July 25, 2011

Accurate Predictions of Designed Evolution

If (and, yes, it is a big 'if') the thesis of this site is correct, and the first cell had all the genetic information necessary for complex life to form, then you would expect certain things to be true. You would expect and predict these things to be true (don't mind that there are some almost repeat items):
  1. Organisms would often share body part designs and genetic sequences nearly identical to other organisms, even mostly unrelated organisms (convergent evolution) [highly verified]
  2. Even simpler organisms would contain useful but unused genes, if possible [partly verified]
  3. "Simple" organisms would be found with genes for more complex organisms [highly verified]
  4. Evolution would be able to proceed rapidly and in jumps, since new genes for complex traits could become expressed instantly [verified]
  5. Evolution would have been quite efficient in the past [verified]
  6. Evolution in general would remain fast, whereas expression of new genetic information (body part designs) would eventually end [partly verified]
  7. Formation of species would seem to slow down over time [verified]
  8. The complexity of cells generally would be great, and they would be highly efficient, containing some of the most efficient designs in nature [partly verified]
  9. It is reasonable that if animal life were to diversify rapidly at the start (Cambrian Explosion), then animals would initially have a sort-of grab-bag set of body features that would eventually decrease in diversity over time [verified]
  10. There would only be a few basic design types for basic features, like immune systems and sight and digestive tracts and blood cells, etc. [partly verified]
  11. Many genetic codes for cell types and functions within cells would be highly conserved across many diverse animals and plants [verified]
  12. Rigorous mechanisms would be built-in to preserve genetic information (since information can only be lost and not gained in this theory) [partly verified]
  13. An evolutionary pathway from inorganic life to basic cells would be impossible to find for the conditions of the early earth [jury is still out]
  14. Genetic mutation would almost always be a negative change to a species [partly verified]
  15. Efficient mechanisms would be built-in to allow for silencing or expression of genes per environmental variables [partly verified]
  16. Complex/efficient designs would be found in some of the earliest animals [verified]
  17. The last universal common ancestor (LUCA) cell type would have likely been quite complex rather than simpler [partly verified]
Now, many of these points cannot easily be explained by naturalistic, Darwinian evolution. However, in designed evolution as I envision it all of these points become expected. Most of these points are now known to be true, and the rest are becoming more and more probable. So, logically, the thesis presented on this blog is well established and supported by the evidence. Month by month I see new research that confirms these predictions. Darwinian evolution, on the other hand, is failing over and over again to really explain how complexity formed.

The information for complexity was created, not slowly brought into existence by trial and error through unguided evolution. According to observations, functional information is always created.

I challenge any reader to try to debunk this thesis or to show evidence that seems to contradict it.

The First Cells

One thing I keep on saying is that the original cell type that was created contained vast stores of genetic information, mostly unexpressed (or non-coding genes). The evidence is beginning to point in that direction, as I will show in this post.

Now, keep in mind that Darwinian evolutionists adamantly believe that life arose by naturalistic means. It only took the natural laws of nature to form life. The science behind the formation of the first cells or pseudo-cells is weak, at best. There is much difficulty hypothesizing how some primitive, reproducing life would have formed from inorganic matter. Even the simplest cells are astoundingly complex. Therefore, the Darwinian evolutionist desperately wants to find evidence for a simpler form of life as a kind of missing link between non-life and modern cells. They will resist as perfectly unbelievable the idea that the original life on earth was asor morecomplex as modern cells. In their minds, starting with their presuppositions, life must have arisen from non-life and in relatively small steps of progress. To postulate that the first cells were complex is unscientific by their very core assumptions. However, their core assumptions may be wrong (and I firmly believe are wrong).

Here is some recent evidence that supports my hypothesis. Recent evidence shows that so-called simple bacteria are not always so simple. Some have cytoskeletons, similar to eukaryotes [1]. Some have internal compartments, like eukaryotes with their mitochondria and other organelle. They can work cooperatively and display multi-cellular behavior, like eukaryotes [4]. All of these structures and abilities take genetic information. So, genetic information shared between prokaryotes and eukaryotes is quite significant, it would appear. That shows possible common descent.

The ability for cells to swallow large particles (endocytosis) is something that some eukaryotes can do, but it recently has come to light that some prokaryotes can also do it. This is quite significant:

To have one trait possessed by complex cells - membrane-bound DNA - could be a coincidence. To have two seems unlikely. What's more, most members of the larger group that G. obscuriglobus belongs to, the Planctomycetes-Verrucomicrobia-Chlamydiae or PVC group, have proteins that are very similar to those that control endocytosis in eukaryotes. The big question is whether this is a case of parallel evolution, or whether complex cells and bacteria shared a common ancestor capable of endocytosis.

If there was a common ancestor, the implications are huge. It means the shared ancestor - known as the last universal common ancestor, or LUCA - and its contemporaries must have been much more complex than they have always been assumed to be. Since the ability of PVC bacteria to form membranes around their nucleus involves many of the same proteins as endocytosis, it is even possible that LUCA had a membrane-bound nucleus too. This would turn our picture of how life evolved on its head. Rather than being "primitive" cells, modern bacteria may be streamlined, simplified versions of a more complex ancestor - perhaps not so much prokaryotes as "post-karyotes". [3] (emphasis mine)

Even traditional evolutions are forced to confront the strange and dreaded idea that the ancient ancestor of all modern cells (LUCA) was more complex than bacteriawhich are already complex. This is disturbing to naturalistic evolutionists, and so don't expect this idea to become popular. It'll be buried quickly as totally unscientific. But, I wanted to show that the evidence is mounting, even if it'll be mostly ignored and excused away. [Edit: Another piece of evidence is leading people to believe that the LUCA was more complex than bacteria [5].]

All in all, the model that I propose (and certainly others share in my basic belief) fits the evidence better at this point than the alternative model that genomic complexity increased with time and chance and mutations.

One idea has been that archaea formed before the other two cell types known today. However, even this idea is falling apart as genetic codes are being analyzed. There is at least one case of where archaea share genetic information with eukaryotes but not with prokaryotes [2]. This appears problematic since archaea supposedly formed before prokaryotes which formed before eukaryotes, and we would therefore expect the genetic information of archaea to be most similar to prokaryotes and not eukaryotes. If archaea share genetic code with eukaryotes but not prokaryotes, that would suggest that archaea gave rise to eukaryotes and that prokaryotes were of a different evolutionary branch. Possible, but then we are left with an even greater evolutionary jump without intermediate forms between archaea and eukaryotes. That increases the dilemma for the standard evolutionary model.

So, how did different cell types arise? Archaea and prokaryotes were likely a simplification of eukaryotesprobably the result of mitochondria becoming independent entities. Absurd? Actually, that idea is held by some mainstream scientists, so I hardly think it is absurd. So, eukaryotes are much, much more ancient than most scientists are willing to admit at this point. The evidence will also begin to point that way, I believe. The date of origination for eukaryotes has been pushed back several times, but I wonder if evidence for 4 Ba eukaryotes—if such evidence were foundwould even be recognized as such, especially given evolutionists' strong bias against such a timeline. Perhaps such evidence has already been found and overlooked.

[1] http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21128211.800-not-so-simple-bacteria-with-backbone.html
[2] http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1001100
[3] http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20690-not-so-simple-gulping-bugs-with-the-nuclear-option.html
[4] http://www.newscientist.com/special/not_so_simple
[5] http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-10-universal-common-ancestor-complex-previously.html

July 05, 2011

BCOE: What About Sin and Death?

We now come to the most important theologically topic associated with this old-earth vs. young-earth topic.  How could death have existed before sin?  According to the New Testament death only entered in as the result of sin—the sin of Adam and Eve.  We must say unequivocally that this is true.  Both Adam and Eve were sentenced to death because of their sin in the Garden of Eden, and so all of humankind was plunged into futility and doomed to death. 

Death of man.  Here is the key to all.  Let us examine the passages and see if this is justified.  I’ve included each verse that mentions death.  (Emphasis is mine.)
12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. . . . 14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. . . . 17For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) . . .
20 . . . But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  –Romans 5:12-21 (NKJV)
Verse 12 says that death entered because of sin of man.  It says specifically, “Thus death spread to all men.”  The whole passage is clearly talking about human sin and human death.  Human sin resulted in human death.  There is nothing in these verses that indicates human sin resulted in animal death.  The context does not require that death be referring to anything other than death of people.  In fact, the most obvious interpretation is that death was a judgment of sin, and since man sinned death would come strictly upon man.  It is a stretch to interpret death in this passage to be a death falling on all living things.  That could be an application, but it is not the direct interpretation.  The phrase at the beginning, “death spread to all men,” seems pretty clear to me.

Another passage is 1 Corinthians 15:21-22:
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
Who is in Adam?  The animals?  No, only Adam’s physical descendents.  Therefore, the point of the phrase “in Adam all die” is that all of Adam’s descendents would die.  The animals are not under consideration, it seems.  “In Christ all shall be made alive,” certainly does not mean that all men without exception shall be made alive, but only those who are “in Christ”—believers in Him who are His people.  The “in Adam” and “in Christ” phrases make a clear parallel and only apply to those who are born of Adam or born of Christ.  So, the correct interpretation is that being born of Adam means death, but being born of God means eternal life.  Animals clearly aren’t represented in these verses, and so the word “death” does not directly apply to animals.

Theologically, therefore, death is the punishment of sin, but the sin was man’s sin and so death would only need to fall on man.  There is no theological basis for saying that death could not have been already over the animals before Adam fell.  We are only told that Adam and Eve were not doomed to death except until they sinned against God.  Being dogmatic about anything more than that is adding to Scriptures, I believe.

The other passage that is used to “prove” there was no death before the Fall is Romans 8:19-23:
19For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.  20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  22For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  23Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (NKJV)
However, this passage does not mention the Fall or Adam or the original sin.  It only talks about the futility and the decay of the present world that has been happening “until now.”  There is no indication here that the world was once not subjected to futility, or that the world was ever free from corruption.  One might be able to interpret this passage as saying that the creation was subjected to futility because of the sin of Adam; but, one could also interpret the passage as saying that the creation was subjected to futility from the very beginning because God was preparing the world with sin and redemption in mind, knowing all along that it was going to happen.  The point is that this passage is inconclusive about when the “futility” and the “groans and labors” began.  It is quite clear that these things are negative, but we cannot tell from this passage when it all began. 

“Because of Him who subjected it in hope,” can only be referring to God subjecting the world.  Many, if not all, commentators agree with this.  The “in hope” phrase seems to make it clear that this was God doing the subjecting.  The passage would seem to be saying that the creation was unwillingly subjected to futility from the beginning even up “until now.”  The “not willingly” only indicates that the creation do not choose this state of decay.

Is it unlike God’s nature to “plan ahead” and do something with something future in mind?  Would it be uncharacteristic of the Lord to prepare the world with the Fall of mankind in mind from the very beginning?  I don’t believe it would be unjust, uncharacteristic, or unusual of God.  No matter how one looks at it, the futility of the creation is not direct punishment of sin.  Death of man alone is the punishment of sin.  The creation was subjected to futility as a witness to man after the Fall, and “in hope” of a better age of rest, but it was not subjected to the bondage of decay because it deserved judgment.  There is a difference.  So, God could justly subject the world to this decay and death of animals before sin came into the world, and yet offer Adam and Eve a way to live forever if they did not sin.  The death of man was not guaranteed just because animals had been subjected to that.

Nor can one argue that Adam and Eve before the Fall deserved a “perfect” and always enchanting world without any difficulties or minor annoyances.  Consider the angels who have not fallen.  They are constantly interacting with this futile world, and they are apparently constantly battling with the fallen angels (cf. Daniel 10:10-13).  They do not have a perfect world or environment just because they are perfect beings.  Yes, the angels have their rewards for their labors and struggles, but so also, I’m certain, did Adam and Eve have their rewards from their labors and struggles in knowing the Lord God.  The YEC position tries to defend the idea that the world was perfect before the Fall just because sin hadn’t entered in.  (Well, actually, sin had entered in because clearly Satan had fallen at some point before Adam and Eve.)  However, that is nothing more than an assumption, as best as I can tell.  There was nothing in the justice of God to demand that the world be created in a state of perfection—only that God have a good and meaningful purpose for the futility and groans to which the creation was subject.

It is my personal opinion that Romans 8:19-23 actually more easily supports the idea that the earth has always been groaning and laboring with futility and decay.  Notice that the passage compares the earth to a woman giving birth.  The child, which is the state of perfection and glory, hasn’t been born yet.  The child has never been seen yet.  The idea from the passage is that the state of perfection for the universe has never existed yet and is a future blessing that is held in anticipation.  The phrase “until now” also seems to support this idea that the world has been continuously in “birth pangs” from the beginning of time.  The idea that the child was once alive and somehow reentered the womb of the mother is ridiculous.  So, it seems to me that this passage more easily supports the belief that the earth has never enjoyed a state of perfection, but it is subject to futility in hope of a future time of recreation of all things.

BCOE: Other Bible Passages Alluding to an Old Earth

The old-earth interpretation makes sense of the missing “morning and evening” for the Seventh Day of creation.  For all of the first six days, the phrase, “there was morning and there was evening,” is used, but for the seventh day this phrase is conspicuously absent.  The young-earth interpretation cannot account for that, but the old-earth view can.  The seventh day is an ongoing time period that began right after Adam and Eve were made, according to the old-earth view.  (We address the issue of the Sabbath later on.)

Another interesting thing found in the Old Testament is several references to certain features of the earth being really, really old.  “Everlasting hills” is used in Genesis 49:26, which would give the idea of the mountains being ancient.  Indeed, mainstream scientists will tell you that many of the mountains are very old.  “Ancient mountains” and “everlasting hills” is also used in Deuteronomy 33:15 and Habakkuk 3:6.  YEC cannot adequately account for the Bible calling the mountains or hills ancient.  The Bible, I believe, is interpreting itself and pointing to the fact that the earth is ancient by telling us that the hills and mountains are ancient.  If the YEC view is correct, then there would be no little or no point in calling the mountains and hills ancient, since they are very close to the same age as everything else—and that age is quite young.

Psalm 89:36-37 says, “His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before Me. Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies. . . .”  This could easily be understood as saying that the sun and moon are ancient heavenly bodies that have continued for countless long ages.  How much more full of meaning these verses become when you believe that the sun and moon have existed for billions of years!  It puts the faithfulness into the “faithful witness” phrase that refers to the moon.

Perhaps the best passage for seeing the ancientness of the world is Psalm 90, which was penned by Moses, who, of course, also was inspired to write Genesis 1.  Psalm 90:2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the land and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”  The YEC position diminishes the full effect of this verse.  Here is the beauty of the verse when viewed from an old-earth perspective: “Before the mountains were brought forth [some tens or hundreds of million years ago], or ever you had formed the land [some one to three billion years ago] and the world [some four and a half billion years ago], even from everlasting [eternity past] to everlasting You are God.”  The verse appears to be going back farther and father in time to show the eternality of God.  It makes perfect sense to be reversing in time like that, as we have previously noted concerning the Proverbs 8 passage.

Psalm 146:6 says, “Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose help is in Jehovah his God, who made the heavens and earth, the sea and all that is in it; who keeps truth forever . . .”  The YEC position seems to interpret the creation of the heavens and earth and the sea as something that happened all in one moment—or, at least in one 24-hour day.  The old-earth view, however, sees the heavens being made first, then the earth, and then the sea.  This order is significant as we’ve seen earlier, and makes sense of the order of creation listed in Psalm 146:6.  The order is not trivial but highly meaningful.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in His time; also He has set eternity in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning to the end.”  If you read this verse without bias, I think you can see how it might be more fittingly referring to an ancient world than a relatively young world.  “No man can find out the work that God makes from the beginning . . .”  With billions of years of history of the universe, how true this becomes!  If the earth is only about six thousand years old, then the Bible records the “work” of God in some detail, and we are left wondering what is unable to be discovered about history.  Notice also the phrase that says that God “made everything beautiful in His time.”  Was “His time” a week or vast ages of time?

Genesis 2:3 says, “. . . He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  Why does this verse use the word “created” and also “made”?  In the Hebrew, one word speaks of making from scratch, and the other word means forming through use of already existing materials.  The six days of creation involved both creating supernaturally and also forming things from preexisting materials.  Why is this important?  The old earth view proposes that several things happened through “natural” processes, like the formation of the water cycle and atmosphere, and the land.  Other created things were clearly supernatural, like the making of the initial universe and a spiritual human being.  The young earth view, however, would generally tend to propose that everything was supernaturally formed from nothing—the universe, the stars, the earth, the land, and all of life.  Therefore, the old earth view more naturally interprets Gen. 2:3 as indicating two basic types of creation: supernatural and natural.

If the earth is only six thousand years old, would you feel comfortable saying that the world was made “of old”?  The apostle Peter doesn’t shy away from saying that: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old . . .” (2 Peter 3:5).  It’s all relative, we could suppose, but this verse clearly says that the universe is “old,” whether we’re saying that is relative or not.  The idea of an “old earth” is biblical, then, at least in a relative sense.  To be literal, the Greek word for “of old” (ekpalai, “ἔκπαλαι”) means, “long ago.”