The Theory of Evolution and the Biblical account of Creation - are they compatible?

There is much debate as to whether Science and Religion are compatible and in particular can Evolution and the Biblical creation account co-exist as valid worldviews or does one negate the other.  As far as I am concerned the debate is only a bone of contention for religionists.  Science is the study of the natural world. It does not look for supernatural outcomes to its investigations. Religion has for the last 400 years has been continually discounted as a reliable tool to discover anything new. It’s explanations of the working of the natural world are being proven incorrect and Science is filling the gaps it used to dwell in.

When I am referring to the Theory of Evolution I am talking about Modern Evolution Theory and not just “Darwinism”.  Creation as used will mean the Bible story and Creationism in general.

If I posted this 400 years ago it would read “The theory of Heliocentricity and the idea that the Earth is at the middle of our Universe – are they compatible?” The religious did their utmost to thwart the advancement of scientific discovery. They did not “believe” it was true that the sun was at the center. It was “only a theory” and the scientists behind it were deemed to be heretics. Only as people became educated did they understand it. Now this once special knowledge is deemed almost to be common sense. The churches now accept the Theory of Heliocentricity as being true. That is mighty of them but irrelevant to me because like the Theory of Evolution it was never a matter of faith. It is only a matter of education. Knowledge is power. They controlled the flow of it for too long in schools and even Universities.  Information takes away more power from religion so it will do whatever it takes to keep as much of it as it can. So religions come up with alternative “theories” to counter the modern day heretics.

Even today I still get told by apologists that the Bible knew the world was round.  Many have become “Hebrew scholars” and love informing me about the meaning of the word “chug” to insist Isaiah know the world was round. He did not. He “knew” it to be flat as did everyone else at that time.

The same people will then try to argue with me that Intelligent Design is a credible scientific alternative to the Theory of Evolution and should be taught in schools. They “don’t believe in Evolution”. So they read more biblical science and come up with the idea that their god created every animal including man in his present “form”.  I will not discuss I.D. any further but if anyone else thinks it a good idea and has any merit please fire ahead. Maybe the dinosaurs died because they fell over the edge of the planet. These theists are the same as they were 400 years ago. They still maintain their book is the one and only truth necessary and deny the validity of the Theory of Evolution just as they denied the fact the sun is at the center of the galaxy.

I am not a scientist and do not claim any academic qualifications in this area.  Due to my lack of believe in any god or the veracity of written accounts I turned elsewhere for answers. I find that the Theory of Evolution is a fact because I understand it to be proven. It therefore reinforces my reasons for remaining an Atheist but in itself it did not make me an Atheist. I will reference my replies later to any questions I try to answer.

I consider it fair to say that most Theists deny the fact of Evolution because they do not know it. Those that think they do usually have only learnt it from the science section of the bible or from their local preacher. I have never met a Theist (I mean never) who could explain it to me correctly. I also consider it fair to claim that one does not need be an Atheist to see that the Theory of Evolution is a Fact.

The Theory of Evolution is the scientific study of how life of earth has evolved over time. To start with we need to get some concept of the time scale. It started about 3.5 billion years ago. You need to stop a minute and think about that. It is almost impossible to conceive of such a scale. Millions of species have lived and died out before man appeared a relatively short time ago. We are about as a modern species for the last 200,000 years. 40,000,000 years before us Mt. Everest rose up and yet 25,000,000 years before that the dinosaurs became extinct.  A few billion years further back and our early ancestors were getting ready to crawl out of the sea. Sound as fantastic as other stories? Well yes but all of this can be and has been fully proven. When all the various fields of Science, geology, chemistry, anatomy, fossil studies and especially DNA are taken together we see that all life on Earth is connected. No matter what species we look at once we go back far enough we see a common ancestor is shared amongst us all.

I am not going to further explain the Theory here other than say that the word “Theory” in this case means a body of facts and not an hypothesis that is still in need of evidence to make it acceptable. It is because Evolution is a proven fact that it is deemed to be a Theory.

I fully acknowledge that the Theory of Evolution does not explain how life on Earth began but that is not what it is about. I also accept that the Theory of Evolution does not disprove the existence of any particular deity.

However if anyone accepts that the Theory of Evolution is a fact (which it is) then we humans  are descended from other species and if we keep going back we are evolved from  simple life forms that lived in the sea. Therefore we could not have been created in human form in one day. Therefore the Christian story of creation is not true. It is a myth like those of all other religions.

Feel free to tell me where you think I am wrong and show me how the bible is right or at least compatible with Evolution. We can discuss the Theory of Evolution in greater detail and clear up any misconceptions held about it if this discussion EVOLVES.

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Jessica -

I received a link to a video last Spring from a theist friend. The premise of the video was that Atheists were trying to take over America, and featured interviews of several people who had lost what appeared to have been significant, respectable positions because they were Christians. I had some time on my hands then and valued this person's friendship, so I noted those names and researched them, and it turned out that none of their terminations had anything to do with their religions, but with their poor performances.

It takes a Christian a relatively short time to come up with an article like you've pasted above, but it would take me days to wade through it and investigate all of the names and claims featured there, and I don't know anyone who has that kind of time.

So here's a simple example of evolution, in your own time, that you witness on an everyday basis, and you don't have to Google anything to realize it.

According to TA's Nelson, to whom I pray every morning as the god of all wisdom and knowledge, Man domesticated wolf cubs 30,000 years ago. The wolves so domesticated, helped with hunting and tracking and provided an early warning system for the tribe. Over those 30K years, Man - not Nature, not god - has evolved, through Human selection, from those common wolves, every breed of dog in existence, from the St. Bernard to the Tea Cup Chihuahua.

A small concern.

Evolutionary theory does not exist to validate theist ideology. Theists attempting to use evolution or the sciences are just trying to pad their ideology. If the process of evolution is 'true', it should have a similar standing as '2+2=4'. This is not about belief, it just is. Humans recognizing the reality of evolution, is just a catching up. Theists expecting or allowing reality to validate their ideology, is an overlay of unneccesary detail.

The bible is not neccesary for evolution to be 'true', neither is 'belief'. If we sleep walk through our lives, without recognizing evolution as an underlying process, we will miss a deep detail, but it is unclear if our day to day lives would change. We can be bugs in temporal amber, and none the wiser, or we can find a deeper perspective.  

the question is will our species survive long enough to even witness macroevolution...or will the biblicals prevail with their pending muslim/christian war that has been "revealed".  The show-down in the holy land. Man, dont know about you but I got a hankering to cook up some nylon and polyurathane steaks when I get home.....(not really, i speak in tongues..but there are some bacteria that love the stuff)...;)

Don't recall the evil snake tempting adam to take a bite of those really bad  70's disco pants...ah ah ah ah ah stayin alive, stayin alive...  In a cafe in about 200 years "I'll have a nylon soy milk polyurathane latte please"...                                        I loved Jurrasic Park...."Life will find a way"

 or the island rule...

"Islands are wonderful natural laboratories for the study of evolutionary change and for that reason have long attracted the attention of biologists. Their peculiar ecological conditions often led to the evolution of species that greatly differ in body size and/or form from their closest relatives on the mainland.

Large animals often become smaller on islands (due to limited food resources) and small ones become larger (often due to the absence of predators). This phenomenon is known as the "island rule."

One of the best-known examples from the fossil record are the pony-sized elephants that lived on Crete and other Mediterranean islands during the Pleistocene and Holocene."

First, we all - you too, Jessica - know Christians to whom all mention of evolution is anathema.

However, as more and more evidence piles up, and as intelligent and educated people all over the world take evolution for granted and disdain those who would deny it, some Christian "authorities" have decided, "OK, we'll concede that 'some' evolution is true, but not all!"

I wonder, between the time that Galileo determined that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than the converse, and the time that the Church finally determined that it actually did, whether there were some Church "authorities" who were willing to concede that part of the heliocentric theory may be true, but definitely not all.

I always find it amusing that those who deny the microcosm that is the quantum world, are likely to be the first to whip out their iPads, which wouldn't exist without the technology of quantum mechanics.

When will Humanity grow up and put aside childish things?

Jessica, if we can all accept "microevolution" to be part of what has given us the dramatically different dogs, can you explain how the continual application of microevolution couldn't result in macroevolution?

It's like saying "taking a few steps will never make you walk a mile" but clearly if you took lots of steps, and kept taking more steps, you would eventually walk that mile.

Hi Jessica - thanks for that...I think!!! I will go through it later this evening and reply.

"Chihuahuas evolved from microevolution ie natural selection etc" You mean artificial selection no?

I prefer to think of it as Human, rather than artificial, selection. Whereas Natural selection selects for qualities that will benefit and perpetuate the species, Human selection selects for that which will benefit the needs of Humans, which ultimately leads to the perpetuation of those traits that most meet those Human needs.

Those needs can encompass a range from needing a Spaniel to go into cold water for you and bring back a downed duck, to feeling the need for a TeaCup Chihuahua to attract attention to ladies incapable of attracting it on their own.

Jessica – I find that most of this is such stunning bad science that I am not sure where to start. It is meant to read like a scientific publication but there appears to be such an underlying misunderstanding of Modern Evolutionary Theory that my head hurts reading it. In places it reads like an attempt to scorn “Evolutionists” as opposed to counter scientific idea. I really hate arguing science from apologetic Christian scientists because no matter what is presented they ultimate play the faith card and think that it settles the matter. However I do honestly believe that you are being genuine in your questioning and so I will start to dismantle some of the points made. I have done this with Jehovah Witnesses publications in the past which are very similar so I will have a go at it. I wonder what Mr. Rich Deem would make of Fronkey farming !!!

On Stephen Jay Gould and Punctuated Equilibrium:
He was an Evolutionary biologist and an active campaigner against Creationism. He was misquoted so often by Creationists. So rather than me rebutting it I will just quote the man himself from his book called “Evolution as Fact and Theory”. It is one thing to quote a famous anti creationist in ones work but it is disingenuous to misuse it in this way. However he is not the first to do so.

I count myself among the evolutionists who argue for a jerky, or episodic, rather
than a smoothly gradual, pace of change. In 1972 my colleague Niles Eldredge
and I developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium. We argued that two
outstanding facts of the fossil record—geologically "sudden" origin of new
species and failure to change thereafter (stasis)—reflect the predictions of
evolutionary theory, not the imperfections of the fossil record. In most theories,
small isolated populations are the source of new species, and the process of
speciation takes thousands or tens of thousands of years. This amount of time,
so long when measured against our lives, is a geological microsecond. It
represents much less than 1 per cent of the average life-span for a fossil
invertebrate species—more than ten million years. Large, widespread, and well
established species, on the other hand, are not expected to change very much.
We believe that the inertia of large populations explains the stasis of most fossil
species over millions of years.

We proposed the theory of punctuated equilibrium largely to provide a different
explanation for pervasive trends in the fossil record. Trends, we argued, cannot
be attributed to gradual transformation within lineages, but must arise from the
different success of certain kinds of species. A trend, we argued, is more like
climbing a flight of stairs (punctuated and stasis) than rolling up an inclined plane.
Since we proposed punctuated equilibria to explain trends, it is infuriating to be
quoted again and again by creationists—whether through design or stupidity, I do
not know—as admitting that the fossil record includes no transitional forms.
Transitional forms are generally lacking at the species level, but they are
abundant between larger groups. Yet a pamphlet entitled "Harvard Scientists
Agree Evolution Is a Hoax" states: "The facts of punctuated equilibrium which
Gould and Eldredge…are forcing Darwinists to swallow fit the picture that Bryan
insisted on, and which God has revealed to us in the Bible."
Continuing the distortion, several creationists have equated the theory of
punctuated equilibrium with a caricature of the beliefs of Richard Goldschmidt, a
great early geneticist. Goldschmidt argued, in a famous book published in 1940,
that new groups can arise all at once through major mutations. He referred to
these suddenly transformed creatures as "hopeful monsters." (I am attracted to
some aspects of the non-caricatured version, but Goldschmidt's theory still has
nothing to do with punctuated equilibrium—see essays in section 3 and my
explicit essay on Goldschmidt in The Pandas Thumb.) Creationist Luther
Sunderland talks of the "punctuated equilibrium hopeful monster theory" and tells
his hopeful readers that "it amounts to tacit admission that anti-evolutionists are
correct in asserting there is no fossil evidence supporting the theory that all life is
connected to a common ancestor." Duane Gish writes, "According to
Goldschmidt, and now apparently according to Gould, a reptile laid an egg from
which the first bird, feathers and all, was produced." Any evolutionists who
believed such nonsense would rightly be laughed off the intellectual stage; yet
the only theory that could ever envision such a scenario for the origin of birds is
creationism—with God acting in the egg.

I am both angry at and amused by the creationists; but mostly I am deeply sad.
Sad for many reasons. Sad because so many people who respond to creationist
appeals are troubled for the right reason, but venting their anger at the wrong
target. It is true that scientists have often been dogmatic and elitist. It is true that
we have often allowed the white-coated, advertising image to represent us—
"Scientists say that Brand X cures bunions ten times faster than…" We have not
fought it adequately because we derive benefits from appearing as a new
priesthood. It is also true that faceless and bureaucratic state power intrudes
more and more into our lives and removes choices that should belong to
individuals and communities. I can understand that school curricula, imposed
from above and without local input, might be seen as one more insult on all these
grounds. But the culprit is not, and cannot be, evolution or any other fact of the
natural world. Identify and fight our legitimate enemies by all means, but we are
not among them.

NO, THEY ARE NOT, BY ANY CONCEIVABLE STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, COMPATIBLE.  One is pure fantastical conjecture; the other is natural law.

And if it is plausible that a god is behind the Big Bang how do you know it is your god? Then who or what created this god?

We haven't proved the big bang was the actual start of anything - we just don't have a way at this time of going beyond it as a starting date.  The problem with attributing it to a god, is that that solution suggests we all sit back and stop investigating, because "God did it".

I'm sure I posted somewhere else that there is no evidence that there is or isn't a god.  There is certainly no indication that one or several exist, but then that could be said of more or less anything not there.  Can we prove there is no Pink Unicorn?  No, but then we don't live as if there is one and follow rules that the Pink Unicorn's proponents tell us about.

At the moment, we could consider a "Schrodinger's God".  But anything (such as "God did it") that discourages curiosity is not conducive to discovery.

If I'm wrong and the theists are right, I'm going to look pretty silly in your afterlife - whereas if you're wrong and I'm right, no-one will ever know.  I really don't care.  What I do care about with a passion, is this life.  I'm going to live it with everything I've got.  I'm going to glory in discoveries and marvel at the universe unfolding.  I'm going to do all this hurting as few life forms as I possibly can.  But I am not going to follow imaginary rules that conflict with my perceptions on how I choose to live my life, nor am I going to allow others to impose them on me, without a fight.


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