The End of Human Evolution

The End of Human Evolution

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The evolutionist is locked into an intellectual box from which there is no rescue.  Evolutionary theory is naturalistic by necessity — everything must be explained in purely naturalistic terms.  Only nature can explain nature, and there is no other source of meaning or truth. Thus, in the end the theory of evolution — and the theory of evolution alone — must explain everything about humanity.

So says Dr. Al Mohler in his blog post: "The End of Evolution?" Is it possible we're moving into a post-evolution scientific era? Geneticist Steve Jones at University College London seems to think so. At least where it involves human evolution. Mohler references a recent lecture by Jones:

Speaking on his chosen topic, "Evolution is Over," Jones argued that human evolution has reached an end because of changes in human health and human behavior.

Jones argues that human evolution is at a standstill because one of the crucial engines of evolutionary change, genetic mutation, is stalled. Jones explained that evolution moves forward by natural selection, mutation, and random change.  Mutation is stalled, at least in part, because fewer older men are having babies.

Basically, reproduction and human behavior are failing to follow evolutionary patterns. (I've always wondered why humans haven't evolved into something better by now.) Mohler suggests that Jones's observations point to a larger lesson about the "inherent limitations of the evolutionary worldview." He writes:

Evolutionary theory cannot possibly explain the totality of human experience, much less the reality of human origins. Evolutionists — if consistent — believe that every human experience, every emotion, every physical attribute, every hope, and every fear is simply a feature developed by means of natural selection.

That's a cold theory, and it just doesn't make sense to the vast majority of Americans — and it shouldn't. The Christian worldview offers a far more satisfying, true, and understandable account of human origins and human existence.

Ultimately science does not operate free of human experience. Eventually the two intersect. And sometimes the result is a step in the right direction.

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  • Comment by  brx:

    "[Evolutionary theory]...it just doesn't make sense to the vast majority of Americans — and it shouldn't."

    I hate it when people do that!  They paint with broad brush strokes and imply that whatever the majority of people do or don't do is the correct thing.  I hate it particularly when Christians do it.

    I think evolutionary theory does make sense - a cold, painful, despairing, useless sense, but sense none-the-less.  I don't _believe_ it, but it does make sense.

    "The Christian worldview offers a far more satisfying, ...and understandable account of human origins and human existence."

    This has one humongous caveat to being "satisfying" and "understandable" :  one mus be willing to submit to God and allow some things to remain a mystery under God's authority.  The rebelious heart will not find it satisfying and understandable.

    Grace & peace

  • Comment by  suzanne:

    brx,

    I almost gave a disclaimer with Dr. Mohler's statement. "Spoken like a true theologian." Mohler is not speaking as a scientist, but as a believer. And as believers, we are compelled by the satisfaction and peace a relationship with Christ offers. Our belief that God created the world is part and parcel with that worldview. Jones's argument still stands (and gives us something to think about), and he IS speaking as a scientist.

  • Comment by  JB:

    I think Dr. Mohler must be using "evolutionist" in some specific sense I'm not very clear on. It is the case that some people who use the theory of evolution to scientifically explain the origin of species are materialists, but I don't think that's a necessary philosophical commitment. Properly understood, scientific theories are ways of correlating observations about the world around us in useful ways. They are supposed to allow us to make sense of multiple phenomena such that we can make predictions. Science should not claim to describe the way the world *really is,* just how it *appears to be.*

    So, for example, we can use the Ideal Gas Law to predict how gases will behave at certain temperatures and pressures and we can use this information to build internal combustion engines and whatnot. The Ideal Gas Law is based on the idea that gases are made of molecules that are constantly in motion,  but using the theory does not commit us to this view of the nature of gases - it is simply a useful illustration.

    Similarly, one might use the theory of evolution to (rightly or wrongly, it doesn't matter) correlate some observations about genetics, paleontology, and geology and make some predictions about what will happen to organisms in the future. Using the theory of evolution in this way would not commit one to believe that organisms *in fact* evolved. It merely requires that you believe the universe is such that it is structured *as if* the evolution of species happened.

    There is, in short, plenty of room to study and use the theory of evolution with all kinds of mental reservations as to its historical reality. And it's even easier than that to use evolutionary theory while denying strict materialism and endorsing the reality of a world beyond the merely physical.

    That being said, it seems to me that Dr. Jones was merely making a point about so-called "micro-evolution" which I take to be relatively widely accepted even among people who deny "macro-evolution."

  • Comment by  Matthew:

    I guess the only thing here that rubs me the wrong way is the implicit disagreement between evolutionary theory and the Christian belief that God created the world ex nihilo. Certainly, as Mark Noll says, if evolution is the big Theory of Everything explaining all of human life and behavior, then yes, it's a load of cold nonsense. If it's a part of understanding God's world like quantum mechanics or crown ethers, then it's really not all that scary at all.

  • Comment by  BDB:

    So, Suzanne, would you consider Improv to be a mutation, or an evolutionary adaptation to a changing environment?

  • Comment by  rush:

    Can someone explain to me why on Earth it matters that a theory is "cold", even if one were to assign such a value to it? Is history "cold" because there are wars and famines? Should we rewrite it to be fuzzier, with no such despairing moments? Should we teach biology without reference to viruses, because it's just too "cold" that they make us sick? What kind of a twisted worldview is that?

    Not to mention that of course evolution is not "over". We're just well adapted to our niche. Sharks have remained unchanged for millions of years, did evolution "stop" for them, or have they simply filled a niche so well that it would take a huge calamity to dislodge them?

  • Comment by  Jo:

    "...fewer older men are having babies..."

    I didn't know ANY men were having babies.  (Now that would be an evolutionary breakthrough...)

  • Comment by  Jarod:

    While not a subscriber to evolution, in grade 12 biology class our teacher said that human evolution would likely stall in the present world as we are keeping the weak alive, and there is so much inter-breeding of people that any advantageous traits do not work themselves out as they are diffused across the world.  At least, I think it was something like that - it's been a while since grade 12 bio.  Anyhow, my point is I don't think this is any particular "wrench" in the theory of evolution

  • Comment by  AdamD:

    Jones' argument looks like a misuse of statistics and a failure to understand that mutations are actually weeded out through natural selection, not to mention that no new genetic material has ever been produced by them.  Jones isn't saying evolution isn't true, he's just saying it's stopped, because it's convenient for him because there is no indication of it ever happening to begin with.  I do hope he is right about us entering a post-evolution world; it would be nice if evolutionists didn't have such a monopoly other what gets published in scientific journals.  

  • Comment by  Lukas:

    The evolutionist is locked into an intellectual box from which there is no rescue.  Evolutionary theory is naturalistic by necessity — everything must be explained in purely naturalistic terms.  Only nature can explain nature, and there is no other source of meaning or truth. Thus, in the end the theory of evolution — and the theory of evolution alone — must explain everything about humanity.

    Unfortunately, Dr. Mohler paints evolutionists with too broad a stroke and glosses over the many believers in theistic or deistic evolution.  He also makes no distinction between the philosophies of methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism, which he purports all evolutionists to be.  

  • Comment by  MikeTheemling:

    Dang, you mean the theories behind 'X-Men' and 'Heroes' won't actually pan out?

    Man, I'm bummed.  I was looking forward to seeing people who could walk through walls, read people's minds, and move through time and space.

  • Comment by  Matthew:

    Lukas (#10),

    Good point about methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism-- I was thinking of bringing that up, but wasn't exactly sure how to express it. A good scientist, Christian or not, is a methodological naturalist: when the chemist watches his experiment turn from blue to green or the biologist observes his flies grow a second set of wings or the physicist observes some new subatomic particle, they assume a naturalistic cause and try to figure that out from there. To assume supernatural intervention would be bad science. The worldview that they understand that on, though, is what matters-- whether they believe that a loving God created the world and ordered it for us to understand, or that there is nothing supernatural. Evolution doesn't bind us to the latter with any necessity.

  • Comment by  saidah:

    Rush, if you pick up a Bible, you will see quite clearly that there are no such "millions of years" to be spoken of. And frankly, perhaps sharks have always been here, the same way humans have been. And the way eagles, grasshoppers, snakes, sheep, cows, donkeys, horses, and dogs apparently have. Just a thought.

  • Comment by  suzanne:

    Jo,

    Ha! :)

  • Comment by  rush:

    Saidah, I've picked up the Bible. It's a nice little collection of myths of the Semitic peoples. Slightly less interesting than the corresponding Greek and Norse mythologies, but that's ok. As for "millions of years", frankly Bible contains no modern science, so looking there is pointless. The age of the planet, and the ages of various species have been firmly established several thousand years after the Bible was compiled. I see no point in looking there for something that clearly isn't, any more than looking for quantum mechanics in works of Plato. Sharks have not always been here, but they've been around, in pretty much their current form, far longer than birds or mammals. I'm not sure about the grasshopper evolutionary history, however.

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