Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Claims of Compatibility

Claims of theistic evolutionists that TE beliefs are compatible with evangelical theology and a Christian worldview do not resonate favorably with creationist perceptions of reality. On the other side of the origins spectrum, neither is the heavily naturalistic community of bio-scientists supportive of the TE concept. Theistic evolutionists attempt to please a group of people who, for various reasons, find it difficult to believe in the supernatural creation events scripture explicitly enumerates.

Consider some of the arguments posed by creationist Jason Dulle in “Theistic Evolution: The Illegitimate Marriage of Theism and Evolution.” Dulle argues that TE is not intellectually coherent. TE posits that God used the evolutionary process to create. That is to say, evolution, a chance, undirected process, becomes the creator. In theory, of course, God could mandate that “chance” events produce a manifestly purposeful, ordered outcome. Theologically and semantically, however, such a concept is an oxymoron--a conjoining of contradictory terms. (I acknowledge the philosophical complexity of this issue.)

When we observe our natural environment, there are plentiful examples of order. Some ordered natural features in non-living physical systems are highly impressive manifestations of natural patterns. These patterns are to be distinguished from designs. Formations of patterns in nature, such as tornado vortexes, snowflakes, and mineral crystals, obey pre-existent natural laws which are capable of producing apparent order from chaotic systems. Weather phenomena provide some of the best examples. Patterns, however, are to be distinguished from the ordered design features found in living creatures. Design features obey the ideas which come from instructions in a language. DNA is recognized by scientists as a language. All languages come from a mind. Information theorist Perry Marshall has clearly articulated these proposals in the past few years. He poses The Atheists Riddle: “Show me a language that does not come from a mind.”

Life forms are the product of the coded language of DNA, a complex sequence of instructional information beyond imagination. Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman, has stated, “DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” Trillions of living cells fabricate thousands of different proteins, the building blocks of all life forms. Each protein is a string of amino acids which folds exquisitely into an appropriate shape in order to achieve a special function. The physical structure of at least five million different species presently on earth, as well as the integrated functioning of their many life sustaining processes, is dictated by the presence of these intricately folded proteins.

Stephen C. Meyer, in his Discovery Institute publications, has outlined the incredibly unlikely scenario evolution as “creator” would have to accomplish in order to produce even one of today’s five million extant species: If Species A were to become Species B by the process of evolution, it would be necessary to produce, simultaneously, new proteins, new cell types, new tissues, new organs, new body parts, and finally, a new organism. To describe evolutionary processes as the virtual “creator” of earth’s multiplicity of life forms stretches credibility to the breaking point. This is equally true whether one claims to be a naturalistic evolutionist or a theistic evolutionist. The TE paradigm is not comfortable middle ground on which to stand with respect to the profound questions of origins of earth’s life forms, and in particular, the human race created in the Image of God. These discussions should be approached with open-minded humility, whether one embraces the tenets of evolutionism or creationism.