Froward Fossils and Cyberspace Heaven
This weekend we feature two items. The first is an open letter from CMI’s Ryan Jaroncyk to Meredith Small, Human Nature Columnist for the secular news service LiveScience, responding to a recent article of theirs about the annoying tendency of new fossils to invariably contradict the current human evolution scenario. The second is an email from Linda B of Quebec, Canada, offering an intriguing human-computer analogy of life and death, to which Carl Wieland replies.
Froward* Fossils and Evolution
* Adjective 1. Habitually disposed to disobedience and opposition (Webster’s Online Dictionary).
I had a few thoughts and comments on your LiveScience article Human Family Tree Now a Tangled Bushy Mess.
But in the late 1970s, we entered a golden age of human fossil discoveries that has repeatedly punched holes in the naive idea that our evolution would be that clear, clean, and straight.
Over time, legitimate scientific models should bring more clarity and less confusion. Of course, any model requires fine tuning, but such fine tuning should bring greater explanatory power and resolution to the emerging evidence. The model of human evolution is offering less explanatory power and less resolution to the growing body of evidence.
Like most animals, humans have a checkered past, and our family album is now full of side branches and dead ends.
This statement has two implications. First, you make a philosophical statement, equating humans with animals. If this is the case, why is mankind so qualitatively distinct in its intelligence, moral & spiritual capacity, technology, skills, and physical dominion? Of course, you would offer natural selection & genetic mutation as the stock answer, but does the evidence really bear this out? Second, you admit that the model of human evolution is full of side branches and dead ends. This appears to be a tacit admission that evolutionary predictions have not been fulfilled, and that more and more evidence has refuted evolutionary predictions. Again, this brings the entire model into question.
We want our history to be nice and neat, but the fossils keep messing us up.
Once again, if the fossils are ‘messing us up’, then perhaps the model is incorrect. If greater clarity is not being reached and predictions continue to be unfulfilled, then perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing board on the entire concept of human evolution.
And once again, we have to reconsider the path of human evolution.
But should we be all that surprised?
We want the first bipedal humans to stay out of the trees, but their curved hand bones suggest they spent time swinging in the canopy like apes; we want brain size to increase in lock step with tool use, but tools appear before big brains; we want an orderly diaspora out of Africa and across the globe by culturally armed early humans, but it looks like people kept leaving all the time in fits and starts that don’t correlate with anything; and we want the last 200,000 years of human evolution, the time when modern Homo sapiens appeared, to make some kind of sense, but it doesn’t.
Of course it doesn’t.
You make a number of statements that clearly bring into question the validity of human evolution. You provide actual evidence (fossil, tools, brain size, migration, etc) that has refuted the paradigm, time and time again. And you ask the rhetorical question ‘But should we be all that surprised?’ I would say yes, because human evolution has been taught as an unquestionable fact in public schools, universities, and media for decades upon decades. It should surprise scientists and the public if a scientific model is making specific predictions that continue to be challenged and overturned by the empirical data. You also state, rhetorically, ‘Of course it doesn’t’. To an outsider, it appears that you are really saying ‘Our model of human evolution has produced numerous hypotheses and offered predictions for future discoveries, but we find that with the accumulation of evidence, our hypotheses and predictions have been proved wrong, which is exactly what we should have expected.’
You conclude with statements such as:
We are, after all, animals...Our past is just as messy as any animal that’s been around for millions of years.
Again, these are just philosophically driven statements. However, there are numerous anthropologists, paleontologists, archaeologists, and other types of scientists who would reject your characterization of humans as just animals. And again, I would point to the fossil data and current observation as strong evidence that there is something very special and unique about humanity. If Darwinian evolution has been unable to produce a viable model of human evolution, then perhaps it is time for other models to be considered.
You end by saying:
...we should be prepared to expect the unexpected when the next fossil is announced.
We should expect, that if the Darwinian model is correct, then the fossil discoveries should be exactly what is expected, and they should fulfill the predictions made by scientists. If they continue to raise questions, overturn theories, and surprise scientists, then perhaps the model requires drastic revision.
Perhaps, it is time for the anthropological community to lay down the gauntlet in a manner similar to the international science foundation which recently offered a $1 million cash prize for scientists to finally produce observational and testable evidence for a naturalistic origin of DNA. This science foundation, not in any way affiliated with creationists, is challenging scientists to lay out a bona fide, testable model to explain something that has lacked empirical data for the last 148 years since Darwin proposed his theory. Why? Because greater scientific research is presenting more severe challenges to the biochemical and metabolic theories for a naturalistic origin of life. Maybe the time has come for Darwinian anthropology to start producing real results as well.
Thank you for your time and consideration,
The ‘Cyberspace Heaven’ Analogy
Since we can save and continually update a file of information either on our own computer and/or have it uploaded to a specific website on the internet and update it there, would it not be possible for God to do the same with our “mind/personality” as it develops? If our computer crashes, this site would still exist with the file saved on the site. Some people have elected to do this with precious photographs. Also, as a program on our computer can be updated by downloading updates from the internet (i.e. virus controls, etc.), could not God gradually update or override (transform) our mind/personality through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, once we have acquired access to it through faith by grace in the Lord Jesus Christ? I believe that there is a “file” for each of us opened at conception which is continually updated as we live our life. It does not become perfect until one accepts Christ. Then, through faith and the word of God, this perfect copy in “cyberspace heaven” can be used by the Holy Spirit to download and override the copy trapped in our mortal, sinful “hard drive”. Hence, “In Christ we are a new creation.” referring to the “perfect file” in the “Jesus folder” and yet we are “being transformed into the image of Christ” and “renewing our minds” constantly in the file which is in our hard drive. In this scenario, what happens to the “file” of a child who is killed early before accepting Christ or to an aborted baby? Would this file be “made perfect” and then the memories, etc. be added after resurrection under perfect conditions? All speculation but I would love to have Dr. Wieland expound on the possibilities.
Blessings to you and your ministry,
Dear Ms B/Dear Linda
Thanks very much for your comments, which I found a REALLY interesting way to look at the issues. In fact, it is the best use of analogy in this complex and abstract area that I have come across to date, with the caveat (of which I am sure you are fully aware) that the use of analogies such as this is only trying imperfectly to make such things more comprehensible to our finite minds, rather than suggesting that they are ‘reality’ in themselves.
My off-the-cuff reaction, without yet having thought it through as much as it deserves, is that the concept of downloading and overriding by the Holy Spirit in particular was excellent and may be one of those ‘special insights’ that continues to be useful at other times in one’s life.
The question of an aborted child in heaven, for example, remains a vexed one. For others to relate to this person through all eternity, one would think there would (in our limited understanding, anyway) need to be something resembling a personality. A person’s personality develops as they progress through infancy based in large part upon their experiences and interactions with their surroundings. But an aborted child would have had no opportunity for this—so as you suggest, such things would have to be largely ‘imprinted’ (or ‘created’, if you like). It reminds me of the creation of Adam and Eve—they also did not go through a phase of developing their personality gradually based on interaction with their surroundings. Much of what made Adam and Eve persons would have had to be ‘preprogrammed’ in a way that was not necessary for their offspring. (For example, their offspring learned a language, they did not have to.)