by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews)— Evolution theory is pervasive, prejudiced and pricey: its tentacles reach throughout society and the scientific community; it governs laboratory research and influences outcomes; it saps billions in tax dollars from a population that is 40 percent creationist.
These and other aspects of Darwinism underwent scrutiny at Truett-McConnell College's 2nd Annual Genesis Lectures, Feb. 16.
Led by three Truett-McConnell professors -- two of whom graduated from Harvard University -- the Genesis Lectures explored evolution's multi-faceted consequences. The professors deciphered prevailing myths and beliefs about evolution and noted why Christians should be both concerned and informed. The professors concluded their remarks with a question and answer session* with TMC students.
Bob Bowen -- assistant professor of biology -- recounted his freshman year biology course, where his "indoctrination into the evolutionary clique began." An agnostic at the time, Bowen said the belief that "evolution is the unifying theme of biology" was a fine idea and "the lack of discourse of all other alternatives" did not bother him.
After graduating from Northern Michigan University, where he became a Christian, Bowen worked in a research lab and began to "question evolution's god-like reign atop the altar of science," he said. However, to secure his career and please grant reviewers, Bowen had to view data through an evolutionary lens and form conclusions not found in the data. He considered the potential consequences of utilizing a paradigm that stressed a physiological system's current functional capacity, and not its biological history.
The consequences of his decision Bowen realized while working on a tax-funded grant from the National Institutes of Health. Though he followed scientific protocols, his study results were rejected. "I was chastised as a laboratory lunatic lacking the ability to perform my duties," said Bowen, who was told to repeat the process. After producing the same results, he was dismissed to another laboratory.
The root of the issue was never discussed, but retrospectively Bowen said, "God's hand was evident and his promise in Romans 8:28 was ever true."
Harvard graduate Kurt Wise followed Bowen's remarks, saying numerous polls contrast the 99 percent of scientists who are evolutionists and the 40 percent of Americans who are creationists.
Evolution is "nearly accepted universally as the way things came to be," said Wise, who is Science and Mathematics Department chair, professor of natural science, and director of TMC's Center for Creation Research.
"Evolutionary biology is not as monolithic an entity as most people believe on the outside. It is not proven. It's not even close to being well substantiated within that community. It's got problems," Wise commented later in the Q and A session.
Nonetheless, the scientific community treats evolution as monolithic because other ideas are not tolerated, some data is ignored, numerous research topics are not pursued, and all data is interpreted in the light of evolution, said Wise, who affirmed that "outside the science of evolution—even among other scientists outside evolutionary biology—there is panoply of myths of evolution."
Not grounded in science, many myths "are just plain wrong," Wise said.
For example, Darwin argued that most -- not necessarily all -- evolutionary change occurred by natural selection, something that has never been substantiated by evolutionary biology and is still debated in that field, Wise added. However, long ago, people outside evolutionary biology came to understand that over long periods of time, organisms have adapted to their environment.
That myth leads to another -- that evolution necessarily means improvement. But "evolutionary biologists would say that evolution doesn't equate progress and there is no morality associated with evolution," Wise said.
These myths surrounding evolution have dramatically affected humans through Social Darwinism. Though loose in its claims, Social Darwinism has been used to justify eugenics, racism, and Nazism.
Expounding on evolution and Social Darwinism, Harvard graduate Holly Haynes -- associate professor of behavior sciences -- connected the two concepts in terms of evolutionary psychology. Haynes stated that, when Darwin penned his studies of natural selection, the abolitionist movement in England was afoot.
"There was basically sustained racism through the society, and people were waiting for something that they could use to prove that there was differentiation between the races" and use it as a scientific defense for racism, Haynes said.
As a result, Social Darwinism was born; though it's not the base of evolution, society needed to attach itself to something in order to justify the racism of Jim Crow and Hitler's annihilation of the Jews, Haynes noted.
As for evolutionary psychology, Haynes deemed it "reductionist in terms of its understanding of evolution." There are two purposes for humans—to survive and to reproduce. This notion evokes the parental investment theory, which states that men procreate only, and women their offspring because they already invested nine months. This becomes a loose interpretation of survival of the fittest, Haynes believes.
In addition, evolutionary psychology is criticized for taking the spiritual meaning out of life. Citing Jeremiah 29:11, which states God's people particularly have a God-ordained purpose; Haynes added that, in evolutionary psychology there are no other purposes but to survive and reproduce; there is nothing else. Therefore, evolutionary psychology undermines Christian and religious values in general and becomes "a direct attack on anyone who is of faith, particularly the Christian faith," she said.
As a result, it subtly affirms that "you are the most important person in the world," Haynes added. It is a selfish proposition which differs from the message Christians have from "the God who created us, redeemed us, loved us," and affirms that our life has meaning and purpose.
*Questions & Answers
If the rest of the world says evolution is right ... then does it really matter or if we choose creationism or a God-performed intelligent design?
"Just because most people don't believe something doesn't make it false. The fact is the Bible indicates that God created and I would argue, too, that evolution is not true based upon that same truth, the claims of Scripture. So, that makes it true. If the entire world is against us, so be it. That doesn't affect the conclusion.... "Does it really matter what position you take? Yes, if the Bible matters to you. The Scripture makes it very clear that he created the way he created, when he created. And the truth of those claims in Genesis is foundational to theological truths throughout scripture. The fact that God started this Bible with that account of creation is important. Everything is based upon this, and you could live a schizophrenic life and believe that he created one way, but then the rest of the Bible is correct. It's just that first part that's goofed up a little bit. But, if we're going to be consistent and properly utilize the Word of God and believe it in its entirety, we must embrace the idea that God created as he described in Genesis. Just a few thousand years ago, he created humans as humans, already fully developed with language, in fact, more intelligent than us; we've been decreasing in capability since creation, not increasing. Organisms are in worse shape now than they were when they were initially created. God created them in perfect harmony. They are not in harmony today." -- Kurt Wise
All three panelists answered the following question:
How does creation fit better in our everyday life when we might have different opinions of how to live? So, the basic question is, so what?
"For me, the reason it's not just 'so what' is that being created in God's image, we have to preserve life and we have to appreciate life. We also had a man die on a cross, and if he gave me his life, I can give him my career, and I can give him my obedience. An evolutionary worldview doesn't sanctify life. It doesn't hold those core values that Christ held, so I'm going to give him his due." -- Bob Bowen
"Every evolutionary biologist I knew of agrees on this one point: Even though they think it works in biology, they do not dare follow an evolutionary biology approach to ethics. It is not at all acceptable to live or the preserve your genes at the expense of everyone else -- to fight everyone in the world, to be the best and to eliminate everybody else. They are horrified by it. That's an indication of how horrible the concept is. In contrast, we have a God who gave himself for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. That truth is compelling. That truth is a good reason to live by the ethics that Scripture advocates rather than the ethics that would be implied by evolutionary theory." -- Kurt Wise
"I think it applies directly to your lives because we are Christians and we desire to live for the Lord. Part of this discussion is also about what you do. Now that we've told you this is a dominant worldview and the rest of the culture lives by this, you should be the salt and light of the world. You essentially are going to take this into your classroom, and you should understand your purpose in that you were created to praise him through your work. He has ordained your life for a purpose that is very important. And that no matter what someone says, God knows the end and he knows what your purpose is. This is a very important message for you all who are struggling to find out what your vocations and your call on life. This is something that you should hold to because the world will give you several images of why you can just live anyway that you want to but do remember, God has a purpose, he has a plan, and he paid a radical sacrifice for your life." -- Holly Haynes.
Vicky Kaniaru is senior writer at Truett-McConnell College.
On the cover: Photography and graphical design by Carrie Ann Sienkiewicz.