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Darwin Day
2006
Evolution or Creation?
South Cheshire & North Staffordshire Humanists, info@humanists.org.uk
1
Orang-utan story
One day a zoo-keeper noticed
that the orang-utan was
reading two books - the “Bible”
and Darwin's “Origin of
Species”.
In surprise, he asked the ape,
"Why are you reading both
those books"?
"Well," said the orang-utan, "I
just want to know if I am my
brother's keeper, or
my keeper's brother."
2
1859: Darwin’s “Origin” challenged
religious orthodoxy
“But with regard to the material
world, we can at least go so far
as this – we can perceive that
events are brought about not
by insulated interpositions of
divine power but by the
establishment of general laws.”
W. WHEWHELL
“Let no man think or maintain
that a man can search too far or
be too well studied in the book
of God’s word, or in the book of
God’s works; divinity or
philosophy; but rather let men
endeavour an endless progress
of proficience in both.” BACON
3
The Genesis Story (King James Version)
• In the beginning God created heaven and earth.
• Day 1: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
• Day 2: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be
gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear:
and it was so.
• Day 3: And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass and the
fruit tree yield fruit.
• Day 4: And God created great whales, and every living
creature.
• Day 5: And God said, Go forth and multiply each living creature
after his kind: and it was so.
• Day 6: And God said, Let us make man in our image and let
them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl
of the air…
• Day 7: God said, “Give us a break!!”
4
The Genesis story implies…
• The creation events took place over six 24-hour
days, after which all creating ceased
• Life was created 6,000-8,000 years ago (not
enough time for evolution to occur).
– How realistic is this?
– Is the scientific story more plausible?
5
Scientific story:
Big Bang + Evolution = Man
• UNIVERSE: The Big Bang is the scientific theory that
the Universe emerged from an enormously dense and
hot state about 13.7 billion years ago.
• SOLAR SYSTEM AND PLANETS: formed 4.5 billion
years ago
• LIFE ON EARTH:
3.7 billion yrs basic organic molecules of selfreproducing RNA emerged
2 billion years bacteria
1.5 billion yrs first multi-cellular algae and plants
1.2 billion yrs marked the start of sexual reproduction
– which accelerated evolution
300 millions years – reptiles
220 million yr – first mammals
25 million yrs – monkeys and apes
5 million years – humans?
6
Darwin’s “Laws of Evolution”…
1.
2.
3.
4.
Reproduction leads to the inheritance of
characteristics
Variability in inherited traits (genetic mutation..)
Populations tend to outstrip the means of
subsistence causing a struggle for life (after
Thomas Malthus)
Natural selection of varieties and species better
fitted to the environment, and the extinction of
others.
“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and
death…the production of higher animals directly
follows.” “p. 408 Conclusion of “The Origin”)
7
Tree of life
Darwin:
“There is grandeur in
this view of life having
been originally
breathed by the Creator
into a few forms (7 to
10) or into one; from so
simple a beginning
endless forms most
beautiful and most
wonderful have been,
and are being evolved.”
8
Evolution of life from a common
ancestor - post 1970 view?
9
Progress of evolution…
• From simple to more complex organisms
• Increasing diversity
• Able to exploit a greater range of
environmental “niches”
• Through natural and sexual selection –
increasing degrees of refinement
• (towards perfection?)
10
Evolving towards perfection…
Perfection
11
or (d)evolving to Homochippus?
Next stage
12
World-view Implications…
• Creationism:
man is special, different from animals; put
here for a purpose; God is in control
• Evolution:
man is nothing special, just an advanced
animal; man is an “accident” of nature;
….man is in control (?)
13
Darwin and God
“ ....Disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but
was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I
felt no distress, and have never since doubted
for a single second that my conclusion was
correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone
ought to wish Christianity to be true....”
Darwin’s Autobiography
14
What about a personal God?
Darwin mentions that he gave some thought to
the existence of a personal God at a later period
in his life.
But the existence of appalling suffering in the
world and that we are asked to show faith in an
omnipotent and omniscient God...revolts our
understanding.
15
Objections to Darwinism
The very notion that man descended
from the apes is blasphemous!
“On Aug. 11, 1999 the Kansas State Board
of Education fired another salvo in the long
battle between religion and science by
removing evolution from the high school
curriculum.”
This decision was subsequently overturned.
16
Man and apes
99% common genes (really??)
I’ll whip their butts if they say I am
related to a chimpanzee.
Anyone can see that I was made in
God’s image!
17
Intelligent design…
• Sequence of mutations required is
statistically impossible – “blind
watchmaker” analogy
• Producing life from non-life at the
molecular level is a tall order
• ID accepts adaptation and
evolution of varieties, but not of
major plant and animal kingdoms.
• Irreducible complexity – flagellum
of bacteria – How can there be
intermediate stages?
• CONCLUSION: God is the only
reasonable explanation.
18
Spectrum of Beliefs…
• Creation in six 24-hour days, global flood was real
• Creation; six “days” are long periods of time; no
global flood
• God exists, but evolution is true
• Evolution; no God is necessary
19
Humanist scientists…
Fred Hoyle + Herman Bondi
• Found it difficult to accept
the “Big Bang Theory” which
implies a point of creation.
• They came up with the
“Steady State Theory” of the
Universe in 1948.
• Based on premise that the
universe has always
existed.
• However, observed levels of
background radiation in the
universe are not consistent
with the theory.
•
•
•
•
Fred Hoyle and the
origin of life on earth
Argued that
interstellar dust is
composed of
biological particles
And the origin of life
on Earth must have
involved the
importation of viable
cells from space
Also that pathogenic
bacteria and viruses
arrive from space.
Bernard Crick
believed that earth life
came from extraterrestrials
Herman Bondi
20
“Religion divides us, while it is our human characteristics that bind us to each other”
Bedtime story: The Atheist in the Woods
An atheist was taking a walk in the woods, admiring all that the
"accident of evolution" had created. "What majestic
trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to
himself. As he walked by the river he heard a rustling in the
bushes. He turned to look and saw a 7-foot grizzly charging
towards him. He ran as fast as he could, but the bear was
closing.
His heart pumped frantically as he tried to run faster, but he
tripped and fell to the ground. The bear was on top of him,
raising its paw to strike.
At that instant, the Atheist cried out: "Oh my God!....."
21
bear story conclusion…
Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. As a
bright light shone upon the man, a voice from the sky
said: "You deny my existence for all of these years, teach
others I don't exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic
accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this
predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?" The
atheist looked directly into the light, "It would be
hypocritical of me to ask You to treat me as a Christian
now but, perhaps, could you make the BEAR a Christian?"
"Very well," said the voice.
The light went out. And the sounds of the forest
resumed, then the bear dropped his right paw
...brought both paws together and bowed his
head and prayed:
"Lord, for what I am about to receive,
I am truly thankful !"
22
Evolution cartoons…
23
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