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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Evolution's Case Built On Unproven Assumptions


By Bob Ellis

Dakota Voice

Ken Blanchard at the South Dakota Politics blog continues the ongoing blogosphere discussion of the merits of evolution theory by referring to a review by Jerry Coyne of Michael Behe's new book, The Edge of Evolution.

South Dakota Politics is one of my favorite blogs, but I have to disagree with Blanchard.  He says,

I note only how much ground Behe is willing to concede to evolutionary theory. From Coyne:

For a start, let us be clear about what Behe now accepts about evolutionary theory. He has no problem with a 4.5-billion-year-old Earth, nor with evolutionary change over time, nor apparently with its ample documentation through the fossil record -- the geographical distribution of organisms, the existence of vestigial traits testifying to ancient ancestry, and the finding of fossil "missing links" that show common ancestry among major groups of organisms. Behe admits that most evolution is caused by natural selection, and that all species share common ancestors. He even accepts the one fact that most other IDers would rather die than admit: that humans shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees and other apes.

This is how much ground you have to concede if you wish to maintain some scientifically legitimate ground from which to challenge evolutionary theory.

If you allow your definition of "scientifically legitimate ground" to be defined by evolutionists, then that might be true. But evolutionists don't define what is scientifically legitimate and what is not, only what they consider "scientifically legitimate."

By this same kind of logic, the Christian must concede that there is no god but Allah, and that Mohammed is his prophet in order to challenge the truth of Islam. Now stop and think for a moment: does that make sense?

By this logic, the capitalist must concede that the rich always oppress the poor and all wealth must be distributed equally in order for a capitalist to challenge the truth of Marxism. Again, does this make sense?

Then neither does a creationist (or someone who believes merely in Intelligent Design) have to concede that all evidence points to evolution in order to challenge the truth of evolution.

Evolutionists merely interpret scientific evidence. They have biases and presuppositions just like anyone else. Only their biases and presuppositions have come to be accepted as "fact" in a world defined by media voices that agree with those presuppositions. And sadly, too few Christians and believers in creation understand this or have the courage to swim against the current long enough to challenge these biases.

For an example of how evolutionist assumptions are touted as "fact," examine this excerpt of Coyne's review at the New Republic:

Evolution has been tested, and confirmed, many times over. Every time we find an early human fossil dating back several million years, it confirms evolution. Every time a new transitional fossil is found, such as the recently discovered "missing links" between land animals and whales, it confirms evolution. Each time a bacterial strain becomes resistant to an antibiotic, it confirms evolution.

The early human fossil "dating back several million years" doesn't confirm evolution; evolutionists only assume it is several million years old--based on flawed dating techniques that have repeatedly returned verifiably false results--which they posit to fit their presupposition that evolution is true.

The "transitional fossil" doesn't confirm evolution because they only assume it is "transitional," rejecting any assumption that maybe it's only a similar organism (just as the existence of Wordpad in MS Windows operating systems isn't a "transitional program" that proves Microsoft Word evolved from Notepad).

And a bacterial strain becoming resistant to an antibiotic isn't proof of evolution, just adaptation (God made biological organisms to be adaptable to changes in environment).  No new genetic information is created. This is no more proof of evolution than if I learned to swim, or to endure cold weather, or to fight off hostile invaders. Each of these examples are built upon assumptions, not facts.

From my years in law enforcement, I've had the opportunity to investigate a multitude of crimes, some with witnesses and others with no witnesses at all. But even if you don't have police experience, consider for a moment what you've probably picked up from CSI and Law and Order.

Imagine a crime scene where you have a crime but no witnesses. No one was around when the crime was committed to tell you what happened. So how does the investigator attempt to find out what happened? He examines the evidence and begins to build a theory.

What if a dead body was found at the dining room table in the victim's apartment, with partially eaten food in front of them. The investigator might theorize that the person was poisoned. But what if that person had a heart attack while eating supper? You wouldn't know it until an autopsy revealed the heart damage. And even then, the cause of the heart damage might not be conclusive.

Let's say a dead body is found on a park bench. If there are obvious injuries, the investigator might develop the theory that the victim was murdered. But what if the victim was climbing a tree, fell out and was fatally injured, but managed to crawl onto the bench and sit down before succumbing to internal bleeding?

If there were no obvious clues from the crime scene or from forensic examination, the investigator could still ask questions of friends and family. They would provide some insight into what was going on in the victim's life, what he might have been doing at the crime scene, and provide information about potential suspects.

But what if there were no friends, relatives, associates or co-workers to talk to? What if this person had just arrived from China and rode a bus into town...and you had no clues to even tell you this much? There would be no one at all to provide insight into the victim or what happened. I can't think of a single crime I investigated where I didn't talk to people who knew or had seen those involved--even when the victim was alive and could talk to me. Without witnesses, I could develop a theory--maybe several theories--based on the evidence available, but I would have no way of knowing with certainty whether I was right. I could only make a good guess...and hope.

Now imagine that not only do you not have any witnesses, not only do you not have any associates to interview, not only do you not have any tissue samples, you only have fossilized bones (i.e. bones that have essentially turned to minerals) that were buried at an indeterminate time in the past. What evidence do you have to go on? Imagine a crime scene several thousand (or several million?) years old--consider for a moment the potential for contamination of the evidence and how incredibly far off that could throw you. Do you have more evidence than you have theory? Or is it the other way around? How much would such a situation be subject to presupposition?

You dig up a human bone and there are scratches and gouges in it which you surmise to be from the teeth of some carnivorous animal. You develop a theory that this human was killed long ago by a wild animal. Another person looks at the bone and theorizes the human died of natural causes and the teeth marks were produced by a wild animal who ate the flesh of the dead body. How dogmatic can you really be about your theory, as opposed to the other person's theory? Can you logically and reasonably demand that the other person must first concede that an animal killed the human before they can argue that the human died of natural causes? Again, stop and think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Is there any logic at all in that requirement?

The debate over creation and evolution is a debate built upon assumptions and presuppositions--on both sides. One of the most striking differences between the two sides--other than their conclusions--is that creationists will usually admit their presuppositions, while evolutionists doggedly deny any presuppositions...just like the emperor when he sported his new clothes. In reality, the violation of scientific principles necessary for evolution to be possible means evolutionists have to exercise at least as much faith as creationists in order to believe their own theories.

The most objective course to take when you lack witnesses (no one was around thousands--or millions--of years ago for us to ask, and there is no documentary evidence of what happened thousands--or millions--of years ago) is to examine what evidence is available and develop theories based on what could and what could not have happened.

I believe the multitude of problems with evolution theory (the problem of irreducible complexity; the fact that materialistic theories for the Big Bang, star formation, life from lifelessness and so on violate the laws of physics and other natural laws; and so on) point most strongly to the idea that an intelligent designer had to be involved in the creation of the universe. Sir Fred Hoyle, an atheist, was eventually forced to conclude that the odds of the universe coming to be as we see it were too astronomically high to have happened without an intelligent designer.

But the traditional position of evolutionists that everything must have a naturalistic cause (i.e. that no supernatural force such as God could possibly be involved with the origins of the universe) is not only closed-minded in the extreme, it is a presupposition of the highest order.

You might presuppose that someone or something does not exist merely because you haven't seen it, but your lack of experiential data is not proof of nonexistence. In the 16th Century, scientists thought only seven planets existed; their disbelief did nothing to negate the reality of the existence of the other two planets.

If you presuppose there is no God (or no intelligent designer), then any theory which required the existence of an intelligent designer would appear unsupportable. But if you presuppose the existence of an intelligent designer (or even allow for the possibility of the existence of an intelligent designer), then theories involving creation science then become very supportable. The mechanics of the evidence fit any definition of science, regardless of their natural or supernatural origin.

In fact, if you objectively examine the clues available to us all, you might just find that the bulk of the evidence is hard to explain without an intelligent designer.

But that presupposes objectivity in the first place.

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