There is a raging, ongoing controversy in the scientific community over the question of origins: where did we come from? Many people try to downplay that controversy, deny its existence even, saying that those holding other than the "established" "scientific" (read "evolutionary") view aren't true scientists, but religious or other non-scientific wackos whose twisted views of reality are not to be taken seriously.
Are they correct? Is there no real debate? Has the question of origins been proven scientifically, once for all? Did the eight-hour PBS-TV series Evolution, shown in the U. S. A. and now being used in classrooms all over the country, get it right?
Consider: there is no such thing as an unbiased person. Each of us, as we view the world around us, interprets what we observe according to our "world view", which is different for every individual. What we were taught by our parents, our teachers in school, by newspapers, books, radio, television, our friends, our co-workers, the music we listen to, all contribute to this world-view, whether we realize it or not. How we see the world depends on that background, and it is not possible to make a judgement apart from that prior "programming".
With that in mind, consider again the subject of origins. Most people have been taught from childhood that the cosmos and this planet have developed by random chance accidents from some primordial "Big Bang" billions of years ago. Life resulted from another series of accidents, as a collection of chemicals somehow became more and more complex until a threshold was crossed and the first primitive life-form happened which could reproduce itself. During those reproductions, accidental mistakes in genetic copies, combined with environmental pressures, led eventually to all the myriad life forms, plant and animal, that we see around us, and ultimately to man himself. At no point was there any intelligence, any design, behind any of this, but only natural processes and random chance.
Furthermore, we have been taught that science has proven the above explanation of how we got here, that while there used to be uncertainty, that has been eliminated as new facts and observations have confirmed the explanation. "Everybody knows" that the earth is billions of years old, that dinosaurs lived and died out millions of years ago, that we are ultimately descended (or is that assended?) from pond scum.
But has that really been scientifically proven? Can it be? Do scientists really agree?
WHAT IS SCIENCE?
Science deals with what can be observed, measured, tested, repeated. A scientist observes something, formulates a possible explanation, conducts tests to see if that explanation works every time. Other people try the same tests, and if everybody gets the same results, then the explanation, the "theory" is considered valid, and theory becomes fact. If anybody gets valid, differing results that the theory can't explain, then it needs to be modified or discarded. While scientists are free to speculate, to form various theories, ultimately those theories must be testable and confirmed by repeated observations, or they aren't true theories, only assumptions.
But what about events that occurred billions of years ago, or even thousands? Was anybody there to observe the "Big Bang" or the formation of the planets? Was anybody observing as primordial soup became self-reproducing, or when a fish crawled out on the land and used strange new (accidentally-produced) air sacs to breathe? Can we make any of that happen again so we CAN observe it? Or is it all just a story, a "creation myth", that somebody invented to explain what he sees NOW, which cannot be tested or reproduced, but is an ASSUMPTION that must be believed, accepted by faith? And how believable is it? Does it fit and explain all the observed facts, or are there many observations that it can't explain? Through the years the Theory of Evolution has been modified many times, but still many observations have to be ignored or twisted to promote it as "fact". Science, or faith?
In 1955 Dr Stanley Miller conducted an experiment to try to duplicate the random-chance formation of amino acids, the "building blocks" of living cells. If he could show that it was possible for natural processes to form these, then the evolution of life from non-life was also more reasonable. To get amino acids, you would have to have chemicals like amonia and methane, no oxygen in the gases, and an electric spark (simulating lightning) to combine the chemicals. He devised such an experiment, and was successful in forming amino acids. This was hailed in the media as "life in a test-tube"! Only problem was, he started with the wrong ingredients, used the wrong methods, and came up with the wrong results; other than that it was a good experiment.
What was wrong? 1)There has never been any EVIDENCE that the "primitive earth" had an atmosphere devoid of oxygen; all the evidence suggests that there was always oxygen in abundance. This would break down amino acids as fast as they formed. 2)The sparks that caused the chemicals to combine would also in the next seconds cause them to separate again, so Dr. Miller added a trap to separate out the newly-formed molecules before they could break down, decidedly NOT a random-chance situation. 3)Amino acids formed by this process are both right- and left-handed, that is, mirror images of each other. ALL LIFE contains ONLY left-handed molecules. Right-handed molecules would cause the proteins formed from these molecules to be the wrong shape, which would not work. Life could never be formed with both right- and left-handed amino acids. Dr. Miller knew (or came to know) all this, and in later years discounted the relevance of his experiment, although it is still hailed as "evidence" of evolution in textbooks today. Science, or faith?
THE FOSSIL RECORD
The "fossil record" is held up as evidence of evolution, showing more "primitive" fossils in the lower, "older" layers, and more "advanced", "evolved" fossils in the upper layers. Various radiometric dating methods are used to determing the age of these rocks, and they are supposedly millions (up to thousands) of years old. "Earth's story" is told in the rocks, we are taught, and it is an old story.
But is it? What does the evidence actually show? 1)Every time rocks of known age are "dated", they show "ages" that are hugely older than the observed age. Samples obtained from the 1986 lava dome at Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, USA, for example, show "dates" ranging from 375 thousand to 1.7 million years, and this is only one example. Check the linked article for more. These "dates" are actually just ratios of two elements found in the rocks, and can be affected by many factors not considered by standard assumptions about radiometric dating. 2)The "fossil record" is nowhere continuous from bottom to top, as pictured in the textbooks. It is pieced together from sections from different places, and ignores the many sections where the "order" is upside-down or otherwise jumbled. It also ignores polystrate fossils, which are fossils such as petrified logs and skeletons that extend vertically through "thousands of years" of record. Did that log or that animal really survive thousands of years as it was slowly being buried before it could be petrified? Is this science, or faith?
If amino acids (and by extension life) can't form accidentally, where did life come from? If the fossil record isn't actually a record of millions of years, what is it? If Evolution is not a valid theory, let alone proven fact, what do we replace it with?
Remember the world-view bias I talked about at the beginning? There is another common bias that presents an alternative to Evolution as an explanation of our origins. Let's start with the asumption that there is or was a Creator, an intelligence that designed what we see around us, that we are NOT random-chance accidents. There is a book that purports to relate how this came about, and to describe that Creator. Is this just another of many "creation myths"? Is there any scientific evidence that would support it? Does it fit and explain the known observations? Is it provable?
Unfortunately, if that book is true, there was nobody except the Creator around to witness his actions. He isn't in the business of creating new worlds or life today (or we can't observe it); we only have his Word on it, recorded by a man, and WE certainly can't duplicate any of the described processes. So neither Creation nor Evolution can be scientifically tested or proved, only accepted by faith. But what about the evidence?
OBSERVED EVIDENCE is that life comes from life. "Spontaneous generation" from non-life doesn't work, is not possible. Therefore either life on earth always was (not supported by observation), or must have been created. As scientists OBSERVE the structure of the cell and the structure and working of DNA in the function and reproduction of that cell, they find an incredibly complex design that is totally beyond anything they can duplicate. Yet this supposedly happened by accident? Did a supersonic jet "just happen", or was it carefully designed and manufactured to exact standards? Scientists now know that every cell in your body is more complex, contains more information, than the most advanced jet. Your brain is far more complex, capable of more things than "Big Blue", the chess-playing computer. It might be faster at some tasks, but never forget that human intellect (where did that come from?) designed and built it. Design requires a Designer! The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, attempts to refute this conclusion, but fails miserably (unless you are a "true believer" in Evolution).
But what about the fossil record? If it isn't a record of milions of years, what is it? The same book I referred to, commonly called The Bible, gives an explanation that seems to fit observed facts. According to it, there was a world-wide flood about 4000 years ago, that destroyed all life not preserved in a huge boat (see Noah's Ark: A Feasibility Study by John Woodmorappe, available from Answers in Genesis, for a reasoned discussion of such a boat), and totally scrambled the surface of the earth's crust with massive volcanism and water action. If that really happened, what would you expect to OBSERVE today? I would expect to find billions of dead things buried in rock layers layed down by water, all over the earth. What do you find? Billions of dead things buried in rock layers layed down by water, all over the earth. And some of those layers, as they are observing in research at the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, and elsewhere, can extend for hundreds or thousands of miles. Could a "local flood" do that? Scientific research (observation) has shown that in fact just such stratification of rocks and dead bodies would be likely to occur in a world-wide catastrophe, as the turbulence and bodies settled. I've already discussed that radiometric dating is highly suspect, and there are many other evidences that the earth is less than 15,000 years old, more of those observations that have been ignored.
But if this is true, where do dinosaurs fit in? Well, obviously they lived alongside of man, and probably were represented on the huge boat with the other rescued animals. The rest of the population drowned like all the other animals, and their carcasses contributed to the "fossil record". But is there any evidence that dinosaurs lived with mankind? There are several examples of preserved dinosaur footprints interspersed with human footprints that evolutionists are trying desperately to discredit. Then there are all the cave paintings and petroglyphs that look like identifiable dinosaurs. Where did the artists get the inspiration, if not from a live animal? Then examine the various "dragon" stories that have been reported down through the years and see how many of the descriptions sound like identifiable dinosaurs. In the Chinese calendar, with each year represented by an animal, why are all of them real animals except the dragon? Or was it known as a real animal by ancient Chinese? And what about the monster in the Congo swamp? When shown pictures of dinosaurs, the natives can pick out which one they have seen live. Then there is "Nessie", the Loch Ness monster. Is that totally the product of fog or too much to drink or an overactive imagination, or is there Something there, something that looks, from the many eye-witness descriptions and bad photographs, like a dinosaur? (If you had 10 seconds or less in the dark, could you get out your camera and take a great photograph before the animal disappeared?)
If you break out of the evolutionary bias that has blinded so many people, understand that "millions of years" is not supported by observed data, if you start with the assumption that the Bible is a true history, then you have no problem believing that dinosaurs lived with man. Why aren't there more today? Paleontologists have been speculating, GUESSING, for years at what caused the "great dinosaur die-off". How about a world-wide flood followed by massive climactic changes resulting from that flood and the accompanying volcanism? Would that be enough to result in a massive ice age? Would that be enought to kill off most dinosaurs accustomed to tropical or semi-tropical conditions? Would people do the rest, like they have done with other fearsome beasts? Slaying a dragon to prove your valor could have reduced the population considerably. (Climatologists have never come up with a FEASIBLE MECHANISM to drive ice ages. See An Ice Age Caused by the Genesis Flood by Michael Oard, avaliable from Answers in Genesis, for a scientific discussion that offers the only feasible explanation offered so far.)
DO SCIENTISTS AGREE?
There are many functioning scientists in a variety of fields, who have rejected Evolution as a workable explanation of origins. They believe that the evidence of design in the world around us is best explained as the work of a Designer (without discussing the nature of that Designer; that is in the realm of religion). This has not hurt their research one bit (unless zealous evolutionists get them branded as "unscientific" and get their funding cut off).
Two such scientists are Michael Denton and Michale J. Behe. For an excellent review of what they have to say about the validity of Evolution as "science", see the article by Robert Locke from Front Page magazine.
There is an excellent magazine available called Creation, available from Answers in Genesis, that constantly presents interviews with working scientists all over the world who have decided that the evidence supports, but cannot prove, a belief in Creation. Such belief is not necessarily religious, and is no more "unscientific" than belief in Evolution, with a lot more supporting evidence for that belief. The magazine has many color photos, and is written so that non-scientists and children can understand. In addition to archived articles from the magazine, the Web site linked above contains much more information and articles discussing many aspects of the evolution/creation debate, as well as many books (some mentioned above), videos, and other resources giving evidence supporting belief in Creation and a Creator that they didn't teach you in school.
IT'S YOUR CHOICE
Ultimately, you have to choose what you are going to believe. On the Web site linked above you can find rebuttals to the material presented in the PBS series Evolution mentioned at the beginning of this article. Will you continue to believe what you have been taught all your life as "truth" that is not in fact supported by scientific evidence, or do you have the INTELLECTUAL HONESTY to check out another explanation that seems to be supported by OBSERVED EVIDENCE, if that evidence isn't ignored? I'm not asking for any kind of religious commitment, or that you accept all of the Bible, but just that you consider the possibility that it is more than just a collection of religious myths, that the real myths are the ones you have been taught in school and in the Media as "truth".