I had volunteered myself to write a paper originally focusing on the discourses surrounding the origin of humans. Later I re-organized the idea to focus more on the discourses on the origins of human life. Growing up as a Christian – a devout one at that – and with a scientific background, I cannot dismiss the theory of evolution as lightly as other Christians do. To me, to be able to prove the literal translation of the Genesis account is one which would highly impact my faith. It would not nullify my belief in God, He has done so much to prove to me His existence, but it would have serious implications as to how he did create the world and what he would have wanted or why he did it in such a manner.
To find out the truth would not mean dismissal of who God is or what He did. He would forever remain the Creator to me – the loving Creator who has a special place for me on earth. Rather, finding the truth would concretize my belief on what the Genesis account claims to be. Is it literal or is it a mere metaphor to the reality and complexity of creation? When God said let there be this and that, was he referring to the mutation of this and that gene? God, who is all for order and design, could have also orchestrated creation in such order and design – much more than what the Genesis account can accommodate.
The catalyst for this thinking is the recent National Geographic documentary Human Ape. They presented various scientific studies on the similarities of humans and some ape cousins. Then they ended the documentary with the recently discovered genetic mutations which would account for the survival and proliferation of the human species. There is the mutation in the jaw muscle which created in humans a weaker jaw requiring a much less bone support from the skull thus enabling it to be smoother and less rigid in structure allowing for more expansion of the brain. The expansion of the brain is critical in the development of knowledge and social skills which are essential to human survival. Then as to speech there is the mutatin in a foxB gene which allowed for the coordination of tongue and lips to bring forth speech.
It is common knowledge that we shared almost 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees. It has been proven by archaeological studies that there were human species before us. The recent advances in genetics have shown the mutations necessary to bring forth who we are today. The question thus stands – did we really evolve from apes? This is a question often greeted by my Christian colleagues with laughs of disbelief and expressions of how-could-you-believe-in-such-and-not-on-God’s-own-account-of-creating-man-from-dust. But for me, a scientist (at heart or by the mouldings of time) such a question which is so much supported by science demands a scientific answer – one that would coincide with what the Bible states.
If God did created us humans in the way stated by Genesis, then maybe He had created the other creatures, all at once at that, genetic mutation and all, and all this discoveries are a testament to His greatness in creating stuff. I mean God is really ever so powerful as to create something so unimaginable for us. That would have to be our stand if we are to believe the literal Bible translation and accept the obvious and glaring scientific facts.
I for one am convinced with the idea of intelligent design – that there was Designer who brought about such intricate designs that are simply impossible with genetic mutation alone. The irreducible complexity of so many life systems like that of the flagellar system of bacteria cannot have happened with single genetic mutations – and the thought of numerous ones, all falling into place at the right moment and spots just defy the concepts of probability. So for me, my personal stand is, I believe in the ideas brought forth by intelligent design.
But intelligent design merely states that the traditional view of evolution is false – one organism simply evolving into another. It disputes the ideas brought forth by phylogenetic trees where there are common ancestors, albeit still missing and yet to be discovered. Intelligent design merely claims that there was a designer, that what could be the most probable explanation is that complex systems already existed. It still agrees with genetic mutations giving rise to improved system and thus the perpetuation of a new but otherwise closely related species. Such is my understanding. In essence, ID disqualifies evolution but not all of it. ID does not provide a concrete belief in the literal translation of Genesis – that is for sure. ID would very much welcome the evolution of the modern human from the chimpanzee given the previously stated genetic mutation discoveries. ID thus is not the theory I am looking forth which would balance or provide the explanations for the beliefs I am fighting to staunchly keep. ID is not enough.
Then as I try to answer the issues of macroevolution in my mind, there is the issue of microevolution which I believe in. It is scientifically and generally known that insects develop resistance to insecticides just as bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that some of these organisms contain resistant genes and while their fellow insects or bacteria are being eradicated, they are spared. And concurrent with the law of nature, they reproduce and proliferate their much improved selves making us face stubborn insects and bacteria which can no longer be eradicated by our current insecticides or antibiotics. Thus we develop better ones, are met with resistant strains again, and the cycle is repeated. We are all aware of this things and this in effect is microevolution. As they say, evolution is proven – in the micro scale. Yes we haven’t seen an actual ape become a human, but we have seen resistant bacteria or insects proliferate time after time. Evolution in this light thus refers to the advent of new and better species or strains because of single point mutations. And this is the same premise worked upon by the jaw muscle gene mutation and foxB mutation of the human species.
But as to these mutations resulting in reptiles from amphibians, well I think that has to be discovered yet. Homology, genetics and all other traditional evolutionary evidences show that reptile and for that other terrestrial organisms arise from amphibians. Common sense seems to agree with such. But I believe the real concrete evidence would have to come from the discovery of actual genetic mutations very much like the ones discovered for humans.
Well I still believe God created the world in 6 days as the Bible states. Six literal days as what translators claim. I believe in God’s immense power to be able to bring forth such complexity and design in so short a span of time that it is only pure disbelief in our case that is preventing us from accepting it as fact. We become scientists by our dedication to fact – God has equipped us with a mind that allows for no less. We do not chose to be ignorant of such discoveries and we are in fact even encouraged to dwell on it more and search for it some more. I believe that the ending of our ultimate quest for the knowledge or our origins would lead us to the answer pointed out in Genesis. But we are still a long way off. Scientific communities believe in a consensus of 4.4B years age of the earth, of geologic eras existing long before the advent of life. Geologic data are still concrete and undisputed facts. Archaeological finds support such claims. Homology and embryological as well as genetic studies still supports Darwin’s views. We are still in a world where evolution is the most scientifically accepted theory – promulgated as fact by some. Yet I believe that evolution is a theory still evolving. With many discoveries and technological advancements helping in our quest, it would no sooner be an established fact that the theory which met so much opposition from Biblical scholars would eventually lead to the scientific validation of these Biblical accounts. Meanwhile, we are far from such an achievement and as thus we serve to respect the evidences thus provided and those natural and logical scientific conclusions to be derived from them.
Science and faith works hand in hand. It may not be evident for now but it will be in the not so distant future.