Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

A Change of Heart on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Posted by Tony Listi on August 11, 2008

Dr. Ken Miller, a Roman Catholic professor of biology at Brown University, examines Intelligent Design as a political phenomenon and addresses two of its key objections: the paucity of intermediate organisms in the fossil record and, more importantly, Michael Behe’s theory of irreducible complexity. He takes these scientific objections to evolution seriously and then scientifically refutes them with specific examples. He does not dismiss such objections merely as “religious” and then end the discussion.

This video of his lecture has changed my view of the ID movement and my thinking on the science behind evolution. I’m more inclined to think evolution is a sound theory now.

It has not changed my belief that science should not be funded by the government nor that there is a hostile, secular, aggressively anti-religious bias within much of the scientific establishment and academia in general.

I am not a creationist and the Christian faith does not compel belief in creationism as literalist Protestants define it.

The natural process of evolution need not contradict the existence of God and his Providence. Thus, neither does it preclude the existence of morality. I mean, what would it say about morality if we really believed a material, natural process could influence its validity at all? That is what liberalism/secularism believes. Creationists make a dangerous misstep since their logic implies this too. Though evolution has certainly been used to justify horrible crimes, so has religion. And we should reject the flawed logic of such criminals that misuse both science and religion.

I am a big fan of Dinesh D’Souza’s biblical argument in defense of evolution:

“We read in Genesis 2:7 that ‘the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.’ Right away we notice something different: the Bible says that the universe was created out of nothing but it does not say that man was created out of nothing. Rather, it says that man was made or shaped from the existing substance of nature. ‘Dust thou art and to dust thou shall return.’ So the Bible is quite consistent with the idea that man is made up of atoms and molecules and shares the same DNA found in earthworms, whales, and monkeys.

It is true, however, that the creation account in Genesis does not prepare us for the discovery that man has about 98 percent of his DNA in common with apes. In his Descent of Man, Darwin writes that ‘man…still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.’ Our resistance to this is not religious; it is because we sense a significant chasm between ourselves and chimpanzees. Of course Darwin is not saying that man is descended from chimpanzees, only that apes and man are descended from a common ancestor. Whatever the merits of this theory, there is no reason to reject it purely on biblical grounds. Christians since medieval times have agreed with Aristotle that man is an animal–a ‘rational animal,’ but still an animal.

What makes man different, according to the Bible, is that God breathed an immaterial soul into him. Thus there is no theological problem in viewing the bodily frame of man as derived from other creatures. The Bible stresses God’s resolution, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Christians have always understood God as a spiritual rather than a material being. Consequently if man is created in the ‘likeness’ of God, the resemblance is clearly not physical. When Jared Diamond in his book The Third Chimpanzee refers to humans as ‘little more than glorified chimpanzees,’ he is unwittingly making a Christian point. We may have common ancestors with the animals, but we are glorified animals.”

8 Responses to “A Change of Heart on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design”

  1. bobxxxx said

    You said about Ken Miller: “He does not dismiss such objections merely as ‘religious’ and then end the discussion.”

    Yeah, Miller knows what he’s talking about and he does an excellent job explaining things. Personally I would dismiss anything Behe says as childish magic and not bother with it.

    You also said “I’m more inclined to think evolution is a sound theory now.”

    That’s great. I rarely see anyone say that.

    We are on the same side. I also accept the facts of evolution. However, I threw out the God idea. I didn’t throw God out because of evolution. I threw out the God invention because there’s no evidence for it. As I have learned more about science my atheism has become stronger. With new scientific discoveries being made every day, I expect the number of atheists to grow rapidly. In the 21st century God has become obsolete. There’s still some gaps to hide the magic-man-of-the-gaps, but why bother with it? Why hide something just to watch it get chased away eventually?

    Anyway, you’re pro-science, and it sounds like you have a very good understanding of how evolution works. Thanks for (almost) being on the side of reality.

    • Dawn said

      One thing you leave out. You are only talking about natural science. By definition, it is limited in its ability to reveal everything about man and the universe.

      DNA is a code (not a pattern, but a code) and codes have never come from chaos or randomness, such as is the basis of evolutionary biology.

      Even Einstein believed there was a God by the time he was 50, because of the order of the universe. If you must limit yourself to natural science, review the information about exotic matter that astrophysicists discovered in 1992.

      As for evidence of God, you need only to study the fact that function arises with fully developed structures. There is no survival advantage without function. Most atheists have not had cell and molecular biology, much less studied gender origins with the cellular differences between sexes, the act of sex, sexual reproduction (and the complexity of the reproductive organs), which is very inefficient in terms of competition (both in number of progeny and their development at birth). Then we could tackle the language question, the diversity among the classes of animals, complexity and functional differences between man and animals, not to mention “consciousness” (why, how, the mind), race/skin color, animal vs. human blood, Human blood types.

      It sounds like you are spending too much time reading about or listening to some scientists who have failed to adequately describe the complexities of even one body cell. They never seem to be able to explain how something came out of nothing in natural science. Yet without adequate knowledge and integration of that knowledge, the complexities are under-appreciated. Few people have a commanding knowledge of broad areas of science. Engineering, physics, astronomy, and cell & molecular biology are several that help integrate what we know. Even the “junk” DNA the evolutionists pointed to as “leftovers” of the so-called evolutionary process turned out to be regulatory and, thus, extremely important.

      As far as evidence of God, only the Christians have that evidence. The Bible is the only holy book that expresses foreknowledge–facts that we did not have at the time of the writing, but that are now known.

  2. Dan Sylvestre said

    If you think there is no evidence for “the God invention” it is simply because you are uninformed. Without faith you fail to see. An example separate from religion – medical cases where disillusioned patients simply refuse to believe that what they are seeing is reality, they even deny that they are in a hospital. Now, these patients are being affected by the manifestation of denial for their injuries and their minds trick them into a false reality. Hence, if you do not believe, you will not see. But it is true that sometimes the faithless need a more simple-minded approach in order to open their eyes. So if you need some straight-forward, uncomplicated evidence for the existence of God and the reality of miracles, read a little about the Grotto at Lourdes. Heck, If you can disprove any one of the miracles that have been accepted by the Catholic Church, there’s an Australian priest out there who will pay you $5,000 lol. And if that’s not enough, theres just no way to statistically or scientifically explain that hundreds and hundreds of millions of people around the world have claimed to have experienced supernatural phenomena. It would be ignorant and dismissive, not to mention arrogant, to say that they’re all simply stupid or insane.

  3. Jan Brandt said

    People can believe ANYTHING they want, but cannot believe in creation and evolution at the same time.
    The Bible states that God created everything in 6 literal days (day and night the first day, etc) evolution forbids this and claims that things happened very slowly by chance.
    Lets stop pretending, both are religions and neither can be tested by the scientific method, saying so is a deception.
    By the way, Behe is not the only peer reviewed PhD scientist who is a young earth believer, Jonathan Sarfati,David Catchpoole,Tas Walker,Gina Mohhamed,emil silvestru,Philip Bell,are just some others.
    As I said people can believe anything they want but I know Jesus Christ is Lord because of the tangible things He’s done for me, not because I have been told I have to believe this or that.
    The fact is,If He said everything was created by Him and for Him in 6 days, then that is what happened.
    Otherwise let us eat and drink and do what pleases us because tomorrow we die, to an eternity of nothing.

  4. foospro86 said

    The Christian does NOT have to take Genesis literally. Many of the Church Fathers did not:

  5. jan brandt said

    Lets have a hypothetical, if I can choose which historical book of the Bible I want to believe and which one I do not, then why should I take literally the books of Matthew,Mark, Luke or John which refer to God coming in the flesh and dying on the cross?

    Then comes the critical question for me personally, Why should I believe ANY part of a book that has errors in it?
    Why should I be harassed for a faith where there are faults with the basic premise of the thing?
    That is why I am not a mormon or jehovahs witness, christian scientist or evolutionist. There are too many glaring errors in their ideas, these certainly I do not take literally.

    That is not to say every book in the Bible is literal history, the Psalms,Song of Solomon are poetry and these should not be taken literally. I shudder to think of the poor woman with a tower like nose being literal.

    As to the Church Fathers, the twelve apostles and Paul all believed in a literal Genesis, as did Jesus, as did the Jews outside the Church.
    The Pharasees wanted to kill because Jesus said He is God, not because He or the apostles claimed a literal Genesis. It was taken as fact, whereas the thought that a man could be God was blasphemy.
    Unfortunately, acts 20:27-32 and matthew7:15 kicks in during later years and some truths are changed or lost, which take centuries to rediscover, eg: Martin Luther.
    Yours in Christ.

  6. Jayhuck said

    So you’re more likely to give credence to Evolution simply because a Roman Catholic refuted some objections to it made by ID proponents? The fact that a vast majority of scientists know that this is real was not enough for you? Did you ever consider that if so many scientists know it to be true, it might be worth reading about on your own?

  7. Ediacaran said

    foospro86: “What makes man different, according to the Bible, is that God breathed an immaterial soul into him. Thus there is no theological problem in viewing the bodily frame of man as derived from other creatures.”

    Ecclesiastes 3: 19 Therefore the death of man, and of beasts is one, and the condition of them both is equal: as man dieth, so they also die: all things breathe alike, and man hath nothing more than beast: all things are subject to vanity. 20 And all things go to one place: of earth they were made, and into earth they return together. 21 Who knoweth if the spirit of the children of Adam ascend upward, and if the spirit of the beasts descend downward? 22 And I have found that nothing is better than for a man to rejoice in his work, and that this is his portion. For who shall bring him to know the things that shall be after him?

    Main Entry: spir·it
    Pronunciation: \ˈspir-ət\
    Function: noun
    Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French or Latin; Anglo-French, espirit, spirit, from Latin spiritus, literally, breath, from spirare to blow, breathe
    Date: 13th century

    Immaterial “spirit” or “soul” is how pre-scientific cultures accounted for the very material breath of air that living animals exhibited. Those cultures (and some of their descendants) interpreted breath as supernatural in part because they could feel it, but not see it.

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