Historically, there are two main options—classic creationism and classic Darwinian evolution. Although it is important to know the distinctions within these two broad views, the man on the street and/or the student in the classroom is taught evolution as a fact and creationism as an anti-intellectual, nonscientific, religious crutch.
Now that we have surveyed the various views on life’s origins, let’s take a few moments to hear from a variety of experts who support various positions. I think you’ll be surprised by some of the current debates and thinking by Christians and non-Christians alike.
One biblical creationist writes,
The field of science is our human attempt to observe, understand, and explain what we see in the world around us. Scientific theory is observable, testable and repeatable. I want you to take a moment to imagine what it may have been like to witness the beginning of life and of the universe. The challenge remains that no one witnessed the moment of creation or the moment one organism evolved into another. We only see small changes, not large ones, and the changes don’t increase in complexity. It is important for us to understand that all the theories on origin are based on circumstantial evidence.
By contrast, evolution is taught as scientific fact, and scientists see its acceptance as part of their training. We have been taught in public schools and universities that it is the only option unless you are narrow-minded, anti-intellectual, and nonscientific. In other words, evolution is a proven fact. There’s science and intellect, then there are people who need supernatural, religious crutches to explain life.
If that sounds a bit strong, read the following four quotes that capture the mainstream view of evolution.
Our theory of evolution has become . . . one which cannot be refuted by any possible observation. Every conceivable observation can be fitted into it. It is thus “outside of empirical science” but not necessarily false. No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas either without basis or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems have attained currency far beyond their validity. They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training.3
One of the most famous and strongest spokesmen for evolution was Cornell University professor Carl Sagan. His book Cosmos remains one of the bestselling science books of all time. It was on the New York Times Bestseller list for seventy weeks. Sagan flat out states that evolution is a fact, not a theory.4
The renowned scientist Richard Dawkins has been another strong voice for evolution, and he says, “The theory of evolution by cumulative natural selection is the only theory we know of that is in principle capable of explaining the existence of organized complexity. Even if the evidence did not favour it, it would still be the best theory available!”5
Bill Nye, the science guy, is a favorite scientist and educator to students throughout the country. His award-winning PBS shows, TV appearances, videos, and books have increased his popularity. In one of his videos, he uses emojis to explain the theory of evolution. Evolution is “undeniable” and creationism “inane,” according to Nye.6
In recent years, however, classic evolution has been challenged as a result of scientific discoveries that undermine some of its most basic presuppositions.
Complexity of Life
The crux of the argument for both evolution and creation seems to rest on the idea of complexity of life. Evolution views the complexity of life as a result of billions of years of adaption and living things moving from simple to complex in order to survive. Creation views the complexity of life as evidence of an all-knowing Creator.
In 1984, three scientists named Charles B. Thaxton, Walter L. Bradley, and Roger L. Olsen, with doctorates in chemistry, material science, and geochemistry respectively, wrote The Mystery of Life’s Origin, the first comprehensive critique of chemical evolution. The results of their mathematical equations and chemical formulas raised serious questions about the feasibility of life starting through chemical reactions.
Dean Kenyon of San Francisco State University said the book was full of fresh ideas and original critiques of chemical evolution. He was puzzled that other scientists had not voiced similar criticism of chemical evolution. According to Kenyon, many scientists hesitate to admit that there could be problems within chemical evolution because it would open the door to the possibility of a supernatural origin of life.
It wasn’t that long ago Darwinian scientists would have never considered the validity of any book criticizing chemical evolution and advocating creation. Yet, the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine gave The Mystery of Life’s Origin high marks:
The volume as a whole is devastating to a relaxed acceptance of current theories of abiogenesis. It is well written, and, though technical, much of the book is within the reach of the informed non-scientist. The book apparently has been well received by many who are working in the field of abiogenesis, such as Dean Kenyon and Robert Shapiro. . . . This book is . . . strongly recommended to anyone interested in the problem of chemical and biological origins.
Scientists are looking at the facts and allowing what they find to change their worldview. Many are beginning to see a theory that’s been biased for years. The more scientists learned about DNA and the amazing intricacy inside a human cell, the more questions challenging evolution began to surface. Biochemist and agnostic Michael Denton said in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis that evolution’s intellectual foundations have been steadily eroding. Biology’s new findings are bringing us very near to a formal, logical disproval of Darwinian claims. Denton believes Darwin’s claim that all life evolved from one cell can’t be supported by evidence found in fossils, embryology, taxonomy, and molecular biology.
Nobel laureate Francis Crick proposed that the problems of life randomly originating on earth are so great that life must have arisen elsewhere in the universe and been transported here. Crick admits that his commitment to materialism and his hostility toward religion motivated him to enter his field of science. “I went into science because of religious reasons. There’s no doubt about it. I asked myself, what were the things that appear inexplicable and are used to support religious beliefs?” Then Crick sought to show that those things have a purely material foundation. His feelings toward religion led him to find scientific evidence to undermine religious belief. Fellow scientist Steven Weinberg confessed his hope that science would liberate people from religion and it became a motivating force in his life.
Can you imagine the courage it takes in today’s scientific community to support scientific research that doesn’t agree with Darwinian macroevolution? Those who take this stand may find it hard to be tenured in their universities or published in scientific journals, and yet this group of scientists is growing.
Swedish embryologist Søren Løvtrup, in his book Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth, wrote, “I believe that one day, the Darwinian myth will be ranked as the greatest deception in the history of science and when this happens, many people will pose the question, how did this ever happen?”10
I think it is important, as we examine this topic, that you are aware of some of the dissenting voices in the scientific community.
We need to be thinking Christians. The Bible commands us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our MIND (Luke 10:27). We need to learn how to think and follow God with our minds. Darwinian evolution is a faith construct, not a scientific fact.
People like to think they are objective, but no one is purely objective. We all have presuppositions. As followers of Christ, we have presuppositions that lead us to believe certain truths by faith and look at evidence through a particular lens. Others may have a presupposition that came from a lack of faith, or out of woundedness or bad experiences with God, church, and Christians. All of us view scientific data through our presuppositional lenses.
It is hard to admit that we have a bias and that we are all defensive to some degree. We want to defend what we’ve been taught; but let’s look at the two classic origin theories together and ask ourselves what we passionately believe to be true. What do the facts say? What presuppositions do I have? Am I willing to look at all the positions? As you read through the following series of questions, I encourage you to evaluate where you stand on creation and historic Darwinian evolution and why.
Ingram, Chip. 2017. Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
We have just completed a 6-Week Bible Study Lesson Series on Chip Ingram’s book, Why I Believe. It is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription plan. The idea is to invite each participant to purchase their own book and discuss it each week.
Why I Believe, Lesson #1
Chapters 1, 2
Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Did Jesus Really Die?
Why I Believe, Lesson #2
Chapters 3, 4
Why I Believe the Bible
Don’t Take My Word for It
Why I Believe, Lesson #3
Why I Believe in Life After Death
Why I Believe, Lesson #4
Chapters 6, 7
Why I Believe in Life Creation
Science or God?
Why I Believe, Lesson #5
Why I Believe in the God of the Bible
Why I Believe, Lesson #6
How is that Working for You?