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The Underwhelming Evidence for Darwinian Evolution (Romans 1.19-20)

03 May

(The following sermon was preached on May 2, 2010 at the First Baptist Church of Benbrook)

Paul is writing the church in Rome to generate support for his mission plans to take the gospel to Spain (see Romans 15.23-24). In effect, Paul is saying, “If you and I can agree on the gospel, help me take the good news to Spain.” So, he begins by saying that he is not ashamed of the good news because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. The gospel is good news because the wrath of God is revealed against all wickedness, which means all of us. But instead of His wrath, God has offered us a righteousness by faith from God through His mercy.

The wrath of God, Paul writes, is revealed against all the wickedness of mankind because what may be known about God is plain to them because God has made it plain to them As a result of God making Himself painfully obvious to all of mankind, no one will be excused from the wrath of God because they didn’t know God And how has God made Himself known to all of mankind? God made what may be known about Him plain through what has been made. God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, can be clearly seen in the beauty and majesty of creation (see Romans 1.18-21).

In other words, creation itself bears witness that there is a creator God, and from looking at creation, we can tell that this God must be very different than us (divine nature) and must have lots of power to be able to create all this stuff (eternal power) and must have existed before this stuff was created (eternal). Just by looking at creation itself, we can see that and that makes all of mankind without excuse.

Theologians call this “natural or general revelation,” and it is distinct from special revelation. General revelation is “God’s self manifestation through nature, history, and the inner being of the human person. It is general in two ways: its universal availability (it is accessible to all persons at all times) and the content of the message (it is less particularized and detailed than special revelation).”[1] On the other hand, special revelation or particular revelation is “God’s manifestation of Himself to particular persons at definite times and places, enabling those person to enter into redemptive relationship with Him.”[2]

Paul is basically saying the same thing that King David said about one thousand years earlier. In Psalm 19, David wrote,

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (Psalm 19.1-4 NIV)

Paul and David are saying that creation itself, if you take a real good look at it, declares the beauty and glory of God. It screams of the power and wisdom of the Creator, and it shows us that whoever created all of this must be wholly and totally different than a finite human like you or me.

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

For instance, look at how the Creator designed the very planet on which we live to be the perfect place for humans to live. The bulletin art this morning is a picture from the Hubble telescope of the Andromeda Galaxy. The Hubble Telescope has sent back amazing pictures of many different galaxies. Scientists tell us that there are different types of galaxies in the cosmos, but only 1% of those galaxies have the right conditions to sustain life. And even within the right type of galaxy, only 2/3 of 1% of the area in the galaxies have the right conditions to sustain life.

And then, to sustain life on a planet, the planet must orbit the right kind of star with the right balance of heat and mass to keep the gravitational pull in balance. Only 1% of all stars have the right balance of heat and mass to sustain life (this is called Roches Limit). But even around the right kind of sun, the planet must be the right distance from the sun. Venus and Earth both rotate around the same sun, but Venus is not the right distance from the sun to sustain life. If a planet is too close to the sun, the water will vaporize with the heat; too far, and the water freezes.

So for life to be possible, a planet has to be in the right type of galaxy, in the right area in the galaxies, orbiting around the right kind of star at the perfect distance from the star. Add to the equation the right degree of tilt for climate variations, a magnetic field to protect the planet from falling space debris, a solitary moon to orbit the planet to mix the gases in the atmosphere and to churn the waters to sustain life, and make sure that it is far enough away from any black holes to keep it safe. The estimated odds at that happening is approximately 1 in 150 thousand million million, or 1 in 150 with 15 zeroes behind it. The heavens declare the glory of God!

The Heavens Declare the Glory of Evolution?

And yet we live in a culture today that by and large rejects this basic idea. The belief that the heavens declare the glory of God, that creation itself testifies of a Creator with eternal power and a divine nature is under fire. We are told today that the heavens do not declare the glory of God but that the heavens declare the glory of evolution. Our children, both in public elementary and high schools and in institutions of higher education, are being taught the glory of evolution theory. The Discovery Channel and PBS and popular atheists like Richard Dawkins are telling us that the heavens declare the glory of evolution. Darwinian evolution has become the predominate worldview or philosophy of life that is being promoted in our society today. They tell us that the theory of Darwinian evolution is proven science, and what the science proves is that creation is nothing more than a complex process where all of life and plants evolved from one organism through the powers of natural selection over the course of billions of years.

According to Darwinian evolution, mankind is not a special creation by God who possesses the very breath of life that differentiates us from other animals (See Genesis 2.7). No, the human species is just another link in the evolutionary chain, and not the last link either. The human species is certain to evolve into some more advanced species in the millions of years to come. There is no eternal soul that distinguishes mankind from frogs or amebas or even starfish.   And those who hold to Darwinian evolution believe that science has proven that the heavens declare the glory of natural selection and unguided evolution. What has been made plain from nature, according to evolution, is that there is no God of divine nature and no God of eternal power. Richard Dawkins, the popular atheists, tell us that the philosophy of Darwinian evolution that they say it is “totally and utterly, sledgehammeringly, overwhelmingly” true.

And when you hear advocates of Darwinian evolution speak, it is as if the church has no response to this scientific proof. But I believe the Scriptures that declare with boldness that since the creation of the word, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen from what has been made. And that is not a position that we stand on in blind faith or in utter denial of the truth. That is a position that we stand on in all wisdom.

The Theory of Darwinian Evolution

You may not be familiar with Darwinian evolution. Evolution itself simply means “change over time,” a concept that is not all that controversial. But Darwinian evolution is something entirely different. Darwinian evolution is a theory about the origins of life. It is best explained by Jerry Coyne who wrote, Why Evolution is True. In summarizing Darwinian evolution, he wrote,

Life on earth evolved gradually beginning with one primitive species—perhaps a self-replicating molecule—that lived more than 3.5 billion years ago; it then branched out over time, throwing off many new and diverse species; and the mechanism for most (but not all) of evolutionary change is natural selection….Evolution simply means that a species undergoes genetic change over time. That is, over many generations a species can evolve into something quite different, and those differences are based on changes in the DNA, which originate as mutations. The species of animals and plants living today weren’t around in the past, but are descended from those that lived earlier.

Coyne describe the key tenets in Darwinian evolutionary theory. First, everything that has life began with one simple organism that was smaller than a single cell. And from that organism, all of life has evolved. All forms of life have one common ancestor. Through billions of years, as cells begat more cells, those cells changed over time in reaction to their environment. The forms that were more likely to survive were more likely to reproduce, a process called natural selection. The faster swimmers didn’t get eaten and were able to reproduce more fast swimmers, and so on. As the strong survived, the evolution continued over the course of 4.6 billion years. Slowly, ameba grew fins. Fish grew legs. Four legged animals grew wings. Monkeys learned to walk upright. And all of this happened through a process of unguided evolution. Darwinian evolution is a philosophy and a theory on the origins of life.

Charles Darwin captured this idea in 1859 in his work, On the Origin of Species where he laid out his unifying theory to explain the great diversity of life. And today, the scientific community lauds the theory of Darwinian evolution to explain the origins of the species as settled science, a fact as proven as gravity or that the earth orbits the sun. Science is basically declaring the words of Romans 1.19-20 to be false.

The Evidence is Underwhelming

Advocates of the theory of Darwinian evolution would have us believe that the evidence for it is so powerful that only the ignorant and religious fools continue to deny its obvious truth. But the scientific evidence for Darwinian evolution is underwhelming, to say the least.

The Fossil Record

While we do not have the time to dissect the theory of evolution piece by piece, let us just look at a few of the underwhelming evidences that are used to support Darwinian evolution. The first evidence cited for this theory is the fossil record. Coyne writes,

We should be able to find some evidence for evolutionary change in the fossil record. The deepest (and oldest) layers of rock would contain the fossils of more primitive species, and some fossils should become more complex as the layers of rock become younger, with organisms resembling present-day species found in the most recent layers. And we should be able to see some species changing over time, forming lineages showing ‘descent with modification’ (adaptation). In particular, later species should have traits that make them look like the descendants of earlier ones.

The problem is that the fossil record shows no such thing. In one of the greatest fossil finds deposited during a geological period known as the Cambrian, a wide variety of animal forms are found side by side. It is often called the “Cambrian explosion” because all of the animals just exploded on the scene at the same time about 540 million years ago instead slowing evolving over billions of years.

Darwin wrote that he fully expected to discover vast numbers of what are called transitional fossils, or the fossil remains of species in transition from one species to another. Problem is, even those are absent from the fossil record. Scientists like to refer to the fossil found of an animal that predates the whale in its evolutionary lineage, but to even make that fossil fit the evolutionary tree it must be rearranged from its chronological order. The simple fact is that Darwinian evolution needs better evidence than the fossil record can provide.

Embryology

Which is why Darwin thought the best evidence for his theory would be found in the embryos of species. He thought that the embryos of the most distinct species belonging to the same class are closely similar, but become widely dissimilar when fully developed, revealing community of descent. One evolutionary biologist published a famous drawing comparing the embryos of three different species to show how similar they were in early stages as to prove the theory of evolution. This drawing remains in many textbooks today, even though Haeckel’s drawings have been proven to be faked. Haeckel doctored the drawings to prove his point, and even evolutionary biologists admit this today. It has been called one of the greatest fakes in biological history. The truth is that embryos of different species begin strikingly different from each other, then become more similar, and then developed into unique species. This is called the “Developmental Hourglass.”

The Freebie of Macroevolution

Darwinian evolution seems to be built upon the assumption of macroevolution. Microevolution is the change within species, or cows becoming better cows. Any West Texas rancher knows about selective breeding and the effects it can have on cattle. But the fundamental problem of the theory of evolution is the idea of macroevolution, or the theory that one species can change into another. Cows can become better cows, but there is no evidence that frogs can become cows. Evolutionary biologist Keith Stewart Thomson wrote, “A matter of unfinished business for biologists is the identification of evolution’s smoking gun,” which is “speciation, not local adaptation and differentiation of populations.”

Darwinian evolutionists point to microevolution as evidence for macroevolution. While evolutionist point to the speckled moth or to the Galapagos finches, all they can establish is that moths evolved to be better moths and finches evolved to be better finches. Microevolution does not prove that moths evolve into finches. One famous quote from a advocate of Darwinian evolution is “If we can prove microevolution, then we get macroevolution for free.”

But not only has the fossil record not be able to substantiate this claim, logic doesn’t help either. For example, in evolutionary theory, the bat evolved from the rodent family. So, the four legged rodent slowly began to develop webs between its legs and then fully developed wings. But during the transitional phases, how does a four legged creature benefit from webbing between its feet that prevent it from running? Wouldn’t natural selection have prevented this rodent from surviving?

The laboratories have not been able to prove this theory either, though they have been trying for over 150 years. They have particular tried with bacteria since it has a very short life span. British bacteriologist Alan H. Linton looked for confirmed reports of primary speciation and concluded in 2001,

None exists in the literature claiming that one species has been shown to evolve into another. Bacteria, the simplest form of independent life, are ideal for this kind of study, with generation times of twenty to thirty minutes, and populations achieved after eighteen hours. But throughout 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another.

Irreducible Complexity

Another serious challenge to the Darwinian theory of evolution is what Michale Behe has termed, “Irreducible complexity.” And irreducible complex system is one “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” In effect, these are the “package deals” in many biological systems, where the whole can only function if each of the parts are present but where the value of the individual parts are only to be a part of the whole. These are molecular machines, like the propeller on the backs of certain bacteria, that are complex systems that would not function if one part is removed. It is irreducibly complex.

Since in Darwinian evolution, the changes over time are unguided, each component of these complex systems must have evolved for some independent reason through the process of natural selection. If complex systems only work because parts A, B, and C are present, but there is no reason for part C to evolve unless it were to be part of the system but evolution is an unguided process, then how can evolution explain irreducibly complex systems? Of course, evolutionists answer by saying that the complex system evolved from a series of simpler systems, which is a nice theory, but so far it has yet to be explained.[3] Faith in the theory of Darwinian evolution is more convincing than the lack of scientific evidence.

Darwin himself wrote, “If it could be demonstrated than any complex organ existed which could not possible have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” This is exactly the question that irreducible complexity is asking.

The Information Question

Time does not permit us to question the evidence from molecular biology where evolutionary biologist still have no answer for the information carried through the DNA and how information itself could evolved unaided over time. William Dembski writes,

Biology’s information problem is therefore to determine whether (and if so how) purely natural forces are able to bridge the gulf between the organic and inorganic worlds.[4]

In other words, how did inorganic and information less objects evolve into the organic information rich species? Where did information come from if there was no designer?

Conclusion

And yet, we are told, Darwinian evolution remains an unquestionable theory. To ask these questions about evolution is to be branded a “flat earther” or a “religious zealot.” To say that the science behind Darwinian evolution is underwhelming is to branded as a moron. In fact, Darwinian evolutionists have been fighting against the idea that like all scientific theories, the strengths and weaknesses of the theory should be taught. They fear an honest examination of the theory of evolution citing that it is a closed case. But just because they scream “fire” in a crowded theater does not a fire make.

There are an increasing number of scientists who are asking honest questions about Darwinian evolution. Dr. Stanley Salthe, Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, writes,

Darwinian evolutionary theory was my field of specialization in biology. Among other things, I wrote a textbook on the subject thirty years ago. Meanwhile, however I have become an apostate from Darwinian theory and have described it as part of modernism’s origination myth.

The fact of the matter is that there a growing number of scientists who are openly questioning the theory of evolution. The Discovery Institute is collecting a list of scientists who have voluntarily signed the following statement regarding a scientific dissent From Darwinism:

We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.[5]

There is a twenty page list of scientists and scholars from institutions like Harvard, Duke, Rice, John Hopkins, MIT, and a myriad of other schools, in this nation and from around the world. So whenever anyone says that all scientists agree about Darwinian evolution, they are blowing smoke and trying to keep you from looking at what is in plain sight before you.

So when a teacher presents Darwinian evolution as unquestioned science, ask about the fossil record and how the Cambrian explosion fits into the evolutionary tree. Ask why, after four billion years of evolution, there are no transitional fossils from one species to another. Ask why, if embryology is Darwin’s best evidence for his theory did they need to altar the drawings to support their theory. Ask for the proof of macroevolution. Ask for an explanation of why after 150 years of the science of bacteriology, there is still no evidence that one species of bacteria has changed into another. Ask for a explanation of irreducibly complex systems. Ask how information evolved from the inorganic to the organic in a purely materialistic evolutionary theory. Ask why advocates of the theory of Darwinian evolution are so afraid of the questions.

David in Psalm 19, Paul in Romans 1, and believers today are not ignorant when we believe that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made.” There is good reason to look at nature and to be astounded by its majesty, and to see behind that amazing creation a God who is divine and totally different than us humans. There is a God who had incredible wisdom and power to create such beauty and majesty. And there is a God who existed before creation itself.

The bigger question is, “Who is this God that created the incredible glorious nature that we see before us?” The rest of the book of Romans seeks to answer that question.


[1] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, 154.

[2] Erickson, 175.

[3] Taken from an article “Ten Questions to Ask Your Biology Teacher About Design” by William Debmski on http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.01.Ten_Questions_ID.pdf

[4] http://www.designinference.com/documents/2004.01.Ten_Questions_ID.pdf

[5] http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

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8 Comments

Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Sermons - Romans

 

8 responses to “The Underwhelming Evidence for Darwinian Evolution (Romans 1.19-20)

  1. Human Ape

    May 3, 2010 at 10:10 am

    “Ask why, after four billion years of evolution, there are no transitional fossils from one species to another.”

    Google “whale fossils”. The fossil record that describes the transition from land animals to whales is complete. No missing links at all. Most of these fossils have been found in the past 15 years in Pakistan. If you’re going to deny evolution, at least try to get your facts right.

    The evidence for evolution from molecular biology, which you know nothing about, is many thousands of times more powerful than all the world’s fossils. Evolution is a basic scientific fact, accepted by all the world’s biologists, thanks to extremely powerful evidence that has been accumulating for 150 years. You disgrace yourself when you deny what every scientist and every educated person knows is scientific fact.

     
    • Mike Keas

      May 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm

      I would encourage the person who posted under “Human Ape” to read the chapters on fossils and molecular homologies in the book Explore Evolution (www.exploreevolution.com) to get the big picture. The fossil evidence as a whole, despite the suggestive “whale fossils” and a few other candidates for evolutionary lineages, supports a polyphyletic view (not universal common ancestry, but countless separate origins followed by limited evolution). The molecular evidence is not any better support for universal common ancestry.

       
  2. Grant C

    May 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I usually respond to these kinds of ridiculous postings with a laundry list of some of the evidence in favor of evolution… and I have no intention of breaking that trend. but before I begin let me see if I can convey to the poster the absurdity of what they are arguing using an example they may find it more easy to appreciate.

    To someone who knows what they are talking about when it comes to evolutionary theory, what this post just argued is equivalent to if I walked up to you and declared the evidence for the existence of Jesus was unconvincing because there were no writings that mentioned him prior to 30 years ago, and none of those writings say anything about a resurrection, and why, oh why, if he actually existed, isn;t there any evidence that anyone had ever heard of him before just recently???

    You would probably be at a loss for where to begin telling me I was an idiot. This is how you are making people who know evolutionary theory feel when you post stuff like this.

    Now, to the data…

    “The Fossil Decord”

    As pointed out by the first commenter, this is just plain wrong. The fossil record is littered with evolutionary transition squences of which whales are hardly the only example. Mammals to reptiles (the transition of the reptile jaw to the mammalian ear is really especially cool), reptiles to birds, bony fish to amphibians, primates to primitive humans to modern humans… ALL these sequences exist in considerable detail.

    Additionally, the bigger picture transitionary trend is there as well. We don’t find bunnies in the Jurassic. We don’t find T-Rex in the Pre-Cambrian. We don’t find modern humans ANYWHERE except the very geologically recent Quaternary period.

    To say the transitional evolutionary pattern isn’t present in the fossil record is to deeclare you have no knowledge of the fosisil record whatsoever.

    As for the Cambrian explosion, you are grossly misunderstanding what it was. Yes, it was a relatively “explosive” divergence of life. RELATIVELY explosive, in geologic time terms, which is still spanning tens of millions of years. But it was not the emergence of MODERN species. It was simply the emergence of the first, earliest, primitive representative of many *phyla.

    All that said, as was also pointed out by the first respondant the fossil record is really secondary evidence. The primary evidence is genetic, and it is absolutely conclusive and overwhelming.

    The nested hierarchical pattern of endogenous retroviral insrertions in primate DNA is by itself effectively irrefutable evidence of common ancestry. Evolution predicted it, and only evolutionary mechanisms can offer an explanation for it.

    The existence of the GULO pseudogene in primates is another example of as close to ironcla evidence as you can get in a scientific endeavour. We knew other mammals could synthesis ascorbic acid. We can’t. But if we descended from them since deletions of entire fnctional genes are extremely unlikely we could expect to find the de-activatd genetic code responsible for ascorbic acid synthesis in humans since we would have inherited it from our earlier mammal ancestors. We looked. We found it. It had been disabled by a frame shift mutation.

    Then there’s the fact that human chromosome 2 is a painfully obvious fusion of chimp chromosomes 2p and 2q.

    Then there’s the fact that phylogenetic analysis consistently demonstrates inter-relation between all different species.

    Etc…

    As for the “Irreducible Complexity” argument, it has long since been demolished. If you’re interested in actually understanding the subject I would refer you back to that reptile-mammal fossil transition as a perfect example of how Behe’s silly little idea was taken apart. When you understand the steps taken over successive generations to form the mammalian ear you will understand why Behe has no idea what he’s talking about. He simply either doesn’t understand or chooses to deliberately ignore that the evolutionary process regularly co-opts existing structures and causes them to start serving other purposes. It doesn’t just build everything from scratch all the time.

    And the Discovery Institute petition is a joke.

    First, it’s phrased in such a way that if I didn’t know who was publishing it and what they intended to use it for *I* would agree with it… because evolution isn’t only “random mutation and natural selection… and scientists ALWAYS think evidence should be carefully examined. But then they declare anyone who agrees with that statement somehow doubts evolution. It’s incredibly misleading.

    Second, meet the Steves: http://ncse.com/taking-action/project-steve … which is the NCSE’s humorous way of pointing out how pathetic the Dicovery Institutes little propaganda play was.

    Bottom line: the evidence for evolution is overwhelming and you should really spend some time studying a subject before boldly venturing forth to declare to the world on the internet that obviously all the experts in the field don’t understand it as well as you do.

     
  3. Mike Keas

    May 7, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Mark McMenamin is a professor of geology at Mount Holyoke College and an expert on the Cambrian Explosion:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_McMenamin

    Read his recently-posed Amazon review of the pro-ID movie Darwin’s Dilemma (on the Cambrian explosion). He is largely supportive of the movie’s claims.

    http://www.tinyurl.com/y4m5jhr

     
  4. Mike Keas

    May 7, 2010 at 2:25 am

    “Hype and Over-Interpretation” Causing Family Feud Over New Hominid Fossil.
    See full story at: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2010/04/hype_and_overinterpretation_ca.html

    Long ago a wise king solved an interfamily dispute with a simple solution: split the baby. Now paleoanthropologists are fighting—with little resolution in sight—about how to interpret newly discovered hominid fossils, which comprise about 130 bones from multiple individuals. Focused on a single juvenile specimen, the debate is over whether the fossils represent human evolutionary ancestors, just a new species that split off and went extinct, or another previously known species of little significance to human evolution. While many news articles are touting the fossil as a human ancestor or even a “missing link” (see, for example, AOL news or the London Telegraph), what’s encouraging is a couple sources in the mainstream media (though just a couple) are functioning like actual real journalism outlets and citing a variety of credible authorities who dissent from the standard line that this fossil is a link in human evolution.

     
  5. Mike Keas

    May 7, 2010 at 2:28 am

    The Debate Over Design Gains Momentum with a New Peer-Reviewed Science Journal: BIO-Complexity — April 30th, 2010 by Douglas Axe
    See the details at: http://www.biologicinstitute.org/

    It’s no secret that the scientific establishment is decidedly against not just the idea of intelligent design but also the idea of debating that idea. They just wish the whole subject would go away. That being the case, most establishment-minded scientists will, I suspect, thoroughly disapprove of BIO-Complexity, a new science journal that positively welcomes the scientific debate.

     
  6. gary hal

    February 4, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I came across this site totally by accident. I am a hs bio teacher always looking for new bits of info to toss into my evolution lectures. Well, Grant C’s presentation gets an A from me. I could have never said it any better. Absolutely excellent, and a part of my lesson for the FACTUAL evidence that evolution is correct.

     
  7. Mexseiko

    July 3, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Romans 1:23 is a direct reference to the theory of evolution replacing the truth of God as Creator. Professing to have a higher knowledge as scientists, claiming to have discovered the creator in evolution, ascribing the power of creating to the creation itself, to the birds, and four footed beasts, and the insects, instead of the true Creator.

    Today the relation between this fact and the rise of homosexuality to official recognition is never stronger. The breaking away from from even order of nature as we understand it. The terrible realization of God abandoning of this nation because it no longer acknowledges His Creator.

     

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