This book pretends to explore the divide between the theories of Divine Creation and Evolution. While it is well-written, appears scholarly and presents a plethora of scientific facts, it is neither balanced nor objective.
The authors find increasingly small minutiae to cast doubt on Darwinism while giving no heed whatsoever to the massive and growing evidence which makes a literal interpretation of Genesis impossible and a figurative interpretation far-fetched.
There is no evidence of a worldwide flood anywhere around Mount Ararat, let alone elsewhere in the world — none! No sedimentary layer, no bone beds on the small hills as people and animals congregated in ever more dense groups to stave off drowning, no record of the rotted vegetation submerged for months. There is, however, written evidence of the Egyptian civilization very close to Mount Ararat, which carried on right through this period without even mentioning any exceptional flood.
Paleontology has, however, found evidence of cataclysmic events where an unusual number of species met extinction within a short time (see inset). The most recent of these took place about 65,500,000 years ago when the closest thing to a human being was a rodent smaller than a squirrel. Life on Earth, at that time, was over half a billion years old and there were still no large mammals, no grasses and no trees. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth 50 times longer than the current reign of man and their remains have been found on every continent, with no dinosaur fossils found above the distinct sedimentary layer deposited during the cataclysm and no large mammals found in or below this distinct boundary which exists everywhere on earth that hasn’t since been destroyed.
There are now three separate archaeological digs at the site of Jericho which show definitive evidence that the Biblical story isn’t accurate, that the place had no walls and was basically uninhabited during the century Joshua was supposed to have had divine help in knocking down the walls and massacring or enslaving every man, woman, child, and animal.
The writers of The Old Testament didn’t know anywhere near as much about astronomy. I doubt they could conceive of, let alone write about, a universe at least 80,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles in radius and at least 13,800,000,000 years old. They knew nothing about paleontology or genetics or geology and so had no clue about us being a small part of history in an insignificant position of an immense and ancient Universe.
Chapters 1 and 2:
The Moon sheds exactly as much light during the day as it does at night. It’s in the night sky only half the time and only occasionally all night long. It goes from no moonlight to a full moonlight and back again every month. Is this really “Intelligent Design?” The Moon “rules the night sky,” less than half of the time, disappearing, waning, leaving too early or arriving too late to be effective, and, occasionally, even being eclipsed.
According to Genesis, The Earth and Light, which I take to mean the Sun, and the waters and Day and Night were created Day 1. On Day 2, it seems God made something called “firmament” and “Heaven” which rose up between the waters. I’m not sure what all this is, but it made sense to the original writers.
Day 3 sees vegetation appearing, including “grass” and “fruit” (both created less than 65 million years ago after 100 million years of dinosaurs.)
It was on Day 4 when Moon gets created and the Sun gets recreated, AFTER the vegetation that relies on it.
Now this sequencing is poetic and moving, but it’s nonsensical. The Sun and Moon and Earth were created around the same time, some 5-4 billion years ago, but still billions of years after the “firmament” was created. This we are fairly sure about. It was confirmed once again by the Genesis Rock returned from the Moon by Apollo 15 in 1971 and by extremely old and distant super-clusters found by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The oldest unicellular fossils we have so far are 3.8 billion years old.
The basic concept of “natural selection” has been proven over and over again.
We see evolution in viruses and insects. Farmers change pesticides and doctors change antibiotics to fight it. You take the full prescription of antibiotic not because you need it now, but because you want to be sure to wipe out as many survivors as possible to slow evolution.
Humans have grossly influenced changes in cats, dogs, cows, goats, corn, wheat, race horses, and many other things we’ve protected, exterminated or gradually modified. Thoroughbred dogs and cats never occurred in nature — and never would. Cows producing 17 or 18 gallons of milk a day couldn’t survive in the wild — and never existed outside the influence of man. The human-induced evolution of agricultural products has multiplied the productivity of farms by at least an order of magnitude.
We have killed off a number of species due to hunting, poaching, or habitat loss. The endangered species list shows who’s next if mankind doesn’t intervene on their behalf.
The science of evolution notes smaller adaptations of species and subspecies due to environmental differences. There are no flightless birds where there are large, fast predators, but where they aren’t, such as Australia, there are emus and ostriches. We see the adaptations of animals which evolve a benefit which fools a predator. We see plants that have evolved a way to capture nourishment from insects in environments where the sun is blocked by massive jungle cover and the soil has had its nourishment washed away by frequent flooding.
Meanwhile, the literal OR figurative narrative in Genesis has massive errors in it. It cannot be correct.
We now see light which was emitted billions of years ago in coherent patterns of solar systems, galaxies, clusters, and super-clusters This light is so far away as to have been emitted long before there was “light” or “earth” in our region. We see stars with planets out there past our own solar system. All astronomy has to be almost totally wrong for Genesis to be in any way right.
We have mapped the genome and studied genetic distribution geographically, again disproving Genesis. There is no possible way all humans are descendants of Noah.
Furthermore, sin has little, if anything, to do with disease. Modern medicine disproves one of the basic tenets of the Bible as well.
To put the Bible on an equal footing to the findings of astronomy, paleontology, geology (including recent geological findings on the Moon), genetics and modern medicine is so perverse as to be absurd. And, make no mistake, there is no possibility of the Bible being even figuratively correct.
I don’t rule out Creation. I merely rule out The Holy Bible as a valid source of information about it.
I disagree with the scientific side of this argument on one significant point: the Big Bang Theory seems preposterous to me. (See my paper: Unbelievable Physics) But so does Genesis. Rather than making this a binary argument, we must realize that the truth is coming out, but we will never get it all. Anyone hoping to find authoritative truth in a Bible is, I am convinced, asking to be deceived.
If I were to try writing a book about Creation today, I would explain the mystery of the atom, the only known perpetual motion machine, and the vast size and age of the known universe. I would talk about what we don’t know and can’t imagine and leave readers with a sense of mystery and awe rather than a smug sense of being better than everyone and everything else and entitled to the bulk of God’s goodness and mercy by believing in the details of a brief historical incident mere centuries ago.
I would point out that the truth is the truth and we will always get closer to it if we don’t allow ourselves to be misled by money or dogma. Jesus suggested humility. I’m working on it.
Origin by Design seems to be in a niche which appeals to disenchanted Christians who don’t really want to give up their delusions and so need to be reassured that if they just bend their beliefs a bit, they will still fit reality. This genre supports people who still believe the Bible while trying to fix or minimize its more blatant flaws.