I have a friend who asked me about what should be our general stance about archaeology. She asked this since it bothers her that it seems that archaeological findings support evolution, in a sense that it seems that before we became the modern man, there are other transitional kinds of men. This link is an example of what she’s talking about.
I’m curious about how you would answer her if I were you?
@omnarchy How did you respond? I’m sure you had a good response
If I had the time to study a bit first, I might say something like: "You know, the fossil record actually contradicts evolutionary expectations. All hominid species appeared at once and their diversity remained consistent over millions of years. That is what you would expect if God created them; not if they gradually developed over time. In addition, there is a ‘big bang’ of human civilization and culture. Humans appeared on the scene suddenly - not gradually. Again what you would expect if God created us in His image.
In addition, evolutionary trees built from DNA and protein sequences differ significantly from those constructed from craniodental data. And craniodental data is all that we have for most of these hominid fossils. So scientists struggle to even paint a clear picture of how these fossils relate to one another. I think a strong case can be made that the fossil record actually supports creation. Would you be interested in some reading material?"
Some quotes from “Who Was Adam?”:
Given the widespread media attention to these discoveries, it’s no wonder that most people believe there is overwhelming evidence for human evolution.
archeological record displays something other than a gradual evolutionary emergence of human culture. Rather, the record’s defining characteristic is a veritable explosion of civilization. This eruption is considered anthropology’s “big bang.”
explosive diversity of hominids occurred at the time of their first appearance in the fossil record. This explosion of coexisting species persists throughout their history. The pattern and timing of the hominids’ first appearance directly contradicts evolution’s scenarios for their origins.
The features that distinguish people from other primates include (1) bipedalism—the ability to walk erect; (2) a large brain; (3) a large ratio of brain size to body mass; (4) unique skull features—a short face, characteristic jaw robustness, distinguishing anterior and cheek teeth anatomy, and tooth eruption patterns; (5) characteristic body proportions, including relatively long legs and short arms; (6) limited sexual dimorphism—little size difference between females and males; (7) extensive manual dexterity; and (8) an advanced culture.
When newspaper headlines announce the finding of “human” fossils that date 3 million years old, paleoanthropologists have merely discovered the remains of an australopithecine or some other member of a related genus, not a modern human.
Most hominid fossil discoveries consist of partial crania, partial jaws, isolated teeth, and occasionally isolated limb fragments.4 Paleoanthropologists rarely find a complete cranium, let alone an entire skeleton. Moreover, very few hominid species have extensive representation in the fossil record. In most cases, a limited number of fragmentary fossil finds and a handful of specimens define a species.
Instead of finding a single species that gave birth to two evolutionary branches (apes and hominids), paleoanthropologists now acknowledge a plethora of hominids that existed 7 to 6 million years ago.
nearly all paleoanthropologists agree that anatomically modern humans (H. sapiens sapiens) appear in the fossil record not much earlier than 100,000 years ago.
Even though paleontologists have discovered a menagerie of hominids, they cannot seem to establish evolutionary connections among them.
These animals used unsophisticated tools and engaged in crude hunting and gathering. They didn’t paint pictures or play music or display any other signs of creativity.
The RTB model asserts that attempts to establish evolutionary relationships among the hominids in the fossil record and to identify the evolutionary pathways to modern humans will ultimately prove unfruitful.
The RTB model maintains that while human beings reflect God’s image in their activities, hominids did not.
They theorize that the passage of humanity through a genetic bottleneck, perhaps as recently as 100,000 years ago, creates the appearance that humanity arose from a small original population.
Both fieldwork and theoretical work demonstrate that population collapse leads relentlessly toward extinction rather than toward recovery and flourishing population growth.
However, as Collard and Wood point out, the use of hominid craniodental features to discern evolutionary relationships has never been validated. To make their point, these two paleoanthropologists compared evolutionary trees constructed from craniodental data with those built from DNA and protein sequences for two currently existing groups of primates. One group included humans, chimpanzees, and gorillas. The other consists of baboons, macaques, and mangabeys. For both sets of primates, the evolutionary trees built from DNA and protein sequences differed significantly from those constructed from craniodental data.
Another way of approaching this is to ask what the relevance is to disproving Christianity?
For instance, let’s say that there were many transitional kinds of human-like beings. However, we can still affirm that, just as there is a difference between us and the apes, there was a difference between the first human being made in God’s image and predecessor species.
That is, accepting the idea of evolution might affect how we understand some of our Christian beliefs, but would it mean that the central teachings of Christianity are false? We could still affirm the reality of sin, the reliability of the Bible, the unique ministry of Jesus, the resurrection, the work of the Holy Spirit, the importance of the church, etc.
I’m not suggesting this is the only way to respond, but it could be one helpful way, among others.
This is helpful to me Carson because this is WAY over my head yet, I have a friend from Iran who has invited my husband and I out for dinner. He is an atheist. The dinner invitation came after a deep discussion we had concerning the origin of man and the fossil record. I can only say that God navigated me through the discussion with practical applications because quite honestly, I just don’t understand it.
Any advise for me?
I also appreciate this as an avenue @CarsonWeitnauer because to me (although I personally don’t hold to evolution) the “journey” of life isn’t the problem at all… it’s the Origin. The origin of life currently cannot be explained and that is where I always try and keep the playing field.
Couple that with what you’ve said… that even if it were true it wouldn’t necessarily change my theology in terms of it’s core precepts of Sin and Grace. Again… personally I have some issue with the theological implications of Evolution, but it’s not one of the things that would make me turn from my faith if it did turn out to be true.
@sig, If it helps at all… I think this actually way over the head of almost everyone. Correct me if I’m wrong, but no one here is an Evolutionary Biologist or a Paelontologist. This means that all we are doing when we discuss these things is work from what we know of what other people have told us. This may not help you with what you say, but I find it comforting to know that the people I’m speaking with are also not experts in the above fields and are therefore in the same boat as I am in not knowing that much. To me, as I said above, I tend towards ignoring the fossil record and going straight to the origin of life itself. If you want to read up on something, that’s what I like looking at. Stephen Meyer has some great things to say on the subject… he was recently interviewed by Ben Shapiro and I found it to be really interesting. See here for the interview. He doesn’t argue from a Christian perspective, but a scientific one, and seems to be pretty knowledgeable on the subject.
Other than that… I hope and pray God gives you and all of us wisdom in how and what to say in these discussions.
Thank you @tsbehan for the link to the discussion between Stephen C. Meyer and Ben Shapiro (whom my grandson loves). I am only halfway through and what I have just heard, I can work with. “We do know of a cause that is sufficient to produce new information. This is why it’s not a God of the gaps or argument from ignorance. We are drawing from Darwin’s scientific method. We want to draw on our knowledge of cause and effect. What have we observed? the only __known__ cause that can produce new information is a __mind.__ That is a much more plausible idea than the Darwinian idea of a random search.”
I have the book “Darwin On Trial” by Phillip E. Johnson. I have been reading it in increments for a year! I have to read, reread, read again and again to try and wrap my brain around all the information. I have developed a wrinkle between my eyebrows…ha ha!
Is Stephen C. Meyer’s book and easier read?
Again, thank you for your suggestion and your time.
Praise God that he helped you navigate through the discussion! I think it is wonderful that you and your husband were able to have dinner with your Iranian friend. I think continuing to build the friendship is the main and most important thing. If evolution is his passion, you could try at least two routes:
Let’s say that evolution as you understand it is 100% true. Why does that mean that Christianity is false?
Let’s say that evolution provides some reason to think Christianity is false. On the other hand, there are reasons to think Christianity is true. For instance, have you ever studied the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus?
In either scenario, I would recommend asking good questions and listening well. Have a fun conversation! Enjoy being together. If he raises points you can’t answer, a nice reply might be:
Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that one! Good question! Let me write it down and go think about it. Then we’ll have you over for dinner to discuss! How’s that sound?
Then you can come and ask those questions in Connect. Win-win-win.
As the relationship grows, another option might be to read a book with him on one of the topics of ongoing interest, or maybe he would become open to doing a small group Bible study with you.
I appreciate all your responses fam! Personally, this is an apologetic subject which I still need to study further in order for me to be able to give a more substantial response. This is one of the topics which I am not confident.
Here @SeanO is a description regarding what I said for you to see how I responded:
I set her expectations that at least for Christians, there are people who believe in Young Earth Creationism, Old Earth Creationism, and Theistic Evolution. I emphasized that they are Christians even if they differ on their belief in creation.
I said that in a worst-case scenario, in case the evidence supports evolution, that this would not destroy the Christian faith. This is because the existence of God does not remove the possibility that God could guide evolution in a way that would accomplish His purposes (which is more probable than a fully blind and mindless process).
In the NatGeo article, I said that it seems not enough for me to conclude anything. This is because the studies and evidence are generalized. I affirmed that even I have not studied it yet, that there are human-like discoveries, like the australopithecine fossils, which are regarded as a transitional life form because it links an ape-like common ancestor and human beings.
After that, I referred her to an article, which is Young Earth in view. I gave her a brief summary of the argument, that the erectus chain, most if not all, are full members of the human race. The morphological distinctions are not enough for them to be put in a separate category. The primitive or ape-like features of Neanderthals are nothing more than effects by climate, diet, or pathology to individuals of a population.
@omnarchy Sounds like a great response I like how you provided evidence for your position while also noting that this issue is not critical to Christianity. May the Lord Jesus bless the seeds that you planted through your words and attitude!
His book is not out now in New Zealand, at least. I have it on order and will let you know if it is easy to read or not. I know what you mean about having to read and reread things. For me, thankfully, not always so much in the science realm, but very definitely in the philosophical one. I’ve been trying to brush up on philosophical history and just different approaches to thinking and theories… my brain fills up very quickly and yet it all seems to fall out as soon as I put the book down.
Hang in there, though… thankfully we have the Lord to do the actual convincing.
Great question/topic and great dialogue! Regarding the origin of life aspect to the discussion, Dr. James Tour has some fantastic videos! Dr. Tour is too smart for all of us, but I guarantee you won’t miss the meaning of his message and his enthusiasm is unmatched! He loves God, and he loves his job. James Tour: The Mystery of the Origin of Life
Thank you for your kind words, @SeanO and @scottdockins27. This is encouraging to me, because it somehow tells me that I did right in how I answered my friend. I have a bit of doubt because this is not my expertise. I appreciate this. I hope I get to grow more in this area, so that I’ll be more confident in answering this the next time it comes along.
This finding that purports to be a new species based on the fossils of 3 individuals takes me back to my studies in biological anthropology nearly 40 years ago. A lot of the claims for the scientific evidence for evolution did not seem to qualify and were incoherent.
I will need to review this work. I noticed that the name used in the paper was “hominins.” I never saw that term used. Sean used the term “hominids” which has been the commonly used term. If the name is not correct, what else is wrong?
The Hugh Ross book looks interesting. Also Michael Behe wrote a book called Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Behe is a biochemist. A reviewer on Amazon, @T-Rex 5, writes of his book:
Behe does believe in evolution and the scientifically accepted age of the earth. In this book, he discusses the complexity of biochemistry, why natural selection can not work at the biochemical level, and the positive case for design. He goes into great technical detail about the biochemistry of body systems such as the blood clotting system and the immune system, and why it is not possible that these types of systems evolved via natural selection. He does not mention God or guess at who the designer is, as he says that is outside the realm of science and in the philosophical/religious domain. He goes into great detail explaining why the simplistic view of natural selections in systems such as eyesight made sense at one time, but why these explanations no longer make any sense with the discovery of DNA and the advent of the science of biochemistry.
More reading! I love the thoughtful comments here. My conclusion remains that I still don’t have enough faith to believe in the atheistic world view or Darwinian evolution based on random mutations. Like man-made climate change’s computer models, I don’t see enough science in the method or evidence to support such views, which I find to be more political and psychological rather than scientific and metaphysical.
I pray our God (YHWH) blesses your learning endeavors.
Expert or not perhaps the best contribution we (Christians) can offer during dialogue is our intellectual integrity…amongst ourselves and especially with those of differing worldviews than our own…I suspect it is the skeleton key for all future conversations.
Brother, you have that integrity…never let it go.
Integrity removes the burden of feeling like one must know all things at all times which is quite ludicrous for any person.
But…when we possess intellectual integrity, wonder, and curiosity the sum is quite marvelous…
We are able to wade in the wonder that is God and His creation…joyfully, passionately, and earnestly.
Glad you want to engage your friend at dinner. I have found that most atheists had a hurtful experience that they blamed on God. You might try asking questions to probe the basis of his view. Questions like “Why do you think we don’t see any hybrid species walking around today?”, “Where do you think morality came from?”, “What is the benefit of something like love, which would tend to help the weak and not always the strong?”, “Have you ever experienced something akin to love?”, “What do you think is our purpose?”, “Does your current view give you meaning and purpose for your life?”, “May I tell you how I found meaning and purpose in my life?”, “Do you think God loves you?”, “May I share why I think God does love you?”.
It is God’s loving kindness that draws us to Himself and your friend is no different. If he can sense your genuine care for him and thus, God’s love for him, his heart will be softened and more open to the Gospel.
I have found many people put up smokescreens to God - “I don’t believe He exists”, “I can’t believe in a God who allows suffering”, etc., but in the end, it’s important that they know they are loved by their heavenly Father. So, in whatever way God leads you, be a signpost pointing to God. You don’t have all the answers, but you know the One who does! Let your fondness for your friend and care for his eternal soul shine and your friend will see Jesus in you.