Science and origins
Religion and origins
In Six Days
Why 50 Scientists Choose
to Believe in Creation
First published in In Six Days
Jonathan D. Sarfati, physical chemistry
Dr Sarfati is a research scientist for Creation Ministries International in Australia. He holds a B.S. (Hons) in chemistry and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Dr. Sarfati is a former New Zealand Chess Champion and represented New Zealand at the World Junior Championships and in three chess olympiads.
Why do I believe in a recent creation in six consecutive normal days? The best reason in the world—the testimony of the Creator—who was there at the time, who never lies and never errs—in His infallible written Word, the 66 books of the Bible.
Science and bias
Many people have the false belief that “science” has proven the earth to be billions of years old, and that every living thing descended from a single cell which itself is the result of chance combination of chemicals. However, science deals with repeatable observations in the present, while evolution/long age ideas are based on assumptions from outside science about the unobservable past. Facts do not speak for themselves—they must be interpreted according to a framework. It is not a case of religion/creation/subjectivity vs. science/evolution/objectivity. Rather, it is the biases of the religions of Christianity and of humanism interpreting the same facts in diametrically opposite ways.
The framework behind the evolutionists’ interpretation is naturalism—things made themselves; no divine intervention has happened; and God, if He even exists, has not revealed to us knowledge about the past. This is precisely what the chief apostle Peter prophesied about the “scoffers” in “the last days”—they claim “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Peter reveals the huge flaw of the uniformitarian scoffers: they are “willingly ignorant” of special creation by God, and of a cataclysmic globe-covering (and fossil-forming) flood.
The thinking inherent in the evolutionary mindset is illustrated by the following statement by Richard Lewontin, a geneticist and leading evolution promoter (and self-proclaimed Marxist). It illustrates the implicit philosophical bias against Genesis creation—regardless of whether or not the facts support it.
Lewontin is typical of many evolutionary propagandists. Another good example is the National Academy of Science (NAS) in the USA, which recently produced a guidebook for U.S. public school teachers, Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science.2 A recent survey published in the leading science journal Nature conclusively showed that the National Academy of Science is anti-God to the core.3 A survey of all 517 NAS members in biological and physical sciences resulted in just over half responding. 72.2% were overtly atheistic, 20.8% agnostic, and only 7.0% believed in a personal God. Belief in God and immortality was lowest among biologists. It is likely that those who didn’t respond were unbelievers as well, so the study probably underestimates the level of anti-God belief in the NAS. The unbelief is far higher than the percentage among scientists in general, or in the whole U.S. population.
We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfil many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.1
Commenting on the self-professed religious neutrality of Teaching about Evolution… and the NAS, the surveyors comment:
NAS President Bruce Alberts said: “There are very many outstanding members of this academy who are very religious people, people who believe in evolution, many of them biologists.” Our research suggests otherwise.
This atheistic bias is ironic, because the whole basis for modern science depends on the assumption that the universe was made by a rational Creator. Dr Stanley Jaki has documented how the scientific method was stillborn in all cultures apart from the Judeo-Christian culture of Europe.4 An orderly universe makes perfect sense if it was made by an orderly Creator. But if there is no Creator, or if Zeus and his gang were in charge, why should there be any order at all? No wonder that most branches of modern science were founded by believers in creation. The list of creationist scientists is impressive.5
C.S. Lewis also pointed out that even our ability to reason would be called into question if atheistic evolution were true:
If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists’ and astronomers’ as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents.6
Does the Bible really teach six days?
The Bible claims to be the written Word of God, completely authoritative on everything it teaches (2 Tim. 3:15–17). There is excellent supporting evidence from archaeology, science, fulfilled prophecy and the claims of Jesus Christ.7 So it is vitally important to believe what the Bible teaches.
… probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that:
- creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience
- the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story
- Noah’s flood was understood to be world-wide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.8
Barr, a liberal, does not believe it, but he understood what the Hebrew so clearly taught.
This can be shown by analysing the Hebrew word for day: yom. When it is modified by a numeral or ordinal in historical narrative (359 times in the OT outside Gen. 1), it always means a literal day of about 24 hours. When modified by “evening and/or morning”, (38 times outside Gen. 1), it always means a literal day. There were plenty of words that God could have used if He had wanted to teach long periods of time, yet He did not use them.9,10
If we follow the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, we could come only to one conclusion: six literal days. This is supported by the Fourth Commandment of Ex. 20:8–11—“Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work … For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.” Here, the literal days of the ordinary week are the same as those of Creation Week, or it makes no sense. [CMI Ed. note: see also The numbering pattern of Genesis]
It was only the assumed need to harmonise Genesis with the alleged age of the earth which led people to deny six-day creation—it was nothing to do with the text itself.
Some dire consequences of doubting six-day creation
1. The perspicuity of Scripture is doubted.
The Protestant Reformation recovered the doctrine that Scripture was perspicuous, that is, understandable by ordinary people without needing an elite group to interpret it. However, if six days should really be interpreted to mean 15 billion years, then any attempt to understand Scripture is hopeless. Evil could be interpreted as good. It’s no accident that many denominations permeated by theistic evolution have condoned fornication, homosexual practice and abortion, even among leaders.
2. Denial of sin-death causality.
The biggest problem of nonliteral interpretations of Genesis is that there then would have been billions of years of death, struggle and suffering before man’s Fall. But Scripture teaches that death is the result of Adam’s Fall (Rom. 5:12), and 1 Cor. 15:21–22 states
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (NIV)
Death is also called the “last enemy” (v. 26). It is insufficient to claim that this refers only to human death, because Gen. 3:17–19 states that the whole earth was cursed. It is also wrong to claim that Adam’s punishment was spiritual death only—Gen. 3:19 indicates that physical death was part of the punishment, and the context of 1 Cor. 15:21 involves a bodily resurrection of Jesus who was physically dead.
All (mis-)interpretations of Genesis which deny its plain meaning, and so involve death before sin, must assert that “the last enemy”, death, was a part of the “very good” creation (Gen. 1:31). This includes ideas like “God used evolution”, “the days were long ages”, “there is a long time gap between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2”. Also, if all the creation that “was subjected to frustration” is eventually to be restored (Rom. 8:20–22), we must ask: “Restored to what? Billions of years of death and suffering?” Verses like the following hardly teach that the restored paradise will have bloodshed in the animal kingdom—Isaiah 65:25 (NIV):
“The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
This is supported by the fact that Gen. 1:29–30 teaches that animals were vegetarian, and that meat-eating, at least for people, was permitted only after the Flood in Gen. 9:3. [CMI Ed. note: see also The Fall: a cosmic catastrophe]
3. Christ Himself is doubted.
Jesus said in John 5:46–47: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” Of course, if Jesus can make mistakes in testable areas, why should He be trusted in untestable areas (cf. John 3:12)? No wonder that doubt of Genesis often leads to doubt of Christ’s other words.
Indeed, Christ endorsed the Genesis records of creation (Matt. 19:3–6), and of Noah’s Flood and Ark (Luke 17:26–27). He also said “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). As man was made six days after creation, a true time line of the world would indeed have man right at the beginning, which the Bible indicates was about 6,000 years ago. But evolution/long age ideas have man’s existence in a microscopic segment at the end of a 5-billion-year timeline, almost an afterthought.
Jesus also cited Abraham with approval in Luke 16:31: “If they do not listen to Moses [the writer/compiler of Genesis] and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” Indeed, denominations that doubt Moses by teaching theistic evolution often have leaders who doubt the Resurrection too.
Many Christians fortunately don’t carry doubt of Genesis to the logical conclusion of doubting Christ, who endorsed Genesis. But a professing evangelical leader of a prominent theistic evolutionary group here in Australia has told several people that Jesus was limited by His 1st century Jewish culture, and we now know better because we “have the light of science”.
The charge is absurd. Jesus frequently challenged the errors of His culture! But He never challenged the authority of Scripture; rather, He invoked biblical passages as authoritative refutations of his opponents’ errors (Matt. 4:1–11, 19:3–6, 22:23–33, John 10:31–38).
Also, where do we stop? Should we dismiss “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 19:19) as another example of Christ’s limitation by His culture—this was a quote from Lev. 19:18. Was Christ’s promise that He would “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28) also wrong, since this was based on the “suffering servant” prophecy in Isaiah 53? Gen. 3:15 foretold that Christ, the seed of the woman [virgin-born], would crush the serpent’s head—so is this also in doubt? This is complete apostasy—this theistic evolutionary leader is challenging the very deity of Christ!
Scientific evidence for design
Rom. 1:20 says: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
Upon seeing the wonderful works of design in this world, the intellectually honest person must conclude that they were made by a great Designer. This is so, even though we live in a sin-cursed world (Gen. 3:16–19, Rom. 8:20–23), where many designs are no longer benevolent and others have deteriorated because of mutations. But even a fallen design is still a design.
And there are plenty of structures that apparently still retain much if not all of their physical perfection. A few of them:
- The dolphin’s sonar system is so precise that it’s the envy of the U.S. Navy. It can detect a fish the size of a golf ball 70 m (230 feet) away. It took an expert in chaos theory to show that the dolphin’s “click” pattern is mathematically designed to give the best information.11
- This sonar system includes the “melon”, a sound lens—a sophisticated structure designed to focus the emitted sound waves into a beam which the dolphin can direct where it likes. This sound lens depends on the fact that different lipids (fatty compounds) bend the ultrasonic sound waves travelling through them in different ways. The different lipids have to be arranged in the right shape and sequence in order to focus the returning sound echoes. Each separate lipid is unique and different from normal blubber lipids, and is made by a complicated chemical process, requiring a number of different enzymes.12
- Insect flight requires complicated movements to generate the patterns of vortices needed for lift. It took a sophisticated robot to simulate the motion.13
- Even the simplest self-reproducing organism contains encyclopedic quantities of complex, specific information. Mycoplasma genitalium has the smallest known genome of any free-living organism, containing 482 genes comprising 580,000 base pairs.14 As for humans, the atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins admits: “there is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopædia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.”15
- Even more amazingly, living things have by far the most compact information storage/retrieval system known. To illustrate further, the amount of information that could be stored in a pinhead’s volume of DNA is staggering. It is the equivalent information content of a pile of paperback books 500 times as tall as the distance from earth to the moon, each with a different, yet specific content.16
- The genetic information cannot be translated except with many different enzymes, which are themselves encoded. So the code cannot be translated except via products of translation, a vicious circle that ties evolutionary origin-of-life theories in knots. These include double-sieve enzymes to make sure the right amino acid is linked to the right tRNA molecule. One sieve rejects amino acids too large, while the other rejects those too small.17
- The genetic code that is almost universal to life on earth is about the best possible, for protecting against errors.18
- The genetic code also has vital editing machinery that is itself encoded in the DNA. This shows that the system was fully functional from the beginning—another vicious circle for evolutionists. [CMI Ed. note: see also DNA: marvellous messages or mostly mess?]
- Yet another vicious circle, and there are many more, is that the enzymes that make the amino acid histidine themselves contain histidine.
- There are complex rotary motors in living organisms. One type drives the flagellum of a bacterium. The vital enzyme that makes ATP, the “energy currency” of life, is a motor that can change gears, yet is so tiny that 1017 could fit inside a pinhead’s volume.19
- The complex compound eyes of some types of trilobites, extinct and supposedly “primitive” invertebrates, were amazingly designed. They comprised tubes that each pointed in a different direction, and had special lenses that focused light from any distance. The required lens design comprised a layer of calcite on top of a layer of chitin—materials with precisely the right refractive indices—and a wavy boundary between them of a precise mathematical shape.20 The Designer of these eyes is a Master Physicist, who applied what we now know as the physical laws of Fermat’s principle of least time, Snell’s law of refraction, Abbé’s sine law and birefringent optics.
- Lobster eyes are unique in being modelled on a perfect square with precise geometrical relationships of the units. NASA X-ray telescopes copied this design.21
- From my own specialist field of vibrational spectroscopy: there is good evidence that our chemical-detecting sense (smell) works on the same quantum mechanical principles.22
Chemical evolutionary theories vs. the facts of chemistry
Evolutionists believe that all life came from a chemical soup. However, while studying for my chemistry degree, I came across many well-known chemical laws that refute such “chemical evolution” theories.23 This is a good example of how a proper understanding of the correct biblical framework results in correct conclusions from the evidence. For example:
- Life requires many polymers, large molecules built from many simple monomers. Polymerisation requires bifunctional monomers (i.e., they combine with two others), and is stopped by a small fraction of unifunctional monomers (that can combine with only one other, thus blocking one end of the growing chain). All “prebiotic simulation” experiments produce five times more unifunctional molecules than bifunctional molecules. [Ed. note: see also Origin of life: the polymerization problem]
- Many of life’s chemicals come in two forms, “left-handed” and “right-handed”. Life requires polymers with all building blocks having the same “handedness” (homochirality)—proteins have only “left-handed” amino acids, while DNA and RNA have only “right-handed” sugars. Living things have special molecular machinery to produce homochirality. But ordinary undirected chemistry, as in the hypothetical primordial soup, would produce equal mixtures of left and right-handed molecules, called racemates. Racemic polypeptides could not form the specific shapes required for enzymes; rather, they would have the side chains sticking out all over the place. Also, a wrong-handed amino acid disrupts the stabilizing α-helix in proteins. DNA could not be stabilised in a helix if even a small proportion of the wrong-handed form was present, so it could not form long chains. This means it could not store much information, so it could not support life.24 A small fraction of wrong-handed molecules terminates RNA replication.25 A recent world conference on “The Origin of Homochirality and Life” made it clear that the origin of this handedness is a complete mystery to evolutionists.26 [CMI Ed. note: see also Origin of life: the chirality problem]
- The chemistry goes in the wrong direction! Polymerization reactions release water, so by the well-known law of mass action, excess water breaks up polymers. The long ages postulated by evolutionists simply make the problem worse, because there is more time for water’s destructive effects to occur. While living cells have many ingenious repair mechanisms, DNA cannot last very long in water outside a cell.27
- Condensing agents (water absorbing chemicals) require acidic conditions and they could not accumulate in water. Heating to evaporate water tends to destroy some vital amino acids, racemize all the chiral amino acids, and requires geologically unrealistic conditions. Besides, heating amino acids with other gunk inevitably present in the hypothetical primordial soup would destroy them.
- A recent article in New Scientist also described the instability of polymers in water as a “headache” for researchers working on evolutionary ideas on the origin of life.28 It also showed its materialistic bias by saying this was not “good news”. But the real bad news is the faith in evolution (everything made itself), which overrides objective science.
- Many of the important biochemicals would destroy each other. Living organisms are well structured to avoid this, but the “primordial soup” would not be. Sometimes these wrong reactions occur after a cell is damaged, for example, the browning of foodstuffs. This is often caused by a reaction between sugars and amino acids. Yet evolution requires these chemicals to form proteins and nucleic acids respectively, rather than destroy each other as per real chemistry. [CMI Ed. note: see also Origin of life: instability of building blocks]
- Fatty acids are necessary for cell membranes, and phosphate is necessary for DNA, RNA, ATP and many other important vital molecules of life. But abundant calcium ions in the ocean would precipitate fatty acids and phosphate, making them unavailable for chemical evolution. Remember this next time you have problems washing with soap in “hard water”.
We should believe in a recent creation in six consecutive normal days because the only Eyewitness tells us this is what He did, and He has shown that He should be trusted. While this requires faith, it is a faith amply supported by science, as I can confirm from my own specialist field.
References and notes
- Richard Lewontin, Billions and billions of demons, The New York Review, p. 31, January 9, 1997. Return to text.
- See Against Indoctrination. Return to text.
- E.J. Larson and L. Witham, Leading scientists still reject God, Nature 394(6691):313, July 23, 1998. The sole criterion for being classified as a “leading” or “greater” scientist was membership of the NAS. Return to text.
- S. Jaki, Science and Creation, Scottish Academic Press, Edinburgh and London, 1974. Return to text.
- A. Lamont, 21 Great Scientists who Believed the Bible, Creation Science Foundation, Australia, pp. 120–131, 1995; H.M. Morris, Men of Science, Men of God, Master Books, San Diego, CA, USA, 1982. Return to text.
- C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 52–53, 1970. Return to text.
Some useful information can be found in the following works, among others:
- H.M. Morris with H.M. Morris III, Many Infallible Proofs, Master Books, Green Forest, AR, USA, 1996.
- G.L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 1982.
- G.H. Clark, God’s Hammer: The Bible and its Critics, The Trinity Foundation, POB 68, Unicoi, TN 37692, USA, 2nd ed., 1987.
- P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Moody Press, Chicago, 1989, Ch. 18.
- N.L. Geisler and R.M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, USA, 1990.
- N.L. Geisler and T. R. Howe, When Critics Ask, Victor Books, Wheaton, IL, USA, 1992.
- N.L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody, Chicago, 1986.
- H. Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, USA, 1976.
- J. McDowell, Evidence that Demand a Verdict, Here’s Life Publishers, San Bernardino, CA, USA, 1979.
- John W. Wenham, Christ and the Bible, Eagle, Guildford, Surrey, UK, 3rd ed., 1993. Return to text.
- J. Barr, letter to David C.C. Watson, 1984. Return to text.
- R. Grigg, How long were the days in Genesis 1? What did God intend us to understand from the words He used? Creation 19(1):23–25, December 1996–February 1997. Return to text.
- J. Stambaugh, The days of creation: a semantic approach, Journal of Creation 5(1):70–76, 1991. Return to text.
- R. Howlett, Flipper’s secret, New Scientist 154(2088):34–39, June 28, 1997. Return to text.
- U. Varanasi, H.R. Feldman and D.C. Malins, Molecular basis for formation of lipid sound lens in echolocating cetaceans, Nature 255(5506):340–343, May 22, 1975. Return to text.
- M. Brookes, On a wing and a vortex, New Scientist 156(2103):24–27, October 11, 1997. Return to text.
- C.M. Fraser et al., The minimal gene complement of Mycoplasma genitalium, Science 270(5235):397–403, October 20, 1995; perspective by A. Goffeau, Life With 482 Genes, same issue, pp. 445–6. Return to text.
- R. Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design, WW Norton & Company, New York, 1986. Return to text.
- W. Gitt, See Dazzling design in miniature, Creation 20(1):6, December 1997–February 1998. Return to text.
- Osamu Nureki et al., Enzyme structure with two catalytic sites for double-sieve selection of substrate, Science 280(5363):578–82, April 24, 1998; perspective by A.R. Fersht, Sieves in sequence, same issue, p. 541. Return to text.
- J. Knight, Top translator, New Scientist 158(2130):15, April 18, 1998. Return to text.
- H. Noji et al., Direct observation of the rotation of F1-ATPase, Nature 386(6622):28–33, March 20, 1997; perspective in the same issue by S. Block, Real engines of creation, pp. 217–9. J.D. Sarfati, Design in Living Organisms: Motors, Journal of Creation 12(1):3–5, 1998. Return to text.
- K. Towe, Trilobite eyes: calcified lenses, Science 179:1007–11, March 9, 1973; C. Stammers, Trilobite technology,Creation 21(1):23, December 1998. Return to text.
- M. Chown, X-ray lens brings finer chips into focus, New Scientist 151(2037):18, July 6, 1996. See also Lobster eyes — brilliant geometric design, Creation 23(3):12–13, June 2001. Return to text.
- L. Turin, A spectroscopic mechanism for primary olfactory reception, Chemical Senses 21:773, 1996; cited in S. Hill, Sniff’n’shake, New Scientist 157(2115):34–37, January 3, 1998. See also J.D. Sarfati, Olfactory design: smell and spectroscopy, Journal of Creation 12(2):137–8, 1998. Return to text.
- See also C.B. Thaxton, W.L. Bradley and R.L. Olsen, The Mystery of Life’s Origin, Philosophical Library Inc., New York, 1984; S.E. Aw, The origin of life: a critique of current scientific models, Journal of Creation 10(3):300–314, 1996. Return to text.
- W. Thiemann, ed., International Symposium on Generation & Amplification of Asymmetry in Chemical Systems, Jülich, Germany, pp. 32–33, 1973; cited in: A.E. Wilder-Smith, The Natural Sciences Know Nothing of Evolution, Master Books, CA, 1981. Return to text.
- G.F. Joyce, G.M. Visser, C.A.A. van Boeckel, J.H. van Boom, L.E. Orgel, and J. van Westrenen, Chiral selection in poly(C)-directed synthesis of oligo(G), Nature 310:602–4, 1984. Return to text.
- J. Cohen, Getting all turned around over the origins of life on earth, Science 267:1265–1266, 1995. Return to text.
- T. Lindahl, Instability and decay of the primary structure of DNA, Nature 362(6422):709–715, 1993. Return to text.
- R. Matthews, Wacky Water, New Scientist 154(2087):40–43, June 21, 1997. Return to text.