Defining evolution

This short article, written by WEC missionary Paul Finch, is a summary of  the talks I gave recently to four non-Christian groups in Italy, and which were well received.

One of the central tenets of our guest speaker’s presentations on evolution was the fact that there has been introduced into the word itself a subtle confusion. He suggested that if we introduce 2 new terms, micro-evolution and macro-evolution, we might be able to better understand what is at stake in any meaningful conversation about evolution.

Micro-evolution is in fact what Darwin observed during his stay on the Galapagos Islands just off the coast of South America.  He noted how the beaks of the different Finches changed as they adapted to climatic and environmental influences. This can easily be understood to be a kind of evolution, and that’s fair enough.

However, if we take that same word and extend it to mean a progression between the species, there is no empirical evidence to support it. This entire panorama, macro-evolution, is really not working as a science which is studying and analyzing facts. To study changes within one species is possible and useful, but to extend that to include shifts between the species themselves should be acknowledged as the work of a theorist because there is insufficient hard evidence which can be cited.

If such a development could be thought about, even in a speculative way, it would presuppose a regularity in natural law. And the second point was precisely to question on what basis that regularity can be assumed if there is no God and everything exists on the basis of chance. The entire case for laws based on probability is not sustainable on a scientific basis. Science itself works on much more solid foundations choosing to study and formulate hypotheses on the basis of verifiable facts.

Another observation made was that as a theory the survival of the fittest and progressive developments would have been made on the ability of the developing “thing” to function better. It’s a sort of mechanical improvement. However, if this was so, the question would necessarily arise as to why there is so much beauty in our world. If something evolved from the sheer necessity of adaptation and survival, why would there be such extreme colour, variety of shape, and even the human appreciation of aesthetics.  When  a photo of a peacock was put on the screen it became so clear that the world in which we live is not just a grey machine which has come into being, but a magnificent universe of colour and sound.

The fourth point, which never had time to be elaborated fully, was that of the wonderful completeness of our world.  Using the example of a bicycle he observed how every cable, screw and bolt was necessary for it to function. Every part was vital to each other.  Even though living organisms are not dead machines, but living, the idea that a sequence of casual events could place each different part in such a relationship to each other is sufficiently improbably to be unthinkable.  However the proposition of an Intelligent Designer is rational and fits the observable facts.

Really, our speaker felt it is misleading to think of evolution simply as a science working with facts. It is also a philosophy, which has its followers and disciples, but much of it is not working with concrete objective evidence in a real world.  It’s a theory which wants to explain the world in a purely materialistic way, deliberately excluding God. True science develops in a real world knowing that natural law is credible because there is a God who sustains it all. Research on this basis is all the more thrilling because it’s filled with the wonder of discovery of purpose and the richness of beauty!

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