Some months ago I was involved in a question and answer session with some non Christians. There was a really good discussion which inevitably led on to the subject of evolution. This was fine of course until I realised that the other Christian answering the questions, had a very different view of creation than I did.
It is a very hot topic and one that divides believers more or less on whether they believe the world is many millions of years old or just thousands of years. For me the key verse is Hebrews 11:3 which states;
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible”
As Christians we agree on the who and the why, we are not so united on the how and the when. It’s also true that believers are capable of saying daft things that just encourage the assumption that to be a Christian, you first have to disengage your brain. Things like ‘the fossils were planted by the devil to confuse people’ and the like.
Atheists too have a faith with sacred texts that cannot be defamed. Just watch what happens when anyone dares to speak out against the evolution/natural selection idea, they are instantly rounded upon for daring to utter such blasphemies. The trouble is, Christians are not the only ones capable of saying daft things.
Take for instance Professor Brian Cox in the latest BBC series ‘The Wonders of the Universe’. I’ve caught bits of this in the last few weeks and to be honest, for the most part, I’ve really enjoyed it. Being the BBC, it comes form an overtly atheistic stance but I’ve been able to switch off that side of it, whilst marveling at the descriptions of the universe that God has made. Last Sunday’s final episode however, did manage to make me smile.
Professor Cox has travelled to some of the most spectacular sites in the world to illustrate his points and this week went to the Burgess Shale in British Columbia, Canada. He then described the site;
“This is one of the most important fossil sites in the world and it’s actually one of the most important scientific sites of any kind.”
Then the fossils found at the site;
“These fossils are over 500 million years old. There is virtually no record of complex life on earth before this time.”
“It’s as if complex live evolved intact at this time. It’s called the Evolutionary Big Bang.”
He went on to describe a fossilised Trilobite pointing out its structure which was clearly visible. Then he said;
“Perhaps most remarkably, these, because these are compound eyes, they were very sophisticated and this was one of the first predators to detect shapes and see movement and it could successfully chase it’s prey. These creatures were among the first to harness the light that filled the universe. Before they emerged the rise and fall of the sun and the stars in the night sky simply went unnoticed.”
“Now there is a speculative theory, that the emergence of the eye actually triggered the Cambrian Explosion, Evolutionary Big Bang. Because once one species got eyes, other species had also to develop eyes to either chase them as predators or evade them as prey. That led to an evolutionary arms race in which more and more complex life forms developed.”
“So the evolution of the eye may have played a fundamental role in the emergence of complex life on earth and could have led to the evolution of our species.”
Now I am aware of today’s date but the above is as far as possible word for word. You can check for yourself online here, it’s available until Tuesday. The part in question comes at about 50 minutes and you can drag the timer across.
Just imagine the conversation in the early Cambrian
Worm 1 – How’s it goin?
Worm 2 – Not good, did you hear about Fred?
Worm 1 – Don’t tell me they’ve had im as well?
Worm 2 – Yep, blasted trilobites
Worm 1 – It’s almost as if they know where we are
Worm 2 – Well it’s funny you should say that, I overheard two of em talkin last week
Worm 1 – Ave you got ears then?
Worm 2 – Don’t be funny
Worm 1 – Sorry
Worm 2 – Well, they was talking bout the sunrise an sayin ow beautiful it all was
Worm 1 – What was?
Worm 2 – Duno, sunrise I suppose
Worm 1 – Woz at?
Worm 2 – Duno, point is we need an edge
Worm 1 – Like what
Worm 2 – I duno, poison gas or somethin
Worm 1 – Didn’t help Fred
Worm 2 – Good point
Worm 1 – Ow bout eyes
Worm 2 – What are they?
Worm 1 – From what I understand they’re organs that detect light, and convert it to electro-chemical impulses in neurons. The simplest photoreceptors in conscious vision connect light to movement.
Worm 2 – Oh
Worm 1 – A compound eye may consist of thousands of individual photoreceptor units or ommatidia. The image perceived is a combination of inputs from the numerous ommatidia, which are located on a convex surface, thus pointing in slightly different directions.
Worm 2 – Er, sounds great.
Worm 1 – We need to get these things quickly because the future of complex life on this planet demands that we do.
Worm 2 – Right well let’s concentrate, what do they look like?
Worm 1 – I duno, I can’t see.