Thanks to a new study, evolutionists and their disciples are having to reexamine some of their most revered dogma. Particularly, evolutionists are now having to make sense of conclusions stating that almost all animal species, as well as humans, showed up on the stage of human history at the same time.
One of the constants of science is that science is constantly revising as it is challenged by new data, new theories, and new ways of observing and measuring data, not to mention the changes in scientific ideology molded by larger worldview shifts. Thomas Kuhn’s landmark book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions provides a compelling argument for how scientific paradigms evolve, shift, and even jump to completely different tracks. However, within the many disciplines of science, evolution and evolutionists have remained dogmatic about the necessity of remaining committed to certain a priori assumptions. Well, as it turns out, some of evolution’s most revered a priori assumptions are now crumbling in the face of new research.
A study published in the journal Human Evolution is causing quite the stir. In the words of Phys.org, “The study’s most startling result, perhaps, is that nine out of 10 species on Earth today, including humans, came into being 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.”
So startling, in fact, that according to David Thaler, one of the lead authors of the study, “This conclusion is very surprising, and I fought against it as hard as I could.”
The study’s very own author was so disturbed by how the conclusions challenged current scientific dogma that he “fought against it as hard as [he] could.” His “fight” gives credence to the study’s conclusions. His eventual acceptance, not to mention publication, of the conclusions speaks well of Thaler’s commitment to being a scientist first and an ideologue second.
Responding to Thaler, a stunned Phys.org admits, “That reaction is understandable: How does one explain the fact that 90 percent of animal life, genetically speaking, is roughly the same age? Was there some catastrophic event 200,000 years ago that nearly wiped the slate clean?”
This is no small matter for evolutionists because, as World Magazine helpfully summarizes:
According to traditional evolutionary thinking, all living things on Earth share common ancestry, with species evolving through a slow process of random mutation, natural selection, and adaptation over roughly 3.8 billion years. The idea that humans and most animals suddenly appeared at the same time a mere 200,000 years ago or less does not fit with that model.
Two decades ago, as an atheist reading The Origin of Species for the first time, I marveled at the statistical anomalies required to produce such a vast array of complex variations across all life within the cosmos. I also worked myself into a headache attempting to wrap my brain around the amount of time needed for the very gradual development of species to happen. At the time, since as an atheist I had an a priori commitment to materialism, I shrugged off my bewildered headache and accepted evolution’s conclusions as true because, well, doing otherwise required a philosophical shift that I wasn’t willing to make.
Now, as a committed follower of Jesus who believes that Bible is true, including the parts about God creating everything and then destroying almost everything with a great flood, this study makes me raise an eyebrow and sarcastically ask, “Really? Who knew?”
My sarcastic questions are best taken with a grain of salt when interacting with the study (but more on that further down). Speaking of the study, World provides a concise explanation:
In the past, researchers studied DNA in the nucleus of cells, which differs markedly from one species to another. But the new study analyzed a gene sequence found in mitochondrial DNA. (Mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells, produce about 90 percent of a cell’s chemical energy.) Although mitochondrial DNA is similar across all humans and animals, it also contains tiny bits that are different enough to distinguish between species. This difference allows researchers to estimate the approximate age of a species.
The researchers analyzed these gene sequences in 100,000 species and concluded that the event—either the simultaneous appearance of humans and most animals, or a population crash—occurred about 100,000 to 200,000 years ago. That proposal challenges the bedrock of evolutionary theory.
As interesting as this study is, we Christians do need to tread carefully about drawing parallels too hard and fast between the study’s claims and the Bible. Science will continue to shift and change directions. If we use this generation’s scientific paradigms to prove the veracity of the Bible we run the risk of tying an apologetic albatross around the necks of future Christians. Using “gotcha” apologetics based on scientific explanations runs into problems when those scientific explanations are overturned and replaced.
The Bible is true because God is trustworthy and faithful. When science appears to run parallel to the Bible’s claims, good for science. When science appears to run opposite to the Bible’s claims, then we need to remember that science is fallible, as this current study demonstrates.
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