Yet another argument on creation(ism)

All of this was prompted by an article in the Guardian on creation that I found particularly well written in a sea of poor discourse on the subject.

I am convinced that nearly everything meaningful to be said about the argument of creationism, intelligent design (ID), and evolution has been said. My position from a scientist and Christian’s point of view is straightforward. Obviously, there is a lot of evidence that exists regarding evolution. With respect to origins of the universe, there is also a surprisingly consistent amount of evidence for the big bang theory. So, my current belief, based on the evidence available, is that the big bang happened, and separately science currently paints a reasonable picture of the origin of life.

Now there’s something very intuitive about the idea that something had to precede the big bang, and that’s fundamentally what I’ll call God. (Call it what you like.) So, the event of creation, in my mind, occurred, but it’s not God placing tiny Lego humans, in their modern forms (whatever that is), on a pre-formed Earth. Creation was the release of energy from an infinitesimally small point into the expanding universe.

So that explains my theism. I am particularly Christian because I believe the fundamental story of Christ, based on all available evidence (Biblical and extra-Biblical accounts). My understanding of the canonization of the New Testament makes me believe that the Bible is more of a human document than it is handed down from God. While I’m much more inclined to take the Hebrew Bible on faith, it remains a question of faith and not science, though I’m pleased to see scientific and archaeological inquiries into the subject. Yet many of these fundamental beliefs I take on faith, and many of these questions cannot be addressed by science directly. It’s perhaps in my nature, however, to attempt to reconcile these two logical worlds in order to ensure that some sort of weird singularity doesn’t implode my head.

The theory of evolution, on the other hand, asks questions that are within the realm of science and testable science. We as scientists would be remiss if we did not admit that explicit statements about the past may well not be testable, but our observations are still meaningful, like a forensic puzzle, and we have the unique opportunity of having systems we can closely monitor in labs and in real environments to check consistency with current ideas.

For one broad example, biological conservation is striking. The preservation of even single, complex ion channels is maintained throughout species whose brains are vastly different. Just one of many, many examples of this is the human 6 transmembrane domain K+ channel herg, which is 70% similar in genetic sequence to a channel in the worm C. elegans and also similar to channels in the Drosophila fly and elk.

Modern evolutionary theory accounts for this. At least one alternative explanation to evolution that one might hear from the ID folks is that God could have placed these sequences in each species when God created them. This is not a testable hypothesis, and it is not scientific by definition. As far as science is concerned, until this is reconciled, end of discussion with respect to science!

With respect to education policy, and I probably have more to say at a later time on this issue, all of this sums up to the following. Evolution is a theory (like ALL other theories in science). It is not proven (like all other ideas in science). Evolution and big bang theories should be presented as a theory in science curricula. ID and creationism, on the other hand, have zero place, whatsoever, in a science curriculum. What could be explained is why this is, since it is such a curiously heated topic. As far as this scientist and Christian is concerned, it’s pretty binary.


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