If you have not already, please read my post "Nature vs. Scripture" before continuing.
In Part 1 of this series, I showed some basic evidence about the Big Bang theory. In Part 2, I separated the Big Bang from Evolution. In Part 3, I showed how the Bible is compatible with billions of years and answered a couple objections. In Part 4, I'm going to go more into the theory of Evolution.
Okay first, I need to define a couple terms: "evolution" (little-e), and "Evolution" (big-E).
Simply put, "evolution" is a change with respect to time. And "Evolution" is the theory that states that all life changed over time from simple to complex.
Little-e evolution is pretty much a no-brainer. These types of changes are extremely small changes within a species that allow the species advantages. This level is well established scientifically. An example would be a change in camouflage or Darwin's finches. It does take place via random gene mutations that natural selection acts upon. Keep in mind that the overwhelmingly vast majority of random mutations are harmful to the organism. It is rare that they actually help- but it does happen. "Natural selection" is really a fancy scientific phrase for explaining the process by which organisms are eliminated (killed) because of the disadvantage of a random mutation. This level of evolution does not lead to new species nor does it have any form of genuine creative power. If I refer to it again, it will be called "microevolution" (meaning- small scale). Microevolution is also referred to as "adaptation".
Big-E Evolution is where things get hairy and must not be confused with microevolution. There are two kinds: Naturalistic and Theistic.
Naturalistic Evolution relies totally on nature. There are three components responsible for complex life: Common Ancestry, Random Mutation, and Natural Selection.
Both Naturalistic and Theistic Evolutionists accept microevolution. However, Theistic Evolutionists accept only one of the three portions of Naturalistic Evolution to explain life's changes beyond what microevolution's limits. That is Common Ancestry. Theistic Evolution states that God intervened to do what Naturalistic Evolutionists rely on random mutation and natural selection to accomplish.
Dr. Michael Behe puts together a pretty solid case against random mutation and natural selection for being responsible for complex life in his book The Edge of Evolution. Behe does support common ancestry, so he would fall under the category of Theistic Evolutionist. He provides some evidence, such as common genes, common "junk DNA" and common anatomical features. Behe believes, though, that a Designer is responsible for the precise mutations and jumps that natural mutations cannot do in order for life to arrive at its current level of complexity.
Dr. Fazale Rana pointed out in his book "Who Was Adam" that the problem with common genes being evidence for common ancestry is that even though humans are "98% ape" (we share 98% of our genes with the great apes), we are also 30% daffadil (we share 30% of our genes with the daffodil). Unless you are willing to admit that you are one-third flower, this means nothing. Dr. Rana goes into detail of some of the "Junk DNA" in his book "The Cell's Design"; in there he points out that scientists are actually finding uses for "junk DNA". Dr. Rana argues that these and common anatomical features can also be explained via "common design". He also explains that the fossil record actually shows that life was complex from the beginning; and shows "explosions" of speciation rather than a "gradual climb from relatively simple to complex". Dr. Rana argues that these "explosions" would be expected if a God was creating animals already in their complete form.
In his book "Creation as Science", Dr. Hugh Ross shows that the fossil record actually goes against any form of Evolution (naturalistic or theistic). So, Evolution loses that piece of evidence. Creation gains it. Now granted Common Descent has not lost all its evidence, but the evidence can be explained by Creation also. So, Creation is ahead of Evolution when it comes to the evidence.
Microevolution has been argued as part of God's great design to allow for variety and changing environments for His creatures. An animal's ability to adapt to a changing environment is perfectly compatible with God's nature. Much like engineers make certain designs optimal for multiple conditions, the Designer of the creation did the same.
What is not supported by the evidence is Macroevolution (Naturalistic or Theistic). We are left only with Creation.
Dr. Fazale Rana was recently interviewed on Stand to Reason with Greg Koukl. The name of the show is "What Darwin Didn't Know". Here is the complete recording (about 2 hours); Dr. Rana's interview starts about halfway through.
So to conclude this series: Based on the physical evidence and the Biblical evidence, it is safe to conclude that God created the universe about 14 billion years ago, and did not rely on mutations to "create" His creatures. Biblical inerrency is upheld and our observations of nature are verified to be accurate. We maintain consistency throughout the theory.
If you would like me to go into more detail about any specific topic discussed in this series, email me.
For more information, refer to the books, DVDs, and websites linked to throughout the series.