Na-ked [ney-kid]

1. plain; simple; unadorned: the naked realities of the matter.
2. not accompanied or supplemented by anything else: a naked outline of the facts.
3. exposed to view or plainly revealed
4. plain-spoken; blunt: the naked truth.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is Evolution Just a Theory?

Creationists argue that evolution is "only a theory and cannot be proven."

As used in science, a theory is an explanation or model based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning, especially one that has been tested and confirmed as a general principle helping to explain and predict natural phenomena.

Any scientific theory must be based on a careful and rational examination of the facts. A clear distinction needs to be made between facts (things which can be observed and/or measured) and theories (explanations which correlate and interpret the facts).

A fact is something that is supported by unmistakeable evidence. For example, the Grand Canyon cuts through layers of different kinds of rock, such as the Coconino sandstone, Hermit shale, and Redwall limestone. These rock layers often contain fossils that are found only in certain layers. Those are the facts.

It is a fact is that fossil skulls have been found that are intermediate in appearance between humans and modern apes. It is a fact that fossils have been found that are clearly intermediate in appearance between dinosaurs and birds.

Facts may be interpreted in different ways by different individuals, but that doesn't change the facts themselves.

Theories may be good, bad, or indifferent. They may be well established by the factual evidence, or they may lack credibility. Before a theory is given any credence in the scientific community, it must be subjected to "peer review." This means that the proposed theory must be published in a legitimate scientific journal in order to provide the opportunity for other scientists to evaluate the relevant factual information and publish their conclusions.

Creationists refuse to subject their "theories" to peer reviews, because they know they don't fit the facts. The creationist mindset is distorted by the concept of "good science" (creationism) vs. "bad science" (anything not in agreement with creationism). Creation "scientists" are biblical fundamentalists who can not accept anything contrary to their sectarian religioius beliefs.


  1. I must say that this is a passionate point for me. As a Christian I must admit that there is a lot of blind sword wielding from the religious right that paints any and all creationists as being unable or unwilling to recognize obvious truth and proof in science. I cannot for one moment deny that there are obvious facts that point to the truth of evolution, but I am not convinced that the final resting place of the debate lies on one side or the other.

    I believe that the universe was created intelligently. However, entwined with that belief is my belief that God created the universe to function within a set of scientific laws that govern it. I believe that it is possible to harmonize the obvious proof that evolution exists with the assertion that God created the universe and all that is in it.

    Those who firmly assert that the earth was created in 6 literal days are, in my opinion missing some fundamental truths about the nature of God as well as some basic theological points which contradict their assertion.

    Genesis tells us that God created the earth in 6 "days", but when we read the account we find that it wasn't until the fourth day that God even created a system to govern what we know as night and day...

    "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day."

    This passage offers an alternative to be explored, the idea that the Genesis account of 6 "days" of creation actually refers to 6 distinct steps of creation.

    Many Christians simply take Genesis 1:3 as definitive proof that the days were literal and attempt to end the argument then and there...

    "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day."

    This, however doesn't hold much merit since our idea of time is based on the physical layout of our solar system, which at this point in the account has not even been created. Our 24 hour day obviously comes from the time it takes our planet to make one full rotation, but the physical form of the planet was not even created until day 3. This leads me to believe that the Biblical account of six days is not literal but rather an attempt to explain something beyond explanation given what would have been known about the earth at that time (which would have been next to nothing). It is therefor reasonable to believe that the six days spoken of in the Bible are not literal but rather metaphorical.

    Under this model it is entirely plausible that God employed the laws of nature to create the earth. In other words, God could set into motion any number of natural phenomena to form the earth as we know it, including millions of years of sedimentary build up and distinct and proven historical ages which could include the ice age and the time when dinosaurs walked the earth. It is possible that God set into motion millions of years of earth events to bring the planet to a point where it could sustain life. This includes building up a proper atmosphere and climate that humans could survive in. So when the Bible speaks of land being created in one day, the actual time could have been millions upon millions of years. This argument leaves plenty of room for what science has proven about evolution and the nature and age of our planet. (continued in next post)

  2. Given this I believe that the only real question to debate isn't whether or not evolution is a reality (which I believe it is) but rather what exactly set evolution into motion.

    This question really has two possible explanations: first, there was matter in space which exploded and created the universe, or second, there was a being with the power to create who designed the universe and brought it into being. Either one requires a faith in something inexplicable. You must either believe that matter existed before time or that God did. Either way we reach an end that has no obvious answer.

    On a personal level I find it easier to believe in a God that we cannot understand than to believe in inanimate matter that created itself, but the defining point for me is the ways in which I have experienced God in my own life. I have no doubt that God is present in my life since He has proved himself to me time and time again. This, however, is dependent on a conscious choice to open yourself up to that presence. For me, God must be experienced and this experience is a chosen one.

    God created me with a brain, and I think He intended for me to use it. I cannot refute what science clearly shows us is true. I must then open my mind to a different reality than the one I was taught in Sunday school. I believe that a reconciliation of science and faith is possible. I suppose that makes me a "created-evolutionist".

  3. This is an intelligent response Dan. I can see that you feel quite passionately about it and are not wearing blinders.

    First off, I would like to point out that the Darwin's Theory of Evolution does not explain the origin of life on Earth. He proposed that all of the millions of species of organisms present today, including humans, evolved slowly over billions of years, from a common ancestor by way of natural selection. This idea said that the individuals best adapted to their habitat passed on their traits to their offspring. Over time these advantageous qualities accumulated and transformed the individual into a species entirely different from its ancestors.

    Human beings have an innate need to know. In the past, a lack of knowledge in an area was given a mystical explanation. One only needs to look at that plethora of creation myths scattered across the globe to see this.
    In my opinion, what is written is cannot be god-inspired if it reflects the limited knowledge of the time.

    I do not propose to know the origin of life on our world or the universe, nor would I propose that one myth is more valid than the next. In fact, I am quite comfortable in saying: “I don’t know, but we’re getting closer to the answers.”

    I would encourage you to read up on Oparin’s hypothesis and Miller’s Experiment. Basically, Miller was able to produce Amino Acids, the basic elements of proteins, which are the building blocks of living cells, based on Oparin’s hypothesis.

  4. I agree about the nature of evolution, thats not an issue for me. The only issue I have is the practice of reducing theistic thought to unintelligent mysticism. I arrived at my point of belief by the same means as you, namely reason and logic. The beauty of logic is that it doesn't always match up with someone else's.

    I would have to argue with the idea that limited knowledge of the time translates to a lesser ability to reason (which seems implied, I may be off on that). I believe that the human capacity for logical thought remains unchanged since the time the Bible was written, which stands to reason that the people of the day were just as likely to come to a logical belief in creation as I am. I realize that now we have the luxury of science and technology, but this really only means that we can fill in the gaps and re-examine our reality. It makes the idea of an intelligent creator no less likely.

    I am really glad we can have this discussion intelligently. I have had these conversations in other forums and they usually wind up in belittling and name-calling. I guess it helps that I like you guys!

    I am definitely going to check out those resources you have pointed out. I think it is only fair that all sides be given equal weight and my arguments would hold no merit if I were completely uninformed! Can't wait to continue this one!

  5. This is why you and I have always gotten along so well, brother. You've always been reasonable and intelligent in your approach to just about any situation. While I have posted some items on this blog that may be considered offensive, or accusatory, most were meant to be more comical than finger-pointing. I've never been the type of person to name-call, or belittle someone elses beliefs. In fact, I even posted some items that make fun of Atheists. There are certain aspects of organized religion that I take issue with, but if someone is made a better person, or better able to cope with hardships because of their faith in a higher power (be it God, Buddha, Allah, etc.), then I don't see the harm in that. I've enjoyed reading your responses on the subject, and look forward to further discussion. :)

  6. So I have been reading a little on Oparin's hypothesis and the idea of abiogenesis. Im not sure that really puts us any closer to the root of the debate, but it raises some interesting points...

    There seems to be some concensus amongst atheists that Christians (or other creationsists) will not give credence to any form of science. There is a good reason for this viewpoint: it is mostly true. Many Christians operate under the assumption that to question anything taught within the church is a sin. I don't fully buy into that idea. Actually, I don't even partially by into that idea.

    I think this plays into the widely popular view within the church of the origin of life on earth. There seems to be a prevailing view of God waving his hand and creating life as some sort of genie magic, but I don't buy that. I am becoming increasingly convinced of the fact that God took a long, long time to create life. It stands to reason from a Christian viewpoint that if we are God's most cherished creation He likely took some time in creating us. The amazing balance of factors it takes for us to live is too incredible to have been thought up on a whim. This genie view of God is candy coated and cartoonish and I for one reject it. This does not mean I reject God or His power, but He is certainly not the white-robed old man on the felt board of my sunday school class...

    Now the concept of abiogenesis to me really does nothing to settle the debate. I agree that the science seems too solid to deny, which is why I won't. But as I said before, there is plenty of room for both faith and science. As I said in previous posts, it seems only logical that if God created the universe and the laws that govern it then He would have also created us from within those laws. If God chose to create the building blocks of life by first creating the conditions for them to occur abiogenetically then we are no closer to an answer. I believe that any and all science can be effectively applied to creation theory if Christians/creationsists agree not to check their brains at the door. The central issue goes back a lot further than how life began on earth. We may be able to agree on how life developed under the perfect and sterile conditions of early earth, but how those conditions came to be is as much a mystery to the scientific community as it is to the faith community. To put any argument to rest we need to answer the ultimate question of where the universe came from. Even the idea of an ever-expanding singularity (the center point of the "Big Bang theory" ) is no more provable than a God who existed before time and space.

    At this point all things become philosophical. Astrophysicist George F. R. Ellis is quoted as saying: "People need to be aware that there is a range of models that could explain the observations….For instance, I can construct you a spherically symmetrical universe with Earth at its center, and you cannot disprove it based on observations….You can only exclude it on philosophical grounds. In my view there is absolutely nothing wrong in that. What I want to bring into the open is the fact that we are using philosophical criteria in choosing our models. A lot of cosmology tries to hide that."

    If we are going to discuss the existence of God we need to move away from evolution or the origin of life on earth (mostly because I am going to agree with most of your evidence). To really get into it we need to tackle the big fish: the origins of the universe.

  7. It's nice to know that the notion of all Christians rejecting science, is wrong. I always wondered how it was that seemingly intelligent people could ignore such strong evidence. I can definitely see where this reconciliation of science and faith works. All views on the subject stem from an unknown at the source, so no one is really wrong, based solely on these facts. This answer would have definitely pacified me, if it were my only doubt.

  8. Well the only thing I would disagree with is the statement that based on those facts no one is wrong...logically one side has to be. What I am saying is that science is not enough to prove that one side or the other is right. That's where it becomes a philosophical debate to some extent. The argument for either side could be just as convincing from a strictly logical standpoint, so it is stalemate. That's why I always assert that my belief in God stems from my experiences with His presence in my life.

    I would love to know what other doubts you have...Im not trying to stir anything up. I just think the conversation is worthwhile if for nothing more than a brain workout...

  9. I agree that the origin of the Universe is still very much an unknown. There are several models that are being explored but at this point in time, we don't know and I'm okay with that.
    Our ancestors presumed that rainfall, earthquakes, eruptions, the changing of the seasons, the tides, eclipses … were all controlled by deities. Through observation and scientific research, we now know that these events are natural phenomena and not acts of god(s).
    So I agree that our ancestors’ capacity to reason was not any less than ours; but I would argue that our ability to find the answers to life's mysteries is limited by the technology of the day. This is why I cannot ascribe the creation of the universe to any one god or pantheon.

    I also agree that the 6 day creation myth of the Abrahamic Tradition is hard to swallow. I admire the fact that you are open-minded enough to see the evidence for what it is and have reconciled your faith based on your personal observations, research and your belief system. I would argue, however, that your beliefs are determined by your geographic location and the time period in which you are born. History and the world are full of creation stories and many of them are quite ridiculous. But when we are dealing with an unknown that cannot be proven yet, there is no rational argument to determine the validity of one story over the next.


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