Mediated Design versus Micro Evolution

Image Credit: Katya from Moscow, Russia – Бомбардир трескучий / Brachinus crepitans / Große Bombardierkäfer, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63799862

Many Christians believe in a false dichotomy that exalts the supernatural over the natural. Most organs and/or organisms, for example, are seen as the products of an historical, supernatural design conceptualized during Creation Week. Adaptations resulting from secondary “micro-evolutionary” processes, on the other hand, although still the product of God’s intervention, are viewed as an inferior version of the original plan. “True” design occurred at creation. “Devolved” post-Fall organisms are the result of the curse and, like an over-copied book, lack their original genetic glory. As such, they don’t constitute “true” design.

The following article has been reblogged with permission froCreation Unfolding. The views expressed in this article reflect those of the author and not necessarily those of the New Creation blog.

Yet such a dichotomy is counterintuitive. Many creationists believe that defensive mechanisms came into existence “after” the Fall, “thorns and thistles it [the ground] shall bring forth for you” (Genesis 3:18 ESV). Some defensive systems, like that of the bombardier beetle, are truly remarkable, defying any simplistic notion of degenerative genetic mutations.

Then there is horse evolution. Many young-earth creationists accept that our modern horse, Equus, evolved from a smaller, multi-toed ancestor (Mitchell 2015). To argue that Equus is more “deficient” than say, Miohippus, is to underappreciate the wonder of the modern horse’s hoof, teeth, body size, build, speed, endurance, etc., over that of Miohippus which had three toes, was smaller, with a lighter build. That’s not to say that Miohippus didn’t have its niche, purpose and design, but it’s perfectly fine for God to have used secondary means to bring us the single-toed Equus.

Wood and Murray (2003) propose that God’s design should not be limited to the Creation Week but should be extended to “post-Fall” biological complexity. Their model, called “mediated design,” is important and accounts for the complexity of the bombardier beetle’s defense mechanism, as well as the modern horse’s hoof (although not as “complex,” it certainly falls outside of the “micro-evolutionary” model proposed by most creationists). Only God’s “mediated design” can account for the existence of these complex organs and systems of organs. Consider this comment from a materialist evolutionary website that, on the one hand does a good job debunking a “traditionalist” creationist argument for the bombardier beetle’s defense system, but then has to admit that, “at this time a specific evolutionary path is still unknown” (Kloppers).

Mediated design seeks to embrace these as yet unknown mechanisms. Natural selection does work to confer minor variations, but as science progresses, especially in areas related to genetics, this simple Darwinian mechanism no longer seems tenable given complex biological change. Even many mainstream, non-religious scientists are concluding that natural selection working on random mutations does not have the power to create complex biological organs, organ-systems, and complex biological form (Moreland 2017). Many creationists think that the information must have even been in the DNA of “primitive” forms before the changes took place (Guliuzza and Gaskill 2018). This means that God’s design for post-Fall change was built into the genetics from the beginning.

Unfortunately, some creationists think that conceding to mediated design will necessarily lead to full-blown Darwinian evolution. Afterall, where does one draw the line? This kind of reasoning, however, is unwarranted. Christians often live with doctrinal tension that challenges their thinking without crossing biblically clear boundaries. Scriptural inspiration versus human authorship, Christ’s deity versus his humanity, God’s sovereignty versus man’s responsibility, are all examples of doctrines that exist on a fluctuating spectrum of thought. Discerning Christians know that each extreme tends towards heterodoxy and so live with the tension without becoming heretics.

The modern, one-toed horse, Equus, is not inferior to their multi-toed ancestors. God is to get just as much glory creating this creature through natural processes as when He created the “original” horse supernaturally during Creation Week.

Evolutionary thinking is no different. Man was created from the dust of the ground and did not evolve from apes (Genesis 2:7). The Bible also teaches that certain groups of animals were specially created by God during Creation Week, plants, marine animals, flying animals, insects, and land animals (Wood and Murray 2003) (Genesis 1). Evolutionary extremes are, therefore, kept in check by the text of Scripture.

Creationists need to rethink anti-evolutionary rhetoric, along with dated and seemingly unhelpful terminology such as “micro” and/or “macro” evolution, and begin embracing a whole new way of giving glory to the Creator through “mediated design.”

References

Guliuzza, R.J., and P.B. Gaskill. 2018. “Continuous Environmental Tracking: An Engineering Framework to Understand Adaptation and Diversification.” In Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Creationism, edited by J.H. Whitmore, 158 – 184. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Creation Science Fellowship.

Kloppers, accessed 7/25/20, https://bombardierbeetlewarfare.weebly.com/evolution–origin.html

Mitchell, E. 2015. “Horse Ancestor Said to Have Evolved in India.” Answers in Genesis. Accessed 5/12/20.

Moreland, J.P., Meyer, S.C., Shaw, C., Gauger, A.K., and Grudem, W. eds. 2017. “Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique.” Wheaton, Illinois. Crossway.

Wood, T., Murray, M. 2003. Understanding the Pattern of Life: Origins and Organization of the Species. B & H Pub Group. See also, Purdom, G., Hennigan, T., Wood, T. C. “Creation’s Hidden Potential.” Answers Magazine. January 1, 2009.

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adam
adam
February 14, 2022 7:59 AM

As Lord Jesus believer, the Creator God and the Created Man, i absolutely believe that He creates allthings out of nothing and He gives power of diversity out of simplicity in His creation. Even our Lord Jesus is Triune God. He is One but Three and Three but One. Our fallen mind cannot understand this, but the fact is in the bible. And the bible, every scripture Godbreathed, God speaking. The bible is not just a history from genesis to revelation, but much more is God speaking concerning Himself, the Godman, our Lord Jesus, and His purpose in time into eternity. Amen come Lord Jesus! Lord Jesus grace with all saints. Amen.

Last edited 7 months ago by adam
Elton Clough
Elton Clough
February 14, 2022 8:37 PM

Worthwhile read!
God does far more than we ask or imagine.
Loving parents do their best for their children.
Who is a better parent than God?
Who won’t spoil their children?
Who wouldn’t do absolutely anything to help us trust,
the most trustworthy King of Kings and kindest of brothers?

Paul
Paul
April 2, 2022 3:56 PM

The author urges readers to accept his thesis without giving any evidence whatsoever. I would like to learn more about the theory of mediated design, what directs us to believe that information for complex structures materialized post creation, when we know now more than ever that it is possible to store thousands of times more information in the DNA than is being utilized by the organism, and that the DNA itself contains mechanisms capable of selecting from this trove if data to adapt to conditions in real time and in few generations?

Christian Ryan
Admin
April 7, 2022 10:02 AM
Reply to  Paul

Hello Paul!

For more information on mediated design, we would recommend the following article by our friends at Answers in Genesis: Creation’s Hidden Potential. They provide a very helpful summary of this topic.

Daniel Mcliver
Daniel Mcliver
July 3, 2022 2:37 AM

So it would sort of be designed to slightly evolve? For lack of better way of putting it. Does sound quite reasonable, wondering how similar this theory might be to what’s proposed in the book Evolution 2.0?

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