Exploring the God Question 2. Life and Evolution, Part 2 (Origin of Life)

by 

Published: 29 January 2015 (GMT+10)
God-question

This is our fourth article evaluating a DVD Series entitled Exploring the God Question,1,2 in which atheists and theistic evolutionists vigorously promote the theory of evolution. Atheists do so, not believing in God; theistic evolutionists do so, not believing what God has said about how He created the universe, the earth, and life, in Genesis 1 and 2. This article discusses Part 2 of DVD 2 on the Origin of Life.

For our previous articles, see:

Evolution—fundamentally important to atheism

This Part begins with the Narrator’s statement: “Ever since the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, evolution has been fundamentally important to atheism, sometimes even presented as the intelligent alternative to belief in a Creator. … But some scientists reject the stark choice. They argue that Darwin is not a threat to belief and make the case for God and evolution.”

In our previous article in this series, on Darwinism, we pointed out that Darwin said he would reject his own theory if it involved God. His actual words were: “I would give absolutely nothing for theory of nat. selection, if it require miraculous additions at any one stage of descent.”3 So we agree that Darwinism has been fundamentally important to atheism. As to whether Darwinism is science, we also pointed out that Darwin made thousands of changes in the six editions of his Origin, with many, many hundreds of equivocations. Moreover, he was so bereft of any evidence of natural selection actually producing anything that he had to “ beg permission to give one or two imaginary illustrations”, one of which (wolves chasing deer) he got wrong.4 See Exploring the God Question 2. Life and Evolution, Part 1 (Darwinism).

The DVD is labelled “Search for Truth” and the Programme claims to be “scrupulously open, honest and free of propaganda” (Leaders Manual, p. 7). However, we take issue with these statements, because a) the Programme presents evolution as true, despite the fact that Darwinism is not only a threat to God but also to science as well. See:

And b), although Young Earth Creationism is mentioned as one of Four Distinct Perspectives on Evolution (Study Guide, p. 50), it is treated as irrelevant. None of the scientists chosen to take part in this DVD point out any of the many scientific problems with evolution, except lone biblical creationist Professor Andy McIntosh5 whose comments are mentioned but not considered. See:

The origin of life—a fundamental mystery

Moving on, the Narrator says: “A fundamental mystery remains, the origin of life itself. Scientists believe that before life began, Earth abounded in the essential raw materials for life: ocean, atmosphere, rocks, and minerals. But how all of this led to the development of molecules that could copy themselves and progress with the development of life remains uncertain.”

illustrated by Caleb Salisbury atheist

Philosopher of Science Dr Carol Cleland (University of Colorado, Boulder) adds: “There’s much interesting speculation. Much of it is empirically informed, but we really don’t have the evidence that we need to have a very compelling scientific story of how life originated on Earth.” What she really means is that atheists, who in order to maintain their anti-God worldview need to conceive naturalistic explanations for everything the Bible ascribes to the power and authority of Almighty God, haven’t yet managed to think up a plausible alternative to God as the creator of life. See:

The Narrator restates the problem: “Every living cell, including the very first on Earth is built using the information in its DNA. The question is: how that information could have originated.”

Atheist Dr Daniel Dennett (Tufts University, Boston) suggests: “It has to have accumulated by pre-cellular evolution by natural selection; that’s the most obvious process to look at.” Not so! Natural selection is irrelevant to origin-of-life scenarios because it requires a self-reproducing system. As explained by Theodosius Dobzhansky: “In order to have natural selection, you have to have self-reproduction … . Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction of terms.”6

See:

Atheist Christopher Hitchens tells viewers: “The argument of evolution by natural selection has so far survived every challenge that could be made to it by evidence or by analysis. Everything works and is explicable if you believe in it; nothing works if you don’t.” This is a typical elephant-hurling assertion! First, CMI, like many pre-Darwinian biologists, accepts natural selection. However, natural selection operates to remove genetic information, not to create it. See:

Second, we at CMI, along with innumerable Bible-believing Christians worldwide do not believe in evolution, but everything on Earth and in the universe is still working. Also, most of the founders of modern science were creationists, so clearly evolution is not relevant to real science. See Does Science need evolution? For a host of articles challenging evolution see challenges to evolution on our website.

These (and other) speakers all disregard the fundamental law of science known as the Law of Biogenesis, namely that living organisms originate only from other living organisms. I.e., life only comes from life, not from non-life. Hence the truth of the Word of God in Genesis, that it was the Living God who gave life to all the first specimens of all the different kinds of life on earth, and in the way that God said He did (Genesis 1:20–27). See:

Primordial soup—not an option!

Dr John Lennox (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and long-age Christian apologist) tells viewers: “You can shuffle chemicals, and you can fill the universe with some kind of primordial soup and shuffle it for the whole age of the universe, and still you are not going to get life. Why? Because life has to do with the very special sort of thing called information. We know that natural processes can transmit information, but there is no evidence that they can originate it.”

The basis of the primordial soup argument of atheists, aka the warm little pond argument of Darwin, is:

Amino acid 1 + amino acid 2 → dipeptide + water

This is a reversible reaction, which means it can also be written:

Water + dipeptide → amino acid 1 + amino acid 2

Which way the reaction goes depends on the relative abundance of the reactants. This means that a primordial soup is the very last place where amino acids could react to produce more complicated molecules, as the excess water therein would destroy any such molecules more readily than they are formed. This is explained in detail in Origin of life: the polymerization problem. For a comprehensive refutation of primordial soup (and other) arguments for the atheistic origin of life see Origin of life Question and Answers.

In the DVD, Prof. Andy McIntosh (Thermodynamics, University of Leeds) sums up the biblical creationist view by describing the DNA code as a language and then he quotes the opening verse of the Gospel of John: “ In the beginning was the Word (or the Logos or the Message)”. And he says: “If you are going to do origins science, you cannot make the presupposition that there is no mind out there, that there is no God.”

The Narrator then sums up the atheistic view: “For now, the scientific origin of life remains a mystery but even somehow, with all the chemical processes in place to produce it, it might never have survived if planet Earth hadn’t provided so many life encouraging conditions, perhaps by chance, perhaps by intention.” Notice the subtle reference here to the chemical origin of life. An unbiased and scrupulously honest statement would not have reduced the options to solely the atheistic evolutionary paradigm.

What about miracles?

Narrator: “For those who hold firm to evolutionary biology, and also have faith in God, there are some significant challenges to face. Prof. Michael Ruse has studied them in detail.”

Evolutionist Dr Ruse (Philosophy of Science, Florida State University): “Clearly you can’t be a Darwinian and believe in a very old earth, and at the same time be what in America is known as a young-earth creationist—somebody who believes in 6,000 years and six days of creation. Those are just incompatible.” So far totally correct!

He continues: “The kind of solution that, were I a Christian, I would favour would be something very much along these lines: God creates through law rather than instantaneously, miraculously. That’s not saying there are no miracles—the miracles are not necessarily Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! but much more the miracle of the whole thing unfolding.” So what are the facts about miracles?

Answer: The Bible describes a huge number of miracles (concentrated in key parts of biblical history)—from the supernatural acts of God during Creation Week described in Genesis 1:1–2:3,7 through the multiple miracles by which God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (Exodus chapters 7–12),8 to other miracles recorded in the Old Testament involving various prophets of God, e.g. Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Jonah (and others).

The New Testament tells of the many miracles associated with the virginal conception, life, death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apostle John narrates seven of those performed by Jesus as signs (or evidences) that Jesus was God’s Messiah.9 These in turn lead on to miracles done by the Apostles recorded in the book of Acts, and then to the final Judgment of the wicked and reward of the servants of God in the heavenly city described in Revelation.

Note that the essence of an act being a miracle is the immediacy of what happened. Jesus’ miracles of healing, for example, of lepers, the blind, and paralytics,10 involved the instant repair of tissues, nerves, muscles, etc., and the instantaneous growth or regrowth of healthy cells. The net result was the creation of healthy functioning parts of the body to replace diseased, non-functioning or atrophied parts. If the healings had gradually happened over several weeks, months, years, or ages, they would not have been regarded as miraculous.11

So, yes, contrary to any and all ‘explanations’ or ‘interpretations’, our God is a miracle-working God, and Christianity is a religion of miracle. See:

Is evolution the work of a good and loving God?

Narrator: “Even if it can be argued that the Creator is the author of the laws of nature, does the evolutionary process itself look like the work of a good and loving God?” Good question (despite the bias with which it is asked).

Atheist Christopher Hitchens tells viewers: “98 per cent, perhaps 98.9 per cent of all species ever to appear on earth have gone extinct, which I think would make the designer seem either very clumsy or very malign, or perhaps both.”12 However, his premise is false. While millions of species are alive today, we know of only 200,000 fossil species in total. For evolution to be true, there would have to have been innumerable transitional forms between different types of creatures. Therefore, for every known fossil species, many more must have existed to connect it to its ancestors and its descendents. This is where Hitchens’ figure comes from. But note that it’s a tacit admission that the transitional forms are missing.

Atheist Prof. Peter Atkins discusses the idea presented by theistic evolutionists that God has worked through evolution, and says: “If that turns out to be true, then it’s yet one more piece of evidence for God being malign, because the mechanism of evolution is so cruel. I would chastise him for choosing such an evil way of propagating his wishes on the earth, as natural selection.” This is said as a lion is shown gnawing on the ribs of a very dead zebra.

Our comment: The Bible records that, after King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband, Uriah, murdered, God sent His prophet, Nathan, to proclaim God’s judgment on David. In the process Nathan pronounced this indictment against King David: “You have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” [show utter contempt (NIV)] (2 Samuel 12:14). We suggest the same condemnation applies to the theistic evolutionists in this DVD, i.e. by saying God created through the process of evolution, they have given great occasion to the atheists in this DVD to blaspheme and show utter contempt for God.

It is no small thing to tamper with the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32), especially to change it so that it conforms to the ideas of atheists, e.g. by adding evolution to it. Anyone who claims to speak for God does not have God’s permission to re-interpret His perfect, infallible Word according to the fallible theories of sinful humans. The very first recorded act of Satan was to cast doubt on the words of God, and then to state that what God had said was false (Genesis 3:1–4). See Strategy of the Devil and Response to the evolution appeasers.

Furthermore, ascribing goo-to-you evolution as God’s method of creation not only betrays God, but fails to impress evolutionists. According to atheist Jacques Monod (1910–1976): “The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process … I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”13 Not surprisingly, the theistic evolutionists in the DVD (who reject the historicity of Genesis chapters 1 to 3) have no adequate answer to Hitchens’ and Atkins’ contemptuous comments about God if theistic evolution should be true.

Theist Dr Ken Miller (Biology, Brown University) responds: “ … death is simply a part of life; it is not an act of cruelty. … ” Theist Dr Celia Deane-Drummond (University of Chester) says: “There can never be a full theological explanation of that suffering; there can only ever be a theological response that in order for the natural world to be really free and allow for free will in humans we have to allow for this kind of suffering to take place.” Rev. Prof. John Polkinghorne weighs in with: “God is not a sort of cosmic tyrant who is going to produce simply a cosmic puppet theatre where God pulls every string. God is not going to be in total control of everything, creator of a machine-like world, and the reason for that is that we believe the nature of God is love and the nature of love is to give due freedom and independence to creatures as the objects of love.”

It’s nice that God loves lions, but why not zebras? (!) Or, as Darwin argued,14 why would a beneficent and omnipotent God have designed the parasitic wasp larva so that it eats a caterpillar from the inside out? So what is the answer?

Answer: God created a “very good” world (Genesis 1:31) in which animal carnivory, violence, pain, suffering, and death were all absent; people and animals originally ate plants, not other creatures (Genesis 1:29–30). When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them the power of contrary choice, which meant they could choose to love and obey Him, or they could choose not to love and obey Him. As a test, God gave Adam one prohibitory command, and warned him that if he disobeyed this one command the penalty for disobedience would be death (Genesis 2:17).

illustrated by Caleb Salisbury death-no-big-deal

In the event, Adam chose to disobey God, and several consequences followed. These included guilt—trying to hide from God, and condemnation—God pronounced a curse on the ground with the result that Adam’s life from then on was one of sorrow, hardship, and toil. There was also separation from God (Genesis 3:17–19; 22–24). Adam and his descendants acquired a sin nature (Romans 5:12), and death and suffering have thus entered the world, as God has withdrawn some of His sustaining power. Adam had been given “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Thus when the penalty of death came into force because of Adam’s sin, death and suffering came upon the animal kingdom, and upon us, as well. For further comment, see:

Can theistic evolution be reconciled with Genesis?

Narrator: “But a further challenge to theists who embrace evolutionary biology is how they reconcile their science with the Genesis account of the origin of life.” Note: for the full Genesis account of what happened during Creation Week, see Genesis 1:1–2:3.

The DVD Introduction booklet makes the following statement:15 

“There is a stereotype which presents God as a fantasy figure in the sky who spontaneously brings entities into evidence with finger snapping ease. But science has revealed underlying processes which help us understand how many natural phenomena have developed or evolved over long periods of time. This is clearly at odds with the view that all things have been brought fully into existence with a divine finger snap. Science is quick to dismiss such a ‘cosmic magician’.”

Our comment: It would seem that blasphemy is not confined to the atheists in this DVD presentation. The Person the Programme derides as a “fantasy figure in the sky” and a “cosmic magician” is in fact the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Almighty God. What it calls a “stereotype” is the Word of God in Genesis chapter 1. What it contemptuously calls “finger snapping ease” is the power and authority of Almighty God to accomplish His purposes in the precise time He wills His purposes to happen. Also, as we pointed out above under What about Miracles?, the essence of a miracle is that it happens immediately, not over a long time. After all, since God is the creator of time, how could He be limited by it?

Morphology
Top: The evolutionary ‘tree’.
Bottom: The creationist ‘orchard’—diversity (speciation) has occurred over time within the original Genesis kinds.

Furthermore, Genesis does not say that all things were brought fully into existence at creation, but that, in response to God’s command, the earth sprouted plants “according to their own kinds”, and trees “each according to its kind”. Also Genesis states that God created the sea creatures “according to their kinds”, and every winged bird “according to its kind”, and the beasts of the earth “according to their kinds”, and the livestock “according to their kinds”, and everything that creeps on the ground “according to its kind”. (See Genesis 1:12, 21, 24–25.) Each of these kinds was created with a vast amount of information. There was enough variety in the information in the original creatures so their descendants could adapt to a wide variety of environments. So diversity has occurred with time within the original Genesis kinds (creationists often call them baramin, from Hebrew bara = create, and min = kind). This is illustrated by the so-called creationist ‘orchard’, as opposed to the evolutionary ‘tree’.

By ridiculing the Word of God in the above way, the DVD statement appears to be meant to discourage any young-earther present in a discussion group from voicing what Genesis says. If so, shame! See:

Back in the DVD, biblical creationist Prof. Andy McIntosh, who rejects both atheistic and theistic evolution, tells viewers: “Genesis describes not only creation in six literal days, Genesis is primarily telling you where I come from. It’s giving me an understanding of how to look at origins. And it says, without a shadow of a doubt, that God literally took the ground and out of it made Adam; that He literally took out of Adam and made Eve.” [Genesis 2:7; 21–24.] See Eve created from Adam’s rib and First Adam—last Adam.

This biblical teaching is promptly denied by theistic evolutionist Dr Francis Collins, who says: “You can’t put that together with what science is teaching us about the universe. The universe is much older than that. The way in which life came about can’t be explained in that fashion.”

Theistic evolutionist Rev. Prof. John Polkinghorne says: “It’s one of the mistakes that people make who try and read Genesis 1 and 2 as if it was a scientific account of six days of hectic divine activity. They’re actually misusing Scripture. They’re reading something that is really a theological piece of work and they’re treating it as if it were a scientific work. That’s an abuse of Scripture.”

And Prof. Lennox says: “The Bible doesn’t insist that the earth is young. … It doesn’t take God long to speak, but there could be vast periods of time between those utterances. …”

Our response: As we have often said,we do not say that the purpose of Genesis was to provide a scientific account, but that all of it was meant to be a true historical account that was also scientifically accurate, because the author, Moses, was inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16). When it comes to origins, the key factor is whether Scripture or ‘science’ is the final authority. The above statements by the theistic evolutionists are a re-interpretation of Genesis to fit in with their long-age view of ‘science’ i.e. they have replaced Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) with Scriptura sub scientia (Scripture under science). See:

The theistic evolutionists in this DVD who reject Genesis as being a true historical account are apparently unaware that, if God had wanted to tell us that He used evolution or that it was an ancient creation, then there are several Hebrew words and constructions He could have used to say both of these things.The simplest (and easiest for the original readers to understand) would have been to use the Hebrew word for ‘day’ in the plural, yamin. E,g., if the text had read, “and there were days of evening and morning” this could legitimately have been interpreted as an indeterminate (and hence long) period of time. But God chose not to use the plural, but the Hebrew singular, yôm, which, with evening and morning = one day. Similarly, God chose not to use any of the several other Hebrew words and constructions that would have communicated a meaning other than that the days of Creation were 24-hour days. This is fully explained in How long were the days of Genesis 1?: What did God intend us to understand by the words he used?

Theistic evolutionists might like to ponder the question reputedly asked by a child when told that the ‘days’ of Genesis 1 were not literal 24-hour periods: “If God didn’t mean what He said, why on earth didn’t He say what He meant?”

Also, if this is an “abuse of Scripture”, it’s an “abuse” shared by most Church Fathersmedieval theologians, and all the Reformers, so modern creationists are in good company.

Evidence for the age of the earth

In the DVD, Dr Carol Cleland opines: “All of physics along with biology goes down if you are going to really challenge the scientific evidence for the antiquity of the universe and the earth and evolution.” This is meaningless evolution-speak. Here are just a few of the many scientific laws that that do not ‘go down’ when evolution is challenged:

In physics, the laws of gravity and motion (derived by Newton, a creationist).
In heat, the three laws of thermodynamics (largely derived by Joule, a creationist, and Kelvin, a strong anti-evolutionist).
In light, the laws of reflection, refraction, the spectrum (discovered by Newton), and the uniform speed of light. 
In sound, the laws of acoustics, music, and the speed of sound. 
In electromagnetism, Maxwell’s Equations, and Faraday’s Law of Induction (Maxwell and Faraday were creationists).
In mathematics, the laws of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability (discovered by creationist Pascal), and calculus (co-discovered by Newton).
In chemistry, the notion of chemical elements (discovered by creationist Boyle) and the principles of the Periodic table.
In biology, the Law of Biogenesis (discovered by creationist Pasteur).
In logic, the law of causality and the law of conservation of mass. See:

In fact, no known scientific law would fall if the theory of evolution were rejected. As to scientific evidence against the antiquity of the universe and the earth, see:

Homo sapiens—when?

Narrator: “Nevertheless, for those who interpret Genesis metaphorically, there remains the puzzling question, where in the evolutionary process Homo sapiens emerged as spiritual beings?”

This is no problem for Bible-believing creationists. The very first humans God created, Adam and Eve, were the first Homo sapiens. Nevertheless, theistic evolutionist Dr Denis Alexander tells viewers:

One way of understanding what’s going on is actually that God did choose some near-East farmers, maybe a couple, maybe Adam and Eve of the Genesis account if you like, whom He brought into fellowship with Himself, maybe 8,000 years ago. There were other modern humans around, there were other farmers around, but God chose a community to come into fellowship with Himself, and to know His will, and to receive commandments from Himself; if you like, to receive His image.

This denies the explicit Word of God, that Adam was the first human, that through his rebellion against God’s authority sin entered the world and that, in Adam, all have sinned. The result of that rebellion against God’s authority was the curse of death, both spiritual and physical. As biblical creationist Andy McIntosh tells viewers: “1 Corinthians 15 clearly teaches that death came in through Adam’s sin. It really all hinges upon ‘no death before the Fall’.”

Indeed, and the ultimate problem with denying what Genesis says is that, if you can’t believe what God says about Creation in Genesis, why should you believe what He says about our need for salvation in the rest of the Bible, and how to get it, as explained in the New Testament? See:

Summary

Christians, there are answers to all the attacks of atheists against the Word of God and against Christianity. But beware of theistic evolution. It denies what God says He did in Genesis, which in turn undermines everything else that God tells us in His Word, the Bible. God has provided overwhelming evidence for the truth of His Word, so much so that He says concerning all those who suppress the truth:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:18–20).

References and notes

  1. Exploring the God Question is a set of three DVDs titled 1. The Cosmos; 2. Life and Evolution; and 3. Mind and Consciousness, each in 2 Parts. Various atheist and theist speakers give their personal opinions on these subjects, with evolution regarded as fact by all the scientists except lone young-earther, biblical creationist Prof. Andy McIntosh (Thermodynamics, University of Leeds). Return to text.
  2. Published in 2013 by Search for Truth Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Search for Truth Charitable Trust, a private limited company based in Scotland. For more details see our comments in Exploring the God Question 1. The Cosmos, Part 1 (The Big Bang)Return to text.
  3. Charles Darwin to Charles Lyell, Darwin Correspondence Project, Letter 2503, dated 11 October 1859. Return to text.
  4. Darwin online Origin of Species, 6th Edition, pp. 70 ff. Return to text.
  5. Under the British system also followed in New Zealand and Australia, “Professor” is the title for the highest academic teaching rank, held by Drs McIntosh and Lennox. In the American system, all lecturers are called “Professor”. Return to text.
  6. Dobzhansky, T., Discussion of synthesis of nucleosides and polynucleotides with metaphoric esters, by George Schramm, Fox, S.W., ed., The Origins of Prebiological Systems and of Their Molecular Matrices, Proceedings of a Conference Conducted at Wakulla Springs, Florida, 27–30 October 1963, Academic Press, New York, USA, 1965, pp. 309–315. Return to text.
  7. On Day 1 God made light, along with space, matter, and time. On Day 2, the atmosphere; on Day 3 the dry land appeared and God caused it to sprout plants and trees; on Day 4, the sun, moon, and stars; on Day 5, all the sea creatures and flying creatures; on Day 6, land animals and the first man and woman. Return to text.
  8. Namely the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague on livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts, the plague of darkness, and the plague of the death of the firstborn. Return to text.
  9. The seven signs recorded in John’s Gospel are: 1. Jesus turning water into wine (John 2:1–11); 2. Jesus healing a nobleman’s son (John 4:46–54); 3. Jesus curing a paralytic (John 5:1–15); 4. Jesus feeding 5,000 people (John 6:1–15); 5. Jesus walking on water (John 6:16–21); 6. Jesus giving sight to the blind (John 9:1–41); 7. Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1–44). These all show Christ the Creator’s sovereignty over creation. They all have two aspects in common. They all happened in response to Christ’s command (whether spoken or just willed); and they all happened immediately (cf. the oft-repeated phrase in Genesis 1 re the happenings of Creation Week: “and it was so”.Return to text.
  10. E.g., lepers: Luke 5:12–13 and Luke 17:11–19; the blind: Matthew 9:37–30 and John 9:1–7; paralytics: Luke 5:17–26 and Luke 6:6–10. Return to text.
  11. Note: On one occasion Jesus healed a blind man in two stages (Mark 8:22–25). Each stage was immediate although the two were a few moments apart. See Walking trees, in which we give our reasons why we think Jesus chose to do it in this way. Return to text.
  12. Note that atheist Hitchens presumes to know how the God he doesn’t believe in is at fault. He ignores what God has told us about what He did and why He did it. Death is the result of sin, which brought about God’s curse on the earth, and then Noah’s Flood, which is the reason creatures have gone extinct. Return to text.
  13. Monod, J., The Secret of Life, Australian Broadcasting Commission interview with Laurie John, June, 10, 1976. Return to text.
  14. Darwin Correspondence Project, Charles Darwin to Asa Gray, Letter 2814, dated May 22nd, 1860. Return to text.
  15. DVD Insert No. ETGQ/0413/1, p. 7, (under the heading “Words, Meaning and the God Question”). Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Christianity for Skeptics
by Drs Steve Kumar, Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $17.00
15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History
by Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan D Sarfati
From
US $3.50

Readers’ comments

Michael W.
As a Christian teenager attending a secular school, I thought that theistic evolution was probable. I continued my secular education in high school, the military and college, but as I grew in faith and biblical knowledge, there came a point in time as a young man when theistic evolution no longer made sense. And, although I didn’t believe the earth was billions or even millions of years old, I still hung on to the paradigm that it could be several thousands of years old. “Creation week could have taken 7,000 years instead of 7 literal days. Adam and Eve could have been created 20,000, 30,000 or 40,000 years ago.”

As many young men do, I began a career from which I retired after about 35 years. Again, as my faith in Christ matured and my knowledge of the scripture increased, I began to realize that the earth couldn’t be that old. Now all of this has taken about 50 years. So now, I am firmly planted in the young earth creationist camp! God has used your ministry and the ministry of others to open my eyes to the fact that we have to take God’s word at face value! When we do, it’s amazing how everything else falls into place! Thank you so much for your excellent work!
Geoff C. W.
"For evolution to be true, there would have to have been innumerable transitional forms between different types of creatures. Therefore, for every known fossil species, many more must have existed to connect it to its ancestors and its descendents."
And I would add, for every transitional form that should be there, there should also be innumerable fossils showing other mutations which occurred while 'evolution' was waiting for the successful transitional form to come along.
Richard L.
Some other thoughts about the first death and its timing. The following and what has been written by Drs. Grigg & Sarfati and by correspondents can be complementary, all facets of a unitary truth:

1. As I learned in children’s Sunday School, spiritual death and relational death did occur the day of the first sin. The debate is only about (the timing of) the physical death.

2. Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden the day of their sin, wearing animal skin. One or more animals did physically die that same day, in substitution.

3. Our ‘perplexity’ on this issue only exists because of God’s massive grace. If God had physically killed Adam and Woman before sundown—as he had every right to do—their physical death would have been concurrent with their spiritual and relational death, and we would have no need for discussion. Let us thus always make sure to engage in this discussion in reverential tones of appreciation for God’s gracious character.

4. God’s mercy is embedded in the curse. The curse on Woman’s birth (re pain) can only occur if she lives beyond sundown. The curse on Man’s toil with the soil can only occur if he lives beyond sundown.


5. God postponing their physical death gives time for repentant believing on God’s promises / being spiritually saved. Adam’s renaming of Woman to Eve, and Eve’s comments re her first birth (“I have acquired YHWH a man”, Dr. Sarfati’s earlier article) are consistent with an earlier saving-level of faith in God’s specific promises (inside the curse).


6. By God not physically killing Adam & Woman that same day, Jesus experienced HUGE suffering on the cross, taking on the sins, “sorrows & infirmities” (Is. 53:4) of billions within humanity. It really cost God not to physically kill Adam / Woman the day of their fall.

Rocco P.
I've found all the responses to "Exploring the God question" very well done, packed full of well formulated answers to most of the questions currently hurled at Bible-believing Creationists.
I agree with Jonathan Safarti's answer how Adam and Eve's death was inititiated on the day they sinned -- especially the reference to their separation (like the branch chopped off a tree) which began at the moment of their disobedience. I have often therefore answered this question as follows:
Death is separation. Physical death is when our body and spirit/soul are separated (see: Gen. 35:18;Mt. 27:50;James 2:26) Spiritual death is when we are separated from God (see: Eph. 2:1;Luke 9:60) Eternal death is when after the final judgment people are eternally separated from God. In John 5:25-29 all three forms of death are referred to - in v. 25 there is a reference to the spiritually dead. In v. 28 He is referring to the physically dead whose bodies are waiting for the resurrection. In v. 29 is a referece to eternal death.
In light of this, I point out that on the day Adam and Eve disobeyed they did indeed die -- spiritually -- cut off from God -- but it was 930 years later that Adam's spiritual death culminated in his physical death, when his spirit/soul separated from his decaying body.
God's solution for spiritual death -- salvation through Christ. God's solution for physical death -- the resurrection at Christ's return. The solution for eternal death -- there is none, because God's gift of salvation was not accepted.
R. D.
From Mr Grigg’s summary, this section of the DVD seems to be quite a thorough case against theistic evolution—which, if so, can only be a good thing. It also seems to be quite open about the lack of a naturalistic solution to the origin-of-life problem.

One thing which Mr Grigg could have picked up on (and indeed I have seen a CMI author do so in a review of one of his books previously) is the fact that it is highly disingenuous for an apostate such as Dr. Ruse to be opining on how Christianity and naturalistic historical stories such as evolution are compatible when his own announced reasons for his rejection of Christianity was his acceptance of these stories! It's equally disingenuous for him or any other agnostic to be telling Christians what sort of God we ought to believe in.

Of course, Mr Grigg rightly points-out that comments such as “a stereotype which presents God as a fantasy figure in the sky who spontaneously brings entities into evidence with finger snapping ease” are indicative of outright derision for the One True God. Such comments easily identify anyone who makes (or even fails to disdain) them as someone who rejects not just Christianity but monotheism of any kind.

I find it difficult to believe that Rev. Dr. Polkinghorne has never once been corrected on the ‘reading Genesis scientifically’ canard. Outright dishonesty to continue to use it, then.

One small correction: Prof. Lennox is identified as a theistic evolutionist in one place; of course, he is a long-age creationist, as he is correctly identified elsewhere. That could do to be fixed.
Jonathan Sarfati
Thank you for your thoughtful comments. You are right about Ruse—here is the review you are talking about.

About Lennox, the evidence is equivocal. The soi-disant old-earth creationists typically reject chemical and biological evolution, but have wholeheartedly swallowed cosmological and geological evolution, aka uniformitarianism.
Anthony B.
According to Genesis 2:17 Adam and Eve were told “for the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” (referring to the fruit of the Tree of Life). Assuming that the day was a 24 hour day, it is clear that they did not die on that day but went on to found the human race.
Any explanation?
Jonathan Sarfati
Yes. For a long time, e.g. in William Lane Craig’s intellectually dishonest attack on biblical creationists, we have pointed out the following:

The solution lies in the Hebrew, which uses forms of the same verb ‘to die’ (mût (מות)), together: môt tāmût (מות תמות). It literally means ‘dying you shall die’, but the sense is the certainty, hence the translation ‘you shall surely die.’ Kulikovsky explains (references to his book Creation, Fall, Restoration, 2009 in the cited article):


When the infinitive absolute precedes a finite verb of the same stem (as is the case here), it strengthens or intensifies the verbal idea by emphasizing “either the certainty (especially in the case of threats) or the forcibleness and completeness of an occurrence.” In other words, the emphasis is on the certainty of their death rather than its precise timing or chronology. This is demonstrated in 1 Kings 2:37–46: Shimei could not possibly have been executed “on the day” he exited his house since he was not killed until after he had travelled from Jerusalem to Gath, located his missing slaves, and travelled back to Jerusalem.


Kulikovsky suggests an alternative understanding as well, that this phrase could be taken in the ingressive sense—that is, a verbal form that designates the beginning of an action, state or event. In other words, the focus is on the beginning of the action of dying—i.e. God’s warning really means, ‘… for when you eat of it you will surely begin to die.’

Consider this analogy: if a branch is chopped off a tree and it falls onto hard concrete, one can say that it’s already dead, cut off from the source of life. But the process of physical death takes some time―the cells in the leaves will continue to photosynthesize for several days at least. Similarly, when Adam sinned, he immediately cut himself off from the Source of life, but the dying process took 930 years. (Thanks to Peter Sparrow for this illustration.)
George F.
Great article, really appreciate the comprehensive rebuttal. It is so frustrating that misinformation and fantasy are paraded as science. I do have a question relating to a small point though. Under the list of laws that “do not ‘go-down’”, the discovery of algebra is attributed to Pascal. I have encountered claims that algebra had its origins with the Arabs. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated; and keep up the solid work.
Blessings to the whole team,
George
Jonathan Sarfati
Thank you for your kind words about this article and our work in general.

About Pascal, the reference to him was:



Here are just a few of the many scientific laws that that do not ‘go down’ when evolution is challenged: …

  • In mathematics, the laws of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, probability (discovered by creationist Pascal), and calculus (co-discovered by Newton).



The above was claiming only probability for Pascal and calculus for Newton, as only those are linked in the sections demarcated by comma. It was not claiming the other branches of mathematics. But even algebra, developed by al-Khwārizmī, did not require evolution, the whole point of this section. In our highly recommended book One Human Family, it is explained (p. 325):


One of the most renowned of these mathematicians [in the Islamic world] was the brilliant Persian Muslim Abu Ja’far ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (780–850); he wrote the famous treatise on algebra. Even the word itself comes from his al-jabr, ‘completing’ or performing the same mathematical operation on both sides of an equation.1 Also, the word ‘algorithm’ comes from his name itself, in Latinized form. Yet according to religious scholar and Islam critic Robert Spencer:

But in fact, the principles upon which al-Khwarizmi worked were discovered centuries before he was born—including the zero, which is often attributed to Muslims. Even what we know today as “Arabic numerals” did not originate in Arabia, but in pre-Islamic India—and they are not used in the Arabic language today. … Al-Khwarizmi’s work opened up new avenues of mathematical and scientific exploration in Europe, so why didn’t it do the same in the Islamic world? The results are palpable: Europeans ultimately used algebra, in conjunction with other discoveries, to make significant technological advances; Muslims did not. Why?2



Rodney Stark confirms this in his fine new book How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity (2014), which we are reviewing in our Journal of Creation. Stark documents that the supposed advances of Islamic civilization were due to the conquered peoples under their yoke. E.g. al-Khwārizmī was not an Arab but a Persian, a victim of the violent Islamist conquest of Persia in 651. And Muslim or Arab “medicine was in fact Nestorian Christian medicine; even the leading Muslim and Arab physicians were trained at the enormous Nestorian medical center at Nisibus in Syria.”

1. His example, using modern notation instead of spelling out in words as al-Khwarizmi did, was x² = 40x − 4x², and performing al-jabr, adding 4x² to both sides, becomes 5x² = 40x; then divide both sides by 5x, so x = 8.

2. Spencer, R., The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), p. 93, Regnery Publishing, Washington DC, 2005.

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