Welcome to Illusions, part six. An illusion is something you believe is true, but isn’t true. It’s a counterfeit reality. A fake truth. When you dig underneath it, the pieces don’t fit. The idea is fragile. There’s nothing firm and solid and real there. An illusion is something you think is true, but it isn’t true.
I want to push that just a little deeper. I want to add another dimension.
An illusion is also something you think is beautiful, but it isn’t beautiful. It is beautiful on the outside, but rotten on the inside. It casts a spell on a person, and then breaks their heart.
Something you think is true but isn’t. Something you think is beautiful but isn’t. We’ll come back to that.
I have personal experience with the illusion under the spotlight today.
My Two Worlds
I grew up in two worlds—the world of church, and the world of the Chicago public school system.
In the world of church, I learned that I was created in the image of God.
In the world of the public school system, I learned I evolved from lower forms of life.
My church taught me I was body, soul, and spirit, with a spark of life lit by the breath of God. The universe was God centered, created by him, and for his glory. I had an eternal soul and would live forever, either with or without God.
In my church, I learned all creation was infused with the presence of God, and every day of life was supercharged with transcendent value.
My school taught me I was matter and energy plus nothing. The universe was an accident, and had no purpose. I was an accident too, bound by time, and when the chemical machine that was me ran out of energy, I snuffed out like a candle, and that was it. There was nothing after death.
In my school, I learned that the space-time continuum was all there is, and every day of life was defined by the survival of the fittest.
The world of church lifted the veil of existence and showed me the face of a Creator God upholding and redeeming all things. I am the epitome of creation.
The world of school showed me a mechanical universe with no soul. I am the product of evolution.
I grew up in both worlds. And all through childhood, these two worlds coexisted inside me peacefully. I was too young, too immature, to unsophisticated see the contradiction.
In my junior year of high school, something clicked inside me. My two worlds collided. It hit me that both couldn’t be right. Either I was the epitome of divine creation from a personal God, or I was the product of random chance in an impersonal cosmos. Both of those couldn’t be true.
I was seventeen, and it was my first crisis of faith. The crisis grew strong really fast. You have to understand how much church meant to me. It was my home away from home. My primary relationships were at church. I was loved. I was valued. I was important. Church defined me.
The truths I learned in Sunday school, the verses I learned in Awana, the relationships I formed, the people who were my spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith — that was my heart, my core… church defined me.
There was a war going on inside me. I was interested in science. I had my own microscope because I wanted to be a microbiologist. I loved both worlds, but my mind was racing trying to put it all together. Was I a transcendent creation of almighty God or matter and energy in a chemical soup?
It was a huge struggle for me, but I didn’t tell anybody.
One of the most influential people in my life was a Sunday school teacher named Karl. I remember being at his house with a bunch of other youth, and he could tell something was wrong. I was in his kitchen. People were playing Uno and eating pizza. Karl and I were standing by the kitchen counter, hanging out. He could tell I had a struggle.
“Bill,” he said. “Is there something wrong?”
I wanted to say, “I can’t tell if creation is true or evolution is true, and I’m ready to toss out my faith over this conflict.” That’s what I wanted to say. But I didn’t say it. I said, “Nothing is wrong. I’m all good.”
By the second semester of junior year, I was really conflicted.
I knew I had to resolve this conflict. Thankfully, the school offered a way to do that. I had to write a term paper on any topic I wanted. I choose creation and evolution. I got every book I could get on the topic, and back then, there were only a few. I read. I studied. I dug in. It was the first time ever I had heard about scientific support for creation. It blew me away. Yes, it was faith, but it was more than faith. It was also the first time I made another discovery: evolution is science, but it’s more than science. It’s has a whole lot of faith, too.
I became convinced of creation. I became convinced by studying the facts. And ever since then, as the years have passed, I’ve only grown more convinced by the facts themselves. And I can stand here today, and testify that everything I needed to know about myself and my world begins with the majestic words: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The illusion for today is evolution, and I have three questions:
- What is evolution?
- What are some key features of evolution?
- What can Christians say about evolution?
Three Questions About Evolution
What is evolution?
Evolution is “descent with modification; transformation of species through time, including both changes that occur within species, as well as the origin of new species.” (Jonathan Locos, Princeton Univ. Press)
His simple definition is that evolution is descent with modification—that was Darwin’s definition. He’s saying that a species is modified as it passes down the generations.
His expanded definition, however, is incorrect. He includes changes that occur within species, and well as the origin of new species. That is incorrect.
Changes within a species is not evolution. It is, technically, adaptation. All species adapt. Butterflies change the colors of their wings, but they are still the same butterflies with the same genetic code. This has been observed over and over again by scientists.
To be evolution, the change must create a new species, with a new genetic code. This has never been observed by science.
A resource from Berkeley says this: “The central idea of biological evolution is that all life on earth shares a common ancestor, just as you and your cousins share a common grandmother… Evolution means that we’re all distant cousins: humans and oak trees, hummingbirds and whales.” (Understanding Evolution)
The worst illustration in the history of science. You are related to your grandmother by birth. You are related, under evolution, to other living things by a theory of a common life origin—something radically different.
Evolution is the theory that all life descended from a common living organism. Evolution requires that all new species arose through extremely long cycles of random mutation and natural selection.
What are some features of the Theory of Evolution?
THEORY. Evolution is a theory: The Theory of Evolution.
Theory means it is not a proven fact. It is not an observable fact. It is a hypothesis. Theory means it is one suggested way of putting together all the observable facts.
There is another theory, called CREATION, which takes the same observable facts and puts them together differently.
CREATION is the theory, revealed in Scripture, that all that is, including life, is created by God, and that humans are made in God’s own image.
The observable facts are:
a) the huge diversity of life on planet earth
b) the fossil record.
Science has never observed a new species emerge — not by observation in the presence, and not by observation of the past through the fossil record. Science requires observation. Evolution requires the emergence of new species. Since the emergence of new species has never been observed, past or present, evolution can only be called a theory and not a fact. That was the first lesson that blew my mind so long ago. Because there is one thing you have to learn about science: scientists are human too, and therefore can be biased, and political, and self-protected, and blind to their own presuppositions. Hopefully, they account for their biases. Many times, they do not. Evolution remains a theory.
It is not a proven fact.
RANDOM MUTATION. Random genetic mutation alters the DNA of a species, in a beneficial direction.
Evolution requires this to happen. It says that a random genetic mutation has to happen.
So, one day, a bird hatches that has a genetic mutation that gave it a longer beak. That mutation happened randomly, by accident. But the nice thing about it, was that it was beneficial to the bird. The longer beak helped the bird eat more bugs. The longer beak helped it fight off snakes. The longer beak was beneficial to the bird… and because the bird had the gene for the longer beak (genetic mutation), it passed on the longer beak to its offspring. And the next baby hatchling had the same longer beak.
But it has to be favorable. It has to be beneficial. The vast majority of genetic mutations are not favorable. They harm the organism, they don’t help it. Evolution can only happen when beneficial mutations happen. If it doesn’t help, then the next feature can’t kick in. That’s important. Say it with me: gradual and beneficial.
NATURAL SELECTION. Natural selection is nature’s process to gradually lock in beneficial genetic mutations by passing them down to the offspring.
This is where the famous line comes in: “Survival of the fittest.”
I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man’s power of selection. But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient. (Charles Darwin, from Origin of Species.)
MATERIALISM. Materialism is the view that everything that exists is matter and energy and is totally explainable by science.
No God, no angels, no heaven, no hell, no prayer.
No spirit and no soul.
Until Darwin popularized evolution, it was really hard to hold onto materialism. There was simply no reasonable explanation of our complex minds.
Evolution has given society an excuse to erase the soul, erase eternity, and erase the God who made us all.
But because of evolution, Carl Sagan could now begin his famous book, The Cosmos, with the words, “The Cosmos is all that is, and all that ever was, and all that ever will be.”
Materialism robs the world of its splendor, humans of their dignity, and life of its meaning.
But that’s enough about evolution. Now, question 3.
What can Christians say to our highly evolved friends?
MOTIVE. What is your motive for believing in evolution? Really, why do you believe it?
Very few people have read the science. Even fewer have read the creationist arguments. So most people are just going with the flow, and they are not curious enough intellectually, or they are too lazy (oops, did I say that out loud?) to really think about where they came from.
But society has latched on to evolution. And society has latched on because of what I talked about two messages ago: because of worldliness. To believe in creation is to believe in a creator. To believe in a Creator is to make ourselves accountable to him. And people are allergic to accountability.
The Bible says people…
Exchanged the truth of God for a lie… (Romans 1:25)
Worshipped the creation rather than the Creator… (Romans 1:25)
Did not like to retain God in their knowledge… (Romans 1:28)
Picture a person going through the drive through.
“Thanks for stopping, Sinner. Would you like your life with God or without God?”
“Without God, please.”
But that immediately creates a problem.
There’s a little voice inside called conscience where God whispers… I am here. I am right before your eyes. Look at my fingerprints — they’re everywhere. Ask yourself… where did you come from? Where did everything in this world come from?
Because there are two questions no human can ever outrun: Where did I come from? Where am I going?
Those were the questions that drove my quest during high school. Mankind’s origin. Mankind’s destiny.
The world has latched onto evolution mainly because it permits them to answer those questions without resorting to God. No one will admit it, but that’s the deepest motive, if most people were being brutally honest.
There’s another problem for the theory of evolution.
COMPLEXITY. Even the simplest life form is far more complex than evolution can explain.
In the evolution I learned as I grew up, there was a swamp on earth. Inside the swamp were certain chemicals and molecules. One day a lightning strike mixed up the right chemicals in the right moment, supercharged with the right aligning strike and BAM life emerged.
That life was very simple. It was a single cell life form. It had a cell wall, with a nucleus inside. The rest of the cell was filled with something called protoplasm. As I learned it, protoplasm was a simple clear jelly, and it was alive. It was living goo. And every simple life form was filled with it, with protoplasm.
It was reasonable to believe, because it was so simple. It wasn’t complex. Cell wall. Protoplasm. Nucleus. Life had evolved. Easy.
However, that was the age before electron microscopes. Today, scientists know there is nothing simple inside even the simplest cell.
The cell wall is a miracle of complexity itself. It is thinner than a spider’s thread, electrically charged, and has pores though which it admits the molecules it needs and kicks out the molecules it doesn’t need.
Inside the cell wall is the complex machinery of the cell. Each living cell is a shrine to God’s genius and precision. Lysosomes, endoplasmic reticulum, Golgi apparatus and a whole lot more unpronounceable structures inhabit the world inside the cell. The mitochondria produce as much electricity as the power lines above your head. The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is a wonder to behold. The ATP created and burned to fuel an athlete is equal to the athlete’s body weight every single day. The inside of a cell is a crowded and complex system of interconnected parts.
The nucleus contains a single strand of DNA. It is so slender, it is 50 trillionths of an inch thick. Even though it is smaller than a speck of dust, if you were to stretch out that single strand of DNA, it would be as tall as you are. If you were to stretch out all the DNA in your body end to end, it would go 10 billion (up to 170 billion) miles.
What I am saying is there is no such thing as a simple life form. Every piece of every cell of every life is complex beyond human understanding.
When I was growing up, my teachers used this illustration to teach evolution. They said that if we had enough monkeys typing on enough typewriters (an antique keyboard), they would eventually type out all the writings of Shakespeare, just by random chance. Just give them a whole lot of time, like a 150 billion years.
Every honest scientist today knows that is false.
One scientist at the University of Paris did the math. He concluded, “There is no chance (<10-1000) to see this mechanism appear spontaneously…”
A molecular biophysicist calculated that if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell could reassemble itself would be 10-100,000,000,000.
Going back to the monkey analogy, one famous mathematician calculated that if you gave those monkeys all the time the universe has been in existence, they would only type one half of a line from one book by accident.
There is not enough matter in the universe to make enough monkeys and enough typewriters to type out even one book by random chance, given all the time the universe is supposed to have existed.
An article in Scientific American, which is pro-evolution, said that the odds of the spontaneous emergence of a single cell organism emerging randomly from a primordial swamp is about as likely as assembling a fully functional Boeing 747 by a tornado whirling through a junkyard. And I would add you still need somebody to fly it.
The math just doesn’t work.
Even the simplest life form is a marvel. And that is because it was created from the hand of an all knowing, all powerful, utterly imaginative Creator God. David was right when he said,
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalms 139:13, NLT).
IRREDUCIBLE COMPLEXITY. How can evolution account for the gradual development of the complex systems in every living form?
This idea of irreducible complexity was first published in a best selling book by Michale Behe, called Darwin’s Black Box. I’ve been reading on creation/evolution for a lot of years, and this was the final nail in evolution’s coffin for me.
Irreducible complexity refers to single system composed of several interacting parts, so that removal of any of the parts makes the system stop functioning.
Let me illustrate it with a mouse trap. It has basically nine parts. Ten, if you count the bait. It’s a very simple machine.
If you take away just one of its parts, the mouse trap stops working.
I had you say two words with me: gradual and beneficial. That’s how natural selection works. It locks in gradual and beneficial chance mutations. No gradual and beneficial, no natural selection. No natural selection, no evolution.
Go back to the mouse trap. There is no way it came together gradually. Because part 1 by itself offered no benefit, so natural selection wouldn’t lock it in. Parts 1 and 2 together offer no benefit, so natural selection wouldn’t lock 1 and 2 in. Parts 1, 2, and 3 offer no benefit, and so on and so on. This machine could not be assembled by small incremental steps, because it is nonfunctional till all the parts are present at once.
The whole thing had to be put together at once for it to be beneficial. Gradual wouldn’t work.
Charles Darwin himself stated: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” (Origin of the Species)
Now, let’s go to a simple living organism like bacteria.
You might remember from freshman biology that some of these bacteria swim around with a tail. It is called a flagellum.
What you might not know is that a flagellum is an incredibly complex molecular machine. It is a tiny outboard motor. It spins at 6,000 up to 100,000 revolutions per minute. It can reverse in an instant. And scientists say it operates at 97% energy efficiency. It is a marvel of engineering.
The flagellum has between 30 and 40 working parts. It is complex.
Now here’s the important thing: Take away one part, and the whole motor stops working. So it is irreducibly complex. You can’t reduce it. You can’t take away even one part or it won’t work.
So here is the giant middle linebacker to tackle the theory of evolution.
How did 30 to 40 parts come together gradually when there was no benefit until all thirty parts showed up at once, all put together?
Remember the two words, gradual and beneficial? They can’t apply here.
Remember Darwin’s statement: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” (Origin of the Species) … Well here you go, Mr. Darwin. Have a flagellum.
Since natural selection cannot explain the step-by-step assembly of complex cellular machines, the whole theory of evolution falls apart. But it gets worse for evolution.
Not only is the machine itself irreducibly complex.
The assembly is also irreducibly complex. If I put all the parts of a simple mousetrap in a bag and shook it up, it still wouldn’t produce a mousetrap. Or a car. or an eyeball. Or a brain. The assembly instructions are irreducibly complex.
But it gets still worse for evolution.
- The design is irreducibly complex.
- The assembly is irreducibly complex.
- And the activation is irreducibly complex because somebody has to pull the cord that gets the motor started, and somebody has to set the spring that powers the trap. And put in the cheese.
New Scientist Magazine called the flagellum, “a prime example of a complex molecular system—an intricate nano machine beyond the craft of any human engineer” (Dan Jones, “Uncovering the Evolution of the Bacterial Flagellum,” (Feb 16, 2008).
“The flagellum is a true nano-machine of remarkable complexity in structure and assembly control. This macromolecular machine self-assembles and repairs, displays assembly control and processing, operates with two gears, is fueled by proton motive force, and the apparatus is ‘hard-wired’ to a sensory apparatus that functions on short-term memory (chemotaxis). Rotor speeds for E. coli are estimated at 17,000 rpm but motors of some marine vibrios have been clocked upward of 100,000 rpm” (William Dembski, ed., Darwin’s Nemesis, 2006, p. 215).
If you were to pull out a hair and cut it in half, 8 million of these nano machines would fit on the cross section.
Evolution and natural selection simply can’t explain these complex machines, and how they evolved incrementally.
Atheistic evolutionists like Richard Dawkins are so messed up by all of this, that some of them, including Dawkins (who wrote The God Delusion) have started saying that life on earth was seeded by aliens. Who’s crazy now?
When it comes to evolution, the motives are suspect. The complexity is beyond possibility. The irreducible complexity is a nail in the coffin. And there’s one more problem I’d like to mention and then we’re done.
BEAUTY. Would you rather live in a world with survival of the fittest at its core, or the face of a loving Heavenly Father?
Ideas have consequences. Once you board the train of evolutionary theory, and materialism that goes with it, you have to ride that train to its conclusion. What is that conclusion? Despair.
Because they make the world impersonal. Because they make life meaningless. Because the make humans into highly evolved animals. And they make all thought into chemical reactions based on chance.
There is no beauty, no love, no caring, no sin, no salvation, no Savior, no God, no heaven, no hell, and no justice in the end. Just random chance that came from God only knows where.
I will set my life inside the story that tells of a God who loves me, and created me to enjoy his fellowship forever.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. (Jeremiah 31:3, NKJV).
That story is good enough for me.