CAN A CHRISTIAN BELIEVE IN HUMAN EVOLUTION?

(By Victor Ross)

Comments from a Christian standpoint, on the find of  another prehistoric ‘early man’ as reported in The New Scientist, on 11th July, and was the lead story of Time Magazine 23rd July 2001

 

WHO IS IT, THAT’S MISSING A LINK?

 

In 2001, the ever changing face of evolutionary dogma has morphed yet again, with a new discovery in the Rift Valley desert of Ethiopia! It’s yet  another ‘missing link’, Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba! The find was made by a graduate student, Yohannes Haile-Selassie, only some 60 miles from where ‘Lucy’ was found in 1974, and we’re told it’s over 2 million years older at over 5.5 million years of age.

The new discovery has been linked with an early 1990’s find – that of Ardipithecus ramidus ramidus, a 4.4 million-year-old ‘hominid’.

There are 11 assorted fossils in all – including a toe bone a few hundred thousand years younger! The fossils come from at least five different individuals or creatures! Yet it’s intrepid evolutionary disciples carry on regardless  - trying to convince the world of it’s validity as a link in the chain of human evolution!

Professor Donald Johanson, who discovered ‘Lucy’, gives the warning, “when you put 5.5 million-year-old fossils together with 4.4 million-year-old ones, as members of the same species,  you’re not taking into consideration that these could be twigs on a tree. Everything’s been forced into a straight line.” *

 

With the new find, comes much speculation about what stage the creature stood up on two legs, and why; where it fits into the human evolutionary chain, and the sort of social grouping it might have lived in. There is even some speculation from anthropologist C. Owen Lovejoy, (Ohio’s Kent State University) about a form of ‘natural selection’ due to the sexual prowess of standing upright! However, the idea is by no means new, as Darwin propounded it in  'The Descent of Man', published in 1871. In it, he elaborated on the theory of sexual selection.

It left me wondering, that if standing upright is a prerequisite of being part of the human evolutionary chain,  where does Tyrannosaurus fit in? Actually, come to think of it, I had a schoolteacher once ……..

 

I think no one could put it better than Meave Leakey, head of palaeontology at the National Museums of Kenya.

“There are all sorts of hypotheses, and they are all fairy tales really, because you can’t prove anything.” *

In their Time Magazine article,  Michael D. Lemonick and Andrea Dorfman, speak of  “a mere 30,000 years ago, when modern humans and Neanderthals still coexisted.”*

Hold everything! Have I missed something, or were these not the ancestors we were supposed to have evolved from? How could we have evolved from them, if they were still around when we were?

 

It reminds me of the fish presented as the forerunner of all creatures to appear on dry land - the Coelacanth, a lobe-finned fish that first appeared during the Devonian period, some 350 million years ago ………… paleontologists thought it only existed in fossil form, being extinct for 70 million years. In December 1938, a trawler fishing off  South Africa's eastern coast, captured a living coelacanth. Colonies of the fish have been found since, and they can grow to 5 feet in length, and weigh 150 lbs.

It's a little like finding a Neanderthal sitting next to you in the bus!

So what if part of the human evolutionary chain is found alive and well after millions of years – just change the goalposts a little! Call it ‘selective evolution’. Let’s find another bone, a toe, or a part of a leg would be even better. Even a tooth would be good!

IT’S ALL IN THE PRESENTATION

 

Though it may appear like a balloon that doesn’t hold air, if a respected scholar presents it, people will believe it. Well, I suppose if you don’t accept the possibility of a Creator, you have to come up with something that seems at least half credible. The fact that it’s totally incredible, not to mention deeply offensive to millions of Christians throughout the world, seems to go largely unnoticed.

 

‘We’re part of the animal family’, we are told.

Not long after my daughter started school, she came home to tell us, that her class were going on a visit to the zoo “to see the animals that resemble us!” It’s an indoctrination that to a large degree has worked with our young people – it’s not just what is taught, but  that it is presented as ‘fact’ rather than ‘theory’, (some might even call it fiction) and is often taught from a misused position of authority and trust, with no room for question.

I visited the Dutch Rotterdam Zoo, recently, and saw some of what we are told, is our family tree. Strange, but I felt no affinity at all! I just didn't feel we were related! Cute as they may be - they're animals, and we're human!

FACT OR FICTION?

 

In The Monkey Puzzle, authors Gribbin and Cherfas present evolution as a "fact":

“ ... it has become a well-established fact that we are descended from monkey-like ancestors, tree dwellers who thrived in the tropical forests of 35 million years ago.”

It is perhaps a fact, micro-biology has evolved, and continues to do so! There are those who would disagree, saying that the term should be ‘mutation’ rather than ‘evolution’ as there is no evidence of an increase in complexity with new organs being formed etc. It could also be a fact, that there is an increase in the complexity of fossils overlaying those of an earlier period. There is factual evidence to suggest that certain plants, insects and animals have evolved into different species.

 

But the scientific establishment should be deeply ashamed of it’s continuing facade, in endeavouring to promote it’s godless religion of human evolution. It is often pursued with an almost evangelistic fervour! But it is a religion, where God is not required. To accept God as part of the equation is apparently ‘unscientific’!

True science is based on fact – not fantasy, and certainly not blind theorising, resulting in a scraping of the bottom of the barrel, in an unproductive attempt to get evidence to back up the theory! If the police were to try and prosecute a case with that kind of forensic evidence, they would be laughed out of court!

 

ORDER FROM CHAOS?

 

Who, with a clear mind, and an open heart, could believe that order can come out of chaos – yet that is what evolution without acknowledgement of a Creator, tries to tell us! We know what happens to our gardens, when we leave them to their own devices! They certainly don’t get themselves into order! Can we really believe that the complexities of the human body came about by accident? Could we have such intricate design in the absence of a Designer? As the Psalmist said “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” 1

 

For the most part, no alternative possibilities of the origins of humankind are examined.

As we look back into history, we see an educated minority, who sought to control the uneducated masses! Is there a danger,  the scientific community is doing something similar today? It seems, you must believe what you are told, irrespective of how ridiculous it seems, simply because of the ‘superior’ scientific knowledge and expertise of the person who says it! Anyone who dares to question the status quo, is looked upon as failing to face up to reality – perhaps the true state of affairs is vice-versa! Could it be, that even science itself, in the eyes of some, has become a god, to be followed blindly without question?

The Apostle Paul says, “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”2

 

 

 

THE ‘EVIDENCE’

 

Again and again, it has been proclaimed that evidence to back up the theory has been found!

 

Piltdown Man was a `discovery' that fooled palaeontologists for forty five years. It was discovered by Charles Dawson in East Sussex  in 1913. It was dated at 500,000 years old, and was given the name (Eoanthropus Dawsoni or `Dawn Man'). Some 500 books were written on it. It was a hoax, (probably by a lawyer friend of Dawson, Samuel Woodhead) and was an ape’s  jaw placed with a human skull.. There was a failure to recognise either the jaw to be an ape's or the skull to be a human's. Rather, in the usual optimistic fashion, it was declared to be a ‘missing link’ between ape and human. It was realised in 1953 to have been nothing more than an elaborate deception, giving much metaphorical egg on the face of many authors and others!

 

Orce man fooled the establishment for some years, based on a skull-cap. Eventually this was discounted, as, had it been true, those concerned were suggesting that they had actually descended from a donkey! Ahem!

 

The ‘missing link’ Ramapithecus lasted twenty years, based on the find of teeth only! Then they found out that they were the teeth of a long extinct baboon!

 

Another interesting one was Hesperithecus, created from one single tooth! How amazingly clever!

Fourteen years later, they found out it was actually a pig’s tooth!

 

Perhaps the best known is Neanderthal man, who we are assured was, a ‘hominid’ (in between ape and man) skeleton found in the Neanderthal Valley in the Rhineland in 1857. It is believed that it originated 100,000 years ago. If in another 100,000 years,  the dwellers of this planet found a skeleton, be it giant or midget, crippled or deformed, and based their view of humankind in the 21st century upon it, it would be more than a little ridiculous! But amazingly, there are still so many, who believe and teach the theory that would put any science fiction writer to shame!

If ‘science’ can reach into the imagination and produce a whole image of an ‘early ancestor’ from a tooth, a single bone, or a skullcap, then we might as well believe in the factual reality of Vulcans and Klingons in Star Trek!. "Live long and prosper!"

 

There are of course others, such as Lucy, mentioned above, and ‘Millennium Man’ found in 2000.

But what does their discovery prove – if anything?

Were they animals? Were they human? Did they walk on all fours? Did they walk upright? Does it matter?

 

 British palaeontologist Christopher Stringer speaking about Neanderthals, said,  "In my view, they are a dead end--highly evolved in their own direction but not in the direction of modern humans."  He further says, Evidence has accumulated from the fossil and archaeological record during the last few years that these two lineages (Neanderthals and modern humans) may have encountered each other in areas of overlap such as the Middle East (e.g. Israel) about 100,000 years ago, and Europe about 35,000 years ago, yet in my view these lineages show scant evidence of intermixture ………. Nevertheless, in historical terms, before significant evidence emerged from regions such as Africa, Neanderthals were sometimes pushed into the position of primitive "missing links" between apes and humans, portrayed with prehensile toes, bent knees, long arms and a stooping gait.”>

 

     Among the experts who agree is Yoel Rak, an anatomist at Tel Aviv University. He believes "Neanderthals have nothing to do with our history."

In the journal "Cell", dated July 11th 1997, a report of comparisons between Neanderthal and human genetic material, indicated that, "Neanderthals are not in our direct line of descent."

This was due to the findings of German Scientists, comparing Neanderthal DNA with that of modern man!

There are those involved in genetic research,   proclaiming that man is thousands, rather than millions of years old!  

 

Then to cap it all, I find out that recent research, has apparently shown that HUMAN and CAT DNA are almost identical! Genetic expert Stephen J. O’Brian says in the June 1997 edition of National Geographic, “Virtually every cat gene has a human counterpart, and the sequence of the DNA in the two species is so similar, that it’s possible to determine which gene is which, just by comparing their DNA sequences.”

I tell you, IT'S JUST NOT FUR!!

 

 

 

CHRISTIAN CONFLICT

 

Can a Christian believe in human evolution?

There are those who appear to try and balance on this precarious tightrope of compromise! But it is contravening two essential basic foundation stones of  the Christian faith! As human beings, we are firstly  made in the image of God. Secondly, we differ from the animal kingdom, in that, according to Genesis, God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and he “became a living soul.”3 A human being IS an eternal soul! This life is the beginning, not the end! Heaven, Hell, an eternal relationship with God, are all fundamentals of our faith based upon this truth, and taught by Christ! The Bible at no point, gives so much as a hint, that this is also true of animals. Human beings, from the beginning, are presented as being quite distinct and different!

 

For the Christian, surely this  makes belief in evolving from an animal, impossible! For it is only as our faith  is based  upon the Scriptures, that we can continue to call ourselves ‘Christians’!

I realise, that there are those today who feel that they can disregard or change portions of the Bible as they wish. The problem is, if it doesn’t come as a complete dependable package, then how do we know what is reliable, and what is not? It either is, as it testifies of itself, the “God breathed”4 Word of God, or it is a pack of lies!

 

There is a lot of ‘mix & match’ religion going on today – take the bits you like – leave the bits you don’t! You end up with a total hotchpotch that is totally meaningless, and bears little relationship to the Christianity of the Bible!

THE BEGINNING - MINUS ONE

 

I don’t find a problem with a ‘Big Bang’ theory, for I’m sure that when God made the earth, He certainly didn’t do it quietly! Perhaps He used a super-nova to form our universe - perhaps not. Astrophysicists can theorise all they like about the makeup of gasses, and the process through which they believe this world was formed – it doesn’t for a moment disprove the existence of a Creator! “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”5

Why shouldn’t God use the atom in any way He chose in the creation of the universe? After all, in the Christian’s philosophy, He is also the creator of the atomic particle, along with every micro-organism (discovered and undiscovered), and all the various gases, elements and compounds. But to suggest that life itself, came about, by itself, is something that defies both the imagination, and ‘factual’ science! There are those who feel that such theory actually conflicts with the second law of Thermodynamics, which says, that no self acting process can convert heat into work leaving the system with it’s original internal energy!

We pride ourselves on splitting the atom, and seem to forget the One, Who, in it’s creation, built that power within it! “All things were made by Him.”6

Sam Neill, in presenting a television science program said, “Some scientists think that life appeared so quickly on earth, that it may have come from somewhere else.” ^

THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT CHRISTIANS HAVE ALWAYS SAID – BECAUSE THE BIBLE TEACHES IT!

INTERPRETING SCIENTIFIC DISCOVERY

 

The Christian must never be afraid of scientific discovery. We must look beyond the interpretation that godless individuals may put upon it. As more of the intricacies of nature are discovered, the Creator is further glorified!

Research has shown that sequences of DNA periodically move about, even  from one chromosome to another, bringing about subtle changes, which, it is believed, may be responsible for some evolutionary change. Does this in any way shake the Christian’s faith? Rather it strengthens it, and evokes praise for the God Who created this whole world and the natural laws, which govern and maintain it all!

 

Why is it, I wonder, that scientists, who are also Christians, and in disagreement  with the theory of human evolution, appear to lose their credibility in the scientific establishment? Why is it, some are apparently afraid to speak out, fearing employment prospects will be damaged if they do?

Bearing in mind that such evolution is only a theory, (based on the shaky evidence of only a partial jigsaw) it seems very strange to the Christian, that this is the only side of the story, that much of the world’s media is willing to present. Is it possible, that they too, could be ‘blinded by science’? “The God of this world (the devil) hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.”7

HOW DID IT ALL START?

 

Although Charles Darwin  died over a century ago, people are still, defending, interpreting, or criticizing his dogma. Before becoming famous as a biologist, he was such an apathetic student, that his father said, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family." [i]

Charles Darwin, left the University of Cambridge where (amazingly) he was studying for the Anglican priesthood. He gave up his studies so that, in 1831 he could join the scientific expedition of the Beagle. For five years he studied  plant animal and marine life in the Cape Verde and the Galapagos Islands, as well as Brazil, Patagonia, and Australia.

In 1871 Darwin’s ‘Descent of Man’ was published. Although critics of his previous books, had a good idea what was coming, it made, nevertheless, a big stir. Churchmen of many denominations were horrified, and condemned it outright. None more so, than the French Catholic physician, Dr. Constantin James. In 1877, Dr. James both refuted Darwin scientifically and poured contempt on his book, calling it “a fairy tale.” He said that something “so fantastic and so burlesque” was, doubtless, only a huge joke.

In an address at Liverpool, Mr. Gladstone remarked: “Upon the grounds of what is termed evolution God is relieved of the labour of creation; in the name of unchangeable laws he is discharged from governing

the world.” I suppose what he was saying was that God has, in the view of those who propagate such a theory, become superfluous!

DID DARWIN BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

 

Charles Darwin, started the evolutionary ball rolling, (or maybe I should say snowball - it has had so many additions). But there have been claims and counter claims, suggesting that he repented of his ‘man from ape’ theories  late in life! It is said, that what he felt to be inspiration, due especially to his Galapagos Islands experience, was, he believed, in retrospect, a delusion, and an offence to the God Who had created him.

The account first appeared in print, in the Watchman Examiner, Boston, August 19,1915, p. 1071.

The narrative, (later denied by some members of Darwin's family) is quoted in a book by Ronald W Clark**:

‘Shortly after his death, Lady Hope addressed a gathering of young men and women at the educational establishment founded by the evangelist Dwight Lyman Moody at Northfield, Massachusetts. She had, she maintained, visited Darwin on his deathbed. He had been reading the Epistle to the Hebrews, had asked for the local Sunday school to sing in a summerhouse on the grounds, and had confessed: "How I wish I had not expressed my theory of evolution as I have done." He went on, she said, to say that he would like her to gather a congregation since he "would like to speak to them of Christ Jesus and His salvation, being in a state where he was eagerly savouring the heavenly anticipation of bliss."’

 

Clark's source for Lady Hope's quotations of Darwin is given as "Down, the Home of the Darwins: The Story of a House and the People Who Lived There" by Sir Hedley Atkins KBE, published by Phillimore for the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1974.

James Moore, historian of science at the Open University (Milton Keynes, UK), has tried to tackle the story, purely from a historical viewpoint, in his book "The Darwin Legend".

Moore through much research,  established  that Lady Hope definitely existed. (Many evolutionists had tried to discredit the story, by denying her reality!) She was born Elizabeth Reid Cotton on 9th December, 1842, in Tasmania, and had lived for most of her life in England. She had married into the title and used it in public writings and appearances.   Moore concludes, that Lady Hope probably did meet with Darwin in the autumn of 1881 (about six months before his death). Her story contains "startling elements of authenticity" (p. 94) and "has the ring of truth about it" (p. 97), because she provided details that only an actual visitor could know. It's been suggested that Moore, because he was the leading biographer of Darwin, knew more about his life than anyone in the modern day. The book is rich with detail of Darwin's family life and the material setting of Down House. The intricate detail of Lady Hope's account could only  be known to someone, said Moore, who actually visited the house and conversed with Darwin.

 

Although Darwin's theories have now a life of their own, and a loyal, some might say neurotic following, the story of his conversion is still feared by evolutionists, who for the most part discount God.

In a lecture at Wheaton College in 1995, Moore spoke about his friend Fred Burkhardt, who was an editor in the Darwin Correspondence project at Cambridge. It seems he was worried that Moore's book "would revive the legend of Darwin's conversion." Moore's scrupulous research has proved beyond question the reality of Lady Hope.

 

If we accept the truth of the account, then it could be said, Darwin had progressed to the truth, whilst perhaps many of his disciples have yet to continue their journey.

 

It's also good to remember some of Dennis Overbye's words in  a Time Magazine article on 26th April 1993, 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Bang?':  " …. every advance has only opened new vistas of mysteries. There is no reason to think we even know the right questions yet, let alone ultimate answers. The currency of science is not truth, but doubt."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

1 Psalm 14:1   21 Corinthians 3:19   3Genesis 2:7   42 Timothy 3:16   5Genesis 1:1   6John 1:3   72 Corinthians 4:4

 

*Quoted from One Giant Step for Mankind in Time Magazine, 23rd July 2001

 

^ BBC program Space, (July 22nd 2001)

 

** "The Survival of Charles Darwin: a Biography of a Man and an Idea" by Ronald W. Clark, published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1985 (p. 199)

 

As well as the above, various reference works have been utilised, including (HISTORY OF WARFARE OF SCIENCE WITH THEOLOGY IN CHRISTENDOM VOLS. 1, 2  by Andrew D. White)

 

>Christopher B. Stringer, Natural History Museum, London – part of a Lecture presented on November 17, 2000 by Chris Stringer at the AAA meetings, San Francisco, and later  published as: Stringer, C. 2001 The evolution of modern humans: where are we now? General Anthropology 7 (2): 1-5.

 

 



[i]Excerpted from The Complete Reference Collection. Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997 The Learning Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

(This article will be posted on web site – www.majorv.com – and may be used freely, but without alteration.) Copyright is retained by the author Major Victor Ross