II Corinthians 10:5

"Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ."

January 31, 2009

Darwin Day 2009

Recently, I had the invigorating opportunity to attend a debate between Dan Barker (atheist) and Dinesh D’Souza (christian). The debate resolution was “Can we be good without God?” During the debate, the subject of Darwinian evolution was referred to many times by Dan Barker in order to solidify his arguments as an atheist. It got me thinking more about Darwin’s theory, and since we are on the verge celebrating the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birthday on February 12th, I thought I might explore the subject. Consider the following statement by Mole333:

Darwin's 200th birthday, to be celebrated by the GLOBAL community as a toast to the common good of all humanity. We will all want to develop events to Celebrate Darwin, Science and Humanity and come together as one human family in appreciation of verifiable knowledge that has been acquired solely through human curiosity and ingenuity. Scientific knowledge has been of great value to all of us.
http://moleprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/01/nevada-focus-darwin-day-blogs_29.html

Toast to the common good of all humanity?
First, like Mole333 and Dan Barker (who said, “If you want to be a good person, be a good person.), most evolutionists have seemed to have overlooked a key word- GOOD. Without a creator, there is absolutely no logical way to measure what the standard of goodness is. If God, our Creator is not the standard of goodness, and if He hasn’t provided us with a conscience to know what that standard is, good becomes a relative term. If, as evolutionary thought states, we are all products of random chance, there is no basis for the Darwinists to claim that their definition of good (whatever it is) is any better than another group of people’s definition of good, such as terrorists. What if I thought it was a good thing to steal? After all, my family and siblings could live much more comfortably, if I stole - that would be good thing for us, right? Tell me fellow byproducts of chance, how and why could you tell me that my opinion of goodness really isn’t good, but that your opinion is truly good?

On to my second point, not only is it illogical for Darwinists claim “goodness” but it is equally illogical for them to claim that Darwin’s ideas were or are good for ALL humanity. Indeed, the effects of social Darwinism can be found all around us.

What is social Darwinism? Bill Muehlenberg explains:
“‘Social Darwinism’ is a term which refers to the social and political ramifications of biological Darwinism and the materialism which it is imbedded in. Darwin regarded humans as basically higher animals, and as the social sciences became more and more tinged by the Darwinian outlook, humans increasingly began to be treated as mere animals, or machines.
… As academics, scientists and politicians apply the Darwinian view of man to various social sciences, some very negative outcomes have ensued. We have steadily become dehumanised and depersonalised as we have taken on board the logical implications of evolutionary materialism.”

Ahh…humans treated like animals or machines, steadily dehumanised and depersonalised. This kind of thinking does sound good for all humanity! However, maybe this kind of reasoning would explain why human embryos can be treated like lab rats for scientific experimentation. Or why Planned Parenthood, Doctors, and individuals can think of discarding human life through abortion and euthanasia as if it were of no value. Or why people like Hitler, desiring to expedite the evolutionary upward climb to perfection and utopia, could stomach the slaughter of millions of Jews, the weak, the old, the handicapped, the “less-favoured” races. Or why Criminals, instead of receiving justice, receive mental therapy. Yes, all this good stuff is made possible in part by, Social Darwinism…and can be found being taught, endorsed and praised at a location near you!The bottom line is this: Darwinism is the major driving force in the effort to reduce the value of human life. Hmm…maybe, this doesn’t sound so good for our race?
In his closing statement during the debate, Dan Barker said that there is no need for a god. By stating this, He was implying that all we need is ourselves to be good and determine goodness. He then relayed a story about a young man who went up to an atheist after a debate and asked him something like, “What should I do to have a meaningful life?” The atheist replied, “ If you want to have meaning in life, do something meaningful.” However really think about that statement and you’ll realize that this is another area in which Darwinian evolution has trouble with. Besides having trouble with the goodness claim once again, the claim that there is an actual essence to life by the Darwinist is absurd. Think about what he is saying. He’s saying that a total random, unguided, meaningless process created life with a meaningful essence or existence! Does life have an essence? Yes, a single essence given to us by God. If this essence wasn’t given to us by God, then just as was the case in the goodness debate, the essence of life would also be relative. This by no means ends the many errors of Darwinian thought, but I just wanted to highlight some of those many issues.
I like how Dinesh D’Souza closed out his last speech. He questioned the real reason we were having the debate. He quoted Fyodor Dostoyevsky who said, “If God is not, everything is permitted.” Those who want to continue to live in the God-rejecting lifestyle they are living in, try to be free from their moral guilt, by getting rid of The Judge. But there is hope for them, and I encourage my fellow Christians to pray for those who will be celebrating Darwin Day. Pray that they would realize there IS a God, for this is the start to realizing His love for us.
Daniel Wanschura

8 comments:

Macon said...

The arguments you make are all quite old and have been successfully rebutted numerous times, so I am probably not the right person to respond.

But I'll give it a try:

Where is the measure for good and evil without god?
By asking this question you either imply that ALL gods teach a similar moral code, or that only people who believe in your deity (because that's the only real one, right?) can be good and "moral". Of course, we know that even though details differ, all human societies have come up with ethical concepts that are remarkably similar - regardless of which deity they believed in, if they believed at all.
The standard by which to measure "good and evil" has universally developed through the human capability to empathize: Since you have been hurt before, you know what it feels like and you won't do it to other people. Call this the "Golden Rule", Kharma or whatever, this thinking is present in almost every human culture.

Also, Evolution is NOT random. This is a very common misconception and shows that you don't really know how it works. Maybe you should do some reading before you criticize?
What it boils down to is the two major driving forces behind Evolution: Mutation and Selection. Genetic Mutations are indeed random and occur in every living being. They are errors in transcription when DNA is copied. Most of these mutations are bad for you, cancer cells are mutated cells, for example. However, sometimes it happens that a mutation is actually beneficial to survival. And it is here where Evolution stops being random. Not just ANY mutation will be carried on to the next generation. Only the ones whose owners survive long enough to reproduce. Obviously, mostly those organisms with an advantageous mutation will be able to survive. Let these mechanisms work over a long period of time and you will see the life form adapt to its environment and, given enough time, evolve into a new species.

The claim that the scientific theory which explains how we came into existance actually promotes social darwinism is not a very good one. As if people have ever needed such an excuse to kill each other. Just look at all the genocides described in the bible, for example.
Hitler would have committed his atrocities with or without social darwninist ideas.
No reasonable scientist would ever endorse social darwinism.
Evolution is the explanation of how we got here, not an ethical code to live by, Darwin himself actually said something along those lines.

It's quite sad actually. I've all this time writing a reply to your post here, and what for? Debating with a religious person is worse than talking to a brick wall: Both won't hear reasonable arguments, but at least the wall doesn't contradict itself all the time.

Macon

Eva said...

Here's a scientist's response to the issues you brought up...

"Relatively soon after Darwin's theory became popular it was pointed out that any selection process (whether natural or not) can only choose from things that already exist. For example, if I take my wife out to a buffet dinner we may both choose different things on our plates, but the food we choose was already present. Also, the food we end up with on our plate is less than the amount that it started from (the buffet). So selection tends to reduce the amount of variation, not increase it.

Similarly, living things have built-in variation and the environment may select for certain traits, but natural selection does not produce new GENETIC information. Evolutionary scientists realized that in order for the theory of evolution to remain plausible, they needed a new ‘mechanism’. They needed something to produce brand new genetic information that could lead to different features in living things (like the code to manufacture feathers, muscle, bone, etc.). These new features (i.e. greater variety) could then be selected from.

The new mechanism was mutation. (Mutations are genetic copying mistakes that occur when DNA produces copies of itself.) This led to ‘Neo-Darwinian Theory’. This basically says that mutations provide variety while natural selection sorts out the new genetic information. This one-two punch was supposed to explain away any opposition to a naturalistic view of life’s origin.

But note the key word: ‘new’—i.e. for this scenario to work, mutations would have to add new genetic information, i.e. it would require an uphill change. But this is the opposite direction to all observed mutations today.

So given that mutation is an information-losing mechanism, it cannot generate the gains that goo-to-you evolution requires (and upon which natural selection can operate). So when evolutionists invoke mutation as a key evolutionary mechanism, it’s akin to saying that scrambling the information in a computer program can result in better software! But, in reality, corruption of the DNA code results in chaos—the worse the corruption, the greater the chaos—not the kinds of changes necessary for pond scum to have given rise to people."


If you're interested, I know a great website where Christians would answer all of your concerns. I think if you're sincere about discussing and understanding who Jesus Christ really is, you will find many points to consider, and then you would have more information to evaluate your position from.

Sincerely,
Eva

Aronne said...

Macon wrote:
"It's quite sad actually. I've all this time writing a reply to your post here, and what for? Debating with a religious person is worse than talking to a brick wall"

I am sorry we seem so comatose to you. Of course, I'm sure some "religious people" have felt the same way about atheists, no offense.

Anyway, Daniel, great article! I wish I could have gone to the debate.

You are quite right to question how we can have morality without God. Without a standard, what makes Hitler's conduct better than Mother Teresa's? If you just say: "Nothing, it's obviously worse," what reason can you give for that? Why is it worse? Could you not be deceived? (Hitler was evil, and we Christians know exactly why.)

Under this same point, Macon argued that "either imply that ALL gods teach a similar moral code, or that only people who believe in your deity (because that's the only real one, right?) can be good and 'moral'." This sort of argument is a dilemma: it's either one way or another. To refute it one must simply prove that there is a third way, or that one of these ways is perfectly acceptable.

Other religions often teach a moral code (but not necessarily a similar one).

I see no reason why our beliefs mean that only people of our religion may appear moral. Only Christians may become right with God and have a truly God-pleasing life, but the fact remains that there are a lot of people who are not Christians that seem less than evil. Rather than going into the nature of the depravity of man, I will clarify, perhaps on Daniel's behalf.

The point is not that Christianity enables Christians to understand morality, the point is that the existence of a God makes morality possible.

Evolution is indeed random - unless you are implying that there is some third party conducting its affairs. No scientist has been able to show that it is even remotely possible that life could begin through the random processes known as evolution.

"Obviously, mostly those organisms with an advantageous mutation will be able to survive." Perhaps equally obvious is that mutations practically NEVER benefit the creature to which the mutation happens. Perhaps it demonstrates my ignorance in the matter, but I cannot site one modern example of mutations helping someone or something. (Even if a creature picks up one of these desirable traits, that does not guarantee that it will be passed down.)

"Evolution is the explanation of how we got here," - and every atheist must cling to its truth, otherwise the possibility of a creator is only too imminent.

Okay, that's enough rambling for now!

Macon said...

"...I cannot site one modern example of mutations helping someone or something."

Actually, this happens quite often. For example: This is the reason for all those new bacteria and viruses that are resistant to anti-biotics. It's evolution at work: Due to random mutations, a few of them have the ability to survive in a human body that was treated with anti-biotics. Before penicillin, this was of no benefit to them, while also not being a disadvantage. Now, of course, this is a real advantage, allowing mostly the resistant ones to reproduce. Hence, the new generation of bugs is resistant.

Just as in this case, mutations DO actually add information to the DNA. Most of the time they are either of no benefit or even harmful. Sometimes though, they can dramatically improve the chances of survival.

"I am sorry we seem so comatose to you. Of course, I'm sure some "religious people" have felt the same way about atheists, no offense."

The thing is that my beliefs (or non-belief) is based on evidence. If you showed me evidence for an almighty creator, I would accept it. But theists have the tendency to completely ignore evidence in order to be able to stick to their beliefs. As irrational they may be.

Also, if you showed me evidence that Evolution doesn't work, I would also accept it.

The catch in both cases is, however, that it has to actually make sense. Throwing out some random ideas why Evolution may not work is not the way to do it. If creationism or "ID" actually had anything to it, they would be doing what real scientists do: Doing research and publishing it for peer-review.
That would be the kind of evidence that could make me change my mind.

Macon

Tyler Godin said...

Macon:

I'll start off with the moral standard discussion. Hitler's standard is different than your standard. Who is right? If you are right by saying he was wrong, the question is, "Says who???" Without a moral law-giver, there is no standard. Everything is relative. I was also present at the debate, and Dan Barker was saying how right and wrong is determined by the person. What?! (Anarchy here we come!!!) When man's goes off the Creator's moral code, anarchy and sin rules.

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts." Proverbs 21:2

Evidence for a Creator is rather simple to prove. Look at yourself, the world around you, the planets in the solar system...the list goes on and on. Isn't chance amazing! That's pathetic. Obviously a Creator exists. Did your computer evolve...or was it created? I doubt you would suggest that it exists as a result of chance.

Concerning mutations, even though good "features" result, there is still a loss...not a gain of information. Consider the following:

"Also, a loss of information can cause bacterial antibiotic resistance, e.g. penicillin resistance in Staphylococcus can be due to a mutation causing a regulatory gene’s loss of control of production of penicillinase (an enzyme which destroys penicillin). The resulting overproduction of penicillinase increases resistance to penicillin. But in the wild (away from artificial environments swamped with penicillin), the Staphylococcus would be less ‘fit’ because it wastes resources producing heaps of unnecessary protein." (Taken from http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/508.asp)

If you really are interested in looking into the creation/evolution issue, check out www.answersingenesis.com.

Northern Lights said...

Macon said:
"Where is the measure for good and evil without god?
By asking this question you either imply that ALL gods teach a similar moral code, or that only people who believe in your deity (because that's the only real one, right?) can be good and "moral"."

Your assumption of my implication here is wrong.
Aronne said it right: "The point is not that Christianity enables Christians to understand morality, the point is that the existence of a God makes morality possible."
What I imply is that there had to have been a God who determined the moral standards we all have today. We know what those standards are because God gave each one of us a conscience. If as you say, morality has “developed through the human capability to empathize” by what standard could you say that Hitler and his follower’s actions were wrong???? Wasn’t he brought into existence the same way you were? Please explain this.

Macon said:
"Of course, we know that even though details differ, all human societies have come up with ethical concepts that are remarkably similar - regardless of which deity they believed in, if they believed at all."
You strengthen my point for a human conscience, given to us by God.

Macon said:
"Also, Evolution is NOT random. This is a very common misconception and shows that you don't really know how it works. Maybe you should do some reading before you criticize?"
The Humanist Manifesto III claims that we are “…the result of unguided evolutionary change”. You yourself admit that evolution is random: Genetic Mutations are indeed random and occur in every living being. Sure, later you say that it stops being random, but all the same it is still a random process of mutations. If evolution isn’t random, tell me, who was the smart one who figured out just the right amount chemicals to be mixed to get all this life started? Oh and btw, just where did those chemicals come from? If something is put into time and existence, there must be something (a creator) that put it into existence.

Macon said:
“Let these mechanisms work over a long period of time and you will see the life form adapt to its environment and, given enough time, evolve into a new species.”

How do you KNOW this is the case? Has it ever been OBSERVED? (Isn’t that what science is all about anyway- observation?) If life does evolve into different species, where are the intermediate links in the FR? If you want to reply with punctuated equilibrium, is this true in what we observe today with mutations? Do species slowly acquire mutations, and then suddenly change into different species? How can any reasonable scientist endorse evolution? Can they truly observe it?

Macon said:
"As if people have ever needed such an excuse to kill each other. Just look at all the genocides described in the bible, for example."
God told the Israelites to wipe out whole nations because they were wicked. How could we and the Israelites know they were wicked? Because God has given everyone the standard of morals, and that particular nation was violating it.

Macon said:
"Hitler would have committed his atrocities with or without social Darwinist ideas."
Social Darwinism claims that society is evolving upward from our primitive beginnings to the point where we reach a state of utopia. Hitler’s intentions were to help speed this process of evolution along, by getting rid of the weaker individuals. No, if Hitler didn’t have this view, or even had a Christian view, these atrocities wouldn’t have happened.

Macon said:
"No reasonable scientist would ever endorse social Darwinism."
This depends on your definition of “reasonable.”
Macon said:
"Evolution is the explanation of how we got here, not an ethical code to live by."
While it is true that evolution attempts to explain how we got here and is not an ethical code, it still should be able to show why all humanity has arrived at the morals we have- something that it can’t do.

Evolution doesn’t provide answers to these issues. Science can’t prove evolution. A creator argument would clearly provide answers to these kind of questions. It is logical!

Hope this makes you think.
Thanks for reading.
D. Wanschura

Christina said...

Macon states: "Debating with a religious person is worse than talking to a brick wall."

Response: Dictionary.com defines religion as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe." Macon, your belief that evolution correctly explains how the universe got here is a religious one. Indeed, macro-evolution (one species changing into an entirely new species, which is what I assume we all mean when we say “evolution”) touches on much more than mutations and natural selection. Charles Darwin believed that “the universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.” He is commenting on more than one would expect in the realm of “science.” He is commenting on the “purpose of the universe” (i.e. there is no purpose). So I’m sorry, but you can’t escape being "religious." Atheists have faith that God isn’t; theists have faith that God is. Both religious groups claim they are right (even though one of them isn't) and both claim that the evidence is on their side (even though faulty interpretation of the facts is necessarily taking place on the part of whichever group is wrong). You are not debating with people more “religious” than yourself. We are all religious – our religions just differ. In this case…they are polarized. You say God isn’t, we say God is.

Macon states: "The thing is that my beliefs (or non-belief) is based on evidence. If you showed me evidence for an almighty creator, I would accept it."

Response: I sincerely hope the intellectual openness you boast of is at least party founded in reality. I highly doubt that any of us are really that willing to accept the conclusions of our logic alone (I believe other elements, such as our desires and fears, also play parts in determining what we will eventually choose to believe). However, the resolution to hold the truth above your current knowledge (knowing you don't yet know everything about reality) and even above your current perception (knowing you are capable of being deceived) is a noble resolution indeed! Examine this statement: truth is the standard by which my current knowledge and perception is judged to be either right or wrong. This is essentially what you are saying when you imply that you hold your views accountable to the evidence and are willing to change them if the evidence dictates it.

As an atheist, you doubtless deny the authority of the Bible, but I am going to quote a verse here nonetheless. Psalm 10:4 says, "In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, 'There is no God.'"

"The wicked" refers to all of humanity in their natural state, so don't write this off as a condescending judgment on my part. You and I are in the same predicament: we are not morally perfect. Our "imperfection" is harshly but justly called "wickedness." Your first post reveals that you believe there is such a thing as morality, for you were trying to defend evolution in the face of it (morality). So we’re agreed that good and evil exist. I assume you would also agree that true goodness (for the theist it would read Goodness) is better than we are – we are not fully good. Knowing this should produce humility in us (though it often does not).

This being said, I hope you are humble enough to take what warning you can from the passage I quoted. Examine: could it be that people do not see God simply because they are not seeking to find Him? Is it impossible for some to behold the Creator because they continually tell themselves "there is no God" and then interpret the world around them to fit their belief? Many people vigorously seek the abolition of God (they would say they seek the abolition of the IDEA of God). But throughout history, many such atheists (leading scientists among them) have come to the conclusion that the evidence for God is positively overwhelming.

You say, Macon, that you will become a creationist if we give you evidence for a Creator. I'm sure you realize that we firmly believe we have provided you with evidence:

1) The existence of a moral code proves the existence of a moral code-Giver. Evolutionary processes involve matter alone and cannot impart morality to a species. Can a banana give you a conscience? Why is the human species the only one that seems plagued with guilt over, say, unjustified murder?

2) The world of matter testifies to its Creator. As Tyler said, "look at yourself, the world around you, the planets in the solar system..." All that we can see and touch and smell and taste – it all cries out "CREATED!" The complexity of a single DNA molecule makes man’s most advanced supercomputer appear like an 8-year-old's debut experiment. Such mind-boggling complexity in nature is not debated among scientists, but many are willingly blind to the implications of such complexity. I read in an article yesterday (World magazine) about Francis Collins, the well-known physician-geneticist who leads the Human Genome Project. Collins (who has a Ph.D. from Yale) talks about seeing "pointers to God from nature." He explains that our very life depends on "the precise tuning of 15 physical constants – if you tweak their values by a tiny fraction, it doesn't work." This not only points to a creator, but to a superhuman Genius. Collins is one of the many scientists who have concluded that "atheism is the least rational of all choices."

As I said, we believe these two points to be valid evidence for a Creator. You do not. The tone in your first post seems to say that it doesn't even matter to you if you are personally incapable of refuting these points, for you know they "have been successfully rebutted numerous times." Have they? Leading evolutionists who promote their theory with full knowledge of its major weaknesses would love for you to believe this and to stop short of examining the actual evidence for yourself. But I hope you keep examining the evidence and discover the Truth - free from the persuasion of any man (or woman).

Aronne said...

Though I don't agree with everything they say, the proprietors of this site have put together a fabulous list of evidences for creation:

http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/index.shtml#creation_vs_evolution

On Mutations
"For example: This is the reason for all those new bacteria and viruses that are resistant to anti-biotics. It's evolution at work: Due to random mutations, a few of them have the ability to survive in a human body that was treated with anti-biotics."

No, that is not on account of mutations. That is because of micro-evolution or "natural selections." The bacteria that were more resistant survived better as a result of their propensities.

The main point is the bacteria did not evolve into a different species. We can observe tons of evidence for micro-evolution -- that is, variation within a species (like breeding) -- but none at all for macro-evolution, that is, evolution between species.