Evolution and the Gospel: From Enemy to Harmony

(system) #1
After 35 years as an anti-evolution creationist, Keith realized he had been wrong about evolution.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/evolution-and-the-gospel-from-enemy-to-harmony


“I grew up in a mainline Protestant church where my grandfather was the minister, but I never once heard the Gospel.”

When the writer makes this statement, I’m sure he does not mean to disparage his grandfather, mainline Protestant churches, or the congregation where his grandfather once served. Readers may wish to note that the Gospel was most likely faithfully preached by a grandfather whose grandson did not hear it. I do not wish to read too much into one sentence. However, BioLogos contributors could be more sensitive to the way evangelicals turn phrases to diminish the contributions of mainline churches in the body of Christ. What difference did it make to the writer’s article that his grandfather was a “mainline” pastor. None. How does the inclusion of “mainline” help to serve the overall message he wants to make? Rather than lobbing suggestive comments about mainline churches, evangelicals would be better served to direct their attentions to the intellectual dishonesty in evangelical Christianity with regard to science and other matters (which I think was a significant factor for the birth of BioLogos).

(Dcscccc) #3

some thoughts about the venus flytrap- 1) every step need a new information. how many genetic changes need to change a non sticky surface into a sticky one?

2)how many changes need to make the snap-trap from a fly trap? the snap system is a complex system with several genes involve. like to change a regular door into an automatic one.

  1. there is also fossils problem for some of those plants

4)we can arrange a desinged objects in hierarchy. but it doesnt prove any commondescent.

(Keith Furman) #4

DMH, thank you for drawing attention to that. I certainly didn’t mean to disparage mainline churches or my grandfather. I’ve since been in local churches of the same denomination where the gospel was preached and where I would have been very glad to worship and belong as a member.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5


I appreciate Dr. Furman’s testimony.

However I had to go to his website to understand what he meant by From Enemy to Harmony. Evolution does not mean that God dis not create humanity, Evolution proves that God did create humanity!

This is the kind of teaching we need from BioLogos. I just wish I did not have to dig so hard to find it and BioLogos would show a willingness to discuss it.

Let’s talk.

(Chris Falter) #6

Hi @dcscccc -

Hope you are doing well by God’s grace today. Keith’s post provides links to articles that address these issues.I think your line of inquiry will be more successful if you refer to the specific details in those articles when you pose your questions.


(Dcscccc) #7

hi chris. the papers in the article links claiming that this species evolved from a non sticky species and that the snap-trap evolved from a sticky surface. so i ask how those 2 steps evolved. how many change( in the dna level)need to make a non-sticky surface into a sticky one? and how many need to change a fly trap into a snap one? i gave a good example from an automatic door.

(Chris Falter) #8

I don’t believe you have read the papers carefully enough, @dcscccc. One of the papers outlines a 7-step evolution of the trap-door mechanism, and provides extensive genetic evidence for the process. The other describes paleontological and genetic evidence for the first steps in this evolution.

If you can read those papers carefully, and interact with their details as you pursue this line of inquiry, you will be far more successful.

(Keith Furman) #9

dcscccc So, to defeat an argument of irreducible complexity, all that is needed is to reduce it to a series of logical envisioned steps. That shows it isn’t irreducible. It doesn’t necessarily have to have happened that way in reality. And one doesn’t need to show the changes in the genes. If we’re going to argue irreducible complexity, the onus is on us to show why it can’t be reduced to a series of adaptive steps. When I searched the Internet and so quickly found a series of logical steps, I was crest-fallen, I must say. It was the beginning of a paradigm shift in the way I had to think of origins.

To add stickiness to a leaf seems trivial enough to me. There are many sticky plan substances. To go from sticky leave with digestive enzymes to a trap that doesn’t need stickiness anymore is a bigger series of steps. But, it is easy to see how adding projections on a sticky leave that closes on its prey would increase the effectiveness in holding the insect there. Once you have that and the trap is so good that you don’t need stickiness anymore, the stickiness can go away.

You also mentioned the need for increased information. Gene duplication mutations are not uncommon and are one example of how new information can be introduced through evolutionary processes. Once you have two copies of a gene, one can keep doing what it was doing and the other is free to be mutated and develop new functionality. Mutation is the equal opportunity provider of the potential for change and natural selection picks those mutated copies that do something new and useful. Mutation and natural selection work together to search possibility space for functionality that allows organisms to better adapt to changes in their environment or to have an advantage over competitors. Its a wonderful thing. It’s hard to imagine life in a real physical world without it.

(Keith Furman) #10

Thank you, Chris. Well put. I meant to acknowledge you.


Thanks for the article. I am slowly reading through the book and haven’t reached your chapter yet. Anyway, my realization in believing evolution is in fact the best best explanation is similar to yours emotionally anyway. I have no advanced degrees or scientific background and the material has been a challenge to process. Nice to know I am not the only one who had the same cognitive dissonance. Eric


Some clarification on terms:
‘Irreducible’, pace Behe, simply means that for a particular point in time and in a particular biological context, a component of a system cannot be removed without loss of a particular function. And yes, there are certainly irreducible systems in biology.

However, Behe et al.'s significant claim was that these irreducible systems are also ‘unevolvable’. That is a case that he has not been able to sell. In fact, irreducible systems can evolve and simple ones have arisen in the lab. That led to a second formulation: “That IC systems which require a large number of neutral intermediate steps cannot evolve”. Unfortunately, that’s akin to ‘begging the question’. It’s got nothing to do with IC-ness but with a specific route of evolution. Other attempts to rescue the term included setting a lower boundary of complexity for which an IC system might validly indicate non-evolvability.

Soon after the term ‘irreducible complexity’ was described in Behe’s book, ‘Darwin’s Black Box’, many in the ID community adopted the equivalence of IC and unevolvability. IC was used interchangeably with unevolvabilty. We should dispute that.

If one can reduce the emergence of an irreducible system to a series of logically envisioned, evolutionary steps, we’re showing that “ICness” is not a valid predictor of evolvabilty.

(Keith Furman) #13

John, feel free to connect with me. With still so much opposition out there in some circles to an evolutionary creation (EC) view, one can tend to feel isolated. The American Scientific Affiliation (www.ASA3.org) fills void for me, along with BioLogos contacts. And even if you don’t have the science or theology degree needed to become a ASA member, it should still be possible to attend local meetings where you can be with people who are like-minded on these issues.

BTW, I don’t have a book or even a chapter, at least not yet. Which book are you reading?

(Brad Kramer) #14

I think you’re speaking of the book How I Changed My Mind About Evolution. Keith’s story is not in that book. However, we strongly recommend the book as well. Maybe Keith will be in the sequel!

(Larry Bunce) #15

The switch from anti-evolution to a realization that modern science may be right is much more difficult when you believe you have to give up your religion to do it. Any number of people are happy to tell you that you have to choose between science and religion. Since this makes the switch harder, religious people may think that this false choice will keep people in the church. Scientists who hold this position feel that religion threatens their livelihood, and hope that when people have enough education about science, that religion will go away.

An intelligent choice to accept the findings of modern science is made easier when someone has a background in science. It is easier to see what science really is claiming, and also easier to see the false claims and bad science found in creationist literature. For other people, places like BioLogos and role models like Dr. Collins can do much to show people that accepting science does not involve rejecting religion. The more I have learned how complex the world is, the more I am convinced of the existence of God.

(Keith Furman) #16

Roger, I appreciate that perspective. Just coming through a paradigm shift on this, I still have a tendency to be down in the weeds or into the nuts and bolts, e.g., how NOT to interpret Genesis in light of ANE and scientific findings in the book of God’s works. But, there is rich meaning even in just Genesis 1 that has endured through the ages. Pete Enns just sent an email blast to subscribers asking what book to write next. I tend to be helped more by Denis O. Lamoureux, but having been greatly helped by Enn’s new, The Sin of Certainty… book, I suggested a book that focuses on the real meaning of Genesis 1+. We take it for granted now, but the idea of there being one God who created mankind for relationship and that everything is part of God’s creation (e.g., that the sun and moon are not gods and the great sea creatures do not spring from chaos) and so much more is HUGE. And the fact that it has endured to this day and shaped thinking and worship of God all over the world is HUGE. Those kinds of things need to be celebrated and emphasized and expounded on, I think. Is that along the lines you are thinking?


Yes, I am reading “How I changed my mind about Evolution.” Only on chapter 3 or so. I run my own business and have three boys so reading is a rare privilege. Eric


Thanks for the invite Keith. I have subscribed to BioLogos which is where I read your article.

(Kyle Johnston) #19

“…specifically the extreme improbability of complex proteins forming by chance.”

Quite recently I have been rather unsettled by this statement and others like it. For a time, I didn’t know exactly what about it unsettled me. I then heard two separate statistics, from two separate sources, that were used in opposite fashions, to prove the speakers point.

In the first, it is argued that the improbability of protein folding, estimated as 1 in 1.0e77, clearly shows evolution is false; the second being that Jesus was who he said he was because only he could have fulfilled over 300 prophecies with the probability of any individual fulfilling even 12 was estimated at about 1 in 1.0e45 (and taken out to all 300 is rather a staggering number).

While the individual statistics themselves have their own supporters and critics, the way that each was used was particularly concerning. In the first, a negative absolute is supposed from a seemingly large improbability, the second becomes a positive absolute from (when taken to all 300) an even larger improbability. I realized that the folks speaking and using these statistics to prove their point, totally missed the intent of statistics, and refused to even consider the flip side of each, while at the same time the audience was none the wiser to the peril. The peril being, if the same analytical approach of unlikely = impossible were applied to the second case, then Jesus becomes more unlikely than evolution, and arguably, a figment of our imagination.

I think what we forget to realize, is just how infinite God is. God created probability along with everything else. We are not meant to understand infinite probabilities or expansiveness, yet because we do not we sometimes write it off or make some rather absurd conclusions, yet then turn around and try to use it to support our arguments.

(Dcscccc) #20

true. the second step need several match changes (even the first one but lets focus in the second). we can compare this kind of change with changing a regular door into an automatic one. again: can you add only one part at time to change a door into an automatic one (when any change improved the function of the door)?

did you know that even in some very similar proteins with very similar functions (myoglobin and hemoglobin for example) there is a big different in the genetic level? its mean that we may need a lot of changes at once to make this new function.

true. but again- we need a lots of mutations to make it possible. so its not a step wise evolution.