This week’s correspondence deals with how to answer questions about evolution on exams, and how to spot common evolutionary fallacies based on the fossil record.
L.W. from New Zealand wrote:
I am a Christian teenage girl with strong belief in a young earth and biblical creation. At the moment, I feel pulled from every side to consider evolution. I will be learning about it in school soon and that’s ok but should I answer exam questions from a creation viewpoint or do you think not?
I have been asked to read The God Delusion by an atheist who I spoke to at school. Do you think it is dangerous for me to read it scientifically and consider and weigh up the evidence or should I be more cautious and consider the argument as false from the beginning?
I really need answers because I know the Bible is God’s word. I do not want anything to influence me to desert God in favor of science. I also want to understand science and I can already tell there is very little of this in Dawkins’ book.
yours in Jesus,
CMI’s Shaun Doyle responds:
Remember that in such an exam you are being examined on your understanding of the course content, not your ability to refute evolution from a biblical standpoint.
You should answer the questions as they are given. My colleague Jonathan Sarfati pointed out: “I should point out that we unashamedly advise people to answer exam questions with the answers the lecturers want to hear, rather than risk failing. We advise that if they have the opportunity they preface the answer with ‘most geochronologists believe … ’ or ‘the consensus among zoologists is … ’ so they can give the required answer in good conscience.” See More nonsense from Professor Plimer.
Remember that in such an exam you are being examined on your understanding of the course content, not your ability to refute evolution from a biblical standpoint. I’d certainly advise you to make liberal use of our website to keep things in biblical perspective for yourself. If you come across anything you find difficult, or we haven’t dealt with on our website, you can always send us an email, and we’ll be glad to help out. I heartily recommend that you read Dr Tas Walker’s article ‘How do I do my assignment about evolution?’. Dr Walker went through a secular university, never hid his young-earth beliefs, and still received 1st class honours in geology/radiometric dating.
Regarding reading The God Delusion, you should not be afraid to read it, but don’t read it in isolation of the critiques, such as our review of The God Delusion and the follow–up. Keep in mind Proverbs 18:17 (ESV): “The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him.” In that spirit, I also recommend that you ask your atheist friend if they are willing to read critiques of The God Delusion, or the critique of his subsequent book The Greatest Show on Earth: the Evidence for Evolution, namely our The Greatest Hoax on Earth?.
Another thing you could do is show your atheist friend some reviews of the book by critical atheists/agnostics. It was not only Christians and creationists that thought The God Delusion was poor atheist propaganda.
For example, philosopher of evolution Michael Ruse, an agnostic, said this when asked what he thought of The God Delusion: “I am just as critical of this book as of the work of Intelligent Design authors like Michael Behe, despite the fact that I, as an agnostic, am closer to Dawkins, and am 99% in agreement with his conclusions. But this book is stupid, politically disastrous and bad academics.”1
Literary critic Tony Eagleton, an atheist, said: “Dawkins, it appears, has sometimes been told by theologians that he sets up straw men only to bowl them over, a charge he rebuts in this book; but if The God Delusion is anything to go by, they are absolutely right.”2
If atheists and agnostics think Dawkins’ argument is ridiculous, why should Christians fear it?
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that the Bible is not anti-science. You don’t have to choose between the Bible and science. However, you do need to beware of definitions of science that are merely smokescreens used to disparage creation without discussing it—see ‘It’s not science’ and Self-serving SEC definitions of ‘science’. The Bible says that we should “let every matter be established on the testimony of two or more witnesses” (2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 19:15). That, in essence, is what experimental science is, i.e. repeated eyewitness confirmation that e.g. “water boils at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level”. But evolutionists’ claims about past “geological millions of years”, origin of life, etc., are not based on true eyewitness testimony and are therefore speculative. Evolutionary theory can thus be viewed as a claimed ‘history’ masquerading as ‘science’. Furthermore, science itself grew out of a biblical foundation, and was stillborn in cultures like Ancient Greece and Chine precisely because they lacked this foundation. See The biblical roots of modern science: A Christian world view, and in particular a plain understanding of Scripture and Adam’s Fall, was essential for the rise of modern science.
I hope this helps,
Writer and Editor
Creation Ministries International
L.W. then responded:
Thank very much for all the time you spent answering my questions Mr S. Doyle. It actually came as an answer to prayer, I went to my room and talked to God straight after getting home from school. I was hoping to find a reply to my email.
I checked out http://creation.com/dawkins-delusion-continued and found it very encouraging. I will have to make a point of finding the review mentioned. Thanks very much for all the advice and work you do for the Lord,