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Communicating truth with grace

Published: 29 September 2013 (GMT+10)

Part of what we do at CMI is answer skeptical enquirers “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). For example, James H. wrote in response to our Evolution vs God review:

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All this creationism [profanity deleted] makes my skin crawl. You ask for empirical evidence, but yet provide none of your own.

Evolution is as much a mathematical certainty as it is a theory. Random mutations in DNA and structures in cells cause new parts for organisms. Should these parts be beneficial for gene replication, then they are passed on, and if not are discarded. Over a long enough time scale, probabilities of useful mutations tend to 1. That’s just how probability works. Just because you can’t observe changes between species doesn’t make them not there.

I would certainly not call the theory of evolution “fact”, but the overwhelming amount of evidence for it, and the remarkably underwhelming lack of evidence against says a lot for its credibility. Creationism is a relic clinging on in the hearts and minds of those too misinformed to think logically and follow what observations of our past tell us is true.

Creationists say science can’t test what happened in the past with the same precision and certainty of present event, and this means we can’t be certain about evolution. This is all very true, but in the same sense, we can never know anything beyond our own experience. What we see and hear. So any history, recorded or not, under your argument, cannot be known to be true. For all you know the creation happened the moment of your earliest memory.

In your special little world, the earth and the skies were created just for us. But isn’t that incredibly egotistical. To think all this mystery and splendor was created for our viewing pleasure. We’re far too young and stupid as a species to fully understand where we come from, and that’s okay. But believing some misogynist in the sky magicked us into existence because it makes you feel special is not moving towards the answer.

Lita Sanders responds:

Dear Mr H.,

Thanks for writing in. One of the central arguments against the accumulation of mutations driving evolution is that mutations are the biological equivalent of rust and dings in a car, or typos in a manuscript. This has been referred to as Genetic Entropy and it is a powerful refutation of the “mutation + selection = Darwinian evolution” axiom. Just as rust and dings won’t turn a Beetle into a Porsche, or even a better version of a Beetle, mutations can break a lot of things, but we don’t have any examples of it adding things on the level of giving a sea creature lungs and legs, or any evidence that that’s what happened in the past (see Can mutations create new information?).

You say “over a long enough time scale” there is a near certainty of useful mutations. But I’ll point you to Genetic Entropy and the Mystery of the Genome, written by Dr John Sanford, who was a Cornell professor for over 25 years (who can certainly not be accused of ignorance in his own area of expertise; he is the inventor of the Gene Gun, after all). It argues precisely the opposite. To summarize:

  1. Nearly all mutations are deleterious, even if they don’t all have a strong effect.
  2. Natural selection only works at the level of the organism. Imagine if you had to choose the best instruction manual for constructing a bicycle, but based only on the bicycles constructed from the various manuals. Some would be easy to eliminate; they might have the handlebars on the wrong end, or have a missing chain. But most bicycles would look okay; you wouldn’t know how many typos the manuals had, or if they included some needless complications in the construction process; all you can look at is how well the bicycle functions.
    The point is, much like that, natural selection can only ‘see’ the organism, not its genome. And new discoveries regarding epigenetics show that there’s much more going on than simply the genes that the organism has. There are so many factors ‘masking’ most mutations that natural selection simply can’t ‘see’ the mutation, unless it’s big enough to kill the organism outright or substantially affect its functioning.
  3. Since nearly all mutations are deleterious, and since most mutations are having too small an effect to be selected out of the population, that means that there is an unstoppable accumulation of deleterious mutations at the population level.
  4. Mutations are not causing us to evolve; rather, they will eventually cause the extinction of every single organism if left unchecked, and the more complicated the organism and the slower the reproductive rate the more likely it will go extinct. The only reason we believe humans will not go extinct is we believe that Jesus will return before this is able to happen.

It’s interesting that you would call evolution a mathematical certainty but not a fact; those would almost amount to the same thing, wouldn’t they?

CMI has more creation scientists (with PhDs in real scientific disciplines earned from major universities) than any other Christian ministry we know of; can you point out how they are misinformed or thinking illogically?

Our argument is not that we can never know about a historical event that we have not personally observed; we argue that we can only know about such an event via a trustworthy record. And we would argue that the Bible is such a record.

It would be incredibly egotistical to think that the universe was created ‘just for us’ and ‘for our viewing pleasure’. In fact, the Bible tells us that all things were created through and for Christ (Colossians 1:16). You say we’re far too young and too stupid as a species to understand where we came from—as you lean on scientists’ understanding about where we came from, and use that to repudiate Scripture, which claims to be from a superior Being, God Himself! But if we are so young and stupid, how can we know that we are to a point where our evolved abilities can tell us anything about our history at all? What if we are still too stupid to figure out reality and evolutionary theory is just a trick of our imaginations? For all we know, life could have been seeded on earth at some ‘advanced’ stage by aliens and then allowed to progress/evolve to the point where we actually believe we came from slime. Perhaps it will be millions of years more before we come to the point where we can see that we were created not by random chance but by intelligent design, albeit aliens. Where, exactly, in evolutionary theory does it say that we can understand evolutionary theory?

We believe, in fact, that the answer is that God created us and everything else. We believe that truth is written in the human heart so that we are without excuse if we deny Him (see Romans 1). God created human beings perfect, in a perfect world, with everything we could ever need. But our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God and sinned, bringing the death sentence on themselves and their descendants—because each one of us rebels against God as well.

We believe we deserve to die and go to Hell because we have sinned against our infinitely holy God. He would have been perfectly justified if He had decided to leave us to that fate. But God is a God of love, and He wanted to open the way for salvation and restoration back to a right relationship with Him. So He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth. He lived a perfectly holy life, obeying every law perfectly and never sinning. Then He took the death penalty in our place. Because He was God, He was able to bear the unimaginable wrath of God against sin. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day; that is proof alone that He is who he said he was–God. Now anyone who repents and trusts in Christ for salvation can be assured of eternal life.

James, I hope this response demonstrates that while you may continue to disagree with us, we are not as unreasoning and gullible as you make us out to be. In fact, this response is far more reasoned and less emotional than your message to us was. I hope at the very least it gives you some ‘food for thought’.

Sincerely,

Lita Sanders

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