A child once asked his father, “Where do people come from?” So his father said, “Adam and Eve made babies, then their babies became adults and made babies, and so on.” The child then went to his mother, asked her the same question and she told him, “We were monkeys, then we evolved to become like we are now.” The child ran back to his father and said, “You lied to me!” His father replied, “No, your mom was talking about her side of the family.”
Now this story has many problems, I know, but it is also humorous and shows the type of thinking many have! It also shows what we see today, views ranging from an atheistic worldview to the biblical worldview.
Because of this, many times we speak past each other when talking about important issues. We can mean different things by the same words, such as the word “evolution.” There are many definitions to this word in the field of science, but I think that we could say that there are two main types that most think about and both happen to deal within the sense of life on earth. One type is very controversial to say the least, but the other type is something we all agree happens!
The Two Types Of Evolution, Definition One
The first type is “Darwinian evolution” (maybe more accurately it can be called the “neo-Darwinian synthesis” or “neo-Darwinism”). It is the concept of universal common descent by way of random mutation filtered by natural selection. In other words, all of life is related, you are “cousins” to a turnip under this view (no, this is not sarcasm, it is ultimately what is believed)! It could be described as “microbe-to-man evolution”. While some may disagree with me on this next point, I think it is true. This view assumes, by it’s nature, that God is not involved at all during the process. Many “Creationists”, many “common Joes” on the street and the upper crust of scientists use the term “evolution” to mean this .
However, Darwinian evolution claims so much and is so counter intuitive, many skeptics just can not defend the claim well. For example Darwinian evolution has to assume that new functional information in the genome comes through such process as gene duplication, natural selection and genetic mutation. But from our experience, this is not how information is generated.
Second, it puts too much stock in the process of natural selection, assuming that natural selection will keep the beneficial mutations and filter out the harmful ones, again this is counter intuitive.
The Two Types Of Evolution, Definition Two
Many “apologists” for “evolution”, the ones with some background and education in the world of science, will say that evolution means something different. In fact, many secular science textbooks and websites will say the same . However, this different definition is not in the least bit controversial, in the sense we all agree that what it describes happens! The definition is observable, easy to demonstrate, agrees with the Bible and makes sense.
This is key. We are going to say “biological evolution” is defined as: “change in allele frequencies in a population over time” . Please, do not stress out over this definition. These are just some fancy words to mean something really quite simple. Within a population of organisms, one sees some traits becoming more prominent than others as time passes. Or in another way to look at it, some genes become more common than others (or gene frequency) in a population of animals, bugs, plants, people, etc. as time passes.
For example, let us say we have a herd of bison on the plains of the wild west. Let us also say, for the sake of illustration, that most are about five feet tall. However, a few are six feet tall. As the generations pass, the taller ones seem to breed better and survive better and this tall gene gets passed on. More and more bison are six feet tall, and only a few if any are now five feet tall in this population of bison.
Every biologist thinks that all this happens in biology and is true, no matter if you are an ardent “creationist” or a radical “atheist”. All agree that there can be a “change in allele frequency in a population over time”.
Your Trump Card
Here is the secret, this is your trump card! It will make you out to be the reasonable one. Now you may be thinking “this definition does not sound like much”. However, if biological evolution is defined this way, you may be able to deflect some of the spew of ridicule. When the ridicule starts I move into a comment like “wait, I believe in evolution…” and then precede to define it with the above definition. Let me repeat, you must define it. This is important, because Darwinian evolution is not biblical and you don’t want the other to assume you hold to that! I find that if I say “evolution is silly”, the other one will start the ridicule and say “so you don’t believe that there is change in allele frequency in a population over time”? So, for me, I jump the gun and say I hold to the standard biological definition of evolution. I find it leads leads into a more substantive conversation.
Let’s review; the standard definition of biological evolution is “change in allele frequency in a population over time”. I would commit that to memory. Why is it key? Because it also happens to be observable and we all agree with it, everyone! Plus it is scientific and comports with a biblical worldview. So if you happen to be talking to a skeptic of Christianity who is challenging you on this issue, say something like, “I hold to the standard definition of biological evolution which is ‘change in allele frequency in a population over time.’” If you want, you can add “however, I do not hold to Darwinian Evolution.” As you can see, I have separated Darwinian evolution with biological evolution.
If you have not got the hint yet, I also would encourage you to steer clear from using the unclear term “evolution” alone. Such as stop saying, “I don’t believe in evolution”. Rather I would encourage you to rather use terms such as “I don’t hold to Darwinian evolution”. Be prepared to defend your assertion, as you know, the person who makes the claim bears the burden of proof.
It may take you a few minutes to grab the concepts here and put them to memory, but I think it is worth it. With just this distinction, you can maneuver around those who would be more than happy to use ridicule. You can move the discussion from a rhetorical and emotional focus, to one that carries power and reason.
I have a passion to have answers for Christianity as Peter taught us to do. I would love for you to come along with me and not miss a post! In the future I plan on giving more resources and answers you can share with both believers and unbelievers. Plus, I want to send you a Free Quick Guide why I think science points to God. I would love for you to have this Free Quick Guide and the latest posts straight to your inbox.
Have you had experience with those who are Darwinist? How did you talk to them? Do you disagree with me? If so why?
1. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction by Samir Okaska. Author pits Creationism against Darwinism, not evolution.
2. The National Center for Science Education is a secular institution that is very Darwinian in view, I use them to show that even they define evolution this way. https://ncse.com/library-resource/defining-evolution-0
3. Some may claim that this definition looks a lot like the definition for natural selection, which it may. In addition it ignores the origin of new alleles, again true. However, my position is this, since many think this is what the term means, agree with them! I am not out anything by agreeing. In fact, I think it strengthens my case, because it separates the type of evolution that I hold to be true and is logical. Also, it now puts them on the defensive if they still hold to an illogical and counter intuitive Darwinian evolution view.