Christianity in conflict with science?
One question, why does it seem that Christianity is in conflict with
modern science? Or to put it another way, can one believe the general
consensus of modern science on the age of the earth and universe and
the evolution of human beings from lower species, while at the same
time being a Christian? I belong to an Episcopalian church which seems
more open to this point of view, but there are conflicting theological
views within my denomination, some outright heresy, while others are
along the line of C.S. Lewis's views. (July 19, 2001)
I am a young earth creationist and a science editor.
Science was made possible, historically, by Christianity. I
strongly recommend a book to you by Nancy Pearcey and Charles
Thaxton entitled "The Soul of Science." 1994,
Modern science is not the child of true science, but of a philosophical
mindset that demands all things have material, naturalistic causes.
Thus any causes which are not material or naturalistic are eliminated
on an a priori basis as being somewhere between 'impossible' and
'religious.' Truth is not what the goal is.
In the meantime, evolution (as in bacteria to bear type, not
simple variation type) has no known mechanism. Mutations alter
an existing, functioning organism. Because it is existing, functioning,
and obviously replicating, it fits the niche it is in. Alterations
threaten that. Thus we find, empirically, that of expressed mutations,
there are easily 1000 harmful or lethal mutations to just one
that might, under SOME circumstances, be considered beneficial.
In the meantime, we have been working with that little bacteria,
E.coli, for well over a hundred years. E.coli has a generation
time (the time from when the parent cell begins to divide to when
the daughter cell is mature enough to begin to divide) of about
20 minutes. In just 100 years, that gives us well over 2 1/2 MILLION
linear generations (not counting all the horizontal generations,
or 'cousins, brothers,' etc.). During that hundred years we have
thrown every mutagent known to man at these little suckers and
what do we get? Plenty of mutations, sure. And plenty of dead
E.coli. The most we have been able to come up with is a slightly
larger E.coli and one with a slightly different metabolic pathway
in one section. That's it.
Antibiotic and/or pesticide resistance, both widely touted
as proof of evolution is not. First of all, the organism has not
changed what it is, nor is it on its way to changing what it is.
Where antibiotic resistance is concerned, there are two causes:
first, it was a natural variation already present in the population
(this was chronicled by Nature a couple of years ago), or second
it is simply a drop in information which causes a protein to fold
slightly differently, thus refusing the antibiotic material a
decent hold on it. In both cases, however, there is a reversion
to 'wild type', or the original population, given time and a normal
(vs. a protected) environment where unicellular organisms are
involved. As far as pesticide resistance is concerned, the variation
has to be there in the first place in the population to be chosen
for. If this is the only part of the population left after repeated
exposure to insecticides, then what we have is the elimination
of all parts that are susceptible to the pesticide and a very
depleted population -- in terms of genetics -- left to reproduce.
This is certainly 'evolution' in terms of 'change,' but it has
done nothing to increase the variability of a given population,
which is what evolution depends on. It has rather reduced the
potential for variability among that population.
This is the precise reason we see endangered species. They
no longer have the ability to vary within their genetic pools,
and thus are entirely dependent upon the ecological niche in which
they have survived. Years of natural selection have depleted their
various gene pools until there is only a sub-sub-sub (etc.) type
left to breed or replicate.
Thus, what we find in actual data disagrees entirely with teachings
about evolution. This is admitted occasionally, but not often,
in the journals. Always there is the proviso that "we need
to study this more" and such statements.
In terms of a young creation, I think the evidence also lines
up with it. Ancient ages depend on two interpretations of data:
light travel time (distant starlight arguments) and radiometric
dating (and other dating methods which are essentially dependent
upon radiometric dating). Because all radio decay rates have the
speed of light -- 'c' -- in the numerator of the reduced equations,
we can narrow down the entire argument to whether or not the speed
of light has changed over time. If it has, then radiometric dates
are out the window and if the change in the speed of light has
been a slowing down and not a speeding up, then we have a young
Work in this area is ongoing in both the secular and creation
communities. I have had the privilege of working with Barry Setterfield
for several years now. He is the only one from either camp that
I am aware of who is working primarily with data. Most of the
others are working from a philosophical basis of one sort or another.
If Barry is right, then the universe itself is indeed young. His
new technical paper is finished. I think it is going to nail down
the argument pretty convincingly for anyone not wedded to a previous
conclusion. At any rate, we will see what the fallout is on this
one. In the meantime, you can find more of his material here:
I was a believer in evolution until I was in my mid-twenties.
When I started teaching, that is what I taught. However I did
get curious about those stupid, ignorant creationists who simply
did not seem to understand science at all, and started reading
their material so I could refute it or at least find out what
on earth was going on. By my early thirties I was a creationist.
First old earth and now, at age 53, young earth. I have found
that it is true that actual, real science and the Bible are quite
compatible. God knew what He was talking about start to finish,
and that is a very reassuring thing!
If you are really concerned about the science of everything,
let me know and I can recommend some very good reading. In the
meantime, pay attention to what parts which are presented to you
are simply presupposition (evolution is true, therefore....),
which parts are only opinion, and which parts can be verified
by real data. And watch to see if the data is stretched to mean
more than it actually means. That is a key issue, actually.
As far as your eternal fate, Christ is not only real, but will
change your heart entirely. If you look at Genesis 8:21, you will
notice that God mentions to Noah, almost as an aside, that the
hearts of all men tend toward evil always from childhood. That
does not mean all men DO evil all the time, but that our natural
hearts pull us toward evil consistently. Thus, it is from ourselves
we actually need saving. This is why Jesus said a man must be
born again (John 3). We need new hearts -- hearts that tend toward
the good and not the evil. As Paul says so clearly in Romans 8:8,
all who belong to Christ have the Holy Spirit. This is not a 'pentecostal'
or 'charismatic' thing, but a Biblical thing. Unless you are willing
to hand over your natural person to Christ to be killed with Him
on the cross, you cannot ever do anything to please God (Romans
8:7, Isaiah 64:6, etc.). It is not until you are new in Him that
you are not only completely forgiven because you are covered by
Christ, but that you have a heart that God Himself can work with
in maturing you spiritually (and He does a complete job, see Phil.
1:6, Romans 8:28-30, etc.), through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Then you will not have to ever worry about your future. He has
not lost one and you are not slated to be first!
You mentioned your health. That's in his hands, too. I was
kicked in the gut by a horse when I was 21 and just finished another
surgery related to the damage that caused. In the meantime, though,
I have raised six children (five adopted!) and I have a wonderful
husband and a very incredible life. Part of what and who I am
actually was helped by that horrid kick. It caused me to really
examine my priorities and where my energy goes. It helped focus
my life. Health problems can do that. So put it, and yourself,
in the Lord's hands and I think you will be amazed at what He
has planned for you. You will not always understand at the time,
and that can be depressing, but there will be times along the
way that you will get enough glimpses of His work and His plan
to be downright excited. He knows what He is doing.
God bless you. Let me know if I can be of any more or other