Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Science: Adam and the Genome 3

Hit and run this morning with a new book by Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight called, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science. Both are men of strong faith.

Previous posts
Personal Preface
Forward and Introduction

1. Now quickly chapter 1. Chapter 1 is titled, "Evolution as a Scientific Theory." Venema gives a bit of his personal story. Grew up against evolution. Didn't agree with it even through his PhD program. He now teaches biology at Trinity Western University

He spends a section of the first chapter correcting the sense that scientific theories are guesses or conjectures. A hypothesis in science does get to be called a theory until it has produced an extensive body of results that fit with it. In common language, we might say, "It's just a theory." But that is not how theories work in science. "A hypothesis that is not rejected after many, many predictions and tests eventually becomes a broad explanatory framework that has withstood repeated experimentation and that makes accurate predictions about the natural world: in other words, a theory" (4).

He then dismisses the often referenced studies on diet and health. Most of this is not good science. It is rather sensational journalism and people trying to sell you stuff. Don't mistake the fake science from the long, painstaking real stuff.

2. He has a long quote from John Edwards dismissing the idea that the earth goes around the sun. Edwards gives both theological and scientific arguments against it. One argument against it, the absence of a stellar paradox, Venema indicates was shown to be present two hundred years later. His point is that what seems difficult for Christian belief today might not seem difficult to a later generation. And sometimes it takes a little time to show what at first seems counterintuitive.

The latter part of this chapter gives an example. The idea that mammals descended from fish seems odd to say the least, as does the idea that tetrapods came out of the water to land and then that some of them returned to the sea as whales. Darwin suggested the latter and was soundly laughed to scorn for it.

Venema then gives evidence that, while not proving these hypotheses, has made them more plausible and has failed to disprove the theories. Lungfish are an example of a fish that to this day has the breathing apparatus both of water and air. They also have bones in their fins. Paleontological work in this time period has also found fossils of several species that blur the distinction between fish and tetrapod.

Finally, he speaks of fossils of species found around the Indian Ocean that have features that are suitable for water but that are still tetrapods. He follows up with the embryology of whales, which shows that the embryos begin toward developing back legs but then call it off in later development.

These fossils do not prove the hypothesis, but they support it and "fail to reject" it upon further experimentation.

Here endeth the first chapter.

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

Hmmm. This section doesn't seem to be much about either Adam or the genome. I guess discussion of these matters will follow, in the book.