Science in Christian Perspective



A Micro-Dialogue on Micro-Evolution

  Bolton Davidheiser   Richard H. Bube   Bolton Davidheiser


From: JASA 27 (March 1975):  47-48.                                                

The question keeps coming up: Is it proper for a creationist who believes God made the world in six days to say he believes in "micro-evolution"?

Changes which can come about through breeding programs, such as increasing the milk production to cattle, have been called "micro-evolution."

Another kind of example of "micro-evolution" is the case of the environmentally related change in the relative population of light and dark moths in England. The light and dark moths are merely different color phases of the same kinds of moths, and they are not becoming anything different. In spite of this, scientists write of these moths as representing an unusually good illustration of evolution.

The blue goose and the lesser snow goose were long considered to be different species, but recently it has been found that they are merely different color phases of the same species. But because some environments favor one and other environments favor the other, the relationship between them is called evolution.

Although these examples of environmentally related changes are true, they are not examples of an s kind of evolution. It is as though someone said, "When there is lightning Jupiter is throwing thunderbolts." and risen Christians would say. "It is true that there really is lightning, so it is all right for us to say we believe in Jupiter." The observed facts called "microevolution" are no more evolution than lightning is Jupiter throwing thunderbolts.

Why is there an issue over this matter of "micro-evolution"?

1. The evolutionists must and do assume that "micro-evolution" is real evolution. Although it has not been demonstrated that it has any connection with real evolution (such as molecule to man, or worms to walrus, or fish to frogs is real evolution did occur there seems to be no alternative but that it came about through the kinds of changes which are called "microevolution."

2. "Micro-evolution" is a "brainwashing" term. Because the phenomena referred to as "microevolution" are factual, some creationists say, "We believe in 'micro-evolution.' " The Christian laity gets the idea that it is all right to accept some evolution. Although this may be clone innocently, the effect is the same as though done intentionally to deceive. It is similar to the ease where men say that driving on the freeway is gambling. Driving on the freeway is not gambling and it dues not lead to real gambling. Those who say driving on the freeway is gambling are the professional gamblers and others who expect to profit from gambling.

There is a natural trend for creationists who compromise with evolution to become more and more evolutionary in their outlook. This has happened repeatedly in Christian schools where compromising with evolution accompanied the trend toward liberalism in theology. An instructive illustration of this trend occurred in an organization founded by Christian men of science to defend the Bible against the attacks of non-Christians in the area of science.1 As its leadership began to compromise with evolution it also vigorously denied that it was dome so. But at last it went so far that a prominent spokesman for the group 2 wrote favorably of the "Christian evolutionist" in one of his books.3

The matter revolves around accepting or rejecting a definition of what evolution is. If someone defines a buzzard as a coffeepot, then it is true that coffeepots lay eggs and gorge themselves on rotting flesh. However, discerning people will endeavor to keep the issue straight and not be deceived, especially when it is a matter of such importance as evolution.
1 The American Scientific Affiliation.
2 The Editor of the Journal ASA.
3 The Human Quest, Word (1971), p. 184.

Box 22 La Mirada, California 90637

A Christian evolutionist is no more nor less than a person who is committed to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who believes that the biological theory of organic evolution is the best currently available scientific description of the development of life.

Little is usually served by attempting to use words in a way inconsistent with commonly accepted usage. As what I take to be an accepted usage of the term evolution, I quote trout a draft of a statement prepared by the Science Committee Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission of California:

"The process of change through time is termed evolution .... The concepts which are the basic foundation for this theory are: (I) that inheritable variations exist among members of a population of like organisms; and (2) that differential successful reproduction (i.e., survival) is occasioned by the composite of environmental factors impinging generation after generation upon the population."

Given this universally-accepted definition of evolution, it follows that the changes referred to may be minor, easily observable in contemporary experimentation, or major, postulatable on the basis of geological and paleontological evidence but by their very nature not directly observable. To call the former "micro-evolution" and the latter "macro-evolution" does not commit one to some kind of philosophical position; one can consistently accept "microevolution" as self-evident and reject "macro-evolution" as not sufficiently established, or even as essentially contradicted by the data. Davidheiser may object to the use of these terms because of his personal convictions, but his dialogue with the rest of the scientific world is not going to benefit from time invention of a private vocabulary.

Such a private vocabulary is evident again when Davidheiser appropriates the term "creationist" to refer only to those who believe that "God made the world in six days." I maintain that biblically and historically, a creationist is one who believes in divine creation: that God brought forth all there is in the universe with all time biblical implications that such a position entails. Within Davidheiser's private vocabulary system, it is indeed true that a "creationist" cannot believe in "micro-evolution," but what Davidheiser means by this assertion is that since he believes that there was never any process of evolution, it is is proper to call any existing process a process of evolution. If some portion of the world strives to gather emotional support for macro-evolution by referring to observable genetic variation as microevolution, Davidheiser uses the same technique in striving to gather emotional support against macro-evolution by referring to creationisms as a belief in a six-day fiat event. Is it not better simply to agree on the meaning of words and then deride whether or not the positions symbolized deserve support rather than attempting in either way to achieve a purely semantic victory?}

In making the statement. "If evolution is true, we are becoming better," Davidheiser is attempting to establish an ethical or theological conclusion as if it necessarily followed from a biological theory. As a matter of fact, the biological theory of 'organic evolution can say absolutely nothing about conditions such as "better," nor about man's need for a Savior, nor about the Person and work of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Davidhetser may quote men who mistakenly have thought that biological evolution permitted them to generalize in this philosophical and non-scientific way, but it should be well established by this time that no scientific position can provide an ethical foundation by itself, quite independently of whether the ethical position being considered is consistent with or inconsistent with Christian ethics. Davidheiser does not contribute to the growth of the maturity of the Body of Christ by arbitrarily branding those who might be willing to contemplate the organic theory of evolution as a description of God's creative mode of activity, as though they were in fact deniers of Christ.

Richard H. Bube

Bube desires words to be used in a way consistent with commonly accepted usage. Reference to any typical college textbook which treats the matter of evolution will reveal that total evolution from something very simple to all forms of life on earth, including human beings, is what is taught. Bube cites a definition of evolution "universally accepted" which defines the phenornena of "micro-evolution" as real evolution. This is exactly what I said: "The evolutionists must and do assure that 'micro-evolution' is real evolution."

Bube further says that "one can consistently accept 'micro -evolution' as self evident and reject 'macro-evolution as not sufficiently established, or even as essentially contradicted by the data." This is not the issue. I emphasize that the data of so-called "micro-evolution" are factual. The question is: Is it really evolution? To this I say NO, it is not any kind of evolution.

Its attributes my objection to the term as doe to my personal convictions and accuses me of inventing a "private vocabulary." On the contrary, I have treated facts. My personal convictions have nothing to do with it except to emphasize the importance of the issue. I use icons the same way that everyone else does and no private vocabulary is involved.

I am accused of having a private vocabulary again by using the term "creationist" ''to refer only to those who believe that 'God made the world in six days.' " I am doing nothing of the sort. I am merely distinguishing such creationists from other kinds of creationists. As far as I am aware, those who consider themselves creationists and do not believe God made the world in six days do not feel they have a problem with the so-called "micro-evolution" because they are willing to go along with the evolutionists in accepting it as a part of creation through a certain amount of evolution.

Bohr says that according to my private vocabulary system a creationist cannot believe in "micro-evolution" because there never was a process of evolution and so it is improper to call any existing process a process of evolution. What I said was that it has not been demonstrated that the phenomena of the so-called "micro-evolution" have any connection with alleged real evolution, the so-called "macro-evolution."

I desire no "semantic victory," as he implies and I said that "discerning people will endeavor to keep the issue straight." I am a biologist and not a theologian and I believe it is not necessary to be a theologian to see that according to evolutionary theory we did become better, by the commonly-accepted meaning of the term, as we evolved from the lower animals, in contrast to having fallen from a state of perfection in creation. The questions involved related to redemption are of vital importance. One dues not need to he a trained theologian to understand this. In fact, at present in our country the majority of trained theologians are on the side of the evolutionists!

From a "scientific" point of view the question is whether or not to accept "micro-evolution" as real evolution in spite of lack of evidence for it and because evolutionists with an ax to grind define it as real evolution.

Bolton Davidheiser