(A study for: The Reason for God, chapter 6)
[NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see bracketed green text insertions that begin with “Discussion”. These are suggested discussion questions for small group leaders who would like to review these topics in an interactive group setting.]
On April 8, 1966, one of the most recognized magazines in the world, Time, published a very special magazine cover. For the first time in its 40-year history, the cover didn’t have any picture, only text. Nonetheless, it would quickly become one of the most controversial covers. It had three words.
[Discussion: Does anyone know or want to guess what were those three words?]
Written in bold red font, the three words were, “Is God Dead?”1
As per Time, this story by their religion editor, John Elson, inspired countless angry reactions from readers. National Review asked whether Time was the dead one. Even Bob Dylan, the famous singer and song writer, criticized the cover in a 1978 interview with Playboy Magazine of all places, saying, “If you were God, how would you like to see that written about yourself?”
Those three words, “Is God Dead”, captured the imaginations—and fears—of the readers. They also captured a moment in time. In 2016, exactly 50 years later, Thomas Altizer, one of the death-of-God theologians featured in the story, believes today it would have a far more muted reaction. “At least I can’t imagine it… We are in a very different world”.2
In 1966, surveys indicated about 97% of Americans believed in God. In 2014, 63% of Americans believed with certainty.3 Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a similar cover today wouldn’t cause a strong reaction. These days, it’s not uncommon to hear statements such as:
- “Science has disproved Christianity”;
- “Evolution disproves the Bible”;
- “I don’t believe in God, I believe in science”;
- “Miracles are scientifically impossible”;
- “God is dead”.
[Discussion: Taking the above statements into consideration, must you choose between science and Christianity?]
It is true that we have been able to observe secularists pitting science against Christianity in an ever more frequent manner. Since the 1966 article in Time, in which it said, among other things, that “Faith is something of an irrational leap in the dark.”, the secularists have gotten more brazen. There are at least two reasons for pitting science and rationality against religion—in the western world, against Christianity.
[Discussion: What explanations can you determine why someone would want to conflict science with Christianity?]
1. Intimidating Christians to Abandon Some of Their Beliefs
One reason to contrast science with Christianity is to intimidate Christians into abandoning some of their beliefs while also discouraging non-Christians from considering Christianity. Who wants to belong to a group of irrational “morons” that doesn’t believe in science? If you disagree, just read Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion.4
2. Presenting a Story with Opposing Forces Makes for More Interesting Reading
Stories become more interesting with an antagonist and a protagonist. Everyone likes a story about a good and bad guy, about good and evil. If one is writing a news or blog article, creating tension between science and Christianity can help get more views, likes, and shares. Thus, the modern media machine, which is addicted to clicks, often promotes an alleged battle between science and Christianity.
However, the origin of the alleged battle between science and Christianity traces to the 19th century, when an attempt to secularize American educational institutions was started. The objective of the secularists was to increase their cultural power by undermining Christian influence. What better strategy to accomplish that in an educational setting, than to claim belief in God is anti-science?5
Fortunately, this view is losing credibility with a growing number of scholars. For example, in 2006, the same year that Richard Dawkins’s very aggressive anti-god book, The God Delusion, was published, Francis Collins, research scientist and head of the famous Human Genome Project, published The Language of God, in which he makes a point that science supports the belief in God.6 According to a study published in 1997 in the scientific journal Nature7, 40% of scientists believe in a god who communicates with humanity, at least through prayer.
This percentage of god-believing scientists would be even higher if the study didn’t group as unbelievers those who believe a god exists but doesn’t communicate with humanity.
Lastly, as covered in the introduction of our The Reason for God study series,8 most unbelieving scientists, just like non-scientists, are unbelievers based on unscientific reasons. As Peter Berger, Professor of Sociology at Boston University, has demonstrated, people’s worldviews are greatly influenced by past experiences, social settings, and opinions of others from whom they want respect.9
Now, let’s expose some of the alleged controversies between science and the Bible.
Most secularists and some Christians believe Earth to be billions of years old. This is called the Old Earth View. Other Christians believe the Bible indicates Earth to be about 6,000 of years old. This is called the Young Earth View.
[Discussion: Do you know, or can you guess, how each group calculates the age of the earth? How does one group conclude the earth to be about 6,000 years old whereas the other group calculates billions of years?]
Nowhere does the Bible state the age of Earth or the universe. However, from the biblical record, assuming literal 24-hour periods for the six-day creation period and no gaps in the chronology or genealogy of Genesis (see Genesis ch. 5 as an example), we can approximate the time from creation to certain Old Testament figures.
From those Old Testament figures one can calculate the time to the birth of Jesus, which happened around year 010. This is why we use the abbreviation A.D. for years after 0, since A.D. comes from the Latin phrase anno domini, which means “Year of the Lord”. Thus today, in the year 2019 A.D., we are on the 2019th year of the Lord.
Using this method, we can calculate the age of the Earth to be approximately 6,000 years.11
Dinosaurs aren’t a problem for the Young Earth creationists either. Although the Bible does not mention the word “dinosaur”, it does use the Hebrew word tanniyn, which is sometimes “sea monster” or “serpent”, but most commonly “dragon.” The creatures were found in both land and water, and are mentioned close to thirty times in the Old Testament. They appear to have been some kind of large reptiles.
Job 40:15 speaks of the Behemoth, a mighty creature with a tail like a cedar tree. The next chapter, Job 41, goes onto describe an other creature in detail, the Leviathan, emphasizing it’s size, strength, and viciousness. As summarized by GotQuestions:
The leviathan cannot be tied down or tamed (Job 41:1, 5); it is frightening to even look at (verse 9); it is best left alone (verses 8, 10). The leviathan has a graceful form (verse 12) but is incredibly well protected with scales (verses 13, 15–17). Its chest is as impenetrable as its back (verses 15, 24). It has fearsome teeth (verse 14), and death awaits anyone who approaches its mouth (verses 18–21). No sword, spear, dart, javelin, arrow, stone, club, or lance can defeat it (verses 26, 28–29). It cannot be caged, because it breaks iron like straw (verse 27).12
I must concede to the Young Earth creationists that both the Behemoth and Leviathan do resemble dinosaurs. Furthermore, it’s interesting how they are mentioned specifically in the book of Job, which man historians agree is the oldest written book of the Bible.
This would mean that dinosaurs co-existed with man, but perhaps went extinct after the climate changed drastically after the flood. Even today scientists estimate that “between 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours.”13
However, some Christians believe the creation account in Genesis does not fall into the genre of literal text. We see a defense of this non-literal viewpoint in Paul E. Little’s book, Know Why You Believe.14
Let’s look at the use of the Hebrew word for day. Can it mean periods of time rather than a single twenty-four-hour day? In Genesis 1:31 the word is used to describe the completion of the sixth day, during which God created Adam and Eve.
Genesis 2:15-25 describes God’s creative activity on that “day.” It also describes Adam’s activity: naming all the animals, falling into a deep sleep, the creation of Eve—all on the sixth day! It seems that even with the most literal interpretation of this day, the sixth day was a longer period of time.
The use of the same word in other passages shows the Lord’s concept of day is not so confined. For instance, “A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by” (Psalm 90:4) and “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years” (2 Peter 3:8). Geologist Davis Young notes that “the language of Genesis 1 (for example, the development of vegetation on day three) strongly implies the processes of natural growth and development, initiated by the decree of God’s word (‘Let the land produce vegetation’).”
However, while defending the non-literal viewpoint, the following is mentioned:
It should be noted that some highly intelligent evangelical scholars interpret the Genesis account as describing twenty-four-hour days, with God creating a “grown-up” universe, and we need to consider their arguments…
In summary… “As biblical students, therefore, we must remain agnostic about the age of the earth.”
Although Christians are divided on the matter, the secular majority’s opinion currently holds the earth to be billions of years old.
[Discussion: Do you know any dating methods used to get the age of billions of years for our Earth?]
The age of Earth and life on it is mostly estimated using radiometric, carbon and fossil-record dating. However, what isn’t often advertised to the public is that these dating methods rely on various unprovable assumptions.
All rocks and minerals contain radioactive elements assumed to have been deposited on Earth when the Solar System formed. Since radioactive decay is usually constant, by measuring how much of it has happened in various rock and mineral samples, we can calculate their age. This is assuming the samples haven’t been altered, contaminated, or disturbed by later heating or chemical events.15 All radiometric methods require at least three assumptions:
- The rate of decay has remained constant throughout the past;
- The original amount of both mother (before decay) and daughter (after decay) elements is known;
- The sample has remained in a closed system;
Thus, it shouldn’t come as surprise that various interventions can theoretically speed up decay significantly. As an extreme example, stripping an atom of all electrons can speed up decay by up to a factor of one billion!16 We were not here when earth formed, nor do we know all the details of what global environmental events may have taken place since, which could contaminate the data.17 An example of this uncertainty is illustrated by North Carolina State University’s recently conducted research revealing an “oversight in a radioisotope dating technique used to date everything from meteorites to geologic samples”, which means “scientists have likely overestimated the ages of many samples.” The research was done in the university’s Nuclear Engineering Department by Associate Professor Robert Hayes and published in the journal Nuclear Technology.18
Dating rocks and minerals usually relies on the uranium-lead radiometric method,19 while dating organic material relies on the carbon dating method. All living things, plants, humans, animals, absorb carbon-14 from the air. Humans do this by breathing, but as soon as an organism dies it stops absorbing air, including carbon-14. Then, whatever amount of carbon-14 was in the organism at death starts to decay at a relatively constant rate.
By comparing the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere to the un-decayed amount of carbon-14 in an organism, we can approximate when the organism died. The problem is the ratio of carbon-14 in the atmosphere is not constant and is affected by variables such as the earth’s magnetic field, solar winds, and—in more recent times, —industrialization and above ground nuclear tests conducted in the 1960s.20 Other anomalies can also skew or corrupt carbon dating. This is what happened with the Melanoides tuberculatus snails, living in the artesian springs in southern Nevada, where unique conditions caused carbon dating to estimate certain snails to have been dead for about 27,000 years, although they had died recently.21
Carbon dating results can also be skewed by the fact that even though we know how much carbon-14 is in the air now, we don’t know how much there was 5,000 years ago. Trying to adjust for unknown carbon-14 levels of the past, researchers calibrate carbon-14 dating against tree rings.22 Yes, you read that right, I said “tree rings”. We are talking about the rings you see in a trunk of a tree when you cut it down.
Since researches know the error-proneness of radiocarbon dating, they attempt to calibrate their carbon dating results with tree rings. This field of study called dendrochronology (from Greek: dendro, meaning tree, chronology, meaning time).
Some trees, such as the bristlecone pine, can live up to 5,000 years.23 This is estimated by counting the rings of the tree. The age of the tree is carbon dated and the results matched to the number of rings the tree has. When the results are skewed, the carbon dating data is “calibrated” to match the data known by counting the tree rings.
The problem is that tree ring counting, dendrochronology, isn’t close to being exact, as it is prone to varying degrees of error.24 For example, trees usually add one new ring a year. However, due to various anomalies, such as weather conditions, there can missing, discontinuous, or double rings.
Overall, carbon-14 dating can be useful, and we owe gratitude to those who developed it for our technological arsenal,. Yet, we must remember it’s not a precise tool. Furthermore, the data gets increasingly imprecise as we pass the 5,000-year mark.
Scientists readily admit when radiocarbon dates do not fit a desired result, the dates are ignored or dismissed.25 Stated differently, “If a C 14 date supports our theories, we put it in the main text. If it does not entirely contradict them, we put it in a footnote. And if it is completely out of date, we just drop it.”26
The fossil record isn’t without its share of controversy either. One example is the coelacanth:
Declared to have been extinct for about 70 million years, this fish was thought by scientists to have been the fish that first walked out of the ocean on its way to becoming the ascendant of modern man. The reason this is important is that many fossils have been dated to be roughly 70 million years old simply because their remains were found in the same stratum [layer] as the remains of the coelacanth.
One can only imagine the disappointment in the scientific community when a fisherman caught a coelacanth off the island of Madagascar. No lungs, no legs. Interestingly, many evolutionists believed the reason this fish disappeared from the fossil record is that it had evolved into land-dwelling tetrapods [four-limbed animals, such as reptiles].27
As the late evolutionary paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould once candidly admitted, “The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution.”28
What about the Neanderthals then? Aren’t they proof humans evolved from primitive sub-humans? No, they were just a group who were stocky and with shorter legs. Today, you can see a lot of variation in human characteristics, for example between Norwegians and Asians.
As per encyclopedia Britannica, “Until the late 20th century, Neanderthals were regarded as genetically, morphologically, and behaviorally distinct from living humans. However, more recent discoveries about this well-preserved fossil Eurasian population have revealed an overlap between living and archaic humans.”29 In other words, Neanderthals, mated with other groups whose humanity is unquestionable.
[Discussion: How old do you think Earth or the universe is? Are you more likely to believe in the Old Earth or Young Earth viewpoint? Why?]
As for as using various methods such as fossils, carbon-14 dating, radiometric dating, and historical records when estimating the age Earth, neither the Old Earth nor Young Earth viewpoint can be disproved. Each method has both its strong and weak points. Thus, both the Old Earth and Young Earth camps can use data to support their beliefs and attack the methods used by opponents.
To throw one last curveball, some Young Earth proponents suggest that God could have created a “mature” universe, since he created a mature Adam, instead of creating him as a baby. If a modern doctors would use scientific methods to examine Adam one day after he was created, they most certainly would not conclude Adam to be one day old. It could be the same with Earth and the universe. The argument proposes that, like Adam, they might look old, but that doesn’t make it so.
As we saw with the various issues surrounding dating methods, the science behind these methods is not infallible and can be subject to error. This is something many are ignorant about or want to purposefully minimize. Stanford University professor John Ioannidis caused shockwaves in 2005 when he famously proclaimed, “It can be proven that most claimed research findings are false.”30
He is right. Even many established scientific “facts” have been disproven. Emission theory31 was wrong, atoms don’t always weigh the same32, the number of species in the world is about 10% of what we used to think,33 and Neanderthals weren’t sub-human ancestors of ours.34 Did any of this come as a shock to you? Don’t be so surprised. It’s human nature to not make a big deal about our errors. You’re more likely to hear about a new discovery than a previously acclaimed discovery being disproven.
This is not to say all research is wrong or that we shouldn’t take research seriously, on the contrary! However, we shouldn’t make science into a god of perfection, as science cannot explain everything about human existence. Can one measure ten pounds of love or three meters of evil and, if not, does that mean that love or evil doesn’t exist? Of course not.
Indeed, science can’t explain everything about human existence. As another example, it’s unlikely that scientific analysis has led you to the conclusion that it’s wrong to kill and/or sterilize handicapped children.
A common objection against the Bible is, “Miracles are impossible.” When we ask the person how they came to that conclusion, a typical answer is, “Science has proven that miracles are impossible.”
[Discussion: Do you think science has proven the impossibility of miracles?]
Science has not proven the impossibility of miracles, nor can it, because science measures the natural world. Science has never presented any empirical data that supernatural events can’t happen. If you think otherwise, can you please explain to me exactly how the methods of science have disproved the possibility of supernatural events? You can’t. You can assume, without any scientific evidence, that miracles are impossible and you will willfully reject any supporting evidence of miracles—such as historical accounts of miracles—as myths or fabrications. However, you should leave science out of it. This is your prejudice, deciding before any evidence is presented, that you will ignore contrary evidence.
Yet, not only are there things science can’t measure, such as love, justice, miracles, and morality but also science doesn’t even know how the universe came to be—how the Big Bang originated. Some categorize the Big Bang as a miracle by the way. In the Big Bang, you have material, time, and space coming into existence from nothing. It’s like a rabbit appearing from an empty hat raised a trillion billion. When the universe appeared, there wasn’t a hat nor a magician as far as atheists are concerned, and, instead of a rabbit, the whole universe that appeared, rabbits included.
[Discussion: Do you know the current most popular theory for the origin of the universe? Hint: A popular TV show that goes by the same name. Can you guess the profession of the person who first suggested this theory?]
Since the 1920s, when a Belgian scientist priest first suggested the Big Bang theory35, it has gained acceptance as the best explanation for the origin of life and our universe. In summary, according to the “Hot Big Bang Model”36, the universe came forth from something that’s smaller than the period at the end of this sentence and continues to expand.37 However, science still has a massive problem with the Big Bang theory.
[Discussion: Why do you think science has unanswered questions about the Big Bang theory?]
“What caused the Big Bang? Where did matter come from? Where did the laws of physics come from?” Science simply cannot answer these questions.38
The laws of science suggest that the Big Bang’s occurrence would have been impossible. by The first law of thermodynamics39 states that energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. The energy contained in the Big Bang can’t appear from nowhere any more than a shirt can appear by itself. In other words, one could classify the Big Bang to be some kind of a miracle.
The origins of the Big Bang, matter, time, order, and the laws of physics aren’t a problem for scientists who believe in God. The first verse of the Bible explains and resolves all problems atheist scientists have with the Big Bang theory. Herbert Spencer, a widely lauded non-Christian scientist40, is credited with the achievement of discovering the categories of the knowable. He determined that everything that exists fits into one of five categories:41
- Action (Motion);
Now, let’s look at the very first verse of the Bible, written more than 3,000 years ago.
Gen 1:1: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
[Suggested Group Activity: Split people into up to five groups. Give each group one or more of the five categories from above, and ask then to match each category with a word or words from Genesis 1:1. The answer is below.]
- “In the beginning”—time;
- “the heavens”—space;
- “the earth”—matter.
Now, you might hear a very common objection though:
Well if God created everything, then…
… who created God?.
[Discussion: How would you answer this?]
God, as the creator of the universe and the complex laws of physics that govern it, does not have to be subjected to the laws of his creation. Just because God created a universe and laws of physics that require everything has a beginning, it doesn’t mean he has to subject himself to the same laws he created. Claiming otherwise would be somewhat like claiming Shakespeare must be subjected to and found in Hamlet, or the computer game developers of The Sims would have to be found within, constrained by, and governed by the rules they created for their virtual world .
God is not subject to the laws of his own creation nor must he be limited to exist with-in it anymore than a writer of a book or a computer game is required to exist with-in their own artistic creations.
We will now leave the unresolved problems our atheist friends have with the Big Bang, and the miraculous origin of the universe, and move onto some unresolved problems they have with the origins of life on earth.
[Discussion: How do you think many evolutionists explain the appearance of life on earth?]
Believing scientists accept that God created life. Non-believing scientists must invent an explanation. Here, they run into a similar problem as the Big Bang. Like they cannot explain the cause of the Big Bang, they cannot prove how life on earth came to be. It appears to have originated spontaneously, “by chance”, as they say—a miracle!
However, things such as our universe and life appearing by “chance” is utter and total nonsense, and one of the most unscientific statements one could make. Think about it. What is chance? Chance is a probability concept, a non-entity. As such, it has no power to do anything.
What are the chances that chance can do anything? Chance is no more able to do something than nothing can do something. As R.C. Sproul states in his book Not a Chance:
It is precisely at this point that equivocation creeps (or rushes) into the use of the word chance. The shift from a formal probability concept to a real force is usually slipped in by the addition of another seemingly harmless word, by. When we say things happen by chance …suddenly chance is given instrumental power. <Suddenly> it is the means by which things come to pass. This now assumes a certain power to effect change.
Do you see what happened here? A probability concept, chance, suddenly and magically gained the power and the ability to do everything and create everything. It’s magic!
When scientists attribute instrumental power to chance, they have left the domain of physics and resorted to magic. Chance is their magic wand to make not only rabbits, but entire universes appear out of nothing.42
Making things more difficult is the inconvenient principle of biogenesis. The same year Darwin published his “Origin of the Species”, which ignited the idea of all life starting from a single cell, the theory of spontaneous generation was proven false by Louis Pasteur.43 This debunking of spontaneous generation has subsequently given us the scientific principle of biogenesis, which states that, “complex living things come only from other living things, by means of reproduction. That is, life does not spontaneously arise from non-living material.”44
In summary, atheist scientists can’t explain how life originated on Earth, as it appears to have originated spontaneously, by chance. The atheist is left with a choice between an intelligent creator, that is not limited to our universe, or the hope of proving the principle of biogenesis incorrect. As of today, science has not been able to disprove it. An atheist can only replace an intelligent creator of the universe with something of equal god-like power—chance.
One of the more popular theories is that life somehow arose by chance in what’s called “primordial soup”, a mix of water and various other chemicals—perhaps in a volcanic pond. Once chance arranged all the necessary chemicals for life, chance mixed them in some unknown way to us. Then, by chance, the first protocells assembled themselves through some unknown process that researchers are unable to figure out.45
Researchers also continue to be baffled with these first organisms, primitive as they were, having a metabolism. Why? Life needs to obtain energy or it dies quickly. As per Harvard genetics professor and Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, “The origins of metabolism have to be in there somehow. The source of chemical energy is going to be the big question.”46
The dictionary defines life as “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”47 Given that, it should be no surprise that scientists have been unsuccessful in creating life, as defined, from chemical, irrespective of our advanced knowledge and supercomputers. Despite being able to send humans to the moon, robots to mars, and mapping out the human genome, we in our collective wisdom, try as we might, are no match for the almighty entity, say it…… Chance!48
Although many non-believing scientists don’t know how life formed, they are certain it could not have been an intelligent creator that created the universe and thus exists outside of it. Instead of God, it was chance.
Many atheists will readily admit they do not know how life on earth began, to which I would then respond, “So how do you know it wasn’t God?”. But, leaving that aside, while they admit they do not know how life started, they are convinced that once “chance” did get life started, evolution took it from there.
Evolution is one of the main hammers, which is often used to attack Christianity. A Christian might get asked, “Do you believe in evolution or the Bible?” However, this question is setting up a false dichotomy or division. Believing in one doesn’t necessarily rule out belief in the other.
[Discussion: Do you think Christians can believe in evolution? Explain your answer.]
First, it’s necessary to distinguish between two types of evolution:
- Macroevolution, which is a key component of Darwinian evolution;
To put it simply, microevolution refers to changes within species.49 Examples include bacteria becoming resistant to certain antibiotics, and dogs and wolves descending from a common ancestor. I have never met anybody who doesn’t believe in microevolution.
However, some Christians, called “Young Earth creationists”, do not believe in macroevolution, a key component of Darwinian evolution, in which living creatures “evolve” into different creatures.50 Imagine a world filled with only worms. There are no other animals nor humans in existence in this world, just worms. Now imagine that you skip ahead 15 billion years into the future and return to this same world that used to have only worms.
Now you see humans there. Slowly over time, some worms evolved into humans through various intermediary steps. How reasonable does this seem to you, really?
What happened on Earth is more complex than this imaginary situation. The starting point, in our world’s Darwinian evolution, was a lifeless planet. Then, through some unknown processes, chance got life started, a living single cell appeared, and humans evolved from this single cell as directed by chance.
Some very intelligent Christians, often “Old Earth creationists”, many of whom are much smarter than me, believe in this type of macroevolution. They believe, from the different Bible genres—literal, poetic, prophetic, etc—the Genesis creation account falls into the poetic/symbolic genre, and is not to be taken literally. They see no contradiction between the Bible and macroevolution.
Generally, both Young Earth and Old Earth creationists believe in the inspiration and inerrant authority of the Bible. What differs is their interpretation of the text in the Genesis creation account.
Without getting into the details about the scientific validity of macroevolution,51 I will guide those of you who wish to examine this topic in further detail, to experts who know much more about the matter. You can watch YouTube debates52 between Michael Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Pensylvania’s Lehigh University, and proponents of macroevolution. Behe wrote the book The Edge of Evolution, in which he criticized Darwinian evolution.
Many atheist scientists criticized Behe’s book, only for new scientific research to prove Behe right on a key area a few years later.53 For additional material, the debates between geophysicist Stephen C. Meyer and macroevolution proponents, are also worth watching.54 Leave your prejudices aside and, with an open mind, listen to experts from both viewpoints to decide which group is making the better argument.
After watching the debates among experts in the field, at a minimum, you will realize the case for Darwinian macroevolution is much weaker than how it is generally promoted. Why is the strength of Darwinian evolution overemphasized and defended with such passion? If the nature of scientific progress is dependent on challenging old ideas and assumptions, why is there such hostility and suppression whenever someone questions the principles of Darwinian evolution?
As quoted in The Wall Street Journal’s article, “The Church of Darwin”55, the world renown Chinese paleontologist, Jun-Yuan Chen, from the Nanjing University, who lectures worldwide, explaining that certain recent fossil finds are inconsistent with Darwinian evolution, had this to say when his research upset American Scientists: “In China we can criticize Darwin but not the government. In America you can criticize the government but not Darwin”.
[Discussion: What is an explanation for the western mainstream scientific community’s getting upset when someone challenges Darwinian evolution?]
Below are four factors that can make us humans, including scientists, resistant to change:56
- Surprise. We haven’t taken the time to get used to the idea or prepare for its consequences;
- Loss of control. People can feel that they’ve lost control over their “territory”;
- Excess uncertainty. Humans may reject heading towards the unknown. They can fear the “ripple effects” this change can bring about in other areas of their lives or research;
- Loss of face. Those associated with the last version, the one that didn’t work, are likely to be defensive about it;
People often think of scientists being somehow impartial to bias that affects the rest of us mortals. Research has disproven this. Often, when a minority of scientists propose a change that would produce a major shift in thought, also known as a paradigm shift, the majority resist,57 even if logic, evidence, and facts are against them.
Put yourself into the shoes of a scientist who has spent his whole career writing research papers about a hypothesis, which is about to be proven incorrect or obsolete. Are you likely to be 100% objective about the proposed change that would invalidate your life’s work? Furthermore, the stakes are higher in situations where there are worldview implications. In the case of Darwinian evolution, if it’s disproven, it could have significant repercussions on the worldviews of atheists.
If humans didn’t originate through Darwinian evolution and you do not want to accept the possibility of an intelligent creator, what options do you have? The title of The Wall Street Journal article “The Church of Darwin”58 is a fitting description. Many do hold onto Darwinian evolution with religious tenacity and fervor.
Does evolution disprove the Bible? No. First, almost all Christians believe in microevolution. Second, as we have discovered, the case for Darwinian macroevolution is weaker than what its proponents like to admit.
However, regardless of the weaknesses with macroevolution, some Christians reconcile it with their faith by saying macroevolution was the means God used to develop life. I do not think they are correct, but this interpretation of the Bible has no impact on whether Jesus died for their sins. Nobody’s eternity is at stake based on their beliefs about macroevolution or the age of the universe—only based on their beliefs about Jesus Christ. In the words of Jesus (Matt. 16:15): Who do you say I am?
Logic makes a strong argument for the universe having an intelligent creator, and I’m not referring to chance. The Bible says God created everything, including you. Friend, if you are an atheist, I would like to commend you for reading this article. You have shown a level of sincerity and open-mindedness, a rare breed these days, in that you are willing to consider views that may contradict your own.
With that in mind, I would like to ask you the following with all sincerity and kindness: If you have no idea how the Big Bang came to be, how can you be certain the cause was not an intelligent creator, who exists outside of the constraints of the universe he created?
What is causing you to outright reject the possibility of an intelligent creator? An intelligent creator of the universe is the best available explanation, and deep down you know this. You have a nagging feeling (Rom. Ch. 1) about this—a feeling that you have been trying to suppress most of your life, either consciously or unconsciously. The question is why?
[Discussion: What could be an explanation why anyone would not want to accept a reality of a creator-god, even if evidence supported this?]
Could it be you don’t want the world to be like that? Perhaps, you would like to keep on living your life as your own boss and not have to be morally accountable to a higher being? I get it. I’ve felt the same.
Perhaps, you like being in the mainstream, being popular and accepted—in and out of the workplace—instead of being one of those “wacky Christians”. Your preoccupations are valid ones. I often struggle with those same preoccupations. None of this changes these four facts though:
- God created the universe and God created you;
- One of God’s characteristics is justice. As a just judge, he must pronounce righteous judgment on all infractions against his law. Letting crime go without consequence is no more an option for him than it is for judges in our earthly court system;
- The bad news is you have broken God’s moral law. Even your internal prosecutor, your conscience, which God has given you as a guide, has accused you of wrong-doing on countless occasions. As a result, upon your death, God will sentence you to everlasting separation from him.Why everlasting? First, your crimes were against an infinite God. Thus, the punishment is also infinite. Second, it’s likely that during your punishment, you won’t stop sinning, so you keep extending your sentence indefinitely.
- The good news is one of God’s characteristics is justice, but that’s not his only characteristic. Love is another. Since God is love, he has come down from the judge’s seat—to sit next to you on the defendant’s seat—and has volunteered to suffer your punishment. He did that as Jesus, when he lived a perfect life and suffered on the cross for all who did, do, and will believe in him;
God offers you peace today. Regardless of your crimes, no matter how great or how “small”, the offer is the same: Get the maximum sentence or accept the plea deal to be cleared of all charges. Do not step into to eternity as an enemy of the God who created time, space, and matter.
That is a fight you will not win. Get on your knees in humility, confess your sins to him, ask for mercy, receive it, and make him the lord of your life. He will liberate you from guilt and instill a supernatural joy unlike anything you have experienced!
Does this mean you’ll become better than everyone else? No, it means you’ve been forgiven of your past, present, and future sins. Does this mean you will become perfect and stop sinning? No, it means It means God will give you great love towards him and an earnest desire to please him. It means that as you advance on your Christian walk the amount of your sin will diminish over time, even though you may sometimes take a few steps backward, before going forward again.
Don’t put off this decision. You do not know when your last breath will be. Death comes suddenly for most of us. Then, it will be too late.
This is what God is offering you now. It’s your move.
More sermons and Study Guides available at www.ReformedPreacher.com
I made this document as a study guide for a small bible study group that I host. Feel free to use this document in your own group studies, but kindly provide a link back to this page.
Chapter 6 from Tim Keller’s book, Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, served as inspiration for this document and some of the material has been derived from it. The full book is highly recommended for deeper study: https://www.amazon.com/Reason-God-Belief-Age-Skepticism-ebook/dp/B000XPNUZE/
Various questions, especially the ones about the inability of science to disprove miracles, were derived from “Tactics” by Gregory Koukl: https://www.amazon.com/Tactics-Game-Discussing-Christian-Convictions-ebook/dp/B001NLKXIO/
Various text bits about life appearing by chance was quoted from Not a chance—God, science, and the Revolt against Reason by R.C Sproul: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GHXRN36/
5 Christian Smith, ed., The Secular Revolution: Power, Interests, and Conflict in the Secularization of American Public Life, University of California Press, 2003, as quoted in The Reason for God, p. xvi, location 4093/4761.
10 Most likely, Jesus was born around years 3 to 7 A.D. https://www.britannica.com/topic/biblical-literature/The-life-of-Jesus
14 Little, Paul E., Know Why You Believe, p. 158.
15 https://www.britannica.com/science/Earth-sciences/Radiometric-dating; https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/radiodating_01; http://www.geologyin.com/2015/02/radiometric-dating.html
16 Woodmorappe J., Billion-fold acceleration of radioactivity demonstrated in laboratory, TJ 15(2):4–6, 2001.
18 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.13182/NT16-98; http://www.cs.unc.edu/~plaisted/ce/dating2.html; https://answersingenesis.org/geology/radiometric-dating/key-flaw-found-radioisotope-isochron-dating/
24 http://www.academia.edu/14282829/Recent_Problems_with_Dendrochronology; https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/radiocarbon/article/dating-anomalies-in-the-archaeology-of-the-7th-century-bc/8AFA36719859B587B995AF6D248DE83C
25 T. A. Thompson, G. S. Fraser, and G. Olyphant, Establishing the altitude and age of past lake levels in the Great Lakes, Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs 1988, 20(5) p. 392
26 Säve-Söderbergh and Ingrid U. Olsson, C14 Dating and Egyptian Chronology, in Ingrid U. Olsson (ed.) Proceedings of the Twelfth Nobel Symposium, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc, and Stockholm, Almqvist & Wiksell.
28 Stephen Jay Gould, “Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?” Paleobiology, 6(1): 119-130 (1980).
30 https://psmag.com/education/scientists-are-wrong-a-lot; https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124
33 https://www.nature.com/articles/465400f; https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21028133-000-rewriting-the-textbooks-noahs-shrinking-ark/
34 https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0096424; http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014PLoSO…996424V
35 https://www.britannica.com/science/big-bang-model; https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/origins-of-the-universe/
41 https://www.jstor.org/stable/591463; https://www.amazon.com/Space-Time-Matter-Motion-Force/dp/1162826541
42 Sproul, R. C.; Mathison, Keith. “Not a Chance” (Kindle Locations 229-231)
45 A summary based on: http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20161026-the-secret-of-how-life-on-earth-began
51 https://evolutionnews.org/2014/10/a_reader_asks_c/; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19557680; https://uncommondescent.com/darwinism/south-china-morning-post-challenges-darwins-theory/