The first step in any debate must be defining the terms. It’s paramount to the success of carrying the message. To draw from a recent example, I wrote a post once expressing my view of atheism from the classic definition: atheism is to believe in no god or gods. I even highlighted the root origins of the word ‘A-’, meaning ‘no’ or ‘negative’, and ‘theo’, meaning ‘god’ or ‘gods’. A few atheists took issue with my post because they defined atheism differently. They made the point, and one I try to better incorporate, that language is fluid; different words mean different things for different people, often at different times.
The best examples I’ve come across to highlight the significance of word meaning is usually stemmed from visual depictions of word imagery. For example, “The car went flying by”, has significant differences in meanings at different times. To you and me, living in the early 21st century, we can understand the statement to mean, an automobile driving really fast past a fixed point. However, a resident of the 17th century would have to speculate new/unknown words with how they view the rest of the sentence. In this case, they certainly would understand ‘flying’ and then make some assumption that a car was probably a winged bird. Further, that same sentence to someone a few hundred years into the future would have significant differences as flying becomes (probably) more normal. The heart of this matter rests on contextual and literary criticism. And it is where we begin understanding the necessity of defining the terms.
Macro-evolution, to a Christian (and more than likely also not a scientist), is a large scale evolutionary change. It describes a process Frank Turek and Norman Geisler write so eloquently,
“From goo to you via the zoo.”
The Christian view of macro-evolution attempts to argue that the common ancestor of ape and man absolutely did not give birth to an ape and/or a man and therefore did not create two branches of a family tree. This is a faulty view of evolution. The term ‘macro-’ here means large in a singular sense. It is most often used in contrast to micro-evolution. Mirco-evolution describes how eyelashes get longer (or shorter), skin pigment darkens (or lightens), and children get taller (or shorter) because of small (micro-) changes over a short time. To a Christian, macro-evolution is the opposite. Macro-evolution describes how species change and micro-evolutions describes changes in a species. To a Christian, micro- and macro-evolution are significantly different—which is why Christians typically do not have a problem with micro-, but do have a problem with marco-evolution.
Most (if not all) evolutionists do not have the same definition of macro-evolution. They do not define macro- as large, rather as lots/many. In this way, macro-evolution is no different than micro-evolution; it’s mirco-evolution many, many times. To an evolutionist, a Christian who accepts micro-evolution but rejects macro-evolution is foolish because they are the same thing; micro- being tens, hudreds, thousands of years and marco- being millions and billions of years. Jerry Coyne, a prominent biology professor and evolutionist, likens micro- and macro- evolution to a train on the tracks. Mico-evolution is the train we see pulling away at the station and marco-evolution is our ability to recognize the direction and destination.
Another way to interpret this is thinking of evolution like a sliding door. As the door slides down the evolutionary line, everything within the door is a micro- change so by the time the door passes, that which is outside the door is a marco- change. From this perspective: Sorry, Christians, Marco-Evolution Does Exist.
Before we pack up and go home, however, there is some serious discussion that must take place. What is evolution? Dictionary.com defines evolution as, “the gradual development of something, especially from simple to a more complex form.” Within this definition are two points that I feel deserve adequate attention: the gradual development of something and simple to more complex.
Evolution is a consequence of something already in existence. This is the biggest problem for die-hard evolutionists who insist evolution can explain the goo to you via the zoo; where did the goo come from? Evolution does not explain origins. Everything about evolution is an effect from some earlier cause. In fact, this is the whole of evolution—something changed that was more viable and therefore passed on that characteristic until the less viable piece disappeared (or became obsolete). To trace evolution backwards, it means you are the great-great-great (millions of times) grandchild of a primate, which was the great-great-great (millions of times) grandchild of a lizard, and this line keeps going through fish, bacteria, eukaryotic cells, etc. until it gets to one droplet of life, at one time, on one date, in one place. But, strictly speaking, evolution cannot explain that one cell. Non-life cannot “evolve” into life. Once life begins, evolution can also begin, but without the goo, there is no zoo let alone you.
Secondly, life is incredibly complex. I don’t mean the stuff like aunt Betty needs picked up from her doctors at 9:00, then I need to somehow get her to her sisters by 9:15 so I can make a conference call at 9:30…making each day complicated with personal and professional interactions. While that does complicate things, the smallest and seemingly most insignificant things that make up life are incredibly interconnected–that’s the real complexity of life. Think about the very first point of life. In order for it to evolve it needs at least 3 things: it needs to be alive, it needs to reproduce, and it needs to be sustainable long enough for all these to happen. Also, and this is critical, its ability to reproduce, absolutely must, create a replica the same or better than itself. If the first life doesn’t thrive or doesn’t reproduce, or doesn’t survive long enough for life to continue, then the tiniest probability that life spontaneously erupted up from the goo must happen again. Let me paint this in numbers. According to evolutionfaq.com, the probability of life is 1 in 1040 (NOTE: this is AFTER the chances of temperature, water, sun, gravity, and a whole mess of other factors are already in place. The chances of everything needed for life AND life is estimated at 1 in 10282)[i]. To make this a little more appreciable, by old earth standards the Earth is 4.5 billion years old or 4.6 x 109. If you convert that to seconds (multiply by days, hours, minutes, and seconds), the total number of seconds since Earth formed (not Earth was capable of life!) is 1.4 x 1017. In other words, according to the most liberal estimates, given the most possible amount of time, AND an already livable environment, the chances of life happening are so unlikely, Earth would need to triple its age before it would have 1 chance to get life—AND we’ve already established the one time life exists it needs to be (pretty much) perfect if it is to continue.
Obviously, there is some pretty complicated math and there are some webpages that will argue the time problem. One such, peer-reviewed, article proposes that there is indeed enough time provided the target is considered. The article basically says, “when one takes account of the role of natural selection in a reasonable way, there has been ample time for the evolution that we observe to have taken place.”[ii] There is however, two major significant challenges to the Wilf and Ewens report referenced above. The most notable of those, and the one I will address, is the issue of origin. That is, arguing that there is enough time once life has begun is secondary to there being enough time to begin in the first place. That is, not only did life have to beat the odds (by 3:1), it had to do it fast and soon enough to allow for Wilf and Ewens to mathematically support their position.
This leads me to my final point. All the math, chances, randomness, and hypothetical probabilities are, ultimately, possible. As the saying goes in Las Vegas, all you need is a chip and a chair. Unlikely as it may be, possible it is nonetheless. However, we have now arrived at the second point in defining evolution; gradually moving from simple to complex. If the first aspect of evolution did nothing except paint the picture about how complex life is—even with a broad brush—certainly I have prepared you to recognize, even more so, how unthinkable evolution is. That is not to say it is not currently happening. It is absolutely to say in order to meet the time requirements for evolution (micro- or macro-)as we know it now, it must be goal oriented; “[t]his means that once again…simulations of evolution seem to work only because they’ve been intelligently designed.”[iii] And with that perspective, Sorry, Evolutionists: Macro-evolution Does Not Exist.
[ii] Wilf Herbert S. & Ewens, Warren J., “There’s plenty of time for evolution”
[iii] Luskin, Casey. “Peer-Reviewed Science: There Isn’t ‘Plenty of Time for Evolution’”. Evolution News. December 13, 2012. From: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/12/peer-reviewed_s_1067421.html