Why do Things Evolve?
by Jack Hoehn
It is beyond amazing that a revelation given to an introverted genius written for the lowest socioeconomic classes in an ancient creation narrative can be understood easily by my 3 year old grandson and yet its outline is substantially supported by 21st century scientific revelations.
While scientists and Bible believers are often presented as at loggerheads over the history of the creation of earth and life on it, it would be beneficial for both sides to step back and see where the revelations starting with Genesis and the discoveries of science at least do not necessarily disagree.
|Bible Teaches||Science Discovers|
|God exists before and outside of Creation—Genesis 1:1||Science admits it does not have the tools to nullify the existence of extra-material reality.|
|The universe is finite and had a Beginner—Genesis 1:1||The universe is finite and had a beginning, a big bang.|
|Creation was progressive and sequential, step by step, day by day, not instantaneous—Genesis 1||This earth was formed by a series of steps that can be traced through time.|
|God designed earth, water, and light before life was created—Genesis 1:2-5||Physics and chemistry are behind all life. The origin of physics and chemistry are unknown. Their laws do appear to be finely tuned for life to exist.|
|Creation of conditions for life began with a watery world—Genesis 1:2||A watery world showed the first life forms.|
|The Creator was the Word, the information transmitter—John 1:1||Life in its most primitive forms shows complex information present, and the source of this information is a great unknown.|
|The atmosphere was created before complex life forms could appear—Genesis 1:6-8||Bacteria had to enrich the atmosphere with Oxygen before advanced life forms could exist.|
|Landforms appear in gatherings during the creation sequences–Genesis 1:9-10 (And perhaps separations in Genesis 10:25)||Geology traces landmasses forming, separating, rising, falling, and rising again many times during the long history of earth.|
|Plants appear before animals—Genesis 1:11-13||Plants appear before complex animals.|
|Sea creatures appear before land animals—Genesis 1:20-23||Sea creatures appear before land animals. The icon of evolution is a fish crawling out of the sea!|
|Creation stopped with creation of humans—Genesis 2:1-2||We no longer see new kinds arising; mostly we have loss of species since humanity appeared.|
|Catastrophes with loss of life were permitted for good ends—Genesis 6||Catastrophes have happened many times in earth’s history.|
|Life is not perfect, it is fallen and represents both good and evil—Genesis 2:16,17; Romans 7:21; 8:20,22||Life it not perfect, and has a series of accidents and mistakes selected for survival benefits.|
|Sexuality exists by design—Genesis 1:27||Sexuality exists for unknown reasons.|
|Magic is a sin—Leviticus 19:31; 2Kings 21:6; Ezekiel 13:18; Acts 19:19.||Magic is falsifiable and your god sounds magical to me.|
|No, he’s not.||Well if your god is all that you claim then I would do a better job than he does with creation.|
|Prove it.||I’m trying to.|
Short term creationists and Darwinian evolutionists both agree in some manner that life evolves. Only the speed, cause, and limits on those changes are at issue.
Darwinians need a long time for this to happen with random events and natural selection of those random positive mutations. Short term creationists say millions of changes happened because of the moral fall of Eve and Adam, as the result of “the curse”. This is evolution on steroids for all these changes to occur in 2,000 years before the flood when all the fossils are claimed to be formed!
Different Kinds of Evolution
There are of course different kinds of change or evolution seen in life forms. Creationists see the predatory, thorn, thistle, carnivorous, death dealing, diseases and virus changes as evidence of evil, cruel, Satanic influence. But they do recognize that starting with one kind of dog-like animal and ending with many kinds from Teacup Poodles to Great Danes is a positive or pleasant kind of evolution. That having one kind of hummingbird and ending up with Ruby Throats, Broad Tailed, Calliope, Anna’s, Black Chinned, Costa’s, Rufous, Allen’s, and occasionally Cuban Emeralds in the USA is also a form of positive evolution. Perhaps we could call these adaptations, variations, speciation a form of godly-evolution?
So why do things adapt, change, mutate, evolve? Darwinians as near as I can understand say, just because, that’s what things do, given mutations and fitness selection and enough time. Creationists haven’t talked about this very much, but most would say, because God made it possible, or in some cases because God allowed Satan to do some of it?
Evolutionists scoff at all supernatural influences, but for the moment this is not my concern. I do understand that on the other hand many believers are also uncomfortable giving Satan that much credit. But at least Adventists should agree that our doctrine of the Great Controversy suggests that fallen angels and their leader are more capable than humans. Fallen angelic power then might do as much or more than humans can do. With gene splicing, artificial mutations, cloning, and other genetic manipulations human beings can cause and direct much change, adaptation, evolution of life forms. So it is no longer difficult for me to accept that the history of life on earth may give evidence of Divine creation of a system, subject to adaptation, variation, and change that can be manipulated for good or ill by intelligences like humans or like devils.
If God created a perfect creation that was finished and very good, why would He design change or the ability to evolve, into his creatures?
I can think of at least two reasons. One is that without chance there is no choice, and things that do not grow and adapt to chance changes may not survive changing circumstances. An elephant designed to function in warm weather, eating grass, might not be able to survive climate change and a colder temperature with different kinds of plants, unless his teeth could change from grass eating teeth to tree chewing teeth, and his skin from smooth warm weather skin to hairy cold weather skin. And so we see fossils of Mastodons chewing branches, followed by Mammoths grazing grass. We observe Asian elephants with sparse hair and the frozen fossils of cold weather American or Siberian elephants (Mammoths) with thick fur. (For examples see my Blog Summer Time and Time on Mastodons and Mammoths in the Rockies.)
The second reason is that an unchanging creation would become boring, especially during an eternal life!
Humans crave change and variety. If you have a Dachshund you want a Labrador. If you have a Parakeet you want an Amazon Parrot. If you have a 1990 car, you want the 2013 model, or if you have a new Chevy, you want a 1958 restored one. We enjoy new clothes, new paint, new house, new music, new hair styles. If you’ve seen London, you want to see Rome. If you had Lemon pie last Sabbath, you are ready for Pumpkin pie the next. If you had Apple pie, you are ready to try French Apple Pie, or Sour Cream Apple Pie. If Tide was good, New and Improved Tide must be better.
Evolution in the Life to Come
So how long would you be satisfied with a perfect but static life in the world to come?
Pastor Art Harms once told me a little story to help me comprehend eternity. “During eternity a little sparrow living in New York wants to visit San Francisco, so every 1,000 years he flies from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back again. On the way he stops and rests on the top of the highest peak he can find in the Rockies. By the time he has worn down that mountain flat, eternity will have just begun.”
So how many years of the same perfect garden, the same perfect animals, the same perfect mountains, the same perfect fruits, the same perfect vegetables can you stand? How many thousands of years would you enjoy eternity without change, variety, adaptation, alteration, novelty? Does not eternal life mean eternal change and growth and adaptation? Would not a perfect world need perfect adjustment, adaptation, change, novelty, to keep it interesting? I don’t see how you can really believe in eternal life, unless you also believe in eternal, godly change, or as we might call it, godly-evolution?
Therefore I think we are in danger of blasphemy when we say flat out that “evolution is evil”. I think things evolve because they were created capable of evolution. Things adapt, change, evolve, become different and more interesting or able to survive new challenges because the Creator made that possible. God, as I see it, is the originator of evolution.
Which is not the same as saying the Darwinian or Neo-Darwinian or Post-Darwinian godless evolutionists are right. Much evidence suggests they are quite wrong in maintaining that evolution creates anything at all, except adaptations on already existing and designed life forms.
But let’s at least talk about where we can agree. Yes, scientists and creationists agree that things evolve. Let’s now talk about how and why they evolve, and what the limits of evolution are, instead of denying that evolution occurs and maintaining that evolutionists are stupid for believing it happens. Darwin discovered evolution, but he didn’t create it. God created the mechanisms for the possibility of evolution, as part of His intelligent design. I want credit for evolution back where it belongs.