September 16, 2023

On Evolution

Bob Clasen

First of all, let me make this clear: I do "believe” in evolution. There is a huge amount of evidence for it in the fossil record and in our DNA.

There are two aspects to evolution, one creative and the other destructive. Something continually generates new biological forms. That is the creative part.

Another aspect is destructive. Most new forms are not an improvement and so the process of competition with other forms causes these to be selected against. They die out.

The position of Intelligent Design is that mere random chance statistically cannot explain the sort of complex mutations that occur regularly. I believe their are 25 amino acids in DNA and they hook up to form letters in a word containing the information or code for assembling the structure of an enzyme or protein. Randomly varying these 25 letters will almost always produce nonsense.

Imagine an English sentence by Shakespeare containing 25 letters and then scrambling the letters randomly. How long will it take to form a coherent sentence that is an improvement on the original by a purely random process? A very long time. That is the argument of the Intelligent Design people (or at least part of the argument)

Of course, the conclusion that there is some Intelligent Mind continually directing evolution is an anathema to atheists. It is a shocking idea to many. Not because they have disproven the arguments made by the Intelligent Design people, who are mostly scholars and scientists. No it is because they don’t like the idea of God because of all the bizarre theories of gods and goddesses that have been popular in different times and cultures. They find it distasteful. So they reject the ideas of Intelligent Design theorists, usually by calling them names.

That is fine with me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, so long as you don’t try to force me to agree with it. Atheists have a right to be atheists if that is their religion of choice. It means that either they have no idea how our universe was created, or that they think it formed somehow with NO intelligent input. I personally find this impossible to agree with.

Tim adds:

A couple of points here Bob.

First, there is a difference between Evolution and Darwinism. The former was actually the work of a number of scientists over the centuries, particularly churchmen. Darwinism was a specific theory to explain WHY species evolved, not if. If had largely been settled, and when Darwin came along the predomonant theory was Lamarckianism, which said something in the species changed with changes in the environment. That theory has returned via epigenetics, I might add. At Darwin's time they didn't know anythin g about DNA or chromosomes.

What Darwin did was provide his theory of Natural Selection in which there are random mutations and the species thrives if selected and dies if not.

Darwin arrived at this after reading Thomas Malthus. So did Henry Wallace and the two men discussed this at length. Darwin realized Wallace was about to publish and hustled out with Origin of Species to trump Wallace. (Wallace had done less field work so his efforts weren't as well documented, slowing him down.)

At any rate Darwin was an atheist, being angry at Christianity. Wallace was the opposite and thought this would actually enhance the Christian worldview.

A few more points.

Fred Hoyle calculated the probability of obtaining all of life's approximate 2000 enzymes as about one-in-10 40,000. The life of the universe was not adequate. Hoyle was a devout atheist and so he came up with the Steady State theory, which said the universe always existed, to get around this. But as the solar system is far too young he had to create Panspermia, the idea that life came from elsewhere, to explain THAT problem.

I would add there are two kinds of panspermia - directed and undirected. Directed panspermia would be a variant of Intelligent Design; the whole point of ID is life shows evidence of design. It doesn't say by whom.

At any rate Darwin has largely been superseded by modern theory. We now know viruses add characteristics
to our genome all the time, for instance. Darwin knew nothing about that.

One last word; Karl Marx wanted to dedicate Das Kapital to Darwin; he had based his economic theory on Natural Selection, which itself was based on the economic theory of Malthus. (Both Darwin and Wallace said they got the idea after reading Malthus' Essay on the Principles of Population.) Darwin wisely declined the honor offered by Marx. But both Marxism and Fascism had Darwinian theory at it's root. It produced remarkably bad fruit.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 10:21 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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