In the previous article, we compared and contrasted three leading scientific worldviews and their relative adequacies in explaining the origins of life and the universe: neo-Darwinist evolution, Intelligent Design, and creationism. Here we will examine how these three compare when attempting to explain death, the fossil record, and the origin of man.
As before, we will see that the assumptions that these worldviews presuppose wield immense power over a scientist’s ability to perceive and interpret evidence. People tend to see what they’ve already chosen to believe, so there will be a marked difference from worldview to worldview in the conclusions that are drawn from the evidence examined. We will also see that there is quite a disparity between the purported sufficiency of these theories and their actual ability to deliver on their promises.
More to the point, there are serious philosophical consequences to these worldviews when examining the origin of man. Discovering the universe and origin of life is one thing; we can feign a certain abstract disinterest over the implications. Discovering our own origins is much more personally invasive and potentially threatening, for it is harder to ignore the consequences of these discoveries. There is the temptation to interpret evidence in order to shape ourselves into who we would like to be, rather than to examine what the evidence might lead us to conclude about who we are in truth.
According to evolution, death is a natural part of the universe. Natural selection, in fact, requires death as a means of determining which life forms are fit to survive and which are not, from amphibious creatures that emerge gasping from the wet muck to wolves that eliminate weak caribou from the herd by eviscerating and devouring them. Death, along with pain, suffering, and struggle, is merely the circle of life, almost a friend, an intimate colleague of Richard Dawkins’ Blind Watchmaker, a yin to life’s yang.
Consider for a moment the implications of this for the theistic evolutionist; if God uses the method of evolution, then God’s creation involves millions of years of death, pain, suffering, struggle, and then claims that “It is good.” What sort of God calls millions of years of death good? What sort of God designs one creature to disembowel or suck the life out of another? If He does exist, He must be a monster; small wonder that so many who hold to an ancient universe will have nothing to do with this sort of Supreme Being.
Whereas Intelligent Design takes no official objection to this, creationism holds to a drastically different scenario. The Bible states that death is specifically the result of man’s sin and rebellion against God, so death did not exist before the fall. At first, this seems to be a silly truism or cute metaphor from Bible stories, but consider the presupposition of the God of the Bible: God is the Author of life; by Him, all things were made, and in Him all things exist. If God is the eternal Origin of life, then rebellion and separation from God would naturally result in a rebellion and separation from life.
Genesis also states that all creatures were initially vegetarians, that there were no meat-eaters before the fall. Nature was in harmony without the shedding of blood. In fact, this is precisely what is in store for the world at the second coming of Christ; “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) Thus, death is an enemy, an aberration on the natural and eternal order of the universe.
The fossil record:
Evolution (and ID doesn’t vary substantively here) relies on the fossil record as a testimony of slow, gradual processes of death and burial over the course of long periods of time; these remains gradually become pressed into forming rock layers and can be dated by use of radiometric or carbon dating, or many other such methods. These dating methods are often inconveniently illogical or contradictory when compared with the physical evidence, such as rock layers dated at millions of years older than the trees underneath them. Nonetheless, these discrepancies are usually overlooked or ignored in order to protect the image of the evolutionary worldview.
Of course, we rarely see fossils forming today; what we almost always see are dead things being eaten by bugs or scavengers and disintegrating over a relatively short period of time. A fish rarely becomes a fossil; it floats, it bloats, and it becomes smelly water. So why is there such a rich mine of fossils of all types and life forms around the globe if we don’t see these processes occurring today? The assumption is that the processes that produced fossils in the past are the same processes that occur in the present, but this has not been established scientifically.
The evidence can tell quite a different story if we postulate that the processes that produced fossils in the past are not at all the processes we see in the present. Creationism’s account of a global flood seems a much more logical explanation of the fossil record as “billions of death things buried in rock layers laid out by water all over the earth.” With the torrential sediment upheaval from the bursting forth of the “fountains of the deep,” subsequent volcanic eruptions, and so on, creatures of all kinds would be quickly buried in many layers of mud and lava before bugs or scavengers could get to them. In fact, we find fossil beds with literally millions of the same species trapped inside, which speaks not of slow and gradual processes but catastrophic events.
Additionally, the absence of the vapor canopy over the earth after the flood would explain why dinosaurs and other life forms were not as able to adapt to the atmosphere. The oxygen levels might well have lessened considerably without this vapor canopy, and the sun’s rays would have had greater intensity, which could explain the gradual shortening of the incredible life spans spoken of in Scripture.
The origin of man:
Certainly, Darwin’s most notable claim is that mankind was not created by some sort of Supreme Entity, but rather he evolved from more primitive, ape-like creatures, who evolved from even more primitive creatures, and so on, back to the primordial ooze. As author and speaker Frank Peretti puts it, “…from goo to you by way of the zoo.” The fossil record corroborates this only by the employment of strategically placed “missing links,” which would show this gradual progression of our ancestry were it not for the fact that they are, indeed, missing. The theory itself, and thus the worldview, is what ties this concept together, not any hard evidence. Even some of these supposed links that have been found, such as “Lucy” and the australopithicenes, are not true links, for there are gross misinterpretations and even evidence tampering in order to fit the fossil into the theory. Other know frauds, such as Piltdown Man, have been revealed, but the theory lives on because the worldview lives on. It is only when you get to the last few “links” such as Neanderthal man that the evidence becomes anything approaching consistent or reliable; before that, not a single complete skeleton, but afterward, scores of skeletons. But these later skeletons are essentially man, with a few minor variations. Neanderthal Man is similar to the modern aboriginals of Australia and Tasmania; this brought about a sad persecution and subjugation of these indigenous people as “inferior” or “primitive,” all in the name of evolution and science. Theism has no corner on the racist market.
The theory that man evolved from ape-like creatures has become so popular that the notion of the caveman as a link from ape to modern man has been used in many TV commercials and motion pictures. But what is the actual evidence that these were anything other than men? Consider that they produced the sharpest blade known in human history, so sharp in fact that eye surgeons were using flint knives until the invention of laser surgery. It is the dogma of Darwin that older must inherently be inferior, and that newer must be inherently better, yet ancient civilizations provide ample proof that this is not so. If anything, the evidence bears out that humans are devolving, becoming less and less adaptable to the world in which we live.
Creationism maintains that God created man in His image, separate from and superior to the animals. In fact, the Hebrew use of the word bara signifies a creation from nothing, rather than asah, which is a forming from that which already exists. Bara and asah are both used when referring to man; the man’s body was formed (asah) from dust, but his spirit was God-breathed: bara. Thus, humans occupy a completely different type of creation apart from the rest of creation: the existence of spirit. Man and animals both have souls, or “minds,” separate from the concept of “brains,” but only man has spirit, which is immortal.
Since science has no tangible way of verifying or measuring this claim, the scientific community calls it “unscientific.” Whether science has the capacity to verify or measure all that exists in the real universe is not usually considered. A thing can be completely true and real without technically being scientific: hate, love, faith, and spirit.
In part III, we will discuss how these worldviews differ concerning morality and purpose.