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What good is evolution denial?

While doing some research for this image, I found a page on Answers in Genesis matching my search terms. Never one to pass up a quick laugh, I clicked through to see what “answer” Genesis could provide me on the similarities between human DNA and the DNA of both chimpanzees and bonobos. I did not expect to see what I saw. I expected some passionate claim that God is the creator of everything and that’s that.

d_dewittInstead, I found a detailed article written by Dr. David DeWitt. My first question was “Doctor of what?” As it turns out, he has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Case Western Reserve University, and he currently teaches at Liberty University, Virginia’s preeminent “Christian academic community” or as most people may know it, “Jerry Falwell‘s cult college.” How this man came to be one of the 0.1% of scientists that accept a creation account for the source of life on Earth instead of the evolutionary account is not important. I’m more concerned with how this man is able to suspend acceptance of a preponderance of data corroborating evolution in favor of a dogmatic tale of religious creation.

His article in response to the question “What about the similarity between human and chimp DNA?” is (surprisingly) full of accurate scientific information. He acknowledges all of the key aspects of the comprehensive theory of evolution; he just refuses to accept them as fact. Complex and precise explanations of the timeline of human development are written off wholesale with flippant dismissals of how this “does not mesh with Genesis 1–2.” As a scientist who (presumably) uses the scientific method to test hypotheses, refine ideas, and discover connections, I cannot understand how he can so casually cast aside the work of almost every one of his peers worldwide. Does he view the sequencing of the human genome as a frivolous endeavor entirely? Wouldn’t such facile dismissal of phylogeny presume a greater overall disdain of science in general? If analysis of our DNA cannot tell us how we are ancestrally connected to other life on this planet, how can it possibly help us understand Alzheimer’s disease, Dr. DeWitt’s research focus? If the origin of human life on this planet is so easily relegated to “God did it” why too shouldn’t the appearance of Alzheimer’s? More importantly, why am I looking for consistency in the views of a creationist scientist, a term that I believe to be an oxymoron. I can’t say that I’m surprised by any of this. Dr. DeWitt knew he would be writing for a primarily scientifically-illiterate audience when he chose his first subheading to be “What is DNA?”

20140522_172135A sign near my home calls out any would-be evolution accepters (I won’t say believer, because belief or disbelief in facts doesn’t change them being facts.) It reads, “Evolution? Professing themselves to be wise” citing Romans 1:22. Below is the text of Romans 1:21-23 from the King James Version.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Who is really professing themselves to be wise: the group of people basing their statements on a consistently applied set of rules to archaeological, anthropological, geological, astronomical, and biochemical data or the group basing their opinions on the religious writings in one book?

What’s the harm? He has his thoughts, I have mine. Denying evolution in favor of a biblical creation tale is the death of inquiry. It is a speed bump on the path to discovery. Religion’s stranglehold on world cultures manifests itself in many ways, one of which is the subversion of scientific teachings by injecting religious doctrine into public schools. To take an idea that discourages challenge and force it on anyone, let alone the most curious and impressionable segment of the population, is a pernicious undermining of the very process that has given us every medical and technological breakthrough in modern history.

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