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A matter of time

As I mentioned in last month’s blog post, I decided this year to read several books written by evolutionists. Although I had seen again and again how creationists describe evolution, I wanted to see how evolutionists describe the theory themselves. What evidence and arguments do they use to back up their beliefs?

First I read Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation by Bill Nye, then I read Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. Now I am making my way through The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins.

Early on in his book, Dawkins makes an interesting concession. These excerpts come from chapter 1, page 16:

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“Obviously, the vast majority of evolutionary change is invisible to direct eye-witness observation. Most of it happened before we were born, and in any case it is usually too slow to be seen during an individual’s lifetime.”

Isn’t that intriguing? Dawkins believes that our lifespans are too short to see much evolution going on.

Later, on the same page, he uses this analogy to illustrate his point:

“We are like detectives who come on the scene after a crime has been committed. The murderer’s actions have vanished into the past. The detective has no hope of witnessing the actual crime with his own eyes.”

In other words, Dawkins believes that evolution is true, but he admits that we can’t really see it that much today. He says we must look to evidence from the past (for instance, the fossil record) to see evidence of big evolutionary changes.

Of course this makes sense, because the theory of evolution hinges on the idea that the earth is much, much, much older than a few thousand years old. Evolutionists must appeal to enormous stretches of time in order to make their theory believable.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when the evolution/creation debate returns to that key question: “How old is the earth?” After all, so much of this debate is a matter of time; if the earth is several billion years old, then evolutionists may be on to something, but if the earth is only a few thousand years old, then evolution is almost certainly impossible.

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Written by Garrett Haley

Garrett works at Coldwell Banker Commercial in Lubbock, TX. During his free time he enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and pondering life’s deep questions. On weekends he can often be found mowing lawns or playing soccer. He also serves as a deacon at FreeWay Bible Chapel.

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  1. Dawkins and other evolutionists like to compare their interpretation of the evidence from the past to forensic science, the science applied to interpreting crime scenes. However, that science is based on comparisons with things that have been observed, repeatedly, and with experiments to see the effects of different conditions. We know what kinds of things tend to happen at crime scenes, people have witnessed such crimes even if any particular one being investigated was not. Scientists have studied what happens to corpses under various conditions, how bullets can ricochet, what marks car tires leave in various crash scenarios, etc.

    Evolutionary science posits things which have not been seen to happen, and some of us argue cannot happen in the natural world, and they rule out the previous “prime suspect” — that God did major miraculous things such as creating everything already fully developed, and preserving some life through a year-long catastrophe that wiped out all other life, involving unheard-of amounts of rain, release of underground waters through some sort of geologic catastrophes, and possibly many other things not specified in the Bible, such as meteor strikes.

    Given these two great discrepancies — positing things that have not been observed, and ruling out anything but natural processes, the comparison to forensic science is invalidated.

    Hope you will have more comments, related to the other books!

  2. “Obviously, the vast majority of evolutionary change is invisible to direct eye-witness observation. Most of it happened before we were born, and in any case it is usually too slow to be seen during an individual’s lifetime.”–Richard Dawkins
    Good idea, Garrett. What I find so interesting about this is: NASA describes life as something that, among other things, ‘is capable of undergoing Darwinian Evolution’. If, as Dawkins states, evolution is too slow to ever be observed in a person’s lifetime, how can we identify evolutionary capability in a purported lifeform? Curioser and curioser, said Alice.

  3. Actually, evolutionists do not “appeal to enormous stretches of time in order to make their theory believable.” The concept of deep time is simply a scientific given that any and all other scientific ideas must accommodate. This is true regardless of any belief in biological evolution.

    The modern philosophical concept of “deep time” was first developed in the 18th century by Scottish geologist James Hutton, and predates Darwin’s first inklings of evolution by natural selection by more than a half century. Hutton’s “Composition, Dissolution, and Restoration of Land upon the Globe” was published in 1785. And in perfect conformance to the analogy with forensic science offered by David Bump in his comment above, Hutton’s work was “based on comparisons with things that have been observed, repeatedly, and with experiments to see the effects of different conditions.” It was the culmination of more than quarter century of such direct observation and experiment. And it was published without any intention or even recognition that “deep time” could someday serve as a congenial context for the idea of biological evolution. That realization would not take place until the subsequent century.

    The geologic column in essentially its complete current form (along with its necessity of vast geologic ages) was assembled in exactly this way and not by evolutionists. It was a generation of great Bible-believing creationist geologists including Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick that identified, labeled and ordered the geologic column as we understand it still. Sedgwick even inspired his then incredulous university student Charles Darwin to exclaim in 1831 “What a capital hand is Sedgewick [sic] for drawing large cheques upon the Bank of Time!”

    Darwinian evolution might require deep time, but deep time does not require biological evolution. Evolutionists do not “appeal” to it, any more than they appeal to gravity. It is simply the objective context within which biological evolution must be understood.

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