When it comes to belief, we’re all the same. If there is something we really want to believe, we will find a way to believe it; even resorting to irrationality if necessary. There is a universal human tendency to be blinded by preconceptions, and for human thinking to be ruled by peer approval and bias. Of course, this is not absolute – it’s possible to see outside of one’s own frame of reference, but it’s very difficult. It’s possible for a human being to change his or her beliefs, but it’s like pulling teeth. This stubborn human tendency to see what we want to see, or expect to see, holds sway over both the religious and the non-religious person, though we’ve been conditioned to believe otherwise.
I don’t really watch football. Instead for the past few decades I’ve been following the creation/evolution debate. I find it more entertaining, albeit a bit more difficult to follow. For years I’ve noticed an amusing aspect to this stubborn dynamic of human bias: In my experience, while creationists generally freely admit to having an obvious bias that drives their thinking, evolutionists generally seem to think they are scientifically objective, Spock-like machines of logic.
For the most part, both creationists and evolutionists are looking at the same scientific data. But as it turns out, data must be interpreted, and that is the crux of the matter. Evolutionists have redefined science in such a way that only an evolutionary interpretation of data can be considered science. That is, only “naturalism” can rightfully be called science in their view. For them, only a person who believes in evolution can be a true scientist. But what if the data suggests a non-evolutionary explanation? Is such a thing even possible? If so, can such an interpretation really be called science? And, how is it unbiased to only consider naturalistic explanations even if the evidence suggests otherwise?
Let’s explore how this works…
I recently saw an interview where an evolutionary scientist, Colin Blakemore, asked a creationist, “…And what if experimentation and observation yielded evidence that appeared to contradict the statements in the scriptures?”
The creationist, astrophysicist Jason Lisle, replied, “If we find some experiment that seems to, on the surface, disagree with the word of God, we go with the word of God.”
Jason’s was an honest answer. A creationist is not going to toss out his creationist dogma just because some data doesn’t appear to fit his beliefs. He/she’s going to wait and see if future experimentation produces further data that will shed light on the discrepancy.
At the end of the interview, Colin the evolutionist summed up:
“He seems to be saying that science is fine as long as it generates results and findings that fit the views of the Church. But when it doesn’t they simply can’t be right, can they? Because they contradict faith. I really wonder whether that reveals a fundamental contradiction between Christianity – religion – and science.”
What is fascinating to me about Colin’s shock and concern is that evolutionists routinely do exactly the same thing. Not sort of. Not more or less, but exactly. They may not think they do it because they don’t think they have dogma. But they do. There are unproven evolutionary beliefs that absolutely may not be questioned if an evolutionist is to remain in good standing with his/her peers. One fundamental example is the age of the earth. Evolutionary belief is fully dependent upon this one faith tenet. The earth must be billions of years old in order for the naturalistic process of evolution to have occurred here. No billions of years = No evolution. Of course, no human being actually knows how old the earth is, but that is beside the point. When experimentation and observation yield results that contradict the dogma of billions of years, (and they often do,) evolutionists cannot consider the possibility of a young earth. To do so would leave them only with the unfashionable option of creationism, and that is, quite literally, unthinkable to them. So they wait in faith, and do more research, just like creationists.
This can make for some imaginative interpretation of data.
Following are two of many possible examples. Science is not my field. I cite the following brief examples because even a non-scientist like myself can understand them, and you can easily corroborate what I’m saying online:
The Oort Cloud
Long period comets have an orbital period of more than 200 years. The existence of long period comets does not fit with a solar system that is billions of years old. Since there is no known source for comets, they are assumed to be primordial. It is known that comets lose much of their material during each close pass to the sun, and it is possible to estimate how many such passes a comet can survive. The most generous estimates are in the tens of millions, not billions of years. If the universe has been around for 4.5 billion years, all traces of comets should be long gone as there is no known source for generating new comets.
Most astronomers now believe in something called the Oort cloud, which generates new comets from time to time. The existence of this faraway, orbiting cloud of comet nuclei would settle the long period comet problem. However, the Oort cloud has never been observed. There is no verifiable evidence that it actually exists. It’s theoretical, but not even in the scientific sense as it is not observable. But evolutionists need for it to exist in order to have a universe billions of years old. Until such time as we have observable evidence, isn’t it fair to say that the Oort cloud is an article of faith? I should mention that, ironically, the Oort cloud exists unequivocally in my children’s high school science textbook.
Soft Dinosaur Tissue
As a layman, I think this is one of the most exciting discoveries of recent times. I hope you’ve heard this news, but I find that many people have not. I can only speculate as to why this discovery hasn’t received more media attention.
It’s an incredible find. Evolutionary paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer accidentally discovered “soft, pliable” tissue inside the femur of a T-Rex, a bone that is 65 million years old according to the theoretical evolutionary timeline. Not 1 million, but 65 million. Schweitzer discovered blood cells and blood vessels, which she described as retaining their “original flexibility and transparency”, as well as proteins, and, more recently, dino DNA. Of her original discovery, Schweitzer stated, “It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: ‘The bones are 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?”’ Indeed, under measured rates of decomposition, even if they had been kept at freezing point, (which they weren’t,) science tells us that such original components could not have lasted beyond a million years. Of course, Schweitzer was criticized by her colleagues for being sloppy, contaminating the sample, and so on. She admits to having had some difficulty getting her research published in scientific journals. She recounts, “I had one reviewer tell me that he didn’t care what the data said, he knew what I was finding wasn’t possible. I wrote back and said, ‘Well, what data would convince you?’ and he said, ‘None.’” However, despite the reviewer’s great faith, we can now expect such discoveries to become routine. Why was this not discovered earlier? Apparently because there was no point in looking, according to evolutionary assumptions.
At the risk of stating the obvious, one reasonable explanation for the presence of soft tissue in dinosaur bones would be that these bones are not 65 million years old. Could it be possible that the evolutionary timeline may be wrong? As stated above, this is not an option for the evolutionary camp, Schweitzer included. Rather than accepting an obvious conclusion based on observable science, they are sticking with dogma and taking a “wait-and-have-faith” position.
I have a friend who, in the course of his training as a biologist at Iowa State University, became convinced that evolutionary theory was not scientifically credible. He eventually became the president of a creationist campus group called Students for Origins Research. He began to speak publicly on the subject of origins, and was subsequently invited to speak on abiogenesis (the origin of life) at the ISU skeptics club.
In the audience was one of his biology professors, with whom he had an amiable relationship. After the lecture, they conversed. Curious as to what the professor thought of his lecture, my friend eventually said, “Dr. Smith, there really is no evidence that life evolved from non-life.” To my friend’s surprise, his professor replied, “Yes, I know that.” This was during the early 80’s when paleontologist Steven Jay Gould was introducing the theory of “punctuated equilibrium”, to explain the lack of fossil evidence in support of evolutionary theory. This, along with the growing evidence for genetic boundaries in species was building a stronger and stronger case against biological evolution. So my friend pressed the point. He asked, “And, Dr. Smith, you know there is really no evidence showing that one form of life has changed into a radically different form of life.” Again the professor unexpectedly replied, “Yes, I know.” My friend was somewhat dumbfounded. Not knowing what else to say, he asked, “Then, Dr. Smith…why do you teach it?” My friend tells me he will never forget the professor’s response: “Because I believe that one day science will find those answers.”
That, my friends, is a religious faith statement; of the sort that the New Atheists write books against. In my own interactions, atheists and evolutionists have given me the same answer – “future discoveries will prove evolutionary theory.” I don’t criticize evolutionists for thinking this way. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable argument. It’s the same one that the creationist astrophysicist used. I just think evolutionists should call it what it is – religious faith.
To this, my evolutionist friends will counter that the theory of evolution is so firmly established by science that it is essentially a fact; that it is therefore reasonable to assume that remaining uncertainties will eventually be answered by further scientific investigation.
To that I would counter that it is not merely peripheral questions about comets and missing links that remain unanswered. Unproven assumptions persist at the most fundamental level:
1) There is no known naturalistic process by which life can appear from non-life, (ie. We don’t know how the whole thing started.)
2) There is no known naturalistic process to explain why millions of life forms representing every one of the animal phyla suddenly appear, with no ancestors below, and no new animal body plans thereafter, in the lowest layers of the geologic record – the “Cambrian explosion”, (ie. We don’t know how diversity of life suddenly appeared.)
3) And there is no known naturalistic process to explain, once life did appear, how life forms were able to create new information that could be genetically passed on to the next generation of life forms, so that life could eventually get from trilobite to Mother Theresa. (ie. We don’t know how the process of evolution works.) We are taught that genetic mutations and natural selection account for life evolving into new and increasingly higher forms of life. But, as of today, we know this process cannot be observed to account for the increase in genetic information content that is necessary for evolution to occur.
The problems with evolutionary theory couldn’t be more fundamental.
Let’s be clear – evolutionary faith by definition cannot be relational trust in a person, as is biblical faith (see part 1 of this series.) Evolutionary faith is precisely the kind of “unjustified belief” for which the New Atheists excoriate “religious people.” It’s believing what one wants to believe “in spite of the evidence,” to quote Richard Dawkins, although Dawkins doesn’t recognize this in himself. Having their bias and faith pointed out wouldn’t be embarrassing to New Atheists and materialists/evolutionists if they didn’t claim to be above bias and faith.
In summary, I’m not suggesting that the New Atheists be taken out and stoned. All viewpoints should be allowed to compete fairly in the public square. I’m suggesting that respectful dialogue is indispensable when it comes to discovering the truth. To that end, on the part of New Atheists and evolutionist spokesmen, a little less arrogance and a little more honesty around what’s really going on would be welcome. We’re all the same. We need each other’s perspectives. From my perspective, especially in the absence of a better alternative, biblical faith is turning out to not be as stupid as it’s been made out to be.
Next: Part 3 – Why Should Anyone Care About This Topic?
(For more info, my favorite creationist website is http://www.creation.com. Most writers are PhD scientists.)