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Cheating on origins

A connection between marathons and origins

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Published: 28 May 2015 (GMT+10)
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Winding across the undulating terrain of KwaZulu-Natal province in the eastern part of South Africa, the Comrades is considered the greatest ultra-marathon in the world. About 90 km (55 miles) in length and run between Durban at the coast and the inland city of Pietermaritzburg, the start alternating annually between the two. Every year about 13,000 entrants attempt this gruelling run over a picturesque course. Begun in 1921 as a tribute to fallen South African comrades in WWI, the race has been run every year since except for the WWII years. Though run through mainly rural areas, the route is lined with supporters encouraging the participants on. At the finish, those struggling to make the 12 hour cut off time, receive as much cheering support as the front runners who finish in about 5 ½ hours. Considered almost a rite of passage in South Africa, CMI’s own Dr. Johan Kruger has completed the race five out of six attempts.

With the prestige attached to being a Comrades medallist, it is an unfortunate fact of the past two decades that cheating has begun to occur amongst a small minority of entrants. Performance enhancing drugs are of course used by cheats all over the world to increase their chances of ‘winning’, and some Comrades top finishers have had their medals withdrawn after being tested positive for drugs. There have however been instances of other forms of cheating. In 1993, a gold medallist (the top ten men and women receive gold medals) was seen on video to have only started the race 30 km from the end. In 1999, another gold medallist was found to have alternated running the route with his twin brother, leap frogging by car and then changing shoes and clothing at portable toilets along the route. They were discovered again by video footage showing that they wore their watches on different arms. Even the introduction of timer pads at the start, finish and along the route, with competitors required to attach unique transmitters to the laces of their shoes has not prevented cheating. Another cheat has been shown to have had (probably paid) someone else to run the route with his number and timer sensor but with totally different clothing in order to try avoid being identified on video footage and then taking over the number and transmitter toward the end of the race. In the 2014 race, a number of entrants were found to have run negative splits, i.e. faster times in the second half of the race. This was based on an analysis of their sensor times at timer pads along the course. A strong indication that skulduggery had taken place. At least one entrant was found to have set a very pedestrian time for the first half of the race and near world record pace in the second half.

The moral of this story is that an appearance at the finish line does not mean a claimant has run the race. This provides an excellent analogy with the competing claims on origins, a race with only two claimants for the winners laurels, that of evolution or creation. Evolutionists arbitrarily make up their own rule on the origin of the universe, including life, namely, no intelligence allowed. Only natural causes are permitted in accounting for the existence of everything. They then notice that the universe, our solar system, and the myriad forms of life on earth exist and say, “See, evolution is true!” They are like those appearing at the finish line of the Comrades marathon and saying, “See, I ran the race!” Examples of this kind of ‘special pleading’ abound. Richard Dawkins, in an interview stated, “‘Evolution has been observed. It’s just that it hasn’t been observed while it’s happening.”1 This is akin to saying, “We can see all these organisms at the finish line, and therefore they ran the evolutionary race.” Applying our analogy, it is like claiming “I am at the finish line, therefore I am a Comrades medallist!” In his book, The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins even concedes that intelligent creation appears to be the winner, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose”2, and then argues against all observation and experience that this is not the case.

In an article entitled, Evolution as Fact and Theory, Stephen Jay Gould states, “ … human beings evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin’s proposed mechanism or by some other: yet to be identified.” 3 In other words, “Here we are at the finish line so no matter how we got here, evolution won.”

Mark Ridley asserts that, “All that is needed to prove evolution is observed microevolution added to the philosophical doctrine of uniformitarianism which (in the form that is needed here) underlies all science.”4 Evolutionists regard evidence of variation and adaptation in successive generations as ‘microevolution’. Biblical creationists observe the same phenomena and see it as a mechanism designed by God for different characteristics programmed into the original kind, which enable descendants to survive in different, post Fall and Flood environments, with a selection advantage inherent from certain characteristics in different environments. The problem for evolutionists with this phenomenon is that it creates no new information in the genotype, and even mutations that may confer some small benefit, normally result in a net loss of specific information in the DNA. It is evolution in the wrong direction – or devolution. Even if his claim about uniformitarianism were well founded (punctuated equilibrium and geologic catastrophism, though still naturalistic explanations of origins, reject uniformitarianism), Ridley’s assertion equates to claiming the prize for evolution even though it crossed the finish line from the wrong side, going downhill instead of uphill.

The words ‘evolved’ and ‘created’, like the word ‘ran’, are verbs. They describe a program of action that result in a given outcome. Just as in a race, assurance as to which of those verbs accurately describe how we arrived at this amazing universe of design, purpose and boundless specified complexity, depends on which of them was observed to have crossed the starting line, and continued on to what we observe today. Evolution can make no such claim. The mature life forms observed today are the results of processes (either evolution or creation) that occurred in the past which cannot be repeated. We have no ‘replay’ button that we can press in order to review the process as the adjudicators of possible cheating in the Comrades Marathon are able to do. For evolutionists, even the glimpse of processes they see going on in the world today are going in the wrong direction from what molecules to marathon runners requires.

By profound contrast, Biblical creationists have an eyewitness account of the start of the race, from the Creator Himself. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) and “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). We have a written account from the eyewitness Himself as to how and when He created. He has also ensured a written account of how the ‘race’ since then has proceeded, including some of the most important milestones such as the Fall. This explains why degenerative processes such as mutations, disease and death have become a part of life in this cursed universe. God’s Word also assures us of His provision of the only refreshment table along the way, where “….whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

Evolution was not at the starting line, and was not observed at any of the timing stations along the route. It did not run the race and therefore is disqualified from qualifying for the origins prize. It is not enough to turn up at the finish line to claim the prize. Paul says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)

References and notes

  1. ‘Battle over evolution’ Bill Moyers interviews Richard Dawkins, Now, 3 December 2004, PBS network. Return to text.
  2. Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, USA, 1986, P. 1. Return to text.
  3. Johnson, Phillip E., Darwin on Trial, Inter Varsity Press, Illinois, 1993, P. 66. Return to text.
  4. Ref. 3, P. 69. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

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Six-Day Creation
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By Design
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Unraveling the Origins Controversy
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Reader’s comments

Peter P.
I enjoyed the excellent analogy! I was also hoping for Dr Kruger's times. Is he in the photo at 11:33:13? Well done!
Marc Ambler
9h27m was Johan's best time, about halfway through the field. The 2015 race was run yesterday and for the first time in many years, both the men's and women's sections were won by South African athletes.
Aleksandar K.
I know you spoke of this many times, but you should point out in every article that not only mutations but also selection results in a net loss of specific information in the DNA.
sean H.
Excellent article.

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