The Inadequacy of Evolution as a Theory of Origins with Thanks to Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins appears in the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein.  Dawkins gets more than the average time allotted to the many experts who appear in this film.

During that time, Dawkins makes a stunning declaration…and then affirms it twice.  So there is no doubt that he intended to say what he said.  What he said revealed the complete bankruptcy of evolution as an explanation for the origin of the universe.  For what Dawkins said is that neither he nor anyone knows how the universe began.

This exchange takes places at about 1:29:54 to 1:30:34 of the documentary, whose link is above.  The interview has begun and Stein is probing Dawkins about how strongly he believes that there is no God. Though unwilling to put a number on it, Dawkins insists he is highly confident that there is no God.  After making it clear that Dawkins denies a Creator, then Stein asks how then the universe came to be.  Here’s my transcript of that part of the exchange:

STEIN:  “Well then who did create the heavens and the earth?”

DAWKINS:  “Why do you use the word ‘who’? You see, you immediately beg the question by using the word ‘Who’.”

STEIN:  “Well then how did it get created?”

DAWKINS:  “Well, by a very slow process.”

STEIN:  “Well, how did it start?”

DAWKINS:  “Nobody knows how it got started. We know the kind of event that it must have been. We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.”

STEIN:  “And what was that?”

DAWKINS:  “It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.”

STEIN:  “Right, and how did that happen?”

DAWKINS:  “I’ve told you, we don’t know.”

STEIN:  “And so you have no idea how it started?”

DAWKINS:  “No, no. Nor has anybody.”

STEIN:  “Nor has anyone else.” (merely repeating Dawkins)

Having settled that point, Stein goes on to ask Dawkins what he thinks about the theory of Intelligent Design, which is, of course, the primary focus of the movie.

I was stunned by Dawkins glib and cheerful declaration that “no one knows how the universe started.”  I am not a scientist and I would have no reason not to accept the theory of evolution if the scientific community presented that idea to me.  After all, I accept on their testimony that earth is spinning at 1,000 miles per hour as it revolves around the sun at 66,000 miles per hour as they both hurl through the Milky Way at 432,000 miles per hour.  It’s all little counter-intuitive, but I’ve never had a problem taking their word for it.

When it comes to evolution, however, there are two obstacles I have to get over before I can accept it.  I have to understand how it does not contradict anything the Bible says (for it is the word of God).  It’s way beyond the scope of this post to explain how evolutionary theory goes against the Bible, but I’ll just say here and now that I don’t see any way to reconcile them.  The other problem is the evolutionary theory violates common sense.  That is, it seems to expect me to believe that the universe came from nothing by itself.  I’ve never seen anything come from nothing, so that’s going to take someone a whole lot more ‘splainin’ than I’ve heard so far.

Because I am not a scientist, I’ve always assume that evolutionists had a lot more data supporting their point of view than what I’d seen.  Being non-scientific, I just couldn’t digest all their detailed arguments.  Imagine then my surprise when one of the most celebrated evolutionists on the planet pronounces that he has zero data to explain how the universe started.

Dawkins helped me see that even if the theory of evolution is true – or as he puts it, “a fact” and not merely a theory – it is not a fact or theory about origins, because by his admission, it has nothing to say about origins!

I encourage you to watch at least the portion of the movie that I have transcribed above.  The bankruptcy of evolutionary theory as an explanation of origins comes through forcefully in reading the transcript, but if you watch it, you will find the exchange even more startling.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed with Ben Stein (full movie) – YouTube

I’m not a fan of modern documentaries because of their generally forceful and polemic nature.  This one is no exception.  However, it does bring to light the strange double-standard that seems to exist in the academic community regarding science and the study of origins.

Here’s how the double-standard works:  if you’re a scientist and believe in evolution, no problem.  However, if you’re a scientist and have some concerns about Darwinian or Neo-Darwian theory, then you’re probably not a scientist.  Instead, you’re probably a religious person trying to impair science by the practice of your religion.  It’s a bizarre notion, but there it is and this movie exposes it.

The word “intelligence” in the title is an allusion to “Intelligent Design” – a scientific theory that seeks to plug some of the holes it sees in evolutionary theory.

I’m sure that there there are more things that need to be said for the evolutionary side to balance out this narrative (though indeed both sides were interviewed).  And I’m also sure I could have done without some of the histrionics herein.  However, I’ve experienced enough with academics and evolutionists to know that the dynamic described in this documentary is all too real.  Ben Stein knows that, too, and that explains his involvement.

By the way, one of the scientists interviewed is Stephen C. Meyer.  If you want to see more of him check this post which includes an extended interview with him.  He’s highly intelligent and highly articulate.  Even though I’m not at all science-oriented, I enjoyed hearing him speak.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (full movie) – YouTube.

Michael Kruger on Why a Historical Adam Matters

At the end of this post are links to other posts on the importance of a historical Adam.

Kruger begins:

For some time now, there has been extensive debate in the church on how to understand the early chapters of Genesis.  The focus has normally been on the length of the days in chapter one. Is it describing six, literal days? Or is the author just using a “literary framework”? Or is each day an age, or epoch of time?

In the midst of these debates, there lies a more core, and foundational issue, namely whether Adam was a real historical individual, created directly by God, from which all human beings descend. Aside from the length of days, this is the issue on which much theological truth depends.

For the entire post, see The Historical Adam: Why It Really Matters.

Also see The Historical Reality of Adam by Guy Waters (at the same Aquila Report site).  It also includes related links at the end.

Stephen Meyer on His Book “Darwin’s Doubt” and the Acknowledged Scientific Shortcomings of Evolutionary Theory

“Stephen C. Meyer is an American scholar, philosopher of science and advocate for intelligent design.”  (from his Wikipedia profile)

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/81215936]

I found Meyer to be very articulate and quite able to communicate his ideas so that non-scientists, while not able to fully understand all of them, could at least appreciate their general contours.  I also found him to be quite balanced in his outlook, respectful of objections but also convinced of his own conclusions.

HT: An Interview with Stephen Meyer on “Darwin’s Doubt” – Justin Taylor.

By the way, Meyer has spoken out on the bias often found in Wikipedia against religious people.  I noticed this myself long before I ever heard Meyer say anything about it.

Triablogue: NT cosmography

Opening excerpt from Steve Hays:

Recently, some “evangelical” scholars have been promoting the notion that Gen 1 reflects an obsolete cosmography: the three-story universe. One problem with this claim is that the NT recycles the same type of imagery.

via Triablogue: NT cosmography.

Science Versus the Scriptures

Theologian Roger Olson has written a post on his blog titled Christianity and Science: How They Relate to Each Other in Modern Theology.  Along with others, I have been commenting on it.

My comments have mainly been questions about what rationale self-identified believers use when they attempt to embrace both the Bible and evolution.  I am willing to accept scientists’ word about evolution, but I cannot see a way to do so without trusting the Bible less.  One of the other commenters on Roger’s blog (Bev Mitchell) recommended the work of Denis O. Lamoureux.

I spent several hours going over what Denis has made available on line.  I commend him for the effort he put into these resources.  He is an excellent communicator and teacher.  He also exudes a healthy respect for others while he maintains a confidence in his own views.  All that said, I find the logic of his arguments problematic.

To summarize his position, he doesn’t believe Adam or Eve ever existed.  In fact, he seems to think that hardly anything in Genesis 1-11 can be taken as historical.  (This would include Noah’s Flood.)  Nevertheless, he identifies himself as an evangelical Christian committed to the inerrancy of Scripture.  Denis reconciles these seeming irreconcilable positions by declaring, essentially, that God accommodated His teaching to the erroneous ideas ancient people had about the universe, and that we should therefore accept God’s teaching while rejecting their erroneous ideas.

In this material, Denis is telling us that evolution is true and that therefore anything in the Bible which contradicts evolution must be wrong and therefore rejected.  That idea is troubling enough when applied to evolution, but, as presented, its use could not be restricted to that subject only.  Therefore the other 1, 178 chapters of the Bible seem likewise subject to revision.  But we’ll leave that problem aside and just focus on the evolution issue.

The fundamental problem with Denis’ “solution” for reconciling evolution with the Bible is that he doesn’t follow his own advice.  He starts off rightly rejecting “scientific concordism.”  (Good teacher that he is, he defines this and all other specialized terms that he uses.)  He then rightly declares that the Bible is not a science book.  So far, so good.  However, from that point on in his argument he treats the Bible as if it were a science book – albeit a primitive one.

Denis describes the Bible as presenting “ancient geology,” “ancient geography,” “ancient biology,” and so on.  (How he does this in the wake of saying that the Bible is not a science book leaves me scratching my head.)  He then points out, basically, that we know better today so we should trust our science instead of theirs.

Denis should have stuck with the view that the Bible is not a science book.  A science book seeks to observe the world and explain it.  By contrast, the Bible is not interested in explaining the observable world.  Rather, it is interested in using the observable world to explain the one we can’t see: the spirit realm.

Sure, through telescopes and microscopes, we can see much more of the physical world than could ancient humanity, but that’s irrelevant to the Bible’s mission of teaching us spiritual things.

Now, just because the Bible does not intend to teach us about the physical world it does not follow that the Bible is not accurate when it talks about the physical world.  It just describes the world as it is seen by the naked human eye.  Denis recognizes this and talks about this “phenomenological perspective” – that is, describing the world as it appears (“sunrises,” “sunsets,” and such).  Yet he wants to distinguish the “ancient phenomenological perspective” from the “modern phenomenological perspective.”  That is, he wants to make clear that even though our meteorologists says “the sun will rise today at…” they know that the sun doesn’t actually rise – but the ancients didn’t know this.  Why that difference is important, Denis never explains.  He just seems intent on portraying ancient man as being ignorant of modern science.  Well, of course, he is, but that does not mean he’s ignorant.  Nor does it mean that he thinks something is always what it appears to be.

Another flaw in Denis’ methodology is that he promotes something called “the message-incident principle.”  Denis presents it as if its validity is self-evident, but I didn’t find it so. Essentially, it says, for example, that even though there was no Adam and Eve, and therefore Adam and Eve didn’t commit the first sin and thereby bring death into the world, God allowed the Bible to say so; and that we today, therefore, should believe that death entered the world through sin but that there was no Adam and Eve.  That is, we should believe the “message” that there was a first sin and that death came through it, while not believing “the incident” that was described: Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden being the protagonists.  As one unbeliever commenting on this “principle” put it, “And, being omniscient, god must have foreseen that the science-loving denizens of the 21st century would easily distinguish between the parts of the Bible that count as “Divine Theology” and the parts that count as “Cave-People Folk Science.”  Alas, Denis’ cure (science trumps the Bible) is worse than the disease (science and the Bible are sometimes at odds).

Imagine that science, archaeology, history – whatever – one day determined that there had been no sheep or shepherds in ancient times.  Denis’ “message-incident principle” would have us regard as false all the references to sheep, sheperd, and related terms in Psalm 23 (that would be verses 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 – well, er, all of them) and yet take as true the spiritual message that the Lord will care for us.

Scientific knowledge is a good thing, but spiritual knowledge is an even better thing.  God’s prophets used the observable world to teach spiritual concepts.  That same observable world is before us today.  We have the same sun, moon, and stars.  Our naked eyes see the same things their naked eyes saw.  Let science teach us about things we cannot see with the naked eye, and let the Bible teach us about things that science will never be able to see.