Sermon for Sunday May 27th, 2012
How Can I Believe?...The Conflict regarding the Origin of Life by Scott Kircher
How can I believe…the conflict regarding the Origin of Life
The Bible …best accounts for the Beginning of Life
Evolution says, “In the beginning, We don’t know”
Creation says, “In the beginning, God created”
…best accounts for the Development of Life
Evolution says life developed over billions of years
Creation says life developed over 6 days
…best accounts for the Variety of life
Evolution says the variety of life is due to new genetic information
Creation says the variety of life is due to loss of genetic information
We are back into our Godquest series this morning. In this series, we have been seeking to answer questions that people who struggle with Christianity and even within Christianity ask. The point of the series is to not only answer these questions, but to help those who know Christ to walk more assuredly in the faith and to help you be able to answer these questions for others who will never darken the door of a church, but that the Lord will lead across your path.
So far in this series, we have talked about
How we can know God exists
Why we can believe the Bible to be God’s word
Why we can believe in a good God even when there is suffering.
This morning we are going to deal with an issue that everyone is challenged with at some point, whether it is in biology class, or just in what society seems to take as fact.
And that is
How can I believe in Christianity when Science and the Bible seem to contradict each other regarding the origin of life?
This is basically the seeming conflict between creation and evolution.
This morning, we are going to begin with the biblical account of the origin of life.
It is found in Genesis 1.
We are going to start in verse 20.
In the first 19 verses, The Bible describes God’s creation of the universe and the world as we know it.
And then it goes on to describe the origin of life from the Bible’s perspective.
Let’s read Genesis 1:20-31, and see what the Bible says about how life began.
20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day.
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.
Now this account of the origin of life, where God is the creator of every living thing according to its kind, was the predominant view of how life began up until about 150 years ago.
It was then, in 1859, that Charles Darwin published his book, The Origin of Species, and the theory of naturalistic evolution of life began to be believed by some and as time went on, more and more began to believe this theory.
Now understand this. Naturalistic evolution and the creation account are not the same story told in 2 different ways. They are very different.
My question is this, though. We all see the same facts. We have the same evidence. How can we arrive at these 2 different viewpoints given the same facts to look at?
I will tell you that it is because of the particular worldview that a person holds.
What is a worldview?
A worldview is a framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it.
For example, if you hold a Biblical World view you believe God created the world and gives meaning to life. You will interpret evidence through this worldview.
Another, different worldview would be a naturalistic world view. Naturalism is a worldview that holds there is no need for God and all of life and life events can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws.
Those who hold a Biblical worldview examine the evidence and see how it fits into a worldview where God created the universe.
Those who hold a naturalistic worldview examine the evidence and see how it fits into a worldview where God did not create anything and everything came about naturally.
Now when evidence is found it gets interpreted through a person’s worldview. The particular worldview you hold matters, especially for things that cannot be proven in a lab. And how the planet went from a place where no living thing existed to a place teaming with living creatures of all kinds, cannot be proven or recreated in a lab.
We only have evidence that exists today, that we can see, that we must examine to make determinations in regards to the best conclusions that the evidence leads us to.
So this morning, we are going to look at some evidences and explanations regarding each theory and I am going to share with you why I believe that the Biblical account of creation best explains the origin of life.
First, I believe that
The Biblical View of Creation
Best Accounts for the Beginning of Life
Why do I believe that?
Well let’s take a look at what each theory says in regards to this.
Evolution Says, “In the Beginning, We don’t know…”
Andrew Knoll, a paleontologist and professor of biology at Harvard, and a supporter of naturalistic evolution says this regarding how life began.
The short answer is we don’t really know how life originated on this planet. There have been a variety of experiments that tell us some possible roads, but we remain in substantial ignorance.
Paleontologist Andrew Knoll, a professor of biology at Harvard and author of Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Life.
Accessed 5/16/2012 at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/evolution/how-did-life-begin.html
Another biologist, Diana Northup, says this
"Many theories of the origin of life have been proposed, but since it’s hard to prove or disprove them, no fully accepted theory exists,"
Diana Northup, a cave biologist at the University of New Mexico.
Accessed on 5/16/2012 at http://www.livescience.com/1804-greatest-mysteries-life-arise-earth.html
But even though they don’t know how life began, this is what they do claim to know about how it did NOT begin….by a Supernatural God.
An article on the American Geosciences Institute Website, a group that would believe and support an evolutionistic and naturalistic worldview puts it this way.
“When scientists do not understand how some aspect of our universe operates, they do not assume an unknowable supernatural cause. They continue to look for answers that are testable within the realm controlled by natural laws as we understand them at any given moment.”
Evolution and the Fossil Record –accessed on 5/1/2009 @ http://www.agiweb.org/news/evolution/natureoftheory.html
Basically, they are saying that if it cannot be explained, it simply cannot be explained yet, but it is definitely not because of God. And that is because the naturalistic evolutionary worldview begins with the assumption that there is no God.
This is what makes the debate of creation or evolution so difficult to overcome. And this is why knowing from what viewpoint a person is coming from is important.
So Evolution says in the Beginning, we don’t know.
On the other hand,
Creation Says, “In the Beginning, God created …”
We read that in Genesis 1 that God created all living things and He created human life in His image.
Can this be proven in a lab? No.
But no theory of the origin of life is going to be able to be proven in a lab.
But does the creation account for the evidence we find? I believe it does and we will look at more of this evidence in a moment.
But I want to ask this question.
Why would it be so irrational to believe that God created things?
Evolutionists don’t have an answer for how something non-living became living.
Something must have happened, Something amazing in fact.
I mean it is not like we see rocks come to life today, and as of now, Evolutionists do not have a better explanation. Why couldn’t this be a possibility?
This is where our worldview matters.
We saw several weeks ago that the evidence for the existence of God is displayed in creation through the design we see and the fact that there is a beginning to the universe, both of which argues for Someone who designed and began the universe as well as in our conscience through the moral code.
And we all agree that there was a time before life was on this planet and that life somehow came to exist.
Why would it be so implausible that if there is a God, then He created life?
Because if there is a God, then that leads to certain other implications, like our actions being judged. People don’t like to think they will be judged by anyone other than themselves. So, instead, people deny God and look for other explanations.
Or as Romans 1:21-23 says
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Some people think that denying God frees them, but all it really does is darken their hearts and enslave them to sin.
Well, that is great Scott, but just because the Bible says God created life does not prove that He did. “What about all the evidence for evolution?”
Ok, well, I believe also that
The Biblical Account of Creation
Best Accounts for the Development of Life
“What! Come on. The fossil record showing how life developed has got to be one of Evolutions strongest supports. How can I say that it supports the creation account?”
Evolution says, life developed over a very long time
Evolution says that life developed over billions of years.
The basic premise of the theory of evolution says that minor changes occurred over hundreds of millions and billions of years so that we see the major transitions of life over that length of time.
One of the arguments for this is the fossil record. The fossil record is the preserved remains of plants, animals and other living organisms in rock through history.
Now we have found lots of fossils, but the fact is fossils are rare.
Most living plants and creatures decay and vanish along with any sign of them.
That is because fossilization takes some very special circumstances.
According to fossils-facts-and-finds.com
“In the first step of fossil formation an animal or plant must die in water or near enough to fall in shortly after death. The water insulates the remains from many of the elements that contribute to decomposition.”
Accessed 5/18/2012 at http://www.fossils-facts-and-finds.com/fossil_formation.html
So any fossils that we have must have died in or near water.
Now as we go further and further down the strata, the rock formations where we find fossils, we don’t find much before what is known as the Cambrian Period.
But once we enter the Cambrian Era, there is what is known as the Cambrian Explosion.
In the first third of this era, we find nearly all major Phylum of life as we know it.
The fossil record goes from practically nothing to nearly everything in a very short time, at least according to the time frame of evolution.
To help you get some perspective on this, I want to read to you what a Time Magazine article had to say concerning the Cambrian Explosion.
SCIENTISTS USED TO THINK THAT THE evolution of phyla took place over a period of 75 million years, and even that seemed impossibly short. Then […]a group of researchers […] took this long-standing problem and escalated it into a crisis. First they recalibrated the geological clock, chopping the Cambrian period to about half its former length. Then they announced that the interval of major evolutionary innovation did not span the entire 30 million years, but rather was concentrated in the first third. "Fast," Harvard’s Gould observes, "is now a lot faster than we thought, and that’s extraordinarily interesting."
What Knoll, Grotzinger and colleagues had done was travel to a remote region of northeastern Siberia where millenniums of relentless erosion had uncovered a dramatic ledger of rock more than half a mile thick. In ancient seabeds near the mouth of the Lena River, they spotted numerous small, shelly fossils characteristic of the early Cambrian. Even better, they found cobbles of volcanic ash containing minuscule crystals of a mineral known as zircon, possibly the most sensitive timepiece nature has yet invented.
Zircon dating, which calculates a fossil’s age by measuring the relative amounts of uranium and lead within the crystals, had been whittling away at the Cambrian for some time. By 1990, for example, new dates obtained from early Cambrian sites around the world were telescoping the start of biology’s Big Bang from 600 million years ago to less than 560 million years ago. Now, with information based on the lead content of zircons from Siberia, virtually everyone agrees that the Cambrian started almost exactly 543 million years ago and,
even more startling, that all but one of the phyla in the fossil record appeared within the first 5 million to 10 million years. "We now know how fast fast is," grins Bowring. "And what I like to ask my biologist friends is, How fast can evolution get before they start feeling uncomfortable?"
Accessed 5/1/2009 at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,983789-4,00.html
Time magazine, When Life Exploded, Monday, Dec. 4, 1995, p.4 online
Evolution again was supposed to be small changes over very, very long periods of time hundreds of millions and billions of years. Now, even by their dating methods which have changed many countless times, you have single celled organisms to nearly every major animal family in a 5 to 10 million year period?
That becomes very hard to explain for a process that depends on hundreds of millions of years to take place.
Now compare that with what Creation says
Creation says, life developed over a very short time
The Biblical account says it happened over 6 days.
Let’s look at this and see how the fossil record fits into a creation account.
According to the Biblical account of Creation, there is no death until sin enters the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. Then death occurs, but there would unlikely be fossilization of these people and animals who die because they aren’t covered in water, except for some things that live in the water.
As man becomes more corrupt, God is displeased.
Now listen to what happens in
Genesis 6:11, 17-22
11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence…
17 I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish… 19 You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. 20 Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive…
22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.
Ok, so in the creation account, we find that God had created every type of animal and plant and human in 6 days or for our purpose in a very short time span.
If the creation account were true, we would not expect to find much in the way of fossilized records before this flood.
But with the flood, we would expect to find every major group of animal fossilized within a relatively small area of the rock layers because of the flood and the sediment that captured them and buried their dead bodies.
That seems correlate with what we find in the Cambrian period in the strata.
Nearly all major phylum of life found in a relatively short period of time.
I want to quote again Samuel Bowring from MIT from the Time article again.
"How fast can evolution get before they start feeling uncomfortable?"
Millions of years vs. 6 days?
Now some will say “how do you account for the discrepancy in years between what creation theory states and what evolution theory states.”
I will say this, we do not yet have all the answers, but notice how often science has changed dates significantly over time. They used to talk about 100’s of millions of years, and that got narrowed down to about 75 million years which seemed impossibly short, and then in the article I just read, they narrowed it down to 5 to 10 million years! It seems to change all the time.
Not only that, but the dating methods used start with assumptions of constant rates of decay and while things appear constant over 10’s of years, do they stay that way over 100’s or 1000’s of years?
Mount St. Helens – Faulty assumptions
Not only that, but some of the other assumptions of the dating techniques have also proved faulty as evidenced by dating some of the volcanic rock formations from the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980. Dating using those common methods seemed to indicate that those rocks formed since 1980 were from 350,000 years to 2.8 million years old!
"Is the Lava Dome at Mount St. Helens Really a Million Years Old?" by Keith Swenson
Also, I believe that our perspective can effect what we see. Does where we stand in time effect our perspective of what time really looked like long ago? Do 6 days as we know them look the same when we view them 1000’s of years from now?
Just like sound is different when it is moving toward you or moving away from you, does time look different depending on your perspective?
As another illustration of what I am talking about, consider these pictures.
This is a pretty cool chalk drawing.
Here is the same picture from the other side.
What you see in this picture is dependent on where you are standing relative to the picture.
Does our position in history effect what we are seeing in regards to time? Do things look longer or further away than they really are because our perspective in time alters our view?
I don’t know, but it would explain some things. Yes, I hold a biblical worldview and that colors my thinking, but as I have seen the dates that evolutionists offer up keep changing and the mistakes in dating that have been made and the faulty assumptions in regards to that dating, my worldview and beliefs do not fly in the face of the evidence that we have.
The Biblical Account of Creation
…best accounts for the Variety of Life
If we look around at the world we see all kinds of plants and animals.
In the animal kingdom, there are all kinds of families and species.
We have humans and dogs and cats and bears etc.
What can account for all this variety?
Evolution says the variety of life is due to a gain of genetic information
Remember that evolution says that everything started from nothing. And then from the something that was started by nothing, life somewhere evolved from non life.
This first life was simple and then became self replicating. Eventually there would be errors or mutations and evolution would take place and very complex life forms evolved through 100’s of millions of years.
That is a very basic analysis of evolution but I am sure that an evolutionist might explain it differently.
But the basic premise is no life, to simple life to more complex life as beneficial mutations were reproduced and handed down to the next generation of cells.
This next generation would have more genetic information than the grandparent cells as things like respiratory genes developed and genes for eyesight and reasoning.
Throughout the next billions of years, mutations would have resulted in continued increased genetic information so as to evolve into you and I, the extremely complex, multi celled organisms of today from the simple single celled organisms that sprung into being.
But in an article entitled – “DNA evidence for Evolution” biophysicist, Dr. Lee Spetner says this.
This is a problem for Darwinian evolution however, because “genetic mutation does not appear to provide a mechanism for that increase…Reptiles and birds are very different. Reptiles have no genetic information for wings or feathers. To change a reptile into a bird would require the addition of. . .complex information. . . .
I really do not believe that the neo-Darwinian model can account for large scale evolution. What they really can’t account for is the build up of information. . . .And not only is it improbable on the mathematical level, that is theoretically, but experimentally one has not found a single mutation that one can point at that actually adds information. In fact, every beneficial mutation that I have seen reduces the information,”
From all about Creation website article “DNA evidence for Evolution” – accessed 5/18/2012 http://www.allaboutcreation.org/dna-evidence-for-evolution-faq.htm
Mutations in DNA do make changes in animals, but there is no additional information added. And whatever changes have been shown in a lab or over time are all micro evolutionary changes, which Creation has never argued with.
We see changes within all kinds of animals. They grow bigger beaks or small beaks.
They have longer hair or shorter hair.
But what has never been shown is some animal, a fish perhaps, becoming another animal, a dog. Any changes that have taken place from natural selection or mutations in the DNA change an aspect of the fish, but it is still a fish and no new information has been added, but actually as you go down the chain, information has been lost.
And that lines up with creation theory
Creation says the variety of life is due to a loss of genetic information
Creation would say that all the different animals are were made “each according to their kind.”
The DNA between similar looking and similar functioning animals would be similar because they have a common designer.
Let me give a simple example.
All of you who have ever taken a biology class know about different genes.
Well let’s say a dog has medium length hair and mates with a dog that has medium length hair. Each of them has a gene for long hair and short hair.
They can produce offspring with short hair if each parent gives that gene, long hair if each parent gives that gene and medium hair if one parent gives a short hair gene and one parent gives a long hair gene.
So you have 3 types of animals that could be a result.
Well, let’s say through natural selection that dogs are split and moved to different locations. One very hot and one very cool.
Perhaps the dogs in the cold environment find it advantageous for the long hair and through natural selection mate and lose the gene for short hair because it is not passed down.
On the other hand, in the hot location, the dogs with short hair would be advantageous. Through natural selection, they may breed with other short haired dogs, thus over time, removing the ability to have dogs with medium length hair or long hair, which is again, a loss of information.
Now in different locations you have different looking dogs, and there DNA would be slightly different, but they both would have lost information in their DNA, not gained it.
And even though the dogs are different, they are both still dogs.
Well, ok, but how does Creation theory explain all the different types of animals and variety of life with in the species?
Well, in the Bible we find the people after the flood seeking to build a huge tower called the tower of Babel. The Lord ends up confusing their language and scattering them over the face of the earth. People who spoke the same language, through natural selection, hung out together, married, had kids, etc.
Since they no longer had the entire pool of genes to mate with, there was a loss of genetic information and this is how you get the great variety of people and animals we see today in different locations throughout the world.
As those people reproduce and animals reproduce, certain qualities are better suited to their environments. And through natural selection, they become dominant in their environments.
But this is not because of an increase in information in the DNA, it is due to a decrease of the information available.
That is micro evolution, changes within species. Dogs are dogs whether they are French poodles or Alaskan Malamutes or Siberian huskies.
Humans are human, whether they exhibit characteristics of Asian descent, European, middle Eastern, or African.
Every undisputed form of “evolution” that evolutionists claim is of the type that makes adaptations within a family of animal, not a change from one family of animal to another.
The Variety of life that we see is better accounted for through how God designed all of creation rather than a macro evolutionary model.
Now while these are a few of the reasons that I believe that the biblical account that God created us in His image is the best explanation of the evidence, it does not mean that we have all the answers. We will never have all the answers, and we should continue to seek answers and research origins.
But the fact remains that there is plenty of evidence that points to an eternal God who created the world and everything in it.
There are some who would prefer to remove God completely from how life developed and came to be, because if we could do that, we would not have to answer to anyone but ourselves. We could determine our own way of living without any “God” trying to tell us what to do.
But that is where we misunderstand God. He is not trying to control us with His word. He is trying to guide us into living and experiencing the very best life to His glory, and that comes from following Him and that requires that we are in relationship with Him.
Evolutionary theory says we have no purpose. We are here by chance and a random set of circumstances. The Bible tells us that God has given us purpose living for His glory and finding fulfillment in relationship with Him.
That is the full life and a life that is worth living!
It is my hope that those of you who have a relationship with Christ have been equipped to walk more assuredly and with greater confidence in your faith and be able to share with others this hope you have in Christ.
But maybe you are here today and have never entered into that relationship with the Lord and feel like you are living without purpose.
Enter into that relationship by receiving Jesus as your Savior.
The Bible tells us in Romans 10:9 - That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you would like to enter into that relationship with Christ, just do what the Bible says and confess your belief to the Lord about who Jesus is and that you believe He died for your sins and rose again to give you eternal life.