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Truth Project #5 - Science: “What is True?”

Apr.22/12 Rom.1:18-25

THE IDOL OF EVOLUTION – AND ITS UPSHOT

[SLIDE 1-25] We are engaged in a Cosmic Battle, the truth against the lie, reality vs illusion; what’s at stake in this battle? Nothing less than life’s purpose and meaning. As we saw in previous weeks, atheists such as Dr William Provine baldly acknowledge that a secular view leaves no foundation for ethics, no ultimate purpose or meaning in life. Today as we look at the field of Science, we find echoes of such an assertion. [SLIDE 1-39] Richard Dawkins writes, “Natural selection...the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind.” He says natural selection has no vision, no sight at all; it’s a sort of ‘blind’ watchmaker. So life’s very purpose is at stake here.
    [SLIDE 2-34] Richard Bozarth goes even further in outlining the spiritual significance of this battle of worldviews. He says, “Evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of God...and if Jesus was not the redeemer who dies for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.” Do you start to see why evolution can NOT be a ‘non-issue’ for Christians? To embrace naturalism’s explanation for the universe’s origins is to eliminate any ultimate moral accountability to a creating God. And if by definition there’s no guilt, no debt to an all-powerful and perfectly holy God,  who needs a Redeemer?
    The Bible warns believers about such arguments and worldviews that erode and attack belief in God. 2Cor 10:5, The apostle Paul writes, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Take captive or be taken captive! Col 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” So, be ‘on guard’ against “hollow and deceptive philosophy.”

CREATION: A WATCH POINTING TO A WATCHMAKER

The Biblical view would suggest that creation - what we see around us - is marvelously designed, like a complex watch which, if we came across in a field, would obviously suggest someone intelligent had designed it. William Paley is an author who in his book Natural Theology proposed something like that. [VIDEO: MEYER - WATCHMAKER]
    [SLIDE 1-3] Psalm 19(1-4) says the heavens DECLARE God’s glory, the skies PROCLAIM the work of his hands, they POUR FORTH SPEECH, DISPLAY KNOWLEDGE; their voice and words go everywhere. What are they saying? “God made the universe” - with incredible beauty, order, balance, and design. The vastness argues for a great God; [SLIDE 1-5] a recent count estimates there are 70x10e21 stars - what an amazing amount! We don’t have time for it today, but Louie Giglio’s How Great is our God helps one wonder at the vastness of the universe - the stars, galaxies, and Milky Way.
    Jesus by His teaching drew our attention to God’s care that should be evident when we look at nature. Mt 6:26ff, “Look at the birds of the air...your heavenly Father feeds them...See how the lilies of the field grow...that is how God clothes the grass of the field...will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” Also in the Sermon on the Mount, Mt 5:45: “...be sons of your Father in heaven.He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Then there’s the passage from which we get that classic hymn, God sees the little sparrow fall, Mt 10:29: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.” When Jesus looked at the details in nature, He saw evidence of a loving Heavenly Father’s care.
    Paul writes to the early church stressing in Romans 1(18-25) how God’s invisible qualities ought to be evident to people everywhere by just noticing nature: [SLIDE 1-6] “what may be known about God is plain to them...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...” But what was the response of corrupt mankind? To glorify or thank God? No! [SLIDE 1-7] They “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” - perhaps even worshiping unverified theories that they proclaimed fact! - and with what result? “Their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Claiming to be wise, “they became fools.” What’s the one of the ways the Bible says we can recognize a fool? [SLIDE 1-8] Psalm 53:1, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is NO GOD.’”
    So, creation OUGHT to be like a complex watch pointing to a divine watchmaker - but people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that’s the best explanation for what they see.

SCIENCE, TESTABILITY, AND GIVING DARWIN CREDIT

Today’s “Truth Project” topic is Science. That’s different from Philosophy, which concerns itself with universals; Science deals with particulars, what’s detectable, measurable. Strictly speaking, pure science ought not to be swayed by philosophy, should have nothing to fear from ‘political correctness.’ The Oxford dictionary defines science this way: [SLIDE 1-19] “the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” In the ‘scientific method’, you develop a ‘hypothesis’ - from some hunch you have based on how you’ve noticed things seem to work; you design and conduct an experiment to test that hypothesis, to check if things in the natural world are really working the way you suspect; you take observations, measurements, collect data; and then you analyze the results, and draw conclusions. Did the hypothesis prove to be correct? You often repeat the experiment, or do multiple ‘replications’, to eliminate error. You may use the tools of mathematics and statistics to try to graphically represent the relationships between sets of variables. Your publish the results, giving other scientists the opportunity to repeat your experiments or build on the results and test new theories. You review the literature in all kinds of journals in that field, and come up with another hypothesis to test. And so it goes.
    I was fortunate enough to be able to do a Master’s degree in Crop Science at the University of Guelph. My thesis involved the relationship between density and drought stress in 12 varieties of corn. We measured several things about the plants including yield, at Elora and Guelph in Ontario, and Lethbridge in Alberta. From the results I published a paper in a journal and made a presentation at a conference in Detroit. You’re welcome to look through my thesis after and see how these factors play out in trying to answer the question, “Would planting corn more closely together help find varieties that would perform better under drought conditions?” That’s a practical application of scientific principles with a view to helping farmers get better crop yields.
    The early scientists tended to be Christians, and understood they were uncovering secrets of God’s marvelous design. [SLIDE 1-21] For instance, Johannes Kepler maintained, “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God.”
    Now, along comes Charles Darwin and his book, Origin of Species. Darwin comes in for a lot of criticism in the Christian community for his theory of evolution, natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc. But I’d like to point out that at least Darwin was somewhat intellectually honest, a scientist in the pure sense: he proposed a theory or hypothesis, AND suggested some tests which could disprove it. He also openly acknowledged some doubts and concerns because, if certain factors proved true, that would spell the undoing of his theory.
    For example, [SLIDE 2-4] Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could NOT possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, MY THEORY WOULD ABSOLUTELY BREAK DOWN.” That sounds relatively honest and objective to me! So, are there any such ‘complex organs’? Even in Darwin’s time, he admitted being troubled by some: [SLIDE 1-43] he acknowledged, “I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over...now small trifling particulars of structure often make me very uncomfortable.The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!”
    What’s come of this area of vulnerability in Darwin’s doctrine since his time? More recently, information science has led scientists to notice how IMprobable many organs and structures in nature are. The genetic code is so highly organized, and important in the manufacture of molecules needed for life; it’s like dropping Scrabble letters onto a table and expecting them to form classic lines from literature. [VIDEO - SCRABBLE]
    In recent decades, scientists have peered into the workings of even simple cells and been amazed at the complexity of basic chemical processes involving amino acids and proteins. There’s a high degree of complexity in the manufacture of these. [VIDEO - DNA / PROTEIN MANUFACTURE]
    Think of all the marvelous design and information involved in such activities! And what about at the level of organs - are there complex structures which could NOT have evolved, to use Darwin’s words, “by numerous, successive, slight modifications”? Are there some organs that are what’s termed ‘irreducibly complex’ - if one part were missing, there just WOULDN’T BE any useful conceivable precursor, it had to come all-in-a-package, so to speak?
    Forget the eye, which gave Darwin the shivers. Let’s consider just the simple flagellum, by which a bacterium propels itself around. [VIDEO - FLAGELLUM]
    It’s not looking too hopeful for Darwin’s ‘theory’ to hold up. Michael Behe writes, [SLIDE 2-9] “To Darwin, the cell was a ‘black box’ - its inner workings were utterly mysterious to him. Now, the black box has been opened up and we know how it works. Applying Darwin’s test to the ultra-complex world of molecular machinery and cellular systems that have been discovered over the past 40 years, we can say that Darwin’s theory has ‘absolutely broken down’.”
    But wait - Darwin did also propose a second test that could corroborate his hypothesis. He said, [SLIDE 2-15] “The geological record is extremely imperfect and this fact will to a large extent explain why we do not find intermediate varieties, connecting together all the extinct and existing forms of life by the finest graduated steps. He who rejects these views on the nature of the geological record, will rightly reject my whole theory.”
    So, what have we found in the century since Darwin’s time? If his theory were true, we’d expect geological strata to be practically littered with traces of “intermediate varieties” between species. But that’s not the case. The ‘missing links’ are still missing! Paleontologist Colin Patterson admits, [SLIDE 2-16] “I will lay it on the line – there is not one such [transitional] fossil for which one could make a watertight argument.” David Raup, director of one of the largest fossil collections in the world, says: “We are now about 120 years after Darwin and the knowledge of the fossil record has been greatly expanded. We now have a quarter of a million fossil species but the situation hasn’t changed much. The record of evolution is still surprisingly jerky and, ironically, we have even fewer examples of evolutionary transition than we had in Darwin’s time.” Fewer?! Sounds like the theory’s going backward, not being substantiated by the evidence!
    As I see it, there are a couple of other major common-sense problems with Darwin’s theory. First, entropy, “time’s arrow”, the second law of thermodynamics: that is, the amount of free energy in a system is always increasing. Things break down, they tend to become increasingly random rather than more organized and complex. This would work against any living cells being formed spontaneously out of a primordial chemical soup. Systems don’t in and of themselves become more organized without considerable input from intelligent intervention. Paul in Romans 8(20f) described creation as being “subjected to frustration”, in “bondage to decay”: entropy is the principle of decay.
    Second is what I think of as the “mule principle”: you can rarely combine two species, say cross a horse with a donkey and get a mule - but mules by and large are infertile. There are genetic walls between species, limits to variability – species don’t ‘cross over’ as it were. We don’t see evidence of this now OR in the fossil record - it’s a pipe-dream. Genesis 1(11f, 21, 24ff) describes God creating plants, fish, birds, and land-animals each “according to their kinds”. There is a certain fixedness to genetic ‘give’ within a species: thus far and no further. Note - I’m not at all disputing what’s known as “micro-evolution”, the ability of a given species to adapt morphologically to environmental conditions based on the genetic variability inherent within its DNA; this is the principle plant-breeders at OAC and animal-breeders on livestock farms use all the time to develop better varieties. Evolution in THAT sense is a demonstrable fact – but not when you push it beyond the level of an existing species.
    So, what are to conclude about Darwin’s theory - does it pass the tests he himself so honestly appointed for it? Dr Chandra Wickramasinghe observes, [SLIDE 2-12] “The speculations of The Origin of Species turned out to be wrong...It is ironic that the scientific facts throw Darwin out, but leave William Paley, a figure of fun to the scientific world for more than a century, still in the tournament with a chance of being the ultimate winner.” Sorry Mr Darwin, but the scientific facts appear to have thrown you out!

NOW YOU’RE JUST BEING RIDICULOUS

Faced with this turn of events, the scientific-materialist community is left scrambling to come up with some alternative theory that fits the data but doesn’t involve God (because the moment you involve God as an intelligent Designer, that would suggest a foundation for ethics, meaning, purpose, and moral obligation and accountability - and we’d rather be ‘free’ to ‘do our own thing’!).  The fact that these alternative explanations exist is evidence or proof, in a way, that credible scientists admit there isn’t sufficient evidence to back Darwin’s hypothesis. Let’s look at a couple of these.
    George Wald [SLIDE 2-7] says, “Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis,” (that is, that life just emerged from non-life on its own, such as living cells out of the ‘goo’) “yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing.I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation.” [SLIDE 2-8] “One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. yet here we are, as a result.I believe in spontaneous generation.”
    And you thought Christianity took faith! Here’s a scientist ADMITTING spontaneous generation is IMPOSSIBLE - yet he chooses to believe in it anyway...because the alternative, special creation, in unpalatable to him.
    Or take Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, the ‘double helix’. Certainly not a ‘nobody’ in scientific circles! What’s his theory? Something called “Directed Panspermia” [SLIDE 2-6] - “that the first living cell must have been transported to earth from some other planet outside our solar system.” WHAT?! If there’s not the observable scientific fact you want, you turn to sci-fi?! But this is a Nobel-prize-winning scientist proposing this! Inventing such a far-out suggestion is a sure sign that Darwin is in big trouble.
    All this ‘directed panspermia’ theory does is attempt to buy more time, pushing the problem back into some other planet, some other galaxy, admitting that the improbabilities stack up against the chance of living organelles just ‘evolving’ on their own. Crick admits, [SLIDE 2-5] “the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” To me, ‘directed panspermia’ seems intellectually disingenuous, evasive, deceitful - it just pushes the problem farther back, trying to pawn it off on some other system.
    The fact that such respected scientists are frantically clinging to such wingy other theories has to be a flag that macro-evolution as a theory is down-for-the-count. S.Lovtrup in Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth writes, “I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science.When this happens, many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?” How indeed!
    What was it Paul warned us about in Colossians 2:8? “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.”
    Science is supposed to be a quest to discover [SLIDE 2-35] “What is True?” To answer that, we can’t avoid turning to God when the creation He made points so undeniably to an intelligent Designer. Jesus told His disciples in John 8(31f,36), “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free...if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Let’s pray.