Natural Selection: An Exposed Metaphor

Natural Selection: An Exposed Metaphor [TRANSCRIPT]

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. These words from Charles Colson are being demonstrated in viral proportions today. Dangerous ideas have infected the lives and minds of young and old. They grow undetected until they blossom and manifest themselves in a display of lives that lack meaning and a society exploding in violence that leaves people puzzled and looking for an explanation.

In the context of looking at creation week, I wanted to address something before we get to the rest of day six and the creation of mankind. A person would have to not be paying attention to realize that what the Bible says about creation is openly doubted and ridiculed today. And the main adversary to the creation narrative of the Bible are the ideas born out of the work and concepts brought forward by Charles Darwin. And at the heart of his theory is his proposal surrounding the idea of Natural Selection. So, today we will look at what that is  and why it matters.

This last week two things happened to me that stirred me to take some time and address the subject of today’s Truth Matters. Rather than simply moving forward with the creation of man on day six, I wanted to look at this. The first was a conversation that I had with my six, almost seven-year-old grandson. He said, “You know Papa, dinosaurs had feathers and.” I quickly looked at him and he stopped.

I said, “Dinosaurs did not have feathers. And there are no dinosaur fossils with feathers. That was only in a movie.”

“Yeah, but science.”

And with that comment, we then had a lengthy conversation about science and what they say and why we should be careful about simply accepting what science declares to be true.
The second thing that happened was somewhat in the same vein. I was listening to a podcast and the speaker was commenting on a movie that they had seen. It was named Jurassic World, Dominion. In an early scene, Dr. Alan Grant, a paleontologist, played by Sam Neil, made a very foundational comment which could easily go past unnoticed. He said, “Paleontology is a search for truth and there’s truth in these rocks.

In this comment and in the comment made by my grandson, is a hidden assumption. And the assumption is, “If science declares it, it’s true. It can’t be or should not be questioned.”

Now, science can make statements that are true, as any of us can. There are rocks and that is true. There are remnants of dinosaurs in rocks, that’s true. But they’re really not in the truth business.

I like what Dr. Brian Thomas, a research scientist put it.
Searching for truth is in the realm of philosophy. The best science can do is build models and test those models to figure out which model makes the most sense of the evidence at hand with the fewest assumptions involved. It’s not a search for truth. It’s whatever model works best. And models can be replaced. But truth is by definition universal and unchanging.

In the passing of time and the development of ideas in the context of the death of truth, science has taken a place in our world as the authoritative arbiter of truth. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am not anti-science. The sciences provide us with volumes of wonderful information from the observations they have made. We have benefited greatly from inventions stirred on by discoveries made. I work with computers. I talk on a mobile phone built with technology I don’t pretend to understand. Everything we know of, owes its existence to something else. And yet, even Sere and Google cannot answer questions of truth.

The best science can do is propose a model to explain the existence of what is around us. As I’ve said before, in the Bible God provides us a description of where everything came from. It says He created it. He didn’t expound on how He did it other than reveal that He spoke and it came into being. That’s His explanation of how everything got here.

I have mentioned before also that Naturalism declares that the explanation for everything is found only in what can be found in nature. There is no provision for a Creator in Naturalism. Therefore, it is in opposition to what the Bible declares.

Now, when it comes to an explanation of the origin of life, there is one overshadowing proposal and explanation, that is the theory of evolution. This theory was proposed by Charles Darwin in his work, the Origin of the Species. In simple terms, he proposed that life evolved in a progression of small steps and life developed through the aid of what he called Natural Selection.

If you’ll allow me, I want to use, for the most part, words from proponents of this idea to unwrap just what they are saying, what they mean and of course why it matters.

J. Coyne said this.
The theory of natural selection has a big job – the biggest in biology. Its task is to explain how every adaptation evolved step by step, from traits that preceded it.
Douglas J. Futuyma, in 2013, in his book, Evolution, he said this,
Natural selection is a simple concept, but it is perhaps the most important idea in biology. It is also one of the most important ideas in the history of human thought … for it explains the apparent design of the living world without recourse to a supernatural, omnipotent designer.

Did you catch that? Natural selection explains away the need for a supernatural designer. Francis Ayala in 2007 said,
Darwin’s theory of natural selection accounts for the “design” of organisms, and for their wondrous diversity as the result of natural processes, the gradual accumulation of spontaneously arisen variations (mutations) sorted out by natural selection… this was Darwin’s fundamental discovery, that there is a process that is creative, although not conscious.

Alright then, because natural selection, we have an explanatory process that doesn’t require God, that is creative although not conscious. It’s wonderful, but it doesn’t know it. It is not aware of it. It is not conscious.

Now, that’s the baseline of the theory. I have to tell you, that I have heard and read many Christians agreeing to the notion of natural selection without giving much thought to the full implications. Just saying the words “Natural Selection” seems harmless enough. I mean, we see creatures adapt to their environment and changes have been noted. Isn’t that what he’s talking about? Well? I mean, couldn’t God have used a process like evolution and natural selection to get things to where we see them today? No! You’re missing something.

Setting aside for moment the matter of origin, you must understand that the process of natural selection and a created order are fundamentally different. It’s the difference of an internalist view versus an externalists view. Let me explain.

The Bible said that God made creatures after their own kind. For instance, He made the bird kind. Within that kind is all they need to multiple, adapt and even change, but all within their kind. Today, we would say that they have the complete genetic material to travel across various environments and adapt to those environments and even changes can be noted. But they remain birds. Any change that occurs in them is created by what is within them, they are designed that way. This is an internalist view.

Natural Selection says the opposite. Natural selection proposes that changes happen not because of what is within an organism, but because of the action of nature from without. The environment, nature, is what causes the change and that change knows no such boundaries. The forces of natural selection move beyond boundaries to create a progression whereby it moves from fish to philosopher.

I am not mischaracterizing their position. Richard Lewontin explains it well. He says,
For Darwin, the external world, the environment, acting on organisms was the cause of the form of organisms. The environment, the external world with its autonomous properties was the subject and the organism was, again, the object acted upon… It is from this view of environment as the cause of organism that the entire corpus of modern biology arises.
Marc W. Kirschner explains it more so.
He [Darwin] accepted the view that the environment directly instructs the organism how to vary, and he proposed a mechanism for inheriting those changes…the organism was like modeling clay,

The external environment shaped and changed organism. William Dembski in his book "The Design Revolution", said,
According to Darwin, nature itself constitutes the supreme animal breeder that shapes the path of life. In particular, necessity in the form of natural selection and chance in the form of random variation are said to account for all biological complexity and diversity.

The crazy thing is, even though evolutionists use the term “Natural Selection” there is little agreement about what exactly it is. W. Ford Doolittle, a leading evolutionary theorist, said this.
Many practicing biologists accept that nothing in their discipline makes sense except in the light evolution, and that natural selection is evolution’s principal sense-maker. But what natural selection actually is (a force, or a statistical outcome, for example) and the levels of the biological hierarchy (genes, organisms, species, or even ecosystems) at which it operates directly, are still actively disputed among philosophers and theoretical biologists.

Darwin in his work that natural selection acted like a human breeder that selects some and not selecting others, is what he said. He used this metaphor granting to nature the same attributes of a conscious mind but declaring that it had no such mind. Jerry Fordor wrote about this. He said,
He [Darwin] seems to have been seduced by an analogy to selective breeding, with natural selection operating in the place of a breeder. But this analogy is patently flawed; selective breeding is performed only by creatures with minds and natural selection doesn’t have one of those.

A contemporary of Darwin, Alfred Wallace warned Darwin to not use the metaphor. Neil Thomas noted that,
Against the objections of Wallace and other colleagues who pointed out to him that there was simply no comparison between what animal breeders did by the use of human ingenuity and how mindless Nature herself acted.

And yet, this metaphor is used and accepted without thought among scientists and even the general public. Richard Lewontin points this out saying,
Nothing creates more misunderstanding of the results of scientific research than scientists use of metaphors. It is not only the general public that they confuse, but their own understanding of nature that is led astray… Unfortunately, even modern evolutionary biologists, as well as theorists of human social and psychological phenomena who have used organic evolution as a model for general theories of their own subject, are not always conscious of the dangers of the metaphor.

Imagine, a metaphor drives people to believe. Not evidence, a metaphor. What has occurred is that nature, which has no mind, is proposed as the acting agent of change. I appreciate what William Dembski said in his book "The Design Revolution".
In ascribing the power of choice to unintelligent natural forces, Darwin perpetuated the greatest intellectual swindle in the history of ideas. Nature has no power to choose.

Nature is proposed as the agent of change. Dr. Brian Thomas said, speaking about the metaphor of Natural selection, “It is a cleverly cloaked agency hidden inside an analogy.” The writings and implications of Darwin’s proposal introduces natural selection. Why, in order to eliminate the need for a Creator. As Daniel Dennett put it,
By executing God’s traditional task of designing and creating creatures great and small, it also seems to deny one of the best reasons we have for believing in God…the idea that natural selection has the power to generate such sophisticated designs is counterintuitive.

It doesn’t make sense that mindless nature can create with sophistication that we witness all around us. It is counterintuitive. And yet, it does allow existence without a Creator to answer to.

Now again, I am not against science. But I will not accept an idea born out of the desire to evict the Creator whose handiwork I see all around us.

I am not against science. I go to doctors. But I will not accept a model that says that amulets and crystals, or healing auras can heal me or heal my physical body.

I’m not against science. But if science tells me that raw mindless nature created everything, if it demands that I accept a model that has me believe something that’s counterintuitive, a counterintuitive metaphor, I will not.

You want to know the model that I most trust? I believe God. I believe His Word. He’s very honest and straight forward about the nature of things around me and the realities within mankind. I can also tell you that without doubt that God is nowhere near any ideas that deny the reality that He is God and Creator. Romans 1:18-22 says it very clearly.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools,

In the absence of any acknowledgement of God, the Naturalists demand, “Follow the Science. God is an antiquated idea. A concept beyond anything that we know now. You don’t need Him and make no appeal to such an idea. That’s simply foolish. Nature needs no God.

But I will believe God. You may think me simple-minded. But I think of it as singularly focused. For He who made the heavens came to us to rescue us from ourselves. He told us how everything began and He has revealed how it will end. I will choose to believe Him.

I will not believe a model constructed by persons in order to explain away God. Instead, I will model my life in keeping with the truth Why?  

Because I know… that Truth Matters.

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