Evolutionary Heritage Days

The next chapter of Coyne’s book is on vestigia, atavistic throwbacks, embryonic recapitulation, topped off with alleged screw-ups in the so-called process of intelligent design.

Let’s start with this last item, since we should be able to dispense with it in a paragraph or so. The structure of this argument is strange, in that Coyne is trying to disprove the existence of automotive engineers by showing that carburetors can get gummed up. The reason Coyne falls into this trap is that he is failing to interact with the entire creationist narrative, which is creation and fall. The point is not that everything about the world is perfect in every way, but rather that the universe exhibits design everywhere we look, even in those places where some of the features of that design are busted. Their bustedness is part of the narrative, so finding examples of it doesn’t refute anybody or anything. Paley’s argument from the watch could still work even if we found a watch that wasn’t ticking. The argument could still work even though the watch wasn’t. But Coyne says:

“Perfect design would truly be the sign of a skilled and intelligent designer. Imperfect design is the mark of evolution; in fact, it’s precisely what we expect from evolution” (p. 81).

Imperfect design is also something we would expect to find in a created and fallen order.

When it comes to vestigia (like the appendix) or atavisms (like whale legs or human tails), there are two ways to engage with the argument. One is to deny that the data is being represented fully, fairly or accurately, and the other is to grant the data and point out that it doesn’t necessarily mean what is being claimed for it. I would want to reject the idea that God put a bunch of false leads into the created order so that He might test our faith (p. 85).

Creationists do not have a problem granting that variations (some of them significant) can occur over time within the classification of “kinds” (Gen. 1:21). Take the lowly skink, for example. Out of all of the skinks, some have legs, some have no legs, and some have various kinds of in between thingies. If our father Noah took no more than two skinks on board the ark, there is no problem whatever caused for any thinking creationist by the appearance or disappearance of legs in any of the descendants.

One example of atavism that Coyne cites is that of the whale leg. “About one whale in five hundred is actually born with a rear leg that protrudes outside the body wall” (p. 64). My first method of doubt mentioned above would want to ask questions — how far outside the body wall does it protrude? Five centimeters? On a whale? Should we call it the leg pimple? Why just one leg? Did they hop? Those bits of bone you found inside it, what are the grounds for identifying one bit (just centimeters long) as a whale tibia, other than that it fits with the “just so” story you are telling?

Reasonable questions, but let’s move on to the second approach to evolutionary skepticism. Remember the skink. Some whales do have a pelvis (which has a function for them), but not the function that our pelvis does. Suppose that whales are not descended from really big cows of some sort, as the evolutionary theory demands. Suppose they are descended from other whales, identifiable as such, that used to have flippers in the rear? Suppose whales got tired of being taken for sea lions? or walruses? and so they pulled a skink? If you ask me to prove my hypothesis, I will point proudly to this five centimeter flipper bump. See it flapping?

Embryonic recapitulation is a weird one, because it seems like a odd dependence on something that doesn’t really prove anything. The slashes on the side of a human embryo look like the slashes that turn into gills on a fish, but on us they turn into our head and upper body instead. Even on evolutionary assumptions, what would be the point (as in, survival advantage) of having each embryo of every living species go through a historical reenactment of the history of all life heretofore? Is it like having kindergarten kids dress up like Pilgrims at Thanksgiving? Is our time in the womb some kind of evolutionary Heritage Days?

My last comments will be addressed to vestigia, things that are still hanging around but which we have not discovered a function for yet. You can have your appendix taken out, and appear to be no worse for it, which we could not say about the stomach or the pancreas. So why wouldn’t we assume that the appendix is a left over from days gone by? Here are a couple of brief responses. First, it could be vestigial. Remember that the creation is fallen. Maybe the appendix was something we needed when we were still eating from the tree of life. Second, remember that medical science is still in its infancy. Most of what is going on in the body is still opaque to us, and so I would be leery of pronouncing on anything like this. The fact you can take an appendix out and not have the patient keel over dead is certainly suggestive of something. But perhaps we don’t know the whole story yet.

But the place where modern scientific hubris really kicks in is with the whole subject of “junk DNA.” and “dead genes” (pp. 66-73). How long have we even known about DNA? Since April of 1953, which means that our knowledge of the existence of DNA is two months older than I am. For pity’s sake! It is as though a couple archeologists discovered that the library of Alexandria didn’t really burn down, because they found the whole thing buried under sand, got into the first chamber, read two books, and declared the rest of the library worthless. They knew it was worthless because there were countless languages in there that they didn’t understand. Just a bunch of gibberish. For an example of some of the pronouncements that ought not to have been made about this, you can check out the book trailer here.

One of the things my friend Mitch Stokes likes to emphasize is the importance of true skepticism. Reading a chapter like this just underscores that point.

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28 thoughts on “Evolutionary Heritage Days

  1. Doug,
    Ironically, while the appendix is supposed to be a so called “vestigial” organ, it does have an important function. It serves to sample contents of the small intestine to check it for foreign and dangerous bacteria as it passes into the large intestine. So, while not critical, it is an important part of our body.
    What’s really funny, is that we don’t technically need our spleen, or our atria of our heart. But they (evolutionists) never use that argument…mainly because we know now why it’s rather useful to have those parts. We could live without lots of things, a testimony to our wonderfully complex and beautifully designed bodies. It’s a crummy argument to use vestigial organs as a proof for evolution, and they know it. They just count on others ignorance in biology to get away with it. We just don’t know enough to make such foolish assumptions let alone use it as evidence! Just my two cents as a med student.

  2. At the Scopes Trial, Horatio Newman (a zoologist) had a prepared statement read into evidence. In it he said, “There are, according to Wiedersheim, no less than 180 vestigial structures in the human body, sufficient to make of a man a veritable walking museum of antiquities.”

    But vestigial organs are actually a problem for evolutionism. Gradual loss of function or information by mutation, etc, doesn’t present a difficulty for the creation model, but evolution can’t have produced the biodiversity we see today out of successive degeneration and loss of information. If a horse loses some toes, or a whale loses some hind appendages, or a cave cricket loses its sight, how does that help the theory? Where are the corresponding proto- organs necessary to keep evolution moving forward? Unless evolution is winding down, shouldn’t there be an equal number of budding new structures waiting to be called into service for their novel survival benefits?

    As if it weren’t bad enough, the vestigial argument is actually an argument about God. Therefore it is a theological argument, not a scientific one. The vestigial argument says that God would not have designed things such-and-such a way, therefore evolution did it.

  3. Also, what is the best (recent) book that I could read that lays out a scientific argument against evolution?

    Most of the ID books out there are comfortable with evolution as a whole but simply point to various steps that appear designed. In other words, Behe is really a theistic evolutionist who simply thinks that there are certain systems that God helped move to the next step. Are there any pure creationist works (OEC or YEC) out there that could interact with Dawkins’ Greatest Show on Earth (for example) and be convincing?

  4. ” The vestigial argument says that God would not have designed things such-and-such a way, therefore evolution did it.”

    I think it could also be characterized as “I would not have designed things such and such a way, and since I am competent to judge good design, God ought to have done it my way if He’s actually God, therefore evolution did it.”

    Just a mite hubristic.

  5. I think you missed a key part of the argument. Vestigia, which appears completely arbitrary under your creation-and-fall narrative, is more parsimoniously explained in a framework of common ancestry. Whale legs and human tails, seemingly the capricious consequences of adam’s sin, are actually the kinds of vestigia one would expect if we shared a common ancestor. In other words, common ancestry imposes constraints on the vestigia of all living creatures, and the vestigia we observe is consistent with those constraints. “The Fall” explanation does no comparable thing.

    Embryonic recapitulation is more evidence of common ancestry, “recapitulation” being the key word.

  6. Pastor Wilson, in an earlier post you talked about how there’s no way evolution could have taken place fast enough to account for today’s differences, even on the scale of millions of years.

    Now you want to claim that in just 5,000 years since Noah, whales and skinks lost their legs and all sorts of other microevolution at the family level was occurring?

    That would require an evolutionary rate FAR faster than anything you were attempting to debunk before. No matter how fast scientists think evolution has occurred, no one is saying that whales would have differed in major structures in just 3-4,000 years.

  7. There is also an assumption that the only selection in nature is survival selection. Why should that be the case?

    Survival, as a mechanism for selection pressure, is barely above random noise in many cases. For example, an older ram could be challenged and defeated by a genetically far “weaker” ram simply because of circumstance. A genetically “superior” gazelle calf might be taken by cheetahs simply because it was near the outside edge of the herd that day.

    What about the finely tuned structures of animals like the dead leaf butterfly or the elephant hawk caterpillar? After a certain quality of mimicry, there is no added survival benefit to be gained by continuing to perfect the color, texture, and shape any further, and that’s assuming that these creatures get together for weekly design review meetings where they make minor adjustments to their own DNA. The idea that successive mutations just happened to come along, right on cue, to push things ever more precariously in the right direction, stretches credulity to the breaking point.

    Survival, as a mechanism for selection, is real, but highly overrated.

  8. alleged screw-ups in the so-called process of intelligent design.

    So, something like the fact that mice and giraffes have the same number of vertebrae (a non-optimal design) is the result of the fall?!

  9. Willis, the best creationist book on science I have read recently is “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” by Oxford mathematician John Lennox.

    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=god%27s%20undertaker&sprefix=god%27s+unde%2Caps%2C480

    FWIW, Lennox is an OEC, but don’t let that put you off if you take a YEC position. The book is well worth reading for anyone who is interested in the science surrounding creation/evolution. Lennox is easily a match for Dawkins et. al., having had some high profile debates with Dawkins and other high profile evolutionists.

  10. Thursday wrote:
    “So, something like the fact that mice and giraffes have the same number of vertebrae (a non-optimal design) is the result of the fall?!”

    Why would having the same number of vertebrae be a result of the Fall rather than original design?

    I think what Thursday meant to ask is, “why doesn’t God do things the way I would do them?”

    On the other hand, if having seven neck vertebrae is such a “non-optimal design” for the giraffe, why didn’t the processes of evolution simply fix this “screw-up” along the way? Was there no survival advantage to be had? Or are we to believe that survival advantages alone can completely makeover and then finely tune the features of the dead leaf butterfly, and the elephant hawk caterpillar, but these same forces are insufficient to alter the number of vertebrae in the neck?

    What gives?

  11. Pastor Wilson, couldn’t that apply for all the results of evolutionary theory though? Couldn’t you say that all the evidence that we have does point towards common descent of species, and that we are only arguing about the whether the mechanism is random or God-driven?

    I believe that evolutionists are far overstepping their evidence and their science if they say that evolution is “random”, or based on “random mutations”. There’s no evidence for randomness – in fact, randomness is something almost impossible to prove. I do believe that God either directs the whole thing (using the principles of nature that he has set down) or at least set up the starting conditions in such a way that He knew what would result. I don’t believe that we were created randomly, and I don’t believe that anyone has ever produced any science that could contradict that claim.

    And yet I do believe in all the evidence that has been shown that tells us the progression that God took to get to us, and everything else around.

  12. Jonathan, sure. God’s power could easily have brought us to this point through common descent. Theistic evolution has to be countered with different arguments. The question would then become “what did God say He did?”

  13. Doug – I don’t have much to say on this post (it seems like you are more trying to pose a possible alternative, not a refutation here). But I was wondering if you are going to respond to the lengthy counter-arguments in the comment section of the previous post.

    My second point is that as a theologian, it might be profitable, as you are writing this series, to comment on the alternative interpretations of the text you are claiming to be defending – such as the Framework hypothesis, or the view that looks at Genesis and further on within the reference frame of Ancient Near-East cosmology etc.

  14. “My last comments will be addressed to vestigia, things that are still hanging around but which we have not discovered a function for yet.” And yet I continue to search this post in vain for this promised discussion of Joe Biden.

  15. So Doug, your hypothetical explanation rests on the idea that the way that internal evidence, the fossil record, and everything in how our DNA works look one way for the last 5,000 years at an arbitrary family-level distinction? And even though the evidence projecting back from that look EXACTLY the same, you have to propose a completely different explanation for it because of how you misread Genesis?

    To put it another way, you claim that all these external changes like whale flipper disappearing happened in the last 5,000 years with the result evidence in the internal structures and DNA, but even though everything about those DNA changes looks exactly like a continuation of other DNA changes that project even further back, you have to think they’re the result of some completely different process to satisfy your construct.

    I think that you have buried Occam’s Razor thoroughly there, and denied the evidence sitting right before you in God’s creation. Now, you claim that God’s word tells you something different. But someone looking at God’s word in a similar way would try to claim that the Earth is flat with corners and the sun revolves around the Earth to create the length of a day. Now, we actually know that the Earth is basically a sphere, and that it would take a stopping of the Earth’s rotation to extend the length of a day, not the stopping of the Sun.

    So does it deny the truth of God’s word to say that the Earth is round and rotates on its axis, that rock hyraxes don’t chew their cud, that bats aren’t birds, that species came down through common descent, etc., etc.? Of course not, because God’s word is never trying to tell us those things. Throughout Scripture, God uses the things the people know about their own physical world in order to explain who God is and why He does what He does. If Genesis included teachings on matters of science that were beyond the understanding of the readers, then what would be the point except to confuse them? He isn’t trying to teach them science and ecological history, He was teaching them WHO made them and WHY they were made, and WHY things ended up the way they are. Believing what His creation tells us about WHAT happened physically doesn’t deny any of those truths.

    Sadly, people who tie false impressions of the WHAT into the WHY lead others astray from the truth, to the point where many end up rejecting it. If you reject common descent in order to keep your faith in the Bible’s God, that’s not really a big deal at all. Unfortunately, if you convince someone with knowledge of science who can’t perform the mental trickery to reject common descent to instead believe that they have to reject the God of the Bible instead, then you’ve committed a horrific error.

  16. As Augustine said,

    “Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.

    Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel (um, he means ‘nonbeliever’) to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show (observe) a vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.

    The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but the people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books and matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learned from experience in the light of reason.”

  17. And also:

    “In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it.”

  18. Jonathan wrote:

    Unfortunately, if you convince someone with knowledge of science who can’t perform the mental trickery to reject common descent to instead believe that they have to reject the God of the Bible instead, then you’ve committed a horrific error.

    We’ve heard this line of reasoning before. We are supposed to be ashamed of offending the sensibilities of intellectual types. The problem is that the argument works so well that we would need to drop all the offensive stuff about miracles too. What sort of mental trickery does someone with knowledge of science have to do in order to believe in resurrection from the dead? Better leave that out then. Wouldn’t want to offend their intellect. Of course I’m being sarcastic, but folks like Thomas Jefferson were serious enough to rewrite their own bible without any miracles, in order to appease their intellect. Heaven forbid that they should need to resort to any “mental trickery”.

    As far as Jonathan’s examples of the unreliability of Scripture, the part about the “four corners of the earth” is simply idiomatic language, which is an example that is still in use today. Other examples of similar biblical idiom are references to the “four winds”, or our sins being removed as far as the East from the West. It says more about the shape of our flat maps than about what anyone believes the shape of the planet to be. Jonathan’s argument here is against language itself, specifically the use of idiom.

    As far as the example of the sun standing still for Joshua, we are apparently forbidden from understanding such a description as being offered from Joshua’s point of view, in which he would not have experienced the earth’s rotation, but would have experienced the sun standing still. However, there is a problem for Jonathan in this example. The text says that both the sun and the moon stood still for the space of a whole day. This would not have been the case on Jonathan’s oh-so-scientific theory that the earth simply stopped rotating. (Besides, what about all that rotational inertia? Where did that energy go? Show the equations!) Fortunately, this event is explicitly described in the context of a miracle, thus Jonathan’s argument here is simply against miracles. He offers no alternate account of the event that would actually satisfy the skeptical intellectual. Nor did it ever seem to be his intent to do so. It’s almost like he cares nothing for reconciling such passages.

    Regarding rock hyraxes, I’m not sure where Jonathan got that translation. Most translations simply render the word as rabbit. Jonathan may be unaware, but rabbits are somewhat unique among animals in that they digest their food a second time, just like other grass-eating ruminants. Rabbits don’t have the benefit of a second stomach to slow down digestion, so they eat their own pellets to further break them down. The interesting part is that they have a circadian rhythm to ensure they don’t keep eating the same pellet over and over. The first time through, the pellets are softer, wetter and clustered together, the second time through, they are larger and dry and fully digested. So the classification for ruminants may not be exactly identical to ours, but that is not the fault of the Hebrew people. They apparently knew more than Jonathan about the subject.

    Regarding bats classified as birds, again we see a broader classification than we use today, but bats are flying creatures and that is all the word means in Hebrew. Jonathan may strongly desire to impose our modern taxonomy, but that is just anachronistic arrogance. Again, Jonathan’s argument is against language itself, and such a tactic would work on any language he chose to target.

    The more troubling aspect of Jonathan’s approach is that he doesn’t even bother to offer any reconciliation for the “problem passages” that he cites. He makes no attempt at an explanation that preserves the truth of the text to comfort the troubled scientific intellectual. Jonathan seems completely uninterested. Instead, he seems to have comforted himself with the conclusion that Scripture is the provincial work of a primitive tribe, and is simply fallible. He has chosen examples, not to demonstrate that it can be reconciled, but to demonstrate that it is in error, and cannot be reconciled. I see no other conclusion but that Jonathan has a low regard for God’s Word. Somehow this no longer surprises me about him.

  19. Katecho, I address most of your lies and misrepresentations of my beliefs in the post on the later chapter, where you reposted them. Suffice it to say here that once again, as you’ve done dozens or perhaps hundreds of times (yet as almost no one else on this blog ever does), nearly all the substantial things you say about my position are completely untrue.

    Here, I’ll just address one question of your ignorance of the Bible:

    Regarding rock hyraxes, I’m not sure where Jonathan got that translation. Most translations simply render the word as rabbit. Jonathan may be unaware, but rabbits are somewhat unique among animals in that they digest their food a second time, just like other grass-eating ruminants. Rabbits don’t have the benefit of a second stomach to slow down digestion, so they eat their own pellets to further break them down. The interesting part is that they have a circadian rhythm to ensure they don’t keep eating the same pellet over and over. The first time through, the pellets are softer, wetter and clustered together, the second time through, they are larger and dry and fully digested. So the classification for ruminants may not be exactly identical to ours, but that is not the fault of the Hebrew people. They apparently knew more than Jonathan about the subject.

    The rock hyrax is Leviticus 11:5, sha·phan′ in Hebrew. Rabbit is Leviticus 11:6. That’s true in NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, NRSV, and any other translation you look up. I assume you’ll take back the mocking things you said about my position and apologize?

    Here, I’ll just address one question of your ignorance of the Bible:

    I could also point out that rabbits chew their feces, not their cud, and that the word for bird in Deuteronomy 14:11 (tsippor) is translated as “bird” or “fowl” all 40 times it shows up in the Bible and still means “bird” in Hebrew today, not “flying thing”. But let’s stick with the rock hyraxes for now.

  20. Doug is an insensitive hater, I’m a biblically ignorant liar, and Jay is a hypocrite. Strong rhetoric may have its place, but Jonathan seems to be turning up the heat and shrillness to a new level. Anyway, Jonathan hasn’t persuaded me that the substance is not on my side, so I’ll stick with substance.

    First, I’m happy to acknowledge that I erred in thinking that Jonathan was referring to the classic skeptic’s argument that rabbits don’t chew cud. I knew that rabbits do indeed bring up their food to digest it a second time, and I wrongly assumed Jonathan was referring to the usual rabbit argument. If Jonathan was previously aware of the explanation that rabbits are twice-digesting cecotropes, then I do apologize for assuming he was not aware of it. I use KJV and NASB, and neither of those use the term “rock hyrax” to translate the word shaphan, which is why I focused on the wrong thing. KJV uses “coney”, and NASB uses “rock badger”, but apparently there is debate about which animal is meant by that word. For example, if it was a pika (aka “rock rabbit”), then the explanation is the same as for rabbits, since pikas are also cecotropes. A rock hyrax is apparently not a cecotrope, so for Jonathan’s argument to maintain, he would have to show that shaphan could only have meant rock hyrax, not that it might have.

    Jonathan wrote:

    I could also point out that rabbits chew their feces, not their cud, and that the word for bird in Deuteronomy 14:11 (tsippor) is translated as “bird” or “fowl” all 40 times it shows up in the Bible and still means “bird” in Hebrew today, not “flying thing”.

    I’ve already observed how it is anachronistic to impose modern scientific classifications, as if the contemporary is privileged. Rabbits do indeed bring up their food to chew it again, which is what the Hebrew words mean. The irony is that Jonathan wishes to rebuke us for approaching Scripture as if it were a science journal, and then Jonathan immediately approaches Scripture to hold it to the rigid bar of technical scientific terminology anyway. He can’t have it both ways.

    Regarding bats, Jonathan needs to look at all relevant passages, not just the one that he thinks best serves his argument:

    LEVITICUS 11:13 ‘These, moreover, you shall detest among the birds (owph); they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard,

    LEVITICUS 11:20-21 ‘All the winged insects (owph) that walk on all fours are detestable to you. Yet these you may eat among all the winged insects (owph) which walk on all fours: those which have above their feet jointed legs with which to jump on the earth.

    DEUTERONOMY 14:(11) “You may eat any clean bird (tsippowr). (12) But these are the ones which you shall not eat: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard,

    DEUTERONOMY 14:(19) “And all the teeming life with wings (owph) are unclean to you; they shall not be eaten. (20) You may eat any clean bird (owph).

    For each verse, I’ve added the relevant Hebrew word in parentheses above. Notice the restatement of the phrasing from Leviticus 11:13 in Deuteronomy 14:11-12. Also note carefully the Hebrew parallelism of Deuteronomy 14:11 and 14:20. (While these two verses appear word-for-word identical in this English translation, Hebrew parallelism is a rhyming of ideas by saying the same thing using different wording.) Notice how only the verse Jonathan quoted uses the Hebrew word ‘tsippowr’, while all the rest use the word ‘owph’. Given how the two terms are used interchangeably in the same context, Jonathan can’t maintain his narrow meaning for either the term tsippowr or owph. The word owph is used inclusively for everything from birds to bats to winged insects. Jonathan needs to be more inclusive.

    Aside from the factual difficulties, the real problem for Jonathan has nothing to do with hyraxes, or bats, or flat four-cornered maps. Again, the central problem is with Jonathan’s epistemology and hermeneutic. Jonathan presented these examples to convince us that Scripture commits category errors that cannot be reconciled with modern authority. These examples have no value to Jonathan if the language of Scripture can be easily reconciled with modern linguistic forms in a way that preserves its truth. This is why Jonathan rejects the most obvious reconciliations. It’s not as if the clean animal code is poetic or allegoric language, so he can’t use that approach as he does with Genesis. Sadly, Jonathan views the description of clean animals as simply preserving the misconceptions of a primitive tribal people. This is the goal. Thus he does not see the need to provide any explanation that preserves the truth of what is recorded. Does it even occur to Jonathan that these detailed commands were given directly by God to Moses and Aaron? Or was that fact also just a misconception by primitive people? What would have been God’s motivation to accommodate a cud-chewing error about hyraxes when hyraxes don’t even divide the hoof anyway?

    A key divergence of worldview is evident here. Jonathan’s epistemology tends to limit Scripture to religious and spiritual matters (carefully construed), while any statements perceived to be outside of those prescribed boundaries are subject to modern critical review by “the experts”. I believe this is why we see Jonathan arguing alongside unbelievers in a range of topics. Jonathan is embarrassed when Christians don’t defer to authority. Those who hold to the Genesis narrative are seen as anti-intellectuals in his view. So there is a fundamental difference of epistemology and authority and hermeneutic which deeply affects modern Christianity. This is a worldview that, historically, has put man over God’s Word. As Christians, we need to understand where our allegiances are, where our submission is, and where our confidence is. We do need to seek to be informed, but we shouldn’t be concerned if we are labeled anti-intellectual. We should speak boldly to authority, as Paul does.

    Where is the expert? Where is the peer-reviewed intellectual? Where is the debater of this age? …

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