It has often been claimed
that the evolution-creation controversy is a conflict between science
and religion. This is given as a primary reason for keeping the creation
alternative out of the science classroom. But the two powerful ideas
of evolution and creation cut across the academic disciplines of science,
religion, philosophy, and history. Both are developed from the findings
of scientists and are appropriate subjects for science classes. However,
both go beyond the capabilities of science and require a measure of
faith from their proponents.
Although there are variations
in both the evolutionist and the creationist camps, the controversy
can be simplified to state that either evolution is true or creation
is true. To eliminate one is to confirm the other. Many writers have
concentrated on exposing the fatal weaknesses of the evolutionist position,
thereby showing that creation is the superior scientific model. But
rather than follow this same approach, I would like to provide a positive
statement of the creation alternative and give you some of the evidence
supporting it. I'll frame this in two somewhat simplified statements,
one about the origin of life and one about the origin of species.
Origin of Life
The origin of life had to
be by supernatural creation, because life is too complex to arise through
natural processes. The living cell is, in some ways, like a chemical
factory, but more complex than any designed by humans. Hundreds of chemical
reactions are simultaneously going on in each cell. And the cell is
not just a bag of chemicals! It is subdivided into many compartments,
just as a human factory is divided into areas with different functions.
Both the physical design of the cell and the chemistry in it are clear
examples of intelligent design.
There have been many attempts
in the laboratory to show how life could originate through natural processes.
Scientists have succeeded, usually using extreme measures, in simulating
tiny steps of the total process of life. Anyone who expresses satisfaction
with these attempts shows us one of two things. Either they have a poor
understanding of life or they have an incredible amount of faith in
evolution. In spite of headlines about the creation of life in a test
tube, scientists are nowhere near being able to demonstrate a natural
procedure for the origin of the first cell.
Origin of Species
A large number of different
organisms had to be created supernaturally, because the processes of
biological change are not capable of significant innovation. Let's consider
first the processes that produce change in individual living things.
Then we'll look at a process that produces change in populations of
living things. Both creationists and evolutionists agree that mutations
are the only source of new genes. These are genetic mistakes, errors
in transmitting the information of inheritance from one generation to
the next. Mutations are almost always harmful or neutral in their effects.
However, the evolutionist believes in mutations as the source of all
the diversity of life on earth today. This would require the production
of untold numbers of beneficial mutations. That the same handful of
examples is always offered is again testimony to the faith of the true
One of the favorite examples
of beneficial mutations is the ability of bacteria to change so that
they are resistant to antibiotics. Of course, that is beneficial only
to the bacteria, not to the humans they infect. Insects, similarly,
undergo mutations that make them resistant to insecticides. These resistance
mutations are very beneficial to organisms confronted by these poisons.
However, they do not produce the kind of change that is needed to convert
one type of creature into another.
There are some beneficial
mutations that produce large changes. Charles Darwin, during his voyage
around the world, discovered wingless beetles on the island of Madeira.
These beetles had undergone mutations causing the loss of wings, a good
idea on a windy island. A similar example would be the blind fish that
inhabit caves. Here mutations have eliminated organs which have no use
in the dark. These changes are, indeed, significant, but notice that
they involve the loss of existing structures. No one has ever seen a
species undergo mutations that produce brand-new wings or eyes.
There is, however, another
process by which individuals can vary. Recombination explains why children
look different from their parents. This shuffling of the genes can produce
superior combinations of different genes. However, because we see that
mutations are incapable of supplying useful variation, the useful genes
that are there to be shuffled must have been created at the beginning.
We have mutation and recombination
as the processes by which individuals can change. But the history of
life is primarily the story of populations, not individuals. What causes
populations to change? Charles Darwin correctly described natural selection
as a powerful process in the history of populations. If some gene combinations
have an advantage over others, their owners will leave more offspring
for future generations, and this will cause a shift in the genetic makeup
of the population. But Darwin thought that because a little change was
possible with natural selection, any amount of change could result.
One reason for his mistake was his ignorance of genetics. It is interesting
that, during the 1850s, when Darwin was doing his research, Gregor Mendel
was discovering the principles of genetics. While Darwin was building
a case for unlimited change, Mendel was finding an unchanging pattern
of inheritance. What does natural selection accomplish? Using the genes
provided by the Creator, natural selection makes it possible for populations
to survive changes in their environments. It may also allow a population
to migrate into a new environment. Finally, natural selection also prevents
change as it eliminates or minimizes the effects of harmful mutations.
With these basic statements
about the origin of life and the origin of species, lets try to put
the history of life into a meaningful framework.
According to the creation
model, each basic type of living thing was supernaturally created. Can
we identify the created types today? It is obvious that some species
are related, so species can't be the unit of creation. The higher taxonomic
categories (genus, family, etc.) are subjective and can't serve this
purpose. A new term is needed, and various ones have been proposed.
In our book, _The Natural Limits to Biological Change_, Ray Bohlin and
I proposed the word "prototype" (first kind). Unfortunately
for our egos, this word has not become popular. The clear-cut winner
so far is "baramin," which is derived from two Hebrew words
meaning essentially "created kind."
A baramin could be defined
as the descendants of a single created population. So each baramin has
its beginning at the creation, and unless extinct, continues to exist
today in its descendants. After the creation, each baramin population
grew and subdivided as it spread over the earth. The processes of recombination
and natural selection in new environments in many instances caused the
members of the same baramin to divide into separate races and species.
A question that arises is whether a small original population could
provide all the variability seen today in that baramin. An example that
suggests a positive answer is the inheritance of skin color in the human
species. Humans come in many different shades of color, but it is genetically
possible that the First Couple could have been the same color, had children
the same color as themselves, and yet produced the entire rainbow of
humanity. All this would have been possible without the necessity of
mutations being involved.
There are many examples
of multiple plant species that have come from the same baramin during
historical times. Animals are harder to determine in this regard, but
it is possible that the horse, donkey, and zebra are descendants of
one baramin. The same may be true of at least some of the big cats:
lions, tigers, etc.
To appreciate fully the
living world around us today, we need to have another word in our vocabulary,
"archetype" (ancient form). This refers to basic designs used
repeatedly by the Creator. There is an endless variety of examples known
to biologists. One of the most fundamental archetypes is the living
cell, the building block of all life. An example seen in most biology
textbooks is the front limbs of different back-boned animals. The evolutionist
believes that this is evidence of common ancestry, but it is just as
logically evidence of the same Designer. Architects today will use similar
materials and techniques in several buildings, varying the basic design
for the needs of the particular client.
With the above concepts
about the origin of life and the origin of species, all the history
of life and the great diversity of life today can be understood and
appreciated. The known processes of beneficial change (recombination
and natural selection) are capable of taking a group of created populations
and developing them into the richness of life on earth. It is unnecessary
and unreasonable to resort to unknown and unlikely processes, such as
mutations, as the sources of variation that could change simple cells
into all we see alive today.
Creation Research Society
Quarterly, Creation Research Society, P.O. Box 969, Ashland, OH
44805-0969. The Creation Research Society is the worldwide creation
organization for scientists and those interested in science. Articles
range from general interest to highly scientific.
Acts and Facts, Institute
for Creation Research, Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021, donations appreciated.
News about ICR, group of creation scientists. Includes articles on Biblical
and scientific topics.
Creator, His Creation,
P.O. Box 785, Arvada, CO 80001. Fine little newsletter including excellent
materials for children.
The Natural Limits to
Biological Change, L. P. Lester and R. G. Bohlin, Word Books. The
evidence of genetics shows the weaknesses of modern theories of evolution.
Adult reading level.
What Is Creation Science?,
Henry M. Morris and Gary. E. Parker, Master Book Publishers, P.O. Box
1606, El Cajon, CA 92021. Very readable overview of the creation-evolution
Evolution: The Challenge
of the Fossil Record, Duane T. Gish, Master Book Publishers, P.O.
Box 1606, El Cajon, CA 92021. The best treatment of fossil record.