Dr. Carolyn Reeves is sharing with us this week from a lesson in the Investigate the Possibilities series by Master Books.
Dr. Houston is a fictional character found in the Investigate the Possibilities series by Master Books. Dr. Houston teaches chemistry at the university, but he disagrees that all living things evolved over millions and millions of years. He fully accepts the Bible teaching that God supernaturally designed and created all the different kinds of living
things. In this story, he is having a discussion with his daughter, Joanne.
“Hey, Dad, you won’t believe what happened in our science class today. Margaret told our teacher that she didn’t think we should be studying anything about evolution, because it‘s all just a big lie anyway.”
Joanne’s dad frowned and looked very concerned. “What did your teacher say to Margaret?”
“She told Margaret it wasn’t her place to decide what the class would be studying,” Joanne said. “She said evolution is one of the major topics in our science curriculum and evolution is a topic that all students should understand in order to be well educated.”
“Did anyone else have an opinion about what Margaret said?” Dr. Houston asked. “Yes. Omar agreed with Margaret, but Kelli and Will told them they weren’t smarter than their textbook.”
Dr. Houston paused as he thought about what to tell Joanne. “I would have to disagree with Margaret that everything about evolution is a big lie. There are many things about evolution that I can easily agree with. There are some things I find questionable, and there are some ideas I completely disagree with. Why don’t you show me your science
book and let’s see if we can separate the solid scientific ideas from the questionable ones.”
“First of all, I hope you will reject the idea that all life arose by means of random natural processes only. I can say emphatically that plants, animals, and human beings are on earth because God designed and created them. It should not be a problem for schools, public or otherwise, to present the scientific evidence for Intelligent Design.”
“OK, Dad. Here’s my science book. Show me something you agree with about evolution,” Joanne said.
Dr. Houston scanned the index. “Here’s a good example. See the pictures of the two squirrels. They are both a kind of tassel-eared squirrel. However, they differ in color. One of the squirrels lives on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. These squirrels have white bellies and black tails. The other squirrel lives on the north rim of the Canyon. These squirrels have black bellies and white tails. They probably had the same ancestors, but over time, they got separated by the Canyon. As the two groups of squirrels became isolated from each other, there was little gene flow from one group to the other. The southern squirrels mated with other southern squirrels and the northern squirrels mated
with other northern squirrels.”
“The two kinds of squirrels could still mate with each other, but they usually prefer to find mates that are similar to themselves. Some biologists refer to the two populations as an example of how a new species evolved. I don’t know if I would call them a new species or not, but I do agree that they probably had a common squirrel ancestor and
over time they evolved or changed into two groups of squirrels with different coloration. These kinds of changes are a type of evolution known as micro-evolution. Both groups are still squirrels and they haven’t changed into a different kind of animal.”
“I also agree,” Dr. Houston continued, “that the principle of natural selection explains some of the changes that have occurred in living things over time--at least the idea that living things must adapt to their environments. The plants and animals found in deserts would probably not survive in arctic regions. Nor would arctic plants and animals be able to
survive in deserts. Some plants and animals probably became extinct because they were unable to survive changes in their environments.”
“What would you disagree with, Dad?” “I would disagree that it took several million years for the two groups of squirrels to develop different color patterns. I would also disagree that it took hundreds of millions of years for all the different kinds of plants and animals and other living things on earth to gradually evolve from one common ancestor. This is known as a monophyletic view of origins. I have a polyphyletic view of the first living things, which is a view that there were many original basic kinds of plants and animals instead of one. Over the years, these original kinds of plants and animals have changed or evolved in size, coloration, number of appendages, and in other minor ways.”
“How can you tell the difference in things about evolution that you don’t think is true and things you do think are true?” Joanne asked. “Well, I guess I would say that most of the micro-evolutionary changes that are illustrated in your science book seem logical. I am most skeptical of two theories—the idea of one common ancestor for all living things and absolute radiometric dating.” “I see little evidence for macro-evolutionary changes such as marine animals with gills changing into air-breathing organisms with lungs, cold-blooded animals changing into warm-blooded animals, egg-laying animals changing into animals that deliver live babies, or large trees evolving from water plants. The evolutionary changes that are supported by the most evidence are the micro-evolutionary changes such as color or size. There are a lot of problems with macro-evolutionary theories.” “Many biologists insist that radiometric dating is absolutely accurate. However, when the age of certain lava flows is known to be only a few hundred years old or less, some radiometric tests incorrectly show them to be millions of years old. This kind of information causes me to be skeptical of using radiometric tests to determine the age of rocks.” “If I were Margaret’s teacher, I would probably continue to teach the things that might cause living organisms to change or evolve. Most of the evidence for evolution in the textbook are examples of micro-evolutionary changes. I would encourage all the students to be skeptical of the ideas of a common ancestor for all life and radiometric dating as absolutely accurate. I would present the scientific evidence that challenges both of these theories.