Creation, evolution, science

A podcast recently made the unfortunate mistake of using the second law of thermodynamics to disparage evolution. To me, this was like yelling “Clinton!” in the middle of a Republican convention. Here are some thoughts on creation, evolution, and science.

  • This may be a straw man, but I seem to have heard that evolution is degrading to humanity. If evolution had been God’s choice for the creation of man, I don’t see how we could have been degraded by it. More pressing determinants of the dignity of man include the undeceived sin of our first father Adam and our own inescapable bondage to it, the sovereign choice of God that man, and seemingly only man of all the sinful races, would be shown mercy, and that God himself was made man. Our dignity is tied to our sin and our salvation, not to God’s choice of creative methods.
  • Intelligent design is a bunch of claptrap. Knowing that God cannot be studied scientifically, instead it tries to prove evolution is false. But you can’t prove something is false with science, particularly when your knowledge is as limited as ours – scientific discovery being in a tremendous state of change. If you don’t know how things work, you really can’t prove something is impossible.
  • It’s almost incontrovertible that evolution happens. We have multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, the adaptive behavior of HIV, and we have dandelions that now grow shorter than a lawnmower blade. But just because evolution currently happens doesn’t mean that it is the cause of people being how they are. Just because rocks roll down hill doesn’t mean that a rock at the bottom of the hill rolled down – it might have been carried down.
  • The people in science are generally really bright. Unlike other professions, people don’t often go into science for money or power, and it’s hard to get into the field unless you’re talented. Instead people are in the field to understand and to discover truth. Science constantly lays new truth and new wonders at the door of those who look at it.
  • It’s not a conspiracy. Science scrutinizes everything – nearly every scientific theory ever made has been overturned, those which have not been overturned have been modified, and those which have not been modified are constantly scrutinized. If science says there is evidence for evolution, it’s because there’s evidence for it.
  • And it’s dangerous – horrific – for a Christian to call somebody a fool or a liar, particularly simply because they don’t see things the right way. Christ was utterly clear about this.
  • You wouldn’t tell your doctor how he was full of beans and that you knew better than he what your problems were. You wouldn’t tell your garbage collector he was doing it wrong either. So why would you assume somebody with a doctorate in science didn’t have the intelligence to figure out that your refutation of evolution was correct?
  • The issue really isn’t evolution. It’s creation. When you talk about creationism, you may look like a nut, but you will be a consistent nut. When you ignore the creation issue to focus only on evolution, you look like an inconsistent nut.
  • The problem of creationism boils down to this: the stars look far away. Most are farther away than the amount of time it would take their light to reach the earth. If you can explain how the light from the stars has reached the earth, you can probably explain why the earth looks old, and the sun looks old, and man looks old, and why we it seems that we came from an apelike ancestor.
  • We can’t address evolution in a void but must address it in the whole context of creation. And there’s a lot of evidence that the universe is older than Genesis indicates. There is a lot of evidence for evolution. If you desire to scientifically disprove these things, feel free. You will need advanced degrees astronomy, geophysics, biology. Good luck.

All the above seems bleak. So what’s our hope? We have a more reliable source of information in the Bible. We believe it is true, that God does not speak likes, that He is more authoritative than science. And we know that science has some limitations:

  • It’s empirical. It knows only what is seen and can be measured. That which will not be measured cannot be analyzed by science. Science has no way of addressing the existence of God if he chooses to be unmeasurable.
  • It requires repeatability. Without repeatability, experimental results are useless, because they may have resulted from errors or from fraud. Therefore a one-off event such as a miracle cannot be usefully analyzed by science. The resurrection cannot be analyzed by science, it cannot be repeated on demand.
  • Science is theoretical. Scientific theories are constantly overturned. Even well-accepted theories are turned upside-down – the wave nature of light, the ether, Newton’s laws and so on. Science is always theoretical, never definitive. It cannot say “true” or “false,” only “supported” and “unsupported.”
  • Finally, science deals in cause and effect. To its very heart it is deterministic. Every state comes about because of a previous state; the ice melts because it is in a warm environment, the child cries because it stubbed its toe. But if every state must have a previous state, then there can truly be no beginning. Science cannot conceive of a state that did not come about because of a previous state. If science were to look at ex nihilo creation, it would see a false picture of what existed before that creation.

And so here’s my theory. There’s no specific theological support for it, and there can be no scientific support for it, so you may take it for what it’s worth: I think that God created things to look old. He had to make them look like something: if the Earth was created with mountains, it would look as though they had been pushed up by plate tectonics. If it was created as a smooth ball, it would have looked as though it came about through the condensation of dust and the collisions of planetesimals. Adam was likely created as an adult, looking as though he had once been a child, but even if God had chosen to create him as a zygote, the single celled fertilized egg, he would look as though had had once been egg and sperm. So God likely made the earth to look old, and the light of the stars between earth and star, and the genes of our bodies to look as if they had come about through evolution. Science would necessarily see “past” the creation to a time that never existed. Presto! An unmeasurable God causing an undetectable creation. Genesis is still true, and the science of honest and men gives the results that can be expected due to its limitations. To the elect, God will be obvious in the creation, and to the perishing, they have a convenient delusion.

We cannot disprove evolution. We cannot measure God with science. If we could, it would not be believed.

Science is a limited view of creation. It’s mostly honest, it’s mostly factual, and it’s a very practical way to view the world as long as you know it is not complete.