Two Anti-Evolutionist Claims
Two claims often made by anti-evolutionists are as follows:
1. Biological evolution should not be referred to as science since it cannot be experimentally demonstrated.
2. Evolutionary mechanisms can only degrade the functionality of organisms and “result in a permanent loss of information”. (eg. See this article at AIG)
Stephen Matheson in his post on Gene Duplication shows that both of these claims are false. Reviewing a recent article in Nature, he recounts how gene duplication can result in new functionality. Commenting on the fact that this is demonstrated by real experimentation he states:
First, take note that this article is another example of a sophisticated, hypothesis-driven experimental analysis of a central evolutionary concept. Research like this is reported almost daily.Not a very Christian Response
What is more pertinent however, is the way some Christian organizations respond to these issues. Matheson continues:
[You would] never learn this by reading the work of Reasons To Believe or the fellows of the Discovery Institute. The mis-characterization of evolutionary biology by the creationists of those organizations is a scandal, and as you might already know, my blog's main purpose is to give evangelical Christians an opportunity to explore the science that is being so carefully avoided by those critics.
In regards to claim #2 above, Matheson remarks:
You don't need to understand sign epistasis or the structure of transcription factors to get this take-home message: evolutionary biologists are hard at work solving the problems that some prominent Christian apologists can't or won't even acknowledge. How does gene duplication lead to the formation of genes with new functions? The folks at the Discovery Institute can't even admit that it happens. Over at Reasons To Believe, they don't mention gene duplication at all, despite their fascination with "junk DNA." That's from a ministry that claims to have developed a "testable model" to explain scores of questions regarding origins.
This makes me mad. No matter what you think of the age of the earth or the need for creation miracles, you should be upset by Christians who mangle science to serve apologetic ends. (emphasis mine).
New Creationist Research
If evolutionary biologists continue to make fruitful progress with their research, how does the research of anti-evolutionist organizations compare? The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) will soon be launching its GENE project on genomics. (This is the same organization that completed the RATE project on radiometric dating which I reviewed here). As an introduction to their new venture ICR states:
[Recently some] scientists gathered at ICR; those strategizing for the upcoming research initiative in genomics. Worldwide discoveries have produced a wealth of raw genomic data just crying for a creationist interpretation. The human genome was decoded a couple of years ago, and now the chimp genome is available along with others. Already dozens of creationist genomists have joined up.
The plan is to focus on analyzing the human genome, demonstrating the certainty that man and the animals have no common ancestor.
I completed the draft for this post last night, but didn’t have time to publish it. Today I noticed Matheson had posted another blog entry entitled On Folk Science and Lies. I recommend reading this post in conjunction with my own.
A pertinent question is this: If someone passionately preaches falsehoods, but they just as passionately believe they are preaching the truth, are they lying? Personally, I would answer no to this question. Since I suspect almost all anti-evolutionary creationists honestly believe they are right, I don’t think they should be accused of lying. (Thus I also strongly object to anti-evolutionary Creationists being called “Liars for Jesus”, something I have seen with some frequency). However, the anti-evolutionary Creationist “ends justifies the means” methodology is definitely a problem. Should it be called deception, duplicity, or something else? Whatever the name, it is this lack of integrity, combined with erroneous conclusions, and a dogmatic insistence that these conclusions are necessary for the gospel, that are proving lethal to the advancement of the gospel.