Friday, November 12, 2010

Support The BioLogos Forum

Alice C. Linsley

The BioLogos Forum is led by a group of evangelical Christians who are committed to promoting a perspective on the origins of life that is "theologically and scientifically sound." As far as I know, none are anthropologists, but I don't hold that against them! These folks are biochemists and theologians who use the language of evolution, which I happen to think isn't useful. Here's why:

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."[1]

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. [2]

In 1979 Mary Leakey discovered early footprints of humans at Laetoli in Tanzania. The footprints were preserved about 3.6 million years ago under falling ash from the nearby Sadiman volcano. The raised arch and rounded heel of the footprints showed that these creatures walked as humans today. Unfortunately, Lucy and her kin were given the name "Australopithicus" (meaning ape of the south) by Donald C. Johanson, though Mary Leakey would have called the finds Homo. She expressed her regret that "the Laetoli fellow is now doomed to be called Australopithecus afarensis," a name contrary to the evidence that Lucy and her people walked upright, had oppositional thumbs, short fingers, human dentition, built fire, shared their food, and used flints to scrap, saw and chop. [3]

With DNA samples from 2400 individuals from more than 100 modern African populations, researchers have identified a panel of 1327 sites of genetic variation across the entire genome. Analysis of the data suggests that modern Africans are descended from 14 ancestral populations, which correlate with known linguistic groups. Comparative linguistics and genetics are moving to similar conclusions when it comes to the question of "change" among humans. The evidence in both fields indicates a limited amount of flux, but no essential change.[4]

In other words, there is no evidence of essential change within "kinds", and no support for the macro-evolutionary view of change from one kind into another kind. Roux and others say, "Evolutionary convergence at the molecular level is presumed to be widespread, but is poorly documented."[5]

Convergence evolution is an interpretation based on a non-biblical ideology, not an unbiased presentation of data.

Consider the work of Richard Lenski at Michigan State University. He has grown E. coli in the test-tube for more than 40,000 generations. The first generations showed little mutation. Then a “mutator” strain arose, after which new genetic varieties were present in all cells, resulting in more than 250 varieties. The total number of single changes is more than a thousand, yet Lenski has produced nothing fundamentally new.

It is important that we discuss these things as Christians and to examine the truth and validity of the biblical claim that there is a fixed order in creation, that is, life at all levels has boundaries beyond which it develops only abnormally. That's how we are able to identify anomalies. That's why I ask you to consider making a donation. Also, subscribe to The BioLogos Foundation's YouTube channel to see the latest from their "Conversations" video series.

Related reading:  Between Biblical Literalism and Biblical Illiteracy; Biblical Anthropologists Discuss Darwin

Here's a letter from the President of BioLogos

Regularly, we at BioLogos hear the very real stories of Christians who have experienced a crisis because they see no way out of the false choice between their faith and the scientific facts set before them. I think of the researcher who was singled out from the pulpit for her work as a paleontologist. Or the physician who has hidden his views for years from fellow believers. Or most tragically, the young college students who tell us that they must abandon the Christian life because they can no longer make sense of creationism doctrines that are clearly in conflict with the scientific data.

What a tragedy, that our brothers and sisters in Christ might choose spiritual death because they cannot reconcile a fundamentalist creationism with the evidence before them, when their faith does not require it. For those of us who know that Christ reigns, this situation is untenable.

Perhaps you have also been touched by the issues at the heart of the BioLogos mission. It is my earnest prayer that you will consider supporting this work with a gift to BioLogos. We are a young organization, and we are wholly dependent on God to provide. We trust that He will do so through the gifts of likeminded friends like you. A gift of $25, $100, $500, or more, can make a difference for a brother or sister in Christ.

1. Read the report on the 160,000 year old Ethiopian fossils here.

2. Chimpanzees flex their ankles 45 degrees from normal resting position. This makes it possible for apes to climb trees with great ease. While walking, humans flex their ankles a maximum of 20 degrees. The human ankle quite distinct from that of apes. Read more here.

3. There is evidence that Lucy and her kin butchered meat. This pushes back the use of butchering flints in this region from 2.6 to 3.4 million years ago. Here is the gist of the report: "stone-tool-inflicted marks on bones found during recent survey work in Dikika, Ethiopia, a research area close to Gona and Bouri. On the basis of low-power microscopic and environmental scanning electron microscope observations, these bones show unambiguous stone-tool cut marks for flesh removal and percussion marks for marrow access.” On page 11 of the supplementary materials, it states that microscopic stone fragments were found in the cut marks on the 2 fossilized bones, marks made by stone tools.

4. To read about the "out of Africa" gene study go here.

5. Roux et al. 1998 The identification of a unusual antigen receptor protein structure found in camels and nurse sharks can't be explained by having a common ancestor.


David Ould said...

Evangelicals as distinct as Al Mohler and the Pyromaniacs have taken up issue with Biologos.

I'm afraid that I have to agree with them. Biologos have an approach to Scripture that it quite worrying.

That isn't, of course, the same as rejecting all attempts to synthesise the Bible and observable phenomena.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Hi, David. Good to hear from you!

Much of the conversation at BioLogos troubles me personally, but they don't delete opposing views in the comboxes, so it is a true "forum." I support all forums, venues, blogs, etc. where creation as it is presented in Genesis can be discussed openly.

Trying to synthesise the information in Genesis with scientism is a waste of time and leads to misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the Bible. We must attempt to understand the binary worldview of Abraham's ancestors from whom we receive this material so that we can understand what it is telling us. Then we discover that they were great observers of the natural world and were familiar with phenomena that most moderns don't know, such as the existence of binary stars not visible to the eye, and the precession of the equinoxes and "Earth's Great Year."