I have a confession to make, I sincerely believe that the theory of evolution is a better origins theory than “young earth creationism” (YEC). I also believe (along with many Old Testament professors) that evolution is compatible with Genesis 1-2. In this short post, I don’t want to argue or prove anything, I just want you to hear me out. Please.
When I was about thirteen years old, I became utterly fascinated with the creationism debate. Kent Hovind came to my church, and I loved his presentation, I even went and shook his hand afterwards, ever so proudly. A year or so later I went to the local public library and checked out every book I could find on the topic. For the next few years I read profusely. Things published by the “Old Guard” (Institute of Creation Research and Answers in Genesis) as well as the “New Guard” (the Intelligent Design movement). I read things like “The Genesis Record” by Morris and “Darwins Black Box” by Behe. I became, and still am, very familiar with all the names, books, websites, organization, in this debate.
When I was sixteen I launched my own website to debunk evolution, I titled it “Darwins Deception.” I took this online and spent over a year jumping into online chat forums to “debate and disprove” evolutionists. I even tried to apply for a job at the discovery institute (an intelligent design think thank). I was really lucky in that I took a college biology class where my teacher (MA in biology) was a proponent of intelligent design (though an old earther) and I got to present my thesis paper on the impossibility of abiogenesis based on the Miller–Urey experiment.
To say that I was ok with creationism would be the understatement of the century. I was completely confident that young earth creationism was absolutely true, that there was an unjust conspiracy of secularists who unfairly lobbied against the truth, and that I had the complete truth. I was so adamant about the fact that I was completely right.
At some point in time I decided to leave the debate and put off thinking about it. For about four years I engaged mostly theological pursuits, studying hermeneutics, exegesis, textual criticism, eschatology, pneumatology, and other things that had nothing to do with science and evolution. I also received a total of three college degrees from accredited institutions, and subconsciously noted that not even one more of my profs was open to any form of creationism or intelligent design, even though a few others were indeed Christians. I also noted that numerous theologians and leaders were accepting of evolution. I also began watching science lectures and nature documentaries, reading science based articles, blogs, and books. I noticed there was unanimity amongst both Christian and secular scientists that evolution is the best theory of origins. I began to wonder why.
I continued to put it off, saying something like “it doesn’t matter which one is true, either way God did it.” I continued by saying and thinking things like “well we can’t really know, both sides have great arguments.” Yet, living in the tension of uncertainly was hard, and about a year ago, I decided this must be resolved, and I sat down with an open Bible in front of me. I spent most of my day in the first two chapters of Genesis 1 and 2, carefully scrutinizing and going over every single passage, phrase, and word. I sought to understand, most eagerly, whether Genesis mandated a “post-enlightenment scientific literal” reading, or whether there was a valid alternative reading.
What I found stunned me. My careful reading and analysis showed that Genesis had two separate creation accounts, which were actually vastly different and separate stories (1). I began to search academic literature and commentaries, to see if I was crazy, or someone else had found this. I quickly discovered that hundreds upon hundreds of Old Testament professors were teaching the same exact thing. Men and women who had multiple PhD’s in Hebrew from places like Harvard and Westminster seminary had written books and journal articles arguing the same thing. Many of these were even conservative Evangelicals!
Once I realized the Bible does not mandate a literal six day creation, and many Old Testament professors agreed with this conclusion, I began to look at science and nature in a whole new light. A million facts and figures suddenly began to make sense. I cautiously read a few books by Christians who were scientists and supported evolution (Francis Collins’ and Kenneth Miller’s books were helpful, but the best was Karl Gibersons “Saving Darwin, How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution”, I highly recommend it.) And after engaging all the evidence, my view changed.
MY APPEAL TO YOU
Here is the most important part of what I want to say.
It is very likely that knowing someone has left YEC is very uncomfortable for you. It probably causes you to feel things that you don’t like, perhaps you feel shock and are confused about how someone like myself can believe such rubbish. You might feel like people who think evolution is true want to assault everything you believe to be sacred and sentimental. Or that they are intenionally decieving you because they hate God.
We are not set against you, we are not against God.
I have no desire to be evil, wicked, anti-Bible, or offensive. I have no ill wishes or malevolent intentions. I’m just a regular guy, who hates to see people hurt, abused, ridiculed, or scorned, I am very empathetic to human suffering and struggle, and don’t wish to increase it. I’m not writing or thinking these things because somehow I want to hurt you or be “against” you. I am not against you in any personal way.
I don’t want to cause anyone harm. I promise that.
I am a Christian struggling with the metaphysical reality of this world and the fact that things really are not the way I once believed they are. The world is a complicated place, far more so than I wish it were. You can certainly choose to believe that I am evil or confused or lost or something else, but deep down all I want is to believe and know that which is really true. I want to understand the world more than I can through simple one liners.
I sincerely hope you believe me, I am only seeking to believe things that are true.
That is why I changed from the 16 year old who ran his own young earth creationism website to accepting evolution. I certainly didn’t do it for peoples acceptance, because after saying what I believe, so many of my friends and acquaintances think I’m stupid, arrogant, evil, wicked, or all of the above. This has caused untold ridicule and scorn. You can see for yourself on social media, whenever I mention this issue, there are plenty of those who were once my friends, who come by ridicule me, and leave.
I changed my mind, even though it was social suicide; why?
I did it because I sincerely believe that evolution far better explains nature than a recent 7 day creation. Yet I am still a Christian, and there are many leading pastors and biblical scholars who also accept evolution and provide alternative readings of Genesis 1-2, like the “Framework Hypothesis.” Why do 99.9% percent of scientists (2) and so many leading theologians and Christians accept evolution? Why did people even invent such a theory? Why did all the scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries start off as young earth creationists and change their mind as a result of interacting with nature?
Before you close your mind, and create labels to stick on me, please ask why?
I genuinely want to know that which is really true. If a recent 7 day creation is true, I promise you, I will gladly accept it. I will want to accept it! I have absolutely no presuppositions that depend on it being true or not. I’m not here to defend a position for some ulterior motive (but you are, no?). I don’t get anything out of proving that evolution is right. I don’t get to “go and be a godless heathen” I don’t get to “win lots of respect” there is nothing in it for me, except to grapple with reality, and come up knowing what is true and what is false.
Ask yourself, why did I change my mind? Ask yourself why did the whole discipline of science, that was once young earth creationist change its mind? Why are so many theologians and Old Testament professors changing their minds? Perhaps we are all evil, perhaps we are all stupid, perhaps we are all deceived, and perhaps you have all the answers. But is it possible that you don’t?
MY LIGHT BULB MOMENT
As an addendum to this blog post, here are some things that make sense in light of evolution, but don’t within young earth creationism.
I slowly realized that the quote I once hated, was true, “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” uttered by Theodosius Dobzhansky (who was a prominent evolutionist and an Ortodox Christian). About a hundred things that had once caused an infinite regress of confusion and questions now made sense. I will try to keep things as simple as possible and avoid technical language.
These included the following biological ideas (I will avoid all the other fields of science, even those that definitively prove the earth is billions of years old):
1. Predatory animals
In YEC literature, it is agreed that before the fall, animals were perfect and happy, but after they became carnivorous. (It is a strange theological point that man’s sin, rather than causing spiritual death, instead caused dinosaurs to become carnivores). Yet, the world is filled with hundreds of thousands of incredibly predatory animals, and evolution explains this far better. This includes the razor sharp teeth of a lion (including its impulses), to the venom found in snakes, to the sharp poisonous tails of deadly scorpions. These animals are not in any way capable of eating a vegetarian diet, and their very essence is predatory. A snake does not need poison to eat a plant, and in fact cannot digest a plant. Wasps can’t use their stingers for anything except hurting other species. And where did all these violent impulses come from? Human sin forced nice happy velociraptors with giant teeth to become angry? Before that the giant flesh eating dinosaurs were human friends and used sharp teeth to eat leaves? YEC has no answer for this, evolution does. YEC’s are left trying to say that these predatory species (a) used their venom, teeth, stingers for nonviolent reasons before the flood, or (b) the fall of sin magically “recreated” many animals, giving them biological weapons for war.
2. Geographic biodiversity
There are no Koalas or Kangaroos anywhere but Australia. There are no Penguins in Europe. I don’t see any alligators when I look outside for they are all in tropical climates. There are no polar bears in the African deserts. There is nothing but thermophilic bacteria in the heated deep sea geothermal vents. Different animals exist in different environments, and would die if they left these environments. Evolution predicts this geographic biodiversity, as animals adapt and evolve based on their environment. YEC has no real answer, and instead must wrestle with difficulties like “how did kangaroos get off the ark and find their way to Australia across thousands of miles of ocean” or “how did these animals, which readily die in a different temperature and environment, survive the ark, and the trip through millions of miles of different environments” or “how could Adam name all the animals in a day if they live in radically different environments and would require him to travel the whole planet.”
3. Extinction of most species
When the first dinosaur fossils were being unearthed, some Christian’s argued that these bones were satans deception, and we must not believe in them. Today YEC’s seem to say that all of these creatures were once alive, coexisted, and even more so, fit into the ark. The reality is there are hundreds of thousands of radically different species that have gone extinct. Its estimated that 99.9% of species that have ever existed are now extinct (3) We have their bones. We can look at them. We can observe them. They did exist. Why are so many species gone and extinct? (See here for a list of dinosaur genera (classes), each with many species) In fact, why are most fossils that we find of species that are not alive today? For the most part, we don’t see many species that are unchanged modern animals, but we find tons of fossils of animals that don’t exist. We find fossils of dinosaurs that tower over humans by dozens of meters. We find tiny trilobites and strange bird dinosaurs, and none of them exist anymore. The fossils show a vast array of animals that are extinct, and stranger still, 99% of these fossils follow a consistent distribution pattern. They are almost always in the same geologic layers, always in the same order. The few exceptions that creationists publish are 1 out of 10,000 and often have perfectly valid reasons, like the upheaval of sediment by earthquakes and geological movement. For the other 99% YEC’s simply say the distribution is based on animals running up mountains to get away from the flood, the smartest ran the fastest so they are at the top. Evolution has a far better answer than this.
4. Commonality of characteristics
How many hands do you have? Three? Four? No, you have two hands, two feet, two eyes, two ears. Look at any primates (this includes chimps, gorillas, monkeys, and etc) and you will find they share those features with you. Next. Observe spiders, they are vastly different and have many more legs, eyes, and feet. Why are there some species that are so similar and others so different? Why are there families of animals that share striking features? Why are all mammals brains so similar that can we use human antidepressants on dogs? Consider the similarity between species that evolutionists say are closely related, and you will find they all have the same bones (4) Consider the difference between spider brains, chimp brains, and human brains, and you will find the former is radically different, while the latter two are rather similar, though of varying sizes. YEC says that the same Creator used a few of the same designs and that animals were created as a spouse for Adam. Did God really try to marry Adam with a spider? Or a dolphin? This is a strange view of God. This “same designer” does not account for the branches of species that are all very similar to one another, yet very different from other branches. Bacteria vs bugs vs fish vs mammals are not that similar, they are rather different, one would be hard pressed to think early humans could understand these are the “same design” (unless they could look at the DNA). In any case, why would God not create humans as a vastly different anatomical branch, completely unique? Why create us so similar to other primates, some alive today, and others in the fossil record? Why would God create this state of affairs if he wanted us to think the opposite? Wouldn’t it hinder our understanding of our uniqueness? Evolution explains this far better than YEC.
5. Emotion/Intelligence amongst animals
YEC’s claim that emotion and intelligence are things that make us humans unique and special, these are not shared by animals. However, the exact opposite is true, animals that resemble humans, and have larger brains like us, are far more intelligent than others. Animals with brains that are similar to us, feel and display pain, in such similar ways that we can even understand it. Try killing a pig, it will try to run away from you, squeal, scream, and cry… just like a human. Dogs have been recorded to become depressed when their owner passes away. Its the most interesting with those mammals who have the largest brains, who, as it just so randomly happens, are the most similar physiologically to human beings. Chimps. These primates walk on two feet, use their hands like humans, show dozens of different emotions (5), from happiness to fear to kissing and hugging. In fact, in captivity, chimps have been taught human languages such as ASL (American Sign Language), learning 300 or more signs. (6) In fact, there are chimps that have better memory than humans, see this video of a chimp using the computer. (7, 8). There is a vast intelligence difference between a chimp who can use a computer, and remember abstract symbols, and that of a lizard. Why? Evolution has a good answer, YEC’s don’t explain why there are such intelligent animal, living for most of Biblical history in a land unacessible to the average person from the Ancient Near Eat.
6. Loads of transitional fossils
It’s common for YEC’s to say that there are no transitional fossils from one species to another. What has happened over the last hundred years is nothing short of “changing the goal posts.” Here is what this looks like, YEC: “there is no transitional fossil between #1 and #100.” Evolutionist: “well, we just found #39.” YEC: “there is no transitional fossil between #1 and #39.” Evolutionist: “well, we just found #15.” YEC: “there is no transitional fossil between #1 and #15.” Evolutionist: “well, we just found #7.” And on and on it goes. Honestly. There are now hundreds of these transitional fossils, that show animals we have never seen, that really do share similarities between two separate species or families. (9, 10, 11, 12). Whatever we say, these strange creatures exist, their fossils are continually found, and they fit at varying levels between different biological classes of animals. YEC’s take these transitional fossils and separate them into two separate species, however, here is the kicker, different YEC’s label the same fossil as two completely different species! (13) YEC’s don’t show themselves trustworthy, by being unable to consistently give the same answers.
7. Bacteria, parasites, & microorganisms
YEC’s have no way to explain or account the presence and survival of these little buggers. If these were created ex nihilo before the flood, what was their purpose? If they served some good purpose they must have been very different in their biological makeup, there had to have been a hyper rapid evolution (way faster than postulated by evolutionists) to make them into what they are. Essentially they would need to be recreated. Where did all the parasites come from? In the YEC perfect biological world, parasites could serve no function, but they cannot survive without being parasites, so it seems as though something would literaly have to create them after the fall. YEC’s attempt to use special pleading to explain away these issues, but they fit much much better into the theory of evolution.