This Christmas my older daughter, Allison, gave my son, Robert, Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator. My family’s being about to begin Chapter 21, “The Creation of Man,” in our reading of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) and my not having read The Case for a Creator, I borrowed and read Robert’s copy of it. As a result, I decided to include with our reading of Chapter 21 a section of Chapter 15, “Creation,” that we’d omitted when we read that chapter in our family reading. In the past few days my family and I began reading Chapter 21 and read the section of Chapter 15. In the next few days we’ll finish reading Chapter 21. I’ll share from our reading in this and next week’s posts, in this post considering the Biblical doctrine of creation and the Darwinian theory of evolution and in my next post considering what it means for man to be created in the image of God.
The five posts that I made on Chapter 15 from November 9 to 19 provide background to this post. In the first two of the posts I considered the Biblical doctrine of creation under the headings “Creation Out of Nothing by the Triune God” and “The Purpose and Quality of Creation.” The other three posts concern “Creation and Modern Science” in three parts. Of particular relevance to this post is the list of objections made by Grudem to theistic evolution–the theory that although God may have created matter, the simplest form of life, and man, He used evolution to allow other forms of life to develop–that I cited in “Creation and Modern Science – Part 1.” Grudem follows the sixth objection, “There are many scientific problems with the theory of evolution,” with a consideration of some of those problems in the section which we omitted when we read Chapter 15 in our family reading, “Notes on the Darwinian Theory of Evolution.
Grudem opens the section by summarizing the Darwinian theory of evolution, devotes the bulk of the section to presenting six challenges to the theory made by Philip E. Johnson, and closes the section by identifying some destructive influences of the theory (Grudem, Systematic Theology, pages 279-287). Besides sharing from our family reading of the section, I’ll share a little from The Case for a Creator (Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004).
Modern Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
Life began when a mix of chemical elements spontaneously produced a very simple life form. This life form reproduced itself. Eventually there were some changes or mutations in the cells produced. These mutations led to the development of more complex life forms. Many of these perished, but those better suited to their environment survived and multiplied. Eventually more and more mutations developed into more and more varieties of living things. Thus all the complex life forms on earth developed from the original very simple life form through mutation and natural selection.
Challenges to Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
Philip E. Johnson presents these six challenges to modern Darwinian evolutionary theory in a book called Darwin on Trial (Downers Grove, Illinois, 1991):
1. The amount of variation produced in over a hundred years of experimental breeding of various kinds of animals and plants has been extremely limited.
2. Since almost any characteristic can be argued to be either an advantage or a disadvantage, we can’t really know which characteristics have enabled certain animals to survive.
3. The numerous, complex mutations required to produce a complex organ could not have occurred in tiny mutations accumulating over thousands of generations because the individual parts of the organ are useless unless the entire organ is functioning.
4. Darwin was unable to find any fossils to fill in the gaps between distinct kinds of animals, and the subsequent 150 years of archaeological activity have failed to find a convincing example of a transitional type.
5. Although the molecular structures of living organisms show relationships, the Darwinian assumption that relationships imply common ancestry hasn’t been proven. The similarities can equally be taken as evidence of a common designer.
6. The production of even the simplest organism capable of independent life could not result from random mixing of chemicals. It requires intelligent design and craftsmanship so complex that no scientific laboratory has been able to do it.
If you don’t understand my statement of any of Johnson’s challenges, please ask about it in a Reply to this post and I’ll try to explain it. However, please note that I don’t have Johnson’s Darwin on Trial and so my explanation will be dependent on Grudem’s summary of the challenge.
Destructive Influences of Darwinian Evolutionary Theory
Grudem identifies these destructive influences of Darwinian evolutionary theory:
– If human life is simply the result of random occurrences rather than being created by and responsible to God, then we are of no real importance in the universe.
– If all of life can be explained by evolutionary theory and there is no God who created us, then there is no supreme Judge to hold us morally accountable and there are no moral absolutes in life.
– If human beings are continually evolving for the better, then the wisdom of earlier generations (including religious beliefs) is not likely as valuable as modern thought.
The Case for a Creator
In The Case for a Creator, Lee Strobel reports on his interviews with some leading Christian scientists about the Darwinian theory of evolution. Like Johnson (and Grudem), he concludes that the theory has no credible explanation of how life originated and that there is insufficient evidence for macro-evolution (the kind of evolution described in “Modern Darwinian Evolutionary Theory” above; micro-evolution consists of small developments within a species).
Strobel then argues that the following scientific disciplines point toward the existence of an intelligent designer (God):
– Cosmology. Whatever begins to exist has a cause (universally accepted). The universe had a beginning (generally agreed on). Therefore the universe has a cause.
– Physics. There are more than thirty (according to one expert) physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life. Chance cannot reasonably account for them. The simplest and most obvious solution is God.
– Astronomy. Numerous factors make our solar system and our location in the universe just right for a habitable environment, suggesting that it was created for man to live in.
– Biochemistry. The complexity of molecules in organisms are unlikely to have been built piece-by-piece through evolution because they have to be fully present in order to function, and thus they point to a transcendent creator.
– Biological Information. No hypothesis has come close to explaining how the information contained by our DNA got there. The presence of such coding implies an intelligent source.
– Consciousness. Consciousness is our introspection, sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs, and free choices that make us alive and aware. Current scientific findings support the view that it is a separate entity from our brain with a supernatural origin. (Strobel, The Case for a Creator, pages 279-283)
If you don’t understand my statement of any of Strobel’s arguments, please ask about it in a Reply to this post and I’ll try to explain it.
My reading of Robert’s copy of The Case for a Creator impressed me sufficiently to order a copy to join Strobel’s The Case for Faith and The Case for Christ in my personal library.