Recently I attended a debate on the topic, “Should Christians trust Darwinism?” Representing the Intelligent Design side was probably its most well known defender, Dr. Stephen Meyer. Representing the Theistic evolution side was Dr. Karl Giberson, who has written extensively on the topic as well.
The debate was very good, each side representing their positions in a capable way. All in all I think Dr. Meyer won the debate, though that was largely due to his greater charisma and debate experience.
The debate prompted a lot of thought for me. This topic used to be my big issue and I gobbled down tons of books from all perspectives for a few years. As worldview comes in so clearly in this topic there tend to be many arguments riddled with cliche terms and arguments that don’t really connect with the target audience. So I really appreciated learning some new things and hearing some new perspectives at this debate.
Here are some thoughts prompted by the debate.
There are massive worldview issues underneath each camp in the creation/evolution debate. To not deal with these presuppositions is to miss the most important issue in the debate. I am taking for granted a young earth view of the scriptures as I believe that is the proper interpretation. The point of this article is not to challenge the presuppositional nature of the debate, but to point out the weaknesses and strengths the various movements have as they have approached the raw data with their theories.
In every field of science there are theories that are debated. The method that is used to determine the acceptance of a particular theory is to ask how much of the raw data we have is explained by this particular theory. We have multitudes of little facts about our world that need to fit into a theory. For instance, the fact that we can get in a plane and around the world is deemed to be a strong argument against the flat earth theory. That theory cannot interpret the raw data we see in a consistent way. Thus it falls. In the area of creation/evolution as well, there are theories proposed and each of them have their strengths and weaknesses.
The view of common descent held by neo-darwinism has been around for several hundred years. I could be mistaken, but as I understand it, neo-darwinism began with the finding of the DNA code by Crick and Watson in the 50’s. This revolutionized evolutionary biology. But all the same the basic premises of the theory have been around for several hundred years with more or less acceptance within the scholarly fields. Darwinism has had time to develop a clear cut theory of how things came to be. The sheer weight of the volumes that have been written applying this theory to the data we see in nature is astounding.
On the other hand the Intelligent Design movement does not have a theory to apply to the data. There is very little consensus amongst this movement over what actually happened. What they do share in common is a distrust of the Neo-evolutionary paradigm. And in that one area they are very strong. Their critiques of darwinism are, in my humble opinion, shattering. But, as they have not proposed a theory of their own (amongst other presuppositional reasons) their cries have gone unnoticed and the army of evolutionary scientists just moves on to damage repair.
And then we have the Creationism movement. They have a theory to propose but have a long, long way to go in working out the kinks and applying this theory to the data. The modern movement itself is only 60-70 years old and has been plagued with the normal issues new movements face; lack of direction, lack of deep thorough thinking about the relevant data and much infighting. Because of these issues and presuppositional differences the modern scientific community scoffs at the YEC movement. We are beginning to see, however, changes in the movement and attempts to be systematic, to work out solid models and to apply those to the data.
I am a young earther. This is because I think this is the natural reading of many biblical texts. Yet, I still think the YEC movement is riddled with issues and I disagree with a lot of their “scientific” argumentation. There are many areas we need to work hard on.
As I see it, the darwinist camp has a several hundred year jump on us on working out the kinks and working thru the data. We are the young David marching on to the field to face off with the huge Goliath. The giant has been dealt a death blow by the ID crowd and he is teetering. But there is some fight left in him. We have a long ways to go.