An Eyewitness Account

Maybe you've heard this before: "Evolution is a proven scientific fact; the Bible's creation story is just a religious myth". What is your response to this? Sometimes we are told that all scientists believe in natural evolution, and that to believe in the Bible is to be unscientific and superstitious. Is that true? Is it possible to be a rational scientist and a devout Christian at the same time? Do science and the Bible have anything to do with each other, or is the Bible just a set of moral fables?

where did we come from? The very first verse of the Bible, "In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth", declares an answer to what is perhaps the most important and fundamental question of our existence -- where did we come from? Do we have a Creator? If we do have a Creator, then He gives us our purpose in life, and we are accountable to Him. Secular evolutionists propose a very different answer to the question of origins: they claim that there is no Creator, no Designer, and that we came about through a gradual process of millions of years of evolution. The central issue is the same: where did we come from?

The Scientific Method vs. the Historical Method

What is science? The scientific method which we use widely today is based on observations of repeated experiments. We start with a hypothesis, or guess, about our subject. For example, say our hypothesis is that all trees have pine needles. (Here in the Vancouver, BC, area, we have lots of evergreen trees; they're so beautiful!) We need to test our hypothesis by conducting experiments -- looking at lots of trees to see if they have pine needles or not. Of course, pretty soon we'll find trees that don't have pine needles -- so we'll need to modify our hypothesis accordingly: perhaps, say, 80% of our trees have pine needles. We keep repeating the experiment and keep tweaking our hypothesis. The key is repetition of the experiment. A theory is just a hypothesis that has been tested many times, and a law is a hypothesis that so far has shown itself true every time -- for example, Newton's three Laws of Motion. But if someone were to find a counter-example to a physical "law", it would go back to being a hypothesis, and we'd have to repeat more experiments to see if we need to tweak our "law".

Now let's apply this to our big question of origins. Can we repeat the experiment? The Bible has one claim as to where we came from: it's very succinctly laid out in Genesis that God created the universe and us out of nothing, in just six days, including all the plants, animals, birds, fish, etc., each according to their kinds, and He put His stamp of approval on creation, saying it was "very good" [Gen 1:31]. Can we repeat the experiment to see if this is how we actually came about? Can we ask God to recreate the universe in six days for us? No, we cannot repeat this experiment even once, so we cannot test the Bible's claim about origins using the scientific method.

How about naturalistic evolution as an explanation for origins? Can we repeat and observe the whole span of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution, from the "Big Bang" to the formation of planets to the start of life, all the way up to humans? According to the evolutionists, it would take billions of years -- there's no way our research funding could last that long! Neither the Bible's claim nor secular evolutionists' proposals for where we came from are testable by the scientific method, because we can't repeat the experiment. Even if we could repeat creation or evolution from scratch and see a whole new universe come about, that still wouldn't prove that our universe came about in the same way.

The question of origins really lies in the realm of the historical method, not the scientific method. the realm of the historical method When we want to know what happened in the past, we look for contemporary first-hand sources, eyewitness accounts from people who lived in that time. I heard that there is a small group of revisionists who claim that the Nazi Holocaust during WWII was just a big hoax, that it never happened. Well, I think they'll have a pretty hard time convincing people of that, because we still have a lot of people who personally lived through the Holocaust, and are still alive today to tell the story! What an insult to them to say that it was all a hoax. Eyewitness accounts are some of the most trustworthy sources. For events further back than the 20th century, we'd want to look for evidence of those historical events. The ancient city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, each time leaving a remnant of the foundations from the previous city. We can learn about the history of the city by looking at the remnants and ruins that still exist today. The archaeological evidence is never 100% conclusive, but we can make some pretty good guesses based on it.

When we examine the question of where we (the universe, people, and the diversity of life on Earth) came from, we cannot use the scientific method to "prove" one theory or another; we can only use the evidence left in the modern-day world to test our hypotheses. Each hypothesis has some predictions about things we should find today in the world. If Genesis is correct, then we'd expect to find certain conditions in the world today (e.g., things gradually wearing out as we wander away from the "very good" original design, living creatures created "each according to their kinds", etc.). If naturalistic evolution is correct, then we'd expect to find certain different conditions in the world today (e.g., spontaneous generation of new information in the genetic code, transitional "missing link" forms, etc.). We can evaluate the predictions of each model against the evidence that we find today in the world to see what model of history makes best sense.

These two factors in the historical model -- eyewitness accounts and archaeological evidence -- are both laid claim to by the Bible. we weren't there, but God was! The Genesis account and numerous other verses throughout Scripture make claims about things we should find true in the world today (e.g., the earth being round and "suspended in nothingness"), and we can compare these predictions with what we actually find. Beyond that, the Bible claims that there is an eyewitness account of creation -- we weren't there, but God was! And Genesis 1 is His eyewitness account of how it happened.

Scientific Facts vs. Scientists' Opinions

“But," you might say, "what about all those news reports and magazine articles and TV shows that say science has proven we came about by evolution?" There is a common misperception that confuses scientific facts with scientists' opinions. A fact of science is hard evidence, something that exists today and can be examined by everyone, like a piece of rock, or a leaf, or a fossilized bone. But questions like, "how old is this rock?", or, "how tall was the creature from which this bone came?" belong to the realm of interpretation. Each scientist can form his or her own opinion on the issue, and you can, too -- just because a big-name scientist with a Ph.D. and a white lab coat says something doesn't make it true. So the next time you see a TV show or museum exhibit that makes a claim about origins, ask yourself a couple questions: "Were they there when it happened?" and "What did they really find?" Look closely at museum "ape-man" depictions: you'll be surprised how much is "artist's conception" or "model", and how little is real fossil that they actually found[1].

Because the question of origins is not answerable by the scientific method, it really is not an issue of science, but an issue of worldviews. an issue of worldviews The worldview, or framework of presuppositions, that we start with is the set of tinted glasses that we see the evidence through. If one starts with the presupposition that there is no God, no intelligent Designer, nothing beyond what we can understand today, then viewing the evidence through that worldview can result in a naturalistic evolutionary answer to the question of origins. But if we allow the possibility that there might be a God who made things according to the way outlined in the Bible, then the same physical evidence points to a Creator. Both evolution and creation as models of origins are issues of faith -- and in my opinion and evaluation, it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in Biblical creation!

Genesis: the Eyewitness Account

So does science prove that we evolved from monkeys and Genesis is mythology? No, the scientific method cannot prove where we came from -- but there is a lot of evidence we can examine to test the claims of Genesis. We don't have to listen to the opinions of scientists, but can look directly at the facts of science. It is not true that all scientists believe in evolution; there are a great many scientists, including some of the most famous scientists in history, who believe in a literal account of creation as described in Genesis. [2] Lastly, for Christians who believe that God knows what He's talking about, Genesis is the foundation for the rest of Scripture; it's important that we not try to wave it away as allegory. It's been argued that the Bible is not a science textbook -- yes, it's better than our science textbooks, because it doesn't change with the shifting opinions of man; it was written right the first time! In Genesis we have the firsthand eyewitness account of creation, written by the only One who was there: God himself.

-- Sean Ho, Vancouver, BC, 4 July 2006.
Footnotes:
  1. Lubenow, Marvin. "Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils", Baker, 2004. ISBN 0801065232.
  2. Morris, Henry. "Men of Science, Men of God", Master Books, 1999. ISBN 0890510806.
  3. For more information the reader is invited to peruse the excellent articles on AnswersInGenesis.org under the "Get Answers" section.

Copyright © 2006 Sean Ho <seanho at seanho.com>.
Permission granted to CCM for printing in Challenger Magazine / 中信主頁 (CCMHK) (Jan 2007). All other rights reserved.
http://seanho.com/church/an_eyewitness_account.html