The news lately has included stories of a startling discovery, the fossil of a creature named Tiktaalik Roseae, and nicknamed the Fishapod. It is supposed to have lived about 375 million years ago. It is a fish with fingers and other features found in land animals. It is hailed by TIME magazine (April 17, 2006) as a missing link and more evidence for the evolutionists in their debate with “creationists and other anti-evolutionists.” It was gracious of the magazine to refer to the conflict as a debate. It seems that most of the secular press sees no debate here; it was over long ago. The TIME report is followed by a brief article entitled “Darwin Would Have Loved It.”
I do not wish to enter into the evolution debate with scholars on both sides, most of whom are much more learned than I am, but I believe that some issues and questions need to be addressed and, hopefully, clarified.
1. The Age of the Earth. Current scientific theory puts the beginning of the universe about 13½ billion years ago, the beginning of the earth about 4½ billion, and the beginnings of life about ½ billion years ago. The Bible says that the heavens and the earth were created in 6 days, about 6,000 years ago. Even allowing a few thousand more years due to gaps in the biblical genealogies, we still have a great difference. There are many theories or hypotheses suggested by those who desire to be both scientific and biblical. Usually they boil down to either a totally literal reading of Genesis 1, with a rewriting of most modern science, or a reading of Genesis 1 as symbolism.
2. Teleology, the Theory of Purpose. The evolutionist seems to believe that evolution has a purpose, that life is driven in some way to evolve. But natural selection and the survival of the fittest, would seem to me to imply that there is some selector, some person or thing that determines which forms are the fittest. Did life in its nearly infinite variations simply happen? The evolutionist doesn’t believe so. It would seem that even the idea of evolution demands some great force (or Force) driving the process. It would seem to me that the evolutionist needs God for his theory to work (as well as for other reasons).
3. Intelligent Design. Secular thinking sees this concept as just a form of “creationism,” with a different name, snuck in by religious bigots. But the claims of Intelligent Design are that there are aspects of nature inexplicable by evolution. The cell is a “perfect machine” in that it has no parts that are redundant or lacking. There are no “transitional forms.” Of course, to the believer in God, this is obvious, even though his/her scientific knowledge may be lacking. If God is an intelligent being, then His designs would be intelligent. For one to say he believes in both God and evolution is one thing, to say one believes in God, but not in Intelligent design is another. Is the universe the product of “unintelligent design”?
4. The Genesis Account. No matter what one’s interpretation of the first few chapters of the Bible, for the Christian there are, as I see it, three non-negotiables:
-- “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This universe, the earth and all the life on it are the work of God. John 1:1-3, 14, add to our knowledge that the Creator is the same Person who later “became flesh” and walked on the earth that He had created.
-- God put limits on reproduction. The creatures in the water, as well as birds, cattle, beasts, are all said to be “after their kind” (Genesis 1:21, 24, 25). The word translated “kind” is used again in Leviticus 11, to designate the “kinds” of animals that the Jewish people were allowed to eat. It would seem that even if evolution was part of God’s plan, He put boundaries on it. All life is not inter-related.
-- Man is unique. Man (male and female) was created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26, 27). He was formed “of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Though humans may share most of their DNA with other creatures, they are not simply animals.
My personal feeling is that we (Christians) ought to confine our arguments to these 3 non-negotiables and not to waste too much time arguing with secular evolutionists about the other details.