Evolution… Seriously???

Alright, this if my first real post and I’m going to do something that probably won’t happen very often. I’m going to flat out disagree with Brian McLaren. You have to be aware that I greatly enjoy reading his books. He is a very talented writer and he has ideas that are similar to my own. In the areas where I don’t already agree he stretches my thinking.

I am really not much for biblical literalism. It has it’s place but I think it is often over emphasized. When I was in school, evolution is taught as fact but as I explored it I came to realize that there are two types of evolution: micro- and macro-. Microevolution consists of those changes within a species, often refered to as adaption. Microevolution is definitly fact, we have seen in firsthand.

The other type is Macroevolution, the creation of a new species from an existing one.  This I don’t put a lot of stock in. Not because I think that is couldn’t happen or that God would not want it to but simply because I don’t feel there is anywhere close to enough evidence to support it. It sounds good in theory but we just don’t have a fossile record that supports that kind of evolutionary change. On top of that we haven’t even touched on the incredibly complex systems that would be nearly impossible to evolve simply because they wouldn’t work until they were fully formed. It’s one thing for a flipper to evolve into a leg but where does the eye come from? There is no primitive eye, they either work or they don’t.

Brian seems to come down on the opposite side of the fence for me. He suggests that evolution is an elegant system, picture perfect for the workshop of God. Despite the admitted lack of evidence, he suggests that we just haven’t found it yet or figured out the real mechanism.

My faith in God has no ties to creation. If tomorrow CNN announces a huge new discovery proving evolution beyond a shadow of doubt my faith would never skip a beat. I just feel, in the name of intellectual honesty, that I cannot at this time believe in something that has no evidentuary support.

While reading The Story We Find Ourselves In I reached a chapter set up by a phrase similar to, “why do you believe in evolution? I’ve heard it’s a theory full of holes.” I was excited to hear his take on it. Rather than give an answer to this, he proceeds to give a history of why the Church resisted the theory. His only argument for actually believing evolution was that it sounds good and we might someday find proof… Odd.

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7 Comments on “Evolution… Seriously???”

  1. shamelesslyatheist Says:

    Have you ever actually looked at the evidence? There are a number of excellent books written for lay people that discuss the independent lines of evidence (of which there are many, and all point to the fact of descent with modification):

    Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean Carroll – these books discuss the evidence from the point of view of evolutionary development and molecular biology

    Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero – discuss the massive number of transitional fossils which creationists claim don’t exist

    Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA by Daniel Fairbanks – the molecular evidence for our own evolution

    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin – a compendium of evolutionary evidence centered around the discovery of Tiktaalik, an excellent example of the fish-amphibian transition

    Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne (comes out Jan 22) – a comprehensive discussion of the evidence for evolution

    And these only discuss a small part of what we have and don’t even overlap. So much for there being no evidence.

    • emergingjim Says:

      I have read some books in support of evolution and found them altogether disappointing. I will definitely look at some of the selections you suggested. I would love to get a better take on the evolutionary sciences. Thanks for your suggestion!

  2. Dan Says:

    This I don’t put a lot of stock in. Not because I think that is couldn’t happen or that God would not want it to but simply because I don’t feel there is anywhere close to enough evidence to support it.

    Clearly you haven’t studied zoology or botany very much.

    Speaking only of birds, there are literally about a thousand examples of bird taxons that the best ornithologists in the world do not agree if they are separate species, merely subspecies, or new species in the making, largely because data on the inter-breeding of such birds is scarce. That is, some related species have been shown to hybridize but give sterile offspring, while others occur but do not result in stable hybrid phenotypes (i.e., the separate morphologies are stable).

    So yeah, there is a lot of evidence that the principle agent of speciation and thus macroevolution — reproductive isolation — occurs, albeit in gradations.

    • emergingjim Says:

      You’re right. I don’t have a lot of experience in either zoology or botany. There were some books suggested by another commenter that I am interested in checking out. What I was referring to, however, was less the formation of new bird species (I know I said species but perhaps that is my lack of zoology experience that leads to poor word choices) and more like the changing from amphibian to reptile to mammal and such major transformations. My, albeit limited, reading has led me to believe that the evolutionary gap is large and we have not found evidence for those transitions. Maybe I’m wrong here as well.

  3. Dan Says:

    Of course there are better books than those listed, which are for the layperson (meaning that the ones I think are better are very difficult to read for a non-biologist, and heavily laden with citations from the scientific literature).

    The best I would recommend include Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory at the top of the list, along with Ernst Mayr’s Systematics and the Origin of Species from the Viewpoint of a Zoologist. And then there’s Chuck D’s Origin of Species itself, of course.

    Just curious, but which books are you referring to regarding books in support of evolution?

    On speciation: okay, you accept that speciation occurs, which is basically the separation of two populations of a species into two species via reproductive isolation, and I presume that you accept then continued divergence of such new species.

    Why then do you not accept the documented series of forms progressing from, say, fish to amphibian via examples such as Tiktaalik, or other transitional classics such as those for cetaceans, Eocene horses, oviparous to viviparous mechanisms of reproduction in vertebrates, or any of the many, many, many other well-documented transitions in natural history?

  4. ben Says:

    Haha! First I find your Facebook, now I can stalk your blog in my RSS reader! Just thought I’d pop in and say “hi.”

    I’m a bit on the fence on this one. I’m not sure I’d say “I believe in evolution,” though I’m not surprised that our friend Brian McLaren does. I understand your disappointment that he didn’t get into the evidence in his book!

    I’d probably call myself a more or less generic “old earth creationist” who has been influenced by the likes of Hugh Ross and John Polkinghorne. Ken Wilson (my old pastor, at the Vineyard in Ann Arbor) has some interesting reflections on the subject. They did a sermon series on Genesis a couple years ago called “Science and Faith at the Crossroads of Creation” (mp3 and transcript available at http://www.annarborvineyard.org/media/sermon_music_archive.cfm). Spoiler alert: towards the end of the series he “comes out” as one who believes in theistic evolution, though he is careful to give people room to disagree. Overall very thoughtful and balanced. Another link: http://kenwilsononline.com/2009/02/12/apologies-to-the-memory-of-charles-darwin/

    As a follower of Jesus I’m not particularly threatened by evolution. I used to be. I used to think that scientists were setting out to disprove my faith. But then I came to realize (like you) that my faith still stands even if Evolution is true. God is still God (and creator, regardless of mechanism), the Bible is still trustworthy, Jesus is still Lord… and I’m still a work in process that doesn’t always quite get it.:)

    • emergingjim Says:

      Hey Ben, you can stalk me anytime. Actually, my previous attempts at starting a blog got canned due to my feeling that no one ever actually read them except me. This time I started with a mindset that I don’t care if anyone else ever sees it and I’ve gotten more responses than I ever have before. Kinda strange.

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