Evolution, creation, intelligent design. What to believe?
Hmm. I think I'll go with intelligent design.
I can't believe in the infallibility of the Bible. If I took the Bible literally or thought it was historically accurate, I'd be a creationist. I can't do that, but at the same time I'm irritated by the arrogance of evolutionists who claim to have all the answers. That leaves ID, and I'm comfortable with that.
I've thought about these issues because my brother, Frank Sherwin, is a creation scientist who works at the Institute for Creation Research in Southern California. He is the co-author of "The Human Body and Intelligent Design."
He is convinced that there's a lot of scientific evidence to show the Earth was created by God.
"The universe shouts creation," he says. He suggests that the Grand Canyon, for example, was caused by an enormous amount of water over a short period of time and could be the after-effects of the Genesis flood.
You may argue with his science, but he argues with evolution.
"The theory of macro-evolution is so lacking in scientific evidence that the only alternative is creation or intelligent design," he said.
Frank thinks people who back ID are closet creationists afraid to commit to the logical next step. But he's willing to give the ID folks help when necessary. In late September he was invited to take part in a debate on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight. He was asked to represent the intelligent design folks against Eugenie Scott, an atheist.
He asks those thinking about this for the first time to make a choice: Either we came from slime on a rock (evolutionists) or we were supernaturally created (creationists/intelligent design). Neither can be proven and both require faith.
Frank said he was working at his office at ICR one day in 2004 when he got a call from a man named Jim Bendewald, a pastor from Wisconsin, who wanted to have an alternative to macro-evolution to take to secular colleges and universities in his area. The result was "Evolution Shot Full of Holes: Four Irrefutable Arguments." They are: mutations (bad mutations far outnumber good mutations), information (clear coded information does not arrive by chance), the cell (it's irreducibly complex) and the Cambrian explosion (complex life appears abruptly, which evolution would not have predicted).
Frank thinks the title is a little confrontational when there's no need to be.
"People are increasingly interested in origins issues," he says. "Evolution leaves people feeling hopeless (we're just animals) and it is being forced upon us without compelling empirical evidence, which is frustrating."
But thanks to all those biochemists over at UC Davis and other research labs across the country, questions are being raised about the theory of evolution.
More than anything else scientists are discovering one thing: complexity. Life is complicated, so complicated in fact that evolutionary theories that rely on blind chance seem more and more unlikely.
Frank thinks people are resisting unquestioning acceptance of what he calls macro-evolution or big-change evolution -- like particles to people or fish to philosophers - for a variety of reasons.
"My basic beef with evolution - the secular notion of origin and destiny and the way that it's being taught as fact in taxpayer-supported public schools -- is twofold," he said. "First, it's not true and, second, it's unscientific."
That's why I was surprised to see him buy a copy of "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathan Weiner. But he explained.
"I have no argument with the book whatsoever, because all it discusses is minor variation. Weiner never discusses the ultimate origin of the finches," he said.
That's the same with Charles Darwin's book, "The Origin of the Species." If you want to know where the human species originated, you won't find out by reading Darwin's 1859 book.
"I have no problem with natural selection," he adds. "But that does not explain the origin of the species."
My brother was raised Catholic, as was I. But when he entered the U.S. Navy, he became a born-again Christian.
"I looked at the scientific evidence that compelled me to the creation position," he said. He went on to get a master's degree in parasitology from University of Northern Colorado in 1984. He taught biology at Pensacola Christian College in Florida for several years before moving his family to Southern California and ICR.
"When I talk to people who call themselves Christians today, people who buy into evolution, I wonder how they can hold two contradictory world views," he said. "Evolutionary theory cannot be shoe-horned into Biblical creation. A theistic evolutionist, in other words, someone who believes God started the clock by creating macro-evolution, is being unscientific. It doesn't work."
A theistic evolutionist or an atheistic evolutionist both run into the same problems - the science doesn't hold up.
OK, two more questions. Frank, what difference does it make?
"What you choose to believe about origins will affect your philosophical outlook on life, your world view. The world view of a person who thinks they came from bacteria is likely to be substantially different from the world view of someone who thinks they were created in God's image."
Last question: Have you ever changed anyone's mind?
"Time will tell," he said. But that's not his mission at ICR anyway. His primary job is the education of believers.
Frank suggested I read "The Deniable Darwin," an article by David Berlinksi posted on the Web. Berlinski is an atheist with a scathing sense of humor, which he turns on the beliefs of evolutionary biologists. Ouch. This doesn't mean that Berlinski likes creation scientists any better, however.
"He says we make him uncomfortable," said Frank.
What I appreciate about the whole debate is simple - it makes people think.
For more information on ICR or the creation point of view, go to www.icr.org or reach Frank Sherwin at firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Reach Elisabeth Sherwin at email@example.com and watch for more local writers to be featured biweekly at this web site.
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