WRITTEN BY DS
There are lots of conflicts between science and Christianity, and it is really hard for most commoners like me to really know where the real truth lies.
Long ago, I had taken the stand that evolution is flawed, and the intelligent design or divine creation story in the first two chapters of Genesis in the Bible is the only basis for all lives on earth, as well as all the ‘heavenly stuffs’ like stars and galaxies in the universe beyond earth. Of course, we have long heard about the constant evolution of bacteria and viruses, and that isn’t too hard to accept as true because the Bible didn’t mention anything against that!
So, the real difficulty of accepting evolution as the basis for all lives on earth is because it is in direct conflict with many parts of Genesis. For example, the one big contention is the six days of time that God took to create the earth and the universe. Of course, with compelling evidence today that the age of the universe and planet earth is in billions of years, not days, different interpretations of Genesis have to be sought. And bible scholars explain that the period of a day in Genesis may not be a 24-hour day, which is really convenient to bridge the gap. But again, with Einstein’s discovery that time is relative, not absolute, the day in Genesis could be really 24-hour durations to God, but billions of years to us, so maybe it was still a 24-hour day. So, which is true? Perhaps, you don’t care, but I do, since we really do need every part of the Bible to be true in order to have a strong faith in it, and conflicts like this weaken our faith and also become stumbling blocks to non-believers that can’t accept the story.
Now, this 24-hour day issue is actually quite small compared to the much bigger one on how human beings came into existence. In the Bible, it was simply described as God created man in His own image from the dust of the ground. Human evolution theory says that humans descended from the same ancestor as chimpanzees about 7 million years ago and it took a further few more millions years to evolve to our current form which came into being about 200,000 years ago. This is nothing close to the estimated 6000 years ago that Adam was created as described in the Bible from the ground. Of course, we believers tend to believe the Bible and just dismiss anything that didn’t agree with the Bible. And from history, most of the time the believers were wrong, and science was right. The most obvious were the ones proclaiming that the earth was flat and the earth was the centre of the universe where all other stars revolve around it! Of course, on hindsight, we all know now that the interpretation of the Bible was wrong. For example, the four corners of the earth, the ends of the earth, the pillars of earth, the earth cannot be moved, cannot to be interpreted literally or out of context. Bear in mind that the powerful church in the past was not so tolerant to science that went against the teachings of the Bible. Galileo Galilei who tried to use science to show that the earth revolved around the sun was sentenced to house arrest based on so-called heresy (ie beliefs that contradict religious teachings) in 1633. Charles Darwin kept his Origin of Species publication on evolution for about 20 years before he finally found the guts to publish it in 1859.
Notice that I didn’t say the Bible was wrong but the interpretation was wrong? I believe that if the Bible were interpreted correctly and science is also correct, they would both agree and not contradict. Science will always get clearer and more precise as it advances, but the Bible text will not change, so when the Bible text is used to put down science, I think the people ought to be a lot more careful in case the evidence becomes too compelling in the future, and the proponents of the wrong truth from the Bible will have to eat their words and retract. The case for insisting the earth was flat and at the centre of the universe, for example, is completely untenable in today’s understanding of science. The big claim by science that human beings evolved from the same ancestor as Chimpanzee may be laughed at by the church now, but I believe that based on advances in genetics in the near future, there would probably be compelling evidence in the future to irrefutably prove the fact, and then the church will have to twist its interpretation of the Bible again in order to make it agree with science, or else it risks being discarded as a total fallacy.
Why I tend to believe this event to unfold in future is because of the understanding of too many less-than-ideal designs in the natural world that makes it unlikely to be designed by God in His infinite wisdom. I will just quote two examples.
We all know that there is no life without death, meaning humans and many animals prey on other living creatures to survive. Of course, one can argue that humans can be vegetarians, but what about the many other species of animals, insects, birds, fish, etc? The fish food chain is probably the easiest to understand, as we all have heard about big fish eating smaller fish, literally. All fishes that are hatched from eggs start small, and every small fish is potential food for other bigger fish. So, if you ban fish from eating meat, they will either have to be overhauled in their design or disappear for good. Why I consider this as less-than-ideal is because plants are good designs as food as they don’t scream or fear death when eaten, but most other preys do. If God designed all preys from nothing, I think they should all behave like worms who probably don’t know anything about being eaten, and do not fear it. Then I would consider it a good design as prey-food. Or also, we could ask why God didn’t design all creatures to utilise energy directly from the sun, just like plants. Or God could even build mini nuclear processor in all creatures to turn matter into energy which is really very efficient based on E = mc2 formula!
The second case is if God created humans from nothing, then I think we should all have perfect genes that do not mutate. Genetics have to be an original design from God if we don’t consider that it came into existence from evolution. I suppose one can easily understand why our genes are less-than-ideal as there are so many genetically linked diseases, including many deadly cancers. A very simple example of an unfortunate human genetic mutation is the sickle-cell disease, a blood disorder that results in abnormal sickle-shaped red blood cells that don’t deliver oxygen very well in the human body. This disease is a result of just one wrong letter or code termed single nucleotide polymorphism (or SNP) in one codon (a 3-letter protein-encoding genetic code) in chromosome 11, ie from GAG to GTG (GAG generates glutamic acid and GTG generates valine).
Genetic mutations in the main cell DNA (nuclear DNA) do not happen easily in humans, but still it happens, and when it happens do we blame God if we say that He designed it? Even if we don’t involve all the unpleasant genetic diseases, there are also little nuisances like why do humans have A and B blood-type genes that make their blood different, complicating blood transfusion? And the people with O blood-type are actually people with A-blood type gene with one character lost/deleted, ie G or Guanine at position 261. Or why do 8% of the human genome are actually remains of retroviruses, ie non-functional DNA which were a result of retrovirus DNA being combined into human DNA thousands and millions years ago?
At this moment, the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, is God created the first human Adam from the ground, which Christians are using, including various other arguments such as Irreducible Complexity to counter the science of evolution. Of course, we don’t know which is right yet, and to me even if evolution turns out to be true in the future when compelling evidences are found, it doesn’t mean that there is no God and the Bible is flawed, but yet again Christians have missed the point, much like ancient claims of flat earth and the Sun revolving round the earth, that the Bible is not meant to be a source to contend with science, because God gave us the intelligence to ultimately discover His secrets through actual research. So, Christians have better pay more attention to science and see how the Bible fits real/true science, and not the other way round. Of course, certain complex scientific knowledge may not be right from the start and need to be corrected as it advances.