Science - Creation/Evolution
Is creation worth fighting about?
Billions of years, or just six days, do we need to care?
Does it matter?
Of all the questions in the creation vs. theistic evolution debate, whether the debate even matters may be the biggest, and more important than how long it took, what method God used, or how to understand the opening chapters of Genesis.
Christians understand we shouldn’t bicker with our brothers and sisters over minor matters – Jesus told us: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9). God doesn’t want us to make big out of little. He doesn’t want us to be quarrelsome, nitpicking all sorts of fights.
However, God also warns against making little of big. There is a time and place for fighting, and we mustn’t be like the watchman on the wall who saw the danger coming and stayed quiet (Ezek. 33:6-8). It is a con to say “peace, peace” when war is at the door (Ezek. 13:10-16, Jer. 6:14).
Now, in the creation vs. theistic evolution debate, there are a lot of Christians who aren’t prepared to pick a side. They aren’t loyal to 6 days or billions of years, perhaps believing they need a theology or science degree to be qualified to take a stand. They don’t want to be forced to pick one team over the other. However, when the question is “Does this matter?” then not picking a side is still picking a side. Refusing to choose is only legitimate if this is no big thing.
So is it really no big thing… or is it huge?
To answer that question, let’s look at both sides.
Side 1: Who matters more than how
Among the “can’t we all get along” folks, the focus is on just how much agreement there is between 6-day creationists and theistic evolutionists. Both acknowledge the God of the Bible as our Creator. We all agree He made us, and that His creative genius is evident in the whole of the astonishing universe around us. Whether we’re looking at the Sun that warms us from 150 million kilometers away, or the chubby toes of our newest grandbaby, we’re all in awe of what He hath wrought. And isn’t that basis enough for fellowship? The argument here is that Who did it matters much more than how He did it, or how long He took. Who matters more than how.
As long as Christians all give God the credit, then isn’t everything else incidental?
Side 2: How tells us all about Who
On the other side there is a ready concession that Who does indeed matter more than how. After all, God matters more than His creation.
But how He started it all isn’t incidental. It matters too, because how God chose to create reveals God’s character. How He created tells us about Who God is. So yes, both sides agree it is the God of the Bible who created, but that isn’t as significant as it might first seem.
Consider the Muslims, who also declare that the God of the Bible created. And they say their Allah has no Son. That means their biblical creator god, isn’t actually God. Orthodox Jews worship the God who created, but deny Jesus is God. Mormons worship a biblical god who created and even has a son…but he also has a wife. And his son is said to be the brother of Satan. Their creator god is not our Creator God either.
It is possible, then, to worship such a distorted image of the biblical Creator that you aren’t actually worshiping God at all. This issue is that big. The argument here is that how God created is an issue worth investigating because, in His chosen means, God is teaching us about Himself – God reveals Himself not only in His Word but also in His creation (Ps. 19:1-4). As Paul puts it in Romans 1:20:
“…His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
The how matters because it tells us all about Who.
What do the two creation accounts tell us about God?
What then, do the two different creation accounts teach us about God?
- Creationists worship a God whose power was such that He spoke into existence something from nothing, and made a universe appear in just 6 days. Thus the famed chicken and egg dilemma is no dilemma at all for creationists, who know the chicken sprung into being fully formed on Day 5. And while pagans worship the Sun, God showed His great power by creating light (Day 1) before even creating a light source (the Sun on Day 4). Both marriage and the two sexes, male and female, were created in this 6-day period. God affirmed again and again that what He made was “good” and, upon completion on Day 6, even “very good.” What is good? The perfect sinless world was good. And it was good, not only as it was on Day 6, but even as it was being made through Days 1-5 – God found the process good too. Creationists know that death appeared as a result of Man’s disobedience – we broke the world. But there is hope; this enemy, death, has been conquered by Christ’s perfect obedience. And it is through Jesus that the world will be made good once again.
- The god of theistic evolution took billions of years to form the universe. During that process neither the chicken nor the egg was first: they were preceded by millions of years of incremental evolution that necessarily involved a red-in-tooth-and-claw, survival-of-the-fittest, where the weak were killed off and the strong went on to breed. Death didn’t simply precede Man’s fall into sin, it preceded Man by millions of years. And rather than being the enemy, death was a key tool in God’s creative work. Marriage and gender weren’t always so, but evolved at some point, and who knows but that they may be evolving still. And it is this eons-long process of constant change – with its refining diseases, innumerable mutations, repeated disasters, and, yes, death, death, and more death – that God was calling good and very good in the opening chapters of Genesis.
The implications extend to the present, where creationists can turn to Scripture for guidance on issues like homosexuality, marriage, and gender confusion. We can learn what is best for men and women by seeing how God made us at the beginning.
But if we evolved, and that process was good, why couldn’t we be evolving still? Our forebearers, when once they were single-celled, weren’t divvied into two genders – that only came later. So if we could go from none to two genders, why can’t we evolve new additions like ze and zir? And why would we presume that marriage has to be between just the first two genders? What answer does theistic evolution have to the craziness of our age?
Does theistic evolution present a false god?
Thus the god of theistic evolution bears little resemblance to God of the Bible. But does that mean theistic evolutionists are without hope? Are they worshipping a false god?
Thankfully, it is not our brilliance that saves us, but God’s grace. And that’s why, even as some theistic evolutionists worship a god of their own invention, we can hope and pray and expect that many others still worship the true God, though in their inconsistency. They might say they believe in billions of years of death, but their faith is still in the God who declared death an enemy and conquered it. They may doubt the accuracy of some of Jesus’s words – how he spoke of a literal Adam and Eve created in the beginning (Mark 10:6, Matt. 19:4) – and yet cling to His promise that there are many rooms in His Father’s house (John 14:2). They may mangle the first few chapters of Genesis, but then take God at His Word for the whole of the rest of the Bible.
That doesn’t make this any less of a big deal. Over a lifetime people do work out their inconsistencies. Many theistic evolutionists will either come to acknowledge God’s Word as authoritative from beginning to end, or they’ll subject the rest of God’s Word to further review and revision by outside authorities. It’s no slippery slope fallacy to say that if you scratch a professing Christian who’s pro-choice or LGBT-affirming, underneath you’ll find an evolutionist.
Like Allah, without a son, the god of theistic evolution offers no hope. In seeing billions of years of death as good and very good, what need would such a god even have to send his son to die for us? Thankfully, the one true God did send His Son, so we can have not only hope but an assurance that our sins are paid for, death is defeated, sickness will end, and all of creation will be redeemed.
The creation debate isn’t one any Christian can avoid – it is of the first importance, because it is about Who God is.
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Mountains after the Flood
Documentary 2023 / 102 minutes Rating: 7/10 The folks who brought us Is Genesis History, have crafted a sequel of sorts. Host Del Tackett is back, ...
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe: Season 2
Back in 2020, Dr. Michael Behe produced a series of 5 short videos highlighting how, the closer we look at the inner workings of the cell, the more ap...
Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Science Uprising: a revolutionary case for Intelligent Design
Science - Creation/Evolution
Big Bang Christianity?
Can we fit the Big Bang into the Bible? **** Cosmology is the most important subject in the world. Why? Because it is the story of the world: its origin, structure, purpose, and destiny. Our cosmology forms the basis for our response to the most fundamental questions regarding our existence. Our cosmological beliefs shape our morality, religion, and culture. Our cosmology is closely linked to our worldview. I contend then, that to make Christianity plausible, we must critique the current secular worldview and particularly its Big Bang cosmology. And then we must present Christianity as a comprehensive worldview with its own, Christ-centered, cosmology. TRYING OUT A BIBLICAL BIG BANG? Unfortunately, many Christian scientists and theologians accept Big Bang cosmology as gospel truth, established beyond any reasonable scientific doubt. They believe that, to make Christianity plausible to our society, Christians should embrace Big Bang Cosmology. Far from seeing “Big Bang Cosmology” (BBC) as a threat to Christianity, prominent apologists such as William Craig and Stephen Meyer believe it provides compelling evidence of the biblical teaching of creatio ex nihilo, thus offering a useful step in proving the existence of a transcendent God. For example, Meyer concludes: "Taken jointly, general relativity and the Big Bang theory provide a scientific description of what Christian theologians have long described in doctrinal terms as creatio ex nihilo – creation out of nothing (again, nothing physical). These theories place a heavy demand on any proposed causal explanation of the universe, since the cause of the beginning of the universe must transcend time, space, matter, and energy."1 Christian apologist Gregory Koukl goes even further, "I know the Big Bang idea is controversial with some Christians, but I think that’s because they haven’t realized how well it fits the Story , which basically says the same thing."2 Of course, since BBC forms an integral part of the naturalist worldview, Christians must first “baptize” BBC. This involves insisting that the biblical God is the creator of the universe, that BBC merely describes how God created, that God can act miraculously at times, and so on. However, regarding the history of the physical universe, baptized BBC is factually identical to the naturalist version. So, how well does BBC fit the Christian worldview? Are there really no clashes? Is there no theological price to pay? Let’s examine more closely how the Bible and BBC compare regarding the past, future, and present structure of the universe. CONFLICTS REGARDING ORIGINS 1. Astronomical evolution Big Bang Cosmology and Genesis certainly agree on a few things: the universe began a finite time ago, light was one of the first things created, and humans the last. Yet, they differ hugely on the timescale (billions of years versus thousands of years) and the order of events (Sun, then Earth, then vegetation, versus Earth, then vegetation, then Sun). They differ also regarding the mode of creation. In BBC everything arises gradually through evolutionary processes, based solely on the operation of natural laws. According to the Bible, God acted directly at each step, bringing in something new. And this happened quickly: He spoke, and it was. Further, they differ in that BBC assumes natural laws have never changed whereas, according to the Bible, rebellion against God subjected the entire creation, including astronomical objects, to distortion and decay, affecting even natural laws. To harmonize the Bible with BBC one could simply re-interpret Genesis 1 (and Ex. 20:11; 31:17), treating the creation days as merely a literary device (e.g., the Framework Hypothesis) conveying theological rather than historical truth, and re-interpret those biblical texts speaking of the universal effect of sin (e.g., Isa. 65:17, 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1; Heb. 12:26-27). This may seem like a small price to pay to harmonize the Bible with modern cosmology. Unfortunately, this introduces the hermeneutical principle that perceived scientific truths should control our reading of Scripture. Once that hermeneutic is granted legitimacy, it becomes difficult to restrain. 2. Geological evolution ADAM CONTEMPLATING HIS ANCESTOR? The Big Bang brings with it ancestors for Adam who would have lived and died millions of years before he ever came to be. One could stop here, adopting an old universe/young earth position. This, however, is rarely done. Having accepted mainstream astronomy, why not likewise accept mainstream geology? Both are based on the same naturalist presuppositions. If the naturalist picture of the history of stars and planets is deemed reliable, why not also the naturalist picture of the history of planet Earth? Consequently, BBC-accepting Christians generally accept also mainstream geology as giving a reliable account of Earth history. But now the cost is much higher. Mainstream geology claims fossil evidence for pain, suffering, predation, disease, earthquakes, and the like, millions of years before Man. Such natural evil could therefore not be due to Adam’s Fall, but must be part of God’s initial “very good” creation. Much else in Genesis now becomes implausible. Thus William Craig considers Genesis 1-11 to be “mytho-history,” having “fantastic elements” that are “palpably false” if taken to be literally true, including the ideas that God created the world in six days, that there was a snake that could talk, that there were actual cherubim with a flaming sword, that Noah’s flood was global, that linguistic diversity can be traced back to the Tower of Babel, and that the earth is only thousands of years old.3 Ironically, Craig’s stress on God’s transcendence, needed for his cosmological argument, aids his mythologizing of Genesis: "If Genesis 1–11 functions as mytho-history, then these chapters need not be read literally. The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature, featuring as they do an anthropomorphic deity incompatible with the transcendent God of the creation account."4 The greatest problem, however, is mainstream geology’s placing the existence of humans, or human-look-alikes, more than a million years ago, as primitive cave-dwellers, lacking language skills. This is hard to square with the biblical account of Adam and his fall into sin. The biblical Adam does not fit plausibly within naturalist geology. Hence, the proper Christian approach is to rebuild geology, taking due account of biblical history. 3. Biological evolution This brings us to the next logical step. Having accepted mainstream astronomy and geology, why not also mainstream biology? If mainstream science is right about the ages of things, why should it not also be right about the evolutionary origin of things? Most Christian biologists are evolutionists. They consider the evidence for evolution overwhelming. So does theologian Bruce Waltke, who said, “if the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult…some odd group that is not really interacting with the world...To deny scientific reality would be to deny the truth of God in the world. For us as Christians, this would serve as our spiritual death because we would not be loving God with all of our minds. It would also be our spiritual death in witness to the world because we would not be seen as credible..."5 Where does that leave Adam? Adam has been variously considered as a neo-lithic farmer, a tribal chief, a representative human, the first homo sapien, or a member of an even earlier hominid species. He is viewed as either fully created, physically evolved with a created soul, or fully evolved. Craig takes Adam and Eve to be two evolved members of Heidelberg Man, in whom God implanted rational souls at least 750,000 years ago.6 Given the difficulty of fitting the biblical Adam into mainstream science, many theologians now deny his actual existence. Theologian Peter Enns considers Adam to be merely a literary figure.<sup>7</sup> So does theologian John Schneider, who believes that humans were never morally upright, that death is not due to sin, and that Christ’s atonement was not a payment for human sin. Blaming evolution (and thus implicating God, who drives evolution) for making humans selfish and sinful, he ends up with a universalism where all humans are saved.8 Clearly, major theological matters are now at stake; this has become a salvation issue. Few Christians may want to go that far. Yet once we start adapting the Bible to mainstream science the stopping point becomes arbitrary, as is reflected in the wide spectrum of views on origins among Christians. THE BIG BANG AND HEAVEN The Bible depicts Heaven as a physical place created directly by God, in time and space, and containing angels, God’s throne, Christ in His human flesh, the departed souls of saints, etc. Normally invisible to us, Heaven seems to be a three-dimensional subspace embedded in a larger-dimensional space containing also the celestial cosmos. It may well have its own natural laws. Yet Heaven is closely linked to Earth, where heavenly agents can cause physical effects. This Heaven is hard to reconcile with modern cosmology, which assumes there is no space or time beyond our physical universe. It considers the celestial universe to be a closed system. It literally has no place for Heaven. It is hard to imagine Heaven originating from the Big Bang singularity, partaking of any expansion of space, or undergoing any sort of physical change. Christians upholding Big Bang Cosmology rarely discuss Heaven or angels. When they do, they seem to think of Heaven as a vague spiritual abstraction. Thus, for example, William Craig believes that Heaven is a purely spiritual realm, beyond space-time, inhabited entirely by non-physical beings, so that even Christ presently has no physical body.9 THE BIG BANG AND THE FUTURE The contrast between Big Bang Cosmology and Christianity is most stark regarding the future. Modern cosmology predicts the eventual extinction of all life in the universe, whether by freezing, frying, or the “big rip.” Further, modern biology asserts that dead is dead; there can be no resurrection of dead individuals. Against such despair, the central hope of Christianity is the impending return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the Last Judgment, and life everlasting in a renewed heaven and a renewed earth. These essentials of Christianity cannot be compromised by any Christian worthy of the name. Hence, many Christian believers in Big Bang origins will reject Big Bang eschatology. For example, William Craig,10 as well as physicists-turned-theologians John Polkinghorne11 and Robert Russell,12 all profess that Christian hope for a personal, as well as a cosmic resurrection must be grounded upon God and His mercy rather than in science. To justify their rejection of Big Bang eschatology, they all note that God’s sovereignty enables him to change natural laws or personally intervene whenever He wishes, invalidating scientific predictions based on uniformity assumptions. Therefore, they urge, we should trust the Bible about God’s future eschatological acts, rather than the predictions of mainstream science. Such a Bible-first epistemology is commendable. Yet it is highly inconsistent with their belief, following mainstream science, that Gen. 1-11 is largely mythical, or “palpably false,” to use Craig’s words. If we can trust God’s word about the future, why not also about the past? If God’s radical actions in nature can nullify scientific extrapolations into the future, why not apply the same limits to scientific extrapolations into the past? The cosmic reconciliation will involve much continuity, in that the Earth and heavenly bodies will not be destroyed but renewed. But also there will be also discontinuity, in that the renewed cosmos will likely not be subject to physical decay. Russell speculates that the natural laws may be modified, so that thermodynamics may be included only to the extent that it contributes to natural good, but not to natural evil.<sup>3</sup> Russell’s proposal regarding future thermodynamics is remarkably similar to the modified thermodynamics suggested by some creationists as applying to the initial “very good” creation before its distortion due to sin. Indeed, the biblical eschatological terms of “renewal,” “redemption,” “reconciliation” all imply a restoration back to an original good state. It seems that the entire cosmos was adversely affected by sin, from which it will be cleansed and recreated into a new heaven and earth (e.g., Rom. 8:18-25, 2 Peter 3: 5-13).14 Finally, Russell does not question that this transition will take place very rapidly: after Christ’s return but before the new Jerusalem comes down from heaven. The apostle John's vision of the new heavens (Rev. 21:1-2) suggests that the cosmos will be instantly transformed so that renewed galaxies billions of light-years away will be immediately visible to an observer on the renewed Earth. Just like in the initial creation, where God spoke “and it was so.” If distant starlight is not a problem in the renewed cosmos, why should it be a problem in the original cosmos? CONCLUSION To sum up, Christians should be wary of embracing Big Bang cosmology. Although this in itself may involve only minor revision of the Bible, it introduces a science-driven hermeneutic. This opens the door to acceptance also of geological and biological evolution, leading to the loss of the biblical Adam, and raising numerous weighty theological problems. It is hard to square modern cosmology with the existence of Heaven as a physical place in space and time that interacts with the visible cosmos. Most importantly, Christians must certainly break with Big Bang cosmology regarding its future predictions, which rule out a future restored cosmos and our bodily resurrection. Therefore, since we must ultimately place our trust in God's written Word, and in the power and faithfulness of our Lord, regarding our future salvation, should we not likewise apply this same trust to other matters that God has revealed to us? Christians should develop their own comprehensive cosmology and worldview, rather than trying to placate worldly wisdom. If, in the eyes of the world, Christianity is ultimately viewed as foolishness anyway, we may as well be consistent "fools." Dr. John Byl blogs at Bylogos.blogspot.com where this first appeared. He is a Professor emeritus for Trinity Western University, and the author of “God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe” and “The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning.” END NOTES 1 Stephen C. Meyer 1999. “The Return of the God Hypothesis”, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 11 (1-2):1-38, p. 8. 2 Gregory Koukl 2017. The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 51 3 William Lane Craig 2021. In Quest of the Historical Adam. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 101, 105. 4 Ibid. 5 Quoted in Morris III, H. 2010. “Creation by Evolution”. Acts & Facts. 39 (6): 4-5. 6 William Lane Craig, “The Historical Adam,” First Things 316 (October 2021): 47-48. 7 Peter Enns 2012. The Evolution of Adam. Brazos Press. 8 John R. Schneider, “Recent Genetic Science and Christian Theology on Human Origins: An ‘Aesthetic Supralapsarianism,’” Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 62:3 (Sept 2010): 197. 9 https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer , #714 Zygotic Jesus (Jan.11, 2021), accessed Nov.3, 2022. 10 William Lane Craig, “The End of the World.” Available at: www. reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/science-theology/the-end-of-the-world/. Accessed March 6, 2023. 11 John Polkinghorne 2002. The God of Hope and the End of the World, Yale University Press: New Haven, CN. 12 Robert J. Russell 2008. Cosmology: From Alpha to Omega. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 13 Russell, op.cit. pp. 307-310. 14 See, for example, Cornelis Venema 2000. The Promise of the Future, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, ch.13....
Science - Creation/Evolution
How does the world explain the origin of life?
or, highlighting the problems with a Naturalistic explanation ***** Naturalism can be defined best by what it doesn’t believe: in the Supernatural; it denies the existence of God. That means that all naturalists are left with to explain all that exists, why we exist, and how we came to be is Nature and natural laws. And that presents them with a problem. Nature cannot provide us with an explanation for abiogenesis – life coming from non-life. You don’t have to take my word for it – this is also acknowledged as a foundational problem by many scientists, sometimes explicitly, and sometimes only by the irrational arguments they’ll offer as an alternative to acknowledging God. In what follows I’m going to share both the publicly acknowledged problems with naturalistic abiogenesis, as well as some of the theories the world has proposed to address those problems. Both are revealing. The RNA problem In paleontologist Peter Ward’s book Life As We Do Not Know It, he addresses how RNA (or ribonucleic acid) – because it is simpler than DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – is theorized as an evolutionary step in the development of DNA. But, Ward notes: Amazingly, one of the major criticisms of RNA life…the hypothesized last common ancestor of all DNA life, is that it probably did not exist because it would have been impossible to build RNA through natural chemical processes. Paul Davies notes: .… ”without a trained organic chemist on hand to supervise, nature would be struggling to make RNA from a dilute soup under any plausible prebiotic condition.” Or, as organic chemist Clemens Richert wrote in the Dec 12, 2018 edition of Nature Communications: Experimentalists in the field of prebiotic chemistry strive to re-enact what may have happened when life arose from inanimate material. How often human intervention was needed to obtain a specific result in their studies is worth reporting. When Diego Maradona was asked about having used his hand to score a goal in the quarter-finals of the 1986 soccer World Cup, he initially claimed that there had been divine intervention, and the term “Hand of God Goal” was coined. – There had been manual intervention, and there had been an understandable interest of the player not to admit it. – Organic chemists, if not all experimentalists in the field of prebiotic chemistry, are faced with a similar dilemma. We do our best to perform experiments that we believe re-enact possible steps of prebiotic evolution, but we know that we need to intervene manually to obtain meaningful results. Further, the ideal experiment does not involve any human intervention. He also frankly said: Understandably, this has drawn the ire of those who feel that no or only minimal intervention is allowed for a process to be called prebiotically plausible. After all, it is not easy to see what replaced the flasks, pipettes and stir bars of a chemistry lab during prebiotic evolution, let alone the hands of the chemist who performed the manipulations. (And yes, most of us are not comfortable with the idea of divine intervention in this context.) Whether divine intervention or human intervention, there’s a conscious entity doing the intervening. So even if our friends were to succeed in creating life in the lab, that would only demonstrate that intelligence and deliberate intent are needed to create a living thing. I'm glad this issue is explicitly acknowledged. Every honest Origin of Life (OOL) researcher will agree fully. It’s one thing for highly trained chemists to create RNA in a lab, but another thing entirely for unaided Nature to accomplish the same. Especially considering that Nature is not trying to make RNA, and has no intention of doing so. The multiverse “solution” But, if the researcher is committed to Naturalism and atheism, then he has no choice but to maintain a strong (and unrealistic) faith that Nature did it anyway, even though he knows it’s not possible. One such researcher, Eugene Koonin, resorted to “an infinite multiverse” as a potential way out of this problem. This is the view that supposedly, anything that can happen will happen in an infinite multiverse, and this would also include the chance origin of life. In a 2011 book, The Logic of Chance: the Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution, he added this: The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science, but it is also one of the most important. Origin-of-life research has evolved into a lively, interdisciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the “dirty” rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation; through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle. “Almost like a miracle” is a frank admission of what OOL entails. Nevertheless, in the same book, Koonin continued to cling to the multiverse hypothesis as a guaranteed solution to the problems involved with OOL. Here’s the summary of Koonin’s argument, in his own words: Simply put, the probability of the realization of any scenario permitted by the conservation laws in an infinite universe (and, of course, in the multiverse) is, exactly, one.... Thus, spontaneous emergence of complex systems that would have to be considered virtually impossible in a finite universe becomes not only possible but inevitable under MWO … What he’s saying is that if you have an infinite number of universes then anything, no matter how improbable, not only can happen, but will happen… in some universe somewhere within the multiverse. Including naturalistic abiogenesis. According to Koonin (and some “Many Worlds” physicists who agree with him), in some universe somewhere right now, there’s a guy who’s a practicing neurosurgeon, a janitor, and the lead actor in a recent blockbuster movie – simultaneously. He owns 271 cars, and is married to his high school sweetheart (who happens to be a princess from a tribe of highly-advanced super-beings). Their son adopted a pet chimpanzee named Wilson, while their twin daughters are ballistic missile experts in the local galactic army. No, this isn’t a hypothetical story I just made up. Or, rather it is, but according to Koonin’s logic these things are actually going on right now as we speak, in some universe somewhere. The pet chimp is also very clever, and has learned how to fly a helicopter, among other things. Now think about this trained monkey trying to synthesize life in a chemistry lab. What are the odds of him succeeding?? Exactly. But even the monkey has a better chance than a prebiotic Nature which has no intent or purpose whatsoever. In any case, simply postulating an infinite multiverse in an attempt to overcome the problem does not help – Koonin doesn’t put forth any mechanism whereby life could be naturally synthesized, but just makes the bold assertion that it must certainly happen given a multiverse. Time is no solution Another factor that is usually seen as a possible helper for abiogenesis is Time. If Nature has billions of years to work with, she should be able to eventually get the right combination to the safe, right? No, not at all. That would be akin to claiming a blind engineer could invent a BMW, or a Model-T Ford, given billions of years to live and try. It’s clear why time isn’t the problem. The blind engineer actually has better odds in this analogy than Nature does, since he at least knows what he’s attempting to accomplish. The language/information problem The origin of life gets all the more complicated when we realize it also necessitates the origin of information, and the origin of a language to convey that information. I could employ many quotes here concerning what information is, but I like how physicist and information theorist Hubert Yockey put it in this simple statement: The meaning, if any, of words, that is, a sequence of letters, is arbitrary. It is determined by the natural language and is not a property of the letters or their arrangement ... For example, "O singe fort!" has no meaning as a sentence in English, although each is an English word, yet in German it means, "O sing on!" and in French it means "O strong monkey". Like all messages, the life message is non-material but has an information content measurable in bits and bytes. Or, as chemistry professor Michael Polanyi already noted way back in 1958, in his book Personal Knowledge: Information in the DNA could no more be reduced to the chemicals than could the ideas in a book be reduced to the ink and paper: something beyond physics and chemistry is encoded in DNA. The origin of encoded genetic information is also assumed to have just happened miraculously under the multiverse scenario. Information here isn’t just the physical nucleobases, or even their sophisticated ordering alone, but the ribosomes’ understanding of the language, and their ability to decode and use those instructions to build the specified proteins. And then we have multiple regulatory genes in addition, which are all information networks. There’s actually a $10 million challenge out there still ongoing, for anyone who can demonstrate a set of coded information that didn’t originate from a mind, i.e., that can be spontaneously generated by Nature. The judges include well-respected biologists George Church and Denis Noble, and the Royal Society has also gotten involved recently. No one has claimed the prize (find out more in the 2 minute video below). The complexity problem Most of us don’t actually know, much less appreciate, the number of things that need to be done in order to arrive at the “simplest” cell. Nature has no goal or aim or plan to create a cell. The fact that highly trained, highly intelligent chemists still can’t do it, speaks volumes. So how is it that some lay naturalists and even some with degrees think all that’s needed is lots of time, and then Nature will eventually produce a living cell? The sheer amount of intellectual effort that goes into OOL research is more than impressive, and we still can’t make life ourselves – we can’t pull it off. But a mindless prebiotic Nature with no intention of creating a cell somehow did? Consider the ingredients needed to make a basic candy. Here’s the list for Skittles: Sugar Corn syrup Hydrogenated palm kernel oil Citric acid Tapioca dextrin Modified corn starch Natural and artificial flavors Colors (Red 40 Lake, Titanium Dioxide, Red 40, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 5, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, Blue 2 Lake, Blue 1, Blue 1 Lake) Sodium citrate Carnauba wax Now consider just a miniscule piece of a Skittle. Would Nature alone be able to synthesize and assemble the ingredients needed to make a tiny piece of a Skittle? No. Never. Not in ten billion years! But many adults believe Nature somehow synthesized and assembled everything that’s needed to make a living, metabolizing, self-replicating cell. The extraterrestrials “solution” But what if we were to claim that life on earth resulted from panspermia – that Extraterrestrials (ETs) seeded the first life on Earth? This is indeed what some among our SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) friends propose. Well, then they’d have the problem of explaining how Nature produced those ETs. As Richard Dawkins wrote in The God Delusion: …there are very probably alien civilizations that are superhuman, to the point of being god-like in ways that exceed anything a theologian could possibly imagine. Their technical achievements would seem as supernatural to us as ours would seem to a Dark Age peasant transported to the twenty-first century…In what sense would they be superhuman but not supernatural? In a very important sense…the crucial difference between gods and god-like extraterrestrials lies not in their properties but in their provenance. Entities that are complex enough to be intelligent are products of an evolutionary process. No matter how god-like they may seem when we encounter them, they didn’t start that way…They probably owe their existence to a (perhaps unfamiliar) version of Darwinian evolution. Saying ETs put the first life on Earth still keeps us inside the box of Naturalism. And then Nature still has to create and evolve the ETs, so the abiogenesis problem – how life can ever have come from non-life – remains. Then there’s at least one scientist in peer-reviewed publication who also thinks panspermia by ETs isn’t a good enough proposal. Brig Klyce concedes there’s one of two possibilities: “supernatural intervention or intelligence” (aka God) or that cellular life has existed from eternity This concession appeared in a paper (“Cause of Cambrian Explosion – Terrestrial or Cosmic?” in the August 2018 edition of the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology) that Klyce co-authored with more than a dozen other scientists. He believed “that the complexity and sophistication of life cannot originate (from non-biological) matter under any scenario, over any expanse of space and time, however vast.” But if that’s so, then how is life here? Rejecting the possibility that God was involved, Klyce then proposes this: A strictly scientific way around this dilemma would be to amend or tweak the big bang theory to allow for life from the eternal past. After all, the big bang theory is relatively new and still occasionally amended. Therefore, it seems unready to forever overrule the unviolated principle and consistent evidence that life comes from life. Yes, that’s an actual suggestion from a peer-reviewed secular scientific paper – that life started here from a universe before the big bang. So either God did it, or self-replicating microbes have always existed. The difference between the two proposals is that: God is an eternal Supernatural This is logically consistent and plausible, and even a metaphysical necessity to avoid an infinite regress of causes. On the other hand, proposing an eternity of replicating microbes, each of which had a beginning and an end, is trying to say that abiogenesis never happened because there was no “first ever microbe.” But things that have a beginning still need to have an explanation for that beginning. Trying to hide that behind an infinite regression isn’t an answer to this problem. Conclusion For decades, highly trained experts have been striving to create life from scratch, using the raw materials found in nature. They have yet to succeed. Even if they did eventually succeed somehow, that would only demonstrate that a high level of intelligent input is needed to create biological life; which is what we’ve been saying the evidence has always shown. Proposing an infinite multiverse where “anything that can happen will happen” is an unsubstantiated assertion with no empirical evidence whatsoever, and doesn’t offer a mechanism for abiogenesis or even address the issue that Nature has no intent to create life. The suggestion that microbial life has always existed and self-replicated is a logical absurdity, since there can be no such thing as an infinite regress of causes. Thus in the question of God vs Naturalism, there is no question as to which answer is absurd. Kenechi Okoli is a Christian who loves science, and in his free time he enjoys reading, music, and cooking. While he lived for over a decade in the US, he now resides in Nigeria....
Science - Creation/Evolution
Masters of disguise!
“Poppa! Have you seen the Mimic octopus?” My oldest granddaughter’s question was lit with excitement. I had been mentioning a presentation I was working on featuring animals with incredible design features, highlighting that some of them were incredibly difficult for evolutionists even to begin to explain. When I mentioned squid and octopus camouflage, her question above popped out. My response of “I don’t think so” initiated a frantic scramble for a nearby phone and a hasty search on YouTube. What I watched for the next minute and forty-nine seconds1 left me with my mouth agape and led eventually to a salt-water aquarium in my home with one of those very creatures inhabiting it. (It’s amazing what homeschoolers learn about!) Like a second skin Even the “average” octopus species is truly incredible, capable of rapid color changes a chameleon could only dream of. Like a pixelated video screen, flashes of light can erupt from their skin surface, sometimes pulsating and other times creating waves of shadowy patterns that make them almost impossible to spot along the ocean floor among its corals and sea plants. They are capable of texture changes to their skin that are downright eerie, which means not only can they simulate the color of objects in their surroundings but also the shape of them to an extent. Rather than describing these creatures’ sophistication and complexity as simply a reflection of the brilliance and glory of their Creator, some naturalists have attempted to explain some of their intricacies as being alien in origin. So “advanced” are these creatures’ abilities (and yet so early do they appear in the evolutionary timeline, supposedly 296 million years ago2), some evolutionary scientists have seriously suggested they perhaps had biological input from alien lifeforms at some point in their “evolution”!3 The mimic octopus’s most impressive copying act is its take on the flounder. It even undulates across the ocean floor just like the founder does. Why do you act that way? But as amazing as “regular” octopi are, the mimic octopus is in a class by itself: it’s the first living thing ever observed to impersonate the shape and behavior of other aquatic species along with color and texture changes. Discovered in 1998 off the coast of the island of Sulawesi (Indonesia), it’s been spotted now as far as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, so may be more widespread than originally thought.4 Many of the creatures it imitates are venomous, so it fools predators into thinking they are encountering a dangerous adversary rather than a sly cephalopod. The exact number of creatures it’s able to mimic is unknown, but watching video of one hide its body and six legs in a hole, change the color of its two exposed arms to the distinctive black and light stripes of the banded sea snake, and then waving them in opposite directions to impersonate a striped serpent is unnerving to say the least! Known “avatars” the mimic imitates include flatfish, crabs, jellyfish, mantis shrimp, stingrays, lionfish, and sand anemones. The uncanny thing about these octopi is that they seem to be able to make accurate and intelligent decisions as to what creature they should imitate depending on the environment they are in or the predators they encounter. For example, because damselfish are hunted by banded sea snakes, mimics often adopt their “snakelike” form, color, and behavior when they encounter damselfish to frighten them away. When traveling across a seabed with little cover, mimics may transform their tentacles to look like the poisonous barbed fins of a lionfish and imitate its pulsing, distinct movement so as to ward off predators. The mimic octopus will burrow down, leaving just two of its tentacles visible, to do a decent impression of the banded snake eel, on the right. The quick-change artist When considering this creature’s day-to-day activity, you quickly realize it has several sophisticated abilities that depend on accessing and activating tremendous amounts of coded, genetic information. Sensor array: Obviously, the mimic must be capable of monitoring and analyzing its current environment constantly. Response analysis: It must also have the ability to determine an appropriate response(s) needed in different environments or when encountering specific predators it interacts with. (I.e., if A, then B; if X, then Y, etc.). Catalog of aliases: Once a specific creature to mimic has been decided upon, it must then access other detailed “files” for all of the abilities, features, and behaviors of the different creatures it can possibly mimic. Immediate response: The mimic’s systems must then correctly activate commands to alter its shape, color, texture, and movement, which of course requires a body that has the capability to expand or contract, become smooth or rough, rigid or soft, multi-textured, multi-colored and/or precisely patterned almost instantaneously. The pic on the left doesn’t capture the mimic's best lionfish imitation but gives a feel for how it can masquerade as the poison-tipped predator on the right. Meet “Morph” I named my own mimic, procured from a local pet store, Morph. Morph lived for eight months, but he exhibited spectacular behavior and executed many brilliant performances during that time, with nightly “light shows” being commonplace. Although very shy for the first three days I had him, he became more comfortable, and I was able to hand-feed him shrimp for his supper eventually. Because octopus aquariums are typically a one-species environment (either the octopus eats whatever else is in there or they get eaten by what is), he only “mimicked” once, as there was nothing in the tank to react to. Upon entering my tank for the very first time, Morph impersonated a jellyfish, slowly pulsed down, and then switched to his regular form once he had cover. This made sense, because upon entry he was at the top of the tank with nowhere to hide and didn't know if there were predators in that environment. Note that his mimicry involved imitating another creature not immediately present in his environment (rather than simply blending into the background), which leads to the question, how did he “know” what to do? Mimic octopi are only thought to live nine months (the longest-living octopus live for a maximum of five years), so scientists don’t believe they are simply observing and copying other creatures’ behavior; they are born with it. Which means all of that programming is already present and passed on to each subsequent generation. But how could that have come about? Masterful design Consider this: If a person today were to create and program a mechanism that could perform half the functions this creature does, they would likely receive all of the accolades the scientific community could possibly bestow upon a human being, and probably hail them as the most brilliant scientist on the planet. Their creation would be highly esteemed as an incredible example of intelligent design. However, despite the obvious evidence of design in nature, naturalists seem bound to evolutionary interpretations. One evolutionary blogger from Nature.com tried explaining the mimic this way: "In this species we see the evolutionary 'perfect storm' in which a species with flexibility in their skin and body shape is consistently exposed to a predator-rich environment that contains toxic or venomous species such as soles, lionfish and banded sea snakes. This combination provides both the selective pressures and the opportunity to these otherwise vulnerable animals to evolve into the world's greatest masters of disguise!"5 But that isn’t a real explanation of anything. It’s like saying because evolution is true, evolution happened. But design requires a designer, and programming requires a programmer. Natural selection or genetic mutation are simply not sufficient explanations for what we see in creatures like the mimic octopus. And despite evolutionists concocting many “just so” stories to attempt to explain how so many precisely coordinated and irreducibly complex mechanisms could have arisen in creatures without a designer, for those with eyes to see, the conclusion is obvious. "But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?" (Job 12:7-9) The master designer, the God of the Bible, created these along with all of the other magnificent sea creatures on day five of creation. As much as evolutionists try to mimic God’s creative power through the story of evolution, creation declares its Creator, even in an insignificant octopus! Be sure to check out the 3-minute video below. Footnotes 1 Most intelligent Mimic Octopus in the world, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-LTWFnGmeg 2 Rachel Nuwer, “Ten Curious Facts About Octopuses,” Smithsonian Magazine, October 31, 2013, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/ten-curious-facts-about-octopuses-7625828. 3 E. Steele, et al., “Cause of Cambrian Explosion—Terrestrial or cosmic?” Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology136 (2018):3–23, doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2018.03.004. 4 “The Mimic Octopus,” National Geographic, www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/invertebrates/m/mimic-octopus. 5 Sarah Jane Alger, “The Mimic Octopus: Master of Disguise,” October 28, 2013, https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/accumulating-glitches/the_mimic_octopus_master_of. Picture credits from top to bottom: VelvetFish iStockPhoto; VelvetFish iStockPhoto.com; FtLaud Shutterstock.com; Stephan Kerkhofs, MariusLtu, Jenhung Huang, and Vitalii Kalutskyi, all iStockPhoto.com This article was written by Calvin Smith , is published with permission, and originally appeared at https://answersingenesis.org/blogs/calvin-smith/2020/09/07/masters-disguise....
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Evolution's Achilles' Heels
Documentary 2014 / 96 minutes Rating: 10/10 I’ve watched this at least 5 times now, and many sections many more times than that. This is the best, most succinct, most content-dense, anti-evolution presentation I’ve ever seen. That said, my first go-through didn’t leave me all that impressed. I was watching it while doing some paperwork, not giving it my full attention, and what I saw just seemed to be a bunch of interviews, lots of talking heads. It didn’t seem all that interesting. But when I gave it another go and actually paid attention…. Whoah! What the folks at Creation Ministries International have done here is, in one hour-and-a-half presentation, boiled down all their very best arguments into the shortest possible form. That’s why I’ve watched it so many times already – I had to keep stopping, rewinding, and then listening to sections again because so much of what these interviewees say in just a sentence or two is something that others have written articles and even whole books on. For example, here’s a line from Dr. Donald Batten: “The survival of the fittest does not explain the arrival of the fittest.” At first listen, this struck me as a great turn of a phrase, and it certainly is. But let’s hit the pause button and just think about all that’s being said here in just this one line. Survival of the fittest (AKA natural selection) is supposed to explain how species adapt and change: those with advantageous mutations will prosper, while those without will eventually die off. But "survival of the fittest" is a selective process – it picks the best out of the group. How then, does it work before there is a group to pick the best and brightest from? Natural selection is a key mechanism for evolution, but it doesn’t offer any explanation for how animals come to be in the first place! This one, short, ever so quotable line points out a gigantic problem with evolutionary theory! In addition to Dr. Batten, the documentary features 8 other Ph.D. scientists, and together they highlight, as the title puts it, Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels. They cover a wide range of problems, grouped under categories like the Fossil Record, Genetics, Natural Selection, Cosmology and Radiometric Dating. I really can’t praise it highly enough: from beginning to end this is brilliant, and as good an introduction to the problems with Evolutionary theory as you will ever find. If an evolutionist friend was willing to watch one video of my choosing, this is definitely the one I would pick. And if you like the documentary be sure to track down the book of the same name which, while also concise, has the space to dig even deeper. You can watch the trailer below. ...
Science - Creation/Evolution
Biomimicry recognizes the genius (but not the Genius) behind the wonders of creation
Science - Creation/Evolution
Dinosaurs and dead bodies
If Lenin’s body can't last, how could dinosaur tissue have lasted millions of years? ***** In a Russian laboratory, a team of highly trained Russi...
Apologetics 101, Science - Creation/Evolution
Wrong questions lead to wrong answers
Why don’t brilliant scientists see evidence of God’s design in Nature? Because they deliberately limit the questions they are willing to ask. ...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
In the Beginning: Listening to Genesis 1 and 2
by Cornelis Van Dam 2021 / 371 pages Dr. C. Van Dam begins his latest book by explicitly laying out his presuppositions. He’s upfront about his non-negotiable assumptions and biases. As I review his book, it’s appropriate that I share mine too. I share his presuppositions about Scripture as the trustworthy Word of God, but I also bring a personal bias to the table. Back in the day, Van Dam was my Old Testament professor at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. I had an affectionate nickname for him in view of his ability to put the smack-down on unbelieving or shoddy scholarship: “Wham-Bam-Van-Dam.” This was always said with the greatest admiration for Dr. Van Dam. As a seminary professor, he was nothing if not thorough and careful. Far more than a commentary This new book exhibits that same kind of comprehensive and precise approach to the two opening chapters of Scripture. Van Dam leaves no stone unturned. In the Beginning is an exhaustive treatment not only of the meaning of these two chapters, but also the various challenges that have been raised in Old Testament scholarship regarding them. What you’re looking at here is not just a commentary on Genesis 1-2, but far more. Over the last decade or so John Walton has become well-known for his views on the early chapters of Genesis. Walton argues that we often misunderstand Genesis 1-2 because we don’t take into account the ancient Near Eastern context of these chapters. Once we do that, says Walton, then we can see that Genesis 1-2 was never meant to be taken literally as history. The history can then be filled in with what science teaches us, including what science says about human origins. In chapter 2 of In the Beginning, Van Dam discusses Walton’s views at length and explains how and where they fail to do justice to the character of Scripture as the Word of God. In my view this is the most important chapter of the book. A sampling To whet your appetite further, let me share a selection of questions that Dr. Van Dam answers elsewhere in the book: Can new scientific data be regarded as general revelation given by God? What is the relationship of Scripture to science? Is Scripture a scientific textbook? Can geology give us a history of creation? Was Herman Dooyeweerd faithful to Scripture in his view of origins? How are we to evaluate Meredith Kline’s Framework Hypothesis? Did the ancient Israelites believe that heaven was a solid vault above us? Why is there no mention of evening and morning with the seventh day in Genesis 1? What does Scripture mean when it says that God created through his Son? Can the breath of life in Genesis 2:7 be equated with the Holy Spirit? Was there animal death before the fall into sin? Why did God create everything with an appearance of age? Was he being deceptive in so doing? Those are just a few of the questions answered. There are far more. What I appreciate about Van Dam’s answers is that he bases them on what Scripture says. He doesn’t want to go beyond Scripture and so he’ll sometimes say, “Scripture doesn’t say more than this – this is as far as we can go.” A point of disagreement If I would venture some respectful disagreement, it would be in the final chapter where the author briefly discusses whether there’s a need for new confessional formulations to address the challenges of evolution. In 2014-15, I was involved with an effort to add some clarification to article 14 of the Belgic Confession in the Canadian Reformed Church. That effort was ultimately unsuccessful. I don’t regret having made the effort, nor do I think it unnecessary to this day. Van Dam argues that Scripture is clear and our “confessions faithfully reflect that testimony.” However, that fails to account for those who have argued that the Three Forms of Unity provide the latitude needed to hold to forms of theistic macro-evolution. Their arguments have persuaded some. This wiggle-room ought to be addressed, especially if there is openness to theistic macro-evolution in your churches. Van Dam also posits that: “A difficulty with preparing a new formulation asserting the historicity of Genesis 1 and 2 is the temptation to go beyond what Scripture says, in other words, to provide specifics about that which Scripture gives no additional detail.” The proposal to add clarification to BC 14 was to state what Scripture states: that Adam was created from dust (Gen. 2:7) and Eve from Adam’s side (Gen. 2:21-22). As a consequence: “They were created as the first two humans and the biological ancestors of all other humans. There were no pre-Adamites, whether human or hominid.” If one thinks that this infringes upon the freedom of exegesis, then one is willing to grant the latitude for theistic evolutionary accounts of human (and other) origins. Conclusion That criticism notwithstanding, In the Beginning was a delight to read – personally it brought me back to many of the OT lectures I enjoyed from Dr. Van Dam in my seminary years. While enjoyable, it could be tough-going at times for some. It’s not highly technical, but in places Van Dam does go academic. It’s not a book you’d necessarily be giving out as gifts to those doing profession of faith. It would, however, be a great gift for someone doing post-secondary studies, whether in the sciences or in the humanities. And it’s definitely a recommended read for those who’ve completed such studies. Dr. Bredenhof first posted this review to CreationWithoutCompromise.com, a blog “promoting the biblical understanding of origins” and it is reprinted here with his permission. For an even more in-depth review, check out Martin Williams' "Genesis: No Room for Theistic Evolution" at Creation.com....
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Replacing Darwin Made Simple
by Nathaniel T. Jeanson 85 pages / 2019 How's this for an intriguing thesis for a creationist book: Darwin got it right. So what exactly is the "it" Darwin got right? Author Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson argues that in On the Origin of Species Darwin's scientific argument/approach did successfully poke holes in creationism...but the 1859 version, which held that all the species were created exactly as they are, remaining unchanged. This "fixity of the species" isn't found in the Bible. God tells us He created "kinds" (Gen. 1:11, 21, 24, etc.) but why would we assume that has to mean species? We never see horses becoming deer, but we do see them becoming a whole host of different sorts of horses. So, might the "kinds" God created encompass larger groupings? We know, for example, that horses can breed with zebras. Might they belong together in the same "kind"? As Jeanson explains, this is how Noah could fit the animals on the ark: he didn't have to take horses, zebras, and donkeys, but instead took a representative pair of horse kind, from which these threes species eventually descended. And the same for dogs, and cats, and more. The author not only gives Darwin credit for highlighting the problems with a "fixity of species," he wants today's scientists to question like Darwin. Jeanson argues that if they used this same scientific critical approach it would back today's creationism and tear down today's evolution. Then scientists would find creationism has explanations for some of the same observations evolution is said to explain. And they would also find that evolution has problems that creationism does not when it comes to sexual procreation, rapid speciation, mitochondrial "clocks," and more. Made Simple is actually a simplified version of Jeanson's 2017 Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species, which clocks in at 335 pages. The larger version is written for the skeptic, something you can give to a curious friend, and it is larger because skeptics have lots of questions – it is a thorough overview of the creation vs. evolution debate. And that's also why it is the much more technical of the two. Both do require effort, but Made Simpler is probably accessible to anyone who had some high school science and is interested enough to put in the effort – the author describes it as the "Cliff Notes" version. Parts of the larger original are probably at a university level, but don't let that dissuade you if the topic is of interest – you don't need to (and I didn't) understand every last little bit to find it fascinating. So pick up a copy of Replacing Darwin Made Simple to get a good overview of a compelling argument: Darwin rebutted 1859 creationism, but would also do damage to modern-day evolution. And if you want to dig deeper (or have a skeptical friend) then pick up Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species. You can also listen to Dr. Jeanson give a presentation on the same subject matter in the 1-hour lecture below. ...
Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Foresight: How the chemistry of life reveals planning and purpose
by Marcos Eberlin 2019 / 147 pages Back in 1996 "Irreducible complexity" was Michael Behe's contribution to the origins debate: he argued that some biological structures couldn't possibly have evolved because there is no way they could have come about by evolution's stepwise-process – the complexity of micro-machines like a bacteria's flagellum motor was irreducible. Now Marcos Eberlin is making a similar point, but bringing a new piece of rhetorical ammunition to the fight with Foresight in which he argues the deeper we delve into the biological world the more we discover "artful solutions to major engineering challenges." These solutions, he explains, look to "require something that matter alone lacks.... – foresight." With this term "foresight," Eberlin is arguing some biological abilities couldn't have come about as a response, but had to be the result of anticipation. So, for example, cells, right from the beginning, had to anticipate the problems that would come with using oxygen: The oxygen (O2) molecule is essential to life, but only a life form that can efficiently wrap and transport the devil O2 exactly to a place where it can be used as an energy source would benefit from its angel side. Otherwise, O2 becomes life’s greatest enemy. Rupture the membrane of a living cell, exposing it to the air, and you will see the great damage O2 and a myriad of other chemical invaders can do to a perforated cell. Death would be swift and sure. From an engineering standpoint, then, it was essential that a way is found to protect the cell, life’s most basic unit. The solution was clever: The cell was surrounded by a strong chemical shield, from the very beginning. It is often said that a solution always brings with it two additional problems, and a cellular membrane shield is no exception. A simple shield could indeed protect the cell interior from deadly invaders, but such a barrier would also prevent cell nutrients from reaching the inside of the cell, and it would trap cellular waste within. Small neutral molecules could pass through the membrane, but not larger and normally electrically charged biomolecules. A simple shield would be a recipe for swift, sure death. For early cells to survive and reproduce, something more sophisticated was needed. Selective channels through these early cell membranes had to be in place right from the start. Cells today come with just such doorways... .....a gradual step-by-step evolutionary process over many generations seems to have no chance of building such wonders since there apparently can’t be many generations of a cell, or even one generation until these channels are up and running. No channels, no cellular life. So then, the key question is: How could the first cells acquire proper membranes and co-evolve the protein channels needed to overcome the permeability problem? Even some committed evolutionists have confessed the great difficulty here. As Sheref Mansy and his colleagues put it in the journal Nature, “The strong barrier function of membranes has made it difficult to understand the origin of cellular life.” So Eberlin concludes: "There would be no hope for a cell to become viable if it had to tinker around with mutations over thousands of generations in search of a functional membrane. It's anticipate or die." This is but his first example – Eberlin is arguing that wherever we look at life, "the evidence of foresight is abundant." That's true in the fine-tuning of the universe, where gravity had to be just so, Earth had to be just the right distance from the Sun, and had to have enough water, and water needed to have certain specific properties. Oh, and the planet needed to have just the right amount of lightning too. That foresight is also evident in the structure of our DNA - which has to be stable – and RNA - which has to be malleable. He goes on and on, diving into these examples, and showing how brilliantly problems have been anticipated and solved. But by who? Well, Eberlin doesn't really get into that until the final chapter, and it is in the book's very last line that he gives credit where it is due: "Great are the works of the Lord." I loved this whole book, but will confess to only understanding about two-thirds of it clearly. But even when it got more technical, the gist I did catch was still utterly fascinating. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest and at least some high school science....
Documentary, Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Dismantled: a scientific deconstruction of the theory of evolution
Documentary 2020 / 93 minutes Rating: 8/10 The Creation vs. Evolution debate is sometimes portrayed as being the Bible vs. Science, but Dismantled wants us to know that while creationists certainly stand on the Bible, they aren't conceding on Science. Flipping the script, the documentary begins by asking if evolution should be considered scientific. "Is it proper to equate evolution with science? Does science have the ability to address questions regarding past events that we were not there to directly observe or verify – events like the spontaneous origins of the universe, the origin of life from non-life, and the evolution of the earliest life forms into mammals? Or might we be giving science a power that it does not have? To answer this, it is important that we accurately define science, as well as its limitations." Evolution has street cred because it's supposed to be scientific – it claims to come from the very same source of knowledge that gave us rockets, microwave pizza, smartphones, and self-driving cars. But as Dismantled notes, evolution has little in common with that sort of science. A quote from the film, taken from a biology textbook, explains that: "Scientific inquiry is a powerful way to know nature, but there are limitations to the kind of questions it can answer. These limits are set by science's requirements that hypotheses be testable and falsifiable and that observations and experimental results be repeatable." It is precisely the testable, repeatable, falsifiable nature of operational science that got us a man on the moon, and it is precisely those points that evolution's historical science doesn't share. Our origins involve events that happened long ago and aren't repeatable, making these events hard to test, and these theories hard to falsify. So the origins debate isn't about the Bible vs. Science, but more about one historical account vs. another... with the notable difference that one of those historical accounts is thousands of years old and unchanging, and the other is a recent creation and constantly being revised. That's the film's lead-off point, and it takes the first 20 minutes to make it. From there, the filmmakers go on to assess which of these two historical accounts seem a better fit with the world we observe around us. That's the bulk of the film, and this 70-minute tour takes us through topics including: the micro = macro fallacy which assumes, without evidence, that small changes can add up to bigger ones genetics including the limits of supposed "beneficial mutations," and the problem of genetic entropy – that we as a species are breaking down faster than natural selection could ever build us up – and the supposed genetic similarity between man and apes the fossil record including Man's supposed ape-like ancestors, and the humanity of Neanderthals radiometric dating and its problems Dismantled is a slick production – the visuals are fantastic! – but its strength is in the scientists consulted. Whether it is Jason Lisle, John Sandford, Georgia Purdom, Rob Carter, Andrew Snelling, Nathaniel Jeanson (PhDs one and all), they all know how to explain big ideas to the rest of us who may not have been in a science class for decades. That doesn't mean this is all easy to understand, and I think most of us will have to (and be happy to) watch this twice, just because there is so much here to chew on. Cautions The one caution I'll note regards a mistake the film could, indirectly, encourage: believing the Bible only when the evidence says it is reasonable to do so. It is important to remember the evidence discussed in Dismantled wasn't available 100 years ago, and yet God's Word was just as true then. We need to know the Bible isn't true because it syncs up with the evidence; rather, the reason the evidence syncs up with the Bible is that the Bible is true. If that doesn't seem like much of a difference, its significance becomes apparent when the evidence doesn't seem to fit with the Bible. In those circumstances, if our trust is grounded in the evidence rather than the Bible, then we will side with it, against God's Word. But if we trust God, then we'll always stick with the Bible, trusting that any apparent conflicts will be resolved in time. Conclusion Dismantled is superb, summarizing important foundational concepts even as it presents the most current findings. I'd recommend it as a purchase, rather than a rental, because you'll want to watch it again to be able to properly digest all that is on offer. The target audience is high school and up, and for those who want to dig in even deeper, a great place to start is the recommended resources list available on the film's website. You can check out the trailer below, and then rent it on Amazon.com or buy the DVD or Blu-ray at Creation.com. And now a half-hour clip of the film can be viewed for free. ...
Science - Creation/Evolution
Our remarkable Sun
Evolutionists like to claim that our Sun is merely an average star, just one among billions. There’s no reason to believe our Sun is unusual…or so...
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Archer fish: a wonder of creation
This article is the first chapter from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s new book "Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation" which you can order at Creat...
Book excerpts, Book Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution
Giraffe: nature’s gentle giants
This is Chapter 7 from Dr. Jerry Bergman’s new book Wonderful and Bizarre Life Forms in Creation which you can order at Creation Science Association...
Movie Reviews, Science - Creation/Evolution, Watch for free
Secrets of the Cell with Michael Behe: Season 1
When Darwin first published On the Origin of the Species, the science of his time saw the cell as an uncomplicated organism. That’s quite the contrast with what we’ve learned in the 150 years since: the deeper we delve into life on the smallest scale, the more we find there is yet to discover. Even the simplest cells are more intricate than the most complex automated factories. In the five short videos that follow, Dr. Michael Behe shares "secrets of the cell" to show us how evolution's random mutation and time simply can't account for the magnificent design we find even on the cellular level. And in each episode, he uses helpful analogies and computer animations to introduce key Intelligent Design concepts. Behe is one of the principal figures behind the Intelligent Design (ID) Movement, which argues that Nature gives evidence of being intelligently designed. Creationists would agree, but the two groups part ways on who gets the credit. ID proponents refuse to name their Intelligent Designer, leaving room in their tent for Muslims, Moonies, Christians, and even agnostics (some of whom might believe in thousands of years, and others who hold to millions of years). Meanwhile, creationists give glory specifically to God for how fearfully and wonderfully we have been made. Thus these ID videos, on their own, don't bring us to the Truth. However, they do a fantastic job of exposing the evolutionary lie. SEASON 1 Episode 1: Someone Must Have the Answer! (4 minutes) In the opening episode, Dr. Michael Behe introduces us to "the unseen world of organic micro-machines" contained inside the "most fundamental unit of life," the cell. He also shares how he first came to question the explanatory power of Darwin's Theory: "My own view of the cell took a turn years ago. I was in a lab at the National Institutes of Health doing postdoctoral research; I was discussing the origin of life with a fellow postdoc. As she and I thought about the cell, we wondered, how could its complex membrane, proteins, metabolism, genetic code, how could all that have formed by the accumulation of undirected changes? So we were both sort of stunned by the notion. But then we just laughed it off. We figured that even if we didn't know the answer, somebody must know..." But that isn't what he found. Episode 2: The Complexity of Life (5 minutes) One of the key evidences of Intelligent Design is how some biological "machines" could not have evolved via any sort of step-by-step process – they need all the steps already in place to function. This is what Behe calls "irreducible complexity" and he gives as one example, the flagellum – a type of "outboard motor" that some single-cell bacterium use to move about. " has a number of parts a driveshaft, a universal joint, a rotor, bushings, stator, even a clutch and braking system. The motor of the flagellum has been clocked at a hundred thousand revolutions per minute and...removing even one component of this elegant machine destroys its function..." So how could such an irreducibly complex machine have been "developed blindly, in stages"? Episode 3: The Power of Evolution (6 minutes) Behe begins with how bugs are amazing, and far more intricate than anything Man can engineer. In fact, there is a whole field of science called biomimetics, or biomimicry devoted to improving human designs by studying bug and animal mechanisms that are "both precise and purposeful." Did you know that one bug even comes complete with gears?!? Behe talks about mutation and natural selection, and because these are key elements of Darwin's Theory, Christians sometimes make the mistake of thinking we must oppose and deny their impact. But the way to figure out the truth isn't simply to hold to a position 180-degrees from that of mainstream science – evolutionists can't be trusted to be that reliably wrong. The key difference between evolution and creation is not in whether mutation and natural selection happen, but rather in what they can accomplish. Evolutionists say mutation and natural selection can, together, create wholly new species, accidentally. We argue that the changes possible are of a more minor sort, and the potential for them is largely built-in, or the changes come about as a result of mutations causing information loss, which would be better called devolution. Episode 4: Effects of Mutation (7 minutes) Richard Lenski's 30-year long E coli bacteria experiment is one of the most popular, and seemingly best examples of evolution observably happening. Mutations had helped the offspring grow faster, and grow bigger than their ancestors. But what sort of mutations were these? It turned out that they involved broken genes. Thus this was, once again, devolution and did nothing to explain the growth in complexity that would be needed to take us from the simple first molecules to the awesome creature that is Man. But how does breaking genes help a cell grow faster? Behe notes that just as jettisoning key car parts - maybe the doors, most of the seats, the hood, and cigarette lighter – might allow it to run further on a tank of gas, so, too, some broken genes can increase a cell's ability to reproduce in a given environment...but only at the expense of the complexity it might need to deal with other circumstances. As Behe puts it, such "...helpful mutations are not a DNA upgrade." Episode 5: The X Factor in Life (8 minutes) In this conclusion, Behe invites us – challenges us! – to follow where the evidence takes us. This is where Behe gives his most overt pitch for an Intelligent Designer, asking "Who is this Mind?" But he then doesn't answer his question. So we're left with his conclusion that there is a Mind behind it - an immensely intelligent, but still unnamed, Designer. Conclusion For more Michael Behe, be sure to check out his full-length free documentary Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of the Molecular Machines, which is both an account of the man, and also a history of the Intelligent Design Movement. The film, and our review, can be found here. You can also watch the first five episodes of the series above - the first "seasons" – re-edited into one half-hour-long video here. And be sure to check out Season 2 of "Secrets of the Cell."...
Science - Creation/Evolution
Evolution as a gravedigger
Theistic evolution undermines God’s Truth, but it’s only continuing what Old Earth Creationism began *** Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland has recently published an excellent article, "Theistic evolution, Christian Knowledge and Culture's Plausibility Structure", in the Journal of Biblical and Theological Studies (Volume 2, Issue 1:1-18, 2017). In it he reflects on the broader cultural implications of adopting theistic evolution as a means to integrate Christianity and science. Knowledge and plausibility structures Dr. Moreland notes that our Western society is highly empirical. Our culture presumes that valid knowledge can be acquired only through science (scientism), whereas non-empirical claims concerning values, ethics, spirits, and the like, are merely personal opinions (cultural relativism). Today, the central issue is not whether Christianity is true, but whether it can be known to be true: Does Christianity have a valid source of knowledge? Knowledge is defined by Dr. Moreland as "true belief based on adequate grounds". He contends: The deepest issue facing the church today is this: Are its main creeds and central teachings items of knowledge or mere matters of blind faith–privatized personal beliefs or issues of feeling to be accepted or set aside according to the whim of individual or cultural pressures? Do these teachings have cognitive and behavioral authority that set a worldview framework for approaching science, art, ethics–indeed, all of life? Or are cognitive and behavioral authority set by what scientists, evolutionary biologists, or the members of BioLogos say? Are the church’s doctrines determined by what Gallup polls tell us is embraced by cultural and intellectual elites? Do we turn to these sources and set aside or revise two thousand years of Christian thinking and doctrinal/creedal expressions in order to make Christian teaching acceptable to the neuroscience department at UCLA or the paleontologists at Cambridge? The question of whether or not Christianity provides its followers with a range of knowledge is no small matter. It is a question of authority for life and death, and lay brothers and sisters are watching Christian thinkers and leaders to see how we approach this matter. And, in my view, as theistic evolutionists continue to revise the Bible over and over again, they inexorably give off a message about knowledge: science gives us hard knowledge based on evidence and with which we can be confident, and while theology and biblical teaching do not give us knowledge, they provide personal meaning and values for those with the faith to embrace them. Every culture, Dr. Moreland writes, has a plausibility structure – a set of background assumptions that determines what ideas people are willing to entertain as possibly true. Our current Western cultural plausibility structure elevates science, and bans Christianity from serious consideration. Such cultural bias makes effective evangelization difficult. Theistic evolution as a gravedigger Dr. Moreland contends that the acceptance of theistic evolution by many Christians has greatly contributed to the undermining of Christianity as a source of knowledge: In my view, there are certain contemporary currents of thought that risk undercutting Christianity as a source of knowledge, and I shall argue that by its very nature, theistic evolution is the prime culprit. It is one of the church’s leading gravediggers... The term "gravedigger" (from Os Guinness's 1983 book The Gravedigger File) refers to Christians who, though well-intended, adopt views that eventually undermine the church. Dr. Moreland raises three concerns: Theistic evolution reinforces scientism. It exemplifies the notion that, when science and the Bible clash, we revise the Bible, not science, since scientific truth claims exhibit solid knowledge based on facts. Such willingness to revise Biblical interpretations held for 2000 years implies that Biblical teaching is tentative. The most pervasive form of theistic evolution holds that God's involvement in evolution is undetectable, so that it is in practice indistinguishable from naturalistic evolution. Most theistic evolutionists are opposed to Intelligent Design, the notion that God's hand can readily be discerned in nature. According to Dr. Moreland: Theistic evolution is intellectual pacifism that lulls people to sleep while the barbarians are at the gates. In my experience, theistic evolutionists are usually trying to create a safe truce with science so Christians can be left alone to practice their privatized religion while retaining the respect of the dominant intellectual culture. ...Sometimes theistic evolutionists claim that by embracing evolution, they are actually contributing to the plausibility of Christianity by removing an unnecessary stumbling block – the rejection of evolution – before one can be a well-informed Christian. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. While there are exceptions, my experience with theistic evolutionists is that they have a weak faith, do not see many answers to prayer, and lack a vibrant, attractive Christian life. Ideas have consequences, and if one knows he had to revise the early chapters of Genesis, it will weaken his confidence in the rest of the Bible...After all, if we have to provide naturalistic revisions of the Bible over and over again, why take the yet-to-be-revised portions of scripture seriously? This approach significantly weakens the cognitive authority of the Bible as a source of knowledge of reality... Given scientism, theistic evolution greases the skids towards placing non-scientific claims in a privatized upper story in which their factual, cognitive status is undermined... Dr. Moreland expresses particular concern about the readiness of some Christian scholars to abandon belief in the historical reality of Adam and Eve. Given our culture's current plausibility structure, this contributes to the marginalization of Christian teaching. He comments: If I am right about the broader issues, then the rejection of an historical Adam and Eve has far more troubling implications than those that surface in trying to reinterpret certain biblical texts. The very status of biblical, theological and ethical teachings as knowledge is at stake in the current cultural milieu as is the church’s cognitive marginalization to a place outside the culture’s plausibility structure. Those who reject a historical Adam and Eve inadvertently harm the church by becoming its gravedigger. Finally, Dr. Moreland notes that evolution entails that we are purely physical beings, and that an immaterial soul is no longer considered plausible within our modern culture. He deplores the fact that a number of Christian philosophers have adopted a physicalist view of humans. Responding to cultural challenges How should Christians respond to our culture, with its anti-Christian plausibility structure? Dr. Moreland urges that we should not cave in to the prevailing contemporary currents of ideas. Instead, Christians should hold their ground, "eventually winning the argument due to hard-hitting scholarship and confidence in the Bible": Accordingly, it is of crucial importance that we promote the central teachings of Christianity in general as a body of knowledge and not as a set of faith-practices to be accepted on the basis of mere belief or a shared narrative alone. To fail at this point is to risk being marginalized and disregarded as those promoting a privatized set of feelings or desires that fall short of knowledge... I want to win people to Christ and to “bring down strongholds” that undermine knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), to penetrate culture with a Christian worldview and to undermine its plausibility structure which, as things stand now, does not include objective theological claims. He stresses the importance of apologetics, especially scientific apologetics, such as is done by the Intelligent Design movement (ID). The church should seek ways, such as a scientific critique of naturalist evolution, that may help to modify a person's plausibility structure so as to create space in which Christianity can be seriously entertained. How should conflicts with science be handled? Dr. Moreland advises that we should not be hasty to revise Scripture. Rather: No, we should be patient, acknowledge the problem, and press into service Christian intellectuals who are highly qualified academically, have respect for the fact that scripture presents us with knowledge (not just truth to be accepted by blind faith), and who want to work to preserve the traditional interpretation of scripture and avoid revisionism. These intellectuals should be given the chance to develop rigorous models that preserve historical Christian teaching, unless, in those rare cases, our interpretation of scripture has been wrong. These intellectuals are heroes because they value loyalty to historic understandings of scripture over the desire to fit in with what scientists are currently claiming. The Intelligent Design movement is just such a set of intellectuals... Rather than tucking their tails between their legs at the first sign of a conflict between the Bible and science, and standing ready (even eager) to let the scientists tell them what they must revise, the members of the ID movement have the intellectual courage and confidence in biblical teaching not to back down. Rather, ID advocates “deconstruct the pretentiousness” of truth-claims that go against biblical assertions that are properly interpreted (and they don’t grab for an interpretation that, all by itself, gives in to the other side of the conflict.) And they don’t make excuses for the Bible; they advance arguments in its support. Digging deeper There is much in this article that I can heartily endorse. I fully concur with Dr. Moreland that theistic evolutionists help dig the church's grave by promoting modern culture's plausibility structure, which has no place for Biblical knowledge. Allowing science to change our views on Adam and Eve is certainly a prime example of this danger. Further, it is commendable that the Intelligent Design movement exposes the weaknesses of naturalist evolution, and seeks to show that nature exhibits many marks of an Intelligent Designer. Yet, in stressing scientific argumentation, and rarely referring to Scripture, the ID movement itself may be contributing to scientism. Moreover, many proponents of ID do not consistently exhibit great confidence in the Bible as a source of knowledge. For example, most of them – including Dr. Moreland – accept an ancient age for the earth, as given by mainstream geology. This obliges them to revise the traditional reading of Genesis 1-11, regarding such things as the creation days, the physical extent of Adam's Fall, Noah's Flood, the genealogies of Gen. 5 & 11, etc. For more discussion on this issue, see my article The Cost of an Old Earth: Is it Worth it? Indeed, the plausibility structure reigning in most of Christian academia is such that it scorns those rare Christian academics who still promote traditional Biblical history. Old Earth Creationism is subject to the same concerns that Dr. Moreland raises regarding theistic evolution, namely: It reinforces scientism. It exemplifies the notion that, when science and the Bible clash, we revise the Bible, not science, since scientific truth claims exhibit solid knowledge based on facts. Such willingness to revise Biblical interpretations held for 2000 years implies that Biblical teaching is tentative. Moreover, the Biblical Adam, though an essential part of traditional Biblical history, becomes blatantly implausible when thrust into the setting of mainstream geology and paleontology, which traces modern humans back at least 300,000 years, with much earlier ancestors, exhibiting suffering and death from the beginning, etc. Consequently, a plausibility structure that includes mainstream geology, and correspondingly downplays Biblical ancient history, paves the way for plausibility structures that exclude further Biblical teachings, such as the historical Adam. I have a high regard for Dr. Moreland. He has written much worthwhile material, and made important contributions to Christian scholarship. Nevertheless, I believe that he has been inconsistent in upholding his own standards, thereby inadvertently contributing to grave-digging. Theistic evolutionists are merely deepening the grave already substantially dug by Old Earth creationists. In his article Dr. Moreland cautions: It should be clear that naturalism is not consistent with biblical Christianity. If that’s true, then the church should do all it can to undermine the worldview of naturalism and to promote, among other things, the cognitive, alethic nature of theology, biblical teaching and ethics. This means that when Christians consider adopting certain views widely accepted in the culture, they must factor into their consideration whether or not such adoption would enhance naturalism’s hegemony and help dig the church’s own grave by contributing to a hostile, undermining plausibility structure. Wise advice! Perhaps Dr. Moreland should heed it by reconsidering his own plausibility structure. This article first appeared in an Oct. 24, 2009 post on Dr. John Byl’s blog Bylogos.blogspot.com and is reprinted here with permission. Dr. John Byl is a Professor emeritus for Trinity Western University, and the author of "God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe" and "The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning.”...
Science - Creation/Evolution, Theology
The cost of an old earth: Is it worth it?
Until recently, most Christians believed that the Bible teaches us that the earth was only a few thousand years ago. This contradicts mainstream science, which holds that the earth is billions of years old. Consequently, many Christians, have modified their reading of the Bible accordingly. At first sight, this may seem rather harmless. The age of the earth hardly seems to be a doctrine essential to the Bible's main message of salvation. Yet, much more is at stake than first meets the eye. Accepting mainstream science on the age of the earth entails that we accept the reliability of its dating methods, with all the underlying presumptions. It entails also that we should likewise accept other results of mainstream science that are based on similar assumptions. Let’s see what this implies. The order of creation We note first that mainstream science challenges not only the timescale of the Genesis creation account but also its order. Genesis 1 says: Day 1 – Water, earthly elements, then light Day 2 – Firmament, then oceans, atmosphere Day 3 – Dry land, then land vegetation, fruit trees, grass Day 4 – Sun, moon, stars Day 5 – Marine life, then birds Day 6 – Land animals, then humans Mainstream science says: 14 billion years ago – light/light elements, then stars/galaxies, then heavy elements/water 4.58 billion years ago – Sun 4.54 billion years ago – earth 550 million years ago (mya) – first fish 440 mya – first primitive plants 360 mya – first land animals – reptiles 245 mya – first mammals 210 mya – first birds 140 mya – first flowering plants 70 mya – first grasses, fruit trees 2 mya – first tool-making humanoids Note that the two orders differ at many places. For example, Genesis has fruit trees first, then birds, and then land animals; mainstream science has exactly the reverse. Genesis has the earth before the Sun and stars; mainstream science has stars and Sun before the earth, etc. Since it does not help to simply recast the creation days as long periods of time, most commentators trying to accommodate mainstream science now advocate that Genesis 1 has to be taken as a purely literary structure, with no real historical information – other than stating that God created the entire universe. The effect of the Fall A second consequence concerns the Fall of Adam. Calvin (and Kuyper) believed that predation, death, disease, thorns, earthquakes all arose as a result of the Fall. Viewed in terms of the traditional reading of Genesis, the fossil record reflects events that all happened after the Fall. Acceptance of an old earth, on the other hand, entails that the fossils we observe mostly reflect life before the Fall. Predation, pain, suffering, disease, earthquakes and the like, must then have existed already before the Fall. The fossil record, thus viewed, implies that the Fall did not have any observable effects on the earth or on non-human life. It follows that proponents of an old earth must minimize the physical consequences of Adam's fall. Traditionally, all animal suffering is seen as a result of human sin. But now it must be seen as part of the initial “very good” creation. Further, if the current world is not a world that has fallen from a better initial state, how can there be a universal restoration (cf Romans 8:19-23; Col. 1:16-20)? There are other difficulties. For example, how could Adam name all the animals if by then more than 99% had already become extinct? Human history Consider further the implications for human history. According to Genesis, Adam and Eve were created directly by God (Gen. 2) about 4000 BC (Gen. 5 & 11). They were the parents of all humans (Gen. 3:20). The Bible describes Adam as a gardener, his son Abel as a shepherd, and his son Cain as a farmer who founded a city (Gen. 4). Tents, musical instruments and bronze and iron tools were all invented by the offspring of Cain (Gen. 4), who were later all destroyed by the Flood (Gen. 6-9), which destroyed all humans except for Noah and his family (cf. 2 Pet. 2:5). Within a few generations after the Flood there is a confusion of language and people spread out to populate the earth (Gen. 11). Mainstream science, on the other hand, gives the following outline of human history: 2 million years BC – homo erectus, anatomically very similar to modern man 200,000 BC – oldest anatomically human Homo sapiens fossils (Ethiopia) 40-50,000 BC – oldest artistic and religious artifacts 40,000 BC – first aborigines in Australia (and continuously there ever since). 9000 BC – first villages 7500 BC – first plant cultivation, domesticated cattle and sheep (neolithic era) 5000 BC – first bronze tools 3000 BC – first written records 1600 BC – first iron tools The Biblical account is clearly at odds with the mainstream interpretation of the archaeological and fossil evidence. For example, if Australian aborigines have indeed lived separately from the rest of the world for 40,000 years then the Flood, if anthropologically universal, must have occurred more than 40,000 years ago. But Genesis places the cultivation of plants and cattle, metal-working, cities, etc., before the Flood. Mainstream science places these events after 10,000 BC. Hence, according to mainstream science, Noah’s flood could not have occurred before 10,000 BC. Consequently, an old earth position forces us to demote the Genesis flood to a local flood that did not affect all humans. Likewise, the tower of Babel incident (Gen.11) must now be localized to just a portion of mankind. Consider also the origin of man. Since Adam’s sons were farmers, mainstream science sets the date of Adam no earlier than 10,000 BC. This entails that the Australian aborigines are not descendants of Adam. Thus Adam and Eve are not the ancestors of all humans living today. This undermines the doctrine of original sin, which the confessions say was propagated in a hereditary manner from Adam to all his posterity (Belgic Confession 15-16; Canons of Dordt 34:2-3). This, in turn, undermines the view of Christ’s atonement as a penal substitution where Christ, as a representative descendent of Adam, pays for the sins of Adam’s race. Many of those who accept an evolutionary view of man have thus re-interpreted the work of Jesus as merely an example of love. Further, given the close similarity between human fossils of 10,000 and 2 million years ago, it becomes difficult to avoid concluding that Adam and Eve had human-like ancestors dating back a few million years. But that entails that Adam and Eve were not created directly by God, contrary to Gen. 2, and that human suffering and death occurred long before Adam’s fall, contrary to Rom. 5:12. Conclusions To sum up, embracing mainstream science regarding its assertion of an old earth entails the following consequences: Both the timescale and order of the creation account of Genesis 1 are wrong. The Flood of Gen. 6-8 must have been local, not affecting all humans. The Babel account of Gen. 11 must have been local, not affecting all humans. Adam’s fall – and the subsequent curse on the earth – did not significantly affect the earth, plants, animals, or the human body. Adam, living about 10,000 BC, could not have been the ancestor of all humans living today. Hence the doctrines of original sin and the atonement must be revised Adam had human ancestors Hence human physical suffering and death occurred before the Fall and are not a penalty for sin. These, in turn, entail the following constraints on the Bible: 1-11 does not report reliable history. Hence the Bible cannot be taken at face value when describing historical events, in which case we cannot believe everything the Bible says (cf. Belgic Confession 5; Heidelberg CatechismQ/A 21). In sum, acceptance of an old earth has dire consequences for the rest of Gen. 1-11, for Biblical clarity, authority and inerrancy, and for the essentials of salvation. Worldviews come as package deals. One cannot simply mix and match. Logical consistency dictates that those who do not whole-heartedly base their worldview on the Bible will ultimately end up rejecting it. A better course of action would thus be to hold fast to the full authority of the Bible, to re-consider the presuppositions leading to an old earth, and to interpret the data in terms of scientific theories that are consistent with Biblical truths. This article first appeared in an Oct. 24, 2009 post on Dr. John Byl’s blog Bylogos.blogspot.com and is reprinted here with permission. Dr. John Byl is a Professor emeritus for Trinity Western University, and the author of "God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe" and "The Divine Challenge: On Matter, Mind, Math & Meaning.”...
Science - Creation/Evolution
I believe in theistic evolution
I recently realized I believe in/affirm theistic evolution. Depending on your perspective, have I sold out or have I finally come to my senses? Neither. Let me explain. It has long perturbed me that those who affirm or allow for Darwinian macroevolution to be compatible with a biblical worldview will sometimes call themselves "creationists" or will claim to believe in/affirm biblical creation. They do this knowing that biblical creation is usually understood to refer to a view that holds to God having created in six ordinary days on a timescale of some thousands (rather than millions or billions) of years ago. By claiming to believe in creation they lay concerns to rest, whereas all they have really done is disguise their true position. Stephen C. Meyer has helped me to see I could do the same thing with theistic evolution. Meyer wrote the "Scientific and Philosophical Introduction" to Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, a massive volume published in 2017 by Crossway. He notes that theistic evolution can mean different things to different people, as can "evolution" without the modifier "theistic." For example, it can refer to common or universal common descent or to the creative power of the natural selection/random variation (or mutation) mechanism. But evolution can also just simply mean "change over time." And if one believes that God causes "change over time," then that can be understood as a form of theistic evolution. With that, Meyer contends, no biblical theist could object (p.40). He concludes, "Understanding theistic evolution this way seems unobjectionable, perhaps even trivial" (p.41). So, in the sense of believing or affirming that there is change over time directed by God, I am a theistic evolutionist -- and I suspect you are too! But what's the problem with this? Let's say I were to (miraculously) get myself invited to a BioLogos conference as a speaker who affirms theistic evolution. It appears I'm on board with the BioLogos agenda. The conference organizers are a little doubtful, but I insist that I affirm theistic evolution and they take me at my word and welcome me in their midst. Then I give a talk where I evidence that I'm actually a six-day creationist who believes Darwinian macroevolution to be a fraud. "But you said you hold to theistic evolution!" "Oh, but you didn't ask me what I meant by that. I believe that God causes change over time -- that's how I'm a theistic evolutionist." Would anyone blame the conference organizers for thinking me to be lacking in some basic honesty? Integrity is really the heart of the matter. If I say, "I read a book and I realized I'm a theistic evolutionist," most people will hear that and conclude that I still believe in God, but I also affirm Darwinian evolution. And that is not an unreasonable conclusion. Furthermore, what would be my purpose for making such a claim? Would it be to tell something designed to mislead so as to advance my cause? Does the end justify the means? If you affirm Darwinian macroevolution as the best explanation for how life developed on earth and you believe God superintended it, then man up and say so. Honestly say, "I am a theistic evolutionist." As for me, believing that God created everything in six ordinary days on the order of some thousands of years ago, I will say directly, "I am a biblical creationist" or "six-day creationist," or "young earth creationist." But let's all be honest with one another. Biblical creationists also have to stop being naive. Just because someone says they believe in biblical creation doesn't mean they actually believe the biblical account as given in Genesis. They can fill out those terms with their own meaning. So we have to learn to ask good questions to ferret out impostors. Questions like: Do you believe God created everything in six ordinary days some thousands of years ago? Was the individual designated as Adam in Genesis ever a baby creature nestled at his mother's breast? Was the individual designated in Genesis as Eve a toddler at some point in her life? Do you believe it biblically permissible to say that, as creatures, the figures designated in Genesis as Adam and Eve at any point had biological forebears (like parents/grandparents)? What does it mean that God created man from the dust of the earth? These are the types of questions churches need to be asking at ecclesiastical examinations for prospective ministers. These are the types of questions Christians schools need to be asking prospective teachers at interviews. True, even with these sorts of questions, there are no guarantees of integrity, but at least we will have done our due diligence. Dr. Bredenhof blogs at yinkahdinay.wordpress.com and CreationWithoutCompromise.com where this first appeared. ...