Christians (And Everyone Else) Should Know Thisaccording to one history professor, is how the debate will be framed at an upcoming conference. If so, it would be an unfortunate repeat of a centuries old false dichotomy and what would be missing would be any discussion of what evolution really is.
Evolution does not necessarily exclude Adam and Eve and the Fall, and evolution is not a scientific conclusion, obvious or otherwise. For Christians to reckon with evolution they must understand evolution. And to understand evolution, they must understand IFF. Understanding IFF does not force one’s position on evolution, but it does force one’s understanding of evolution.
What is IFF and why does it matter?
IFF is a logical connective and is shorthand for “If and only IF.” For example, if and only if it is Saturday, then I eat pizza. This not only means that I eat pizza on Saturdays. It also means I don’t eat pizza on any other day.
And while this is a perfectly good use of IFF, IFF has no place in scientific hypotheses. A scientist would never say “if and only if my hypothesis is true, then we will observe a certain observation.”
Scientists use hypotheses to make predictions, but they cannot know that a particular hypothesis is the only explanation for a observation. So scientists say “If hypothesis H, then observation O,” but they never say “if and only if H, then O.”
IFF is a religious truth claim, and not scientific statement, because it entails knowledge of all possible explanations. And science affords no such knowledge.
But while IFF is not scientific, it lies at the very heart of evolutionary thought. For example, the practically official motto of evolution is that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” This phrase shows up repeatedly in evolutionary papers and every evolutionist believes it. Yet it is an IFF statement (you can see why here).
Here is a typical example, from this week, of how evolutionary thinking entails IFF and how, for evolutionists, it proves evolution to be true. See if you can find the IFF statement in this quote (hint: I’m giving you some help):
Why am I as sure as I could be of any thing in science that humans and other primates have common ancestors? There are millions of complex mutations (transposable element insertions and other insertions or deletions as well as multiple point mutations in proximity) that are exactly reproduced at the corresponding (orthologous) locations in the human genome and in chimp and in many cases gorilla, orangutan and even gibbon and other monkey genomes. In the case of individual transposon insertions, the peculiarities of the particular event, e.g. the degree of truncation or the specific rearrangement of the element, the exact length of the short direct repeats that flank the insertion, are reproduced in the genomes of different species. The age of the insertion, as estimated by the sequence divergence of the transposable element sequence, matches the age determined by which species contain the insertion (the phylogenetic age) of the insertion. The same kind of observations on the inactivating mutations in unitary pseudogenes that are shared by multiple species confirm that these are records in multiple species of the same mutation events occurring millions of years ago during the branching descent of these species. If you look at really ancient transposon insertions, they tell the same story about mammals in general. There is no way to account for these millions of genomic observations in multiple species except common descent. That is what biologists are talking about when they say evolution is a fact. It is possible to argue from now on about mechanisms of evolution, but the starting point is common descent. These observations about genomes don’t depend at all on any theory of the mechanism of evolution, whether all the mutations are really “random,” or whether the elements involved have since acquired some function. The process of insertion of these elements has been very thoroughly studied for several decades and the results are clear.
There you have it. This is the essence of evolutionary thought, and it is not scientific. Here the evolutionist explains that there is “no way” to account for observations O, except for on his hypothesis, H. This is equivalent to claiming that if and only if H, then O.
Science simply cannot provide this sort of knowledge. And likewise, science cannot be used to refute such a claim. Evolutionary truth claims are not vulnerable to science, for they are not scientific to begin with.
Indeed from a purely scientific perspective the notion that the entire biological world (and by extension everything else for that matter, because evolutionary thought is by no means limited to the origin of species) arose spontaneously is silly.
But from a religious perspective it is true. That religious perspective, however, is not biblical. It may be challenging to fit the gospel message into evolution, but that doesn’t begin to address the real conflict between evolution and the Bible.
There will always be evolutionists and there will always be evolution skeptics. Let’s at least be clear about what evolution is.