SummaryPeople will believe that frogs have turned into princes—if the process is stretched over hundreds of millions of years.
As far back as recorded history goes, there have been those who have worked feverishly to explain this incredibly designed world without a Designer. To escape responsibility to a powerful Creator, many types of evolutionary schemes have arisen. These are stories of how the world made itself, of how design, complexity and order have come about without any supernatural cause.
Paul indicates in Romans 1:20 that sinful man has to work hard to persuade himself that there is no Creator. The design in nature makes the Creator's existence so obvious that people cannot possibly claim that, in their heart of hearts, they had no idea that God is responsible for the world.
So how does one explain a complex universe without a Designer? One way would be to say that it has always existed. But in our common experience (as formalized by the Laws of Thermodynamics) nothing stays the same forever; everything has to have had a beginning.
Another way would be to claim that it has just popped into existence by itself, fully formed, with no cause. 'Poof!' However, this would be a hard idea to get accepted, because again both science and common experience show that nature of itself performs no such miracles.
The obvious explanation is that it was made as a fully functioning world by an Uncaused Cause 'outside of' (and greater than) the physical universe — just as Genesis says. However, that would be tantamount to accepting the existence of the God of the Bible and His right over one's life.
If you ignore that explanation, you are left with only one more option — some sort of (evolutionary) theory which says that today's complexity came about gradually from something a little less complex, which in turn came from something simpler, and so on back. This breaks the 'Poof!' miracle which nature is being asked to perform, into smaller, more believable steps. People will believe that frogs have turned into princes — if the process is stretched over hundreds of millions of years.
Escaping the real God
In other words, simple-to-complex theories are the only theories possible if you are trying to explain the origin of the universe without God. Many pagan cosmologies have some sort of primeval ooze or chaos spontaneously giving rise to the world — or to the gods who subsequently fashioned the world. Likewise, modern evolutionary cosmologies have almost always had the universe starting off with something really simple, like a cloud of hydrogen, or a 'primeval atom' which exploded.
This of course begs the question of where this original substance came from, because it's hard to conceive of anything simpler. Once again there are only a few options. For instance, the primordial atom could have been sitting there for an eternity before it exploded. The idea (common among theistic evolutionists) that it was created misses the point. Ultimately, the reason why this primeval blip of ultimate simplicity has emerged in human thought is because of the desire to eliminate a Creator. A Designer capable of creating only an extremely simple starting object would hardly seem worth mentioning, anyway.
But, just in case you still wanted to cling to a Creator for even this simple beginning, a number of theories propose that this first object just happened, uncreated. The primeval atom is said to have 'spontaneously appeared out of the vacuum via a quantum fluctuation'. For such very small objects, quantum mechanics suggests that normal 'logic' may not always apply, so the 'Poof' explanation will not appear as ridiculous as in the case of the whole universe.
One might think that evolutionary story-tellers would feel they have now finally succeeded in eliminating the Creator God. The universe has essentially been made to appear out of nothing, by itself, and to have created its own order and complexity.
Lately, though, an awkward problem has begun to stand in the way of efforts to eliminate design. It is being increasingly admitted that the universe is far too improbable to have come about in the way formerly believed. If the forces tying subatomic particles together were just a fraction different from what they actually are, we would not even have stars. Also, it is conceded that today's universe is in a 'very peculiar state' — it is not 'typical' of the way a universe might be expected to emerge from a 'big bang'.1 More and more, we read that it appears to have been designed with just the right properties to have 'evolved' in the way it allegedly has.2
So to avoid even this hint of design, we now have the 'anthropic principle' in cosmology (anthropos = man). Many have misunderstood this to mean that cosmologists are now admitting that the universe was 'made for man'. Rather, they are saying 'if the properties of this universe hadn't been just right for man to evolve, there would be no observer to notice this.' The fact that we are here to observe it means that it must appear to us as if it was designed just right for us to evolve.
Although not usually stated, this position generally involves a belief that ours is only one of many universes, each with potentially different properties. Out of these, the one in which the properties were just right to evolve planets and people is the one we happen to be observing.
This is only a small step from perhaps the ultimate in evolutionary fantasy, which is now being seriously proposed by some cosmologists. That is, that our universe is in a sense 'alive' and evolving by natural selection! By playing with figures in mathematical abstractions, one can 'make' objects falling into a theoretical black hole shunt through some equally theoretical space-time warp and emerge as an expanding universe in 'some other set of dimensions'.
In this way, the universe is stated to be making 'offspring' — lots of other universes. Professor of physics Lee Smolin, of Pennsylvania State University, argues that each time a new universe is born, the laws of physics in it are a little different. This is supposed to be like mutations in biological evolution theory, allowing natural selection to operate to choose the 'fittest' universe.
This is, of course, purely a system of belief, beyond any conceivable test, and therefore outside of any real science. In a sense, we can feel encouraged about the truth of Psalm 19, 'The heavens declare the glory of God', when we observe great minds engaging in such extraordinary speculation to escape the obvious conclusion stated in this verse.
Reference and footnote
J. Gribbin, 'Is the Universe Alive?', New Scientist, January 15, 1994, pp. 38-40.
Is this evidence for creation? The trap is that in most instances, they mean 'it looks designed to evolve by itself from "big bang" to you'. Is there evidence for such design, which would support those Christians who have argued for compromise with 'big bang' ideas? The arguments for it are largely (but subtly) circular. For instance, the theory of 'inflation' has been developed to allow a hypothetical 'big bang' to end up with today's universe. All sorts of arbitrary postulates are invoked to make it work — for example, unseen matter of a particular type, and expansion faster than the speed of light. Ironically, those arguing for design then point out, as Gribbin writes, that 'there is no obvious reason why the inflation process should have gone on for just long enough and at just the right rate' to produce stars and galaxies. There is an obvious reason — inflation (the theory, not the universe) was contrived to do so. (There are non-circular arguments for design which are free of evolutionary presuppositions — for example, the finely tuned properties of matter required to allow stars to shine.)