Testing worldviews: the canards of creationismMay 14, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
We’ve been looking at schooloffish’s post “DOES YOUR WORLD VIEW PASS THE TEST?,” about whether various worldviews (naturalism in this case) live up to standards of self-consistency, evidence, and “what the experts say.” In today’s excerpt, schooloffish thinks he has found some problems with evolution that all those PhD biologists have somehow failed to notice.
Since evolution postulates that things evolve from simple cell organisms into complex ones, there should never be a stage where the complexity of an organism cannot be reduced to a less complex stage (calledirreducible complexity). Has any one ever wondered how the heart could have continued to work as it mutated from two chambers to four? How could such a defect still keep the mutated creature alive? How could an animal with a half flipper and half leg survive? It seems logical to assume that a half flipper would not allow the organism to swim and the half leg wold make hunting on land impossible as well. It seems that the organism would starve to death of be a perfect meal for a non-defective creature. Lastly, how can abiogensis occur? How did a rock turn into DNA? These questions have been largely ignored because they show that the naturalistic world view should only be rejected as false.
Well, no, actually, that’s not true. Not only have these questions been extensively studied, scientists have made some significant progress towards finding reasonable answers. It’s not the questions, it’s the answers that are being ignored—by creationists.
For example, consider the evolution of the heart from two-chambered to four-chambered. How could an organism continue to survive such a transitions? Could an organism survive with, say, a three-chambered heart? Well, yes, ask almost any amphibian or reptile. Their hearts are three-chambered. Some of them even have a partial septum, the beginnings of a wall that could eventually divide the chamber into two separate ventricles. It does take a bit of thought and effort to work out the exact progression(s) leading from no chambers to two chambers to four chambers. But it’s not an impossible task, if you’re willing to find the answers instead of using the existence of the question as an excuse to bail.
What about creatures like the mudskipper, a fish whose limbs are adapted to serve both as fins and as useful legs on land? Is it true that the species is starving to death because its limbs are transitional between flippers and feet? Not at all; in fact the transitional limbs are rather an advantage. That’s the way evolution commonly works: each transition that arises must first succeed as a net advantage (or at least be adaptively neutral) before it can serve as the basis for the next variation. Until that variation arises, the “transitional” trait isn’t really transitional. It’s simply a sound, functional adaptation. Thus, by the time it has succeeded long enough to become a transition to something else, it has already proven that it is not a show-stopping, evolution-breaking dysfunction.
Abiogenesis, finally, is a question that is still in search of a definitive answer, but notice the difference between the scientific worldview and the creationist worldview: in science, the existence of the question is a reason to look for scientific answers; in creationism, the existence of the question is a reason to stop looking for scientific answers and to turn to superstitious answers (i.e. “God Did It”) instead. Small wonder that science has had better luck in finding reasonable and verifiable explanations for things!
And even though science is still working on puzzling out the answer to the question of what happened billions of years ago (under conditions that leave no fossil records), there is every indication that an answer exists to be found. For example, if life “evolved” from non-life, we would expect there to be intermediate states between life and non-life—chemical structures that, while not entirely alive, are more than just inert molecules. And we do: viruses neither eat nor excrete, but they replicate. So, too, do prions: malformed proteins that are even simpler than viruses and that cause problems like mad cow disease.
So once again, when we evaluate the naturalistic worldview in the light of informed consideration of the evidence, we find that naturalism is so powerfully self-consistent that even in cases where we don’t yet have all the answers, we still find the things that ought to be there if the naturalistic explanation is correct. Contrast this with the supernaturalistic view that God loves us, wants to be with us, and is wise and powerful enough to eliminate any barrier separating Him from us, etc: the things that ought to show up in real life (i.e. God Himself) consistently and universally fail to do so.
It’s clear which worldview has problems with the evidence, even granting that naturalists are not omniscient. The problem with supernaturalism is not just that it lacks answers to complex questions, it’s that the real world fails to be consistent with the plain and obvious answers to even simple, fundamental questions. Go back billions of years, if you must, to try and find some obscure scenario you can claim as God actually doing something real, but the problem isn’t what God might have done somewhere when no one could see Him. The problem is His consistent failure to do the things He’s supposed to be willing and able to do today.