Saturday, February 14, 2009

Darwinism vs. Creationism

Pious Fictions

I read an article in NPR today discussing a law that was recently passed in Louisiana which protects teachers who want to raise doubts about Darwinism. I think the typical response to such news is that Louisiana is in the Bible-Belt, and therefore the schools in Louisiana are now free to be a little more religious. But I think that's the wrong way to look at it. I think the Louisiana ruling is actually more in line with the goals of science, because it permits questions. The fact that there are laws that make it illegal for teachers to question something worries me.

I don't want to get into my beliefs about Darwinism. I think that, like many such debates, the reason for the disagreements are largely semantic. Intelligent Design arguments are largely viewed as synonymous with Creationism. Similarly, Darwinism is largely equated with Evolution. I want to say that Intelligent Design and Creationism are actually antonyms, and that Darwinism is not synonymous with Evolution. By separating these terms, I think reasonable, critical, scientific debate can once again continue. Let me show you what I mean by defining the four words more clearly.

Evolution is the belief that species change over time. Breeding and natural selection can result in changes in an animal's genetic make up that are severe enough to result in animals that are significantly variant from their parent generations.

Darwinism is the belief that all species underwent evolution, eventually resulting in what is known as speciation. Breeding and natural selection resulted in such dramatic differentiation that one species became a new species. Therefore, all life originated from basic genetic material that was generated through purely natural means, and all speciation visible in life on earth was the result of natural selection and natural evolution without any intelligent oversight.

Notice that not all Evolutionists are Darwinists, but all Darwinists are Evolutionists.

Intelligent Design finds major gaps in Darwinism, and concludes that Darwinism is improbable to the point of being a mathematical impossibility. Because current science only accepts Darwinism as the explaination of speciation, Intelligent Design theorists posit that there must be some intelligence orchestrating the the mechanisms of Evolution.

Creationism accepts Genesis 1-3 as literally true. God created the world in 6 days. Dinosaurs never lived. A man was made out of mud, and his wife was made out of his rib, and everyone else came from them.

Notice that Creationism is actually opposed to Intelligent Design because it denies the methods of Evolution. These are not two sides of the same coin, they are two contradictory beliefs. We're not talking apples and oranges, we're talking apples and galaxies.

The problem is that everyone who believes in Intelligent Design and everyone who believes in Creationism agree that there is a God. So, they are painted with the same brush. Similarly, everyone who believes in Darwinism believes in Evolution, and these two are then painted with the same brush. The fact of the matter is Intelligent Design is much closer in it's beliefs to Darwinism than it is to Creationism. But still, when Darwinism and Creationism fight, Intelligent Design is always the collateral damage. The sooner science accepts that Intelligent Design is divorced from Creationism, the sooner we'll stop having to write silly laws that make it illegal to ask questions.

Oh, and in researching to write about this, I found this little gem. It's about a society that actually still thinks the earth is flat.

14 comments:

Jim Elek said...

I find it funny when people approach topics such as this with "blind faith". It is sad to me when I see otherwise intelligent people state that they think a specific thing because it is stated in the Bible. These individuals sometimes rely on the representation of scripture that was presented to them as a way to avoid making decisions for themselves. I recently asked a deeply religious friend about this why they never questioned anything they learned in the Bible. She responded that she doesn't question it because her life is better now that she is a person of faith. My initial thought was to rebut something like,"Maybe your life is better now because you stopped doing all of the crap you used to do, like shoot dope and what not." Instead, I chose not to because I feel that her faith is important to her. If following her representation of God is what makes her whole, who am I to try and alter her beliefs. However, I do get frustrated when people ignore fact and state that evolution is not true, the dinosaurs didn't exist, etc. because of their faith in the Bible. Literal interpretation of Biblical texts that rely on faith and ignore common sense and science is just one of the reasons that I have difficulty with "reliigous" people. I could go on and on, but I think I am already boring and/or upsetting some/moat/all of you with what some people will misinterpret as anti-christian rhetoric. Simply put, I believe that if you love your neighbor, you should let him practice whatever makes him/her happy spiritually. This has absolutely nothing to do with Josh's post. Adios.

Joshua said...

That has everything to do with my post. I understand what you are saying. I often wrestle with the same exact things, and I don't know the answer. Part of me feels like blind faith is ignorant. The other part of me respects people who are willing to have blind faith because it demonstrates a willingness to submit to an authority that I am unable to do. I think part of it just depends on what you condsider virtuous, education, and scientific knowledge? Or submission to and faith in tradition?

Rachel Elek said...

Jim,

I think what you have to say is important! Don't stop letting us know what you think. Your honesty is a breath of fresh air.

Adam T. Babcock said...

If you would like to add to your aggravation, watch "Expelled." It is a documentary on this very subject by Ben Stein. Stein tries to find out why certain science professors get fired because they question Darwinism.

I think that you are right Josh that it is difficult to really differentiate between the 4 ideas and/or theories. I also think that it is a bunch of crap that scientists don't have the right to question things. Questioning things has got us to this point of progression. If the questioning stops, progression stops. That's my take.

Tim and Deane said...

Life would be tortuous without questions. We would easily become slavish victims of anyone who told us anything. Isn't that the story of the Garden of Eden?

I tried to teach my children to not just believe, but to know why they believe. Did God say it? What proofs are there? Which parts are allegories? Which are literal? How do we know the difference? Is there a difference?

i.e. Why did the chosen people become a patriarchal society? Did God design it? Or did tradition dictate it? What's the difference?

I believe, not because I don't know, but because I do know. God made Himself evident to me, and then I began to look for the answers to my questions. Prophecy upon fulfilled prophecy - miracle upon miracle - healing upon healing - love act upon each act of love, and my faith still grows - or wanes - with my pursuit of the truth.

Jim, your questions and thoughts are lovingly and honestly shared. They are not upsetting.

He who does not have love does not know God for God is love.

Tim 2 said...

Great post Josh.

That's A Rapp said...

Not to rock the boat too much, but I don't know why some people think if God created the world there could not be dinosaurs. They wouldn't be on the same timeline as Darwinism, but doesn't mean they have to be mutually exclusive. Or that microevolution as a process of breeding and natural selection, much the same as gentics couldn't also be true. I don't know anyone personally who denies gentics and I don't know anyone personally, that I know of, that denies microevlotion. I think that both Darwinism and Creationism require a vast amount of faith. It is simply that the faith is placed in drastically different areas. And I don't think blindly following or believing anything regardless of being from the Creationist side or Darwinist side is a good or healthy idea. For me it comes to this. If God didn't create me or man for that matter, then I wouldn't believe any of the Bible. Why would God redeem a people he watched form from other matter. There would be no attachement or sense of loss. I think it all begs the question, from where did the first signs of life come. I choose to believe God always was and not that a small dense super heated spec of matter appeared from nothing. But hey, doesn't mean we cannot discuss theories of non observed happenings.

RyAn said...

Josh,

Dou you have an individual opinion to the topic?

It sounds as though you have a difficult time committing to the idea of God as a complete answer. If a Christian believes in the Bible (can it really be any other way?), how can we seperate what is real and what is unintentional in terms of Biblical principals and truths? Do we have a right to play with the Word of God?

Personally, I believe that the "more liberal" sect, or "let's mold God's Word to fit our world", perspective has diluted the very message of Christianity. As is evident with the erosion of societal morals and actions.

One must also keep in mind that these four theories are exactly just that; theories. Basically, nothing more than speculation.

Science has done miraculous things, don't get me wrong. However, if science exists, God created it as well. Science is the very act of God's child trying to be more like his Father.

Also, there is a VERY good book by Dinesh D'Souza called What's So Great About Chritianity? It spends a lot of time tackling this very issue.

RyAn said...

Josh,

Dou you have an individual opinion to the topic?

It sounds as though you have a difficult time committing to the idea of God as a complete answer. If a Christian believes in the Bible (can it really be any other way?), how can we seperate what is real and what is unintentional in terms of Biblical principals and truths? Do we have a right to play with the Word of God?

Personally, I believe that the "more liberal" sect, or "let's mold God's Word to fit our world", perspective has diluted the very message of Christianity. As is evident with the erosion of societal morals and actions.

One must also keep in mind that these four theories are exactly just that; theories. Basically, nothing more than speculation.

Science has done miraculous things, don't get me wrong. However, if science exists, God created it as well. Science is the very act of God's child trying to be more like his Father.

Also, there is a VERY good book by Dinesh D'Souza called What's So Great About Chritianity? It spends a lot of time tackling this very issue.

Joshua said...

My opinion is that God created the world through the process of evolution. I do not find the Bible and Science to be at odds with one another. I don't think you have to call either of them liars. God created the world, and he did so through the scientifically validated, (not proven) theory of evolution. The very complexity of evolutionary processes is further evidence that it must have been guided by God.

So what is your opinion on the matter Ryan? I assume you are a creationist, but are you a new-Earth Creationist or an old-Earth creationist? Or am I wrong in my assumption?

RyAn said...

I believe God's Word.

RyAn said...

Natural evolution exists to some degree (more of a survivalist evolutionary process), but I'm not the distant relative of a fish that walked up on the beach one day.

By the way, kind of off topic (I'm interested from our prior conversations), but do you feel duped now that you see the type of president Barack Obama has shown to be in 51 days of work?

That's A Rapp said...

Joshua,
It is no secret you and I do not agree on every topic out there from aspects of faith to politics. I just wanted to say that if I have ever been condescending or arrogant in my delivery of my beliefs, I apologize. It is unacceptable and unbecoming. I have been made aware of this in recent days. I am working on showing Christ's love while holding true to my beliefs. I believe that it is possible. I must try to remember that I cannot change people's minds. I look forward to many more discussions with you while building our friendship. Hope you are well. Rachel and Norah are two of my favorite people as well, so we will always agree there! Much love!

Joshua said...

Ryan, I'm not sure I understand why I would feel duped, but I don't. And to be honest, I'm really not up for getting into politics.

Stacy, SERIOUSLY?! You have never EVER sounded arrogant of condescending. I love your comments, and didn't think that we looked at things from perspectives that were all that different. No worries friend, I've never thought you were being anything but engaging and fun! Keep em' coming PP!

(heh... I just said "PP.")