Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Q and A on Creation versus Evolution

Alice C. Linsley

I was recently reading what Religious Tolerance.org has published on the debate between creationists and evolutionists. I was struck by how the site raises significant questions but fails to answer them. So I have constructed a Q and A using material from that page to present answers that might clarify the issues.


RT: Will the battle between evolution and creationism be settled in the foreseeable future?

Not likely. The battle ground is the book of Genesis and the conflict has to do with warring interpretations of that book. The general populace must be better acquainted with what Genesis actually says before there can be a resolution of this falsely framed conflict. A proper understanding of Genesis can resolve the creation versus evolution debate, but the media and the schools are not going to make the effort to learn what Genesis tells us and to transmit that information to the public. Journalists love debate (even ones based on false premises) and the schools, both public and religious, have too much invested in their systems of interpretation to set them aside in favor of the truth.



RT: There seems to be a trend among some Christian schools and colleges to abandon creationism in favor of theistic evolution -- the concept that God used evolution of the species over billions of years to create the species that we see today. What do you think of this trend?

It is not helpful. Genesis asserts that the order of creation is fixed and unchanging. This assertion must be understood before it can be either accepted or rejected. By fixed order the Bible means that God has established the order of creation with flexible but fixed boundaries. This means that there is change within species but not evolution from one species to a totally different species. This is why humans produce only humans and if there is something wrong with the genetic code, the fetus usually aborts. Likewise, plants produce plants, animals produce animals and bacteria, while it can mutate, is still bacteria.

Examples cited of evolution from one species to another are not backed up with physical evidence. For example, the public school biology books assume that humans evolved from lower primates and show this in drawings beginning with a hairy, stooped-shouldered and long-armed creature whose form over a series of drawings becomes more like modern humans. These drawings have no basis in physical evidence however. They are a theoretical model. In fact, the oldest human fossils show every evidence of being fully human. There is a range of physical structure among these remains, just as there is a range of physical appearance among humans today. In other words, after 85 years of frantic searching for the “missing link” none has ever been found. Nor will such a specimen be found if Genesis is correct in the assertion that God’s order of creation has fixed boundaries.



RT: Does acceptance of theistic or naturalistic evolution require people to interpret Genesis symbolically or to reclassify the creation stories as myths?

No. Analysis of the Genesis material makes it clear that the author understood the difference between historical and mythological. This is evident in analysis of the kinship pattern of Genesis 4 and 5 which shows intermarriage between the descendents of Cain and his brother Seth. Both men were rulers and they married the daughters of an African ruler named Enoch (Nok). So the author knew that Cain and Seth pertain to history while the Adam and Eve story pertains to mythology. Even in the story of the Fall there is evidence of an historical event which must have taken place in southern Africa before 70,000 years ago.



RT: The creation stories are closely tied to the fall of man. If Genesis were interpreted as symbolic or myth, wouldn’t the entire role of Jesus have to be reinterpreted? Without original sin, there is no obvious need for a savior.

The idea that something is wrong with this world is universal and hardly based on acceptance of the Genesis account of the Fall. In Hinduism, the fallen world is to be escaped. In Buddhism, the suffering of this world is to be overcome. The Jews, who have suffered throughout history, don’t need to be told that this is a fallen world or that evil exists. Each religion offers a different hope for salvation or escape from this world, but the oldest offer is traceable back to the oldest religious beliefs which apparently involved close communion between the Creator and His creatures and a promise of restoration of that communion through the royal Son who would be born from the priestly lines going back to Eden where the promise was made and has been remembered all these millennia.



14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ms. Linsley, you write: ...the author understood the difference between historical and mythological... Would this be Moses/Mosaic authorship?
Best, Brent

Alice C. Linsley said...

Accoding to Jewish Tradition the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible were written under the authority of Moses. This doesn't mean that Moses himself wrote them. I don't know who the human author or compiler was. I lean toward a priest of the time of David. Ultimately the author of all of Scripture is God Himself!

The author knew the difference because he placed mythological material addressing "beginnings" first and then the ruler lists of Gen. 4 (Cain's line) and Gen. 5 (Seth's line) next, recognizing that these rulers married into the House of Nok (Enoch) since the first-born sons of both men were named after their father-in-law (Nok) by their cousin brides. The marriage pattern with cousin bride's naming prerogative was already well established. These were rulers over territories and Cain is said to have been a city builder. The author of Genesis recognized that this ancient geneological data represents a time well after the creation of the world.

Matushka Elizabeth said...

I absolutely love your research and writing on these topics! When we did homeschool science classes with our daughters, we clearly distinguished between "macro" and "micro" evolution and it really helped clarify the issues. Keep on writing!

Alice C. Linsley said...

How wonderful to know that some who homeschool provide really sound information!

I appreciate you encouragement. :)

(I'll be in touch with you about publishing another of your wonderful poems soon.)

Anonymous said...

There is no such distinction between macro and micro evolution: evolution of species is the result of gradual, accumulated change. Protein and dna analysis is sufficient evidence in and if itself to establish the foundations of human evolutionary history.

You are of course entitled to preach anyrhing you want, but I hope your readers (especially homeschoolers) don't confuse this with Orthodox teaching- as +Kallistos is prone to say, the evidence for evolution is 'beyond dispute.'

Alice C. Linsley said...

Anonymous, there is indeed a distinction between macro and micro evolution. Micro evolution which involves change within species is well supported. Consider how the horse has changed. Macro evolution from one species to another is not well supported. Many geneticists and anthropologists recognize that this is so. If you are convinced that macro evolution of human from apes and all things from ionized primordial soup, please give examples that are conclusive.

The claim of universality of the DNA code as a prediction of common descent doesn't align with known variations that violate this prediction. At the same time there appear to be specific fixed boundaries within the DNA code. It is ludicrous to assume that because nurse sharks and camels share an antigen receptor protein they are descended from a common ancestor. The DNA sequences that code for the proteins are different between sharks and camels.

This suggests that what are held to be examples of evolutionary changes are not really changes. The horse was once smaller and is now large. Yet the horse's essence has not changed. The earliest human fossils show a range of anatomical features yet all these features are found among humans today. The nearly complete skulls of people who lived 160,000 years ago are, in the words of paleontologist Tim White, "like modern-day humans in almost every feature."

When Jeremy DeSilva, a British anthropologist, compared the ankle joint, the tibia and the talus of fossil "hominins" between 4.12 million to 1.53 million years old, he discovered that all of the hominin ankle joints resembled those of modern humans rather than those of apes.

Secular Humanism said...

Using the scientific method as the criterion, neither creation nor evolution is an established scientific theory. Evolution is stuck on the 3rd step of the 7-step process, establishing a testable hypothesis. After 150 years, the evolution hypothesis is still being “tweaked” and the 4th step, testing the hypothesis has not yet occurred. So, why is evolution being pushed as a “fact”? The scientific method also requires that a proposed principle be “falsifiable”, that is, there is a method to prove the hypothesis false. Since creation is based on the existence of God, and God cannot be proven by science, it is a matter of philosophy or faith, not science. Actually, evolution suffers from that same deficit and is, until the falsifiable requirement is met, more of a philosophical speculation than a scientific theory. An excellent resource regarding the creation-evolution debate can be found at http://sechumanism.blogspot.com/p/secular-humanism.html

Alice C. Linsley said...

There are many scientific methods because there are different sciences. I'm using a scientific method to research Abraham's ancestors. The Bible claims that these are the ancestors of God.

Rupert said...

RT: Will the battle between evolution and creationism be settled in the foreseeable future?

Not likely. Despite the best efforts of the sciences, facts, evidence, proof and logic people still choose to believe in a single tome of amalgamated texts of dubious origin and an invisible entity.


RT: There seems to be a trend among some Christian schools.....What do you think of this trend?

It is not helpful. Muddying the waters of the sciences, facts, evidence, proof and logic with faith is less than truthful. Examples cited of evolution from one species to another are backed up with mountains of physical evidence.


RT: Does acceptance of theistic or naturalistic evolution require people to interpret Genesis symbolically or to reclassify the creation stories as myths?

Creation stories are myths no matter how you interpret them.


RT: The creation stories are closely tied to the fall of man. If Genesis were interpreted as symbolic or myth, wouldn’t the entire role of Jesus have to be reinterpreted? Without original sin, there is no obvious need for a savior.

Yes it would. If we acknowledge that god is not real, then satan is not real either, therefore no sin.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Genesis is a reliable tool for anthropological study of the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion and Abraham's Horite people. It serves anthropological investigation as much as it serves biblical archaeology.

Mairnéalach said...

Alice, to re-hash an old argument I had with you-

You state "...Nor will such a specimen be found if Genesis is correct in the assertion that God’s order of creation has fixed boundaries."

I believe you are correct to assume a "fixed order" teaching from the bible. However, you are going beyond the actual bible and importing your OWN definition of what the boundaries actually are.

In other words, you take this philosophy to indubitably mean that species are the boundary-- but the bible doesn't actually say that!

The "boundary" might just as well be the cell, or the atom.

You're starting with a sound premise but importing your own extra-biblical ideas into it.

The "fixedness" of creation is such an awesome, all-consuming concept, that to define it using species seems almost a mean and paltry definition.

Creation is rather "fixed" by the Cross-- the layers of dust which comprise the earth were laid upon a foundation of Roman wormwood from before the beginning of time.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Mairnealach, I think you may be correct in this and I finally understand what you have been arguing. Please forgive me for being so dense, but I tend to think very concretely, like a child really.

My question then is whether or not the boundaries set in creation on the level of genetics are objectively observable the way the binary distinctions of the Bible are observable and fixed? For example, the Sun appears always to rise in the east. On the phenomenolgical level and the genetic level are we speaking about fixed boundaries or limits, and is so, doesn't this means that macroevolution also has limits?

Mairnéalach said...

Alice, an idea has just sprung into my head from seeds planted over the past few years of studying this.

Simon Conway Morris, the respected British paleontologist, has convincingly argued that the pattern of biological evolution is not "random" in the sense that most speak of it. Rather, the paths converge and *must* arrive at man. While this is a metaphysical statement, Morris provides hard examples from the fossil record to support the idea. His is not an "ID" argument in the fashion typically spoken of in the American culture wars, but rather something closer to the classical design and anthropic arguments.

This contradicts Stephen Jay Gould, who famously said that the VHS tapes of evolution, if played back, would look different every time.

If Morris is correct, this can mean only one thing--evolution can indeed include "macro" level processes, but those processes are indeed "fixed" in a way--that can ONLY lead to the incarnation of Christ! Born of a virgin!

As for where to look for binary distinction... perhaps the binary reveals itself in the genetic code through Adam and Eve. Man and woman. Christ and church. The human species is unavoidable--evolution must arrive at us, because only through us can Christ be revealed. Our species must also be binary--male and female--because Christ is a bridegroom, and creation *must* fulfill his needs. (there was thus never any possibility that mankind could evolve as an asexual being!) Adam was alone in the garden so God provided a helpmeet; Christ was consumed with ardor and passion for a bride, so Creation itself provided a people for his unique possession alone.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Yes! So true. And stunningly beautiful. Thank you.