Science and the Bible
by Chuck Edwards
It's the first day of school. As you walk out of Biology class, your friend, Joey, pulls up beside you in the hall and says, "Mr. Matson was really onto that "evolution" and "creation" thing today in class. I don't see what the big problem is. What does it matter what you think about how life originated? Can't we just study plants and animals and not worry about how they got here? What difference does it make if some god created life or if life evolved all by itself from the "primordial" soup billions of years ago?"
Joey has a point. What difference does it make what you believe about the origin of life?
Over the past 80 years the issue of "creation and evolution" has been a hotly debated topic from high school biology classrooms to state Supreme Courts. What's a Christian to think in light of the conflicting arguments?
Some resort to arguing with their teachers when the subject of "evolution" comes up. Others buy into the idea of evolution and begin to doubt the Biblical account of creation. Still others throw up their hands with a "Who cares?" attitude.
What you believe about the origin of life really does matter. It impacts not only how you think about biology, but also how you think about every other part of your life.
For starters, your understanding about how life originated impacts three important areas: your concept of God (religion), your view of who you are (human nature), and what you think about right and wrong (moral issues).
What a Difference It Makes!
Let's take each of these three areas, religion, human nature, and morality, and survey the implications if evolution is true. If it is possible for non-living matter to create itself into living things, then God is not necessary for the origin of life. "Mother Nature" did not need God's help in bringing about life and all the different types of plants and animals living today. Therefore, "God" is simply a concept that primitive man developed to try to understand and answer the mysteries of life.
As far as human beings are concerned, evolution describes mankind as the highest form of life. Human progress from lower life-forms assumes that we are basically good and getting better all the time. "Trousered" apes do not have a sin problem. They do not need a Savior.
And related to morality, evolutionary theory implies that moral standards are just social ideas that have come about over time. These standards are constantly changing and "evolving" to fit the progress of the human species. Morals are whatever you want them to be — they are relative and situational.
You can see that these implications of evolution directly contradict everything that the Bible proclaims is true. The reality of God, mankind's basic sin nature, and absolute moral standards are central to the message of the Bible. So it is very important to understand the truth about the origin of life and what science has actually revealed concerning life's past.
But What About...
But some people object to the above implications of evolution by saying that God could have used the process of evolution to bring about life. This is called theistic evolution.
What's wrong with that?
To answer that question, we need to look closely at what the Bible actually says about God's creative activity. Did God use "evolution" as the creative process?
What the Bible Says about the Origin of LIfe
What does the Bible describe "in the beginning" and how does that compare with the current theory of "evolution"? The following chart makes the comparison:
|The Bible Says...||Evolutionary Theory Says...|
|Gen. 1:2 — Oceans before land.||Land formed before oceans.|
|Gen. 1:11 — Life started on land.||First life began in the oceans.|
|Gen. 1:11 — First life was plants.||First life was marine organisms.|
|Gen. 1:20-21 — Birds and fishes created on the same day.||Fishes evolved millions of years before birds.|
|Gen. 1:20-21 & 24 — Birds created before reptiles.||Reptiles evolved before birds.|
|Gen. 1:11,12,21,24,25 — All forms of life reproduce after their own “kinds”.||All plants and animal life are in a continual state of flux.|
SCIENCE AND RELIGION
So a close examination of the Scriptures reveals that the theory of evolution is not compatible with the Biblical account of the origin of life.
"O.K. class," Mr. Matson began. "We are now starting our unit on that subject which some of you dread. It's the "e" word."
Then he said slowly for emphasis, "Ev...o...lu...tion." He paused for dramatic effect, then continued, "Now I know that some of you in here are church-goers and don't like to hear that word. But it is part of our study of science and you need to understand it."
As you slowly sink further down into your seat, Mr. Matson looks straight at you as he says, "This is a science class. We are not here to discuss your personal religious beliefs. So leave your religion at the door when you walk into my class!"
Allen, the class "atheist", peers over at you with a smirk. He knows what you're thinking. Allen's been dogging you with comments like, "This is the 90s. You don't believe all those Bible myths about creation, do you? Scientists tell us that life evolved. So where's the need for your 'Creator'."
Think about it. Scientists say that life evolved. The only thing your science text discusses is evolution. If evolution is true, then it seems like there is not very much for God to do. And besides, science deals with things we observe and know to be true. God is just some personal belief in something that you can't see, right?
Actually, that's not completely true. In order to know why, you need to understand something about science and it's connection with religious ideas.
What is "Science"?
According to the National Academy of Sciences, the goal of science is to "seek naturalistic explanations for phenomena. . . within the framework of natural laws and principles...." (Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, p. 26.)
But wait a minute, that statement itself is not based on scientific observations. Their definition assumes that all phenomena can be explained by purely natural laws without any supernatural influence. What the National Academy is describing is actually a religious idea - one called "naturalism".
Naturalism is "a doctrine that denies a supernatural explanation of the origin, development, or end of the universe and holds that scientific laws account for everything in nature." (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 1974.) A doctrine is a basic belief that someone holds to be true. It serves as a religious foundation on which to build a view about the world.
Now, check this out: in the same booklet, the National Academy's authors go on to say that
No body of beliefs that has its origin in doctrinal material rather than scientific observation should be admissible as science in any science course.
Compare this statement with the definition of "naturalism." What do you observe? Naturalism is a "belief" based on "doctrinal material." Then according to the Academy's own words, "science" based on naturalism is doctrinal material that should not be admissible in any science course!
The Religious Foundation of Science
What's going on here? Well, first of all you need to understand that even in science everybody has to start with some basic assumptions that cannot be proven by the scientific method of observation and experimentation. Science cannot be separated from its religious basis. The only question remains on which religious foundation will your study of science be based?
The theory of "evolution" is based on naturalism. It assumes that nature has the ability within itself to develop into living systems without the aid of supernatural power or intelligence. But this idea cannot be proven through observation and experimentation. It is simply accepted by faith to be true.
On the other hand, the "creation" theory is based on the idea that there is an "Intelligent Designer" who created the universe and the first living plants and animals.
These are the only two options available to us when we try to answer the question, "How did life originate?" Both theories are equally religious.
Science Pursuit of the Truth
Traditionally, "science" has been the pursuit of what is true about our world. And when it comes to the issue of origins, you should realize that the religious view of the scientist plays a major role in how his observations are interpreted.
So the next time your science teacher tells you to leave your faith at the door when the subject of origins comes up, ask him very politely if he is willing to do the same. If not, maybe he should at least be open minded enough to present both "naturalism" and "Intelligent Design" as equally valid starting points.
SCIENCE AND THE ORIGIN OF LIFE
One of the most basic questions we ask is: "How did "life" come about?" Through the ages people have pondered that question. If you walk into the average high school biology class today, you will probably hear an answer to that age-old question which goes something like this:
"...life arose on Earth from inanimate [nonliving] matter..."
The idea that life can come from non-living matter is a basic tenant of the theory of evolution. Let's put on our science "thinking caps" and evaluate that idea. Is it a scientific idea or is it a religious statement? Read on to find out.
Science and the Law of Biogenesis
There was a time when people thought that life could generate itself "spontaneously" from the earth. For example, people believed that worms just "popped" out of the mud. But through careful observations, scientists refuted that idea. It was demonstrated through experimentation as far back as 1668 by Italian physician Francesco Redi. Redi showed that maggots do not generate spontaneously on meat, but instead come from flies.
Later, in 1860, one year after Darwin published his book on evolution, The Origin of Species, French chemist Louis Pasteur did a series of experiments. Pasteur proved that microorganisms appear from air-born sources and not "spontaneously." This laid to rest the controversy over spontaneous generation. The Law of Biogenesis was confirmed.
The Law of Biogenesis states that life only comes from pre-existing life. In other words, "You don't get something living from something dead." This is one of the most fundamental laws of biology. It has never been refuted. All of our experience confirms this law to be true. Worms come from other worms, not from "dead" mud. Babies come from living parents. Mold on bread comes from pre-existing mold spores in the air.
Since the law of biogenesis is confirmed, then why do evolutionists insist that life originated from non-living matter? Isn't that a contradiction? YES, it is! It contradicts everything we know to be true about living plants and animals! Then why do some scientists continue to believe in evolution when its very foundation goes against this well-known law of science?
In order to get around the contradiction with the law of biogenesis, evolutionary scientists rely on a story-line that assumes "things were different back then." High school Biology textbooks describe the scenario of the "early" earth having a pond filled with a rich assortment of various molecules. It is suggested that life could have developed from this "primordial soup".
Verification for this idea is sought in "origin of life" experiments. Yet these laboratory models have not produced anything close to a living cell. In fact, there are a number of major problems with these experiments!
To begin with, scientists start with pure ingredients in order to get the results they want. In a natural setting like the early earth, there would be all sorts of chemical reactions and no way to purify the materials. No pure ingredients on the "early" earth means there is no way to start down the road to "life".
Next, scientists filter out certain wave lengths of light. In a natural setting light from the sun would destroy amino acids (the building blocks of life). The sun's deadly rays would kill any attempts at developing "life".
Then, scientists design a "trap" in their apparatus. This "trap" removes the amino acids that are being formed in their experiment to protect them from disintegration. Where on the early earth would a "trap" separate out the right amino acid compounds to keep them from breaking down into the original chemicals? There is none. The only "trap" is found in the apparatus of the laboratory! But if there is no earthly "trap" for evolving compounds then there is no way for living cells to evolve.
There are eight other major roadblocks that would keep any so-called evolving molecule from becoming a living, reproducing cell.
What does this mean about that statement in your biology textbook? If it is not a scientific fact, what is it? It is a philosophical assumption. The assumption is that nature is all there is - a religious philosophy called NATURALISM. And if nature is all there is, then life must have come from some purely natural process. The problem is, there is no natural process known to scientists that can produce "life".
Science Confirms a Creator
Science confirms the Law of Biogenesis: "life only comes from pre-existing life." This is exactly what the Bible has said all along: - "In the beginning was the Word... the Word was God...In him was life..." (John 1:1–4, NIV)
The Bible states that the living God is the source of life on earth. This is in perfect agreement with the Law of Biogenesis. Therefore, the most scientific statement you can make about the origin of life is "In the beginning, God...".
EVOLUTION AND "STUFF"
When it comes to the theory of evolution, there are two major problems that have not been resolved by scientific evidence. The first problem is the "origin of life" issue. Evolution assumes that life can come from non-living stuff. The third article in this series titled Science and the Origin of Life demonstrated how this idea is scientifically impossible. Scientific experiments confirm that life only comes from pre-existing life. This is called the Law of Biogenesis. Therefore, it was concluded that it takes God (a pre-existing living being) to originate life on earth.
But that is not the only problem for the theory of evolution. The theory goes on to assume that living organisms have the ability for unlimited change. Or, to put it another way, once you have something living, like the first amoeba, then it can change over time into something totally different, like a man. This is called "macro-evolution".
But this "amoeba to man" theory has a major flaw. Think of it this way: a man has a lot more "stuff" than an amoeba, right? Stuff like hair, toes, ear wax, a circulatory system, brains, eyeballs, sweat, etc., etc., etc. So to go from a one-celled organism to something like a human, that little amoeba has to add more "stuff". Somehow, somewhere, at sometime new and different "stuff" has to come on the scene to make this little amoeba guy progress toward manhood.
Evolution theory says it is possible to "add more stuff" to living systems. If you can't add new stuff, then there is no macro-evolution.
What does science tell us about the ability of living organisms to add new stuff from one generation to the next?
Discovering the Laws of Genetics
In the 1860's, a Austrian monk, Gregor Mendel, performed careful experiments on garden peas and discovered the patterns of heredity. This was later verified by Thomas Morgan in the early 1900s. Morgan found that heredity was located in the genetic makeup of DNA contained in every living cell. Experiments lead to discoveries about the scientific laws of genetics. These genetic laws govern the amount and kinds of change that is possible in plants and animals.
Pigs with Wings!
Thousands of experiments have been performed to verify how genetic laws operate. Artificial breeding has been applied to all types of plants and animals, from corn to cows. What have scientists discovered? Controlled breeding produces sweeter corn and cows that give more milk, but it never produces a different kind of plant or animal.
Or consider the dog family. Extensive breeding has produced a great variety of dogs, ranging from the Great Dane to the Chihuahua. But the offspring continue to be dogs. No new kind of animal has emerged. We have never been able to breed a dog with "new and improved" features, like feathers or gills. In other words, no new "stuff" has ever been produced. And if there is no new stuff, then there is no macro-evolution.
But science has discovered something else. If a variety of different dogs were let loose in Wyoming and left to "do their own thing", after several generations the total population would revert back to a common stock. They would all start to look the same! This means there is a conserving quality built into the genetic material which insures that the species remain within certain limits.
This accumulation of scientific evidence has lead one scientist to remark, "Some remarkable things have been done by crossbreeding and selection inside the species barrier, or within a larger circle of closely related species, such as the wheats. But wheat is still wheat, and not, for instance, grapefruit; and we can no more grow wings on pigs than hens can make cylindrical eggs."
Years of experimentation have verified what the Laws of Genetics hold true: "You don't get new stuff from genetic variation." And no new stuff means no evolution!
A Fly in the Ointment
But evolutionists say, "Hold it, we have an ace up our sleeve. Mutations can cause variations that lead to new stuff in the offspring. And given enough time, these small changes can take an amoeba all the way up to a man." A high school biology textbook even says: "Mutations act as a source of the variation that is needed for a species to adapt to changing conditions or a new environment, and thus, evolve over time."
But there is a fly in this evolutionary ointment. Mutations in genetic structure add nothing new to the offspring. Mutations only rearrange the stuff that is already there. Experiments done with fruit flies produced the following result: fruit flies with larger bodies, fruit flies with smaller bodies, fruit flies that couldn't fly, blind fruit flies and dead fruit flies.
The experiment started with fruit flies and ended with weak, sickly, mutated fruit flies. No new kind of insect developed, just mutated fruit flies. No new "stuff" as added. The stuff that was already there was just rearranged or lost! These micro-changes do not add up over time to macro-stuff.
Remember, for evolution to take place, you have to add new stuff. NO NEW STUFF MEANS NO EVOLUTION.
Creation to the Rescue
Science confirms what we know to be true: plants and animals reproduce after their own kind. And this is exactly what the Bible has said all along. (See Genesis 1:12 & 25) So based on the best scientific evidence, God is necessary for the creation of the abundant variety of life on planet earth. This is the only view that is consistent with the facts.
Since the laws of biogenesis and genetics are true, then maybe their implications for a Creator should be discussed, also. Professor Phillip E. Johnson agrees:
"If a high-school curriculum incorporates the subject of biological origins, and if supernatural creation is a rational alternative to naturalistic evolution within that subject, then it is bad educational policy as well as viewpoint discrimination to try to keep students ignorant of an alternative that may be true."
For further study on the problems with the evolution model and the evidence for the creation model, here is a partial listing of scientists and scholars and their published works:
- Lane Lester, Biology Professor: The Natural Limits to Biological Change, Zondervan Publishing House, 1984.
- Michael Denton, Molecular Biologist: Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler & Adler, 1986.
- Phillip E. Johnson, Law Professor: Darwin on Trial, Intervarsity Press, 1991.
- Dean Kenyon, Chemistry Professor: Of Pandas and People, Foundation for Though and Ethics, 1993.
- Charles Thaxton, Ph.D. in Chemistry: The Soul of Science, 1994.
- Michael J. Behe, Biochemistry Professor: Darwin's Black Box, The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1996.