To USA Today, at least, it’s hot news: dissension within evangelical ranks over evolution. To us, it’s just one sad result of compromise.
Prof. Bruce K. Waltke may not seem like the most likely person to be at the center of controversy. Educated at Dallas Theological Seminary and Harvard, the Reformed Theological Seminary professor (until earlier this week, that is) is considered “a preeminent Old Testament scholar . . . [and] a master teacher with a pastoral heart.” Waltke’s error (or, at least, the cause of the controversy) was appearing in a BioLogos Foundation video discussing science and religion. (The BioLogos Foundation, which we covered last May and August, promotes the view that evolution and Christianity can go hand-in-hand.) In the video, Waltke reportedly stated:
If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult . . . some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.
USA Today implies that Reformed Theological Seminary immediately (and angrily) demanded Waltke’s resignation, although other sources paint quite the opposite picture (specifically disputing media caricatures). Nevertheless, Waltke has left the seminary, which, according to USA Today, “[is] a sign of just how difficult it may be for scholars at some institutions to raise issues involving science that are not 100% consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.” (As we’ve noted, even young-earth creationists do not interpret all of the Bible “literally,” but rather we read according to accepted grammatical and historical cues.)
Another source cried that it was “incomprehensible that in 2010, any American scholar, particularly one of his academic distinction, could be so harshly bullied for stating an opinion consonant with current scientific orthodoxy[.]” (Of course, there is ample record of scientists who have been “harshly bullied,” denied tenure, etc., even for simply allowing open discussion with intelligent design advocates; evolutionists can’t play the “censorship card” only half the time.)
Reformed Seminary official Michael Milton countered, “We are a confessional seminary. I’m a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession.” He added that there is a “diversity” of views on Genesis at the seminary, from those holding to young-earth creation to others accepting the framework hypothesis, but that Darwinian views are not permitted.
We speculate that Waltke’s defection (whenever it happened) from more conservative (yet compromising) views to what appears to be an acceptance of full-blown theistic evolution is a result of a “domino effect” of compromise. A theologian begins with a plain reading of Genesis and other biblical texts, concluding that creation was recent and supernatural. But certain outspoken scientists, atheistic though many may be, convince the theologian that all real scientists have unanimously proven the earth is billions of years old (a proposition that itself contains multiple fallacies). The theologian decides to deviate from the plain reading of Genesis, reinterpreting the creation account not based on textual cues but rather on his perception of what science has “proven.” But as the topic moves from geology to paleontology to biology, the compromising theologian has no rational reason to dismiss the claim that “all real scientists have unanimously proven all life evolved from a common ancestor.” The theologian is now in full agreement with the atheist on the origin of the universe, the earth, and all life (including humans), with “God” merely a superfluous deity with little work left to do.
But the question we have posed many times before is, why do compromising theologians, pastors, and other Christians who accept theistic evolution stop at Genesis? Science has also “proven” that humans cannot rise from the dead, that water cannot turn into wine, and so forth. Why, then, read the Gospels plainly when many have reinterpreted Jesus as just a “good man” and a “wise teacher” whose followers inserted into pagan myths?
BioLogos president Darrel Falk, who is also a Point Loma Nazarene University biology professor, warned provocatively of working for religious groups that “just don’t understand science.” Apparently he finds wanting the many highly educated scientists who accept a recent creation.
For more on the Waltke controversy, see Seminary Prof. Resigns Over Pro-Evolution Comments. Also, see Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham’s blog in which he comments on a news story that appeared Friday evening on ABC-TV’s World News with Diane Sawyer program. ABC aired a segment on Dr. Waltke’s resignation, with Ken offering brief comment. Ken in his blog has noted that in an awkward segue, he is shown right after the news correspondent states that “Waltke was labeled a heretic, and called ‘anti-Christian’.” Of course, Ken never stated or implied to ABC that Dr. Waltke was not a Christian. Furthermore, in a web article on Thursday, Answers in Genesis wrote that we found it “sad to see a brother in the Lord lose his job.”
Is our universe inside a black hole belonging to another universe?
The latest proponent of the idea is Indiana University–Bloomington physicist Nikodem Poplawski, whose paper in Physics Letters B includes equations to show that black holes may actually be wormholes (a kind of astrophysical tunnel) between universes. This goes against Einstein’s conclusion that at the center of a black hole exists a singularity, another concept that is difficult to imagine, but one that is backed by some evidence.
Among the reasons Poplawski has posed his model is to “explain certain mysteries in modern cosmology,” National Geographic News reports—specifically, such mysteries as:
[T]he big bang theory says the universe started as a singularity. But scientists have no satisfying explanation for how such a singularity might have formed in the first place. If our universe was birthed by a white hole instead of a singularity, Poplawski said, “it would solve this problem of black hole singularities and also the big bang singularity.”
Poplawski himself referred to his model as a “crazy idea,” and University of California–Davis physicist Andreas Albrecht noted that this merely pushes the question of what started the big bang into an alternate reality.
In other news from the big bang-dominated field of astrophysics, Edinburgh Royal Observatory astronomer Mike Hawkins discovered that the light pulses given off by quasars (strange, high-energy objects in distant space) do not behave according to current astrophysics predictions. Among the explanations? “There’s [the] possibility that . . . the universe is not expanding and that the big bang theory is wrong,” PhysOrg reports.
The evolution of the genetic code remains one of the most speculative, mysterious vignettes in the grand tale of evolution. On that subject, have evolutionary researchers made headway, or do they just reinforce the creationist’s perspective?
A team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies set out to decode an evolutionary riddle: how is it that nearly all life, diverse as it is, uses the same 20 amino acids as molecular building blocks? And how could the amino acid–genetic codon relationship have developed in a stepwise fashion?
Salk Institute assistant professor Lei Wang explains one of the key problems evolutionists face: “Although different algorithms, or codes, were likely tested during a long period of chemical evolution, the modern code proved so robust that, once it was established, it gave birth to the entire tree of life. But the universality of the code makes it very hard for researchers to study its formation since there are no organisms using a primitive or intermediate genetic code that we could analyze for comparison” (emphasis added). So much for what might be called “transitional genetic forms!”
The team theorized that primeval chemical or physical interactions between amino acids and nucleotides (which make up the genetic code) led to the origin of the genetic code. To test their idea, they studied ribosomes inside modern cells, as evolutionists believe ribosomes trace back to “an early evolutionary stage of life . . . before the last universal common ancestor,” Wang explained. While the team claimed to find evidence of such chemical and physical interaction, they cannot trace the origin of the genetic code past some “primitive translational mechanism” that would have been required.
To creationists, the incredible workings of the genetic code are not a mystery to be explained but instead a marvel to be understood as one of God’s most incredible designs. How such a coding system (even in a simpler form) could have arisen through random interaction—yet still coding correctly for the basic building blocks of reproducing life—is yet another leap of faith by evolutionists.
Could caterpillar communication have come from ambulation?
Chances are most of us didn’t even know caterpillars could communicate, much less how they communicate or where that capability may have come from. But a team publishing in Nature Communications claims the basis for their ability to communicate comes down to one thing: evolution.
Some caterpillars use structures on the rear sections of their bodies to make “complex vibratory signals” to warn away intruders, explained Carleton University’s Jayne Yack, the team leader. “When they make this signal, the intruder leaves. It’s like saying, I’m here, get out of here—I already own this leaf.”
Applying certain genetic assumptions of evolution, the team identified more “basal” or primitive caterpillars that lacked these structures, but instead featured legs in their place. In comparison, the caterpillars that can “communicate” can “resolve conflicts in a more ‘civilised’ way,” Yack suggests, comparing the behavior to the way angry bulls signal with their hooves.
Creationists can offer two possible explanations for the origin of such behavior. First, it is possible the team’s determination of which caterpillars are “basal” is entirely incorrect, and that God uniquely created caterpillars with each anatomy/capability/behavior. Alternatively, it is possible that natural selection has favored shorter and shorter legs in some environments, reducing them down to the communicative structures (a loss of genetic information). Either way, this interesting study reminds us that caterpillar lives are more sophisticated than we might have thought.
“Dedicated to the spreading of ignorance”: should that be the new Answers in Genesis motto? Apparently so, according to a Leicester Mercury-published opinion.
Leicester is home to the European headquarters of the sister ministry of Answers in Genesis-US, a fact that presumably irritates evolutionist Simon Perry. “Indoctrinate your children with [Answers in Genesis-UK] teaching materials and you’ll be able to eliminate vast swathes of knowledge in geology, biology, astronomy, physics, and chemistry,” he writes.
As is usually the case in anti-creation screeds, Perry’s piece compiles a series of half-truths about creationists while dogmatically accepting the old-earth, evolutionary view as scientifically “proven.” For example, Perry brings up a claim we feel we have answered thousands of times (which, considering all our varied resources, is probably quite literally true!):
It’s equally easy to disprove creationism; the favoured idea of Answers in Genesis that we were all made by a perfect, benevolent, omnipotent, and intelligent god in our present form about 6,000 years ago.
To disprove this idea, all you need to do is to find one feature of an animal—yes, just one, that, if designed, could only have been designed by a complete idiot. Here we have thousands of examples.
Perry’s point, and his examples, miss two very obvious and plain facts: first, that the sin-caused Curse in Genesis 3 corrupted the originally perfect creation (introducing disease, death, and more), and, second, that sometimes what appears to be “bad design” is later discovered to have a rationale we couldn’t grasp originally.
He also claims that evolution would be disproved if we were to “find one fossil—yes, just one, that is clearly out of sequence with evolution.” This challenge misses several points. First, creationists, too, have several explanations for why the worldwide Flood would have resulted in order inside the fossil record—order that evolutionists interpret quite differently. Second, Perry ignores (or is unaware of) the fact that the “sequence” of evolution is largely shaped by paleontological interpretations of fossils, while genetic and paleontological studies often disagree over the exact timeline of evolution. Third, the many “living fossils” are perfect examples of fossils found out of sequence (e.g., the Coelacanth).
Further, the author laments that without an understanding (read: acceptance) of evolution, our “knowledge” of old-earth physics and geology as well as big bang theory is “undermined.” Of course, “understanding” and agreeing with something are two entirely different concepts! As for our presuppositional approach to epistemology and apologetics—taking God’s Word as our starting point—Perry claims evolutionists have no such worldview, writing that “[the] falsity [of Genesis] wasn’t Darwin’s starting point for developing [evolutionary] theory.” To the contrary, we would argue that Darwin’s abandonment of God and his society’s general abandonment of a literal Genesis (even before Darwin) paved the way for his views on origins.
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, the 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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