Opinion: Evolution needs more evidence

Photo by Daniel Paulson
Photo by Daniel Paulson

Many Christians believe that a plain reading of Genesis is insufficient. Instead we take a non-historical reading and accept “theistic evolution.” We turn plain statements in Genesis and Romans into a conclusion that sin entered the world through a snake, not a man. We read Genesis as poetry and question whether or not a morning and an evening make a day.

However, these twists of the plain language of Genesis were initiated by the belief that evolution has been established by incontrovertible evidence, which I believe is an error.

Before we continue a discussion on the language of Genesis, I would like to question our motivation to read Genesis as something other than a historical narrative.

Let’s pretend for a moment that the interpretation of Genesis is not in the issue. Forget that debate and let’s ask if the most basic assertions of evolution are trustworthy.

Here are three questions that should require anyone, Christian or atheist, to think critically about the theory of evolution:

1. Where are the predicted millions of transitional fossils?

Though fossil records should be crucial evidence of evolution, they are far from conclusive. As Stephen Jay Gould, a Harvard paleontologist and evolutionist, said, “The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.”

Gould knew there should be a myriad of transitional fossils, but we struggle to come up with a handful and even those remain unconfirmed.

Gould even says that in order to believe natural selection, he must accept that the data taken of fossil record is simply “bad data”. Yet we still trust that eventually scientists will find the millions of fossils that must be there.

2. When Darwin created his hypothesis in 1859, he could not explain the existence of the eye by natural selection. In 155 years of research since then, why are we no closer to understanding the evolution of the eye? Why has there been no scientific revolution on Darwin’s theory while knowledge in all other fields of science is growing exponentially?

Even those who have attempted to run complex computer simulations to prove the eye could evolve have found no conclusive evidence. All scientists can do is speculate.

While discovery and predictions based on Darwin’s theory have been stagnant, every other field of science has grown exponentially. Marc Kirschner, founding chair of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School explains, “Over the last 100 years, almost all of biology has proceeded independent of evolution, except evolutionary biology itself. Molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology have not taken evolution into account at all.”

Furthermore, new knowledge of microbiology and human genetics reveal countless other living things that, like the eye, cannot be explained by natural selection.

We do know that for one tiny part of a cell to exist, hundreds of “most fit” mutations would have to occur at the same time and survive long enough in the same place to assemble themselves into this new part of the cell. Statistics show essentially no chance of this happening.

We have only suppositions as to how a single part of a cell could evolve, yet we continue to cling to Darwin’s theory.

3. Can evolution say anything at all about the origins of life?

“Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell,” said Paul Davies, theoretical physicist and professor at Arizona State University.

“The short answer is we don’t really know how life originated on this planet. There have been a variety of experiments that tell us some possible roads, but we remain in substantial ignorance,” said Andrew Knoll, biology professor at Harvard University.

How can we possibly point to evolution as the origin of life if we remain in substantial ignorance on the subject?

These are the questions we should be asking before we question the language of Genesis. Only once we establish that evolution is incontrovertible will we look to reconcile Genesis with irrefutable facts. Until then, I see no reason to speculate about the definition of a day or anything else that undermines the authority of the Scripture.

A full discussion between scientists on the trustworthiness of evidence supporting evolution would fill many books. This article cannot do it justice. However, I would challenge every Christian to join the debate with a critical eye about evolution before trying to reconcile Genesis with its statements.

If Christians subjected evolution to the same degree of scrutiny and doubt that liberal theologians suggest we bring to Genesis, the theory would not hold up under the examination.

This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the views of Calvin Chimes or Calvin College.

About the Author

Bekah Coggin

Bekah Coggin is the Chimes religion co-editor for the 2013-14 school year.

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