21^st^ Century Socrates
Copyright 2017 Cal Glover
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I have always been impressed by the contributions made to the ancient world by the Greeks. As a mathematician I have a great appreciation for logic and debate, which is what made me wonder what Plato and his mentor, Socrates, would think about the world in which we now live. I hope that you will maintain an open mind as you read the conclusions I believe they would have drawn, based on my own research. When it comes down to it, we are all just seekers of knowledge, and the more information we allow ourselves to consider, the more likely we are to reach the right conclusions. If you find yourself disagreeing with, or questioning the validity of this information, please investigate it for yourself. The section at the end lists my own sources which would be the logical place to begin. Thank you for allowing me to travel with you for a short time in our life-long quest for truth and wisdom.
Creation vs. Evolution
S: So Plato, I understand that you are a great admirer of this theory called Evolution?
P: I am indeed, Socrates. I believe it provides an excellent explanation for the origin of mankind and all living organisms on this planet.
S: Interesting! Please tell me more.
P: I would be happy to! This theory says that all living organisms on the face of the earth are the result of a process called evolution, whereby single-celled organisms gradually changed to become all of the plants, animals, and even human beings we see today!
S: Amazing! They have evidence for this?
P: Yes, they do! It is based on a very logical phenomenon called Survival of the Fittest, which is based on observable data!
S: Which means that the fittest organisms in any population have the best chance of survival and producing more offspring that take after them?
P: Precisely. I guess the name gives it away. The most fascinating aspect is that, once in a while, a mistake occurs in an organism’s genetic material which actually gives it an advantage over its brethren. This is known as a beneficial mutation. Over a long period of time, the less fit become extinct and a new species is created, made up of those who inherited the mutation from the original ancestor!
S: Interesting. It all makes perfect sense, but why is this called “evolution”? Wouldn’t it be more logical to call it adaptation? I have read about the finches that inhabit the islands of the Galapagos chain and how each island has a separate species especially suited for the resources available. To me, this seems like nature’s way of adapting to environmental conditions.
P: That is true my friend, but it is also evidence for the theory of evolution, don’t you see?
S: Not yet. But go on, perhaps you can convince me.
P: I shall endeavor to do so. Some scientists believe that adaptation is evidence for the theory of evolution. They say that the same process of random mutation, given a long enough time period, would allow single celled organisms to evolve into all of the living organisms we see today! Isn’t that brilliant?
S: It seems pretty amazing to me, I must admit. At the same time, we should always carefully examine any theory before accepting it as fact, don’t you agree? Do you see any flaws in this reasoning? Are there any alternate theories?
P: There is another popular theory, but it is based on superstition rather than scientific reasoning. Some people believe that all life was created by an intelligent being for which they have various names. These people say that the amazing variety and complexity of the organisms we see today could not have come about without some form of intelligence orchestrating it. I have to admit, they have a point. It is hard to believe that a single-celled organism could become something as complex and intricate as the human body. But I still favor the theory of evolution because it doesn’t require the presence of a supernatural being.
S: I see. So the driving force behind this theory of evolution is to demonstrate that a supernatural being was not necessary and to explain the presence of life based on natural processes alone?
P: That is correct. At the same time, there are some who believe that the theory of evolution is correct, but that it was initiated and guided by this same intelligent being. However, most people don’t accept this compromise and are either staunch evolutionists or creationists.
S: To continue with my earlier two-part question, what flaws are there in the theory of evolution?
P: Nothing worth mentioning really, other than what I previously mentioned about objections from creationists.
S: Let’s talk about that, because as you said, the creationists have a point. We have been talking about random mutations that occur in DNA. How did DNA itself evolve?
P: Good question. Scientists haven’t figured that out yet, but they are working on it and I am confident they will find a logical scientific explanation for it eventually.
S: So what you are saying is that you have faith in these men of science?
P: I see where you are going with that question, but my faith is based on logic, not superstition.
S: Is it not logical to think that the amazing complexity of living organisms implies the presence of an intelligent creator?
P: I suppose so, when you put it that way. However, it seems like an overly simplistic way of explaining something we don’t fully understand yet.
S: Often it is helpful to imagine yourself as someone who holds a viewpoint that is contrary to your own. I have spoken with some of these creation scientists and they feel very strongly that their viewpoint is just as logical, if not more so, than the theory of evolution.
P: I wasn’t aware of that. Many evolutionists claim that the theory of creation produces people who are not concerned about scientific pursuits because they don’t feel the need to look for explanations. Their answer to all of the questions about origins is simply, “because that’s the way God made it.” This causes them to become intellectually stagnant and is a serious detriment to scientific progress.
S: I have not found this to be true. On the contrary, actually. There are many scientists who believe in a supernatural creator, yet are still driven by their desire to understand how it all works. For them it is very exciting to delve into the mysteries of the creation and get a glimpse into the mind of God.
P: Interesting. I never really tried to understand their viewpoint, I am ashamed to say. I’m afraid I have been guilty of intellectual bias based on my intense desire to discount any theory that isn’t based on empirical data. At the same time, I still believe that the theory of evolution provides a logical explanation for the presence of life on earth and that a supernatural element is not required.
S: Let us examine this more thoroughly, my friend, so that we can either confirm your views or find reason to believe that they are not as logical as you now think them to be. As I said earlier, the process whereby an organism changes based on random mutations and environmental conditions, should be called adaptation rather than evolution. The two terms are not synonymous. Beware of faulty logic. Evolution is actually a broader concept which states that all living organisms present on the earth today descended from single-celled organisms. To say that adaptation proves evolution is true requires what is famously called a leap of faith. Do you see the irony there?
P: You mean that the theory of evolution is based on faith? Yes, I must admit that is extremely ironic, considering what evolutionists say about creationists. That being said, you have to admit that the evidence of adaptation that we see all around us makes the theory of evolution plausible at least?
S: Absolutely. Otherwise no one would be willing to make that leap of faith I mentioned. The fact that it is plausible makes it worthy of careful consideration to see if it is more, or less plausible than its counterpart, the theory of creation. In order to achieve this, we need to examine the various meanings of the word “evolution”. Believe it or not, the ambiguity of this term is actually the crux of this debate. I must say, making “adaptation” synonymous with “evolution” was a brilliant move on the part of evolutionists. Now they can make statements like, “Evolution is a fact-look at the evidence all around us!” Of course, they are actually talking about adaptation, for which there is ample evidence. The problem with this is that the presence of adaptation is not sufficient to prove that evolution from single-celled organisms is a fact. This is why evolution is still just a theory. As such, it must be carefully scrutinized in order to determine if it is a sound theory. Do you agree?
P: Absolutely! Any scientist worthy of the title would have to agree that any theory should stand up to rigorous scrutiny!
S: Well said my friend. Now let us examine some of the ways in which the evidence is either lacking or actually contradicts the theory of evolution. Keep in mind that when I say “evolution”, I am referring to the entire process that supposedly allowed single-celled organisms to transform into all of the living organisms we see today. Did you know that Charles Darwin himself had serious misgivings about his own theory? He was very troubled by the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record. Since evolution proposes a slow, incremental change over long periods of time, the fossil record should be absolutely full of these transitional forms, showing the gradual transformation from simple life forms to the more complex ones we see today. This is not the case.
P: Interesting. I have to admit, my enthusiasm for evolution is decreasing by the minute! However, I am not ready to side with the creationists either. It doesn’t seem very scientific when the answer to every question is, “God did it”.
S: That is a common misconception Plato. Tell me something-if God himself appeared before you and told you that He did in fact create everything in the universe, would it decrease your desire to understand how it all works?
P: I suppose not. Nothing could take away my innate curiosity regarding this amazing world in which we live. I see what you’re getting at. Belief in a supernatural Creator has nothing to do with the advancement of science. Come to think of it, many of the greatest achievements in both science and mathematics came from men who believed in the Creator. There is still another possible explanation for the presence of life on earth which we haven’t addressed. Isn’t it possible that an advanced civilization somewhere in the universe brought or sent the early life forms we see in the fossil record and they in turn gave rise to what we see today by slowly changing over millions of years?
S: Yes, it is possible but that is pure speculation at best. It is also possible that if there is life on other planets that God created that life as well. The point is, science is based on evidence, not speculation. We can only work with the evidence that is available to us now. Of course, evolutionists will have you believe that the theory of creation is also based on speculation because it requires faith in a supernatural cause. They will say that you can’t prove that God exists when they are literally surrounded by evidence to the contrary. Anyone who looks at the way an embryo develops into a fully formed human being and says they don’t believe in miracles is simply in denial. The point is, science has always been based on the best explanation, and based on the evidence, Creation is more logical and valid than Evolution.
P: But the theory of creation is based on religion whereas evolution is based solely on observable data, which is more in line with scientific endeavor! Isn’t it wrong to say that a theory that requires faith in a supernatural being is scientific?
S: Not if that is the best explanation. Wouldn’t it be a travesty to eliminate the most logical theory simply because it doesn’t fit certain so-called scientific criteria? Is it more logical to say that the amazing complexity we see in nature requires an intelligent source or that it all came from a single-celled organism guided only by random mutations and environmental conditions? Which requires more faith, for that matter? This is a classic case of not being able to see the forest because there are too many trees in the way! We are literally surrounded by proof of an intelligent creator! The human nervous system alone is a marvel of engineering yet evolutionists somehow claim that this happened as a result of random mutations. This is just one example of the absurd lengths people will go to deny the existence of God.
P: I never looked at it that way, Socrates. Considering the lack of evidence, I suppose it does require an element of faith to say that the presence of adaptation proves that all living things began as single-celled organisms. Come to think of it, one has to wonder where those original unicellular organisms came from! I’m afraid I was blinded by my intense desire to find a so-called “scientific” explanation for something that is, in fact, supernatural.
S: Well said, Plato. You always were my favorite student. You see, the Theory of Creation doesn’t stifle scientific endeavor at all. It doesn’t deny the concept of survival of the fittest either. It simply says that God created the original organisms and programmed their DNA to produce random mutations that would give them a better chance to survive when their environment changed. For example, He would have created the first dog-like animal which gave us the wolf, fox, dingo, hyena, jackal and dogs we see today. These are simply examples of variation within a species, not the so-called evolution that some scientists say transformed single-celled organisms into every form of life on our planet. Now that we are in agreement on the question of origins, I have to wonder if our discussion has given rise to any other questions?
P: You know me too well! Let’s start with this: Why are people so desperate to deny the existence of a supernatural Creator? What would cause scientists to abandon their principles and engage in outright deception of the general public who place so much trust in their integrity?
S: I’m afraid that no matter how much time has passed and how much progress has been made since our day, there is one thing that hasn’t changed and that is the battle between good and evil. You see, if we admit that God exists, then we have to face the fact that we are accountable to Him for our actions. Many people can’t accept that so they try to convince themselves that God doesn’t exist. Of course, a part of them knows better, but they refuse to accept what their conscience tells them. You see, Plato-there is no such thing as an atheist. Anyone who can look at God’s amazing creation and then say that He doesn’t exist is simply in denial. The problem is, many of these people are well respected scientists whose words influence a great many people. The title of “scientist” carries so much weight in this modern age that whatever they say becomes widely accepted as truth. Another problem is this obsession with wanting to find a natural explanation for everything. It is very difficult in an advanced civilization such as this one, to admit that there might be something we will never understand, such as God and concepts like infinity and eternity. How can God have no beginning? Our minds can’t grasp such things, so we refuse to accept them.
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What would Socrates and Plato have to say about the world in which we live today? Socratic dialogue on such topics as the Creation vs Evolution debate, world religions, genetically modified organisms, and stem cell therapy to name a few. Written from a Christian perspective that presents both sides of each issue in a clear and concise, thought-provoking discussion between the two greatest minds of antiquity.