Friday, October 29, 2004

CHRISTIANITY AND SCIENCE/EVOLUTION

CHRISTIANITY AND SCIENCE AND EVOLUTION

By Dr. Min Pen Chen

Introduction
Taiwan, the place where I grew up, is an island surrounded by sea. Upon my graduation from high school, I did not realise as yet the importance of the ocean in supporting life on earth. It was only during the late 1960s that Taiwan began their foray into oceanography, with the first intake of students in 1969 at the University of Taiwan. I enrolled in the course in 1970. There, I discovered the importance and inter-relationship between weather, ocean and environment and began to develop a genuine interest in the studies. In 1974, I left Taiwan for the United States to pursue my postgraduate studies in these key areas of life on earth. I was also required to study geography, an exercise that equipped me with the ability to look into the historical aspects of weather and environment. The Lord had graciously provided me with various opportunities to learn about the physical properties of the earth, the sea and the sky, and to understand his wonderful creation as well as the great mystery of cosmology.

In 1978, my life direction took a turn. Following the termination of political ties between the United States and Taiwan, my family decided to respond to God’s calling to return to Taipei and serve the nation. As we have committed everything to the Lord, there was not a single moment of regret. Over the years, God unveiled the wonders of his creation to inspire my quest to understand his handiwork. My message today is about viewing the theories of evolution and creation both from the scientific and theological perspectives. As mentioned by Dr. Stephen Tong, the theory of evolution is an idea propagated in the 19th century to provide justification for a naturalistic approach in every field of knowledge. Atheists and naturalists have conducted many scientific experiments in the vain hope of proving the validity of the evolution theory. Still, it is the creation account that we have discovered to be the truth.

The Definition of Science
Many people perceive the theory of evolution as a scientific truth and reduce the creation theory to a religious belief. They believe that the two are incompatible because they deal with different things: Science is centred on the factual whereas religion is concerned with human morality. Nevertheless, a proposal was made during a science conference on January 17, 1992 to accept both the evolution and creation theories as part of a scientific discussion as there were too many uncertainties about the origin of mankind. How can we believe the evolution theory to be an absolute scientific truth when scientists are not able to prove it?

The word ‘science’ originated from the word ‘skill’, which means ‘I know’. Therefore, science is essentially knowledge. The Austrian scientist, Karl Popper, defined science as the discovery of natural phenomena. “We first seek to understand natural phenomena, and based on this knowledge, we can understand science. Once we gain this knowledge, we then try to explain other natural phenomena in a scientific way.” However, the process of discovery needs to be supported by evidence, obtained through experience and experiment. Unfortunately, most scientists fail to realise the limitations of humans. Made as finite beings, our vision is limited to a certain distance, our hearing to a range of frequencies, and our sense of touch to tangible things. Things become worse when scientists frequently nullify their previous findings when publishing their latest research, creating great confusion in the minds of readers as the latter contradicts the former. Under such circumstances, the results of a scientific research or discovery are only temporary and not absolute, as highlighted by Popper.

The definition of science was even debated during a court case in the United States concerning the issue whether the theory of creation could be taught in public school. The discussion highlighted three important features of science: First, it must be repeatable; second, it is conditional; and third, it can be felt.

Immanuel Kant provided a philosophical definition for science: “A concept that has no realistic facts but mere emptiness”. Intuition without concept is blind. Matters and particulars cannot be seen and sense has no reason. How then can knowledge be derived? I have always taught my students not to train themselves to be data collectors who only accept concepts without having any reasoning. Unfortunately, this has become a very common phenomenon in modern universities today.

What is natural science? In the 17th century, Francis Bacon developed the concept and methodology of natural science. Bacon was not a scientist and therefore his thinking was based on induction. Social science today utilises his induction method. However, natural science cannot be considered as science since scientific discovery by definition should be based on deduction. The induction method has been adopted in the study of social science as its fundamentals. The induction method has three elements: First, it must be empirical (based on experience and capable of being the subject of experiment); second, it must be objective; and third, it must be measurable (or that which can be measured).

Currently, there are two fundamentals in natural science. First, it must be a common phenomenon and secondly, it must be capable of being understood. Clearly, the boundary of natural science is very limited. Scientists have to go through a lengthy process in order to understand natural science. The first step requires the development of a hypothesis. Once a hypothesis has been proven by way of experiment, it becomes a theory. The establishment of a theory based on an initial hypothesis requires tremendous effort. One question I like to ask my student is whether any of them had dared to object when their high school teachers taught them that human beings originated from apes. Sadly, the answer is no. None of them had the courage to do so. Such a passive attitude should not be encouraged. Instead, the students ought to engage their teachers in a more meaningful dialogue in order to discover the truth of creation.

The Theory of Evolution
It is important for us to be aware of the wrong ideas propounded by the so-called evolution theory before we can be effective in countering its arguments. Firstly, the ‘theory’ itself is not about evolution. Ironically, it is not even a theory. Darwinists maintain, however, that it is not just about mutations or fossils but a comprehensive philosophy stating that all of life can be explained by natural causes acting randomly. Today, evolution is no longer a science. Instead, it has ‘evolved’ into a religion. If a person believes that he or she originated from a monkey or an ape, then this person is an adherent of evolution. Though flawed in its hypothesis and lacking in evidence, the evolution theory has moulded the content and methodology in most textbooks today. Once, I asked an evangelist in Malaysia whether the local science textbooks recorded that humans are a species that evolved from apes and if so, whether this contradicted with Islamic teachings. He answered ‘yes’ to both questions but explained that Islam is a religion whereas evolution is science and therefore, there was no conflict between the two.

Brothers and sisters, evolution is not science. It is a hypothesis that has yet to be proven. No one has ever seen any living creature evolve. A theory needs to be proven and tested in the course of time in order to become a scientific law. A scientific law then needs to be tested in space. When a law can be applied commonly everywhere, it becomes a principle. We understand natural phenomena only by applying principles. Therefore, the ultimate objective of science is to discover the fundamental principles. Science explains natural phenomena by the application of principles. Based on a principle, the same causes will produce a similar result. Without evidence, there cannot be any scientific conclusion. According to Bush, the spirit of science is essentially the rejection of everything without evidence, as in a courtroom, where a person is not guilty unless proven to be.

The Different Types of Evidence
There are five types of scientific evidence that are widely accepted. The first type is evidence that can be known, seen and understood; for instance, the earth is spherical. Astronauts who were sent to space gave strong evidence of this through their observation. The second type is evidence that cannot be observed directly but only through indirect methods due to limited human ability to observe such evidence. We cannot see things that are either too large or too small. Hence, there are evidences that are not easily observable by the human eye. For example, all substances contain molecules that are made up of atoms, which can be further divided into electrons and protons. The third type of evidence is that which cannot be explained. There are many evidences that are inexplicable. For example, smoking can cause lung cancer but not every smoker is afflicted with lung cancer. Some people who are exposed to intense sunlight may develop skin cancer but others who are more resilient may not.

The fourth type of evidence is one that is accepted by everyone although there may only be little evidence in support, for example, the Big Bang theory. No one has ever seen the Big Bang, yet it is a convincing theory. The idea of Big Bang was established when a group of scientists in the United States discovered a certain type of microwave in the atmosphere. They noticed that the particular microwave neither originate from the earth nor from the outer space. One of the scientists, Robert Wilson then assumed that the microwave is the after effect of a Big Bang during the formation of the universe. It is acceptable in spite of the scarcity of evidence. The fifth type is evidence that is accepted although there is not enough support for the evidence. In other words, the evidence itself is insufficient, yet it is still accepted by everyone. The most obvious case would be the theory of evolution. Firstly, it is not a theory because there is no sufficient evidence. Secondly, nothing has actually evolved! Natural phenomena do not evolve, but only show signs of deterioration. Things that are already used are useless. When we purchase a car, surely we would prefer a car that is new rather than a used one.

Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species
On the whole, science has accepted the evolution of living beings. The ‘Science’ magazine is a scientific publication that focuses on the discussion of evolution. Ironically, if evolution has already been proven to be a certainty, why is there still a need for a magazine devoted to discussing only evolution? Why isn’t there a magazine that discuss about the earth being spherical? This is because the earth has been proven to be spherical. In reality, we are still uncertain about evolution considering the staggering coincidences involved in order that the universe may be fit for life. Though unsuccessful in proving that life develop with the aid of mindless, purposeless and undirected natural forces, Charles Darwin provided a platform for naturalists to exclude the existence of an intelligent Designer, to whom we are responsible. He should rightly be put in the dock.

Darwin was born in England on February 12, 1809, the same day as Abraham Lincoln. His father, Robert, was a wealthy physician who owned one of the largest medical practices outside London. As a young boy, Darwin developed a keen interest in natural history but eventually took up advanced studies in medicine at Edinburgh, a subject he soon detested. Following his graduation from Cambridge (the place where he prepared for a career as a clergy), he was introduced to Captain Robert Fitzroy who was about to begin an expedition to South America on the HMS Beagle for about four to five years. Darwin had many wonderful experiences as he circumnavigated the world, spending most of his time exploring the coastline and the flora and fauna of South America. His companion, Charles Lyell, was a geologist who had a great influence on him. The geological concepts introduced by Darwin in ‘Origin of Species’, which were fatally flawed, originated from Lyell.

The voyage started in December 1831, and the HMS Beagle sailed to the Southern Hemisphere and led Darwin to some islands in South America. He came to Jalabaru, an island that is now a national reserve where many people visit in order to discover what Darwin observed during his expedition. Upon stepping foot on land, Darwin stopped to observed the living creatures, including his famous example of finches with varied beak size, which helped inspire his evolution theory. Darwin noted that some finches have sharp and smaller beaks while others have flat and bigger beaks. He concluded that finches that feed on worms developed sharper beaks while finches that feed on leaves developed flatter beaks although originally their beaks were not as sharp or flat – an evolution from the original species. How did this evolution process happen? Nobody knows for certain. The explanation is based only on Darwin’s observation of the various shapes of beaks from the result of his findings.

In 1958, Darwin returned to England. He collated all the information gathered but realised the futility of publishing them without evidence. There wasn’t any evidence because he could not find any. He also could not carry out any experiments. This limitation led to his notion of ‘The Struggle for Existence and Natural Selection’. Once during his voyage, he thought of Malthus’ doctrine of population. According to the doctrine, population increases in equal ratio while food increases in differential ratio. As a result, there would come a time when man will face a crisis of food shortage, causing unavoidable conflict and struggle. In the end, only the superior race will survive. Darwin then applied this concept in explaining ‘the struggle for existence’. The hypothesis of ’the struggle for existence’ is based therefore on Malthus’ doctrine of population.

Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’ was published in November 1859, with no mention at all of any scientific evidence in the entire book. We now discover the apparent contradictions in it thanks to technological advancement. How did Darwin derive his book? First, he insisted that missing links in fossils are due to the incompleteness of geological records. For instance, there was no intermediate species when fishes evolve into reptiles. He explained that intermediate varieties or species had not been found (the absence or rarity of transitional varieties) because of the lack of fossil research. However, we observe today that rigorous fossil research in fact deliver more fatal blows to his hypothesis. Secondly, Darwin suggested that the clear nature of the ocean contribute to its bluish appearance. But we learn today that there are countless organisms in the ocean when observed under a microscope. In Chapter 11 of ‘Origin of Species’, Darwin stated that geological changes and formation require long periods of time. He made the suggestion that minor changes might have accumulated over thousands of years, resulting in the gradual evolution of species. Nonetheless, 20th century scientists have completely rejected this notion, replacing it with the theory of mutation of cells.

Darwin himself did not believe in ‘continuous change’. He felt that continuous change was obsolete. What then cause the extinction of dinosaurs? In his book, he said that “the more ancient dinosaurians having become extinct; as if mere bodily strength gave victory in the battle of life. Mere size, on the contrary, would in some cases determine, quicker extermination from the greater amount of requisite food.” His ideas suggested that the dinosaurs died of starvation. He even expressed that the species that survived following the extinction of dinosaurs should be studied to help us determine which animal will win in the struggle for survival. That would imply that dinosaurs were destroyed by smaller animals. How was that possible? In his book, Darwin pointed out that dinosaur eggs were destroyed by smaller animals but historical records show that all species of dinosaur extinct 6,500 years ago. How could all the dinosaurs be starved to death? There was no competition for vegetation at that time. Even if there was not enough vegetation, not all types of dinosaurs were so large in size.

So how did dinosaurs become extinct? New discoveries of astronomy offer new explanations. Scientists observe that there are many satellites and asteroids within each galaxy. When asteroids approach the earth, most of them would have already turned into dust. Very few asteroids will fall upon the earth in the form of solid stone, since God has provided cover for the earth in the form of stratosphere and atmosphere to shield us from any deadly collision. Nevertheless, some asteroids and meteors could still hit the earth. In Arizona, a 25-metre meteor crashed into the earth. In 1908, another 60-metre asteroid landed with a blast, and the place had to be isolated for 60 years due to radiation emitted from the asteroid. The September 7, 2000 issue of the magazine ‘Science and Nature’ showed an asteroid of about 500 metres that would destroy 1.5 billion lives if it hit the earth, approximately a quarter of the earth’s population. Some even believe that an asteroid may have destroyed the Roman City. Certain scientists indicated that in 540B.C., an asteroid hit the earth, resulting in sudden and extreme changes to the environment, which led to the dark ages. Of course there is no evidence but still we can never dismiss such a possibility.

Recently, research has unveiled that an asteroid, which hit the earth 6,500 years ago formed what we call the Gulf of Mexico. Based on this new finding, scientists began exploring the ocean around the area. Signs of an asteroid crash were found at the edge of the Gulf. In addition to that, the scientists detected a layer of uranium. The size of the asteroid was estimated to be 100,000 metres. The impact of the crash resulted in an increase of temperature to about 18,000ºC. The temperature was three times greater than that of the sun (approximately 6,000ºC) and wiped out all the dinosaurs. The uranium dust from the asteroid enveloped the entire earth, covering the outer layer of the atmosphere (stratosphere), preventing sunlight from penetrating. As a result, the earth’s temperature fell below normal and caused seawater to freeze. Land creatures were annihilated due to the initial extreme heat while many sea creatures were later destroyed by the extreme cold. About 70% of the living creatures on earth were killed during this period, which we call ‘The Great Extermination’.

Darwin also stated that it is difficult to explain the transition of organs (organs of extreme perfection and complication). For example, fishes use their gills for respiration but at the same time, in the same generation, a type of fish that uses lungs to breathe was discovered. This could not be explained by natural selection. Another example is the human eyes. Animals existing on land contemporaneously with humans have different optical structures. However, some fishes have eyes similar to that of humans. What is the explanation for this? Darwin could not provide any answers.

Three Mistakes in Darwin’s Theory
There are mistakes in Darwin’s theory. In 1986, Prof. Hsu published an article in ‘Geology’ (14:532-534) entitled "Darwin's Three Mistakes." That will help us see where he had gone wrong. Darwin’s first mistake was his dismissal of mass extinction as an artefact of imperfect geological records. Secondly, he assumed that species diversity tended to increase exponentially with time. And thirdly, he considered biotic interactions as the major cause of mass extinction. It is clear to us today that Darwin’s hypothesis is erroneous.

Darwinists believe that creatures evolve from lower to higher forms of life, i.e. living creatures must take a form on land (insects/reptiles) prior to a form in the sky (birds). However, the irreducible complexity of organism refutes gradual changes of this sort – the only way for such an evolution to take place is transformation with a host of inter-related changes happening at the same time. Darwin’s hypothesis offered no explanation as to how irreducibly structures and system comes into play in natural selection. Some time ago, a fossil of a bird was found (without any teeth in its mouth but with a tail) and pictured to be dinosaur-like based on the information obtained. Scientists then assumed that this dinosaur had evolved into a creature with features. However, a similar fossil of a bird (without teeth but with a tail) was also discovered in China. However, it was made out into a different structure and named the Confucian Bird, as it originated from China. Subsequently, the press carried news of the discovery with the headline “Did dinosaurs evolve into birds?” We should be conscious of the fact that the irrefutability of science cannot be applied in the search for our origins since there are different approaches in science. Based on fossil records, living creatures are believed to have existed about 5.4 billion years ago. However, when the fossil discovered in China was examined, it showed that the creature existed approximately the same time, i.e. 5.4 billion years ago. Clearly, this cast a shadow of doubt on Darwinists’ argument about the evolution of lower to higher life forms if it is true that complex forms of living creatures have already existed billions of years ago.

The recent discovery of the fossil in China provided strong evidence for a Big Bang evolution, a finding that is fatal to natural philosophy as the latter insists that reality is as an unbroken sequence of cause and effect that can be traced back endlessly. What is the Big Bang theory? The theory, which was formulated in the 1960s, asserts that the universe began as a result of a cosmic explosion. This suggests an ultimate beginning in the history of the universe and the implication of it is crystal clear – there exists an ultimate Cause of creation. Atheist and naturalists alike have no way of escape from the challenges posed by the Big Bang theory without getting caught in a maze of contradictions from their own illogical contortions and fallacies. Research has shown that the universe cannot originate on its own or last for eternity.

Most biology teachers assert that life is the outcome of “an unsupervised, impersonal, unpredictable and natural process.“ They point out to their students the different generations of human beings during a visit to the museum, about how an African man evolved over time into the present human species (homo sapiens). No explanation is given about the time of the discovery of human fossils. How do we define the relationship between humans and the fossils? In fact, this supposed relationship is only a postulation of researchers. There is no evidence of any relationship with the various ‘human fossils’ discovered. A classic example would be the Netherlands humans. Human structure may change or differ in its appearance in different generations. Changes can even take place in the human genus, supported by evidence of human changes in bodily structures. However, there is no evidence of any transformation from one species to another. So although ‘micro-evolution’ (so to speak) is possible, ‘macro-evolution’ is impossible, especially in the absence of necessary evidence.

Unlike creation, evolution is devoid of purpose and direction. Indeed if evolution is true, the world would be susceptible to frequent drastic changes where forests could be destroyed by unexpected thunderstorms or earthquakes. The theory of the survival of the fittest would not hold water either. A person could already be dead before he or she managed to ‘evolved’ and adapt to these rapid changes. Thus, evolution is but an empty word and can remain only as a hypothesis about the origin of life forms in the universe. At the same time, we can equally argue that creation cannot be accepted as a theory since there is no scientific evidence either. Since both evolution and creation cannot be proven scientifically, they can only be regarded as a concept or worldview.

The Creation Account
The creation account is stated in the Bible. But is the Bible a factual record or mere fiction? Does it provide us the truth of our origin? First, let us examine how this sacred book illumined Isaac Newton. Newton discovered the law of gravity before the age of 40. After that, he devoted himself to studying the Bible since he often felt that he was like a child playing on the seashore. He did not realise the immensity of the sea from the shore but was instead thrilled by the seashells or beautiful stones that he stumbled upon. Gradually, Newton discovered the truth in the Bible. The apostle Paul, in Romans 1:20, expressed: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”. Although every nation and tribe on earth may have their own story of the creation of earth, these accounts cannot be proven scientifically. The Bible too has its own creation story. Genesis opens with the words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The word ‘waters’, used here does not refer to drinking water. Recently, scientists discovered water in the centre of the earth that, if fully extracted, could well be more than sixty times the amount of water that constitutes all the oceans of the earth. Scientists also detected traces of water on the planet Mars. A satellite picture of the planet taken by NASA as well as the front cover of ‘Science’ magazine showed a series of glaciers, proving the existence of water. However, there is no water left on the planet now, as the conditions in Mars do not allow the sustenance of water molecules. Saturn, which is nearer to and is about the same size as the earth, still contains water in its core. Scientists have even discovered signs of water presence on the planet Pluto. Such discoveries made it possible for them to conclude that water is the basic substance of the universe.

Secondly, Genesis 1:6 states: “And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” The sky was thus formed. What is the nature of the water above the sky? The water up in the heavens is actually fresh water. At present, many countries are trying to convert salt water from the sea into fresh water through using technological means. However, this process may result in secondary pollution. It would result in seawater becoming saltier than before and cannot be accumulated anywhere. God had created the sky to separate fresh and salt water. Fresh water is for consumption whereas salt water, due to its lower freezing point, is able to moderate the temperature of the sea. Seawater in regions with lower temperature will flow towards regions with higher temperature. Therefore, over the surface of the earth, the temperature is always above –45ºC in the cold regions and 45ºC in the warm regions, i.e. always within the 90ºC difference. How much God has blessed us! He is always gracious to us, since the very beginning of time, as is written in Genesis. Today, scientists discover this truth in the Bible.

Next, in Genesis 1:9, we find the following: “And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so.” In fact, the sea existed before dry ground. Previously, scientists believed that the sea and dry land were formed at the same time as a result of extreme heat due to sudden contraction of the earth. The surface that was raised became dry land while the surface that was pressed down formed the sea. In 1968, a group of scientists embarked on an exploration of the ocean whereby substances on the seabed were extracted using a drilling ship. In 1970, they concluded that the ocean was formed before dry land. Recently in ‘Nature’ magazine, it was reported that certain corals were found in a lake in British Columbia, Canada. In fact, those corals did not grow in the lake, but originated from the ancient seas a long time ago. When the seabed was raised, dry land appeared.

Further, Genesis 1:20-22 records for us: “And God said, ‘Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.‘ So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.’” I used to doubt that the sea could be filled with living creatures. However, when I observed particles of seawater under a microscope during my studies in the United States, I was amazed to discover that they were filled with micro-organisms, each according to its own kind. Why are there so many organisms in seawater? Scientists have long been researching how the quantity of carbon dioxide on earth is kept in a state of balance. It was finally discovered that what contributes to the equilibrium of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not just the respiration process of plants but also, to a larger extent, the respiration process of the various micro-organisms living in the sea, which covers 71% of the earth’s surface area. The ratio between the roles played by plants and micro-organisms in the sea in ensuring the constant volume of carbon dioxide is 16:20. God is truly gracious to us. Unlike the earth, there can be no life on Saturn, a planet filled with carbon dioxide and having no water. Neither is life possible on Mars where the temperature is extremely high due to greenhouse effects. But on planet earth, God had created these little creatures to support life! As scientists increasingly discover and understand more about the earth, they begin to realise that every creature serves a purpose and that every verse recorded in the Bible points to the Truth, an intelligent Being who designed planet earth to be fit for life. The biblical account of creation is not a myth; it is God’s word.

In his book ‘Principle’, Newton wrote that we could never understand God’s infinite wisdom, and able to discover only a small portion of God’s mighty creation. He is our God and the Lord of our life. Newton, a scientist who had influenced the whole of humanity, was a man who humbled himself before the God the Creator. Before turning 40, Newton authored many books on science. After his conviction by the Holy Spirit, he wrote many books on the Bible because he believed that inside its pages, there is a great sea of truth.

1 Comments:

Blogger Su Boon Chua said...

you are so funny... refutes all the evidences and hardworks by scientist and belief in a book instead...

12:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home