Dr. Doyle Holbird
2019 Synod Convention Essay
The Maker of Heaven and Earth: His Attributes are Clearly Seen
This year marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s seminal work “On the Origin of Species.” At the time he wrote it, few people realized that the hypothesis that Darwin proposed in this book would sweep across every continent and change the way that even most church bodies think about God’s role in creation. Most church bodies long ago dismissed any Biblical or scientific challenge to the theory of evolution, but for confessional Bible-believing churches it remains an active and important issue. God says in Romans that even His creation is a witness to Himself. This essay discusses that witness.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20
University of Chicago biologist Jerry Coyne has said that, “Evolution is the greatest killer of belief that has ever happened on this planet.”1 Most of us would probably agree that the theory of evolution is one of the great tools in the arsenal of Satan to prevent people from seriously considering the claims of Scripture. But it is also one of his tools to seduce students who come from conservative Christian families away from the faith. Below is a quote from another professor Dr. David Barash from the University of Washington. This is a part of “The Talk” that he gives his students every year to convince them that “science” has undermined Christianity as a viable way for “intellectually stable” individuals to think about creation.
The twofold demolition begins by defeating what modern creationists call the argument from complexity. … A few of my students shift uncomfortably in their seats. I go on. Next to go is the illusion of centrality. Before Darwin, one could believe that human beings were distinct from other life-forms, chips off the old divine block. No more. The most potent take-home message of evolution is the not-so-simple fact that, even though species are identifiable (just as individuals generally are), there is an underlying linkage among them literally and phylogenetically, via traceable historical connectedness.2
Professors like Barash are apologists for evolution, and they are at work in universities all over the U.S. to try and undermine the faith of the Christian students that attend their classes. These gentlemen and others like them are fond of saying that virtually all of the scientific evidence supports a godless creation of life, earth, and the universe. These militant atheists are certainly the most egregious examples of scientists who attempt to undermine the Christian faith. Other scientists, who might not be so militant, would promote the idea that while a god may indeed exist he really doesn’t have much to do with creation, except that perhaps he was responsible for starting the process of creation in some primordial way and that if he exists we couldn’t know it.
Some folks espouse the idea that God created through the process of evolution. These people are theistic evolutionists. Theistic evolutionists are sometimes Christians and those would be our brothers and sisters in Christ. But please don’t think that theistic evolution is a completely harmless idea. It can take several forms but most often it relegates God to a hapless bystander who can do nothing but watch as the creation unfolds much like the god of deists.
Some scientists who claim to be Christian are actually some of the most vocal when it comes to defending evolution (Kenneth Miller is one example). Others attempt to harmonize Scripture with evolutionary theory and downplay the discrepancies between them all the while ensuring that Scripture is not taken literally. A third group of scientists consists of people like myself for whom Scripture is authoritative and who do not believe that Darwin’s theory is true. We are the smallest in number but still include some very good scientists. If evolution is arguably the greatest killer of belief on the face of this planet, then trying to harmonize it with Scripture would not be prudent and it behooves us to know what it is and how to knowledgeably address it.
This essay is divided into four main parts. The first will detail several ways in which evolutionary theory differs from Biblical creation. The second will show that in spite of the fact that evolution has become the de facto explanation in science for how all living things came into existence, the evidence cited to support evolutionary theory need not be interpreted that way. The third will show that there is actually scientific evidence that militates against evolutionary theory. The fourth part will show scientific evidence that most Christians haven’t heard that actually affirms the Genesis creation account. My goal is that it will provide an explanation for why our belief in Genesis chapters 1–10 is not unreasonable. I hope that you will find it helpful or at least interesting. I should mention that I am a biologist and so most of the scientific evidence that I will be reporting will be biological in nature.
In this part of the essay I’d like to contrast what evolution teaches with what the Bible says so that we can see in general how much these two philosophies have in common.
To begin let’s define what we mean by evolution. Evolution itself simply means “change that occurs over a period of time.” According to this definition you and I evolve as we grow older. So do our loved ones and the world around us. But this is not the definition of the term “evolution” as it is used in science classes in high schools and universities all over the U.S. For the purposes of this talk, when I refer to evolution what I mean is something much more specific. What is meant is a concept that is sometimes called “neo-darwinism” or “neo-darwinian evolution.” It is more properly called the “Synthetic Theory of Evolution”3 or “the modern synthesis.” What the term evolution means most often in contemporary scientific usage is (the words in bold are considered to be the core of the theory):
The concept that populations of organisms are changing over time. And that all organisms on earth have arisen from a single common ancestor by a process of random mutation of genes and natural selection. This single ancestor has given rise to all the diverse living things that are alive today via descent with modification. The last common ancestor of all living organisms lived about 3.5–3.8 billion years ago.4
We should also define what is meant by natural selection. Sometimes it is called the survival of the fittest. But what it really means in common usage is that the organisms that are most fit will leave their genes in the most offspring. In short the most fit plants and animals are the ones that leave the most offspring. According to this view the biggest, baddest tiger in the jungle isn’t the most fit if he is sterile and doesn’t leave any offspring.
This theory of evolution says for example, that if a random mutation occurs in a gene that happens to increase the fitness of one member of a population. Because it is more fit, it will be more likely to survive and leave its offspring behind. These mutations in the genes of living things are the raw material of evolution. When a mutation occurs that helps an animal survive in its ecosystem better than others then natural selection will lock that gene into the population. This is a mechanical view of natural selection. If the gene is beneficial enough then it will, over a period of years, end up being present in every member of that population as the individuals that are born with the beneficial gene out-compete the ones that don’t. Now, because living things can’t tolerate massive changes in their genes all at once, evolution is necessarily very gradual and slow.
It is beyond dispute that organisms have changed over time. The real question is how much have they changed over time? And in what direction are they changing over time? There are two ways to understand evolution. They are Microevolution and Macroevolution:
Microevolution, refers to smaller evolutionary changes within a family, genus, or species. This kind of change happens. This ought not surprise Christians that God created tremendous potential for variability in the genes of animals. We can observe small changes sometimes in the wild or in laboratory experiments. An example of this genetic potential would have been found in the ancestor of dogs and wolves. Sometime after the time that ancient wolves left Noah’s ark people began to tame them. They began to breed out characteristics that made them poor companions, and the end result is the many breeds of dog that now exist. All of the characteristics (and maybe more) of all the breeds of contemporary dogs, from St. Bernards to English Bulldogs, were pre-existent in the ancestors that Noah took on the ark (with the exception of those characteristics that been degraded because of mutations). Those canines that Noah had on the ark were likely very similar to wolves. But all of these changes are to genes that were already present. No new genes have come into existence that we know of in any dog breed. All of these animals are still canines within the kind that God created. Once again, microevolution refers to small changes within a species and perhaps within a genus as well. Dogs are not a new kind of animal they are canines just like wolves.
Macroevolution focuses on change that occurs above the level of genus or family. It says that life began around 3.5 billion years ago when the first chemicals came together in a shallow tide pool someplace and over the last several billion years. Descendants of that first life have been slowly changing (mutating) and as they mutate some mutations are beneficial and some are harmful. Natural Selection locks in the good mutations and gets rid of the bad ones. Evidence for macroevolution is debatable. In fact evolutionists debate it all the time. It has never been directly observed. All of its conclusions are inferred. In spite of what the headlines on the internet or in the newspaper scream out, macroevolution has never been directly observed. Evolutionists would say “of course it hasn’t been observed, it takes too long.”
Most biologists would say that evolution began back in the first organisms which were much more simple than bacteria, and through mutations over time all of the genes that you have and I have eventually evolved into being. That is macroevolution. So that if we go far enough back in time we have some sort of a life form simpler than a bacterium as our ancestor. It is important to understand that according to the modern synthesis evolution is not purposeful. Worms didn’t evolve legs and become centipedes because they needed them or because they were helpful. According to evolutionary theory legs came into being one little bit at a time over millions of years by a series of accidents in the genome (mutations) that at first led to little stubs. If those little stubs were useful maybe to get a grip on a leaf then they had a selective advantage, and natural selection selected for animals with stubs. Eventually, the genes that coded for stubs were further modified little by little until finally, after enough mutation and selection a full set of legs were there. This is a simplistic story but it represents classical Darwinian evolution.
Someone might ask, “Why must we choose one over the other? Can’t both evolution and Biblical Christianity be true? Are they really competing accounts of creation?” We should first address this issue, because there are many Christians who would like to find peace between them. Many scientists believe that evolution, as a process, is their creator. Not all biologists believe that but many do. And of course which creator you believe in has a huge effect on your worldview and upon whether you understand that you are in need of a Saviour. Above all else this is the reason that this topic is important. Because if there was no first Adam, and then there was never a real fall into sin. And if there was never a real fall into sin, then of what need have we for the Second Adam? Or baptism? Or any other of the teachings of grace. The doctrines of creation and the fall into sin, found in the first two chapters of Genesis are indispensable to rightly understanding the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as St. Paul says in Romans chapter 12:16–19:
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
But couldn’t God have used a process of evolution to create everything? Of course He could have, God can do anything He wants. But what does God say that He did? He says in Exodus 20:11:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
So then, first we will review what each belief system teaches and then we can see whether there is any reasonable foundation upon which they can be harmonized. Notice that there is no way to avoid the fact that Scripture definitely touches on concepts that are considered by scientists to be scientific and evolution definitely addresses theological concepts.
Can Evolutionary Theory Be Harmonized with Scripture?
Scripture teaches or implies that:
Evolution as currently understood teaches that:
Earth is approx. the same age as the universe.
The universe is approx. 14–18 billion yrs. old (about 10 billion years older than earth).
Earth is thousands of yrs old (based upon the genealogies).
Earth is approx. 4.6–5 billion years old.
Life on earth: Thousands of years old.
3.5 billion years old (primitive forms). Multicellular life is approx. 1 billion yrs.
Everything created complete & good.
Life became more and more complex as mutations in the DNA of organisms led to more and better genes (proteins not very good at first but became more and more efficient over time).
No death until Adam sinned (no death of animals with the breath of life).
Evolution of mankind & other animals is built upon millions of years of death & disease.
Man brought about death. Death is an unnatural condition, an enemy.
Death brought about man (through the survival of the fittest). It is entirely natural.
Some people believe that the last concept, where death helps in the creation of new species, is bit of an extreme viewpoint, no really believes that. It is not too extreme. Carl Sagan in his original Cosmos series makes this statement:
The secrets of evolution are time and death. Time for the slow accumulations of favorable mutations, and death to make room for more new species.5
This subject of death is an important idea in both creation and evolution but for opposing reasons.
In Genesis chapter 1:29–31 we read:
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. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Implied in Genesis 1:30 is that apparently the animals didn’t yet eat other animals for food. This contrasts with the belief that millions of years of death and disease led to mankind. Scripture says that God created mankind and his own sin is what led to disease and death. Mankind was given an honored position among the created things and his disobedient act affected all the rest of creation. This cannot be said of any other animal. Scripture says that only man was created in the image of God. This too is a distinction between creation and evolution.
Humanity is a special creation.
Humanity is not special, it is just another mammal.
Human beings created in God’s image.
There is no divine image.
Although all was created supernaturally, nothing today is as it was created (cursed). A Universal Flood accounts for many if not most of the fossils we see.
Natural processes that operate today are what originally created everything. Millions of years of competition, death, and disease, and extinctions account for most of the fossils in the fossil record.
The differences above were no doubt familiar to most of us already, here are some more. The next several discrepancies are less well known but are very important as concerns theistic evolution. Note also that the first and second chapters of Genesis are very detailed. And the details are incongruent in several ways with the theory of evolution.
Plants created before the sun.
Plants billions of years after the sun.
Birds created before reptiles.
Birds created after reptiles.
All people are afflicted with original sin so its no wonder people sin. (Luther says that if you have a polluted well, polluted water comes out of it.)
Survival of the fittest in our genes. So its no wonder people are selfish and self serving.
God ceased from that kind of creative activity.
The same processes that operate today are what created them in the first place (so it continues today).
Everything was created for a reason (the Psalmist said that the heavens declare the glories of God).
Everything is the result of a great cosmic accident. Life has no purpose (including yours). There is no God at all in most evolutionary thinking.
Every life has a purpose.
Life has no purpose.
Of course if everything is the outworking of a great accident then it follows that all of the discoveries of scientists are the result of that accident too. So are their conclusions.
But, someone may say, “Sure the Bible says God created the world in six days, but that’s not what it means. It’s figurative.” The trouble with that view is that the first chapter of Genesis doesn’t sound at all figurative. Listen to verse 5:
And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
What is there about it that is figurative? There is, of course, figurative writing in the Bible; Psalm 104 says,
He makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.
No one needs to be told that clouds don’t really have wheels and are not pulled by horses because the passage is obviously figurative. When one looks at Genesis 1:8, “And God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.” It is not obvious that any part of this sentence is figurative. If so which part is it? It rather seems, Genesis 1:5 is written in such a way that God actually wants to remove all opportunity for us to say that it is figurative. Instead of stopping His sentence with the word night, God goes on to define for us what He means by a day. “A morning and an evening.” In fact for every one of the six creation days in Genesis chapter 1, God takes care to define it as a morning and an evening. God just is not going to allow us to say that we believe what Genesis says, and then in the next breath say, “But we believe it in a figurative way.” A morning and an evening is one day. If these verses are still not enough, then God provides His own commentary on Genesis chapter 1 in Exodus chapter 20 verse 11, where God says this:
but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Martin Luther even in his day wrote against people who wanted to try to interpret Genesis chapters 1–3 figuratively (although they wanted to say that God really created everything in one day, because He surely didn’t need six whole days). Here’s what he said:
How long did the work of Creation take? When Moses writes that God created heaven and earth and whatever is in them in six days, then let this period continue to have been six days, and do not venture to devise any comment according to which six days were one day. But, if you cannot understand how this could have been done in six days, then grant the Holy Spirit the honor of being more learned than you are.6
Now, are there scientists that believe both in creation and evolution? Of course, they are the theistic evolutionists and they would say yes God is responsible for everything, but He created it through an unfolding of evolutionary processes. But if someone wants to say that, then he/she needs to know that what he/she is claiming is that the Biblical history of Genesis chapters 1–3, is not true. It is, rather, the word of scientists that is true and not the Biblical record. I had a gentleman tell me one time that He believed in both creation and evolution and that the Bible almost got the order right. Although he thought he was honoring the Bible, he actually placed the word of scientists above Scripture. The two accounts cannot be reconciled. Now, the truth is that some genuine Christians do believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution. But they are inconsistent in their trust in God’s Word.
We can summarize what we have said about harmonizing historical Christianity with evolutionary theory in the following three reasons:
- Problems aligning the Biblical text with evolution. These are the problems with harmonizing evolution and creation that we’ve mentioned already.
- Theistic evolution needs vast long ages of death, suffering and disease before man finally evolves. Yet Scripture reveals in Romans chapter 5:12 that death came about as a result of the sin of the first man Adam.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. Romans 5:12
- There is no literal Adam in theistic evolution yet Romans clearly says that “through one man sin entered the world.” In theistic evolution Adam is either not literal at all, or as some theistic evolutionists believe, God picked a couple of pre-adamic humans and adopted them as Adam and Eve. This makes nonsense of the entire reading of Genesis chapter 2 where Adam names the animals and there was no mate for him among them. John Schneider a theologian from Calvin College says:
It’s time to face facts: There was no historical Adam and Eve, no serpent, no apple, no fall that toppled man from a state of innocence. Evolution makes it pretty clear that in nature, and in the moral experience of human beings, there never was any such paradise to be lost.7
As you can see, the two accounts cannot be reconciled without saying that one of them cannot be literally true, and the one that is always denigrated when people try to harmonize them is the Bible.
Part II. What Is Some of the Best Evidence for Evolution and Are There Alternative Explanations?
If most scientists believe evolution is true there surely must be a large body of evidence to persuade them. After all, no one would believe it if there were no evidence for it whatsoever. We should be aware of some of the evidence that favors evolutionary theory and also of alternative explanations for that evidence. Four oft-cited evidences that support evolutionary theory are listed below. Note: These are not necessarily the most used textbook examples but they are claims that are often cited by evolution bloggers and in online forums.
The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17
Evolutionary Evidence #1: Evolutionary trees (nested hierarchies) are predicted by Darwin’s theory
If common ancestry is true, then we would expect to see that animals can be classified into groups by their characteristics and that those characteristics would appear in a nested hierarchical arrangement. This arrangement makes the familiar branching tree-like structure that people have come to associate with evolutionary theory. The way it is computed now is called cladistics.
To illustrate this let’s ponder vertebrates for a moment. Fish have a backbone and they lay eggs. When we consider amphibians we find that not only do they have some of the same characteristics of fish, namely gills, backbone, and eggs, but they also have four legs. Amphibians have added some features that fish don’t have, namely lungs and four legs. They are tetrapods. If we now consider reptiles we see that not only do they have a backbone and have four legs, but they also add a feature that amphibians and fish don’t have. Reptiles do not need to find a pool of water to lay their eggs in. They can lay their eggs on land and they won’t dry out; that is, they have amniotic eggs. This idea of taking what existed before and adding new characteristics at each step is what is meant by “descent with modification,” and it is absolutely one of the predictions of Darwin’s theory. If someone is looking for evidence that evolution is true, this is it. Over the years, however, biologists have for the most part stopped using observable characteristics such as four limbs to classify living things. Most evolutionary trees are now constructed by using DNA sequences.
Some of the evolutionary blogs and websites make the claim that only evolution produces such nested hierarchies. But are evolutionary trees proof of the common descent of all living things as evolutionists claim? If so, then one would expect that the older trees constructed with physical characteristics (like four limbs, feathers, or amniotic eggs) would largely agree with the new trees that are constructed by using DNA sequences. The trouble is that much of the new evidence conflicts with the older trees. This has caused a rewriting of much of the supposed evolutionary taxonomy in recent years.
The truth is that cladistics is a classification scheme based upon similarities and differences. It is nothing more and nothing less, it tells us nothing about evolutionary histories. And in fact now that we are using DNA sequences to make these evolutionary trees, we find that we can get different trees depending upon which DNA sequence we use. We will address this issue later in this essay but suffice it to say for now that the nested relationships that were believed to be solid proof of evolution seem to change with the method that is used.
Evolutionary Evidence #2: Shared Pseudogenes
Pseudogenes are DNA sequences that have close similarities to sequences that we know are genes, but the pseudogene sequences have been broken by mutations through the years. Shared pseudogenes are believed to be broken genes that are broken in a linneage of animals. For example, if the gene breaks during a certain era of the evolutionary history then all the animals in that lineage from that point on will contain the pseudogene. The most famous example of this is the broken gulo gene (vitamin C gene) that is found in the gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees, and humans. The vitamin C gene is intact in monkeys, so they can make their own vitamin C. In great apes and humans, however, it is broken. This is one of the evidences for evolution that is often told to students in their freshman biology class. So, if evolution is true then this is evidence for it. After all, the lineage leading up to great apes has an intact vitamin C gene, but then in apes it is broken. Why, if humans don’t share a common ancestor with apes, is it also broken in people too? As Karl Gibberson states,
How can different species have identical broken genes? The only reasonable explanation is that they inherited it from a common ancestor.8
So, what is our answer? Well, first of all, let’s acknowledge that this one is tough to answer directly. It may be the most difficult question to answer of any of the evidences for evolution. When I first heard of this years ago, I had some sleepless nights because it is so convincing for people who study biology. But there are three answers to this question. First of all, yes, the gulo gene appears to be broken in apes and humans. But the mutations that have broken them are found in different locations along the chromosome in each one. We would expect that if we and the great apes inherited this mutation it would be an identical mutation in apes and humans. That is what common descent would expect. Now, this explanation is okay, but the evolutionist will reply, “yes but these mutations have themselves evolved over the past 8–14 million years, and the mutations are actually all in the same vicinity in each of these four lineages so this counter-argument doesn’t cut it.” The second explanation is that lots of animals have a broken vitamin C gene. Some bats, some birds, some fish, guinea pigs, and even some regular pigs have broken gulo genes. So there may be some “hotspots” for mutation within the gulo gene. This argument too is helpful but weak. A better answer in my opinion is to simply acknowledge that this does give the appearance of common ancestry, but there is something that greatly militates against it and that is the Y chromosome in chimps and humans. We would expect if chimps and humans share a common ancestor that the Y chromosome in chimps and humans would be nearly identical and they are not.5 In fact there are thirty or so genes on the human Y chromosome that aren’t present at all in chimpanzees.
The common chimp (Pan troglodytes) and human Y chromosomes are “horrendously different from each other,” says David Page of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the work. “It looks like there’s been a dramatic renovation or reinvention of the Y chromosome in the chimpanzee and human lineages.”9
Now, what is the evolutionary problem with this observation? It is time. There is only (according to the evolutionary time-scale) 6,000,000 years for these differences to have developed. When natural selection must select more mutations at the same time it becomes less efficient. Evolutionists will say that they expected the Y chromosome to have acquired many mutations since the separation of chimp and human lineages. This is because the Y chromosome doesn’t undergo recombination to the same extent that other chromosomes do. But the degree of difference between chimp and human Y chromosomes is far greater than predicted.
Indeed, at 6 million years of separation, the difference in MSY gene content in chimpanzee and human is more comparable to the difference in autosomal gene content in chicken and human, at 310 million years of separation.10
How does the evolutionist answer this? They simply say, “Well, I guess we were wrong, 30 new genes can develop faster than we thought.” Notice that evolutionary theory is very pliable. Notice too, that the observations of science do not dispute what Genesis teaches, though often the conclusions of scientists do. Scientists are fallible men and their own beliefs influence greatly the conclusions that they reach in their research. The Bible claims to be the Word of God and we ought to take it literally unless there is a good reason in the context of a passage itself or in the wider context of Scripture as a whole for not taking it literally.
Evolutionary evidence #3: The Fossil Record shows less complex organisms in lower layers and more complex organisms in higher layers of the fossil record
If we assume that fossils have been laid down over about a billion years or so then we might expect that a general record of evolutionary history would be found in the rocks. What evolutionary theory predicts is that simple creatures should be buried in the deepest layers of rock and increasingly complex creatures should be found as we move higher and higher through the fossil record. This is indeed generally what we find. Though sometimes fossils are found in places they weren’t expected. It is one of the confirming evidences of the theory.
How can we answer this? The evidence is clear. But the evidence can be interpreted in different ways. How else might we interpret this? Let me mention an article from Kurt Wise who is a Harvard trained paleontologist and also a creationist. He talks about searching through the layers of shale that are regarded as among the earliest rock layers that have fossils of living things. He found fossilized tracks of trilobites. This is not unusual, fossilized tracks are often found. What was unusual though, is that the tracks are found with no fossilized trilobites. So he climbed up higher several dozen feet and finally he found a layer of the shale in which there were trilobites. In fact there was a veritable trilobite graveyard in the higher layers. Now then, if evolution is true and these rock layers represent millions of years of deposited mud layers, why are there tracks but no trilobites in the lowest levels? Millions of years of tracks with no trilobites makes no sense from an evolutionary perspective. But from a flood perspective it makes perfect sense. Here is what Kurt Wise wrote:
What if, when the “fountains of the great deep were broken up” (Genesis 7:11), the spreading waters surprised the trilobites living on the ocean bottom? As the water became muddy, trilobites scurried about in terror, leaving their tracks behind them. Then as a layer of mud covered their tracks, they climbed through the mud and left tracks on the next layer—repeating this process until they finally succumbed in exhaustion and were themselves buried and preserved.11
Now, imagine that if this is happening with trilobites under water. Will trilobites be the only animals moving upward? What about all kinds of other animals that are found in the fossil record, what will we find at the lowest levels for example? At the lowest levels will be those creatures that already lived in the deep water, things like trilobites. These would be animals that would correspond to the cambrian period. After that would be organisms that live in shallower water. At higher levels amphibians that can move out of water but don’t get far from water will be found. Reptiles that don’t necessarily live in or near water would be found in higher levels. And finally, organisms like dinosaurs, mammals, and birds that can move fairly fast uphill to escape the incoming waters would be found on top of most of the others. What we have in the fossil record is not the record of evolution but the record of the order of burial during the great flood. The flood also explains why animals that never lived together can be sometimes found buried together in fossil graveyards. Things like fish will be mixed in with tree leaves because currents in some places were great enough to move them many miles and bring them all together.
Evolutionary Evidence #4: The Geography of Life
The fact that finches found on islands are much more similar to finches on the nearby continent than they are to other finches that are on far away continents is what would be expected if evolution is true. This is because the birds on the island and nearby continent evolved from a common ancestor while those on far away continents didn’t. Why are marsupials primarily found in Australia? And why have so many of the marsupials in Australia evolved to have the same characteristics as non-marsupials on other continents? For example the sugar glider and the flying squirrel are very similar, both occupy similar niches and yet are geographically and evolutionarily separated. Marsupials by the way, are the poster child for this argument. Evolution answers this question by simply saying: “The reason they are found where they are is because that is where they evolved.” The reason they are different from animals in far away places is because they have different ancestors.
Jerry Coyne asks the following question in his book Why Evolution Is True:
Again one must ask: If animals were specially created, why would the creator produce on different continents fundamentally different animals that nevertheless look and act so much alike?12
Bible believing scientists have an equally simple answer to this question. The reason that marsupials ended up where they are is because they migrated to where they could survive after the flood. That also accounts for why so many marsupials ended up in Australia because many of the species of marsupial animals would have had to compete with animals that occupy the same niche. An example is the canine wolf and the Tasmanian wolf. Tasmanian wolves could not have competed with canine wolves so they and other marsupials were driven by competition to a land where they didn’t have to compete. Additionally, there are many and varied marsupial fossils in South America. This supports the argument that they moved there after the flood but once the land was fully populated with many species the marsupials were out competed and most of their species then went extinct in South America. As for finches that live closer together being more alike, they probably did come from an common ancestor. That’s microevolution and we have no problem with it.
This is a quick look at some of the evolutionary arguments and I hope that it is clear that they are not as airtight as is often suggested. We will next turn our attention to evidence against darwinian evolution.
Part III: The accumulating evidence against Darwinian evolution
When one reads literature that is written by evolutionists for general consumption, it sounds as if the case for evolution was wrapped up many years ago. Articles abound with statements similar to these two:
Evolution gives us the true account of our origins, replacing the myths that satisfied us for thousands of years.13
And while today it [darwinian evolution] is accepted by virtually all scientists, evolutionary theory still is rejected by many Americans, often because it conflicts with their religious beliefs about divine creation.14
One would expect from these types of statements that all the evidence points toward darwinian evolution. There is however, scientific evidence that actually militates against evolutionary theory. It is to this we will now turn our attention. Much of this evidence has arisen since the arrival of DNA sequencing so a review is in order as to exactly what a DNA sequence is. I’d like to take about four minutes and review some basic biology that you may have forgotten since your high school biology class. Taking the time to do this will help make the rest of the talk more clear.
Review of Basic Molecular Biology
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
Inside the cells of all living things are chromosomes. Chromosomes are made up of two ingredients, DNA is the first component. The second component is a set of proteins. The reason that the proteins are there is because there is so much DNA packed into the nucleus of each one of your cells (if stretched out it would be six feet long) that it takes a bunch of proteins to keep it from getting tangled. Indeed, the DNA is wrapped around some of these proteins like thread around spools.
At the molecular level the native form of DNA is a helical shape. DNA is in the shape of a spiral staircase. The spiral staircase shape is made up of several chemicals. There are two backbones that are like the sides of a ladder and across the middle are the rungs. For our purposes these rungs are the most important part because that is where the DNA code is found. The rungs are made of different types of chemicals than the backbones. Each rung is made of two complementary chemicals called nitrogenous bases (or just bases). Because it takes two bases to make each rung on the ladder we say that they come in pairs. In fact if you look carefully at a DNA molecule you will see that it is actually two long DNA molecules. We say that they are complementary to each other and the reason that they are complementary to each other is because the bases come in pairs(see Figure A). There are in DNA four possible bases that can occupy each base place. Maybe you’ll remember the names of these four bases: Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine. Those are the four chemicals that we represent with the letters A T C G. You have, no doubt, heard of the DNA code. It is these bases that spell out the code. On one strand where there is an adenine there will be paired with it on the other strand a thymine. And where one strand has a cytosine the other will have paired with it a guanine. In reality these four bases form a chemical four letter alphabet. What is spelled out by this alphabet? The 3.1 billion letters of the DNA code spell out the instructions for how to make each one of the 100,000 or so proteins in the body. It is the blueprint for stringing together, in the correct order, the Amino Acids that all our different proteins are made of.
We often hear about gene sequencing, here is a part of the DNA code for the gene for hemoglobin (see Figure B). This is the protein that makes your blood red. Notice, that it is all As, Ts, Cs, and Gs. What is a gene? A gene is a portion of DNA that codes for an RNA molecule. RNA is a molecule that is very similar to DNA and it is a mediator for the making of protein. Normally a gene will be on one strand of the two strands that make up a chromosome, and on the other strand will be the complementary bases. If one of these bases gets changed, say an A gets changed to a C we call that a mutation. It might be harmful or it might not make much difference. Sometimes a whole chunk of DNA can end up being cut out or moved one spot to another spot and that is a different type of mutation. It is important that very few changes ever occur by accident because the DNA sequences in our genes have to be nearly perfect or we will likely have some disease condition.
Okay, having explained what a DNA sequence is we can now begin to talk about the recently found evidence that is difficult to explain within an evolutionary framework.
I. Incongruent evolutionary trees
Remember when we talked about evolutionary trees? We said that they were predicted by Darwin’s theory. We talked about using shared characteristics to make those trees. Scientists don’t use characteristics anymore. They use DNA sequences instead. When gene sequences for the same protein in two different species of animals are identical then it is inferred that the two animals are closely related. When the gene sequences are very different it is inferred that the animals are more distantly related.
Here is what we have found out in the gene sequencing revolution. We have found out that if you take one gene and use a computer to align the sequences of twenty or thirty animals in the order of their likeness, from most alike to least alike, we can get a really pretty tree. If we use a different gene however, and do the same thing we often get a different tree. Often the trees are similar but seldom are they alike. In fact sometimes they can be quite different. These are called incongruent trees. And incongruencies have turned out to be common. Intuitively we would think that if an animal descended through a particular evolutionary path then surely all of its genes would have to show the same evolutionary path and therefore would provide the same or nearly the same evolutionary tree. The problem is that sometimes they don’t.15, 16, 17, 18
This phenomenon is found in both plants and animals. Let me explain it by giving a brief example. It is as if you made a tree from one gene that shows cows being more closely related to horses than to squirrels. You then construct a tree with a different gene and it says that cows are more closely related to squirrels than to horses. This is what we mean by incongruent trees. If all animals only followed one evolutionary path, why don’t their genes show it?
In bats the incongruence is great enough that you can lump all bats together into two different groups.19 In one paper the authors state that the supposed evolutionary history does not predict to which group a certain bat’s proteins will belong. What does predict it is the ecosystem in which they live. This seems as if they were engineered to live in their particular ecosystems and given the genes to allow them to do it. By the way, when we sequence micro-RNAs, which are also encoded in the DNA, we get trees that are very much at odds with protein gene evolutionary trees. As of now, there is no good evolutionary explanation for this.
II. Overlapping reading frames in DNA are very difficult to explain within a darwinian framework
What is meant by overlapping reading frames in DNA? Well, you may recall that earlier in this essay we said that DNA has two strands. The two strands run in opposite directions. We also said that where you have a gene on one strand you have bases that are complementary to it on the other strand. But sometimes two genes can overlap on opposing strands. Or sometimes there will be a gene on one strand that is embedded or partially embedded within another gene on the same strand. About ten percent of our genes that have been studied are like this. This is very difficult to reconcile via a slow gradual step by step building of a genes early in evolution. Let me provide an example to help make this clear:
Let’s say that I have in my hand a textbook. And that the author was clever enough to not only write one book, but to actually write two books within the very same cover. The first book is written normally and it is a biology text. Imagine if you were to skip the first fifty letters on the first page and then begin reading, and a whole different book, this time the Works of Shakespeare, appears on the same pages, using the same letters and punctuation. Now here is the question. How could anyone write a textbook like that? If he writes the first story and then begins to rearrange the letters in the words of the first story in order to create a second story, he will destroy the first story. Both stories have to be written at exactly same time. In the same way, how could evolution evolve one gene and then later evolve the second one overlapping it without destroying the first one that was already a working gene? It can’t be done, both genes must be there at the beginning. And to do that with over a thousand different genes (this would be over 10,000 pages of print) takes an incomprehensible intellect. Only God could do this.
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings. Proverbs 25:2
III. Information in the genome
We have just dealt with the packaging of information in our genome in ways that overlap. Where did this information in our genome come from in the first place? There are 3.1 billion letters in the human genome, yet because of overlapping codes no one yet knows the number of gigabits of information found in the microscopic nucleus of a cell. Where did all this information come from? This is a problem for evolution. Some evolutionists have posited that there are special properties in DNA that just cause it to come together naturally and spell out protein codes. This would be like saying that there is a property in bricks that just causes them to come together and form a house. There are no inherent properties in DNA that cause the letters to come together in any particular order. An expert in the field of information systems wrote:
There is no known natural law through which matter can give rise to information, neither is any physical process or material phenomenon known that can do this.20
Sir Fred Hoyle, a British mathematician said that the probability of one useful protein forming in the early earth, before life began, was equivalent to having our entire solar system packed full of blind people sitting side by side working on Rubik’s cubes and all coming to the correct solution at the exact same moment.19 And this is just one protein, the simplest living organism would have required over four hundred.
Of all the difficulties in explaining life by a theory of evolution this is the most difficult conundrum. In spite of this difficulty, evolutionists believe that the DNA code came into existence slowly by the process of mutation and natural selection. Yet, we only know of one kind of place that information comes from and that is a “mind.”
If it is so difficult to create information why do so many evolutionists deny that God had anything to do with creation? It is not because of any scientific reason. Listen to what one of the leading evolutionists, Richard Lewonton, said about his pre-suppositions:
Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.21
Before we leave the idea of information, let me mention a little bit more of the information that is found inside a cell. First of all, the information for every protein must be encoded into the DNA. But in addition to that, every gene has to contain a starting point and a stopping point and for both transcription and translation of the DNA. These starting and stopping points must be encoded into the DNA. Then switches that turn the gene on or off depending upon the circumstances that are facing the cell at any given moment have to be present. That is more information. Then information about how to cut and splice the gene must be present because our genes are encoded in pieces and the pieces must be put together before the protein can be made.22 There must be an address that is embedded into the protein that tells it where to go inside the cell. There must be information about where to place the DNA of the chromosomes inside the nucleus because it is very precisely arranged.
And this is just the information present in the DNA code. We also now know that there is a membrane code, and a sugar code on the outside of cells that have barely been studied. There are no doubt codes that we don’t even know exist yet. Every time scientists peel back one layer of the complexity of living organisms they find that there are deeper layers still to investigate. All of it uses information. Where does this kind of information come from? Can random events like mutations create mountains of information that can then be acted upon by natural selection? No, mutation can change the information that is already there. But to make complex information where none existed is beyond the capability of evolutionary processes. The only place we know of where can this can occur is within a mind. When God spoke creation into existence, His words not only conveyed action to bring about what He spoke, His words also spoke information into existence.
IV. Interlocking Gene Networks
Most genes in our cells are not just automatically on all the time making their proteins. Instead they are very highly regulated so that they are only switched on when a particular protein is needed. Additionally, genes are regulated in a precise manner. Sometimes they are activated one at a time but other times dozens of genes are switched on at the same time. Genes are often regulated in a heirarcharchical manner. That means that one gene is turned on, and it turns on ten other genes which turn on ten more but turn off seven other genes. We call these gene regulatory networks. These networks can be very complicated and take decades to figure out.23
Figure C shows what is meant by an gene regulatory network. The diagram in Figure C shows only 100 of the 528 genes that are involved with a gene network that is implicated in schizophrenia called DISC1. In a gene regulatory network one gene may turn on several other genes while switching off several others.
As you can see it is nearly impossible to change the expression of one gene without affecting other genes. This complex involvement of one gene with another severely constrains the ability of evolution to create because when one gene is mutated it affects so many others. Evolutionists recognize that this kind of complexity is a hindrance to darwinian evolution. This has led to the acceptance of other mechanisms besides natural selection, by evolutionists, to explain how mutation can lead to these complex interactions. The most common explanation, and one that now has great adherence is called “neutral theory.” Neutral theory posits that most mutations are selectively neutral. Which means that most mutations neither help nor hinder organisms at the time that the mutations come into existence. Neutral mutations can be mutated many times without any effect until something beneficial finally results.
One problem with neutral selection is that most neutral mutations, while not immediately harmful, are very slightly harmful.25 What this means is that they fly under the radar of natural selection. Because of this, slightly harmful mutations continue building up in organisms for many generations, slowly weakening the species. Neutral evolution cannot be the answer to evolution’s problem.
So far we have documented four problems with evolutionary theory that are well known. In spite of this the evolutionary community is as dedicated as ever to the idea that evolution is a fact. But another group of scientists has over the past ten years broken away from darwinism and formed an organization entitled “The Third Way of Evolution.” This group recognizes that mutation and natural selection cannot account for the evolution of all the kinds of animals and plants that we see today. So what is it that they postulate as their answer? Well, they don’t have the answer yet, but they “know” that whatever it is it can’t be supernatural creation. So they propose things like “horizontal gene transfer” and “epigenetics” as the solution. The problem is that those things don’t create information. Horizontal gene transfer can move it from one organism to another, but it can’t answer the question of where the information came from in the first place. Here is the posting on the homepage of the website of the Third Way of Evolution. Notice that these people define science as naturalism. Therefore, only natural causes for any observed reality are allowed. By defining science this way they exclude God from all of the possible answers.
The vast majority of people believe that there are only two alternative ways to explain the origins of biological diversity. One way is Creationism that depends upon intervention by a divine Creator. That is clearly unscientific because it brings an arbitrary supernatural force into the evolution process. The commonly accepted alternative is Neo-Darwinism, which is clearly naturalistic science but ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes a set of unsupported assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variation. Neo-Darwinism ignores important rapid evolutionary processes such as symbiogenesis, horizontal DNA transfer, action of mobile DNA and epigenetic modifications. Moreover, some Neo-Darwinists have elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems without a real empirical basis. Many scientists today see the need for a deeper and more complete exploration of all aspects of the evolutionary process.26
This brings to mind what St. Paul says in Romans 1:22:
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.
So, as we look out now on the biological horizon it appears that darwinism is finally being critiqued from within. But with naturalism as the starting point, it doesn’t matter how many problems with evolutionary theory are found the theory will just be modified to accommodate the data. Evolution is the “silly putty of theories.” It can be stretched and molded to cover any and all data, even that which falsifies it.
When dealing with evolution we should know some of its weaknesses, which is why the previous section was written. Because however, evolutionary theory is so malleable it is hard to win an argument with evidence against it. An important fact that few Christians know is that there is a sizable body of evidence that supports creation within the time-frame that Genesis reports. Much of this evidence is likewise evidence for a young earth and a young biological creation. We will turn now to this evidence:
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them. Psalm 111:2
IV. What might we expect to see in the world around us if the Bible is really true?
A. Because we believe Scripture: We might expect to see evidence of the destruction left over from a world-wide flood.
He cutteth out rivers among the rocks. Job 28:10a
If Genesis is correct and there really was a global flood we should see evidence both in the geological world and also in the biological world. We should expect to see deep canyons and river valleys caused by events of a magnitude that we don’t see happening anywhere today. We should expect also to see evidence of the rapid burial and death of billions of living organisms. In fact this is exactly what we see. Now, our interpretation of these facts will differ from evolutionists who believe that these landforms and fossils were created over billions of years from much smaller events. But the data itself is exactly what we would predict if the Bible is true. We find fossils of sea creatures on top of mountains. How did they get there?
There is some recent evidence for a young earth and Biblical time frame that has come to light in the last few years. It is the finding of soft tissue inside fossil dinosaur bones.27 Why does this support the young earth model? Because soft tissues don’t last for 65 million years. Until this discovery was made all scientists knew that soft tissues can’t last for millions of years. Some scientists still don’t believe that the proteins are part of the dinosaur bones. They believe that it is bacterial contamination. But most scientists have now changed their minds because the evidence is very convincing and the consensus now is that this is real dinosaur protein. How then, do scientists square this with their belief in millions of years of evolution? They simply said that “What do you know? We were wrong, proteins can last millions of years.” By the way, DNA is even less likely to last, because it degrades more quickly. In another study intact bone cells were found protected inside the dinosaur bone. When they stained these cells with a stain that detects DNA, sure enough, there was DNA in those cells.28 These cells are supposed to be 70 to 100 million years old, yet DNA can’t last that long.
Is there evidence that DNA can’t last that long? In 2012 the journal NATURE published the results of one group of scientists who studied the DNA of extinct Moa birds from New Zealand. Moa birds have only been extinct for a few hundred years. Scientists used these animals whose time of extinction is known and determined that the half life of DNA is 521 years in the femur, i.e. thigh bone, of a big Moa Bird.29 The half life is the time it takes for one half of the DNA to be destroyed. So after 521 years one half of the original DNA would be left. Then after 1,042 years you would have one quarter of the original DNA left. After about 750,000–800,000 years there wouldn’t be enough DNA left to be able to detect it with a fluorescent dye. This is under actual conditions. Under better conditions if a bone were to be buried in a place where the temperature was below freezing and never thawed, then the DNA could last longer. But the longest that DNA can last has been calculated—and this is theoretical under ideal conditions (it’s not realistic in real life)—to be about 1.5 million years, There can’t be any DNA in those cells if they are 65–80 million years old, yet there is. Notice that evolutionists rather than look at the data and rejecting their theory are forcing the evidence fit a theory that it doesn’t fit. My belief is that those dinosaur bones are only a few thousand years old, and everything we know about protein decomposition and DNA degradation supports the view that they are far younger than the evolutionary ages.
B. Something else we might expect to see based on biblical doctrine is the deterioration of living organisms from an originally perfect created state.
We might expect this because we see the results of God’s curse upon the world all around us. Indeed:
… we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. Romans 8:22
One of the places where we might expect to be able to detect that deterioration is in the human genome. As it turns out we can. Over the last dozen years or so researchers have been sequencing the genes of parents and their children. It is now clear that children, in addition to the mutations that they inherit from their parents, also will receive about one hundred new mutations that neither parent has. By the way, accumulation of mutations was a prediction of creationists. Isn’t this what we would expect if Adam and Eve were created perfect, but lost that perfection? We might also expect that these mutations would be have occurred within a Biblical time frame. Evolution says that in addition to harmful mutations there are enough helpful mutations to have evolved all of the kinds of creatures that have ever existed, but another finding is that beneficial mutations are exceedingly rare. Here is a title of an article from Discover magazine in 201330 that is based upon a scientific paper in Science31 journal.
Most Mutations in the Human Genome are Recent and Probably Harmful
About three-quarters of single nucleotide variants—a mutation that substitutes just one nucleotide (an A, C, T or G) in the long string of DNA—occurred within the past 5,000 years, surprising considering that our species may be 200,000 years old.
To an evolutionist these mutations are the ingredients by which our species can evolve new and better characteristics so that in a hundred thousand years we’ll be way more fit than we are now. But note this quote from that same article:
But evolution hasn’t had enough time to weed out the dangerous ones: gene variants that might make us prone to illness, or simply less likely to survive.
What is implied here is that “natural selection hasn’t had enough time to weed out the harmful mutations.” This suggests that harmful mutations continue building up in the human population. It follows that the human race is on a downward trajectory in terms of our fitness and has been for about five to six thousand years. In the last two hundred and seventy or so generations natural selection hasn’t been able to arrest this downward trend. Yet, somehow, if we just give ourselves more time for natural selection to work then it will rescue us from this deterioration. If it hasn’t happened yet, when is it going to start? Let me rephrase that. If natural selection has not been weeding out the deleterious mutations for the last five thousand years why would anyone think that it is ever going to start? Evolutionists think this way not because the evidence demands it but because they are wedded to an ideology.
There is another point to make about this: If three fourths of the mutations occurred within the last five thousand years why would they continue to say that the modern human race is 200,000 years old? That doesn’t make sense. Why not finish the calculation and say that if the mutation rate is fairly constant, and if 75% of the mutations have arisen in the last five thousand years, then it would have taken about 6,667 years for all of them to arise. That puts the origin of human beings squarely into the Biblical time frame. If ever there were evidence that humans haven’t been around very long it is this. The authors acknowledge that it is surprising because in their view humans have been around much longer than 5,000 years. This evidence suggests that humans have been a species over a time span that is far closer to the Biblical time-frame than to the evolutionary time-frame.
Population geneticists are fully aware that our genome is accumulating mutations. How do these mutations affect the human race? And how will they affect us going forward? One of the world’s foremost population geneticists is Michael Lynch of Arizona State University, he wrote in an article:
Our current knowledge of the rate and likely effects of mutation in humans suggests a 1% or so decline in the baseline performance of physical and mental attributes in populations.32
This is occurring every generation. What is happening is that we are becoming less fit. You knew this already by reading your Bible, because none of us in this room are going to live nine hundred years like the first people on the earth did.
Another way to phrase it is that we have about a 1% decline in fitness per generation. Now 1% isn’t very much, in fact given the variability of the human race you wouldn’t be able to tell it for several generations. How long will it take to be able to detect this difference? Lynch says that this decline should be noticeable after about four generations at our current rate of marriage and reproduction. Now, he says that this degeneration of our genome is due mostly because we don’t pick our spouse on the basis of their fitness, and we don’t have a high enough reproduction rate. This means that we have “relaxed natural selection” which can’t weed out the harmful mutations. But even with the higher reproduction rates of just a few decades ago the degeneration of our genome has been and is unavoidable.
Given that all creation groans and travails under the curse that God put on it, this is exactly what would be expected. Every cell in our body is experiencing the effects of the curse upon Adam. But a skeptic might dispute that scientists can measure fitness by measuring mutations. Perhaps he would believe the archaeological evidence. Here is a headline and first sentence from an article in Outside magazine from 2014 which is based upon a paper that came out the previous year about the physical fitness of ancient humans.26
How Far Fitness Has Fallen: You’re pathetic. Really. According to the latest research, human fitness has decreased so dramatically in recent years that even the strongest of us would consider ancient men to be, well, monsters.33, 34
C. Since the Bible is true, we might expect to find that supposed ancient animals and plants have the appearance of modern animals and plants.
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? Job 12:7–8
Scientists are continually finding fossil discoveries that move the supposed evolution of some animal or plant backward in time to an earlier time when they didn’t think that they had yet evolved. Here is a headline from around two years ago.
300 million-year-old ‘modern’ beetle from Australia reconstructed35, 36
Scientists found a beetle fossil in a coal bed in Australia. The headline says that this is a modern beetle dated at 300 million years old. Until this was discovered, it was believed that modern type beetles hadn’t come into existence until 140 million years ago. But this pushes that date back. Why is this important? Because it shows almost no significant beetle evolution for the last 300 million years of evolutionary dating. In other words we see the earliest beetle that has ever been found and it is a modern beetle. Scientists haven’t found a slow transition from something that isn’t quite yet a beetle into a beetle, the earliest beetle is a whole beetle. What we really see from the earliest beetles is 300 million years of stasis.
I’d like to introduce one more of these discoveries because the next one is really interesting. Two years ago a paper was published about a tree that is the oldest fossilized tree to have ever been discovered. What is remarkable about this tree is that it was more complex than trees are today. That leads the authors at Phys.org, which is a science news website, to ask a question.
Why is the oldest tree ever discovered also the most complex?37, 38
This isn’t what evolution teaches. It teaches that the earliest plants were the most simple. If the genes of all living things have been degrading for thousands of years, we might expect that the oldest tree ever discovered is also the most complex.
Lest you think that these are just the few exceptions that prove the rule, these types of stories are the rule. Each year we see more and more examples of animals and plants that are found in older strata than were predicted. To be fair scientists will say that this what we expect in science. Science is supposed to fine tune itself and correct old information, but the reason these examples make headlines is precisely because they were not expected. The supposed dates for when an animal or plant or bacteria evolved keep changing. When I was in high school it was believed that chimps and humans diverged about two million years ago. But for the last twenty-five years or so it has been about six million. Recently it has been suggested to be 7 or 8–10 or 12–13 or 19–20 million years depending upon whose papers you read. And it isn’t just for humans that the date keeps getting pushed back, it is for most living things.
D. Mitochondrial DNA evidence supports a recent human creation.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14
It is believed that between the time when chimps and humans diverged (we’ll say six million years ago) that ape-like creatures were slowly evolving into human beings. Finally, about 200,000 years ago fully modern humans came into existence in Africa. With this background we now turn our attention to the dating of humans.
There are in each of your cells little micro-machines called mitochondria. Some of my students call them the mighty mitochondria because they are the powerhouse for the cell. They take energy from fats and sugars and convert it into a form that the cell can use. There can be thousands of them in cells that needs a lot of energy. There are trillions of them in your body. But not one of them was inherited from your dad. At least that is the conventional wisdom. When the mother makes an egg cell her ovary will place a bunch of mitochondria into the egg. Sperm have mitochondria too, but what is interesting is that after an egg is fertilized the mitochondria from the sperm get digested so that only mitochondria from mother are left.
Mitochondria are unusual also because they have their own little chromosome. It is a small circular piece of DNA. This is in addition to the other forty-six chromosomes in the nucleus of each of your cells. Now because this little chromosome is passed down with mitochondria from only one parent, when it is sequenced that sequence can be used to infer things like where your family (on your mother’s side) originated. Maybe you have seen those TV commercials for Ancestry.com where they will test your DNA to see where your ancestors are from. This is similar to what is done when testing with mitochondrial DNA.
What if we could, by looking at the mutation rate of just the mitochondrial DNA, extrapolate backward to the time when Peruvian ancestors and Irish ancestors were one people? These studies are actually conducted and they are called coalescence studies. A coalescent study uses the rate of mutations to determine when two or more groups of people split from a single group. This type of study can be used to look at ancestry, sort of like tracing your family tree. Scientists did that several years ago and determined that there was one group of people from whom all people on earth descended. That group of people was called “Mitochondrial Eve.” The authors of the study were careful to not say “Eve” was one woman. We’ll come back to this in a minute. Another similar study was conducted with mitochondrial DNA samples from people from all over the world. This coalescent study was published in the journal Nature in the year 2000.33 In 2014 the study was replicated with about a hundred more individuals than the study in 2000, yet they showed the same results.
Figure D is what the results look like. This was a study of over 150 individuals from different parts of the world. Nathaniel Jeanson at Answers in Genesis conducted this study. I have put three circles near the center of this picture to draw your attention to those parts of the picture where the ancestors coalesce. This is truly amazing. This is sort of an ancestry tree, and it shows exactly what Bible believing Christians might expect. Namely, that when the mitochondrial DNA of living people from all over the world is sequenced and then used to infer the times that these people groups split apart, it coalesces back to three ancestors of the human race. Now remember that mitochondria are passed down through the mother only when children are born. Is there a time when there were only three women on planet earth of child-bearing age whom we know had children?
Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his son’s wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. Genesis 7:7
On the ark the three wives of Noah’s sons were there. What’s more is that the Bible explicitly tells us that all three had children who began repopulating the world after the flood. Now for this result to be true we are making the assumption that the three wives were not also Noah’s daughters. Is this proof that Genesis is true? Not necessarily, but it is what we would expect to see if Genesis is true.
This work was conducted on a sample of DNA that is passed down by women. But men too have a chromosome that is passed down through them. It is only passed to their sons. This means that you can do the same type of study with the Y chromosome that you can do with mitochondrial DNA. If you were to predict, that is, make a hypothesis about what kind of results you would get if you did this type of study based upon what the Bible says, your prediction would be that while you might go back to three ancestral mitochondria on the ark, you would only go back to one ancestral Y chromosome. Why is that? Because the three sons of Noah all received their Y chromosome from him. So they should all be identical unless one of them developed a mutation. What did scientists find when they looked at the Y chromosome? It was found that all men coalesce back to one Y chromosome.36 Once again, this is exactly what would be expected if the Bible were true.
Again we see that experimental biology is in agreement with Scripture. Now someone may be saying: “Wait just a minute! It isn’t really in agreement with the Bible because Mitochondrial Eve was dated back to 200,000 years ago. And if the genealogies in Genesis are correct the world isn’t anywhere near that old.” That is true but this is where understanding evolutionary methods helps. In every experiment there are assumptions that are made by the scientists. And in evolutionary experiments the one big assumption is that macroevolution really is the way different creatures developed. So, how did researchers reach a number like 200,000 years back to Mitochondrial Eve?
In order to calculate the “coalescent value” scientists have to know or assume three things. One of them is the mutation rate of the people you are working with. The second piece of information that scientists must know is the time it takes to have one generation. The third is the number of mutations or differences between each group’s DNA. The generation time is easy to know. The number of differences between their DNA sequences is counted after sequencing the DNA. What about the third factor that must be known or assumed? This is the mutation rate. That is, how many generations does it take before one of the bases in the mitochondrial DNA gets mutated? If we know the mutation rate and the total number of differences between the two samples of DNA from the two lineages, and the time it takes for one generation to be completed then we can extrapolate backwards and calculate the time of divergence between the two families. At the time that the Mitochondrial-Eve calculations were figured, no one yet knew the mutation rate of human mitochondrial DNA. So, the number that was used was calculated using two important assumptions. One was that humans and chimps have a common ancestor. The second assumption was that the common ancestor of humans and chimps lived about six million years ago. The mutation rate per generation was calculated from that number and then used to count how many years ago Mitochondrial Eve walked the earth. So it is from evolutionary assumptions that the 200,000 years number for Mitochondrial Eve came from.
Today, the actual mutation rate for human mitochondrial DNA is known. Scientists learned it by sequencing the DNA of royal families that can be traced through hundreds of years of descendants. So now the real mutation rate can be used to calculate the date in which Mitochondrial Eve walked the earth. When the real mutation rate is used the number of years falls from 200,000 to between 6,000 and 10,000 years ago as the time when Mitochondrial Eve was alive. This came as a surprise to researchers when sequencing the mitochondrial DNA because it was expected that there would be many more mutations in our mitochondrial DNA than there actually was. This was because they expected that the human species was much more ancient than it is.
By the way, if these same calculations are calculated using the Y chromosome in males you get a similar number of years of human existence. So, when the known rates of mutations in humans are used we get a much younger age for humans than is expected by evolutionary theory, and young enough that it actually agrees with Scripture. Note again that biology does not disagree with Scripture, but the conclusions of biologists often do.
E. Since the Scripture teaches a more or less instantaneous creation, we would expect to see many examples of chicken and egg conundrums in biology.
If evolution is true we ought to be able to see a pathway in which small changes over long periods of time took old structures in living things and made them into newer more complex structures. We should be able to see how simple cellular pieces were added one piece at a time to make very complex structures. If creation is true what should be observable is very complex machinery without a pathway for how it could have been built a piece at a time. The question is this: What do we observe? When we look at complex molecular machines are there viable pathways by which they could have evolved one piece at a time? Remember, Darwin’s theory says that each step must be helpful enough to be selected by natural selection, before the following step can be added. If, however, creation was instantaneous there should be numerous complex features in living organisms that cannot be shown to have developed one piece at a time. This is exactly what is observed in living things. I’d like to show just two examples of this. The first example we will use is the DNA replication machinery.
The way in which living things grow is not for little cells to become big cells. The way in which living things grow is that little cells grow a little bit and then divide into two cells. Then those two become four, etc. Whenever a cell divides that cell first must make a copy of its chromosomes so that each of the two cells that it becomes can get a full copy of all of its DNA. It takes a lot of proteins to make a copy of DNA. It takes an enzyme to separate the two strands. It takes other proteins to bind the two separated strands so they don’t get tangled up. It takes other proteins to uncoil them. It actually takes dozens of proteins to replicate a chromosome just to get ready for the cell to divide. This is the only way in which living cells make DNA. It takes all those proteins because it is complicated to make DNA. It also takes a lot of energy. What I’m saying is that DNA can’t make itself.
How could the first living thing do this? The code for proteins is contained in the DNA. So without the DNA that contains the code for the proteins a cell could never make the proteins that it takes to replicate its own DNA. But without the proteins a cell could never make DNA. Which one came first? Neither could have come first, they both had to come into existence at the same time at the beginning.
Another example is the blood clotting process. There are ten proteins involved in the clotting of blood. Vertebrate animals can’t survive without some way to clot their blood. The process of clotting is very complex, and it is called the blood clotting cascade. If blood clots at the wrong time someone will have a stroke or heart attack. When someone cuts themselves, however, it had better clot or that person will bleed to death. It is very carefully controlled. That’s why it has ten proteins that are involved. There is more than one way it can clot but the simplest way takes a minimum of five of those proteins. The problem for evolution is that none of those proteins do the organisms a bit of good unless all five of them are there. How could they have evolved one at a time? The first vertebrate wouldn’t have survived long enough to become the fittest because it would have bled to death. This is the chicken or the egg conundrum.
Life is filled with chicken and egg stories like this. Ask an evolutionists and he will tell you that these processes evolved one step at a time and then after they evolved some of the intermediate steps weren’t needed anymore. Those unneeded steps de-evolved and went away and what is left now has the appearance of the chicken and egg scenario, but if researchers could go back 700,000,000 years to see these processes develop then they would find these intermediate structures. Well, that is a great story but a story is all that it is at least until evidence is found for it.
There is another bit of evidence that supports the creation model of origins I’d like to mention. It is this:
F. We might, as believers, expect that the microevolution we can observe occurs more often by breaking genes rather than creating new ones.
The reason for this is that all creatures were originally created perfect, and after Adam sinned imperfection entered the world and has continued to this day. It is not impossible to find beneficial mutations in animals and plants. It is not theoretically impossible for mutations and natural selection to create small amounts of information. The problem is that the tiny amount of beneficial information built up by evolution is swamped by the harmful and slightly harmful mutations that continue to build up in higher species.
Imagine that a student at the seminary is working on a paper that he had to write for one of his classes. Just as he finishes he gets up to go get a glass of iced tea. When he comes back, he finds that his two year old is pecking on the computer keys. What is the probability that the two year old improved the quality of his paper? Could the two year old have accidentally made an improvement to a sentence? Maybe by changing a word or two, but the errors that would be introduced to the paper would far outnumber the improvements. Yes, mutations can tinker around with a gene. Sometimes it even improves the function of a protein. But these changes are nearly always changes that are only beneficial in a limited environment and the change that improves that protein for one environment causes it to not work as well as it should in another environment.
An example of this is that when bacteria are grown on a petri dish that has some antibiotic added to the growth medium nearly all of the bacteria will die, but often there will be one or two colonies of bacteria that survive, and are even able grow in the presence of antibiotics. This colony grew from one bacterium that mutated a gene whose protein affected the way the bacterium deals with that antibiotic. The classical example of this is resistance to the antibiotic streptomycin. Normally streptomycin binds to a tiny machine called a ribosome and causes them to not be able to make their proteins (making proteins is what ribosomes do). In streptomycin-resistant bacteria a mutation occurs that changes the place on the ribosome where the streptomycin molecule binds. With this mutation streptomycin can’t bind as well and therefore it can’t stop the production of proteins in those bacterial cells. There is a problem though with this mutation. It causes the ribosome to be less efficient at its job of making proteins. Therefore, if the antibiotic is removed from the environment of these bacteria the non-mutant bacteria will grow much more quickly and soon out-compete the antibiotic-resistant strain. This means that with the mutant ribosome, although the bacteria can grow in the presence of the antibiotic, the overall fitness of the mutants is lower than the non-mutants. So, yes in the limited environment where streptomycin is present the mutation is a benefit but the cost is that it has lessened the fitness of the species overall.
Rats that are resistant to warfarin are another example. Warfarin is a poison that is used in several kinds of rat poison. It kills rats by interfering with blood clotting. Some rats have a mutation that allows them to be resistant to warfarin. But, there is a cost. The cost is that these rats need ten times more vitamin K. If they can’t get the extra vitamin K they can’t survive even if there is no warfarin around.
These types of mutations that can provide a benefit in certain circumstances are touted by evolutionists as great evidence for evolution. And in limited instances where rat poison is eaten by a rat, or antibiotics are present, the benefit of these mutations is that these animals can survive when others can’t. But the overall cost is invariably a loss of fitness. These beneficial mutations provide evidence not for the evolution of complexity, but for its devolution. And most if not all of the beneficial mutations that are known thus far are of this nature. In fact I can’t think of any beneficial mutations that are not of this type.
It is my hope that you can see the evidence from these examples, in spite of the claims by some scientists such as the following from Richard Dawkins:
It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, or insane (or wicked but I’d rather not consider that).35
The evidence is not all on the side of evolution. Just as God said in Romans, He has not left Himself without a witness in the natural world. The signature of His handiwork in creation supports His infallible witness in the Bible. He is indeed the Maker of Heaven and Earth.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3
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