Cyberspace is awash in silly videos like this one shared on The Caring Atheist Twitter site that purport to debunk scientifically confirmed theories that disprove Christian doctrine, such as biological evolution.
In this video, the narrators ridiculously stipulate that the two elements necessary for life to emerge are matter and energy, as in the form of heat. They then conclude, for instance, that because peanut butter in a jar has both elements but you never find new life forms inside, this disproves evolution. The video’s kicker idea is that the only life you ever find in a jar is microbial — a fungus, say — and that the only way it could possibly get there was as a contaminate already existing outside the jar beforehand. Voila, no life from nonlife!
This self-serving hypothesis ignores, perhaps purposely, that they key cause of the independent and spontaneous emergence of life forms is not matter and energy, which are just the crucible of evolution, which is to say the environment in which it happens, but random mutations of DNA, the microscopic genetic material of life.
“Life from non-life, apart from God’s intervention, is a fairy tale,” a woman with an authoritative voice intones on the video. “But despite that obvious truth, evolutionists continue to build their supposedly scientific case on a foundation that virtually rules out everything that follows after it.”
Thus the video’s outlandish contention that if evolution were true new beings would have spontaneously appeared by now in a sealed jar of peanut butter somewhere.
This also assumes that evolution is a speedy affair that can be perceived within a single human lifetime or less, when it can actually take millions of years for small even changes to emerge in a species.
All of this Christian apologetics stems from the biblical pronouncement that God created human beings spontaneously in their present modern form a few thousand years ago. So, for the Bible to not be completely harebrained, the faithful must insist that this wholly unverifiable conceit, which has been scientifically demolished ad nauseum over decades, is true.
Not only did life most probably emerge from nothing, the late great cosmologist Stephen Hawking said it was also very possible that the universe itself — possibly a cluster of universes — exploded out of nothing in a Big Bang. But those are separate questions altogether from the mechanics of human evolution.
So, this ancient prejudice that everything in creation can only exist due to divine causation is just that, a prejudice without factual underpinning. Just words in a book that people deem “sacred,” or personally dictated to the author by God.
I’ll go with Darwin and Hawking. At least they have excellent empirical data, not just raw intuition, to back up what they propose.
The problem is that dunderheaded videos like this one still infect the internet like the Spanish Flu infected the world in 1918, as sick soldiers returned to their countries from World War I. Tens of millions died, not because God was punishing mankind for its sins, but because we didn’t understand how evolution made deadly microbes ever deadlier as they learned ever better ways to reproduce and survive.That said, there is a very interesting historical story about an Italian grain-miller named Menocchio (1532–1599), who was convicted of heresy by the Catholic Inquisition and burned at the stake for some very outside-the-box ideas about religion and morality that did have to do with the emergence and evolution of new beings. In a scholarly work that alluded to Minocchio — The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a 16th Century Miller (1976) — Carlo Ginzburg wrote that the doomed Miller, believing he had done no wrong, honestly explained to inquisitors his sense of creation:
“I have said that, in my opinion, all was chaos, that is, earth, air, water, and fire were mixed together; and out of that bulk a mass formed – just as cheese is made out of milk – and worms appeared in it, and these were the angels. The most holy majesty decreed that these should be God and the angels, and among that number of angels there was also God, he too having been created out of that mass at the same time, and he was named lord with four captains, Lucifer, Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. That Lucifer sought to make himself lord equal to the king, who was the majesty of God, and for this arrogance God ordered him driven out of heaven with all his host and his company; and this God later created Adam and Eve and people in great number to take the places of the angels who had been expelled. And as this multitude did not follow God’s commandments, he sent his Son, whom the Jews seized, and he was crucified.”
Makes as much sense as Genesis no doubt, but the Inquisition clearly didn’t agree because it wasn’t in their book.
Please sign up (top right) to receive new Godzooks posts via email, Facebook or Twitter.
Available on Amazon!
FYI, my new memoir — 3,001 Arabian Days — is now available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon, here. It’s the story of growing up in an American oil camp in the Saudi Arabian desert from 1953-1962.
If you’ve already read “3,001 Arabian Days,” I would be honored if you’d post a reader review on my Amazon page. Thanks!
Reader review: “Author Snedeker’s wit and insights illuminate the book’s easy narrative. His journalistic style faithfully recreates the people, places and events, and keeps the story crisp and moving from one chapter to the next. More than a coming of age story, 3,001 Arabian Days is a moving tribute to the intricacies of family, a celebration of Saudi Arabian culture, and a glimpse into a time gone by, but whose shadowy specter you can still almost reach out and touch.” — Mark Kennedy