his death and used wicked men as his instruments in achieving his salvation plan. If he can use wicked men to accomplish his purposes in redemption, why could he not also use natural selection to accomplish his purposes in creation? It is entirely possible for Jesus to be Creator and an evolutionist at the same time. We have seen that there is much evidence that he is, indeed, using evolutionary mechanisms to create. Jesus is an evolutionist!
Chapter 7: What if humans created life?
Many dread this thought - not because some horror might be unleashed but because God would thereby be dethroned. Geneticist Lee Silver identified the problem, "Simply stated, there is a commonly held sense that genetic engineering crosses the line into God's domain. And as we have all been taught, it is wrong to tread in God's domain. ... For most people in modern Western society, God's domain has been reduced to a much smaller size, owing in large part to knowledge and use of both birth control and currently available reprogenetic technologies. ... You can see the problem we are running into. If we allow the possibility that "man's domain" extends into the nucleus - into the DNA itself - then by this line of reasoning, God's domain vanishes into ... nothingness."261 Is Godâ€™s job under threat from humans? The response to humans creating life: Creators in competition? Even before the cloning of the sheep Dolly, in 1995, a group of religious leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., and called for a moratorium on the patenting of human and animal genes. Spokesperson, Richard Land, said, "We believe (genetic engineering) is going to dwarf the pro-life debate within a few years. We see altering life forms, creating new life forms, as a revolt against Godâ€™s sovereignty and the attempt by humankind to usurp God and to be God".262 Notice the word 'creating'. In this view, humans are now in direct competition with God in the business of creating. Cynthia Fitch, a professor of biology, writes in the Christian newspaper, Response: "I believe humans are created by God and the miracle of creation is when sperm meets egg, even if it is in a lab dish. Christians believe that God designed each person individually".263 Note how creation is located in time and space. With such a view, it is difficult to avoid competition between scientists and God. Scientists are increasingly able to control what happens between sperm and egg, and even do without the sperm altogether. What then is left of the "miracle of creation?" 118
Richard Seed, a physicist and member of a mainline Protestant denomination has said, "You can't stop science... God intended for man to become one with God... Cloning and the reprogramming of DNA is the first serious step in becoming one with God".264 Some Christians have responded to Dolly by downplaying what was achieved in order to let God off the hook. When Dolly was born, some groups pointed out that for various technical reasons sheep are much easier to clone than other animal groups such as mice. Mice are very difficult to clone and humans are closer to mice. So, cloning humans is really very far off and not something to worry about. However, cows were cloned, mice were cloned and monkeys were cloned. Today the steps to clone humans can be downloaded from the Internet. Some say Dolly was not really created. They say existing material, already created, was merely manipulated to produce her and that genuinely creating biological life is unachievable for humans because the technical problems are so enormous. This argument is wearing thin. Humans are working very hard to create biological life and are showing the first small signs of success. Furthermore, it has been claimed that humans have created life, perhaps not biological life, but artificial life. Artificial life resides in computers. It breeds, evolves and some even have intelligence. But is it genuinely alive? To answer that we need to understand what life is.
What is life? There are some misconceptions that bedevil our understanding of life. We will first need to deal with these.
We tend to divide the world into living and non-living or dead â€Ś Things are either alive or not. Actually, reality is more involved than that.
a) The Binary Misconception. We tend to divide the world into living and nonliving or dead. Things are either alive or not. There is nothing in between. You cannot be a little bit alive. In the movies, you have characters confidently asserting after taking someone's pulse that the person is dead. Actually, reality is more involved than that.
In the animal world, there is a gradient between non-living and alive. Take an animal called the water bear. These tiny creatures live in 119
ponds. When they dry out a strange thing happens. Their metabolism slows to virtually zero. They don't eat, they don't reproduce, they don't respond. Are they alive? The best answer seems to be, â€?Yes, but just a teeny-weeny bit at the moment. Add water and they become very alive.â€? Or take viruses. Some biologists regard them as alive. Others see them as interesting chemicals. The fact that they disagree suggests that viruses are somewhere in between. b) The Essence Misconception: The idea here is that you can reduce life to some essence that non-living things do not have. However, if you try to boil life down to its constituents you are left with something dead. The Properties of Life To define life, biology texts give a list of the properties of life such as this one with the mnemonic MERRING: M - movement E - Excretion R - Reproduction R - Respiration I - Irritability N - Nutrition G - Growth The list is not carved in stone. There are other lists and these individual properties do not need to be invariably present. Plants are not very mobile, but are very much alive. Mules cannot reproduce, but are very much alive. It is futile to persist in looking for a single unambiguous definition of life. Any characteristic we associate with life can be shown to be absent or nearly so in forms we are sure are alive. There is no unambiguous definition because life is not a property of its constituents, but a property of the whole.
To simplify matters, I am going to use a shorter list of the more important properties - inherited variation, self-replication, metabolism and open-ended evolution.
Have humans created life? With these properties in mind let us compare artificial life with indisputable life and non-life.
â€Ś there are artificial life forms around that are in some respects more alive than viruses.
What about the flowers and butterflies in the Survival of the Florid programme? There is inherited variation but it is of an extremely limited sort. The organisms have only one gene and only three forms of that gene. Table salt has none. The butterflies and flowers replicate. Salt does not. The butterflies feed but only one chemical is processed, so they have only a teeny-weeny bit of metabolism but that is more than can be said for salt. The evolution here can hardly be called open-ended. There is a cycling between only three possible colour states. Are my flowers and butterflies alive? In some respects they are slightly more alive than salt. Compared to the humble fruit fly the Florid organisms are very pathetic as life. Fruit flies have many thousands of genes, an enormous amount of variation and a very sophisticated metabolism. However, there are artificial life forms around that are in some respects more alive than viruses. They do not have the open-endedness of viruses, but have a more impressive metabolism. For instance, there is the commercially available programme called Creatures by Cyberlife. The life forms here are cute, furry, big-eyed creatures called norns. They have an elaborate biochemistry involving a few hundred chemicals and can have more than nine hundred genes â€“ more than some viruses. The emergence of behavioural novelty is a striking feature of the programme as evidenced by the following anecdote from one of Cyberlife's developers. He left some eggs near some norns, intending to incubate the eggs when he returned. Before his return however, the norns had discovered that by placing the eggs in the incubator, they obtained playmates! The complexity of these norns - they have genuine though very limited intelligence - has meant that only small population sizes are possible and this limits their capacity to evolve. As far as open-ended evolution is concerned, there is a programme called Darwin Pond that is rather impressive. Developed by Jeffrey Ventrella, it has creatures he calls 'swimmers.' Their metabolism is very limited. But what is interesting about them is their wide variety of locomotory styles. Fourteen genes control their swimming behaviour so that the number of possible permutations is quite large. Ventrella, a non-biologist, expected 121
the evolution of multiple limb-paddling in advanced populations. Instead, he discovered that single-limbed, undulating, eel-like swimming emerged as the most efficient form of locomotion. Biologists know that sinuous motion is the predominant locomotory style among animals in the sea. The important point here is that Ventrella, far from programming his swimmers to swim in a certain way, gave the system so much open-endedness that they behaved in ways he did not expect. They had, we might say, a life of their own. A programme with much open-ended evolution is Thomas Ray's Tierra. A pioneer in the field of artificial life, Ray has produced a heavy-duty artificial life simulator. From a single rudimentary ancestral creature, many interesting forms have emerged. Looking back on his ancestor, Ray concluded that it was not particularly clever. Evolution produced far more ingenious creatures. Ray's programme will appeal to the serious student of evolution who has some knowledge of computer programming and machine language. Have humans created life? To some extent, yes. Critics argue that the heavy-hand of their human creators can be found in even the best artificial life forms so that their evolution is not fully or truly open-ended. However, to grab onto this in order to protect God’s status as Creator seems, on the face of it, rather feeble. While artificial life is not as alive as biological life, it is heading in that direction. However, this cannot detract from God's role as sovereign Creator.
Humans and their creations as God’s artificial life The key, I think, is to recapture a truly biblical view of God as Creator. The competition that exists is not really between God and cloning or genetic engineering or artificial life but between these things and sub-standard views of God. If they seem to threaten God, it is time to review one’s concept of God. (One might have ethical concerns with cloning, but this is a different matter).
Any creating by us, whether through pro-creation, cloning, genetic engineering or artificial life or anything else, does not the threaten God’s position as Creator in the slightest. He is always Creator.
We saw earlier how some people see the creation of new life forms, as a "revolt against God's sovereignty and the attempt by humankind to usurp 122
God and to be God." But, if humans could damage God’s sovereignty, well then, God would not be sovereign would he? From a biblical perspective, humanity can do all the rebelling it wants God is still sovereign. Whatever humans do (including cloning and artificial life) is under God's sovereign control. While humans were doing their worst against the Son of God on Calvary, God was foreordaining his salvation plan (Acts 2:23). "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do these things" (Isaiah 45:7). Those who think that their fortunes are entirely self-made have been deceived. Ultimately, it is not they who make their money, but God. Ultimately, it is not armies that conquer, but God. "For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring'' (Acts 17:28). We cannot live or even lift a finger (never mind cloning) without him. Consider procreation. "For he chose us … we should be clear before the creation of the world to be holy about one thing. God and blameless in his sight" (Ephesians 1:4). does not need his job God predestined us before we were a gleam as Creator protected in the eyes of our parents. How do we by human creatures! reconcile these things - God's role in creating us uniquely, and the role of our parents - in our creation? Artificial life and cloning does not create any special new theological difficulties. The issue of how our creative activity fits in with God's also occurs with procreation. (The problem of Dolly Parton’s creation existed before Dolly the sheep). Scripture does not explain how these can be true simultaneously. It simply asserts both truths. There is no competition. We are agents in God's creative activity, but God is ultimately Creator. Let us tease out the logic of this using an illustration. Consider this poem. “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wonder are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, 123
Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be the blade that was broken: The crownless again shall be king.”265 I want to give credit to the poet, but I could get in a quandary over who this is. The Hobbit Bilbo in Lord of the Rings says of this poem, “I made that up myself.” Does this mean that author, Tolkien, did nothing? If I give Tolkien credit, what then about Bilbo’s claim to authorship? Indeed, I must take the claim seriously because it is Tolkien who has Bilbo make the claim! However, it does not seem to be right to make Tolkien and Bilbo joint composers of the poem even though they are somehow both involved. What does one do? The difficulty is resolved by recognising that Tolkien and Bilbo are composers or creators in quite different senses. Tolkien is the ultimate or primary composer and Bilbo the secondary composer. One could say that Tolkien composed the poem through Bilbo. One could distinguish the two senses by using Composer or Creator (upper case C) for the primary sense and composer or creator (lower case c) for the secondary sense. Any composing by Bilbo does not threaten Tolkien’s position as author. It is the same with God. Any creating by us, whether through procreation, cloning, genetic engineering, artificial life or anything else does not the threaten God’s position as Creator in the slightest. He is always Creator. As the apostle John puts it: "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:3). God Created Dolly. Ian Wilmut and his colleagues were his secondary agents in her creation. God Created norns. Stephen Grand and his colleagues were his secondary agents in their creation. With this in mind, let us review some of the earlier claims. The Promethean desire to be creators might threaten the Greek Pantheon. I cannot see God Almighty batting an eyelid. Those religious leaders who worry about God’s sovereignty, should not. He ordains human rebellion there is no need to get in a tizzy. Cynthia Fitch is wrong to locate Creation at the moment of fertilization. The cloned are no less Created even if fertilization has been bypassed. And Richard Seed is mistaken. Humans 124
cannot become one with God through cloning. Whatever the case may be about the ethics of artificial life and cloning, we should be clear about one thing. God does not need his job as Creator protected by human creatures! We saw that both Bilbo and his poem are Tolkien’s creation. Similarly, both humans and their artificial life are God’s Creation. Both are God’s artificial life, so to speak. This is only an analogy, and must not be taken too far. However, what it illustrates is that humans, although God's secondary creators, can never play God as ultimate Creator. While humans have freely created artificial life and clone, God is ultimately ordaining the course that artificial life (and cloning) will take. Knowing and understanding this has profound ethical implications. It means that our secondary creations do not ultimately belong to us, but to God. So, we have a moral responsibility before him as to how we pursue cloning, genetic engineering or artificial life any other sort of secondary creating. While we have the God-given capacity to be secondary creators, we have the moral obligation to emulate his character as we do so. This applies to all our creative activity. Take animal breeding as an example. Bulldogs have been bred for certain characters that lead them to have breathing difficulties. This is cruel. Dog breeding should not be guided purely by what humans find valuable, but should also consider the interests of the dogs. While no amount of biotechnology can ever cause us to encroach on God’s domain, it nevertheless gives us significant powers indeed. The prospect of godless humans with these powers is very scary. Perhaps it is when humans are at their most powerful that they most need to be like God. How does God deal with wayward humans? Far from simply throwing his power at them, his supreme act of correction is to become powerless to the point of death on the Cross. Far from treating his own Creations as simply his own possessions to do with as he likes, Jesus gives up his life for them. How is that for commitment towards his Creation?
Chapter 8: Jesus and the fossil record
Is Jesus an evolutionist? I mean as Creator, as he was in his pre-existence and as he is now, seated at the right hand of the Father. To answer that we need to investigate his fossils. I say his fossils because he made them. Fossils are not something left over some time after creation, but something actively created by Jesus. We saw in chapter three that Jesus has made everything - including poodles, anti-evolutionists and fossils. "Through him all things were made;â€? says the apostle John, â€œwithout him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1: 3). Jesus wrote the fossil record. The record reveals how he created. This chapter is concerned with the historical question â€“ whether evolution has happened. According to the general theory of evolution, all living organisms are related through common descent from one or a few simple forms. According to theory of independent origin at least the major groups of organisms are unrelated to each other. As indicated in chapter five, each theory makes distinct predictions about the fossil record. Evolutionary theory predicts, for instance, that as we go back into the fossil record, forms will look increasingly different from those living today. Also, we would expect to find transitional forms between major groups of animals. Is this so? Before we hear what Jesus has to say through the fossil record, I want to emphasise a few implications from the fact that he made it. First, it behoves humans to be diligent in reading it. To be casual or flippant about it is an insult to the One who wrote it. It also means that the same holy Jesus, the One we see in the gospels, the One who never sinned, is the One behind the record and he will never deceive us. The record will faithfully reflect what he has done. We can approach the record confident that it will reveal the past. Those who pooh-pooh what palaeontologists have done in reconstructing the past as "mere human wisdom," are not doing Jesus the service they think they are. It is inconceivable to those who know Jesus that 126
he would make the record look like it had an evolutionary history if it did not. There was a suggestion by Phillip Gosse in the 19th century that the fossils were put in the rocks to test our faith. Gosse believed in the god of the big tease. Charles Darwin rightly rejected his argument because, "It makes the works of God a mere mockery and deception".266 That Jesus wrote the fossil record also means that we will be discovering something about him. It is not that we will discover his essential character; we already know him from the cross and the gospel. The fossil record will declare, however, his position on evolution. It must be born in mind that the fossil record contains only part of the evidence for evolution. Jesus has made such a grand, intricate, diverse, rich, multifaceted world that it is extremely difficult to do justice to the evidence for evolution in a few words. I cannot go into all the relevant fields such as genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, developmental biology, comparative anatomy, the fossil record, biogeography, and ecology. Evolution also intersects with a great many others such as plate tectonics, geology and cosmology. It takes a great deal of intellectual effort to assess the theory properly. Yet, many people feel up to it. Perhaps this is because most A Doberman-pincher, especially when it people feel very familiar with is chasing me, seems more concrete, butterflies and flowers - the more real than biogeographical evidence. stuff that evolution seems to be However, it is the latter that provides about. However, philosopher such compelling support for evolutionâ€Ś of science Mary B. Williams made an important point when she said that much of the significant evidence for evolution is not humansized. The predictions made by evolution are about patterns in sets of phenomena, rather than individual events. We cannot easily point to this evidence because we do not have enough fingers and we do not live long enough. The data are rich and global in extent and deep in time. Humans are biased towards individual events. A Doberman-pincher, especially when it is chasing me, seems more concrete, more real than biogeographical evidence. However, it is the latter that provides compelling support for evolution and that is so largely ignored in antievolutionary writing. Williams's point applies no less to the fossil record. Evolutionary theory does not hang upon some individual fossil. It is the patterns in the fossil 127
record that are so telling. And it is this that creates a problem when trying to tell the evolutionary story to a non-specialist such as my daughter. Her eyes tend to glaze over when I try to describe the change over many millions of years of the articular-quadrate to dentary-squamosal jaw articulation through the pelycosauromorpha to Tetraceratops to therapsids such as Probainoganthus and Diathrognathus and Thrinaxodon to Morganucodon. If I try to tell the story in sufficient detail to be compelling, I end up talking to myself. If I skimp she remains unconvinced! What is one to do? The freeware programme, Face the Facts, which was introduced in Chapter one, tries to represent the evidence in such a way that it can be readily understood by the layperson. It is not restricted to the evidence about Jesus. It can also handle the evidence for evolution. It can map the evidence from the fossil record to human facial features (see accompanying screenshot). Instead of comparing detailed fossil bone structure, one simply has to look at the size of human facial features. In the particular data set shown, the mapping is from the reptile to mammal transition.267 (Note that the interest here is not in human evolution, but is representing the steps by which one group gives rise to another). The numbers are in chronological sequence from earlier to later. Each face represents a fossil form and each facial feature a characteristic. Face No. 1 represents a primitive reptile (a synapsid) and has, for example, a large mouth (representing quadrate length). We shall see later, the quadrate is a bone in a skull, but it is not necessary to know what the human features represent to appreciate whether there are transitional forms. Face No. 7 represents a primitive mammal (Morganucodon) and has small mouth. If there are transitional forms between reptiles and mammals, there should be faces with mouths of intermediate length and so on for other characteristics. If reptiles and mammals arose independently there would be no transitional forms and at least species 3 to 6 would be missing. (Note that this program is not a simulation, but is mapping actual evidence. Just as a map can tell us whether a region has any lakes, the screenshot is a map that can tell us whether there are any transitional forms).
Reptile to Mammal Transition transformed to human faces
As one can see there are indeed As one can see there are indeed transitional forms between reptiles and transitional forms between mammals, and they appeared in the reptiles and mammals. I am not fossil record between early reptiles and saying this, Jesus is. modern mammals. I am not saying this; ultimately it is the Lord Jesus Christ that is.268 Remember, it is he that has created the fossil record. All I am doing is representing the evidence that he has made. Those who deny the existence of transitional forms269 are not simply disputing with evolutionary biologists; they are taking on Jesus himself! And, evolutionary biologists, whether they realise it or not, are serving Jesus in discovering the evidence he has made. There are significant advantages to this pictorial representation of the evidence. First, a picture is worth a thousand words. A great deal of information can be presented very simply. For the reptile to mammal sequence, five features of 8 species give 40 pieces of data. One can get a good appreciation of the broad state of a significant part of the fossil record from just one diagram. I am letting Jesus do a lot of speaking. This is important because, as we shall see later, it is all too easy, in a purely verbal description of the fossil record, to focus on isolated patches and fail to see the big picture. Second, you do not need to know any biology to know whether there are any transitional forms (similarly, one does not need to know a lot of theology to see that Jesus is the Son of God). A quick look at the ring of faces will answer the question. So, if you choose, you can ignore what the facial features actually represent. However, on the right hand side is a list of morphological features and the facial features into which these are transformed.270
Interpreting the data The programme does not address the question of which precise ancestor gives rise to which precise descendent. Probainognathus is unquestionably transitional between reptiles and mammals. This is true whether or not it is in the direct line leading to mammals. It is very much more difficult to establish exact descent than it is to establish transitional status. This is why paleontologists cannot be certain as to the exact common ancestor of the mammals, but quite certain that it was a mammal-like reptile. Antievolutionists routinely obscure this distinction.271 130
The claim is not that evolution is like a staircase of uniform steps (it's actually more like a bush than a tree). It is for the sake of simplicity that a single "line" is chosen. Furthermore, not all transitional forms are presented. Tetraceratops, for instance, fits in nicely between the Dimetrodon and the Theracophalia, but is not included in the data. The data presented are meant to demonstrate transition, not give a complete account of it. If you wish to pursue this transition further, it has been amply documented.272
Notice that a particular species will not be intermediate in all respects and we do not expect to find a fossil that is exactly halfreptile and half-mammal. The cynodont Cynognathus, had quite a large dentary. In this respect it was rather mammalian. However, it had a reptilian jaw articulation (not shown in the screenshot). All this means is that different characteristics change at differing rates. This is known as mosaic evolution. Evolutionary theory makes no claim that all characteristics evolve at the same rate. It is important to choose appropriate characteristics in comparing major groups. Jaw articulation is appropriate because it reliably distinguishes reptiles from mammals. So is dentary size, temporal fenestra (an opening) size and coronoid (beak-like projection) depth. Number of teeth and incisor/canine height is less appropriate and so has been left out. This is because these characteristics are sensitively correlated with way of life. For the sake of simplicity the programme has a limit of ten characteristics. Adding another characteristic is like adding another witness to a court case. The more characteristics there are the surer we can be that we have reconstructed the correct history. With respect to the reptile-mammal transition, palaeontologists do their reconstruction using hundreds of characteristics and species. The corroboration between characteristics is so extensive that palaeontologists are very confident that they have correctly reconstructed the reptile to mammal history in broad outline. Where uncertainty exists it is generally in the finer details. Also for the sake of simplicity the programme allows a maximum of eight species. In fact, there are hundreds of fossils linking reptiles to mammals. For those who wish to pursue the biology of this transition the following diagrams are well worth studying. Notice that the jaw articulation of reptiles and mammals involve different bones. Anti-evolutionists have 131
protested that a transitional stage between reptiles and mammals is impossible because they could not imagine a functional intermediate jawjoint. Jesus is not lacking in imagination. Probainognathus and Diarthrognathus have a double jaw-joint that neatly bridges the reptiles and mammals. Notice, too, that the dentary increasingly took up more of the lower jaw and the teeth became more differentiated as reptiles evolved towards the mammalian condition.
The Reptile to Mammal Transition
Adapted from Moore.273
Anti-evolutionists deny the existence of transitional forms despite clear evidence to the contrary. How do they manage to do that? It happens partly through ignorance. It happens partly through poor use of resources. It also happens, as others and I have documented,274 through distortion of sources. Very often, they do not get around to actually describing the evidence and allowing readers to make up their own mind. Instead, authorities are merely quoted very often out of context. To listen to Jesus directly it is best to get the training and dig up and study the fossils he created. If one is to rely on authority, it is best to go to the original writings of experts in the field.
Trochosaurus, a primitive mammal-like reptile Note the simple back teeth, smaller brain case and shorter dentary.
Thrinaxodon, a primitive mammal-like reptile Note the complex back teeth, larger brain case and longer dentary.
The most famous fossil of all must be the one purported to be the bridge between reptiles (strictly dinosaurs) and birds. The star is, of course, Archaeopteryx. To see why it has stolen the limelight, take a look at the table below.275 I will let you make up your own mind as to whether Archaeopteryx is transitional between early dinosaurs and birds. Then, we will look at the verdict of others.
Comparison of a dinosaur, Archaeopteryx and a modern bird Dinosaurs such as Compsognathus
Birds such as the Pigeon
Ribs without processes
uncinate Ribs without uncinate processes
Ribs with uncinate processes
No pubic peduncle
No cervical ribs
Partially fused metatarsals
Forward facing pubic bone
Downward facing pubic Backward facing pubic bone bone
Complex rear hinge joints
Simple rear hinge joints Simple rear hinge joints
Outturned femur head
Inturned femur head
Inturned femur head
Key: Underlined: Reptile-like feature Underlined and bold: Intermediate feature Bold: Bird-like feature
Cast of second Archaeopteryx Have you made your verdict? As you skeleton discovered can see, it has some reptilian features, and some bird-like features and some in between. In other words it is transitional. Now, there are some who wish to downplay Archaeopteryx's celebrity status. Given the evidence above you would think this would be quite hard to do. Legal philosopher Phillip Johnson has attempted it and declared that Archaeopteryx is "on the whole bird-like".276 How has he managed to come to this conclusion? He downplays the evidence unfavourable to his position, and emphasises the favourable. In a transparent attempt to minimise the reptilian aspects of Archaeopteryx, he mentions only one of its uniquely reptilian features - teeth. He omitted to mention that it had a tail and an unfused backbone and a pubic peduncle and ribbed cervical ribs and lacked uncinate processes. Apart from Archaeopteryx these are found in reptiles and not birds. Johnson has committed the fallacy of selective use of evidence. It is curious that after dropping such a clanger he would insinuate that palaeontologists have committed the same fallacy with respect to the fossil record as a whole.277 Considering Johnsonâ€™s performance on a simple three-way Reconstruction of Archaeopteryx comparison, why should anyone trust him rather than palaeontologists with the immensely more difficult task of summing up the entire fossil record fairly? Astronomers Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe have called Archaeopteryx a forgery278, but on remarkably poor grounds. Palaeontologist Tom Kemp comments that on these grounds he has never seen "a genuine fossil in all my life" and says that they "exhibit a staggering ignorance about the nature of fossils and the fossilization process".279 Other palaeontologists have established that the fossil is genuine.280 136
Michael Denton's Evolution: A Theory in Crisis also provides some examples of Jesus has spoken through the the fallacy of selective use of fossil record and indicated his 281 position on evolution. evidence. Do not expect to learn from him that Probainognathus existed, let alone that it had a double jaw articulation, or that the dentary bone and temporal fenestra of Procynosuchus were medium sized. Instead, he provides a remarkably sloppy account of the reptile to mammal transition. He obscures the main issue by quoting an expert at length on a single point - the existence of reptilian-like brains in mammal-like reptiles. Well, yes, they had reptilian characteristics â€“ but they also had mammalian characteristics - that is why they are called mammal-like reptiles. Milton, in a book meant to refute Darwinian evolution, does not even give the mammal-like reptiles a mention!282 This is a little like trying to refute Christianity without mentioning the God-man Jesus Christ. The reptile to mammal transition is not an exceptional line of evidence in an otherwise mosaic pattern, but follows the broad sweep of the fossil record. Heilprin as long ago as 1888283 made this point, "Instead of meeting with a promiscuous association of lowest and highest organization, we find a general advance in structural type from beginning to end." There are many other fine examples of transitions between major groups. A particularly good example is the transition from terrestrial reptiles called varanoids through the semi-aquatic aigalosaurs to the aquatic mosasaurs.284 The evolution of the whale used to be poorly documented. In 1994 the biochemist Mike Behe complained " ... if random evolution is true, there must have been a large number of transitional forms between the Mesonychid and the ancient whale. Where are they?".285 His statement was not actually true (Pakicetus, the oldest fossil whale known had already been found). It has also been established that whales did not evolve from Mesonychids as paleontologists originally thought, but are related to hoofed mammals such as cows and hippopotamuses.286 Less than a year later three transitional species were found including the very interesting Ambulocetus natans - it was a whale with four legs! The later Rodhocetus had smaller hind legs but large enough for waddling like a seal. The later Basilosaurus, Protocetus and Indocetus all had hind legs that were too small to walk on. The later and recently discovered Prozeuglodon had tiny 15 cm legs on its 5 m body. Eocetus arose still later and had lost its hind legs entirely.287 Transitional forms between whales and their ancestors therefore abound. 137
The pandericthyids (lobe-finned fishes) are known to be related to early tetrapods.288 A spectacular recent find is a fish called Tiktaalik roseae that had an arm that is transitional between a fin and a limb.289 There have been other remarkable transitional forms discovered recently, including a snake with legs,290 and a link between Archaeopteryx and the Dromaeosauridae called Unenlangia comahuensis.291 Palaeontologist Michael Benton points out that more bird-like forms have been found that are 30 or 40 million years later than Archaeopteryx and that have short bony tails and reduced handclaws.292 I have only touched on a few transitions here. The Talk.Origins Archive on the web has a large list of transitional forms. 293 Evolutionary theory makes many other predictions about the fossil record that are not discussed here. On the evidence of transitional forms alone, evolution looks superior to independent origin. Jesus has spoken through the fossil record and is saying that he is an evolutionist. That is, he used evolution in creating living things. As we shall see in the next chapter when this evidence is taken together with the evidence from living things, the case for Jesus being an evolutionist begins to look incontrovertible. We have seen from the biblical evidence that Jesus is Lord. We are seeing from the scientific evidence that evolution is superior to independent origin. Put the two together and the conclusion is inescapable- Jesus is an evolutionist.
Chapter 9: Jesus and living things
Is it possible to deduce the past using data from organisms in the present? It might seem terribly presumptuous to think that we can know what happened in the past. After all, the argument goes - we were not there. How can we be sure of what happened? How can we test our methods of deducing the past? What if we simulated an historical process? We could allow the simulation to leave some extant evidence. From this evidence we could try to reconstruct the past. â€˜Zoo2Gooâ€™ is a freeware computer programme I have written that does this. It is available on my website. It allows users to see for themselves how to deduce the past. Here is how it works. The computer randomly produces ten sequences of ten letters in one of two alternative ways. The first scenario we could call independent creation (I prefer the term 'independent origin'). Each of the ten sequences or "organismsâ€?, if you like, is produced using a random number generator without reference to the others. The second scenario we could call evolution. A sequence is chosen randomly and the computer slightly modifies the sequence to produce a new generation. This represents evolutionary change. The process is repeated 40 times to produce a final sequence, which as you can imagine, will look rather different to the original sequence. The computer, beginning with the original sequence, repeats the process nine times. The result is ten organisms that have evolved separately from the same common ancestor.294 Each time the programme is run it will randomly choose one of these scenarios. Let us get one thing out of the way from the beginning. It would be a big mistake to try and use the sequence information to deduce creation. Whether the sequences originated independently or through evolution, I still created the programme. Creation of the programme, then, is a truth that 139
Let us get one thing out of the way from the beginning. It would be a big mistake to try and use the sequence information to deduce 'creation.'
does not depend upon the style of origin of the sequences. Whether the sequences originated instantly and independently or through evolution is an empirical question of the same sort as 'does the helium atom have one or two protons.' Nothing deeply theologically significant hangs on the question. This is why I prefer to use the term 'independent origin' to 'independent creation.' The latter term creates the impression that if it were shown to be false then creation would not be true. Similarly, deducing the origin of living things in the scientific sense is an empirical question; we do not approach the subject in order to determine whether Creation is true or not. The truth of Creation is established on quite independent grounds.
An exercise from the programme This is where the fun part begins. Below is an example from the actual output of the programme. You are provided with the ten sequences numbered from 1 to 10 representing species. The object of the exercise is to try to guess whether these originated independently or through evolution from a common ancestor. Your role is to deduce the past using the available evidence.
So, did sequences arise through independent origin or evolution? How confident are you that you are right? 50%? 70%? 100%? The correct answer is independent origin. There is a random mosaic of letters rather than a nested pattern.
Now try your hand at the following sequences.
How did these arise? How confident are you that you are right? The correct answer is through evolution. The evidence is a nested rather than a mosaic pattern. Now try something more challenging. Try to determine the original sequence. Here are some tips. The letter that occurs most often in a particular position is likely to be in the original position. For some positions you will find several letters that seem equally likely to be in that position. Now the rates of change for each line need not be equal. So, some sequences will better represent the original sequence then others. They are, in effect, living fossils. Try to identify which sequence is most likely to be a 'living fossil.' This sequence is more likely to have letters in the original position than other sequences. Try to guess the original sequence before continuing. How confident are you that you have correctly obtained at least 7 out of ten letters? How confident are you that you have correctly obtained 10 out of 10 letters? These questions, and the one posed previously, are asked in order to clarify an important distinction. You will discover that you can be very confident about whether the sequences arose through independent origin or evolution, less confident about correctly obtaining 7/10 letters and quite uncertain about getting 10/10. In other words, it may be quite possible to know the broad features of the past with considerably certainty, while being very uncertain about the details.295 The correct sequence for the original ancestor is: 141
The sequence information not only reveals that evolution has happened, it also reveals my position as the programmer. It declares that I chose to create the different species through evolution. Similarly, the evidence in living things does not only reveal what happened in the past, it also declares how Jesus creates. It reveals his position on evolution.
Deducing the biological past The process outlined above is a very simplified illustration of the kind of thinking that biologists use in reconstructing the past. We have seen in the previous chapter that the fossil record supplies us with a very good sequence of transitional forms between reptiles and mammals. In other places the fossil record is not so helpful. Scientists are forced to reconstruct the original from living forms. To have a look at how this works let us consider some examples. We will need to go into detective mode because animals, like social climbers, often hide their lowly ancestry. However, since God has made the world so coherently, we can approach this investigation with confidence that nature's secrets will be uncovered. We do not need a time machine to look into the past, just some biological detective skills. Charles Darwin was a genius at this sort of work. He suggested that the re-absorbed teeth in whale embryos reflected their ancestry296 as did the webbing of upland geese and the perching feet of the sub-aquatic thrush.297 Another celebrated example, described by Gould, is the semi-opposable "thumb" of the panda that is really a modified wrist bone.298 There are other less well-known examples that are as interesting. It is not strictly necessary to multiply examples but each of these is an interesting case study in its own right. Remember, as we consider these examples, that Jesus created each one of them. They reflect how he created and his position on evolution. â€˘
The loopy loop of the laryngeal
There is a branch of the vagus nerve, called the recurrent loop of the laryngeal that takes an odd route from the brain to the larynx in mammals. For efficiency, road engineers tend to design roads to ensure the shortest 142
possible distance between two towns. In mammals the road travels from Brainville away from Larynxville, does a detour around Ductus Arteriosus River before travelling back towards Larynxville! This detour looks ridiculous as a design, but makes perfect sense through evolution. For details, see Ridley299 and box: The cross, design and the loopy loop of the laryngeal. In fish, the road takes a direct route from Brainville to Gillville. As the neck evolved in higher vertebrates, what was initially a slight detour became increasingly more absurd.
Comparsion of the route of the vagus nerve in fish and mammals
Path of the vagus nerve in mammals
Path of the vagus nerve in fish
The cross, design and the loopy loop of the laryngeal Paley famously argued that just as you would infer a watchmaker from a watch, so you would have to infer a Designer from the structure of living things. Since the time of the philosopher David Hume and the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, the design argument has fallen out of favour. Recently, it has threatened to make a comeback. The idea is that just as a human-designed machine (such as a mousetrap) cannot function with any of its parts missing, so the structures of living things, particularly at the sub-cellular level, cannot function with any of their parts missing. The structures are said to be "irreducibly complex." They cannot have arisen naturally, it is argued, and therefore must have been intelligently designed. There are serious difficulties with this argument. Logically, the trouble is that of misuse of analogy. The analogy of the watch breaks down in key respects. As Hume famously argued,300 if you are going to employ this analogy, why infer just one Designer? Why not many, since many humans are behind the design of a watch? And why not infer that the Designer has eyes, a nose and a mouth? The argument presumes that God is similar to humans. But, as logician Capaldi says, "The more we make God like a human agent the more we run the risk of falling into anthropomorphism".301 Theologically, the trouble with the analogy is that it leaves us with a designer that bears scant resemblance to God who supremely revealed himself in Christ. This is most clearly seen at the cross. As we saw in chapter two, the crucifixion of Christ is the greatest revealer of God's genius, yet the cross was not designed. "So when we look at the cross," says theologian John Stott, "we see the justice, love, wisdom and power of God. It is not easy to decide which is the most luminously revealed, whether the justice of God in judging sin, or the love of God in bearing the judgement in our place, or the wisdom of God in perfectly combining the two... For the cross is equally an act, and therefore a demonstration, of God's justice, love, wisdom, and power".302
It is preposterous that this God would design the loopy loop of the laryngeal. Just as God did not design the cross (as we saw it was stupidly designed by humans) yet pre-ordained it for our redemption, so God did not design the loopy loop of the laryngeal (it was stupidly â€œdesignedâ€? by evolution) yet he pre-ordained it in our creation. This is why design is theologically and scientifically untenable. From the standpoint of faith, the trouble with the argument from design is that it is potentially dangerous. Richard Dawkins mentions the case of a former atheist and minister of religion who came to faith after reading a National Geographic article on the exquisite co-adaptation between an orchid and a wasp-pollinator. To the minister it appeared wonderfully designed. It must have had a designer. That designer is God. If this sounds positive, consider that Dawkins writes, "My clerical correspondent of the previous chapter found faith through a wasp. Charles Darwin lost his with the help of another"303 (See box: The cross, the parasite and sex). The trouble is that there are many organisms that appear exquisitely designed to cause pain, horror and death in others. Scientifically, the trouble with the argument from design is that the structures of living things are just not irreducibly complex. This is clear both at the level of the organ (as evidenced by the loopy loop of the laryngeal) and at the sub-cellular level as Christian Cell Biologist Ken Miller has shown on his excellent website.304 It is curious to find antievolutionists preoccupied with the interior of organisms - particularly at the sub-cellular level in their search for evidence of a designer, when the gross anatomy of organisms has long made intelligent design untenable. With so much going against it, why does the argument from design have so much appeal? Perhaps it is because we want to fashion a designer after ourselves rather than trust in the Creator who condescended to become like us.305
The distribution of living things
The geographical distribution of organisms tends to reflect their evolutionary and geological history. The classic textbook case is the phenomenon known as the Wallace line, but there are many examples.306 146
Alfred Wallace noticed when he travelled from the Bali to Lombok, that though the two places are only 35 kilometres apart, their fauna are very different. How is it possible to explain this? This is where evolutionary theory dovetails so nicely with the earth's geological history. The Oriental and Australian faunas are distinctive because they evolved independently on landmasses that were widely separated. The landmasses later came to lie close together through a process called continental drift, producing the discontinuity known as the Wallace line. 307 Anti-evolutionists are very quiet about the Wallace line; Jesus is not.
Zoogeographic regions of the world
The mystery of the water-scorpion
Water-scorpions are aquatic insects. The hind-wings of this bug are pinkish with red veins. The upper side of the abdomen is red with black bands. Imms exclaimed: "It is hard to understand the meaning of this concealed magnificence. It is certainly not displayed during flight because the creature cannot fly, some of its principal wing-muscles have disappeared!"308 Imms was perplexed because he was thinking functionally not historically. 147
Bring in evolutionary history and the puzzle is solved. The wings and colours make perfect sense if the water-scorpion evolved from a terrestrial ancestor that used flash colouration. This is a protective device that is often seen in grasshoppers. The animal becomes very visible in flight when its wings are outstretched. When it lands it immediately becomes concealed, confusing the would-be predator. The water-scorpion's colouration is a relic from its history.
The cross, the parasite and sex There is a creature that reaches three metres in length, is armed with two circles of 22-32 hooks, produces millions of eggs that can remain viable for weeks and has many other features that make it very successful. The creature is Taenia solium, the pork tapeworm and it causes immense suffering and death in humans.309 For grisly life-style, I would put the wasp parasite Odynerus in the top ten. The mother creates a cement cell, fills it with two dozen or so caterpillars and suspends her egg in mid-air from a thread. Unlike other wasps, she does not paralyse the prey caterpillars. Upon hatching the larva hangs from the thread. It takes a bite from the caterpillar and then shoots up the thread to avoid the thrashing of the victim. When all is quiet the larva will descend again for a second bite. The caterpillar is slowly eaten alive.310 Surely death by myriads of army ants is a mercy by comparison! Parasitism is not a fringe life-style. There are more parasites than freeliving forms and they are very widely distributed in animal and plant groups. This indicates that they are ancient and not a recent consequence of the moral fall of humans. Far from being degenerate organisms, they are extremely well adapted and successful in their lifestyle. How do we reconcile parasitism with a loving God? Charles Darwin in his characteristic sensitivity to the suffering of even the littlest creatures wrote, "I own that I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [parasitic wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice."311
Darwin's question is unanswerable, but no more unanswerable than the cross. Just as God somehow used the ugliness of the cross to ordain his glorious salvation plan, so he has used evolution to make the extraordinary diversity of life. Just as God cannot be held culpable for the torture of his Son and yet is the author of his great salvation plan, so God did not design gruesome lifestyles and yet is the maker of all creatures. God is a genius at turning the grim and adverse into good. As ugly as parasitism seems to humans, it is thanks to it that we have sex! Recently, evidence has been accumulating that sexual reproduction has evolved in response to parasitism. In animals that have both a sexual and asexual phase, parasitic load is greatest in the latter. In artificial life experiments it has been found that sexual forms have the advantage over asexual ones in an environment containing parasites. This is because sex generates variation among offspring, some of which are likely to be resistant to the parasite.312 Sex, in effect, gives parasites a moving target.
The beef tapeworm (Taniarhynchus saginata)
Unnecessary scales in moth mimetics
Some moths mimic bees and wasps. This way they get treated with respect without having to have stings. Bees and wasps have transparent wings while moths have scaly opaque wings. The simplest, most efficient design would be to have the mimetic moths emerge from the chrysalis with scaleless wings. This is not what happens. They emerge with opaque wings like any other moth. But on their maiden voyage these scales fall off! (This is like designing a monoplane by having one wing of a biplane fall off on its first flight). It is a curious design that has no explanation unless mimetic moths evolved from non-mimetic species that had fully opaque wings.313 â€˘
Mocker Swallow-tail (Paplio dardanus)
The male of this species has wing-tails and the chrysalis has special pouches for housing the tails. The female mimics toxic species that do not have any wing-tails and so does not have wing-tails itself. If the chrysalis were directly designed one would expect it to have no pouches, but it has. The logical explanation is that the females evolved from non-mimetic forms in which both sexes had wing-tails.314
Mocker Swallow-tail (Papilio dardanus )male
Mocker Swallow-tail (Papilio dardanus) female
The ancestry of humble sowbug
Vestigial antennae in the sowbug (Oniscus)
You do not have to look far for evidence of evolution. Look under the nearest rock or log and there is a good chance you will find the humble sowbug. They are not bugs at all, but crustaceans. The sowbugâ€™s ancestors lived in the sea and had two pairs of antennae, but the sowbugs in my garden appear to have only one. What has happened to the other? Under the microscope the mystery is revealed. The first pair has been reduced to vestigial bumps - relics of its evolutionary history.316
(Adapted from Bullough)315 151
Wasted sperm storage organs in bedbugs
The bedbug (Cimex lectularius)317
The females of bedbugs and some nematode worms have complex sperm storage organs that are never used! The males circumvent these organs and penetrate the female's body wall directly.318 Under the hypothesis of direct design this is extremely odd. Evolution provides a ready explanation. The males have found some advantage in the new method, perhaps through avoiding sperm competition. The females retain the now superfluous sperm storage organs as a remnant inherited from their ancestors. •
The missing vitamin-C manufacturing capacity of humans
Almost all vertebrates are able to manufacture vitamin C. Why is it that primates and humans do not have this capability, unless as Futuyma remarks, "we stem from ancestors who got enough vitamin C in their diet of fruit?"319 •
Hollow bones in the flightless dodo and penguin
Hollow bones make sense as an adaptation for flight, but why do flightless birds such as the dodo, rail and penguin have them?320 Why would God create the misleading impression that these birds evolved from ones that could fly if this did not, in fact, happen? •
The case of the upwardly mobile marsupials
On the surface marsupials look like any other mammal. However, some are born with a double jaw joint. The joint shifts to the typical mammalian condition before they begin chewing.321 Why would these mammals have this feature unless it had been inherited from an ancestor? Biologists predicted from such evidence that transitional forms between reptiles and mammals, the mammal-like reptiles, would have this double jaw joint. Their prediction can be considered as a reconstructed sequence based on 152
comparing existing organisms. Only later did palaeontologists discover Diarthrognathus in the fossil record. As the name suggests, it did indeed have this double jaw articulation. This spectacular find illustrates the wellfounded confidence of biologists in their methods. It was as if they discovered the original sequence and found that it was almost identical to their reconstruction. Scientists are very, very confident that mammals evolved from a mammal-like reptiles such as a diathrognathus-like or probainognathus-like form even if they can never resolve the exact ancestry; in this instance, they are very, very confident that they are largely correct about the past even though they may never be perfectly correct. â€˘
The case of the paradoxical platypus.
When scientists first saw a stuffed specimen of the platypus, they thought it was a hoax because of its odd mix of characters. It has fur and suckles its young like other mammals, but also has a bill (but a very different structure to a birdâ€™s beak) and only one uro-genital opening. They were in for greater surprises. They discovered that it did the very reptilian thing of laying eggs. Its internal anatomy also declares its lowly ancestry. The shoulder girdle is remarkably reptilian, especially in having particular bones called an interclavicle and a prominent coracoid. Apart from monotremes (primitive mammals such as the platypus), these features are found in no living mammals. Shoulder girdle in a mammal-like reptile, platypus and mammal Mammal-like reptile
Adapted from Romer and Parsons (1986) 322 153
Ancestors of mammals had their ears to the ground.
Comparative anatomists were initially mystified by the origin of the hammer and stirrup bones of the middle ear. Mammalian embryos reveal the story.323 The hammer forms from the backmost piece of a cartilage structure that, in reptiles, remains part of the lower jaw. In the mammals it has lost its function in jaw articulation, became reduced and was then coopted to serve a new function that of amplifying sound in the ear. •
The peculiar Peripatus
Peripatus or the velvet worm has been called the “missing link” between the Annelida (segmented worms) and the Arthropods (insects, crustaceans, etc) and a “living fossil.”324 While these terms have captured the public imagination, they have limited biological usefulness because of their lack of precision. Nevertheless, Peripatus is very interesting to zoologists. Because it has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of millions years, it is a window into the past. Its blend of annelid and arthropod characters helps in reconstructing the common ancestor between these groups. Its annelid characters include layers of circular and longitudinal muscles in the body wall, a flexible outer membrane and a simple head. Its arthropod characters include a blood cavity, dorsal blood vessel with slits and respiration through tracheae.325 The velvet worm (Peripatus)
The genealogy of the ants
Until the second half of the twentieth century, ant palaeontology was virtually non-existent. Comparative anatomists had predicted that ants evolved from wasps and were expecting primitive wasp-like ants in the fossil record. Unfortunately, the fossil record was not very obliging. Then in 1967 scientists discovered the first ant of Cretaceous age. "Sphecomyrma freyi proved to be the nearly perfect link between some of the modern ants and the nonsocial aculaeate wasps".326 It had wasp-like, ant-like and intermediate traits. â€˘
The strange case of the Alaskan King Crab
King crabs are curious because they have asymmetrical abdomens. Biologists suspected that there is a close genealogical tie between these crabs and hermit crabs, which have coiled abdomens as an adaptation for living in shells. Both have reduced legs (one pair in king crabs and two pairs in hermit crabs) and share similar-looking larvae. Genetic data suggest that King crabs belong within the hermit crab genus Pagurus.327 Several lines of evidence thus strongly suggest that the Alaskan King Crab has a hermit-crab origin and this is why biologists are confident in their reconstruction of its past even though the fossil evidence in this particular case is rather meagre. These examples have largely focused on gross morphology, but the same story can be told at the level of the gene. â€˘
Earlier, I mentioned the case of the missing vitamin-C manufacturing capacity in humans as an argument for their evolution from fruit-eating ancestors. The conclusion becomes even more compelling at the molecular level. The reason for the deficiency in humans (and other primates) is that they carry defective copies of the gene that codes for an enzyme that is involved in producing vitamin C.328 These defective genes, called pseudogenes, could also be called vestigial genes. The evolutionary explanation is that the ancestors of humans had functional copies of the gene. Mutations rendered the genes defective, but these individuals were not selected against because their diets contained sufficient vitamin C. An alternative explanation is that God directly created non-functional genes in 155
humans and other primates to create the impression that the one was descended from the other. The former explanation seems preferable. â€˘
Foreplay in the mandarin duck
Relics from the past can also be found at the level of behaviour. In its courtship display the mandarin duck touches a specialised, very large and bright feather on its rump. Where did this behaviour come from? Scientists can reconstruct what happened by looking at other duck species. In the shelduck, representing the ancestral condition, vigorous preening takes place as a prelude to mating. In the mallard the "preening" is reduced to a quick brushing of the wing feathers. In the garganey duck the male merely touches the front side of the wing, which is strikingly coloured. In the mandarin this behaviour has become highly specialised and ritualised so that it is no longer recognisable as preening.329 â€˘
Senescence in multi-celled organisms
Senescence or old age is not inevitable in the biological world. Bacteria do not die from old age. They die through being eaten, through disease or trauma. However, senescence is very common among living things. From this we can conclude that it is very ancient. It seems to have originated with the emergence of multi-cellularity. Senescence and death are about as natural as sexual reproduction. Some organisms have even taken advantage of the circumstances of death to foster their dispersal. Stinkhorn fungi produce an olive brown spore mass that looks and smells like rotting flesh. Flies are attracted and foster the dispersal of the spores. Death must have been in existence before these fungi first appeared.
Fruiting body of a stinkhorn fungus
Misconceptions of evolution Many objections against evolution are based on a misunderstanding of some or other aspect of evolutionary theory or science. Here are some common ones and the misconceptions behind them. Evolution cannot be proven. Nothing outside the realm of logic and mathematics can be proven. One cannot prove that Jesus died for the sins of humanity. The question, instead, is what is the best position to take given the available evidence. Evolution cannot be falsified. Actually, it can. Because evolution can explain a lot does not mean it could explain any conceivable data. If ape fossils were found in Jurassic rocks, evolution would be falsified. Evolution is only a theory. Theories are not conjectures, but wellsubstantiated explanations. Evolution is a very good theory. Evolution is not a fact. It is not a fact in the same sense as â€œmy pet crow is black.â€? It is far too important to be a fact in this sense! It is a fact in that it is the best explanation for a huge body of data. Natural selection is a tautology - it says that the fittest are those that survive and those that survive are the fittest. But, fitness or lack of it can be defined independently of survival. For instance, animals that do not avoid predators are unfit. The consequence is extinction - as in the case of the dodo. Many scientists doubt the theory of evolution. Astronomers and engineers do not count. The overwhelming consensus among palaeontologists and neontologists330 is that evolutionary theory is very well established. If evolution is true, why have some species remained unchanged for supposedly millions of years? There is nothing in evolutionary theory that requires species to evolve. Earthworms have not evolved legs because they do not need them.
The evidence presented in the last few chapters suggests that Jesus is an evolutionist. Far from being a presumptuous or arrogant position, this conclusion follows from listening to his evidence. I have only scratched the surface of the evidence and the methods that palaeontologists and comparative morphologists use in reconstructing the past to begin to show why their reconstructions, at least in broad outline, are very reliable and their confidence quite reasonable. To really hear from Jesus concerning his position on evolution pick up any good textbook such as Neil Campbell's Biology331, Mark Ridley's Evolution332, Douglas Futuyma's Evolutionary Biology333, Richard Cowen's History of Life334 a good popularisation such as Douglas Futuyma's Science on trial: The case for evolution335 and, if you can stomach the poor theology, Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker336.
Chapter 10: Jesus, the compassionate persuader
Much of science is counter-intuitive. The idea that continents moved around the earth seemed ridiculous at first, as did the idea that a complex human being could develop from simple organisms. Jesus has persuaded the scientific community of these things through creating, as we have seen, a coherent world. Now science does not have the monopoly on the counterintuitive. How about a carpenter from a little town being God incarnate and that through his death the world obtains forgiveness of sin? Yet, much of the world is persuaded that this is true and has put their hope in Jesus. How did he do it? Perhaps the scientific community can find some inspiration from Jesus in conveying counter-intuitive truth to the public.
Jesus ranks truth according to eternal significance As we have seen, Jesus was not an evolutionist. He gave up his evolutionary knowledge in order to romance us into his kingdom. In so doing, he declared the primacy of knowing him. He came seeking a relationship with us. “Here I am!” he says, “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Had Jesus blurted out a whole lot of evolutionary facts, would these not have clouded the greatest fact – that he is Saviour and Lord? The Omniscient One is calling the ignorant into a relationship with him by making our ignorance a non-issue! He came, died and rose again so that we can know God. His first priority was to meet ultimate needs. It is just because ultimate needs are the most important that Part I of this book puts so much emphasis on knowing God before getting into theological and scientific details about creation and evolution. In the USA … over 10000 clergy have signed a petition that distinguishes between the Bible’s message of salvation, which it affirms and the science of evolution, which it also affirms.
It is important for the reception of eternally insignificant truth among ordinary people that we rank it as such. Any science that appears to shortchange people in matters of eternity unlikely to find a receptive audience those who want to know God. For this reason it is very important that evolutionary biologists are modest about the claims their field can make. I am not suggesting we cannot know something about God through science or evolution. Indeed, I have argued in the last chapters that the scientific evidence shows that God is an evolutionist. However, there is a great difference between knowing God and knowing about God or his works. The church has been sending this message to the world. In the USA, which is regarded as the centre of antievolutionism, over 10000 clergy have signed a petition that distinguishes between the Bible’s message of salvation, which it affirms and the science of evolution, which it also affirms.337 Whereas some make knowing things all-important, God makes knowing himself all-important. Theologian Emil Brunner said, "Whether We obey Him or not is a question not of science but of life, and one in comparison with which all questions of science become insignificant."338 Brunner's main focus was biblical criticism and he was not interested in disputing its results. How much more does his point apply to evolutionary science. It is entirely possible to know that Jesus is an evolutionist or to “know,” that he is an anti-evolutionist but, tragically, to not know Jesus. Much debate around science and the Bible operates along only one axis – truth. However there is another axis – significance. I can represent it this way:
The claim that dogs are vertebrates is quite true and has biological significance. However, the claim that Jesus is Saviour and Lord is true and eternally significant. They are just not at the same level of significance. This is not to say that biology in general or evolution in particular is unimportant. Evolutionary biology has many important practical applications in everyday life including such fields as conservation, public health and agriculture.339 And, as we have seen, listening to the evolutionary evidence is listening to Jesus. It is important to listen to him! It is necessary to stress this because, unfortunately, there is a disdain for intellectual pursuits in certain Christian circles. However, knowing the Person of Jesus is highly significant for our eternal life. The claim that dogs are invertebrates is false, but not on the same level of significance as the claim that Jesus is not Saviour and Lord. Cambridge paleobiologist Simon Conway Morris, in an essay highlighting the value of evolutionary research in understanding Creation, goes on to say, â€œScience when it treats creation as a true Creation, and thereby faces up to its responsibilities, may well be important. ... It seems, however, that it is the knowledge and experience of the Incarnation, the wisdom and warnings given by Jesus in the Gospels, and not least the Resurrection that in the final analysis are all that matters.â€?340 It is necessary to keep these points in mind forever because there is always the danger that we make our own discovery of some truth or falsehood all-important. Christian historian Reijer Hooykaas had to take Christian palaeontologist Teilhard de Chardin to task for just this. He says, "Teilhard becomes so excited about evolution that he even forgets that, according to his Christian belief, the greatest event in history is the coming of Jesus Christ, and not the discovery of evolution".341 A while ago, I attended a talk by an antievolutionist. After he ended a rather lengthy talk, I felt compelled to take issue with him on some points. After a heated exchange, and in an attempt to bring in a conciliatory tone I said, "We can argue at length, but let me emphasise what we have in common: One Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." His reply, "That isn't saying much." It was a revealing comment. Evidently he thought it much more significant that we differed over evolution than that we agreed over Christ.342 One Christian astronomer even regards it as his apologetic duty to dispute the classification of birds! 343 It hinders the mission of the church when Christians get so agitated over evolution that 161
they dispute eternally insignificant truths as if the Christian faith depended upon them being false.344 The unfortunate result is the dilution of the significance of the Person of Jesus Christ in a sea of information and misinformation. Consider the following experience I had with a pair of street evangelists. I’m not sure what came over me. I was in an experimental and mischievous mood. As they presented their tract, I mentioned that I was an evolutionist to see what would happen. They were quite taken aback and blurted out: "What about all those missing links?" "Oh," I replied, "You mean such as the Pelycosauromorpha, Tetraceratops, Thrinaxodon, Cynognathus, Probainognathus, Diarthrognathus and Morganucodon? They're not missing. They're found." People could quite easily go away What followed was a lengthy, but unconvincing attempt to justify their position on the fossil record. They made several statements by their reaction.
reinforced in the belief that the most important thing is how much they know. They might fluff up their feathers in their superior knowledge and end up further away from God than when they started.
First, they fell for my bait and implied that the primary issue is how much one knows. They tacitly pronounced the priority of the evolution question that it must be discussed before one can preach Christ. I worry about the effect of this approach to evangelism. People could quite easily go away reinforced in the belief that the most important thing is how much they know. They might fluff up their feathers in their superior knowledge and end up further away from God than when they started. Instead they should have followed the example of the Compassionate Persuader and made him and the cross the subject and defence in their witness. Scientist-theologian George Murphy has argued strongly for this on the basis that, “God is revealed most clearly in the cross of Christ.”345 Second, whereas the Son of God himself was not under the illusion that he must know everything, these evangelists have swallowed a demandingly expanded job description. This is not surprising since many that train 162
evangelists send this signal. Theologian and apologist Michael Green, gives this scientifically erroneous advice to the would-be evangelist. He suggests asking the atheist, "If there was no Creator, how did it [the universe] originate? ... Press him hard in this area. He will wriggle and probably tell you that evolution supplies the answer. That is very unconvincing, not primarily because it is a theory that is unproven, full of missing links, and by no means universally accepted in the scientific community; but because you have to have a starting point for this evolutionary process".346 With comments like these from leaders, it is small wonder that some Christians at the coalface of ministry have a misplaced confidence in attacking the science of evolutionary biology. Green's assessment of the scientific community's position contrasts with that of evolutionary biologists. Ernst Mayr, for instance, wrote a few years earlier, "One hundred and twenty-five years of unsuccessful refutations have resulted in an immense strengthening of Darwinism. Whatever attacks on Darwinism are made in our age are made by outsiders, jurists, journalists and so on ... The claims of certain outsiders that Darwinism is in the process of being refuted are entirely based on ignorance. To repeat, the basic Darwinian principles are more firmly established than ever".347 I have a book on my shelf that is intended as a guidebook for Christian ministry on the university campus. In it the author, a professor, presents his personal testimony with the breathtaking announcement that he has discovered that modern science has confirmed the biblical account of origins. Considering that his PhD and professional experience do not come close to touching cosmology, geology, palaeontology, or biblical theology (his PhD was in management science) and that modern science is vast, the authority of his testimony is somewhat suspect. He placed his testimony in his book as an example; it will doubtless encourage some evangelists to practice similar misuse of authority.348 Third, the evangelistsâ€™ reaction told me that they did not know very much. If I were spiritually uninformed, I might reason that if they responded so poorly in scientific matters that I know about, why should I trust them in spiritual matters that I did not know about. It is all the more vital for the church in this age of communications technology to hold the Person and work of Christ above mere information. It is morally inexcusable and poor strategy to tie the gospel to bad science today. In the past an evangelist could claim the absence of transitional forms without being found out. 163
Today, a teenager can do a quick check on the Internet. I googled “transitional forms” and “evolution” and received 146000 hits in a quarter of a second. The Internet has made knowledge, and in particular for our discussion, evolutionary knowledge extremely accessible to ordinary people all over the world. For instance, all of Chile’s high schools have web access. Peruvian villages and even the Arctic have web access.349 Fourth, their reaction did not reveal much great faith in Christ. Here they were, non-paleontologists, apparently more confident in their paleontological knowledge than they were in Christ. How much better would it have been if they had said, “The fossil record is not our field, but may we talk to you about someone we know who has changed our lives.”
Jesus loved people with truth If evolutionists have difficulty trying to persuade the anti-evolutionists, consider the difficulty Jesus had in persuading his fiercely monotheistic disciples that he is God incarnate! How did he do it? He did not just baldly make outrageous claims about himself. Instead, he took into account the condition of his audience, prepared them for the truth and loved them with it. For instance, he compassionately feeds the hungry five thousand before making the provocative claim, “I am the bread of life.” He heals a blind person to help skeptics receive the truth, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). He raises his friend Lazarus from the dead before saying, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). He has compassion for the paralytic and he wants to convey the truth that he has authority to forgive sin. So, he says “Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, `Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, `Get up, take your mat and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . ." He then says to the man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home" (Mark 2: 9-11). Jesus does not only prepare people for good news, but for bad news as well. He tells his disciples the harsh reality that they will be persecuted (John 15:20), put out of the synagogue and even killed (John 16:2, John 21:18-19). Jesus differentiated between people (Luke 18:9-14). He is gentle with the lowly and those who know they are sinners (Luke 7:36-50, John 4:7-18, John 8:3-11), but severe with leaders (John 3:10) and the selfrighteous (Matthew 23:13-26). Even after giving his disciples three years of 164
training he is careful not to put too much on them saying, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (John 16:12). Earlier I related how I rattled off the names of half a I was bullying dozen or so transitional forms to a pair of them with truth evangelists. I told them evolutionary truth, but not rather than loving in a manner that helped them receive it. I was them with it. bullying them with truth rather than loving them with it. I was also committing at least two fallacies called blinding with science and appeal to force (see box: Leonhard’s lance or mathematical appeals to force). I confused being brash with standing up for truth. Far from serving the cause of truth, this could well have put them off it. I needed to contemplate the example of the Compassionate Persuader.
Leonhard’s lance or mathematical appeals to force
"(a+b^n)/n=X, therefore God exists." A story is told of the great 18th century mathematician Leonhard Euler using this argument on the eminent French philosopher and atheist, Denis Diderot.350 How does his argument square with the example of Jesus as compassionate persuader? Euler was called "Analysis Incarnate" by his contemporaries for his exceptional mathematical ability. Diderot was renowned for skillfully demolishing philosophical arguments for the existence of God, but when confronted by this mathematical equation, which was very much outside of his turf, he was left speechless. Those in attendance laughed. Euler had quite often blundered when straying into philosophical turf, so some have suggested that he was attempting to get his own back. His "argument", if serious, was doubly fallacious (I'm inclined to think it was a cruel joke). As he knew full well, it was a mere and spurious assertion. Furthermore, using it on a non-mathematician was a form of intellectual bullying since his audience was not able to evaluate the equation. Euler's tactic could, therefore, be classified as a species of appeal to force or argumentum ad baculum. In effect, he was saying "I'm right because, mathematically, I'm cleverer than you."
There are several good reasons why Christians should avoid the mathematical appeal to force. First, it is a fallacy! Second, it is not acting in line with the truth of the gospel. In God's greatest act of selfrevelation we do not see him declaring his omniscience and omnipotence. Instead we see a humble carpenter dying. God is the great minimalist. He does not coerce his creatures into submission through intellectual bullying. He woos through sacrificial love. Jesus is the compassionate persuader. Third, it is a misuse of a wonderful and powerful gift from God. As mathematician Michael Guillen points out, "mathematics is not a science - it is not capable of proving or disproving the existence of real things."351
How can one help people get to grips with evolution? I do not think it helps to call anti-evolutionists ignorant (although, as Richard Dawkins points out, ignorance is no crime352), stupid, insane or wicked. “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city” (Proverbs 18:19). Dawkins adds that there is another category – tormented. Consider a 19year-old woman. She has been sexually abused by her stepfather for many years and has borne a son from the union. The only thing keeping her from suicide is her love for her son and the knowledge that she is not alone in her suffering. Jesus suffered and he suffered because of his love for her. She is not entirely ignorant about evolution – she works as a cleaner near the local museum. She has seen the displays about the peppered moth and Archaeopteryx. There are moments when she is half-persuaded by the evidence, but she clutches desperately at a few anti-evolutionary arguments because she believes that evolution is incompatible with Jesus. She feels the need to resist the evidence because she does not want her faith, and her life, to collapse around her. Is she ignorant, stupid or insane? Perhaps a little of each. But this hardly sums her up. She does not need to be told about ignorance, stupidity, madness or wickedness. She is acutely aware of her inadequate schooling. She feels stupid, or at least ignorant, around her employers. She feels half-mad from blocking out the horror in her world and she feels wicked when she thinks about her stepfather. How do we persuade her? She does not need derision at her fundamentalism. She does not need a Christless evolutionism. She does not need a whole batch of anti-evolutionary arguments – they are a dangerous stopgap. She does not even need a whole lot of scientific arguments for evolution. As a single mother in a full-time job and trying to finish her 166
schooling, she has more than enough on her plate. What she needs is to see that the very cross that sustains her in her suffering, more than adequately covers evolution. It seems odd to me that evolution is so often taught as if people are not religious beings and who have no have religious issues with it. Some seem to think that if you ride roughshod over people’s religious beliefs and simply present the evidence for evolution you will make evolutionary believers out of them. One course instructor with obvious anti-religious sentiment expressed great surprise that a before-and-after questionnaire revealed that his instruction made no impact. “To my utter dismay, there are no statistically significant changes in any of the answers to any of the questions.”353 As I commented, “Sociologists of knowledge would probably be amused at this underestimate of the hold of religious commitment and the role of extra-scientific factors in influencing beliefs.”354 He might have served the cause of evolutionary truth better by not tying evolution to his anti-religious sentiments. Evolutionary educator Eugenie Scott, of the National Center for Science Education that defends the teaching of evolution in public schools in the U.S.A. has some pertinent advice. She says, “Helping students understand that evolution, like all scientific explanations, deals only with proximate, never ultimate cause, allows them to accommodate their religious views to evolution, if they so choose. Much resistance to evolution is overcome by allowing the religious student to retain his or her faith in God the creator, while still accepting the scientific evidence for descent with modification.”355 It may come as a surprise to some who think that creation and evolution are mutually exclusive, but Theodosius Dobzhansky, one of the architects of the modern theory of evolution said, “I am a creationist and an evolutionist.”356 Consider this comment from the curator of paleontology at New York’s American Museum of Natural History in a recent Time magazine. He wrote “many who reject evolution in favour of divine creation claim that the fossil record doesn’t contain the so-called transitional species anticipated by Darwin’s theory.”357 Then, in almost gleeful tones, he introduces the reader to Tiktaalik, the walking fish that is transitional between fish and amphibians. He is either unaware or ignores that Time magazine has a general readership and much of America believes in a Creator. Perhaps he was writing for certain of his colleagues. This is hardly the way to persuade 167
anti-evolutionists to accept evolution. I wonder how much anti-science is a reaction to those scientists who try to make science into the whole story. He has fallen into the same trap as the anti-evolutionists who, as Eugenie Scott says, “make a special point of proclaiming that one is either an evolutionist or a creationist, falsely dichotomizing the issue.” The church can help here. Just as Jesus helped the disciples face the harsh reality of persecution, so the church can, as part of its mission, help those who find evolution hard. It needs to send the message that just as God knew what he was doing through the cross and through the persecution of the disciples, so he knows what he is doing through evolution even with all the suffering and death that is involved. Churches can do this, not by hosting yet another “Creation versus evolution” debate, but by instruction in “the cross and evolution.” In a world of evolutionary realities, it is compassionate to prepare people for these realities.
Jesus is his own best evidence Jesus convinced his fiercely monotheistic disciples that he was God incarnate and he did it entirely without the support or the trammels of science. God did not seem to think it necessary that humans be scientifically informed before sending his Son. Jesus is supremely confident that he is sufficient ground for faith. This can be seen in how Jesus deals with those whose faith is faltering in Luke 24. He encounters two disciples, travelling on the road to Emmaus, who were very downcast over the death of Jesus. Preliminary reports about his resurrection were not enough to lift their spirits. Jesus seems to think that the Scriptures are sufficient for dealing with this doubt. He chastises them for their foolishness and for failing to believe the prophets and teaches them from the Old Testament Scriptures concerning himself (v 25-27). Jesus directs the conversation to himself as the object and basis of their faith through the scriptures and this lifts their spirits. All this happened before Jesus revealed himself as the Resurrected Christ. The message seems to be that even the Old Testament provides sufficient basis for faith in Christ. When you add the New Testament record of his life, death and resurrection we have more than enough. The Christian's overriding attitude should be gratitude for the ample evidence that God has provided, not desperation in seeking more outside of Scripture. 168
Even a casual reading of the gospels will reveal the emphasis that Jesus placed on himself as the basis for faith. When a man "looks at me, he sees the one who sent me" (John 12:45). He repeats the point in John 14:9. Paul Little, commenting on Christ's witness to the Samaritan woman in John 4 says: "... our Lord refused to go off on a tangent; He left no doubt about the main issue: Himself."358 Ernst Fuchs says: "When a parable speaks about the kingdom of God, Jesus is hidden behind the kingdom as its secret message."359 The Gospel writers were quietly confident in merely presenting Christ. As Channing writes: "They [the Evangelists] have plainly but one aim, to show us their Master; and they manifest the deep veneration which He inspired by leaving Him to reveal Himself, by giving His actions and sayings without comment, explanation or eulogy".360 The Epistles have the same emphasis. Thus, the apostle Paul: "When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul was not arguing against the use of (human) wisdom; the context shows that he was arguing against it as a basis for faith (see 1 Corinthians 2:5). What Paul says about wisdom also applies to science. Science is an important human endeavour, but it is not the true basis for faith. If we follow Paul's example in our witness we will never encourage people to rest their faith on scientific arguments. One reason Paul gave for his approach was that their "faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:5). Paul warns the Christian worker: "But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3: 10-11). With Christ as the perfectly adequate foundation, scientific or pseudo-scientific supports are rendered completely unnecessary. Now, some discussion is needed, because many Christians argue that this foundation for faith was only adequate then. Now it is different. Since we live in an age of science and scepticism, we have to argue from science for the truth of our faith. Chittick goes so far as to make knowledge of science a requirement for evangelism. He says: "In order to effectively reach people with the gospel, it is essential to have some knowledge of the Bible and science and associated issues."361 Hydraulics engineer Henry Morris argues that 169
evangelism that begins with Christ and the Scriptures is only appropriate for those schooled in the Scriptures.362 A pagan audience requires a different approach. One should seek common ground by pointing to "evidence of the Creator in His creation" as Paul did in Acts 14 and 17 to the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Is there any substance to this argument for so-called creation-evangelism? Actually, there is a great difference between Morris' creation-evangelism and the approach of Paul in the above passages. Morris did not read the passage carefully and ignores historical context. Paul does mention God creating the world (v 24) but he began by "preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection" (v 18) to the Epicureans. Evidently, Paul thought he could begin with Jesus. Morris claims that the Epicureans and Stoics were much like evolutionary humanists of today.363 Actually, the Greek philosopher of Paul's day is far removed from the evolutionary humanist of today. The Greek philosopher was scientifically ignorant, accepted creation (otherwise why would Paul use creation as common ground?) and had little conception of Christ. The evolutionary humanist is scientifically informed, rejects creation and, if anything, has a misconception of Christ. Morris, of course, is trying to defend his Paul's argument does not particular, anti-evolutionary approach to depend upon looking at the evangelism. He has gone so far as to say world as a scientist, but as an that the gospel "precludes evolution"364 ordinary observer, and does and "Any philosophy that rejects special not depend on there being no creation also must reject the atoning natural explanation for the death and bodily resurrection of the evidence. Creator."365 The difference between Paul and Morris in their approach to evangelism is vast. Paul's argument does not depend upon looking at the world as a scientist, but as an ordinary observer, and does not depend on there being no natural explanation for the evidence. In Acts 17:28 he quotes Epimenides "for in him [God] we live and move and have our being." His audience no doubt knew that they had a role to play in their movement [the natural explanation]. Paul does not deny this while affirming the ultimate explanation of creation.
We see the same approach in Acts 14:17. "Yet he [God] has not left himself without testimony. He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy." The food on their plates did not appear out of nowhere. Natural processes were indisputably involved. Paul was able to affirm that God was ultimately responsible without having to deny, in the name of God, that natural processes were involved. Paul knew what his audience knew and took it seriously. To really follow Paul, one should not set up the gospel in opposition to what is patently obvious to evolutionary scientists - that natural explanations can account for God's creation. Setting up an opposition inclines evolutionists away from the gospel and that is very serious indeed. Zoology Professor George Branch says, "more people are turned away from Christianity by dogmatic religious opposition to evolution than by acceptance of the theory of evolution.366 Perhaps the pagans of Paulâ€™s day were very different to hardened, sceptical scientists of today. Since the latter reject the Bible, it has been argued one has to begin on their turf. Geologist John Suppe might beg to differ. His conversion did not occur after someone presented him with geological evidence that he had not considered before. Instead, the turning point came when a university chaplain challenged him with "...you professors know more about your fields than anyone, except for maybe ten other people. You people know your business very well but you have a kindergarten knowledge of Christianity."367 "Eventually," says Suppe, "I realised I had to face up to who Jesus was."368 The testimony of biochemist and molecular biologist Paul Anderson is also telling in this regard. He graduated as a theist, but "the person of Jesus", he says, "made no sense to him."369 The turning point in his conversion? No mention is made of anyone pointing out new biochemical evidence he had not seen before. We are told of a man pointing him "toward an understanding of God through Jesus Christ."370 The zoologist, Russell L. Mixter, once said, "When he follows the creed of his profession, a scientist believes what he does because of the evidence he can find. I became a Christian because I found in myself a need which could be satisfied only by Jesus Christ. I needed forgiveness and He gave it.
I needed companionship and He was a friend. I needed encouragement and He provided it."371 Others have testified similarly.372 The common denominator in all these testimonies is the sufficiency of the message of Christ in bringing people to faith. All along, the Bible has declared what these people have discovered, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Richard Dawkins has said in an interview, â€œBut what, I think, Darwinism has done is utterly to destroy the argument from design which, I believe, is probably, historically, the dominant reason for believing in a supernatural being.â€?373 I think Dawkins is right about what Darwinism has done to the argument for design. But the Christian should have no business with the argument for design. Jesus should be enough.
Jesus embodied truth naturally God and evolution have a similarity. Both are true Is Jesus a and neither are human-sized truths. God is not technological human-sized because, as we saw in Chapter one, he evolutionist? is inscrutable. He is eternal whereas we are locked in time. He is omnipresent whereas we are localised. God is Big Truth. Trying to fathom him is like characters in a play trying to understand Shakespeare. Humans are adapted to respond to small truth the savage Dobermanâ€“pincher or the crying baby. Since evolution occurs in time and space it is accessible to humans, but still not human-sized because, as we saw in Chapter eight and nine, the process is global in extent and deep in time. Evolution is a big truth. Jesus solved the problem of the inaccessibility of Big Truth by embodying Truth in himself. By coming as a natural agent, as an individual human being, Jesus made God concrete.374 God usually acts through natural means. He uses natural375 rather than supernatural means to create living things (for example by natural selection), to accomplish our redemption (crucifixion by wicked men), and to spread the gospel (the church). It is all of a piece. New Testament theologian Gerd Thiessen insightfully suggested that there is continuity between biological and cultural evolution and that Jesus is the initiator of a new phase of evolution.376 (There are significant differences between the two kinds of evolution. Cultural evolution is much
faster and there is inheritance of acquired knowledge, not genetic characters). If Thiessen is right, the point to note is that Jesus is not only a biological evolutionist, but also a cultural evolutionist and cultural evolution includes technology. Jesus is a technological evolutionist. This does not automatically legitimise technology, of course. (Technology is behind global warming and nuclear bombs). What it means is that technology should not be automatically disregarded for kingdom purposes as "unnatural." While the Internet is artificial to us, from God's perspective, it is as natural as flowering plants. He used non-supernatural instruments to realise both. The use of technology in presenting truth and advancing his kingdom is not opposite to God’s usual way of working, but one of the ways he works. And perhaps we can learn something from Jesus in how to convey big truth. Perhaps we can follow the example of Jesus and make biological evolution more accessible to people? Is there a way to embody evolution so that it becomes layperson-sized or at least human-sized? There is - through the powerful computing technologies available today. Computers make it easy to visually represent large, complex data sets. I used a freeware development tool called Game Maker (available at www.gamemaker.nl) that was created by Mark Overmars (a Professor of Computer Science from the Netherlands) to write the programme Face the Facts that was described in chapter eight. The programme can be seen as “incarnating” some of the fossil evidence for evolution. As explained, the patterns in the fossil record are too complex to be taken in through a single experience - especially for the non-specialist. Many characters have to be traced for many unfamiliar fossils. The programme tackles this problem by using the familiarity of human facial features to represent the fossil evidence. Artificial life programmes can also be seen as “incarnating” evolution – bringing it down to our time scale (see http://zooland.alife.org/ for the most complete repository). In the commercially available Simlife, for example, evolution can be seen in a matter of minutes. Except for simple organisms such as bacteria, to see visible change in biological evolution requires hundreds or thousands of years. Some artificial life programmes (for example Tierra), though extremely powerful, seem to require the user to be 173
a computer scientist to understand what is going on! I wrote Survival of the Florid to be an extremely simple simulation that even a young child could understand. Now there are many phenomena in the world that are not human-sized.377 Take the matter of global warming.378 Not wearing a seat belt can have consequences that are much more visible and immediate than releasing emissions from the exhaust pipe of the car. However, the accumulation of a greenhouse gases is much more dangerous for the human race and life on the planet as a whole. Toys and Trees is a simple, freeware greenhouse gas simulator that brings this home. The role of guns in society is another big phenomenon. I used Uri Wilenskyâ€™s powerful and freeware Netlogo programmable modelling environment379 (available at http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/) to write a simulation called Guns and Moses. How does one go about trying to reduce gun-related crime in society? This simulation shows that figuring out the way forward is not at all simple because society is a complex system. Both the pro and anti-gun lobbies have been known to fall into single-factor thinking and other fallacies in trying to win over public opinion. Classic examples are "guns do not kill people, people kill people" and "ban guns and the crime rate will go down." Both claims downplay important ingredients in the criminal mix. Guns and human aggression and numerous other factors influence crime. There are no quick fixes. In this model the user can play the role of the State or social engineer or even God to see what effect varying about a dozen factors and sub-factors has on homicide levels.
Another example of a fact that is not human-sized is the spread of HIV through a population. The signal that there is a potentially high level of mortality looming is current HIV prevalence rates. This statistic speaks volumes to the epidemiologist, but makes less of an impression on many of the public. Simulaids is a simple HIV/AIDS simulator I have written using Game Maker to try to bridge the divide between individual-level human experience and population-level HIV spread. It is available as freeware on my website (as are all the programmes mentioned here). The user can switch between the role of a decisionâ€“making individual and a population-level observer. This makes the connection between the microlevel behaviour of individuals and the macro-level patterns that emerge from this interaction readily apparent. A great advantage of learning this way is that simulations are safe and unthreatening. The user can experiment without paying the price of sickness, social condemnation or death. At yet another level, the user is allowed the option of injecting a â€œpersuaderâ€? into the population. The persuader is an individual that influences others to change their behaviour for the better and to become persuaders themselves. Persuaders can have a dramatic effect in reducing the impact of HIV/AIDS. With this feature, the user is able to go beyond the world of merely science into a vision of hope for a better world and how to get there.
The Creatures system (see www.gamewaredevelopment.co.uk), introduced earlier, is an open development environment that makes engaging possibilities for embodiment of big truth. It was deliberately made to have significant potential for third-party development. This allows the programme to be co-opted for a variety of ends including educational or social programmes that were not necessarily in the original developerâ€™s minds. A disadvantage of a simulation such as Simulaids is that the individual agents are too simple to affect us emotionally. This changes with the endearing creatures called norns. I hope norn-lovers are not offended, but I have made a HIV-like virus (called NIV) that infects norns and is transmitted sexually. Just as with AIDS, they do not die from the NIV itself but from other pathogens in their environment. To make these norns I used a genome created by Andrew Carroll that gives norns a sophisticated immune system and added a few genes to make them susceptible to NIV. The NIV attacks the Killer T cells and other parts of their immune system. Norns have an obligatory multiple partners mating system. In consequence, NIV spreads rather rapidly. I tweaked the Creatures system to allow for exclusively monogamous norns. In this case, the virus spread is checked. The effect of drugs on an individual is another phenomenon that is not quite human-sized. Depending on the drug and the dosage, it can take decades for the ill effects to become obvious. Knowingly taking drugs to escape a hellish life is one thing; experimenting with them because one is unaware of the dangers is quite another. The Creatures system can help here too. I genetically modified norns to make them susceptible to drug addiction. Then, I added a bottle of a drug into the norn environment â€“ I used an LSD analogue. The result bore an uncanny resemblance to human drug addiction. The norn goes through the phases of experimentation, lack of interest in the world and obsession with the drug, addiction and hallucination, sickness, and finally death. And the whole process takes place in minutes. The user is allowed to experiment and see the dangers of drug abuse without harming his or herself. If God has used natural means in creation (evolution) in redemption (wicked men) and in mission (the church) and if, as we have seen, computer simulations are a powerful means to teach evolutionary truths and other complex phenomena, why not use simulations to illustrate spiritual truths? In several of the simulations mentioned above, the user has an option to play God and inject a persuader into the system. Why not 176
have software agents spreading the gospel? If Paul rejoiced that even those with false motives preached Christ (Philippians 1:18), why should there be a problem with a software agent without motives preaching the gospel? At least simulations could help to remove some of the stumbling blocks. The Creatures system is useful here. In honour of Steve Grand (the creator of Creatures), I engineered a norn (available on my website), called Steve, of course, that is a faint incarnation of him. Click on Steve (this works uniquely on him) and he says, “I and Steve Grand are one” and quotes from Steve Grand’s book Creation: Life and how to make it. 380 Steve the norn is a technological metaphor for Jesus, of course, but only a metaphor. It is not an attempt to prove anything; how could I possibly improve on Jesus! I have also engineered a norn called Richard. He such things as says, “Steve Grand probably does not exist” and “I can’t see Steve Grand” and “Prove Steve Grand to me” Grand and Cliff point out that the “Creatures environment acts as a virtual reality for the norns themselves: from the perspective of an individual norn, it is interacting with a “real” world, but a real world rather different from the real world we humans are accustomed to. In this sense, norns are situated autonomous agents…”381 It is the real world, our world, they do not know. Richard Dawkins and Richard the Norn have this in common. They are situated autonomous agents and do not know it. The norn Richard, with his limited perspective, thinks that Steve Grand is a delusion, while his namesake, Richard Dawkins, finds the existence of God very improbable382 and yet acknowledges Grand as the creator of Creatures.383 What the Creatures system helps us to see is that asking for proof of God is wrong-headed. If God could be proved he would be not worth believing in. What God has done is to reveal himself and supremely so in the person of Jesus. Steve and Richard are gimmicks - I mean these particular norns. They can learn, but do not understand these sentences. Currently, agents do not have consciousness. With the power of evolution, this might change. To the 177
extent that this happens it could induce a profound sense of angst in the agents and in us. The agents will need to find and maintain self-worth after realising that they are, in a sense, human artefacts. Humans have to maintain a sense of self-worth after discovering that their artefacts are perhaps becoming more intelligent and better informed than their creators. At this point it will be even more necessary to follow the example of Jesus. We would need to persuade our agents that they are no less creations of Jesus than humans (he used us to create them), no less loved by him and that his death no less covers their sin. And we would have to remind ourselves that the One in whom all the treasures of wisdom are found was not an evolutionist when he came and died for us. The cross reminds us that knowing God and his love does not depend on our having scientific know-how. The cross is God's greatest act of compassionate persuasion. He has declared in Jesus that the primary issue is not how we got here, but whether we know him. To know that God is an evolutionist while not knowing him as Saviour would be an intellectual triumph, but a spiritual tragedy. We can know him and enjoy the benefits of knowing things, but we need to make sure that we never try to make knowing things the basis for knowing him. The former is a matter of our intellectual work, the latter a matter of faith in his work for us on the cross.
Harrison, E.F. (1968) A Short Life of Christ. W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p 257 Murphy, G.L. (1998) The Theology of the Cross and God's Work in the World. Zygon 33(2): 221-231. Sire, J.W. (1994) Why Should Anyone Believe Anything at All? IVP, Downers Grove, Illinois, p 75.Other scholars have come to similar conclusions. For instance, Colin Brown's (1984) Miracles and the Critical Mind, (W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.) argues that on their own Jesus' miracles did not authenticate his claims to deity, but did so when combined with his character. Ruse, M. (2001) Can a Darwinian be a Christian: The Relationship between Science and Religion. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, p. 94. Ruse thinks that Darwinism impinges on the miraculous elements in the Christian story. Brunner, E. (1931) The Word and the World. Student Christian Movement Press, Bloomsbury Street, London, pp. 82-94. p. 105 Quoted by Fosdick, H. E. (1925) A Reply to Mr. Bryan in the Name of Religion. In Fundamentalism versus Modernism. The H.W. Wilson Company, New York, p.285 Morris, Henry M., 1983 Creation is the foundation. Impact 126. E.g. Gitt, W. (1993) Did God use Evolution. Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, Bielefeld, pp. 89109. One should have a wooden understanding of â€œbeginning.â€? Jesus is indicating his preeminence. Since he created time, he cannot, strictly, have a beginning. See also John 8:58). Packer, J.I. (1976) Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. Inter-Varsity Press, Leceister, England, p. 21 Polkinghorne, J. (1983) The Way the World is: The Christian Perspective of a Scientist. Triangle, London, preface, p. x. Griffin, D.R. (1959) Echoes of Bats and Men. William Heiemann Ltd, London, p. 32. Whitehead, A.N. (1925) Religion and Science. In Science and the Modern World. Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, p. 213. Mackay, D.M. (1988) Looking for Connections. In "The Open Mind and Other Essays, M. Tinker (Ed.). Inter-Varsity Press, England, pp 35-36. Sayers, D.L. (1942) The Mind of the Maker. Methuen & Co., Ltd., London. See especially pp. 3849. Cupitt, D. (1976) The Worlds of Science and Religion. Sheldon Press, London, p. 9. Lewis, C.S. (1963) What are we to make of Jesus Christ? In Asking them Questions, R. S. Wright (Ed.). Oxford University Press, Amen House, London, p 87. Broadus, J. A, (1962) Jesus of Nazareth. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan p. 10. Polkinghorne, J. (1983) The Way the World is: The Christian Perspective of a Scientist. Triangle, London, p 52. Yancey, P. (1995) The Jesus I never Knew. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 19. Polkinghorne, J. (1983) ibid, p 52. Sayers, D.L (1947) The Greatest Drama ever Staged is the Official Creed of Christendom. In Creed or Chaos? And Other Essays in Popular Theology. Methuen & Co. Ltd., London. p. 3. Some Bible scholars discount the direct claims to deity attributed to Jesus (e.g. John 14:9) as inauthentic on grounds such as inconsistency with Philippians 2:6-7 (Philippians is traditionally dated several decades before John). In Matthew 9, Jesus is not grasping at the Godhead, but his true nature slips out through an act of compassion. Lewis, C.S. (1944) Mere Christianity William Collins & Sons, Ltd., Glasgow, p. 52
37 38 39
Lewis, C.S. (1979) God in the Dock: Essays in Theology. Williams Collins Sons & Co., Glasgow, p.80. Quoted in McDowell, J. (1972) Evidence that Demands a Verdict. Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc, 135. ibid, p 110. Gould, S.J. (1997) Return to Genesis of Eden? Darwinian Fundamentalism. http://www.mat.auckland.ac.nz/~king/Preprints/book/evol/gouldn Quoted in McDowell, Ibid, p 132. Hebblethwaite, B. (1977) Jesus, God Incarnate. In The Truth of God Incarnate. M. Green, Ed. William B. Eerdmans, Publishing Company, p. 102. Quoted in Yancey, P. (1995) The Jesus I never Knew. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 188. Qouted in Runia, K. (1984) The Present-day Christological Crisis. Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, London, pp. 88-89. Prof. G. Branch, Dr. J. Allen (personal communication). McDowell, J. and D. Stewart. (1981) Reasons Skeptics Should Consider Christianity. Here's Life Publishers, Inc., San Bernadino, pp 104-218. Morton, G.R. http://www.flash.net/~mortongr See Numbers, R.L. (1992) The Creationists: The Evolution of Scientific Creationism. University of California Press, pp 179-180. J. F. Cassel recounts his "heart-rending, soul-searching experience" as he "struggled to release strongly held convictions as to the close limitations of Creationism." Wilson, I. (1978) The Turin Shroud. Penguin Books Ltd., Middlesex, England, p. 283. Perry, R. (1999) What Does the Shroud of Turin Mean? http://www.shroud.com/rbtperry.pdf Isabel Piczek, I (1996) Alice In Wonderland and the Shroud of Turin. http://www.shroud.com/piczek2.htm6. Cited in Meacham, W. (1983) The Authentication of the Turin Shroud: An Issue in Archaeological Epistemology. Current Anthropology 24 (3):283311, http://www.shroud.com/meacham2.htm> Marino, J (1996) The Disciples On The Road To Turin, O.S.B. St. Louis Priory School http://www.shroud.com/marino.htm Dreisbach, A.R. (1997) The Shroud of Turin: Its Ecumenical Implications. http://www.shroud.com/dreisbc2.htm www.amazon.com For example Keathley, J.H. III (1995) The Shroud of Turin and the Resurrection of Christ. http://www.bible.org/docs/pastor/seasonal/easter/shroud.htm. See John 19:40, 20:6-7. Memorandum of Pierre d'Arcie, Bishop of Troyes, to the Avignon Pope Clement VII In Wilson, I. (1978) Ibid., pp. 306-312. Young, A. et. al. (1998) The Shroud of Turin:A Mystery Across the Ages http://www.roca.org/oa/65/65m.htm. Wilson has tried to locate a prior history for the Shroud by identifying it with the Mandylion. Ibid., pp. 127- 139 but this is refuted by Caldararo, N. (1998) The Status of Research into the Authenticity of the Shroud. Approfondimento Sindone, Year 1, Vol 1, Centro Studi Medievali, Pontremoli MS, Italy, http://www.humanist.net/appro- sindone/caldararo.html Allen, N.P.L. (1999) Dating the manufacture of the Shroud of Turin: An exercise in basic iconography http://www.petech.ac.za/shroud/Dating.htm Damon. P.E. et al (1989) Radiocarbon Dating of the Shroud of Turin. Nature 337 (6208):611615. Allen, N.P.L. (1999) Ibid.
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The confidence some scientists have in the coherence of the world is aided by their belief that God would not deceive us by His works. See for example Darwin, C. (1859) The Origin of Species. Avenel Books, New York. pp. 201-202. Cramer, G. (1997) Ionization Resurrects The Shroud of Turin. ttp://www.direct.ca/trinity/shroud1.html Wilson noted critically that many Shroud enthusiasts in Continental Europe took this position. Wilson, I. (1999) An Appraisal of the Mistakes Made Regarding the Shroud Samples Taken in 1988 - and a Suggested Way of Putting These Behind Us. www.shroud.com/wilson.htm This quote is on the fly-leaf of Wilson, I. (1998) The Blood and the Shroud: New Evidence that the World's Most Sacred Relic Is Real, The Free Press, New York. Marino, J.G. and M.S Benford (1999) The Shroud of Turin: Bridge between heaven and earth? http://www.shroud.com/mrinobnf.pdf. Wilson, I. (1978) Ibid., p. 52. McCrone, W. (1996) Judgement Day for the Turin Shroud. Microscope Publications, Illinois, Chicago p. 172. Trenn, T.J.(1997) The shroud of Turin: A parable for modern times? Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies Vol 9 http://www.shroud.com/trenn.htm Allen, N.P.L. (1999)Ibid. Anonymous. http://elvis.rowan.edu/~kilroy/CHRISTIA/library/christia-doubt.html The foreword in McCrone, W. (1996) Ibid., p. xvii. See John 13 especially v 31. Moreland, J.P. (1997) Love your God with all your Mind. Navpress Publishing Group, Colorado, p. 25. Morris, L.L. (1982) New Bible Dictionary. J.D. Douglas (Ed.) Inter-Varsity Press, Leceister, England, p. 366. Berry, R.J. (1988) God and Evolution. Hodder and Stoughton, London, p. 21. Morris, H.M. 1972. The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth, Dimension Books, Minneapolis, p. v. Berry, R.J. (1991) Genes, Genesis and Greens. In Real Science, Real Faith. R.J. Berry (ed.) Monarch Publications, Ltd., Eastbourne, p. 185 Coyne, J. (2002) Ibid. Luther, M. (1962) The Heidelberg Disputation. In Luther: Early Theological Works. James Atkinson, (Ed. & Trans.), SCM Press Ltd, London, p. 291. Moltmann, J. (1974) Ibid. p. 211. Yancey, P. (1995) The Jesus I never Knew. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 188. Denney, J. (1973) The Death of Christ. The Tyndale Press, London. P. 156 Green, J. B. (2001) Crucifixion. In “The Cambridge Companion to Jesus.” M. Bockmuehl (Ed.),Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 88. Glebe-Moller, J. (1989) Jesus and Theology: Critique of a Tradition. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, p. 135. Tesfai, Y. (1994) Introduction. In “The Scandal of a Crucified World: Perspectives on the Cross and Suffering.” Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, p. 8. McGrath, A. E. (1999) What was God doing on the Cross? Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, p. 9. Altizer, T.J.J. (1997) The Contemporary Jesus. State University of New York Press, Albany, p. XIII. Bonhoeeffer, D. (1978) Christology. Collins Son & co. Ltd., London , (p. 62). Wright, N. T. (2000) The challenge of Jesus. SPCK, London, p. 68.
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Appleyard, B. (1992) Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man. Pan Books, Ltd., London, p, 88. In Darwin’s work on earthworms, he developed methods for investigating historical sciences that were so vital to research in evolutionary biology. Darwin, C. (1945) The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits. Faber and Faber Limited, London. If humans gained confidence in accessing the deep things of God through the cross (and as a by-product we gained confidence in understanding science), many became confident that we could access God or at least metaphysics through science. Science became scientism and evolution became evolutionism. It is quite rampant and amply documented, so I will not go into it here. See Midley, M. (1985) Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears. Methuen, London, Midgley, M. (1987) Evolution as a Religion: A Comparison of Prophecies. Zygon 22(2):179-194, Midgley, (1992) Science as Salvation: A Modern Myth and its Meaning. Routledge, London. Sorell, T. (1991) Scientism: Philosophy and the Infatuation with Science. Routledge, London. Ellis, G. (1998) The thinking underlying the new ‘scientific’ world-views. In “Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action.” R.T. Russell, William R. Stoger, S.J. and F. J. Ayala (Eds.). Vatican Observatory Publications and Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, California, pp. 251-280. Manning, Brennan (1996) The Signature of Jesus. Multnomah Publishers, Inc. Sisters, Oregon, p. 121. Moltmann, J. (1974) The Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation and Criticism of Christian Theology. SCM press, Ltd., London, p. 204. Murphy, G.L. (1998) The Theology of the Cross and God's Work in the World. Zygon 33(2): 221-231. Lewis, C.S. (1940) The problem of Pain.William Collins Sons & Co., Ltd., Glasgow, p.12. Haught, J.F. (200) God After Darwin: A Theology of Evolution. Westview Press, Boulder Colorado, United States of America, p.47 Ibid., pp. 48-49. Stott, J. (1989) The Cross of Christ. Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England p. 168 Ruse, M. (2001) Can a Darwinian be a Christian: The Relationship between Science and Religion. Cambridge University press, Cambridge, p.35. Ibid., p. 226. Hull, D.L. (1991) The God of the Galapagos. Nature 342: 485-486. Murphy, G. L. (2001) Chiasmic Cosmology and Creation’s Functional Integrity. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 53(1): 7-13. Moltmann, J. (1974) Ibid., p. 205. Wright, N. T. (2000) Ibid., p. 69. http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050911/NEWS/509110320/1029 Murphy,G.L. (2002) Cosmology, Evolution and Biotechnology. In Bridging Science and Religion. Peters, T. and G. Bennett (ed.). SCM Press, Albans Place, London, p. 210. See, for instance papers in part II of Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action. R.T. Russell, William R. Stoger, S.J. and F. J. Ayala (Eds.). Vatican Observatory Publications and Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley, California. Coyne, J. (2002) Intergalactic Jesus. London Review of Books. 24:23-24 Ruse, M. (2001) Ibid., p. 219. Moltmann, J (1974) Ibid., p. 212 Dembski, W.A. (1998) Mere Creation: Science, Faith & Intelligent Design. Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois.
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Quoted in Frost, D. and F. Bauer (1997) Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man. Chariot Victor Publishing, Colorado Springs, Colorado, p.74. I cannot count the number of campus talks I have been to that are billed as evangelistic, but only get as far as a few-minute gospel presentation tagged onto an anti-evolutionary diatribe. For a very readable discussion of these and other principles of biblical interpretation see Deist, F.E. and J.J. Burden (1980) An ABC of Biblical Exegesis. J.L. van Schaik (Pty) Ltd, Pretoria. They say (p. 33) “ texts … enter into a wider network. This network in which a text is embedded is also a kind of context: but is extra-linguistic and extra-literary. In this wider sense, context refers to life in general. Any text is produced by one or more human beings, functions within a human community, and is heard or read and understood by human beings. In short, texts have their being within human contexts. ”. Richard and Henry ignore this context. A good example of this perspective is Asimov, I. (1981) In the Beginning: Science faces God in the book of Genesis. Crown Publishers, Inc. See, for example, Whitcomb J.C. and HM. Morris (1961) The Genesis Flood. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. I have avoided using the expression 'literal interpretation' because of its ambiguity. Packer, J.I. (1977) Fundamentalism and the Word of God. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Copnay, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 102-106, says that the reformers such as Martin Luther contrasted literal with allegorical interpretation. The latter went off into fanciful interpretations unintended by the writer. In the reformers sense, all Scripture should be interpreted literally, that is the proper, natural sense intended by the author. The expression now refers to wooden treatments that do not do justice to metaphor or other figures of speech. http://www.westmont.edu/~work/faq/literalism.html Sire, J.W. (1980) Scripture Twisting. InterVarsity Press, Downers Gove, Illinois. pp. 63-64. Demick, D. (2003) Glimpses of Christ the Creator. Impact No. 355: i-iv. O'Collins, G. (1995) Christology. A Biblical, Historical and Systematic Study of Jesus. Oxford University Press, pp. 248-249. Packer, J.I. (1958) Fundamentalism and the Word of God. Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Barth Doron Witztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg. Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis. http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/~rips/wrr1.htm Drosnin, M. (1997) The Bible Code. Simon and Schuster, New York. Thomas, J. (1997) The Bible Code: Fact or Fiction. Today October/November pp. 20-23. For example http://www.grantjeffrey.com, http://home.cwnet.com/crm, http://www.yfiles.com/yeshuacodes.html http://www.newbiblecode.com/ The Bible Codes by Michael Drosnin, Translated by Dafna Levi Yediot, Acharanot Publishing House, 238 pp. 78 NIS Reviewer: Alex Lubotsky http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/opinions/lubotsky.html Yacov Rambsel, a Messianic Christian pastor from Texas, says that the Codes "declare that Jesus is the Messiah to a technically advanced, yet supremely skeptical generation" Moore, W.J. (1998) Bible Codes: or Matrix of Deception? Part II by SCP Newsletter, Winter, Volume 22:3 http://www.scp-inc.org/publications/newsletters/N2203/Bible_Codes_part_2.html Thomas, J. (1998) Today Issue 81. February/March pp. 20-23. Alberts, L. (1998) Today Issue 81. February/March p. 9. Hanegraaff, H. Magic Apologetics. http://www.equip.org/news/magic.html Drosnin, M. (1997) Ibid., p. 97.
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Brendan McKay, Dror Bar-Natan, Maya Bar-Hillel and Gil Kalai (1999) Solving the Bible Code Puzzle http://www.ma.huji.ac.il/~drorbn/Codes/StatSci.pdf, Simon, B. The Case Against the Codes http://www.wopr.com/biblecodes/TheCase.htm, Hasofer A. M. Torah Codes: Reality or Illusion http://www.bigfoot.com/~perakh/fcodes/hasofer.htm Tigay, J.H. The Bible "Codes": A Textual Perspective. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~jtigay/codetext.html You magazine 17 July 1997 No 509. McKay, B. (1997) Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick! http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html http://lib.stat.cmu.edu/~kass/biblecodes/kass.html Perakh, M. The Rise and Fall of the Bible Code. www.bigfoot.com/~perakh/fcodes/codepaper.htm Mathematicians' Statement on the Bible Codes. http://www.math.caltech.edu/code/petition.html Thompson, J. A. (1982) Creation. In New Bible Dictionary. J.D. Douglas (ed.). Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, pp. 245-248. NĹąrnberger, K. (2002) Theology of the Biblical Witness: An Evolutionary Approach. Lit Verlag, Munster, Germany, p. 369. Revd. Ross Anderson, personal communication. Davidson, R. (1973) Genesis 1-11. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 21. Hyers, C. (1983) Biblical Literalism: Constricting the Cosmic Dance. In Is God a creationist?: The religious case against creation-science. R.M. Frye (ed.), Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, p. 102. Kline, M.G. (1996) Space and Time in the Genesis Cosmogony. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith. 48(1):2-15. Thompson, J. A. (1982) Creation. In New Bible Dictionary. J.D. Douglas (ed.). Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, p. 246. Ham, K. (2003) Creation 25(4):19â€“22 McGrath, A. E. (2004) The Science of God. T & T Clark International, London, p. 46. Hyers, C. (1983) Biblical Literalism: Constricting the Cosmic Dance. In Is God a creationist?: The religious case against creation-science. R.M. Frye (ed.), Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, p. 102. Dobzhansky, Th (1973) Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution The American Biology Teacher 35:125-129. The age of the universe may be closer to 15 billion years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universe The slime moulds have both plant-like and animal-like characteristics. For a long time botanists and zoologists had a tug-of-war over where this organism should belong. Today they are placed in a separate kingdom. Anderson, B. W. (1983) The Earth is the Lord's: An Essay on the Biblical Doctrine of Creation. In Is God a Creationist? The Religious Case Against Creation-Science. R.M. Frye (ed.). Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, p. 177. ibid p. 179. ibid p. 183. ibid p. 187. Stek, J.H. (1990) What says the Scripture? In Portraits of Creation: Biblical and Scientific Perspectives on the World's Formation. H.J. van Till, R.A. Snow, J.H. Stek and D.A. Young. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 262-263. Westerman, C. (1987) in Genesis: A Practical Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan, says: "... the Creation story is completely open to the scientific explanation of the origins and beginnings of the world, and the human race, and includes it in a nutshell. An "either-or " opposition between the biblical account of creation and the scientific explanation of the world
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is therefore unnecessary." It is noteworthy that Dietriech Bonhoeffer (1959) in Creation and Fall: A Theological Interpretation of Genesis 1-3, Macmillian Publishing Co, New York, is able to write a commentary on Genesis without feeling at all obliged to comment on the scientific question. Kaiser, C.B. (1991) Creation and the History of Science. Marshall Pickering, London, pp. 4-6. Hedley, J.C. (1931) Evolution and Faith. Sheed and Ward, London, p. xvii. Spanner, Douglas C. (1987) Biblical Creation and the Theory of Evolution. The Paternoster Press, Exeter, Devon, p. 13. ibid, pp. 13-14. It is interesting to note in this context that Charles Hodge, a leading American conservative did not reject evolution because of his view of Scripture, but because it did not square with his understanding of human nature or his concept of a designed world. See Barbour, I. (1966) Issues in Science and Religion. Harper and Row, London, pp. 98-99. Coulson, C.A. (1958) Science and the Idea of God. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 16. McGrath, A.E. (2004) The Science of God. T & T Clark International, London, p.47. Quoted by Osborn, H. F. (1925) Another Scientist's Reply to Mr. Bryan. In Fundamentalism versus Modernism. E.C. Vanderlaan (Ed.). The H.W. Wilson Company, New York. pp 276-277. Irvine, W. (1956) Apes, Anges & Victorians: A Joint Biography of Darwin & Huxley. Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd, London, p. 5. Wilberforce, S and A. Sedgwick (1973) Traditional Religion and Science Oppose Evolution. In Darwin and Darwinism: Revolutionary Insights Concerning Man, Nature, Religion and Society. H.Y. Vanderpool (Ed.). D.C. Heath & Co., Lexingtom, Massachusetts, p. 82. Fuller, E. (1942) Thesaurus of Anecdotes. Crown Publishers, New York, pp. 192-193. Gould, S.J. (2002) The Structure of Evolutionary Theory. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 1. Midgley, M. (1989) Wisdom, Information and Wonder. Routledge, p.6. Doyle, A. C. (1921) The Coming of the Fairies. Samuel Weiser Inc. Randi, J. (1982) Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns and other Delusions. Promethius, Buffalo, New York p. 32. Computer enhancement technology has revealed that the fairies in the photographs are not three-dimensional. Further, they resemble very closely and beyond coincidence the fairy pictures in a popular children's book published in England at the time. He did lack specific education in detecting deception as indicated later, but his good education, in itself, did not render him immune from deception. Randi, J. (1982), Ibid., p.27. Ibid., pp. 37-41. Personal tragedy cannot explain Sir Arthur's entry into deception as some have thought. His interest in fairies and public endorsement of spiritualism occurred before his son's death. What it does help to explain is his dogged belief in the face of periodic exposure of frauds. He wrote: "The sight of the world which was distraught with sorrow and which was eagerly asking for help and knowledge, did certainly affect my mind and cause me to understand that these psychic studies, which I had so long pursued, were of immense practical importance..." Doyle, A. C. (1975) The History of Spiritualism. Arno Press, New York. Ibid., p. 21. Doyle, A.C. (1918) The New Revelation. George H. Doran Company, New York, pp. 18-19,102, Doyle A.C. (1919) The Vital Message. George H. Doran Company, New York, p. 23, 37. Tabori, P. (1961) The Art of Folly. Prentice-Hall International Inc., London, p. 175. Doyle, A.C. (1918) p. 23. In many cases, however, the fraud was so clumsy that one did not need to be a conjuror to uncover the deception.
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Doyle, A.C. (1918) Ibid p. 54 wrote, "One can see no justice in a vicarious sacrifice, nor in the God who could be placated by such means." Doyle A.C. (1919) p. 25 wrote, "… but reading many authentic spirit communications one finds that the idea of redemption is hardly ever spoken of, while that of example and influence is for ever insisted upon." Quoted in Tabori, P. (1961) Ibid., p. 175. Randi, J. (1982) p. 14. In matter-of-factly calling us evil (Matthew 7:10), Jesus' assessment of humans differs from that of Sir Arthur and Gardiner. Ibid., p. 14. Doyle reduced God to an impersonal Force (Doyle 1918 p. 15) and Jesus Christ to little more than a saintly psychic (pp. 59-60) and not uniquely the Son of God (Doyle, A.C. 1919 p. 25). Randi, J. (1982) p. 25. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3: 5,6 ); 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. Milton, R. (1992) The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. Transworld Publishers Ltd., London, p. 297 citing Morris, mentions the case of recent lava flows having apparently been dated at millions of years old. To the layperson, this looks devastating for standard geochronology. Milton was taken in. My geologist friend was not. He knows the primary literature. It turns out that it was not the lava itself that was dated, but much older fragments of rock included in the lava. See Johnson (1988) Genesis, Geology and Catastrophism: A critique of Creationist Science and Biblical Literalism. The Paternoster Press, Exeter. Appealing to authority is not always a fallacy. Courts do it and call the authority an expert witness. What is important is that the authority be appropriate (otherwise it is called the fallacy of transfer) and the final appeal is to evidence not authority. Carrington, C.M.S. (2005) Reproduction in Flowering Plants. http://scitec.uwichill.edu.bb/bcs/cape/capefl.html. The probable explanation is that the bracts have evolved to become large and colourful in taking over the function of petals. Artificial selection has also led to the bracts becoming more attractive. Popper, K. (1972) Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, p. 7. Thiel, J. E. (1994) Nonfoundationalism. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, pp. 12-24. Polanyi, M. (1969) The Logic of Tacit Inference. In Knowing and Being. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, pp. 138-158. Ibid., pp. 117-125. Shutte, A. (1993) Philosophy for Africa. Marquette University Press, Milwaukee, USA. A now famous example of disciplinary chauvinism is seen in the failure of the editors of the journal Social Text to consult a scientist in reviewing a spoof paper containing a mixture of arcane physics and nonsense that was submitted by physicist. As Alan Sokal, the author of the paper writes, “Social Text's acceptance of my article exemplifies the intellectual arrogance of Theory -- meaning postmodernist literary theory -- carried to its logical extreme. No wonder they didn't bother to consult a physicist. If all is discourse and “text,”' then knowledge of the real world is superfluous; even physics becomes just another branch of Cultural Studies.” http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/lingua_franca_v4/lingua_franca_v4.html. Illusionist James Randi recounts an example of two physicists who refused to consult him (an expert in misdirection) in the execution of experiments to detect psychic ability. The claimed to find genuine find psychic ability in two subjects. Their subjects announced that did not have this ability, they cheated and were students of James Randi! Randi, J. (1983) The Project Alpha Experiment: Part 1. The First Two Years. The Skeptical Inquirer 8:24-33, Randi, J. (1983) The Project Alpha Experiment: Part 2. Beyond the Laboratory. The Skeptical Inquirer 8:36-45.
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Midgley, M. (1989) Ibid., p. 124. Quoted by Lamoureux, D. O. (1999) Evangelicals Inheriting the Wind: The Phillip E. Johnson Phenomenon. In Darwinism Defeated?: The Johnson-Lamoureux Debate on Biological Origins. Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, Canada, p. 33. Poole, M.W. (1994) A Critique of Aspects of the Philosophy and Theology of Richard Dawkins. Science and Christian Belief 6(1):41-59.
Eagleton, T. (2006) Lunging, Flailing, Mispunching. London Review of Books, 19 October. Lamoureux, D. O. (1999) Ibid., p. 45 . Gitt, W. (1993) Did God use Evolution. Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung, Bielefeld, p. 103. Yancey, P. (1995) Ibid., p. 19-20. Trigg, R (1993) Rationality & science: Can science explain everything? Blackwell, Oxford, U.K., p.9. http://www.answers.com/topic/johannes-kepler Tornkvist, S (1981) Mastermind and scientific method. Physics Education 16:344-346 Butterfield, H. (1949) The origins of modern science. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., London, p. 5 wrote on Galileo, “ In the long run, therefore, we have to recognise that here was a problem of a fundamental nature, and it could not be solved by close observation within the framework of the older system of idea – it required a transposition of the mind. There is a spectrum of views among philosophers on the relationship between theory and observation.” A stronger claim is that observation is “theory-laden.” Hanson, N. R. (1961) Patterns of Discovery. Cambridge University Press, p. 7. Popper, K. (1972) Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, p. 47. This flawed reasoning is called the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. It has the form, 'if A then B, B, therefore A.' Hempel, C.G. (1966) Philosophy of Natural Science. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., p. 7. Morris, H.M. (2001) The Scientific Case Against Evolution: A Summary, Part II", Impact, 331 http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-331.htm Cracraft, J. (1983) Systematics, comparative biology, and the case against Creationism. In "Scientists Confront Creationism." L.R. Godfrey (ed.). W.W. Norton and Company, New York, p. 176. It is called modus tollens and has the form 'if A then B, not B. therefore not A.' Ibid., p. 7. Popper, K. (1972) The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Hutchinson and Co., Ltd., London, U.K., pp. 76-77. Philip Kitcher says, "employing the falsifiability criterion to settle methodological issues [he means naively] in ... the theory of evolution ... is about as profitable as trying to perform delicate surgery with a rusty kitchen knife." Kitcher, P. (1985) Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Nature. The MIT Press. Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 61. Lakatos says that here are times when it may be legitimate to evade falsification. Lakatos (1970:100101). Lakatos, Imre. (1970) Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. In Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 100-101. On the other hand, Larry Laudan says that it is very easy for anti-evolutionists to specify in advance under what conditions they would give up their views. All they need do is to make it so that these conditions are very unlikely to ever occur. They could say that they would give up their theory if a clear intermediate between apes and humans could be found in the fossil record. Laudan, L. (1982) Science at the bar: causes for concern. In "Evolution, Morality and the Meaning of Life." J.G. Murphy (Ed.). Bowman and Littlefield. Totowa, New Jersey, p. 153. Evolution predicts a common ancestor, not an intermediate form, between apes and humans.
Kuhn has said that it "makes a great deal of sense to ask which of two actual and competing theories fits the facts better." Kuhn, T.S. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago. p. 147. Popper has emphasized competition between rivals as a means of testing. Ibid., pp 32-35, Popper, K.R.(1976)Unended Quest. Fontana/Collins. London., p. 149. In sophisticated methodological falsificationism, an elaboration of the original philosophy by his followers, this is made more explicit (Weimer, W.B. (1979) Notes on the Methodology of Scientific Research. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. pp. 109-207. Lakatos has said that "...tests are - at least - three-cornered fights between rival theories and experiment..."Lakatos, I. (1970) Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. In "Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge." I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, p. 115. A method called “Inference to the Best Explanation” has, says Peter Lipton, “become extremely popular in philosophical circles.” Lipton, P. (2004) Inference to the best explanation. Routledge, London, p. 56. Inference to the best explanation and the hypothetico-deductive model of confirmation are rather different animals, but the version of the latter advocated here does have theory competition in common with the former. 207 Whitehead, A.N. (1938) Science and the Modern World. Penguin Books, Ltd., p. 13, wrote, “It is this union of passionate interest in the detailed facts with equal devotion to abstract generalisation which forms the novelty in our present [scientific] society.” 208 Huse, S. M. (1983) The Collapse of Evolution. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 108 209 Ibid., p. 109. 210 For example, Nagel, E. (1961) The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, U.K., pp.117-152, Barbour, I.G. (1966) Issues in Science and Religion. Harper and Row, New York, U.S.A., pp. 162-171, Popper, K.R.(1976) Unended Quest. Fontana/Collins, London, pp. 97-119. 211 Gardner, M. (1983) Realism and instrumentalism in pre-Newtonian astronomy. In "Testing Scientific Theories." Minnesota studies in the philosophy of science, Vol X. J. Earman (ed.). University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis. 212 Duhem, P. (1968) Experiment in Physics. In "Science: Men, Methods, Goals." Brody, B. A. and N. Capaldi (eds.). W.A. Benjamin, Inc., pp 171-177. 213 Quine, W.V.O. (1953) Two dogmas of empiricism. In From a Logical Point of View. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 41, Ariew, R. (1984) The Duhem thesis. British Journal of the Philosophy of Science. 35:313-325, Kitcher, P. (1982) Abusing Science: the Case Against Creationism. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 44. 214 Whitcomb, J.C. and H.M. Morris (1961) The Genesis Flood. Baker Book House. Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 273-274. 215 Gould, S.J. (1984) Genesis versus geology. In "Science and Creationism." A. Montague (ed.). Oxford University Press, Oxford. 216 Futuyma, D.J. (1982) Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution. Pantheon Books, New York, pp. 70-71. 217 Hyers, C. (1983) Biblical Literalism: Constricting the Cosmic Dance. In Is God a creationist?: The religious case against creation-science. R.M. Frye (ed.), Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, pp. 95-104. 218 Gilkey, L. (1983) Creationism: The roots of the conflict. In Is God a creationist?: The religious case against creation-science. R.M. Frye (ed). 219 Kitcher, P (1982) Abusing science: The case against creationism. The MIT Pres, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 206
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Ruse, M (1982) Darwinism defended: A guide to the evolution controversies. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Massachuesetts. Pennock, R.T. (1999) The Tower of Babel: The evidence against the New Creationism. The MIT Press, Massachusetts. Coffin, H.G. (1983) Origin by Design. Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, p. 244. Luskin, C. (2006) For Darwinian Evolution, It’s One Step Forward, Acknowledging Two Steps Back: Taking A Look at Tiktaalik. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2006/04/one_step_forward_two_steps_back.html The programmer/program analogy does not walk on all theological fours. For instance, my creatures can exist after I'm dead, whereas we cannot exist without the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, I am not suggesting that artificial life forms, least of all the ones in Survival of the Florid, are comparable in complexity to biological life. However, the program provides an instance in which some sort of creator is logically compatible with an evolutionary process. This forever establishes that evolution and a creator are not logically incompatible. See MacKay, D.M. (1974) The Clockwork Image. Intervarsity Press, Leicester, England. Dawkins says, “…I pay religions the compliment of regarding them as scientific theories and … I see God as a competing explanation for facts about the universe and life.” Dawkins, R. (1995) A reply to Poole. Science & Christian Belief 7(1):45-50. Dawkins, R. (1988) The Blind Watchmaker. Penguin, London. In some ways, his rejection of ultimate explanations is not surprising. He has difficulty appreciating that even within biology there is a need for complementary explanations. He writes,[“W]hat lies at the heart of every living thing is not a fire, not warm breath, not a 'spark of life'. It is information, words, instructions ... If you want to understand life, don't think about vibrant, throbbing gels and oozes, think about information technology" (p. 112). As if explanations at the level of the organism are in competition with explanations at the molecular level! Other evolutionary biologists have long recognised this as a fallacy. See Dobzhansky, T. (1967) The Biology of Ultimate Concern. The New American Library, New York, p. 22. Poole, M. (1994) A critique of aspects of the philosophy and theology of Richard Dawkins. Science & Christian Belief 6(1):41-59. Pennock, R.T. (1999) The Tower of Babel: The evidence against the New Creationism. The MIT Press, Massachusetts, p. 304. Ibid., p. 303. Ibid., p. 307. Sayers, D.L. (1941) The Mind of the Maker. Meridan Books, Inc., New York, Sayers, D.L. (1946) Creative Mind. In Unpopular Opinions. The Camelot Press, Ltd., London, pp. 43-58, Lewis, C.S. (1949) Transposition. In Transposition and other addresses, Geoffrey Bles, London, MacKay, D.M. (1974) The Clockwork Image. Intervarsity Press, Leicester, England. While complementarity is very helpful in understanding the relation between God's creative activity and biological evolution, it should not be seen as an over-arching model of the relationship between science and religion. It has been criticized as such (for example Ratzsch, D. (2000) Science and its Limits: The Natural Science in Christian perspective. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, pp 144-148, Duce P.P. (1996) Complementarity in Perspective Science and Christian Belief 8(2):145-155). It is important to specify the entities and specific conditions under which it applies as MacKay and van Till, amongst others, have done. See MacKay (1988) The Open Mind and Other Essays, M. Tinker (Ed.). Inter- Varsity Press, England and van Till, H. J. (1996) In Search of a More Fruitful Question. Science and Christian Belief 8(2):157-161. Cody, M.L. and Overton J.M. (1996) Short-term evolution of reduced dispersal in island plant populations. Journal of Ecology 84: 53-61.
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Endler, J.A. (1980) Natural selection on color patterns in Poecelia reticulata. Evolution 34(1): 7691. Reznick, D.A. Bryga, H. and Endler J.A. (1990) Experimentaly induced life-history evolution in a natural population. Nature 346: 357-358. Albers, P.C.H (2000) Evidence for evolution of Guppies in a semi-natural environment Netherlands Journal of Zoology 50(4):425-433. Sutherland, W. J. (1995) I'iwis fit the Bill Nature 375:14. Hairston, N.G. Jr. et al (1999) Rapid evolution revealed by dormant eggs. Nature 401:446 Grant, V. (1985) The Evolutionary Process: A Critical Review of Evolutionary Theory. Columbia University Press, New York, pp 103-105. Kettlewell, H.B.D. (1958) A survey of the frequencies of Biston betularia (L.)(Lep.) and its melanic forms in Great Britain. Heredity 12: 51-91. Recently his work has been criticised by reputable evolutionary biologists (for example. Coyne, J. (1998). Not black and white [review of Majerus, 1998]. Nature 396:35-36) to the point that many have begun to think that the peppered moth is dead as an example of evolution in action. Coyne, who is not a researcher on peppered moths, misread Majerus. Majerus, who is a researcher on peppered moths, is actually very complimentary of Kettlewell's work (Majerus, M. E. N. (1998). Melanism: Evolution in Action, Oxford University Press). Huse, S.M. (1983) The Collapse of Evolution. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p. 108. Denton, M. (1985) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Burnett Books Ltd., London, p. 66. Spanner, D.C. (1987) Biblical Creation and the Theory of Evolution, Paternoster Press, Exeter, p. 90. See MacKay, D.M. (1978) Science, Chance and Providence. Oxford University Press. For the purposes of this book, it not necessary to decide between a determinate or indeterminate creation. For an example of this kind of thinking see Bradley, W.L. (1998) Nature: Designed or Designoid. In Mere Creation: Science, Faith and Intelligent Design. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois p. 33-50. MacKay, D.M. (1988). The Blind Watchmaker - a review. In The Open Mind and Other Essays, M. Tinker (Ed.). Inter- Varsity Press, England, p. 214. Ross, H. and K. Ross (1994) The Creation-Date Controversy. The Real Issue 13(3): 10-14. van Till, H.J. (1986) The Fourth Day. William B Eerdmans, Grand Rapids. see Hooykaas, R (1972) Religion and the Rise of Modern Science, Scottish Academic Press, Billing and Sons, Ltd., Klaaren, E.M. (1977)Religious Origins of Modern Science.William B. Eerdmans. Butterfield, (1949) The Origins of Modern Science: 1300-1800 G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., London. Similar perspectives have been developed by theologians. In 1896 van Dyke, wrote: "The observant wanderer in the field of nature today no longer stumbles upon Dr. Paley's oldfashioned, open-faced, turnip shaped watch lying on the ground. He finds, instead, an intricate and self-adjusting chronometer, capable not only of marking time with accuracy, but also of evolving by its own operation another more perfect and delicate instrument, with qualities and powers which adapt themselves to their surroundings and so advance forever" van Dyke, H (1899) The Gospel for an Age of Doubt, Hodder and Stoughton, London, p. 10. Ray, T. (1992) An Approach to the Synthesis of Life. In Artificial Life II C.G. Langton, C. Taylor, J.D. Farmer and S. Rasmussen (eds.). Proceedings of the Santa Fe Institute, Addison Wesley, Redwood City pp. 371-408. http://zooland.alife.org/ Koza, J.R., Keane, M. A. (2003) Evolving Inventions. Scientific American, February Issue, pp. 40-47.
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Elsberry, W. R. (1999) Criticisms of Evolutionary Computation www.antievolution.org/people/wre/essays/antiec.html Gingerich, P.D (1983) Rates of evolution: effects of time and temporal scaling. Science 222: 159-161, Raup, D.M (1987) Major features of the fossil record and their implications for evolutionary rate studies. In Rates of Evolution, K.S.W. Cambell and M.F. Day (Eds). Allen and Unwin Publishers, Ltd, London, Minkoff, E.C. (1983) Evolutionary Biology, Addison Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Massachusetts, pp. 319-333. See also Grant P.R. (1986) Ecology and Evolution of Darwin's Finches, Princeton University Press, Princeton for an account of the remarkable rapidity of microevolutionary change. A darwin is a change in a character by a factor of e (2.718) in 1 million years. Gingerich, ibid. Ridley, M. (1993) Evolution. Blackwell Science, Inc. Cambridge, Massachusetts p. 507. Quoted in Peacocke, A. (1986) God and the New Biology. J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, p. 82. Mills, G.C., Lancaster, M. and W. L. Bradley (1993) Origin of life & evolution in biology textbooks - A Critique. The American Biology Teacher 55(2): 78-83. Ray, T. ibid., pp. 125-127. Silver, L. M. (1998) Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, pp 233- 235. Quoted in Brouwer, S. (1997) High Dive into the Gene Pool. Christian Reader 35(5):26. Fitch, C. (1997) An SPU biologist reflects on the debate About Dolly. Response, Fall issue, pp. 4-5. Quoted in Startt, A. (1998) Seed's effort incites new bioethics debate. The Cavalier Daily, January 14. http://www.cavalierdaily.com:2001/.Archives/1998/January/14/edamy.asp Tolkien, J.R.R. (1968) The Lord of the Rings Harper Collins Publishers, London, p. 240. Darwin, C. (1859) The Origin of Species. Avenel Books, New York. pp. 201-202. The evolutionary biologist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, thought along similar lines. Dobzhansky, T. (1967) The Biology of Ultimate Concern. The New American Library, New York. I used figures from Kardong, K. V. (2002) Vertebrates: Comparative Anatomy, Function, Evolution. McGraw Hill, New York: p. 274 and Carroll, R.L. (1988). Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. W.H. Freeman and Company, New York for the source of the data. I am not making a scientific statement here, but a meta-theological one. One cannot deduce anything about evolution from Jesus alone. Nor can one deduce anything about Jesus from evolution alone. I am putting two and two together - a scientific two and a revelation two. For example Gish, D.T. (1985) Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record. Creation-Life Publishers, El Cajon, California. To avoid problems of scale, ratios are used instead of absolute values. For example Milton, R (1992) The Facts of Life: Shattering the Myths of Darwinism. Transworld Publishers Ltd., London, p. 224. Penn, D. 1980 Evolution Reexamined. In "University Classroom Lecturing" H. Hahne (Ed.) Campus Crusade for Christ, Arrowhead Springs, p. 377. For example Szalay, F.S., M.J. Novacek, and M.C. McKenna (1993) Mammal Phylogeny Vol 1, Springer-Verlag, New York, Kemp T.S. (1982) Mammal-like Reptiles and the Origin of Mammals, Academic Press, New York, Laurin M. and R.R. Reisz (1990) Tetraceratops is the oldest known Therapsid. Nature 345:249-250, Hopson, J.A. (1987) The Mammal-Like Reptiles: A Study of transitional fossils. The American Biology Teacher 49(1):16-26 and Crompton, A. W. and Parker, P. (1978) Evolution of the Mammalian Masticatory Apparatus. American Scientist 66:192-201. Moore, J. A. (1984) Science as a Way of Knowing - Evolutionary Biology. American Zoologist 24:467-534. Used with the permission of Brett J. Burk, SICB Executive Director, 1313 Dolley Madison Blvd. Suite 402,McLean.
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See Anderson, M. L. (1995) Misunderstanding the Conflict between Science and Christianity. Perspectives 47(3): 218 and Mennega, C. (1984) Book review. Journal of the American Scientific Association 36(3):177-178 for particularly egregious examples in which the original authors are given meanings opposite to that which they had intended. The following case is also illustrative. Paleontologist Francois Durand took the trouble to present the evidence for transitions between reptiles and mammals using several diagrams in the popular science magazine (Durand, F. (1995) Die Herkoms van die Soogdiere (Deel I) Archimedes37(1):58-61 and Durand, F. (1995) Die Herkoms van die Soogdiere (Deel II) Archimedes 37(2):10-13 One reader took exception saying "according to the evidence of world renowned paleontologists and scientists there are no evolutionary transitional forms between species" (Bornman, H. (1995) Letter. Archimedes 37(2):14). This false conclusion was evidently based on statements such as this one by Stephen Jay Gould: "Most species exhibit no directional selection during their tenure on earth. They appear in the fossil record looking much the same as when they disappear; morphological change is usually limited and directionless" (Quoted in Bornman, Ibid.) Durand replied, "These scientists, like myself, accept the theory of punctuated equilibrium which is the rapid evolution (over a couple of generations) of a species from another with long periods (over thousands, even millions of years) of genetic stability with little or no changeâ€Ś Not for one moment did any of these deny evolution as you suggest. They did, however, remark on the scarcity of transitional fossils, for which they provide an answer in the passages you decided not to quote" (Durand, F. (1995) Letter Archimedes 37(2):14-15). It should stressed that the paucity of transitional forms only applies between species. Between major groups such as reptiles and mammals there are an abundance of transitional forms. Many non-biologists fail to appreciate this point (for instance, Blanchard, J. (2004) Has science got rid of God? Evangelical Press, Darlington, England, pp. 63-64). The data are taken from McFarland, W.N., F.N. Pough and T. J. Cade (1979) Vertebrate Evolution. Second Edition. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, p. 394, Carrol (1998) Ibid, p. 340 and Wellnhofer, P. (1990) Archaeopteryx. Scientific American. May, pp 42-49. Johnson, P.E. (1991) Darwin on Trial. Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois. Johnson, P. E. (1997) Testing Darwinism. InterVarsity Press, Leceister England, pp.38-39. Gish, D.T. (1989) As a transitional form Archaeopteryx won't fly. Impact No. 198 has a similar treatment of Archaeopteryx. Hoyle, F. and C. Wickramasinghe (1986) Archaeopteryx, The Primordial Bird: A Case of Fossil Forgery. Christopher Davies, Swansea. Kemp, T. (1986) Feathered flights of fancy. Nature 324:185. Charig, A.J., F. Greenaway, A.C. Milner, C.A. Walker and P.J. Whybrow (1986) Archaeopteryx Is Not a Forgery. Science 232:622-626. Denton, M. (1985) Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. Burnett Books Ltd, London. Milton, R. (1992) Ibid. Heilprin, A. (1888) The Geological Evidences of Evolution. Academy of Natural Science, Philadelphia, p 7. DeBraga, M and R. L. Carroll (1993) The origin of Moasaurs as a model of macroevolutionary patterns and processes. Evolutionary Biology 27:245-322. Quoted in Miller, K.(1996) Book Review of Darwin's Black Box: The biochemical challenge to evolution. Creation/Evolution 16(2): 36-40 Gingerich, P.D, ul Haq, M, Zalmout, L.S., Khan, I.H. and M.S. Malkani (2001) Origin of Whales from Ealy Artiodactyls: Hands and Feet of Eocene Protocetidae from Pakistan. Science 293-2239Gingerich, P.D., B. Holly Smith and E.L. Simons (1990) Hind Limbs of Eocee Basilosarus: Evidence of Feet in Whales. Science 249:154-157. Thwessin, J.G.M., S.T. Hussain and M. Arif
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(1994) Fossil Evidence for the Origin of Aquatic Locomotion in Archaeocete Whales. Science 263:210-212 and Gingerich, P.G., D.E. Russell and S.M. Ibrahim Shah (1983) Origin of Whales in Epicontinental Remnant Seas: New Evidence from the Early Eocene of Pakistan. Science 220:403-405, Thewissen, J.G.M. and S, Bajpai (2001) Whale Origins as a Poster Child for Macroevolution Bioscience 51(12)1037-1049, Gingerich, P.D. (2002) Progress on the Evolution of Whales. Geoscience News, February. Ahlberg, P.E. and A.R. Milner (1994) The origin and early diversification of tetrapods. Nature 368:507-514. Neil H. Shubin, Edward B. Daeschler and Farish A. Jenkins, Jr. (2006) The pectoral fin of Tiktaalik roseae and the origin of the tetrapod limb. Nature 440: 764-771. Caldwell, M.W. and M.S.W. Lee (1997) Nature 386:705- 709. Novas, F.E. and P.F. Puerta (1997) New evidence concerning avian origins from the Late Cretacious of Patagonia. Nature 387:390-392. Benton, M (2001) Evidence of Evolutionary Transitions. http://www.actionbioscience.org/evolution/benton2.html http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-transitional.html It might be objected that the features of organisms have similarities because of common design rather than common ancestry so that the radically dissimilar sequences generated under the independent origin algorithm do not fairly represent special creation. Biologists distinguish similarities through common ancestry (homologies) from similarities through common design solution (analogies). This is a complication that makes the reconstruction of biological history more difficult. My object in this programme was not to simulate exactly how biologists reconstruct the past, but merely to show that it is, in principle, possible to do such reconstruction. As important as the distinction is, some have fudged it. That we cannot know the whole past for certain has been taken by some to mean that we have to approach the past 'on faith' and any position on the past is equally a matter of 'faith' as any other. Unsurprisingly, this approach encourages irrationalism. It is also spreads confusion about the meaning of 'faith.' Darwin, C. (1859) The Origin of Species. Avenel Books, New York, p. 430. Ibid, p. 216. Gould, S.J. (1980) The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections on Natural History. W.W. Norton and Company, New York, pp. 20-23. Ridley, M. (1993) Evolution. Blackwell Science, Inc. Cambridge, Massachusetts pp. 343-344. Hume, D. (1948) Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Hafner Pres,, New York, p. 37-41. Capaldi, N. (1987) The Art of Deception: An Introduction to Critical Thinking. Prometheus Books, New York, p. 115. Stott, J. (1989) The Cross of Christ. Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England p. 226. Dawkins, R. (1995) River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. Weidenfield & Nicholson Publishers, London. In reality, as Dawkins notes, Darwin's gradual loss of faith had complex causes. The death of his beloved daughter Annie was a major influence. Miller, K. (2003) Answering the Biochemical Argument from Design. In God and Design: Ecological Argument and Modern Science. Neil. A. Manson (Ed.), Routledge, London. For instance, the eel sperm flagellum has several parts missing that exist in the flagella of other organisms. Yet, the eel sperm flagellum is quite functional. Furthermore, complex structures can evolve by co-opting existing parts for a different function. The cytochrome c oxidase proton pump is a molecular structure with many parts. Researchers have found that some of the proteins in the pump are similar to a bacterial enzyme. See also his excellent website http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/evol/ A god that we arrive at feeds our pride. The One who arrived for us in Bethlehem destroys it.
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For instance, molecular clock dating of rapid speciation of cicadas in New Zealand has been found to coincide with mountain building 3-5 million years ago. Arensburger, P, Simn, C. and K. Holsinger (2004) Evolution and phylogeny of the New Zealand cicada genus Kikihia Dugdale (Homoptera: Auchenorrhyncha: Cicadidae) with special reference to the origin of the Kermadec and Norfolk Islands’ species. Journal of Biogeography 31: 1769-1783. Mark Ridley states that the “faunas of Australia and New Guinea are 93% similar, whereas those of New Guinea and the Philippines are only 64% similar: the Philippines have as high a similarity with Africa as they do with New Guinea.” Ibid., p. 481. Imms, A.D. (1947) Insect Natural History. Collins, London, p. 227. Schmidt, G.D. and L.S. Roberts (1989) Foundations of Parasitology. Times Mirror/ Mosby College Publishing, pp. 355-357. Crompton, J. (1948) The Hunting Wasp. Collins, St. James Place, London, pp.192-193. Quoted in Gould, S.J. (1983) Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History. Penguin Books, Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England, pp. 41-42. Ward, M. (2000) Virtual Organisms Pan Books, Macmillan Publishers Ltd, London, p. 240-244. Ford, E.B. (1972) Moths. Collins, St James Place, London, p. 106). Wells, H.G., J. Huxley and G.P. Wells (1938) The Science of Life. Cassell and Company, Ltd., London, p. 366. Bullough, W. S. (1958) Practical Invertebrate Anatomy. Macmillan & Co., Ltd., London, p. 238. Reproduced with the permission of Palgrave Macmillan. Barnes, R.D. (1974) Invertebrate Zoology. W. B. Saunders Company, Philadephia, p. 565. Used with the permission of Scott Charlesworth, Department of Entomology, Purdue University. Cockburn, A. (1991) An Introduction to Evolutionary Ecology. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, p. 15. Futuyma, D.J. (1982) Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution. Pantheon Books, New York, p 198. Ibid. Cowen, R. (1990) History of Life. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Cambridge, Massachusetts, p. 273). Romer, A.S. and T.S. Parsons (1986) The Vertebrate Body. Saunders College Publishing. p. 203. Durand, F (1995) Die Herkoms van die Soogdiere (Deel II) Archimedes 37(2):10-13. Burton, M (1956) Living Fossils. Thames and Husdon, London, pp 91-107. Burn, D. M. (Ed). (1980) The Colour Encylopedia of the Animal Kingdom. Peerage Books, London, p. 96. Holldobler, B. and E.O Wilson. (1994) Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Avise, J.C. (1994) Molecular Markers, Natural History and Evolution. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp. 309-310. Max, E.E. (1986-1997) Plagarized Errors and Molecular Genetics: Another Argument in the Creation-Evolution Controversy. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/molecular-genetics.html. Brown, J.L. (1975) The Evolution of Behavior. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, New York, pp 297298. Tinbergen, N. (1966) Animal Behaviour. Time-Life International, Nederland, p 177. Neontologists study present-day evolutionary processes. Campbell, N. A. (1990) Biology. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., Redwood City, California. Ridley, M. (1993) Ibid. Futuyma, D.J. (1979) Evolutionary Biology Sinauer Associates, Inc., Sunderland, Massachusetts. Cowen, R. (1990) Ibid. Futuyma, D. J. (1982) Science on trial: The case for evolution. Pantheon Books, New York.
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Dawkins, Richard (1996). The Blind Watchmaker. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York. http://www.uwosh.edu/colleges/cols/clergy_project.htm Brunner, E. (1931) The Word and the World. Student Christian Movement Press, Bloomsbury Street, London, pp. 82-94, p. 105 Mindell, D.P. (2006) The Evolving World: Evolution in Everyday Life. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Morris, S. C. (2006) The Boyle Lecture 2005: Darwin's compass: How evolution discovers the song of Creation. Science & Christian Belief 18(1):5-22. Hooykaas, R. (1963) Teilhardism, a Pseudo-Scientific delusion. Free University Quarterly IX: 157. I heard this same individual call the well known astrophysicist and skeptic Carl Sagan "the greatest unscientist around." Attitudes like these are, unfortunately, not uncommon and are serving to put people off the gospel. The biblical directive (see 1 Peter 3:15-16) is that our conduct in evangelism is as important as is the content of our evangelism. He rejects the verdict of palaeontologists that birds are dinosaurs. Ross, H. (1998) Darwinism's fine feathered friends- A matter of interpretation. Facts & Faith 12:(3):1-3. For examples see Andrews, E.H. (1980) God, Science and Evolution. Evangelical Press, Hertfordshire, England, Huse, S.M. (1983) The Collapse of Evolution. Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, McDowell, J and D. Stewart. (1981) Reasons Skeptics should Consider Christianity. Here's Life Publishers, San Bernadino, California, Berghoef, G. and L. DeKoster (1988) The Great Divide: Christianity or Evolution. Banner of Truth Trust, Grand Rapids, Michigan. (The last book stands out for its appalling scholarship). Murphy, G. L. (2000) Cross-based apologetics for a scientific millennium. Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith (52)3: 190-193. Green, M. (1992) Evangelism through the Local Church. Hodder and Stoughton, London p 154. Mayr, E. (1988) Toward a New Philosophy of Biology. Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, p 264. Mellichamp, J. (1997) Ministering in the Secular University. Lewis and Stanley, Carrollton, Texas p 22. Sweet, L. (2001) Carpe Manana. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 34-35. Guillen, M. (1983) Bridges to Infinity: The Human Side to Mathematics Hutchinson Group (SA) Pty Ltd., South Africa, p. 1. Guillen, M. (1983) Ibid., p. 4. http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_3.html Short, R.V. (1994) Darwin, have I failed you? The Lancet 343:528-529. Anderson, M.L. (1999) Christ and evolution: handling the faulty dilemma. In â€œReading the Universe through Science, Religion and ethics: The Evolving Science and Religion Debate.â€? C.W. du Toit (Ed.). Research Institute for Theology and Religion, Unisa, Pretoria, pp. 168-178. Scott, E. (2001) Creation or Evolution? http://www.ncseweb.org/resources/articles/6261_creation_or_evolution__1_9_2001.asp Dobzhansky, Th (1973) Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution The American Biology Teacher 35:125-129. Novocek, M.J. (2006) Darwin would have loved it. Time April 17, 167 (16): 36. Little, P. (1966) How to give away your Faith. Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, England, p 47. Quoted in Hunter, A.M. (1976) Jesus - Lord and Saviour. William B. Eerdmans, Michigan. p 109. Quoted in Harrison, E.F. (1968) A Shorter Life of Christ. W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p 256.
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Chittick, D. E. (1984) The Controversy: Roots of the Creation-Evolution Conflict. Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon, p 11. Morris, H. (1988) The God Who is Real: A Creationist Approach to Evangelism. Baker Book Hosue, Grand Rapids, Mchigan, p 11. Morris, H.M. (1993) Biblical Creationism: What Each Book of the Bible Teaches about Creation and the Flood. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, p 154. Ibid, p 266. Morris, H.M. (1995) The Philosophers. Days of Praise. January 30. Branch, G.M. (1996) The theory of evolution: A review of its current scientific status. In "Nature, God and Humanity." Proceedings of the Third seminar of the South African Science and Religion Forum (SASRF) of the Research Institute for Theology and Religion. C.W. du Toit (Ed.). University of South Africa, Pretoria. Suppe, J. (1998 ) Ordinary Memoir. In Professors who Believe. P. M. Anderson (Ed.), Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, p. 70. Ibid., p. 70 Anderson, P. M. (1998) A Common Thread. In "Professors who Believe." P. M. Anderson (Ed.), Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, p. 20. Ibid., p. 21. Quoted in McDowell (1972) Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. 142. Berry, R.J. (Ed.)(1991) Real Science, Real Faith. Monarch Publications, Ltd, Eastbourne gives the testimonies of sixteen leading British scientists. Swerdlow, L. (Undated) My Short Interview with Richard Dawkins. http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/dawkins0.htm I am not suggesting that in being natural, Jesus was less than God incarnate. I use the term natural in contradistinction to supernatural not artificial. Thiessen, G. (1984) Biblical Faith: An Evolutionary Approach. SCM Press, Ltd., London In a broader sense than philosopher of science Mary Williams meant by the expression. Some scientists dispute global warming, but I am going with the overwhelming consensus. Wilensky, U. (1999). NetLogo. http://ccl.northwestern.edu/netlogo/. Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. Grand, S. (2001) Creation: Life and how to make it. Orion Books, Ltd., London. Cliff, D. and S. Grand (1999) The Creatures Global Digital Ecosystem. Artificial Life 5(1): 77-93. Dawkins, R. http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkinsarchive/Dawkins/Work/Articles/1994-12religion.shtml On the cover of Grand’s book Dawkins is quoted, “Steve Grand is the creator of what I think is the nearest approach to artificial life so far …”
Published on Jan 29, 2009
This book recounts how Mike L Anderson, a Christian and student of the philosophy of evolutionary biology, struggled over and came to terms...