February 2009 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and November 2009 marked the 150th anniversary of the publishing of his infamous book, “On the Origin of Species”. These anniversaries, coupled with the media’s love of Darwin and evolution, have resulted in frequent references being made to Darwin and the Theory of Evolution in the news. However, how is this relevant to Christianity today? Can’t we just ignore all of the talk of evolution and brush off the teaching of evolution in public schools?
Discussion of the Theory of Evolution is relevant to Christianity and churches today because it is in direct opposition to the foundations of the Bible and Christianity:
- Genesis 1:11 says, ” Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.”
- Genesis 1:20 says, “And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.”
- Genesis 1:24 says, “And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.”
- Genesis 1:26 says, “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
Genesis 1 does not say, “Then God created a primordial ooze from which the molecular biochemical building blocks of life would randomly and spontaneously self-generate into life forms which would then reproduce and advance into more and more complex creatures through evolution.” But that is exactly what the Theory of Evolution requires. Let look at what is really meant by the term “evolution”:
- All life contains DNA, which is a complex molecule that carries genetic information unique to every organism. Evolution requires that a random mutation occurs in the DNA code that leads to a change in the way that organism functions on a molecular / cellular level.
- This change in functioning from the random DNA mutation must be beneficial to the organism in such a way that the change improves the chance of the organism’s survival. (Natural Selection)
- The traits and mutated DNA code of the improved organism are passed down to future generations as an improvement in the organism, and the cycle repeats itself.
Note that “evolution” does not mean the following:
- “Evolution” is not the same as the study of genetics. Advances in the understanding of the genetic code of humans, plants, animals, and other organisms has nothing to do with “evolution”.
- “Evolution” is not the same thing as “natural selection”. Natural selection means that organisms with certain features may be more likely to survive certain environmental conditions. Those surviving organisms can then pass on their characteristics to their offspring. However, the organism is still the original organism. God’s Creation allows for adaptation and variation within a Biblical kind.
- “Evolution” is not the same thing as adaptation to environmental stress. Populations of organisms can adapt to their environment, which again falls into the realm of variation within a Biblical kind. For example, finches with longer beaks would be more likely to survive if all of the insects that they are seeking to eat bury themselves very deeply into the bark of trees. After a period of time, most of the finches in this environment would be found to have long beaks. However, they are still finches, not some new organism.
DNA: Evolution’s Biggest Hope
When Darwin theorized about evolution, the field of genetics was purely observational, and no one understood how traits were passed on from parent to child. DNA had not been discovered. However, DNA was discovered in the 20th century, and the entire human genome, or genetic code, was completely mapped out by the Human Genome Project by 2006. So it would appear that Darwin’s dream has now been completed, and everything is known about human genetics and evolution. Or is it …?
DNA: Evolution’s Biggest Impossibility
In spite of knowing the genetic code, DNA has proven to be impossibly complex and little is really known about how it truly functions. Only the most basic understanding of DNA, protein formation, regulation and suppression of genes, and the direction of the development of a new individual from a single cell is known (embryology). Consider the following facts about human DNA, keeping in mind that all of this would have to have all come about randomly from molecular scratch according to evolution:
- Every cell in the human body has 46 chromosomes which are composed of DNA. DNA is organized into “base pairs”, which is the most basic unit of genetic information. Then entire human genome is about 3 billion base pairs in length! Every single human cell contains these 3 billion base pairs distributed among 46 chromosomes. If a person could stretch out the DNA from one microscopic human cell into a line, it would measure 3 feet in length!
- A human adult is thought to have about 10,000,000,000,000 (10 trillion) cells. The total length of the DNA from all of the cells of an adult human would stretch from the earth to the sun and back 67 times.
- Only about 5% of the human genome is involved in making proteins. There are about 30,000 known “genes” in human DNA, that is, DNA that codes for the production of a protein. No one really understands what the other 95% does.
- The complex double helix structure of DNA has never been created synthetically except from existing DNA. Even in the most controlled scientific conditions, it is impossible to synthesize DNA from scratch from its component parts. This begs the question of how DNA could arise spontaneously in the hostile chemical environment of a primordial ooze being struck by lightning, or from comets from outer space. Even the component parts of DNA cannot be synthesized chemically.
- DNA is not just a compilation of base pairs and genes. DNA contains specific detailed information about cellular chemical processes, metabolism, reproduction, and repair. Since the “code” of DNA does not resemble the end product in any way, how could this information have arisen spontaneously?
- DNA does not exist and function by itself in the cell. Other “helper” proteins wind the DNA into tight coils within the nucleus of the cell for safe keeping, and then turn around and unwind the DNA to access the genetic information or for cell division. Specific proteins travel along the surface of DNA to “read” the code, create messenger proteins which travel to other parts of the cell which are then read by other proteins to create new proteins. As new proteins are created, helper proteins fold the new proteins into specific shapes to accomplish their final function.
- Since DNA itself codes for the proteins that are used to read and regulate that very DNA, there is no way that even the most basic cellular metabolism could have arisen spontaneously. DNA sitting in a cell is useless without the elaborate mechanism in place to read and implement the genetic information of the DNA.
This is all very technical, but hopefully this information dispels any notion that DNA could arise spontaneously on earth. With no DNA there could be no life and no evolution. However, a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a few moments to view this fascinating video simulation of DNA and protein formation in a living cell:
The video is found at http://www.wehi.edu.au/wehi-tv/, and choose the “Body Code” video. The DNA section starts at about 1:21, showing DNA being coiled into chromosomes by proteins within the cell, which then divides. At about 2:97, the video shows DNA being copied within the cell. At about 3:54 the video shows DNA being read by proteins creating messenger RNA segments for protein production in the cell. At 5:00, the messenger RNA is seen leaving the nucleus for protein production. At 7:40 there is an additional DNA simulation.
Amazingly, even the most basic one celled organisms have DNA and all of these cellular functions. Believing that this complexity could arise spontaneously would take a tremendous amount of faith in science. Personally, I would rather place my faith in Jesus and God’s Word.