One of the great tragedies afflicting modern culture in this country is the large number of so-called Christians (some are, some aren't and I am certainly not qualified to sort them out) who have determined that secular science has wisdom that trumps the wisdom found in the Bible. It has been estimated that as many as 85% of Americans have identified themselves as Christians, Theists or Deists in one poll or another. It is quite apparent that the definition of Christian is commonly misunderstood, so I made sure to include that in a recent post. I will post the entire entry this time:
What is a Christian?
As far as I can tell, after thirty years of experiencing God and life as a "Christian" and after thinking about this experience from several perspectives, a Christian is...
a person who has a personal heart-to-heart relationship with the living God, characterized by warm and active acceptance on God's part; our honesty and dependence on the activities of Jesus Christ.Let's look at this a little more closely.
- "A personal heart-to-heart relationship":
- The point of this is to exclude 'religious' relationships, in which an 'object' is revered 'from afar' but not approached in a personal way. God is indeed an 'awesome entity' but he is nonetheless a Person. A personal relationship is a reciprocal relationship, not a one-way deal. There is real interaction, real disclosure, real closeness that develops. The 'heart-to-heart' aspect intends to convey the honesty and openness of this relationship. There are no 'games' that can be played with an all-knowing God(!), no secrets withheld, no area of life concealed. (The interesting thing about this is that, even though God knows all about an area of our life, we might NEVER open it up to Him in discussion, in our efforts to 'hide' from His feedback!)
- I cannot emphasize strongly enough the personal character of this relationship. I see so many aberrations and stunted-growth versions of it. It is not a formal relationship, a primarily legal one, or even simply a 'creature-Creator' relationship. (I find the human tendency to relegate God into a religious icon or image or object to depersonalize the relationship and short-change the possibilities of such a relationship--much as we do in other significant personal relationships in our lives.)
- "The living God":
- The subject of God is quite a vast one, but the main point here is that He is LIVING. There are feelings, and thoughts, and decisions, and actions, and initiatives, and responses, and values, and commitments... all the aspects of personal existence. He is not a force or an attitude or a "perspective on the universe". We walk around our lives 'face to face' with this One-- even if we ignore Him.
- "Characterized by warm and active acceptance on God's part":
- From God's side, He accepts us. But this is not merely a 'political' acceptance--it has a warmth and joy to it. He 'smiles' upon us. He delights in us(!). This is more than simply the very important 'peace with God'; it is an active relationship. He gets involved in our lives for good--for our growth, our development, our character, our fulfillment, our stability, our significance in the lives and futures of others. He is always 'glad to see us'.
- "Characterized by our honesty and dependence on":
- From our side, the relationship is one of honesty about who He is and who we are. We are not 'gods', and as such need our Maker for the realization of the purposes for which we appear in this universe. We are a people dependent on the universe He has produced, and we are people whose goodness has been severely compromised by our regular moral failures and pervasive spiritual apathy.
- The main thing in the universe that God the Father loves...is God the Son. When we are honest with the Father about who his Son is, and what he did in history for us, God welcomes us into this warm relationship...We simply have to be honest with Him about his dearly-loved Son. The second part of this is dependence. We depend on Him for the 'repair' of our relationship WITH Him. He is the active one, coming in history to earth and taking upon Himself the consequences of our moral failure. We simply are honest about those actions/events to the extent that we rely upon those actions/events as an adequate basis for God's warm acceptance of us. In other words, we agree with God that his Son's life and work are sufficient grounds to accept us into this special relationship. It's that simple.
- "The activities of Jesus Christ":
- The basic 'core' truth of Who he was/is and what he did are simple. He was God the Son, who took on human flesh, lived among us, suffered at the hands of His Father (on the cross) as our substitute, came back to life after his execution, and transported himself 'outside' space-time to 'heaven'. He will return to earth visibly in the future, but for now, He is involved invisibly in the macro-forces of history, and the micro-events of our lives. His death satisfied God the Father's just moral demands upon us, and 'freed' God to lavish his warm acceptance upon us.
For just a tad more detail on the "WHAT and HOW", without going into too much intellectual musings, you might look here. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.Christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)
The inanity of Darwinism is clear to those using common sense. Mutations are supposedly the driver of evolution but you need to have something in existence to evolve in the first place. In fact, not just something, but something alive! Mutations are mistakes, they are the dropped glass that breaks, the hammer that slips and smashes your thumb. If you took your car to the mechanic and he suggested whacking it with a sledgehammer to fix it you would put the car in reverse and get the heck out of there! Yet this is the creative force Collins wants to credit above the Word of God and above God Himself!
Three articles follow. The first is quite long but very readable until you get to "Analysis of the data at hand" at which point it gets more technical and for some of you it may be too much so to hold your interest. But the second and third articles are much shorter and I highly recommend that, if you give up on article one partway through, that you navigate down to and read articles two and three. They are succinct enough while still imparting scientific knowledge and are quite to the point. I hope when you have read them through, you will agree with me that an organization like BioLogos is not only unnecessary, it is, like a mutation, likely to do more harm than good.
Refuting errors by Francis Collins and BioLogos
Published: 20 August 2011(GMT+10)
“Collins’s 2006 bestseller, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief  … reported scientific indications that anatomically modern humans emerged from primate ancestors perhaps 100,000 years ago—long before the Genesis time frame—and originated with a population that numbered something like 10,000, not two individuals.”
“In a recent pro-evolution book from InterVarsity Press, The Language of Science and Faith, Collins and co-author Karl W. Giberson escalate matters, announcing that ‘unfortunately’ the concepts of Adam and Eve as the literal first couple and the ancestors of all humans simply ‘do not fit the evidence’.”5
“There is no way you can develop this level of variation between us from one or two ancestors.”6
“You would have to postulate that there’s been this absolutely astronomical mutation rate that has produced all these new variants in an incredibly short period of time. Those types of mutation rates are just not possible. It would mutate us out of existence.”7
“The moment you say ‘We have to abandon this theology in order to have the respect of the world,’ you end up with neither biblical orthodoxy nor the respect of the world.”9
“Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for asymbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant.”10
“I think the evangelical Christians have really sort of got it right in a way, in seeing evolution as the enemy. Whereas the more, what shall we say, sophisticated theologians are quite happy to live with evolution, I think they’re deluded. I think the evangelicals have got it right, in that there really is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity … ”11
Getting to the root issue
Analysis of the data at hand
A second type of analysis that seems to support the evolutionary model can be seen in Figure 2, where I plot the allele frequencies of all A/G variants on human chromosome 22 within the CEU population (people of European descent). There is a continuous distribution in this figure, with all possible frequencies of A and G found among the many alleles. At first glance, this appears to reflect millions of years of mutation, selection, and drift, for it would take a very long time for any new mutation (by definition starting at a very low frequency in the population) to approach anything like 10%, let alone 40 or 50%.
What would we expect if the Bible were true?
When Adam and Eve start having children, they are going to be given a random set of the alleles within the parents. In the case of two heterozygous individuals, we would expect 25% of the allele in each child to be AA, 50% to be AG, and 25% to be GG, according to the laws of genetics we all learned in school. Assuming no linkage, the allele frequency curve for each individual would appear as in Figure 6.
Computer modeling of biblical genetics
Note also that some amount of diversity in Adam is lost after several bottlenecks. The final curves have a significant number of alleles that are 100% A or 100% G, meaning that the initial A/G variation in Adam was lost. Population geneticists call this ‘fixation’, and this was a surprising result for me as I had not previously considered that some of the diversity of Adam could have been lost this way.
Is it fair to model successive population bottlenecks when the Bible says there was only one? Actually, yes, for the only thing of importance is the history of Noah and his family. My model assumes random mating, but this is contrary to human history and human nature. If there was any degree of inbreeding (due to geographic separation of the antediluvian population, fighting among clans, racism or family snobbery, etc., etc.), drift would have been likely to occur. Also, this is a model. The point is to show what is possible and compare it to what is likely, not to make an absolute statement about history. In the end, the results are quite friendly to the biblical account.
Additional HapMap analyses
Created diversity vs mutation
Evolutionary syncretism: a critique of Biologos
Harmony and discord
Is there enough time in the Bible to account for all the human genetic diversity?
Adam, Eve and Noah vs Modern Genetics
The Neutral Model of evolution and recent African origins
Does Genetics Point to a Single Primal Couple?
Countering the Critics Questions and Answers
- For example, see Is there enough time in the Bible to account for all the human genetic diversity? Return to text.
- Evolutionary syncretism: a critique of BioLogos. Return to text.
- CMI’s Statement of Faith. Return to text.
- See Lael Weinberger’s refutation, Harmony and discord, a review of The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins, J. Creation 21(1):33–37, 2007. Return to text.
- The Search for the Historical Adam, Christianity Today, pp. 23–24, June 2011. Return to text.
- Francis Collins speaking at the Christian Scholars’ Conference at Pepperdine University, 2011; see Noted scientist tackles question of religious faith, Malibu Times, 29 June 2011. Return to text.
- Haggerty, B.B., Evangelicals question the existence of Adam and Eve, NPR, 9 August 2011. Return to text.
- See interview with Lael Weinberger, Creation 33(1):16–18, 2011. Return to text.
- Haggerty, B.B., Evangelicals question the existence of Adam and Eve, NPR, 9 August 2011. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R., The God Delusion, p. 253, emphasis in original, 2006. See detailed critique. Return to text.
- Howard Condor interviewing Richard Dawkins on Revelation TV, Feb 2011; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wfe4IUB9NTk. Return to text.
- Batten, D., Catchpoole, D., Wieland, C., Message Mania: Deciphering the human genome: what does it mean? Creation 23(3):16–19, 2001.Return to text.
- Astonishing DNA complexity update. Return to text.
- Biswas, C., Founder mutations: evidence for evolution? Journal of Creation 20(2):16–17, 2006. Return to text.
- Our chromosomes come in pairs, with one copy of each coming from our father and the other coming from our mother. Adam and Eve had no parents, but Collins sets up a straw man by saying that Adam had identical chromosome pairs and, thus, no built-in variation. See Variation and natural selection versus evolution from Refuting Evolution. Return to text.
- HapMap.org Return to text.
- Note that there are 3 billion DNA letters in our genomes, with each of our hundred trillion cells (excluding red blood cells, which do not have nuclei) carrying two copies. Return to text.
- Purines are double-ringed nucleotides and pyrimidines are single-ringed nucleotides. A transition is a purine-purine or pyrimidine-pyrimidine swap. It is easier to get a transition than a transversion, which would involve a purine-pyrimidine swap. Return to text.
- One must carefully consider the ‘sphere of prediction’ inherent in any model or hypothesis. Different models incorporate different constraints and different specific predictions can be drawn from them. For example, the biblical model necessitates a genetic bottleneck associated with Noah’s Flood. Evidence for a genetic bottleneck has been found. The result is that evolutionists added this bottleneck to the Out of Africa hypothesis, even though there was no specific prediction that called for such a bottleneck. It is consistent with the theory even though not predicted from it. Likewise with the HapMap allele data from Figure 1, Creation makes no specific prediction in this case. Return to text.
- Duke of Argyll, A Great Lesson, The Nineteenth Century 22:308, September 1887. Return to text.
- See also Corals, genes and creation: Jonathan Sarfati chats with CMI’s marine biologist and geneticist Dr Robert Carter, Creation 33(1):53–55, 2010. Return to text.
- Mutation-drift equilibrium is that theoretical point at which mutations are entering the population at the same rate at which they are being removed by genetic drift. Return to text.
- Sanford, J., et al., Mendel’s Accountant: A biologically realistic forward-time population genetics program. SCPE 8(2):147–165, 2007; http://mendelsaccountant.info/. Return to text.
- Theological support for the clone theory is that the Bible attributes the Fall to Adam (Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15), and our redemption to Jesus as “kinsman-redeemer” (Isaiah 59:20), who by definition is related by blood to those whom he redeems. I.e., all Adam’s descendants are affected by the Fall, but all are capable of redemption because Jesus, “the last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:46) is also a descendant of Adam (Luke 3), thus our blood relative. But if Eve were genetically different, would she really be related to either the first or the last Adams? CMI is not dogmatic on this however. Return to text.
- The interested student might notice that these curves follow Pascal’s Triangle, level = n * 2 + 1. For a single individual, the ratio is 1:2:1 (level 3). For two individuals, the ratio is 1:4:6:4:1 (level 5). Etc. Return to text.
- With only the ‘X’ chromosome of Adam’s X-Y (male) pair duplicated to result in an X-X (female) pair in Eve. Return to text.
That decoding mechanism involves a whole host of enzymes, RNAs and regulatory molecules, all functioning as an elegant, efficient, accurate and complicated system for copying and translating the information in DNA into a usable form. (For a comprehensive and engaging description of how information is processed in the cell, and how this process has been discovered, see Stephen C. Meyer’s Signature in the Cell .)
The problem is, this decoding system is self-referential and causally circular. Explaining its origin becomes a chicken and egg problem. Building the machinery that translates DNA into protein requires the prior existence of DNA, RNA and protein, all three. This should give us pause, because we have no naturalistic explanation for problems involving causal circularity.
So when it was discovered that some RNAs could carry out (very limited!) chemical reactions, scientists seeking a purely materialistic explanation for life’s origin were thrilled. Perhaps here was the solution to the conundrum. Perhaps RNAs could be both catalysts and information carriers. Perhaps the first living world was RNA-based.
Fast forward to now. Researchers continue to try to design RNAs that can copy themselves, and try to expand the range of chemistries they can carry out. The RNA world, if it ever existed, though, would be a very impoverished place, based on what human designers have been able to produce so far. And the problem of how an RNA world could become a DNA/RNA/protein world would remain.
Enter the Direct RNA Templating (DRT) model of Michael Yarus et al. . The hypothesis was originally based on the discovery that the activity of one RNA catalyst could be blocked by the presence of the amino acid arginine. From this result Yarus hypothesized that perhaps other RNAs would show an affinity for particular amino acids. In a series of papers he and his coworkers identified other such RNAs and, based on statistical analysis, they argued that these RNAs contained a higher than expected frequency of triplets corresponding to the particular codons or anticodons now used to specify that amino acid in the modern genetic code .
But is their analysis correct? In a peer-reviewed paper published this week in BIO-Complexity, Stephen C. Meyer and Paul Nelson take on the DRT model . They carefully examine the claims of Yarus et al. and find them wanting. Inadequate null hypotheses, arbitrary selection of data for analysis, and unrealistic assumptions about prebiotic chemistry are just a few of the problems. Rather than go through their arguments here, I encourage you to read their paper yourself.
Why does it matter? Critics of intelligent design have advanced the DRT model as the answer to the sequencing problem—how genetic information in RNA (in the hypothetical RNA world) eventually could have been translated into more stable and versatile proteins. Based on the analysis in this paper, however, the sequencing problem has not been solved, even partially. There is no natural affinity between RNAs, amino acids, and codes. And the origin of life remains inexplicable in materialistic terms.
 Signature in the Cell
In fact, the origin of life by natural means seems to have been disproven by research. Will the secular scientists begin to think about the results of their tests and realize it?
I hope to persuade you that life is a natural property of complex chemical systems, that when the number of different kinds of molecules in a chemical soup passes a certain threshold, a self-sustaining network of reactions—an autocatalytic metabolism—will suddenly appear. Life emerged, I suggest, not simple, but complex and whole, and has remained complex and whole ever since… The secret of life, the wellspring of reproduction, is not to be found in the beauty of Watson-Crick pairing, but in the achievement of catalytic closure. When chemicals react, they produce different chemicals. So the idea here—call it Kauffman’s conjecture—was that mixtures with a sufficient number of different chemicals are bound to give rise to local compositions that continually replenish themselves through a self-catalyzed network of chemical reactions. Those special compositions would typically differ from the original mixture, but since they make more of themselves, they should be able to ‘grow’ by establishing themselves repeatedly in local pockets. The ability to propagate in this way, if proven, would be something like reproduction, only at the low level of chemical composition rather than at the high level of organismal form.
It was clear enough to me why Kauffman and others liked this idea. If some kind of reproduction and inheritance could conceivably be achieved in systems that are much, much simpler than anything we think of as living, then maybe scientists were making the problem of explaining life much, much harder than it really needed to be.
I saw that, but ultimately I still found the proposal unpersuasive. It’s not that I had any problem with autocatalysis or reaction networks, but rather that equating such things with life seemed like gross oversimplification—like equating Kauffman’s book with ink and paper. Even if there was a grain of truth in his proposal, it left too much unexplained.
At the time, my work was focusing on the profound differences between the simple catalysis caused by small molecules and the elaborately orchestrated and stunningly efficient catalysis achieved by enzymes—the catalysts of life. Kauffman was equating complexity with the sheer numbers of chemical species and reactions, whereas my concern was with the mode of reaction. Since Kauffman’s model employed reactions that were fundamentally simple, with no discernable prospect of rising above this, I saw no satisfactory connection between his model and life.
But the difficulty of explaining life’s origin makes even hints of progress a big deal, and many saw in Kauffman’s simple model the potential for something bigger. The reason for their optimism, I think, was expressed by Daniel Dennett around the time of Kauffman’s writing: “Evolution will occur whenever and wherever three conditions are met: replication, variation (mutation), and differential fitness (competition).”  The hope was that if autocatalytic networks can deliver those three things, then whatever they lack in comparison to modern life they can acquire through progressive evolution.
I think it’s fair to say that the optimism has faded as the years have passed without anything like a convincing demonstration—at least nothing that could be called “autocatalytic metabolism.” Now it seems things may be drawing to a close with a new paper by Vasas, Szathmáry, and Santos.  Their work calls this whole notion of life starting with raw metabolism into question by seriously undermining the biological relevance both of Kauffman’s conjecture and of Dennett’s dictum.
The paper’s title is a diplomatic statement of its main conclusion: Lack of evolvability in self-sustaining autocatalytic networks constrains metabolism-first scenarios for the origin of life.  It becomes clear on reading the paper that the word constrains is here being used euphemistically. After testing the effect of fitness on the evolution of their model compositional assemblies, they report that “some slight relative increases and decreases in their replication-mutation equilibrium frequencies are detected, but the effects are so minor that it is hard to think of any evolutionary relevance.” The problem is that the behavior of the whole system is almost completely determined by the inherent chemistry, leaving no room for selection to do anything interesting.
The paper’s conclusions speak to the whole field of pre-biotic evolution:
There is always a danger in using terms that acquire implicit theoretical content as, for example, the term evolution that in biology is normally used to mean Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection… Restricting ourselves to this usage of the word “evolution,” the computed population dynamics of growing noncovalent molecular assemblies that undergo splitting when a critical size is reached clearly illustrates that compositional assemblies do not evolve.And as a finale:
We now feel compelled to abandon compositional inheritance as a jumping board toward real units of evolution.Now, I’m not suggesting that they favor intelligent design. I’m simply pointing out that yet another once-favored alternative to ID seems to have been reduced to an epitaph. Moreover, while the excellent work of Vasas, Szathmáry, and Santos brings clarity to the situation, we should have known this day would come all along. How? Because whether or not there was a jumping board to real evolution, it’s virtually certain that there isn’t a jumping board to real life.
Think of it this way. If no conceivable mixture of small molecules provides even a faint hope for the emergence of metabolism catalyzed by genetically encoded enzymes, then whatever these mixtures may or may not do, they can’t explain life as we see it. And as the evidence now stands, one would be hard pressed to argue that there is even a faint hope. Vasas, Szathmáry, and Santos have urged the origin-of-life community to keep the true essence of Darwinian evolution in mind, which is clearly important. Even more important, though, is the need to keep the true essence of life in mind.
 ISBN: 0-670-84735-6
 ISBN: 0-713-99090-2
 The actual title of the PNAS early edition has the word ‘constraints’ in place of ‘constrains’, which appears to be a typographical error. PubMed lists the title as: Lack of evolvability in self-sustaining autocatalytic networks: A constraint on the metabolism-first path to the origin of life.
Again, the contempt coming from arch-atheist Richard Dawkins:
“Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for asymbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant.”
It would suggest that it is Richard Dawkins and not Jesus Christ who is "barking mad." Darwinism has actually been disproven by the findings of modern science, it only falls to the sensible among them to realize this and then the entire Darwinist paradigm will crash to the ground. It will enter the Hall of Laughability and things like Nebraska Man and Pakicetus will be punchlines to scientific jokes. Meanwhile Jesus Christ will still be the Living God and welcoming all who will come to Him until the time God has decided to put an end to this world. Haste the day that Darwinism is recognized for the joke that it is!