Thursday, May 29, 2008

ORIGINS 101

The following is another article I saved in my files a while ago. This was written by Rusty Benson and gives a primer on the debate about origins which is taking place in the U.S. This is for those of you who want to know what all the fuss is about and what the differences are. Enjoy.
Origins 101: Worldviews Begin With Beginnings
Rusty Benson
AgapePress

Nearly a century-and-a-half after Darwin's Origins of the Species was published, and 75 years after the Scopes trial, the argument over life's origins still inflames contentious debate.

Today three distinct theories of origins compete for public affirmation. Darwinian Evolution remains entrenched as the orthodox position of the cultural ruling class. Once challenged by Creationism, Evolution's latest contender is a theory known as Intelligent Design (ID).

As in the past, the debate regularly surfaces in the context of which theory or theories should be taught in public schools.

In El Tejon, California, Americans United for Separation of Church and State bullied a school district into promising that it would never again offer a "course that promoted or endorses creationism, creation science or intelligent design." However, in Kansas the State Board of Education recently approved a set of science standards that question evolution.

Even President Bush has weighed in on the issue saying, "Both sides should be properly taught so people can understand what the debate is about."

So far that hasn't happened. The result is a largely confused public.

The following is offered as a synopsis of Creationism, Darwinian Evolution and Intelligent Design. For a more in-depth study of these theories and the implications of each, see the suggested resources listed at the conclusion of this article.

Creationism - Also called Creation Science, this theory attempts to defend the biblical account of the origins of the universe. Creationists freely admit that their presuppositions are different than evolutionists', and thus, their interpretation of the archeological evidence is often different.

In addition, creationists frequently use independent data from the fossil record and from radiometric and carbon-14 dating to make their case.

Variations of Creationism include the Young Earth Theory (closest to the literal Genesis account), the Gap Theory and the Day-age Theory.

Darwinian Evolution - Charles Darwin was a 19th century British naturalist who first offered a plausible naturalistic theory for the origin of life in his book On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

According to Darwin's theory, the universe is without a beginning and life on earth evolved over a span of three to four billion years by the process of natural selection. Natural selection, according to Understanding the Times by David Noebel, is "the process that through competition and other factors such as mutations, predators, geography, and time naturally and randomly allows only those life forms best suited to survive to live and reproduce."

Concerning the status of man in the evolutionary process, George Gaylord Simpson, paleontologist and evolutionist, bluntly stated: "Man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have him in mind. He was not planned. He is a state of matter, a form of life, a sort of animal and a species of the Order Primates, akin nearly or remotely to all of life and indeed to all that is material."

Intelligent Design (ID) - The heart of the theory of ID, according to Nancy Pearcey, author of the landmark book Total Truth, is that design in nature can be empirically detected.

She writes that ID "formalizes ordinary intuition." For example, we instantly recognize the difference in a landscape formed by wind, rain and erosion and one that includes Mt. Rushmore. That difference is the clear evidence of a designer. It's the same kind of observable science that enables an archeologist to distinguish between a rock and an arrowhead.

In presenting their case, proponents of ID often point to recent scientific research in three areas:

(1) The inner working of cells: Scientists are learning that living cells are like a complex assembly line in which each part serves a perfectly timed, specific purpose. If the whole system is not complete and functioning flawlessly, it cannot perform at all. ID proponents argue that this kind of irreducible complexity is clear evidence of a designer.

(2) The origin of the universe: ID proponents say that life is only possible when thousands of variants such as gravitational, nuclear and electromagnetic forces are meticulously set and balanced. Again, they claim this is the perfect working of a designer's plan.

(3) The architecture of DNA: DNA is seen as the most convincing evidence of the work of design. It is often described as remarkably computer-like, with the DNA code analogous to software that directs the DNA molecule (hardware). This information is embedded in the DNA molecule, but is separate from the matter that makes up the molecule itself. The question becomes: "Where did the information come from?" Answer: an intelligent designer.

Winner Take AllWhat's at stake in the debate? In short, everything. "Whatever a culture adopts as its creation story shapes everything else," Pearcey writes.

If evolution continues as our culture's official orthodoxy, Christians can only expect the complete secularization in all areas from education to entertainment, from philosophy to politics. And with the natural implications that human beings are neither accountable nor responsible, the future is likely to be one in which raw power rules.

But don't give up too quickly. Although it faces an uphill battle, acceptance of ID as a viable theory of origins is growing. At a minimum that could result in the re-establishment of the discarded idea that human life has inherent meaning and purpose. And that could change everything.
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