Guest blog by Joel:
Having a degree in the field of science (Mechanical Engineering), I have a particular interest in the aspects of Creationism and other topics which, as a society, we continue to try to line up with our scientific observations. Part of this is related to how my brain works, constantly trying to align information in a logical and provable manner. The other part of it is that I have friends and co-workers that have similar scientific minds, so I feel that I am in a position of evangelism for the types of people that are at war with the concept of believing in something that they can’t fully prove. I don’t have a quiver full of Creationist Apologetics, but I am endeavoring to put more of a focus on this topic. In following with Rachel’s format for the Convention summary, here is my bulletpoint list of things that I found interesting and thought provoking. Also, if you’re not a nerd like me and you see this long list, don’t hesitate to just skim the list to the summary at the bottom. 🙂
Basics about Charles Darwin – most of his work was in the mid-1800s, spent 5 years on the HMS Beagle as a “companion” for the captain, proposed that all species descended over time from common ancestors, proposed that this branching patter of evolution resulted in natural selection.
-Sedgwick and Lyell were 2 of his closest mentors, influences, and foundations for the beginning of his research. Interestingly, Sedgwick wrote letters to Darwin which expressed his disdain and embarassment for Darwin’s work and Lyell’s foundational theories which Darwin started from (such as believing that the continents rise and fall over time) have since been proven false.
-Darwin was a great writer and storyteller, which may have more to do with the staying power of his work than the actual credibility of his work
-Darwin had zero knowledge of concepts such as plate tectonics, the ice age, or sedimentation
-Experimentation shows that when there is flowing water, vertical layers are formed. So through this horizontal movement and different materials of varying size, density, etc, we can create vertical layers. We can also look at a very recent eruption of Mount St. Helens and see the many vertical layers. The common misconception is that the many layers in our soil is evidence of millions of years, and that as you go down you go further and further into the history of the earth. But a violent horizontal flow of water with different materials in it can result in many distinct layers. In fact, the Mount St Helens eruption activity over a few years in the 1980s resulted in what appears to be a few million years worth of sedimentary layers, if you follow the standard methods of calculation.
-Fossil Jellyfish. Outside of an event such as The Flood (extreme pressure, very quickly for preservation), how else could a gooey animal fossilize? And why are these fossils, which are supposedly millions and millions of years old, nearly identical to current species of jellyfish?
-Both evolution and creation share a very large portion of their identity, biology. The difference is the philosphical portion…evolution uses naturalism and creation uses theism.
-Darwin assumed that the cell was basically a “bag of salts”, so it was easier for him to imagine an amorphous change of shape, color, etc. But we now know that the cell is a complex, highly-engineered machine.
-For example, looking at a simple protein of a simple organism like a fruit fly…there are thousands of specific links in that protein…and changing one single link would cause the fruit fly to cease to be a fruit fly.
-We assume that we’ve got a good handle on something as simple as the different species of animal and plant life…but in reality, the concept of “species” is very complex. For example, why do we differentiate between so many different dog species? They can interbreed and create new species or hybrids. Really, a dog is one “kind” of animal. We can see that through very few or even a single generation, we can drastically change the characteristic of the offspring. So by some contemporary definitions of a species…new species can form, merge or change within a very short period of time. But Darwin’s theory assumes a very gradual change over millions and millions of years…
-Darwin gets credit for the invention of evolution, even though other men made similar conculsions years before…but because of the class system of the Victorian society, those lower class men did not get credit for their work.
-Fossils that were identified as identical in every way except that they were discovered in different layers are considered different species. Why?
-Darwin’s evolution was centered around the tree of life with a central root…that has since been falsified, as we can trace many animals back to a single ancestor of the same “kind”. For example, we can trace back to the genesis of dogs and the genesis of cats, but we don’t see any overlap or common ancestry between them.
-The biggest, fastest, strongest survive? Sometimes it’s just the organisms that have the most offspring.
-Darwin made some great observations, but then he attempted to extrapolate that to infinity, sometimes by using false assumptions and theory…why do we still continue to hold it up as a true doctrine that has stood the test of time? It has not!
-Modern scientific theory actually supports the opposite of what Darwin said…genetics say that organisms are not expanding, but rather going extinct due to mutation. We’ve seen that some strains of influenza have mutated and die out over a relatively short period of time, under 100 years.
-Preconceptions! We know that Darwin went into his studies looking for a certain answer. He did not objectively analyze the data, but rather gathered anything he could find that could potentially support what he set out to prove. This is not consistent with scientific principles.
-It seems clear that Darwin’s most famous book, Descent of Men, is a very inflammatory and terribly false book. Those that support his claims and pick and choose things from his research and ignore all of the other pure drivel is asinine.
Well, did anybody survive that list? Some of those points might not make sense without further research and explanation. But the biggest point that I took away from this speaker was that we really really need to be careful to evaluate what we think we know, especially when it comes to “common knowledge”. Just because you heard it mentioned on tv or your mom or grandpa say it like it’s fact, doesn’t mean that it is truth! It is critical that we first start with Scripture for the most complete and accurate list of truths.
Secondly, consider the source. If you’re reading darwin.com (I made that website up) for example, the author(s) is probably likely to be a fan of Darwin and there is the potential for distorting the truth or leaving out key points that don’t support their agenda.
And lastly, really take at look at the foundations for your beliefs, even beyond Scripture. For example, you might be having a conversation about when our country declared its independence. It would be pretty easy to start with the date of July 4th, we all know that’s Independence Day, right? Well if you look a little more closely you’ll see that the Declaration of Independence was approved on July 2, 1776. So July 4th must be when it was signed or submitted or something, right? Well, kind of. It’s just not that simple. Not all of the men that signed the document were present at the time. One guy was not present and did not sign until November. Congress didn’t sign until August 2nd. That’s enough nerdiness, you get my point. Wives’ tales are a common example of assumed truths that should also be evaluated. You will not get warts from touching a toad, gum will not stay in your stomach for 7 years if you swallow it, being exposed to cold weather or having wet hair in the cold will not cause you to get sick, etc. Look it up!
Well, this will probably be the last time Rachel asks me to be a guest blogger. Maybe you can help me out by commenting that you got something out of reading this…even if it is just thinking about what kinds of things that you think you know that might really just be assumptions or misnomers.
I’ll try to be consistent with Rachel’s blog and ask:
What perceived “truths” have you been surprised to learn were not true?