ORA text

Evidence: Handle with care!

#1. There’s no such thing as an atheist.
#2. Science vs. Religion
#3. How do you know what you know?
#4. The illogic of evolution
#5. Evidence: Handle with care!
#6. What do “Creation” and Evolution” really mean from a scientific perspective?

by David Prentice, M.Ed., M.A.S.T.

  In an earlier article we looked at the difference between science, history, and belief.
– Repeatable, observable events occurring in the present fall within the realm of science.
– Nonrepeatable past events known through eyewitness accounts are part of history.
– Nonrepeatable past events which were not reported by eyewitnesses lead to a belief, which may or may not be correct. We may use as much circumstantial evidence as possible to come up with the most reasonable guess, but we can never prove what happened without eyewitness accounts.
   Evolution falls into the last category. If we reject Genesis as an eyewitness account, so does Creation. Both are beliefs (educated guesses), but neither can be proven.
   All is not lost, though. A great deal of circumstantial evidence is available to help us decide whether Creation or Evolution is more reasonable. We will look at this evidence in later articles in this series. Before we do, we need to be aware of three potential problems with evidence.

1. Evidence may be incomplete.
   Ever read a good murder mystery? Just before the end you think you know “who done it.” At the last minute the author reveals a crucial bit of evidence you didn’t know before. You are annoyed to find that the culprit was the butler, not the chauffeur. Why did you reach a wrong conclusion? Because you were basing your ideas on incomplete evidence.
   A prime example of incomplete evidence occurred in the U.S. in the 1920s. Noted anthropologist Henry Fairfield Osborn declared that a single fossilized molar tooth found in Nebraska in 1922 came from an extinct ancestor of man called Hesperopithecus. He presented an elaborate scenario showing how Mr. and Mrs. Hesperopithecus looked, what they ate, where they lived, what kind of animals lived nearby, and so on. The 1922 Illustrated London News even printed a double-page picture of them in their native habitat.
   Because of Osborn’s reputation, many accepted this scenario as fact. Defense attorney Clarence Darrow even alluded to it in an attempt to berate prosecutor William Jennings Bryan at the famous “Scopes Trial” of 1925. In this case, teacher John Scopes was tried for violating a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of evolution in public schools. (Perhaps you saw Hollywood’s inaccurate version of the trial in the motion picture “Inherit the Wind”.)
   A few years after the trial ended with Scopes being convicted, another fossil tooth was found, identical to the one Osborn had used as his basis for Hesperopithecus. This one was still in the jaw to which it belonged. The jaw belonged to an extinct pig! (Some say this is a clear case of a pig making a monkey of an evolutionist.)
   Why were the “experts” so wrong in their elaborate story? Because they started with incomplete evidence. We should ask ourselves, How much evidence exists about the beginning of everything? We have no way to know. Then how much evidence is still missing? We have no way to know that either. As a result, we should exercise a healthy skepticism and not be taken in by claims based on only a small amount of evidence.

2. Evidence may be deliberately withheld.
   You’d be amazed how often this happens. Future articles in this series will give a number of such cases, but for now, here’s just one.
   Students are told that life on earth began in a mixture of chemicals known as the “primordial soup” which came together into amino acids, which then assembled themselves into proteins, which then assembled themselves into cells. But the chemicals in this mythical soup cannot combine properly in the presence of free oxygen. Therefore, the students are told that the early atmosphere did not contain free oxygen – that it escaped from inside the earth much later.
   Geologists know better. It is well known in professional geologic circles that traces of free oxygen — iron oxide, uranium oxide, and so on — have been found in even the bottom layers of Precambrian sediment, all the way down to basement rock. But if you check your children’s textbooks, this evidence is nowhere to be found. Why not? It’s deliberately withheld because it doesn’t fit the theory of evolution!

3. Evidence may be falsified.
   You’ve probably heard that a human baby goes through all the stages of evolution as it develops in the womb before birth. This is a bald-faced lie!
   The lie started in the early 1860s. Ernst Haeckel, a young doctor on the faculty of Jena University in Germany, was an ardent anti-Christian who wrote over 40 books trying to turn people away from belief in the God of the Bible. When Darwin’s The Origin of Species was translated into German, he seized on the growing popularity of evolution.
   Haeckel published drawings that he said illustrated his laboratory experiments, in which he had dissected embryos of different kinds of creatures at various stages of development. The drawings clearly showed the embryos demonstrating the stages of evolutionary development.
   Others tried to duplicate Haeckel’s experiments, but obtained completely different results. Finally, in 1906, Haeckel was confronted with the evidence before a University Court, and confessed that he had forged his drawings! His peers convicted him of fraud, leading to his retirement. That didn’t end it, though. After all this time, the lie is still found in many of your children’s textbooks.
   Think there are no consequences to evolutionary lies? Haeckel’s deception was the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ill-informed 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion on demand. So far it has cost the lives of tens of millions of babies in the U.S. alone.

   These are just a few examples we could cite to show the need to be careful as we examine the evidence pertaining to Creation and Evolution. Remember, it may be incomplete; it may be deliberately withheld; or it may be falsified. With this in mind, next time we’ll start looking at both creation (initial complexity) and evolution (initial disorganization)to see which fits better with the evidence that we do have.