There’s something to be said for short and sweet. Each of the following 10 clips is just 10 minutes or less, with some taking down evolution, some celebrating the Bible’s trustworthiness, and others exploring just how “fearfully and wonderfully” we are made (Psalm 139:14).
1. Our cells’ microscopic power generators – 3 minutes
2. Evolutionary “proofs” that actually show devolution – 1 minute
3. Mutations are causing us to devolve, not evolve – 2 minutes
4. Even the simplest cell is insanely complex – 3 minutes
5. Even a bird’s feathers are amazingly designed! – 2 minutes
6. An introduction to irreducible complexity – 4 minutes
7. Is antibiotic resistance evidence for evolution? – 6 minutes
8. Noah’s Ark – a real boat that was really big…and seaworthy – 10 minutes
9. Dolphins are designed to “see” and hear underwater – 4 minutes
One of the reasons history is exciting is that you often find others who have dealt with similar questions to the ones you’re dealing with. No, they’re not usually identical questions, but they are sometimes similar. When it comes to these similar questions, it’s also interesting to compare the answers given in history to the answers we come up with today. Here at Creation Without Compromise we’re especially interested in the questions and answers that have to do with the relationship between science and Scripture.
Today’s venture into history takes us to the late 1700s. By and large Reformed theology had been devastated by philosophical influences associated with the Enlightenment. There were only a few holdouts who could be described as confessionally Reformed and orthodox. One of them was Bernhard De Moor (1709-1780).
After serving for several years as a pastor, De Moor took up a position as professor of theology at the University of Leiden. In this capacity, De Moor lectured at length on a textbook published by his teacher and friend Johannes à Marck. These lectures were later published in massive seven-volume set with the catchy title, Commentarius perpetuus in Johannis Marckii Compendium theologiae christianae didactico-elencticum. De Moor’s book is regarded as the high water-mark of Reformed orthodoxy. It was a comprehensive overview of Reformed theology as it stood at that time.
Dr. Steven Dilday has taken on the massive task of translating De Moor’s magnum opus into English. He has been making it freely available online here. He began in late 2012 and, at this moment, he is currently in chapter 2. This is obviously going to be a project that stretches over many years!
One of the topics dealt with in chapter 2 has to do with the relationship between science and Scripture. I would like to briefly survey what De Moor writes on this. Here we can observe a Reformed theologian from about 200 years ago dealing with questions similar to what we face today. If you’re interested in reading the English translation of Dr. Dilday for yourself, the topic begins at this blog post. But I think you will find my summary a little easier reading…
Broadly speaking, De Moor is dealing with Scripture in chapter 2. In section 21, he begins by noting that the Bible does have a primary subject: true religion. The Bible is mainly about “the right manner of coming to know and of worshipping/serving God for the salvation of man as sinner and the glory of God…” However, Scripture does also speak of other things related to this primary subject. These other things include natural, historical, and genealogical matters.
From there, section 22 of chapter 2 deals with the fact that Scripture speaks truly. De Moor insists that God’s Word speaks truly about all things, including natural things. This is directly connected to the fact that the One who inspired these writings is the Spirit of Truth.
Here one has to remember that De Moor is commenting or lecturing on a textbook of Johannes à Marck. De Moor mentions that à Marck points out an alternative hypothesis, namely that “Scripture in natural matters speaks according to the erroneous opinion of the common people.” The philosopher Baruch Spinoza advocated this position, and so did theologian Christoph Wittich. De Moor also notes that the English theologian Thomas Burnet took this position in regards to what Scripture says about creation and the Flood. Just prior to that, he also points out that this was the view of Balthasar Bekker (1634-1698), a Dutch theologian heavily influenced by Cartesian rationalism.
Now I want to pause here for a moment and mention something important about Bekker. Bekker argued the hypothesis mentioned by De Moor in relation to demons. Specifically, Bekker taught that the angels (including demons) are not real, but the good angels in Scripture merely speak metaphorically of God’s omnipotence. Bekker also taught the Eve was not tempted by a literal snake in the garden, nor was Christ literally tempted by Satan – it was merely a dream. At issue was Bekker’s way of interpreting Scripture. Dutch theologian Wilco Veltkamp has written a dissertation which delves into this. In a December 2011 article in Nader Bekeken(see here), he explained the connection between the hermeneutics of Bekker and that of theistic evolutionists today. The connection is a refusal to start with the authority of Scripture and submit to Scripture through to the end of an issue.
Going back to De Moor, this hypothesis gets several points in response, beginning with the observation that its foundation is preconceived human opinion rather than Scripture. De Moor points that the Bible was inspired in all things by the Spirit of Truth. Scripture calls God the God of Truth. This hypothesis makes him a liar. Moreover, God is omniscient and he knows that of which he speaks. He would also never deceive us or leave us in error. If this hypothesis were true, De Moor writes, we are at liberty to interpret Scripture as we please and there would no longer be any certainty as to what it actually says. De Moor quotes Augustine as he insists that none of the canonical writers erred. He finishes responding to this hypothesis with a reference to article 5 of the Belgic Confession, “We believe without any doubt all things contained” in these canonical writings.
De Moor then adds some nuance to the discussion. He notes that while the Holy Spirit “never speaks according to the errors of the common people,” he can accurately relate errors made by people. Further, De Moor acknowledges that Scripture does sometimes speak according to external appearances. For example, the Greek in Acts 27:27 literally says that the sailors with Paul suspected that some country was “drawing near to them.” Of course, the land wasn’t approaching the ship, but it is common to speak in that fashion and no one errs in so speaking.
There is one more objection that De Moor addresses – this one also comes from Spinoza. It’s one that is still trotted out today, albeit in a different form: Scripture is not designed to teach us concerning natural matters or science. Instead, the intent of Scripture is to make people obedient. Today’s version usually refers to faith or salvation rather than obedience. But certainly we do hear today as well that the Bible is not a “textbook for science” and such things. How does De Moor respond? He affirms again the primary purpose of Scripture is to teach true religion. However, that primary purpose does not exclude subordinate ends such as teaching people the magnificent natural works of God. One does not rule out the other. Finally, it would out of place to suppose that the Holy Spirit would use errors to carry out his purposes. He would never give anything contrary to the truth – it would be out of character for him.
De Moor concludes this section with an intriguing reference to an Order of the States of Holland and West-Friesland, dated September 30, 1656. This order actually prohibited the interpretation of Scripture by nature, rather than the other way around. In other words, at one point there was Dutch legislation maintaining that Scripture is to be the lens through which we interpret nature. De Moor deems this legislation “altogether pious.”
It’s important to remember the era in which De Moor lived – it was the heyday of Enlightenment rationalism. The Bible was under attack by those who said that it could stand in the face of reasoned scrutiny and scientific developments. Intelligent people could not take the Bible seriously at face value. In that milieu, De Moor stood for the absolute authority of the Word of God. He promoted confidence in the infallible and inerrant Scriptures, also when it came to the relationship between Scripture and science. He was not a rationalist – no, he was addressing rationalism and doing so on the basis of Scripture. Those promoting theistic evolution today, especially in Reformed churches, need to ask themselves whether they are carrying on the heritage of theologians like De Moor or betraying it.
Blaise Pascal once quipped that he had written a long letter because he hadn’t had time to write a short one. In this booklet it is evident that authors John Byl (who blogs on evolution and creation at Bylogos) and Tom Goss put an enormous amount of time and effort to boil down the key issues of the origin debate.
In just 42 pages they gave an overview of:
the difference between historical and operation science
why secular scientists deny miracles as a matter of dogma
why many professing Christian scientists do, but shouldn’t, deny miracles
the basics of materialism and naturalism
what the various origins positions are
why Christianity is incompatible with any form of evolution
how dating methods can be unreliable
what books would be good for further reading
And that isn’t even all of it!
Both authors are professors, and one, John Byl, is Canadian Reformed. He has his Ph.D in astronomy, and if this slim book has you ready for more, then you’ll want to take a look at his larger and more comprehensive God and Cosmos: A Christian View of Time, Space, and the Universe. But this smaller book, at just 42 pages, is an ideal size to give to any university student, or anyone looking for an introduction to the origins debate. You won’t find any better!
The book concludes with Resource Pages that list two dozen books – these are the very best books on various aspects of the origins debate. So not only is this is an excellent introduction, it also points you to where you can go for much much more.
You can pick up a copy – or two or three (these would make such a great give away!) – at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
A NEW BOOK EXPLAINS WHY DOUBTING DARWIN
IS A MATTER OF COMMON SENSE
by Jon Dykstra
There’s no shortage of books poking holes in evolution, but books that blow it up are more rare. But even among the second sort Douglas Axe’s Undeniable is special – he explains why evolution isn’t merely wrong, but is, in fact, so completely inadequate an explanation for life’s origins that even children can see through it.
In Romans 1:20 God tells that through His creation He has made His presence known to all – none have an excuse. So it shouldn’t surprise us that from the earliest age children intuitively disbelieve Darwin’s theory. Axe quotes Berkley professor Alison Gopnik speaking on the challenge for teachers of evolution:
“By elementary-school age children start to invoke an ultimate God-like designer to explain the complexity of the world around them – even children brought up as atheists.”
And it isn’t only children who see God behind creation. Trained, and evolution-professing, scientists also have problems denying what they intuitively know to be so. Deborah Kelemen, a psychology professor is quoted explaining:
“Even though advanced scientific training can reduce acceptance of scientifically inaccurate teleological explanations, it cannot erase a tenacious early-emerging human tendency to find purpose in nature.”
Or, in other words, even those who claim that everything came about without purpose or design have a hard time talking that way. They keep speaking about evolution as if it had intent.
Why is that?
It’s because it’s hard not to see how well crafted creation is. We’re confronted with the undeniable reality that the marvelous animals we see – from the salmon to the spider to the orca – are so amazing and polished and complete. When an evolutionist looks at an orca whale breaking out of the ocean surface – “five tons of slick black and white launching out of the water with implausible ease” – he has to profess that this wonder is merely the current manifestation of a creature that was radically different in the past, and will be radically changed in the future. They have to insist there is nothing especially whole, or finished, about how it is now. But we all know better. As Axe puts it, “some things are so good that they cannot be other than what they are.” An orca is not incomplete – it is a finished work of art.
This intuition is available to all. As he’s says elsewhere even a child can spots holes like this. For example, they know:
“The same instantaneous reasoning that tells us origami cranes can’t happen by accident tells us real cranes can’t either — not even in billions of years.”
ON WHY EVOLUTION IS A NON-STARTER
There has always been a gaping hole in evolutionary theory. Back in 1904, in his book Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation, a Dutchman, botanist Hugo De Vries, pointed out:
“Natural selection may explain the survival of the fittest, but it cannot explain the arrival of the fittest.”
It’s no different today:
“[Evolutionist Dan Tawfik’s] own diagnosis…is admirably frank: ‘Evolution has this catch-22: Nothing evolves unless it already exists.’”
As Axe puts it,
“What’s left of a theory of origins once it has been conceded that it doesn’t explain how things originate?”
ON WHAT EVOLUTION LACKS
Axe is a microbiologist, and as such has done research on the limits of what natural selection can do with enzymes. Try as they might, biologists can’t get innovation even on this tiny scale – enzymes will not, via random processes, come up with new abilities. And if evolution fails on this microscopic scale why would we think it can do bigger things?
“The claim that evolution did invent proteins, cell types, organs, and life forms is scientifically legitimate only if we know evolution can invent these things. Consequently our demonstration of evolutionary incompetence for an example of the least of these inventions – a new function for an existing enzyme – undercuts the whole project of inferring evolutionary histories. If nothing can evolve its way into existence, then nothing did.”
Evolution isn’t living up to its big claims. Axe gives an apt analogy:
“Imagine a group of people insisting that a certain man can jump to the moon. We, being skeptical, challenge this man to dunk a basketball, and we find that he comes well short of reaching the rim. When we publish our findings, we get lots of complaints, all of the kind ‘We never said he could dunk a basketball…or at least not that kind of basketball, on that rim.’”
Yes, we can see finches get big beaks, and then return to having small ones. We can see dogs diverge into any number of different sizes and types. Natural selection can improve an enzyme’s efficiency. But it can’t make anything new. As Axe puts it, “As a finder of inventions, Darwin’s evolutionary mechanism is a complete bust, but…it sometimes come in handy as a fiddler.”
So how did we get the amazing abilities we have? While evolution claims we came about by a unintelligent, purposeless process we all know that:
“Invention can’t happen by accident. Invention requires know-how, and there is no substitute for know-how…. What the inventor can do – seeing possibilities that are otherwise not there and seizing opportunities that only exist because they are imagined – cannot be done by accident.”
ON WHY THERE IS NO REASON TO THINK EVOLUTION CAN WORK WONDERS
Perhaps the most remarkable claim the Theory of Evolution makes is that this unguided, unintelligent, uninspired process managed to do what even our most brilliant engineers, scientists and designers can’t begin to do. At one point Axe compares one of the “more advanced products of human technology” with one of Creation’s simplest creatures.
“Tavros 2 was designed to conduct month-long missions in the Gulf of Mexico, measuring and reporting water depth and temperature. What makes this vehicle particularly sophisticated is that it operates autonomously, under the complete control of its onboard computer. Tavros 2 is programmed to rise to the surface when it needs a solar recharge, after which it dives to its previous location and resumes data collection.”
This is a remarkable machine, designed and created by some of the world’s most intelligent and clever people. But it pales in comparison to the common, tiny, cyanobacteria. Both are solar powered, but while the Tavros 2 “needs a solar collector the size of a coffee table,” its living rival “does very well with a collector roughly one-trillionth that size.”
“The contrast becomes even more extreme when we consider the manufacturing capabilities. Tavros 2 has none, whereas every cyanobacterium houses an entire manufacturing plant within its microscopic walls.”
Axe goes on for 9 pages giving an overview (only an overview) of how much more complex and incredible the lowly cyanobacteria is than the Tavros 2, one of man’s more impressive accomplishments.
So our best work, by our most brilliant designers, doesn’t compare to the simple cyanobacteria that evolutionists say came about through mindless, purposeless, mutation and selection.
This is ridiculous.
Evolutionists point to time as their theory’s savior – inventiveness on the scale of the cyanobacteria may seem impossible in the short term, but what if we add in countless trials and experiments conducted over millions of years?
What’s behind this objection is only another example of why even a child can know better than to believe in evolution. After all, from the earliest age we all know that, “Tasks that we would need knowledge to accomplish can be accomplished only by someone who has that knowledge.” Even if we grant time and countless trials we still know ingenuity – especially on the scale of living things! – can’t manifest itself. Creativity needs a creator. Inventions aren’t created by accident.
“The action of bulldozers moving junk heaps at the dump…may well cause a ball bearing to find a makeshift socket or a lever to find a crude fulcrum or a cable to wrap around a cylinder, but none of these simple arrangements do anything significant enough to rise above the junk. Not even on a trillion, trillion planets covered with junk would an accidental robot ever rise up and flee from the bulldozers, much less scurry around looking for parts to build a copy of itself.”
Axe set out to show that doubting Darwin is a matter of simple common sense, and he’s done a good job of it. This is going to be a pivotal book – the sort to get people riled up and talking for years to come.
Axe is an Intelligent Design proponent, not a creationist, but this is a book that creationist can embrace. His argument is that biology blows up evolution – to that we can all agree. Unlike most in the ID community, he isn’t hesitant about naming God as the Intelligent Designer – that comes out clearly in the last quarter of the book.
This is an accessible book for anyone who has any appreciation for biology. He’s written this for the non-scientist, and yes, there were a few spots where I found it tough slogging, but once I got through them the rest of the book was a breeze. I’d recommend this for anyone with an interest in biology and the evolution/creation debate – this is an exciting, and more than anything else, encouraging book. God has created all of life as a wonder beyond explanation! Axe wants us all to be confident that, no matter how much and how often mainstream science ridicules those who don’t believe in evolution, it is the Darwin’s doubters who are on solid scientific ground.
As Dr. John Sanford outlines in this presentation, there are two conflicting worldviews at battle in out culture:
1) we as a species are naturally going up
2) we as a species are naturally going down
The first is the theory of evolution: Mankind is supposed to the end result of a long process of beneficial mutations that changed us, improved us, from our origins as a single cell, simple organism, to become the incredibly complex creatures that we are today. We as a species are improving.
The second is the Biblical worldview. After the Fall into Sin we know that the world was put under a curse. Things started off perfect, but are broken now. We as a species, like all of creation, are breaking down.
So which is it?
Well, what Dr. Sanford explains is that the supposed driver of evolution – mutations – are hurting, not helping us. While an occasional beneficial mutation can happen, Sanford discovered that the rate at which we are mutating, from one generation to the next, is so rapid that we, as a species, are not long for this world. These mutations are accumulating like rust does on a car. Just as a little rust doesn’t harm a vehicle, so too a few mutations won’t harm our genome much. But rust spreading across a car will eventually cause the whole vehicle to fall apart, and in this same way accumulating mutations are eventually going to do Mankind in. Roughly 100 mutations are being passed on per generation – we, as a species are going down. We are slowly rusting out.
To find out more, watch this very intriguing 1 hour presentation. Or you can visit www.logosresearchassociates.org, a site run by Dr. Sanford and a number of other scientists. Who is Dr. Sanford? He is a geneticist, a former professor at Cornell University, and one of the inventors of the gene gun. He was once an atheist and an evolutionist, but after bowing his knee to God he first investigated theistic evolution, then Old Earth Creationism, and finally settled on Young Earth Creationism.
Noted American evangelical pastor, author, and activist Dr. Tim LaHaye died on July 25 at the age of 90. LaHaye was best-known for his Left Behind series of end-times novels. However, he was also involved in the political sphere, cooperating with Jerry Falwell Sr. in the establishment of the Moral Majority movement in the 1970s.
Far fewer people remember him as a fervent supporter of the biblical understanding of origins but he was that too. In September of 1970, LaHaye asked Dr. Henry Morris to join him in founding an institution which would come to be known as San Diego Christian College. The name of Morris will be familiar to many RP readers since it’s associated with the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). Originally a department of the San Diego Christian College, ICR has grown to become one of the world’s leading creationist ministries. In its obituary for LaHaye, ICR acknowledged the significant influence he’s had on that ministry throughout its existence.
While we can be thankful for his contributions to the defence of God’s truth about creation, we also have to acknowledge that LaHaye was, like all of us, a fallible human being. When it came to the doctrine of the end times (eschatology), Dr. LaHaye was a premillennial dispensationalist and this came through clearly in his Left Behind books. Premillennial dispensationalism teaches that Jesus Christ will come back before (pre-) a literal 1000 year-reign on earth. By contrast, most Reformed theologians today teach that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 is symbolically referring to the present reign of Christ. LaHaye’s eschatological scheme also makes a marked distinction between the Church and Israel, whereas Reformed theology insists that the New Testament church is the continuation of Old Testament Israel.
Although some Reformed believers were perhaps duped into thinking that the Left Behind series was an accurate, biblical portrayal of things to come, the reality is that these books do not stand up to the scrutiny of what we confess from the Scriptures in places like article 37 of the Belgic Confession. While the Left Behind series authored by LaHaye (with Jerry Jenkins) cannot be recommended at all, resources from the creation ministry that LaHaye helped found can be very useful, but have to be used with discernment. The Institute for Creation Research does not feature premillennial dispensationalism in its “Core Principles,” but it does appear in some of their publications, such as the Henry Morris Study Bible. It’s good to be aware that while ICR gets many things right on creation (like the late LaHaye) there are other important areas in theology where they are less reliable.
Dr. Georgia Purdom is a research scientist and speaker for Answers in Genesis. In this presentation, Dr. Purdom, who has her PhD in molecular genetics from Ohio State University, addresses the importance of the existence of a literal Adam and Eve. She then goes on to explain that the science of genetics is consistent with the existence of a literal Adam and Eve, who were the first two human beings, directly created by God.
Purdom begins by citing the views of several well-known Christian scientists who don’t believe that the traditional understanding of Genesis 1 lines up with scientific evidence. Francis Collins and Karl W. Giberson, for example, state that “literalist readings of Genesis imply that God specially created Adam and Eve, and that all humans are descended from these original parents. Such readings, unfortunately, do not fit the evidence, for several reasons.” They go on to assert that, “it is simply not reasonable to try to turn the brief comments in Genesis into a biologically accurate description of how humans originated.” It is impossible for Adam to have been created from “dust and God’s breath,” they state; nor is it feasible that Eve was actually created from Adam’s rib: “Human beings are mainly water, not dust, and there is no process by which an adult person can be made quickly from a rib” (The Language of Science and Faith, 2011).
Purdom also quotes Denis Alexander, who argues that “the disciplines of both science and theology should be accorded their own integrity. The Genesis texts should be allowed to speak within their own contexts and thought-forms, which are clearly very distant from those of modern science. We can all agree that the early chapters of Genesis exist to convey theology and not science.” According to Alexander, “the data are overwhelmingly supportive of certain scientific truths, for example that we share a common genetic inheritance with the apes.” What Christian scientists must do, Alexander claims, is “to treat both theological and scientific truths seriously and see how they might ‘speak’ to each other.”
Finally, Purdom quotes Peter Enns, in his 2012 book The Evolution of Adam, who argues that “the evidence points us clearly in the following direction: the early chapters of Genesis are not a literal or scientific description of historical events but a theological statement in an ancient idiom, a statement about Israel’s God and Israel’s place in the world as God’s people.” Enns goes on to write that it is not necessary for Christians to hold to the existence of a literal Adam and Eve, asserting that, “attributing the cause of universal sin and death to a historical Adam is not necessary for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be a fully historical solution to that problem.”
Purdom disagrees strongly with these conclusions, and spends the first half of this video dealing not with the interpreting the evidence of science, but with the teaching of Scripture. This is the great strength of her presentation – the fact that, despite her scientific specialization in the field of genetics, she begins with God’s Word, and draws her conclusions from that starting point.
Unlike Collins, Alexander, and Enns, Purdom understands the devastating results that denying Adam and Eve’s existence as actual human beings will ultimately have on the Christian faith. As Frank Zindler, editor of American Atheist Magazine, stated in a debate with William Lane Craig, “Now that we know that Adam and Eve never were real people the central myth of Christianity is destroyed. If there never was an Adam and Eve, there never was an original sin…” And if there never was an original sin, there is no need for a Saviour. If there is no First Adam, what are we to think of the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45)?
Only after discussing the necessity of Adam and Eve’s existence to the message of the gospel does Purdom move on to discussing the genetic evidence. It is to her credit that she does not draw unwarranted conclusions from the available data. She does not argue that genetic evidence proves the existence of a literal Adam and Eve. Rather, her thesis is that the evidence of genetics, far from disproving their existence, is actually consistent with their existence as the first humans.
I won’t go into the details of Purdom’s discussion of the evidence in this presentation. However, her conclusions show that many of the “assured results” of scientific inquiry are not nearly as assured as they sometimes claim to be. Peter Enns has made the claim that “The Human Genome Project, completed in 2003, has shown beyond any reasonable scientific doubt that humans and primates share common ancestry.” For those of us who aren’t “in the know,” who have little knowledge of the intricacies of genetics, let alone the findings of the Human Genome Project, statements like this can be troubling. But Purdom shows that “beyond any reasonable scientific doubt” is, to say the least, an overstatement.
I highly recommend this video without reservation, especially to high school level science students, or those who may be struggling with how to interpret and understand the claims that are being made about the current scholarly consensus, and how those claims affect the Christian faith and the reliability of Scripture. Dr. Purdom’s methodology is sound, and she shows a clear understanding of the importance of our presuppositions, the foundations of our thinking, in leading us to draw conclusions from the evidence in creation. Her concluding statement is a radical rephrasing of a statement made by Dr. Bruce Waltke, and it’s a good one:
“We have to go with Scripture. We can’t ignore it. I have full confidence in Scripture, not in man’s ideas about the past. Only when we begin with the Bible’s authority can we rightly understand the science of the past and it is consistent with the existence of a literal Adam and Eve.”
The Genetics of Adam and Eve is available as a DVD ($12.99) or for download ($7.99) on the Answers in Genesis website. The presentation is 62 minutes long.