Authors: Gary Parker
Tags: #RELIGION / Religion & Science
Creation Facts of Life
How Real Science Reveals the Hand of God
First printing: 1980
Tenth printing (revised): May 2006
Fourteenth printing: April 2010
Copyright © 1980, 1986, 1994, 2006 by Master Books. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. For information write:
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Charles Signorino, Allen Davis, Henry M. Morris, and John C. Whitcomb, men of science and men of God who introduced me to the wonders of God's creation, sorrow for my self-righteous sin, the glorious joy of new life in Christ, and the exhilarating freedom to build my life and my science on the eternal foundation of the written and Living Word
(John 1:1–3, 14).
Evidence of Creation?
Where to Begin?
"Evolution's just a theory. We don't have to believe it, do we?" Every year at least one of my students would bring up the "evolution's just a theory" argument, but I was ready. Feeling my heart starting to race, I would respond enthusiastically, "Oh, no. Evolution's a fact, perhaps the best established fact in all of science. It's the cornerstone of modern biology, and the basis for all of our thinking about the origin, meaning, and destiny of life!"
"It's easy to prove evolution," I'd say. "Just imagine you're on a cruise around the world (all expenses paid!) with a young man named Charles Darwin." Darwin had received college training in theology, but didn't really care for Bible study. He tried medical school, but didn't do well. He did enjoy nature study, and was an avid beetle collector. Both his interest in nature and his birth into a wealthy family helped make it possible for young Charles to travel as ship's naturalist aboard the HMS
on its five-year circumnavigation of the globe, 1831–1836 (not bad work, if you can get it!).
Sailing through the Atlantic and around South America, Darwin arrived at the now-famous Galapagos Islands, on the equator about 600 miles (960 km) west of Ecuador. While there he saw sea turtles hatch out of the eggs that had been laid in beach sand above high tide. As they scrambled toward the sea, most of the hatchlings were gobbled up by predators. Perhaps only three in a hundred of the tiny turtles made it to saltwater, and perhaps two of those were eaten up by predators beneath the waves! Maybe only one in a hundred of the turtle hatchlings survived to grow and perpetuate the species.
This cruel, wasteful, and inefficient struggle for survival made a powerful impression on young Darwin. He found it increasingly difficult to reconcile his scientific observations of deadly struggle with biblical teachings about an all-powerful, all-loving God.
On the positive side, the young man who grew up in England had been astounded by the astonishing variety and beauty of life forms he'd seen where the
stopped for study of tropical rain forests. On the Galapagos, his attention was drawn to a fascinating group of small birds now called Darwin's finches. Some with big beaks crushed seeds to eat; some with small beaks ate insects; one variety even used spines or thorns from plants to pry insects out of their burrows in bark.
Two dozen years after his fantastic voyage, an older Darwin made his observations of variety and struggle on the Galapagos Islands the basis of an evolutionary theory that shook the world. Some have called Darwin's
Origin of Species
(1859) second only to the Bible in its influence on human history; others would put it first.
Despite the profound impact of Darwinian evolution, his theory is based, simply and convincingly I'd tell my classes, on two irrefutable observations leading to one inescapable conclusion. First, living things exist in incredible variety, and each new generation expresses a wide range of traits. Second, all living things experience an intense struggle for existence, and only a few of each generation survive to reproduce and pass on their traits. Since there is variation and only some in each generation survive, the obvious and unmistakable conclusion is that some varieties are more likely to survive than others:
survival of the fittest!
In short form:
As I told my students, "Evolution is a fact; we see it going on around us every day. Does anyone doubt variation? Just look around the room, think of your parents and grandparents, or picture the many breeds of dogs, cats, horses, roses, oranges, etc. Does anyone doubt there's a struggle for survival? Think about lions pouncing on zebras, cats chasing mice, or kudzu vines destroying a forest (or getting out of bed Monday mornings). Add it up for yourself: nature 'selects' some varieties for survival rather than others. This
of the fittest leads to evolutionary progress over time."
There is a price for this progress, however. Natural selection is based on a
what Darwin called the "
war of nature."
Hereditary variability can improve only if large numbers of the less fit die in each generation.
The horrific struggle and death Darwin saw in the Galapagos had caused him to begin doubting the existence of a loving God. But, in a complete about-face, Darwin came to see death in one generation as opening doors of opportunity for the next.
What had been ascribed to the creative power of God, Darwin credited instead to the creative power of struggle and death.
In concluding the book that changed the world's world view, Darwin wrote:
Thus, from the war of nature
from famine and death,
the production of higher animals
Darwin included mankind among the "higher animals" produced by the evolutionary "war of nature," and so did I. Rejecting the biblical teaching that mankind was a special creation made in the image of some "God," I taught that we (like microbes, plants, and "other animals") were a result of
millions of years of struggle and death.
Nothing supernatural was required for human origins, I emphasized, but only the ordinary
process of evolution — time, chance, struggle, and death.
Time and chance produce hereditary variation
; struggle and death
determine which variations survive. I stressed time, chance, struggle, and death (mutation-selection) so much that my students began to abbreviate it
Believing it was a consequence of millions of years of struggle and death, I summarized the classic sequence and significance of molecules-to-mankind evolution as follows:
In the beginning, the earth was quite different from what it is now. Lightning flashed back and forth in an atmosphere of methane and ammonia for perhaps a billion years, producing molecules that rained down into the ancient oceans. Then, just by chance, a group of molecules got together that could reproduce, and life on earth began.
About 500 million years ago, fossils first began to form, in abundance, of those early, simple kinds of life, forms like the trilobites. About 400 million years ago, the first land plants and animals appeared in the sequence. About four million years ago, certain ape-like animals took those first upright steps toward becoming human beings.
People are the first animals able to look back over the history of their own evolution. As we do so, we learn things that help us understand ourselves and our nature. Why do we do things harmful to our own kind? It's that "jungle fight for survival" that brought us into being in the first place.
But we're not without hope. We're already beginning to take control of that molecule of heredity, DNA. Using the techniques of genetic engineering, we can re-make ourselves into our own image of what mankind really ought to be. We're already reaching for the stars. There's simply no limit to what human beings can do.
For me, "evolution" was much more than just a scientific theory. It was a total world-and-life view, an alternate religion, a substitute for God. It gave me a feeling of my place in the universe, and a sense of my relationship to others, to society, and to the world of nature that had ultimately given me life. I knew where I came from and where I was going.
I had heard Christians and other "religious fanatics" talk about "back to God, back to the Bible, back to this, or back to that." But for me as an evolutionist, the best was yet to come. And, as a scientist and professor of biology, I could help make it happen. By contributing to advances in science and technology, both directly and through my students, I could be part of the process of bringing "heaven on earth."
Let's face it. Evolution is an exciting and appealing idea! A lot of scientific evidence can be used to support it. Perhaps most importantly for me and many others, evolution means there is no God, no "Creator" who sets the rules. Human beings are the top. Each of us is his or her own boss. We set our own rules, our own goals. We decide what's best for us.
I didn't just believe evolution; I embraced it enthusiastically! And I taught it enthusiastically. I considered it one of my major missions as a science professor to help my students rid themselves completely of old, "pre-scientific" superstitions, such as Christianity. In fact, I was almost fired once for teaching evolution so vigorously that I had Christian students crying in my class!