The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (RJS)

Ray Comfort at The Way of the Master released a new video – put it up on YouTube and made it available for purchase just after midnight Wednesday morning. The provocative title? Evolution vs. God. This trailer should give a bit of an idea what the video is like:

YouTube Preview Image

You can find the entire video (some 38 minutes) on YouTube if interested. I’ve watched it a couple of times and have to say that it contains a rather interesting mix of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The video starts with a popular quote from Richard Dawkins that is splattered across a broad range of websites (try Google for a wide selection).

Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. — Richard Dawkins

In many sources the quote is followed by an even stronger statement not included in the opening: “Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.

And another quote.

“Live Science” says of Darwinian evolution: “It can turn dinosaurs into birds, apes into humans and amphibious mammals into whales.”

You can find the quote in What is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? published Dec. 7, 2012, although the full quote is a bit longer.

Natural selection can change a species in small ways, causing a population to change color or size over the course of several generations. This is called “microevolution.”

But natural selection is also capable of much more. Given enough time and enough accumulated changes, natural selection can create entirely new species. It can turn dinosaurs into birds, apes into humans and amphibious mammals into whales.

The bit about given enough time is rather important, it really shouldn’t have been left out.

Finally:

A scientific method is based on “the collection of data through observation and experimentation …” – Science Daily

In this case the quote comes from a reference article Scientific Method. Again the quote does not quite do justice to the whole.

These quotes set up the approach Evolution vs. God takes to debunk evolution. I am not going to try to put together a piece by piece rebuttal of the video. It isn’t worth the effort. But there are a few points worth making concerning the Good, the Bad, and what can only be described as the Ugly.

First, the video makes the point that most of those interviewed take evolution on faith because they trust the expert scientists, not on the basis of personal knowledge and understanding. Authority and community play a big role. We can explain, make plausible arguments, go through the data – but most people will still take it on faith and intermingle language of fact and belief. Ok, this can be categorized with “the Good” – anything that makes people think about why they accept any position is good.

Second, the video claims to have debunked evolution because the experts could not give observable evidence on the time scale of a human life. No one could provide observable evidence of change from one kind to another that didn’t have to be accepted on faith. Fossil evidence requires faith. Richard Lenski’s experiments only show bacteria becoming … bacteria. Not good enough by the criteria required. Speciation is not a change of kind – the only acceptable evidence would be change of one “kind” into another “kind” on the time scale of a human life. A finch becoming another species of finch is not a change of kind. A finch becoming an eagle might be a change of kind. A finch becoming a bat would certainly be a change in kind. This is an impossible question – and thus the argument falls squarely into the realm of “the Bad.” Step back a bit and the fallacy becomes rather clear. This isn’t a valid way to try to debunk evolutionary biology.

Third, the video connects evolution with Hitler, atheism with suicide, and moral relativism. Rape is not always wrong – it is wrong in our culture. If Hitler made the rules, his rules would be moral. It all comes down to survival of the fittest. Now we venture into the realm of “the Ugly.”

Fourth, the video requires those questioned to think about the consequences of a purely naturalistic view of the world. Suppose your pet dog and your rotten number neighbor are drowning, who would you save? The neighbor as a human being is neither greater nor less than the dog. Humans are not special in creation. Now even most who hold to ontological naturalism will not go this far – but forcing people to consider the question and think through the implications of ontological naturalism falls once more in the realm of “the Good” although equating evolution with ontological naturalism veers back toward “the Bad.”

Fifth, the video turns to the gospel – a four spiritual laws form of the gospel, but there isn’t really space for much more in a video like this. The aim of the film’s makers is to bring people to a serious consideration of God and the Christian faith. This would be “the Good,” except for the connection with the arguments in the early part of the video, and for the explicit statement that people only accept evolution to avoid moral accountability. This is something of a mix – some great points combined with a conviction that the battle line is Evolution vs. God, either one or the other. There is no place for both evolution and God. I fear that the framing of the argument in this fashion will ultimately lose more than it wins. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

What do you think of the arguments and points raised by this video?

Does it do more harm than good?

If you wish to contact me directly, you may do so at rjs4mail[at]att.net

If interested you can subscribe to a full text feed of my posts at Musings on Science and Theology.

  • Joey Elliott

    RJS,

    Can you elaborate on this part of your post?

    “Speciation is not a change of kind – the only acceptable evidence would be change of one ‘kind’ into another ‘kind’ on the time scale of a human life. This is an impossible question – and thus the argument falls squarely into the realm of “the Bad“. Step back a bit and the fallacy becomes rather clear. This isn’t a valid way to debunk evolutionary biology.”

    The fallacy is not clear to me. The “impossibility” of the answer to the question is what is clear. I recognize that Ray Comfort might be throwing out some compatibility of science and God that does exist in this effort, which is unfortunate, but in general his premise is that you can’t prove that anything changed from one kind to another. It is absolutely true that you can’t prove that, with observable evidence. How is that a fallacy?

  • Paul Bruggink

    The video is mostly a patchwork of carefully selected clips of Ray Comfort sticking a microphone into people’s faces (mostly college students, interspersed with a few professors) and asking questions about “Darwinian” evolution, totally ignoring the fact that Darwinian evolution is only a small portion of the modern evidence for biological evolution.

    Young Earth Creationists will love it. All others will find zero educational value as the repetitive “ambush” questions overwhelm any possibility of learning anything about biological evolution or any attempt at a gospel message.

    Overall, I think it will be deterimental to Christian evangelism, the opposite of what Ray Comfort is supposedly trying to achieve.

  • Andy

    Does he use the ‘banana argument’?

  • Phil Miller

    It is absolutely true that you can’t prove that, with observable evidence. How is that a fallacy?

    Simply put, it shows a profound misunderstanding of biology. The use of the term “kind” which I guess they’re using to refer to species simply makes no sense. For one thing, once you start looking at different organisms it isn’t entirely clear where to draw the line differentiating species.

    The whole trailer (and I assume the whole movie) is an exercise in missing the point. I agree with the commenter below who said things like this simply do more harm than good. In the words of Jon Stewart, my response to Ray Comfort is, “You’re not helping!”.

  • Joey Elliott

    Disagree. All accounts. Kind is Kind. Fish. Dog. Cat. Human. No observable evidence for change.

    Like I said to RJS, I respect this blog very much and appreciate the efforts to show that you don’t have to only believe in science or God. I do believe this has gone a long way in helping scientifically minded people look at God and Jesus knowing they can glorify God in what has been revealed through science. But on this one point, concerning observable evidence in a change from one kind to another, you have to admit some lack. You have to. And in the meantime, to discredit the efforts of those like Ray Comfort, who of course lacks the scientific expertise, is also not productive to the evangelistic cause.

    The idea is to get to Jesus. If this is done easier by finding common ground on science, then good. That is what I believe RJS does well. But it is equally appropriate and effective to gain common ground on faith, which is all Ray Comfort is doing. He is showing that science takes some faith, and then in the context of faith not being scary to these people, he is introducing Jesus. How could you possibly care about evangelism and discredit this? Keep in mind also that he is not speaking mostly to theistic evolutionists, but to atheists and agnostics who I know RJS is also trying to reach. Just by a different common ground. We should be mutually encouraging each other here.

  • Paul Bruggink

    Fortunately (or unfortunately) he does not.

  • Paul Bruggink

    Re “How could you possibly care about evangelism and discredit this?”:

    Ray Comfort is supposedly speaking to atheists and agnostics who have actually studied biological (not just “Darwinian”) evolution. His deliberately distorted view of biological evolution is not going to win any of them to Christ. It only promotes the false dichotomy of God OR evolution. A better way to reach them is to promote God AND evolution, which people like Peter Enns, Denis Lamoureux, RJS and others are trying to do.

    I would like to suggest that you learn a little more about evolution, perhaps starting with Donald R. Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters,” Robert J. Asher’s “Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist,” Bruce Glass’s “Exploring Faith and Reason: The Reconciliation of Christianity and Biological Evolution,” Stephen J. Godfrey & Christopher R. Smith’s “Paradigms on Pilgrimage: Creationism, Paleontology, and Biblical Interpretation,” Joel W. Martin’s “The Prism and the Rainbow: A Christian Explains Why Evolution Is Not a Threat,” and/or Daryl P. Domning’s “Original Selfishness: Original Sin and Evil in the Light of Evolution.”

    I follow this topic because I care about evangelism.

  • Scot Miller

    It’s a huge mistake to think that science can be reduced to matters subject to observation. There are many scientifically established claims that cannot be observed directly but are matters of better explanatory theories. For example, nobody has observed the earth rotating on its axis and orbiting the sun. (Even from space nobody could “observe” the earth orbiting the sun,) We have direct observational evidence that the sun rises and sets and that the moon, stars and planets seem to revolve around the earth. However, observational evidence also shows that planets speed up and slow down, get brighter and dimmer, and some (like Mars) appear to move in retrograde circles. The heliocentric model of the universe is a mathematical model that has greater explanatory power to explain the data than the geocentric model.

    In the same way, evolution from one species to another just isn’t observable. The theory of evolution, however, has greater explanatory power than the alternative (i.e., that species were created independently of each other).

  • Joshua Adam Scott

    The issue is, to me at least, the idea that believing in evolution and believing in God are both mutually exclusive. I believe in God. Deeply. Passionately. I also believe in evolution. The two aren’t competing ideas.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    I had to look up the “banana argument”. Oh my. Of course, it is superseded in silliness/idiocy/ignorance by the “crocoduck argument”.

    These people are their own worst enemies.

  • Luke Allison

    Joey,

    Is evangelism really about “getting to Jesus” at any cost? This VERY 20th century understanding of evangelism is the reason why we find ourselves in a cultural situation where nobody of the upcoming generation has any idea why following Jesus is valuable.

    Sorry, but what I hear you saying in this comment is that all the “extraneous” stuff (that doesn’t have to do with Jesus) is merely a means of getting to Jesus. This is the problem, not the solution.

    The crux of this video is that Ray Comfort thinks the theory of evolution is a diabolical conspiracy to avoid carrying any moral absolutes through life. Evolution = Voldemort. This is not the type of viewpoint that’s going to carry Christianity into the foreseeable future. The norm for people of the upcoming generation is to view life as “complicated.” Far more complicated than people of Comfort’s temperament and mindset are willing to understand. Note, I didn’t say “capable of understanding,” but “willing to understand.” This is a case of a paradigm acting like quicksand.

  • Joey Elliott

    Scot,

    “Huge mistake” is strong when you consider the concept of the scientific method. However, you did mention several convincing examples of evidence that is not from observation, but still in some ways “proves” the facts you mention. Can you do the same for evolution from one kind to another? In other words, can you mention something some simple evidence, other than the fact that you observed it yourself which we agree is impossible, that would come even close to “proving” that an animal ever evolved outside it’s kind?

  • Luke Allison

    Right. Even conservative thinkers like Mark Noll (Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) point out that Christians are stuck in a Baconian evidential version of “science.”

  • Joey Elliott

    Paul,

    As much as I enjoy being told that I need to learn more about evolution by someone who doesn’t know me, and read more books by someone who has no idea what I’ve read, I’m going to respectfully turn down your suggestion because I don’t believe it is a prerequisite to do more than I have to engage in this conversation.

    However, I will counter by saying you need to learn more about Ray Comfort to be able to accurately speak to his effectiveness. You speak in complete error to say his approach is not going to win them to Christ. Also, I feel like you completely ignored my post above and my praise for the efforts of RJS and others, and the call for mutual encouragement – what say you about that?

  • Joey Elliott

    Luke,

    Talking through differences in our approaches and understanding of evangelism is a good place to be here. I wish I had more time to clarify what I feel like are misunderstandings in what I was trying to say, and in what I believe Ray Comfort is willing to understand. I will try to dig in more later if I can. But I appreciate your calling out of the confusion that exists in what I said.

  • RJS4DQ

    Joey,

    I find this a fallacy because they are discrediting evolution by asking for evidence of something no one claims. A fish doesn’t become a mammal. A fish becomes a fish with slightly different characteristics, becomes a fish-like tetrapod, becomes a sometimes out of water tetrapod, …

    Each change is as small as the ones that are dismissed as inadequate in the video. Macro evolution is microevolution with more time to work. Thus the evidence for change of kind is found in comparative anatomy, genetics, biochemistry, and paleontology – not by laboratory (or field) observation of change in kind.

    I think they have defined evolution and scientific method in a restricted manner under which no scientist actually works.

  • Joey Elliott

    I understand what you are saying here. But for a second, forgetting Ray Comfort’s approach, why is it anti-science to say that all the micro evolution you mentioned is true, but the macro evolution that you are relying on “time to work”, or comparative anatomy, genetics, biochemistry, etc., is less true, or at least open to interpretation? Why does believing in micro-evolution mean you have to believe in macro-evolution, and if one believes in micro and not macro they are “unscientific”? I say this of course because nothing in Scripture is jeopardized if you believe in micro-evolution. Much is jeopardized with macro.

  • RJS4DQ

    Joey,

    I titled the post as I did because I wanted to start a discussion on the approach here – good, bad, and ugly. There is certainly some good – and I don’t want that thrown out with the bad.

    I do think tying evolution with Hitler is ugly – as would be tying Hitler to religion or using the inquisition to dismiss Christian faith.

  • Jeff Hyatt

    I watched the full video, and I don’t think that it will convince anyone. The reason for my conclusion is that I do not think that most anyone in our culture is open to this significant of a change of thought simply by an undermining of their presuppositions – religious, scientific, etc. You could have Richard Dawkins interviewing 6-day Creationists at the Creation Museum and the responses would be similar.

    I do think that Ray Comfort is offering a ‘more’ biblical meta-narrative, and in this is offering these students and professors an alternative story to live out of and into.

    Also, I think that it is a fair question to ask a scientist to give observable data to support their hypothesis or theory. Isn’t this what the scientific community does every day?

  • Scot Miller

    Joey– It is a mistake to reduce the “scientific method” to inductive generalizations (like Galileo’s experiments to figure out the motion of falling bodies or Mendel’s experiments which formulated the basic laws of heredity). Sometimes scientific method involves proposing and testing hypotheses to determine which one has the best explanatory power (like the heliocentric model for the solar system and the theory of evolution).

    I’m not a scientist, but the most obvious evidence for evolution is the fact of a fossil record which shows that species come into existence and pass out of existence in different times. (By the way, the fact that new species come into existence directly conflicts with the belief that God created all species at one time in the past and stopped.) Moreover, with the discovery of DNA, scientists can trace family relationships (which can be expressed in phylogenic trees). If you Google “phylogenic trees,” you’ll find all sorts of information which show how species are related. So your question merely shows that you don’t have a complete grasp of how science works.

  • Joey Elliott

    Scot,

    You had me up until the point of saying that my question shows I don’t have a complete grasp of how science works. Why can’t you and others (it is not just you) engage in these types of conversations without making those types of comments? Man. I tell ya. My question is completely fair within the realm of science. Science observes things. So I’m asking what has been observed. You are answering it by saying I can’t ask it! Come on.

    And by “you had me” I mean that I was at least tracking with your argument. But my response is that you intentionally blur the definition of species to avoid the basic question. I know that its not you, but science that blurs it, but just asking you, what example of a new kind can you present that has entered the world separate from what God originally created? By “kind” I mean something new that is more than just a new version of a current species. The video mentioned new bacteria, new bird, new fish. But no example of bacteria to something else, or bird to something else, or fish to something else. What new kind are you thinking of that the fossil record and the discovery of DNA seems to conclusively indicate?

    The fossil record might be “obvious” in the sense of showing “species” that have gone out of existence, but it is surely not obvious in the sense of showing new ones coming into existence. Unless you have an example, as I asked about above.

  • Phil Miller

    It depends on what you mean by “observable”. First of all, observable by whom using what sort of instrumentation or methods? A lot of the things that we observe are only observable because people have been trained to know what they’re looking for. Also, the simple fact that people observe something happening doesn’t necessarily mean that it leads us to understanding the mechanisms behind it.

    If I took an iPhone to the Amazon jungle and showed it a tribesman who had no previous contact with the outside world, I could insist this device is communicating with satellites and through that it’s receiving data that is then converted to images on the screen. The evidence I have to back up that claim could be the things I show him on the screen. However, he would have no understanding of satellites, electromagnetic waves, etc. So even though I could explain all that stuff to him, and he could in a sense “observe” it, it probably wouldn’t convince him. He wouldn’t understand all of it. In order for that to happen, I’d need to walk through some more fundamental facts. That’s kind how I feel when I see these sorts of videos. When you ask a professor to present evidence, it doesn’t mean much if you’re not even at a place where you can understand the evidence he’s presenting.

  • Jeff Hyatt

    Phil…I understand what you are saying. Your point is well made.

    I think that both sides in this ‘debate’ are guilty of modernists chest thumping which results in no new understanding of each other or the stories that we believe about our lives and what is real.

  • Paul Bruggink

    There is a great deal of observable data supporting biological evolution. Just for starters, see my list of suggested readings in reply to Joey Elliott above. Fossils are by no means the only evidence.

  • Jeff Hyatt

    Paul…yes, agreed. I just don’t think that the question should off limit, in the same way that I think that same question can and should be asked of Creationists. “What observable data do you have that God created (ex nihilo) the universe 10,000+ years ago?”

    Both are fair questions, no?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Joey – because it is like saying I believe you can walk lots of feet, but walking a mile is impossible.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Joey, Paul interpreted the limited evidence presented here as to your knowledge of evolution. His interpretation is quite sound, and will remain so unless you could provide evidence to the contrary.

    And that is how science works.

  • Scot Miller

    Joey–

    I’ve tried to explain why your question misunderstands the broadness of the scientific method. Your question, “Can you show me where evolution of a new species took place?” would be like asking someone who accepts a heliocentric solar system, “But can you show me that the earth moves?” Not directly, no, but indirectly, yes. The best explanation of the evidence is that the earth revolves around the sun and that evolution is a fact.

    I’ve pointed out the phylogenic tree, which shows that some species came into existence and went extinct before later species, which came into existence at a much later point in geologic time. How did the new species come into existence? Evolution explains that given enough time, new species emerge by a process of natural selection. That explanation has much more explanatory power than the idea that God created all species at one time in the past, and then “rested.”

    You seriously misunderstand what the theory of evolution purports if you think it says a species somehow has to turn into something utterly distinct. The fact is all living things share the same DNA, which explains why there are such close similarities between species like humans and the chimpanzee. (What makes a species is the ability to reproduce with fertile offspring. In spite of their differences, dogs can produce fertile offspring, so they are in the same species.)

  • Joey Elliott

    If you want to use that argument, my interpretation that God created per kind and no new kind has evolved since then is completely sound, unless you can provide evidence to the contrary. If that is how it works, I will go there. But it just takes us back to the original question, which hasn’t been answered.

    And no one is responding to my defense of Ray Comfort on an brother-in-Christ level, or to my call to mutual encouragement. Having interacted on this blog a lot before, this is not surprising, but it is no less disappointing.

  • RJS4DQ

    Joey,

    How has my post not respected Ray Comfort on a “brother in Christ” level? I will suggest that this involves respecting good arguments while questioning bad, all the while avoiding avoiding rhetoric that impugns motive.

    What more do you want?

  • Joey Elliott

    Scot,

    So, by your definition of “species”, you are saying that a human and a chimp aren’t the same species because they can’t produce fertile offspring. But, you believe, in some way (not an immediate change I understand) that the human is a descendant of the chimp. So you believe that there was a change in kind here, over however many years, in however complex of a way.

    How then do I seriously misunderstand what the theory of evolution purports? You believe in a change of kind, and there is no observable evidence to prove this. You present the “phylogenetic tree” as an example of non-observable evidence that comes close. I will look into this more. But please understand that I don’t have to look into this to be able to make a rational argument here. The “idea” that God created all species once and for all has way more explanatory power than you would like to believe, and if you don’t think so I would tell you to look into that more. I would love to get theological here. But, frankly, if you keep implying that I don’t qualify to be able to intelligently engage here, I will probably pass. No offense.

  • Joey Elliott

    RJS,

    As I tend to do, I think I’ve been more caught up in the comments than the original post. Your post, on its own, does respect Ray Comfort as a brother-in-Christ. Everything else I would respond to in it is respectable disagreement with you only. I asked you originally about the “fallacy” that you said was fairly clear, because its not clear to me. And then others answered that and then I responded to them. So in many ways my comments since are not directed to you at all. Sorry for the confusion.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Not really. While the scientist has evidence of evolution in terms of fossils, DNA analysis etc., combined with geological and radiometric data, with the amazing interlocking (as in a puzzle) between this data, as well as some experimental evidence (Lenski and others), you have – what exactly? An assertion isn’t evidence. Furthermore, your interpretation cannot be made to fit the data at all, as experience has shown.

    The people here are criticizing Comfort because he is wrong. Being a friend/religious associate of someone does not mean that one supports their errors, errors that are quite damaging. That is sectarianism – more than that, it has the potential for great wrongs. Doing violence to the truth goes against the spirit of all that is good and lovely and true – whether from a scientific aspect, or a religious aspect, or a social aspect.

  • Joey Elliott

    Not so sure.

    If I keep walking five thousand or so feet, yes, I will eventually walk a mile. All this requires is the continuous walking of thousands of feet. The same obstacles that I have to overcome to walk two feet exist for me to walk the first one thousand feet (endurance, traffic, etc.) and so on.

    It is not equally true that if an animal keeps evolving within its kind it will also for sure make the jump outside its kind. Different obstacles exist in the process of it evolving outside its kind. Obstacles that, in my opinion, are completely insurmountable.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    You completely misunderstood the analogy.

  • Joey Elliott

    Klasie,

    I have much more than an assertion. Do you not value Scripture more highly than that? Even if you “interpret” it differently along the way, to reduce it to an assertion that is no more legitimate than disputed scientific evidence is very sad to me. I’m not sure what more I can say than that.

    Can you elaborate on why Comfort’s “errors” are damaging?

  • Joey Elliott

    Can you elaborate?

  • Scot Miller

    Joey–

    No, I did not say or imply that humans somehow descended from chimps. What is more likely is that both humans and chimps have a common ancestor. And I’m not inventing my own personal definition of “species,” but simply explaining the commonly accepted working definition in biology. (Yes, I know there are problems with the definition, but it’s a good starting place.)

    When I say that the theory of evolution has greater explanatory power than creationism, I mean that it can help us make predictions and explanations beyond the immediate phenomenon in question. For example, the theory of evolution has been used to explain developments in culture, language, economics,etc. Moreover, the theory of evolution gave rise to the field of genetics, and it is the basic assumption behind the flu vaccine. (We have a new vaccine each year because the flu virus evolves from season to season.) If the alternative is to say, “God must have created each species independently,” then that pretty much ends the discussion. Except it raises questions like, why did the Bible say “God rested” if God continued to create new species? and why is the DNA between species so similar, if they are separate acts of creation? and did God make a mistake if some created species declared “Good” did not survive, but other species were created?

  • Joey Elliott

    Scot,

    So humans didn’t necessarily come directly from chimps, but both came from a common ancestor, which was not a human or a chimp – so a different “kind”. That is the same difference as what I’m trying to say.

    God created each animal according to its kind. Period. No mention of species, so the complexity of the definition, and the known changes within a species, over however much time, are totally compatible with Scripture. But your assumption that new species have been created is so strong that you seem confused on what Scripture is saying and why it matters. You seem very caught up with the timing of creation and God’s resting, which is really another topic. All the changes in species that science can prove, even with a broad definition of species, do not imply that something other than a human can become a human.

    This is especially true with a human, of course, because of the fact that God created us in his image. Even if someday I became convinced that a dinosaur became a bird (or whatever), there is no way in good conscience I can believe that a human came from anything other than a human. There is no observable, conclusive evidence for this, and it is a complete contradiction to Scripture and the gospel. And the explanation that God still can create in his image even by starting with something other than a human is pretty lame.

    Which probably will take us to Adam, which is where these discussions always go.

  • Phil Miller

    Even if someday I became convinced that a dinosaur became a bird (or whatever), there is no way in good conscience I can believe that a human came from anything other than a human. There is no observable,
    conclusive evidence for this, and it is a complete contradiction to Scripture and the gospel. And the explanation that God still can create in his image even by starting with something other than a human is
    pretty lame.

    Well, Scripture says we were created from the dust of the earth… So I don’t see the big deal in thinking that “God started with something other than human”.

  • Joey Elliott

    Ok, so dust to human, per Scripture. Nothing in between.

  • RJS4DQ

    Phil,

    I agree – I don’t have a problem with God starting with dust or with some primate. But this is where I think both the video and Joey have an important point. Humans are not merely dust or merely primates.

  • Phil Miller

    I agree completely with that. That’s kind of what I was getting at. The definition of what makes us human being goes beyond us simply being homo sapiens.

    I think the problem with approached like Comfort’s, and you noted it your original piece, is that he ties evolution in a complete naturalist or materialist worldview. The fact that there are people who accept evolution as true who aren’t either of those should be enough to falsify that, but it keeps on being said over and over.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    An interpretation is just an interpretation. How right it is is something else entirely.

    Comfort: Be carrying on the old nonsense that Christianity = YE Creationism, he stirs up emotion, ridicule and drives away the young and intelligent, who, even upon superficial examination, discovers how untenable it all is. Unless of course, you prefer the young to march onto atheism, in which case he is doing good work.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    A lot of small things amount to a big thing.

  • wogster

    The issue isn’t really Evolution vs Creation, the issue is how it all got started. It is entirely possible that a creator could have created the first single cell creature and then allowed evolution to work. This wouldn’t really disagree with Genesis which rather glosses over the technical details.

    The real problem for those who refuse to accept the possibility of a creator, is they use chance, but that requires different atoms to come together into the right molecules to form the right proteins, to form a living being, that will live long enough to reproduce. The only technology that can be used is heat and pressure. For 100 years science has been trying to encourage this to work, using some of the most brilliant minds, and so far, no success.

  • Matt Stone

    After the banana incident I approach anything that Ray Comfort is associated with extremely cautiously. I’d rather share Christ with my non-Christian friends that young earth creationist pseudo-science.

  • Phil Miller

    Haha! The “banana incident”… I love that.

    My problem with Ray Comfort and his evangelism techniques go well beyond his YEC views. His whole approach is built around pressuring people to come to make a decision, say the prayer, sign the card, etc. I have always thought with those sort of things that even if people do take the time to talk to the person “evangelizing”, there’s a good number of people who will say the prayer just to get the person to go away. It’s a sales pitch based style of “evangelism”.

  • RJS4DQ

    Matt and Phil,

    The banana argument for a creator is not exactly convincing, and would not impress an audience of the people I interact with. In fact it would be more likely to have an opposite effect, reinforcing the idea that Christians are hucksters or unthinking.

    Scot has hosted many conversations about evangelistic approaches and about the gospel. I agree that both of these are something of an issue in the video here.

    On the other hand, I know many people who came to faith, albeit usually in the context of other interactions and influences, through this kind of call (minus the emphasis on YEC).

    But I too would rather share Christ, who should always be the focus.

  • wolfeevolution

    Boy, Joey, you really touched a nerve here in this thread, didn’t you? I wanted to say I appreciate your tenacious and earnest engagement with this conversation, even in the face of the feisty reaction you drew.

    I think the crux of this conversation is in the last thing you said:

    “I say this of course because nothing in Scripture is jeopardized if you believe in micro-evolution. Much is jeopardized with macro.”

    Much is jeopardized with macroevolution if (“iff”) you insist on interpreting Genesis 1-3 a certain way. On the other hand, there are lots of careful Biblical interpreters, with a high view of Scripture, who read the text differently, such that they don’t actually feel macroevolution does any violence at all to the true meaning of the text.

    If this hermeneutical question is resolved, it becomes easier to connect the dots and see the strength of the evidence for macroevolution, which as you mentioned synthesizes evidence from comparative anatomy and genetics but also the fossil record (different creatures in different strata) and my personal favorite, biogeography (the intersection of paleontology and plate tectonics, which explains for example the radiation of marsupials in Australia).

    I understand Paul’s long list of recommended titles was perhaps a bit much, and I don’t know what you’ve read, but tentatively I’d still like to commend one book to you, by Darrel Falk, _Coming to Peace with Science_. Darrel is the former head of BioLogos and a biology educator. He tackles this micro-vs-macro issue very expressly and with rare clarity for an audience of scientific laypeople like me. His book is a very quick read and worth at least a click to Amazon, if I may be so bold as to suggest it without knowing you.

    I’m not sure Phil explained himself very clearly when he talked about the scientific incoherence of the word “kind.” IMO his comment is worth elaborating on. Where do you draw the line in what’s called a “kind”? As part of our God-given gift of being able to categorize the world around us using language (cf. Gen 2:19-20), we all tend to see certain categories as just obvious that scientifically really aren’t all that obvious.

    For instance, I personally tend to think of “cows,” “sheep,” and “antelopes” as separate categories or “kinds” whereas in fact cows are quite closely related to certain antelopes (kudus, elands, bongos) and sheep are closely related to others (ibex, serow, chamois) and really all of the above, when you think about it, are “variations on a theme” of cloven-hoofed, horned ruminants. Zoom out a little bit and you see that deer are really pretty similar to that group except for their antlers, and so are giraffes, albeit taller and with longer necks.

    One more example: We all know that cats (plus tigers, lions, pumas, ocelots, etc.) and dogs (plus wolves, foxes, etc.) are pretty distinct; let’s call them “kinds.” What do you do with other cat-like carnivores, though? Mongooses, civets, and fossas look pretty cat-like to me (they’re all “feliform” carnivores), but they’re not quite as close to a house cat as a cheetah is.

    So at what point do you call a group a “kind”? Is it just our culturally bound imaginations that get to make that call? I’m curious how you resolve these things.

  • wolfeevolution

    Hi Joey, I’m going to try to answer your request for simple evidence for macroevolution. My best example is Australian marsupials.

    As you probably know, marsupials are mammals that give birth to tiny, extremely premature young, which they then raise in a pouch. They differ from monotremes (egg-laying mammals: platypus, echidna) and placental mammals (everything else, so carnivores, whales, elephants, horses, ruminants, monkeys, rodents, you name it).

    What’s amazing is that, with the exception of various species of opossum that live in the Americas, marsupials are entirely confined to Australia (plus Papua and some nearby islands). More amazingly, there are no native placental mammals in this region, except for bats and some rodents.

    What you see when you look at the marsupials of Australia is that there is incredible diversity! You have of course the enormous iconic red kangaroo, a large grazer; the recently-extinct Tasmanian wolf, very similar in appearance to a placental wolf but with a pouch; the marsupial mole, a small furry burrower like placental moles; the marsupial sugar glider, which can glide very similarly to a placental flying squirrel; and the numbat (mascot of Western Australia), a small rodent-like animal that has a tongue specially suited to eating ants like an anteater does. All of these animals have pouches and live in Australia. None of them live anywhere else. DNA studies also suggest that they all descended from a single migrant ancestor, a close relative of Chile’s monito del monte (an opossum-like marsupial).

    The macroevolution story goes like this: A small colony of marsupials migrated from the southern tip of South America, along the western edge of Antarctica, and onto Australia when these continents were all still connected as part of Gondwana. Shortly thereafter, around 45 million years ago, Australia separated from Antarctica. During that time of complete isolation, the marsupials had the run of the place! Over millions of generations, they diversified to fill all these different niches that were wide open to them (as adumbrated above).

    I think you can see the strength of this explanation, but just to explore things a bit, the following is the only alternative response I see to these data, and it’s not very convincing to me: “Hey, we don’t know why, but God created all the diverse kinds of marsupials and plopped them all down in Australia. God’s ways are inscrutable; how could we know why He chose to do it that way? Maybe He wanted to test us, making it look like macroevolution was true to see if we would stick to His word.” I honestly don’t mean to lampoon dissenters or set up straw men. Perhaps better responses exist from anti-macroevolution proponents; if so, I’d like to see them. I just think macroevolution makes the most sense of these facts.

    So what do you think, Joey? Does this satisfy your request for “simple evidence” in favor of macroevolution? What do you make of the Australian marsupial data?

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    Some of the “Good” you’ve highlighted aren’t good. Confidence in the expertise of experts isn’t the same as religious faith. I’ve always been puzzled when believers equate the two. Also having a purely naturalistic worldview doesn’t mean you’re confused as to whether to save a drowning human over a dog. Besides, you can believe in God and yet still save the dog over the human.

  • Brian Evans

    “Also having a purely naturalistic worldview doesn’t mean you’re confused as to whether to save a drowning human over a dog.”

    I may have misunderstood, but I think the point was that from a purely naturalistic worldview humans are of no more importance than a dog, or a cockroach for that matter. A point I’ve heard philosophical naturalists admit is true. For the naturalist saving the human over the dog is merely a preference, not a moral obligation.

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    No naturalist has a purely naturalistic worldview. Do you believe that every good act performed by a philosophical naturalist is mere preference on there part?

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    And I should add that no theist have a purely theistic worldview. I’m not even sure there is such a thing as “worldview” either as most, if not all, of our explanations for our actions are post rationalizations of motivations that we’re only dimly aware of.

  • AHH

    FYI, Reasons to Believe (no friend of evolutionary science but generally committed to acting constructively and respectfully) recently put out a negative review of this Ray Comfort video, urging Christians not to promote it:
    http://www.reasons.org/articles/a-review-of-evolution-vs-god

  • Brian Evans

    Good act?

    How would a naturalist define good, given that according to naturalism things are neither good nor bad, just preferable or unpreferable.

    “No naturalist has a purely naturalistic worldview.” Then he can’t describe himself (or herself) as a naturalist. The purely naturalistic worldview says that the natural (or physical or material) world is all there is. If a person doesn’t believe that then he(she) isn’t a naturalist. I think what you mean is that no one lives consistently with a purely naturalistic worldview, a point on which I would tend to agree with you. Just as an evangelical Christian I would tell you that I believe I should never use the LORD’s name in vain. Does that mean I never do, of course not.

    I think the honest naturalist (and as I said I could site examples of those who would agree with this) would say there is no moral obligation to save the human over the dog (or any other animal) even though he would save the human over the dog. In other words, the naturalist wouldn’t say that the person who saves the dog over the human, or saves neither, is committing an immoral act.

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    I think you misunderstand what philosophical naturalism entails. Also there’s no such thing as a pure worldview with naturalism or theism or any other ism.
    I presume you think you have a purely Christian worldview. So could you tell me what’s the Christian worldview is on the death penalty? on economics? on literature? on art?

  • Brian Evans

    Let’s take the first issue you mentioned, the death penalty.

    Two Christian philosophers are debating the issue of the death penalty.

    Philosopher A says that human life is special because humans are created in the image of God, therefore we should not take another human life, even that of a heinous murderer.

    Philosopher B says that human life is special because humans are created in the image of God, and therefore a person who takes the life of another human must pay for it in like manner, that is to say he must forfeit his own life.

    So what’s the Christian worldview? Human life is special because humans are created in the image of God. The 2 philosophers agree on that. Where they disagree is how that truth applies in the situation of what should be done to a murderer.

  • RJS4DQ

    This is a nice review – critical but respectful. And I agree with Jeff Zweerink, the video is counter to our evangelistic mission. I picked up on different aspects in my post, but was quite uncomfortable with the portrayal of scientists in the video for the kinds of reasons Zweerink raises..

  • ThisIsTheEnd

    So a Christian worldview can lead one to be pro death penalty. And a Christian worldview can also lead one to be anti death penalty. But there can only be one type of philosophical naturalism and that’s it’s “purest” type (whatever that means). OK Brian its obvious to me that any further conversation with you will be unproductive, so have a nice day.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X