The other day I was sitting across the table from a retired missionary couple. They were eating their lunch and we were discussing evolution.
They were Young Earth Creationists. I took up the challenge of trying to persuade them that maybe there is some goodness to be found in evolution after all.
The guy said, “I wish someone would invent a different word. Evolution sounds so… secular.”
I said, “Have you ever noticed that evolution is a household word? Regular folks use this term all the time in everyday conversation and most of the time they’re not talking about biological evolution at all. They’re talking about the evolution of iPhones and technology and pop music and politics and art and language and everything else.”
He nodded. I said, “So.. whenever we talk about that kind of evolution, it’s always intentional. Everyone knows iPhones and technology and art and language don’t evolve by random purposeless accident. Evolution is: chaos resolved by intent.
“The only time “evolution” means “random and purposeless” is when Neo-Darwinists talk about Darwinian evolution. But biological evolution isn’t random or purposeless either. It’s controlled by the incredible intelligence of cells.
“So – ALL evolution is purposeful. It’s never nihilistic or meaningless. The atheists have hijacked evolution and turned it into something it’s not. And… the Christians fell for it!”
Still he continued to object. “Dr. Sanford says genetic entropy is a one-way ticket to decay and degradation. Evolution can’t happen. It’s impossible.”
He had attended a Young Earth Creation conference in Chicago where geneticist John Sanford was explaining why evolution is necessarily impossible, because of genetic entropy.
Well I understand exactly what Sanford was talking about. Better than 99.5% of people. Why? Because I’m an electrical engineer and wrote an Ethernet book. I know all too well, once you degrade a signal you are never getting it back. Ever.
That’s what information entropy is. And in genetics, corrupting genes produces birth defects. Not evolution.
“But,” I said, “There’s something Dr. Sanford left out. And that is that cells actively re-engineer their own DNA. When information is destroyed, they rebuild it. When faced with threats, the re-engineer it. We really have no idea how they “know” how to do this; we just observe that they do it. You can perform specific experiments that generate new species at will.”
I described Barbara McClintock’s corn experiments, where corn plants repaired damaged DNA in minutes and went on to reproduce. I described Kwong Jeon’s Symbiogenesis experiment, where he obtained a full merger-acquisition between two cells in 18 months.
Humans have no idea how to build technology that does this. Heck, we still have yet to even make a self-replicating machine. This means living things are exponentially more capable than man, or any man-made technologies.
So… how does evolution get rid of God?
And which is more impressive?
Door #1: Beaming a zebra onto the savanna, fully created an intact in an instant, where it appears and starts eating grass,
Door #2: Building a universe that gives rise to a cell that builds an entire ecosystem, including zebras and grass?
I don’t know about you… but I think Door #2 is WAAAY more impressive than Door #1. By light years.
I also reminded him about Noah’s ark. There’s a strong case to be made for an ark and a local flood in the Middle East, somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago (we have good evidence for this). But I don’t think it was the extreme global catastrophe that Young Earth Creationists espouse.
Nevertheless, this gentleman does believe that all animals were saved by Noah in the flood. So let’s run with that.
If that’s true, then every species we have today traces back to a large herd of animals on a single boat. Which means the number of species they had then has multiplied by 100 or 1,000 or maybe 10,000 today.
1000:1 multiplication of new species in 5,000 years requires a LOT of evolution. And I mean a LOT.
And not accidental evolution, either. Purposeful, finely-engineered evolution. Massive and rapid.
Therefore EVERY way of viewing history requires evolution – yes, even if you are a traditional Christian of the most conservative possible variety.
So please, someone tell me – why are conservative Christians fighting against evolution with such ferocity?
Christians should be embracing it and exploring the purposeful, adaptive systems that make it possible. Christians should not be fighting it!
Could it be that clever atheists have set up Christians to hate evolution – through a clever straw-man argument – and thus succeeded in making Christians look like fools?
Could it be that Christians and Christian leaders have taken the bait… then gone tilting after windmills in a vain quest to “debunk” something that even the most conservative reading of Genesis still requires to be true?
And if we took the time to ask the question how and why are cells able to evolve at such high speed, would we uncover important new discoveries about the cosmos God made?
If you are a conservative Christian who feels like evolution is a 4-letter word, I hope you will think hard about that. Maybe evolution is not a 4-letter word after all.