Do Evolutionary Theory And Scripture Contradict Each Other?

Here is what I wrote about nested hierarchies and homologies:

I intended to mention that DNA sequencing data supports the already-existing nested hierarchies, but it slipped my mind mid-composition. In recent decades, as DNA sequencing data has increased, a high majority of the hierarchies based on structural characteristics has been confirmed at the molecular level. Time and again, similarities are observed in the nesting without any true necessity for it. The DNA evidence continues even beyond sequences coding for proteins and can be observed in non-coding sequences and even the “junk” DNA!

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What exactly is “junk” DNA?

It is my understanding that the term is more popular with journalists and the general public than with genomics scientists. I’ll leave it to the scientists here to provide rigorous definitions of the multiple types of DNA coding that are often regarded as “junk”. But perhaps I can help address your question by providing my favorite example which arises in my own genealogical research: the testing of Y-DNA markers.

Without getting into the terminology and definitions, the Y-DNA markers which help one trace paternal ancestry through the generations are called STRs (Short Random Repeats) and are usually expressed as a series of numbers. Each number indicates how many times a particular nucleotide pattern appears at a particular address of the Y-DNA. These strings of DNA “letters” are passed from father to son with only the occasional mutation—that is, a change in the number of repetitions of the pattern—but have no bearing upon the individual’s health, anatomy, abilities, or anything else. (The STRs don’t code for any proteins.) So even though these STRs on the human Y-DNA can be extremely useful for tracing ancestry, they illustrate the description of “junk DNA” about as well as anything else.

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Check out this pie chart for the different types of DNA present in the human genome:

Notice that the portion that actually encodes proteins is about 2% of the entire genome! Although a lot of that extra DNA is functional in one way or another, there is a LOT of DNA in the human genome that serves no apparent purpose - that is junk DNA.

This “junk” DNA is actually shared by organisms that are nested together in the hierarchies that I mentioned earlier. For example, let’s look at human and primate junk DNA. Some of our junk is unique, things that would have hypothetically accumulated AFTER divergence from primate predecessor, but a high percentage of our junk DNA is actually shared with primates! Why would we possibly share highly similar junk DNA sequences in highly similar positions within our respective genomes if we did not have a common ancestor?


I hope our explanations have been helpful.

When I was an anti-evolution Christian long ago, I would hear scientists say things like “The Theory of Evolution is among the very best supported theories in all of science. The evidence is overwhelming.” and I thought they were speaking in hyperbole just to defy my position. But once I left behind The Genesis Flood and the Morris & Whitcomb claims which I had heard for years and started reading about the scientific evidence, I got very upset. I felt like Christians had been lying to me about the science and I had been repeating those lies from the pulpit. It was a very discouraging experience.

Now I see evolutionary processes as among God’s grandest creations. It has been a huge encouragement to me. God’s ways are truly amazing. As the Bible reminds us, God’s ways are not our ways and certainly not always what we might predict.

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Here’s a link you should check out:
The Untold Story Behind DNA Similarity | Answers in Genesis

Also… You should check out this discussion about “If Evolution indeed true, does religion become useless, even detrimental, to society?” which could kind of bring the discussion back to it’s intended (well, a little) purpose.

I’d be interested to hear people’s thoughts on all this stuff…

I notice that Answers in Genesis always focuses on arguing things like percentages of DNA similarity while saying NOTHING about the most important aspect of the similarities between living things, including humans and other apes: nested hierarchies and the fact that genomic comparisons confirm those same phylogenetic trees at the molecular level. Isn’t it interesting that AIG never discusses this topic with their readers? They recycle the same lame arguments for years—usually while complaining about how little scientists know and how everything is allegedly beyond figuring out and always subject to different interpretations based on different worldviews—while never allowing their readers to learn about the most compelling evidences the Theory of Evolution. Does the author of the article understand these topics? I think that on his way to a PhD in genetics, he probably learned about the nested relationships and the fact that “98% similar” and “85% similar” is far less important than the patterns of the relationships!

You can bet that the author will never mention anything about the ways in which genomic comparisons beautifully confirmed the phylogenetic trees which had been compiled by comparing anatomies of various organisms. He doubles down on the traditional anti-evolution argument which alleges that Common Descent looks just like Common Design so that it is simply a matter of bias and presuppositions. In fact, Common Descent and Common Design share very little in common!

I always find it interesting to look at the highlighted tag lines of AIG articles. This article has two of them:

“Developing a reliable, complete genome sequence is anything but simple. And interpreting it correctly is even harder.”

So what? Of course it isn’t simple. But is interpreting it really so hard? Some aspects are and many are not. Yet the reason that AIG must focus on the difficulty is to keep reinforcing the reader’s doubts about science and scientific methodologies. And look at the next tag line:

“We need to identify the evolutionary presuppositions that drive many scientists to interpret the facts in a way that is contrary to Scripture.”

Are they “evolutionary presuppositions” or are scientists following the evidence where it leads? Also, are those methodologies truly “contrary to Scripture” or simply contrary to the popular traditions which Ken Ham holds dear? I certainly don’t consider them contrary to scripture, despite having come from a Young Earth Creationist background. I know that tradition itself is a very powerful and blinding set of presuppositions. If I am sure that the earth is only 6,000 years old according to my church’s interpretations of the Bible, then I must cling to those presuppositions and ignore the scientific evidence. AIG wants people to think that scientific evidence can be interpreted according to the whims of the interpreter’s biases. But that misrepresents how science operates over the long haul. (Yes, bias and human nature interferes at times, but evidence, especially piles and piles of it, has a momentum which bulldozes through mere bias and tradition.)

I find the AIG very typical, not only for what it says but what it doesn’t say. It sidesteps the most important issues while trying to keep the reader skeptical of science and scientists. Its message is “Trust us. We at AIG are the ones who are looking out for you. We will tell you what science you can believe.” They regularly emphasize the false dichotomy of “You can believe the Bible or you can believe those biased atheist scientists.” They rarely explain how countless Christians within the science academy are entirely comfortable with evolutionary processes and billions of years. (When they do mention them, they basically call them “bad Christians” who are “compromising the Gospel”. But doesn’t misrepresenting the science also compromise the Gospel?)

AIG’s propaganda tactics bother me a lot because they cause me to relive my own experiences from my Young Earth Creationist background. I also think back on the Christian friends who shared that YEC background who were very bitter once they realized that they had been misled. Many of them decided that everything they had learned in the church was equally dishonest and erroneous. Ken Ham writes books which claim that the Theory of Evolution has destroyed the faith of many. In my opinion, Christians misrepresenting science and the Bible has helped to destroy the faith of many.


Notice this paragraph from the article:

Biblical creationists say the similarities in DNA arose because the same Creator adapted the same basic code for separate created kinds. If a gene in different creatures encodes a similar protein for a similar biochemical pathway, it’s not because of evolution, but because of a single programmer. This similarity is a hallmark of all human-engineered systems, so why would we not expect to see it in God’s creation?

But Common Descent and Common Descent do NOT look the same. And why would an omnipotent and omniscient designer place “broken code” (like miscopied recipes) in various organisms in patterns which _look like they are useless mutations passed down from ancestors? AIG never explains those problems with their Common Designer idea! Does that seem at all dishonest?

If you went to a family reunion and started noticing similarities among parents and their children, and even in the grandparents and their grandchildren, would you say, “God liked some of these features and decided to reuse them when he made each new generation” or would you assume that you are witnessing the results of genetic inheritance? The patterns we see among organisms are just inheritance and variation according to similar kinds of patterns. Nothing is gained by claiming, “No, God just decided to reuse good ideas when he was specially creating more species!”

I find it interesting that even Ken Ham doesn’t rely for long on his “single programmer” concept of Common Design. Ham claims that entire KINDS—which he says usually means entire taxonomic families—evolved at hyper-speed in the first 200 years after the original kind-pairs left Noah’s ark. (He says that all of the worlds cat family species including lions, tigers, panthers, bobcats, leopards, house cats and many other species quickly developed from Noah’s original cat pairs.) He relies on a totally unbiblical fabrication that assumes evolutionary processes operating at speeds far faster than any biologist has ever claimed!

Of course, there is neither a shred of scriptural evidence nor a shred of scientific evidence for that “theory” which he promotes at both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. Yet he accuses scientists of “mere story telling!”


Here’s a question for you: why does AIG portray something as complex as superimposable nested hierarchies are just some vague similarity?

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Dr. Tomkins starts with a strategy aimed at discrediting the process of DNA sequencing. Interestingly, Tomkins doesn’t cite his evidence in this article, but I was able to find another of his articles that does list a single article that is over 6 years old. DNA sequencing technology is rapidly improving in both accuracy and speed and whole genome sequencing is becoming increasingly more practical.

If we set that issue aside, and we take his claim of 85% similarity as fact, that still leaves the issue of the similarities between chimp and human DNA. In fact, it seems even less likely that non-coding regions would be shared between our two species. Tomkins uses the analogy of books to claim “of course they are similar, they have the same author!” But living organisms arise from previous organisms, so the DNA similarities are extremely meaningful. Individual organisms are not uniquely molded, but come from lineages in which these similarities mean a great deal.


My response is short and yet seems to invite aggressive responses. I have no trouble acknowledging ToE is the paradigm for biology, and I feel that its proponents should restrict their discussions to this area. Having said that, I occasionally feel admiration for the effort by biologist as they tackle such extremely complicated R&D. The ToE as summarised by variation and natural selection (even in its neo-version) is to me, as a scientist, a naïve, simplistic bunch of semantics that has poorly served biological research - but again, that should be the concern of bio-scientists.

So why do I, and Orthodox Christian, continue to post on this site? That is a question I am beginning to ask myself - but my motivation was to initially educate myself on the EC/TE vs ID culture war, and this has expanded to a point where I am (perhaps startled) questioning the theological notions put forward on this site regarding ToE. I cannot accept that sincere Christians (some who commendably, put such emphasis in the study of the Bible) would take ToE so seriously.

Perhaps I may understand the why of this.

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A couple of observations here.

First, he doesn’t cite any sources whatsoever for his assertions. Not a single one. This means that there’s no way of telling whether he’s getting his information from genuine, actual research, or from some journalist’s garbled misunderstanding of genuine, actual research, or from dishonest quote mining, or even just making things up.

Secondly, his comparisons of human and chimp DNA being only 85% similar were made with several demonstrably flawed misconfigurations of the comparison software. One such study that he undertook was based on a configuration that also gives the absurd result that human DNA is only 89% similar to itself. For a detailed discussion on this and the other problems with his studies, see here: Is 1% a myth? – roohif

As for Tomkins’s claim that the chimpanzee genome was assembled using the human genome as a framework, I’m not familiar with the process of genome sequencing so I’m not able to comment. (Perhaps @Swamidass or @glipsnort or @Sy_Garte might be able to provide some technical details here?) However, even if this were the case, I suspect that there are a whole lot of cross-checks that geneticists can do to make sure that their assumptions are valid. It sounds to me like a more highfalutin version of the old “fossils are used to date rocks and rocks are used to date fossils” claim, which is, of course, clueless nonsense.


Personally, I take it seriously because that’s where the evidence leads. Surely you can understand this, George.

My take on this is as follows:

  1. I believe that as Christians we are essentially charged to do science, or at the very least assured that science (i.e., the study of creation or the study of General Revelation) will lead to trustworthy and glorifying results-- so much so that we will be left “without excuse.” (Rom 1.)

  2. The bible is silent on the details of the “how” of creation, so I don’t see any conflict with God using the TOE as secondary means–as long as we accept the singular (and untestable) distinction between the TOE and Theistic Evolution–the latter adding only the axiom that the process was never outside of God’s purview or sovereignty. (At least that’s my working definition.) In the lab, TOE and theistic evolution are indistinguishable.

  3. I don’t really understand why Christians who have so much trouble with the possibility of God using evolution as a secondary means do not have trouble with God using gravity (after all, presumably he could keep us grounded and move the planets micron by micron by divine decree–what need is there of gravity?) or QM or thermodynamics, etc.


Could you elaborate on this? Why wouldn’t sincere Christians take a “very good” creation seriously?

When I was a Young Earth Creationist, I saw the Theory of Evolution as a dangerous idea. I thought it was bad science and an effort to replace God with natural processes. Today I distinguish between God as Ultimate Cause and evolutionary processes as the Proximate Causes God chose to use.

Some theologians were very angry that Isaac Newton’s gravitational physics replaced the idea of “God commanded the angels to propel the heavenly bodies in their ordained courses.” They saw the new science as “leaving out God”. I used to look at evolutionary processes in similar ways.

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Ironically, I have difficulty understanding why you don’t understand why Sincere Christians are unwilling to accept an aggregate of Old Notions that have become increasingly lumped together:

  1. The Earth is literally less than 6000 years old.
  2. That despite the fossil evidence, even if the Earth was 5 billion years old, Speciation is a genetical impossibility.
  3. That gays are to be shunned and restricted.
  4. That teaching Creationism should be supported by school taxes.
  5. Leaving any fossil based fuel in the ground would be a waste of resources.

Setting aside any one particular item listed above isn’t really the issue. The issue is that in the aggregate, these ideas get wrapped altogether in Western culture and the millenials tend to react against the Entire Aggregation … even when they might be more or less interested in 1 or 2 of the list.

Generally speaking, it has been my experience that the least likely position a millenial would hold (of the items above) is that speciation is genetically impossible even if there was enough time.

Of all the items, I see Speciation as the least controversial to our recent generations.


That is one of my many frustrations with Answers in Genesis. Not only is so much of their material misleading in what it says. It misleads through what it ignores. (Of course, that explains in part why those who depend entirely on Young Earth Creationist ministries for their understanding of the Theory of Evolution and science in general are so poorly informed.)

If more Young Earth Creationists visited these forums, I’d love to hear what they think of AIG’s constant litanies about “biased” scientists and journalists misrepresenting AIG’s positions when AIG so often misrepresents the work of scientists as well as the Christians who disagree with AIG. When I was still a Young Earth Creationist trying to grapple with the realities of science, I was even more disturbed by the behaviors of the “creation science” leaders I had formerly trusted. I kept asking myself “Are they misinformed or are they deliberately misrepresenting the science and the scriptures?” It was very upsetting, especially when I considered how I had been repeating a lot of their misrepresentations and pseudoscience from pulpits for years. (The fact that my errors were sincere and unintentional was little consolation. I struggle with my guilt to this day. I have so many friends in evangelical academia who this kind of personal history.)



I again emphasise that I am expressing my view and am not interested in persuading anyone for or against ToE. I now think I understand how someone may feel if they are given a choice between YEC and OEC/TE.

My view is that ToE as variation and natural selection is semantics, simplistic and inadequate, especially when viewed within the total context of life on earth, the incredible interdependence of all organic life forms, and the complex ecological interplay we are now only beginning to get a vague idea.

I do not see ToE as anything more than an inadequate approximation when viewed objectively, and there are many scientific questions that it just cannot answer, in spite of the insistence by it believers/advocates. To take such a paradigm with all of its uncertainties and inadequacies so seriously as to modify or reject various biblical teachings is mistake imo - to think ToE shows us how God does things, or words to that effect, is far too serious.

I have instead tried to comprehend the certainties provided by the physical sciences (separate these from uncertainties and trivialities) and from these consider any conflicts and/or harmonies between my understanding of the Faith and the Sciences.

This approach takes both Faith, and the established areas of science, seriously. My approach also considers the history related to theological debates and controversies - that is a reason to refer to Biblical teachings and the orthodoxy as expounded in the Patristic writings.

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I can certainly understand the hesitation to accept evolution, particularly if you see it as contrary to your interpretation of the Bible. Would you be willing to share what part of the science you feel is inadequate?

I cannot find anything in the ToE that is contrary to my Faith so I do not understand your assumption that:

I have made many posts on this subject (perhaps too many) and it becomes tedious to repeat them. I will instead summarise the areas where ToE is simply nonsense:

  1. personhood - this area has been debated and the end result has been that for those who a strict advocates of evolution (eliminative materialists), natural selection has played a trick on human beings in allowing them to believe there is a “self” because it has given them an advantage to survive. I regard such thinking as ludicrous within a scientific context.
  2. as a law of science, ToE lacks any testable basis that can be subjected to the scrutiny all laws of science must undergo. This subject is discussed by books dealing with philosophy of science.
  3. overlaps with (2) and invites irrational arguments = ToE cannot be given a mathematical basis from first principles.
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