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Is ‘devolution’ offensive to God?

Photo: wikipedia.org by Haplochromis Astyanax mexicanus, normal Form and blind Cave-Form
Astyanax mexicanus, normal form and blind cave-form.

Bob H wrote us to say:

I read your article about the lungless frog. The author claims this is an example of “devolution”….where the lungless frog descended from a frog with lungs. What a slap in the face of God! Can you not believe that God could have created a frog without lungs? How can you believe that God would allow one of his creatures to lose a body part that He himself created? You people are going to hell!

Dr Carl Wieland replied:

Dear Mr H—/ Dear Bob

Thank you for your email.

I had to rub my eyes to be sure that it was intended seriously or not, and to be honest, I am still not totally sure.

I would not have thought that any Christian reading Genesis about the Fall and the Curse on creation, and looking around at this bleeding, dying, degenerating world (see Romans 8:22 and surrounding verses, also) would think it was somehow unbiblical to conclude that this degeneration has at times extended to the loss of structures or functions.

Especially when, in this fallen world, mutations can be observed causing not just loss of genes, and inherited diseases, but actual inheritable loss of the ability to produce certain structures, exactly the point at issue (for instance, the TNR mutation, in which chickens have lost the capacity to produce feathers).

Beetles living on small windy islands have most often clearly lost their wings in a similar way, as one can see scars where their wings used to be–see creation.com/beetle.

Similarly, many eyeless fish in caves have clearly descended from ancestors that had them. Should anyone retort ‘How do you know?’ the evidence is much greater than the fact that they still have the scars where their eyes used to be. When one crosses different strains of such eyeless fish, eyes can be made to reappear, indicating that the information for eyes is still present, but was suppressed, i.e. they were not created as eyeless. Read Let the blind see … Breeding blind fish with blind fish restores sight.

It is our repeated experience that the fact that the changes in living things are going in the wrong direction for evolution—not evolving upwards to greater functionality and complexity, but degenerating from an original high state of complexity and functionality—is very important in battling against this evolutionary belief system, which is such a huge barrier to the Gospel. See creation.com/train.

But speaking of the way our articles try to overcome barriers to belief in Christ, what was particularly stunning about your email was something else. Let’s say for the sake of discussion that we were wrong on this point. Let’s say that our understanding here of the biology was actually mistaken. And let’s assume that we had misunderstood or misapplied the biblical teaching of the Fall in our efforts to understand the truths of Genesis history, in order to defend the faith in this area.

The fact that you would consign us to hell for this (or assume that God would, regardless of His marvellous saving grace that led to our faith in Christ, which motivates all we do) is both astonishing and puzzling.

Frankly, I can’t even begin to see that the notion that a line of frogs has through mutational degeneration lost the capacity to generate lungs is a ‘slap in the face of God’ any more than the idea that God would allow one of His creatures to lose the ability to produce wings or feathers, which is not just an idea, it has clearly happened as per the factual examples above. Or that He would allow a thalidomide victim to be born having lost the capacity to produce limbs—which I’m sure you know has also happened, tragically.

But—I’m sort of still hoping that you will tell me that it was all just an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humour or some such, and that you really do understand why it is important to take a stand against evolution that is based on actual Genesis history, of which the Fall/Curse is a crucial component…

Sincerely yours,

Carl W.

Published: 31 May 2014

Helpful Resources

Genetic Entropy
by Dr John Sanford
US $25.00
Soft cover