BY PAUL SOON, TCNJ PROTESTANT BIBLE FELLOWSHIP OUTREACH COORDINATOR
Before the average reader reads the title and brands this article as some fairy tale written by some hick from the woods, please consider the appropriate background. Contrary to popular belief, all Creationists are not logically-impaired, reason-deprived, brainwashed zombies. We’re academics. So before you brand me as someone not familiar with the scientific method or empirical studies, keep in mind that I am actually a biology major. Or if you prefer to preclude Creationism as an antiquated philosophical system, please keep in mind that I am also a philosophy major. The point is not to flaunt credentials, but to illustrate the most important point about Creationism or naturalism (the idea that life arose out of only natural causes without divine intervention), that people in both camps are intelligent, analytical, but far too often perilously closed-minded. The most important thing is to approach both sides with an open-minded, scientific mindset, forsaking the burning urge to label our opponents. I write this piece partially as a student of biology, partially as a student of philosophy, partially as a theologian, but most importantly as a fellow TCNJ student.
So first of all, as an unashamed Creationist I do not pretend that evolution has no evidence, nor do I think that all who believe in evolution are close-minded God-haters. As a student of biology I am well acquainted with many of the arguments for evolution and admit they can be convincing. However, in my opinion they are not enough. Two broad camps exist in this debate: Evolution vs. Creationism. However, more broadly, the camps of Naturalism vs. God-believing are created. Above all my intellectual might, I believe in Creationism because I believe that the Word of God is true. This is where your adrenaline pumps up and the temptation to brand this article as the work of a Bible-thumper shoots up precipitously. So don’t worry – I’m a science student too. Above any science, above any philosophy, above any popular fad of mankind I believe that God holds the truth. Even before any scientific or philosophical argument, I confidently reject naturalism on the simple self-evident assumption that humanity is more than just chemicals. It is something sacred. Some might take exception to that statement, and I will accept arguments on one condition: That you are a strict vegan. Anyone who is not a strict vegan willingly accepts the assumption that our lives are worth more than any other quantitative life. If you believe in evolution you must reconcile the idea that humans are different than other life with the idea that, well, we’re no different from other life. If you believe in evolution you must accept that humans are nothing more than very advanced animals, nothing more than the most finely-tuned genetically regulated product of nature. You must accept that humanity has no intrinsic rights or value above that which is granted by evolution.
That proposition leads to some serious problems. One is the problem of the normativity of ethics. Normative ethics supposes that ethics has the power to deem whether acts are wrong or right. If ethics are not normative then it can be said that murder results in death, but it cannot be said that murder is wrong. I don’t know about you, but I believe that murder is intrinsically wrong. If you believe that humans are the products of evolution you must find a convincing entity that has the authority to administer right and wrong. We can do this with various philosophical theories but these can run into problems. Utilitarianism has no need for God. Yet philosophical theories of ethics that do not rely on God run into problems, such as “Why should we listen to your system of right and wrong?” Utilitarianism itself creates certain ethical dilemmas such as, it is okay to cheat on your boyfriend or girlfriend as long as they don’t find out, it doesn’t hurt your relationship, and total happiness is increased. Now I believe that most of you would believe cheating is inherently bad (what I mean is that if you found out that your significant other was cheating on you would feel deeply hurt and feel wronged.) Now as someone who would prefer not getting cheated on (as I am sure you are as well) I believe in a normative, objective system of ethics. Evolution has no rules save one. Survival of the fittest. Sounds altruistic to you, no? Actually I can think of few things less altruistic than survival of the fittest. It appears rather intuitive that evolution by survival of the fittest would preclude the existence of morality as we know it, a morality where sacrificing for others is praised and being selfish is denounced. So how then could a normative objective ethical theory evolve through evolution? I believe that an ethical theory that is the product of evolving from survival of the fittest to be a system most bereft of any morals at all. But some scientists have proposed a system where altruism may have been introduced through evolution. This is where I will finally turn to science.
Evolution is the selection of traits that give a population reproductive advantage. So if a new trait is introduced into a population of organisms it can be ether beneficial, neutral, or deleterious to the reproduction of the population. So if some organism exhibits a trait that gives them an advantage they survive, reproduce and pass on their traits. Evolutionists surmise that because altruism is beneficial to a population it was selected for and not against. Possible, perhaps. But how does this work? If one has a trait which causes them to be self-sacrificial (altruistic) it may be good for the population if they sacrifice their life for the good of the population, but how does that sacrificial individual pass on their traits if they are well, dead. Doesn’t work too good. The only way that altruistic traits could be selected for if evolution somehow knew that those traits were good and thoughtfully selected them. Any science teacher worth their salt will say that evolution doesn’t know anything, it has no mind! But I have several times sat through class hearing the teacher proclaim, “It’s remarkable, it’s as if evolution knew this would be beneficial!” This is one of my major gripes about evolution. There is considerable circumstantial evidence that organisms may have evolved from each other. However, scientists have no clue how it happened, just that it appears to have happened.
Take for example, sexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is easy, clean, and pretty safe. You live so why not make more of you. Most bacteria utilize asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction is a totally different beast. Sexual reproduction is risky (might not have mates!), costly (more energy used than asexual), and dangerous (deadly if you’re eaten!). Now we know that sexual reproduction is an essential component of evolution, in that it increases genetic variation. But how did sexual reproduction arise? As aforementioned, the world of sexual reproduction can be a scary thing! (I’m talking about microscopic organisms and the origin of sexual reproduction, not humans, although I’m sure it might also ring true to us geeks who are awkward with the opposite sex). In early organisms sexually reproduction should have been selected against. Yes, it’s useful for future explanations but who would know that? The only explanation is that somehow evolution knew that sexual reproduction would be useful in the future and made the sacrifices to create it. But evolution doesn’t know anything!
One more example, and this one isn’t just one I created. Creationists call it irreducible complexity. The basic premise is this: all organisms, even to the simplest cellular level, are extraordinarily complex. Without getting into the specifics (that’s the pain of biology majors), the idea is that things are so amazingly complex that if just one thing went wrong the entire organism might die. There is only one right way for biological complexes to work, but billions of wrong ways. Irreducible complexity states that in light of the aforementioned statements, it seems exceedingly unlikely and probably impossible for evolution to create such complex structures. Take for example the origin of life. “Simple” life is really, really, complex. For basic life, DNA, RNA, proteins, nucleotides, and thousands of enzymes are needed. Each protein is coded for by thousands of “letters” of DNA. If only four or five of those letters are incorrect, the protein would almost certainly be doomed. So how in the world could primordial soup somehow create such stunning complexity? Most likely it can’t. Evolution must have somehow known what complexity to make.
Evolution works best (or in my opinion at all) if it is directed by some all knowing being. If you believe in evolution you must exhibit remarkable faith in the possible explanations of how certain things evolve. Evolution must be a powerful force indeed if it can know how to direct organisms’ evolution and has the power and creativity to craft complex structures out of nothing. So if you believe that evolution is so powerful and so wise, then I think that it makes perfect sense for evolution to be your God. You must have faith that evolution is so knowledgeable as to create us.