I am in the process of finishing up my second book which tackles the existence of suffering. But while in some conversations on the topic, I’ve encountered a challenging idea that I wanted to address here. Many people struggle with the perceived conflict of a good, loving God and the existence of evil and suffering. The explanation for how those two coexist encompasses the concept of man’s free will. We have the ability to make our own choices and thus at times we must face the consequences of those choices. Now, this reasoning doesn’t account for all types of suffering; there are many examples of suffering that is not due to our actions. But many times our suffering comes as the cost of making the choice to disobey God or the choice to sin. Not always, but sometimes. In those cases, our suffering may simply be the natural outflow of our actions. For example, if you choose to smoke your entire life, then the natural consequence may be that you develop certain types of cancers and diseases. That would be a natural consequence of your free-will decision to engage in that activity. Biblically, we could use Samson as an example of that. He chose to stay entangled with deceitful women and therefore eventually paid the price by being betrayed by one of those women.
Sometimes our suffering is a result of judgment for our free will choices. When your free-will choice is to violate the laws of the state, then you will face punishment for those crimes, which involves pain and suffering. Biblically, we know that God does judge against wickedness and sin. He passed severe judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their wicked ways. They freely chose to walk in disobedience, therefore, they faced suffering as a consequence of those choices. I see this constantly with my children. Out of their free will, they may choose to jump on the couch. They then face the natural consequence of falling and getting hurt, as well as the consequence of punishment when they get spanked for jumping on the furniture.
Why Free Will?
If God gave us free will to choose how we respond to Him yet knew we would suffer from our choices, then why did He give us free will in the first place? The short answer is that God wanted us to love. He didn’t make us to be robots only responding in obedience because we were forced to or obligated to. God desired loving fellowship from His creation. But to have love, it must be freely chosen and freely given. We can understand that in our earthly relationships as well. Love from another person is only real if the person has a choice to love or to not love. It is the same way with God. However, when we choose to not love God and to not walk in obedience then we suffer the consequences.
This line of reasoning can help us understand that God can exist even though there is suffering. However, recently I have encountered a new question in relation to this argument. What about when we die? As Christians, we share with people how in Heaven there are no more tears, no more pain. So is there free will in Heaven? If you answer yes, then why is there suffering here but not in Heaven? It says we are capable of having free will but not having suffering. But if you answer “no,” then apparently God does want robots programmed to obey Him. It says He would require people to love Him once they are in Heaven because He would have removed their free will.
On the surface it appears to be quite the conundrum. To answer this we must understand the doctrine of salvation. Even though there is a distinct moment of salvation for a believer that is not where it stops. Granted, the process of salvation may appear in some churches today to mean walking down to the front of the church and signing a membership card, but that is not it either. The process of salvation involves three phases: justification, sanctification, and glorification. Justification is a one-time work of God resulting in the believer’s salvation. The sinner confesses their sins before a just and holy God and receives the forgiveness offered through Jesus Christ. In that moment, they are declared innocent in God’s judgment over sin; they are justified through the payment made by Jesus on their behalf. Once the believer has been justified, then sanctification begins.
Sanctification is a process, beginning with justification and continuing throughout life. If justification is the starting point of the line that represents one’s Christian life, then sanctification is the line itself. At the point of justification, the believer becomes a “new creation” and the old things are to pass away (2 Cor. 5:17). What does that mean? It means we are no longer to live as slaves to sin but to live as God’s forgiven child. Paul describes this in Romans 6 as reckoning ourselves to be “dead indeed to sin, alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We are not to let sin reign over us as though we are to obey its lusts. Instead we present ourselves as instruments of righteousness before God. However, we still live in a sinful and corrupt world. The threat of sin and temptation of the lusts of the flesh are all around us. Therefore we must daily die to ourselves, to put away those fleshly desires and to desire the righteousness which is from God. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is a continual thing where God is changing our hearts to no longer desire the sinful things of this world. He transforms us to desire the things of God.
What Does This Have to Do with Free Will?
What does this have to do with free will? Well, whether you have become a believer or not, you still have free will to choose disobedience or obedience to God. But once you have become a believer, your desires have changed to truly want to do the things of God. You now desire to please God instead of please yourself. According to Romans 8:5, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” Paul explains this again in Galatians 5:16-17, “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” There is this battle between the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit – and they are diametrically opposed. Once you have received justification in salvation then you are in the Spirit. The sanctification that follows is the process of growing the believer to desire the things of the Spirit. You can still freely choose disobedience but the desires of your heart are now to do the will of God instead of your own will.
But that is much easier said than done! The great apostle Paul even tells of this struggle. “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:19-20) So Paul, having been justified, now desires to do the will of the Lord but because there is still sin here, he struggles and fails – as do the rest of us! It means I am not unique in my struggle of things of the flesh against things of the Spirit. He wants to do good, to obey God; and he wants to not do evil, to not disobey. Yet because of the presence of sin still in this world he finds himself doing the opposite. It is here where the believer longs for the final phase of our salvation: glorification.
Glorification: Our New Nature
Glorification is God's final removal of sin from the life of the believer in the eternal life. God’s glory will be realized in us; instead of being mortals burdened with sin nature, we will be changed into holy immortals with direct and unhindered access to God’s presence. It is the culmination of sanctification. We will no longer have that human nature that our spirits continually fight against. We will have a completely new nature.
We often think about it as one day receiving our glorified bodies that are free from disease, weakness, and frailty. But what makes those bodies free from disease, weakness, and frailty is existing in the absence of sin. And now we can start to see how we have free will in Heaven, yet no suffering there. Revisit the struggle that Paul describes. We desire to do good. We want to obey. But because of sin, we struggle. We are tempted, and we fail. What if those fleshly lusts and temptations were no longer around? What if you were free from the presence of sin? Then we can fully accomplish our true desire in our heart – which is to obey God and walk in His ways.
Look at the words from Hebrews 12:1-2 calling us to live our lives in godliness. The author says to, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” So what if there were no weights anymore? What if there were no sin to easily ensnare us? Then we can live in that full godliness, in full obedience unto Christ. When we make those choices to walk with God, then there is no place for suffering. There is no suffering sin’s natural consequences if there is no sin. There is no suffering punishment for disobedience if no one disobeys. There is no need for trials to grow our faith and lead others to salvation if our faith is fully realized and all have salvation. There is no need for pain from discipline if we are all walking rightly with God. We will be unencumbered by the flesh to freely choose that which we truly desire, which is God. We will have free will and our will is to obey God. We will have no suffering because we will no longer stumble in our choice of obedience due to the presence of sin.
The previous two blogs (here and here) have taken just two examples of things that Darwinian evolution cannot explain adequately. If you recall, the important thing to understand is that “evolving” is not just morphing into something more complex, more advanced, and better adapted as evolutionists would have you think. Evolution requires a genetic change to an organism but it can’t be too drastic of a change or else the organism would die. It must be the incremental build-up of infinitesimally small changes, genetic mutations, each of them beneficial to the organism. But even the overly simplified break down of the individual changes necessary to move from asexual to sexual reproduction or from a pigment cup eye to a pinhole eye show that this idea of evolution cannot produce those things. Evolutionists use the word “evolve” to just gloss over the finer details and interconnectedness of systems within an organism. This point is so powerfully stated by William Coleman in his book, Studies in the History of Biology:
“A major change, for example, a sharp increase in the heart beat or the diminution by half of the kidney and thus a reduction in renal secretion, would by itself have wrought havoc with the general constitution of the animal. In order that an animal might persist after a change of this magnitude it would be necessary that the other organs of the body be also proportionally modified. In other words, an organism must change en bloc or not at all. Only saltatory modification could occur, and this idea was to Cuvier (considered the father of paleontology), as it is to most modern zoologists but for very different reasons, unverified and basically absurd. Transmutation by the accumulation of alterations, great or small, would thus be impossible.”[i]
What he’s saying is that each change, though it appears slight and slowly moving the organism in the direction of evolutionary advancement, must be accompanied by many other changes in order for the organism to survive. Like we discussed last week, the addition of thousands of photoreceptors to a sight organ not suited for that many photoreceptors would not be advantageous, and would obviously wreak havoc on the functionality of that organ and the survivability of that organism.
So I want to take a closer look at another classic example cited by Darwinian evolutionists as “evidence” based on these two main premises: intermediate structures had to be advantageous and complex things must be slowly built up from something simple that has changed via micro-mutations. Let’s look at the feather. Evolutionists state that feathers evolved from a frayed reptilian scale. The first issue is there is no such thing as acquired characteristics. A physical change like that in the adult does not result in a genetic change for the offspring. A reptile fraying its scales from overuse or damage does not change the genes it will pass on to its offspring. The reptile offspring is still genetically programmed to have fully formed scales. So the frayed scale must actually be the result of a genetic mutation causing the scale to not fully form.
But that leads us to the next issue. The genetic mutation must provide the offspring some kind of advantage. Yet a reptile with a frayed scale provides no survival advantage. The whole point of progressing from scale to frayed scale to a feather is with the intention of providing the organism flight. But a frayed scale would be weak, easily deformed, and quite permeable to air. Things permeable to air would not be suitable for flight, or even for gliding. But at the same time, a frayed scale would not be suitable for climbing and grasping things. A reptile with a frayed scale would be less able to climb and scavenge for food, but it would be unable to fly. The frayed scale intermediate does not provide any survival advantage for the organism before it became suitable for flight. Therefore, it’s difficult to see how this creature with a frayed scale would have survived to pass this trait down to the rest of the population.
The third problem with this evolutionary scenario is it implies a feather is just a random tangle of frayed scale filaments. Instead the feather is actually considered to be the most complex integumentary structures found in vertebrates. The feather is ordered in an amazingly complex way to achieve a tightly intertwined, aerodynamic structure. It is not only used for flight but for thermal insulation and waterproofing.
There are two basic types of feathers found on a bird: vaned feathers (cover the exterior of the body) and down feathers (underneath the vaned feathers). A typical vaned feather has a main shaft called the rachis. At the base of the feather, the rachis expands to form the quill, which is a hollow tube without vanes, to insert into the skin. Fused onto that are a series of branches called barbs. Those are then further branched into barbules. The barbules then each have tiny hooks called barbicels for cross-attachment to the neighboring barbule. The down feather has a similar structure except it doesn’t have the barbicels. Therefore each barbule is free, or unattached, to the other barbule, which is what makes those feathers so fluffy. The purpose of that is the down feathers can trap air to provide thermal insulation for the bird. Even the shape of the feather is important to allow for different modes of flight. The position of feathers is maintained by an intricate system of tendons so they can open and close to improve flight efficiency. And the locations of these fibers and tendons is critical to the flight of the bird, either aligned in the middle of the feather for birds that fly, or towards the tips as they are in flightless birds.
So what would the incremental build-up of the feather be? Let’s assume there was a genetic mutation to an entire generation of reptiles resulting in their scales being frayed. Assuming they all survived, they produced offspring with a genetic mutation that the frayed scales would be more like the down feathers. How would that animal survive? It’s not a bird – it’s still a reptile but it has down feathers instead of scales, yet it can’t fly with only down feathers. The down feathers do not have the barbicels to give the feathers enough stiffness for flight. But there would be no point in having the barbicels present without the rachis. As you can see, though it seems so simple, the bird’s feather requires all of those structures in place before it can be used for flight.
Even if the reptile with frayed scales could survive and have just the right genetic mutations to develop feathers, it still has a problem. Just because an organism has feathers does not mean that it is ready for flight any more than a person with feathers glued to his arms means that he could safely jump off a cliff. There are still mathematical aerodynamic factors that determine if flight would even be possible. The wing area, body weight, and power of the organism must be factored in as well. Even in man-made machines for flight, there is a limit to the amount of weight that can be accommodated by the plane mechanics – which would be the plane wings, engine thrust, and weight of the vehicle. In the same way, the feathered organism must have enough power and lift in the wings to offset the weight of the animal.
So it’s not just the structure of the feather that must be in place before flight, but numerous other features that are necessary to fly. Although the feather is exceedingly light, the bird’s plumage actually weighs two or three times more than its skeleton. That is because the bird’s bones are hollow which helps to make flight possible. It also has the appropriate sizing of muscles and tendons that attach to those wings to make movement of them possible, all of which are unique for a flying vertebrate.
Furthermore, the bird has a completely unique lung system. In all other non-flying vertebrates, the air flow is bi-directional, moving back and forth into and out of the lungs. As a result, air coming into a mammal's lungs is mixed with 'old' air (air that has been in the lungs for a while). This 'mixed air' has less oxygen. Birds have unidirectional air flow so the air moving through the lungs is largely 'fresh' air and has a higher oxygen content. The unidirectional flow of air is maintained during both inspiration and expiration by a complex system of interconnected air sacs in the bird’s body which expand and contract in such a way so as to ensure a continuous delivery of air through the parabronchi. It allows the bird to be able to breathe at higher altitudes than other mammals. And this system also keeps the volume of air in the lung nearly constant. No lung in any other vertebrate species even comes close to the avian system. Yet this system is identical in all essential details in all birds - from hummingbirds, to ostriches, to hawks. This unique avian lung cannot function until the parabronchi system and the air sac system are both highly developed and able to function together in a perfectly integrated manner. It could not have slowly acquired this respiratory system by building up from our lung system type.
So not only do all the parts of the feather have to be together, perfectly matched, sized, and integrated to be used in flight, but the bird’s bones must be light-weight, the musculoskeletal system must be appropriately sized and fitted for wings, and the avian lung system must be fully functional.
Therefore, the classic Darwinian evolution example of birds evolving from reptile scales very clearly falls apart under the scrutiny of irreducibly complex mechanisms and viable intermediate organisms. The intermediate creature would be maladapted to survive its environment and therefore not a candidate for progressing the evolutionary chain.
Now I know what the evolutionists are going to say to this. What about the feathered dinosaurs? What about the Archaeopteryx? For those that aren’t familiar with these, the Yutyrannus huali, the “beautiful feathered tyrant,” was the largest yet found of the now famous Chinese “feathered dinosaurs.” The technical description published in Nature that a “gigantic feathered dinosaur from the Lower Cretaceous of China” was recovered. Within the article though, scientists qualified the “feathered” label: These “feathers” are actually just “feather-like features,” or “simple filaments.” Similarly, the Nature article described them as “filamentous integumentary [skin] structures.” Real bird feathers are complicated, with semi-hollow cores and branching barbs, but the fossil’s filaments apparently did not have these features. These Chinese tyrannosaur fibers, as with perhaps all the famous Chinese fossil dinosaur “feathers” so far, are more straightforwardly interpreted as the fossilized fragments of partly decayed skin.
As for the Archaeopteryx, many evolutionists consider it to be a bridge between reptiles and birds. This primitive bird did possess certain skeletal reptilian-like features – teeth, a long tail, and claws on its wings. But in one respect, flight, the Archaeopteryx was already truly bird. Its wings already had flight feathers as fully developed as any modern bird and capable of powered flight. Unlike dinosaurs, Archaeopteryx had a large braincase for the increased motor control and sensory input that were required for flight. Theropods (dinosaurs) had a lizard-like pelvis that was distinct from the birdlike frame of the Archaeopteryx. It already had a robust furcula (wishbone), a trait characteristic of strong fliers—one that keeps flight muscles from crushing the bird’s delicate internal air sacs. No evidence supports the story that such fully formed wings with fused clavicles “evolved from” the tiny, clavicle-free theropod forelimbs. Even claw measurements of the Archaeopteryx fall within the range of true perching birds. It was a bird without a single transitional feature.
So the “feathered dinosaur” is simply a reptile with decayed skin fibers. And the Archaeopteryx is really a fossilized bird. But there is no progression of reptile to bird, frayed scales to feather, scenario. Furthermore, those who insist that dinosaurs evolved into birds have to willfully ignore the fossil bird prints found in rock layers containing some of the earliest dinosaurs—the supposed ancestors of birds.
As you can see, the mechanisms for flight are irreducibly complex from the simplest element of the feather itself to the composite element of the organism itself being suitable for flight mechanics. However, Darwinian evolution must be accomplished through slow, gradual changes so that everything in life is explained as the slow build-up from something simple to something complex. And Darwin once wrote, “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.”[ii]
When he wrote that in his book Origin of Species, he followed that sentence with the statement that there were no such complex organs. But then again, he was writing this in 1859. What kind of biological knowledge did they have in 1859? For perspective, the American Civil War began in 1861. In all honesty, Darwin probably wasn’t aware of the amazing complexity within our bodies. He had no knowledge of DNA at all, much less how it replicated, since the DNA molecule and its structure was not discovered until 1953. Given the vast amount of information we know now, there is no intellectually honest way one could say that we do not have organs or systems that are irreducibly complex. If we observe something complex that cannot be built up by small, incremental improvements on something simple, then it could not be explained by only natural causes. It is evidence of design, and design requires a designer.
[i] W. Coleman, Georges Cuvier: Zoologist (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1964), 172-173.
[ii] Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 33
This article is Part 2 of our scientific analysis of evolution (go here for Part 1 in case you missed it). Though Part 1 focused on reproduction issues, the main concept is the lack of any plausible way to incrementally change from one type to another in a Darwinian evolution fashion. The only way that Darwin could ever have one species change into another is through a slow gradual process of tiny, micro-mutations within the genes of some common ancestor. In fact, Darwin says everything must be the result of “infinitesimally small inherited modifications,” each of them being profitable to the preserved being.[i] But there are so many things that cannot be explained as a slow gradual build up from something simply, especially given that each incremental step must be advantageous to the individual in order for it to survive through natural selection.
A classic example of this is found in the human eye. The evolutionist would argue that it is easy to show how the eye evolved because 2% of the eye would be more advantageous than 0%, therefore those organisms with 2% of the eye would survive through natural selection. And those would then evolve, or rather genetically mutate, to have 4% of the eye. And those with 4% of the eye would be better adapt to survive than those with 2%, and so on. However, the flaw here is that 2% of the eye does not equate to 2% of eyesight. Yes, having 2% vision is better than 0% but a species won’t have even 0.1% vision until 100% of the eye is present. There is a difference in a partial percentage of the components of the eye itself and having some partial percentage of eyesight. Think about it. If you only had a cornea, but no pupil, or iris, or retina, or rods, or cones, or optic nerve, then you could not see at all. Nothing. 0%. So what advantage would an organism have to genetically mutate a cornea, which gives it no sight whatsoever, while it waits generations to finally genetically mutate a lens? Because, remember, each change must be from an infinitesimally small modification (one micro-mutated gene at a time). So why would natural selection preserve the genes of the organism with a cornea over an organism with no cornea if neither organism could see?
Further still, if an organism were to then completely develop an eye, yet had none of the support structures, the eye still would not be functional. Support structures would be those things that provide tears and blood to nourish and lubricate the eye; the muscles that allow the eye to move; the structures that give the eye protection from injury, like the eye lid and the epithelium of the cornea; the optic nerve to send the signals from the eye to the brain; and a brain to understand what those signals mean. If there were not a brain to interpret what the eye sees, then the eye would still be useless to the organism. Granted, some organisms are able to have eyesight without those support structures and without a brain (and we’ll talk about some of those below) – but not our eye type. For our eye type, the camera eye, something must be able to interpret what the eye sees into something meaningful especially since what our eyes “see” is upside down and double. Our brain is able to combine and convert those double upside-down images into something that makes sense. And all of that work is done by multiple parts within the brain.[ii] Otherwise, the eye would basically just be one annoyance, where dust and particles would scratch and irritate this new feature that didn’t provide any use for the organism. It would be like someone giving a farmer in the 1800s a smart phone.
Now, at this point in the line of reasoning, the evolutionist will show examples of the different types of complexity of eyes that are found in nature. They will even show how they could have progressed from one to another. Some bacteria have just a light sensitive spot with a pigment screen behind it. Next there are some multi-cellular animals that have a similar arrangement set into an optical cup to give improved direction-finding capability. The nautilus has a pinhole eye with no lens, and then the squid eye adds a lens. There is the simple eye, the compound eye, and the camera eye (human eye). So there is wide variety of eye types with various levels of complexity. But does that mean that the more complex eye evolved out of the simpler eye? It is a pertinent question especially since all of these eye types co-exist together!
We must first assess the components of these different eye types. Are the components similar across all eye types to where there could be an incremental building up of something complex? In other words, does the simplest eye have just a retina, the next complex eye adds a lens, and the next adds a cornea until you find all of the components present in the most complex eye – where each of those intermediate eyes were fully functional? Well, those evolutionary charts would have you think so, but that is not the case at all when you look at the details. Each of these different eye types uses entirely different structures. It is not a series of structures that are built upon one another over millions of generations. The compound eyes of insects are made up of hundreds of units called ommatidia that has a cluster of photoreceptor cells surrounded by support cells and pigment cells, each with its own lens. This is a much different structure than the human eye (pictured below). What would an intermediate eye between these types be? It would be something that could not see.
Human camera eye
As you read more about the different eye types even in the camera-type eye it is amazing to see the unique design for each organism’s environment. And the design to make that eye work in that environment goes way beyond just what structures are present. It has to do with the shape and location of those structures; where the eye is located on the head; what muscles are around it. And these variations occur even within the same eye type, the same phylum, and the same genus! The eyes of some fish in the deep sea show variations in the basic spherical design. For some, their field of view is restricted to the upward direction which makes the eye a tubular shape. Some have their field of vision restricted downward, with a second lens and retina attached to the main eye so they can detect bioluminescent creatures. Think about the genetic mutations necessary to develop those two vastly different eyes found in the same phylum. One of them has a second lens and retina attached to its eye. Unless you were already in the sea but stayed mainly in shallow waters, this genetic mutation gives you no advantage whatsoever.
The placing of the eyes in the head of the organism varies as well. Predators like cats and owls have forward-pointing eyes and can judge distance by binocular triangulation. The prey for those animals, like mice and rabbits, have eyes opposite each other to give near-complete coverage of their surroundings. There are even different structures between nocturnal and diurnal animals that would have the same general eye type (compare a squirrel to a raccoon). Diurnal animals have smaller, thinner lenses placed toward the front of the eye with more cones photoreceptors to detect color and fine detail. But nocturnal animals have almost spherical lenses that fill most of the eye cavity so they can capture the maximum amount of light as possible. They also have a huge amount of rods photoreceptors to detect size, shape, and brightness better, but not color. They even have a slit pupil so it can close more effectively in bright light than a round pupil. They also have a “tapetum lucidum, a reflector behind the retina designed to give receptors a second chance to catch photons that were missed on their first passage through the retina.”[iii] Even the Encyclopedia Britannica can’t shy away from the use of the word that most clearly describes this unique feature for nocturnal animals: design. And these differences would be between two organisms that have the same general eye type, the vertebrate camera eye, yet have vast differences in the type and number of photoreceptors, a slit pupil, the shape of the lens, and a reflector behind the retina. These aren’t trivial differences either. Each one of those would require its own genetic mutation. Consider which genetic mutation would have come first, and not just for the eye, but for being a nocturnal animal. What if a diurnal animal had a slit in its pupil before it “evolved” to be nocturnal? Or what if the diurnal animal genetically mutated to have the tapetum lucidum first? What advantage would that animal have? None. Yet for Darwinian evolution to work, each new variation must come from infinitesimally small inherited modifications each of them being profitable to the preserved being.
Let’s put the pencil to the paper for the two “simplest” eyes to see if they could even genetically mutate from one to the other. Here are the descriptions of these two eye types.[iv]
The evolutionary chart is going to show a light spot that just adds a pupil. But taking the steps required by Darwinian evolution, consider the genetic mutations that must occur to “evolve” from one eye type to another - genetic mutations that are not controlled by the organism itself nor by the environment it is subjected to. Nature can’t predetermine the appropriate order for each change to occur. It must all be random. This is the problem with “reverse engineering” to find Darwinian evolution progressions. The “engineering” part of that puts logic and purpose and intelligence into why each change was made to improve on a design. Engineering would say we increased the size of the heart so we must increase lung capacity to go with it. But a blind, random process can’t do that. Darwinian evolution can’t decide that one particular change would help and then make that change. It must wait on the blind luck of a genetic mutation to give it that beneficial change. And it can’t make all those changes at one time because that would be a “sudden jump” in nature. Nature doesn’t make sudden jumps, only God does. It must be the result of a slow, gradual process with infinitesimally small changes. So every change is blind to its effect, and must leave all previous and all future changes unaffected. That being said, we can’t presuppose the order of those genetic changes involved because that involves foresight and planning; and nature does not have that on its own.
Let’s think through the incremental changes between these two incredible “simple” eyes, changing from a Planaria eye to a Nautilus eye. The organism would need a genetic mutation to produce millions of photoreceptors instead of just a few. Now what would a Planaria do if it suddenly had millions of photoreceptors for its pigment cup eye, which only needs a few? Would that be an advantage for it? Then the Planaria’s genes must mutate to decrease the size of the aperture. But how would it be able to still see if the aperture size is decreased but the size of the eye is still only 0.004 inches? Meanwhile, what have all those changes done to the function of the pigment cup eye for the Planaria? Because, see (no pun intended), at this point, the Planaria’s eye is not a pinhole eye. It is a pigment cup eye with too many photoreceptors and too small of an aperture. Hopefully for the Planaria’s sake the next genetic mutation will be to increase the size of the eye 100 times from 0.004 inches to 0.4 inches, assuming this genetically mutated Planaria has survived natural selection, and assuming there are enough other Planaria in this generation that also have genetically mutated to have millions of additional photoreceptors, a smaller aperture, and larger eye size so that all of those traits are passed on. Then the Planaria needs a genetic mutation to acquire muscles in order to move this new eye. Of course that mutation may not get the size, location, and mobility exactly right. It may take multiple generations until the muscles are precisely located to work with this newly mutated eye structure. Lastly, it needs to genetically mutate a pupil, and it must be one that can vary in diameter.
Even if by some miracle (pun intended) all of those genetic mutations occurred individually and incrementally, each one somehow being beneficial to the Planaria, we still don’t have a Nautilus eye. We have a Planaria with a pinhole eye. What is a Planaria going to do with a pinhole eye? Otherwise, we have to start factoring in all of the other genetic mutations that would have to occur alongside the mutations of the eye to change all of the other systems of the body to “evolve” from a Planaria to a Nautilus. Consider the drastically different reproductive systems, digestive systems, circulatory systems, and even the environments in which they live between the Planaria and Nautilus. Not to mention, the Nautilus would have been smart to hold on to the Planaria’s ability to regenerate. But it even begs the question, why did the Nautilus eye stop there in its evolution? Shouldn’t it have continued to genetically mutate to gain a lens over its eye? Richard Dawkins admits to being baffled by the nautilus that has never evolved a lens for its eye over its hundreds of millions of years of existence. He says it is an eye that is “practically crying out for this particular simple change.”[v] Yet it has remained the same.
The eye is an amazing organ, no matter which eye type you study. There is a wide range of eye types that so specifically meet the requirements of the organisms which bear them that it truly is miraculous, or rather, statistically improbable to have occurred through nature alone. (I’ll include some more info below on other eye types if you are interested.) I heard one evolutionist say that they aren’t intimidated by the improbability of evolution because hey, someone has to win the lottery. But for even just the one organ of the eye to develop so perfectly suited for that particular organism’s needs, it would be more like the SAME person winning the lottery every week for the next 5 billion years. Eyes vary in their visual acuity, the range of wavelengths they detect, their sensitivity in low light, their ability to detect motion or to resolve objects, and whether they can discriminate colors – all depending on the need of the organism. When you consider that, it is as though no two species have the same kind of eye structure or sight mechanism.
It is so varied even within the same genus that it becomes statistically improbable that each eye genetically mutated from some common ancestor, especially when there is no evidence of eyes AT ALL in the fossil record before the Cambrian period. That means the Cambrian explosion was not just an explosion of body type, but eye type, all showing up at the same time in the fossil record. It means all those eye types existed together at the same time – just like they do now. Even though the evolutionary pictures try to show a linear progression between types, while intentionally omitting the hundreds of genetic mutations that would have to occur for that to happen, evolutionists now must also claim the evolution was not linear but parallel! But what are the statistical odds of ALL eye types developing at the same rate and time and being kept through natural selection in order to all appear in the fossil record of the Cambrian explosion at the same time – if it were done through Darwinian evolution? [That sounds to me like maybe they were all uniquely created at the same time.] The evolutionists contradict what they try to indoctrinate – that each type gradually merges into another through a serial, linear fashion of infinitesimally small genetic modifications each being beneficial to the organism. So they show a linear progression when it’s convenient and a parallel explosion when it is not. Every technical consideration of the amazing wonder of the eye smacks of divine design of a specific type perfectly suited to the organism. Meanwhile evolutionists just throw in the word “evolved” with no detailed explanation, as if that makes it so. But the detailed evidence, or lack thereof, show a different picture.
[i] Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 33.
[iii] https://www.britannica.com/science/photoreception#ref1005219 “Diversity of Eyes”
[iv] https://www.britannica.com/science/photoreception#ref1005219 “Diversity of Eyes”
[v] Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 35.
The Amazing Eye
Lens eyes. Lenses are composed of a refractive index material that reduce the angle over which each photoreceptor receives light. This allows the lens to form an image focused onto the retina. Each organism type varies the shape of the lens. Organisms focus by either physically moving the lens toward and away from the retina or by using eye muscles to adjust the shape of the lens. But not even in the same genus does the lens develop the same way. And this is important because evolution must come through the genetics and embryonic development. The vertebrate eye lens develops from the epidermis overlying the optic cup, which develops in the exact place to fit the optic cup perfectly. Researchers then discovered that the optic cup itself is the organizer which induces the epidermis to differentiate into this tailor-made lens. The common frog (Rana fusca) eye develops this way. So it was discovered that if this optic cup is removed in the embryo, then no eye lens develops at all. However, for the edible frog (Rana esculens), if the optic cup is removed from the embryo, the eye lens will still develop just the same. The lens develops completely differently in the embryo – even within the same genus!
Corneal Eyes. The cornea is the transparent membrane in front of the eye that separate fluids inside the eye from fluids outside the eye. It functions to increase the focusing power of the eye but the optical power is reduced when there is fluid on both sides of the membrane (it’s why we can’t see well if you go under water and open your eyes).
So animals that move from air to water and back (like seals, otters, and diving birds) have uniquely shaped corneas. Seals have a flat cornea with a spherical lens to produce images. Diving ducks use a different method. They squeeze the lens into the bony ring around the iris, forming a high curvature blip on the lens surface to shorten the focal length. A summary statement from this article about the different eyes says that “the eyes of animals are diverse in structure and use distinct optical mechanisms to achieve resolution.” What is the seal had genetically mutated a flat cornea but didn’t have a spherical lens? Or what if it genetically mutated the spherical lens but didn’t have the flat cornea? What if the diving duck hadn’t yet genetically mutated the bony ring around the iris in order to adjust the focal length? What were those organisms doing before all of those necessary changes occurred?
For organisms not under water, the lenses are flattened and weakened compared to say, a fish lens. In humans, the cornea has an ellipsoidal shape giving it only one axis of symmetry, where the best image quality occurs. Therefore along this axis is a high density of photoreceptors, known as the fovea, which results in acute vision.
Concave mirror eyes. Scallops have about 50-100 single-chambered eyes. And though those eyes have a lens, it is too weak to produce an image. So it has a mirror, made up of alternating layers of guanine and cytoplasm, in the back of the eye that reflects light to the photoreceptors. The mirror structure produces constructive interference for green light to give it a high reflectance. The Pecten actually has two retinas, one made up of a layer of microvillus receptors close to the mirror and out of focus. The other retina is made up of a layer with ciliary receptors in the place of the image. The second layer responds when the image of a dark object moves across it causing the scallop to shut its shell in self-defense.
I recently went to a museum of natural history while on a family vacation. I knew what would be portrayed, especially since the exhibit was called “The Evolving World.” So I was prepared to be irritated by what would be on display. But I wasn’t prepared for how much it would break my heart to see the hundreds of people filing through the exhibit hall blindly accepting this fanciful storyline that we are the hapless product of time plus chance plus matter. It is a story that fails to satisfactorily answer any of the deep penetrating questions of mankind (like why are we here, what is the meaning of life) and fails to satisfactorily explain anything about our existence (like how we have morality, a spirit, and design).
Ironically, this exhibit was right down the hall from an exhibit about the amazing wonder of DNA. The museum never attempted to reconcile the two exhibits – one showing irreducible complexity with coded information as the blueprints for all life, and the other implying all complexity and variety of life was a product of blind, random processes stumbling out of chaos. Nowhere do they recognize that those two options exclude one another. If we are to stand in awe of the mechanism of DNA replication, a true machine involving the integration of multiple parts working together to accurately copy information, then we cannot go with such nonsense that it arose from a blind force of nature. Nature cannot generate information on its own, much less put it in a coded form. E.H. Andrews, professor of materials at the University of London, says, “It is not possible for a code, of any kind, to arise by chance or accident. A code is the work of an intelligent mind…Codes do not arise from chaos.” And without god, chaos is all there is. The two portraits of life could not be more different; they cannot both be true. We cannot be amazingly designed, yet the result of an undirected process from chaos.
So I wanted to take a moment to put some critical thinking to the idea of our “evolving world.” One of the first displays described the differences between asexual and sexual reproduction. However, no explanation is given for how life changed from asexual to sexual reproduction, much less for why it would change to a less reliable method of reproduction. Just wave the magic wand of time and chance and Darwin, and *poof* we have two members of the same species that evolved, or rather genetically mutated the exact same gene at the exact same time in the same population in the same location with fully compatible reproductive organs, the urge to mate, and the ability to grow another species and give birth. A lot of people will try to point to examples of species that produce both asexually and sexually to say this was how a species could evolve to produce sexually. But finding two reproductive systems coexisting does not explain how those two systems came into existence in the first place. Evolutionists would have to show the step by step transformation to build up to sexual reproduction. Just putting the words “this evolved” in front of it does not actually explain it. Consider the complications involved not only in finding compatible mating species, but in our case as mammals, one gender of the species being able to grow and sustain a new life inside of it! And all of those features – in both genders – must happen at the same time in order for the next generation to be produced. In other words, it does no good for one generation of a species to genetically mutate a specialized sac to store sperm, if it has to wait millions of years to genetically mutate a way to actually dispense the sperm. Its mate then has to genetically mutate – at the same time – a way to develop and mature an egg, release an egg, and have a way of encountering a sperm; then it must have a way to hold and protect the fertilized egg, to give it nourishment in utero, to have a way to birth it, and even a way to nourish it after birth. Meanwhile each one of those individual mutations must be beneficial in some way to the organism, even though at that point, it doesn’t lead to sexual reproduction yet. What benefit could there be to a species genetically mutating the ability to ovulate if there is no way to fertilize the egg until millions of years later? Because if any one of these parts of the reproductive system were not there, then sexual reproduction could not occur at all.
Those are super simplified explanations of all the components necessary for reproduction, but not everything reproduces in the same way. Look at one explanation from a site about the “evolution” of sexual reproduction: “Non-mammals, such as birds and reptiles, have a common body opening, called a cloaca, for the digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems. Coupling between birds usually involves positioning the cloaca openings opposite each other for transfer of sperm. In mammals, there are separate openings for the systems in the female and a uterus for support of developing offspring. Depending on the type of species, there are differences in the uterus. In species that produce large numbers of offspring, the uterus has two chambers. In other species that produce one offspring, such as in primates, there is a single uterus.”[i] So even the locations of openings for sperm transfer must genetically mutate in a compatible way between genders in the same species. And the species must even genetically mutate to have the appropriate number of uteruses. Interestingly, the article doesn’t actually explain how those would develop independently as a result of random genetic mutation, it simply puts the word “evolved” at the beginning of each paragraph. But that doesn’t explain how it could ever have happened that way!
See, I prefer to use a term that more accurately describes what must take place: genetically mutate. The word “evolve” is so vague and is used to gloss over so many complexities and difficulties that this theory must explain. How did we get these two species? Oh, it just evolved! Poof! Problem solved. In reality, the changes involved in Darwinian evolution all must be from a genetic mutation. The change to a species must come from within its genes in order to be passed along to the next generation (because we know “acquired characteristics” does not affect the next generation – a horse cannot stretch and elongate its neck to then give birth to a giraffe; its offspring would still genetically have the neck length of a horse). The mutation in the gene must come as an error in the DNA replication of the organism. However, with the built-in proofreading capability in the DNA replication, the probability of having a mutation is very low and occurs in only a few organisms at a time. There is even a repair system in the cell that will recognize and attempt to fix any genetic mutations.
Furthermore, when a mutation does occur, it is typically harmful to the population and rarely beneficial. Studies of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster suggest about 70% of genetic mutations have damaging effects, and the remainder are either neutral or weakly beneficial. Many organisms with genetic disorders do not survive long enough to reproduce themselves, meaning they are less likely to pass on that mutation to the next generation. Just think about the conditions that come from human genetic mutations: cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, hemophilia, Klinefelter’s syndrome, spina bifida, Tay-Sachs, or Turner syndrome. As you can see, genetic mutations do not have a creative aspect – generating new information in the DNA, which is necessary for Darwinian evolution to be plausible. The reality is that mutations rarely occur. When they do occur, they are usually repaired by the body. If the mutation does persist and is expressed in the organism, the mutation is typically detrimental to the organism. This is adding up to be a very difficult statistical thing to accomplish for a mutation to be advantageous AND to be passed along to the next generation of offspring.
The statistical odds of Darwinian evolution are so implausible, and there are more things to consider. In order for species A to evolve into species B, there must be enough of species A to have the same gene mutate with the same physical affect for it to spread through the rest of the population by interbreeding. In other words, there must be enough of the same mutation across the population to not be stamped out in the next generation. If you put a few numbers to it, consider just one individual having a genetic mutation in a population of 2 million. When that individual mates, that genetic mutation will be suppressed based on how genetic reproduction works. There must be enough organisms in the same generation to have the same random mutation of the same gene with the same resulting change so that we can reproduce that mutation and pass it along to the next generation. But further still, each mutation must be entirely random and therefore completely blind to whatever effect it may have on the function or structure of the organism. That trait acquired by mutation can never subsequently be lost or transformed in any radical sense by any future genetic mutations. And the acquisition of new character traits must leave previously acquired character traits essentially unchanged. Once this change has been realized, then it must make the species more advantageous to survive, even though natural selection actually works to conserve the population by preventing extreme differences in the species.
To provide an example of how all this must work, the organism can’t decide it needs another leg and then mutate its genes to create one. The species must rely on blind, random genetic processes. It must wait until its genetic reproduction incorrectly copies a gene, that the error is not repaired, that it happens to result in an extra limb, and that the extra limb is advantageous for it to survive through natural selection. However there also must be enough other organisms that had the same gene mutate to result in an extra limb so that it could mate and pass on this extra limb to the next generation. The rate at which this occurs is dependent on the mutation rate, generation time, and total population number. Without knowing all of these factors it is impossible to determine whether the transition from a one-legged to two-legged organism could have possibly occurred by natural selection in the time available. Darwin provides no quantitative evidence of this kind to show that any one major evolutionary transformation would in fact have been possible in the manner he outlined.[ii] It is this aspect of the genetic change that makes the theory of Darwinian evolution so preposterous. Evolutionists may argue that given enough time, anything can happen; I've even heard someone say, "well, someone has to win the lottery." But this is like the same person winning the lottery every month for 4.5 billion years. If that were to happen, then the most logical conclusion would be that someone has rigged the lottery, not that given enough time anything can happen.
Going back to our issue of changes in reproduction, evolutionists never describe the detailed changes required to go from one type to another. For example, evolutionists claim that reptiles evolved from amphibians yet they don’t explain how the drastic changes in egg types could have slowly evolved over time through incremental genetic changes. And there are hardly two eggs in the entire animal kingdom that are more drastically different than the reptile and amphibian.[iii] Picture the difference between an alligator egg and a frog egg. The reptilian egg has a tough impervious shell; two membranes: the amnion and the allantois; and a yolk sac containing a food source in the form of the protein albumen. None of these features are found in the amphibian egg, which is a soft gelatinous egg that must stay in the water. Most notably though, consider what comes out of the two different eggs. The amphibian egg yields an organism that goes through a metamorphosis (tadpole changing to frog) while the reptile yields a fully formed organism, basically a miniature adult (a baby alligator emerges from the egg).[iv]
There are at least eight major changes necessary to go from the amphibian egg to a reptilian egg:[v]
The irony of evolution goes beyond just the lack of explanations in its theory. It claims to be the “science” of our day, but science is the last thing involved with evolution. Science is supposed to be the search for truth about how things work. But that is not allowed with evolutionists. Critical thinking is discouraged because it inevitably results in criticism of its own ideals. Logical criticisms of this ideology are met with cries of heresy instead of intellectual debate. At this museum as well as in a majority of articles you read about evolution, the statement “it evolved” is made with no legitimate explanation as to how it evolved, or even why. Making the statement “it evolved” does not explain anything and certainly does not make it so.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Read Science vs. Evolution, part 2
Read Science vs. Evolution, part 3
[i] Source: Boundless. “The Evolution of Reproduction.” Boundless Biology. Boundless, 26 May. 2016. Retrieved 23 Oct. 2016 from https://www.boundless.com/biology/textbooks/boundless-biology-textbook/animal-reproduction-and-development-43/fertilization-238/the-evolution-of-reproduction-888-12139/
[ii] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler & Adler, 1986), 61.
[iii] Phillip E. Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 77.
[iv] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler & Adler, 1986), 218.
[v] Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Chevy Chase, MD: Adler & Adler, 1986), 219.
[vi] Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996), 233.
In John 18 Jesus stands trial before Pontius Pilate. Pilate is questioning Jesus in an attempt to understand the charges that have been brought against Him. He wants to determine why the people are so desperate for an innocent man to be crucified. He asks Jesus, “So You are a king?” And Jesus says in verse 37, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” And Pilate said to Him “What is truth?”
What a profound and relevant question posed by Pilate. What is truth? I actually had a conversation the other day about this very issue. The discussion started around the verse Romans 1:25 “They exchanged God’s truth for a lie.” It prompted the very same question that Pilate asked: “What is truth?” In the case of this passage from Romans, it is talking about the truth of who God is. The rest of the verse says that people chose to worship the creation rather than the Creator. So they exchanged the truth about who God is – His power, His authority, and His rule over creation – in order to worship something that is false. If you are giving godly worship to something that is not god, then you have exchanged the truth for a lie. But the deeper question is about truth in general. Is truth knowable? Is there such thing as absolute truth?
Many people claim that there is no truth. Yet in that statement they are making a truth claim. They are claiming to know the truth that there is no truth. It is a contradictory idea. You can’t truthfully say that there is no truth. If there really is no truth, then the statement would be false, and therefore there would be truth. And now you see the simple circle we have danced around. So while it might seem handy for an atheist to say that there’s just no such thing as truth, the appropriate response is, “Is that true?”
But aside from pointing out the failings of the argument, we can also look at how we live our lives in reality. Is there really a truth to the way our world operates? First we should understand what we mean by the word “truth.” Truth is that which affirms reality, regardless of how one feels about it. That is what makes it an objective truth. It exists as truth outside of man’s opinion. Now, there are certainly subjective truths, such as my preferred ice cream flavor, which is a truth according to my opinion. And that truth may change from person to person and even as my own tastes change. But there are such things as objective truth, things that are what they are regardless of personal opinion. There are objective truths that we accept every day. We all know that 1+1=2 objectively, outside of our opinions. Regardless of how you may feel about that sum being equal to 2, it will remain equal to that value. And it would remain true even if we weren’t here to observe it. So objective truth is independent of observation. It exists absolutely and separate from man’s opinion.
So even though some people may question objective truth, we certainly live as though there is an objective truth to be known. It is pretty much what we define as science; that there are certain facts about how the world works, regardless of your opinion on it. Subatomic particles will function as they do whether I agree with it or even whether I choose to believe in their existence at all. And they act that way whether we observe them acting that way or not. So objective truth does not depend on someone observing it, agreeing with it, or believing in it. I might claim I haven’t observed gravity, don’t agree with it, and don’t believe in it, but the objective truth of it will make itself known when I jump off a bridge. So while some people may like to believe that truth is irrelevant or nonexistent, that is not reflective of reality.
Math and science are not the only places where we find objective truth though. Atheists may want to philosophize that objective truth does not exist, but they inevitably live their lives in pursuit of it. Our justice system is supposed to be devoted to finding the objective truth about the past with regards to the defendant. We ask it of our children every day to tell us the objective truth of whether or not they broke the vase in the living room. We demand it from our relationships so that other people are honest with us in their actions and emotions. In each of those situations we are searching out an objective truth. Yes, each of those has a subjective truth tied to it. The jury’s opinion (subjective truth) may be that the defendant did not commit that crime or maybe that the crime was justified. But the objective truth exists of whether he did or did not commit that act. So I find it very interesting that some may question if truth exists while at the same time live their lives in pursuit of it.
However, the growth of relativism has given rise to the persistent belief among people that all truth is relative. It is all purely opinion; no objective truth actually exists. Thus, the definition and understanding of truth can vary from person to person based on each one’s experience. We’ve lost the idea that facts can be anything more than just one person’s opinion. What’s true for you may not be true for me. This concept has been so subtly imprinted onto the minds of our society that no one even questions it anymore. Is it really true that there is no truth? Is truth really never definitive, knowable, or absolute? And why has this idea of there not being truth been pushed onto us without even a whimper of protest? Because once objective truth dies, so does ethics. And herein lies the problem. If objective truth can’t be known, then an objective moral truth is equally irrelevant. This is what lures people into this line of thinking. If there is no objective truth, then ALL things are subjective to our own whims and fancies. At that point, anything goes. I can do whatever I please because whatever I please just happens to be whatever I define as my version of truth.
But again, that is not really how we live our lives. We like to think truth and morals are subjective because it’s appealing to set our own personal standard of behavior. But eventually we identify certain behaviors that violate an absolute moral truth or ethic, things that are wrong outside of anyone’s particular opinion. A perfect example is the idea of slavery. Throughout all of history, there has been some people-group enslaved by another. Which means, at some point the popular opinion was that owning another person, devaluing them as a piece of property, was considered acceptable. Does that mean it was morally right? Or maybe, just maybe, there is an absolute moral standard that is violated when people are owned and enslaved by someone else. The founding principles of this nation acknowledge that objective moral truth. And look at the words our founding fathers chose to convey that: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” They recognized that there is an absolute truth and not only was it knowable, but it was “self-evident,” which means “clearly true and requiring no proof or explanation.” It was an objective, self-evident truth that people are equal, not slaves to one another based on any possible reason. Even the moral relativist would have to agree with that statement.
Now we can see the hypocrisy in saying that there is no objective truth. Without objective truth, there is no objective morality. And without objective morality, then there is no standard of ethics that says slavery, genocide, or even cruelty to animals is wrong. Consider the irony of the moral relativist participating in an organization called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (or PETA). If that group wants to impose a standard of behavior onto others for the treatment of animals, then they are admitting that there is an objective ethic. They won’t accept the excuse that maybe someone’s version of truth is to treat animals cruelly and someone else’s version of truth is to treat animals kindly. They would rail against someone saying treating animals kindly may be true for you but not true for me. So in effect, they are claiming to know the objective moral standard for the treatment of animals and they are insisting that standard applies to all people.
Going back to the words of Jesus in John 14:6, He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” What an interesting choice of words to say that He is the truth. In that statement He is telling us that truth is knowable and truth is absolute. Truth excludes the false. He is stating that He is an objective truth that would exclude all others. Why does it matter to know the truth? Because He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
I recently came across some fascinating quotes from the two most well-known philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. What I found so interesting about them is that modern philosophers claim they don’t need god. But the two most influential philsophers would beg to defer. While I don’t know for sure if they were Christians or not, they certainly were not atheists and concluded quite solidly that a god does exist.
Plato reasoned that there were two things that “lead men to believe in the gods”: the argument based on the soul and the argument from “the order of the motion of the stars, and of all things under the dominion of the mind which ordered the universe.” Plato used both of those arguments to refute the notion of atheism and concluded that there must be a “best soul” who is the “maker and father of all…who ordered the primordial chaos into the rational cosmos we observe today.” Plato established two of the most commonly used arguments for the existence of God – that man has a soul and the universe has design. It was obvious to him that in light of those two things a god must exist.1
Aristotle reached a similar conclusion. Look at his thoughts on the subject:
“When thus they would suddenly gain sight of the earth, seas, and the sky; when they should come to know the grandeur of the clouds and the might of the winds; when they should behold the sun and should learn its grandeur and beauty as well as its power to cause the day by shedding light over the sky; and again, when the night had darkened the lands and they should behold the whole of the sky spangled and adorned with stars; and when they should see the changing lights of the moon as it waxes and wanes, and the risings and settings of all the celestial bodies, their courses fixed and changeless throughout all eternity-when they should behold all these things, most certainly they would have judged both that there exist gods and that all these marvelous works are the handiwork of the gods.”2
The grandeur of the heavens and the movements of the celestial bodies led Aristotle to conclude there must be a First Unmoved Mover, which is God; a living, intelligent, eternal, and most good being, who is the source of order in the cosmos. From the earliest of times even men who are without a Biblical revelation, have concluded on the basis of the universe alone that a Divine Being must exist. If that sounds familiar to you, let’s revisit the words from Paul in Romans 1:18-20.
“For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”
Some may say that so little was known about science at the time of Paul, Plato, and Aristotle so those men just did not know any better. They didn’t have a scientific explanation for most things so they just relied on God to explain it. We know so much more now about how the world works, and we have a scientific explanation for nearly everything. Surely this information age has shown that there doesn’t have to be a god, right? But in reality, that kind of statement is incredibly naïve about what science has actually revealed to us. And honestly, it’s highly ironic that the same people accusing Paul of not being scientifically informed will rely solely on a theory proposed during the Civil War era to explain all of life’s origins. Darwin’s theory of evolution was first published in 1859, around the same time that patients were having amputations without anesthesia, people were dying from gangrene, and bloodletting was still the recommended cure for illnesses.
With all the knowledge we’ve gained in science since then, particularly in biology, we should stop and see what it reveals. The double-stranded helix of DNA was first discovered in 1953. Since then we know that in a simplified explanation of DNA replication there are at least five components (helicase, single stranded binding proteins, DNA polymerase, primase, and ligase) necessary in order to replicate the first piece of DNA. Without any one of those, DNA replication could not take place. Yet DNA replication is the most essential mechanism to the existence of life. If DNA could not replicate, cells could not replicate, and no further organisms could be created. But it is an amazingly complex mechanism that must run with absolute precision. In fact, it is considered to be irreducibly complex. You cannot remove one of its components and have it still function in its intended fashion.3
We find the same thing with protein synthesis. The formation of proteins in the cell requires the integrated activities of nearly 100 different proteins, all carrying out different, very specific steps in the assembly of a new protein molecule. If any one of these did not exist, proteins could not be generated and therefore life could not be sustained. In other words, you have to have proteins in order to make proteins. We often jokingly ask, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” but it would be better to ask, “Which came first, the protein or the protein?” Where did we get the first protein?4
So how could anything have ever reproduced, “evolved” even, without all of those enzymes and proteins already present for DNA replication? How could the “first cell” have ever survived without there already being hundreds of proteins to create other proteins? The answer is it could not have. Those mechanisms had to be in existence since the very beginning in order to sustain any life at all. There are thousands of other examples in biology of a level of complexity that Paul, Plato, Aristotle, and even Darwin could not have imagined. It is a level of complexity that only further proves that something intelligent beyond our wildest imaginations designed it that way and created it for us. The philosophers of old with minimal scientific knowledge could see the vast expanse of this universe and the amazing creation on this earth and knew they were “without excuse.” And now we have such a wealth of knowledge about the cosmos, the cell, and subatomic particles which all declare the wonders of this same God. The evidence all around us is so compelling for God’s existence that we, even more so than our predecessors, stand without excuse for rejecting that a God exists. What it tells us is that no one fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; people fail to become a Christian because they love darkness rather than light.
1 Plato, The Laws Book XII
2 Aristotle, On Philosophy
3 Cathryn Buse, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity, (Denver, CO: Cross Link Publishing, 2016), 41-44.
4 Cathryn Buse, Teaching Others to Defend Christianity, (Denver, CO: Cross Link Publishing, 2016), 32.
The universe exists; therefore, its existence must be explained in some way. We have to answer the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” How did we come to be here? For many years the response was that we have just always been here and always will be. But science has proven that the universe is not eternal. The second law of thermodynamics tells us that it is decaying – eternal things do not decay. We know that there was a singularity event from which the universe came into existence – and scientists even named it: the Big Bang. Stephen Hawking says, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.” Physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler state: “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.” Not only did all matter and energy come into being at the singularity event but time and space as well. That means at one point there was nothing. But now there is something. How did that happen?
We know we can’t get something from nothing. So whatever change the nothingness to somethingness must be different from this something we observe; it must be different from this universe. Everything in this universe is finite and contingent, not eternal. Nothing that we observe here in this universe is capable of creating this universe. This finite, contingent universe of matter is unable to explain itself, so the creator of this universe must be different from what is here in the universe. What would be different from our finite universe of time, space, energy and matter? It must be something that exists outside of our time, space, energy, and matter. Most people would define that entity as “God” of some sort.
Of course, the natural progression from this point is to then question who made God. If God made the universe, then who made God? However, only things that have a beginning require a cause to bring it into being. We haven’t proven that God has a beginning (unlike the universe, which does have a beginning). Since God is eternal, He has no beginning, and therefore does not require a cause.
How can we assert that God is eternal? Are we avoiding the question by making that claim? Not at all. Because we exist now, something had to have existed forever. Since science has proven that the universe has a beginning, then there was a time when there was no universe. But we know that nothing produces nothing. We can’t get something from nothing. If there had ever been a time when nothing existed (no universe and no eternal God), then there would still be nothing now.
Because something does exist now, it follows that something had to exist forever. R.C. Sproul states: “Indeed, reason demands that if something exists, either the world or God (or anything else), then something must be self-existent….There must be a self-existent being of some sort somewhere or nothing would or could exist.” (emphasis mine)
If prior to the existence of the universe there was absolutely nothing – no God, no space, no time – how could the universe possibly have come to exist? The atheist finds it more unintelligible to believe in god than that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing. To suggest that things could just pop into existence, uncaused and out of nothings is to quit doing serious intellectual study - and resort to magic.
So how did the universe come into being? Sir Arthur Eddington concluded, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.” It “involves a certain metaphysical aspect which may be either appealing or revolting,” says Hubert Reeves astrophysicist.
The truth is there. We have something where there used to be nothing. The natural cannot explain that, therefore, there must be something supernatural. It should be our life’s goal to understand who or what that Supernatural Being is, to whom we owe our very existence.
Why? It’s a question that comes up in everything we do. It’s something that can consume us and something that can drive us, sometimes backwards and sometimes forwards. We have this insatiable quest for understanding the reason behind things. It starts as early as we can speak. I field the question on a constant basis about everything with my toddler. “Don’t hit the cat.” “Why, mommy?” “Don’t put your fork in your nose.” “Why, mommy?” So sometimes I don’t feel the question “why” really even needs to be answered. But still, he wants to know the reason behind the imperative. Then again, I find myself as the mom often asking the child that: why did you hit your brother? Why did you tear the pages out of your book? Sometimes those questions we may not really want to know the reason behind it, yet we still find ourselves needing to ask it.
How did we come to be such curious creatures? I think we must first determine if we are the only creatures with this kind of curiosity. The old adage says that “curiosity killed the cat” but mankind’s curiosity goes much deeper than just an inquisitive moment of an animal. The cat may want to know why there’s a spot of light on the wall, but the human mind is going to want to know why that plastic device can bring forth light, why that light is a ray and a particle, why the light looks that color, why the light cannot operate indefinitely, or why the light reaches the wall faster than the sound of our laughter. But then we’ll also ask ourselves why the cat is chasing that light and why we are so amused by it.
The human search for answering why is something completely unique in the animal kingdom. Lions don’t investigate why the gazelle comes to the river to drink; the lion just knows that it does. The cow doesn’t research why the grass grows when there is more rain; the cow just knows it has plenty to eat. The dog may know it is cooler in the shade than in the sun, but it doesn’t understand why, nor does it really care. Therefore this can’t be some evolutionary advancement. Evolution doesn’t require the organism to understand the reason behind things, just whether they are better suited to survive.
But humans have this drive for understanding why. It is that quest for “why” that leads us to discover: why do plants grow in the sun? It’s what pushes us to explore and research: why are the pyramids here? Why does the sun move across the sky? But mostly, it shows our drive to understand the rest of mankind. This quest for why has generated entire fields of study in philosophy, psychology, sociology, anthropology. Why do we do the things we do? Why do we behave the way we behave? The one question asked at the end of a relationship: why? The one question asked to people risking their lives to climb Mt. Everest: why? The one question we want answered when convicting a killer of his crimes: why? The one question we demand from God in the face of tragedy: why?
Should we then stop to consider, why do we ask why? What is it about mankind that compels us to understand the reason behind things? We want to discover more about the world around us. We want to explore what is beyond us in the universe. We want to understand where we have our beginnings. But why? Because it is what makes us uniquely human. Nature itself cannot account for the existence of this inquisitive feature. This quest for understanding why must come from somewhere outside of nature because nature doesn’t care why. People do.
We have philosophers and theoretical thinking, things that have no use in an evolutionary sense. Evolution is only concerned with survival, not theorizing about the cosmos or mathematics. Evolution would not drive our desire to discover reason. The very fact that we’re pondering why we ponder things goes to show that there is something more to us than an evolved set of rearranged matter. Something outside of us, outside of nature, must have given us that feature. It gave us this drive to discover, to explore, and to create so that we would have tasks to go accomplish above the simple nature of survival. We could dream things to do and invent and imagine. But then, not only were we as humans given this unique quest for why, but we were placed here with so many different why’s to explore. We were given this amazing earth with vastly different landscapes, more variety than any other planet. We have oceans with amazing creatures and snow-capped mountains with their own atmosphere. We have deserts, tropics, plains, and icebergs. We have huge mammals and microscopic bacteria. We’re comprised of complicated organic molecules, proteins and enzymes, organized into systems. The earth is uniquely placed so that we are able to see beyond our galaxy and send devices to explore the solar system and the universe. We’re able to seek for the whys in the cosmos and in microbiology. We have a need to discover and we have things given for us to discover.
Evolution could not suddenly generate this kind of awareness and theoretical thinking on its own. Something cannot arise from nothing. If in the beginning there were only particles, the spirit for discovery could never have arisen. If in the beginning there were a Divine Mind, then we can explain the existence of particles and mind. Ironically, many people want to use the quest for knowledge in their effort to disprove God. But, the very quest for knowledge itself cannot be explained apart from the existence of God.