I think we can safely say that Evolution versus Creation will be one of the topics of this year. I hope you are not tired of the discussion already. As you will know, it is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his famous book. It is clear that the evolutionary model of origins still has a long way to go to be exclusively accepted in the scientific community on the same level as the science that makes our motor cars, or gets space ships to Mars. It is very interesting to see two eminent Oxford Professors engaging in informed debate on the origins issue, Professors John Lennox and Richard Dawkins. It should be also obvious that there is no debate about the science that gets us to the moon, why is there so much debate on origins science? This morning's talk will have a very brief look at the subject.
A recent poll of schoolteachers showed that around a third of teachers felt creationism should be discussed in the classroom if the pupils themselves raised the matter. I find it strange that all the taboos of our past, sex outside marriage, homosexuality, and many others are now mainstream topics and regularly discussed, but creationism is still a taboo in the educational establishment.
You would have thought that by now, 150 years after Charles Darwin published his famous book on the Origin of the Species, that evolution would have swept away all the ideas of a God, strangely it hasn't, I wonder why this is?
There are obviously many reasons, but the one I would like to concentrate upon this morning for a short time is mainly concerning the scientific method itself.
It may come as a surprise to many that the differences between scientists who "believe" in creation, "believe" in evolution, and "believe" in Intelligent Design are very small indeed. You will notice that I have used the word "believe" in each case. This is the key to understanding the differences. It is not so well known that there are significant differences between the science used to build machines, bridges, produce drugs etc and the science used to make statements concerning origins.
For example, when I say that my car will get 50 miles per gallon at a steady 56 miles per hour on a straight road etc, I am stating something which can be demonstrated over and over again in practice. In the design process each component has been engineered to a specification that ensures I get this result and I can test it repeatedly to show it to be true. I can also demonstrate mathematically why this is so. However when I say Dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago, I cannot do any of these things. My date is based on a significant number of assumptions, many of which are not testable in a laboratory or scientifically. This must be true, because if an evolutionary scientist comes up with a modification to the evolutionary model of origins, we could find that number could half or double as the effects of the change in knowledge or assumptions are applied.
What then are the common assumptions made by all scientists: Firstly that we are creatures who are able to analyse and understand the environment in which we live. As scientists we do not believe (our current level of knowledge) that any other creature on planet earth has this ability. Secondly, that we live in a totally ordered universe, where everything behaves according to a set of rules or laws, which can be put down and stated in mathematical terms. Some simple examples of this are we know the time it takes for the earth to travel around the sun; and we do not expect it to be 300 days, one year, or 400 another, it is always 365.something every time. If it did vary (I speak hypothetically) we would look for a cause, and we would find the cause, if it happened, and be able to explain it mathematically, no scientist believes it could not be explained by known, or yet to be established laws. We would all agree that it had to be and could be explained.
Many millions of man hours of valuable scientific study has been undertaken by all 3 groups, I say 3 but there is not one model for each, there are many variations to the evolutionary model and there are also differences between creationists on model detail, some incompatible with each other; to deal with the topic at other than a very simple level in 20 minutes is obviously not possible. I seek only to provide a framework for further study.
Where the 3 groups of scientists differ is in their other presuppositions: namely:
For evolutionists they believe: All current present day processes can be used to explain all historical happenings. There is nothing but natural materialism, there is no spiritual world which intervenes or amends the laws of the universe.
For those in Intelligent Design: The complexities that scientists have found over the last 50 years or so at a molecular biological level have led them to believe that the chances, mathematically expressed, of life arising and coming into existence through natural processes alone, is so vast as to be, stated in layman's terms, impossible. They therefore believe that some extra terrestrial intelligence was either involved in, or responsible for the first life on earth.
For creationists: We believe that we have a reliable witness to all that has happened historically, in the one who made the worlds, the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the Holy Spirit of God has given us a full enough account of what has been done to be able to build a scientific model of origins which can be used to explain the data and structures we see around us. We believe that the details of the creation given and the flood, can be used to adequately (current state of knowledge) explain the world around us. That the Biblical event at Babel can fully explain the origin and dispersion of ethnic groups around the globe etc.
To sum up, as creationists we believe the Bible gives us the data on which to build our model of origins and come to conclusions concerning the earth and universe in which we live. Evolutionists, by definition reject this and state that everything can be explained by natural (in the main known) processes. In both cases knowledge is increasing at a very fast rate, and all models of origins are being modified as new data is interpreted in the light of our models.
It is also very important to recognise that all 3 groups live in the same world, use the same scientific method, have the same data in front of them arising from their scientific experiments or observations. Where the differences arise is solely in the interpretation of the data according to the model we start out with. To call this "evidence" as if it was irrefutable is to fly in the face of what is happening. Today's evidence, so-called, will most likely be modified in the light of further investigations, if the history of science is anything to go by.
It is commonly said that Intelligent Design (ID) and Creation are not science, because they are not testable, and they lack evidence. I have yet to see a historical event that is testable, how do we test and repeat the extinction of the Dinosaurs? Where is the evidence that a mammal which is 90+% the same as another in DNA, that one has developed into the other?
ID is not really an answer as it just pushes the ultimate question of origins back a step. The logical question which follows is; who created the more intelligent society? If you postulate "a still more intelligent society" then you have a rolling list of more and more intelligent societies, which in the ultimate ends up with the same solution as the creationist, the eternal uncreated God! However the conclusion is reached by a route to God which is totally contrary to the revelation of Himself that He has given! We have a God according to our own imagination.
Creationists are often told that if you want to hear about science, i.e. evolution, go to your science teacher, if you want to hear about creation go to your vicar! There is a strange truth in this statement, in that you should be able to go to your vicar and learn the teaching or doctrine of creation, but to learn the science of creation you have to go to those who are scientists.
It is one of the evolutionary starting assumption that similarity indicates relationship? We often see a picture of various ape-like creatures in an ascending sequence of size, erection and diminishing quantity of hair with a man at the end. The picture leads the observer to make an association between them. However when we come to analyse the data on which this deduction is based, the process, is missing, other than in very vague detail. It certainly is not a laboratory testable hypothesis.
The creation model may say that when God made all the animals and plant life they were to live in a similar environment as part of a food chain. It would be logical then for food to be digested in a similar way, for movement along the earth's surface or in the water to be similar. For the detection of sound and light to be variations on a theme. The arguments used for adaptation could equally be interpreted as the operation of the thinking mind of a designer.
When writing this talk, I had just finished watching a program on the Teacher's TV channel purporting to be about Evolution and Creationism. The conclusion was Creationism is not science, and yet I have no recollection of any discussion in the program concerning the Creation scientific model and its strengths and weaknesses? The title of the program shows its bias - The title could have been Evolution and Creation, or Evolutionism and Creationism. The program was a bit like an ardent Socialist discussing Socialism and Capitalism and concluding there was no such thing as Capitalism, without a single capitalist in sight to put the opposing point of view. The reason given being there is no valid point of view! Note this year in all the programs about this 200th anniversary event you will very probably find that all the persons supporting creation will be chosen because they are actually evolutionists at heart, or their contribution will be so heavily edited to ensure only the things they say which suit the purpose will be broadcast.
The relationship between religion and origins science is one of the reasons for so much debate and discussion on this subject. I do not know of any debate amongst scientists that water (under certain specified conditions) always boils at 100 degrees Centigrade! This fact is testable, repeatable falsifiable, has lots of evidence etc, etc. No so for any area of origins science.
My own feelings on the matter of Origins science and faith, is that Evolution assumes - no God, many well meaning people try and invent a God of their own design which started off the process, and then gracefully retired, but where has such a God revealed himself, certainly not in the Bible.
The Intelligent Design movement recognises, I believe correctly that Natural Selection does not answer the many unanswered questions in the evolutionary model and that design is stamped all over the globe. This belief leads naturally to agnosticism, those who don't know. Note they do not say who or what this intelligent designer is or was, they are basically recognising the hallmarks of design in the matter they observe. The SETI project or the search for extra terrestrial intelligence is looking for radio transmissions from other planets or bodies in the universe, which carry an intelligent message. Every page of every book contains the same 26 letters. It is the intelligent design of the author which arranges these 26 letters in all sorts of ways to convey a message to their reader. The reader automatically assumes that someone has put these groups of 26 letters together to form the intelligent text. Note the arrangement of the text is what determines the presence or absence of intelligence, not the letters themselves. We have all heard of the human genome project and the amount of information in the human Gene system, yet the information is in the arrangement of the letters of the genome, not the chemicals themselves. This clear dissociation between the physical or chemical and the information sides of the genome still has no satisfactory explanation which fits into an evolutionary model.
Creation is a doctrine of many religious groups. The Bible giving I believe the most complete and only inspired account. A significant number of both the Old and New Testament books mention the creation. It is also a matter of fact that Biblical Christianity is proven false if there was no creation. This "fact" is often overlooked by those proclaiming themselves Christian; let me explain.
If there was no Adam, no prohibition to eat of the forbidden tree, no disobedience, no fall, where is the explanation for all the suffering and what goes with it which the Bible teaches is the result of the fall? The Bible says the whole creation groans because of the fall. If there was no Garden of Eden, no Adam, then we are not his descendants, hence we are not born in sin, fallen, in need of a Saviour. There was no need for Christ to come, to suffer, bleed and die to redeem us, if there once was no Adam in a garden.
A couple of similarities between all 3 groups are worth stating: The geological column is widely accepted as a statement of observable fact. (However as with all interpretations of data there are those who do not accept this model and have proposed others.) There is nowhere in the world where it can be seen in its entirety, but all groups are in broad agreement that differences are caused by events afterwards, like one group of rocks being pushed up and over another at some later point in time. Where the differences in opinion mainly lie are in the timescales necessary for these layers to form, the events which caused them etc. Obviously all creationists completely reject the evolutionary time frame associated with that interpretation of the column model.
Speciation: Again all are in broad agreement that species (I will call them species, because it is a term widely understood) have a tremendous pool of genes which allow a huge variety of characteristics. The tremendous number of varieties of dogs, but all are still dogs, despite all the selective breeding. All men and women are homo sapiens as a species, but what a variety of height, width, colour, facial characteristics, temperament etc, etc there is within our species. We are one blood, one race, one species. Darwin's finches are still finches and still retain the marvellous ability to adapt to their surroundings. Where Evolutionists and Creationists diverge is on whether this can be extrapolated back all the way to the presumed primordial soup. Of all the millions of fossils found buried in massive fossil graveyards, only a few to date have been postulated to be missing links. Even in the evolutionary community, there is much disagreement as to whether they are missing links or not. Two very uncomfortable bits of data arise from these many millions of fossils; the data shows that even the earliest fossils which still exist today are identical to those alive today. This phenomenon is known as "Living Fossils." The other, is that fossils appear in the Cambrian rocks (early rocks) in exactly the same form as they disappear in later rocks; i.e. there is no discernible difference over the many millions of years that are postulated for their existence.
The creation model uses the narrative in Genesis chapters 1 through 11 to explain and model what we see in our world today. The tests used are; does the world we see conform to this model? Does it give satisfactory answers to what we see geologically, do the billions of fossils found in massive fossil beds answer to what one would expect if Noah's flood was as the Bible describes? Does the distribution of people groups, with their different characteristics fit the model given by the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis chapter 9? Does the Table of the Nations given in Genesis chapter 10, correlate with the way we see nations distributed today? Does the behaviour of people align with the fallen man of Genesis, or the continually elevating man due to Evolution?
It is impossible to qualify each item in this talk in detail as I am trying to cover a vast subject range and I am also endeavouring to make the main arguments understood by people who have very little scientific training. I trust I have not been too biased and unfair to those who do not see things the way I do. But I would plead with those interested in the subject, to read widely in the scientific press. All 3 groups have very detailed learned scientific journals and contrary to the gospel of Evolution all use the scientific tools that are available; they just have different starting assumptions. It is very enlightening to read the different scientific interpretations of the same data from each of the groups. It reminds me of the variety of answers that a question posed in that well known TV program "Question Time", as sometimes 5 or 6 people all give well reasoned but different opinions based on the same question.
All scientist have preconceived ideas, Creationists are no different. Our full trust is in the one who said things like; "It was not so from the beginning." How could He say that with authority unless he was a witness to it? As Christians we believe the only question of importance in our whole lives is "What think ye of Christ?" Our whole eternal destiny hangs on our answer. Is Christ your only hope for the future?
How does God work for our salvation? The scripture itself supplies the answer, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. In other words, it is only by the Word of God that we can be saved. If you have never read or studied God's Word, can I urge you to get a copy and read it, and may the Lord richly bless you.Top of Page