This article is from
Creation 45(2):18–21, April 2023

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Geography expert for creation:

Jonathan Sarfati chats with Dr Sarah Buckland

Photos courtesy of Dr Sarah BucklandSarah-Buckland

Dr Sarah Fay Buckland earned her doctorate in geography from The University of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica) with high commendation. Dr Buckland, who is a lecturer and published researcher, also holds a certificate in Bible evidence from the Creation Apologetics Teachers’ College (USA) by the Creation Training Initiative. She is founder and principal director of Chosen to GLOW Ministries, which seeks to amplify the Christian voice in the public sphere and equip more youths to defend their faith.

Dr Sarah Buckland’s interests always have been expansive. But geography especially helped her understand both human and natural environments. As she explains:

I am intrigued with nature. From an early age, I have loved to be in my garden, planting—both crops and flowers. I feel closest to God while being immersed in the natural world.

In Grade 9, a presentation by a visiting meteorologist inspired her scientific pursuits:

I studied geography, along with physics and chemistry. My research area specialty focuses on applied meteorology. I examine seasonal weather patterns and drought, particularly how these fluctuations affect agriculture, and the appropriate response options at the farm and policy levels.

Christian faith from a young age

Sarah was blessed to be born into a Christian home with both parents active in Christian ministry to families. Even as a toddler, she was taken on outreach missions to inner Kingston.

My family cultivated a prayer and Bible study environment with nightly devotions. My mother taught me to read using the Bible and purchased Bible pictorial study books. I quickly grew in my love for God. Despite my limited understanding, by the age of four, I desired to be baptized.

But it was not until age eight that my parents felt I was old enough to understand what I was doing. I vividly recall that Sunday, 2 December 2001, when I received Jesus as my Lord through faith. I experienced a peace and joy I knew from that early age to be God’s presence. Since that moment, I have experienced many lessons in my spiritual journey, ultimately leading to furthering my growth thus far by God’s grace.

Science and the Bible

While many people think science and the Bible conflict, Dr Buckland strongly disagrees, explaining:

As I study science, geography is just the world’s complexity. All we scientists can do is discover what has already been created—or manipulate, synthesize, or channel aspects of creation in order to problem-solve and propose theories on how things work. As Psalm 111:2 implies, scientific study should naturally bring any honest person closer to God. Without God, there could be no scientific exploration.

Furthermore, scientific discoveries point to nature’s underlying regularity, created by the Divine Lawmaker (Psalm 119:91). Dr Buckland elaborates on design evidence from her specialist field:

In my research on historical drought patterns in some of Jamaica’s microclimates, I found that very distinct interannual signals were evident even at the micro-climate scale (rainfall fluctuations with interspersed drought occurrences). These patterns closely reflected larger-scale climate variability modes (e.g. El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillations), along with variations caused by local conditions.

The existence of distinct patterns that persist across different scales is a testament to our natural world’s very precise order and balance. It could never have arisen by chance. Despite the hazards that occur during extreme rainfall fluctuations, for example, the temperature balance we enjoy wouldn’t be present without such variations. Finding any precise pattern in nature is a loud testament to the God of order who upholds the world with His Word (1 Corinthians 14:33, Colossians 1:17).

Furthermore, Dr Buckland says that the biblical creation model provides the basis for a productive research program:

There is almost unending potential in harnessing design’s truth to help us better mitigate and manage disasters. I hope to explore further potential in deciphering the mathematical patterns inherent in these precise patterns to better predict and model natural disasters, e.g. drought. Finding more of these patterns and their uses would further bolster the belief that the earth’s origins could not be the product of random chance. They would also make early warning systems more accurate so communities can better prepare for disasters beforehand.

Besides her work, Sarah points out other geographical discoveries that support the Bible’s accuracy.

Springs in the ocean

In Job 38: 16, God asks Job: Have you entered the springs of the sea? Or have you walked in search of the depths? The historical date of Job’s writings is about 1400 BC. At that time, human imagination could never fathom today’s oceanic exploration. Even before 1930, little was known about the ocean floor. It was not until 1973—over 3,000 years after Job was written—that under-sea springs were directly observed.

Left: Destressing once over the ‘hump’ of rigorous studies, Sarah bonds with a camel in Jamaica. Middle: Dr Buckland often conducts survey research, blending social and environmental insights. Right: Harvesting a potted pineapple at home; urban farming is one of her favourite pastimes

Discovery of the ocean currents

This example is one of Sarah’s favourites, exemplifying the Bible’s robustness as a basis for further scientific discovery:

Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806–1873), the author of the first modern oceanography textbook, foundationally used the Bible for scientific hypotheses. After reading Psalm 8:8’s ‘paths of the seas’, he discovered ocean and air currents, revolutionizing travel.

Geographical accuracy

In addition to scientific foreknowledge, the Bible’s geographical accuracy is overwhelming—enough to turn sceptics/atheists into believers. Take Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851–1939), a skeptical Scottish archaeologist and Geographical Association president. After reading the geographical locations of Paul’s travels (named in Acts), Ramsay tried using them to disprove the Bible’s accuracy. With extensive excavations in the Middle East, he tested the existence of variously mentioned New Testament places. But every single detail was so accurate when Ramsay retraced Paul’s journeys. He concluded that Luke was one of the greatest ancient world historians and that Luke’s Gospel and Acts were trustworthy. And Ramsay became a Christian!

Can evolution and Christianity mix?

Many people, misled into thinking that evolution is a proven fact, attempt to ‘pretzelize’ Scripture to fit. But Sarah warns that evolution undermines three fundamental Christian teachings: “The salvation message, the Bible’s historical accuracy explaining this message, and Jesus’ omniscience and sovereignty.”

First, Sarah points out that the NT Gospel message of “salvation from sins is only through Jesus dying on the cross and His Resurrection. But in evolutionary theory, death pre-existed original sin in creation, dictating that death could not be sin’s penalty. Evolution steeply undermines the reason for Jesus’ suffering and death in our place.” The Resurrection of the Last Adam, Jesus, is connected to the death brought by the first man, Adam (1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 45).

Second, evolution undermines the reliability of biblical history:

Evolutionary theory posits that human ancestry cannot be traced directly to only one man, contrasting with the biblical account of a literal Adam and Eve. This compromised belief undermines Jesus’ entire genealogy, as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus’ human ancestry traces back to Adam and the patriarchs. So how much of the Bible, therefore, would be deemed trustworthy? As Jesus asked, if you will not believe when I tell you earthly things, how will you believe when I tell you heavenly [spiritual] matters? (cf. John 3:12).

Finally, evolution undermines Jesus’ authority, omniscience, and thus His deity:

In several Bible passages, Jesus specifically referenced patriarchs and events, including the murder of Adam’s son Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah and the Flood and Ark (Luke 17:26–27), and how man was created at “the beginning of creation” (Mark 10:5–9). If the Genesis account were fictional, one would conclude that Jesus was deceiving His listeners or had limited knowledge.

Why is biblical creation important?

In her ministry, Sarah follows in the footsteps of her parents, Sonia and Leslie

Creation is hardly a side issue. Rather, it was essential for Dr Buckland’s Christian growth and ministry, as she elaborates:

In high school, I discovered and introduced my family to CMI’s website. I became a fan of Creation Magazine Live and the short clip episodes CMI produces in response to specific objections to biblical authority. These resources formed a foundation for my outreach to agnostics, atheists, and others with doubts.

Fast-forward to pursuing my postgraduate degree, CMI’s resources continued to be very useful in my social media apologetics ministry outreach, which eventually grew into a registered charitable organization called ‘Chosen to GLOW Ministries’. ‘GLOW’ is an acronym: ‘God Leading Our Way’, ‘Go Light Our World’. Creation continues to be a foundational framework for my ministry activities, centred around five key Christian pillars: evangelism, advocacy, outreach, research, and education.

Biblical one-blood teaching vs. evolutionary racism

Sarah points out that only the true history of the world can solve racial problems, while evolution exacerbates them:

Genesis clearly states that all human beings were created in God’s image. All persons being created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights has formed the foundation for most positive anti-racial campaigns, including those by William Wilberforce and Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The Bible clearly teaches that God created humanity from ‘one man’ (Acts 17:26). While many secular movements depict Christianity as racist, the evolutionary worldview inherently has the most racist roots, both philosophically and in practice.

For instance, biological evolution requires an evolutionary ‘progression’ from the first ‘primitive’ humans to modern man. Unfortunately, Darwin and the early Darwinians point to an African origin of the most ‘primitive’ humans. Conversely, Europeans were considered the highest-evolved race. This philosophy influenced some of the most racist movements, including Hitler’s Nazism. It even filtered into early practices under the guise of ‘science’. African Pygmies were even caged in zoos.

Once again, the Bible’s unchanging doctrines always provide the most ethical basis for all aspects of life, in contrast to ever-changing evolutionary ‘science’.

Should Christians pursue advanced degrees?

Finally, I asked Dr Buckland about Christian students studying for advanced qualifications. She responded that there was a great need for highly qualified Christian scholars to answer anti-Christian views that began in universities. She advises students to keep focused on biblical truth and to persevere, be a light, and be discerning. Dr Buckland concludes: “Differentiating between observation and interpretation is one of the most important skills for students in higher education.” (For more, see her article creation.com/christians-advanced-degrees.)

Posted on homepage: 19 June 2024

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