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Unanswered Questions

Post of the Month: December 2005


Subject:    Re: Evolution's problems
Date:       30 December 2005

On 12/29/05 10:13 PM, "Logos" wrote:

> Among the many problems with evolution are the questions it is unable to
> answer.

I would be careful with this line of reasoning. It is essentially a "you don't know everything so you don't know anything" position. For example, one could assert

"Among the many problems with the theory of Gravity are the questions it is unable to answer."

If you were to assert that, because the current theory of Gravity is incomplete or inaccurate in some places that Gravity does not exist, then you would be a fool.

</Tongue-in-cheek humor here> And since there are questions that the Theory of Gravity cannot answer, I invite you to show your equal disdain for it by walking off the top of a tall building. After all, by your reasoning, gravity must not exist, right? </End TIC>

But seriously, you have a much worse problem than with the Theory of Evolution. For by your own reasoning which I reproduce exactly for your benefit, your own faith is in jeopardy. For "Among the many problems with Christianity are the questions it is unable to answer."

And a whole list of questions could -- and certainly would -- emerge! The list would be endless, including the exact nature of the kenosis, the conflicts between free will and predestination, etc. There have been wars build on conflicts of theology concerning questions the Bible has no complete answers for.

In fact, the problem of unanswered questions is much more of a difficulty with Christianity than it is with Science. After all, Christianity is a "Revealed Religion". Since the source of that Revelation is supposedly God Himself, then leaving us with essential and important questions unanswered is a potential argument against the reality of your Faith and mine. Certainly, by your reasoning, Christianity should possess all of the answers, right?

Yet we do not. And one of the largest questions challenging the reality of your Faith is how you can remain so decidedly smug in your ignorance and call it knowledge. That is a direct violation of the principles of faith found in the Holy Scriptures, yet you ignore those principles daily in your crusade against Evolution.

Unanswered questions are not a problem with Science. We explain things the best we can with the evidence at hand. When more knowledge or better explanations come into view, they tend to supplement and change our explanations.

Why, a cursory reading of any popular science journal has new discoveries in almost every issue, with a note on how the discovery addresses a particular question or explanation in science. And very often, the assertion is made that if the evidence is confirmed, it will require a change in a certain part of the current theory.

And Science is happy, even eager, to accommodate! After all, the goal of science is to progress from less knowledge to more knowledge, from less understanding to more understanding. We already know that we don't know everything -- unlike certain people who (on religious grounds) think they have all knowledge and wisdom and power and might.

> Here they are, in order of importance:
> 1. How can life come from non-life?

You have for the umpteenth time confused abiogenesis with evolution. Let me try to put it as plainly as I possibly can.

"Life from non-life" is not a part of the Theory of Evolution. Abiogenesis is a separate field, still in its infancy, and will have unanswered questions for many, many years. It is principally a chemical exploration of conditions in the distant past -- and given developments in planetary cosmology recently, I suspect there will have to be some changes in some of their models of the early earth.

"Life from life, with modifications" describes the Theory of Evolution. After all, you are different from your parents, and your parents were different from their parents, ad infinitum. The changes from one generation to the next were subtle. Yet they were there. The ToE describes the changes in the characteristics of populations from one generation to the next.

You are on notice. You have been told the difference between evolution and abiogenesis many times. Now pay attention. We will expect you to know the difference from now on and to use the terminology correctly.

Still, to answer your question a bit more completely, life as we know it follows the laws of chemistry even as non-life follows the laws of chemistry. These laws are rather complex, and while the interactions of elements and molecules are somewhat random, the chemical results are not at all random.

That random interactions can produce terribly complex results can be found in some toxic waste dumps. In certain dumps, chemicals have combined into significantly more complex forms than the chemicals that were originally dumped there. What formed was a product of chemistry. It depended upon the chemicals present (both kind and quantity) and the heat energy available. But the laws of chemistry guaranteed the result.

Now think. You believe that God created man from a clay mold that He breathed life into. How did that breath create our physical systems from undifferentiated clay? That is an unanswered question of Christianity, by the way. But there is life from non-life.

For that matter, from where did God come? Your answer, of course, is that He always existed. And yet, if life must come from somewhere, then so must have He come from somewhere! Your own reasoning, sir -- your own reasoning.

And might not God, from Whom are all things, have been able to write the laws of chemistry in such a way as to guarantee that "life" would emerge? Is not God omnipotent? If He is, then He would have that ability to create such laws.

There is no difficulty between faith in God and the Theory of Evolution, or between faith in God and abiogenesis for that matter.

> 2. How could the Cambrian Explosion happen?

This is a question? The fact is that what we call the "Cambrian Explosion" did happen!

There is a certain geologic strata we call "Precambrian" in which no life remnants are found (or only the least complex). In the Cambrian strata -- which covers about a 50 million period.

And in fact, this is not a single strata or time period itself with undifferentiated mixed-up forms. There are seven different subdivisions of the period! I commend to you this site for study, should you decide to do some:

But the fact is that some of the characteristics of life are reproduction, adaptation, and a struggle to survive. And in the early earth, not every environmental niche had been inhabited. There was plenty to be exploited. And life gravitated to those niches where it could survive, and succeeding generations became better adapted to those niches. After all, the better the organism fits with its environment, the more likely it is to survive and reproduce!

So there were environmental pressures toward fairly rapid evolutionary changes.

And yes, we don't know all the answers. But that doesn't matter. We know many things, and as time and investigation progresses we shall know more.

Does this frighten you? Man, learning on his own without the aid of a holy book? Finding answers to questions in the world around him? Why should it? If God created man with a brain, then is it a sin to use it? I should think not!

> 3. How does evolution disprove ID?

Evolution does not disprove ID. ID is a weasel-word theology for those who contend that we have reached the limits of our knowledge and must confine all the rest of our unanswered questions to the Unknown "God did it" explanation.

In point of fact, Michael Behe has admitted to belief in evolution, including the common ancestry of man and ape! His beef is that God is left out of science (since science cannot investigate the supernatural), and so he wants to redefine science.

His problem, I suspect, is largely like your own. He perceives troubles in the world with "evolutionary philosophy", not realizing that there are many other troubles in the world that have nothing to do with this imaginary construct. His objections to the ToE are not scientific, but theological.

The Dover case amply proved that ID is nothing but a theological attempt to put religion back into the public schools. The goals of the Discovery Institute and others like them are to reform society and government into a more theocratic arrangement, intolerant of non-Christians or Christians who do not agree with them, and imposing their concept of "morality" upon the population.

However, shouldn't the question be, "How does ID disprove Evolution"? It doesn't, of course. And despite objections, evolution still happens.

If God's hand is behind evolution (and I have no problem thinking that it might be so), there is no evidence of it. After all, if God can cause the course of events to happen so that man exercising his "free will" can still do exactly the thing God wants to be done, then God can similarly hide here.

In any case, Science by definition cannot investigate the supernatural. There may be things science can never explain, and it accepts that limitation. But the Kansas school board notwithstanding, Science investigates natural phenomena, natural causes, natural effects. The supernatural is not in view.

> 4. How can a cynodont evolve into a therapsid? A synapsid?

Actually, if you were to do your research, you would find that cynodonts are therapsids. A derived branch of them, to be sure, but still from that line. The therapsids are part of the synapsid group.

So you have it backwards. Not that we are surprised. After all, this question was probably culled from some creationist web site, and maybe you thought maybe the terms would be as confusing to others as they are to you?

The following are a list of websites where you can get more information on this technical question.

But your real question here is "How can macroevolution happen, where species with certain traits are ancestral to species with different traits?"

The answer, simply, is "descent with modification." The genetic code is flexible. It can change. It has changed! And given time (there has been plenty of it), the changes have accumulated.

> 5. How can evolution disprove the existence of G_d? Of Jesus Christ?

It can't. It doesn't even try. Evolution simply answers questions about how things work. It says nothing about God, neither affirming nor denying Him.

And that is as it should be. For petty man to think he can "prove" the existence of God or "disprove" His existence is ridiculous. He is beyond all such proofs. The only thing that can be disproved is our own limited "God-in-the-box" theology in which we assume our descriptions of God are necessary and sufficient.

> 6. How can Social Darwinism be justified on moral grounds in light of Nazism > and racism?

As you should know (and doubtless do know, but what do you care?), "Social Darwinism" is not an accepted sociological theory any more. It was popular up until the Second World War, but it really had nothing to do with racism or Nazism.

Racism has been around a long time. I have read sermons by prominent pre-Darwin theologians who justified racism and slavery on the basis of the Bible. I have read sermons on social order by pre-Darwin theologians who justified social inequality on the basis of the Bible.

It seems that Social Darwinism and certain Christian doctrines had a lot in common at certain times!

But see for more information.

The fact is that man will reach for what is handy to justify what they are doing. You do the same thing. I am quite convinced that you are aware of the truth in certain areas, but you ignore it because it doesn't fit your theology. And you wind up blaming God for your bad behavior.

"Evolutionists", by the way, do not endorse "Social Darwinism". And just because "Nature" behaves a certain way does not mean that we want it that way. So Scientists work with natural phenomena to frustrate nature! We do that with vaccines, medical treatments, improvements in technology and infrastructure. Life for us does not need to be cruel and brutish. We can rise above our circumstances -- and we attempt to do so.

However, I find it interesting that Fundamentalism is in many ways a repackaging of "Social Darwinism". After all, Fundamentalism is not concerned with addressing inequalities, but with preserving inequalities! It is not concerned with the rights of the masses, but with preserving power with the wealthy or the "right". It believes that the Strong should rule over the Weak.

I beg you to open your eyes. Read. Study. Understand. All of your questions above have been answered many times over. You still ask the same ones! You seem to think that nothing can ever answer your questions, so you refuse to recognize where they have been!

In that way, you are as thoroughly blind to the truth as you imagine your adversaries to be.

Yet there need be no conflict between Faith and Science. And the more I learn about both, the less real conflict I find. I am glad to be a Christian. I am grateful I am no longer a Fundamentalist.


Raymond E. Griffith

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