WELCOME TO THEOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

 

THE CREATION VERSUS EVOLUTION CONTROVERSY: PART ONE

          

       Evolution presents a direct challenge to the Christian theological system.  Evolution postulates that billions of years ago the universe sprang forth from an explosion of energy/matter (the Big Bang theory) that gradually developed into billions of heavenly bodies including our solar system.  Life is seen as protein molecules fortuitously coming together, reproducing themselves, and gradually developing over millions of years into increasingly more complex life forms leading to humans. 

       Biblical scripture teaches God created the heavens and earth.   On day six of creation week, God is seen as making man.  This first man is seen as committing sin, necessitating the Christ event with its provision for release from the eternal death penalty associated with sin.  If creation of Adam as the first human didn’t take place as scripture teaches, redemption through the Christ event becomes a moot point.  The scriptures clearly teach Christ came to redeem us from the penalty of death which began with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  If it can be shown that the scriptural account of mans creation is bogus, the entire Christian theological system falls like a deck of cards. 

       Genesis 1:1 records that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  This chapter goes on to record that in six days God created/made day and night (first day) , a firmament separating water from water (second day), plants (third day), sun, moon and stars (fourth day), fish and birds (fifth day), land animals, creeping things and man on the sixth day.

       Exodus 20:11 records: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”  Exodus 31:17 records the same thing. We see the Hebrew Scriptures appear to be teaching that the heavens, earth and sea, along with their inhabitants, were created in six days.

       In the second chapter of Genesis we find the account of Eve being formed from one of Adams ribs and becoming his wife. In Genesis three, it’s recorded that Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil which resulted in their banishment from the Garden of Eden and their becoming subject to death. In chapter four we find Adam and Eve beginning a family.

       Christ teaches God made humans male and female at the beginning of creation (Mark 10:6).  Luke shows Adam to be a direct creation of God (Luke 3:38). Apostle Paul speaks of Adam being formed first and then Eve and Adam not being the one deceived (1Timothy 2:13-14).  In Romans 5:14, Paul writes of death beginning with Adam and to the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).  In verse 45 the first Adam is compared to the last Adam which is seen as Christ.  Jude 14 sees Adam as the first human. Therefore, we see New Testament writers in agreement with what the Old Testament teaches about who the first humans were.  We also see provision for salvation (eternal life) is predicated on Christ atoning for the sin that began with Adam and Eve. 

 SUMMARY OF THE TWO APPROACHES:

       Mainstream creationists believe the Biblical case for creation is straightforward.  God, a personage of great power and intelligence who has existed eternally, created the universe in six days by speaking all things into existence.   Evolutionists believe the universe results from the explosion/expansion (Big Bang) of compressed energy/matter which gradually led to the development of the universe and all life forms over millions of years.  Some, who call themselves scientific or theistic creationists, embrace the Big Bang theory and believe God created the universe through this mechanism. This approach necessitates a stretching out of the six days of Genesis into millions of years and seeing the development of life forms as being accomplished through a God ordained evolutionary  process or through what is called progressive creation.

       In recent years the ID (intelligent design) movement has developed. This approach postulates the existence of the physical universe and life demands intelligent design but does not necessarily conclude the intelligent designer is the Christian God. This movement is attempting to introduce "creation science" into public education without associating it with a particular theological system. 

       There are some who believe the six day creation account is allegorical and was written to assert monotheism against the prevailing polytheism extant at the time the Genesis account was written. However, if the Genesis account of creation is allegorical which means it is fictional, how can Jesus, Paul and other New Testament personalities use the Adam and Eve story as having literally occurred?  If Adam was not a real person, how can Paul see Adam as the starting point for sin from which redemption can be obtained through the Christ event?

       Moreover, the allegorical approach creates cognitive dissonance between the Genesis account and the use of that account as a template for the establishment of the seventh day Sabbath as seen in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17. If there wasn't a literal seventh day of a literal six day creation week, how can the creation account be used to establish the seventh day Sabbath?  Doesn't the Sabbath ordinance give attestation to there being a literal six day creation followed by a seventh day of rest? 

       On the other hand, Israel was also given the land Sabbath to be observed every seven years and lasting for one year.  In this case, a Sabbath rest is 365 days long and is established on something other than six literal 24 hour days. Could the six days of creation represent much longer periods of time?  If this is the case, how does this correlate with the seventh day Sabbath which is seen as a twenty-four hour period preceded by six previous twenty-four periods. That the six days of creation are twenty-four periods is clearly indicated by each day being seen as evening to morning periods of time.  More on this issue later in this series.

  LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS:

       Fundamental to the evolution/creation controversy is an understanding of the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. These laws have been tested many times and found to be universally valid.  The First Law of Thermodynamics is a statement of the conservation of energy. It postulates that the amount of energy in the universe is constant. Einstein showed that matter is energy in his famous equation. So when we speak of matter we speak of energy as well. While energy can change forms, it is not being created or destroyed.

       The Second Law of Thermodynamics is a statement of entropy.  Entropy (or more specifically, increase in entropy) is defined as heat (in calories or Btu's) absorbed by a system, divided by the absolute temperature of the system at the time the heat is absorbed. Entropy refers to the amount of energy that dissipates from any given system into its surroundings.  A system is anything from a machine to a living organism.  The earth along with all bodies that make up the universe, are considered systems. In all systems, there is a certain amount of energy constantly dissipating into random, disordered activity which the system cannot use to its benefit.  This results in all systems degrading over time. Unless there is a purposeful source of energy operating in or on a system to limit such degradation, the system becomes less and less organized, more and more random and moves from complex to less and less complex.  A house will deteriorate and become a pile of dust if left on its own and not looked after.  Living organisms will die and disintegrate if not taken care of.  Everything in the universe is seen as gradually breaking down.  Everything in the universe is seen as moving toward an increase in entropy.

       Creationists say that since everything is dissipating into less and less complexity, there has to be a creator who started it all.  While entropy of a system can be interrupted and temporarily stopped by an influx of energy from outside itself, entropy still continues its relentless degradation of all systems.  Creationists say this process had to have a beginning.  Someone had to make and set in motion the physical universe which is slowly disintegrating. The atoms and molecules that make up the universe must have had a starting point in order to experience increasing entropy. They could not have eternally existed without contradicting the second law of thermodynamics.

       The evolutionist sees the earth as part of an open system of heavenly bodies where systems are constantly dissipating energy into their surroundings. Since energy is constant, neither being created nor destroyed, it has always existed. While the earth and all it contains may be experiencing entropy, it is also constantly being renewed with energy from the sun and other cosmic bodies. While energy from the sun may speed up entropy in many areas because of its oxidative effect, it also facilitates fresh systems as seen in its effects upon the growth of plants.  Energy exchange is always taking place to keep entropy in check.

       Evolutionists do not deny the first and second law as some creationists charge. Evolutionists are simply saying that while entropy is taking place, reducing overall complexity, so is renewal taking place.  Evolutionists point out that the second law is all about heat exchange where energy is allowed to do work and thus create complexity. The second law states that heat always flows from hot to cold.  Therefore, evolutionists see the second law as supporting the Big Bang explosion of energy which created tremendous heat.  As this heat energy cooled, matter was formed and the universe developed.  Entropy began at this point and continues to this very day but moves at a very slow pace due to the counter forces of renewal.  Evolutionists believe that in time everything will degrade back to its pre Big Bang state of energy equilibrium where there is no further breakdown (entropy).

       When asked what caused the Big Bang and from where did the exploding elements come from, the evolutionist answers that constituents of energy have always existed and before the Big Bang these constituents were in a state of equilibrium and were not experiencing entropy. These constituents (atoms, sub-atomic particles, etc.) became compressed, generating disequilibrium which led to the Big Bang.  Evolutions do not teach that the universe developed from nothing as some creationists charge.  They teach it developed from the explosion of a concentration of energy.  It was at this point that entropy began.  The major difference between the creationist and the evolutionist on the issue of origins is the creationist believes an intelligent designer (God) is the source and facilitator of the constituents of energy while the evolutionist believes the constituents of energy have always existed and facilitate themselves through innate, resident forces.     

       Evolutionists support their view by showing how atoms incessantly move at a few hundred to thousands of miles an hour at ordinary temperatures. As temperature increases so does the speed of their movement.  Many atoms spontaneously bond when they collide, forming extremely powerful associations in very specific ways.  Evolutionists believe it is this type of spontaneous reaction of elements that created the Big Bang. 

       Evolutionists point out that millions of compounds have less energy as a compound than the energy contained in their individual atoms.  Therefore evolution is not teaching that complex systems came into existence from less complex elements as creationists charge.  Systems came into existence through the diffusion of energy generated by the explosion of very complex atoms/molecules. The Big Bang produced less complex systems than the constituents that produced them. These systems may be slowly becoming less and less complex as a system because of entropy, but they ultimately return to the very complex molecules from which they were originally made.  Therefore, the second law does not dictate the decrease of energy but only the spreading out of energy/matter.  The second law quantitatively describes the energetic aspects of compounds made from very complex basic elements such as atoms.

       Creationists argue that random energy, unless directed by intelligence will never form anything.  There must be an eternal source from which all energy flows and that source must be intelligent in order for such energy to be made into useful systems. Creationists point out that everything exists within defined parameters (law) and this could not happen by chance.  Evolutionists argue that constituents of energy are eternal, having innate parameters of operation which cause such constituents to express themselves in predictable ways.  Therefore, it is not a matter of chance but of elements performing in prescribed ways based on their makeup. 

 THE BIG BANG:

       The Big Bang theory postulates that many millions of years ago, the universe sprang into existence as a singularity.  Singularities are believed to exist at the core of black holes.  Black holes are believed to be areas of gravitational pressure so intense that energy is concentrated into tremendous density.  It is these zones of intense density that are called singularities and it is from such a zone that it is felt the big bang occurred.  While some see the Big Bang as an explosion, others see it as an expansion where the singularity didn’t appear in space but rather space began inside the singularity.  In other words, space and time began at the same time energy began to turn into matter.  In essence, this puts everything inside the singularity which is the universe.

 EVIDENCE FOR THE BIG BANG:

       The Big Bang theory began in 1929 when astronomer Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) discovered that light from most galaxies was shifted to the red end of the spectrum which indicated heavenly bodies are moving away from us at speeds proportional to their distance. When light travels away from us its wavelength is stretched out which causes this shift.  Hubble’s discovery indicated an expanding universe which led to the theory that the elements that make up the universe were once compacted and somehow became uncompacted which led to the development of the physical universe and all it contains.    

       In 1964, two astronomers, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, in an attempt to detect microwaves from outer space, inadvertently discovered a noise of extraterrestrial origin. The noise did not seem to emanate from one location but instead, it came from all directions at once. They determined that what they heard was an echo from the farthest reaches of the universe which had been left over from the Big Bang. Then in 1992, a COBE satellite confirmed that a 2.73 degrees above absolute zero on the Kelvin scale (-270 degrees C, -454 F) temperature, called microwave background radiation, pervades the universe. This discovery confirmed what scientists had mathematically calculated to be the temperature that would remain from the explosion or expansion of an intensely hot singularity millions of years ago. 

        Additionally, in order for galaxies to have formed from the Big Bang, the pattern formed by the explosion or expansion needed to have slight variations in the form of wave ripples.  These ripples would result in very slight fluctuations in the predicted 2.73 degree temperature and would show an identifiable pattern.  The 1992 satellite was able to measure and confirm that such fluctuations did indeed exist relative to the 2.73 degree background radiation temperature.  Radio telescopes at the North Pole have further confirmed the existence of background radiation conforming to mathematically predicted levels.

       Evolutionists postulate the Big Bang produced an explosion of primarily hydrogen and helium gas which they feel is verified by the fact that the abundance of elements heavier than helium and hydrogen decreases proportionally as you travel out into space. It is felt this pattern is only explained by a universe that continuously expands from a beginning event (the Big Bang) and is continuously cooling since that event. 

       Associated with the Big Bang theory is the nebular hypothesis which postulates that the planets of our solar system were formed by rings of matter split off from rotating nebulae (cosmic dust) due to centrifugal force. Leftover matter became our sun.

CRITICISM OF THE BIG BANG AND NEBULAR HYPOTHESIS:

       Critics of the big bang theory say it does not meet the expectations the theory demands.  The theory demands that background radiation must come from the direction where the big bang occurred.  Yet this radiation comes from everywhere in space and is felt by some to be nothing more than a slight amount of heat given off by stars throughout the universe.  Fluctuations in radiation could be the result of solar flares and not have anything to do with a big bang.  

       Critics point out that, since light has been demonstrated to have weight, the red shift could be caused when light from stars pass other stars whose gravitational pull slightly slows their beam of light causing its spectrum to shift to the red.  It is further pointed out that every body in the universe is orbiting and at the same time is moving in some direction.  Much of such movement is at right angles to us. Objects moving at right angles to an observer will always be redshifted.   Some believe light waves lose energy as they travel large distances.  This could explain why the farthest stars from us have the greatest red shifts.

       Quasars, objects in space that emit tremendous energy, show drastically shifted spectrums toward the red which in some cases would make there speed faster than the speed of light. This would be inconsistent with present understanding as to the speed at which light travels and therefore calls into question the idea of red shifting being an explanation for an expanding universe caused by the Big Bang. 

       The Big Bang theory postulates that the Big Bang explosion/expansion produced a large-scale smoothness of the universe.  The universe is seen as being isotropic (the same in all directions) and homogeneous (the same everywhere). Those ideas, combined with the concept of curved space, provide the basis for the Big Bang concepts of space expansion rather than simply expansion of matter in space. However, the observed irregularities of the universe, which include vast galactic formations,  gigantic voids and sheets of galaxies, and the "Great Wall," that is estimated to stretch across one half billion light years of space, deny this smoothness that the Big Bang requires.

       The nebular hypothesis uses flat, rotating nebulae as the Solar System's origin to explain why all the planets orbit in nearly the same plane and in the same direction. This hypothesis, however, contradicts the observation that the sun contains most of the solar system's mass but only a small fraction of its rotating momentum. It is felt that if this theory were correct, the sun, being as large as it is compared to the planets, would have most of the solar system's rotating momentum. The Sun's angular momentum would have increased significantly as it contracted, much like a spinning ice skater who rotates faster as he brings in his arms. Another problem with the nebular hypothesis is that if rings of matter were split off, they wouldn't be pulled together to form planets but would disperse into space.

       The Big Bang/Nebular Hypothesis proposes that a spinning cosmic explosion or expansion began the evolutionary process of the universe.  Creationists point out that these hypotheses contradicts the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum.  This law describes the tendency of a spinning object to continue spinning in the same direction. The Big Bang theory postulates a clockwise rotation of matter emanating from the Big Bang.  Therefore all heavenly bodies should be spinning clockwise with the larger bodies spinning at faster speeds. However, this is not the case. Our sun, which has 99% of the mass of our solar system, has only 2% of the angular momentum. A number of heavenly bodies have been found to be spinning counter clockwise.  For example, one-third of the moons in our solar system rotate in the opposite direction from that of the planets they are associated with.   Both Uranus and Venus rotate differently from the other planets in our solar system. Venus rotates clockwise while the other planets in our solar system rotate counter-clockwise. Yet Venus orbits counter-clockwise around the sun.

       Some proponents of the Big Bang postulate that the heavenly bodies were formed by cosmic gases contracting into particles in the vacuum of space. Creationists point to research that shows gas in a vacuum expands instead of contracts and therefore could not develop into stars, planets, etc. Evolutionists theorize that heavier elements developed from the hydrogen and helium gas that initially spewed forth from the Big Bang.  Creationists counter that mathematical calculations have shown the virtual impossibility of hydrogen atoms sticking together to form particles.  Creationists ask where the dozens of heavier elements came from that make up our heavenly bodies if only hydrogen and helium were there at the beginning. Evolutionist’s answer that the first stars to be formed, called “first generation stars,” proceeded to repeatedly explode. Billions upon billions of stars kept exploding, for billions of years. Gradually, these explosions produced all our heavier elements. Creationists point out that there are nuclear gaps which make it impossible for hydrogen or helium to change itself into any of the heavier elements.

       As mentioned earlier, there are some creationists who embrace the Big Bang theory and believe God, acting as the eternal first cause, facilitated the Big Bang which led to formation of the universe.  Those who take this approach believe in progressive creation were God, after having created the basic laws and elements of the universe, has allowed a natural progression of development to occur over billions of years.  Therefore, progressive creationists view the development of the universe as an evolutionary process that began with God.  Progressive creationists do not embrace biological evolution.  They believe God, over vast amounts of time, progressively created a variety of living organisms with humans being the pinnacle of such progression of biological creation.  Progressive creationists (sometimes referred to as scientific creationists) believe the six days of creation as recorded in Genesis represents billions of years of development. Progressive creationists believe their view harmonizes Biblical scripture with science.

IN REVIEW:

       In reviewing the literature that addresses the origin of the universe, it is apparent that the evidence offered for the occurrence of the Big Bang is not proven beyond reasonable doubt. Every postulation as to how the Big Bang may have occurred is met with reasonable alternative explanations.  Evolutionists offer no irrefutable evidence for the Big Bang taking place. Progressive creationists fail to provide adequate refutation of objections to the Big Bang and have not convincingly harmonized the Big Bang with the scriptural account of creation. 

          On the other hand, we can’t just dismiss the Big Bang theory either.  Astronomers are constantly identifying what they believe to be the formation of new stars occurring in the universe.  These stars are seen as developing from nebula floating around in space believed to be left over from the Big Bang.   More on this later in this series.

       If the Big Bang is problematical, what is the evidence for a supernatural Being creating the universe in a six day time frame as the Biblical scriptures appear to teach?   Are these literal twenty-four hour days or do they represent longer periods of time. What is the evidence for a young universe as opposed to a universe many billions of years old?   How valid are the dating methods used by evolutionists.  We will now begin to address these issues.

PART TWO