Science, God and Evangelism
A recent survey report entitled “You Lost Me” stated that many people have left the church because they perceive a conflict between Christianity and modern science.
John Campbell and his daughter Caitlin recently attended a seminar at Crieff Hills presented by Rev. Bob Geddes on which was designed to show that there is no conflict between Christianity and modern science, and that in fact, the remarkable congruence between the bible and the findings of science can be used to build up our own faith, and to reach out to those who reject or doubt the Bible. Before Rev. Geddes became a Presbyterian minister in Hamilton, he was for 16 years a geologist with Gulf Oil and with the Geological Survey of Canada. His starting point was Psalm 8 (“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in the earth…When I look at your heavens…!”). Astronomers have counted 100 billion galaxies in the universe, each containing 200 billion stars. Psalm 8 makes us feel important: God made man “a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour”. Therefore the bigger the universe is, the more important we are!
Christian and non-Christian perspectives on creation range widely. At one end are “Young Earth” creationists who believe that God created the earth in six, 24 hour days, approximately 10,000 years ago, complete with embedded dinosaur bones and rock strata. At the other end of the spectrum are “Atheistic Naturalists” who cannot accept any supernatural involvement, and who hold that all life on earth is the result of pure chance evolution involving mindless accidental genetic mutations that provide survival benefits. In between are “Old Earth” creationists who believe God created the earth 13.5 billion years ago, and continues to direct the work of creation through geological forces and creation of new species of life. There are “Intelligent Design” proponents who don’t acknowledge God directly, but assert that the creation of new species solely through random genetic mutation and natural selection is a statistical impossibility, and who speak of a “designer” who directs the DNA coding for life forms with all of their complexity. “Deists” acknowledge that someone created the universe, but probably not our Christian God, and that evolution proceeds by chance according to natural laws, but without any further involvement of a diety.
Rev. Geddes states that the sequence of creation in Genesis completely matches the standard creation sequence identified by modern science. Between the “days” in Genesis there are “gaps” of millions or billions of years, a theory first advanced by Thomas Chalmers, a geologist and minister, first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, and namesake of many of our Presbyterian churches. Both science and the bible agree on an instantaneous start (the big bang), the stepwise nature of creation, the sequence of creation, and that the most recent step in creation was humanity. Has creation finished? Is humanity the final stage of God’s creation?
Rev. Geddes points out that our bodies are composed of at least sixteen elements of the periodic table. Only hydrogen is available locally from our Sun. All of the other elements have come to us from gigantic stars called “supernovas”. Only in these gigantic suns are gravitation and nuclear forces strong enough to fuse light hydrogen atoms together into heavier atoms like carbon, oxygen and calcium. When supernova become too dense, they explode, blasting these heavy elements out into space, where they may later condense and coagulate into rocks and planets like ours. So Rev. Geddes winsomely assures us that we are made of “Stardust”, or less poetically, “nuclear waste”!
Does life exist beyond earth? If it does, there is no contradiction with the bible, and would only serve to further demonstrate the wonders of God’s creation. There is an important principle to consider, however. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, our planet Earth, is “just right” for life. In fact there are over 1000 cosmological, chemical and physical conditions that must exist on a planet for life to exist. The chance that all of these conditions exist on a single planet is far smaller than the total number of atoms in the universe. Therefore, is life here just by chance, or are we created?
Although modern media would have us believe that all scientists reject any involvement of a supernatural diety, this is not at all the case. There are many leading scientists of all disciplines who cannot conceive of our world without a creator, and who ascribe meaning and significance to human existence beyond that of other animals. For example, Francis Collins, the co-discoverer of the human genome and currently head of the National Institutes of Health calls genetics “The Language of God” and freely acknowledges that only his Christian faith can explain what he sees in creation. Some scientists believe that there were three “big bangs”: the initial creation of matter, the creation of life and finally the creation of the human mind which is the most complex thing in the universe. These three big events were not accidental, and can only be explained by the involvement of God.
There are numerous organizations dedicated to the proposition that there is no conflict between science and faith. Rev. Geddes recommends the Canadian Scientific and Christian Affiliation (www.csca.ca) and its parent body the American Scientific Affiliation (www.asa3.org). Another interesting site is “Reasons to Believe” (www.reasons.org) which is headed up by Canadian scientist Hugh Ross. I recommend reading Hugh Ross’ book entitled “Why the Universe is the Way it is”, which shows the harmony between the universe and the bible, and demonstrates why God created the universe. You can also see his lectures on Youtube.
The Discovery Institute (www.discovery.org) supports the theory of Intelligent Design, and challenges the current legal and educational bias toward atheistic evolution. One of the earliest and best books on intelligent design is “Darwin’s Black Box” by microbiologist Michael Behe which develops the idea that new life forms and features, and new species, are too complex and involve the arrival of too many beneficial genetic mutations at the same time to have happened by chance in the limited time spans available.
It seems that the Lord has chosen our century to reveal the secrets and the wonders of his creation, from the initial “Big Bang”, down to complex operations of the cell and to the mechanics of the atom. Why has he chosen us, and what are we to do with this knowledge? We can start by asserting with confidence to anyone who will listen that that the bible and the discoveries of science are in complete harmony and that they point to a wonderful and majestic Creator.