Origins myths and the erosion of ethics
Evolutionary scientists left groping for meaning
Are biblical creationists backward folk, doing their utmost to explain away allegedly powerful scientific evidences in favour of deep time, big bang, abiogenesis (life from non-life), and neo-Darwinian evolution? That is certainly the perception among many people. For example, Richard Dawkins couldn’t resist a dig at creationists in his most recent book, Flights of Fancy:
“There are still some people who don’t believe in evolution, in spite of the overwhelming evidence in its favour. They want to believe that bird and bat wings, like plane wings, are produced by deliberate creative design: design by some kind of supernatural master engineer. They’re called creationists. You won’t find them in proper universities. But there are plenty of them in less educated circles.”1
Needless to say, there are plenty of educated biblical creationists, some of whom were/are leaders in their fields.2 But we must try to encourage nay-sayers to take a good look at the reasons why we disbelieve big picture evolution. For sure, it is first and foremost a matter of faith, but Christianity is a reasonable faith. The biblical, historical record receives wonderful support from science. At the same time, some truly daft ideas masquerade as science these days. Let’s look at some examples of this in scientific reports from the last year or so.
Maintaining origins myths
Cosmic origins—Marcelo Gleiser is an award-winning theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League university in the US.3 In May 2022, he wrote in all seriousness that:
“In science we cannot really rule out what can exist … But we can use the laws of physics and chemistry to infer what might exist. Case in point: The flying spaghetti monster is quite plausible. We can envision a cousin of the octopus that ventured out of the water some billions of years ago on planet MumbaXX. After millions of years, our creature grew feathers on its tentacles and took flight.”4
But he is only warming up, for the point he is getting to is as follows:
“If the flying spaghetti monster exists, it will exist on only one world. In the same way, we exist on only one world. We are the only humans in this universe. … While intelligence is clearly an asset in the struggle for survival among species, it is not a purpose of evolution; evolution has no purpose. … This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the human condition” (my emphasis).4
How sad when clever men advocate such nonsense: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”5
First life—Jack Szostak, University of Chicago professor (formerly at Harvard) is another heavy-hitter, a Nobel Prize laureate (2009) who contributed significantly to the Human Genome Project. Asked in June 2022 for his “best guess for how life began”, he said:
“… we have to think about … some kind of shallow lake or pond where the building blocks of RNA were made and accumulated, along with lipids and other molecules relevant to biology. And then they self-assembled into lipid vesicles encapsulating RNA, under conditions where the RNA could start to replicate driven by energy from the sun. And that would allow Darwinian evolution to get started. … And then you’re off and running, and life can gradually get more complex and evolve to spread to different environments, until you end up with what we see around us today.”6
Does that seem rather speculative? Well, remember that it is his “best guess”. Origin-of-life researchers around the world were enthusiastic about April 2022 reports that Japanese scientists had found pyrimidines (nucleic acid components) in meteorites that had landed in Kentucky, USA, in 1950. Professor Mark Sephton, an astrobiologist at Imperial College London, was sufficiently excited to comment:
“This is one of the final ingredients on the list that we need to show we were made in space.”7
Presumably this, too, is Professor Sephton’s best guess. Notice that, as with Marcelo Gleiser, quoted earlier, belief in a naturalistic origin of life adversely affects the scientists’ view of humans; the notion that men and women are made in the image of God is nowhere in view.
Mechanism of evolution—A fascinating report appeared in The Guardian (UK) in June 2022, titled: ‘Do we need a new theory of evolution?’ The admissions were very striking:
“[There’s a problem with] the basic story of evolution, as recounted in countless textbooks and pop-science bestsellers. The problem, according to a growing number of scientists, is that it is absurdly crude and misleading. … Perhaps the biggest change from the theory’s mid-[20th] century glory days is that its most ambitious claims—that simply by understanding genes and natural selection, we can understand all life on earth—have been dropped, or now come weighted with caveats and exceptions. This shift has occurred with little fanfare. … no formal reckoning with its failures or schisms has occurred” (my emphasis).8
In spite of the massive problem of facts conflicting with theory, and the private disagreements among evolutionary scientists, few will air these things publically—the public assumes all is well.
Tragically, this maintenance of origins myths (in spite of the huge problems) goes hand in hand with the rejection of the Bible and the Creator. Professor Mattias Desmet is an expert psychoanalyst and clinical consultant at Ghent University (Belgium). A non-Christian, he makes a salient assessment of today’s prevalent ideology:
“From the Enlightenment forward, mechanistic thinking provided the Grand Narrative in Western civilization. According to that story, it begins with a big bang that sets an expanding universe in motion… Hydrogen is formed first, then helium, and then all the other elements through alternating processes of fusion and explosion. The elements clump together and form stars and planets and one of them, the Earth, contains water. This water allows for the formation of amino acids, often regarded as the first form of life. From here, guided by natural selection, simple forms of life gradually give way to more complex forms until, at long last, man emerges—the provisional end point of evolution. In this way, the scientific discourse spun its own creation myth” (my emphases).9
Desmet also points out that this view of origins renders all our human desires, joys, doubts, choices, pleasures, sufferings, etc., as nothing more than interactions of elementary particles in our brains (see also Are we nothing more than a bag of chemicals?). Nevertheless, he argues, “science has actually rendered [that secular worldview] obsolete.”10
All of this serves to highlight the predicament we are in: science has been abused by the high priests of academia. Distorted views of origins have been propagated to the masses by biased secular authorities, prejudicial education establishments, and the partisan media. Mattias Desmet again:
“At its birth, science was synonymous with open-mindedness, with a way of thinking that banished dogmas and questioned beliefs. As it evolved, however, it also turned itself into ideology, belief, and prejudice.”11
And this really is, unquestionably, a big problem. Science becoming scientism, mutating into ideology and prejudice, is very bad news—it mitigates against a healthy, functioning society, creates division between human beings, and impacts how people think and behave (see Scientism versus science). Most disastrously of all, it further rubbishes the Word of God in people’s eyes. That, in turn, exacerbates their spiritual ignorance and darkness, and their estrangement from the Creator.
The result of all this is that society suffers. More and more non-Christian commentators are expressing their concern about the growing societal divisions and breakdown.
One such person is accomplished political author and journalist Douglas Murray (see review of his explosive 2017 book The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam). His 2019 book The Madness of Crowds is well-observed, albeit unpleasant reading, concerned with issues of homosexuality, gender, race, and sexual identity. While not making the connections back to origins that I have done, he nevertheless bemoans the growing secularism and consequent relational breakdown. For example:
“Equality in the eyes of God is a core tenet of the Christian tradition. But it has translated in the era of secular humanism not into equality in the eyes of God but equality in the eyes of man.”12
“… we have created a world in which forgiveness has become almost impossible, in which the sins of the father can certainly be visited upon the son. … The consensus for centuries was that only God could forgive the ultimate sins. But on a day-to-day level the Christian tradition, among others, also stressed the desirability—if not the necessity—of forgiveness. Even to the point of infinite forgiveness.”13
That, of course, is a clear reference to the Christian Gospel. In answer, we might simply quote Psalm 11:3, ‘if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?’
The ‘social justice’ issues raging at present surely stem in part from the progressive undermining of the Genesis foundation—that which formed the bedrock for ethics and morality in Western nations (see review of The Air We Breathe).14 This ‘relevance message’ has been at the heart of biblical creationist teaching for decades. Remember Psalm 11:3 as you read the following observation from Murray:
“Most effectively you can try to make people doubt absolutely everything. Make them doubt whether the society they live in is good at all. Make them doubt that people really are treated fairly. Make them doubt whether there are any such groupings as men and women. Make them doubt almost everything. And then present yourself as having the answers.”15
A truly shocking example of today’s moral malaise occurred in May 2022. A teenager committed a horrific mass murder in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York—13 people were shot, 10 died, and all but two of the victims were black. The police arrested the shooter and journalists reported that he was a white supremacist—but all seemingly avoided mentioning his toxic evolutionary beliefs. John West wrote about the teenager’s online posts:
“Are you a Christian?” the manifesto’s writer asks himself. “No. I do not ask God for salvation by faith, nor do I confess my sins to Him. … I personally believe there is no afterlife … But you can call me an ethno-nationalist eco-fascist national socialist if you want, I wouldn’t disagree with you.” … Black people, he claims, “are a different species of human. … Whites and Blacks are separated by tens of thousands of years of evolution, and our genetic material is obviously very different.”16
In support of his white supremacist ideas, the killer had cited articles in lots of respected, peer-reviewed journals. Evolution was his mindset, as also with far too many mass-murderers before him (e.g. Jeffrey Dahmer, the Columbine killers, Pekka-Eric Auvinen, Anders Breivik, and Will Cornick). That didn’t make him a racist, or predispose him to murder dark-skinned people, but it certainly fuelled his sinful prejudice. He acted on the belief that he was merely an evolved animal, so his behaviour would logically reflect that. It is a message that is constantly being drummed into our youth.
We have seen that the propagation of secular origins myths is not just an abuse of science, but also of people themselves. If we teach human beings that they are just modified apes, and deny that there ever was an Adam or original sin, then what is the meaning of ethics, and what need is there for atonement for sins? The Gospel of Christ is undermined.
This animalistic view of humankind follows directly from people embracing the secular origins myths. Within this evolutionary straitjacket, notions of right and wrong must somehow have sprung in our brains naturalistically. After all: “Minds are evolutionary products, brought into being by the organization of other, non-mental ingredients in nature,” says Peter Godfrey Smith (University of Sydney).17 Christian ethics become unmoored, and people find themselves all at sea—no land in sight. Likewise, today’s youth are devoid of absolute reference points.
It is only those who are firmly grounded upon God’s Word (from the very first verse) who have answers for a society groping for meaning. May it please God to prosper CMI in assisting His Church to advance the truth in our generation, the truths of Creation and of Salvation in Jesus Christ.
References and notes
- Dawkins, R. (illustrated by Lenzová, J.), Flights of Fancy: Defying Gravity by Design & Evolution, Head of Zeus Ltd., London, p. 251, 2021. Return to text.
- See the long list of creation scientists, past and present, at creation.com/creation-scientists. Return to text.
- ‘Ivy League’ typically refers to eight elite American universities, centres of academic and athletic excellence—all but one were chartered before the American Revolution. Return to text.
- Gleiser, M., We are the only humans in the universe, bigthink.com, 4 May 2022. Return to text.
- Romans 1:22. Return to text.
- Szostak, J., interviewed in a podcast hosted by Steven Strogatz: How could life evolve from cyanide? quantamagazine.org, 1 June 2022. Return to text.
- Leonard, T., Could life on Earth have arrived on an asteroid 3.8 billion years ago? Daily Mail (UK), p. 19, 29 April 2022. Return to text.
- Buranyi, S., Do we need a new theory of evolution? theguardian.com, 28 June 2022. Return to text.
- Desmet, M., The Psychology of Totalitarianism, Chelsea Green Publishing, London, pp. 16–17, 2022. Return to text.
- Ref. 9, pp. 161–162. Return to text.
- Ref. 9, pp. 17, 18. Return to text.
- Murray, D., The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity, Bloomsbury Continuum, London, p. 186, 2019. Return to text.
- Ref. 12, p. 182. Return to text.
- See Bell, P.B., A fresh Christian apologetic for a WEIRD age; a review of The Air We Breathe: How we all came to believe in freedom, kindness, progress, and equality, by Glen Scrivener, J. Creation 36(3):21–25, 2022. Return to text.
- Ref. 12, p. 248. Return to text.
- West, J.G., How science fueled the white supremacist mass murderer in Buffalo, NY, evolutionnews.org, 16 May 2022. Return to text.
- Godfrey-Smith, P., Metazoa: Animal minds and the birth of consciousness, William Collins, p. 20, 2020. The author is Sydney University’s professor of the School of History and Philosophy of Science. Return to text.