The Scientific Definition of Evolution

To the scientific layperson the whole issue of naturalism and origins is contained in one word – evolution. In scientific speak, this is not so. In fact, I have noticed on a number of creation/evolution forums that believers are often derided for their lack of knowledge in this area, so I would like to clear up some things for believers.

Evolution, Strictly Speaking

Evolution, in a strict scientific sense, deals only with the origin of species. Put another way, evolution can only be in effect once all the complicated self-replicating molecular machine systems that represent the foundation of cell technology are already in place. Evolution does not even address the origin of life. The “basic” mechanisms of evolution are gene mutation and natural selection. Obviously, without genes there can be no gene mutations. And without genes integrated in and acting upon living organisms competing for habitats, there can be no selection. The theory of evolution only deals with living creatures replete with sophisticated molecular components that make life as we know it possible.

Abiogenesis and the Origin of Life

How non-living matter became living matter is called abiogenesis. Biogenesis is life from life. Bio, meaning life, and genesis, meaning creation, or life creating life. By putting the “a” in front of it you are inferring the opposite - life from non-life. Abiogenesis is something not even addressed by evolutionary theory. It is interesting to note that all attempts to demonstrate how chemicals can combine to even form the protein building blocks for life have proved insurmountable. These building blocks are coded for in the DNA. Kind of a “chicken and the egg” kind of thing at the molecular level of biology. Of course demonstrating the chemical origin of the proteins essential for life seems simple in comparison to showing a naturalistic origin for the complex nanotechnology cell factories made up of proteins. If proving abiogenesis is compared to traveling the 250,000 miles to the moon, we have not moved even a fraction of an inch. So you see, even if evolution were true, and it is not, based on our current science today, the rise of living matter from non-living is a miracle in every sense of the word. Keep that in mind. The only thing that makes evolution intellectually appealing is the amazing capabilities of cells at the submicroscopic level. And the origin of this amazing super-miniaturized technology defies all attempts at naturalistic explanation.

The Big Bang

Another common misconception is that the “big bang” is part of evolution. The big bang theory is a theory in and of itself. Just as evolution is a theory for the origin of the diversity of life (not origin of life), big bang is a theory about the origin of the cosmos. Big bang theory is so speculative, and so fraught with problems and inconsistencies, it boggles my mind they can even talk seriously about it. But interestingly enough, its introduction was actually a step in the right direction for creationists, for it puts forth that the universe had an origin in the past. Believe it or not, it was not until the early 1970s that the majority of cosmologist believed this. The “steady state model,” which contends the universe is eternal, was the generally accepted model for the universe before 1970.

Stellar Hypothesis

Big bang theory speculates on the origin of the cosmos, but it does not attempt to explain the formation stellar objects. Just as evolution addresses the origin of the diversity of life, but not the origin of life, big bang addresses the origin of the cosmos, but not the origin of the structure of the cosmos. Stellar objects are all the different things that exist in the cosmos. Moons, planets, stars, quasars, black holes, nebulae, constellations, and galaxies are all examples of stellar objects. Simply put, the stellar hypothesis attempts to explain how these objects formed after all the matter in the universe was released in the big bang. You see, this wave front of matter flying out from the big bang must undergo a significant transformation to become the universe we see today. At night you will notice that the universe is mostly empty space. Probably 99.999% of the universe is empty, from what we can currently tell. This begs the question of how could matter dispersed in all directions from a big bang coalesce so tightly in a multitude of remote locations in the universe. Well, that is a problem isn’t it. But my point is, even the big bang does not attempt to explain the origin of the ordered cosmos in its entirety. It only states that “nothing” (believe it or not, that’s what they say) blew up and originated space-time and matter. The structure we see today is left up to other processes. These processes are even less well detailed than the grossly speculative big bang theory. For all practical purposes, even the big bang theory is miraculous in nature. Let alone the subsequent ordering of the material universe.

Naturalism in Science

Now the intelligent layperson readily recognizes that the larger picture of naturalism in science is all about this concept of evolution. Things, whether they are living or non-living, are thought to become more organized, complex and diversified over time. Particles to people as it is often called, is the foundation of all secular science. But from a strict definitional standpoint, big bang, stellar hypothesis, abiogenesis, and evolution are all distinct from one another. They are each attempting to explain, from a standpoint of naturalism, their respective compartmentalized set of phenomena. While this seems like a minor issue, it is something that you will be derided for not knowing if you are engaged in a discussion with someone knowledgeable about these subjects. Hopefully this helps to clear things up a bit when addressing naturalistic viewpoints on origins.

Will Hoyt

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 22:28

Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.