Science and origins
Religion and origins
In Six Days
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
A.J. Monty White, physical chemistry
Dr White is CEO of Answers in Genesis UK/Europe. He holds a B.S. with honors, a Ph.D. in the field of gas kinetics from the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and has completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the same University. Dr White subsequently served in a number of university administrative posts. Over the years he has written several books and numerous articles relating to creation-evolution, and science and the Bible, as well as making several appearances on British television and radio programs dealing with these issues.
My parents brought me up to be an atheist, but as a result of discussions with Christians during my first year at university, I came to the conclusion that there was a God, that the Bible could be trusted as both a history book and a book of prophecy, and also that Christianity was a miraculous life-transforming religion. My conversion experience came some months later and I became a Christian.
The following October (1964) I began to study geology at university. The first geology lecture I attended was given by Professor Alan Wood, the head of department. He gave a talk about the evolution of life on earth—the usual story about how inorganic chemicals on the earth’s prebiotic surface joined up to produce organic molecules and how these organic molecules formed themselves into self-replicating organisms, which then evolved into all the extinct and living life-forms on the earth. Professor Wood was at pains to point out that the human species was not the end product of evolution, and he then speculated on the future evolution of humankind. Toward the end of his lecture, he suggested that in a few hundred million years, whatever was the most advanced creature on the earth at that time would find fossilized remains of 20th century humans and say, or by means of telepathic communication with one another, declare, “How primitive!”
I left the lecture thinking a great deal about what Professor Wood had said. How could I reconcile it with what the Bible taught in Genesis about the creation and the early history of the earth? I decided to ask my Christian friends about the creation/evolution question. I was, however, mildly surprised at their response, for they all told me to believe in evolution and to interpret the early chapters of Genesis accordingly. Such a belief is called theistic evolution—in other words, that evolution occurred and that God controlled the processes. The implication of this belief is that the early chapters of Genesis are not interpreted as history, but in terms of myths, allegories, legends, and parables. As a result of talking with my Christian friends, I came to accept theistic evolution and believed it for a few years.
I really enjoyed studying geology and within two years had advanced to degree level. However, I continued to major in chemistry and obtained an honors degree in that subject in 1967 and then began research for my doctorate in the field of gas kinetics. During this time I married and shortly afterwards my wife challenged my theistic evolutionary views by asking me to explain the Scripture found in 1 Corinthians 15:22: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.”
I realized that I was being asked to answer the fundamental question “Who was Adam?” I remember thinking that if I believed in a literal Adam, I would also have to believe in a literal Eve, a literal Garden of Eden, and a literal six-day creation. If I did this, I would have to commit intellectual suicide, for at that time, I knew no one who believed creation. Everyone I knew believed evolution. Every book I read, even those written by Christians, taught evolution. What was I to do?
The question of who Adam was really bugged me. In order to try to answer this question, I read the books in the New Testament to see what was the attitude of its characters (including the Lord Jesus Christ) towards the early chapters of Genesis. I soon realized that in the New Testament all of the events that are recorded in the first chapters of the Bible—the creation, Adam, Eve, the Fall, Noah, the Flood, and so on—are accepted as being literal and historical. There is absolutely nothing in the New Testament about their being mythical, allegorical, legendary, or even evolutionary.
I realized that if I, too, were to be of this same persuasion, then I would have to stop believing in evolution. The question I now asked myself was, “Is it possible, intellectually, to reject evolution?” Over the next two years, I came to the conclusion that it was possible not only to reject the idea of evolution but also to accept the historicity of the early chapters of Genesis without committing intellectual suicide. I did not reach this conclusion hastily. I was extremely busy pursuing my research: first in gas kinetics, for which I was awarded my Ph.D. in 1970, then in the study of the electrical and optical properties of organic semiconductors. However, I made time to pursue three main areas concerning the creation/evolution question: chemical evolution, the fossil record, and dating methods. I did this by reading my old geology lecture notes and by reading evolutionary textbooks. At the time, I was totally unaware of any other creationist and I did not know of the existence of any anti-evolution/pro-creation book, article or organization. It may therefore come as a surprise to realize that I became a creationist as a result of reading about evolution!
Let me share some of the reasons that persuaded me to become a creationist. The first area is chemical evolution. I was, and still am, amazed at the naivety of the statements made by chemical evolutionists. They purport to have proven that life originated by chance on a prebiotic earth and they point to the results of their laboratory experiments in support of such conclusions. Yet their experiments are designed not by chance, but by their own intellect! What in fact they are saying is something like this, “If I can synthesize life here in my laboratory, then I will have proven that no intelligence was needed to create life in the beginning and I will also have proven that it originated by chance!”
In the famous Miller experiment conducted in 1953, a mixture of amino acids was produced by passing an electric discharge through a mixture of ammonia, hydrogen, methane, and water vapor. Since that time, various mixtures of amino acids, sugars, and nucleic acid bases have been produced in similar experiments. As these chemicals are the building blocks of living systems, it is argued that such experiments prove beyond doubt that life was produced by chance on the earth. Yet these experiments prove nothing about the origin of life for a variety of reasons.
The first, which has already been mentioned, is because such experiments have been designed by intelligent scientists; they have nothing at all to do with chance. Another reason is that in Miller’s experiment, for example, amino acids were produced only because they were removed from the experiment as soon as they were formed. Had they been left in the apparatus, then they would have been destroyed by the same electrical discharge that caused them to be synthesized. Furthermore, the amino acids that are produced in all such experiments are in the right-handed as well as the left-handed forms, whereas living systems contain only left-handed amino acids. Additionally, had oxygen been present in the mixture of gases, the amino acids would not have formed in such experiments. This point is extremely important because the evidence from geology indicates that the earth’s atmosphere has always contained oxygen. Hence, the mixture of gases in such experiments does not mimic the composition of the earth’s atmosphere. This means that the experiments have absolutely nothing at all to do with what may or may not have happened on the so-called prebiotic earth.
The second area at which I looked was the fossil record—that is, the remains of life-forms that are trapped in the sedimentary rocks. I soon realized that the fossil record does not show the gradual evolution of one life-form into another as predicted and demanded by evolution. The missing links are called that because they are truly missing—none has ever been found. There are gaps in the fossil record at all the major breaks: fish to amphibian, amphibians to reptiles, reptiles to birds, and reptiles to mammals. Furthermore, no fossil remains of any creature linking humans to ape-like ancestors have ever been discovered; half-ape/half-human creatures are figments of the imagination of the artists who draw them for the books in which they appear. I was, and still am, disturbed to read about the famous Piltdown forgery, when a deliberate hoax was perpetrated in order to make part of a modern skull and the jaw bone of an orangutan appear to be the fossilized remains of a half-ape/half-human creature. If the evolutionists have the evidence for the evolution of apes into humans, why fake it?
The other scientific area at which I looked was that of dating. How do we know that a rock is such and such an age? This is the crucial question. As a chemist I could see that the accuracy of any dating methods relied on a number of assumptions, some of which are unprovable and others unknowable. For example, in order to determine the age of a rock by radiometric dating, three things must be known:
- the present concentrations of the parent and daughter elements in the rock;
- the original concentrations of parent and daughter elements in that rock; and
- the rate of decay of the parent into the daughter element.
Now in most cases it is possible to measure the amounts of parent and daughter elements in the rock. However, it is not always possible to know the original concentrations. Sometimes it is assumed that there was no daughter element present when the rock was formed, but there is no way of telling this. It is an assumption. Although the present rate of decay of parent into daughter can usually be measured accurately, there is no way of knowing that this rate does not change throughout time. Again, it is an assumption that the present rate has remained unchanged in the past, as there is no way of telling.
Of course, the proof of the accuracy of the different dating methods should be that different methods give the same age for the same rock sample. However, as I searched the literature I became aware of articles in which it was reported that different methods gave different ages for the same rock. In these papers the authors spent a great deal of space discussing why there were discrepancies and why the age should be determined from the fossil content of the rock or from the fossils in the adjoining rocks. But there is circular reasoning here:
- The age of the rock is determined from the age of a fossil, the age of which in turn is determined by evolution;
- The proof of evolution is the age of the rocks in which the fossil is found.
In other words, I saw that the basis for dating rocks is evolution and the only proof of evolution is the ages of the rocks in which the fossils are found. The assumption of evolution is, therefore, the main evidence for evolution.
During this time I began to realize that the idea of evolution was at best a hypothesis and that it had not been proven. I became convinced (and still am convinced) that people believe in evolution because they choose to do so. It has nothing at all to do with evidence. Evolution is not a fact, as so many bigots maintain. There is not a shred of evidence for the evolution of life on earth.
At the same time that I found I could reject evolution and not commit intellectual suicide, I began to realize that I could also accept a literal creation and still not commit intellectual suicide. First of all, I realized that it made sense to believe that in the beginning God created, as this did not violate the laws of thermodynamics. I noted that modern-day observations, as well as the evidence of the fossil record, indicate that both plants and animals reproduced after their own kind as stated in Genesis chapter 1.
I also realized that there was no simple explanation for the evolution of the information content which is found in living systems. Contemplating the amount of information in living systems has caused two professors at my own university (Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Professor Sir Fred Hoyle) to make the famous analogy that if you believe the information content in living systems to be the result of chance, then you believe that a tornado can go through a junkyard and assemble a jumbo jet!