Here is today’s episode where I sit down with Perry Marshall to talk about creationism, evolution, and a third way. Be sure to check out Perry’s website to learn more about Evolution 2.0.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. It is a pleasure to be back with you this work after a vacation holiday break. I was out of town in Virginia and so special thanks to Chris for filling in on the episode. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, it’s a great episode on Mere Christianity and despite having a cold, I thought Chris did a very good job so thank you Chris for doing that. We have a very special guest in the studio today, but before we get started I’ve just got a couple announcements here and we’re going to be talking about creationism and evolution and a third way perhaps, so if you want to get involved in that discussion, if you want to have your voice heard here on the show, you can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. I want to welcome our Facebook live viewers who are following along as well. Thanks so much for joining us online and did you know that you can text in to the show? Just text the word VERACITY to the number 555-888 and once you do that you can send me a message about the show, any questions you might have or even topic or guest requests. The last announcement I have is an announcement from Defenders Media. Just yesterday we had confirmed that we’ve been blessed with a $12,000 matching grant for the month of December here so if you want to help support Veracity Hill or support Defenders Media, this is the time to do so because your donation will be doubled by a generous foundation so we want to thank them for their generosity and hope that this is a good opportunity for you to consider partnering with Defenders and Veracity Hill. So if you have any questions about that you can go ahead and email me at Kurt@Veracityhill.com and then any Defenders related stuff it’s just Kurt@defendersmedia.com.
That does it for some of the announcements. I want to introduce to you a man whose reputation is quite famous shall we say online. He has written the book on Google adwords. He is an entrepreneur, an engineer, but he has dabbled his hand into biology and theology and so we’re very interested to get his thoughts so if you don’t know who I’m talking about, his name is Perry Marshall, and Perry thank you so much for joining us in studio today.
Interview with Perry Marshall, Author of Evolution 2.0
Perry: Thank you. It’s an honor to be on the show. You have a lovely little studio here and great topics that you talk about. I like the breadth and array of things that you cover on the show.
Kurt: Thank you. Yeah. Thanks.
Perry: We’ll have a great conversation today.
Kurt: Yes. For sure! Just to get us started, tell me why does someone with an engineering background, an entrepreneur, why does he write a book on biology?
Perry: I got drug into it against my will. I would have never chosen this, but I got into an argument with my brother on a Chinese bus twelve years ago and he was a missionary in China and during the previous two years leading up this conversation he had been systematically discarding his belief system and turning into an almost atheist and this was a long thread of emails and conversations and we were having conversation #126 about this and I said to him, I said “I look at the hand at the end of your arm. This is a nice nice piece of engineering. You don’t actually think this is an accumulation of random accidents do you?” and he goes, “Hang on,” and I’m like “Oh boy. Here we go.” He went on to give me, “Hey. If you have millions of falcons flying around, billions of falcons over hundreds of millions of years then you could just have a little accidental mutation and every now and then the eye would get better or the wing would get better and survival of the fittest gives you better falcons. You don’t need a designer.” I wasn’t really sure whether I bought that or not. Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s not, but what I did know was that an awful lot of biologists would agree with him and I knew I didn’t have a degree in biology, but I knew I could find out. Biology is just another branch of science. I have an electrical engineering degree. I have the equivalent of a minor in math and I’ve done all these things and like, “Okay. I’m literate. I can figure this out. Let’s go.” And in fact I really flung myself into the void. I said “I’m going to follow the evidence wherever it leads. I’m not going to ignore any verifiable fact. If I can verify that something is true, then I’m going to put it on the board and it’s going to go into the stir-fry and here we go.” It turned out that an electrical engineering background was a fabulous background for exploring evolution because bioinformatics is the intersection of biology and engineering. In fact, even more so, my specialty was communications systems and control systems in college and guess what? DNA is a communication system which I did not know when I started, but I found out really quickly and so it turned out that I had a very interesting tool belt. All I had to do was read about 100 biology books and add a whole bunch of other things to the equation so it turned out way, way, way more interesting than I ever thought it was going to be.
Kurt: Before we get more into DNA and how all of that works. This is the first time here on Veracity Hill that we’ve talked about creation models, what I call six-day creationism, sometimes it’s called seven-day creation, but God rested on the seventh day, so sixth-day creationism. You have evolution which from a Christian perspective would be theistic evolution, and then you have this broader tent that’s just called Intelligent Design which sometimes there’s not a super precise model, my perception of it has been more of just critiquing Darwinian naturalistic evolution.
Kurt: So in that sense it can if it’s so broadly defined cover everybody, but that’s not often the way it goes. Sometimes these camps don’t get along within Christian circles, which I think is sad by the way, that they don’t often like to engage in civil debates and they won’t even have dialogues. They won’t go to the same event. I won’t say who it is. I had one speaker refuse an invitation because someone that was at the, going to already speak at the conference, affirmed theistic evolution, so on that basis alone the person wouldn’t even talk. It’s just fascinating how divisive the issue can be. For me, I don’t have a science background. My last science class was Freshman year at BIOLA. It was the mandatory general education, so I’m not much of science guy, but I am a theology guy and I do a little bit of biblical studies, so for me some of the questions have boiled down to interpretation of the text and over the course of my study, I have come to the position that I’m not convinced the Genesis creation accounts are literal scientific reckonings of what happened and that’s pretty much as far as I’ll go because I want the debate to be at the scientific level. Right? It should be about the science. To that, tell me a little bit more about your journey and how you got more into this. You were debating with your brother over the hand and when you mentioned that I thought there’s this great meme out there on the internet where there’s a robotic arm on top and intelligently designed, wow. What a great robot. This robot can walk. Right? Have you seen the robotic dog that can walk? Wow. That’s intelligently designed. And then there’s a human arm like anatomy with the tendons and what not and the muscles and not intelligently designed. Right? It’s just so fascinating, but go ahead. Tell me a little bit more about your journey and how you came to not just the scientific position that you do, which perhaps you can flesh out more as well, but some of the theological conclusions. Maybe we’ll get into that later on…
Perry: I grew up a young-earth creationist in a very conservative Calvinistic kind of church in Nebraska and really these science things, they didn’t really come up very much. They didn’t come up much in school. They didn’t really get challenged. I remember at 15 this guy named John Whitcomb came and he explained about how it’s the flood and the Tower of Babel and all this and it’s sounding really good to me, but you get a little older and these things start fraying at the edges and I’ll never forget Hugh Ross came to Willow Creek which is where I went to church here in Chicago for awhile, and I listened to the tape and he totally blew my mind because I had this growing list of nagging questions that they just kind of sort of come at you as life goes along, right? I had never really put it all together. I was certainly in no position to debate this with anyone, and he gives this beautiful, beautiful explanation of how the fine-tuning of the universe and the Big Bang and all these kind of things, he showed how if you adjusted your interpretation of Scripture a little bit, made a couple of really simple assumptions, all of a sudden you could make Genesis fit very nicely with modern cosmology and actually the fine-tuning of everything, the precision of astronomy really spoke to an even more magnificent creator than I had really entertained and so this didn’t get me into biology at all, okay, but what I got from that was a framework. It’s like you know sometimes you need to just adjust an assumption or two. What if day is not 24 hours? What if the story isn’t told from outer space? What if the story is being told from the surface of the Earth and it’s telling you what you would see over this period of time from the Earth and all of a sudden, oh now it makes sense that you can see the sun and the moon on day four because the Earth’s atmosphere became transparent. Also, let’s understand evolution is right up there with abortion, gay rights, gun control, immigration. It’s like a really explosive primal topic. It gets people very upset, but Christians need to understand this is not a hill to die on.
Perry: This is not the starting point. The starting point of Christianity is Jesus Christ and the evidence for Jesus and all of that, you guys have had plenty of shows about that, but that’s the starting point and really I think when you go before Genesis 11, you are off, you are out of any clearly map-able territory where you can define the ages and say this is exactly talking about this. That is exactly talking about this. I read an article just yesterday in the American Scientific Affiliation Journal, where a guy, he went through this very exhaustive analysis of how the words hearts and kidneys are used in the Bible.
Perry: The Bible never describes the heart or kidneys in an anatomically correct way. They talk about it in a poetic, artistic way. You’d never know from reading the Bible that thought appears to be mostly in the brain. I don’t agree that the heart has neurons and there’s neurons in your stomach and a lot going on.
Kurt: As if emotions are found in the heart.
Kurt: Even though we speak that way, today, that’s not the case.
Perry: And so I think it is an extraordinary mistake to hold Genesis with a clinched fist and go “If it doesn’t fit this interpretation then I’m going to reinvent science or twist it around however I need to to make it fit.” That is extremely irresponsible. It’s dishonest, and frankly it’s a great way for your son, daughter, brother, or whoever to suddenly become an atheist when it all comes blowing apart because it will. If you do that to Scripture, the wheels will come off the bus. You have to hold these secondary and tertiary issues with a looser hand. Look. The early church fathers did not have it all figured out. Okay? We can’t base our theology on “Well, you know, Calvin and Augustine….”
Kurt: Even for Augustine while that’s true, especially on some issues, I’m fairly certain, and of course a listener feel free to correct me on this, that Augustine held to an old-Earth model too, but some of them, yeah, there was disagreement, so now one of the things you had mentioned was about how it all fell apart and there’s an apologetic implication here. Tell me a little more about why you think that is. Is it because some people that come from, say, the six-day creation background like yourself had come from, they put so much emphasis on, I don’t even want to say the biblical text, they put so much emphasis and overconfidence of their interpretation of the text.
Perry: Yes. Yes. When I was growing up, whenever my pastor wanted to introduce something controversial he would always have an authority of Scripture sermon and all of that, and then he would go into some thing that, whatever his soapbox was next, he would reestablish his authority and never quite make the distinction between his own interpretation and what Scripture said. The assumption was always what I’m teaching you like this is, I think this is what happened to my brother. My brother’s taught this very detailed exquisite model of “This is what Genesis 1 says and this is how it all fits together.” It was like this Excel spreadsheet with all of these cells and columns and everything and then he finds out, guess what, the Earth is not 6,000 years old. The universe is not 6,000 years old. That star that’s a hundred million light years away. It’s either actually 100,000,000 light years away or an illusion of some kind and that’s even worse and so he figures out, here’s what happens. Guess what? If you have a telescope and a calculator that we’re in an old universe so what else were they lying to me about? This is what happens. What else do they have wrong? All of a sudden you get to this tipping point where they completely distrust everything they were told. Why? Because you didn’t teach them to discern the difference between a top level critical issue vs a secondary vs…
Kurt: Yeah. That’s a great point, because I’ve seen in my lifetime people precisely like this. They go from one end of the pendulum and swing all the way to the other side. Even though that is, to use a logical term, that is a non sequitur. That means it does not follow. If Christians are wrong, say six-day creationists are wrong, that doesn’t mean the Bible is false. That doesn’t mean Jesus, the incarnation didn’t happen, Jesus didn’t do His ministry, so we need to be really careful here about where, Perry, as you said, where we hold these beliefs. At which level? Another great example of this is inerrancy, so the doctrine of inerrancy. I don’t want to get too much into that today but just as an example, if inerrancy is false, then somehow the whole Bible is entirely false, but that’s just, no it just does not follow. Maybe the Bible does have errors, but the vast majority of it is still accurate…
Perry: It’s very rigid black and white thinking and I’ve debated and talked to a lot lot lot of atheists in the last twenty years and you know what? Almost every single time a fundamentalist atheist was a fundamentalist Christian and the only thing that changed was what they’re fundamentalist about, and I have this joke with my brother. Fundamentalism is not a religion. It’s a personality type. And I’m telling you it’s really funny to swing from one extreme to the other, but with Brian, he realized, he did swing to that other extreme for a little while, but he caught himself. He’s like, “Oh my goodness. I’m just acting the same way with this new information as I acted with the old information. I’m still not thinking. I’m still just reacting.” At one point along the way he said, “Perry. Thank you for not letting me become an atheist.” I don’t know how much control we all have over other people’s beliefs, but I think sometimes people can get to a point where you’re like, “Whoa buddy. Hang on. This makes no sense.”
Kurt: Yeah. Wow. Okay, so if you want to join our conversation, you can give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. Okay. We’ve talked a little bit about interpretation of the biblical text and how you, Perry, don’t find, although I agree with you on this, that the creation accounts would line up with that model and now, you’ve been into this field more than I have, my experience has sadly been that it seems that for six-day creationism that some of the motivations for the scientific arguments are theologically or, and I don’t want to say biblically rooted, but their interpretation of the biblical text. That’s where it is.
Perry: Absolutely. It’s like we’re going to take these genealogies and put it all together….
Kurt: And then we’re going to make sense of the world that we see.
Perry: And so they start with the Bible and they go, “I’m going to make my science fit,” and so you end up with this weird little niche, this little enclave of magazines and everything and they have to work really hard to make everything fit and it just creates a ton of cognitive dissonance. I am convinced that it’s really out of fear. I listened to a Ken Ham presentation one time. Understand I’m an electrical engineer and all that. I’m also a marketing professional and I’ve been in the field of marketing and persuasion for years and I sat there and I listened to Ken Ham who’s like the leader of the young-earth creationist movement and he gave this talk, he started out, “We have all of these problems,” and he went through this big litany of all the ills of the world.
Kurt: Social sins. And what’s the root cause?
Perry: Genesis. Genesis One. It all starts with Genesis One. I sat there and listened and said, “This is extremely manipulative and the people listening to this, they don’t live in the world of persuasion and PR and advertising everyday like I do. This is just as manipulative as Budweiser commercials.”
Kurt: For those that are listening, another example here might be political elections. We see a lot of fear tactics used.
Perry: Of course! Fear is the enemy of thinking straight. It just is, and so what he did was he took all of these ills and he attached them to millions of years. Like if you think the world is millions of years old then you’re helping the slide to Gomorrah and it’s totally non sequitur, but worse is it blinds people to the real amazing beauty of what goes on in the world. Let me give you an illustration that would give you the spirit of my book Evolution 2.0. I want you to, you guys all use DOS somewhere around the way, the DOS computer operating system.
Kurt: I know those guys did!
Perry: Before the mid 90’s. Before Windows desktop, so if you used DOS, I want you to imagine in all seriousness that Bill Gates came out with DOS in 1981 and after 1981 there was never any payroll at Microsoft. There was no programmers. There was none of this kind of stuff and what happened was DOS was adaptive and DOS eventually we needed a Windows desktop and so it developed that. We need an internet connection. We need a browser. We need Microsoft Word. We need Microsoft Excel. We need antivirus software. Every time a new virus comes out it works out a solution and it protects itself. Imagine that DOS evolved from 1981 to the present Windows 10 all by itself. Imagine that actually happened. Would you be impressed? Would you be like freaking impressed with whoever wrote that first program? “How did you write code that can rewrite itself, that can sense the environment and figure out, ‘Oh we need a web browser. Somebody plugged an Ethernet cable in. Let’s figure out how to talk to that.’ “ I really want you to imagine that happened. This is what cells do. This is what your immune system does. This is what bacteria do when you’re taking antibiotics and there’s this arms race. I think most people know that there’s an epidemic with antibiotics, that the bacteria are getting smarter and smarter.
Kurt: And just to explain what happens to our listeners here, what happens with antibiotics is they kill the virus, but sometimes this is the case when people don’t take the full prescription is the virus learns to survive because it wasn’t entirely killed out. Then what happens, the virus adapts. It evolves and it begins to fight back against the antibiotics so now we’re in this state of society where we have these superbugs which are, you can’t fight against them because we don’t have the medicine to defeat them.
Perry: Yes. And it is a serious problem. Now let’s just go one step further to what is actually going on. A traditional Darwinist would have you believe that this happens essentially by accident, that one of out of a trillion bacteria is bound to be lucky and just mutate accidentally. No. No. No. No. No. That is not what happens. That is not the science. Here’s what happens. Every cell has a dropbox folder. Okay? It’s called a plasmid. Most of the cells in your bodies have these. Bacteria have these, and that bacteria, it will go, “Hey. This antibiotic is killing me. I gotta pump this poison out. How can I pump this poison out? I need a pump.” It will go around, “Hey. Do you have a pump? Do you have a pump? Do you have a pump?” It’s talking to all these cells. It will even rummage through dead ones if it needs to. It will find a piece of DNA that has a piece of code that codes for a pump. It will suck it in, insert it, read the code, build the pump, pump the poison then, and it’s not done. Then it updates its dropbox folder. It shares its new codes with all of its bacteria friends and it divides off cells that also have pumps. All of a sudden now your antibiotic doesn’t work. Now you’re in trouble. You’re in an arms race and you just lost. This actually happens. It can take thirty minutes. What I just said can happen in thirty minutes. Okay? This is just a tiny little slice of what the evolutionary process is. It’s not accidental. It is somehow, I don’t know how, programmed in. It is innate. Okay? It’s something that living things can do. DOS doesn’t do it. We can imagine what it would be like if it did, but every time I tell this to people I go, “Have you ever heard this before?” and they go “No.” “Well how come nobody told you?” How come the evolutionary biologists didn’t tell you? How come it’s not in every high school biology book? How come the creationists aren’t telling you? Because they don’t believe in evolution! So you’ve got one group of people. They don’t believe in evolution because they’re religious and you’ve got another group of people that thinks it just takes billions of years by random accident. They’re not teaching you evolution either so neither side is teaching the science and they’re both afraid. It just so happens that the atheists are a little less afraid of science than the Christians so the atheists are running science now.
Kurt: And you might say the atheists are afraid of the Bible. I don’t know.
Perry: Yeah. They’re not afraid of science. They’re afraid of the Bible, but Darwinism has kind of dumbed them down a little. If you tell people it happens by accident they stop looking for anything else and they just assume it’s true and the science stops. I don’t know if you want to go into this, but really evolution took a wrong turn seventy years ago.
Kurt: I want to get into that. We’ve got to take a short break here, but we’ll get into that in the second half of the show cause we’ve got some questions here online that are touching on this topic as well so this has been great so far and so I want to continue our discussion after a short break from some of our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that break from our sponsors and so I’m here with Perry Marshall today and we are talking about Evolution 2.0, his third way approach to the creation-evolution debate and before we get back into that discussion, it’s time for a segment of the show that we like to call rapid questions and this is a segment of the show where we ask short light-hearted questions and we’re looking for fast responses. So Perry, are you ready?
Perry: I am ready.
Kurt: Okay. Here we go. What is your clothing store of choice?
Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?
Perry: Taco Bell.
Kurt: Are you a lefty or righty?
Kurt: Favorite movie.
Perry: Lord of the Rings.
Kurt: Most hated sports franchise.
Perry: The Utah Aggies.
Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?
Kurt: Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?
Kurt: What fruit would you say your head is shaped like?
Perry: A melon.
Kurt: Which celebrity are you most like?
Perry: I don’t know.
Kurt: Hokey Pokey, electric slide, or the Macarena?
Kurt: If you were a baseball pitch, which one would you be?
Kurt: Where would you like to live?
Kurt: What song is playing on the radio these days?
Perry: Dark Side of the Moon?
Kurt: What’s your inner shake flavor?
Kurt: What kind of razor do you use?
Perry: Electric one.
Kurt: Alright. Excellent. Thank you so much Perry Marshall for playing Rapid Questions. That may have been the best segment of Rapid Questions we’ve ever had. Chris. Why don’t you ask Perry a little bit more about his book Evolution 2.0 and his inspiration for it?
Chris: Sure thing. So Perry, you were walking us through that there’s these specific differences between the way that we’re taught evolution from both sides of the fence, a religious view and an evolutionist’s view in the traditional way so I’m wondering if you could break down even more. In your book here, which is fantastic, what are some of the specific differences, you were talking about the cells and how they kind of rewrite data on a regular basis, what are some other differences we can see and measure through observable science that can fit into both a scientific worldview or a naturalist worldview and a religious worldview, that we can see and say this still gives glory to our creator and we can see that this is magnificent?
Perry: So there’s a very interesting experiment done by a guy named Kwang Jeon at the University of Tennessee. He put amoebas into a petri dish with a bunch of bacteria and for eighteen months they kind of fought like cats and dogs, but after eighteen months what actually happened was the amoebas ingested the bacteria and incorporated the bacteria into their physiology, okay? Both organisms edited and changed their DNA and they got rid of stuff and it was sort of like putting a Starbucks coffee station in a Marriot hotel. Okay? Organism inside an organism. After eighteen months he could no longer separate them. They became mutually interdependent.
Chris: These amoeba and the bacteria.
Perry: Yeah. The amoeba and bacteria became effectively one organism. This is actually super super important because every single green plant that you have ever seen in your life, you look out the window and you see green, it’s because of one of these mergers.
Perry: This is called symbiogenesis. A chloroplast, you learned about chloroplasts in biology, it makes things green. A chloroplast is actually a blue-green algae. That is what it is. It’s slightly modified, but it’s the same thing so it’s like this hotel doesn’t have a coffee shop. We know a really great chain and people and so if you have a Starbucks in your Marriot you actually have people come into the hotel who wouldn’t have come into the hotel, right? It’s a merger acquisition. Have you ever heard of a mitochondria? A mitochondria is the engine inside animal cells including all your cells that converts oxygen to energy. It’s actually bacteria. What appears to have happened is that a large sophisticated cell that needed an oxygen plant ingested it and instead of digesting it formed a cooperative partnership. Okay? This cooperative partnership is absolutely essential to all animals, absolutely essential to all green plants. If you think about if I’m going to put a Starbucks inside a Marriot, do I just pick up a Starbucks in a helicopter and drop it on the roof of a Marriot? These things do not happen by accident. They happen because the organisms are capable of reengineering themselves to deal with this. So like the guy with his experiment where he actually did this. It was all out war in the petri dish for eighteen months but then they worked it out. Now if you’ve ever been through a corporate-merger acquisition, you’ve lived through this. Right? Biology suddenly becomes much more interesting when you realize that a cell is like a DOS that can evolve into Windows.
It’s so much more impressive and actually all of the technology of life is more impressive than anything humans know how to make and it’s capable of remaking itself and so if we start to study evolution, I think that studying evolution is a window into the mind of God in the exact same way that Isaac Newton and all of the great original scientists looked at astronomy and mathematics as a window into the mind of God. Okay? Both sides are missing, like I said before, the Richard Dawkins, the old school Darwinist, they want you to think this happens by accident. They will literally tell you, “Oh. That first merger with the chloroplasts and the algae. That was just an accident.” That is not even a scientific hypothesis. That was just an accident is not science. Look up science in the dictionary. That is not science. Science is the belief that the world operates to discoverable rational laws and processes that we can understand. Evolution is a process, it’s an engineering process. It’s not an accident and it’s not something to be afraid of. Every parent who’s a devout Christian, they’re worried that my kid might go to college and the secular professors are going to turn him into an atheist. The same thing’s going to happen to my kids that happened to Perry’s brother. You read Evolution 2.0. You get your kid to read Evolution 2.0, that will not happen. They will inoculated. Okay? That’s why I wrote this book and this is the biggest untold story in the history of science. Why isn’t anybody telling it? How come nobody’s talking about that algae merger? How come nobody’s talking about where these mitochondria actually came from?
Kurt: Correct me if I’m mistaken. The Darwinian would say, “Well, this stuff happens but over long periods of time.”
Kurt: And likewise on the other side you get people that are say in support of Intelligent Design but skeptical of Darwinism saying, “Well, even still over long periods of time you don’t go from species A to species B so for instance here Travis online has written when we were talking about the virus he said, ‘Yes, but the virus doesn’t become something else entirely, something different from what it was..’ “ So how would you respond to those sort of joint positions about changes over time and then species to species?
Perry: So the Darwinists don’t want you to know that this happens fast because if it happens fast then you have a whole new set of explanations that you have to come up with. Okay? The experiment where the guy got the amoeba and the bacteria to merge, he got a very new different thing as a result. A plant cell with a chloroplast is a completely different animal than one without one. It’s a completely different animal. That is a new species. There’s another process called hybridization. Actually most people are soft of familiar with it. Horse plus donkey equals mule. Right? Here’s what’s really going on. A horse has sixty-three chromosomes. A donkey has sixty-three chromosomes. A mule has 126. It gets both chromosomes. It’s like it has twice as much hard drive space on its hard drive. Now usually with animals, not always, usually, you get sterility when you do the mergers, but not always and with plants it’s very common to get a new species. This is why we have wheat. Wheat was a different mutant version of a wheat combined with a weed called Goatgrass and you’ve got modern wheat by doubling the number of chromosomes. Post-Darwinist evolutionary theories are saying is that they’re looking at the genomes and they’re going, “The way that we got from invertebrates to vertebrates was a hybrid merger, a doubling of the hard drive space and then the cells started reengineering what they had.” The way that you got from vertebrates to vertebrates with jaws was another doubling of chromosomes, and you can do this experimentally. I think we need a whole lot more research in this area to completely connect all the dots, but in principle you get new species reliably from doing this and evolution happens in real time.
Kurt: Okay. So that seems to be the difference then between your position and the old position and I was trying to think here, “How would you differentiate yourself from the theistic evolutionist and maybe that differentiation occurs at the scientific basis. Right?” Theologically you guys would agree, but you think they’re wrong about the science.
Perry: Usually a theistic evolutionst tends to mean a traditional Darwinist who also believes in God and Jesus. That’s kind of what Biologos tends to be sort of, but traditional Darwinism is just wrong. Traditional Darwinism says it’s all just randomness and natural selection and survival of the fittest cleans it up and if you have enough time and enough millions of years anything is possible, and that’s not science. It doesn’t happen randomly. It happens because cells are cutting, splicing, rearranging their DNA. It’s really amazing what these cells are doing.
Kurt: Okay. So I’ve taken a chart from your book and I’m going to see how well you can remember this chart. This chart is, we’ll show our Facebook live followers here, Evolution 1.0 and Evolution 2.0, so here’s the issue. Origin of life. Evolution 1.0 says “Presumed to have emerged from random chemical processes. Evolution 2.0.
Perry: Either God did it or there’s an undiscovered law of nature that we need to find.
Kurt: Good. Good. Nice. Speed. Evolution 1.0 says gradual. Evolution 2.0 says…
Perry: Very fast sometimes. Sometimes one generation even.
Kurt: Sources of novelty. Evolution 1.0 says random copying errors, natural selection is the hero, but evolution 2.0….
Perry: It’s what I call a swiss army knife. There’s actually five major mechanisms which I’ve talked about two of them so far, actually three. I covered three out of the five today, and that’s what actually happens.
Kurt: Okay. The scientific status. Evolution 1.0. Randomness impossible to prove. Much of the evidence is anecdotal, not empirical. Millions of years, too long to test, but Evolution 2.0…
Perry: It’s all experimental and empirical. Nobody’s ever asking you to believe anything on authority.
Kurt: Can’t be demonstrated.
Perry: You can at least demonstrate the principle. I can’t prove to you that the algae merged with the plant cell three million years ago. I can prove to you that somebody can do something similar now.
Kurt: Okay. The implications for humanity. Evolution 1.0. Chance, luck, and blind pitiless indifference. Evolution 2.0….
Perry: Life is purposeful, all the way down to the cellular level, life is purposeful, which is a completely different philosophical system.
Kurt: Than mere accident, random chance. There’s cooperation that occurs. Cooperative purposes you might say. The implications for science and technology. Evolution 1.0 says humans are smarter than nature so we must now begin to direct our own evolution. Evolution 2.0 says….
Perry: Nature is so much smarter than us. We must be humble before nature and try to understand what is up with those antibiotics and those bacteria. How are they doing what they’re doing? They’re smarter than us.
Kurt: And lastly the implications for spirituality. Evolution 1.0 says religion is a myth, a way for holy men to wield power over the masses, but evolution 2.0 says….
Perry: It says that it gives us a sense of wonder. The universe is even more amazing than we fought before and now we have to ask these ultimate answers because they’re just right in front of us.
Kurt: Awesome. Awesome. Well we’ve got some more questions, but that is a great sort of analysis between evolution 1.0 and where you’re coming and if you want to check out more you can check out his book Evolution 2.0: Breaking the deadlock between Darwin and design. Perry. We have a couple of comments and questions here online for you so I wanted to touch base on those. This question comes from Travis here. He says, this is getting to the Genesis accounts, “Cain’s marrying his sister is a less than desirable answer to the origin of descent. Right?” So basically if six-day creationism’s true, Cain has to marry his sister and that doesn’t seem very nice and there’s another conundrum. If Cain goes off to build a city, who’s the city for?
Perry: Yes. These are problems.
Kurt: Okay. So he continues, “But that doesn’t get evolution off the hook. For a species to populate it has to copulate”, he should be a poet here, “When homo sapiens come along, say the first two to copulate their products would have to interbreed, so what are the chances of two compatible specimens find each other than in the great soup, copulate, produce children, and then those children copulate, etc.?” I think his question’s getting at here and my answer would be evolution occurs perhaps from multiple beings, perhaps a variety of beings and then that would allow a pool of people to work with, but what’s your response Perry?
Perry: I don’t think Adam was the first human. I think Adam was the first prophet.
Perry: Okay. Adam was the first semitic person. He was the first religious person or the first person to meet God. I don’t even think he was the first person to look for God. Okay?
Kurt: Would you say he was the first person or…
Kurt: Because that might be getting into another category.
Perry: There’s some questions in there that I’m not sure how to answer.
Kurt: When does an animal become a person for instance?
Perry: That is a question I don’t exactly know how to answer, but I can tell you this, is if you say that the first human was a guy named Adam 6,000 years ago, you’ve got all kinds of problems with paleontology and anthropology and everything else where it just doesn’t seem to support that, whereas if you say, look, people were already out there, they were doing all kinds of things, but then I read the Genesis account, I read Genesis 2 and it says God took, God breathed the breath of life into the man, he became a living being, and what if I suggested to you that sin was transmitted the same way salvation is, by knowledge?
Perry: Okay? And that there wasn’t really, there was people killing each other, but it wasn’t really sin. It was just like animals, but then God reveals Himself to man and He says, “No. This is how humanity really needs to be,” and there’s this awareness and now everybody in the world knows, “We really shouldn’t burn down a village every spring and go take all their stuff. We should find better ways to exist on the Earth.”
Kurt: Sure. Sure. Okay. Alright. So that’s very fascinating approach. I appreciate some of the intellectual humility you have. When you run into a problem, you’re not sure what that answer may be.
Perry: I don’t have an answer with a capital A like “This is how it was. Everybody like you.” That doesn’t help. Would it be okay if you’re like “I’m gonna put thirty cents on this interpretation, 40 cents on another interpretation, 25 cents on this one, and 5 cents on that one,” and I don’t have one definite opinion on this theology or that theology or that interpretation. Is that okay? That’s kind of how I am with this.
Kurt: Nice. I like it. It’s a good modest approach if you will.
Kurt: I think that can be very appealing to people because it’s not just one hard answer and if you’re wrong, everything else is gone. Trust is broken between you and the person you’re trying to convince.
Perry: Yes. Like your kids. Can you teach your kids to be curious instead of dogmatic? Wow. What would that be like?
Kurt: Right. Right. So we have here a commenter Kevin so he said, I don’t know if you knew this. Stephen Meyer, obviously from the Discovery Institute. He’s written a number of books, Signature in the Cell, Darwin’s Doubt.
Perry: I saw him a month ago.
Kurt: Okay. So Kevin writes here that he’s been a fan of your book Evolution 2.0 since he read Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer because Meyer mentions your book. I don’t know if you knew that.
Perry: Does Meyer mention my book in his book?
Kurt: So Kevin is saying yes. I’ve got to go and maybe check this out myself, but that would be pretty cool.
Perry: I wasn’t aware. I’m glad Stephen’s talking about the book. I hope I can be on a podcast with Stephen sometime and there’s a lot of discussion that needs to happen between these different groups.
Kurt: Even if Meyer hasn’t written about it, you have a collection of authors, scientific minds, that have endorsed your book. Tell me, what was that like bringing the manuscript to them, getting them to read it, and to bring their thoughts back to you?
Perry: You know, this book is heavily biased towards the scientist. Okay? When I went down this journey initially, I would come up with these design arguments and there’s a lot of good design arguments, but Brian would say to me, he’d say, “Perry. Okay. That’s great. I know DNA’s a code and I know all the other codes are designed and stuff, but what’s a scientist supposed to do? Is a scientist supposed to say ‘God did it’ so let’s take a three martini lunch and we found the answer? Perry. They can’t do that. They have to earn a paycheck. They have to get a grant. They have to do research.” And what I realized was that the creationist position and many times the Intelligent Design position is content to satisfy the Christian curiosity for an ultimate explanation and not try to answer the actual scientific question of how and I became really aware and conscious that even if you operate within a design paradigm that you have to embrace empirical science so these scientists that endorsed my book, most of them were scientists that were frustrated with the current state of creation/evolution and neither side is actually doing the science.
Kurt: Fascinating. I hope that this book, it’s been endorsed by my friend to, right at the cover, Justin Brierley.
Perry: Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Well, Justin does a great show. I think he’s done a better job of anybody else of creating a de-militarized zone, DMZ. You need to strip of land, just like between North and South Korea, where nobody gets to shoot anybody and you can just have conversations and he does that with atheists and Christians and I think it’s fabulous, I’ve been on his show twice, I’ll probably be on again soon and I just think he’s doing a brilliant job.
Kurt: So that reminds me, so you recently traveled to London for an event. Tell us about this event and what that was like.
Perry: So this is the Royal Society New Trends in Evolution Meeting and it was a historic meeting. It was a long time coming. This would have never happened five years ago but some people who were dissatisfied with the orthodox Darwinian, Neo-Darwinian explanation, I have to be very specific, that came out in the 1940’s and has been holding sway ever since, they said, “We need to present the latest research that really says we need a different kind of theory of evolution,” and it was three days and it was absolutely fantastic and there were things that were said at that meeting that you would have never heard five years ago and I’ll give you an example. A guy named Denis Noble, very prestigious guy, and this is the Royal Society okay. This is the oldest scientific organization in the world, started in 1660. Isaac Newton’s hair is in a glass case in the lobby and there’s this little argument that happens and a guy explained, Denis Noble explains how some biologists deleted the flagellum genes out of a bacterium so it didn’t have a tail. Okay? Now the thing, it’s gotta just, it can’t swim, and the bacterium redeveloped flagellum genes in four days and grew a tail and started swimming.
Perry: He explains that the sophistication of the genetic networks and the capabilities of the bacteria did this and this guy gets mad at him and he starts objecting and he’s like, “No. Natural selection did this.” Natural selection did not do this and he says, “No. You need to listen to me. You don’t understand. I used to believe like you. I used to believe that it’s just billiard balls banging around in the universe.”
Kurt: It can’t just be natural selection because the thing doesn’t die off and a better code doesn’t just survive and pass on. It’s the same thing, sort of resurrecting its own body and so that’s intelligence.
Perry: That’s right, so this gives you flavor of what this meeting was like and the whole direction of evolution is going in a new direction now.
Closing of Evolution 2.0 Interview with Perry Marshall
Kurt: Okay. So we’re coming to a close here, but we’ve got a caller here on the line. This is Travis. He’s got a follow-up. I guess he posted here online. He’s got a follow-up and wanted to ask you here on the line so let’s get Travis here.
Kurt: Travis. How are you doing?
Travis: I’m doing well, doing well. Thanks for taking my call. First-time caller.
Kurt: Thank you. Thanks so much for calling in. What’s your question for Perry?
Perry: Hi, Travis.
Travis: Hi, Perry. I wanted to clarify and it’s funny because I cannot articulate it well enough. I was talking to my wife and she’s like, “I don’t know what you’re saying,” but I was just thinking out loud about the Adam and Eve children producing children. In evolution it just seems in terms of again, the idea of chance that if you think of the vast space of two species that can copulate being developed at the same time and then producing a child and then they have to then produce an opposite sex child that would then have to copulate with its brother or sister, I’m saying you have the same conundrum in terms of population, but for the evolutionary perspective is, the chances that two people, two ships passing in the night, that they would actually come across each other’s paths at just the right time, both of them being developed in the exact same way so that they could produce, it just seems to me to I guess accentuate the randomness and chance.
Perry: Why do you think there’s only two of them?
Travis: I suppose that’s, I’m just breaking it down to a small scale. Right? It’s still the same regardless of whether or not you have a micro or a macro analogy, it’s still the same conundrum that within that space of existence that these two strangers in the night would actually come across each other’s path and get the idea of what they’re supposed to do.
Perry: I’m not sure if I understand your question.
Travis: That’s what my wife was saying.
Perry: How’s the question any different whether we’re talking about humans, cats, dogs, grasshoppers, or anything else?
Travis: Right. Right. Right. So let’s go back to your amoeba bacteria analogy. Right? Or example. They were placed intentionally by a grand creator, your scientist example, he intentionally put them together. They had the capacity to intermingle so that’s a controlled scenario.
Travis: But what I’m saying is in terms of when evolution in its process gets to the point to where one species, let’s use the horse, let’s say the horse is developed. There has to be a male a female at the same time coming across each other’s path at the same time and figuring out, “Hey. We can make another horse.” I’m just saying, see again…it’s clear in my head.
Perry: That’s gonna happen. Let’s say we hybridize, let’s say we in theory it’s possible to get a fertile male and female mule and if you tried it enough times you’d probably get it and you could have a whole species of mules. Right now, mules are usually just male and then they die and like you’re done, so let’s say we’ve got a species of mules. Yes. We are going to have brothers and sisters interbreeding with each other at first. Okay. That happens and humans think it’s disgusting, but I don’t really think animals do and it happens all the time and I think the interesting question is, “Why do humans have such an emotional and spiritual reaction to ‘You shouldn’t mate with your sister.’?” What is it that we know that animals don’t? That gets us into a whole where does our spirituality, our culture, come from, but biologically, it’s not really a problem.
Kurt: Travis. We’ve gotta close out the show today.
Perry: Thanks for your question.
Kurt: Thanks for calling in as well and I appreciate you listening to this show.
Travis: Sorry it’s so convoluted.
Perry: We talked about good stuff.
Kurt: Alright. If you, like Travis, are interested in asking a question or having your voice heard, you can call and not just during the time that we’re doing the podcast, you can call any time during the week and leave us a message. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483. I just want to conclude on this last thought here. Perry. First, thank you so much for coming in the studio today.
Perry: It’s great to be here. It’s really fun.
Kurt: One of the things that you had mentioned when you were seeking out and learning more about this was that you were in no position to debate. That’s what you said. And I thought, “Hey. What a great perspective, that if we don’t really know the science we shouldn’t really try debating the science because we’re going to just embarrass ourselves.” Why debate coding or why debate any topic that you really aren’t prepared to discuss, and if you are going to discuss, one has to come at it humbly. You have to say, “I have to study this all that much, but here’s what I understand thus far, and correct me if I am mistaken.” I really appreciated that approach that you have there.
Perry: Thank you.
Kurt: That does it for our show today. I am grateful for the continued support of our patrons. Those are folks that just chip in a few bucks a month to help us out. I’m also grateful for the partnerships that we have with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, the Illinois Family Institute, and last but certainly not least, Evolution 2.0, so thank you for the tech team today, we have Kevin and Chris, and to our guest Perry Marshall. Thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.