It’s the sort of headline that both excites us and worries us: will National Geographic News’s portrayal of “evolution vs. intelligent design” be fair and balanced?
“[T]he theory that new species can arise from old ones through natural selection is still met with some resistance,” the story begins (in understatement). The article then lists six major empirical disagreements between “evolution” and “intelligent design.” (That dichotomy is imperfect, however; many intelligent design advocates [IDers] still accept billions of years of evolution between the hypothesized instances of intelligent design.)
We were pleasantly surprised to see that National Geographic let each side (or, at least, one representative from each) speak for itself, although the evolutionary perspective was given the last word on each debate. On the whole, the six-page article gives not a bad overview of evolution versus bare-bones intelligent design—i.e., a view much more open-ended than young-earth creation.
Here is a summary of the six debates, along with intelligent design and evolutionary perspectives offered by the Discovery Institute’s Casey Luskin and Occidental College’s Don Prothero, respectively:
For those familiar with the creation/evolution debate (including intelligent design perspectives), the back-and-forth is nothing new. We take the intelligent design side in each of the debates above, of course (minus some disagreement on the nature of the Cambrian explosion in the fossil record; we do not consider the fossil layers a continuous record of billions of years of earth history).
What is as important to us is what evolutionists cannot do (at least, not with scientific—as opposed to philosophical—arguments): they cannot show why intelligent design is inferior, as a belief, to evolution. That is, even if we agreed that natural selection was a plausible way to generate the complexity observed in life (and we don’t), such agreement does not reduce the plausibility of an intelligent creator. And evidence from the fossil record merely begs the question, since no fossil can prove either evolution or the lack thereof.
Most evolutionists (and many creationists, we’ll admit) fail to recognize that the debate isn’t ultimately about scientific evidence or interpretation. Instead, the creation/evolution controversy cuts much deeper, pitting two worldviews—one materialist, the other supernaturalist—against each other. For those of us who start with the Bible, the science isn’t where the big debate lies; it’s about God’s Word and its ultimate authority.
Small brains can do big things. Big brains can miss the obvious.
Diminutive insects have tiny brains in comparison to humans, but they can still perform complex feats, such as counting, categorizing, and differentiating between shapes. This led researchers in the latest issue of Current Biology to suggest that it’s not the size of the brain that determines intelligence.
Bigger animals, they argue, have bigger brains because there’s more to control:
they need to move bigger muscles and therefore need more and bigger nerves to move them, the authors say. But that may not equate to higher thought.
Looking through past research initiatives, Lars Chittka of the University of London and his team found many examples of insect intelligence. For instance, honeybees have a brain containing fewer than a million nerve cells—compared to 85 billion for humans—but the amazing pollinators have no trouble finding flowers or making honey.
We’d love to stop right there and marvel at the incredible design inherent in brains of all sizes. But the researchers—perhaps not impressed with what they found—decided to tack on a few materialistic claims:
The authors suggest that “advanced” thinking requires a very limited number of neurons. Computer modeling shows that even consciousness can be generated with tiny neural circuits, which could in theory easily fit into an insect brain, they write.
And there you have it. Slap a few neural circuits together and—voila!—consciousness. Computer modeling says so.
However, this hardly accords with reality. All the elements of life can exist in dead animals, for example—the atoms, the molecules, the biological systems. But just because those elements are there doesn’t mean the animal will spring back to life. There’s something missing beyond mere matter.
Materialists have no choice but to believe that consciousness comes from the brain, which is why they like to bluff about how easy it will be to create one day. The irony, of course, is that these are conscious, self-aware beings willing to deny their own consciousness in favor of a mechanistic universe.
Beyond this, brain size should never be the determining factor in how “smart” or “advanced” something is. Insects having complex reasoning shouldn’t surprise creationists in the least. After all, “advanced” is an evolutionary invention to arbitrarily separate “primitive” life or species from more recent ones—such as “primitive” humans in the past from “wise” humans now (the meaning of sapiens in Homo sapiens).
All life is complex—more complex than anything humans can create. Sure, we can borrow ideas from what we find in nature and perhaps even one day “create” semi-homemade life using cobbled-together parts. But consciousness and life are gifts from a Being far beyond our ability to comprehend. He took great care in designing even the smallest brain to do amazing things.
Materialists would do well to use the one He gave them to see the evidence all around them.
Slow science news week? Try some science fiction instead.
Although we often have the urge to parody evolutionary suppositions, there’s really no need. Evolutionists provide the best self-parodies of their own worldview—rife with self-refutations and bombastic claims.
This week’s example comes from National Geographic News, which wonders what the future of human evolution will be. The four answers—or non-answers—they provide are perhaps more revealing than they intended.
Perhaps our comments are a bit pointed, but we do so only because evolutionists don’t seem to listen to themselves when they make such claims.
If nature is all there is (as these “visions” seem to suggest), then the only hope one can have is in the nebulous “future.” Death is final, after all. Life is meaningless beyond reproduction and helping others live longer to ensure the continuity of the species (i.e., your genes). That’s it. Hope is meaningless if we’re nothing more than bags of carbon and water.
When all people have is the “future” to hang on to, they produce ideas about how the future will be better, how humans will be better. The first prediction’s dour tone suggests the “show’s over,” but it’s quickly drowned out by the optimistic claims that humans will spread throughout the universe or live forever or become superhuman because evolution is our savior.
In truth, the human condition is much more dire than any of these predictions suppose. We will never become better on our own: our genome is degrading; our bodies are dying; and our souls are polluted by sin. No technology or hoped-for escape can ever fix that.
The real “evolution” we need is for Christ to restore us, to make us right with our Creator. Then we have a real future: we’ll live with Him forever in a new heavens and a new earth.
A Guardian columnist turned her crosshairs toward the Creation Museum this past week. Are her criticisms anything new?
Judith Maltby visited our Creation Museum recently, and she begins her Guardian column by claiming the museum’s mission is “not only to prove the veracity of a literal reading of Genesis but also to present Darwinism as one the most dangerous and corrupting ideologies yet known to humankind.” Maltby continues:
The museum is really the Museum of Biblical Literalism: Darwinism is responsible for war, drug abuse, societal breakdown and racism. . . . But the existence of all these evils, including slavery, before the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859 is strangely absent from the analysis.
We might call this misunderstanding number one. Maltby is right that the existence of societal evils before Darwin disproves the claim that evolutionary beliefs are the cause of societal evils. But that’s not what we argue. Rather, we point out that evolutionary beliefs erode the foundation for morality, and thus erode society’s way of ruling such behaviors as objectively wrong. Social ills have been around since Cain killed Abel; but the church had the moral authority to call them what they are until it accepted (by and large) Darwinian ideas about life’s origin. Ken Ham makes this clear in Chapter 4: The Human Kind of Darwin’s Plantation [now printed under the title One Race One Blood]:
Now, don’t get the idea that evolution is the cause of racism. Sin is the cause of racism. But Darwinian evolution fueled a particular form of racism by giving individuals and the masses a scientific excuse to pursue this godless philosophy by using evolution as justification for discrimination, abuse, and even mass genocide.
The same logic applies to “war, drug abuse, [and] societal breakdown,” of course.
At a few points, it’s difficult to determine if Maltby is being sarcastic, if she misunderstands our points, or if she simply assumes all readers already agree with her. For example, she writes, “The point at which we . . . needed a cup of tea was the short film explaining how legends such as Saint George and the dragon might well be a fragment of collective human memory of dinosaurs, since the flood was less than 4,000 years ago.” We take it that Maltby found this film unconvincing, though she dismisses the St. George argument without reason.
Maltby’s attempts a coup de grâce by offering her “real challenge to biblical literalism and fundamentalism,” apparently thinking young-earth creationists haven’t faced up to this attack before:
The first two chapters of Genesis contain two creation stories, not one. In Genesis 1–2:3, the earth, the plants, the animals and the first two human beings ("male and female he created them in his own image and likeness") are created in that order. In the rest of Genesis 2, Adam is made first, then all plants and animals, and then Eve. Awkward.
This isn’t a topic presented in the Creation Museum precisely because it isn’t a troubling issue (as Maltby suggests). Rather, it’s a simple mistranslation.
Maltby’s response to our museum is especially frustrating given that she is a chaplain. We wonder, though, if many theistic evolutionists’ familiarity with young-earth creation is equally incomplete. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to fit every young-earth creationist argument, counter-argument, counter-counter-argument, and so on in a museum (especially one designed to be interactive, to-the-point, and focused on evangelism). Rather, our website is the repository of argument, counter-argument, and beyond!
Are creationists the only ones pointing out the “dark side” (the perturbing implications) of Darwin’s view on life’s origins?
Time magazine’s Eben Harrell spoke with journalist Dennis Sewell, the author of The Political Gene: How Darwin’s Ideas Changed Politics who claims that “evolution is scientifically undeniable, but its contribution to human well-being is unclear.” That view is distinct enough from the evolutionary mainstream that we thought it worth a closer look.
Among Sewell’s interesting claims:
Sewell’s comments are surprisingly frank considering the usual praise evolutionists heap on Darwin. Indeed, his comments mirror much of what we have written about the consequences of a Darwinian mentality on life.
Sadly, Sewell, while comprehending the moral erosion made possible by Darwin’s ideas, seems unsure of where our morality should come from. “I think we have to decide what status we are going to give to the human race,” Sewell offers. “Most of the world’s religions hold that human life is sacred and special in some way. In teaching our common descent with animals, we also have to examine what is special about human beings, and why they deserve to be treated differently and granted certain rights.”
This week saw increased media coverage of Darwin because it was the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. To mark the event, New Scientist obtained an “interview” with Darwin. While clearly intended as humor, the interview does deal with numerous topics we’ve addressed before (many times, in the case of most).
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!
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