Thursday, April 14, 2011

Concerns on Consensus

Many theistic evolutionists, now promoting themselves as “evolutionary creationists,” yield to the belief that because evolution possesses overwhelming support among biological scientists, its claims on origins questions are credible. This is a position articulated by many brilliant people with whom I have discussed origins issues. For them adherence to majority opinion is an important support pillar for the evolutionary belief system they choose to hold.

Adoption of the consensus of scientists on evolution should be approached with the greatest caution. Acceptance of any consensus depends on the subject of the belief system in question as well as the identity of the group. Who proposes the religious belief system, the political ideology, or the behavioral theory? With respect to the evolutionary community’s proposals on the broad questions of origins, there is considerable complexity. Knowledge of evolution as a historical science differs considerably from knowledge of the "hard sciences" of chemistry and physics gained in the past few centuries. In chemistry and physics there is little contoversy and no need to “rediscover the wheel.” In those fields doubting the consensus of scientists is foolish and futile. It is not so with evolution.

How did life on earth originate suddenly and with bio-chemical complexity? Beyond that, the profound questions regarding the appearance of life’s multiplicity and the recent arrival of modern humanity demand our diligent consideration. Why do living things manifest such unmistakable signatures of intelligent design? How demonstrable and credible are the theorized driving mechanisms of macro-evolution such as natural selection and the more imaginative recent proposals such as “phenotypic plasticity?” The consensus of naturalistic bio-science professionals is that natural processes alone are responsible. Moreover, contemporary science philosophy dictates that we continue searching for natural explanations only, perhaps forever. Relying on the consensus of such biased stakeholders should inspire minimal confidence.

Theorized proposals of evolutionary processes as causally adequate for what we observe in the world of biology are not supported by the mere consensus of evolutionary biologists. Some of the strongest support for evolution in past years was the presence of so-called “junk DNA.” In recent years evolutionists have retreated from claiming that junk DNA affirms evolution. Increasingly, it has been shown to have function. But many theistic evolutionists continue to cite evidence such as junk DNA as a reliable indicator of common ancestry.

In the face of developing questions concerning evidence for the reality of evolution, I repeat my hope that endorsement of evolution by evangelical biological scientists not be driven by adherence to the modern scientific consensus. Modern science is strongly driven by the worldview of naturalism. Christian thinkers should resist endorsing the worldview of naturalism. Beyond that, but no less significant, we should resist the evolutionary consensus and avoid the temptation to be accepted in the world of academia based on evolution’s purported intellectual credibility. The harsh reality is that both naturalistic evolutionists and traditional creationists are harshly critical of and strongly opposed to the concept of theistic evolution now becoming known metaphorically as “evolutionary creationism.”