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"Stand up straight!" This is an admonition that parents often bestow on their young children. Why is standing up straight a reasonable request? Is standing up straight a capability granted to us six thousand years ago or is it an achievement that took us a hundred thousand years or more to learn?
If the hundred-thousand-year figure is the more accurate, would that necessarily mean that a deliberate, creative force was not involved? If these questions are interesting, please read on.
Occasionally, some people are discussing religion when someone approaches and asks, "What about evolution?" On other occasions, another group is discussing evolution when someone comes along and asks, "What about the Bible and creation?" In each case, the person who approaches wishes to squelch the ongoing discussion.
Although they are on opposite sides of the discussion, the two hypothetical latecomers believe in the same premise, namely that creation and evolution are incompatible notions. Only in the application of that premise do the two differ in their thinking.
The first person might say: “There is evolution; therefore, there is no creation”. The second person might say: “There is creation; therefore, there is no evolution”.
We can fault neither person on their logic if the premise is correct. However, the author's intends to show that it is not correct. Indeed, this book characterizes all purported contradictions between evolution and creation as absurdities.
Many people believe in both creation and evolution. Unfortunately we usually sit back, smug or amused, and rarely enter the discussion. However, it truly is not funny.
Some people restrict their religious experience because of their scientific beliefs. Others restrict their scientific experience because of their religious beliefs.
The argument wastes a great deal of time and energy. Now, better than seven decades after the famous monkey trial, it has grown tiresome. It is time for the argument to go away.
People fall into four logically distinct schools of thought: In category C are those who believe in creation, but not evolution. Those in category E believe in evolution, but not creation. Those in category B believe in both. Finally in Category N are those who believe in neither. The diagram illustrates the situation.
All categories are populated, even Category N. This category consists of people who are not receptive to either creation and evolution.
Category N includes the Raelians, who believe the human race had its origin in extraterrestrials that visited here in the distant past. In the same category are the Panspermians who believe in what they call, cosmic origins. (Having acknowledged the existence of its supporters, we will discuss category N no further.)
The title of this book says that it is OK to believe in both creation and evolution. It is important that the author explain what he means by, OK. He means that one can believe in both creation and evolution without logical contradiction.
However, please note that he is not telling anyone that they must believe in both. Many in categories, C and E say that their religious or evolutionary beliefs prevent them from accepting the other's viewpoint. The author respects their beliefs although he laments their conclusions.
To proceed, we need some definitions. It is logical to start with the words, creation and evolution.
Creation is making something out of nothing. Commonly, it is the belief that God made the universe.
Biological Evolution is a gradual change in biological life forms that occurs through small (and sometimes larger) discrete steps. A specific facet of this belief is that higher forms of life, including humans, descended from lower forms.
(The definition of evolution is deliberately broad. It includes, but is not specific, to a recent school of thought, termed Neodarwinism. The possibility exists that Neodarwinism is defective while the broader definition is correct. In any case, it is neither useful nor necessary to insist on a more narrow definition.)
To uncover more terms and definitions, we must first observe that there are two theories of evolution. One is a science and the other is a religion. (The author accepts the science, but he personally rejects evolution religion.)
The two theories differ in their answer to the following question: Exactly how does evolution take place? The religion of evolution says that evolution is happenstance. The science of evolution correctly says that it is apparently happenstance. The difference is critically important.
Evolutionary changes occur during submicroscopic events that we are unable to investigate with complete certainty (even if we knew when and where to look). No scientific instrument can tell us whether these events are truly happenstance or only apparently so.
This leaves open the possibility that the guiding hand of a creator is active, but not observable, during these events. (We will discuss this in greater detail in Chapter Four.)
It logically follows that, if there is an agent of change, He exists in a domain that is not scientifically observable. Science does not and cannot decide whether He exists. If He exists, He is outside the domain of our science.
Thus, the science of evolution is completely neutral in the religious sense. People who believe in creation should have no more apprehension about accepting the science than non believers do.
However, if believers come along and associate evolution with Divine Plan, we are exercising our faith. We cannot prove it any more than others can disprove it.
Some believers in creation argue with the previous paragraphs. They assert that the Book of Genesis tells us that evolution did not happen.
Others, including the author, respectfully disagree. We say that Genesis does not deny the science of evolution. In fact, some (not necessarily the author) say that it affirms it. We will pursue that notion in greater detail in Chapter Two.
From this point forward we will refer to all who believe in God and creation as, believers. Those believers who also believe that Genesis contradicts evolution, we will call creation fundamentalists. Obviously not all believers are creation fundamentalists.
Some creation fundamentalists embrace what they call, creation science. It is an attempt to use science to prove creation and/or disprove evolution. In the author's opinion this is a bad marriage between science and religion. Logically we term those who embrace creation science, creation scientists.
Just as there is creation science, there is also evolution religion. This is the other theory of evolution that was mentioned above. This requires some elaboration.
Accordingly, let us look at the belief that evolutionary events are truly happenstance. This denies the possibility of influence from outside the physical domain. No one can prove such a belief and it therefore fits the broadest definition of religion. Religion is a belief in something that cannot be proved by direct observation, or by scientific investigation.
The author also considers evolution religion a bad marriage between science and religion. A formal definition follows:
The First Precept of Evolution Religion declares that evolution is truly happenstance and it therefore, rules out the possibility of any action, past or present, by a creator.
This book will refer to people who embrace evolution religion as evolution fundamentalists for reasons explained in the next section. (There is also a Second Precept of Evolution Religion, which emerges in Chapter Seven. )
Let us observe that Charles Darwin is the father of evolution science and that Thomas Huxley is the father of evolution religion. It was Huxley who artificially superimposed an atheistic materialism on the theory of evolution. Thus, he confused many believers and non believers alike about the true nature of evolution.
This began the bogus conflict that continues to this day. The author, therefore, has a quarrel with Huxley, not with Darwin.
We noted earlier that not all who believe in creation are creation fundamentalists. Similarly, we must acknowledge that not all who believe in evolution are evolution fundamentalists. However, it is possible to embrace both. Huxley and others have been both evolution scientists and evolution fundamentalists.
(Huxley participated in many legitimate scientific endeavors. We must give credit where credit is due, and blame where blame is due. Historical accuracy requires a further comment. While the atheistic community warmly received Huxley's ideas, Huxley, himself, professed to be agnostic.)
Both the creation-only and evolution-only people have strongly-held fundamental beliefs. Above, we spoke of two species of fundamentalists: evolution fundamentalists, and creation fundamentalists. At this point, formal definitions are in order:
A Creation Fundamentalist is one who believes that creation precludes the possibility of evolution. The belief is based on perceived contradictions between evolution and the literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.
(Note that the term, creation fundamentalist, is not synonymous with the term, Christian fundamentalist. A creation fundamentalist may be either Christian or non Christian.)
An Evolution Fundamentalist is one who believes in evolution and further believes that neither the initiation of first life, nor the continuing processes of evolution, have causes that are other than happenstance.
(Some evolution fundamentalists take a further step. They take satisfaction, and even comfort, in what they perceive as errors and contradictions in the Book of Genesis. However, they gain that satisfaction and comfort only if they agree with creation fundamentalists that scriptures must be interpreted literally.)
The ongoing conflict is the subject of an essay posted on the internet by Frederick Turner. His title is, “The Phony War between Science and Religion over Evolution”. The war consists of harsh words, disputed viewpoints, and political activism. It is phony because there is no logical basis for the conflict.
If war is too drastic a term, then at the very least, the conflict is an exercise in futility. Activists, on either side, have made few, if any, converts from the other side over the years.
Both sides are responsible for prolonging the conflict. Creation fundamentalists should consider it sufficient to say they do not believe in evolution. When they pursue and embrace Creation Science, they only make themselves look foolish.
(An exception may occur when the person is astute enough to provide meaningful critical review of some aspect of evolution theory. Even here, it is better that the person be motivated by science, than by religion.)
People, who believe in evolution but not creation, are also to blame for prolonging the conflict. They should be content to defend evolution against Creation Science. If they do not believe in a creator, they should merely say so and leave it there.
An example of their not staying on message occurs in a FAQ at talk.origins. It provides an impressive and comprehensive defense of evolution theory against its detractors. However, the originators later degrade the document with a treatise on what they view as scriptural inconsistencies.
There is a tendency among both evolution-only and creation-only people to believe and assert that they have an absolute lock on the truth. Naturally the situation gives rise to unfriendly attitudes.
Some evolution people think that those who believe in creation are ignorant, or even downright stupid. If the reader does not believe this, read some signature lines that can be found in a newsgroup such as talk.origins.
On the other hand, some creation-only people think that those who believe in evolution are mean-spirited, or even downright evil. Some refer to evolution theorists as evil-utionists. That is not a slip of the tongue.
The author is not comfortable with such stereotypes for obvious reasons. Those who believe in both creation and evolution could then be called both ignorant and mean-spirited (and he does not want to encourage that :-).
Believing, or not believing, in evolution, is hardly the sieve of salvation. God may be disappointed if we do not believe in creation. However, believing in creation is not the same as disbelieving evolution.
Many who believe in evolution lead decent lives. Many who believe in creation lead hypocritical lives. Believing in evolution does not, in itself, make a person evil or smart. Believing in creation does not, in itself, make a person stupid or good.
Literal interpretation of scriptures has a latent flaw. No word or collection of words can be more important than the message they convey.
The message of the first chapter of Genesis is clear: God created the universe and He gave humans a special place in it. People have to agree that this is the sense of the message, even if they dispute the truth of the message.
Language is not an exact science. Language has serious deficiencies whether the words, themselves, are of human origin or of divine origin.
For example, the United States Constitution is a much shorter and more recent document than the Bible. It is rightly considered a masterpiece in its class. Yet we employ nine of the smartest people in the country, full time, to interpret it.
They often explore the intentions of the founders, as well as examining the words themselves. In spite of their intelligence and diligence, the nine often disagree among themselves.
Literal interpretation leads many people to believe that the Book of Genesis and the Theory of Evolution contradict each other. Let us explore how badly the two sources disagree. We can trace much of the conflict to a single word. It is the word, day.
Consider the following story. A man decides to build a small mountain cabin. So he enlists the help of a couple of friends and they draw up the plans.
On the first day, they put in the foundation. On the second day they put up the frame. On the third day they put on the roof. On the fourth day they complete the wiring and plumbing. On the fifth day they finish the walls. On the sixth day they put in the windows and doors.
On the seventh day they relax and break open the six-packs. At this point, it is quite correct to say that they completed the task in seven days (actually six but who's counting :-).
However, the elapsed time was several years. Due to work schedules the three men were unable to get up to the cabin more than once or twice a year. Nobody said that the seven days were consecutive and neither does the Book of Genesis.
One can easily believe that God created the primordial universe during a 24-hour period and then made mid-course corrections during five other 24-hour periods. The days could be millions, and in the earlier cases, billions, of years apart.
The author will not elaborate on this idea for two reasons: First, he does not have the 24-hour obsession. Secondly, he believes he has more interesting ways to look at creation in Chapters Two, Three, and Four.
Nevertheless, the story of the mountain cabin serves to show the absurdity of the 24-hour obsession. Many continue to fixate on seven consecutive, 24-hour periods.
Most creation-only people insist that the meaning of day is literal. Some evolution-only people also like the literal meaning. It provides them a basis for attacking Genesis.
Such is their counterfeit conflict. Deep down, many on both sides must realize that the basis of their argument is bogus.
However, neither side finds it acceptable to admit it. We are not witnessing an argument between science and religion. It is an argument between two religions. Unfortunately, arguments between religions are not always logical.
In this book we cannot prove either creation or evolution. Creation requires a leap to faith because no human was there to observe it. Evolution theory requires a leap to faith for much the same reason. We were not there to see most, if not all, of it happen.
Evolution is a theory because scientific proof requires observation in the field and repetition in the laboratory. Furthermore, both activities must be done under controlled conditions, established before the experiment begins. It is too late to do this for species, purported to have already evolved, including, of course, humans.
However, calling it, a theory, is not an insult. Many dramatic and ingenious experiments have verified Einstein's Special Relativity. Yet we still call it, the Theory of Special Relativity.
While there is no absolute proof, there is a large body of evidence that points to the truth of the science of evolution. At least, there is enough evidence to convince the author. We may sort the evidence into five categories.
(1) We can observe evolution in microorganisms. (2) We can observe small ongoing changes within sexually reproducing species. (3) Possibly we can observe the emergence of new species from sexually reproducing species. (4) There is the fossil record. (5) Increasingly, there is evidence from DNA.
Chapter Six discusses DNA evidence. Here, let us briefly discuss the first four pieces of evidence.
First, there are the changes that we observe in viruses, bacteria, and other tiny life forms that reproduce asexually. We know these changes (mutations) occur because the diseases they cause are becoming more resistant to antibiotics and other medicines. All reasonable people should believe in this kind of evolution. Further analysis of this subject appears in Chapter Seven.
Next consider the ongoing changes that occur within sexually reproducing species. The author recommends a book entitled, The Beak of the Finch [Beak], by Jonathan Wiener.
Mr. Wiener describes painstaking research into variations in finches that occur during natural selection. A person should have no trouble accepting natural selection. By a similar (but unnatural) selection process, we humans have made greyhounds, St. Bernards and Chihuahuas out of ancestral dogs.
Thirdly, consider the question whether any new sexually reproducing species have emerged in recent history? A well-presented FAQ on this subject may be found at the talk.origins web site. The [Beak] also describes how new, sexually reproducing species may evolve. Both references contain extensive bibliographies.
However, the author admits he has a problem with their definitions of species. Historically, people thought the differentiation between species depended on reproductive capabilities. If, and only if, two parents can produce fertile offspring, do the two parents belong to the same species.
The [Beak], in particular, diverges utterly from this notion and puts forth what may appear to be artificial boundaries between species. (An effect, but hopefully not the intention, of this is that the emergence of a new species is easier to demonstrate).
Nonetheless, this author is no expert on speciation and therefore must defer the definition to the evolution scientists. However, he has an admonition for them. Consider the definition very carefully (critical review of evolution theory is much too important to be left to the creation scientists :-).
The author personally finds the fossil record to be the most convincing evidence of evolution. This is in spite of the incompleteness of the record. The theory of evolution is not finished; it is a work in progress.
Lack of completeness should not be surprising; the fossil record has been under environmental assault for millions of years. The author would be suspicious if it were purported to be complete.
The purpose of this book does not require the author either to defend or to attack the science of evolution. This section has two purposes. (1) to provide, for whatever it is worth, the author's opinion of the evidence, and (2) to insist that (while the author accepts evolution science) reasonable people may not agree that evolution explains all biological diversity.
"How can this be?", the reader may ask, "Especially after we expected reasonable people to accept a certain amount of ongoing evolution." A possible explanation is that one may believe, as did Linnaeus, that there has been evolutionary drift since creation. (Linnaeus is identified in the Glossary.) As already stated, succeeding chapters explore other possibilities.
Above, the author has cited some references to evolution theory. In the interest of equal time, he will cite some references that dispute evolution. One reader suggested a website that is familiar to the author. A popular book is "Evolution, the Fossils Say No!" by Duane T. Gish, Ph.D..
These sources attack evolution in order to defend and promote creation. However, there are other books which defend religious faith and yet see harmony between faith and scientific endeavor. The author will also cite some of these. (They have, after all, a basic agreement with this book.)
One book is, "Beside Still Waters" [BSW], by Gregg Easterbrook. Another book of note is, "Genesis and the Big Bang"[G&BB], by Gerald L Schroeder. The latter is discussed in the next chapter.
A person can also find an enormous amount of material on the internet which spans all points of view. Invoke a search engine and specify, +evolution +creation. (However, one will encounter a wide variation in quality and credibility.)
The primary purpose of the book is to investigate our origins. Where did we come from? A secondary purpose is to investigate where we are going.
Do our origins offer any clues to the destiny of the human race? It is difficult to know the direction we are going, if we do not know where we have been.
In mathematics we learn that a direction (or vector) is defined by two points. The first point is the origin. The second point lies away from the origin in the direction that we are headed.
The easiest point to establish is the present condition of the human race. The future, of course, is unknown. The past, when we reach back before recorded history, is uncertain and the evolution versus creation conflict makes it more uncertain.
However, our only choice is to take the past as our origin and to take the present as our direction defining point. But again, how can we find our direction for sure if we do not know which happened, creation or evolution, or both? It would appear to make a huge difference.
The answer argued in this book may be surprising. It does not make as much difference as one might think! Creation and evolution, far from being contradictory, are surprisingly parallel notions.
Of course, it requires many instances to argue this. These arguments appear in later chapters and the results are summarized in Chapter Nine.
Parallel Notions are seemingly disparate ideas that inexorably lead us to similar conclusions.
The analysis of parallel notions requires a more general definition of the word, evolution. Nevertheless, we will retain the definition of biological evolution given in Section 1.1. Higher species, including humans, descended from lower species.
However, there are other kinds of evolution. Consider every event (big and small) that has ever occurred in the history of the universe. Collectively these events may be termed, cosmological evolution.
We may then focus on a small part of cosmological evolution. This consists of the events related to the formation and maturation of the earth. We may term these events, geological evolution. Then we may focus on a small part of geological evolution to arrive at the biological evolution already defined.
Finally, we may focus even more sharply. In Chapter six we will look at a tiny part of biological evolution, namely human social evolution.
Thus we have a hierarchy which we have arbitrarily divided into four regions: cosmological, geological, biological and social. We term it, general evolution. Running through the hierarchy is a historical path (or trajectory) that takes us from the beginnings of the universe to the present state of the human race.
Of course, some dispute that some, or all, parts of the general evolution trajectory really took place. Others dispute the possibility that the trajectory was influenced by a creator. Nevertheless, general evolution is a concept that will appear several times throughout this book.
Some further introductory remarks are in order. The author does not consider this to be a religious book. For the most part the scope is limited to the first chapter of Genesis and how it may relate to evolution. Consequently, the author does not seek an imprimatur or any other stamp of approval from a religious authority.
The author's use of the term, religion, refers to those religions whose scriptures include the Book of Genesis. Therefore, it includes the religion of the Torah, the Jewish religion. It includes the Christian New Testament religions.
Finally it includes those who believe that God found it necessary, or at least desirable, to send another prophet and write yet another testament. These include the Muslims and the Mormons.
There are admittedly two problems with this definition. First it leaves out the eastern religions. The author apologizes for this, but the Book of Genesis [KJV] is just as important to the ongoing debate as Darwin's, On the Origin of Species [Origin]. Also, he knows virtually nothing about the eastern religions; they surely would prefer to speak for themselves.
The second problem is that there are wide differences among the religions that the definition does include. For instance, one does not find many similarities between Muslims and Mormons beyond a classification scheme that counts the number of testaments in their scriptures.
Critics of religious beliefs often point to the wide differences and divisions among the religious faiths mentioned above. The Jewish religion has divided into Orthodox, Reformed, and Conservative congregations.
The Muslim religion has divided into Sunni and Shiite branches. Mormons have divided into the Salt Lake City and the Independence, Missouri affiliates. The New Testament religions have divided into Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox, with many further divisions among the Protestants.
The lack of unity, in the author's opinion, is a stronger argument against religion than evolution. However, while embarrassing, it is not a fatal argument.
One can argue that all religions cannot be right; but no one can use lack-of-unity to argue that all are wrong. And one absolutely cannot use lack-of-unity to prove that they are wrong on an issue on which they all agree, that God created the universe.
So much for religion, is this a scientific work? The author has to admit to deficiencies. The references in the bibliography are rather thin. Also the book is written more in a populist style than a scientific style. A third reason is that the book is interspersed with personal opinions.
A fourth reason is insufficient critical review. The author posted drafts on the internet for more than five years and invited critics of all persuasions to take target practice. Unfortunately, the criticism received was lighter than he had hoped.
So what is this book? Philosophy is a catch-all term that perhaps can be stretched to include the book. Of course, there is good philosophy and bad philosophy. It is up to the reader to decide which is the case here.
Before proceeding to Chapter Two, the author briefly provides some comments on his writing style, motivations, and self-imposed policies. The reader may find these useful.
The reader, of course, may be male or female. The author despises the stilted he/she construction and so sometimes, he refers to the reader as she, and sometimes as, he. The flip of a coin was useful in deciding which to use.
The author refers to himself as, the author (or this author, when he might be confused with another author). The use of I is frowned upon and being only one person, identifying himself as we does not make any sense. However, he does use, we, to refer to himself and the reader, collectively, unless another use is obvious (or the reader objects).
The book refers to God as He. Gender is grammatical, not biological. The Germans assign masculine gender to the moon and feminine gender to the sun. In Spain it is the other way around. Even in English, where gender usually matches biology, we have decided that ships and nations are feminine. Yet, neither the sun, the moon, ships, nor nations, possess genitals. Presumably, neither does God.
The capital H is used because he sometime refers to the author and sometimes the reader. So using He for God serves to reduce confusion.
The reader will see both, "a creator" and "the Creator". The first refers to creator in a hypothetical sense. The second refers specifically to the one we read about in the book of Genesis.
The author does not try to convert the reader to his own specific beliefs about creation. Thus, he reveals them only in one small section (4.0) and even there, he does it only to help illustrate the diversity of possible beliefs about creation. (The author admits that some may think that his beliefs are absurd. :-)
The author does not discuss morality in this book. While he approaches subjects that involve moral issues, he discusses them without making moral declarations.
This does not mean that he has no moral beliefs. However, he lacks the moral authority to tell anyone else what to do. Moreover, expressing them does not serve the purpose of this book. On the other hand, he occasionally expresses an opinion about social values.
A comment on politics is necessary. The author realizes that excessive political opinion can detract from the purpose of this work. Being a political animal, it is not in his power to eliminate it entirely. However, he has made great efforts to keep it rare and limit it to where it directly relates to the theme of this book.
Having said this, the author makes a modest political suggestion, here and now. There has been much debate about public school texts on evolution. The Preface of this book contains the following ten words:
"Evolution does not disprove Creation.
Creation does not disprove Evolution."
Why not use these same ten words to preface school texts on evolution? The first five words protect the point of view of people who believe in creation. The second five words protect the point of view of those who believe in evolution.
This concludes the introduction. The rest of the book proceeds as follows: Chapter Two presents a historical argument that both evolution and creation are true. Chapters Three, Four, and Five present other arguments. Chapter Six considers past events that may have led to the present state of human evolution. Chapter Seven considers the present state of human evolution and our chances of survival.
Chapter Eight considers future human evolution and destiny. Chapter Nine reviews parallel notions. Appendices A and B support Chapter Eight. The Glossary identifies and defines the terms and expressions used throughout this book.
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