The Meaning of Life: Where Did We Come From? Is Theistic Evolution the Answer?
We are examining the meaning of life. We have shown that God created the universe and he created man. But some Christians have proposed the idea that Genesis 1-2 is merely symbolic, and that what really happened is that God created man through an evolutionary process. This they call “theistic evolution”. (Please note this and the following two posts will delve into some science to refute this and evolution in general.)
My understanding of “theistic evolution” is that God evolved the early bipedal hominids to a certain advanced stage, and then breathed into them a soul and the essence of modern man. Thus, Adam and Eve of the Bible were figurative, mere typological symbols of man’s fallen nature. It proposes that God directed the evolutionary process to create man from ape. Although I have no problem with God creating a physical process and directing it with physical laws to his ends, I believe this approach is misapplied to man’s creation and unsupported by the evidence.
To support the view of theistic evolution, adherents point to Francis Collins’s book, The Language of God. As I read this I found his first argument to be the strongest, with the second worth mentioning. For this post we’ll look only at his two strongest arguments and the problems with them:
1) The pseudo-gene argument.
Pseudo-genes are supposedly unused, nonfunctional genes that appear in parallel positions in both human and mouse genes, and for apes and humans. The proposal is that because these “nonfunctional” genes appeared in the same place in both mice and humans, we must all have common ancestors. The claim is that these genes copied themselves redundantly and somehow the copy was truncated. Evolutionists state unequivocally that these are “pseudogenes”. Because they appear truncated, they must therefore, by their logic, be nonfunctional. Thus, they conclude these genes were the result of evolutionary mutation. But as we’ll see below, this has now been proven false.
In September 2012, publications from the ENCODE project (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) showed that we now know the function of 50-80% of this supposedly “junk DNA”. It also implies that we may soon discover the functions of the remaining DNA segments. The “truncated” DNA regions turn out to be “switches” that turn genes on or off and control how cells behave. This discovery now devastates the “pseudo-gene” argument for evolution. It also shows that DNA is far more complex than scientists previously thought—presenting layers upon layers of complexity.
This shows us something else interesting—scientists claim to know what God would have done. They knew for a fact that God would never have placed such a “pseudogene” where it was. But this is negative theology, presuming to know what God would do and then using that assumption as an argument to support evolution. In this case, it turns out the “pseudogenes’ had a function after all.
2) Explaining irreducibly complex organisms.
The eye, and complex organs like it, has always been a serious problem for evolution. It is “irreducibly complex”. Remove one part—an iris, an eyelash, a retina—and it ceases to function. The problem is: How could evolution produce such a complex organism? All parts must be present simultaneously. Bring in one intermediate step to create such a part and it’s useless. So how could such an organism ever arise through a process of slight, successive changes over a long period of time?
Collins responds to this conundrum by pointing out the many different species with light sensitive organs, such as flatworms with a simple, pigmented pit that contains light-sensitive cells. The chambered nautilus has a more advanced version. The suggestion is that these could be evolutionary way stations on the road to the kind of eye that we find in higher life forms. But all these examples just prove that simpler organisms need simpler light sensitive organs and that higher organisms need more complex organs. They do not show us how such a complex structure could appear, fully functional and all at once, in higher animals. His argument doesn’t wash.
Thus we submit that theistic evolution is not the answer. Next time let’s look at how archaeology and biochemistry actually support the Genesis account.