Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is it foolish to argue with fools? A new perspective on the evolution debate

Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen
While on a recent trip to Florida, I visited the church of a friend and coworker.  The guest speaker that day was Eric Hovind, an evangelist with DrDino.com.  Hovind preached at several services and, while I expected to hear a sermon about proofs for creation, the message that I heard was very different.

I am a Christian.  I believe that God created the world and everything in it.  Most Americans believe as I do.  By extension, since Georgia is a central part of the Bible Belt, most Georgians likely believe in Theistic Creation, the idea that God created the world “pretty much in its present form,” as well.  In fact, a majority (40%) of Americans believe in Theistic Creation.  That statistic has declined very slightly over the past twenty years.  Theistic evolution, evolution directed by God, is America’s second most popular view of origins with 38%.  That number has remained relatively constant.  The percentage of Americans who believe in Naturalistic Evolution, evolution without input from God, is a small minority (16%) that has grown slightly in past decades.

I have examined the evidence for both evolution and creation.  Evolution in terms of adaptation is a fact.  Evolution in terms of life coming from nothing to one-celled organisms and eventually to higher life forms is unconvincing for many reasons.  I am unconvinced, but I have an open mind and have looked at a lot of the evidence from both sides.

Ultimately, I came to a realization that neither side can prove their theory.  The origin of earth and man happened a long time ago and there were no witnesses.  All we can do is to look at the evidence and try to interpret it.  This is why I normally don’t get involved in the creation-evolution debate.  When I have done so in the past it has taken a lot of time and effort and nothing was ever decided in the end.  If either evolution or creation could be conclusively proved, it would be a scientific law rather than a scientific theory. 

Charles Darwin
As with other topics, the ridicule and scorn by evolutionists of those who hold a skeptical viewpoint is itself a motive for questioning their claims.  If evolution is so easily proven, then evolutionists should welcome debate rather than subjecting skeptics to ridicule.  Yet repeatedly they attempt to shut off debate, even in classrooms where a free exchange of ideas should be welcomed.  For instance, a few years ago a federal judge ruled in favor of six parents who sued Cobb County because the school system placed a sticker in science textbooks that read “This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.”

The judge ruled that the sticker was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.  There were several problems with the ruling.  First, the sticker did not mention creationism or religion.  Second, evolution is by definition a theory.  Lastly, it would seem that people who truly support science and critical thinking would want to encourage keeping open minds, careful study, and critical consideration as opposed to blindly accepting the prevailing wisdom without question.

Nevertheless, what Hovind said interested me.  Preaching from Romans 1:18-23, Hovind explained that God has written His truth in plain sight and that those who deny His existence and His creation are denying the truth that they know in their own hearts.  Essentially, everyone can see from creation that God exists and is in control.  The skeptics think themselves wise, but are really fools (v. 22).  I do not make the claim that atheists are fools, but God does.

In effect, atheists and evolutionists shape the argument.  As Hovind said, God created logic and science and apart from Him there can be no logic or science.  Nevertheless, atheists and evolutionists start with a preconceived belief that there is no God and then attempt to use science and logic, God’s own creations, to disprove His existence.  It is a fallacy to believe that with the brain that God gave you and using laws of logic, science, and morality that God created, you can disprove the existence of God.  The very fact that people have the ability to reason and question is a proof that God exists.

In essence, Hovind says that atheists and evolutionists have made up their minds and will continue to believe their theories regardless of what evidence is arrayed against them.  It isn’t a matter of science; it is a matter of worldview.  Therefore, skeptics will almost never be convinced by evidence and arguing with them is useless.

As I listened to Hovind make his case, I realized that his argument could apply to other areas of debate as well.  For example, many of the same people who are atheists and believers in evolution are also believers in socialism and Keynesian economic theory.  These systems are recurring failures yet they still have many supporters in spite of the overwhelming evidence against them.  This evidence is even more apparent than the evidence in the evolution debate.  The failures of socialism and Keynes have occurred in front of our own eyes.  We don’t have to rely on a fossil record.

John Maynard Keynes
The disintegration of the Soviet Union and communist Europe, as well as the current collapse of Western Europe’s social democracies and the utter failure of the New Deal and President Obama’s Keynesian stimulus, should easily convince everyone that we should try something else.  Yet many people remain convinced that there is merit to the ideas of Marx and Keynes.  Why?  Because they have a preconceived belief that their ideas are correct and interpret everything else through this worldview.

In any case, it seems logical to focus persuasion efforts on people who are undecided and have open minds.  People who have an open mind can look objectively at the evidence against naturalistic evolution and central economic planning and some of them can and will be convinced.  People with an agenda and a closed mind cannot be convinced of anything.  Arguing with them is like talking to the proverbial stone wall.  The only recourse in this case is prayer that God will soften their hearts (which should be the first resort and not the last in any case).

Ironically, believers in creation probably make better citizens.  Someone who believes in naturalistic evolution have no incentive to do anything for anyone except themselves.  It is survival of the fittest.  To them, there is no God to encourage charity and no evolutionary reason for altruism.  Why help someone else if doing so does not help them?  To do so would be irrational. 

On the other hand, people who believe in creation often believe that God wants them to help the poor and sick.  Christians are also taught to be obedient to governmental authority and to pay taxes.  In their personal lives, religious believers are taught to be moral and ethical, even if it is to their disadvantage.  If everyone looked out only for himself, our country and world would be a much different, darker, place.

Dragon art is found around the world 
by sean in japan

In the interest of reaching out to people with open minds, here are a few of the issues that raised questions about evolution for me.  I encourage everyone to do their own investigation with an open mind.  God is rational and doesn’t expect us or want us to have blind, unquestioning faith. 

Entropy:  The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that a system moves from high to low order.  The Theory of Evolution contradicts the Law of Entropy.

The Cambrian Explosion:  The fossil record shows that large numbers of organisms appeared rapidly and fully formed rather than over millions of years of slow evolution.

Irreducible complexity:  The idea that Darwin provided to refute his own theory.  It holds that some organs are so complex with specialized parts that will not function without all parts.  Similarly, the parts are useless without the whole system in place.

Timelines:  There are many indications that fossils, canyons, geologic strata, etc. don’t take millions of years to form.

The possibility of humans and dinosaurs coexisting:         Dragon fables around the world and references in the Bible as well as cave paintings of dragons and dinosaurs suggest that people may have had contact with dinosaurs.  If true, this would be a major blow to evolutionary theory.

Logical proof that God Exists:  proofthatgodexists.org

Mike Huckabee in a 2008 Republican debate answering a question about evolution. 

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