Question Posed: Evidence of EvoBio synthesis with the Bible

Joe, Vince and team: Hoping you can help me with a question that I continue to try and work through, and just feel like there is so much out there that is not helpful.

For reference, I have a B.S. and M.S. in biology, the latter with a focus on evolutionary sociobiology. I also have a JD (that whole path is too long a story for here). I came to faith after all that. However, this presents an opportunity and a conundrum.

With my experience in evolutionary biology, I am very familiar with the science. As a result, whenever I hear a pastor speak on it (usually with a heavy dose of derision in his voice), the pastor usually gets the science VERY wrong. I.e., “how could a worm ever turn into a monkey?” Or, “evolution is a battle of claw and tooth,” or other statements that expose a fundamental ignorance of the science. I am also familiar with the data that has shown evolution in action.*

The issues I’ve begun to really run into personally are:

  1. How do I talk to my pastor about the science so he can present his sermons in a way that provide the message he desires, but in a way that accurately reflects the science?

  2. The christian community as a whole comes across as staunchly anti-evolution. To a fault at times.
    However, I’m a textualist, and nowhere in the bible have I found a passage that says evolution by natural selection is not possible. How can we synthesize the data we have collected with a textually-accurate biblical world view?

*The best example for most people is the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant.

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Hi Fred.

With all those letters after your name I’m guessing it’s been an amazing journey for you thus far!

It’s possible I understand your frustrations, but from a totally different standpoint.

I used to get a frustrated with things like that. Like, where a spiritual leader would misquote an important scripture, and then build an entire case off of the inaccuracy… or where a pastor or speaker would make a rash blanket statement about non-christians in a way that showed a glaring ignorance.

I understand the feeling where you know that other person could benefit by listening to your input, but they’re just not open to it. I don’t have the exact answer for your situation because you know the details and I don’t. But based on what you’re saying, you might consider that there’s 2 main problems: One is the actual issue your frustrated with (where the pastor can’t seem to seriously hear you out. But the second problem might be that you’re frustrated, and coming at it in all the wrong bio-energetic force. Why not start with that?

You’ve got a super interesting argument and quite frankly, my personal response would be to oppose your pro-evolutionary arguments as well. But for whatever reason I have zero amount of tension or animosity or frustration toward you. Instead, I respect you. And from a practical standpoint that’s really handy. It’s likely I’ll still disagree with your position after I read the article in your link. But as it turns out, agreement and exact correctness may not be quite as essential as it once seemed. God is working on me just like He’s working on you. (and your pastor) It takes time and patience.
Meanwhile you might pray that your pastor will give you an ear and that he might see the light eventually…Hopefully he might pray the same for you. (strange as that may sound if you learn to move forward along the lines of the following scripture, God will help you finish the journey well … :upside_down_face:

The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25)

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Hi, @EvoFaith! While, I don’t have your background in evolutionary biology, I do personally agree with your observation that ‘…nowhere in the bible have I found a passage that says evolution by natural selection is not possible.’

I would imagine that someone with your technical knowledge would be a huge blessing to your local church, esp. as it concerns your unique perspective on this topic. I’m curious if the scenario presented in your first question is hypothetical or if you have witnessed this kind of derision in the local church you are a member of? That is, would the conversation you envision be one that is preventative or prescriptive? Would you be broaching the topic cold-turkey (so to speak) or do you have a specific message/sermon that you can reference?

In my experience, the meat of the battle is in the attitude in which you approach the conversation.

I’m glad that you have joined this community, and look forward to reading your insights!


Hi Fred:

Just to give you a background I too have a B.S. and a M.S. degree in the sciences. Mine are in biochemistry. I have followed the creation evolution controversy for over 45 years. I came from a background immersed in evolutionary theory and have taken courses in the same. Here is my synopsis from what I have learned:

Evolution by natural selection is fine at the species level or even at the genus level. I may be even convinced to accept it at the family level but as far as I am aware there is no direct evidence for it beyond that. In fact the direct evidence we have goes against the theory. The problem is to make new structures, organs or systems which goes against a fundamental law of science the law of entropy. I know the evolutionists will say that the law of entropy applies only to closed systems but the problem is we have no other example in science where things go from simple to complex by natural processes where there is no system already in place such as the photosynthetic apparatus in plants designed to do so.

Other problem is that the direct evidence from the fossil record shows that various organism having unique organs appear suddenly with no transitional form. We don’t have one example of how any unique organ appeared by gradual changes in living things. I have asked this from many an evolutionists without an answer. There are other fundamental questions - posted elsewhere in this forum - which I have asked and am waiting for answers.

The work by the Grants that you have posted is actually very good for the case I am making - creation of species by natural selection. We need to see variety of species created by natural selection in order to account for the immense amount of different species we see in the world but in order to create new organs, systems, structures etc we need a creator. I believe these are the kinds referred to in Genesis. Natural processes can at best maintain these organs… but given time natural processes will destroy them - not make new organs… - a process we have observed throughout the universe.

Like you I wish pastors do not talk about things they do not understand and I would point it out to them in a gentle way but the Bible along with science does talk about new creation can only come from God and not by natural processes.

I would love to get a response from you.

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Thanks for chiming in, @harrisrat.

So, there are quite a number of systems that tend towards complexity, and they are quite diverse. DNA is a prime example. DNA collects complexity via errors in copying, deletions, additions, etc.

Human society is another system that moves towards complexity, and not away.

Suns are as well. They start as clouds of simple, small molecules of H and He, and through fusion, create more complex atoms like Be and Pb.

In biology, gaining a trait is relatively easy. We see this in insects when a mutation in a Hedgehog or hox genes that cause extra body segments to be created. But, LOSING structures is very hard if not impossible. Consider blind animals. Cave salamanders, deep sea fish, etc. They don’t need their eyes, and maintaining them comes at a slective cost, but they don’t go away. The human appendix is another example. People die from appendicitis (significant selective pressure) yet we can’t seem to lose the thing.

The Grants’ work is a perfect example of a selective pressure (drought) resulting in a speciation event on the short term. Tip: don’t define evolution based on new organs. Soft tissues don’t fossilize. Look to speciation and gross anatomic changes, particularly in the realm of sexual dimorphism, where changes are faster.

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Thanks for your reply Fred. I am glad to have someone knowledgeable about this topic to discuss this with. I was a little premature in sending my previous post without the proper details. Sorry about that.

When I mentioned that natural systems do not go from simple to complex I should have mentioned two caveats: 1.Over a long period of time. 2. Complex functional things. So, as an example, a tornado going through a junk yard may put a nut and a bolt together but a series of tornados or any other natural system will not continue to make the assembled nut and bolt further progress to make anything functional which is what molecules to man evolution supposedly did.

So, in the examples you gave:

DNA will have copying errors but the errors don’t add up to make new functions and the sun will create complex atoms but it does not create functional systems. In the case of human society… it is not a natural system. Intelligence is involved in creating human society and when intelligence is put into the system you can create more and more complex functioning systems.

Extra body segments – extra wings – created in fruit flies is a dead-end street. Subsequent generations of fruit flies did not continue to produce functional extra wings. This is no different than people born with extra fingers and toes. Their offspring do not continue to have these extra digits. In addition, they are a detriment to their normal function not a gain.

Losing structures may be hard since their genes are still in the genome but eventually over millions of years there will be a loss of function not new functions. The human mutation rate is very small, estimated to be about 0.5x10-9 (that is 10 to the power -9) per base pair per year so it will take millions of years to lose organs.

Yes, selective pressure can develop speciation but where is the evidence that selective pressure has developed functioning organs? I don’t understand why you are saying that I should not look at organs to define evolution. Forming new organs, structures and systems is the crux of macroevolution without it there is no molecules to man evolution. Yes, I know that soft tissue does not generally fossilize but where are the fossilized bones that gave rise to the neck of the giraffe, the tail of diplodocus or any of the other structures that we find in living things?

Gerd Muller, Australian Evolutionist says, “current evolutionary theory…largely avoids the question of how the complex organizations of organismal structure, physiology, development or behavior…actually arise in evolution.”

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So, I wanted to point this out, not to throw you under the bus, but as an example of what I meant in my OP. When a pastor is talking about these topics, a slip up like this in what might be considered semantics online, result in real problems from the pulpit. Anyone who knows what they are talking about will immediately look at the original statement

And immediately will go, “woah, woah, woah, I know examples that prove that false.” When that is done from the pulpit, you’re going to lose everyone in the pews who knows better. And it’s not (necessarily) from malice. Many pastors don’t know the science. Or don’t want to look into it because doing so feels icky. This is SUPER important because there are many VERY smart scientists who don’t see a disconnect. A good example, and someone/a book I think you should check out, is “The Language of God” by Francis S. Collins. Collins is ridiculously smart. He has a PHd in Chemistry (Yale) and an MD (UNC), and ran the Human Genome Project to completion. He’s also been one of the longest running directors of the NIH. He would definitely disagree with your propositions, and is a significant Christian/scientific thinker and publisher.

While we may better take this convo to the science subforum, I think my point is highlighted here quite well: How do you go to a pastor and let them know that their science is inaccurate and it’s harming their message?

A good example is this: my pastor last year, in deriding a scientific worldview, said something like
“How could anyone believe that a worm could turn into a monkey?”
“Evolution is all about who is strongest, fastest, most red in tooth and claw, right?”

And all I could think of is, “NO!” Evolutionary theory says neither of those things. And anyone who has spent any time with it knows as much. WORSE, there were parishioners in that church that came away with theology based on an inaccurate representation of what the pastor said they should stand against. That does them no favors when they eventually learn the truth. Then they doubt the pastor’s teachings, and they start down a bad path.

Fred, I absolutely agree with what you have said here. We all have to be careful in what we say especially from the pulpit. However, you have to realize that we are all humans and prone to error. And in defense of pastors we have to remember that they have to prepare sermons every week on top of all the other pastoral work that needs attention. I understand that pastors spend more than 60 hours a week in pastoral work. I certainly would not be able to handle what they do. All the same it is good to point out to them when they do say things that are in error so they would be more conscious of what they say next time.

In defense of your pastor it is not wrong to say that according to evolution a worm like creature gave rise to a monkey!

I will respond to your other post in due course. I am currently on a project with a deadline so it may take a day or two. I appreciate the congenial manner in which you are discussing this.

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I forgot to mention in my previous post that I am very familiar with Francis Collins, his book the “Language of God” and his organization “Biologos.” Have attended on-line at least one conference of Biologos and have heard some of their speakers live. Although I appreciate his Christian witness and how he came to Christ I do disagree with him on his position on evolution.

For those who may be following this discussion Fred has appropriately transferred it to the Science Questions category under the heading Evolution and Chemistry.