Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Walton Game 2

(7th post in a series)

In the last post, we began a game of "What he said/What he should have said" as a way of identifiying misconceptions about science reflected in the new book by Old Testament professor John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One. Today, we have a few more to deal with, so here we go...

What he said:
Biological evolution is an empirically derived model...
What he should have said:
Modern biological evolution is a paradigm that runs counter to all of the relevant empirical evidence. It survives nonetheless because it offered a speculation that allowed science to break free from the theism that provided the assumptions that make science worthwhile. Darwin's empirical predictions failed, and whereas there was plenty of evidence against his theory then, matters have only gotten worse. As such, biological evolution is not an empirically derived model so much as a metaphysical claim with no basis in fact.
What he said:
If public education is committed to the idea that science courses should reflect only empirical science...
What he should have said:
Public education is not committed to the idea that science courses should reflect only empirical science. Hence biological evolution is allowed to be taught as fact despite its utter lack of empirical support (see "what he should have said" responses both above and below).
What he said:
Evolution represents the current scientific consensus to explain the many observations that have been made in paleontology, genetics, zoology, biochemistry, ecology, and so on.
What he should have said:
Evolutionary theory depends upon ignoring or trying to explain away the observations from virtually every field of science. These include the following fields:

Paleontology, in which the fossil record argues against Darwin's theory. This was true in his day, but he thought further digging would change that. Instead, we now know that every life form in the fossil record appears suddenly and fully formed, and does not change throughout its tenure on Earth. We also know that the "inconceivably great" number of transitional forms postulated by Darwin remain missing after 150 years of searching for them.

Genetics, which has singularly failed to explain what Darwin meant to explain--the difference between living things. Given this failure, scientists committed to evolution have sought to use genetic similarity as evidence for their theory. This is either disingenuous or ignorant on their part, since the similarities among groups of living things have been known and understood since long before Darwin (and are just as easily explained by a monotheistic understanding of the world).

Zoology, in which (as Philip Skell points out), "Evolution is not an observable characteristic of living organisms. What modern experimental biologists study are the mechanisms by which living organisms maintain their stability, without evolving."

Biochemistry, a discipline undreamed of in Darwin's day. At that time, the cell was considered a simple blob of jelly, and thus the gap between non-living chemistry and the first cell was thought to be a simple thing to bridge. We now know that every single living cell is an inconceivably complex entity and that the simplest free-living cell contains a minimum of 1000 different proteins or gene products. It is extremely unlikely that Darwin would have advanced his theory had he had any inkling of the complexity revealed by modern biochemical evidence.

Astronomy, which has demonstrated that--contrary to Darwin's understanding of an eternal, static universe--the universe began a mere 13.7 billion years ago. Mathematicians recognize this finding as fatal to Darwin's theory (or any other naturalistic theory for life's diversity).

Physics, which has demonstrated a level of design (for life) in the universe that makes all naturalistic explanations--for life support, let alone the origin and diversity of life--ludicrous.

Here's the problem... Thirty (maybe even just twenty) years from now, no one but a few professors emeritus will still believe in any kind of Darwinian evolution. There is far too much evidence against it, and people--even biologists--are starting to realize it. The manner of its defense betrays evolution as a paradigm in its death throes. Its defenders spend their time seeking to silence opposing views rather than appealing to evidence or engaging the theory's detractors in honest, open discussion.

Given all that, neither the church nor the culture at large needs well-meaning Bible scholars making uninformed apologetic overtures on behalf of a scientific view that lacks any real merit. I believe that there is some validity in Walton's thesis that we should better understand the functional way in which Genesis 1's original readers might have viewed the world. But rather than write page after page of absurdity about science and science education, he would have done well to make a much stronger case (if it could be done, which I doubt) for his radical idea that there is no material component to the Genesis 1 account.

1 comment:

Jordan said...

I noticed that all of your "What he should have said" are a lot longer than the "What he said" :-) Perhaps some of the problem is people seem to just gloss over the "obviousness" of modern biological evolution so often.