Question Evolution

by Gregory Koukl

Evolution is dancing on the Titanic

The current evolution/creation controversy is based on two fundamental errors. First, the issue is cast as a conflict between the indisputable facts of science and the dogmatic faith of religious fundamentalists. Second, two entirely different definitions of science are used interchangeably, obscuring the true nature of the discussion.

Facts vs. Faith

Douglas Futuyma opens Science on Trial, his compelling polemic against creationism, with these words: “Fifty-seven years after the Scopes trial, fundamentalist religion and evolutionary biology are again fiercely at odds, and science is still on trial.” Douglas Futuyma, Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates Inc., 1983), p. 4.

Futuyma’s words echo the sentiments of the academic rank and file: Creationists are obscurantist flat-earthers whose commitment to superstition keeps them in darkness. The verdict of science is clear. Darwinian evolution is an indisputable fact. This characterization is simply false.

Following the complete failure of the Origin of Life Conference in Berkeley in the late 80’s to produce a plausible scenario for how life itself chemically evolved, Dr. Robert Shapiro wrote a book entitled, Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth. (“Creation” here refers to biochemical evolution.) Shapiro is an educated skeptic, an eminent chemist from New York University and an expert in his field. In his book he decimates the reigning ideas of how life could have evolved from non-life.

Michael Denton wrote Evolution: A Theory in Crisis to show that the original scientific objections to evolution that faced Darwin–and were argued powerfully by his contemporaries–still apply after more than 100 years of scientific research and progress.

Both of these books were written by non-religious people raising scientific objections to evolution. Shapiro remains an evolutionist, hoping that the future will turn up more evidence for biochemical evolution than the past has been able to produce. Denton ends his analysis with this statement: “The Darwinian theory is the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century,” and then adds, “like the Genesis-based cosmology which it replaced.”

You have no friends of religion here. These men are inside of the established scientific community, not outside of it. Yet each offers scientifically rigorous and compelling arguments against the idea that known natural processes are adequate to explain the biological complexity of our world…

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