The compatibility of evolution and Christianity continues to be a hot topic, and I get a steady stream of insightful questions from all over the world and Canada asking for my take on some pressing issues. Below are just a few of the questions that have come my way, and, though technical and learned, I hope my answers are helpful.
1. If I accept evolution, is there a chance I might turn into a monkey myself? (D. from Kentucky). D, thank you for your question. There are several schools of thought on this issue, but to date there is no solid genetic evidence for such a process, though I know of experiments being conducted by some creationist groups, with test tubes and such, who are apparently close to a breakthrough. At this point we can only stay tuned.
2. I know some very stupid people, like this time my brother-in-law tried carving a turkey with a chain saw without first lubricating the chain!! Am I right in thinking that Stanley is just “less evolved” or are there other possible explanations? (L. from Canada). First, L., I get this question a lot, so know that you are not alone. Remember that there are always alternate explanations, so don’t rush to slap the evolutionary label on something just because it seems to make sense. Though, in this case, it seems to make sense.
3. I see that you’ve written a book about evolution. I’ve also heard you also harm small animals. Why do you do that? (A. from MIT). Wow, A., that’s really crossing the line. What I do on my day off is my business. And stop trying to discredit the truth through ad hominem attacks on my character and believing rumors spread by trespassers. Plus, just because someone has to hypothetically let off some steam now and then in a way not everyone understands doesn’t mean it’s “wrong,” and even if it is, that’s got nothing to do with someone’s professional life. I also think your imprecise use of “harm” or “small” makes it hard to understand what you’re even asking.
4. Since the Bible is the word of God, it would help me if there was a verse in the Bible about evolution so I would know it’s OK to believe in it. Is there a verse like that? (P. from Greenland). I don’t know the Bible well enough to say, P., but I did ask that question once of a scientist at a conference in the Q&A after he gave a paper on primate nicotine addiction. He said, “Yes, there is a verse that tells you it’s OK to believe in evolution. It’s right next to the verse that tells you about gravity, penicillin, and that there is a western hemisphere.” I haven’t yet found those verses, and I’ll keep looking as time allows, but I’m beginning to wonder if he has no idea what he’s talking about.
5. I heard that every person alive today can trace his or her ancestry to a single gene pool in Africa about 100,000 or so years ago. I don’t mean to come off as racist, but what actually is a gene pool and does this mean that, in some real sense, I am related to Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, and the hosts of The View? According to the Wikipedia article, which I skimmed, a gene pool is not a literal body of water but a metaphor–a turn of phrase, if you will–for genetic information shared in a given population. Keeping in mind that no one has ever actually seen a “gene” and no one really knows what they “do,” according to “gene pool theory,” Tim McCarver, Dick Vitale, and the “hosts” of The View (along with the Gilbert Gottfried and Phillies’ fans) actually make up their private own gene “pool,” as it were. So you are safe. Just avoid exchanges in bodily fluids.
This post originally appeared in March of this year. Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental and a product of your own imagination.