googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Five Reasons Why I Reject Theistic Evolution: Part 4

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Five Reasons Why I Reject Theistic Evolution: Part 4

4) It gives the wrong impression of death

The Bible is very clear that death is the judgment for sin. There are several passages that illustrate this: For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, Romans 5:12. He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, James 5:20, et al. We die physically because we are descended from Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22) but, after we die, the lost will be judged for their own sins before the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:11-14). At that Judgment, everyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life, is cast into the Lake of Fire; this is called, the second death (Revelation 20:14-15).

When we are born again, the Bible says we pass from death into life (John 5:24). The gospel is the good news that we can have life in Christ. As Christians, our sins are forgiven by Christ's blood. Our physical death becomes that time when we are rid of these vessels of clay and enter into eternity knowing that we will have no part in the second death. In 1 Corinthians 15:55, Paul rejoices, saying, O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Christ conquered death for Christians but, for the lost, death still holds sway. We seldom know when death will overtake us so we need to make a decision for Jesus while we have the opportunity. If a person dies before he has repented, he has forever lost the opportunity for salvation. Ezekiel 18:21-23 says, “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?” God wants all people to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

In an interview with the NY Times, Bill Nye made these following comments:

NYE: I think the fear of death figures prominently in creationist thought. That the promise of eternal life is reassuring to people who are deeply troubled by the troubling fact that we’re all going to die. And it bugs me, too. But I press forward rather than running in circles screaming.

NY TIMES: And ultimately, death is a part of evolution.

NYE: It’s the key. The key is that you can pass on improvements by having kids. And there aren’t enough resources for any population to go completely unchecked, whether the population is humans or crickets. There isn’t enough for everybody, so you compete. And this is one of Darwin’s enormous insights.

According to Nye, death is the key to evolution. You see, it's not just that death happens during evolution, death is prerequisite to evolution. It's the hero of the story. It's the champion of the theory. Yet in spite of this, I still think that most of the people who believe in evolution never fully grasp exactly how critical a role death plays.

Natural selection is sometimes described as the “survival of the fittest.” Of course, this must also mean the demise of the unfit. According to the theory, a creature is born with some unusual trait (either through a fortunate combination of existing genes or through random mutation). On rare occasions, this unusual trait conveys some advantage to its host – perhaps the host can run faster, see keener, or jump higher. Because of this advantage, the host will hopefully live longer and leave more offspring than its neighbors without the trait. The offspring that inherit the advantage will likewise tend to have more offspring and eventually, the creatures having the trait will replace the entire population. The more fit live, the less fit die, and the entire population evolves. That is how it is supposed to work. If the less fit did not die, then the more fit really have no advantage to select.

Because it plays such a key role in evolution, some people almost regard death as noble. Biologos, a group that identifies itself as Christian, has an article titled, Death and Rebirth: The Role of Extinction in Evolution. Wow, “death and rebirth”! It almost seems to put evolution on equal footing with the Resurrection! In the article, the author makes this claim:

Extinction is actually a common feature of life on earth when viewed over long (e.g. geological) timescales. By some estimates, over 99% of the species that have ever lived have gone extinct [this is a lie, by the way].... Such an extinction event (of a single species, or perhaps a handful of species) alters the environment of other remaining species in an ecosystem. This, in turn, may influence the ability of some of these remaining species to reproduce compared to other species.... As the ecosystem landscape shifts due to loss of species, new biological opportunities, or niches, might arise. These new niches are then available to support new species to fill them.

There you go. Animals go extinct but that makes way for new animals to evolve. It's the circle of life. Some things live and some things die and it's good. When a tsunami or earthquake kills thousands of people, critics often say that such tragedies are evidence there is no God. They also say that such events have happened frequently in the world's history and that they are mechanisms that give some species the opportunity to evolve.

The role of death in evolution is the complete opposite of what death truly is. Death is an intruder into the creation. It is the consequence of Adam's sin and later, of our own sins. It is an enemy that will one day be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Death should be dreaded by the lost and they should seek a way to avoid it. The gospel – the good news – is that there is life in Jesus!!


Steven J. said...

I would say, myself (and I get the impression, from his "The key is that you can pass on improvements by having kids" comment, that Bill Nye agrees), that the hero of evolution is imperfect self-replication. Death accomplishes nothing without that. Conversely, if you have that, and manage to not have death, you still have evolution.

What would a world without death look like? If it's a world without reproduction, or only reproduction for a limited time (until the world filled up), it looks very different from ours: celibate bunnies happily munching grass and never bothering to make more bunnies, peacocks whose elaborate feathers were useless as they never bothered to try to attract a mate, etc. Let's not even get into the effects on human society. Sex and reproduction are so central to our world as to suggest that, if it was a creation, it was a creation that specifically anticipated the need to replace entire populations over and over (and yes, I realize that God supposedly anticipated the Fall and its consequences -- which is to say that He made a world in which death was a central feature; He just went through some Rube Goldberg machinations to implement it). A world with neither death nor reproduction would not feature evolution (if there are no offspring, at least past a few initial generations, there are no hundreds of generations of accumulated mutations).

Steven J. said...

But this world, above, is homey and unremarkable compared to a world with reproduction and with no death. Such a world would need infinite resources (or organisms that can survive without food, water, air, or even space to occupy). If there were such a world, though, evolution would still occur. Beneficial mutations still occur (although every organism not born incapable of reproduction presumably would live to produce offspring of its own, some "fitter" ones would have more). Now, the absence of death would in one way work against combining beneficial mutations in different lineages, since even recepients of deleterious mutations would survive; sexually-reproducing organisms would not be choosing a mate from among a "race of winners" all of whom were descendants of the "fitter."

On the other hand, since organisms live forever, they'd have more opportunities to find mates who did inherit beneficial mutations. Furthermore, there'd be more surviving beneficial mutations. Note that a mutation that doubled your chances of surviving to produce offspring is highly beneficial; note also that if you are a member of a species 90% of which dies young (which would make you better off than sea turtles, or even rats) it would probably still mean that you die young. In a world without death (but with reproduction), every beneficial mutation would survive and successfully pass on its genes (and more copies of them than less-fit organisms). Evolution happens anyway, and you get much the same effect as natural selection; it's just that the elaborate, highly-adapted organisms live on surrounded by myriads upon myriads of vastly-less-adapted organisms (although, in a world of infinite resources -- which, again, you'd need for this scenario -- what would "less adapted" even mean?). Anyway, you'd get elaborate, marvelous organisms (indeed, in some respects, evolution would achieve things it can't achieve in a world with death, since evolution would never be stopped by requiring an intermediate form that could not survive in any plausible environment).

Death is not the "hero" of evolutionary theory, introduced to make the theory work; nor is the theory something dreamed up to justify death. Death is a product of finitude: limited resources and the laws of thermodynamics. Natural selection is just the point that death (at least before reproductive success) is not completely random: fitter organisms are more likely to survive and pass on their genes. A world in which death was "an intruder" would be a world where magic replaced the laws of physics (and so my second scenario cannot be rejected as more fantastic than the idea of a world where animals are naturally immortal).

Your theology makes interpreting the Bible easier, I'll grant that readily. But it doesn't make much sense of the world you say that God created.