Have you ever been afraid of asking questions about what you believe because you were afraid of finding your belief misplaced, or false in some way, and you would be required to change?
I know, its a big question, right? The reality is that I find a lot of christians, myself included, can be very intimidated by the questions the world asks, and the reality that we don’t have all the answers. If we don’t go to Jesus and ask Him those questions searching for the Truth, then we can find ourselves beginning to doubt our very faith which we profess. It is healthy, and very necessary, to consider the questions that the world has regarding life, and to see what the Truth is. I will further encourage you, that you can ask questions about your faith that perhaps you were/are afraid to ask, and still hold on to your faith at the same time. Put God to test in the right ways, and you will actually benefit from the experience, and others will benefit from you.
I was faced with such a challenge spring semester of college, which was my first time back in about 4 years, as I was taking Principles of Biology. While going through the course material I kept hearing about Evolution, over and over again. In some ways it seemed to be correct, but in other ways it seemed to be wrong, and I found myself quite confused and bothered by the whole concept. I found myself asking, “What bothers me about the Theory of Evolution?” (And by the way, they don’t even teach Evolution as a theory anymore, and you are looked to as crazy or stupid if you don’t believe its true–whether you are a Believer or not.)
This question wouldn’t be answered until we have the Evolution Lab during…I believe it was the 12th week of class, maybe the 13th (out of 16 weeks.) I won’t lie to you when I say I was bored out of my mind during the lab, and was seriously contemplating leaving the class not even half way through, something I never do. The lab made no sense to me, and I could tell by the questions of my class mates that I was not the only one. I wondered then if I was the only Christian in the class, and if so, then I wondered what the problem was with Evolution that both Believers and nonBelivers were stumbling over the concepts.
Luckily, I was able to get our of class early that day, and I didn’t have to abandon the class to do it. I thought about it on the walk home, and determined that what bothered me most about Evolution was the idea that it excludes the possibility of a Creator, and instead looks to creation as an explanation as to why it exists. That night I determined to research it and get some answers to my questions. If that is what Evolution is about, I reasoned, then how should I respond as a Christian? So, I decided to check out a website that my friend told me about perhaps two years prior, and have found that place to be absolutely amazing and helpful.
What I learned really helped reveal and resolve the questions I had within me, and I will do my best to simplify them here.
First.The main confusing thing, is that the word “evolution” actually is attached to three different definitions and is used in three different ways. The first two are simplified as microevolution and the last one is called macroevolution.
The definitions are, in my best paraphrase, 1. Evolution is a change over a period of time.
I hate to say it, but it would be quite foolish to argue with that. People change over a period of time, weather changes over a period of time, ideas change, lifestyles change, the color of tree leaves change, time changes, years change….things change! A baby grows into a toddler over a period of time, then into an adolescent, then an adult. Our very cells change, and the way we eat can effect the way our body functions which in the long term can make us healthier, or more susceptible to diseases, etc. I believe you get the picture…
2. Evolution is the change within the characteristics of a species over a period of time.
Ok, now we’re starting to get a bit uncomfortable, and I’ll explain why that is in a moment. First let me briefly clarify this definition. The changes within the characteristic of a species, is simply that. This is NOT the same as the change from one species to the next, but is confined to simply the characteristics of a species. The Gallapagos finches are famous….two different finches within the same species living in two different climates learn to eat and function in different ways. At the end of the day, they are still finches, they never stop being birds, but one finch, I believe in Africa, dies off when the weather and vegetation is no longer harsh and desert like, while the South American finch will die when the vegetation and fruitful trees are gone. A good way to summarize this definition is “adaptation,” changing to survive.
The first two definitions are microevolution, so what is macroevolution?
Macroevolution, the final definition, is the idea that over a certain period of time, in certain circumstances, a species could go through a series of changes that enable it to become a different species.
There are many things wrong with this, but the main reason is actually my second and third points. I will simply name them and briefly describe, allowing you to do the research on your own.
Insufficient proof. Every idea, theory, and concept has to answer the question of proof; evolution is no exception. “Humans evolved from monkeys.” Okay, prove it!
The problem is this, there are two roots in their proof and both are insufficient. The first is the idea that because the first and second definitions of evolution are true, that is, microevolution, then the third is, by extension true. Why is this a problem? Because there are immeasurable amounts of proof on all levels for microevolution, but absolutely none that sustains the idea that one species can “evolve” into another.
But the fossil records are proof right? Well…no. In one of the articles on Stand to Reason (which I linked above), the author addresses this question, and I will paraphrase his answer as I understood it.
In order for the fossil records to be counted as proof of macroevolution, there would need to be records of fossils that show the original creature, the transformed creature, and (this part is key) the transitional stages from one organism to another…and we would need them in the thousands. That is something we don’t have, proof in the fossil records of macroevolution, and certainly not on a grand scale. What we do have: infinite proof of microevolution….infinite.
So why can’t the reality that microevolution is true be proof of macroevolution?
Mostly because the jump between microevolution and macroevolution are huge, and that’s a pretty big gap to gloss over. This is like saying Captain Kirk and the Enterprise are real because there was a show about it in the 60s. (I’m sorry, its the best example I could think of at the time…) The reason we believe that each aspect of microevolution is true is because each aspect has proof, endless proof, that sustains it. Once again, we don’t have this proof for macroevolution.
Unfortunately. Most of the time, evolution on all three definitions is used so interchangeably, you’ll have to listen to the context in which its being used in order to decide whether or not you should be concerned. If its microevolution, then you can rest a bit easier and examine the claims, but if its macroevolution in the guise of microevolution, be on alert, and as always, ASK questions.
I hope this has been helpful in some way, and I apologize if I offended any Trekkies out there. I have a soft spot in my heart for the enterprise…don’t tell my mother!
My hope, however, is that you all will really read the resources I have provided, and, if you’re an over achiever, or have other questions, research on your own. I also encourage you to ask questions here. I may not have the answers, but I am willing to do a bit of research on the topic. My goal for this post, and others within this category (and really the blog as a whole) is not to change your mind, but to challenge it in a productive way. I want to be a good thinker, and a good skeptic–one that is searching actively for truth, but rests when its found. I am posting this to help aid your thought process, question asking, and because, mostly, I found the answer to my question, or if not, then a good resource that gave me a clear direction.
I hope this makes sense.
Have a good one, and if you’re a college student…hang in there. Honestly, it’s worth the hard work and sacrifice.
See you all next post,