Science and origins
Religion and origins
In Six Days
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
Don Batten, agricultural science
Dr Batten is a research scientist for Creation Ministries International in Australia. He holds a B.Sc.Agr. with first-class honors from the University of Sydney and a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Sydney. Dr Batten worked for 18 years as a research scientist with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, studying the floral biology, environmental adaptation, and breeding of sub-tropical tropical fruit tree species such as the lychee, custard apple, and mango.
I was sent to Sunday school as a child. I found “our” church terribly dry and boring, but a godly man taught me and laid some foundational biblical truths in my life. When I was still in primary school, a street preacher visited the little country town where I was growing up. I listened and came to understand the gravity of my sin and its eternal consequences and received God’s free gift of salvation.
I went to Hurlstone Agricultural High School, a government boarding school. This school had a large, active Christian fellowship, through which I was encouraged to grow in my Christian walk. However, I was in the second-year intake of the new education system known as the “Wyndham Scheme.” This involved a total overhaul of the education system, such that evolutionary ideas for the first time pervaded the syllabus, especially the science syllabus. Troubled by this, I was attracted to read a book titled Science Returns to God. The author had ten earned degrees—five in theology and five in science. As a brash 15-year-old teenager, I thought this man might know even more than I did! In hindsight, his message, in essence, was, “Science is an infallible way of knowing about the past, so we must make the Bible fit what the scientists are saying.” In other words, God used evolution over hundreds of millions of years of death, struggle for survival, “nature red in tooth and claw,” as the means of creating everything.
Deep down inside I knew that this undermined the Word of God. But how could a man with so many degrees be wrong? I tried not to think about it. If a non-Christian challenged me about “science” and the Bible, I would trot out the clichés such as “The Bible is a book of religion, not science,” “God could have used evolution,” “The days could have been long periods of time,” “With the Lord a day is as a thousand years,” and so on. However, I basically tried not to think about it.
I adopted the “two boxes” approach to the issue. In one box I had my Christian faith. It had a label on it which read, “Open at church and Bible studies, but keep closed at other times.” In the other box were my school and then university studies. This box had another label on it: “Open at school/university, but never at church or Bible studies.” I had compartmentalized my life into the sacred and secular, and the secular was becoming more and more dominant.
At this stage I knew no Christian who believed what the Bible said about creation (recent and in six days), the Fall, and the (global) Flood. The gap theory “solved” the problem for older Christians I talked to (they did not understand the problems, because they had not been taught evolution, and I could never see that the plain meaning of Genesis even hinted at any gap, let alone Lucifer’s flood and other fanciful ideas, like pre-Adamite soulless humans). Others “just believed the Bible,” not being able to give reasons (contrary to 1 Pet. 3:15). Most of the younger people thought much as I did (“God used evolution”).
However, there must have been some Christians at university who believed the biblical account and were willing to challenge the evolutionary teaching being dished up. In a lecture one day, the professor of zoology said, “Some of you are worried about this evolution thing. Don’t worry too much about it, I don’t know whether I believe it myself.” In hindsight, I think he was just trying to defuse the issue for a few “fundamentalists” who actually believed what the Bible said (unlike me). However, the words stuck in my mind (like nothing else he said!). Did he use the word “believe”? I reflected. But this is science, science is not a matter of belief! Science is facts! That’s what I thought, in my naivety.
Adam and Eve: Standing on a pile of bones miles deep?
That thought jolted me into being more open-minded about the evolutionary paradigm. The two boxes started to get opened at the same time. I started to be challenged about the ways in which the evolutionary scenario contradicted the theology of the Bible—for example, the teaching about the character of God and redemption could not be divorced from the historicity of the Bible’s account of creation and the Fall. Evolution, if it were true, was a totally incompatible belief about the history of the world. I mean, how could a loving, holy, just, omniscient, omnipotent Creator-God use such a cruel, destructive means of creating everything? He described the creation, after He finished creating everything, including mankind, as very good (Gen. 1:31). Could the creation be described as very good if Adam and Eve were standing on a pile of bones miles deep? That’s what “God used evolution” and the gap theory both entailed.
Genesis and the gospel
And then there were the implications for the meaning and reason for Jesus’ death and resurrection. If I got a chance to talk to someone about my faith, I would avoid the Old Testament (OT), and try to direct the discussion onto the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. I almost wished the OT was not part of the Bible! But Jesus had confirmed the veracity of the OT Scriptures. He also cited Abraham with approval: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31; compare John 5:46–47).
The reason for Jesus’ death and resurrection rests upon the historicity of what happened back in Genesis—that the rebellion of Adam and Eve brought the curse of death and suffering upon the world. Each of us has sinned, so we all deserve God’s wrath (Rom. 5:12). Jesus took that curse of death upon himself on the cross so that we who trust God for salvation will be free from death for all eternity (Rom. 5:12–19; 1 Cor. 15:21–22). If evolution were true, death and suffering were always here; they were not the result of sin. So what meaning has Jesus’ death?
When I was trying to believe in evolution, without thinking about it much, I tried to explain the curse on Adam as spiritual death. Why? Because, if evolution were true, death was already here when Adam sinned. But the curse was fundamentally physical death (“to dust you shall return” Gen. 3:19) that’s why Jesus died bodily on the cross, as we remember at the communion table (1 Cor. 11:23–26). And that’s why he rose bodily from the dead, conquering sin and death. So we who are in Christ look forward to a bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15).
Futhermore, the OT contains the Law, which the New Testament calls the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Gal. 3:24). How can people respond to the Savior, Jesus Christ, unless they know they need to be saved? And how can they know they need to be saved unless they know that they have rebelled against their Creator in not keeping His standards of righteousness, that they are lost, that they deserve the condemnation of God, and will suffer His wrath at Judgment? The Law helps us to see that we are indeed lost without God’s provision of salvation in Christ Jesus.
Christianity—a package deal
So, I started to see that the Christian life is a “package deal.” Evolution is, in essence, a whole other way of thinking which is designed to exclude God (remember that the fundamental axiom of evolution is that mutations are random, purposeless). “Theistic evolution” is an oxymoron. If it is evolution, then God has nothing to do with it. If it is God, then it is not evolution!
I realized that I could not pick and choose what I found convenient to believe. If the Bible is the inspired Word of the One who was there in the beginning, who never makes mistakes and never lies, then it should be the ultimate authority. It should not be “re-interpreted” to fit the speculations of fallible men who were not there in the beginning and certainly make mistakes. This would make man the ultimate authority, not God. The Bible tells us that since people have turned their backs on God, they have become corrupted in their thinking (Rom. 1:21). So it’s not very sensible to overturn the Word of God because of “scholars” who contradict it.
Jesus called us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). I had been excluding a large slab of my life from God’s sovereignty—my learning at university.
Putting things to the test
I had been like a sponge, soaking up all I was taught without checking it out. Now I started to put things to the test. Did it really stack up? Were there myriads of transitional fossils showing the transformation of one animal (or plant, or microbe) into another—as Darwin predicted? No, there was just a handful of disputable ones. Did the fossils show a gradual transformation of one kind into another? No, the fossils showed stasis (i.e., no directional change, remaining basically the same). Many creatures which are known as fossils supposedly hundreds of millions of years old—such as starfish, jellyfish, snails—are still here today. How can that be if evolution can so easily change one kind into another?
In the evolutionary scenario, life arose spontaneously from simple chemicals. But this is impossible with what is now known of the mind-boggling complexity of the simplest of living things—even the simplest conceivable self-reproducing cell. There are so many problems with this idea, which has become even more untenable since I was a student at university. Chirality is a huge problem—the “handedness” of amino acids and sugars, for example. Physical chemistry can produce amino acids under the right conditions, but they are wrong for life to form because they are mixtures of left- and right-hand forms, not the pure ones needed in living things. Only enzymes produce the pure amino acids and sugars necessary for life, but enzyme manufacture requires a living cell. Life is based on life.
Then there is the insurmountable problem of getting even one functional enzyme by random processes, even if you could get all the ingredients assembled together. Let us consider just one enzyme comprised of a typical 300 amino acids. Even if we are generous to the materialist and assume that only 150 amino acids have to be specified for the function of the enzyme, the probability of getting a functional sequence is less than 1 in 10195. We cannot imagine such an improbability. There are possibly 1080 atoms in the universe. If we made every atom in our universe another universe just like ours, and every one of those atoms were an experiment for every millisecond of the presumed evolutionary age of our universe, this would amount to 10181 experiments—still a long way short of even the remotest chance of getting one functional enzyme. That’s just one enzyme. This simplest living cell must have at least several hundred enzymes/proteins.
I vividly remember, in Biochemistry II, a series of lectures on the lactosidase operon (a group of genes all coding for enzymes involved in the metabolism of lactose) in E. coli. This had just been elucidated (the details of how the enzymes do their jobs are still being fleshed out, over 20 years later). The intricate control mechanism which switched on the enzymes only if lactose was available, and regulated the amount of enzyme manufactured, was truly marvellous. The lecturer was obviously enjoying teaching us about such freshly discovered wonders. At the end of the series, in a question/discussion time, someone asked, “How could such an integrated control system evolve by random mutations and natural selection?” To my surprise, the lecturer simply answered, “It couldn’t.”
Since then, many other highly integrated biochemical machines and mechanisms have been discovered, machines which will not function if any single part is missing. This means that they cannot be built up by small changes accumulating over time because the small changes would not be functional for the organism, so natural selection could not act upon them. Only the complete apparatus works, so it must all be present for it to confer any advantage on the organism and thus be accessible to natural selection. Such biochemical machines include the rotary flagellum, used for propulsion in bacteria, and the blood-clotting system in vertebrates. These design features are examples of “irreducible complexity.”1
About this time, Dr Duane Gish, from the Institute for Creation Research in the USA, made a timely visit to the University of Sydney, his meeting sponsored by the Evangelical Union. His presentation really consolidated things for me. Interestingly, it was the philosophy students who wanted to debate the issue with Dr. Gish, not the science students. This reinforced for me that this whole issue is fundamentally a philosophical/religious issue. Karl Popper, the well-known philosopher of science, came to the conclusion that “Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program—a possible framework for testable scientific theories.”2
Darwinism, from the beginning, has been essentially a materialistic, atheistic, framework for thinking. It’s a worldview, a paradigm. As Adam Sedgwick, Woodwardian Professor of Geology at Cambridge University, wrote, in 1861, of Darwin’s Origin of Species, “From first to the last it is a dish of rank materialism cleverly cooked up. … And why is this done? For no other reason, I am sure, except to make us independent of a Creator.”3
Sir Julian Huxley, atheist and first director general of UNESCO, said, “Darwin’s real achievement was to remove the whole idea of God as the Creator of organisms from the sphere of rational discussion.”4
Apparently no one at the conference celebrating the centennial of Darwin’s publication of Origin of Species objected to Huxley’s statement. More recently, William Provine, professor of biological sciences at Cornell University, said, “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear. … There are no gods, no purposeful forces of any kind, no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be completely dead. That’s just all—that’s gonna be the end of me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no free will for humans, either.”5
Theologians who think that they can draw circles around science and Christianity and say that “religion” has nothing to do with “science,” and vice versa, had better do some hard work to convince the evolutionists!
Do accidents create books of information?
A typical microbe has the equivalent coded information on its genome of a book of about 500 printed pages. A human has about 1,000 such books of information coded on the DNA in each cell. Let’s assume that the first cell did make itself. How then did it transform itself into all the living things on earth? Mutations and natural selection are supposed to be the heroes of the evolutionary plot, according to modern-day Darwinian prophets such as Richard Dawkins, who has been described as “the apostle of atheism.”
Mutations arise when errors occur as the DNA is copied to pass on to offspring—nucleic acid base “letters” in the code are changed, lost, or added. These errors are supposed to generate all the new genetic information, and natural selection sorts out the improvements from the degenerative effects.
Do accidental copying mistakes add the complex genetic information needed to transform microbes into mollusks, mites, mangoes, magpies, and mankind? Do random changes to information ever increase the amount of meaningful information? When a typist hits the wrong key, does the “typo” ever add further meaning to the information being typed? Do random changes to a computer program ever increase the functionality of the program?
Intuitively, we would never expect random changes to generate additional functional information, but this is supposed to be the stuff of fantastic information-creation in the evolutionary paradigm.
But is intuition enough? There have been detailed studies of this problem published in recent years, which show that the generation of new functional complexity by accidents is so improbable that it would never happen, even in the evolutionists’ billions of years.6 Mutations cause loss of information, loss of functional complexity—not an increase, as evolution requires.
Sometimes loss of complexity/specificity can be advantageous—for example, the loss of wings in beetles descended from a species of flying beetles blown onto a windy island. In this situation, flying is a health hazard, as the flying beetles could be blown into the sea, so loss of wings can be an advantage. A mutation in one of the genes controlling wing formation could easily cause loss of wings. So such a mutation can be beneficial, but it is nevertheless a loss of information, not the increase that evolution requires.
Antibiotic resistance can arise through loss of genetic information. For example, Staphylococcus resistance to penicillin happened through the loss of control over the production of an enzyme which breaks down the penicillin. This results in the over-production of the enzyme, which is helpful in the presence of the antibiotic but a hopeless waste of resources normally.
Another mechanism for gaining antibiotic resistance is the acquisition of parcels of genes from other types of bacteria through conjugation, a mating process in bacteria. However, there is no new complex functionality arising through any of these processes. All involve either loss of information or acquisition from something else, neither of which supports the belief in upwards progression through evolution.
Making a profit by going broke slowly
There are also huge problems with the rates of mutation necessary and the cost of getting rid of the predominant “bad” mutations (requiring “death of the unfit”). Also, for a good mutation to become fixed in a population, all those individuals which do not have the new trait must die. When these considerations are combined with the low rates of reproduction of many animals, it becomes clear that there has not been enough time (even with the evolutionists’ timescale) for such animals to evolve. J.B.S. Haldane, one of the formulators of the modern “neo-Darwinian” theory, wrote about these problems many years ago. Motoo Kimura tried to solve it with the neutral mutation theory, but this does not help, because it does not get rid of the cost of substitution—at the time when a supposed neutral mutation becomes beneficial via a change in the environment, those not having the mutation must still die for it to become fixed in the population.7
Natural selection is a problem, also. It was originally proposed as a conservative mechanism for weeding out the misfits, the mistakes, which occur in a fallen world. Darwin tried to turn it into a creative force to make new things. But just as mutations destroy complex, coded genetic information, so natural selection also eliminates genetic information.
If a population of animals has individuals with various lengths of hair and the environment changes such that it gets extremely cold, the short-haired animals will die, with only the long-haired surviving. The population has adapted to cold conditions, but has lost the genetic information for short hair.
Loss of information occurs with both natural selection and artificial selection, or breeding. Plant breeders seek to use wild types in their breeding because our highly selected varieties are lacking genetic information present in their wild counterparts. As one involved in breeding plants such as lychees, custard apples, and guavas over the years, I was very much aware of that.
What about similarities (“homology”)?
Doesn’t homology show that we are related to the animals in a “great chain of being”? If one assumes that evolution must have occurred, because we are here, then one can argue that similarities are evidence for evolution.
However, maybe the similarities are there for a different reason. Maybe they exist because there is a common Creator who made everything. Furthermore, maybe the Creator made things with a pattern which is meant to tell us something—namely, that there is only one Creator-God. Romans 1:20 tells us that God’s invisible attributes are clearly evident in what He has made, so that no one has any excuse for claiming lack of knowledge. If there were no similarities, and every organism was entirely unlike any other, we might logically conclude that there were many creators, many gods.
Interestingly, the patterns of similarity actually speak against the evolutionary explanation. For example, the marsupial mole and the placental mole, and the marsupial mouse and the placental mouse, look incredibly similar. But this cannot be due to evolutionary relatedness because, in the evolutionary scheme, the marsupial body plan and the placental body plan diverged before the moles and mice supposedly evolved. So an ad hoc “explanation” is offered for the similarities: they just happened to look alike because they evolved in similar environments—“convergent evolution.”
A horse’s leg is quite different from ours, but we are b.com/store_redirect.php?both classified as placental mammals. A frog’s leg is much more like ours, bntheweb.com/store_redirect.php?ut it is an amphibian, a long way removed from us. How come? Well, here is another ad hoc story: the horse’s leg evolved/adapted to a different form specialized for running, etc.; the frog and human legs have not changed much from the prototype vertebrate leg—that’s why they look so similar.
These scenarios are not science; they are “just so” stories. The need for the stories arises because evolutionists misinterpret the hierarchical classification system as an evolutionary pattern. The molecular biologist Dr. Michael Denton, as a non-creationist, spelled this out in his classic book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis.8
So life did not arise by natural processes, nor could the grand diversity of life have arisen through non-intelligent natural processes (evolution). Living kinds were created by God, as the Bible says. Plants were created to reproduce after their kind (Gen. 1:11–12), as were other kinds of living things. We see variation, but it’s limited. Dogs/wolves/jackals/coyotes—members of the wolf kind—will never turn into something basically different by any natural process, any more than breeding tomatoes will change them into beans. God created things with the ability to adapt, to vary within limits; otherwise they would not have been able to “fill the earth.” Mutations and natural selection occur in our fallen world, but they do not create new basic kinds of organisms. Lately, some evolutionists are starting to realize this:
We can go on examining natural variation at all levels … as well as hypothesizing about speciation events in bed bugs, bears, and brachiopods until the planet reaches oblivion, but we still only end up with bed bugs, brachiopods, and bears. None of these body plans will transform into rotifers, roundworms, or rhynchocoels.9
Science has “returned to God” in a sense here, because this could be learned from reading Genesis chapter 1.
God created things to show that they were created, so that we would worship Him and not the creation.
References and notes
- Michael J. Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Challenge to Biochemical Evolution, The Free Press, New York, 1996.
- Karl Popper, Unended Quest, Fontana-Collins, Glasgow, p. 151, 1976.
- A. Sedgwick, 1861, quoted from Ronald W. Clark, The Survival of Charles Darwin, Random House, New York, p. 139, 1984.
- Keynote address, Darwin Centennial, 1959.
- Provine, W.B., Darwinism: Science or Naturalistic Philosophy? The Debate at Stanford University, William B. Provine (Cornell University) and Phillip E. Johnson (University of California, Berkeley), videorecording © 1994 Regents of the University of California. (See also: Origins Research 16(1):9, 1994; arn.org/docs/orpages/or161/161main.htm.)
- Lee Spetner, Not by Chance, Judaica Press, Brooklyn, NY, 1997. For information on concepts of information, see Werner Gitt, In the Beginning Was Information, Christliche Literatur-Vertreitung, Bielefeld, Germany, 1997.
- Walter James ReMine, The Biotic Message, St. Paul Science, St. Paul, MN, p. 208–253, 1993.
- Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Burnett Books, London, 1985.
- G.L.G. Miklos, Emergence of Organizational Complexities During Metazoan Evolution: Perspectives from Molecular Biology, Palaeontology and Neo-Darwinism, Mem. Assoc. Australas. Palaeontols 15, p. 25, 1993.