Top Four Reasons I Don’t Accept Evolutionary Theory

Derek Ouellette —  November 11, 2011 — 13 Comments

Earlier in the week I wrote a post advocating for room in the Christian spectrum for theistic evolutionists. I followed that post up with one where I explain why I don’t believe that the Bible tells us when or how God created – again, advocating for room for theistic evolutionists. It then came to me as a complete surprise when it was not creationists, but evolutionists who went after me the next day.

Fundamentalism comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Traditionally fundamentalism is said to be characterized by “anti-intellectualism”, yet books written by fundamentalists are often quite hefty and well researched. What makes them “anti-intellectual” then is not their lack of research and inability to handle scholarly stuff, but rather their inability to handle scholarly stuff critically and to think critically and to examine their own view with a critical – and hence, a humble – eye. Fundamentalism then is at its root characterized by its inability to be critical towards its own view.

Thus fundamentalists are not just naïve creationists, but also naïve evolutionists.

In my last post I make this passing statement (under the subheading, it is important to note, of “The Short Version”): “Because I am not a scientist I have to look at the simple evidence – for one example, that I don’t believe there is solid evidence for macroevolution and for another, that evolution is losing credibility in many spheres – and say with a critical eye that I cannot accept that theory”.

People took my statement of “because I’m not a scientist” as a sort of ostrich approach. A burying of my head in the sand, while making the claim that “evolution is false”; this got everyone all fired up and hot under the fanny. Some going to so far as to say that my statement was a “cop-out.”  Granted in retrospect I wouldn’t have used the phrase, “because I’m not a scientist”, but I also wish my readers would read with more grace and care. For starters, in spite of my statement I offer two brief though thoughtful reasons why I do not accept evolution and in so doing I never make the claim that evolution is false.  Furthermore to criticize me for making that statement while “not engaging the issue head on, but offering a public opinion on something that [I] haven’t thought through” is to fail to read the statement in context (which is what I meant by not reading me graciously). Of course I didn’t deal with the issue head on because the post wasn’t about that issue. It was related to that issue, which is why I made the statement, but it wasn’t about that issue, and to engage “the issue head on” would have taken the post in a completely different direction. (Oh how I wish that we could say everything there is to say in a single stroke!)

All of that said, I might as well make this “part 3” in an accidental series on my views of creation and evolution. In this post I am going to offer four reasons why I do not accept the theory of evolution.

The Bible Seems to Suggest Otherwise

I’m not hanging my hat on this one, but it is one of the reasons and I figure I might as well get it out of the way first. Let me begin by saying that most of the theistic evolutionists I have encountered are not evangelical. That is, they have a low view of the scriptures. But I only make that statement to make this one: I know and read many Evangelical Christians who hold to both evolution and a high view of the scriptures. They believe the scientific evidence supports evolution and so when they turn to the Bible, they re-interpret subjects having to do with Genesis 1-11, the Fall in particular and questions surrounding Adam and Eve. That is respectable, but I just find those theological interpretations unconvincing.

I read Christian evolutionists who basically say, “here’s the scientific data, it’s for the theologian to reconcile their theology with it”. But then I turn to the theologians and none of them seem to be able or willing to make that go. I could take a whole post elaborating on this one subject alone (what it is, for example, that the first creation tells us about the new creation et cetera…), but I think people are mostly concerned about the science. After all, (and I agree, if somewhat my agreement requires qualification) that if science has proved evolution to be true, than shouldn’t we just reinterpret our theology to fit it. Putting aside for a moment the fact that science is – by nature – always evolving (yes, that’s one of my favourite puns), I think that we should always make sure our theology aligns with reality. So what other non-biblical reasons do I have for not accepting evolution?

Where’s the macroevolution empirical evidence? 

This has been a thorn in Darwin’s flesh ever since day one. Where is the actual evidence that evolution takes place? Now let’s be clear: there’s a difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Microevolution is undeniable – that species adapt to their environment. But when people refer to “evolution” they mean “macroevolution”, the process by which species will evolve into completely different species. This is really the heart and soul of evolution and until macroevolution is proven, evolution will remain merely a theory in my mind that can be respectably rejected.

In what can only be described as sheer desperation, evolution scientists are now trying to force down our throats the claim that “macroevolution is microevolution writ large – add up enough small changes and you get big changes”.[1] This claim is not true. Add up enough small changes and you get lots of small changes. Put a pair of dogs from Africa in the Arctic and – assuming they survive – given enough time they and their offspring will produce – through small changes – thicker skin, thicker fur, slivered eyes and so on. But those dogs will never become another species. They will always remain dogs. That’s the difference between macro and microevolution. The astounding part of Collins and Gibberson’s argument is that we are supposed to take the claim that “macroevolution is microevolution writ large” on faith. We are not supposed to critically examine their best attempt to get people to believe in macroevolution (and hence, evolution).

Evolution Bloopers and Blunders

Darwinian evolution has lost a certain amount of credibility in my eyes by some scientists who are so over-zealous and over-confident in their theory that they will stoop to any level to get people to believe it. Recall “The Piltdown Man,” when a paleontologist discovered a skull and a jawbone – the jawbone resembling a monkey’s. The discovery was hailed the “Dawn man” and “the missing-link” (evidence that supposedly would support “macroevolution”, the leap between species). The evolution community accepted the “Piltdown man” and replicas were placed in every major museum in the world and believed upon by millions of students for 40 years until it was discovered to be a hoax! The skull was not 500,000 years old, but only 2,000 years old (young earther’s love that fact!) and the jawbone was merely a few decades old. They then examined it under a microscope and found that the teeth had been filed down carefully to resemble human teeth. The whole thing had been stained with iron salts and bicromate to make it appear to be very old. Now there’s objective science for you!

Though the most famous, the Piltdown man was neither the first nor last hoax and blunder by fundamentalists evolutionists desperate to get people to accept their theory. Consider other examples, the Orgueil Fall, the Pig Tooth, the Pithecanthropus and the Astralopithicines. The point is that there are fundamentalists evolutionists just as there are fundamentalists creationists. What’s scary about this is that people are so willing to accept evolution that the entire scientific community and millions upon millions of students latch on to any and every evidence that “seals the deal” if you will. People have stopped being critical toward the – as yet un-proven – theory of evolution. In my mind, that’s dangerous. Someone recently made this statement about young earther’s, it seems just as applicable to evolutionists.

Is the Consensus Evolution, or Something Else?

I’ve often wondered why evolution remains the consensus among scientists (so I am often told) if it stands on such shaky ground. Pay close attention here because this is probably the most important point I’ll be making in this post.

I read somewhere a few weeks ago that evolution is the consensus because biologists, paleontologists, astrophysicists, geologists and a whole slew of other “logists” have independently come to the same conclusion. Now let us suppose that this is correct, what do all of these sciences have in common? What is the conclusion they have all drawn? It’s a rhetorical question so I’ll just answer it: age, not evolution. Each one of these sciences has independently determined that the world (or universe) is much, much older than previously thought. This is a really important hypothesis that needs to be taken in: the consensus among scientists is that the earth is really, really old. Out of that consensus comes the assumption that evolution must be true. Thus scientists are working to that end to prove the hypothesis of evolution… still.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First the polar opposites are taken for granted: either the earth is 6,000 years old and evolution is false or it is millions of years old and evolution must be true. It’s difficult to come across any writings from either side that do not operate under that assumption. I don’t see any so-called “overwhelming evidence” for evolution, besides books that like to point out the oddity of certain creatures, or the age of the earth et cetera. None of this actually proves macroevolution. The evidence rather points to a really old earth, but not necessarily to evolution. Read that line again, because it is foundational to the premise I have argued since the first post. Evolution is assumed based on the age of the earth, and other odd finds, weird extinct creatures, weird living creatures and some deformed skeletal remains.

Conclusion: 

These are the four top reasons why I reject evolution. People feel compelled into one corner or another. Either the earth is 6,000 years old and evolution is false (like they were taught in their youth and which they may be reacting against) or the earth is millions of years old and evolution is true. I propose rather that the earth is much, much older than most creationists suppose and that the Bible cannot be used to support a 6,000 year creation history, but I also propose that to say that the earth is really, really old does not necessitate evolution and that there is no solid evidence for macroevolution.

Via media! I’m all about finding a way to transcend age-old debates. I’ve offered in this series a way to be faithful to the biblical testimony, to believe in a real fall, a real Adam and Eve and a real paradise-like creation (to mirror the new creation) while also respecting the scientific evidence for an old earth without placing too much stock in an artistic rendition of the missing-link based on a jawbone of a monkey who died just over a hundred years ago.


[1] Karl Gibberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith, p.45

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • http://wearethestories.wordpress.com Eric Gregory

    As an “ungracious” initial reader:

    Let me first apologize. I’m really not intending (nor have intended) to be an ass. I despise anti-intellectualism, and whenever I see someone making blanket comments (regardless of the original intent of a post), my ire is stoked. (Think about it: if a pastor said something in a sermon that you thought was just wrong, would you even be able to fully engage the rest of the sermon without getting clarification on that one glaring error?)

    Alright, on to this post:

    1. The argument “from Scripture” fails on multiple levels. First, first (or second) century Palestintian cosmology looks nothing like modern science. Jesus lived in a world that seemed fine with defining the world as flat, with edges, and upheld by pillars. It takes an almost heretical view of Christ to suggest that He was giving modern scientific rationale for sin and righteousness when talking about Adam – as if Christ was talking past those present and speaking only to those of us who have come later. Christ was human (though not sinful), and in a particular place in historical time. It makes sense that His descriptions of cosmology, etc. aren’t the way we understand the world today. Speaking any differently wouldn’t have helped anyone present (and thus wouldn’t have been written down by the authors of the Gospels). Second, I leave you (for the third time) with a quote from an Anglican bishop who, though disagreeing with Darwin’s theory, despised the idea of doing so on the grounds of Scripture:

    Our readers will not have failed to notice that we have objected to the views with which we are dealing solely on scientific grounds. We have done so from our fixed conviction that it is thus that the truth or falsehood of such arguments should be tried. We have no sympathy with those who object to any facts or alleged facts in nature, or to any inference logically deduced from them, because they believe them to contradict what it appears to them is taught by Revelation. We think that all such objections savour of a timidity which is really inconsistent with a firm and well-intrusted faith.

    Please engage this quote and the rationale, since you’ve side-stepped it twice before. It is the most reasonable and rational way I can think of for how to engage science and faith.

    2. Nope. Your anti-evolution rhetoric is clouding the issues. Your comments about scientists “forcing” ideas down our throats is abhorrently anti-intellectual and completely misguided. See here for more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution#Misuse

    3. Yes. Let’s throw down an entire theory based on a single hoax. This isn’t indicative of the science or the theory at large. Also, it’s really creationists who are constantly looking for a “missing link”. The entire idea of a “missing link” is, in fact, not evolutionary at all (at least the way the theory is understood now). There isn’t a transitional being between species, there are branches. Again, read up on Common Descent: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_descent

    If we want to trade hoax stories, let’s take a look at the Creation museum, or the entire Ken Ham project.

    4. The consensus is evolution. Major reason? Common descent. (Which can support something-we-would-call-intelligent-design-if-that-weren’t-co-opted-by-conservative-fundamentalists.)

    5. I don’t think anyone says that an old earth necessitates evolution (except for young earth creationists).

    6. Being faithful to biblical testimony does not amount to taking every word literally. Even Origen, writing in the 3rd century, laughed at the idea of taking Genesis as a story of the earth’s creation. He may not have believed in evolution (since the theory didn’t exist), but science was, at a major time in the life of the Church, not something to compete with religion and faith.

    Here’s the bottom line: If science contradicts your understanding of what the Bible says and that worries you, you need to do two things. (1) Make sure you REALLY understand the science and be able to articulate what is true or false about it; and (2) you need to get a grasp on what the Bible REALLY says (including how it says it, who wrote the text, what the original context was, etc. – i.e. NOT just seeing something as “Jesus said ______” but remembering that it was actually “Matthew’s Jesus said ________”).

    These are quick responses before going to see a live musical performance with my wife. If we want to engage the particulars of anything I linked to (or the links from Wikipedia that lead to “credible” sources), let’s do that.

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Thanks for the thoughts.

      Counter 1: Let me suggest that when I “argue from scripture” you miss understand me completely (or perhaps I haven’t been clear enough). I’m not arguing for the cosmology and totally agree with you there and everything you say from that point on is based on your misunderstanding of me. In fact, what I have tried to stress over and over again is that the BIble does not give us modern cosmology, but ancient cosmology. I think I’ve made this point in all three posts. My argument from scripture, which I didn’t take a lot of time to argue, is theological, not cosmological. In involves the New Testament writers interpretation of the creation story as telling us something about our story, the first creation resembling the new creation, the fall and what it means for humanity and for the atonement and how we understand it et cetera. As I said, it would take an entire post to work that out. But it seems you continually think that my argument from scripture is the old “creation vs. evolution” debate. It’s not. In fact, the fact that you keep thinking that that is what I’m talking about only illustrates my final point.

      (I hope my comment above is sufficient of an engagement with your quote. I’m not rejecting the hypothesis of evolution based upon the “science” of the bible. Essentially I agree with the quote.)

      Counter 2: Strong rhetoric is not always a sign of anti-intellectualism. But thanks :) It would be nice if you wiki-linked offered examples of “observed macroevolution”… i..e species changing into completely different species and surviving and reproducing (or else we’ll have to postpone this discussion until I can order and read those “credible” sources and hope that they offer examples for me to critically engage). If it was as true and proven as the article suggests (which, in themselves are bias enough that person might as well make the claim “evolution is true, accept it!”), I doubt scientists would try and convince people that “macroevolution is microevolution writ large”. They would probably just point to actual incidences where macroevolution has been shown to be true for us to interact with.

      Counter 3: I don’t want to trade hoax stories. You keep yours, and you can have Ken Ham’s too (he’s not in my camp!) :)

      Counter 4: I doubt geology is about common descent (same goes for the work of astrophysics)

      Counter 5: That’s a hypothesis based on number 4. It’s a logical and rational hypothesis.

      Counter 6: “Being faithful to the biblical testimony does not amount to taking every word literally”… never said it did. Read my last post more carefully, or just read this very carefully. You’re coming at me with assumptions I’m not making and trying to force me back into the old either/or that I have been counteracting.

      Bottom line: This may surprise you, but I am not threatened by the theory of evolution. I’d have to tweak a theological conviction here or there. But that’s it and I’ve made those tweaks before and I’d do it again. You’re trying to suggest that my motives behind rejecting evolution is that my faith would be shaken. Hardly! Rather, I don’t uncritically accept that theory because I don’t think it has enough going for it yet. The age of the earth is really old (yes!), but that does not necessitate evolution.

      Have fun at the live performance with your wife! :)

      • http://wearethestories.wordpress.com Eric Gregory

        Re-Counter Time!

        1. Cosmology is inherently caught up in anthropology. We seem to both be on the same page regarding cosmology, but you somehow see the Bible (specificially what Jesus says and/or what Paul says about anthropological concepts) as trustworthy and definitive for the existence of an historical Adam/Eve and as arguing against evolution. I think that’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black, no? Saying that the Bible doesn’t speak to modern cosmology but that it speaks to modern anthropological historicity (e.g. evolution is false, or the historical Adam/Eve exist) seems to be choosing between texts.

        2. The theory of evolution changes as we learn more. It isn’t a monolithic scientific concept instigated by Darwin, but it has been modified based on evidence. If there were credible evidence to the contrary, scientists wouldn’t support evolution as overwhelmingly as they do. (Keep in mind that when the Big Bang Theory came about, it was decried as being too theistically understood, but has since become commonplace. And now it’s only religious conservatives who deny it because they don’t see God in it. Ironic.)

        3. :)

        4. [Evolution has little to do with geology and astrophysics? Not sure what your point is here.]

        5. Thanks :)

        6. Sorry. I know you don’t believe that. My point was more with regard to the first point of this re-counter responses. Taking the Bible (in this case, Jesus) “literally” regarding anthropology and human ancestry seems to clash with your affirmation that Genesis isn’t offering a modern cosmology because it’s allowing the texts to form opinions that they weren’t intended to help form. In the same way that Genesis isn’t speaking to modern cosmology, Jesus isn’t speaking to modern anthropology or how humans came to be.

        7. That is surprising. I’d like to have known that before going through these arguments :)

  • http://nailtothedoor.com Dan Martin

    Derek, I want to engage this article far more carefully when I have time. One very quick response…when you suggest that there is no evidence for macroevolution, you’re not quite correct. The most compelling evidence, though it’s interpreted in a variety of ways by different people, is the amount of similarity in the genetic code between wildly different species, and the massive amount of our own genetic material which, as far as we can tell, we don’t use. The genetic picture has provided some very strong evidence for common ancestors between pretty divergent organisms.

  • Dave Leigh

    Derek, I am something of an “agnostic awaiting answers” in this particular debate, but lean toward intellegent design of the Christian variety.

    Most recently I have found two scholarly remarks quite compelling. They come from Dr. John Walton, a theologian from Wheaton (where I got my M.A.), whose text books on the Old Testament are widely used, even at conservative bastions like Moody:

    “Through the entire Bible, there is not a single instance in which God revealed to Israel a science beyond their own culture. No passage offers a scientific perspective that was not common to the Old World science of antiquity.”

    And…

    “People who value the Bible do not need to make it ‘speak science’ to salvage its truth claims or credibility.”

    John H. Walton. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (Locations 152 and 1010 respectively in the Kindle Edition)

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Dave, I read the book, it’s one of my favourites on the subject. But I fail to see the relevance of those quotes to what’s going on here. Read my response to Eric (or just read this). I don’t claim here or anywhere else that the bible teaches a science beyond its culture.

      If evolution is true I’d have to go back to the theological drawing board (if you will), and while I read a lot as you know, few (very few) theologians even attempt to point the way.

      • Dave Leigh

        Thanks Derek. I read your review a while ago and was glad to see you interacting briefly with Walton’s book.

        Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Walton’s statements (above) are true, then your comments to the effect that the Bible seems to indicate something other than evolution cannot also be true. I’m not saying his comments are true, but only that since he is a scholar whom I respect, I find the comments challenging.

        While I also respect you, I don’t think one’s “theological drawing board” should be affected by the outcome of the evolution debate if one’s theology is based on the same Bible that Walton claims does not “speak science.” If he is correct that the Bible tells us who created the world, and science tells us how, then why would we restrict the findings of current-day or future-day science to the limitations of an ancient cosmology? If the Bible always addressed its original readers by working within their own cosmogenic maps and topography, then haven’t we missed the point if we think we can draw scientific conclusions from something designed to communicate within (and not beyond) a prescientific mindset?

        Of course I’m just thinking out loud here and not trying to start a fight. Much of what Walton says is new to me and it would help me to have someone to process it with in a safe environment for exploring ideas.

        • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

          I’m not sure I share your view that ones theological drawing board does not affect the outcome of the evolution debate (or perhaps its the opposite, that the evolution debate does not affect ones theological drawing board?). The Bible certainly does not give a modern cosmology (thus I agree with Walton and you), but it does seem to presuppose an actual figure named “Adam” (not just a symbolic “human” – Paul and Jesus don’t speak of him just that way). A major theme in the bible is how “sin entered the world”, that one man’s rebellion caused the creation to go into disarray. Certainly accepting evolution would have an affect on these theological motifs I think. At least it would for me.

          I just want to press the point, because everyone is saying the same thing (or thinks I’m saying the same thing): I’m not trying to restrict the evolution to “ancient cosmology”. I don’t think the bibles cosmology has anything to do with this discussion.

          Walton’s book was more or less right on, in my mind. But don’t forget that near the end he addresses one of the greatest difficulties he sees with accepting evolution from a biblical perspective, he says it’s the question of Adam and the theological outcome of that question. Even Walton finds that to be a hard one (I don’t think he has resolved). If Walton allows in his book for this one hard question to be unresolved, can’t I? So I think my biblical reason is on solid ground. It’s also important to note that Walton’s book does not argue for evolution (though, in all probability, he believes it).

          I’m going to say it one more time just for good measure: The biblical cosmology has nothing at all to do with the evolution debate in my mind. My argument from scripture is theological, not cosmological (as I said to Eric under counter point #1) :)

          Having said everything I’ve said here and throughout these discussions and blog posts one thing has become crystal clear: I need to pick up more books on this subject. Thanks Dave.

  • Dave Leigh

    Thanks Derek. Good points. I’ll have to give it much more thought for sure.

    I guess I’ve always figured that however God brought humanity about, there had to be a first pair. Whether he formed us directly from the dust or in the round-about way of forming us via evolution from the dust, there had to be a first set of image bearers. These would be the historical Adam (male and female).

    But, once again proving you’re better read than I am, you’re quoting the part of the book I haven’t gotten to yet! Ha! I’m still reading!

    Thanks!

    • http://covenantoflove.net Derek Ouellette

      Dave, I agree with you there 110%!

      “But, once again proving you’re better than I am…” hogwash!

      • Dave Leigh

        You seem like a veracious reader, whereas I am a plodder. I envy those of you who not only devour books but get such a quick and firm grasp of their subject matter. And then you go on to write about in blogs and other formats! I don’t know how you do it while also having a life. Keep up the great work!

  • http://bramboniusinenglish.wordpress.com brambonius

    Interesting discussion.

    I’ve been avoiding this discussion for years now. When I was a teenager I did believe the 6-days creationism that was presented to me, which was not saying that the earth was 6.000 years old but about 12.000, and a bit more coherent and believeable than Ken Ham and stuff I’ve been reading on the net lately… But reading a lot about science, and about the bible, has changed my mind over time. There’s too much practical problems with old-earth models. (I once had a discussion with a guy who told me that a couple of elephants from the ark in 1000 years did not only spread over all continents, but also did evolve into all living elephant species and the woolly mammoth (I still don’t see how this speed-evolution could be considered ‘micro-evolution’, but it’s apparently in line with the science of ‘baraminology”). The latter one would then in a few years have spread all over the northern hemisphere, to reach a quite big density of mammoths all over Europe, N-America and Siberia and at once go extinct in the ice age. (?) In the end the story became really ridiculous)

    I’m quite convinced that micro-evolution over millions of years becomes macro-evolution, and the science of phylogenetics are very compelling to me to show the common descent in our DNA.

    The theological consequences I’m not sure of, but everyone with eyes sees that this world is tainted and broken by sin. The argument that without a litteral Adam (which does not need to contradict evolutionary creation for me btw) Jesus dis not have to come is very strange to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrea.norman.581 Andrea Norman

    Very well written. Its something to think about. I have always believed in the creation. Though I didn’t put too much thought into the scientific view of it; macro and micro evolution. It was nice to see that addressed. I have always felt that we do change over time, but we don’t become something else. The media’s view of evolution just wouldn’t make sense to me. If macro evolution were true (and people came from animals, and germs into birds) why is it that one living thing is not its own species? I mean, how is it that there is such a thing as “Species” if each organism changed by chance? What is the probability of each of the species being so big (population wise) and so unique, one from another, if they were able to change from one to another?