Why believe in God in an age of science?
A lecture for secular university students
Published: 29 May 2014 (GMT+10)
Students at the University of Adelaide, South Australia, at a lecture given by the author.
[The following is a brief summary of a lecture (see picture) with this title presented by Dr Hartnett at the University of Adelaide, South Australia (where he works as a research professor of physics) on 4 April 2014. The event was co-sponsored by an Adelaide church which put up posters around the university the week before. About 50 students and staff attended the lecture which took place within the less-than-Christian-friendly philosophical and ideological environment of a typical Western university. As Dr Hartnett comments (see picture of posters): “This is a climate where, for example, Marxism is promoted despite the fact that the ideology caused the deaths of 100 million humans in the 20th century alone.”]
Poster at the University of Adelaide promoting Dr Hartnett’s lecture, alongside others about Marxism and revolution.
In the year 2009 the world scientific community celebrated the Year of Darwin—200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years since the publication of his book On the Origin of Species.
You might ask the question: What did Darwin actually discover? Why make such a big deal? Evolution is their reason. They say something like: ‘We observe small changes in organisms in the lab and hence given sufficient time you can extrapolate those small changes from lifeless molecules into microbiologists. Sufficient time is all you need to make this complex universe, people included.’
And we are often told that Darwin’s legacy—evolutionary theory—is compatible with the Bible (or religion). ‘Don’t worry, you can be a Christian and believe evolution.’ ‘God used evolution.’ Statements like that have become commonplace. But is that true?
Atheists are sometimes clearer in understanding the problem than churchmen. Prof. Richard Dawkins, atheist, evolutionist and an anti-creationist explains it this way:
Many atheists, in the fight to keep creationism out of schools, decide it’s best to say that believing in God and evolution isn’t incompatible. But I’m a boat-rocker—I make the case that it’s difficult to believe in God if you understand evolution.1 [emphasis added]
Prof. Peter Bowler, evolutionist, science historian and author (and staunch anti-creationist), from Queen’s University, Belfast, puts it this way:
If Christians accepted that humanity was the product of evolution—even assuming the process could be seen as an expression of the Creator’s will—then the whole idea of Original Sin would have to be reinterpreted. Far from falling from an original state of grace in the Garden of Eden, we have risen gradually from our animal origins. And if there was no Sin from which we needed salvation, what was the purpose of Christ’s agony on the cross? Christ became merely the perfect man who showed us what we could all hope to become when evolution finished its upward course. Small wonder that many conservative Christians—and not just the American fundamentalists—argued that such a transformation had destroyed the very foundations of their faith.2 [emphasis added]
Evolutionism says that earth history is really a record of death and bloodshed and survival of the fittest. Adolf Hitler applied this type of thinking in Nazi Germany where he not only killed six million Jews but also millions of others including Polish Catholics, Gypsies and many others. He applied the principle of ‘Life not worthy of life’ and killed some 250,000 ‘Aryan’ Germans just because they had some physical or mental handicap. He was helping evolution along, by killing off the weak.
It was not just Nazi Germany, but the Allied nations as well. In fact, even before World War II, evolution had inspired forced sterilization programs in Lynchburg, Virginia, USA.
An advertisement in Nazi Germany reads: “60000 Reich Marks. This is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the [German] community during his lifetime. Fellow citizen, that is your money, too.”
In 1947, evolutionist Sir Arthur Keith wrote:
The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.3
However, the Western nations have not learned the lessons of the horrific wars and genocides this century. Evolution is today entrenched in our universities even more than it was in Nazi Germany.
Princeton University appointed the animal-rights activist Prof. Peter Singer to a Bioethics chair. Singer,4 an ardent evolutionist, is notorious for his support of abortion, euthanasia, and killing handicapped infants and old people (except his own mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease), and for supporting the right to have sex with animals. Also the atheist Richard Dawkins advocates killing children up to the age of about one or two years old—infanticide. He said:
I can think of no moral objection to eating human road kills except for the ones that you mentioned like ‘what would the relatives think about it?’ and ‘would the person themselves have wanted it to happen?’, but I do worry a bit about slippery slopes; possibly a little bit more than you do. [He was speaking to Peter Singer.]
Another example might be suppose you take the argument in favour of abortion up until the baby was one year old, say two years old. If a baby was one year old and turned out to have some horrible incurable disease that meant it was going to die in agony in later life, what about infanticide? Strictly morally I can see no objection to that at all, I would be in favour of infanticide but I think I would worry about, I think I would wish at least to give consideration to the person who says ‘where does it end?’5 [emphasis added]
At the 109th meeting of the Texas Academy of Science at Lamar University, Dr. Eric R. Pianka, a University of Texas ecology and lizard expert, was named the 2006 Distinguished Texas Scientist.6 Pianka then gave a speech saying people are ruining the planet, and he advocated the elimination of 90 percent of earth’s population by airborne Ebola virus. He was not saying that scientists should make it airborne but that he looked forward to the day it evolved to be airborne. He said:
We’ve got airborne 90 percent mortality in humans. Killing humans. Think about that.7
I saw this on a video, and the at-least 300-strong audience then gave him a standing ovation. See Doomsday glee.
But all of this thinking has its basis in the theory of evolution being the true history of the earth. It says that you and I are just evolved pond scum, via chance random processes over billions of years via ‘survival of the fittest.’ And here you see man drawn at the top of the evolutionary tree. But no consistent evolutionist thinks man is any more important than an earthworm.
In regards to ‘What is man?’ on our earth, Oxford professor Peter Atkins says we are “just a bit of slime on the planet” and Richard Dawkins says “we live in a universe which has no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”8
With those kinds of ideas it is no wonder that these Oxford professors have this view of man.
Really, evolution is a record of death and bloodshed, the strong over the weak and this process having continued for millions, even billions of years. I am not saying there are not morally good atheists, but because of these evolutionary ideas, ultimately the atheist, the evolutionist, has no basis for morality.
Look at the case of the Finland Jokela High School massacre where an 18-year-old Pekka-Eric Auvinen shoots eight people (five boys, two girls and the female school principal), then kills himself in a rampage that stunned peaceful Finland. This occurred November 2007 in Tuusula municipality, north of Helsinki.
The shooter posted a message on YouTube before he committed the heinous act. It is entitled “Jokela High School Massacre—11/7/2007” and was posted by a user called Sturmgeist89.9
Despite the ‘Humanity is overrated’ message on his T-shirt above, Pekka-Eric Auvinen evidently had a higher (evolutionary!) view of himself: “I cannot say that I am of the same race as this miserable, arrogant and selfish human race. No! I have evolved a step higher.” See Inside the mind of a killer.
I am prepared to fight and die for my cause,
I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.
HUMANITY IS OVERRATED! Human life is not sacred. Humans are just a species among other animals and world does not exist only for humans… The faster human race is wiped out from this planet, the better… no one should be left alive..
Now, moving a little closer to home. One young Australian man told a national forum on the problem of depression in society that:
… I think that some people may have an inability to cope, and maybe this might sound a bit extreme, but that might be Darwinian theory, the Darwin theory of survival of the fittest. Maybe some of us aren’t meant to survive, maybe some of us are meant to kill ourselves …
There’s too many people in the world as it is. Maybe it is survival of the fittest, maybe some of us are meant to just give up, and maybe that would help the species.10 [emphasis added]
It all depends on who you believe sets the rules. If it is God, and they are His rules then there are absolutes—rules we need to live by.
But if it is man (mankind) who sets the rules, that is secular humanism or ‘man decides truth’ for himself. And if man sets the rules—they will be constantly changing. But Western societies were founded on the Judeo-Christian culture, which came with a respect for and knowledge of the Creator, the Lawgiver.
Most Christian doctrines originate in Genesis 1–11:
- Marriage (currently we see the push by the homosexual lobby to make marriage something else than one man with one woman for life),
- Sin and death (without sin Adam and Eve would have lived forever, but sin meant they died and so do we, their offspring),
- Seven-day-week (note that it is not based on astronomy yet cultures all over the world use a seven-day work-week),
- Clothing (there is a moral reason here—God provided Adam and Eve with clothing because they were ashamed after they sinned and knew they were naked),
- The Fall/Curse (God changed the universe and the world, into one where carnivory and death have full sway),
- The whole meaning of the Gospel message—without Original Sin, the Gospel means nothing because Jesus Christ was born to redeem His kinsmen.
All these doctrines are founded in Genesis. Without Adam’s Fall there would be no reason for a saviour. Peter Bowler said it right.
This is a worldview issue as much as about believing in evolution (that man and all living organisms evolved from some original pond scum). In reality God, the Creator, created man in His image and asked him to take care of the creation.
But through what is now called ‘modern science’ (long-age geology and ‘deep time’—James Hutton and Charles Lyell—followed by biological evolution—Charles Darwin) the notion that the biblical account of creation is real history is being relegated to the children’s story books. This has led to the ‘reinterpretation’ of the Genesis account as myth and allegory to fit it into the atheistic worldview.
But those who accept this have forgotten the truth of God’s Word—especially His Ten Commandments, which God with His own finger wrote in tablets of stone on Mount Sinai (Exodus 20). Fundamental human rights come from God’s Law; not to murder, to lie or steal from others or to commit adultery and much more.
God’s Fourth Commandment was to keep the Sabbath. God said that because in six ordinary earth-rotation days He created the earth and the universe and all that is in them, (Exodus 20:11) therefore He commanded that the children of Israel were to live their lives accordingly, i.e. to work six days and rest on the Sabbath, the seventh day (Exodus 20:9–11). It makes no sense to suppose, as some do, that those ‘days’ meant they lasted thousands or even millions of years. If so, the idea would logically lead to the notion that the Israelites should work for 6000 years before a rest of 1000 years, or that they should work for six million years, before a million-year rest, which is quite ridiculous. God’s Word consistently interprets itself.
Two types of science.
We all have a worldview and it is with that worldview that we interpret the evidence around us. This worldview is built up from various sources; TV, education, the media especially.
This is also and especially true of scientists. Besides, reconstructing the past is not repeatable operational science but more like forensic science—historical science. It is weak because we have no access to the past. Instead it is a history question to ask what happened in the past, when at best we only have circumstantial evidence.
We must understand that there are really two types of science. One is operational or experimental science which is based on repeatable experiments (e.g. done in a lab) in the present. The experiment can be repeated again and again, and because we trust that laws of nature (which God created in the beginning) are immutable, we have learned to expect the same results. This is the basis of the modern technological revolution.
Historical ‘science’ is based on evidence available in the present but consists of stories about supposed events in the past that cannot be repeated, observed, or tested experimentally.
It is forensic science where you have to make up a story about the past and which best fits the evidence at hand. The evidence is circumstantial at best. There are no repeatable experiments one can do on the past because we can’t go back into the past. The investigative TV programs like CSI illustrate this very well. But evidence doesn’t speak for itself—it is interpreted within the worldview of the researcher. On CSI they usually get a confession, which is an eyewitness account. There are however no human eyewitnesses to the supposed billions of years of past history in the universe. With earth history the question of age is ultimately not a science question so much as it is a history question and you need a reliable history book to answer that.
We have only one reliable witness who was there—God—and He has given us a written history book—the Bible.
All science about origins is historical science. By some definitions it is not even science. We all—whether evolutionist or biblical creationist––have the same evidence. It is how we interpret that evidence, which we all do through the ‘glasses’ of our worldview or belief system. And no scientist is without a belief system.
When we talk about earth evidence, or earth sciences, biblically speaking the greatest evidence that is reinterpreted in terms of long ages and ‘deep time’ is fossils in sedimentary layers (laid down by moving water).
This is particularly relevant at this moment as we see a resurgence of people building full-size replicas of Noah’s Ark, like this one in Hong Kong, and even one that floats. And recently (March 2014) a pagan unbiblical movie (following elements of the occultic philosophy of Kabbalah) about Noah’s Ark and a global flood was released from Hollywood.
So what do you think would happen if the world were inundated with a global flood—with volcanoes opening up from all over the earth—gigantic tidal waves and avalanches—a total catastrophe?
There would be billions of creatures dying suddenly in this global flood. You’d expect to get billions of dead things buried in sedimentary layers.
Fossils are evidence of catastrophic conditions. Fossils just don’t form by gradualistic processes; and evolutionists know this.
We don’t see this slow and gradual process that they say has occurred over some 3.8 billion years of earth’s history back to the original pond scum. Fossils form only where some special conditions––usually involving rapid burial––occur, but not by slow and gradual sedimentation over hundreds of thousands of years.
Putting on our biblical glasses we see planet Earth covered with water and a global flood and a simple explanation, with marine fossils found on the highest mountains. There are many lines of evidence consistent with a young earth.
One powerful line of evidence is red blood cells found in supposedly 65 million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex bones. In 1994, the discoverer, evolutionist Mary Schweitzer, said:
It was exactly like looking at a slice of modern bone. But, of course, I couldn’t believe it. I said to the lab technician: ‘The bones, after all, are 65 million years old. How could blood cells survive that long?’11
Later in 2005, she discovered more samples, containing blood cells, hemoglobin, fragile proteins, and soft tissue such as flexible ligaments and blood vessels. (And in 2012 even DNA.12 Others have reported radiocarbon in dino bones which shouldn’t be there if they are millions of years old.) In the former case she dissolved away the mineral matrix and found soft tissue that was ‘… flexible and resilient and when stretched returns to its original shape.’13 It was reported in the journal article:
As the fossil dissolved, transparent vessels were left behind. “It was totally shocking,” Schweitzer says. “I didn’t believe it until we’d done it 17 times.”
She was shocked because of her worldview.
Note she was doing repeatable operational science on the samples, but it was the historical interpretation that shocked her. Now she is looking for a mechanism that preserves biological cells like this for 65 million years––such is her mindset. It is so much simpler to wear biblical glasses and see that those fossils are just not that old, maybe only 4500 years old. Hence they are still pretty fresh. She even reported that they had a cadaverous odour to them.
The correct conclusion
Genesis Chapter 1 records:
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)
It was initially a perfect creation, that was marred by Adam’s sin and hence God cursed the world. This is what changed it. But if you believe that the earth is billions of years old, and animals have been evolving through a process of killing and the strong overcoming the weak before God made Adam and Eve in the Garden, then how could He have said it was very good, meaning ‘perfect’ where nothing would be hurt or would die?
Instead it makes much more sense to interpret Genesis as real history and that history only started about 6,000 years ago. Because of sin the world is damaged.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. (Romans 5:12)
Only because of Adam’s sin did death enter into the Creation, and hence carnivory too. But God will eventually restore His perfect Creation as He has promised.
There will be no more death.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (Revelation 21:4)
In the new heavenly city, which God promised to bring to a new earth, in the future, we find again the Tree of Life.
In the midst [of the heavenly city, new Jerusalem], was there the tree of life. (Revelation 22:2)
This was a literal tree, such that when Adam and Eve (real people) ate of the fruit they would live forever, i.e. never die physically. Hence the Creator and Judge had to cast them out of the Garden after their sin as part of His judgement. But He provided the answer to the problem and sent His son—Jesus Christ—to pay vicariously the debt burden of sin for those whom He has redeemed.
And there shall be no more curse. (Revelation 22:3)
The Curse will be lifted and the creation restored to a sinless deathless state. Hence this state must have been real in the first place. And there will be no more death, pain or suffering.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
References and notes
- Dawkins, R., ‘Beyond Belief’, Radio Times, 7–13 January, 2006, p. 27. Interview with Hugh Costello (BBC). Return to text.
- Bowler, P, Monkey Trials and Gorilla Sermons, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2007, p. 7. The Bowler book is cited on p. 30 of Berry, R.J. and Noble, T.A. (Eds), Darwin, Creation and the Fall: Theological challenges, Intervarsity Press, Nottingham, UK, 2009. Return to text.
- Keith, A., Evolution and Ethics, Putnam, NY, USA, p. 230, 1947. Return to text.
- See subversivethinking.blogspot.com.au/search?q=singer and William Crawley Meets Peter Singer (part 3) youtube.com/watch?v=gAhAlbsAbLM. Return to text.
- Richard Dawkins on Infanticide (Excerpted from Peter Singer-The Genius of Darwin: The Uncut Interviews-Richard Dawkins youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKVWU). This is a part transcript beginning around 23:12 in the video. Return to text.
- Scientist calls for death to humanity, newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=2439, 15 April 2006. Return to text.
- See minx.cc/?post=166474. Return to text.
- Blanchard, J., Where was God on September 11?, Evangelical Press, Auburn, USA, 2002; available at biblearchaeology.org. Return to text.
- YouTube story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHkvmXG9ieQ; Man kills eight at Finnish school, bbc.co.uk, 7 November 2007. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Darwin, Spurgeon and the ‘black dog’, creation.com/darwin-spurgeon-and-the-black-dog; Creation 22(4):54–55, September 2000. Return to text.
- Schweitzer, M., Montana State Uni. Museum of the Rockies, Science 261:160, 1994. Return to text.
- Catchpoole, D., Double-decade dinosaur disquiet, Creation 36(1):12–14, Jan. 2014, refs 17–20; creation.com/dino-disquiet. Return to text.
- Schweitzer, M., cited in Science 307(5717):1952, 25 March 2005. Return to text.
This article brings home to me that I was compromising the Bible by accepting that evolution somehow happened and the earth was billions of years old. I will now read Genesis with new eyes and absolute awe at God. He made everything! and it's not poetic writing at all it's the truth. Praise to you all at CMI, you are bringing people back to Christ and the Word of God.
Hi John, Thanks so very much for how you have constructed this article. Although I've read very many CMI articles on this topic, your way of putting it is excellent for presenting the HISTORICAL issue to evolution-accepting Christians, who so often just DON'T WANT to study the issue because it seems too big to chew. Thanks so much for your presentation, I'll copy it and hand it round....
It is not observable, experimental science that is at odds with genesis and the biblical text, it is the materialistic philosophy of those who want to free themselves from a set of pre-existing cosmic rules. The atheistic humanists know that with God comes moral absolutes. And they also know that without God moral relativism will permeate the culture, and everyone will do what's right in their OWN eyes. The ideology of evolutionism and billions of years is the Genesis 3 attack of our day. It utterly destroys the atonement. It is great to see ministries like CMI are prepared for the battle. This article deserves a $10 donation.
Thanks so much for your support. Yes it is the 'religion' of evolutionism that is dominant in the culture. And the followers of that religion (not necessarily consciously) know that anything goes. If the church could only see this, they would reject the billions of years and big bang/evolution as unbiblical. Jesus is the Word made flesh who quoted from Genesis as an historical fact. Why is it then so few Christians believe what He said in Genesis? The answer is sin.
I love articles like this that get to the core and give a "big picture" view of what the creation/evolution controversy is all about.
I hope that we see a more complete treatment of your presentation in due course, John, or come to Kununurra so I can hear it for myself (unless by some "miracle" I can make it to where you might be). ;-)
If anyone from CMI ever visits Darwin, please let me know. It's an 8 hour drive, but I reckon it would be worth it!
Again, thanks to you personally, John, and to CMI for all the great work you do!
Why believing God in an age of science? Because almost every scientific discovery, only proves the need for a creator. This is why atheism is slowly moving away from science as the basis for attacking Christianity, and more and more concentrating on the problem of pain and suffering. But suffering is the result of man's actions, because he created everything good. Case closed.
Just completed reading "Darwin's Doubt" by Stephen C. Meyer. This book shows the serious weaknesses of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The Bible truly is a Love Letter from the Author of Science! Colossians 2:8 says: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Wonderful website...Thank You for all you do.