I spent a few hours today going through our joint book collection, making decisions about what we should keep, and which books we’d try to sell at yard sale before taking them to a book store or donating them to Goodwill.
During my early years as a Christian, CARM was a major resource for me. Most topics related to theology were new to me, so i relied upon CARM to guide me in forming coherent arguments against the so-called cults which threatened the church (e.g., the Mormons).
The Apologetics Notebook compiles numerous outlines, essays, and other information on a variety of topics, and when i found the notebook for the first time in years earlier today, i first checked its table of contents for anything related to atheism. Nothing was listed for it (unless i’m seriously just that blind), but a section on evolution captured my attention.
Evolution is one of those things that is very problematic for old-school Christianity, or that stream of Christianity which maintains that the Bible (particularly the Creation account of the first few chapters) is a literal account of real events, that our world and the various types of life which inhabit it were created in a completed state over the course of six days by God. Much of their belief requires that these events be factual — if you can’t trust the first few chapters of the Bible, then there is no basis to trust the rest of it, after all.
So scientists — especially those who are experts in biology — going around teaching that humanity evolved from primitive man which evolved from animals? God forbid!
However, the problem is that Christianity doesn’t really have peer-reviewed experts in biology coming forward with real science to the contrary. No real science has ever found evidence that God simply must have created us. That, however, does not stop a vast number of Christians from believing in an instant creation of man and that evolution is simply for fools.
As exhibit “A,” i offer this introductory excerpt (emphasis mine) from the Apologetics Notebook (p. 190), clearly establishing Slick as a perpilocutionist for the rest of his section on evolution.
First of all, I’d like to state that my training is not in science, but in theology. I am hardly qualified to give definitive answers on the biological aspects of the evolutionary theory. At best, I can read arguments, pro and con, and present what I find here. When I was younger, I believed in evolution. But after I started reading the other side of the argument — the stuff they don’t tell you in school — I had strong doubts. Once I became a Christian, it was easy to dismiss the theory as nothing more than that, a theory.
I’ll give Slick credit here: he at least admits he is not a scientist, nor does he pretend to be an expert in the field of evolutionary studies. He further goes on to say that his training is in theology.
For all scientific intents and purposes, theology is useless. It is the attempt to understand more about an unfalsifiable, untouchable, untestable, invisible, non-corporeal construct called God. It has absolutely nothing to do with science, its tenets being maintained by faith and not by evidence.
Slick continues on by saying he’s done his homework, reading both “pro and con.” Fair enough. I, too, have read the “cons.” I spent years arguing very strongly against evolution, including participating in several online debates against Michael Wong, the gentleman behind CreationTheory.org. My research consisted of having read just about the entire Answers in Genesis website, nearly a dozen Answers in Genesis publications, the entirety of Kent Hovind’s website, viewing a few creationist “documentaries,” and reading a variety of works by Henry Morris. At the time i hadn’t read much at all in favor of evolution — no Darwin, no Sagan, no nothing other than the passing references to evolution that may have been mentioned by my favorite physicist authors. All of that to say, i’m very well acquainted with the arguments used by creationists, but the fact of the matter is that evolution has both evidence & arguments based upon that evidence; creationism has simply belief with arguments formed therefrom.
Next, Slick says that when he was younger, he “believed in evolution.” This belies a misunderstanding of what evolution actually is, as it is not something to “believe in.” The Tooth Fairy, Santa, Thor, Zeus, and God… Those are things to “believe in,” things which have no proof.*
I don’t believe in evolution just like i don’t believe in gravity. I know that both exist.
Continuing on, Slick says that he began to read “the stuff they don’t tell you in schools,” which lead to his having doubts about evolution. I’m going to assume that the extent of Slick’s science education comes from high school or before as i doubt he delved much into the natural sciences while studying social science & divinity.
If that’s the case, then i am not surprised at all that Slick would come to accept the arguments put forth by creationists, for two reasons. First, if his high school years were anything like mine, evolution was likely barely mentioned. I took a science-heavy route through high school: three years of biology, two of chemistry, two of physics, one of astronomy, one of psychology, and one of sociology. Despite that, evolution was barely mentioned. As far as how it works, i didn’t start learning about evolution in earnest til i had evolutionists try to convince me of the errors of creationism in the first few years after high school.
Second, Slick, like myself of ten years ago, also demonstrates a predilection toward belief in the supernatural. So again, his anti-evolution stance comes as no surprise.
The last thing Slick says in this introductory paragraph is that his acceptance of Christianity helped him to affirm that evolution was “just a theory.”
Just a theory. For many people, “theory” is synonymous with “idea” or “hypothesis.” In everyday parlance, that’s just fine. However, in scientific usage, “theory” takes on much more weight and is generally not a word scientists just throw around. In science, you begin with a hypothesis — an idea or assumption about how things work; if that hypothesis is supported by evidence, then the hypothesis becomes a theory. No matter how much evidence is found to support the theory, it’ll stay a theory. That’s why after hundreds of years, we still have the “theory of gravity.” And as is true in all sciences, if there was evidence to the contrary, the theory of evolution can be discarded. Science, unlike dogmatic religions, is always evolving.
I’ll look at more of what Slick has to say about evolution in the future, but his opening paragraph on the matter sure packs a punch. In it, he reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method, wherein hypotheses become theories (and not theories becoming laws, or whatever system he was using in which “just a theory” means “just an idea”). Failing to understand the foundational method of scientific inquiry, Slick continues for several pages explaining why the leading scientists in the world are dead wrong on one of science’s most important, most scrutinized theories.
I should hope anyone reading this, even the most staunch creationists among you, can see just what is wrong with that scenario.
Now, all the above having been said, if you would like to see one scientist’s take on Matt Slick’s anti-evolution “research,” i invite you to do so.
* The author of Hebrews, in the absence of any real evidence for “things not seen,” says that faith is evidence of such things (Hebrews 11:1). To put this in perspective, according to the author of Hebrews, if you have faith in the Tooth Fairy, then that is evidence that the Tooth Fairy exists. To believe in God is to have evidence that he is real. That makes no real sense, wholly belying the definition of “evidence.”