Tag Archives: evolution

Evolution vs. Creationism (IT DOESN’T MATTER)

Alright, before all of you think I’ve been sucked in by the recent Bill Nye vs. John (I mean Ken) Ham, I did not watch it. I like Bill Nye and grew up watching him, though I was a little mad he replaced Square One (which featured Mathnet). And Mr. Ham and I may have a very few things in common, but a literal interpretation of Genesis and a 6000 year old Earth is not one of them.

I’m personally very comfortable with the idea that evolution was part of the creation process, one kicked off by an intelligent designer (one might even say programmer since evolutionary systems have been modeled in programming).

But I’m not here to talk about that, because Christians and non-Christians alike are missing the point when they argue about creationism.

Let me speak to Christians for a couple minutes (but if you’re not one please feel free to listen in):

1) The most central point in our faith is not God creating the world in six days. It’s Jesus Christ! Christ and his death for our sins is the single most important part of our faith, and it has nothing to do with this debate. His resurrection and promise of return is hopeful, and a sign that he conquered death.

2) This debate makes us look dumb. And we’re not. But it doesn’t help to contradict scientific evidence. Is evolution fully explained? No. But let’s not lean too heavily on the whole “it’s a theory” thing, because that misunderstands what the scientific community means when they say theory. It’s the whole “this all happened randomly” thing, especially when everything else in the world seems to tend to entropy that gets me questioning some aspects of evolution. But the process itself? Not so much. You can be a scientist and still believe there are things out there you can’t understand, like heaven and the price of sin, or exactly how random mutations work or occur.

3) There are so many other valuable things we could be (and some of us are) doing! Let’s reach out a hand to those in our community, love in a Christ like way. Our church has a food-pantry every Saturday which serves 75 households (we’re a 60 person church).

Okay everybody, lean in, cause this one’s important:

4) It doesn’t affect your day-to-day lives. For Christians, how is believing in a literal six day creation helping you to live in a Christ-like way? For non-Christians, does knowing we evolved from monkeys and lesser creatures affect any of your daily choices? Who to date, what to eat, etc?

5) But what about thinking critically? Absolutely. But, I’d be more of a fan if we taught exactly what evolution can prove and show than what I’ll call for lack of a better term the “evolutionary belief system”. I’ll admit, we have not scientifically proven that a creator was involved in the evolutionary process, but we have not dis-proven it either. When it comes to things like “how or why does evolution work?” “how do simpler things reorganize into more complex things”, random mutation is kind of a lousy answer. What exactly causes mutations? Answering “we don’t fully know” here is an acceptable (and preferable) way to go.

6) We’re not changing anybody’s mind anyway. We can talk at each other all we like (apparently Ham and Nye went on for nearly two hours before the Q and A), but pretty much everybody’s leaving that room believing what they did before. You know what I’d like to see? I’d like to see a Christian who believes in evolution argue with a Christian who doesn’t. That would be a conversation I haven’t seen, and one that might get us to look better, and get the outside world to realize we don’t all think the same way about this. But really, I’d like to just move on.

So let’s have the debate that really matters: Which is better Star Trek or Star Wars? Please cite your sources.

The correct answer is Babylon 5.

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Bonus Friday Post (Pool, Fractals and New Features)

Happy Friday! I’ve been making some tweaks and additions to the blog and thought I would take this, the 25th post (yay, rah!), to highlight the changes and provide a little bonus content.

What’s New:

  • Biggest news is the CFML page (Consumers for Fairness in Manufacturing and Labor). On it you’ll find links to our Facebook group, the group challenge, and links to blog posts and articles relating to this issue. There’s more than one bad Apple out there, so raising awareness is key.
  • I’ve added a “Best of Trube” section linking to some of the more popular or noteworthy posts.
  • Now it should be easier to follow the blog than ever with our new follow button! WordPress users can just click the button, others can have the blog e-mailed to them. I’m tweaking these features so expect some new stuff soon.

Bonus Content!

  • Followers of the blog might be interested in this picture, related to last Thursday’s post (Yes the younger and thinner guy in the Y-Town penguins sweatshirt is me).
Grandpa Pool

Grandpa Pool

  • Wednesday’s post dealt with Fractals, Evolution and civility between Christians and Scientists (who sometimes are the same people!). Here’s a similar call for civility from a scientist.
  • And speaking of Fractals here’s a link to some Fractals in Nature.
  • And lastly, as I stated in the post, Fractals are kind of a hobby of mine so I thought I would share some pictures I generated with a Mandelbrot C++ program I programmed.
Mandelbrot Fractal

Mandelbrot Fractal

Another Mandelbrot Fractal

Another Mandelbrot Fractal

Widescreen Mandelbrot Fractal

Widescreen Mandelbrot Fractal

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This Doesn’t Mean War

I’m a Christian and I believe in science.

It’s a strange day we live in when that sentence (or its reverse) seems to be a contradiction in terms.

On Monday I finally got a chance to clear a NOVA program on fractals from my DVR. For those of you not familiar, Fractals are complex geometric shapes. They have self similarity (if you zoom in or out the shape looks basically the same), and are often produced by a simple algorithm or equation which is iterated (fancy math talk for repeated) thousands of times. Fractals can be used to describe all kinds of things in nature, from a bolt of lightning to mountain ranges, to the capilaries in your hand to the leaves on a tree. In many ways fractals are the mathematics of nature.

Fractals have been an interest of mine since elementary school. As a programmer they offer me a way to express visual art and provide unique programming challenges. The NOVA program was right up my alley but one thing one of the scientists said bothered me. The thought was basically this, “[Fractals are] all over in biology. They’re solutions that natural selection has come up with over and over and over again.”

Let me just make it clear I’m not bothered by evolution or the idea of natural selection. In fact, I’m quite comfortable with these being the mechanisms that God used to create man (more on this later).

What bothered me is that it seemed to be completely irrelevant to the discussion. What we know is that fractals can describe nature, and they are present all around us. But nothing in the rest of the program, or the science as I understand it, gives any reason why this is evolutionarily advantageous. I have a speculation as to why but it only goes so far. Basically fractals are really simple ideas that give rise to complex structures (in other words it doesn’t take a whole lot of information to make a complex object). This is why fractals were and are commonly used in computer graphics. Instead of mapping every crag in a coastline or mountain, a simple algorithm can generate something that looks real and takes far less memory. This enabled one of the first CGI sequences “The Genesis Effect” from Star Trek II.

This is a very digital way of thinking, we have limited space and resources and so we need to describe things as simply as we can. But is nature digital or analog? It would seem to me that nature does not have “memory limitations” in the sense we understand them in computers. It is certainly elegant that a leaf has the same basic structure as the tree it is attached to, but is elegance an inherent property of evolution?

I believe that the statement was an expression of faith, a faith that natural selection is a force that can use fractals as a solution to practical evolutionary problems. Again, this faith doesn’t bother me, it’s when it is expressed as fact that I grow concerned.

Natural selection is proven scientific fact, a force of nature. But is that force of nature something that is a random or inherent property of the universe. Did natural selection rise up on its own or was it a rule designed by a creator?

Science doesn’t answer this question as proven fact, and neither does religion. Their answer is based on faith.

Science is one way that we as humans increase our knowledge of the universe, religion (in my case Christianity) is another. Why do we as humans seek to limit our understanding to one or the other? I’m not just calling out scientists, there are far too many of my Christian friends who dispute global warming and climate change despite the Bible’s call for creation care. I understand that science produces measureable facts, and I think it is unwise to dismiss such things as pure hokum. Inferances from data can be wrong, but that’s why there is peer review, and more study. But no scientist would say that they could definitively prove God does not exist, and it would be a fool’s errand to try.

So why make the statement that fractals are a solution natural selection uses? Regardless of the mechanism behind it, it is simply fascinating that nature which we once thought to be complex can be described in a such an elegant way. Why not leave it at that? From my perspective, I find it deeply fascinating that science and mathematics has enabled us to understand our world in better ways with each generation. We are getting to see a little of God’s engineering, God’s design. If it’s different than what we first thought, that’s because we are only growing in our understanding.

Faith in God and Faith in Science are not a contradiction in terms. Let’s play nicer on both sides, let’s prove what can be proven, and leave the rest to faith.

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