Tuesday, 26 February 2008

I don't believe in evolution

By which, of course, I mean unlimited evolution rather than change within limits. The fish to philosopher type of evolution, not the this-breed-of-dog to that-breed-of-dog type.

I have many reasons for this disbelief, scientific, philosophical and religious. In fact I think that evolution is the great fairy story of our time. We laugh at the thought that there are people in the world who think that trees can be inhabited by spirits. Those people would no doubt have a good belly ache if they knew that we think that we and the tree actually share a common ancestor.

Here are some of my biblical (as opposed to scientific or philosophical) reasons for not believing in evolution:
  • Evolution is an attempt to describe how life could develop through completely natural processes. On the other hand, the Bible explains that creation was super-natural. Evolution seeks to explain how life can develop without any outside intervention; the Bible explains that outside intervention is the actual cause.

  • Evolution is a long, slow process. The Bible describes a short sequence of instantaneous events. "And God said... and it was so."

  • Evolution teaches that man has ape-like ancestors, and exists in continuity with the rest of the living world. The Bible says that man was a direct and unique creation, made from the dust (Genesis 2:7). Evolution says that man bears the image of an ape; the Bible says that he is made as a distinct being in the image of God (Genesis 1:28).

  • Evolution teaches that man has appeared in the universe only in the last "minute" of the universe's existence, in cosmic time. Jesus said (Mark 10:6) that man had been created at "the beginning".

  • Evolution teaches that the first woman was the descendant of an ape-like creature; the Bible says that she was created directly and immediately from the first man (Genesis 2:20-25).

  • Evolution teaches that the cycle of birth-mating-death is the means by which life has developed. The Bible teaches that death only entered the world after creation was finished (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12ff).

  • Evolution teaches that the world has been on a continual upward path since the beginning - improving, improving. The Bible teaches that the world was created "very good", and then fell (Genesis 1:31, 3).

  • Evolution teaches that the living world can vary in an unlimited way - the simplest living cells can evolve into men, or fish, or a coral reef, or a nettle, depending on which path they take. The Bible teaches that the living world was created to reproduce itself with limited variation - each within the boundaries of its "kind" (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 24-25).

  • Evolution claims that life developed over a period of hundreds of millions of years. The Bible says that it took place in six days, where those "days" are of the sort that have a morning and an evening, are marked by the sun and the moon, that come in batches of seven made up of six of work followed by one of rest (Genesis 1:1-2:3) and are spoken of without qualification in the same breath as ordinary days (Exodus 20:8-11). It's not too hard to work out what kind of day the author wanted us to believe he had in mind!

  • Evolution teaches that birds developed from land creatures (from dinosaurs, is the most common theory). The Bible says that birds were created before land creatures, and hence could not have developed from them (Genesis 1:20-25).
Some Christians tell us that the Bible isn't intended to give us a scientific account of creation. Far enough. It is, though, intended to give us an account of creation which isn't a work of fiction - it is at least a work of history rather than fantasy. Unless the words of Genesis 1 are actually telling us that creation was supernatural (not natural), perfect-when-made (not chaotic and then improving), a sequence of distinct events (not a slow, gradual process), completed in six ordinary days with evenings and mornings (not over billions of years), and so on, then Genesis 1 isn't just telling us nothing at all - it's telling us something false. To say that both evolution and Genesis can both be true is to embrace the absurd. We may as well say that Bill Clinton is both a former president of the USA, and also was never the president; that today is Tuesday and also Friday; and that I am both sitting at my desk and swimming in the ocean never having even owned a desk. "Theistic evolution" is not a noble harmonising of two complementary ideas; it is a contradiction in terms, and intellectual suicide.

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