Re: Evolution's Imperative (was Def'n of Science)

Vernon Jenkins (
Fri, 19 Mar 1999 00:20:07 +0000

Greetings Jonathan:

Thanks for writing.Let me respond publicly to the comments in your
earlier email:

> Your response to Kevin clearly illustrates that the issues to you are > not scientific, but a nexus of metaphysical, theological and
> philosophical. I would agree with this analysis, which is why I think
> it is pointless discussing the scientific evidence for, or objects to
> any evolutionary theory when the real reasons you, or someone else for
> that matter, object to it, are on another plane entirely.

You are not entirely correct here. I had no intention of excluding
science from your list - but it has to be a science according to its
finest traditions. I don't believe evolution qualifies, (a) because its
standing depends more on the subjective opinions of its adherents than
on any hard evidence and, (b) because it is more speculation than true

> >
> > Evolution is "the cumulative change in the characteristics of
> > populations of organisms over succeeding generations, resulting in
> > species totally different from remote ancestors (Chambers) - whether
> > by chance, or by divine intent."
> Your definition acknowledges the possibility that God is sovereign in
> evolution. So what is the problem?

One obvious problem concerns the order of creation given in Genesis 1,
where we read that birds were created before land animals. Unless you
can suggest an appropriate evolutionary scenario to meet this
requirement, we have to conclude that an evolutionary-minded God has
contradicted himself in the opening words of his Book.

> > (2) In attacking the early chapters of Genesis (which Jesus
> > obviously believed), it raises questions about the Lord's ministry
> > and directly challenges the Bible's claim to be a work of God -
> > specifically intended to instruct man in ways that are righteous and
> > acceptable to Him. (2Tm.3:16,17).
> Evolutionary theory only challenges some readings of Genesis, not all.
> In the same way it only challenges the attempts of those to make it
> authoritative in ways it was never intended to be. How does it
> question our Lord's ministry? I this claim is often made, but I have
> never seen it adequately substantiated.

I think it more reasonable to believe that when God inspired men to
write those books which we now find incorporated in The Bible, he meant
what he said! Why, on the basis of a theory for which no hard evidence
exists, are you able to conclude that God's word was never intended to
be authoritative? What reason - apart from your personal faith in
evolution - can you possibly have for saying that?! How can you risk
preferring the opinions of men to the words of the Living God?

You ask how the theory calls our Lord's ministry into question. In his
view, what we now refer to as the Pentateuch, or Torah, was absolutely
foundational to it, as, for example, Lk.16:19-31) makes clear.

> > (3) (Evolution's)social consequences are invariably bad. This
> > observation should put us in mind of our Lord's warning, "
> > their fruits ye shall know them...

> Four things here. First only some of social consequences of
> evolutionary theory are bad, not all. Presumably you would regard the > need for careful use of pesticides and antibiotics that evolutionary
> theory highlights as desirable.

Are you saying that these things would never have seen the light of day
were it not for evolution?

> Second, the ideologies which have resulted in "some of the worst
> excesses" (militarism, nazism, communism, unrestrained capitalism,
> etc.) are not contingent on evolution. All either predated it or an
> antecedents that predate evolutionary theory. I think it was Bertrand
> Russell who said something to the effect that "Darwin had the
> misfortune of serving everyone who had an axe to grind".

Anti-God and anti-biblical views in were, of course, in existence long
before Darwin (as Henry Morris points out in 'The Long War Against
God'). However, there can be no denying that both Marx and Hitler were
particularly inspired by Darwinian ideas
> Third, just because a theory can be misused says nothing about
> its truth or falsity.

But, describing his creation as 'good' surely seems rather odd if
evolution were really the means!

> Fourth, you seem to be confusing levels of knowledge here,the
> scientific theory of organic evolution with the philosophy of
> accidentialism, which operates on a different level plan. It is
> important not to make category errors when thinking about these
> issues.

I believe I see the issues in our discussion very clearly. As I have
argued elsewhere, evolution at root is unfalsifiable and hence,
unscientific. It exists as a device whose prime purpose is that of
reducing the standing of God in the eyes of those created in his image.


Vernon Jenkins
[Musician, Mining Engineer, and Senior Lecturer in Maths and Computing,
the Polytechnic of Wales (now the University of Glamorgan), 1954-87]