Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thinking Like a Christian, Week 3: Biology

What is the origin of life?

For much of the 20th century, belief in the literal creation account of Genesis was uncommon among believers. Other explanations of origins had gained ground at the expense of truth. Thankfully, in recent decades, belief in literal creation has regained some of that ground.

What does the Bible teach? The Bible unmistakably teaches that God created everything, as described in Genesis 1:1-2:23. This is further emphasized in a variety of Bible passages; some of them include Mark 10:6-8, Ephesians 3:9, Colossians 1:16-17, Revelation 4:11, and Isaiah 40:26, 42:5, 43:1, 45:12, 45:18. Christians should recognize that the Bible gives us information about God and His universe. Science can only give us information about God's universe.

What are the competing ideas? Over the years, three have become prominent.
  • Theistic Evolution: This view teaches that God created the first "spark" of life, and then chose to use evolution as His vehicle to "direct" that creation over millions of years. This view has significant issues for the Christian. It undermines our understanding of God and our place in His universe. Evolution is a rather "inefficient" means of creating something; why would an omnipotent God use such an inefficient process? Why would God "meddle" with His creation, while subjecting it to running according to fixed laws? Perhaps most importantly, why would God use such a cruel technique, employing many mutations and generations of death and suffering, to create something (especially if Genesis said it was all "good" when He created it)? If theistic evolution is true, Genesis is little more than an allegory—if that. If Adam and his fall are not historical, is the rest of the Bible? If Jesus Christ is presented in the N.T. as analogous to Adam (see 1 Cor. 15), and Adam and the Fall are not historical, then the doctrines of sin and Christ's atonement for it collapse! And one last significant objection: If this theory is true, then death came into the world before Adam's sin—an impossibility, if one believes the Bible. I find it interesting that neither Bible-believing creationists nor secular evolutionists want to hold to this theory....
  • Darwinistic Evolution: As outlined in Charles Darwin's 1859 book, The Origin of Species, life evolved through a lengthy series of small, graduated, and fortuitous changes, over millions of years, to what we observe today. This was the first widespread book that postulated our existence as occurring without the supernatural, which probably continues to explain its adherence today.
  • Punctuated Equilibrium: This theory says that evolution occurs in rapid "spurts" between longer periods of stasis. By the way, we must currently be in a period of stasis, since we don't observe evolution occurring today. This theory attempts to rescue Darwin's widely-disreputed ideas by putting them into a theory which is completely devoid of observational evidence.
What does the scientific evidence suggest? First of all, scientists today can find no evidence of intermediate varieties of living things today—no "missing links." Furthermore, the fossil record shows absolutely no record of transitional forms—a fossil record that is far more complete than it was in Darwin's day. Creation is the more reasonable explanation. It is more in agreement with the observations!

Here are some more arguments in favor of Biblical creation:
  • The teleological argument of the watch and the watchmaker: The presence of design implies the presence of a Designer. And the more we learn about our universe, the more we observe design.
  • Probability dictates that the quantity of "chance" needed to evolve everything is remote beyond comprehension. (Even to us math majors)
  • Even the simplest living thing, a bacteria cell which weighs about a trillionth of a gram and contains 100,000,000,000 atoms, is exceptionally complex.
  • DNA, which contains the genetic information of a cell, cannot be explained by evolution. DNA is produced with the help of at least twenty proteins found in the cell, and those proteins can only be produced at the direction of the DNA. It would seem that both DNA and cellular proteins must have been produced simultaneously! Despite its enormous complexity, it is found in even the very simplest of cells.
  • There has never been a demonstration of the development of life from non-life—not in nature, nor in the laboratory.
  • The presence of oxygen (and its relative, ozone) in the atmosphere is problematic for evolution; if it were present way back when, it likely would have oxidized with the chemicals "required for life," and if it weren't, those first little living things would have been destroyed by radiation.
  • The Second Law of Thermodynamics says the amount of energy available to do useful work in our universe is always getting smaller. Are we to believe that the moment when the greatest possible amount of available useful energy was available...was in the aftermath of the greatest explosion the universe has ever known (the "Big Bang")?!?
  • The gene pool of every species (animal, plant, etc.) has limits, beyond which they cannot stray, even with cross-breeding and selection. The Bible teaches that everything is to beget "after his kind."
  • Evolution requires that mutations be beneficial, but most "half-developed" forms would probably have no advantage and more likely be useless, not useful. If a limb evolved into a wing, an intermediate form would most likely be a bad limb—not a good wing.
We are all here as the result of the direct, creative action of God, and we must live accordingly! Furthermore, we can remember that although belief in creation requires faith, belief in evolution requires more faith—evolution runs counter to reason, science, and history.
"The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. he who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory." Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species