Sunday, July 22, 2007

Evolution Happens

Understanding the difference between micro- and macro-evolution is a frequent point of confusion for Christians and non-Christians alike. Micro-evolution involves the adaptations and changes within a species, while macro-evolution is the addition of new traits or a transition to a new species (e.g. fish sprouting legs to eventually become land-dwelling creatures).

Micro-evolution is a fact that is plainly observable throughout nature and nothing in the Bible would contradict micro-evolution. The issue of concern for many Christians, however, are the verses in Genesis 1 and 2 which seem to indicate God's direct intervention to form new species, including humanity. For this reason, I would argue that macro-evolution does not appear to be compatible with Scripture.

The classic example of micro-evolution are the finches (small birds) Darwin studies on the Galapagos islands off the coast of South America. Christians make the point that although Darwin observed many different kinds of finches with different sorts of beak sizes and shapes, they were all still finches. They hadn't "evolved" into something else.

Anyways, there is another good example of this issue in the news this week.
Evolution Occurs in the Blink of an Eye
By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Staff Writer
posted: 12 July 2007 02:05 pm ET

A population of butterflies has evolved in a flash on a South Pacific island to fend off a deadly parasite.

The proportion of male Blue Moon butterflies dropped to a precarious 1 percent as the parasite targeted males. Then, within the span of a mere 10 generations, the males evolved an immunity that allowed their population share to soar to nearly 40 percent—all in less than a year.

“We usually think of natural selection as acting slowly, over hundreds or thousands of years," said study team member Gregory Hurst, an evolutionary geneticist at the University College London. "But the example in this study happened in a blink of the eye, in terms of evolutionary time."

The real controversy between creationists (I prefer to call them "interventionists") and evolutionists is whether examples of micro-evolution that have been observed in nature are adequate enough to extrapolate into providing incontroverable support for macro-evolution. Evolutionists don't tend to make a distinction between the two, while creationists (or interventionists) would classify this butterfly adaptation as micro-evolution, but would say that this does little to prove the veracity of macro-evolution.

That being said, I'm not one of those Christians who gets into name-calling about evolution. I disagree with it. I think that the secular version of evolution has some rather troubling worldview implications which directly contradict the Christian worldview. But I think it does not show the world that Christians are loving when we engage in discussions about evolution that cast dispersions on people who hold to that point of view. Very, very few evolutionists are ardent atheists who hold the view for philosophical reasons.

1 comment:

bethyada said...

While you are generally correct about the difference between macro- and micro-evolution, the disagreement is not really about whether the extrapolations are valid (though the degree of extrapolation is preposterous), it is the nature of the change. So things that come under the guise of microevolution (changing allelic frequency, gene duplication, mutation) are information losing changes. And one can't make gains if every change is a loss.

Information losing is not the same as whether or not a change is beneficial for the organism. Information loss if beneficial for survival may be selected for naturally, or beneficial for man, selected for intentionally.

You may not wish to get into name-calling about evolution but the evolutionists are frequency happy to equivocate to suit their philosophy.

Very, very few evolutionists are ardent atheists who hold the view for philosophical reasons.

More to the point: all ardent atheists hold to evolution for philosophical reasons.