Sarah was recently invited, along with two other scientists, to take part in a panel discussion for a group of mostly Christian students. After the main discussion, students were invited to submit questions via text message; there was very little time to address them, so only a few were answered. The questions were quite good, so over the next few weeks, Surak and Sarah will answer most of them here. All of the questions are listed in the Intro to this series. See also: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5; Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10.
How does evolution relate to the belief of a creator? And please address the time frame. / Please address the timing of evolution and the Bible. / How do you reconcile biologists teaching evolution and coming from apes with the creation story in Genesis?
There is no conflict between Christianity and science inherent in scripture or the theory of evolution. There are at least 26 scientifically testable statements in Genesis 1 about the origins of the universe as well as the origins and diversity of life. All 26 statements are consistent with modern science without any dodgy interpretations of the Bible or contortions of the science to fit religious beliefs. And, all 26 statements are in the correct order according to modern science. See here for a detailed scientific explanation of this.
At the time of Darwin, there was a serious conflict between the Christian belief in a created universe and the scientific consensus of the time that the universe was eternal. That conflict was resolved in favor of the Christian view when big bang theory prevailed in the 1960s, because the basic premise of this theory (very simply stated) is that our universe had a beginning and came into being out of ‘nothing.’ Taking this one logical step further, the fundamental scientific concept of cause and effect requires something outside of and greater than (super-) our material world (-natural) capable of causing the universe to come into existence. In other words, based on the best evidence available, the supernatural must be part of the scientific discussion. Evolution cannot be isolated from consideration of the supernatural since everything biological is made of the stuff that makes up the universe.
In regard to evolution specifically, the Genesis account of creation lists several stages in the development of life on earth: vegetation, animal life in the oceans, flying creatures (winged insects), great sea creatures, life forms that crawl on land, every species of winged creature, land animals which became livestock (mammals), and finally man. There can be no doubt that this indicates a scriptural acceptance and understanding of a progression in the development of life. It is also important that this order of events conforms to the fossil evidence. So, there is no conflict about the fossil evidence between Judeo-Christian scripture and the theory of evolution.
There is a seemingly insurmountable disagreement between scripture and science in terms of the time it took for life to be created. The Bible says that all of creation took just six days. Science provides abundant and convincing evidence that this is absurd. As a result, the notion that the amazing diversity of life was accomplished in a few days is widely ridiculed in scientific circles as a silly and hopelessly unscientific myth of an ignorant ancient people. But, scientists, having lost one great argument with scripture, should have been somewhat humbled and exercised more care in their criticism of the Bible.
A continued lack of humility did in fact set Darwinists up for another scientific fall. There was something else the great minds of the mid-19th century were not aware of besides the big bang—relativity. In all the years since Einstein proposed his theories of relativity, only one man had the insight and ability to use Einstein’s first great achievement to gain a deeper understanding of scripture. Physicist and theologian, Gerald Schroeder, found, through a skillful and honest reading of Genesis coupled with a scientist’s understanding of Einstein’s relativity, that the six-day account of creation does not deserve the ridicule it has received for so many generations.
The first clue to this has always been available to anyone with an open mind. According to Genesis 1:2, for the first two days of Genesis “The earth was without form.” The Earth was not formed until the third day. Since there was no Earth for the first two days of the Genesis account, one has to wonder how time was being reckoned. The author of Genesis must have been marking time according to some other means than the time it takes the Earth to spin on its axis.
It is totally understandable why non-scientists failed to pick up on this clue. Einstein told humankind something hugely counterintuitive—that time passes at a comparatively different rate for every location in the universe. The commonly accepted age of the universe—10 to 20 billion years–is very likely true, but only from the perspective of Earth-bound beings looking back in time. The age of the universe and the passage of time from any other perspective would be very different—seemingly strange, but scientifically indisputable. The same is true of all evolutionary estimates of biological events; scientific observations that life emerged 3.8 billion years ago or that the dinosaurs were destroyed 65 million years ago are only valid from that same extremely limited perspective.
A combination of Einstein’s relativity, Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the universe is expanding, and the big bang theory provides scientists a different way of measuring time—a universal clock based on the frequency of the cosmic background radiation left over from the big bang. This is the only all-inclusive perspective available to us. When this ‘universal clock’ is applied to events since the big bang, something truly amazing is revealed—the six days of Genesis are literally true and completely compatible with modern science. See here for a rudimentary explanation of the science of the universal clock and its application to the six days of creation.
There are a number of clues which substantiate this claim. The earthly measure of time is not used in the Bible until after man is created. During the six days of creation, time is not tied directly to the events described. As Gerald Schroeder explains, events are listed and then the reader is informed that another day has passed. After the creation of Adam, time is directly linked for the first time to events on Earth. Another important clue is found in Psalms 90:4, “A thousand years in Your eyes are as a day that passes …” This is clearly an expression of the relativity of time by an ancient writer who had only scripture and revelation to go by.
The Bible’s use of universal time 3,000 years before humans discovered the relativity of time is far beyond remarkable. It is a scientifically inexplicable mystery equal to that of someone actually finding a genuine fossil of J. B. S. Haldane’s famous ‘Precambrian rabbit.’ Haldane used this amusing idea to make the point that one way to empirically falsify evolution theory would be to find a fossil so out of place (hence the rabbit in the Precambrian age) there could be no explanation for it within the bounds of Darwinism. This test can be applied to the Genesis account of creation; the ancient biblical use of universal time is so far out of place there is no scientific explanation for it. It could not have been a lucky or informed guess; it can only be the result of revelation.
Darwin himself said that a person could be a Christian and an evolutionist. Not only is there nothing in scripture or science that prevents a person from believing that evolution was the means by which God created the great diversity of life on Earth, there is evidence for it. Sean B. Carroll is a biologist and modern Darwinist at the forefront of a wonderful new field of study known as evolutionary developmental biology (or ‘evo-devo’ for short). In his fascinating book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom, Professor Carroll is compelled to use a word that seems completely at odds with the basic concept of evolution, and he uses it over a dozen times in the book.
The incongruous word he employs over and over again is ‘logic.’ You can find it on pages 8, 12, 26, 35, 54, 55, 56, 60, 60, 61, 106, 195, and 271. The word seems so inappropriate, because it is being used to describe something he and all other Darwinists believe is the result of a mindless, random process, even though logic is the product of a rational mind. Nevertheless, Professor Carroll can’t help using this ill-fitted word, because everything he observes in the operation of animal DNA is so elegantly intricate, efficient, and consistent—something like an unimaginably good computer program.
It is unfortunate that his mind and those of most of his fellow biologists are evidently so closed by the current scientific prejudice against the notion of God that it doesn’t occur to any of them what he is really saying in his hugely informative and enjoyable book: There is significant evidence of a great rational mind at work in the structure and workings of genes.