Does Evolution Disprove the Bible?
Written by Paul D. Race for School Of The Rock
This is not a point-by-point attack on this week's version of evolutionary "facts." These have changed so often and so radically during my lifetime that I have trouble taking the current "correct facts" as seriously as I probably should. Besides, there are other folks who've devoted large portions of their lives to keeping up with each new "fact," so they could debunk it. Let's just say that's not my "ministry." However, I do have time to look at some history and general principles, and evaluate whether evolutionists have made a slam-dunk case against the existence of God, as some people seem to think.
Also, before I get started, I wish to apologize to the researchers who are knee-deep in mud in some third-world country right now trying to find evidence about early peoples - that is to those who do their research with true scientific rigor and report the facts honestly. Personally, I am fascinated by what real archaeologists do and excited by each new discovery, even if I don't always share your conclusions as to what it might represent.
This article is not written to target you or to criticize legitimate scientific research in any quarter. Rather it is written to address the claims of some individuals, many of whom are not even in the scientific community, who keep telling the rest of the world that the latest fossil discovery or some such has disproved the Bible or the existence of God, or some such once and for all. You are all aware (or should be) that some folks have a history of jumping from "we found this" to "we now know that" at every opportunity.
Now that I'm done with the disclaimer part, I'd like to start the "does evolution disprove the Bible" discussion by glancing at the historical context of Darwin's original publication.
Does Creation Presuppose a Creator? - Since ancient times, religious people have seen the beauty and diversity of the natural world as a compelling argument for the existence of a Creator -the "creation presupposes a Creator" argument. Then, during the "Age of Reason," it became popular among certain intellectual circles to discredit most claims of religion (especially in France, which equated religion with the monarchy and wanted nothing to do with either). Simultaneously, scientific academies began looking for natural causes for things they didn't yet understand, rather than blaming things on "evil winds" or demons or whatever. Looking for natural causes for natural phenomenon is the basis of modern science, so that's a good thing, and the reason we don't leech people with appendicitis any more.
This search for natural causes, combined with rejection of religion, gave birth to a search for natural causes that would replace divine creation as the reason for our universe. Such an explanation would give people who didn't want to have anything to do with religion an answer to the "creation presupposes a Creator" argument.
Darwin Did Not Invent or Discover "Evolution" - The way Darwin is cannonized today, you wouldn't know that many educated men believed in a sort of evolution long before Charles Darwin ever set sail on the Beagle, much less published his theories. But no one could prove that "lower" life forms had really evolved to "higher," or even provide a plausible case for why they should. It was, frankly, common to credit a sort of "life force," an intrinsic drive in living beings to somehow improve themselves - not unlike modern folks who reject Christianity but buy into something like George Lucas' vision of "the Force."
Darwin Did Contribute a Plausible Mechanism for Evolution - Darwin's contribution was not the idea of evolution, as most people mistakenly believe today, but the mechanism for it - survival of the fittest. Most people today don't realized that almost everything else Darwin wrote about evolution has long since been discredited. But his notion of "natural selection" is still a governing principle in evolutionary hypotheses today.
Darwin Did Not Prove that Man Descended from Apes - No one who actually reads believes that he did, but every day I encounter people who don't read, and many of them seem to be under the impression that Darwin "proved" human evolution. Darwin did suggest the possibility, and that was all that was necessary for his followers to go off on a search for missing links. However, the first generation after his publication provided no evidence of "missing links" between apes and man except for a handful of misidentified fossils and one deliberate hoax that was promoted as "proof of evolution" for decades.
Supporters of Evolution Have Spent over a Century Jumping to Conclusions - In the years since Darwin published his principle, many ancient ape-like, human, and humanoid (human-like) fossils have been discovered. Each major discovery reset the arguments about where human evolution occurred, which fossil monkeys were supposedly our ancestors, and so on.
Each newly revised hypothesis (even the ones based on inaccurately identified fossils and hoaxes) were promoted as "scientific facts" while they were in vogue, and then replaced by a new set of "scientific facts" within a few years. If you could line up one college Biology textbook from each decade since 1940, you'd discover that each book's "proven science" would provide an entirely different account of "human evolution."
How have promoters of evolution rationalized the growing trail of disproved evidence and once-popular-but-now-rejected notions? Easy. Each time a new bit of evidence discredited something that was previously taught as "scientific fact," some spokesperson would announce that "even though we were wrong about some details, the case for human evolution is even stronger because now we know exactly how it happened." Then the cycle has been repeated in a decade or two.
Besides such “apologetics,” promoters of evolution have long gone out of their way to portray those who disagreed with them as ignorant reactionaries. As an example, during the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial," "enlightened people" rushed to the defense of an "enlightened" science teacher who was arrested for teaching evolution. The self-proclaimed "intelligentia" of the time (and the author of the play Inherit the Wind) saw the trial as a battle between "modern science" and "pig-headed ignorance." But if anyone tried today to teach the "facts" about evolution as they were "known" in 1925 (when "Piltdown Man" was still considered "scientific evidence"), he would find himself opposed, not only by Creationists, but also by scientists of every stripe.
In other words, once Scopes got past Darwin's basic axiom of natural selection, everything Scopes taught really was wrong, even by the standards of mid-20th-century science. Nor were Scopes and his supporters the last generation to be taken in.
Everything Most Baby Boomers "Know" About Evolution is Wrong - To bring the discussion ahead by several decades, nearly all of the "facts" I learned about the evolution of mankind when I was in school (1950s and 1960s) had been overthrown with new "facts" by the time I was in college (1970s). For a few examples:
The famous chart of Eohippus' "proven" decent into modern horses was exposed as a fraud by people who noticed that the chronology of the fossils was all wrong - were they all horse-like creatures? Yes. Did the bigger, more "horse-like" fossils come after the smaller less "horse-like" fossils? Only in a few cases.
The famous series of drawings that "proved evolution" by showing human embryos and fetuses going through stages that "reflected evolution" was exposed as another deliberate fraud.
The fossils that first "proved" the existence of "Homo Erectus," a small-brained, somewhat crouching, early human were discovered to be mis-identified - then conveniently "lost."
Neanderthal, which was supposed to be a direct ancestor of modern man, was later determined to be a sort of poor cousin who was contemporary with “modern man” and occasionally interbred.
We now know that at least some of the Australopithicus fossils that Dr. Leaky purported to be human ancestors were actually found in the same strata as human bones. Worse yet, we also know that Leaky sat on that evidence as long as possible.
This is old news, of course. Especially to folks who were born twenty or forty year after me. But it shows a pattern of purported "proofs" of human evolution that permanently swayed a generation or two before they (quietly) took their place alongside Piltdown man as embarrassments to the scientific community.
The short story is that virtually all of the "evidence" that my generation's teachers, professors, and textbook authors used to "prove" human evolution to us baby boomers has long since been disproven.
Nevertheless most Baby Boomers treat human evolution as an "established fact," even if everything they "know about" evolution is wrong by everybody’s standards today.
Also, Everything Most X- and Y-Generationers "Know" About Evolution is Wrong - To bring the discussion even farther forward, key "facts" about human evolution that were published in the 1980s and 1990s have been disproved. A host of minor "proofs" have been overturned. But they pale in comparison to the hype about "Lucy," a 1974 fossil find that was washed out of a hillside by a storm (so that the positional evidence was lost) and recovered by a "team" that included hung-over, partying celebrities on vacation at the site. In spite of the obvious lack of "scientific rigor" at the site, Lucy became the poster child for evolution. For thirty years, she appeared as "proof of human evolution" in textbooks for all ages. Evolutionists shouted "Now We Know for Sure" louder and longer than ever. As late as 2006, National Geographic was still touting Lucy as a human ancestor, But in 2007, studies of her jaw bone proved that she was anything but.
Ironically, Dr. Leakey's son, still in the field after Lucy was discovered, always claimed that Lucy was both misdated and misinterpreted; for that he was cold-shouldered by the "politically-correct" (and better-funded) "scientific community."
Of course other, "promising" fossils have been found in the meantime, and it's only a matter of time before evolutionists have a new "poster child." But I am still waiting for the people who told my children that Lucy was "proof of human evolution" to contact them with a retraction. Should I hold my breath?.
The point of all this is not to "prove" that the theory of human evolution is "wrong" - that's beyond the scope of this article - but to point out that:
- Evolutionists are habitually quick to claim each new piece of evidence as the "absolute proof of human evolution," and reluctant to acknowledge when they are proven wrong.
- Evolutionists have been known to suppress evidence and even ostracize other scientists whose legitimate research throws doubt on their "proof."
- Most tellingly, most American borns after 1945 believe that human evolution is "proven science," even though the "facts" on which that faith is based have long since been disproven.
Of course, by the time you're reading this article, someone will have proposed some new "Lucy" or other "absolute proof of human evolution" that will dominate textbooks and influence students for the next generation or two. Please pardon me if I don't buy what they're selling this time.
Where Are We Now?
After over a century of insistence that evolutionary convictions somehow "override" people's right to believe the Bible, a few basic observations are worth review:
Darwin's proposal that natural selection causes species to diverge cannot be "disproven." To "disprove" that principle would require you to prove that the converse is true - that "survival of the fittest" has never caused species to differentiate. And it's impossible to "prove" that sort of negative statement for the same reason it's impossible to "prove" the statement "There is no God." You'd have to know everything - in short, you'd have to be God.
Each generation's theories of how the human species supposedly evolved have been disproved, often by the discovery of additional evidence. As often as not, the same evidence that disproves one theory suggests another, so, at any given time, scientists are operating from a set of theories that have yet to be disproved - while publishing them as fact. "THIS TIME we have it right."
Today, most people you meet on the street would tell you they "believe in (human) evolution." But if you pressed them to tell you why, the vast majority could only come up "evidence" that has long-since been disproven.
None of this disproves the Bible. Evolutionary precepts cannot "disprove" the existence of God (or even of a six-day creation). You can't disprove either unless you're a time traveler or omniscient yourself. Evolutionary precepts merely give people who don't want to feel accountable to a creator a "way out" of faith. "
Ironically the last item in the list above leads to a point on which the most ardent creationists and the most ardent atheists agree- the notion that the existence of God and, consequently, the claims of Christ depend directly on whether the six-day creation account is literally true. But do they really? After all, even if you could somehow prove that evolution really happened according to this week's interpretation of the fossil record, would that disprove the existence of God? Would it even "disprove" the Bible?
In the worst possible case all it could prove was that the first book of the Bible uses prophetic metaphor (just like the last book of the Bible and many in between). My creationist friends just had a heart attack when they read that last sentence. But I included that “worst case” only to show that the question "Is there a Creator?" is much bigger than questions about exactly how creation arrived at its present state, and which verses in Genesis 1-3 are symbolic.
After all, even if you can remove the “creation supposes a creator” argument from your personal list of things to worry about, there are many other reasons people believe in God, that the scientific community has never really come up with any kind of answer for besides ridicule (which is not exactly an answer).
What IS the Big Question?
Is the balance between literal and figurative interpretations of Genesis 1-3 important? Yes. Is it it the most compelling question facing every human on the planet? No.
What each homo sapiens must consider is that - in spite of today's religion-haters and their compelling "evidence of the week" that God is "unnecessary" if not nonexistent - there still just might be a God.
Whatever you believe about the origin of the universe or the origin of species, can you be absolutely certain that there is not a Divine Purpose behind it all? Would it surprise you to learn that many of Darwin's early supporters thought there was? It was only a half-century later that atheism and Darwinism became generally linked in the public consciousness.
The God Who Is There
Christians believe that:
- A God who is outside our space-time continuum created the universe in which we dwell; He also sustains it through ongoing personal attention.
- We believe that every person is accountable to Him, no matter what our views are on any political, or aesthetic, or scientific matter.
- We believe that the wrong things we do to other people and our refusal to recognize our dependence on God have severed our relationship with God.
- We also believe that God loves us and would rather see our relationship to Him restored than to see us suffer punishment for the wrong things we have done.
- For that reason, God himself became human in the person of Jesus and suffered the punishment we should have suffered.
- Then Jesus rose from the dead, which shows that He paid our debt in full, and that we may also look forward to eternal life in a restored relationship with God.
If you're predisposed not to believe any of this, does the option of choosing an evolutionary view give you an intellectual "out"? Of course it does. Does the option of choosing an evolutionary view once-and-for-all disprove any statement in the list above? Of course not.
The most critical question facing you is not "Do you believe that the principle of the ‘survival of the fittest' led to the development of the human species from lower life forms?" It's "Are you entirely certain that you have no Creator to whom you might be accountable?"
And are you sure you can trust the same people who have been revised their "proven scientific facts" for over a century to answer that question correctly for you?
This is one case where an apology of "Oops, we made a mistake, but we're sure we have it right this time" may not be good enough.
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