Editor's Note: The Does God Exist? program offers a $1,000 scholarship to any student wishing to continue education beyond high school. Our winner in 2007 is Bobby Biffel of Abilene, Texas. This is his winning essay which we hope our readers will find interesting. The material presented is Mr. Biffel's understanding, not those of the staff of this journal. Our treatment of this material is in our booklet God's Revelation through His Rocks and His Word available on our www.doesgodexist.org Web site.
During the Fifteenth Century BC. The Israelites roamed the wilderness of Sinai, surrounded by arid wasteland, sapped by the oppressive heat. Recently delivered from Egyptian slavery, they head to the land promised to them. However, their newly bolstered faith and unshakable elation slowly starts to drain away as they steadily face one obstacle after another; everything from starvation and thirst to unprovoked attacks by numerous desert tribes. They continuously cry out. God hears their prayers and delivers them each time. Yet, despite His many saving miracles the Israelites are still not fully convinced of God's power. A stiff-necked people, they are close to giving up. At one point, God instructs the prophet Moses to begin scribing the book of Genesis. Among other things, this writing contains God's account of how He created all things by the power of His Word: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Such an act no other man or god can claim. In a way Genesis provided the faith the Israelites needed to overcome their struggles and finally enter the Promised Land. As Christians today we draw upon these same words to support our faith and overcome our own obstacles.
This simple text, written in archaic times without the benefit of modern sciences, is astounding in its truths regarding God's Creation of all things.
A Different View
About 4.5 Billion Years Ago. A slowly cooling earth is surrounded by burning red skies. Sporadic lightning crackles with quick precise strokes through thick viscous black clouds into an atmosphere full of unbreathable, deadly gases. A mixture caustic enough to slough the skin from your body like wax from a lit candle. Thunder booms across wind swept plains of sand and rock, void of vegetation, to shatter against huge jutting stone mountains. Everything is awash in the sickly, sporadic light of a weak young sun. Dark turbulent seas bubble and spit like a pot of boiling mud, and in the midst of all this chaos, remarkably, individual chemicals devoid of intelligence or understanding come together ... to form life. As scientists today we draw upon these hypotheses to ease our conscience and satisfy the curiosity of our existence.
This theory, compiled over years of hard work and study by scientists of all fields, is astounding in its message regarding the evolution of all things.
The above examples illustrate two of the most popular theories concerning the beginning of life. The theory of Creation, that God created the heavens and the earth and all living things in six days about 6,000 years ago, and the theory of evolution, that the universe, the earth and all living things were begun by a series of chance events.
The debate over creation and evolution has existed throughout recorded history. The controversy is now at its apex. Both theories alternate in popularity, neither gaining an edge over the other. Which are we to believe?
Some, like Oxford professor Richard Dawkins, a passionate proponent of evolution, believes "that faith is an infectious disease which spreads intolerance and conflict."1
Others, like Oxford professor Alister McGrath, believes in Creation and claims "evolutionary theory leads inexorably to a godless, purposeless world."2
The controversy between creation and evolution is not just something debated around the flowing lawns of the Oxford University campus, it is a potentially damaging conflict waged across the globe.
What is the truth? Who do we believe? Faith or scientific fact? Do we have to shun God to pursue scientific thinking? Should we denounce science to be true to our faith? We are led to believe we should choose one or the other.
Maybe there is another option: It's possible that these separate views of the creation of life are no more than an overblown ideological conflict. Just two claims based more on matters of pride than on an actual marshaling of the facts--for if we allow the whole of the facts to speak for themselves we'll see that science and the Bible completely coincide.
In regard to Creation. The Creation, the heavens and the earth, and all living kinds, contained within Genesis is sequentially correct with what scientists have learned up to today! In other words, if science's current views are right either Moses was an extremely precocious individual or he was divinely guided, a true prophet of a true God.
To put the seemingly fortuitous writing of Genesis into perspective, the sciences required for Moses to make such accurate claims concerning the Creation would not begin to be invented for about 3,000 years. For example: the microscope was not invented until 1590; the scientific method, or the process of gaining knowledge through experiment analyzed inductively, was not formulated until 1620; modern chemistry--1661; the science of archeology was not developed until 1870; and carbon-14 dating was not discovered until 1947.3 All facets science used to determine, and unwittingly prove, the sequence of the beginning of life as revealed in Genesis.
In regard to Evolution. It was in the 1920s that a biologist by the name of Alexander I Oparin claimed to have real scientific evidence against biblical creationism. Oparin argued that life had arisen by natural physical means here on earth and not by Divine Creation. He presented his argument in his book Origin of Life in 1936 and the primordial soup theory was born. A theory that at its base suggests all life was a beneficial accident that started with a loose collection of chemicals and eventually evolved into what we see (and are) today.
In 1952 Stanley Miller attempted to reproduce this perceived state in a laboratory. He introduced a combination of hydrogen, water vapor, ammonia, and methane into an apparatus of tubes and beakers to recreate the primordial atmosphere. (We know that the primordial atmosphere did not consist of these gases. He based his mixture on a matter of faith.) Miller cooled one of the tubes to create condensation and added a spark discharge to simulate lightning. One of the beakers held liquid and underneath this he added heat to simulate evaporation in the ocean.
After a week with this cycling setup, surprisingly, Miller found a large amount of two types of amino acids floating in the tank bottom. Amino acids are a part of protein, which are the basic building blocks of life. However, despite this apparent proof that life could have formed through a mixture of chemicals, Miller could get no farther, life never spontaneously sprang into existence. Miller published his results and many other scientists tried to improve on the experiment. None of them reproduced life, or even came close! Eventually, in 1990, after 40 years of trying by many different scientists, the leading primordial soup theorist, Gril Ponnamperma, a lab director at the University of Maryland, commented, "God must be an organic chemist."
As we will see, Oparin's theory for how life had arisen could be
correct,--but, to the chagrin of many, his claim it was proof against
Creation is no proof at all. Though not advocating biblical
creationism, the physicist and writer, Paul Davies, once asked, "How
can a collection of chemicals form themselves into a living thing
without any inferences from outside?" Indeed.
There is another view. "Of the millions of species that have lived upon the earth, the Genesis account describes a very few. The whole history of this planet is described in 31 short verses of Genesis 1. The Bible's purpose (in this matter) is to say that God created it all--not how or when. ... We would be amiss to expect Genesis 1:1 to say 'In the beginning God synthesized deoxyribonucleic acid by the dehydration and the polymerization of poly peptides. ...'
Who would have understood that in 1500 BC, much less today?"4
Can Science and the Bible Agree? What if God's purpose is not to state how life came into existence, but merely to state that He created all things? As previously mentioned, Genesis accurately provides the sequence in which life was created and appeared on the earth, something it has taken science over three millennia to adopt and confirm through scientific study. We will briefly compare this possibility section by section, combining beliefs of both theories:
Genesis 1, verses 1-8. It could be summarized as follows: The earth was without form and void. It existed as a cloud of cosmic dust and elements floating in the inky blackness of space before being pulled together by the force of gravity to form our earth. The atmosphere was a disaster, full of noxious vapors so thick the sun could not be seen through it. However, as the dust settled and the cloud cover became less dense, the light of the sun shined through. Finally, the earth's crust rose from the oceans and the first life came into being. This beginning could have taken millions of years.
Genesis 1, verses 10 and 11. We are told plants were created, specifically, three types: grass, herbs, and flowering tree. According to any biblical concordance the actual Hebrew word translated grass means moss, algae, or lichens. Not the grass growing in your front yard. Science has now determined that one of the first forms of life on earth was a type of blue-green algae named cyanobacteria. This algae fed on light and gave off oxygen as a waste--paving the way for breathable atmosphere. Later in the Creation and scientific cycles herbs appear and then the flowering tree--just as stated.
Genesis 1, verses 20 and 21. Introduce the first animals created, which were water creatures and then fowl of the air. Science inadvertently verifies this with the announcement that the first living animals were a variety of types of marine creatures; some were called trilobites. According to science these animals first appeared and were followed by other sea creatures and eventually amphibians and reptiles. Birds were the first warm-blooded animals to be created.
Genesis 1, verse 24. Introduces the creation of mammals, believed by science to appear late on the stage of life.
Genesis 1, verses 27 and 28. Last, we come to man. The start of man is a whole other arena of conflict between science and the Bible--however, both disciplines agree man was the last to appear on the scene. Currently, there are several scientific theories concerning man's origins and appearance on earth. In time it is possible science will discover the true origin of man, and true to science, update the current theories.
What is important is the fact that the sequence of the types of life that appeared on earth is exactly the same between the two disciplines. So why is there such conflict between the groups?
Conclusion. Ironically, science actually evolves more than the evolution some claim to be true. Each field of science is relatively new in comparison to God's Word and each branch of science is constantly changing and updating its theories as discoveries are made. For example: the time frames presented to us by science are not irrevocable, but are merely their "current" best guesses based on available technique. (Throughout history, science has determined the age of the earth anywhere from thousands of years to millions and has now currently been placed at billions.) That is the nature of science: ever changing and evolving.
On the other hand, the Bible does not literally state when the earth and its life were made, or exactly how. God only tells us that they were. What the book of Genesis is really about is that God created everything, and He created man special in His image. Whether the earth was created 6,000 years ago or 4 billion is not an issue central to God's message.
Where does this leave us? Do we devote ourselves solely to creation or evolution, or can we combine the two? Is the third theory as presented here correct? Maybe, maybe not. What it does claim, though, is God as the Creator of all things and science as a tool to hopefully better understand the universe God has created for us.
In this age, with a plethora of evidence at our disposal, there is no excuse not to find the truth for ourselves. There is no reason to blindly follow or attack one group or the other. All of us are free to reach our own conclusions. Let us carefully consider all of the evidence without prejudice or influence. Science and the Bible do coincide; any conflict is in our interpretation.
To borrow words from the Apostle Paul that we can all agree with, "study to show thyself approved" (2 Timothy 2:15).1. The Spectator, January 14, 2006, page 24.
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