Evolution in the News - January 2005
by Do-While Jones

Science Convinces a Skeptic

It’s not about religion.

The charge is often made that the only reason for rejecting evolution is a fundamentalist belief in God. It has always been our position that the theory of evolution should be rejected on scientific, not religious grounds. That’s why we were interested to see this Associated Press news release about a famous atheist, who still isn’t a Christian, but has rejected the evolutionists’ origin of life theory.

Famous Atheist Now Believes in God
One of World's Leading Atheists Now Believes in God, More or Less, Based on Scientific Evidence

(AP) NEW YORK Dec 9, 2004 — A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.

At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.

The press release makes it very clear that Flew isn’t a Christian, and quotes Flew as saying,

“I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins.”

These aren't the words of a fundamentalist Christian who believes the Bible is perfectly accurate. The story also makes it clear that

Flew accepts only a "minimal God" and believes in no afterlife. … Flew told The Associated Press his current ideas have some similarity with American "intelligent design" theorists, who see evidence for a guiding force in the construction of the universe. He accepts Darwinian evolution but doubts it can explain the ultimate origins of life.

We don’t want to argue whether or not Flew’s theological understanding is correct. We merely want to point out that Flew has come to some interesting conclusions based on recent scientific discoveries. The AP story says,

… biologists' investigation of DNA "has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved," Flew says in the new video, "Has Science Discovered God?"

Based on what we know from the AP story, what can we conclude? Apparently this is NOT a case of an 81-year-old man recognizing his mortality who is trying to buy some “fire insurance” to keep him out of Hell. He doesn’t believe in Hell, or a God who can keep him out of Hell. His decision isn’t about religion. It is about science.

The science that is so compelling for him is molecular biology. There is so much more to a “simple cell” than the 19th century concept of a membrane around some protoplasm. He correctly recognizes that individual cells are far too complex and delicately balanced to have arisen by chance. There must be some other explanation.

The natural, accidental origin of life is foundation of the molecules-to-man theory of evolution. Rejecting this concept is a huge first step along the road to rejecting the theory of evolution completely. But the AP story says he still believes in “Darwinian evolution.” We wonder what that means. “Darwinian evolution” means different things to different people.

Darwin believed that diet, exercise, and climate, produced acquired characteristics which were inherited and filtered by natural selection, causing continual unlimited change over many generations. Although we consider that to be the most accurate description of Darwinian evolution, we realize that hardly anybody means that when they use the term. The idea that acquired characteristics can be inherited has been scientifically rejected for years, so we don’t believe that’s what Flew believes.

Many people (probably most people) use the term “Darwinian evolution” synonymously with “natural selection”. If that’s what Flew means, then there is no argument. Science Against Evolution recognizes that natural selection produces variations in species (as do all the big-name creationist organizations, such as the Institute for Creation Research, and Answers In Genesis). Artificial selection is an experimentally verified method for producing varieties of dogs, horses, pigeons, corn, roses, et cetera. Natural selection is basically the same as artificial selection, except that survival considerations, rather than human desire, determine which offspring reproduce the next generation.

The difference between “selection” and “evolution” is that selection produces the same thing in a slightly different form, but evolution (supposedly) produces a different thing. Natural selection can certainly result in lizards with different colored skin; even skin that can change color. Natural selection can’t produce a lizard with mammary glands, which is what would be required for the evolution of reptiles into mammals.

The difference between selection and evolution isn’t well understood by many people. This may be because the terms are often used interchangeably in public schools and in the popular literature. Whether this confusion is intentional or not can be debated, but such a debate is not very profitable. It is more important to clear up the confusion.

Flew has made the first step by recognizing that it is impossible for life to have originated accidentally through natural processes. He has recognized this through scientific investigation of the complexity of life. He apparently has grasped the concept that all parts of a functioning, living cell, must have come into existence simultaneously, as the Intelligent Design community says. That is, he has apparently accepted the “irreducible complexity” argument.

The second step is for him to recognize that there is also strong scientific evidence against the idea that one kind of life can turn into another. There is a big difference between a mushroom and a bird. For both to have come from a common ancestor would require many radical changes from whatever common ancestor one wants to postulate. Since Flew has recognized that the information in the DNA molecule could not have originated by chance, perhaps he will also recognize that the information in the DNA molecules of mushrooms and birds is so different that there is no natural process that can change one kind of information into another.

Clearly, Flew’s conclusion (that life could not have arisen entirely through undirected natural processes) was not religiously motivated. It was scientifically motivated. That’s because science is against evolution.

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