Mars Hill Forum #113: Evolution and Intelligent Design: What Are The Issues? Christian Heritage School, Trumbull, CT, April 1, 2006, Guest: David Silverman, American Atheists

Outline Used by John C. Rankin


Six crucial issues:

First: Theological Baggage.

  • Democratic and Secular Humanists (DASH) of Boston, meeting at Harvard ca. 1991 – fear of imposed religion and question of suffering.
  • Mars Hill Forum #107 at Columbia University, February 27, 2006.

Second: What is greater than space, time and number?

  • Flash Gordon & Sputnik.
  • The name of the Lord: Yahweh Elohim.

Third: Definitions of terms.

  • Evolution.
  • Darwinian evolutionists argue that “anti-evolution” = “anti-science” = “anti-knowledge.”
  • Need to distinguish microevolution from macroevolution. Microevolution = any change within a given species, where micro here refers to that which occurs in a small context; v macroevolution = any series of change that produce a new species from an existing species = the nature of Darwinian evolution, where macro here refers to that which occurs in a large context.
  • Response of Dr. Joel Cracraft, curator of the American Museum of Natural History, division of Vertebrate Zoology and Ornithology.
  • Genesis 1 and the whole Bible have no problem with microevolution – and the scientific evidence is overwhelming. Genesis 1 and the whole Bible say no to the possibility of macroevolution.
  • The politics of “intelligent design.”
  • Young earth creationists argue that the days of creation are six 24-hour periods, they profess their faith up front, and believe that geology supports a young earth (under 10,000 years).
  • Darwinian evolutionists argue that the universe is ancient (13.6 + or – billion years], the planet is old (4.5 billion years); life is old starting with the most primitive forms (millions of years); that humankind has evolved from these most primitive forms.
  • There is a blood-feud reality between such creationists and Darwinian evolutionists – ad hominem and mockery.
  • Intelligent design (i.d.) advocates have a range of theological beliefs, but keep them behind the scenes as they seek to make a scientific argument centering on math and irreducible complexity in microbiology.
  • Young earth creationists criticize i.d. advocates for hiding their religion; and i.d. advocates criticize young earth creationists for bad science based on an erroneous view concerning the days of creation. Also a blood-feud reality.
  • The Dover case – where Dr. Barbara Forrest testified. She is the author of “Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” professor of philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana State University and member of the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). She gave evidence that i.d. advocates have only retooled the old argument of the young earth creationists, citing the textbook “Of Pandas and People.”
  • Reality at Mars Hill Forum #107 at Columbia University.
  • The language of “intelligent design,” while intellectually attractive, has been poisoned by the politics.
  • We need to define the terms as being whether the evidence points toward Common Design or Common Descent.
  • Reality of Charles Darwin v. Thomas Paley in the nineteenth century; Darwin’s dishonesty in avoiding the real debate, and now it surfaces once again.
  • The challenge is to produce a simple, coherent and testable theory.
  • Nick Matzke of the NCSE at the Columbia forum.
  • Mathematic formulations rooted in Common Design at the micro level, and microevolution itself, are both coherent and testable; but microevolution does not equal evolutionary advance, only steps backward for survival against new hostile environments.
  • Infertility and reproductive barrier for horses, donkeys and mules; for dog breeding; northern and southern frogs; Reznick’s guppies.
  • Macroevolution depends on microevolution making successful positive changes over great periods of time; Macroevolution by definition is not testable except by inference; the inference is very weak.
  • Common Deisgn at the macro level builds on the testability at the micro level, and then by inference; the inference for Common Design, at the macro and micro levels, is uniform and overwhelming in strength.
  • Testablity of the Great Day of Judgment …
  • Common Design is simpler than Common Descent + Occam’s razor.

Fourth: The power of Only Genesis.

  • There is no more intelligent and comprehensive source for liberal arts inquiry and science in all human history; it is entirely proactive and when argued at Columbia it was an effective antidote for the “anti-science,” “anti-knowledge” argument, and an effective antidote against the ad hominem mockeries.
  • Creation, Sin and Redemption v. pagan religion and Epicurean Swerve.
  • “Only Genesis” refers to the order of creation in Genesis 1-2.
  • First: Only Genesis has a positive view of God’s nature.
  • Name of Yahweh Elohim.
  • Cause and effect back to the Hot Big Bang.
  • Life produces life; not non-life producing life.
  • Genesis 1:5; God said, “Let there be light.”
  • Second: Only Genesis has a positive view of communication.
  • Nature of light – in physics, ethics and spiritual domains – darkness flees.
  • “Apparent age” and “ready-made fossils” v. “apparent design.”
  • Darwin’s hiddenness vis-a-vis Paley – homology v. morphology.
  • Real debate is between Common Design and Common Descent.
  • Third: Only Genesis has a positive view of human nature.
  • The image of God.
  • Contrast pagan religion and “the survival of the fittest” Darwinian evolution.
  • Fourth: Only Genesis has a positive view of human freedom.
  • First words of the sovereign God to Adam: the metaphor of freedom.
  • Contrast the slavery of pagan religion and Darwinian evolution.
  • Fifth: Only Genesis has a positive view of hard questions.
  • An intellectual and emotional cognate of human freedom – essence of rabbinic teaching style fulfilled in Jesus.
  • Sixth: Only Genesis has a positive view of human sexuality.
  • Equality and complementarity of male and female equaling the image of God.
  • Male chauvinisms explicit in pagan religion, and implicit in the Darwinian “survival of the fittest.”
  • Seventh: Only Genesis has a positive view of science and the scientific method.
  • The sun and moon in Genesis 1; Hebrew prophets in the law of Moses. Superstition of pagan religion as they deify the astronomical bodies (astrology); good but only partial rebellion against this superstition in Greek mythology.
  • Eighth: Only Genesis has a positive view of verifiable history.
  • Historical location and eye witness to Adam, Eve and progeny up to Jesus.
  • Mythology of pagan religion and science fiction (“2001: A Space Odyssey”).
  • Ninth: Only Genesis has a positive view of covenantal law.
  • First covenant with Adam and Eve is one of freedom; all subsequent ones aim at restoration of freedom – no tyranny allowed in covenantal law.
  • All pagan religions are rooted in political tyranny; Darwinian “survival of the fittest” likewise a prescription for tyranny and war, despite objections of T.H. Huxley.
  • Tenth: Only Genesis has a positive view of unalienable rights.
  • Appeal in the Declaration of Independence to the Creator, who is the God of Genesis 1-2 – none other.
  • No basis in pagan religion or Darwinian “survival of the fittest” ethos.
  • If Common Design cannot be taught in public education, neither can the Source for unalienable rights – hence, the collapse of the nation.

Fifth: Critical need to understand the days of creation in Genesis 1: the Framework Structure of a literal week as a literary device for its eternal trajectory.

[Rather than replicate my 2006 notes here, it is better to link to two subsequent articles]

Sixth: Darwinian evolution can be argued consistently, but only insofar as given its starting point. It does not address the prior reality of cosmological cause and effect. So its starting point is arbitrary. The question of what precedes the Hot Big Bang is truly the first question, and the only satisfactory idea in human history of Yahweh Elohim, defined in Only Genesis. And the content of Only Genesis – with its positive view of God’s nature, communication, human nature, human freedom, hard questions, human sexuality, science and the scientific method, verifiable history, covenantal law and unalienable rights – is the most intelligent and comprehensive basis for human knowledge. And the word science, from its Latin root scientia, means “knowledge.”

But alas, one final question: Why did God make the dinosaurs? Well, he loves all       people equally, loves scientific inquiry into his good creation, he loves the     Smithsonian, and it helps them with their fund-raising.