41 thoughts on “Why (and Why Not) Argue Against Evolution

  1. It’s a shame that some people have to feel so threatened by science – there become almost no problems between faith and science when you stop trying to interpret the Bible literally.

    It seems to me that the main root of the religious objection to evolution is that of fear – fear that we may not be nearly as special as we’d like to think we are. The “Mud to Man” model of human origin was pretty silly – I’ve always figured that if I was God I’d rather be a little more artistic and elegant than the divine equivalent of playing pat-a-cake in the mud.

    Triggering a few amino acids to form the right way, then standing back and watching it all snowball from there? That would be sweet… even though time-intensive, it would take soooo much less energy and effort. Besides, what does time matter to an eternal being?

  2. Fear? What’s your scientific support for that supposition?

    I’m not afraid that “we may not be nearly as special as we’d like to think we are.” I have great confidence that we’re created in God’s image.

    As for the “divine equivalent of playing pat-a-cake,” I think you’re rather anthropomorphizing, aren’t you? And I’m not sure where you draw your data from to determine what you might do differently if you were God. If you were God, after all, there would be a lot more different than just your approach to artistic elegance. The distance between us and God is too great for us to play the “if I were God” game.

  3. Fear? What’s your scientific support for that supposition?

    Remember how you’ve said that science isn’t the only way to know truth?

    As for the “divine equivalent of playing pat-a-cake,” I think you’re rather anthropomorphizing, aren’t you?

    No more than casting an omnipotent, unknowable vast God in the shape and form of a human being, complete with accompanying emotions (e.g. anger).

    I’m not sure if I’m using the word correctly in this sense, but it seems more parsimonious to postulate God’s minimal-but-efficient involvement in life’s formation rather than an alternative “labor-intensive” approach.

    On the other hand, it’s not exactly fair. God created man three different ways (mud, from the “inside out”, and from pre-existing organic material – a rib).

  4. @Sault:

    Triggering a few amino acids to form the right way, then standing back and watching it all snowball from there? That would be sweet… even though time-intensive, it would take soooo much less energy and effort. Besides, what does time matter to an eternal being?

    Here is Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q73. titled “The things that belong to the seventh day”. Article 1 is titled “Whether the completion of the Divine works ought to be ascribed to the seventh day?” he raises the following objection:

    Further, nothing is said to be complete to which many things are added, unless they are merely superfluous, for a thing is called perfect to which nothing is wanting that it ought to possess. But many things were made after the seventh day, as the production of many individual beings, and even of certain new species that are frequently appearing, especially in the case of animals generated from putrefaction. Also, God creates daily new souls. Again, the work of the Incarnation was a new work, of which it is said (Jeremiah 31:22): “The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth.” Miracles also are new works, of which it is said (Ecclesiasticus 36:6): “Renew thy signs, and work new miracles.” Moreover, all things will be made new when the Saints are glorified, according to Apocalypse 21:5: “And He that sat on the throne said: Behold I make all things new.” Therefore the completion of the Divine works ought not to be attributed to the seventh day.

    To which he replies:

    Nothing entirely new was afterwards made by God, but all things subsequently made had in a sense been made before in the work of the six days. Some things, indeed, had a previous experience materially, as the rib from the side of Adam out of which God formed Eve; whilst others existed not only in matter but also in their causes, as those individual creatures that are now generated existed in the first of their kind. Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning. Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days. Some also existed beforehand by way of similitude, as the souls now created. And the work of the Incarnation itself was thus foreshadowed, for as we read (Philippians 2:7), The Son of God “was made in the likeness of men.” And again, the glory that is spiritual was anticipated in the angels by way of similitude; and that of the body in the heaven, especially the empyrean. Hence it is written (Ecclesiastes 1:10), “Nothing under the sun is new, for it hath already gone before, in the ages that were before us.”

    I repeat the following: “Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning. Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days.”

    Aquinas only had the pre-scientific language of “putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning”, but he had a really solid metaphysics in hand, and he clearly countenances the production of new species that existed in *potency* in what God created and existed “in the beginning”. From here to evolution is not a big leap, is it? In other words, where you arrive, Christians are already there waiting for you, with a kind of bemused grin betraying a “You are late” rebuke.

    I’ve always figured that if I was God I’d rather be a little more artistic and elegant than the divine equivalent of playing pat-a-cake in the mud.

    In my experience, this is one of the fatal flaws that atheists attribute to God: if they only had the powers they could have done it sooooo much better. I do agree that God is *different *from you Sault, or any other atheist, or any other human being, or any other *creature* for that matter. Worse? Smile.

  5. @ Tom

    I rattled that “fear” statement off far too glibly. I apologize if I offended you, you (nor any other commentator here) certainly haven’t come across to me as “fear-based”.

    I have to recant that statement until I can phrase it more specifically. It is too vague and does not accurately reflect my thoughts on the issue, and doesn’t do our discussion any justice.

  6. @ G

    It seems that the origins of the Creationist assertion that genetic information degrades over time comes from that statement by Aquinas (the “putrefaction” one, I mean).

    I don’t have the knowledge to respond meaningfully to what you’re saying about Aquinas, and I apologize for any slight that I may give you for the brevity of my response.

    From here to evolution is not a big leap, is it? In other words, where you arrive, Christians are already there waiting for you, with a kind of bemused grin betraying a “You are late” rebuke.

    Well, the person who formulated the theory of evolution was Christian at the time. Perhaps I don’t understand the full spectrum of why such a large population of Christians oppose evolution, other than the statements I’ve seen from Creationists on YouTube.

    In my experience, this is one of the fatal flaws that atheists attribute to God: if they only had the powers they could have done it sooooo much better.

    God could have done it a lot better, and if we are designed, why in some cases are we designed so poorly? It is difficult for us to say, I suppose. If we are the pinnacle of Creation, then why such fallible nature, limited lifespans, biological deficiencies… why birth defects, why mental illness, why why why…

    These are answers that evolutionary theory has a greater explanatory power for than the concept that we were created by God. Human beings as a genetic work in progress, a progress that sometimes just screws up? That makes sense, given the evidence.

    I don’t see it as a flaw in “our” argument – it is a valid question that no sufficient answer can has be been given.

  7. Thank you, Sault, I’ll accept that with much appreciation for your intellectual honesty that you are expressing here.

    I’m trying, Tom. I’ve been dealing with someone on FB lately who can only be described as a professional troll. The constant Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron arguments combined with refusal to discuss meaningfully combined with various underhanded tricks has been frustrating. As you said in another post, there is a better way, and if you can strive for it then I better damn well do the same.

  8. “It’s a shame that some people have to feel so threatened by science – there become almost no problems between faith and science when you stop trying to interpret the Bible literally.’

    I would maintain it’s not science that bothers people (“threatens” above is used pejoratively) in but non-science. I never heard anyone complaining about evolution until the evolutionists started claiming it was a explanation for the origin of life or how it made God’s existence superfluous.

    There become almost no problems between faith and science when you stop trying to turn evolution into a philosophical catch-all.

  9. why in some cases are we designed so poorly?

    People who make this claim typically have no knowledge or experience in design. How about you, Sault?

    Real design involves design goals — complaints about poor design almost always involve misunderstanding those goals.

  10. Hi Sault. Thanks for that.

    You wrote to G. Rodrigues about evolution’s power to explain what’s wrong in nature and its design. I’m afraid it’s not so simple. For one thing, Christian theism has an explanation for it, too, in Genesis 3, Romans 8, and elsewhere.

    For another thing, the naturalistic evolutionary explanation (which is what you’re left with if you reject theistic design) is not as powerful as you think. It doesn’t explain the wrongness of what we perceive as being wrong. Evolution is, according to standard theory, the result of years and years of the is-ness of what is. It is a theory that boils down to the survival of what survives. It’s about differential survival, of course, based on fitness and adaptation, but that’s not a directional or telic thing, it’s just a descriptive thing.

    So evolution (naturalistic) has no sense of the ought-to-be-ness of what ought to be. But we humans do. Why? Is it because evolution put it there, with some kind of survival benefit for us? Maybe. But that’s not as simple as it looks. Why would grief necessarily be a survival-enhancer, and especially, why would a sense of wrongness about life be a survival-enhancer?

    I’ve studied half a dozen evolutionary accounts of this kind of thing. Richard Joyce’s Evolutionary Ethics was the best of the lot. He concluded that while all this sense of wrongness (and rightness) probably is adaptive, it’s not true. He was speaking specifically of ethics, but the way I read him, I doubt he would object to my applying it more broadly to this question.

    So you could accept the theistic version of origins and design, and wonder why some things are wrong, or the naturalistic version, and conclude that nothing really is wrong after all.

    Which makes more sense?

  11. @ Doug

    When and if you are ready to respond to this puzzle, let me know? 😉

    I have been very unhappy with my ability to answer meaningfully *with the appropriate sources referenced*.

    At this point I’ve found that the genetic difference between us and chimps is closer to 5% – approximately 1.5% (IIRC) from base-pair differences and 3-ish% from indels (insert/deletions). That certainly doesn’t help “my side” any, which is why I began to spend a lot more time trying to understand the underlying facts. At some point I just gave up. Admittedly, I had some other things going on in my life (the death of a family friend), but I should have communicated that to you instead of letting it slide.

    I did find at least one source stating that from parent -> child there are on average 200-250 base-pair differences. Wikipedia states that we have approx 3.2 billion base pairs in our genome.

    If humans and chimps are different by 120 million, it would imply that our nearest common ancestor was somewhere in the middle – say, 60M base pairs from us, 60M base pairs from chimps.

    That puts us 3-ish % away from chimps, or possibly 1.9-ish % away from a potential common ancestor.

    I think that a human generation has not always been 20 years, but if we go by it as an incredibly rough approximation, that puts us at

    60M/200 * 20 = approx 6M years

    So… yeah. That makes sense.

    Wide variations don’t seem to happen in one generation in general – variations happen between generations.

    1500 years / 20 years per generation = 75-ish generations, right? That means approximately 15k base pair differences. That’s such a minute number that I would be surprised if any tangible genetic differences have arisen. Multiply that by a factor of 10, 20, 50, 100 and perhaps something might have arisen.

    Sooo… the basic assumption in your question is incorrect – DNA is pretty good at replicating itself correctly, with an “almost zero” mutation rate, and that means that changes can only happen slowly, over time.

    That’s my basic answer… finding proper sources for it has been a real bear. If you need them, I will do my best to supply them though.

    Does this help any?

  12. In keeping with G. Rodrigues’ #4 comment, the problem that dooms the naturalistic evolutionary narrative is the naturalistic narrative that precedes it. That preceding narrative must include a potency sub-narrative, and I don’t know of any form of naturalism that has it. Naturalism is incomplete on it’s own terms.

  13. @Sault,
    Thanks for the reply.
    Are you not aware, however, that your equation

    60M/200 * 20 = approx 6M years

    suggests that every mutation in the last 6M years was on the trajectory between CHCA and HS!!!
    Do you not appreciate how absolutely incredible this is (unless the entire process was divinely guided)??

    the basic assumption in your question is incorrect

    False. (or else make what you think that assumption is explicit, please)
    Please re-read it, and ask questions if you aren’t understanding.

  14. @Sault:

    It seems that the origins of the Creationist assertion that genetic information degrades over time comes from that statement by Aquinas (the “putrefaction” one, I mean).

    Huh? Somehow I doubt it. Reading modern meanings of words, e.g. “putrefaction”, back into medieval Scholastics is almost always a bad idea. Aquinas is just saying that God, when creating Nature as a whole, could very well have endowed it with active powers to generate new species. How those powers could be accounted or explained, it was clearly beyond Aquinas knowledge, but the mere fact that he countenances the possibility strikes me as significant and is just one instance among many of the rational explanatory potencies unleashed by Christianity.

    God could have done it a lot better, and if we are designed, why in some cases are we designed so poorly? It is difficult for us to say, I suppose. If we are the pinnacle of Creation, then why such fallible nature, limited lifespans, biological deficiencies… why birth defects, why mental illness, why why why…

    1. You are forgetting the rest of the Christian account, namely the Fall.

    2. As far as the superiority of Evolutionary theory, you are conflating two different levels of explanation. Christian theology and philosophy does not aim at a *scientific* account; on its turn many (all?) of the questions you raise are not scientific questions at all, so you are comparing apples and oranges. If you want to replace Science by metaphysical naturalism, well, you are welcomed to try. And you will fail. Grin.

  15. @ SteveK

    the problem that dooms the naturalistic evolutionary narrative is the naturalistic narrative that precedes it. That preceding narrative must include a potency sub-narrative, and I don’t know of any form of naturalism that has it. Naturalism is incomplete on it’s own terms.

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by “potency”.

  16. Sault,

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you mean by “potency”.

    G. Rodrigues is really the one that can explain this best. I understand it enough though to put it in my own language. Potency is the existence of a real capacity / ability / power to bring about a certain end.

    If we start at that certain end – today, for example – we see that teleology/final causation exists and so does rationality. What that means is the potency for these realities had to exist prior to them being actualized.

    Perhaps I have been living under a rock, but I know of no form of naturalism that includes this requirement. Randomness has no potency in and of itself. Same with matter and energy. There has to be a meta-explanation.

  17. @ doug

    Are you not aware, however, that your equation […] suggests that every mutation in the last 6M years was on the trajectory between CHCA and HS!!!
    Do you not appreciate how absolutely incredible this is (unless the entire process was divinely guided)??

    The human genome is not a fixed product – all of us are slightly different, genetically-speaking. You imply that there is only one strict pathway, this base pair to that base pair to that base pair, and there need not be.

    My understanding is that one measure of human variation puts us at a 0.01% genetically difference from individual to individual. That’s 1 difference per 1000 base pairs, or something in the realm of 3 million potential variations from person to person.

    So, even though we might have had a common ancestor, there’s no reason to automatically conclude that its genome wasn’t a spectrum just as much as ours is.

    I see that you use the phrase “beneficial mutation” a number of times. Given the vast differences in the genetic spectrum of what it means to be human, it certainly would seem like most genetic variations are “neutral”.

    That makes one beneficial mutation for every 3000 organisms.

    Ahh, I think I see what the problem is. You’re using the mutation per individual metric instead of the mutation per generation metric. I don’t think it is the correct metric to use in this case, again because of the stats I’ve already given. We have hundreds of differences (“mutations”) between parent and child, and that is what is significant, rather than a strict population count.

    Recent “best-estimates” have this evolution happening in a small population (around 30k on average) over a period of approximately 5M years.

    And it only takes

    3M different base pairs / 200 bp per generation * 20 years per generation = approx 300,000 years

    In other words, starting with a perfectly uniform genome, assuming an average variance of 200 base pairs/generation, it would take less than half a million years to achieve the current diversity. Obviously the number drops significantly when you factor in any degree of variation existing within that population (multiple children, perhaps).

  18. In other words, starting with a perfectly uniform genome, assuming an average variance of 200 base pairs/generation, it would take less than half a million years to achieve the current diversity.

    But there is still a gap between us here: those 200 base-pairs… which direction are they going? And are they all going in the same direction? (think of the genome as a 3B-dimension vector, if you like). You can’t possibly think that any 200BPx5My/20y random mutations would have resulted in the change from CHCA to HS??? Hence the “beneficial mutation” in the original — the huge majority of mutations are not beneficial (as you yourself have said). This book, though not particularly well-written, examines this issue and quite legitimately concludes that deleterious mutations are more common than often thought.

  19. Evolution/long ages is an impediment to faith in Christ because it undermines the whole Gospel. If there was no real Adam and Eve, there’s no original sin. And then you have animal death and suffering, death before sin, God choosing to create life through a violent and wasteful process. I could go on. If you can’t accept Genesis as plain historical truth, then you might as well just reject the whole lot.

    I lost my faith partly because I’ve accepted the scientific fact of common descent. You just can’t shoehorn evolution/long ages into the Bible, and I’ve seen it tried every which-way.

    Someone, please, convince me otherwise.

  20. Bryan B,

    It’s not clear exactly why you think common descent (if true) necessarily falsifies the Christian doctrine of the fall. Maybe you could explain this more fully so that we can understand how you come to the conclusion that you do.

  21. I would have thought that the only necessary (historical, biological) condition for the fall would, in fact, be… common descent!! (of all humans 😉 ) How could any biological relationship to other creatures possibly have any bearing on the matter at all? (let alone be a defeater for it!?)
    And why do atheists make such a big deal about animal death? Are you guys all vegans now?

  22. @ Doug

    You can’t possibly think that any 200BPx5My/20y random mutations would have resulted in the change from CHCA to HS???

    Yes, actually. Add some indels in there and yeah, that’s exactly what I think.

    I feel like you’re laboring under some kind of fundamental misunderstanding here.

    Common ancestor splits into two physically separated groups. For whatever reason, population A *on average* moves en masse in one direction, population B *on average* moves en masse in another direction. Population A ended up becoming homo sapiens, population B ended up being whatever scientific name chimps are called.

    Population A didn’t *have* to become homo sapiens… it could very well have become something else. At this point in time, our genetic population is named “homo sapiens”… at some point we will become something different as our population continues whatever genetic trajectory it’s on.

    The reason for the trajectory could be anything – small changes over time might have led to that trajectory being slightly more “fit” for their environment than others, for instance. We’re not one point on a line, we’re a cloud – a cloud where the “edges” are constantly branching out. Some of those edges won’t reproduce, or will reproduce less successfully than others – the ones that do will slightly alter the “trajectory” of the cloud.

    Remember – we’re still changing. We are a work in progress, and always will be.

  23. @ BillT

    Good post, one that more Christians should read. Don’t interpret the Bible as strictly literal (historically it hasn’t, AFAIK) and it’s a lot easier to be religious and scientific. The current trend of pitting religion against science is tragic.

    I can recognize that religion informs philosophy and that philosophy informs science… but when religion claims that things like vaccines go against God’s will, reasonable people like me recoil in horror. Okay, maybe vaccines was a bad example – lots of misinformation out there about them. Whatever. Hopefully that gets the point across.

    @ Doug

    the huge majority of mutations are not beneficial (as you yourself have said)

    Calling a mutation “beneficial” is essentially meaningless. As I mentioned earlier, a child differs from their parents by some 200-ish base pairs – ie, 200 “mutations”. Most mutations simply are what they are – neutral.

    Besides – “beneficial” to what? The human genome is something like a million “mutations” wide.

    And why do atheists make such a big deal about animal death?

    We do? The only thing I could think of is how 99.9% of all species that have ever existed have died. I think the reasoning is that it seems a little callous for a loving God. But God works in mysterious ways, right?

  24. @Sault,

    I feel like you’re laboring under some kind of fundamental misunderstanding here.

    Oh. My. Goodness.
    Talk about fundamental misunderstanding.
    Let’s take this slowly. On the one hand, you agree with:

    any 200BPx5My/20y random mutations would have resulted in the change from CHCA to HS

    And on the other, you said:

    Population A didn’t *have* to become homo sapiens

    This is an apparent contradiction. Care to explain?

    Remember – we’re still changing. We are a work in progress, and always will be.

    You have no evidence at all for this claim. But you say it with such confidence. How is that?

    Just a reality check for you: any idea how many generations of fruit flies have gone through experiments in evolutionary biology labs? Are you aware of the primary conclusion from those experiments?
    Any idea how many generations of bacteria have gone through experiments in evolutionary biology labs? Are you aware of the primary conclusion from those experiments?

    Hint: it isn’t “they are still changing — and always will be.”

    I agree that “beneficial” is a poor adjective for mutations. But for evolution to work, there is this little thing called “selective advantage” (I’m doing your homework for you; you can thank me later). When a mutation confers a selective advantage on its carrier, that mutation is referred to as “beneficial” in the literature. Don’t take my word for it — do some reading.

  25. @Sault,
    Here’s an interesting quote from a researcher (Bruce Lahn) that you might consider as you respond:

    Humans evolved their cognitive abilities not due to a few accidental mutations, but rather from an enormous number of mutations acquired through exceptionally intense selection favoring more complex cognitive abilities. Human evolution is, in fact, a privileged process because it involves a large number of mutations in a large number of genes…. To accomplish so much in so little evolutionary time…requires a selective process that is perhaps categorically different from the typical processes of acquiring new biological traits.

    Is that the kind of thing that sounds like it happens all the time? Or happens on the basis of “neutral mutations”?

  26. Sault,

    It isn’t just a matter of interpreting or not interpreting the Bible lierally. It’s a matter, as the article says, of discovering the author’s intent for a particular passage. Some are to be taken literally. Some are not. It’s a very nuanced text with a great deal in it. A “one size fits all” approach doesn’t get it done.

    And I appreciate your saying “The current trend of pitting religion against science is tragic.” That couldn’t be more true.

  27. Doug,

    The suffering of animals (not necessarily their deaths) contributes to the problem of evil. All other things being equal, the world would be less evil if animals didnt suffer.

    And since old earth theories, and evolution entail that animals have been suffering an *extremely long time* – more than anyone in the ancient world could have supposed – it adds that much more weight issues posed by the evidential problem of evil.

    So that’s probably why atheists talk about animal suffering a lot. It poses a *big* problem for theism.

  28. @d:

    So that’s probably why atheists talk about animal suffering a lot. It poses a *big* problem for theism.

    Here we go with the usual bloated, extravagant, unargued claims. I am sure you like to imagine it does, but no, it is not a big problem. Animals are not moral agents so their suffering is devoid of any moral meaning and it falls under the problem of natural evil. The latter has been adequately met in many many ways.

  29. @ Doug

    [original quote]
    You can’t possibly think that any 200BPx5My/20y random mutations would have resulted in the change from CHCA to HS???

    Were you asking me if any single one mutation could have led to a difference between human and chimp? Because then the answer is no. Are a whole host of these random mutations responsible? Yes.

    You have no evidence at all for this claim. But you say it with such confidence. How is that?

    Genetic differences are still happening between parent and child. Thus, we are still changing. I don’t know how long it will take – it would take an awful long time for the collective genome of billions of people to shift – but in x million years we won’t be who we are today, genetically speaking. That’s a natural conclusion from what has already been established (5M years from CHCA to HS).

    We are all “transitional fossils”.

    Any idea how many generations of bacteria have gone through experiments in evolutionary biology labs? Are you aware of the primary conclusion from those experiments?

    That is an excellent question.

    Off the top of my head, I would say that E. Coli experiments have shown changes in the genetic structure of that particular bacteria over the last 20-something years. (here is a less boring press release) Mutation rates are different for humans than for bacteria (just as they are for different sites in our genomes), but the principle remains the same.

  30. @d,

    So that’s probably why atheists talk about animal suffering a lot. It poses a *big* problem for theism.

    No. It is a problem that atheist impose on theism.

    @Sault,
    There is change, and then there is change… Sure, genetic drift happens; sure, neutral mutations happen (both of which were implicitly built into the original “puzzle”, btw — sorry I didn’t take the time to make it a bit more explicit). But there is not a researcher on the planet who imagines that CHCA can evolve to HS on the basis of those two things alone. I was a bit shocked that you are proposing just that!

  31. Doug,

    Many Chistians also view it a serious problem that needs thoughtful consideration. It’s not really just an “atheist thing” at all. Sure, many atheists might think it a successfull line of attack while many Christians think it not… but that’s not unusual.

  32. @d,
    Throughout history, human beings have had difficulty in understanding animal experience.
    Anthropomorphic projection is a relatively recent phenomenon, however.
    I just thought that if folks were really that concerned about animal suffering, consistency would require them to be (at a minimum) vegetarians.
    But what about all that plant suffering? 😉

  33. Melissa,

    “It’s not clear exactly why you think common descent (if true) necessarily falsifies the Christian doctrine of the fall. ”

    Well, how can there have been a Fall if there was no first Adam, as Paul taught? If there’s no first Adam, there isn’t a last Adam–no need for redemption.

    For those who would try to allegorize Genesis, Exodus 20:11 is particularly damning, as God told Moses face to face:

    ‘For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.’

  34. Bryan,

    Well, how can there have been a Fall if there was no first Adam, as Paul taught? If there’s no first Adam, there isn’t a last Adam–no need for redemption.

    Common descent does not falsify the existence of Adam.

  35. It depends what you mean by Adam–if you’re talking about the first man who brought sin into the world, yes, it does, because one of the tenets of common descent is that we came from a pool of many thousands of primate ancestors, not one guy.

  36. @Bryan Bigej:

    It depends what you mean by Adam–if you’re talking about the first man who brought sin into the world, yes, it does, because one of the tenets of common descent is that we came from a pool of many thousands of primate ancestors, not one guy.

    Melissa is quite correct, it doesn’t. Here is one possible answer (from a traditional Catholic, Thomistic perspective):

    Modern biology and original sin, Part I,

    Monkey in your soul?

    and

    Modern biology and original sin, Part II

  37. @Sault,
    Regarding your

    E. Coli experiments have shown changes in the genetic structure of that particular bacteria

    . Talk about over-claiming! 🙂 The Lenski experiments (in your “less boring press release”) did nothing of the kind. In fact, the genetic locus responsible for the “something dramatic” reported there consists of a grand total of… TWO base-pairs!
    And it only took >31k “generations” to achieve (in spite of the beyond immense environmental pressure). So the end result of the experiments is to show that known genetic pathways can be traversed via random mutation and “natural” selection (the environment was hardly “natural”) v-e-r-y v-e-r-y slowly. And sure enough — after thousands of generations there is no hint of anything, but… E.Coli. Similarly with fruit flies. After tens of thousands of generations? Just. Fruit flies.

  38. Bryan

    It depends what you mean by Adam–if you’re talking about the first man who brought sin into the world, yes, it does, because one of the tenets of common descent is that we came from a pool of many thousands of primate ancestors, not one guy.

    Science can count animals/species and it can conclude that there might have been thousands. What science cannot do is count rational, logical animals/species with a divine soul. Please explain how science can falsify something it cannot detect?

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