Homology, Evidence for Evolution?

Posted by: David Carroll

homology One of the primary evidences given for evolution is homology--the observation that different species have similarities. For example, the vast majority of animals have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, two ears and four limbs. This supposedly indicates that somewhere, far back in the history of life many hundreds of millions of years ago, there was a common ancestor who had these traits and the descendants eventually split off into a variety of species.

The bone structure of many skeletal reptiles and mammals are similar. Notice for example the picture on the right. This cartoon depiction of an x-ray of an alligator's front limb, a human arm and a bird's wing respectively. You can see that the bone structure of all three share some similarities. All three have two bones in the "forearm" part of their limbs. The radius and ulna, as these bones are called, allow the end of the limb (our hand) to rotate about 200 degrees. This benefits us as well as the alligator and the bird. Other similarities are the five digits on both the alligator and human. In Darwinian evolution, these benefits were selected in the original ancestor because of it's ability to compete and survive over it's less endowed siblings and cousins who did not have such features. And then of course these traits were passed down to their descendants and continued to be preserved even in widely divergent species.

You can see that there has been an observation and then a hypothesis proposed but never tested. Such a test is impossible to make because of the extremely slow pace of the process. There is a test however. If the evolution hypothesis is true, there should be evidence in both the fossil record and in some species of life today of transitional forms. This we do not see. Stephen Jay Gould in a moment of honest reflection admitted:

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils… We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life's history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

There is another hypothesis. Perhaps this benefit of having two bones in the forearms of so many creatures is a design feature which was used by a wise Designer who efficiently used the same excellent design on many different kinds.

Darwin's Logic

Posted by: David Carroll

Darwin was the naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle for a trip to the Galapagos islands of the South American coast in the Pacific ocean. The basic elements of his logical argument for evolution was as follows:

Observation:

  • He saw large populations of birds and other species.
  • He noticed there were limited resources of food and shelter.

Conclusion:

  • There would be a struggle for existence within a given species.

finches Observation:

  • He saw a variation among individuals within a species.
  • For example, finches beaks varied long, short, thin, stout, straight and curved.
  • He noticed that some of these variations were heritable from parent to offspring.

Conclusion:

  • Some of these variations were beneficial; others were detrimental. Long, curved beaks were well suited to get insects out of holes in the rocks. Short, stout beaks were better suited for defense against a predator.
  • As such there would be a differential in the reproductive success between them depending upon the surroundings.
  • The fittest will be more likely to have offspring.
  • Populations will evolve over time.

There is really nothing wrong with Darwin's logic based on his observations. But notice what he did not observe: that there were limits to which variations can occur. The reason he did not notice it was because he was not looking for it.

How do we know there are limits? Darwin was noticing what he called "natural selection" which works very slowly and consequently it is impossible to see the limitations since one would have to wait many thousands of generations to see it. But what about unnatural selection? I am talking about "intelligent breeding." This is where a farmer breeds his corn crops for the largest, sweetest and most yellow corn. Or where a rancher breeds for the largest steer or fattest cows or the meatiest hog. Because they use intelligent breeding, they speed up the process of genetic variation by many times. What these farmers and ranchers know through experience is that you can only get an ear of corn so big and so sweet and so juicy before you reach a limit. And they never see corn becoming something other than corn. Furthermore, they notice that as you continue to selectively breed, weaknesses sometimes result. The corn may be sweeter, but it becomes more susceptible to insects.

Another limitation is when trying to cross breed species, different kinds of animals and plants are not able to breed with each other to produce offspring. Dogs and cats cannot have offspring. Interestingly you can breed a horse and a donkey to get a mule but what is the problem with the mule? Mules are infertile.

If Darwin had combined his observations with the practical knowledge of the rest of the world, he might not have been as far-reaching in his ideas about evolution. The migration of a population progressing from one kind to another kind was all imagination and not observation. What he did observe is explained by the well-known ability of the gene pool of dogs for example to produce a fantastic variety of poodles to Great Danes, all dogs mind you. But Darwin was driven by a desire to find an explanation apart from what God had said:

Genesis 1:24 (NKJV)

Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so.

The Grand Scope of Evolution

Posted by: David Carroll

crawlonland Normally when we think of evolution, we think of biological evolution. We think about man evolving from monkeys and birds evolving from reptiles. The typical progression is given from bacteria to fish to amphibian to reptile to mammal to man. As far-reaching as that is, the grand scope of evolution is even wider.

nebula First we have stellar evolution which says everything started about 15 billion years ago with a singularity (nothing) exploding in a big-bang and producing all matter. The sub-atomic particles became hydrogen atoms which then gathered into clouds of gas due to the forces of gravity. Then by virtue of the heat of gravitational friction these increasingly dense clouds ignited on fire and coalesced into giant stars while grouping themselves into galaxies. The stars lasted for billions of years and finally burned out, collapsed in on themselves and exploded producing the heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen and iron. The particles resulting from the explosive death of stars went through similar gravitational coalescing and formed into planets, moons and eventually new stars.

aminoacids Next we have chemical evolution. Some of the planets formed during stellar evolution had sufficient amounts of water and atmospheres capable of supporting life. After millions of years of rain falling on the rocks created warm ponds of water, ammonia, methane and other chemicals. This primordial soup was struck by lighting creating amino acids. These amino acids formed chains of proteins which finally organized themselves into a self-reproducing bacterium, the first life.

So now we have something Darwin can work with, biological evolution. Life can now grow in to populations which can create offspring which may be slightly modified from their progenitors due to random mutations.

I hope you noticed the two biggest leaps in this story of evolution. The first jump was from nothing to everything. The second jump was from non-life to life. There other big jumps as well such as between the major kinds of life. It's one thing to consider evolution of a dog population into the various species. But it is a very different thing to imagine evolution between reptiles and birds or between amphibians and mammals. The most interesting things always seem to happen at the major boundaries of things. I find it easy to believe God is in these places.

DNA, Information and Eternity

Posted by: David Carroll

dna Language is a code which allows information to be stored and communicated. The words I am writing now are very specific and irregular but they are recognizable. No one would ever think these words were the result of my randomly striking keys on my computer. They are designed, and I am the designer.

DNA is a code which specifies how proteins are to be constructed from amino acids. DNA is a language which stores and communicates information. The arrangements of the base pairs of the DNA helix are irregular but very specific and are recognizable to the machinery of the living cell. DNA is designed and God is the Designer.

I have tons of information stored on my computer's hard drive. The individual bits of information in my computer are coded by orienting tiny magnetic particles on the surface of a disc. harddrive Emails, programs, pictures, music and videos are all stored in the specific arrangements of these little magnetic bits spread out in rings on the disc.  A reading head is able to move across these rings and decode this arrangement of magnetic orientations and deliver to the central processor the specifications for how to display the text or picture or how to play the musical recording. This is a fascinating technology that we hardly think about anymore. A similar but vastly more complex orchestra is occurring in our own bodies every moment of every day allowing us to experience life. And we hardly give a thought to that either.

This information stored on my hard drive--does it depend on the computer or on any part of the computer? If I could weigh the disk containing the information very precisely then I could compare the weight of the information on the disk with the same disk before I put the information on there. I would discover that the weight was unchanged. No new particles were added to the disk to store the information. In fact I could print the information out on to ink and paper or burn it to a CD or even send it via wireless radio waves somewhere else and it would not affect the information.

Information has no mass and does not depend on energy, space or matter. That is to say it has zero mass, zero energy and zero space. We can infer from this that information is also timeless. Note Einstein's famous equation relating the four aspects of our universe that came about at creation: Energy equals mass times the square of the speed of light. The speed of light component there is how time enters the equation.

mosquito Remember the movie Jurassic Park? The premise was that the dinosaurs could be brought back because they found a mosquito buried in a piece of amber (hardened sap) and there was dinosaur blood still in the mosquito. From this blood they were able to get the DNA to clone the dinosaurs. Now even though the movie was purely fiction, it has an element of truth to it that makes sense and lends the feeble feasibility necessary that allows us to suspend our disbelief for a couple of hours of entertainment.

My body is specified by the code written in the language of my DNA. It does not matter whether I am cremated or spread out over the sea when I die since God does not need to use the same atoms that are in my body today. The atoms are fungible like the letters on the sign used to spell out the shopkeeper's specials of the day--"Milk 4.50 / Gallon". He does not need a particular "M", he can reach in to the pile of letters and pick up any old "M".

So if information does not depend on any of the four fundamental aspects of our universe then information must exist outside of the confines of our universe and as such it exists in the realm of eternity. The consequences of this are mind bending. The real you and the real me is software not hardware. Everything we are can just be specified by information, stored no doubt in the mind of God.

We are eternal whether we like it or not. That means that we will spend eternity somewhere. The question is where? Find out more here.

The Design Inference

Posted by: David Carroll

According to William Dembski, there are three ways a particular phenomenon can have occurred.

  1. Chance
    The numbers that come up when you roll the dice. The arrangement of letters that occur when you spill a bowl of scrabble letters out on the floor. The features of a thing produced by chance are irregularity or non-patterned result. So this fall if I walk outside and my driveway is covered in leaves, I would never suspect that someone had come over and carefully placed each leaf in its position on my driveway.
  2. Necessity
    The ripples in the sand on the beach. The angular shape of crystals. The perfect roundness of a bubble floating in the air. The features of a thing produced by necessity i.e. by some law of physics or chemistry are regularity and patterns. So when I see a whirlpool in the water of my bathtub as it drains, I know that there are the laws of physics at work. The perfect funnel shape is a result of the vortex of spinning water.
  3. Design
    A watch, a car, a portrait, a choral symphony, a poem, a blog post are all examples of design. When something is obviously designed and made, it has complexity and is not necessarily regular. The complexity that results from design is not the kind of complexity that results from chance. A design is specific. Specified complexity is the hallmark of design. So when I see a completed game of scrabble, I know that those letters did not simply fall into their arrangement because they all spell words very precisely (the opponent made sure of that!).

This seems so obvious that it is odd that anyone would argue with it. But argue they do. Now, the above description of the design inference is not yet science. To be science, this idea much be measurable and quantifiable. And it must be falsifiable and repeatable. To this end, Dembski and his colleagues have gone much further in their attempt to establish the design inference as science. You can see more of his work at http://www.designinference.com/.

Anyway, why would anyone argue with such research? Because the motive for undertaking it was to give an honest critique of Darwinian Natural Selection as the explanation of all the variety of life we see. There are a number of scientists and physicians who seriously question Darwin. They have said:

"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."

http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

These honest scientists and physicians are treated with disdain by those who are committed to atheistic materialism. There commitment is so deep that they will not tolerate any investigation or examination of contrary ideas or evidence. Talk about intolerance!

Why Study Creation?

Posted by: David Carroll

Couple of reasons. First of all, because Darwinian Evolution is atheistic to the core, it is the faith of those whom we wish to reach who don't believe in God. How can you tell someone "Heaven is a free gift" when they don't believe in God or heaven? So we study the belief system of those to whom we would like to speak of Jesus to. But before we speak of Jesus, we have to tell the story of creation. Part of that story telling is knowing how to give a defense of the reasons why belief in God is necessary to satisfactorily explain the universe and life.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that before one can come to God, he must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. So belief in the necessity of God is a starting point for evangelizing an atheist.

Consider Peter, when he was preaching to the Jews, how he began his sermon by quoting scripture from the prophet Joel and then said:

Acts 2:22-23

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.

So for those who already believe in God, they can be taken directly to the Bible and immediately be told about Jesus. There was no need for an apologetic about Creation, they already believed that.

Now consider the apostle Paul when he spoke to the Greeks at Mars Hill. Before he speaks of Jesus and of sin and of salvation, he starts with an apologetic about the true creator God.

Acts 17:24-25

"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things."

There is a second reason to study Creation Science--that is to build up our own faith. Yes, I know you believe but none of us are immune to the fiery darts of the wicked one. We must defend against them with the shield of faith. You can strengthen that shield by learning good reasons why what is being taught in our schools about science should not cause us to doubt. And it is not a blind faith we have. Rather it is based on good science starting from a different perspective.

Our children are being challenged every day by teachers and professors who do not believe in God and have the support of the scientific establishment for such a belief. They offer up scientific dogma which seems to go against a belief in the necessity of Creation. It is hard to withstand this bombardment without hearing from other, God honoring, Bible believing scientists who see through the logic and arguments and are able to interpret the facts in a way that will build up our faith and give us confidence that the Bible is supported by what we observe in the real world.

You may not understand everything these respected scientists who believe in creation are saying but even so, it is good to know someone who is smarter than me has thoroughly investigated the science and has concluded that the Bible is true based upon his own research. God is not afraid of our questions, in fact he commanded us to "subdue the earth" and that's what we are going to do in this course.

Beliefs About Origins

Posted by: David Carroll

There are many different viewpoints with widely different ideas about how this world came to be. I'll try to organize them in order from the most conservative to the most liberal (biblically speaking).

Young Earth Creationist

This is the position that God created the earth in six days about six thousand years ago.

The young earth creationist (YEC) believes this because it is the conclusion you come to with a plain reading of the Bible. The first 11 chapters of Genesis are considered to be a true and accurate history of the world and not just an allegorical story. Biblical inerrancy is the hallmark of the Young Earth Creationist. This viewpoint, however, does not mean that the YEC is disinclined to ignore science, on the contrary, God gave us science and knowledge and told us to "subdue the earth". The Bible is the authority and any apparent discrepancies between the Bible and what we see in nature can be explained by properly interpreting the facts.

Old Earth re-Creationist (Gap theory)

This is the idea that God created an original perfect world according to Genesis 1:1 and then something went wrong, probably rebellion of Satan and angels in heaven and then there was a Divine Judgment on the earth which caused the world to become formless and void in Genesis 1:2.

This idea hinges on whether the verse should read "The earth was formless and void" or "The earth became formless and void". There is some additional obscure support for this in Isaiah 45:18.

The Gap Theory is also known as the Ruin/Recreation theory. Supposedly God had to recreate everything about six thousand years ago after some indefinite period of time which occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. It is this period of time which explains the motivation for believing this theory. About 130 years ago, it had recently become common knowledge, at least within the scientific circles, that the geology of the earth proved that it must be billions of years old. What was a theologian to do with this? Where would he fit this billions of years into a Biblical model of creation and time? The answer was "in the gap between Gen 1:1 and 1:2". This became a very popular explanation as a result over the next century. In the last thirty years, it has fallen out of favor when consideration is given to how catastrophic events such as Noah's flood could explain the geological strata in the earth.

Progressive Creationist

The progressive creationist pretty much accepts all standard models of how the universe and earth came to be including the Big Bang, stellar evolution, and planet formation over billions of years. The one thing they are against however is evolution. Instead, they believe that God performed special creative insertions of life into the world at various stages which explains all the species. These episodes of creative activity explain the word progressive.

The first chapter of Genesis is simply an long age framework divided into six "days", each one lasting millions or billions of years. Life shows up billions of years ago.

To hold this position, You have to be somewhat liberal in your interpretation of Gen 1-11 and on some theological issues. Hugh Ross, a brilliant man and charismatic speaker, is the main proponent of this view, and believes in pre-Adamic hominids (ape-men) with no souls, death before sin, no world-wide flood. These ideas have huge theological impact and so why does he believe these things? Because he believes Adam showed up about six thousand years and all of the geology and fossils were already in the ground. So you must have life and death before Adam. And you can't explain the layers of rock we see over the whole world by appealing to a world-wide catastrophic flood because Noah came after Adam and after the rocks were already laid down in layers by other naturalistic processes that he wants to preserve in his belief system.

Intelligent Design Movement

These are honest scientists who have no religious or biblical agenda but are simply bothered by the inability of Darwin's natural selection to explain the origin of complex systems of biological life. The specific complexity and appearance of design we see in life is better explained by appealing to an intelligent designer.

The proponents of the ID movement are agnostic about any particular designer and are not interested in appealing to the God of the Bible or to the Bible as any kind of authoritative book. Most of what they do is to critic the model of evolution by pointing out its weaknesses.

Because they are accredited, real working scientists, they are able to gain a lot more traction within the scientific community than a Creationist would be able to. Still, the ID movement is vigorously opposed by most mainstream scientists.

Theological Evolutionist

This group is typically quite liberal regarding the authority of the Bible and wants no part of being labeled a "foolish" creationist. Basically, they have no problem saying that God used evolution as his means to create life. Certainly an all-powerful, sovereign God could create life anyway he so chooses. The only problem is how to reconcile the meaning of the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

More importantly, Darwinism (random chance mutation acting through natural selection) is an unguided, purposeless material process with no room or need for God.

Atheistic Evolutionist

It used to be that an atheist was an eccentric. They had no plausible story for how we came to be. So they needed a plausible creation story and Darwin provided one. For the Atheist, naturalism must explain everything. In fact, science has now been defined to exclude any appeal to the supernatural.

Now, to be an atheist is mainstream. And Post-modernism is adding to its ranks daily.

Creation Resources

Posted by: David Carroll

I created a list of recommended books on Amazon.Com related to Creation Sciencewww.shrinkster.com/lhh
Gap Theory (apologetics rebuttal against)www.shrinkster.com/lhk
Answers in Genesiswww.answersingenesis.org
Institute for Creation Researchwww.icr.org
In the Beginning, Walt Brown, (online book)www.creationscience.com
Ten questions to ask your biology teacher about evolution.www.shrinkster.com/3tr
The Intelligent Design Movementwww.shrinkster.com/3ts
"Progressive Creationist" Hugh Ross, who is he and what does he believe?www.shrinkster.com/3tv
www.reasons.org