In San Antonio a few weeks ago, Church delegates voted modifications to the wording of Fundamental Belief #6 having to do with the Genesis story of creation. The innocent sounding word "recent" was added, declaring that the creation was recent. While there were other words added that probably deserve attention also, brevity requires that I keep the discussion to this one word.
We live in turbulent times, particularly in the United States, where ideology seems to drive us from one manufactured political crisis to another. Most recently, we have been taken to the brink of an economic abyss through a debt default - only to be given a few weeks reprieve when the cycle may be repeated.
In the previous articles of this sub-series I have explored biology through the eyes of science, and from this exercise it is now possible to distill several points that have important implications. First, while many Adventists express hostility to the term “evolution,” it really means nothing more than “change,” and change in and of itself is neither good nor bad—it just is.
Over the previous four articles I have discussed a number of the more significant aspects of evolution. It is a concept that is multifaceted, with many aspects well documented and some that remain more speculative. If Adventist readers of the last article found the data unsettling, this particular article may prove a little more comforting—it having to do with the question of biological origins.
In the last article I explored contemporary developments in biology that now permit it to proceed in a precise quantitative fashion. This was a very important article that built the foundation for this current article. With this in mind I turn now to one of the most controversial parts of evolutionary science—that having to do with common descent. Since antiquity the Judeo-Christian narrative has held that humans were a specific creation of God on day-6 of creation week—not the product of common descent. Yet science is finding evidence that would seem to fit a different narrative.
In the last article I discussed the credibility of two key ideas related to evolutionary science, namely mutations and natural selection. As it stands, it is generally recognized that nothing in biology makes sense outside of acceptance of these two processes, and more importantly they are well documented. In this article I am going to direct our attention to the most significant development in biology over the past few decades. It is a development that has fundamentally changed the conversation.
In the last article I considered the general context in which changes in biological organisms take place. In this article, I am going to go a step further and look more in depth at some of the specific mechanisms in play.