Prize-winning Professor rejects evolution
Interview with Prof. Brian Stone
Dr Brian Stone, B.Sc., Ph.D., is Professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Western Australia, a position he has held since 1981. He has received numerous awards and prizes in recognition of his academic prowess and teaching achievements.
The glittering occasion at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra, the national capital, was reminiscent of an Oscar night. The short list of nominees for the 1997 Australian University Teaching Awards had been narrowed down from a larger list submitted by universities across Australia.1 As the hopefuls waited tensely before the assembled political dignitaries, envelopes containing the names of winners in each section were opened.
Ten of the 11 individual awards in this first-time event were for specific subject areas, like engineering and science. Any one of Brian Stone’s former students would have been delighted, but not surprised, when he was announced as the winner in the engineering section.
However, most observers would have been surprised to learn that Prof. Stone is a convinced Christian who believes in and openly defends a literal Genesis view of creation.
As an engineering academic, Dr Stone is well aware of the need for people in his profession to have a rigorous foundational training in science. He says,
‘Engineers are very much about applying the findings of science in a way that works, which means you have to first understand the science.’
In fact, when giving talks on creation and evolution, he is quick to point out, with only a hint of tongue in cheek, that:
‘it wasn’t scientists who sent man to the moon so much as it was the engineers’.
‘If you define science as repeatable, reliable, observational fact, it’s obvious that evolution doesn’t really qualify as science. People make these huge jumps; they see these tiny changes happening today, and so they conclude that all life forms have arisen from chemicals by a continuous process over millions of years. That’s not science, that’s a belief.’2
After it became known at the University of Western Australia that Professor Stone was a Christian and a creationist, he was asked to talk to some medical students there on the subject of creation vs evolution. When the department head, a professing Christian, was called to open the locked lecture room, he asked Brian about his topic. Hearing the answer, he dismissively said, ‘Oh, so you belong to the lunatic fringe.’
Brian told us, chuckling,
‘When I got up to talk, I told the medical students, “You’d better be careful about listening to me, because the head of your department has just diagnosed me as a lunatic.”? I had their attention from then on!’
A particularly delightful anecdote concerns the time just after his arrival from his native Wales to take up his professorial chair. He learned that the engineering faculty sponsored fortnightly talks on non-engineering subjects, which were usually attended by 40 or so students.
With only a week to the next talk, the speaker cancelled. Hearing that their new professor was a creationist, one of the faculty asked him to speak on the topic ‘Is evolution scientific?’
When the time arrived, the 180-seat windowless auditorium was filled and overflowing, with academic staff as well as students turning out to hear the upstart new professor. Brian remembers thinking, ‘There could be professors from the departments of geology and biology here for all I know.’ He says he suddenly knew how the Israelite scouts felt, like grasshoppers in comparison to the giants inhabiting the land they were meant to capture (Numbers 13:32–33).
‘I was somewhat apprehensive—my stomach wasn’t quite where it should be. The chairman tried to ease the tension with a joke as he introduced me, but it didn’t really work.’
Suddenly, just as he reached the microphone, there was a huge clap of thunder outside and the entire room was plunged into darkness—with the exception of one spotlight still shining its narrow beam directly onto Prof. Brian Stone. The ‘ice was broken’ by gales of laughter when Brian’s first words were, ‘Well, now you know what you’re up against!’
‘My nerves disappeared immediately. I realised that the God who made heaven and earth—wow, he’s my God. Who are these professors anyway, I thought, and suddenly these giants shrivelled up in my sight. I actually had a very interesting opportunity, a head start in a sense, because at that time, these academics were dogmatically teaching the gradualistic theory of evolution as fact. They had not yet caught up with the way some fossil experts overseas were beginning to admit that there really weren’t all these in-between fossils. They were proposing a new theory, evolution happening in fits and starts (“punctuated equilibrium”) to try to deal with this. So I could use their admissions to point out the fallacies in what people believed to be fact.’
Brian Stone became a Christian at the age of 15 after seeing a filmstrip about the missionaries who gave their lives to reach the Auca Indians of South America. After this, he was taught, both in science and, sadly, in Scripture classes, evolutionary concepts which, he says, ‘basically attacked the Bible’. So he found out all he could about origins, and within a year or so was giving talks defending Genesis creation.
He says that, while unwilling to debate the precise age of the earth, he is certain in his own mind that it is not millions of years old. He is also clear that there cannot have been death and bloodshed before the sin of Adam. He says:
‘A major issue in all this is the judgment of God on the whole creation at the Fall, which is totally undermined by the traditional vast-ages viewpoint.’
We asked him about the global Flood of Noah. He replied:
‘I accept that this is what the Scripture teaches, not just the Old Testament, but the New Testament as well. The Scriptures are true, they are the words of God, and they consistently teach this. And there is clear evidence consistent with this Flood.’
As an engineer involved in designing complex structures which work, Brian’s popular talks on creation deal a lot with design issues. He likes to point out some of the incredibly complex design features which creatures have, and then ask how they could possibly have evolved, how the intermediate stages could have been functional at all. He says, ‘Design is, to me, everywhere to be seen.’
We asked him why so many people do not ‘see’ the design everywhere. He replied:
‘I believe it’s because they are what the Bible calls “dead in trespasses and sin”?, and “the god of this world has blinded their eyes”. However, Romans 1 is very clear that they’re without excuse in this. One of the ways God is using to open eyes is through the proclamation of the creation message, like you’re doing through your talks and Creation magazine.’
Reference and footnote
- ‘Nominations for the awards were open to all 36 Australian public universities, its two private universities, as well as Batchelor College and the Australian Maritime College’. The Australian, November 26, 1997, p. 37. Return to text.
- Of course, even these tiny changes are in the wrong direction anyway; they are not associated with any increase in genetic information, which is what evolution requires. Return to text.