Sigmund, who is becoming a regular around here, proffers a guest post on BioLogos‘s latest botched attempt to reconcile evolution with faith.
Sigmund enclosed this note along with his post:
By the way, I noticed that BioLogos is starting a series of guest posts with various invited creationist evangelical Christians—including William Dembski!
They claim to be initiating a ‘discussion’ with them, but I can’t help remembering the final lines from Orwell’s Animal Farm:
“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”
BioLogos explains the real meaning of evolution
BioLogos continues its attempt to shoehorn the Jesus narrative into the theory of evolution with a new video entitled ‘Possibilities and Second Chances’, featuring Dr Rick Colling, a former professor of biology of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois. Colling, who wrote the book Random Designer: Created From Chaos, To Connect With the Creator’ , which tried to reconcile Christianity with modern science, resigned from Olivet Nazarene in 2009, two years after he was barred from teaching biology due to his advocacy of theistic evolution. Unfortunately, from the evidence of the current video, one begins to suspect that the Nazarene administration’s attempt to prevent Colling from instructing students about evolution might not be an unmitigated mistake.
In the video Colling enlightens BioLogos viewers with his take on the true meaning of evolution.
“Evolution is not about the imposition of death and destruction and survival of the fittest.”
Well is it, but not just that. Amongst other things it’s also about differential reproductive success and it’s about neutral genetic drift. That is what he had in mind, isn’t it?
“Rather, it is about second chances.”
“To me, there is tremendous resonance there. When we talk about our God who gives us a redemptive second chance at life when we have no other hope, that evolution actually works that way, because it’s pre-emptive, a preparation for potential problems.”
How Colling plans to turn evolution into a story of redemption is going to take some explaining, so let’s see where he goes with this one.
“Our bodies contain thousands of genes, which duplicate like a computer back-up copy and can serve as raw material. When an organism encounters adverse environmental condition, this raw material can be used to help adapt and survive.”
Well, I guess some gene duplications could function in this way, but the computer back-up is a misleading analogy, suggesting, as it does, that the duplication is planned in case of future emergencies. That is getting perilously close to the idea of ‘preloading’ the genome. [JAC note: we know of no way that genetic variations can be fixed by selection if they’re useful only under conditions that haven’t yet occurred.]
“God is so creative, that he’s actually put into place a mechanism to start doing these gene changes in advance before they’re even needed. And God has given us a second change through the evolutionary process of creating duplicate genes that give rise to new raw material that give rise to new possibilities, and that really more accurately describes the process of evolution. It’s redemption, it’s possibility, and it’s hope.”
So God created the process of gene duplication in order to help evolution along and give us hope during environmental emergencies?
But a gene duplication giving rise to a positive outcome—such as a new gene that aids survival during adverse climate change—is going to be an exceedingly rare event, common, perhaps, over an evolutionary timescale, but not something any one of us can hope to experience during our lives. On the other hand, there is an adverse effect of gene duplication and amplification—one that most of us will experience either directly or among our family or friends: the development of cancer.
Did God put that process in place also? And if He did, then what exactly is the redemptive quality of the process that results in dozens of copies of the oncogene N-MYC in a child with neuroblastoma? Where is the hope in that?
If God really wanted to duplicate some genes that would give us a chance at redemption, why didn’t he give us a few extra copies of a tumor suppressor like the P53 gene?
What Colling is doing is simply cherry-picking aspects of evolutionary theory and ascribing those points to the good intentions of his God.
It’s evolutionary theory put through ‘Google Translate’, with the output set to ‘religious waffle’.