After the smoke has cleared, does the creation/evolution debate actually impact our day-to-day living and working and loving? Perhaps creationists and atheists should simply be happy in their belief and unbelief? Wouldn’t it be best if every person simply believed in whatever works for them, and left everyone else alone? Generally speaking I think so, if the question is how to cook one’s eggs, or whether to wear boxers or briefs. However, the origins question defines what a human being is. When the questions impact the way we treat each other, then it’s time for some honest and respectful dialogue. Furthermore, with the origins issue we have the persistent question of what should be taught to our children.
According to a 2012 Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe the creationist view of human origins. 32% believe in both God and evolution. A remaining 15% believe in evolution with no help from a God.
It’s no secret that the 15% keeps going to the courts to have their view imposed onto our nation’s children, while demanding that the view of the 46% be excluded from the science classroom. As though the 15% holds the “unbiased scientific truth” (see part 2 of this series.) In fact, as we shall see, the 15% seems to think they have some claim to the nation’s children. Personally, as a father, I would like for the nation’s children, including my own, to grow up learning to think critically. Using the force of government to ensure that a single, biased perspective is taught as the only possible perspective may not be the best way to get our children there.
In 2012, one of the 15%’s better known figures put out a short video that went viral on Youtube. It’s Bill Nye “The Science Guy” delivering a spectacularly pompous message – a shining example of failure to acknowledge one’s own bias, and brimming with certainty that there is no other way to see the world. The video is only 2 and a half minutes long – I urge everyone to view it. It’s called “Bill Nye: Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children.” It includes the following statement:
“I say to the grown-ups, ‘If you wanna deny evolution and live in your, (pause for dramatic effect) your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine. But don’t make your kids do it ‘cause we need them…’”
Gosh. Thanks for the suggestion, Bill. Now I have a suggestion for you: Make your own kids.
The bigger question behind the issue of what to teach our children is, what are the consequences of believing and teaching creationism vs evolution? Qualified scientists have already responded to the many false statements and logical fallacies in Nye’s video, so I will explore the question of what’s at stake in this debate. I’m an artist, not a science guy, so, just to fulfill expectations, I will respond with an inductive, touchy-feely argument. Here is one reason why I love, love, LOVE to defend a biblical worldview. ‘Love it!:
I can’t find any other rational basis to assign transcendent, intrinsic VALUE to all human beings. The Bible provides a basis for the innate worth of ALL people, regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, viability, economic status, or any other distinction that anyone can think of.
What is that basis? The Torah clearly states that YHWH created male and female in His image (Gen 1:26,27.) This single idea provides a transcendent basis for believing that all people have intrinsic worth. I love this. This idea is found nowhere else, as far as I know. It’s not in the Koran. It’s not in the Hindu scriptures. It certainly can’t be derived from evolutionary dogma. The implications of this idea cannot be overstated, nor can the consequences of removing this idea from our children’s minds and hearts.
In a nutshell, if the good, self-sustaining God of the Bible is the cause of everything else, then He must be the most valuable thing that exists. If he has made humans uniquely in His image, then this means we are also of great value. Our value must be an objective reality, true whether or not we believe it, because it is dependent upon an objective God, not upon our own subjective valuing. The New Atheists consider this kind of thinking to be egotistical. But is it really egotistical if it applies to everyone? Let’s look at their “humble” alternative.
Materialist evolution tells us that we are the result of mindless, blind, non-directed accidental processes. Only physical matter exists, so there can be no transcendent purpose to that existence. The late Harvard paleontologist, Stephen Jay Gould, pointed out that if the whole process were to start over, the results wouldn’t be the same. Humans are not inevitable, and we are not the pinnacle. We’re a “tiny accident” – one insignificant twig on an accidental growth. More recently, Anthony Cashmore colorfully asserted that we are nothing more than “bags of chemicals,” and that consciousness and free will are illusions: “The reality is, not only do we have no more free will than a fly or a bacterium, in actuality we have no more free will than a bowl of sugar.” He points out that this idea is as old as Darwin. Thomas Huxley, Francis Crick, evolutionary psychologist Susan Blackmore, and the late William Provine have all made similar statements. This is simply the inescapable nature of reality if evolutionary theory is true.
As for the question of worth, if physical matter is all there is, and it is here by accident, then it follows that you have no more worth than a whale, a mold spore, or the hairball hawked-up by your cat last week.
Of course, it’s true that we all value things regardless of which view is true. The point is that evolution gives us no transcendent basis for doing so, and the Bible does. Evolution allows that we may have our subjective, sentimental, hormonal, or exploitive “reasons” for valuing others. We may enjoy feeling the sensation of “love,” but this is also illusory. Love cannot truly exist where there is no free will. There can only be genetically predetermined responses reacting to environmental stimuli. According to the 15%, your mom is merely a bag of chemicals. Your children are worthless. My personal heroes, friends who have adopted several children with disabilities, did not choose to do so. Theirs is not loving, beautiful, or inspiring behavior. Nor is the behavior of people who traffic children for sex despicable. Coherent value judgments simply can’t be made.
Yet Nye’s video asserts:
“Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution…if you ignore that, your worldview just becomes crazy, just, untenable, it’s self inconsistent.”
I beg to differ. If human life is not objectively and intrinsically valuable, then those with power will subjectively decide who is valuable according to who is useful, or according to some other subjective measure. From an evolutionary standpoint it may make little sense to preserve and protect the weak, disabled, deformed, genetically diseased, non-productive, homosexual, elderly, and so on. We don’t have to wonder what this subjective valuing may look like. Communism is a materialist/atheist political system based on “scientific evolution.” Last century we saw millions slaughtered in China, the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and Cambodia, for “the good of the people.” Hitler’s regime also subjectively valued entire groups of civilians, (but then, what choice did he really have?) Even in our new, enlightened century, we still have China forcing abortions on unwilling women, and otherwise persecuting those who hinder the State’s goals. Who knows what’s going on in North Korea. America’s founding documents affirm that our Creator has endowed all humans with “inalienable rights.” But evolution can give us no compelling basis for “human rights.” In terms of human suffering, the consequences of belief in neo-Darwinian evolution are as horrible as belief in a god who rewards people for blowing themselves up on a crowded bus.
Why do we expend vast resources to rescue earthquake and flood victims? Why do we pour millions into feeding famine-ravaged countries? Why do we feed and shelter war refugees? Why do people pour out their lives to help countries afflicted with an AIDS epidemic? Maybe this is all nature’s weeding out process. Maybe, the unenlightened, “crazy” Bible people are wasting their time, or worse, thwarting the natural, evolutionary process by saving these people. It would be untrue to say that there are no atheist relief organizations. What’s true is that such organizations are “self-inconsistent”, to quote Nye.
I haven’t addressed the 32% – those who believe that God used evolution to create everything. That is a topic for another time. But in a nutshell, I think most of these folks believe in God because they want to, and believe in evolution because they think they have to. They think evolution has been proven to be a fact. If you are one of these people, are you open to the possibility that God has created both a written revelation and a universe that correspond with each other? I submit there is good reason to believe He has done so.
In closing, I fully admit that I want to live in a world where all human beings have worth. However, my wishes are irrelevant if observational science has irrefutably shown that the Judeo-Christian scriptures are unreliable. If, as Bill Nye says, a biblical worldview is “completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe”, then we are stuck with his dark and depressing reality. Many, like Nye, confidently assert that as science has advanced, belief in the Bible has been shown to be irrational. I get it. After all, what are the chances that a bunch of stories written thousands of years ago by a variety of mythical sand-strewn figures could turn out to be true? In reply to this I cite one last, startling example.
The human genome has now been mapped. The newest genetics research can conclusively answer certain questions about human history. The Bible makes the “mistake” of making truth claims that can now be tested using genetics research. Statements that couldn’t be tested before. Here is one such statement: “Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood” (Gen 7:7)…The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth…from these the whole earth was populated” (Gen 9:18,19.) So according the Torah, there would have been one Y chromosome on the ark, as Noah would’ve passed his on to his 3 sons. Also, there would’ve been 3 mitochondrial lineages on the ark, (from the 3 daughters in law.) Well…it turns out that (evolutionist) genetics researchers have found that Y chromosomes are similar all across the world. Also, it so happens that there are 3 main mitochondrial DNA lineages spread across the earth. What a coincidence.
There is much more. If this interests you, I highly recommend the following article by geneticist Rob Carter, which further explains how this and other testable “fairy tales” are consistent with the latest in genetics research: http://creation.com/noah-and-genetics.
Is it possible that the Torah recounts actual human history? Could it be true that we are more than bags of chemicals, and that there is a relational Creator who loves us? Did that Creator send a Messiah to make a way for us to re-connect with Him, to give us spiritual re-birth, and to free us from bondage to death and decay? If there is any chance that these things are true, then I will leap at the chance to embrace that truth. As it turns out, it’s not even a leap, and certainly not a blind one.