Posted by jlwile on November 13, 2009
I have a stack of journals and other periodicals that I read in order to keep up on what is going on in the world of science. Currently, I am working on the ones that came in late July. However, for some reason, the March 23 issue of Answers Update from Answers in Genesis got mixed up with the late July materials. As a result, I just read this:
The horrible school shooting in Finland in 2007 is a prime example. The killer stated: “I am prepared to fight and die for my cause . . .I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit…It’s time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST back on tracks!” This student was only carrying out in practice what he had been taught concerning origins, as well as the lack of purpose and meaning he found in life. Herein lies Darwin’s terrible legacy, which has affected all modern cultures. 1
In other words, Charles Darwin left behind a terrible legacy – one of violence and evil. Many other Christian works say similar things. For example, a book that claims to give people a “Biblical Worldview of God and Truth” says:
Darwin’s Tragic Legacy…his 1859 book…gave rise to the controversial theory of evolution. Sadly, 150 years later, modern evolutionary theory has become the basis for most biological studies and is taught as fact in our schools and universities, despite the truth that scientists are no closer to proving the theory after all this time. Meanwhile, the biblical account of God’s creation of the universe is no longer taught in most schools due to legal challenges brought by those who do not believe in God or the authority of His Word. 2
So according to this book, Darwin left behind a tragic legacy that has destroyed modern education.
Of course, both statements are seriously incorrect. Darwin certainly did not leave a “tragic” or “terrible” legacy. In fact, Darwin was a great scientist who left us a rich legacy of solid scientific data and conclusions. Sure, some of what he believed was wrong, but that can be said of almost every great scientist from the past. More importantly, a lot of what Darwin believed is correct. In fact, the great irony of all this is that both sources I quoted are from young-earth creationists, and without Darwin, it would be impossible for young-earth creationists to have a Biblical worldview!
Now before I explain that statement, let me make it clear that a young-earth view of creation is not the same as a Biblical worldview. Unlike many of my young-earth creationist colleagues, I am not arrogant enough to think that I know more about the Bible than Gleason Archer, Clement of Alexandria, C.S. Lewis, or any of the other Christian luminaries who disagree with my interpretation of Genesis. Thus, I am not arrogant enough to think that one must be a young-earth creationist to have a Biblical worldview. Old-earth creationists and theistic evolutionists can have a Biblical worldview as well. However, since I am a young-earth creationist, my Biblical worldview includes the idea of a supernatural creation that occurred probably less than 10,000 years ago, a worldwide flood, etc. As a result, that’s the kind of Biblical worldview I will be discussing.
So why do I say that it is impossible for young-earth creationists to have a Biblical worldview without Darwin? It’s simple. As I just said, a young-earth creationist Biblical worldview requires a flood that happened a few thousand years ago. During that flood, air- and land-based animals were saved on an ark. They came on the ark mostly in pairs, but the clean ones came in groups of seven.
Now it is abundantly clear that there is no way Noah’s ark could have supported two of each species of air- and land-based animal that we see today. Thus, young-earth creationists believe that God created specific kinds of creatures, and He built in them the machinery that would allow them to change over time so as to adapt to changes in their surroundings. However, each genome is limited to the specific kind of organism created, and at some point, you reach a limit at which the genome cannot be changed anymore, at least not in a way that will promote further adaptation. Indeed, this is exactly what most modern genetics and evolution experiments seem to be telling us.
Because of all this, Noah did not have to take two of each species. He simply took two (or in some cases, seven) of each kind of animal. Then, after the ark landed and the animals began to spread out, variation and natural selection ended up producing all of the species that we see today.
Now who, I ask you, formalized the idea that variation can be acted upon by natural selection to produce new species? Darwin did. In fact, the majority of his book (The Origin of Species) is devoted to showing how variation and natural selection allow animals to adapt and become more specialized. In general, scientists called this “microevolution.” Only a small portion of his book is devoted to the idea that one basic kind of organism (like a fish) can become a completely different kind of organism (like an amphibian). This idea, called “macroevolution,” is what Darwin got wrong.
Unlike macroevolution, microevolution is a well-established scientific theory. Not only is there a wealth of evidence for it, but the basic mechanisms that produce it are also fairly well understood. Thus, far from leaving a “tragic” or “terrible” legacy, Darwin left us a rich scientific legacy. He gave us the ability to understand how God made organisms able to adapt to changes in their environment.
For the young-earth creationist, however, he left an even greater legacy. He left us the ability to understand how all the air- and land-based animals we see today could have descended from animals that Noah brought on the ark. Without Darwin, young-earth creationists simply could not hold to a Biblical worldview. It is time that young-earth creationists really understood this important fact and stopped trying to falsely minimize the incredible legacy Darwin left us.
1. Ham, Ken, “Darwin’s Sad Legacy,” Answers Update, March 23, 2009, p. 1
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2. John Hay and David Webb, Who Is God And Can I Really Know Him? , 2009, p. 33
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