Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What's Your Question Wednesday

T, a university science professor in Virginia, wants to know:
I think I understand -- and agree with -- your points [in the blog description above] up until that last one. Would you please clarify your understanding of "Neo-Darwinian evolution" and the specifics of how science is proving it "doesn't work"?
Here is a highly simplified (but I think accurate) summary of the key ideas of the naturalistic version of Darwinian evolution (from Jonathan Wells):

1. Descent from common ancestry
2. Natural processes (such as chance, genetics, environmental pressure, or mutations) + time (or multiple universes)

"Neo-Darwinism" is the modern version of Darwinian evolutionary theory. Darwin didn't completely understand the mechanism behind "natural selection". Then, in the early part of the 20th century, it was suggested that genetics could be the driving force which facilitated evolutionary changes. Neo-Darwinism basically brings together classical Darwinism with genetics.

As far as specifics about how science is proving it "doesn't work", I'd refer you to the list of resources on the right hand side of my blog, under "Creation vs. Evolution" and "Life on Other Planets?" I'm not a scientist so I'm not going to try and defend the problems with neo-Darwinism. But I do think that the books listed there make a pretty compelling, scientifically and biblically responsible case which at least deserves to be considered.

Here are a couple other resources that you may find helpful:
- Reasons To Believe web site
- Creation Update webcast (The show takes live calls on Tuesdays from 11 AM to 1 PM, Pacific Time. So, if you have specific questions, call and talk to a scientist!)

That being said, I have decided to rework the text in the header a little bit so it doesn't come on quite so strong. Hopefully this will help decrease the confusion.

Also, I do want to point out (again) that there are genuine Christians who hold to theistic (God-guided) evolution. A few of the most prominent include:

- Francis Collins
- Francisco Ayala
- Simon Conway Morris

I hope that helps you, T. Keep sending me those questions!


Anonymous said...

"Unguided natural processes (i.e. chance or genetics) + time"

Respectfully, this is the point that evolutionary theorists wholly disagree with. I have never met an evolutionary theorist (or neo-Darwinist, as you might call them) who believes evolution is "unguided" and just "chance."

While any given mutation, a change in some gene, is a random change, the pressures on the organism (whether animal or plant) with that mutation are not random. Most mutations are harmful, which wouldn't matter in a purely random, chance, world. But in a world with selective pressures, those harmful mutations are likely to kill off that organism before it reproduces and passes on that mutation. So harmful mutations are non-randomly selected against.

A beneficial mutation will help an animal survive until reproductive age, or in some other way increase its liklihood of successful reproduction, which will pass that mutation on to the next generation. So beneficial mutations are non-randomly selected for.

The "random chance" argument is the one that perpetually leads evolutionary theorists to argue that creationists don't actually understand evolution. If you would recognize that the process is not random, and work from there, they might have to listen more carefully to you.

James Hanley
Adrian, MI

Anonymous said...

Isn't this covered in the word "genetics"? The post didn't say that all evolution was done by "chance". Just that some of it might be. But genetics and other factors could also play a role, such as environmental pressure.