Here’s Part Two of the debate between the theistic evolutionist, Karl Giberson and creationist Randy Guliuzza. If you missed the first part, check it out here. Both Dr. Giberson and Dr. Guliuzza presented their opening remarks, and here they’re offering their rebuttals, and then answering questions from the audience.
Dr. Giberson says that Dr. Guliuzza misrepresented how scientists approach origins, and that he’s using a debating trick by switching definitions. Giberson says that such a boundary between observational science and historical science doesn’t exist because science is done by examining scientific episodes, which are indistinguishable. As an example he uses the sun and asks if we’re studying it in the present or the past? Or if we look at the stars, are we studying the present or history? He referred to several supernovas, including the one seen by Tycho Brahe in 1572, which (supposedly) happened millions of years ago. Giberson says that no one can build a laboratory to observe these events, but we have scientific principles resulting from such things as supernovae. He then says that we do science in the same way in the past as we do in the present. He admits we can’t go back in the past, but must extrapolate based on theory, but that doesn’t mean we can’t study those things scientifically. He also referred to volcanoes and continental drift and pointed out that we can’t create laboratories to test them. Therefore, to restrict science to what can be observed, tested and repeated puts it out of history, and he doesn’t know anyone who’d define science that way.
Giberson thought Guliuzza’s identification of comments by Dawkins, Gould and Lewonton were odd. Their comments were anti-God; these men want Christianity to go away and die. They fashion science to use against Christianity by extrapolating beyond what the scientific data can support; they put a theological interpretation on everything in science to make it incompatible with Christianity, but we shouldn’t let them do our Christian theology for us. We should look to genuine theologians to get a thorough explanation of God as creator. They’re amateur theologians that can be ignored.
The normal meaning of Genesis came into play, and Giberson responded to Guliuzza’s claim that those living in Biblical times understood Scripture as it was written. Giberson says that the meaning of Genesis isn’t a simple a concept. We read the Bible in English and think it can be easily translated without confusion. Genesis one says: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. He claims this verse can’t be referring to a planet because no one thought of the earth as a planet until the 17th century. He says planets were called wandering stars by the ancients… an object in the heavens moving in an inexplicable way that couldn’t be understood. But they didn’t call the earth a wandering star because it was fixed and at the center. He claims we’re ripping Genesis out of context, which is unreasonable. God created a firmament, which literally means a dome, and this caused a lot of puzzlement. The names Adam and Eve had Hebrew meanings, such as “man” and “the mother of all living”, and this gives us a much different story from the normal meaning. Giberson says there’s a difference in interpretation that we need to understand, and he suggested that, rather than have it be a “God’s truth” or “man’s word” approach, we need to understand that God gave us two books: the book of Scripture, and the book of nature; two distinct revelations by God brought into harmony (Thomas Aquinas). He says we can’t subordinate one book against the other, and that they both have the same author, and we need to have a good understanding of both.
Dr. Guliuzza responded and explains that the main reason evolutionists won’t give Genesis its normal meaning is due to the supposed evidence supplied by evolution. He says that when we speak, we give words a normal meaning and context. But evolutionists say we shouldn’t do that with Genesis because of science and other sources. Guliuzza claims it’s not just that evolution got it wrong- it’s that the Bible got it right. So if evolution can’t get it right, why should we give it any credibility at all by not giving the words of Genesis their normal contextual meaning? Science doesn’t even have an answer to the Cambrian explosion, junk DNA, or the tree of life, so why should it stand in judgment of the Bible?
Guliuzza states that the universe shows fantastic design that’s not explained by the Big Bang, which sounds like a magical story as it progresses from star formation, planets, and people, while skipping over biological complexity. It’s just one fanciful story after another.
Guliuzza objected to Giberson accusing him of using a rhetorical trick when he defined the term science to differentiate between observational science and historical science. He says that science is based on observation and testing, and there’s a big difference between the two: one allows us to run tests to tell us if things work or not, while the other doesn’t.
He says that the example of whale evolution provided by Giberson is simply based on artistic license. Fossils are extremely fragmented and are missing many bones, and that Ambulocetus is a land dwelling creature with no real transition in between- it’s just a fanciful story.
Guliuzza rebutted Giberson’s explanation of Common design vs. Custom design by explaining that God used a good working design over and over. Giberson had said that he’d expect God to customize organisms so that, if they weren’t related, they wouldn’t have similar designs. But Guliuzza pointed out that Giberson made an unreasonable assumption and wouldn’t know what God would do. He also showed that evolution was spectacularly wrong about shared genes or pseudogenes.
He explained how webbed toes result from a process in development. The webbing isn’t like a fish, and the human tailbone isn’t a real tail. And all the problems we face with varicose veins, windpipe and back problems, are not a problem of bad design, but a problem of getting old and breaking down.
Guliuzza discussed sin and how God told Adam that he would surely die if he disobeyed, and it’s that sin that lead to our sinful nature.
He says that our mysteriously powerful brain is evidence against evolution. If we evolved, then our brain should have stopped evolving after the point that we could survive, so why is it “super, super designed”? To map the neurons in our brain would take 1 trillion DVD’s to store the information. But it was designed so that we could know and understand God.
He responded to Giberson’s claim that there are two books from God (Scripture and nature) and says that nature doesn’t trump the Bible, and the Bible warns about giving glory to the creation rather than the creator. He says that we have a natural tendency to move away from God, and that’s why we always need scripture to guide us to the truth.
He says that we have no reason to reject the Bible because the evidence for evolution has vanished.
Giberson had a chance to respond and took issue with Guliuzza for using such descriptions to describe evolutionists as “fanciful”, “concocted”, and using “artistic license”. He says this description of the scientific community isn’t necessary, and that the field of science is one of integrity. It’s the search for truth, and he’s never known anyone to “concoct”. He also mentioned that scientists are poorly paid.
Next he responded to Guliuzza’s evidence debunking evolution by explaining that scientists are developing better answers, and that he didn’t have time to present all the lines of evidence for evolution. He says that evolution is complex, and changes rapidly, and that Guliuzza shouldn’t be quoting geneticists from 1963 because it’s a rapidly changing field. He maintains that evolution is moving slowly with integrity and isn’t a concoction or fraud.
Guliuzza responded and discussed the notion of consensus in science. He says that, in the 1930’s, the vast majority of scientists (the establishment of the day) believed we should help the human race evolve by getting rid of the unfit, and some states forcibly sterilized humans and applied eugenics. Therefore we know that scientists can be dreadfully wrong in vast numbers.
At this time the debate moved to the Question and Answer session, and there were some good ones. Dr. Guliuzza addressed a question about human and chimp DNA, and he explained that the latest research by Jeffrey Tompkins demonstrates that humans and chimps are not anywhere near similar. Evolutionists have cherry-picked the data to get 98%, and now it’s down to 70%. In fact the human and chimp Y chromosome’s similarity is down to 60%.
Giberson responded incredulously to the term “cherry-picking” and said we need to be careful. He explained that when we’re making comparisons with DNA, we need to know if we’re comparing gene sequences that do something and ignoring those that don’t. He says there are different ways to do comparisons and that he’s skeptical of 70%. He rebuked Guliuzza, saying that there’s no reason for scientists to cherry-pick the data and that it’s very disingenuous to suggest that. He says that evolution is the reigning paradox.
One audience member asked, “Who was Adam”? Giberson stated that some Biblical scholars see the “Adam” story as Israel, and this was a powerful parabolic lesson- a powerful way of talking about a relationship to God. He says that the connection between Jesus and Adam is complicated. Paul isn’t arguing that if Adam didn’t sin, then Jesus wouldn’t be necessary. There needs to be a recognition that we’re sinful creatures, that humans are flawed and need to be redeemed. The point isn’t that Adam is real- the point is that we need to be saved.
Guliuzza responded that Adam was a real human being, just like Jesus, and that Genesis One isn’t a story about Israel. He wondered why anyone would be compelled not to read Genesis as a historical account. What in the text would lead one to think about this being a parable for Israel? It’s extraneous. It’s an attempt to harmonize Scripture with an evolutionary origin of humans. Why should it be complicated? It’s not complicated at all. The book of Luke gives a genealogical account from Jesus to Adam. Jesus is tied to Adam, and is a flesh and blood kinsman redeemer- Jesus could suffer on our behalf because he was both God and man. Paul explains that when Adam fell, we fell with him.
Another person asked about the Urey/ Miller, origin of life experiment. Giberson says the experiment wasn’t supposed to prove that life originated in a particular way, but it took on a life of its own. He says you can make complicated amino acids without having any design, and that recent experiments are encouraging and pointing us in the right direction for a self-replicating cell. It’s a very complicated problem and may take another century to resolve, or we may never get there.
Guliuzza agreed that the experiment took on a life of its own. But Miller Urey proved to him in college that life originated spontaneously, and he was fooled by it. Scientists, he says, don’t have a clue how life originated. We’re not close to a self-replicated cell.
Someone asked if there’s any Biblical evidence for billions of years, and Giberson referred to the second book of nature, saying there’s no contradicting evidence there.
Guliuzza said there’s nothing in the Bible telling us that God used evolution rather than supernatural creation. This is forcing evolution into Scripture.
Another person asked if there’s any geologic evidence for an old or young earth, and Guliuzza responded that there’s carbon 14 in every fossil we date when there shouldn’t be. After 100,000 years there should be no measurable carbon 14 left. And in 2005 actual soft tissue from dinosaurs was found in what was believed to be 65 million year old dinosaur blood.
Giberson said that carbon 14 can be used for dating, but there are many different types of dating techniques.
Overall, in my opinion, Guliuzza triumphed big-time over Giberson. Guliuzza was prepared, articulate, logical and coherent. I thought Giberson gave some very contrived answers; he was incoherent, unprepared, inconcistent, and very convoluted, especially in his theological answers. Giberson didn’t have any real answers for as to how theology can be wedded to evolution, and his explanation of Adam as a parable to Israel made no sense on its own.
As a young earth creationist I’m certainly critical of Giberson, but that’s because I see some very real problems that he hasn’t addressed, or can’t address. Here are some of my criticisms.
Firstly I don’t find it surprising that he went from being a creationist to a theistic evolutionist. When I study his arguments, assumptions and criticisms about young earth creationism, it’s clear that he never really understood creationism. If he did, he wouldn’t have made the basic mistakes he’s made.
He claimed that no key theological concepts are harmed by believing in evolution, but I think his responses made it clear that there are key problems when evolution is mixed with Scripture.
Giberson accepts all the evidence in favor of the Big Bang, but there’s plenty of evidence against it that he’s either unaware of, or is ignoring. There are many scientists who’ve rejected the Big Bang, and many of them submitted a letter to the scientific community listing their concerns, including the acceptance of hypothetical entities that have never been observed, such as dark matter, dark energy and inflation, to prop up the Big Bang. Instead of there being successful predictions associated with the Big Bang, there are retrospective observations fit into the parameters; but there were no quantitative predictions validated by observable evidence. So the successful predictions that he claim “undergird” the central scientific explanation for the evolution of the universe collapse. http://creation.com/secular-scientists-blast-the-big-bang
He says that human fossils are never found with dinosaurs, but such a claim doesn’t distinguish evolution from creation. At the time of the flood most people would probably have been living in close proximity to each other, and dinosaurs probably wouldn’t have been living among them, so we wouldn’t expect human fossils to be buried with dinosaur fossils. However, after Noah’s flood we do have evidence of humans and dinosaurs coexisting, including Biblical references to the behemoth and leviathan. Dr. Guliuzza did a nice job pointing out that the tree of life is imaginative speculation and has been turned on its head; this falsifies evolution rather than confirm it.
Giberson’s discussion of Common design vs. Custom design was nonsensical. For a theistic evolutionist there should be no talk of design because the organisms supposedly evolved and were not designed. Sometimes he spoke as though organisms were designed by God, and at other times he talked as though pure evolutionary processes were responsible for the organism’s appearance. Design is usually used by creationists and Intelligent Design adherents, but not evolutionists. Guliuzza also correctly pointed out that God isn’t limited to designing in a way that would satisfy an evolutionist; God designed things based on a common design that works and isn’t constrained to design organisms in a dissimilar way.
Giberson’s explanation for vestigial organs has long been disproven, so it’s hard to understand why he even brought that up. He seems to have no concept about how the effect of Adam’s sin would have caused the problems that he calls bad “design”. He says it’s hard to understand why things like vestigial tails, webbed feet and hands exist in a creationist model, but that’s only because he doesn’t believe in the Fall of Man, which actually explains that. The Fall also explains cruelty, which didn’t exist prior to The Fall. These were all the result of The Fall and came afterwards.
His explanation for the “image of God” and our sinful nature is problematic. He says God’s image gradually emerged over time, but then that would mean there’s a point where humans are sub-human, and are not unique or special to other organisms, and this could be used as an excuse to justify such things as abortion and eugenics, which has already been done. The Bible, however, tells us that we’re made in God’s image right from the beginning of creation and at conception, and that’s a powerful argument against abortion and murder. In the same way we’re born into sin as a result of Adam’s sin. No one has to teach a baby or infant how to sin or do wrong; it comes naturally. Giberson’s concept is very vague. To say that sin “emerged” does nothing to help our understanding of Scripture or theology.
He also seems to merge Intelligent Design into his theistic evolutionary beliefs. He mentioned the fine-tuning argument, which actually favors creationists and not evolutionists. From an evolutionary perspective, why is it that the universe, earth and all of life have the appearance of design if they weren’t designed? Evolutionists have to confront that issue, while it’s apparent to creationists that the design is very real. When Giberson says he’s in awe of God’s creation, it’s because God designed it awesomely- not because of some evolutionary or naturalistic processes. If God is responsible for tuning the knobs, then it wasn’t left to natural processes as he previously claimed.
It’s also apparent that Giberson doesn’t understand the difference between operational science and historical science because he claims they’re indistinguishable. That’s strange because he’s able to articulate the difference without believing it. If they’re really indistinguishable, then why are we able to distinguish between them? He also says that we can’t build a laboratory to observe supernovae, volcanoes, or continental drift. But he doesn’t seem to understand that you don’t need to build a laboratory in order to observe and test, or to make predictions. And we don’t need a laboratory in order to observe the effects of any particular process, like gravity. He says that we do science in the past the same way we do in the present, which is not true. He even admitted that we can’t go back into the past, but must EXTRAPOLATE based on theory. Therefore, if we extrapolate based on theory, we can’t perform an experiment on the past to verify if the extrapolations were correct. He also says that to restrict science to what can be observed, tested and repeated puts it out of history, and that’s the point. He seems to understand it, but doesn’t want to acknowledge it because that would damage the credibility of evolution. This is extremely important because so many people think evolution is a proven fact. They can’t see the difference between observational science and historical science. Historical science cannot be substantiated. It’s also interesting that Giberson rebukes evolutionists like Richard Dawkins as one who extrapolates beyond what the scientific data can support, but he doesn’t see that he’s doing the same thing with evolution. If Giberson could see this distinction I think he’d be able to see the evidence for evolution falling apart.
I thought it was interesting how Giberson discussed how we should interpret scripture because he has an odd way of doing it. He argues that the ancients couldn’t have understood what it meant when Scripture said that God “created the heavens and the earth” because they didn’t know what planets were. But I find that irrelevant. They would have understood the meaning; they would have known what the earth was and what the heavens were referring to, and that would be enough to understand the plain meaning. Guliuzza was right to point out that nature doesn’t trump Scripture, while it seems that Giberson elevates science over Scripture by equating nature with science.
Giberson tried desperately to defend the integrity of science, but it’s clear that he’s unaware of all the scientific frauds that have been exposed, such as Piltdown man, Archaeoraptor, Haekel’s embryonic drawings, peppered moths, horse evolution, and even global warming. Scientific frauds are not uncommon because, as Giberson admitted, there’s little money to be made from being a scientist. Grant money is needed, and in order to obtain grant money, the scientist needs to be successful, and that often leads to fraud, cherry-picking, artistic license, concoctions, speculation, and fanciful explanations.
I also thought it was interesting how many times Giberson resorted to the terms “complexity” or “complicated”, as if it were an admission that he had no idea.