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The case for creationism: Fifty scientists speak out

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Archives / 2001 / September

 

 

The case for creationism: Fifty scientists speak out

John Ashton
John Ashton, Ph. D., is principal research scientist, Strategic Research, Sanitarium Health Food Company, New South Wales, Australia

 

Evolutionary theory holds that life on earth began when a mixture of chemicals in an ancient warm pond formed living cells by chance. Over billions of years, these cells evolved into the diversity of plants, animals, and humans that presently live on earth. Some scientists, however, now admit that new research in several different areas demonstrates that such "particles-to-people" evolution is impossible. Life and its supporting ecosystems must have been created over a very short time possibly a few days.

I first formally encountered evolutionary theory in Geology I at a university in 1964, but I was never convinced. The existence of so many different species of animals and plants with such complex functions convinced me that a supreme intelligence must have designed the whole system. I could not see much difference between ancient fossilized seashells, fish, and insects, and their modern equivalents. Dragonflies were smaller versions of the giant prehistoric dragonflies, just like the domestic cat is a small-scale version of the tiger.

My particular interest in the creation-evolution issue was kindled a few years ago, when at Macquarie University in Sydney, a Christian student group presented a seminar on the scientific evidence for biblical creation. A prominent local scientist attended the meeting and challenged the chairman by announcing that he did not believe that any scientist with a Ph.D. would seriously believe in Adam and Eve or that life on earth was created in six days. The scientist's position was understandable. Could educated scientists seriously believe that life on earth was less than 10,000 years old? How would they deal with the fossil record, the remains of dinosaurs, or the fossil-containing rocks which have been dated as millions of years old by radioisotope techniques. There are also continental drifts and the massive geological formations such as the Grand Canyon in the United States which seem to provide evidence that the continents are very old, not to mention the astronomical observations that claim to support the big bang theory. How could any scientist dismiss all this evidence?

These thoughts and experiences stimulated me to research what was to become a book: In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation.1

I started by asking colleagues at the University of Newcastle if they knew of any scientists with a doctorate degree who believed in special creation. Eventually I was given the name of a Professor of Biochemistry at Loma Linda University in the United States. He in turn gave me other names. A few months and hundreds of emails later I had around 80 names of scientists who were willing to give the reasons for their belief in a literal six-day creation and allow it to be published.

The list of names read like a "who's who" of leading scientists, including: D. B. Gower, Emeritus Professor of Steroid Biochemistry at the University of London; Ker Thomson, former director of the U.S. Air Force Terrestrial Sciences Laboratory; E. A. Boudreaux, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of New Orleans; W.J. Veith, Chairman of the Zoology Department at the University of Western Cape, South Africa; W. Gitt, Federal Institute of Physics and Technology in Germany; and K. Wanser, Professor of Physics at California State University, Fullerton. I could not wait to read their essays.

Over the next couple of months, as the essays came in, I saw the arguments and evidence for Darwinian evolution very effectively challenged. I had never read any thing like this material.

Cell biology research

One of the first themes to emerge related to the latest cell biology research. Studies of cell biochemistry and the complexity of the genetic information storage/retrieval system coded in the DNA now demonstrated that "life" could not come from "non-life," even if billions of years were available. This is referred to as the Law of Biogenesis; that says life comes only from life. Decades ago Francis Crick, who shared a Nobel prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA, and British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle were aware of this problem.

When I read this, I understood why millions of dollars were now being spent on searching for life in outer space. Without making it too obvious, scientists know that for the theory of evolution to survive, they need to find evidence for life coming to earth from outer space.

But this discovery would still not save evolutionary presuppositions from the consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which essentially precludes the spontaneous generation of life. This law underpins all aspects of engineering, from nuclear submarine design to the construction of rockets. Amongst other things, the Second Law suggests that increased complexity will not happen spontaneously. Adding energy does not create complexity. This requires an intelligent agent to direct the energy to create the complexity.

For example, a person will never wake up in the morning after a late evening dinner party and find that a whirlwind (or some other form of energy) has gone through the kitchen and all the dishes are washed and put away, all the crumbs are off the floor, and the rubbish bin has been emptied. Such a kitchen never gets back in order even if a person waits a million years, unless some intelligent machine (robot or human) arranges things in their proper places.

Similarly an explosion (energy) in a junkyard will never produce a jumbo jet (or any other genuinely useful mechanism), even if there were explosions every second for a billion years. Yet the cells of a "simple" bacterium are more complex in many respects than a jumbo jet. In contrast, as the Second Law predicts, cells, once they die, decay back to component molecules. Also, a jumbo jet will either require continuous intelligent input in the form of maintenance or it will end up in bits and pieces in the junkyard!

The Second Law describes the universal tendency to deterioration and decay, which includes the loss of genetic information. This is precisely what we observe in the world today and is exactly the opposite to that needed for evolution to occur.

Dating differences

What about the ages of the rocks supposedly proved by radioactive dating? Surely this constitutes hard evidence for the long age of the fossils and disproves the biblical Creation story? Here again the latest research is exposing another scientific myth. Different methods of radioactive dating often produce vastly different ages for the same rocks. One extensive investigation of radioactive dating results found a fossil with a conventional age of up to 350 million years. However, the dating of the fossil using the carbon-14 method repeatedly gave a value of around 4,000 years. Some scientists are now admitting that they don't really know what the results from radioactive dating methods really mean, and the assumptions behind these dating methods are being questioned.

Big bang theory

What about the big bang theory that is frequently discussed by popular science writers? It turns out that this theory also has serious problems. Amongst other things, it violates the law of conservation of baryon number. Because of this, physicists in the past have proposed Grand Unified Theories, or GUTs to save the big bang theory. But these new theories necessitate the decay of protons, the elementary particle found in atoms. This is one of the reasons research institutes have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building high-energy particle accelerators. Even with this sophisticated equipment, all searches to detect proton decay have failed and this lack of experimental evidence for the violation of baryon number strongly calls into question any big bang scenario for the origin of the universe.

Nature and intelligent design

Some contributors have taken a different approach and have chosen to discuss examples in nature which suggest "intelligent design." For example, the dolphin's sonar system is so precise that it surpasses the best sonar technology in the U.S. Navy. It can detect a fish the size of a golf ball 70 meters (230 feet) away. It took an expert in chaos theory to show that the dolphin's "click" pattern is mathematically designed to give the best information.

This sonar system includes the "melon," or sound lens, a sophisticated structure designed to focus the emitted sound waves into a beam which the dolphin can direct where it likes. This sound lens depends on the fact that different lipids (fatty com pounds) bend the ultrasonic sound waves traveling through them in different ways. The different lipids have to be arranged in the correct shape and sequence in order to focus the returning sound echoes. Each separate lipid is unique and different from normal blubber lipids. The lipid is made by a complicated chemical process, requiring a number of different enzymes.

Along with the example of the dolphins, the complex compound eyes of some types of trilobites, extinct and supposedly "primitive" invertebrates, were amazingly designed. They are comprised of tubes that each point in a different direction, and have special lenses that focus light from any distance. The required lens design is comprised of a layer of calcite on top of a layer of chitin-materials with precisely the right refractive indices. There is also a wavy boundary between them of a precise mathematical shape. The designer of these eyes must have been a master physicist, who applied what we now know as the physical laws of Fermat's principle of least time, Snell's law of refraction, Abbe's sine law and birefringent optics.

Lobster eyes are unique in being modeled on a perfect square with precise geometrical relationships of the units. NASA x-ray telescopes copied this design.

Why six-day creation?

But the essential point is this: On what basis may we hold to a creation in six days? Why not 10 months or 10,000 years? The contributors whose essays I read suggest that there is overwhelming scientific evidence that life must have originated very rapidly because complete organisms and ecosystems are necessary for the survival of living things. This fits well with the Creation description in Genesis.

Many scientists today believe in God. A study published in Nature in 1997 revealed that 39.3 percent of American scientists believe in a personal God they can pray to. How many of these scientists also believe in Creation? No one really knows, but several contributors to In Six Days reveal that they were ridiculed in university settings for holding to creationist views. This did not surprise me. I recall, when writing my own doctoral dissertation, that my supervisor, a former Harvard, Oxford, and Cambridge scholar and theist, advised me to remove the phrase "intelligent design" and replace it with the term "blueprint." When discussing the evidence suggesting the existence of God, I was to use the euphemism "cosmic synergy" instead of "God." In this way I would avoid provoking opposition from the university authorities who insisted on a purely materialistic explanation for scientific observations. I followed his advice and it proved helpful. I was awarded a University Prize for the most out standing research thesis.

In Six Days shows why leading scientists believe that God cannot be left out of our thinking. Indeed, insisting on material causes for everything, even where the evidence points to an intelligent Creator, sounds like religion, not science. But that sort of thinking pervades our schools and universities today. It also leads to illogical thinking, such as the spontaneous origin of life. Of course, if students are taught that they are just a complex arrangement of chemicals arising from a cosmic accident, is it really surprising that some will live as if there is no meaning or morality and slaughter their fellow students for the "fun" of it? Those readers who believe that they descended from Adam and Eve and have been made "in the image of God," feel good about themselves and their world.

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1. John F. Ashton, ed. In Six Days: Why 50 Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation (Sydney, Australia: New Holland Publishers, 1999).

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