S.O.S. for Darwin
It's time again to discuss evolution. Not from the standpoint that I will attempt to prove or disprove it; many people smarter than I have tried to do that, and have neither succeeded or failed. In fact, many people are simply more or less puzzled by the theory in general. Dr. Francis Collins says it is an undeniable fact. Dr. Michael Behe says it is fiction. Many reputable scientists believe it, over 100 other reputable scientists have gathered together to sign a document called 'A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism.' We may never know (at least in the near future) who is right. What I am more concerned about in this article is loosely outlining some of the things that make me nervous when it comes to the theory of evolution. Namely, what author Lee Strobel calls the 4 Icons of Evolution. Lets look below at each of these, and then the reasons why they make me nervous.
1.) The Miller Experiment. Remember him? This is the man who claimed to have proved that a livable atmosphere could come into being via random chance; as long as the necessary constituents were present. The problem is that there is now almost NO evidence that the early earth consisted of a primitive ammonia-methane atmosphere. Most have now abandoned this experiment as a legitimate proof for anything - yet it remains in current science text books!
2.) Tree of Life. This is the diagram showing how apes evolved into modern day humans. Very compelling upon first glance. The problem is that these are drawings, not real-life photos. Also occurrences that have come to light since Darwin's time - such as the Cambrian explosion - help reduce the idea that life evolved slowly with thousands of transitional species. It is an excellent depiction of Darwin's theory, but not such an excellent demonstration of reality based on the fossil record.
3.) Haeckel's Embryos. This was the compelling picture of early stage embryos of different animals compared to a human embryo, showing all the similarities. This, in effect, was supposed to show that if traced back far enough, we all "looked the same" biologically. The problem is that these were also drawings, and that it has been later discovered that Haeckel cherry-picked his embryos, and also made illustrations of the different embryos at different stages in their development; comparing apples to oranges so to speak. He was first accused of fraud in the late 1860's by his own colleagues! Haeckel had used the same wood-cuts to produce the appearance of similarity in the drawings, due to his confidence that time would prove him right.
4.) Archaeopteryx. This was the half bird / half reptile fossil that appeared in National Geographic some years ago. It was slated as the "missing link." Problem is that this was later proved to be all bird, and not a half-and-half transitional form. Yet it is still discussed as a fact which helps prove evolution even today! A spin-off fossil named archaeoraptor was later pointed to in order to provide Darwinian proof also. It was later discovered (I'm not making this up) that someone had glued a tail onto the end of a bird, and faked the discovery.
Granted these are only 4 pieces of evidence, but they helped shape some of the modern day atheists I think. They were certainly presented as facts when I was in school. I have watched numerous debates in an attempt to collect more compelling evidence, but I find that even authors like Dan Dennett and Richard Dawkins cannot seem to nail the coffin of doubt shut for me. The debate rages on. Both sides of the debate have eloquent speakers. Both sides contend to have truth on their side. I am still nervous.
What I think is happening is this. People from both sides of the fence are falling into the trap of thinking that if evolution is true, it must erase God. Microevolution may very well be true, in fact it probably is. There is actually a lot of evidence for this; small changes occurring within the same species. Macroevolution on the other hand seems a stretch for me; the idea that we can take this theory on a minor scale, and use it to explain the origin of life on a larger scale seems highly implausible.
What then is the answer? What is the reason I listed off the 4 Icons of Evolution? I believe these things (and others like them) have succeeded only in causing confusion. Evolution I think is a giant McGuffin or Red Herring. In other words: if macroevolution is true, you can still have God. If in 30 years or so we find that it isn't true at all, you can still have God. This theory as a mechanism for human development neither subtracts from Scripture, nor discredits the thousands of personal testimonies of believers everywhere who know God is real, nor does it detract from the onslaught of scientific evidence out there that points directly to a Creator. Let's hope we use evolution neither as a crutch OR a hurdle. Trust me, God is still God either way.
* Evidence taken from The Case for a Creator, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Darwin on Trial, and Icons of Evolution.