Matt Slick’s Problems with Evolution

This is part three in an ongo­ing series deal­ing with Matt Slick­’s Apolo­get­ics Note­book, a binder full of a vari­ety of Chris­t­ian apolo­get­ics, most­ly per­tain­ing to the so-called cults. If that’s all it was, i’d have no issue with the book—Christian in-fight­ing dis­tracts them from evan­ge­lism, which saves the rest of us time. How­ev­er, Slick includes a sec­tion called sim­ply “Evo­lu­tion,” where­in he sets out to explain to Chris­tians why evo­lu­tion is wrong. We’ve already seen that Matt Slick does­n’t under­stand sci­ence & that he relies upon out-dat­ed, irrel­e­vant name- & quote-drop­ping.

We now come to a sub­sec­tion which Slick has titled, “There Are Many Prob­lems with Evolution.” 

First, there is the prob­lem of life spon­ta­neous­ly form­ing out of nothing.

Right off the bat, here is a seri­ous prob­lem: the ori­gin of life has noth­ing to do with the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion. The the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion describes how life changes through time; in oth­er words, it assumes the exis­tence of life and is a frame­work for under­stand­ing how life works.

If you want to dis­cuss how life ini­tial­ly came about, you want to dis­cuss abio­gen­e­sis, and far from hav­ing no idea how life came to be, there are a num­ber of com­pet­ing hypothe­ses among sci­en­tists. In time, as evi­dence accu­mu­lates, these hypothe­ses will be weed­ed out until one which best fits the evi­dence remains, which will no doubt become an accept­ed the­o­ry of abiogenesis.

For life to form by chance (see page 197 on the math­e­mat­ic impos­si­bil­i­ty of this occur­ring), there would have to be an incred­i­ble amount of time and an incred­i­ble amount of com­bi­na­tions of molecules.

Do you know what else is equal­ly unlike­ly? That you’re read­ing these words right now. There are hun­dreds of mil­lions of web­sites — and hun­dreds of bil­lions of web pages. But you’re on this one. Sta­tis­ti­cal­ly, that would nev­er hap­pen. After all, if you vis­it­ed one page a sec­ond for every sec­ond of your life, you’d need 3,171 years to vis­it 100 bil­lion web pages. But you did­n’t have to browse that many to arrive here.

And nature did­n’t have to ran­dom­ly try every sin­gle one of the pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tions of chem­i­cals & ener­gy for life to form. All it takes is that one right com­bi­na­tion, and giv­en that a good mix of chem­i­cals & ener­gy could have exist­ed in any of thou­sands (if not mil­lions) of places on Earth, it was sim­ply inevitable that life would form.

Though many sci­en­tists say both qual­i­fi­ca­tions have been met on earth, math­e­mat­i­cal­ly speak­ing, it is impos­si­ble. this is why many evo­lu­tion­ists are divorc­ing them­selves from the ori­gins issue. I will dis­cuss this later.

If evo­lu­tion­ists are “divorc­ing them­selves” from the issue, per­haps it’s because they’d rather the appro­pri­ate experts han­dle an issue that’s unre­lat­ed to evo­lu­tion? You’ll note that evo­lu­tion­ists aren’t divorc­ing them­selves from the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion. Despite under­go­ing intense scruti­ny, the the­o­ry of evo­lu­tion has held fast.

As for abio­gen­e­sis being math­e­mat­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble, well, that’s not how “impos­si­bil­i­ty” works. If you’re allow­ing for the fact that some ran­dom com­bi­na­tion of chem­i­cals & ener­gy can cre­ate life, then you’re allow­ing that it is pos­si­ble, no mat­ter how improb­a­ble.

“Impos­si­ble odds” events hap­pen all the time, just ask the win­ners of a jack­pot. Or to bor­row an exam­ple from Matt Slick­’s own camp, there are Chris­tians who claim that it would be impos­si­ble for one man to ful­fill all of the mes­sian­ic prophe­cies in the Old Tes­ta­ment.

Yet Chris­tians believe that one man did ful­fill those prophe­cies. (As an aside, i’m uncon­vinced that sev­er­al sig­nif­i­cant “mes­sian­ic prophe­cies” were no such prophe­cy at all, until it was labeled as such after the fact by New Tes­ta­ment authors.)

So either extreme­ly improb­a­ble events are pos­si­ble… or they’re not. And giv­en that it makes very lit­tle sense to label any event that has a pos­si­bil­i­ty of occur­ring as “impos­si­ble,” i’ll go ahead and move on to Slick­’s next point.

Sec­ond, there is the prob­lem of the con­tin­ued for­ma­tion of new genet­ic mate­r­i­al. The devel­op­ment of new genet­ic mate­r­i­al with­in organ­isms is also a very seri­ous prob­lem. The DNA mol­e­cule is so com­plex that a ran­dom appear­ance of one basi­cal­ly can’t hap­pen. See the quotes by sci­en­tists on this prob­lem on page 198 for more information.

I could write a sim­ple pro­gram that would out­put a ran­dom num­ber a mil­lion char­ac­ters in length. The prob­a­bil­i­ty of any one num­ber appear­ing would be $latex 10^{106}&bg=FFE8E8&fg=111111$. This num­ber is “impos­si­bly large,” yet every time the script is ran, a num­ber would be out­put, despite the unbe­liev­able odds against that num­ber being chosen.

My point is, just because some­thing is unlike­ly, does­n’t make it impos­si­ble. At all.

As for the devel­op­ment of new genet­ic mate­r­i­al (new genes), well, mus­ing about the like­li­hood of such a thing is aca­d­e­m­ic: sci­ence has observed the appear­ance of new genet­ic mate­r­i­al.

Third, there is the prob­lem of the human ances­tor line which is rid­dle with holes. From what I have seen, the his­tor­i­cal evi­dence for the human ances­tor line (hominid line) falls into three cat­e­gories: pure ape, pure man, and fakes. That means that the evo­lu­tion­ary line of man is non-exis­tent. The human ances­tor line is rid­dle with gaps. You’ve heard the term “miss­ing link.” What you haven’t heard is “found link” or “dis­cov­ered link.” That’s because they are all still missing.

Let’s make the evo­lu­tion­ary par­ty even more inter­est­ing: let’s just start at 4 bil­lion years ago. As it hap­pens, we have fos­sil evi­dence for a great deal of the evo­lu­tion­ary tree, and while there have been fos­sils pre­sent­ed which have turned out to be fakes or oth­er­wise wrong­ly pre­sent­ed, sci­en­tists right­ly ignore those. (Indeed, in my expe­ri­ence, the cre­ation­ists are the ones that like to bring them up.)

As for the human ances­tor line being “rid­dled with gaps,” well, i can only guess that Slick will only accept an archae­ol­o­gist unearthing an ani­mat­ed fos­sil that shows a smooth change from one species to another.

a comic strip depicting an evolutionist pointing out that every fossilized "missing link" that is found removes the need for God; the creationist counters by pointing out that every missing link found results in two additional gaps forming on either side of it, confirming his belief in creationism
“Fill in the Gaps,” Ape, Not Mon­key, by Jef­frey Weston

I also want to point out (because i’ve rarely seen this men­tioned by oth­ers) that we are a tran­si­tion­al species (as are all species). We, as humans, exist as an inter­me­di­ate species between what came before and what­ev­er will come after. Each of us is a liv­ing, breath­ing exam­ple of a “miss­ing link,” full of left­overs from our evo­lu­tion­ary past, left­overs which the next step in our evo­lu­tion may lose com­plete­ly (or start using again!).

If, how­ev­er, we were cre­at­ed as a species com­plete, one-hun­dred per­cent human from day one, why then were we cre­at­ed with so many unnec­es­sary features—features which are read­i­ly explained by evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry but which call into ques­tion the effi­cien­cy of any so-called cre­ator god(s).

Fourth, there is the prob­lem of the miss­ing links of all oth­er species. None of the evo­lu­tion­ary lines of any of the ani­mals, birds, fish, nor plants is estab­lished. They are all up for grabs.

In the side­bar of this post, there is an image of a tree of life, one of many such dia­grams avail­able online which depict the evo­lu­tion­ary lines of just about any form of life you could think of. For Slick to say that none of the evo­lu­tion­ary lines are estab­lished is poor schol­ar­ship at best and out­right dis­hon­est at worst.

That is why a the­o­ry came out called punc­tu­at­ed equi­lib­ria. It stat­ed that the rea­son there aren’t fos­silized evo­lu­tion­ary links between species is because evo­lu­tion took huge sud­den jumps…in 100,000 to 300,000 year incre­ments or so dur­ing dif­fer­ent peri­ods of earth­’s his­to­ry. This is reveal­ing because it is an admis­sion by sci­en­tists that the fos­sil record is so incom­plete that a the­o­ry explain­ing huge reg­u­lar gaps had to be formulated.

The the­o­ry of punc­tu­at­ed equi­lib­ri­um was not devel­oped because none of the evo­lu­tion­ary lines were known; rather, the the­o­ry was devel­oped as an alter­na­tive to phylet­ic grad­u­al­ism in an attempt to bet­ter explain the fos­sil record of spe­ci­a­tion. Either spe­ci­a­tion was grad­ual (phylet­ic grad­u­al­ism), or it is more jerky (punc­tu­at­ed equilibrium).

Addi­tion­al­ly, yes, the fos­sil record is incom­plete. For it to be com­plete, at least one of every pos­si­ble species would have to have been fos­silized & recov­ered by archaeologists.

Unlike a bib­li­cal world­view — which would have the only fos­sils being formed in the after­math of the Del­uge — the fos­sil record fits what evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry pre­dicts (and yes, that includes the gaps). If the bib­li­cal account of the Del­uge were true and it were the cause of fos­sils, then we’d see a mix of mod­ern species with ancient species such as dinosaurs through­out the fos­sil record (which we don’t). Instead, the fos­sil record has ancient fos­sils in ancient rock stra­ta, more recent fos­sils in more recent rock stra­ta, and so forth.

So then, where is all the evi­dence that proves evo­lu­tion is true?

If you want proof, stick to math­e­mat­ics. How­ev­er, if it’s evi­dence you want, it’s not exact­ly hid­den, and i encour­age any­one read­ing this to spend some time read­ing through as many of those links as you find inter­est­ing. In so doing, you’ll come to appre­ci­ate life even more, rec­og­niz­ing it as the won­der of nature that it is.

So that’s Matt Slick­’s list of prob­lems with evo­lu­tion, and as you can see, they are not prob­lems at all.

The next sec­tion in the Apolo­get­ics Note­book is “The­is­tic Evo­lu­tion,” where­in Slick points out that attempt­ing a doc­tri­nal com­pro­mise between bib­li­cal cre­ation & evo­lu­tion­ary the­o­ry just does­n’t jive with the Bible. I’ll be skip­ping this sec­tion sim­ply because i agree with Slick in it: the Bible makes even less sense once you com­pro­mise it to the point that Gen­e­sis refers to nat­u­ral­is­tic ori­gins of life which are some­how aid­ed by God.

1 thought on “Matt Slick’s Problems with Evolution”

  1. Xzavier Carter

    Great arti­cle! Matt Slick and oth­er Chris­t­ian Apolo­get­ics are very inter­est­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, peo­ple who already fol­low such doc­trine most like­ly will not look for answers out­side of his or her com­fort­able world­view. As an Athe­ist I am con­stant­ly look­ing at both the The­ist and Athe­ist beliefs on a num­ber of issues. Stuff like this has the poten­tial to dri­ve me crazy, but I con­tin­ue out of my love of knowledge.

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Rick Beckman