A question about Evolution

Hello everyone! I am a student attending a Christian high school. I am new to this platform, and I just learnt 3 views of Christianity in my bible class. They are EC, OEC and YEC. After some research, I am still confused that how evolution is scientific believable when there is no direct evidence from fossil records proving a species was truly evolved. What makes people to believe in evolution?

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Welcome! I cannot help but think that there are several in the same high school class that are new here and having the same questions. You might check a couple of other threads that have just recently started and with similar questions.

Evolution is not only about fossil evidence, but that is certainly encompassed by it. What influenced my thinking greatly within the last couple of years was to learn that ‘Darwinian Evolution’ as originally conceived and how the term is used by non-evolutionists is not the current state of the science. The neutral theory of evolution combined with population genetics are terms that better describe it now. Multiple mutations can occur that do not affect fitness, but over time can indeed produce new complexity, whereas traditional Darwinism is typically talking about single mutations producing radical change.

Welcome! Best wishes in your work. Good question. Much of science is based on observations that tell us truth without directly observing the process. For example, though we don’t actually see what went on in Rome thousands of years ago, or when Mount Vesuvius erupted, we have a pretty good idea from excavation. That’s similar to the fossil record, in many ways. There are many other proofs of evolution and old earth, some of which are listed on the Biologos website. https://biologos.org/common-questions/what-is-the-evidence-for-evolution

I’m a Christian, the son of missionaries who worked in Niger, West Africa. When we were in the US on furlough, I, too, attended a Christian school; my parents sacrificed a lot to send me. I’m grateful for that. I was homeschooled in Africa, though, because there was no school near to us.

As a teen, I really struggled with the ideas behind the Bible’s authenticity and accuracy, and read many of the young earth books. However, in college, I interacted with many very kind professors. I asked them rather pointed questions, and they responded with patience and understanding. I realized that they had observed the facts well, and had no ax to grind.

I have since read many books on why the Bible and science can complement each other. @DOL Dr Lamoureux has a very helpful, free online course that I learned a lot from; but he also has written good books.

https://www.christianbook.com/evolution-scripture-and-nature-say-yes/denis-lamoureux/9780310526445/pd/526445?en=bing-pla&event=SHOP&kw=academic-0-20|526445&p=1179517&dv=c&msclkid=3fe610e8260e1167bd324fb769e5335e&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shopping%20Main&utm_term=4580290564250970&utm_content=s-academic

https://www.coursera.org/instructor/~4950184

I’d be interested in any other questions you may have.

Best wishes in your studies and career!
Randy

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Well, to address the question of what “makes” people believe in evolution… In this humble evolution-skeptic’s mind, I would observe:

  1. Evolution is the only theory any atheist scientist has to go on. Unless they really want to entertain special creation by a divine or similar Intelligent being, then complex biology, and all astounding human traits, must be able to happen by unguided blind unintelligent processes. It is their only conceivable belief unless they want to give up their atheism. As Richard Dawkins famously acknowledged, “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist”, and “we don’t need to postulate a designer in order to understand life, or anything else in the universe.“

  2. I would observe that EC uses the identical philosophical method embraced and utilized by atheists… Specifically, the possibility that anything has been intentionally or directly designed, is ruled out from consideration from the outset of the scientific inquiry. In effect, at least while doing scientific inquiry, EC affirms along with Richard Dawkins that “we don’t need to postulate a designer in order to understand life, or anything else in the universe.“

Therefore the idea that complex biological life somehow arose “by itself” without direct assistance from any direct intelligent intervention is the only conclusion either atheists, or Christians who embrace EC, are “allowed” to reach, given their philosophical commitments.

Now, this in no way is an argument for whether or not evolution is or is not true… but it does observe why, if evolution were in fact untrue, some would nonetheless be compelled to believe it even in the absence of compelling scientific reasons.

This is an old site, so I imagine some of our folks here working in the relevant fields could add to it, but it’s a good read:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/comdesc/

Genetics has had a huge impact on evolutionary theory. A lot has been learned in the last 40 years or so.

I would say take that site with a big grain of salt.

For example, this claim of theirs:

These tests measure the degree of “cladistic hierarchical structure” (also known as the “phylogenetic signal”) in a phylogeny, and phylogenies based upon true genealogical processes give high values of hierarchical structure, whereas subjective phylogenies that have only apparent hierarchical structure (like a phylogeny of cars, for example) give low values

is false. The ‘subjective phylogenies’ actually do give high values of hierarchical structure, which undermines the rest of the article’s claims.

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The evidence is simply overwhelming. Did your teacher tell you to come here and ask?

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Thanks for the explaining, I am kind of understand more about the other’s views! That helps a lot!

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Pretty appreciate your sharing! I will take time to kook at it. That must be a professional explanation.

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Those points are great ideas! Thank you so much. I totally agree with it. Have a nice day!

Thanks for letting me know more about evolution!

I recommend the work of Denis Lamoureux.

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That does not describe God’s providential interaction well, nor is it close to what this evolutionary providentialist believes. It is a is a total mischaracterization. Recall Maggie and Rich Stearns. The activity of direct Intelligent Intervention is obvious – it is not explainable as to the miraculous how, but that there was God’s activity directly involved is obvious to any believer.

Thanks for sharing! I will take a look.

He started as a YEC but abandoned it even before he studied biology. Just studying theology did showed him it was wrong!

He’s a professor of Science and Religion in Canada. You can find lots of free resources on his page:
Denis Lamoureux Web Site

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I think that it’s worth taking a step back from this question and considering the following.

  1. When I approach a new topic that I might have a little bit of knowledge on (or no knowledge), the first thing I try to understand is what you might call the “scientific consensus.” That is, try to figure out why it is that the people who got their PhDs and then do research in various fields came to the conclusions that they did. Let’s say that 99% of evolutionary biologists affirm evolution. My quest is to understanding why it is that they came to that conclusion. One tragic mistake that I often made (or others make) is to pick bits and pieces of their research and pretend that I (or others) understand it better than those that actually did the hard work of high level science. I see far too often those that reject science fall guilty to this trap.
    1b) It looks like you are aiming to do that with this question, but one thing that stands out to me is you said “After some research” and then you made a statement that is a good, honest question but does reveal that you are misunderstanding some things about the theory of evolution. I’m not sure what you think of when you think about doing some research, but I always try to keep myself humble in that after say 20 hours of reading pages on the internet or books (or after hundreds of hours) is nowhere close to 10,000 plus scientists who’ve spent more hours than me ever week for decades. And they are the ones actually writing papers and building new technologies based upon such phenomena!

So how should we begin to try and understand why the people who know the topic best agree that it’s true beyond a shadow of a doubt that we humans share common ancestry with other species?

Detour #2: Bayes’ Theorem and changing your mind with evidence

I won’t get into the details, but this is a statistical equation that basically reads (focusing on 2 parts of it):

P(A|B)= stuff x P(A).

This means the probability of A being true given B is equal to some other factors (i.e. the ‘stuff’) times the prior probability that A is true.

You can do this with anything, but let’s say you want to calculate:

P(evolution is true | the evidence for evolution)

This is evaluated by people different depending on how high they put the prior probability. For example, I know many people who are committed to declare evolution is false regardless of its mountains of evidence. When someone does this, they effectively set the prior probability to 0 which means that someone will always declare the probability evolution is true to be zero.

There are many people who come to the forums who have this perspective, and it is essentially a waste of time to bother replying to them. So before I reply more I think there are two important things,

  1. Would you be willing to update your belief about evolution given evidence?
  2. Would you be willing to work hard to ignore those who reject it for a season, and really try to understand why basically all scientists worldwide agree that it’s true (which is an impressive feat for any topic these days!)?

Or maybe it’s more important to start and ask how it could be that someone committed to Christ could still affirm evolution in a philosophical or theological sense instead of just listing a bunch of the “gobs of evidence” for evolution?

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This is simply not true. All of the evidence of EVERY kind agrees with evolution.

All of the fossil evidence agrees with evolution.
All of the genetic evidence agrees with evolution.
All of the other biological evidence agrees with evolution.

It frankly hard to even imagine what possible evidence you can investigate which hasn’t already been studied and hasn’t already been found to agree with evolution.

And this is why most people including the majority of Christians agree with the scientific findings on this question that the millions of species on this planet are a result of evolution from common ancestors. When science gives increasingly precise answers to just about any question you can think of then doubt simply isn’t reasonable anymore. We can calculate when the common ancestors of any two species existed. We can determine when a particular biological feature first appeared. From the genetic studies of different species of lice we can determine when our species first started wearing clothes. And the list goes on and on and on…

Because we are humans, we seek answers for everything. When there is no solution to one problem, people would want a solution. At this time, who ever comes out and tells the solution to the rest of us, no matter true or false, we will believe it. However, Science is the backbone, the support using fact, to support whatever opinion. By using science, we know that the DNA from all these fossils came from some living creature at sometime ancient. Now, the question is, how do we prove that science is right? Of course, the answer is, we do not. everything on this world is given by God. And nothing based on our human understanding is real, but as human, since science is agreed by al people, it is a true fact that we can use, just like math.

Speaking as an atheist, “I don’t know” is always an option.

The reason that 99+% of biologists, which includes atheists and people of all faiths, accept the theory of evolution is because of the evidence.

Do you accept natural explanations for anything in nature? Do you accept the natural theory of germs causing disease? If you accept this natural theory, are you acting like an atheist and ruling out supernatural explanations from the outset?

What you and the original poster may need to consider is that christians accept the theory of evolution because there’s tons of evidence that it happened. It is no different than accepting the thousands of natural explanations that you accept for other processes.

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Let first summarize a few things and then I’ll explain why scientist overwhelmingly choose evolution.

The YEC or young earth creationist believe the earth was created in 7 day exactly as it says in the bible about 6500 years according to genealogies.

The OEC or old earth creationist encompass a handful beliefs. some believe is the day age thesis where a day is no really a day but a very long period of time. some believe it happened in 7 day but a very long time ago a lot longueur that 6500 year. their only common ground is usually that they don’t believe in evolution. I don’t run into them very often so I assume they are just a lot less noisy than young earth creationists.

And finally, evolutionary creation who simply believe the the world evolved as the scientist described it guided by the hand of god.

Now when science is uses the process of : formulation of a question, hypothesis, observation, analysis and conclusion. this can lead to new question a so on. its also a process that works very well at eliminating wrong hypothesis. I believe the you know what is in the first 3 step: question “how did the earth become what is ?”, hypothesis i’ve described previously and observation is the fossil record and various bit of geology. so I’ll skip straight the analysis.

For YEC, I’d expect to see data that is at most about 6500 years old give or take a millenia. So these fossils and geological record that are hundreds of millions of year does not fit. conclusion this hypothesis can’t be right.

For OEC, now if evolution didn’t happen that mean the diversity of species has reduced over time, that also means that species we see today existed millions of years ago and that they’d look the same. So we would expect to observe chickens, cows, dogs… over all the eras of the earth well atleast those where we know there are land animal but we don’t. conclusion the full diversity of life did not exist at the beginning thus this hypothesis can’t be correct.

For evolution, now if evolution did happen we would expect species to appear and latter disappear. we’d expect species to have a close but distinctive cousin earlier or latter in time. observation well their are gaps but that over all what we see, species seemingly slowly changing from one species to one ro more others. Conclusion well the data supports the hypothesis fairly consistently thus the theory is highly plausible especially in the absence of any other viable hypothesis.

This is why scientist support overwhelmingly evolution. yes the data is not complete but it supports evolution. the YEC and OEC (at least those that don’t believe in evolution) hypothesis have been simply disproven by observations. the only way to make OEC or YEC viable is by showing that what disproves them is wrong and that won’t be easy if at all possible.

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