Dr Bert Cargill, a senior scientist who is a Christian, addresses some key questions in the Creation – Evolution debate
1. Where did everything come from?
Some people say that over billions of years everything gradually evolved and improved. Through natural processes simpler things became more and more complex. Somehow life began and we evolved. It started with a big bang. They don’t know where that came from.
Others say that God created the universe, the world, and all it contains including the human race. That’s what the Bible teaches. Since creation, many changes have occurred in the environment. Because of this many living things have had to adapt to survive, while others couldn’t adapt and have become extinct, e.g., dinosaurs and dodos.
2. Is evolution a fact? Does it actually happen?
When living creatures adapt to changing conditions around them, it is often called “survival of the fittest” or “natural selection”. For example you get Brown Bears in the northern forests, and Polar Bears in the Arctic. Also by selecting parents we can get different breeds of dogs, and different strains of the same plant. These changes are often called evolution but more correctly they should be called adaptation. This happens, but only within a given species.
The theory of evolution, however, proposes that all species gradually evolved from much simpler ones, that adaptation within species eventually changed one species into other ones. But this has never been observed happening. It is not a fact but a theory, as proposed by Charles Darwin in his 1859 book The Origin of Species. Faster rabbits escape from predators like foxes, and the fittest survive, but they never become hares or greyhounds. They remain rabbits. Each species is unique and different from every other species because the genes of each are different and unique. Genes can be altered by mutations, but mutations usually damage the species, hindering its survival.
On the other hand we are told in the Bible that God created different species of all kinds of creatures. In many cases these original species have diversified into subspecies by natural selection, but new species have not evolved.
3. Do complex structures evolve from simpler ones by themselves?
Evolution requires this to occur from the beginning, but actually the opposite happens. When left to themselves complex structures decay or rot and break down. Simple systems do not by themselves become more complex and organised. Small molecules by themselves do not make larger protein molecules and living cells. Disordered systems only become more organised when some external intelligence acts on them. We find this out in everyday life when we find it’s so easy to make a mess but difficult to tidy one up. It is a fundamental law of science that structures and systems become less ordered and more chaotic as time goes on (Second Law of Thermodynamics - ‘entropy’ increases).
In the beginning God in His wisdom made organised structures which are gradually deteriorating.
4. How did life begin?
Evolution says that somewhere sometime long ago the first life-form appeared. It just happened. Evolution cannot explain how it happened. But life coming from non-life has never been observed - in fact science says it is impossible - the “Law of Biogenesis”. This unbroken law of science says that life can only come from previously living things.
The Bible tells us that the eternal God is the giver of all life, physical and spiritual. That fits the facts.
5. Is Evolution supported by the fossil record?
Many types of fossils are found in different rock layers, all of them with well developed features which are recognised in present day life-forms (e.g., fishes and ferns, bones and feathers). But ‘link’ or ‘half-way’ life-forms are never found. Evolution theory says many of these existed as one species changed into another. These ‘missing links’ are still missing - because they are not there! The fossil record does not support an evolutionary history of past ages, although you might be told it does. Also in what are said to be the oldest rock layers, the fossils are not really simple creatures as the theory requires - the trilobites, worms, etc. are already very complex.
Fossils are better explained by the action of a gigantic flood which drowned and suddenly buried the many types of creatures then alive in massive amounts of silt.
6. Is the earth billions of years old?
Some calculations have been done to find the age of the earth. For example, in some rocks radioactive uranium changes into lead at a known rate. From this rate, and measuring the amounts of these elements in the rock sample, its age can be calculated. In this calculation it is assumed that the rate has remained the same for all these billions of years, and that there was no product (lead) present at the beginning. These two assumptions are probably wrong! If they are, then the age of the rocks and the fossils in them could be much less than usually given. In truth, no one knows the actual age of the earth or the universe.
For evolution to occur, many millions of years are required. But such a long time actually allows natural systems to degrade not improve. We see this loss of biodiversity happening worldwide today. Extinction of species over centuries is a well established fact. Evolution of new species is an unproved theory.
7. What about the Big Bang?
Studies in astronomy have given evidence that the universe had a beginning – it did not always exist. It has been proposed that a gigantic explosion (“Big Bang”) started it billions of years ago, and that the universe is still expanding.
This is taken to mean that all the matter (material) of the universe was once contained in one tiny speck, and all its energy was also there, for in science matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed (First Law of Thermodynamics). But that is the problem! How can energy be created from nothing in the first place? What came before the tiny speck and the big bang? And don’t explosions normally destroy things, rather than create them?
Could it be that what we are seeing in the universe is the afterglow of almighty God’s creative acts?
8. Do all scientists believe in evolution?
No, many don’t. Some who have no religious faith have gone on record to state that evolution theory is all wrong. Others have admitted its weakness and noted its problems, yet won’t abandon it. There are also thousands of well qualified scientists today who are Christians, dedicated to the truth of the Bible, who have no hesitation in affirming that their science and their faith go together. They believe that God is our Creator and our Saviour.
9. So why is evolution such a popular idea?
You can see that evolution is contradicted by some laws of science. Also you know that everything we encounter has a cause, a designer, and a maker. Nothing is designed, caused, and made by nothing. It is not probable (likely to happen), nor reasonable (making good sense). So why do people believe in evolution?
It’s really because they do not want to believe in God! Maybe evolution has given a convenient excuse for people to do what they want and not have to answer to the God who made them.
The Bible says we must each give account of ourselves to God on the final judgement day. But the good news of the Gospel is that we can avoid the judgement by accepting Jesus Christ as our Saviour. He died on the cross to make that possible for each of us.
10. Is the Bible contradicted by science?
No! Although it was written long ago it does not contain any statement which is contrary to observed scientific facts. You cannot say that about other ancient writings. The Bible is not a scientific book to teach us about the material world. It has a spiritual message. But if that great “Book of Nature” and this Book of Spiritual Revelation have the same Author, they will agree - and they do. Much hard data from biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, and archaeology support what the Bible says.
It’s worth reading the Bible for yourself. Don’t accept other people’s opinions without thinking about them and testing them. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth.