Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Evolution in Elizabethton

The Elizabethton Star printed one of our press releases regarding Evolution Weekend, although they attributed to me the words of Dr. Julie Wade:
Dr. Julie Wade to present lecture on Evolution of the Brain at First Presbyterian service

Dr. Julie Wade, a retired Biology Professor and Pre-Professional Health Advisor who taught at Pennsylvania State University (three years) and Milligan College (24 years), will be part of the Evolution Weekend Celebration at Elizabethton First Presbyterian Church this weekend.

Dr. Wade taught a wide variety of courses including comparative anatomy, animal physiology, human anatomy and physiology, cell and molecular biology, endocrinology, histology, and research seminar.

She will present a lecture on the Evolution of the Brain at the 9:45 a.m. service Sunday.

According to Rev. John Shuck, pastor, the field of biology was revolutionized by Charles Darwin, who helped us understand how living organisms have evolved over millions of years and are still evolving today. His theory of natural selection described descent with modification which was driven by environmental pressures.¬ His work has become the central underlying paradigm in the field because he provided so much data to support his theory. This theory first published in 1859 has yet to be refuted by scientists and has been made even stronger by more recent research involving DNA.

Shuck in his church news release said, "Studies of the evolution of the brain and behavior are difficult because we cannot study either internal soft tissues or behavior using fossils. These studies are based on investigations of contemporary organisms that are closely related to their fossilized ancestors. Fossilized skulls are used to extrapolate brain sizes at a given point in evolutionary time but are relatively hard to find."

Shuck said neuroscientist DJ Linden in his book "The Accidental Mind -- How Brain Evolution Has Given Us Love, Memory, Dreams, and God," does an excellent job of describing the serendipitous evolution of our brains that has given us our humanity. He dismisses the fact that the brain is a paragon of design by describing it as inelegant and inefficient, and he points out that if it were built today by modern engineers, it would look and function very differently from its current design. Julie Wade's presentation will be based on his book which describes how our earliest ancestors have contributed to and laid the foundation for our 21st century brains and much of our behavior.

The public is invited to attend the lecture.
You can read the press release as we sent it and as Dr. Wade wrote it here. The paper also included a letter to the editor. Guess which of the "liberal Christian churches (one in Elizabethton)" the author is writing about!
Churches can only support micro-evolution

Editor:

Some liberal and or atheist colleges celebrate Darwin's birthday this month. What is strange is some liberal Christian churches (one in Elizabethton) have joined them in celebrating Evolution Weekend and say Christians can embrace evolution. I rebuke them as this is wrong. Christians should only embrace micro-evolution (evolution within the species or minor adaptation).

Micro-evolution or evolution within the species was supported by the Bible long before science. For example, all the races of humans came from one couple. No one questions micro-evolution. Darwinists use vague terms and shifting definitions to mislead people.

The controversial aspects of evolution are macro-evolution and naturalism.

Macro-evolution (Darwinian evolution) is evolution on a large scale between different species (ape evolving to human). Naturalism is the doctrine that there isn't a creator, nature is all there is. This is incompatible with the Bible that says God created everything and everything reproduces after its own kind. Christians also shouldn't want to celebrate Darwinian Evolution that Hitler used as support to kill millions of those he called the inferior races.

Professor Phillip Johnson in his books disagrees with Christians and churches who see the compatibility of evolution and belief in God. Johnson said they made a complete blunder and totally misunderstand what the theory is about. They don't know to Darwinists, evolution is an unguided and mindless process and that human existence is an accident rather than a planned outcome. Darwinists have naturalism printed in biology textbooks as if it was a fact. Johnson said teaching naturalism in schools can be challenged on two grounds: it's effectively a religious dogma, and it isn't supported by the weight of the scientific evidence. As a result more and more scientists are speaking out against naturalism and supporting intelligent design. Johnson said the scientific establishment teaches critical thinking as the essential tool of science except when it comes to Darwinism.

Macro-evolution and naturalism are unsubstantiated and unscientific and take more faith to believe than the Bible. When there's a tragic disaster and people are killed and property destroyed, insurance companies call it "An act of God." Perhaps insurance companies have been reading and believing the truth of the Holy Bible more than some churches!

D. D. Nave
Elizabethton
We do have our work cut out for us.

Check out 89.5 WETS at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday). The program is called The Community Forum and you will hear Wayne Winkler interview Dr. Michael Zimmerman, founder of Evolution Weekend and me.

7 comments:

Alan said...

You have been rebuked! woo hoo!

FYI:

A recent article in Science* states that 60% of ~900 public high school biology teachers recently surveyed were neither advocates for evolution nor for a non-scientific alternative. Only 28% are advocates of evolution compared to 13% who are advocates of creationism.

I don't know of a single other field of study in which such large numbers of its supposed practitioners either actively disagree with, or do refuse to support one of the foundational and fundamental theories that the whole field is based on. (Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised given that ~40% of HS students have a biology teacher who did not major or minor in biology, and 25% have teachers who are not certified to even teach biology.)

It's like a chemist not believing in atoms, or an artist not believing in the Renaissance.

So, while we'd like to point fingers at the poor folks who simply do not understand evolution, I wonder about the 60% of biology teachers who are on the fence and refuse to take a stand for real science.

If our schools aren't going to do the job they're supposed to do, I'm glad that some churches are stepping up to the plate. It's too bad that they have to do so.

*Berkman, M.B. & Plutzer, E. (2011) Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom

John Shuck said...

Wow, Alan, that is hair-raising.

So, while we'd like to point fingers at the poor folks who simply do not understand evolution, I wonder about the 60% of biology teachers who are on the fence and refuse to take a stand for real science.

I wonder why they would be on the fence, too.

Alan said...

I would guess that either 1) they're unprepared because they majored in English and are teaching biology and don't actually know the science and/or 2) they're likely afraid of the parents, they don't know the law, they're worried about backlash.

When I was a student teacher, my supervising teacher told me there are 3 things that will get you fired: talking about homosexuality, talking about abortion, and talking about evolution. I imagine a great many teachers feel the same way.

People don't know it, but the church used to be against the teaching of atoms. Seriously. Atomic theory was known since the ancient Greeks. The theory wasn't, as is often believed and taught in HS chemistry classes, simply rediscovered in the 1800s. It had been actively banned by the Church for most of that time.

The church has banned helocentrism, banned atomism, banned evolution. I'm trying hard to think of a single scientific theory on which the church has ever taken the right side....

Robert said...

@Alan curiously some of those bans were based not so much on the Bible or theology but rather on the works of one Greek philosopher or another. During the high Middle Ages Aristotle was an absolute necessity in doing just about anything in Christian Europe.

In any case the idea of an English major teaching biology sends shivers of fear down my spine.

Other thoughts: oddly B. B. Warfield had no problem with evolution. Weird huh?

And finally I wonder where Darwin's theories would have gone if not for Mendel? Everyone dumps on Darwin while Mendel really opened the door to the idea of genetics.

Michael_SC said...

Aside from issues of proper bibilical interpretation, don't these people realize they are hurting their kids' economic future by having them distrust modern science? Like it or not, a lot of blue collar and less-skilled jobs are being shipped out of the U.S. The best jobs here will continue to be, among other things, science (including Bio-tech, Bio-med). There will be people for these positions, but they'll be from India and China and Europe, not from the science-fearing US public schools.

Snad said...

I've read Mr. Nave's letters before. He is proof that a little education is a dangerous thing. In other words, I say Mr. Nave is a knave.

Jodie said...

Alan,

I was noticing your comparisons re biology teachers not adopting evolution, and I have what I think is the right metaphor.

Teaching biology without adopting evolution theory is no different than teaching music without adopting music theory.