President, BioLogos Foundation
Dear Dr. Giberson:
As a professor, author and President of the BioLogos Foundation, you have powerful communication tools at your disposal. You have access to major media outlets and you speak with scientific authority. In short, you are a teacher with a very large audience. This is an enormous teaching responsibility which I am sure you take seriously. For this reason I want to alert you to a fundamental mistake which you and the BioLogos Foundation have made. Given the magnitude of your teaching responsibility I hope that you will carefully consider this situation and take the appropriate corrective measures.
Your mistake is that you present evolution as a well-established scientific fact. For instance, in a recent USA Today opinion piece you (with Darrel Falk) wrote that evolution "is as well-established within biology as heliocentricity is established within astronomy." You continued:
In the years since Darwin argued natural selection was the agent of creation, the evidence for evolution has become overwhelming. The fossil record has provided evidence of compelling transitional species such as whales with feet. The discovery of DNA now provides an irrefutable digital record of the relatedness of all living things. And even the physicists have cooperated by proving that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, providing plenty of time for evolution.
In the follow-up chat a USA Today reader asked about the evidence for macro evolution, to which you responded:
By far the strongest evidence for this--evidence that I think is essentially proof--comes from genetics. The site www.biologos.org has an entire FAQ on this question. I think, if you look at how species share genes, even ones that don't do anything, you will be convinced that they must have evolved from common ancestors.
Your statements here, which are similar to those made the previous BioLogos President Francis Collins, are a dramatic misrepresentation of science. Let me explain why.
Affirming the consequent
The evidences that you cite (and of course more evidences could be cited) match evolutionary expectations. Therefore certain predictions of the theory have been confirmed. It is a logical fallacy, however, to conclude that confirmed predictions prove the theory to be true. This fallacy is known as affirming the consequent. Therefore, the age of the earth, transitional fossils such as whales with feet, similar genes and other such evidences do not prove evolution.
Ignoring contradictory evidence
In addition to this logical error, you also mistakenly ignore falsifying evidence. For while there are evidences that are consistent with evolution as you cite above, there is a wide range of staggering evidences against evolution. These include fossils and genetic data, among others. For instance, dramatic similarities are found in otherwise distant species and significant differences are found in otherwise similar species. These findings were great surprises to evolutionists. While it is true that after-the-fact circuitous explanations can always be contrived, certainly the substantial body of contradictory evidence should have some bearing on the status of evolutionary theory.
Relying on metaphysics
Unfortunately the claim that evolution is a fact, as much as is gravity or heliocentrism, has always been motivated by metaphysical assumptions. These assumptions trace back to the Enlightenment, and Darwin and Wallace built upon them. The conclusion ever since was that evolution had to be true, not because of the empirical science but because of the metaphysical mandate. The BioLogos Foundation falls into this tradition. Francis Collins has consistently promoted evolution’s religious premises, such as when he wrote:
A claim that the human genome was created by God independently rather than being part of descent from a common ancestor would mean God intentionally inserted a nonfunctioning piece of DNA into our genomes to test our faith. Unless you are willing to contemplate the idea of God as a deceiver, this is not a comfortable explanation.
Likewise, your suggestion that shared genes, including non functional ones, prove common ancestry is equally metaphysical. From a scientific perspective these are merely confirmed expectations, but given the evolutionary metaphysics such similarities prove common ancestry.
In summary, you have ignored standard principles of scientific reasoning and have presented to the public metaphysical reasoning as science. I hope this letter helps you to see the seriousness of your mistake. You have a tremendous teaching responsibility—I hope you meet the challenge.
Sincerely, Cornelius Hunter