Does Evolution Disprove Christianity?

Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Beyond Blind Faith, copyright 2017, 2019

Does evolution disprove God’s existence? Or does it perhaps render Him impotent—reducing Him to a mere spectator in the creation and development of life? In other words, has science eliminated God’s role in creation? To answer these questions, we must be clear about what we mean by “creation” and “evolution.” Let me illustrate with a story from my own experience.

I was brought up to believe that evolution is a historical and scientific fact. When I became a Christian, I didn’t at first question this belief. Sometime later, I attended a debate about the truth of evolution between some university science professors and creationists. With much anticipation, I went to hear the facts and arguments each side could marshal, eager to learn the truth. But the professors cut the legs out from under the discussion within the first two minutes, by insisting on a definition of “evolution” similar to the following: “characteristics of organisms change in response to their environment.” The debate disintegrated into two sides arguing over completely different issues. I felt cheated. So lest you feel cheated, too, let’s define what I consider to be two different types of “evolution.”

Microevolution and Darwinian Evolution. Characteristics of organisms do change in response to their environment. That is an observable fact which is about as controversial as saying that the Sun is bright. I will refer to the process by which these changes occur as “microevolution.” Microevolution causes changes within species, [i] as various characteristics are favored or disfavored by the environment.

For example, the European Peppered moth (Biston betularia) in England changed colors over time. Dark moths became more plentiful during the Industrial Revolution, when factory soot created a blacker environment, making dark moths harder for predators to see. Microevolution has been documented many times, in various studies: mussels’ shells have grown thicker in response to an invasive species of crab; the Blue Moon butterflies of Somoa developed resistance to a parasite that was killing most of the male butterfly population; people have been breeding dogs for thousands of years in order to make them good hunters or watchdogs, or just good companions.

The professors sought to define “evolution” as micro-evolution, knowing that this would ensure victory in the debate. But they were also avoiding the real issue.

Microevolution is not what non-scientists generally think of as “evolution.” For most people, “evolution” refers to what Charles Darwin wrote about in 1859 in his famous book, On the Origin of Species. Darwin hypothesized that complex living organisms gradually developed from simpler organisms, through random genetic mutations and the mechanism of natural selection.

According to Darwin’s theory, these random mutations would cause small changes in living organisms, and some of these changes would confer a reproductive advantage, resulting in the spreading of that beneficial change. Wings that enable a bird to fly would allow it to find food and avoid predators, giving it a better chance to survive and reproduce. The result would be more and more birds that can fly.

The accumulation of small changes over time would eventually alter the organism so much that it would become an entirely new species. Darwin believed that in this manner, single-celled organisms had gradually evolved into multicellular organisms, and those evolved into creatures of greater and greater complexity, including mankind. I will refer to this concept—that complex organisms evolved from simpler organisms, through entirely natural means—as “Darwinian evolution.”

A related question is the “origin of life”—that is, where did life come from in the first place? Those who accept Darwinian evolution usually claim, or at least assume, that life also originated naturally through a series of chemical reactions. [ii] I will therefore include the belief that life originated through entirely natural means as part of Darwinian evolution. . . .

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[i] The simplest definition of “species” is based on reproductive ability—i.e., members of the same species are capable of mating with each other and producing young that can also reproduce. If a male and female cannot successfully mate in this way, they are members of different species. Of course, this definition is only useful for species that reproduce sexually. However, most of the Earth’s living organisms do reproduce in this way.

[ii] For example: “Almost all biologists agree that life originated spontaneously by natural processes on our planet from the same chemicals of which living organisms consist today, such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen.” Ayala, Am I a Monkey?, 61.