Answering the Most Common Objections to Christianity
This is one in a series of answers to common objections to why believe in God, and why accept that Christianity – following Christ – is the way to live one’s life. Below you will find the objection as it is commonly raised. Very often the claim that I don’t believe in a Creator God is combined with an assertion that the person instead “believes” in evolution as as a viable explanation for the origin of the universe, and life as we know it.
“I don’t believe in a Creator God – I believe everything evolved and are here today by evolutionary processes.”
Thank you for your honesty. Let’s try to frame the question in a slightly different way, because I think we are really taking about only two alternatives to explain the origin things:
- Its is more reasonable to conclude that everything was caused by the same natural “evolutionary processes”. that we see today, or
- Is is it more reasonable to believe in a Creator God as an explanation for how the universe (all matter, space and time) came about
Let’s examine each of these options, to see which is the more reasonable explanation for the origin of all things (based on the evidence).
Explanation 1 – The universe and life was caused by the same evolutionary processes we see today
First, let’s examine what is normally meant by the “evolutionary processes“ which we experience today. Depending on who you are talking to, “evolution” can mean different things:
- Merely the subtle changes that happen over time to a species, allowing it to change and adapt to its changing environment. This application of the term evolution most people would agree with – ie., that species adapt over in order to not only survive in a changing environment, but also thrive. This use of the term does not assume that one species (or “kind”, as the Bible puts it) changes into another over time
- Biological evolution where there is not only adaptation going on over time, but species (“kinds”) evolving from one into another – through successive changes in a species as the result of accidental mutations
- Cosmological evolution – the notion that realms outside the area of biology are on a progressive path of “evolution”. In this use, the term evolution has been expanded to include the evolution of everything – the cosmos (universe) is evolving, social systems are “evolving”, etc.
I think most people would agree, and the evidence supports this, that evolution – if by that you mean the adaptation of a species over time to its environment – is occurring, and in fact necessary for life as we know it on this planet to survive through changing environmental conditions. If life forms were not able to change and adapt to some degree to changing conditions, most certainly they would become extinct
Biological evolution, as originally conceived, does not claim to be an adequate explanation for the origin of all things
According to the article “The Theory of Evolution is Not an Explanation for the Origin of Life“, published on SpringerLink on April 23, 2010, there are a number of “misconceptions” about evolutionary theory, among them:
- That biological evolution explains the origin of life
- Confusion between biological and cosmological evolution
The authors go on to state that “The theory of evolution, both currently and as first conceived by Darwin and Wallace, neither provides, nor requires, an explanation for the origin of life. As Gould (1987) noted over two decades ago, “Evolution, in fact, is not the study of origins at all.…Evolution studies the pathways and mechanisms of organic change following the origin of life.” The theory of evolution is a naturalistic, and well-supported, explanation for how life diversified after it originated by any (currently unknown) means, as is clearly described in modern biology texts” (Campbell et al. 2008; Sadava et al. 2008; Futuyama 1998).
Why is using evolution as a theory of origins not appropriate? As stated above, the theory of biological evolution does not encompass with in its scope the study of origins, and neither does it try to provide an explanation of the same. The evolutionary theory as originally conceived by Darwin, and in use today, is about “the mechanisms of change” following the origin of life event. Biological evolution focuses on how life forms changed and adapted once they had already begun.
The authors in the above study point out, rightly so, that many people hold the misconception that evolution tries to provide an explanation for origins. As a result, the reject the theory of biological evolution completely, due to a perception that it is a competing explanation to the notion that the origin of the universe, and life, was the result of a supernatural cause. This is unfortunate for the public and students, since there may be many aspects of biological evolution (for example, adaptation within species) which are true, and reasonable explanations for how life continues to exist and adapt on this planet.
Cosmological evolution – is this a reasonable explanation for the origin of the universe, and life? No.
One of the problems with extending the theory of evolution outside the realm of biology is that it very often runs counter to our real-life experiences, and in fact the scientific evidence that has been amassed over the past few hundred years. For example, the First and Second laws of thermodynamics are two of the most proven laws in science, and they both contradict the notion that the universe is evolving:
- Matter can neither be created not destroyed, but changed in form only
- The entropy in the universe is steadily increasing (the universe if “running down”, if you will)
Multiple lines of evidence show that since the initial singularity (“big bang”), no new matter has been created – but changed in form only . In physics, the law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system remains constant, it is said to be conserved over time. This law means that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed or transferred from one form to another Similarly, multiple scientific evidence show that the Second Law of Thermodynamics holds true – that the universe is expanding from a single point in space long ago, and that if things continue the way they are, entropy will eventually increase it its maximum – and the universe will eventually “wind down”.
Explanation 2 – The universe and life was initially caused by a Creator God.
So I think it is clear that biological evolution does not claim to be an explanation for the origin of universe, or the origin of life – these concepts are outside its scope. And if you consider cosmological evolution, the scientific evidence contradicts this theory – that the universe is “evolving”.
This leads us to the second explanation: that if the universe did come into existence by accident, or evolve through naturalistic processes, how did it start? Is it more reasonable to conclude that the universe was “created” by an all-powerful God? Lets consider the evidence for a Creator God, or a first cause to the universe:
The Evidence from Cosmology – the Kalam Cosmological Argument
Scientific discoveries over the last 100 years has provided much hard evidence for the ancient kalam cosmological argument for the existenence of God. The argument as put forth by William Lane Craig states it as a brief syllogism, most commonly rendered as follows:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
- The universe began to exist;
- Therefore: The universe has a cause.
From the conclusion of the initial syllogism, he appends a further premise and conclusion based upon ontological analysis of the properties of the cause:
- The universe has a cause;
- If the universe has a cause, then an un-caused, personal Creator of the universe exists who sans the universe is beginning less, changeless, immaterial, timeless, space less and enormously powerful;
- Therefore: An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and infinitely powerful.
Referring to the implications of Classical Theism that follow from this argument, Craig writes: “… transcending the entire universe there exists a cause which brought the universe into being ex nihilo … our whole universe was caused to exist by something beyond it and greater than it. For it is no secret that one of the most important conceptions of what theists mean by ‘God’ is Creator of heaven and earth.”
The Evidence from Physics – the Fine-Tuning of the Universe
The “fine-tuning” of the universe, of our solar systems, our planet, and indeed the cycle of life, is strong evidence from the field of physics. Its seems as though something has conspired in an extraordinary way to make our earth habitable for complex life. For instance, physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.
The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bull’s-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. Scientific experts agree there are more than 30 physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
The Evidence from Astronomy – the Fine-Tuning of the Earth’s Environment
As with the fine-tuning of the universe, the evidence shows that the Earth’s position in the universe – and its intricately choreographed geological and chemical processes – work together to produce a delicate well-balanced “habitable zone” for complex life such as ourselves. .
For example, in The privileged Planet, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and science philosopher Jay Wesley Richards said it would take a star with the highly unusual properties of our sun — the right mass, the right light, the right age, the right distance, the right orbit, the right galaxy, the right location — to nurture living organisms on a circling planet. Numerous factors make our solar system and our location in the universe just right for a habitable environment. What’s more, the exceptional conditions that make life possible also happen to make our planet strangely well-suited for viewing and analyzing the universe and our environment. All of this suggests our planet may be rare, if not unique, and that the Creator wanted us to be able to explore the cosmos.
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision, we could never have come into existence,” said Harvard-educated astrophysicist John A. O’Keefe of NASA. “It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
The Evidence from Biochemistry – Irreducibly Complex Biological Machines
Darwin said, “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.”. Through his description of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines, biochemist Michael Behe has demonstrated that many complex organisms simply cannot be explained by evolutionary processes.
Take for example the microscopic bacterial flagella. This biological “machine” is extremely unlikely to have been built piece-by-piece through evolutionary processes. Why?, becasue like a mouse-trap, all the elelemtns had to be present in order for the machine to work. Other examples include the incredible system of transporting proteins within cells and the intricate process of blood clotting. “My conclusion,” said Behe, “can be summed up in a single word: design. I say that based on science. I believe that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design by an intelligent agent.”
The Evidence of Design in Biology – The Amazing Program of Life – DNA
Strands of DNA are coiled inside every one of our body’s one hundred trillion cells. Each DNA molocule contains precise assembly instructions (proram code) composed from a four-letter chemical alphabet for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that evolution theory is inadequate to explain how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means. On the contrary, Dr. Meyer has said that whenever we find a sequential arrangement that’s complex and corresponds to an independent pattern or function such as books and computer code, this kind of information is always the product of intelligence.
“Information is the hallmark of a mind,” says Meyers. “And purely from the evidence of genetics and biology, we can infer the existence of a mind that’s far greater than our own — a conscious, purposeful, rational, intelligent designer who’s amazingly creative.”
The Evidence from Consciousness – the Exstenence of the Mind
Can evolutionary processes explain the existence of the “mind” or of consciousness? Based on the latest investigations of brain science, many scientists are concluding that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot explain our experience of consciousness. Professor J.P. Moreland defined consciousness as our introspection, sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs and free choices that make us alive and aware. The concept of a “soul” embodies the notion of consciousness, and it is our conscious mind that animates our body, and makes choices.
According to a researcher who showed that consciousness can continue after a person’s brain has stopped functioning, current scientific findings “would support the view that ‘mind,’ ‘consciousness,’ or the ‘soul’ is a separate entity from the brain.” According to an article published Feb 10th, 2018, in Newsweek magazine, a researcher remarked: “I’m saying we have a consciousness that makes up who we are—our selves, thoughts, feelings, emotions—and that entity, it seems, does not become annihilated just because we’ve crossed the threshold of death.” The article also reported that “people who survive medical death frequently report experiences that share similar themes: bright lights; benevolent guiding figures; relief from physical pain and a deeply felt sensation of peace”.
As Moreland said, “You can’t get something from nothing.” If the universe began with dead matter having no conscious, “how, then, do you get something totally different — consciousness, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures — from materials that don’t have that?” But if everything started with the mind of God, he said, “we don’t have a problem with explaining the origin of our mind.”
I think you can see, based on the evidence, that the origin of the universe, and indeed even the origin of life, cannot be caused by the same natural “evolutionary processes” that we see today. Evolution, as we have show, was never intended as a theory of origins. An to extend evolution to try to explain the origin of the universe just doesn’t work. All the scientific evidence (the “big bang”), the Laws of Thermodynamics, the evidence from Physics and Astronomy contradict an evolutionary explanation for the origin of the universe.
Therefore, I think you will agree it is it more reasonable to believe in a Creator God (a First Cause) as an explanation for how the universe (all matter, space and time) came about. And the must hold true for life – for as J.P. Moreland has observed, “You can’t get something from nothing.”. Non-living dead matter has not shown to be able to produce life.
The Jewish Chronicle – Despite evolution, I can still believe in a Creator – https://www.thejc.com/judaism/features/despite-evolution-i-can-still-believe-in-a-creator-1.7669
Focus on the Family – The Case for a Creator – https://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/faith-in-life/defending-the-faith/the-case-for-a-creator
All About Creation.org – https://www.allaboutcreation.org/evolution-vs-creation.htm
Springer Education: – The Theory of Evolution is Not an Explanation for the Origin of Life”, see https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12052-010-0225-1
Wikipedia – The Laws of Thermodynamics – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_thermodynamics
Wikipedia – The Kalam Cosmological Argument – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument
Evidence for God – Fine Tuning of the Universe: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/designun.html
The Privileged Planet (order book or watch movie) – https://privilegedplanet.com/
Newsweek: Feb 10, 2018 “WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN YOU DIE? THE INCREASING SIGNS THAT HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS REMAINS AFTER DEATH” – https://www.newsweek.com/where-do-you-go-when-you-die-increasing-signs-human-consciousness-after-death-800443