I have a question on your answer to the 13 year old wanting proof that evolution is not real. You say that you believe in God’s creation and that he guides the evolutionary process. I was wondring if you think that the earth is older than 6000 years old or if you think evolution is a faster process. Or if you are thinking that evolution is like selective breeding with just different recessive traits showing.
The Bible does not answer the question of the age of the earth. Nowhere does it say the earth is xxxx years old. Of course, some have demanded that the days of Genesis chapter 1 must be taken literally, but this is only one possible interpretation. It is wise to bear in mind that the Genesis creation account is not a scientific treatise, but a theological one. Given that the Bible does not answer the question, then the age of the earth is a scientific question. The scientific evidence is that the earth is very old–about 4.5 billion years. I have no reason to not accept this result, either biblically or theologically. The rate of evolution is very slow if you are talking about the development of very different species. Small changes, such as a single mutation can happen and be acquired by a population of animals in several generations. Some small changes can happen fairly quickly, but the evolution of the thousands of different species of birds from a common ancestor , for example, would take a very long time–certainly many millions of years. The expression of recessive traits cannot explain this! The evolution of whales from an ancestor which lived on the land took several million years. That is what the evidence says, anyway.
Whether this is what actually happened cannot be PROVED by science, of course. We cannot PROVE that the earth is a certain age, but we can ask where the evidence points. The evidence points to creation of life by God. The evidence is suggestive of the creation of different species by God at different times, but it also leads to the idea of gradual change over great periods of time. Six thousand years is not found in the Bible. In any case, the amount of evolution which appears to have occurred from the fossil and genetic evidence certainly could not have occurred in just 6000 years. As for the idea that selective breeding and the expression of recessive traits can explain evolution, we could explain a certain amount of microevolution by the expression of latant recessive traits. There was sufficient genetic diversity in the population of the ancestor to the various breeds of dogs that a fantastic variety of dog breeds could be produced by selective breeding in a few thousand years. The problem is where the wide variety of genetic diversity in dogs arose. This great diversity could not arise in a short time. Natural selection can produce quite a bit of change using already existent genetic material, but what cannot happen quickly is the creation of new traits because the vast majority of random mutations are either harmful or neutral. New traits which are helpful to survival are created by random mutations only extremely slowly.
What about those people who insist that we MUST interpret the days of Genesis to be literal twenty-four hour periods–who insist that a Christian must believe that the earth is a few thousand years old? Well, they must deal with the evidence. I suppose one could argue that God created the earth "with an appearance of age," He could have put the fossils of dinosaurs and trilobytes in the ground and created a vast amount of genetic diversity at the moment of creation. God definitely could have done that. He could do whatever he wills. Science certainly cannot prove this wrong, but I have to say this appears to be quite a stretch. What could not happen is for the apparent amount of evolution that the scientific evidence seems to imply to take place in just a few thousand years.
John Oakes, PhD