Friday, April 20, 2012

Read Along: Chapter 4—Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town?

Today we continue with Chapter Four in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Four, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You're also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!

[Audio Intro] - Jonathan Morrow introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 04 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) - PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] - Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Four: Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town?
(pages 57-70)

Chapter four explores the question of Darwinian evolution. The new atheists state that evolution is a fact, but is this true? The authors first define evolution, providing a number of ways the term can be used. They also describe the theory of intelligent design and what it claims. They offer reasons to doubt the strength of some of the main lines of evidence used in favor of Darwinian evolution, including HIV and bacterial resistance, homology, biogeography, "poor design," and pseudogenes. They conclude by underscoring the importance of the origins question and the implications of each theory for human value.

Intelligent Design advocate William Dembski contributes with an essay about the evidence for intelligent design, its implications, and value in making a case for Christian theism.

Notable quotes:
Intelligent design's main claim is that nature exhibits patterns that are best explained as the product of intelligent cause (design) rather than an undirected material process (chance and necessity). (p. 59)  
The theory of intelligent design does not challenge the definition of evolution as change over time, or even common ancestry.* But it does challenge the Darwinian claim that all life's complexity and diversity can emerge through a blind, undirected process(p. 60)
Living systems bear unmistakable signs of design, even if such design is, or appears to be, imperfect. Product designers and engineers know that perfect design does not exist. (p. 64)
  1. Why is the question of origins important?
  2. What is the most common evidence for Darwinian evolution you have heard?
  3. What are the implications of Darwinism vs Intelligent Design when it comes to human value?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 5—How Did the Universe Begin?


Anonymous said...

i recently heard Dr. William Lane Craig speak at a Veritas Forum - he was asked about evolution and sort of remarked off hand that "most Christians believe in evolution." This was news to me, has anyone else heard Craig take this position? Has he (or any other notable apologist) defended it online anywhere. He didn't expound on his answer, so I was wondering if he was implying some sort of theistic evolution. Thoughts?

Hausdorff said...

I was a little confused by one quote in the book. It is apparently on page 60, or location 539 on the kindle.

"The theory of intelligent design does not challenge the definition of evolution as change over time, or even common ancestry. But it does challenge the Darwinian claim that all life's complexity and diversity can emerge through a blind, undirected process."

When I read this quote, I feel like ID and evolution should get along just fine, because they both agree on what happened, it's just that ID people think that God had a hand in it and "darwinists" don't think that is a necessary assumption.

But then the rest of the chapter seemed to focus a lot on micro vs macro evolution saying that macro evolution did not happen. I also think there was one part that seemed to say that God put everything here at one point and it micro-evolved a bit from there (unfortunately I didn't make a note of where that was so I can't quote it). This idea seems to contradict the quote where it says that common ancestry happened.

Anyone able to clear up my confusion?

MaryLou said...

Steve, I don't know the talk to which you refer. However, could it be that he was talking about microevolution and not macroevolution? As the audio introduction for this week's reading indicated, we always have to define just what we mean when we use the term "evolution" because there are different understandings of it.

I went to Reasonable Faith to find an article that addressed theistic evolution. I found this:

I don't know whether that will give you the answer you seek, but Craig does talk about terms being used differently by the theist and the evolutionary biologist.

Science is not in my bailiwick. I read the stuff for laypeople, but leave the deep issues to those who know far more about it than I do.

Hausdorff, I was confused by the quotation you noted above as well. Hopefully, someone will enlighten us both.

Brian said...

That particular quote has an asterisk and footnote in the book... and what it says will help shed light on what is meant. It reads as follows:

"For example, biochemist Michael Behe, author of Darwin's Black Box and The Edge of Evolution, accepts common ancestry but argues that intelligence is still required. While Behe believes that apes and humans share a common ancestor, he rejects Darwin's claim that random variation and natural selection are sufficient to guide the entire process. Thus, he accepts the first tenet of Darwinism but rejects the second. Many ID theorists, on the other hand, reject common descent. For example, developmental biologist Jonathan Wells, coauthor of The Design of Life, sees fossil and molecular data as so full of gaps as to overthrow the gradual pattern of organismal change predicted by Darwin's theory. ID theorists may disagree over whether or not all organisms trace their lineage back to a common ancestor, but they agree that organisms show clear, scientific evidence of design. The primary question for intelligent design is not how organisms came to be (though they regard that as an important question also); rather, it is whether organisms demonstrate clear, observable marks of being intelligently caused."

Sean McDowell;Jonathan Morrow. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (p. 304). Kindle Edition.

MaryLou said...

This tells me I ought to read footnotes! LOL!

Thank you, Brian!

Unknown said...

I think theistic evolution is a copout. For all of his extreme views, Kent Hovind showed in his 20 debates circulating around the web that there is a strong case for the literal interpretation of the creation. I've seen Craig and D'Souza concede macro evolution and to the scientific authorities who claim it is a fact without showing convincing evidence.

I personally find it incompatible to believe in Darwinism and the book of Genesis at the same time.

Hausdorff said...

Unknown, I understand that it is impossible to believe in a literal view of Genesis and evolution at the same time (is this what you mean? If I am misunderstanding forgive me). However a literal view has its own problems. For instance, how do you explain the 2 separate creation stories in genesis 1 and 2 that contradict each other? link. They can't both be correct, why is the other one in there? (I hope I don't come off like a jerk here, I'm just curious how a bible literalist would answer this question)

Ex N1hilo said...


The person who wrote the alleged critique of Genesis 1 and 2 to which you linked needs to return to grammar school and learn some grammar. He (or she) should especially concentrate on understanding verb tenses.

When he was mastered the material; and can then begin to interpret the English language; he will see that there is no contradiction.

Hausdorff said...

I am not really sure what is accomplished by simply throwing in an insult. I thought he brought up a few good points, if you think he has obviously made an error why not tell me what it is. We can go right to the source material if you like. It seems like in Genesis 1 he makes man and woman together and in Genesis 2 he makes man first then woman later.

Unknown said...


You are correct on both points. Yes I meant biblical creation is incompatible with the general theory of evolution (by this I'm referring to big bang to current life and not just microevolution).
You are also correct by saying that literal creationists have problems. I'm not saying that literal creationism is necessarily a better theory, but that since neither can be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, I'm befuddled why prominent Christian figures would opt to choose a secular theory that glorifies death and random chance. Evolution's early history was not based on science but was born in movement by those looking for a way to get out from under God's authority and judgement. To believe that God you deny the literal biblical account that states God loved his creation, and "it was good from the beginning".

Hausdorff said...


I hope I am not twisting your words too much, but what you said reads to me like you are advocating that people simply believe what they want to believe. Nothing can be proven 100%, so if that is what you require to accept something you don't like you will never have to.

"Evolution's early history was not based on science but was born in movement by those looking for a way to get out from under God's authority and judgement."

I'm curious where this idea comes from. I read the origin of species last year and it never struck me that way. It seemed like he was saying "This is how evolution seems to work, here are a whole bunch of observations that support that idea"

Unknown said...


I hope I'm not sounding like a brainwashed fundamentalist. I think truth is what we should be searching for, not preference. With that being said, there is much that is unprovable about evolution, so it must be taken on faith. My qualm is why someone like Craig would argue that it's rational to have faith in the Christian God (and the authority of the Bible), then openly admit to having faith in an opposing worldview that needs no God. There are many who choose to believe evolution because it is convenient to their morality.
You are correct about Darwin and I was off... but not too far. Darwin, was more influenced by the death of his Daughter then scientific data.
It was the son of Darwins bulldog (Huxley) who openly admitted that evolution was convenient for him to believe in.
Aldous Huxley wrote:

I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently, assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find reasons for this assumption.... For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom (1937, pp. 270, 273, emp. added).

Hope that clarifies

Ex N1hilo said...


The objections that the Skeptic's Annotated Bible site makes to Genesis 1 & 2 amount to silly word games that have been answered many times. But, for some reason, the objectors cannot hear the answers that are given. Even if you have never heard them, I bet you come up with them yourself. Re-read the passages in question and ask yourself if there is any way possible in which they could be harmonized. It's actually very easy to do.

Here are two hints: 1) Carefully consider verb tense. 2) Consider that one account many be more of a summary, and the other more detailed.

Frankly, the objections raised on that page are in the same (pee wee) league as the Ultimate Muslim Objection to the Trinity, in which it is demonstrated that the doctrine is logically incoherent: 1 + 1 + 1 =/= 1!

dgfisch said...

Ex N1hilo and Hausdorff,

Allow my humble opinion in the matter of the interpretation of Genesis One and Two. I appreciate Ex's understanding of the importance of the tenses in Hebrew, but the overall structure of Genesis is more telling. The book is composed of a series of ten toledoth, which the KJV translated as "generations ..." This intriguing Hrbrew word is somewhat complicated in meaning, but it can be understood as an episode that continues on events already presented. Thus the first toledoth, the history of the heavens and earth (Gen 2: 4- 4: 26) follows upon the story of the foundations of the universe (Gen 1: 1 -2: 3).

Genesis One is the introductory story of the origins of everything, then Genesis Two deals specifically with what follows, the origin of mankind, his/her placement in a perfected world, the fall into sin, and the subsequent development of a flawed human race. This leads to the toledoth of Adam, which moves from the man himself to the line of pious Seth and the intermingling with the less than pious line of Cain.

Therefore Ex's second point in his last post is essentially valid.

Thanks to both for what has been a pleasant exchange of ideas.

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