Wednesday, 17 November 2010

History denier!

Richard Dawkins, in his usual measured way, has described those who deny Darwinian evolution as being on a par with those who deny the Holocaust.  However, it seems that Dawkins is the history denier!

First of all though, to equate the denial of Darwinian evolution with denying the Holocaust is just another example of the good Professor's amazing hubris and bluster.  We have testimonies from survivors from the Holocaust (eye-witness testimony), and Nazis who were involved in perpetrating the Holocaust (hostile eye-witness testimony).  We have documents, letters, and photos from the time (documentary evidence); we have the sites of the concentration camps (archaeological evidence), and we have the writings of Hitler telling us of his feelings towards the Jews (circumstantial evidence).

In contrast, do we have evidence like this that every living thing came from a common ancestor?  If someone says we do then you know you're talking to someone who isn't being intellectually honest.  This alone isn't to say Darwinian evolution is false, it's just to say that the evidence is nothing like the evidence we have for the Holocaust.

But the fact is that the evidence just does not support Darwinian evolution – it is a “just-so” story that doesn’t fit with the fossil record (no transitional forms), and doesn't fit even the most generous evolutionary timescales.

The Cambrian explosion does not have a satisfactory evolutionary explanation – nearly every major group of organisms living today are found without any sign of precursor life forms. As Dawkins says, “It is as though they were just planted there, without any evolutionary history.” If Darwinian evolution were true we would expect to find the earth full of evidence of intermediate life – we don’t!  If God created then we would expect to find fully formed, separate kinds of life – we do!

The lack of intermediate forms “persists as the trade secret of palaeontology” (SJ Gould, The Panda’s Thumb). “We palaeontologists have said that the history of life supports [the story of gradual adaptive change]...all the while knowing that it does not” (Niles Eldridge, American Museum of Natural History).

Richard Dawkins tries to say that the gaps in the fossil record are no big deal and illustrates his point by supposing a murder in which all the evidence points to the butler being the murderer, and the fact that he has been caught on CCTV in a couple of different rooms fits the theory that he did it, but the defence lawyer points to gaps in the CCTV as reason to disbelieve his client is guilty.

The illustration is not a good one, for the following reasons: the evidence for the Darwinian synthesis needs to be shown to be as strong as Dawkins asserts – his “just-so” stories about the evolution of complex systems is hardly convincing; the transitional forms are major matters of minimal evidence we would expect to see! The CCTV snap shots don’t illustrate the fossils we have – they illustrate the fossils evolutionists need to produce, i.e. transitional forms!  Transferring the data we have back into Dawkins' illustration, all we have is the butler moving around in a room, with no sign of him having ever left it!

However, if Darwinian evolution (natural selection acting on random mutations) is true, then it is really a miracle!  John Barrow and Frank Tipler, in their book, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, investigated ten steps that would have to occur if macro-evolution were true, such as the evolution of the aerobic respiratory system, the internal skeleton, photosynthesis, the eye, etc. and they concluded that each one of these ten steps is so unlikely that before it would occur by natural selection acting on random mutations the sun would have gone through the whole process of stellar evolution, would have ceased to be a main sequence yellow star, and would have incinerated the earth!

In light of the lack of evidence for macro-evolution and the load of evidence against it we can hardly be put on the level of Holocaust-deniers!  But maybe Richard Dawkins can!  After all, he is the one who questioned whether Jesus actually existed (though he seemed to concede the point quickly when confronted by John Lennox in one of their debates). 

Let's not only think about the existence of Jesus Christ, but His resurrection too.  What evidence do we have?  We have documentary evidence of His existence in the 27 books of the New Testament, the writings of Jewish and Gentile historians, and early "Church Fathers".  These Christian documents contain eye-witness evidence to the risen Christ.  We have references to Him by hostile sources (Jewish Talmud and writings of Romans historians, Pliny and Tacitus), and those who were hostile to Him but converted (Paul and James).  We have archaeological evidence to corroborate the reliability of the New Testament writings. 

And we have powerful circumstantial evidence that the unbeliever has no answer for: - the empty tomb, the transformation in the disciples, their testimony that they saw the risen Christ, their martyrdom for their claim, the rapid rise of Christianity in the city and province of the crucifixion, the conversion of Saul and James, the relinquishing of Jewish rituals and ordinances, the practice of baptism, the observing of the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, and the life-long life-changing power of the Gospel of Christ. 

All this stands as evidence for the reality of the resurrection.  Dawkins seems to be in denial.  Are you?