Creation vs. Evolution: Thoughts from a Christian and a Scientist

I realized this debate has gone on forever and will go on forever, and I also want to say that I’m not going to attempt to solve it or shed brand new light on the subject. I just want to give my perspective.

Let me start this post off by stating a few things about myself:

  • First of all, I’m a Christian. I believe the Bible. I believe it is the infallible word of God, and I believe that what is written in it is truth.
  • Second, I’m a scientist. I majored in Chemistry and Biology in college, and I’ve worked for several years as a research technician in a biomedical research lab.

If you were expecting two conflicting viewpoints about this issue, sorry – I guess I tricked you. One of the reasons I’m writing this is because I’m tired of people arguing one versus the other – creation vs evolution, and science vs religion. I don’t really think anything good comes from that argument, and ultimately, I think that argument is flawed. I think science and religion – creation and evolution – go hand in hand.

Before you get too worked up about what I just said, let me explain…

The word “evolution” gets a really, really bad rap in the church. Evolution can mean a lot of things to different people. It can mean the really big idea that all life descended from one single celled organism (this is not what I believe). When I say evolution, I mean change over time.  I’ll categorize it simply by distinguishing “Macro” and “Micro” evolution. “Macro” evolution would mean humans “evolved” from apes. “Micro” evolution is more like Natural Selection, meaning that species change over time – those individuals that have traits more suited to survival in the environment are “selected” and pass their traits on to further generations. Over time, the traits that work out the best show up more often, and the species changes. On a “micro” level. This “evolution” was proven by Charles Darwin with his work on the Galapagos Islands. It went like this.

Charles visits the islands and takes note of the finches there. He studies all kinds of things, most importantly the size of their beaks. A few years later, Charlie visits the islands again. This time he’s really interested in what he finds, because he knows that there has been a serious drought since he was there last. The first time, there was plenty of lush vegetation for those finches to get at. Over the last years, though, that vegetation has dried up. All that has been available for a while is scarce vegetation hidden in crevices and hard-to-reach places. As Charles studies the finches the second time, he notices something peculiar. The beak sizes on all the birds he sees are significantly different than they were before. Because the vegetation was suddenly harder to get at, most of the birds with smaller beaks (those unable to get to the food) died. The birds with longer, narrower beaks (the ones that could eat) lived. The birds with long beaks had little baby birds with long beaks, and pretty soon most of the birds on the islands had long beaks. Change over time. Evolution. Proven. It exists, and there is no denying it. We see it all the time in nature, with all different species, including human beings.

So this brings up a couple of points about science. What is science? To put it simply, it is the investigation of how things work. We see something happening in nature. We want to know why and how it works. For example: When you throw a ball up in the air, it eventually comes down. What the heck causes this? Well, you and I know that gravity causes it, but at one point, somebody had to sit down and figure it out. That person might have started off with an idea of how that worked – call that a hypothesis. Another example: A long time ago, lots of people held the idea that the earth was flat. This was their hypothesis. Until we realized that we can start out sailing in one direction and come all the way around the earth without changing course. Hmmm, something must be wrong with the original hypothesis. It’s at this point that we start collecting data and evidence, and we start looking at that data to see if it supports our original idea. If it does, great. If it doesn’t, come up with another idea. This is the scientific method, and I believe in it.

Another point about science: Many people think that science is “pure” and “objective”. Meaning that when you prove something scientifically, it stands no matter what. I would like to challenge that point. I don’t believe science is pure (I’m kind of stealing this idea from somebody else, but I believe it to be true). Everybody who does science – whether it’s the atheist scientist who has dismissed the idea that a creator created anything or the Christian scientist who believes that God created everything – every scientist comes to science with a preconceived set of ideas. A good scientist will allow the data and evidence to direct their discovery and shape their notion of how things work, and not the other way around. What I mean is, a bad scientist will try and make the data say what they want it to say, and a good scientist will make their claims based on the data. It is an extremely gray area – you can make “facts” and “data” and “evidence” say pretty much whatever you want it to, depending on how you communicate it. This is why I say that science isn’t pure. Even the best scientists – the ones that make their claims based on the evidence they gather – even their science is influenced by their preconceived ideas and belief systems.

OK, so that was quite an introduction to this post, so let me get to the meat of what I want to say. We have a lot of evidence that suggests things like the Big Bang and evolution, and on and on. We also have what may seem like two sides: Science and Religion, and it has seemed that these two sides have been at war since the dawn of time (speaking of, isn’t the “dawn of time” what we’re all trying to figure out?). I propose this: Science and Religion are not enemies. Science and Religion are friends. The more we understand, from a scientific perspective, about how our world is and works and began, the more mystery we unveil. Evidence points toward a Big Bang, which says, in a nutshell, that from an almost infinite point of energy all things came into existence. If I were to describe how the creation story works, I think I might use the word “bang”. God spoke, and “Bang” it was. The Big Bang seems to suggest that something came from nothing, which flies in the face of science which clearly states that something cannot be created from nothing. I’m no expert in the Big Bang theory, but it might seem to suggest things that are impossible with science.

Take the human body. It is a complex and wonderful thing. In our physiology, we see evidence of evolution. But we can also appreciate the fact that it is such a complex thing that it would be impossibly mind-boggling to claim that it all randomly came together by chance. In my opinion, the human body is evidence of intelligent design.

Like I said earlier – I’m not writing this to shed new light or evidence on the matter. I don’t have some kind of groundbreaking find. I do think that we could change our way of thinking about these things, though. The world is more complex than simple scientific claims, and it cannot be put into a scientific box.

I conclusion, I think I should state that the church, over its history, has done terrible things to fight this war against science. I really liked the book and movie “Angels and Demons”.  While I don’t agree with all the points made by Dan Brown, I think he brings to light the perspective that science and religion co-exist in a very innovative way. As Christians, we are called to love one another, not be at war with one another. If you are invested in this issue, I encourage you to do all you can to educate yourself from both sides – the Christian side and the Scientific side – and keep an open mind when doing so. I also encourage you to have open conversations with friends and colleagues in both camps about the issues, again, keeping an open mind.

If you’ve taken the time to read this whole post, I’m sure you’ve got some ideas kicking around in your head. I’m also aware that many of you are far more educated than me in both science and religion (and just plain smarter, too), and I welcome your discussion.

Disclaimer: these thoughts are mine, and are not the property or opinions of any employer I’ve worked for or currently work for

  • http://brianwahlband.com Brian

    Ah – good point. I think I used the term “evolution” to describe natural selection a bit too much in this post. Thanks for the clarification, and thanks for commenting.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/brianwahl Brian

    Great points all around, Brett. It is scary to think of all the different pressures that often times cloud the truth, especially coupled with how easy it is to make data appear to say or support whatever a person wants it to say or support.

  • miles

    Hey Brian,
    Im a christian in high school and i have a class called Zobot. (zoology and botony) From your article i am assuming we are learning macro evolution in our class. I am very confused because we have learned that everything has come from a single cell the slowly worked up to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds then mammals.

    But how would adam and eve been able to name every animal? or in Genesis 1:20-21 God creates all the birds,fish and mammals in two days. Unless two days are millions of years in God's eyes i'm HECKA confused!! because that would completely disprove what i have been learning over the last 8 months

  • gabrielle duhl:)

    good points made in this post!:)
    every day when im in church my friend morgan is ALWAYS talking about evolution so maybe this will be a great post for her too read!

    • http://brianwahlband.com Brian

      Hi Gabrielle,

      Thanks for commenting! This is a pretty big topic, both in the church and in the science world. Send your friend over and encourage her to add her thoughts in the comments.

  • John

    Brian, excellent statements and logic. Good post! Miles, stick to your faith despite the pressure to conform. You made excellent points. If something causes confusion with what the Bible says, than it may just be incompatible. Macro-evolution and an old earth are not compatible with Scripture. Even the bible college I attended for a few semesters was beguiled by evolution and tried to make the Bible match the supposed millions of years it would take for life to randomly occur (which still isn’t possible anyhow). They started introducing “the gap theory” in their teachings. Then there was a theory of some other flood and God wiping out mankind before He made Adam. One student believed God killed the dinosaurs off before Adam was here. But the Bible plainly teaches that death came as a result of Adam sinning. They were twisting and perverting God’s Holy Word to make it fit with naturalistic reasoning. But our Creator is super-natural. If death did not come to mankind from Adam’s sin, then the world really wouldn’t need a Savior. No, Jesus wasn’t a scientist, but He knew the truth and He backed up what Moses said concerning info in Genesis. I wasn’t brought up in church, but what I didn’t know was – that I was brought up with a religion. It is the religion that has been established by the government with our tax dollars in the public education system. It goes by the name of athiesm, naturalism, secular humanism. It is a religion recognised and protected by the Constitution – even though it is not supposed to be established over children’s live in school according to the 1st Ammendment. Apostle Paul mentioned philosophies that were falsely called science. It is a theory (unproven and not duplicated utilizing the scientific method to substantiate it)that claims everything in the universe came into existence by natural means without a Creator. It is a worldview belief system which, even though readily accepted as scientifc fact, is in fact only a theory. They can teach their religion and disguise it as science because the world is on their side. But if you follow Jesus the world will not be your friend. Remember, He said so. As long as we do not take the worldview of naturalism as truth and try to make the Bible support the THEORY of (macro) evolution, then we’ll be in good shape. If we compromise, then who really are we following ? No scientist died for me. I am not against scientists, so PLEASE don’t be offended. None of us were there at the moment of creation. We all are hopefully being open-minded enough to seek the truth. The only way for an athiest to know for sure that there is no God is for them to be all-knowing and be present everywhere in the visible and invisible universe at the same time. Those, however, are two of the qualities that God has. He alone is omni-present and all-knowing. The only way an athiest could know that God does not exist is for them to be God themselves. That’s part of the human problem – we want to be lord over our own lives rather than yield our ways and will to a Creator.And if Intelligent Design points to a Creator (which is the only valid conclusion for me), then that is who we should seek for truth. Not everyone down here on planet earth is dilligently looking for the truth. Some might even lead you far astray. Jesus also explained that people hate the truth and won’t come into the light because their ways are evil. I know. I ran from God for a long time and tried to justify myself by turning to easy explanations that did away with the existence of God. Most people are on that wide and easy path. It is difficult to get off it if you rely only on human understanding. We’re supposed to renew our minds by reading God’s Word. It purifies us and washes out all the false ideas that are contrary to the truth. It takes hard work and discipline though – or you may find yourself too easily succumbing emotionally or intellectually to those who don’t yet believe the truth. There are many well-meaning and sincere people in this world, but we have to also be on the lookout for deception. Naturalism and macro-evolution tend to undermine Scripture by nullifying: the Genesis account, the existence of God, the existence of sin, and the need for a Savior. If you hold to your belief in the Bible and the book of Genesis, you’ll be assumed to be some type of backward idiot for not abandoning your faith and going with the beliefs of most of the published scientific community. And that goes for the world-wide flood of Noah’s day as well. I used to think people that believed all that Bible stuff were morons. (Little did I know then – that is mostly due to the influnce of the church – that we have the education system that we do; especially in America and Europe. We’ve just turned against God for the most part; just like Israel did. Revisionist historians with this same naturalistic and anti-church mindset have neglected to mention that many of the big colleges were started as seminaries by Christians and many inventors, scientists, and leaders have in fact been followers of Judaism or Christ.) There is also public opinion and political pressure to conform to a different standard than the truth of the Bible. The world’s new standard is – no standard! Moral relativism, alternative lifestyle, situational ethics, cultural and etnic diversity, tolerance, and polical correctness are the power words of the day. They want you to be so tolerant and open-minded to such an extreme that you will be seen as intolerant and evil and judgmental when you try to tell someone that something they’re doing or a lifestyle they’re living is immoral and they should turn (repent) from it. In short, the world wants its rebellious agenda pushed and adhered to. The church is to keep itself pure and not be marginalized so it can proclaim the truth in love from a clean conscience. It’s a tough job. They didn’t like Jesus either – and many still don’t.
    Miles, hang in there and stick to the Bible. God is not the author of confusion. The Serpent is and he often appears as a messenger of light. Lucifer is a deceiver. He blinds people’s minds. Jesus is the true light. He warned of many that would deceive and be deceived. The apostles warned us of ‘another Jesus’ and ‘another gospel’ and ‘another spirit’ and false teachers and false prophets that would be in our midst. If deceived people knew they were deceived, then they wouldn’t be for long. I was for a very long time. I’m now 45, but until age 31 I was an athiest that simply believed what the irreligious scientists had been saying without seeking the truth for myself. There’s plenty of info on the web at your disposal. Study what like-minded Christian scientists are saying to help you in your faith. Make sure that what they’re saying is in ageement with Scripture rather than making you doubt the validity of God’s Word. We may not all be scientists or scholars or well-edumacated, but we know HIM that is the source of the most important truth – HE loves us. Don’t trust in your own wisdom, but rather trust and acknowledge Him and He will guide you. His sheep hear His voice. Brian, keep up the good work and God Bless to all !

  • Paul Diamond

    John, great points. Very well said. I have a great discussion on Facebook called, Did Something Come From Nothing. I learned so much from the atheists, like with Brian was talking about. It is very civil. It’s the biggest discussion on that site. http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=56728657006&topic=12105
    Hope to see you there. The atheists are very very civil. The Christians keep up with their science. They’re amazing. I’m inviting you to that site, John. Shalom!

  • cara

    i strongly agree on exactly what you had brought up it’s crazy but i was telling people the same thing when i had taken AP Biology my teacher like to take alot of sleeping breaks so he had put on a movie on the big debate like when they were in court for whether they evelution or creation should be in the text books in schools and thats when i first started putting things together and had made my decision on how they work together i had gotten my reasons to back myself up just in case, i asked my bio teacher on what he thought and he didn’t really give me a straight answer but when i was explaining my reasoning he wasn’t disagreeing what so ever and everyone i asked seemed to only be on one side or the other or wern’t educated on that subject so finally finding something that can back me up more makes me feel okay that this in my eyes is true just as the rest of the people beleive their beilef is true its all just different views on how we came to be its one of those things were people have to believe is something to move from it its like not having closer so i suppose its kinda just how you want to look at life which is positively badly or openly

  • Li Kong

    Some might suggest that there could be an evolution of languages from apes to human languages. Discuss.
    Refer to the website address for the derivation of modern English as follows:
    http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-history.htm
    No doubts English language has its derivation from Germanic languages due to their invasion during 5th centurary A.D., many of the modern English words have the same written and spoken words from old English. Or in other words, modern English words might turn up to be the mixture of native languages and Germanic languages as a result of invasion. However, no matter how English languages change, it has still been from human languages since it is the mixture of English languages and Germanic languages. American languages might well be mixed with Latin words and some of their words might have the prefix or roots words to be derived similarly from Latin words. Thus, English languages have not been evolving instead, they tend to borrow from foreign human languages to form part of their languages so that the languages would be changed from time to time. No matter how it changes, it still adheres with the principality that one language might adopt foreign human languages to be added to be part of their languages. The same is in Malaysia. Some like to use Allahmad to be part of their English word and it means Oh! My God. since Allah is the God of Muslims. They simply borrow word from other foreign human language to be part of their English.

    The same as Spanish. Refer to the website address for the derivation of Spanish as follows: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_language
    Spanish has its derivation from Roman languages and many of Spanish words are quite similar to Roman languages.

    From the extracted examples, it gives a clear picture to us that human languages have not been evolved themselves. The reason why there would be change of languages has been merely due to one country’s language has adopted words from another country to form part of their languages so as to cause the change. However, bear in mind that despite there could be change of human languages, it is simply due to one country’s language adopts another country to be part of their languages. Or in other words, no doubt how the human languages have been transformed, it would still be human languages since it tends to use foreign words to form part of their languages so as to create new languages.

    All the apes’ languages, whether they are in Africa, Eastern Countries or Western or etc., sound alike and none of them sound like human languages. Even if there would be change of apes’ languages from Africa due to the influence of apes from Eastern Countries, the change could be within the spoken apes’ languages since none of them could speak human languages. As apes’ languages are entirely different from human languages, how could apes be evolved from human beings then?

    Even if you would try to train any apes in any region to speak in human languages, none of the apes could be able to learn that type of skill to speak in human languages. As that is so, how could human beings be evolved from apes unless there would be a proof that apes could be trained to speak human languages?

    If human languages could be evolved from apes’ languages, some spoken words from human languages would have identical sounds as apes due to the borrowing of words from apes from another from other regions or countries for the transformation. As none of the spoken words from human languages would have the identical sounds as apes, how could human beings be evolved from apes?

    If human languages cold be evolved from apes’, many languages should have certain similarity with apes’ languages. Not only that, some human beings might understand apes languages due to the similarity of their languages with apes. Why is it that none of the human beings could understand apes’ languages? As that is so, how could human beings be evolved from apes?

  • Mardi Payce

    In Hebrews 11:3 it says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (ESV Bible) the Bible answers critical questions like who made creation, how and why creation made. I believe without a doubt that God’s powerful word is what brought life and purpose into this world. God lovingly prepared earth for humans to live in and He sustains all life. This world is created with natural laws and orderliness; no evolutionary speculation can explain that. Only God can create an environment in which life can exist. Everything from oxygen levels to the ozone layer are adjusted perfectly so that life isn’t destroyed. God created trees to be our air purifiers, without oxygen no living thing would be able to breathe. Without the ozone layer, the sun would destroy everything on earth because its UV rays are harmful and there would be no protection from it. No living thing can survive without water. These things show God’s divine providence. God sustains and cares for His creation and gives grace that is common to us all. “Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26, ESV Bible) I believe that creation as we see it is a glimpse of God’s magnificent and majestic beauty. More than ever before, we can see more of God’s creation; we are not limited to by just what we can see standing on earth. Today we have technological advances that allow us to see pictures of the different galaxies, visit different planets, and see how this whole universe is put together. The Bible says in Romans 1:20 “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”(ESV Bible) God created nature gloriously beautiful so that we have no excuse for not knowing Him. His creation speaks to us by beauty, design, and order. God could have made everything black and white but, instead He gave us an extensive amount of colors. When we see the earth by a satellite picture or when we see how a baby is created and stretches into an adult (amazing!) or when we look up at the starry sky and see a shooting star, or even a little tiny snowflake landing on the car window it shows the fingerprints of God. When we see complex development of nature, the more we know that these things could not have made themselves. It is amazing how God has put together this universe; we should all be stunned to silence as we look at how this world fits together perfectly. The glory, the honor, and the praise belong to God alone forever. Amen.