Sorry if this question is always asked or if you have already answered it.
I noticed in one of your articles you said that evolution is not absolute
fact and you commend brave people such as Behe for trying to push the idea
of Intelligent Design. I myself am a Christian, but most Christians would
say I have a problem and the problem is that I consider evolution fact.
I’m currently taking an evolution class (I’m not claiming that makes me an
expert!) and from what I have learned it just seems as though anyone who
tries to dispell evolution as a myth or as incomplete is eventually made
to look foolish. In Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion, I feel he deals with
Behe’s objections quite well and in the documentary “Flock of Dodos” I
also feel the director does an admirable job of defending evolution. So my
question would be what it is that you disagree with about evolution? I’ve
read a little about you and you are obviously a highly qualified scientist
and I was just curious as to what about evolution you do not think adds
up? And if you feel that evolution is a threat to our religion, then why?


If you read my article at the web site on intelligent design, you already
have at least the gist of my ideas on this question. For a lot more
detail, you can get a copy of my book, “Is There a God?” (
) in which I discuss the idea of intelligent design and of evolution in
considerable detail.

I was just asked a simplistic version of this question this weekend. I
was speaking on science and God at the Universityof Utah. Like I said to
this religiously fairly conservative crowd, one of the most beautiful of
God?s inventions is evolution. This is God?s answer for how living
species respond to changes in their environment. The earth is dynamic
rather than static. Our orbit and the energy we receive from the sun are
amazingly stable, but not perfectly stable. The slight natural variations
of the real system we are part of causes changes in the environment to
which species absolutely must adapt or perish. Species adapt by the
natural process we have called evolution. I believe that God allowed for
natural background radiation, principally from uranium in the soils, but
also from extraterrestrial sources, in order to stimulate the process of
evolution. I do not deny that evolution happens. I embrace it as part of
the beautiful system for sustaining life and for sustaining us. Of
course, I acknowledge that evolution happens to living species. I also
acknowledge that there is a lot of evidence in the fossil record for
gradual change over time which can be attributed quite reasonably to the
process of evolution by mutation/natural selection.

Having said all that, I am not a committed naturalist/materialist. I
believe that there is a God and that that God is active. I am a theist,
not a deist. I believe that God?s nature is to almost all the time let
the natural forces take their course. I believe that is how God deals
with us as individuals?giving us free will. However, at certain times in
human history, God has interfered for his sovereign purposes. In order to
send the Christ, he intervened in the life of Judas and in the life of
Pharaoh. Romans chapter nine explains this process, although not in
detail. It is my opinion (and I will admit that I cannot absolutely prove
this from scientific methodology) that God has similarly intervened in the
normal process of change at various times in the past. I am absolutely
convinced that God created life in the first place. I am rather
confident, but not absolutely certain that God has also intervened to
create new or suddenly and radically changed creatures. I use the word
creature purposefully, as the word implies created. I use the evidence of
the Cambrian explosion to support my viewpoint. I also use my admittedly
limited knowledge of the processes and requirements in terms of change in
the genome to conclude that such interventions have happened a number of
times. Otherwise, I find it difficult or impossible to accept that the
fossil record is consistent with slow and gradual change. In addition, I
see the likelihood that God?s “finger” is in there provoking, prodding,
pushing along the evolution process all the time. I will admit that this
is almost sheer speculation, and is not a scientific intuition at all, but
that is my conviction, nonetheless, based both on my understand of how God
works and on my understanding of genetic change.

As for intelligent design: Of course I believe in intelligent design. How
could a Christian not believe in intelligent design? What I am hesitant
about is the claims of the intelligent design camp for irreducible
complexity. I am an agnostic on this. I approach specific biochemical
processes with a free and open mind. I simply do not know if hemoglobin
“evolved” from a similar but simpler precursor or if it was created ex
nihilo by God in some creature many tens or hundreds of millions of years
ago. My understanding of how God has worked in nature does not give me a
definite answer to the question of the process by which hemoglobin became
hemoglobin. Whether it was produced out of nothing in some created life
form or evolved gradually in an already-created life form in not clear.

Now, when I said that evolution is not absolute fact, what I mean by this
is that the atheist/materialist-inspired pseudo-religious faith that
humans evolved from bacteria is not a fact. Is it possible that God
created the original life forms and then simply sat back and watched
humans form over the next 3.8 billion years? Personally, I doubt it, but
I cannot say with absolute certainty that this is not what happened.
However, to declare this as fact is over-reaching what the evidence tells
us to an almost ridiculous degree. Those who declare the entire system of
evolution as “fact”?as the final explanation of everything are over
reaching. I am offended at this. Scientists who understand their craft
should know that scientific conclusions are always tentative. The Big
Bang model is extremely effective at explaining the cosmological evidence,
but that does not justify anyone who understands science to declare it a
fact. Scientists should have learned a long time ago to be humble and to
admit that we are always having to correct ourselves.

What I would say is that the existence of evolution is a fact. Species
evolve. The existence of irreducible complexity is not a fact. The
exception to this, of course, is that the original life form DEFINITELY
represents irreducible complexity, but from this point on, irreducible
complexity represents an unprovable idea. My opinion is that there is
something in this idea, but because it will remain scientifically
unproven, I shy away from leaning on it to explain the origin of species,
at least when I am speaking in a scientific context.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.