Re: [asa] Advice for conversing with YECs (Cheek turning)

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Mon Oct 27 2008 - 08:18:49 EDT

On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 7:11 AM, Vernon Jenkins

> Hi Bernie,
> Can you explain to one who, for good reasons, questions the whole
> evolutionary scenario why DNA " the most solid evidence against YEC and
> for evolution." ? Why, in your view, does it _so positively_ rule out the
> Bible-honouring doctrine of 'abrupt appearance' ?


Perhaps Bernie will have better luck than I did with you, but I pointed you
at the Francis Collins talk "Faith and the Human Genome" a couple of years
ago, as presenting overwhelmingly convincing evidence of evolution. You
dismissed it without, I believe, having really considered the evidence
properly, writing on 26/7/2006 to the list:

Vernon wrote (26/7/2006):
As you must know, the data that Collins presents - while undoubtedly
interesting - is no _proof_ that humans and mice, for example, share a
common ancestor; and no amount of evidence of this kind is able to overturn
the simpler alternative that the special creation of different 'kinds' for
life in a terrestial environment must, logically, require _similar_, but not
_identical_, materials. Of course, in his (Collins) view the evidence in
favour of evolution is overwhelming - but in making this judgment he has
ignored those significant items of scriptural data which I have been
bringing to the attention of the forum over past weeks.

I think you're judging Collins unfairly, I'm sure he knows scripture just as
well as you and has weighed all the evidence, and considered how best to
interpret the relevant items of scripture.

Furthermore, you are saying nothing original or even compelling when you say
it is no _proof_ that humans and mice have a common ancestor. Of course
science doesn't "prove" anything in the sense that a mathematical theorem
can prove an assertion. You always work with working, but falsifiable
hypotheses. Evolution itself could be falsified in a number of ways. If
someone found a human skull in the pre-cambrian rocks then the theory of
evolution would be dead in the water. Another example of a prediction that
could have been falsified is the difference in the number of chromosome
pairs between us and certain great apes. The apes have 24 pairs and we have
23. There is a talk on YouTube somewhere by Ken Miller who explains this.
He says that if the great apes and ourselves have a common ancestor, then
the theory predicts that there must be a fusion between two of the ape
chromosomes visible in one of the human chromosomes. According to Miller,
if we didn't find that evidence, then evolution would be in big trouble.
But they have found that evidence, right in line with the prediction. Human
chromosome 2 is a direct head to head fusion of two of the ape chromosomes.
The patterns match so exactly that they can identify the point of joining to
around 10-15 base pairs. The pattern is easy to find, because chromosome 2
has a region of telomeric DNA in the middle, which is normally only found at
either end of the chromosome. This indicates an event where two had fused
together end to end.

Even the above of course isn't "proof" in the mathematical sense. I can't
prove to you that God didn't decide for whatever reason to put two
subroutines in the same file (though as I have said elsewhere, the analogy
between DNA and computer code is flawed - it's more like data than program -
so say put two datasets on the same tape).

But equally, Vernon, are you prepared to accept that your numerical
discoveries in the first verse in Genesis are equally no "proof" that there
was a six day creation, or even a proof that the text is divinely inspired?
The reason you have such difficulty in getting people to take your
discoveries seriously is precisely this - that you will insist that it
inevitably leads to your YEC assertions. You really can't have it both
ways. Neither Collins's and Miller's evidence nor your numerical evidence
are "proofs". They constitute evidence that deserves to be assessed, only
you're only prepared to consider your evidence, and not the evidence other
people present. Francis Collins is a very gracious man who was converted,
as it happens, by reading C.S. Lewis. Which brings me to my next point.

> Again, you appear to imply that C.S. Lewis was an evolutionist. This
> suggestion is of course untrue. In "C.S Lewis: The Authentic Voice",
> William Griffin writes (p.222 - commenting on the final 1944 BBC series talk
> to which you refer) "He didn't say he believed in evolution or knew it to be
> fact, but it was a working theory that proved a point."

You are being intellectually dishonest here. Bernie never made such a
suggestion. The phrase he used was "evolution-leaning". I don't think
there's anything in the statement you quoted that contradicts what Bernie
said. All science is to do with "working theories" that could be disproven
given contrary evidence.

Furthermore, it is quite clear that if Lewis had had the same disdain for
evolution as YEC folks do (who often proclaim it to be a "lie", or a satanic
deception), do you really think Lewis would have used it to prove a point?
Of course not!; he would have avoided it like the plague. Do you really
think Lewis would have used something he considered to be a Satanic
deception to illustrate his point? Obviously Lewis had a pretty good
respect for evolution.

Furthermore again, a straight, literal reading of Lewis's text (the sort
that you prefer when you read Genesis Ch 1) indicates that Lewis thought the
universe was immensely old for he writes:

"Compared with the development of man on this planet, the diffusion of
Christianity over the human race seems to go like a flash of lightning - for
two thousand years is almost nothing in the history of the universe". (C.S.
Lewis, "Mere Christianity, p184, Fontana, (1976 edition).


Lewis certainly wasn't a YEC.



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Received on Mon Oct 27 08:18:58 2008

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