Episode 80 - If Evolution Were True, You Couldn't Know it

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If evolution were true, you couldn't know it.

Before I tell you how you couldn't know evolution were true, if it were true, I want to briefly recap what evolution is. Neo-Darwinian evolution is a combination of the theories of Darwin that have, well, evolved over the years and then been further developed.

There are twin mechanisms at the heart of it. Those are the combination of random mutation and natural selection. Random mutation refers to the fact that when cells reproduce reproduce, sometimes there are differences that occur. There are mutations. The genetic code actually differs. It's not passed on exactly the same way. Some of these mutations can be beneficial for survival and some can be less beneficial, or they can be detrimental.

Then there's this other mechanism of natural selection. What this says is that organisms with more helpful mutations—more helpful adaptations to their environment—are more likely to survive. That nature, in a way, selects the ones that are most fit. That's a very brief thumbnail sketch of Neo-Darwinian evolution.

Evolution selects for fitness, not truth apprehension

Now, why do I say that if that's true, you couldn't know it? Because there's nothing in that system, those twin mechanisms of random mutation and natural selection, that actually says anything about an organism's ability to know its environment, to actually come to correctly understand the truth of reality. All those twin mechanisms tell you is that you might be more fit for your environment. On evolutionary theory, nature makes you more fit to survive, not to actually know truth as it exists out in the world. Let's remember, there are a few different versions or theories of truth. One version or theory of truth says truth is just whatever I believe. This is a subjective view of truth where there are as many truths as there are people to believe them.

The other view of truth is objective truth, which says there's truth out in the world for the knowing. In other words, if the tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, it actually fell. The tree doesn't have to be heard in order for it to make a sound. On a subjective view of truth, if no one thinks about the tree falling, then it's not true that it fell. There are those two views of truth.

There's also a third view of truth, which is a pragmatic view, where truth is just simply what seems to work. Which of these versions of truth can evolution actually support, which actual view fits in an evolutionary worldview? Well, it's not objective truth. At least, it's not the fact that we can come to know objective truth. Because, remember, evolution selects for what is most fit to survive. A lot of times, the things that help you survive and comfort you are not always true. I think of false religions, which the non-Christian will put Christianity in. The non-Christian even can say positive things about religion. They can say, "Well, it helps people cope with life. It lowers blood pressure. It gives them a sense of community," and those types of things. Now, they can't tell you why those are good. They can't ground that in anything outside of themselves, but that's a separate conversation. You'll notice that on this view, that the religious person has come to believe things about the world, that on the evolutionist's view are false, but nonetheless beneficial.

An evolutionary worldview can’t explain the ordered-ness of the universe

In the evolutionary worldview, there's nothing that tells us we should be able to arrive at truth. There is nothing that says we are not simply the products of molecules in motion; that we are not simply big bags of biological stuff. The evolutionary worldview lacks so much explanatory power. It can't explain how the universe is orderly. If we live in a universe that popped into existence from nothing with no cause for no purpose, then what reason do we have to believe that things are going to be orderly thereafter? Well, we don't have one. In fact, some notable thinkers throughout history have realized that we can't really say, "Well, we know what's going to happen in the future based on natural law." All we can say is we know what has happened.

An evolutionary worldview can’t explain our ability to reason freely

If you have a non-Christian-theistic worldview, you don't have a universe that's knowable if you're consistent in your view. More than that, if we're the products of random mutation and natural selection, and that means we don't have a soul—we don't have a mind—we're simply better evolved apes, the distant cousins of some bacteria somewhere, well then we also don't have the ability to think and make choices and come to well-reasoned decisions. We live in a determined universe, which once again means we can't come to know our actual universe outside of ourselves. (But there isn’t really a “self” on an atheistic worldview either, if they're consistent.)

Let's just briefly recap. If evolution is true, we have no reason to believe that evolution itself would actually select for traits that mean you can come to know the real world. Nothing in evolution says or would make sense of the fact that it selects for people who can know objective truth. What it does select for is survivability. Oftentimes, things that help us survive aren't necessarily true.

Now, certainly, it seems like we can come to know some things that are true and do help us survive like don't step in front of buses, don't overdose on drugs, etc. Those are true things that do help us survive, but not all true things help you survive. Evolution will not select for those if the evolution is consistent. That's the first problem. Nothing in evolution suggests it would give us an objective version of truth that we can know out in the world.

The second thing is, is it can't explain the orderliness of the world. The universe came into existence from nothing for no cause. That's a random event, and yet science itself is predicated on the fact that the universe runs according to natural laws that are extremely fine-tuned and have no deviation, but all that just came randomly? That doesn't make sense. Yet the Bible says that God creates and sustains everything, and that's exactly why it runs the same today as it did yesterday, apart from his intervention in the world.

More than that though, if we are products of natural selection and random mutation, we don't have a soul. We can't make free choices. Now, regardless of your view on free will, everyone in the Christian world affirms that we have a soul/mind. This actually makes sense of our experience. Because if the evolution disagrees with these statements I'm making, what's his defense? Well, I didn't have a choice in disagreeing. I had no free will in disagreeing but I disagree, which actually proves the point. If he says that he can evaluate the evidence that he's not just a big biological computer, that he had a choice, well then, he disproves his view. If he does say, "Well, I am just a biological computer and I didn't have a choice," he's telling you not to believe them.

Computers do not interpret data, they can't tell you meaning. They can tell you facts. They can't tell you what purpose is or why something happened. They can't tell you it's end the goal. They can't tell you what good and evil are. Then, when the atheists wants to say based on evolutionary theory that people have done things that are wrong, that are hurtful to society and they shouldn't do them, well, you can't ground that in evolution either. What in an evolutionary worldview would say that I should put other people first before myself? Well, nothing.

We could go on and on and on, but what I want you to see is: we can critique a person's position where it should naturally go. Now, we need to be careful that we don't critique the position someone doesn't hold based on what they should hold if they're consistent. What we can do is realize where they're inconsistent and push on that as a point of tension. Like in a window that has a small crack, the weak point is where the crack is. Push on that. Make them feel the tension; of course, in a nice and winsome way. Realize the Christian worldview explains so much more than the evolutionary worldview.

We don't have to believe that we're products of random chance. We don't have to believe that our universe is here because it's random chance. What does it even mean to choose to believe on an evolutionary worldview where you're determined in everything that happens? There's no choice. More than that, why would we believe on an evolutionary worldview that things work the same tomorrow as they did yesterday if there's nothing sustaining that, if there's nothing anchoring the fact that nature works the same way?

I hope what you see is the Christian worldview has great explanatory power for the world as we see it, and the evolutionary worldview does not. Now, if evolution is true, you couldn't know it. I'm not saying based on all I've said that evolution is not true. Let's just say for the sake of argument it is true. You could not know that. You don't have a choice because you don't have a soul, you don't have a mind to analyze the data. You are just the products of molecules crushing into each other, of electrons spinning, and all those types of things of biochemical reactions in your brain, in your neocortex or whatever. You don't have a choice in analyzing the data. If it were true, you couldn't know it.

In conclusion, this puts the evolutionist in an interesting position. If he affirms his theory, he basically tells you, "Well, you don't have good reason to believe it because what evolution entails means you can't know it's true." If he says it's not true, well then, hey, I agree with them. Now, you might want to listen to this episode again. There's a lot of philosophical worldview thinking in here. But if we can start to think in worldviews and in consistency, I assure you, you will start to see just how powerful that is. When you start connecting the dots of what entails what, and what fits with what, and what scripture says about how the Bible actually explains what we see and experience in the world, I assure you, your faith will be strengthened. Your apologetic and witnessing capabilities will increase.

This week, I would encourage you, find someone who's talking about evolution and just try one of these lines of reasoning with them and use questions. “Have you considered that if evolution were true, then we're all just determined to believe and do the things we do? We don't have a mind or a soul. Have you thought about that?” “Have you thought about the fact that if that's true, then that means you were just determined to believe evolution is true? That doesn't mean it actually is true.” You can use questions and conversations, and that's always a great tactic to get to the truth of something in a conversation and lead them to water so hopefully they will take a drink.