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.
Over the next six articles we are going to have an adult conversation about evolutionary science, though it will be elementary at best. But when I use the word “elementary” that is not to imply that I won’t get into some complex matters. My purpose will be to outline some of the basic ideas, and provide the non-science reader with some general understanding as to why this idea continues to prevail in the scientific world.
We are now well into the political season in the United States, and in an age of hyper-partisanship I am going to laying out six important issues I believe will have a profound impact upon American democracy in coming years. I will aim for a relatively nonpartisan discussion by avoiding the names of politicians and political parties. These issues are important enough that at some point in the future when historians are looking in retrospect at this period in time, they may well view this era as pivotal in terms of how these issues were addressed.