Have I lost track of my vision?

August 12, 2011

At my about page, I wrote:

My personal goal is to help American Christians finally accept evolution as fact.

Recently, someone found this blog by searching for the term “Jeremy Witteveen personal goal to help American Christians finally accept evolution as fact.”

About a week ago, Café Witteveen friend and Christian Julie Ferwerda started a closed Facebook conversation between a few of her more open-minded, believing friends, regular-reader George W. and me regarding Intelligent Design vs. Evolution.

Since I had family and friends here non-stop for about a week, I decided to postpone my attention to the ID vs Evolution conversation. You remember? Blogging came to a halt too.

As I have been formulating some of my ideas about what I would write about when I jumped in to the conversation, I thought how hypocritical it is that I’m not more active promoting evolution to those of you who oppose it. I feel badly about it, and I hope you will forgive me.

Especially when those near and dear to me say things like, “Well, Darwin recanted on his death bed” and “Evolution is only a theory,” which are two of the silliest responses any believer can say. I think a close third is “Why are there still apes if we evolved?” or “Why aren’t there any ape men walking around?”

I wanted to post some of what I wrote here, and hope you’ll pipe up  in the comments with any recommendations for things to present to believers who might be a touch more open to accepting evolution if given the chance.

Below is what I wrote. I wanted to include hot links, because Facebook doesn’t allow it. I was particularly happy with the line about the naked man. I’ve written more about that here:

I wanted to recommend a few starter books that I’ve found aren’t extremely long, but they are well cited and researched with lots of branches of recommendations.

Top recommendation:

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body” by Neil Shubin — excellent book on a recent fossil find of a fish-to-land animal species. Shubin shows in lay terms how DNA evidence shows our connections through development back to plants.

Why Darwin Matters” by Michael Shermer. A short, excellent primer with good sources and reading recommendations on basic evolutionary understanding.

Also, please refer to PBS.org for lots of resources like NOVA: Science NOW! These shows are jampacked with beginner information for exploring science literacy.

Moving from evolution to The Big Bang and astrophysics — A couple books from Brian Greene: “The Fabric of the Cosmos” and “The Elegant Universe“.

I’ve found Greene to be very good at dumbing down the language of physics to my level. I have a good working knowledge of calculus which helps, but is not required.

My view of this discussion is that we can talk about it all day long. However a general working knowledge of evolution (whether you accept it or not) must be achieved. George — nor I — are anything close to approaching professionals on the subject. I would hope you would go to a pastor and theological professionals for information on God and to a scientist on information about science.

Because Christianity makes claims about origins, I feel it’s incredibly important to be moderately versed in the claims you’re opposing. I think it’s a truism to some degree.

Here’s a thought:

Visualizing a grown, naked man, unshaven from head to toe, with a thin layer (sometimes thick layer) of hair and placing that image next to a chimp or gorilla reveals observationally a similar model of creature. Maybe it’s a blessing and a curse that as an artist, this is so obvious to me.

It’s not far off within certain levels of imagination. Dissect the two creatures, and everything from bone structure to its anatomy are spot on similar, in many cases exactly the same.

Does that reveal Intelligent design? Perhaps.

It’s rather uncreative.

When you trace our bone structure and anatomy back to fish with only minor differences along the way, evolution makes for a very convincing argument.

When we carry vestigial structures like the possibility of third and fourth nipples, an occasional thirteenth rib, a coccyx, wisdom teeth, an appendix, body hair, a non-operational third eyelid, good bumps, etc. etc, it’s no wonder that we are directly connected with animals and fish.

Why would “Intelligence” connect us to the rest of the animal kingdom in blatant ways? To confuse us?

What intelligence left the Recurrent Laryngeal Nerve to travel from our brains around our heart and up to our mouths in the most inefficient possible track? It was efficient in fish ancestry perhaps. Yet, this same nerve is found on a giraffe. Think about the distance that information must travel for the giraffe brain to tell the giraffe mouth to open and shut.

Argue either way, but “Intelligent” design renders a mockery of intelligence. This will be very condescending, but I hope that one’s bar for intelligence is set much higher.


If you believe the biblical story, you owe it to Adam and Eve to climb up into the tree of knowledge and frolic in its branches

January 9, 2010

This graphic speaks volumes for evolution. Look at how we share bone structure with fish.

A couple years ago, I visited an amazing UIC campus bookstore. I picked up a book called, “Your Inner Fish” by Neil Shubin. You should read it.

At the time, I had no idea who Shubin was, but the book sleeve caught my attention. I bought and read the book, and it was a remarkable read.

In the book, Shubin had discovered a fossil of a fish-like creature which had the ability to walk on land. Walk? It was more like a pull itself with its front fins. He named it Tiktaalik, and its discovery has invigorated and pushed evolution even further than it was before.

Shubin also does a great job describing genes that we share as far back with flies and plants. When turned on and off, the produce the different parts of our bodies. We share these genes, because we are made the the same exact stuff.

Back when I was taking 10th grade biology, my teacher Mrs. Huckabee said that at one point in embryonic development, it appears that humans have gill slits. Let me remind you that this was a Christian school. She refused to explain why. She just explained it was a developmental phenomenon. For the longest time, I searched and searched for the answer to why we would have gill slits. The internet would have been a handy tool for a little kid like me stuck wondering blindly through the Yeshua Fog.

Finally, I found the answer in evolutionary biology some four of five years later at my Christian college. We have gill slits for a short time because of our fish ancestry. Our genes turn on and off like switches during our development. At one point, gill slits turn on.
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