God: Does He Exist?
|Author: Doug Sharp
There is an aching sense gripping Americans today that something is missing from their lives. Change is taking place at lightning speed, giving use new technology and conveniences we have never known before. Yet it seems that our quality of life is deteriorating, not improving. The accumulation of these “conveniences” creates a cutthroat pace of life that is always demanding for more of our time and resources. We have to run as fast as we can just to stay in one place. The overwhelming number of choices we have to make, a thousand places we have to be, and hundreds of dangerous traps and pitfalls amplifies this feeling.
Many people seek out God for help. They go to church hoping to find answers to their questions and relief from the stormy pace of life. But, usually the result is at best superficial, and in some cases harmful. Often, church people disagree on what is right and wrong and their lives exhibit no more quality than those who stay home do. Some churchgoers are outright unbelievers. It seems that many churches have been stripped of any knowledge of the power of God, and are reduced to no more than social clubs. It is no wonder that a vast majority of colleges, universities and governments ignore God as if he does not exist. But, is that the most logical conclusion?
There are a select few that clearly show the influence of God on their life. Their lives are marked by a love that sacrifices self for others. The fruits of their spiritual lives are evident: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self control. These champions of God are usually unnoticed: a grandmother praying for her grandchild, the average Joe down the street who helps his neighbor fix his car, a volunteer comforting people in a nursing home. Their faith is simple. They believe that the Bible and the words of Jesus are true, and prove it by following His example. They know He will be faithful to take care of their needs. By their testimony, these people provide the best subjective evidence that God exists.
Many people become believers primarily because they have had an intense personal encounter with God. This may have come through a miraculous healing, an arrangement of circumstances that was beyond explanation, or a sensing of His presence in a personal way. This too is subjective evidence for God’s existence, and for most faithful churchgoers that is all they need. But for the intellectual, that does not seem to be enough. Believing in God needs to make sense in all areas, in science, the arts, mathematics and biology, as well as the subjective and spiritual.
The Erosion of Christian Culture After Darwin
Our country was founded in a climate that respected Christian principles and values. The Bible was held in high regard, and was used often for establishing the laws of the land. At that time, few people questioned the idea that God created the heavens and earth. As Creator and Lord, He inspired reverence and worship. Sweeping revivals took place that transformed entire cities during this time. People like John Wesley, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, and Dwight Moody influenced generations of people for Christ.
When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, it provided a climate for many to reject the Bible as truth. The impact upon the church was almost immediate. Some church leaders responded with foolish arguments that brought shame to the church. As a result, philosophers such as Marx and Nietzche gave birth to atheistic world-views that were to eventually enslave many parts of the world.
Cracks began to appear in the foundations of church teaching. Theologians scrambled to produce new interpretations of Genesis that explained away this new world-view. My great-great grandfather’s Willson’s Fifth Reader, published only two years after Darwin’s book, had already begun to compromise. But, the Day-Age and Gap theories, as they are often called, provided comfort for many whom still trusted the Bible as God’s word. These two ideas carried the church well into the twentieth century, and many still believe them today.
But these interpretations provided only a superficial fix. Some wondered why the church believed in a six-day creation for centuries, only to cave in to a new explanation as soon as unbelievers offered a contradictory view. Others saw that these new interpretations created more problems than they solved. This led to further compromise: higher criticism, theistic evolution and liberalism. As the foundation crumbled, Christian teaching became confused with many varying doctrines and ideas.
Through the cracked foundation of the church seeped many new ideas and opinions. Who was to say whose opinion was right or wrong? How could we determine what was truth? From liberalism, it was just a short step to socialism, agnosticism, atheism, and finally communism. But, today the hollow ache continues the sense that these ideas just do not satisfy. Some take the plunge into neo-paganism, Eastern mysticism, Hinduism, Buddhism, sensing a spiritual need, but unwilling to reconsider the God of the Bible. But now, many are turning back to Biblical Christianity and rejecting Darwinism. Despite years of teaching evolution, the Russian people threw off the yoke of communism to pack the churches.
With the foundation of Genesis undermined, the Christian message loses its meaning. All that is left is a subjective experience, a “leap of faith” that ends up being only one opinion out of many. Who is to say that the Christian message is right, unless there is solid evidence that the Bible is true from the beginning? But the Bible is responsible for any scientific errors, if any are to be found. If it is filled with false teachings, then it no longer bears the impress of a book inspired by God, but bears the marks of human origin. If that were found to be true, then it is not in a special sense God’s book, and therefore, the claims it holds upon us are not supreme. That is the great challenge: to identify where the Bible appears to be in conflict with science, then determine whether the error is found in the Bible, our superficial understanding of the Bible, or in science. Since so much is at stake, we must not allow our conclusions to be too hasty.
Reasons To Reconsider the God of the Bible
Millions of people still go to church to seek God. The biggest reason most people do is that they find out that the old-fashioned values and promises in the Bible still work for those who put their trust in God. The ideals and principles laid forth in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount apply universally. Those who genuinely know Him need little more evidence for His existence beyond their answered prayers. There are promises in the Bible that can be challenged with a test: meet the conditions and see if God will fail to come through with His end of the bargain. Those who stand on these promises in faith are always rewarded according to that faith. But, since these tests are personal in nature, how can we know that we aren’t self deceived like skeptics claim we are? Can the Bible stand up to rigorous objective testing?
The Bible makes the grand claim that it is the word of God. Such a book would have to explain universal truth from the beginning to the end. If the Bible could be shown that it is merely the words of men, its importance is reduced to be no different than any other book. Here are some of the tests the Bible passes that other religions and philosophies do not:
x The Bible is historically accurate when compared against non-Biblical accounts.
x The Bible provides an explanation of beginnings.
x It makes a clear definition of right and wrong, and gives an explanation of the origin of sin and death.
x Christianity provides a simple means to obtain forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. Other religions know very little of forgiveness, and are systems of rules, laws, and works.
x Jesus Christ accurately fulfilled over 300 different prophecies.
x Jesus Christ was the only person to conquer death by rising from the dead. All others like Mohammed and Buddha went to their graves and stayed there.
x The Bible does not contradict itself when you compare scripture to scripture.
Creation is Scientific, But Evolution is Religious
Many people like me used to believe the theory of evolution, but now reject it based on scientific evidence. It is for religious and philosophical reasons, not scientific reasons that this theory continues to be popular. After 150 years of research, evolutionists still can’t explain the origin of life from non-life, vertebrates from invertebrates, fish from amphibians, or mammals and birds from reptiles. There are many examples where the creation explanation is more scientific than evolution.
The theory does not explain the origin of the remarkable enzyme-catalyzed reactions that occur in living cells with 100% efficiency, yielding no by-products. The recursive nature of cellular reactions is a mystery apart from creation by God, with the exact amounts synthesized by the cell regulated by the concentration of the end product.
The MSU museum displayed the aardvark as “the only surviving example of an obscure mammalian genus.” Translation: they can’t find any animal, living or in the fossil record, that looks like him or could serve as a transitional form. The same is true for the duckbill platypus, the panda, Venus flytrap, and woodpecker. How did the dolphin’s nose move to the back of his head, learn to drink sea water, lose his legs and develop flippers and fins and survive the transition? Like making a submarine out of a bus, nothing works until everything works.
Evolutionists say, “Gee, you can believe in evolution and be religious, too.” But “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” The result of mixing evolution with religion is a weak, toothless, watered down set of rules and ethics that is little more than atheism on the installment plan. It is more consistent for a Christian to believe the Biblical explanation as it is written. It has stood the test of time. If Christians try to mix theology with an unscientific theory originally designed to be an attack against Christianity, they invite all kinds of trouble. On the other hand, people become evolutionists, humanists and atheists not because they find the scientific evidence so convincing but because they are unable to resolve theological problems. Darwin could not resolve in his mind why a perfect God could permit so much human suffering. I suppose he thought God should have created a world where man could do whatever he wanted and sin without any consequences.
Although most evolutionists repudiate racism today, it played a major part in its perpetuation in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Racists often use the evolution of man as justification for their beliefs. The subtitle of Darwin’s Origin of Species was “the preservation of the superior races in the struggle of life.” It was popular back then to believe that the black race was less evolved and closer to the apes. In 1904, evolutionists caged an African pygmy up with the monkeys in a zoo as a demonstration of their theory (see article by Jerry Bergman). It is no wonder then that the proponents of evolution brought us other repressive atrocities like Marxism and Nazism. Advocates of abortion use the long discredited idea of embryonic recapitulation to justify Roe vs. Wade. Some young people, taught that they are nothing but a cosmic accident evolved from the apes, begin to believe that life is meaningless, give up, and commit suicide.
If evolution has so many scientific problems and bears such bad fruit, why is it so universally popular today? One reason is that it explains how life got here without having to deal with a creator God. If God is creator, He owns us and sets the rules. Many people think that God’s rules interfere with their own creative plans. But what they don’t realize is that God gave them that creative spirit, and desires to amplify it in their lives. Working in harmony with God’s plans produces the only fruit that lasts. Everything else is like “striving after the wind.”
Evolution produces a religious world-view that glorifies self-achievement. Many early scientists were Christians who desired to “think God’s thoughts after Him.” These pioneers like George Washington Carver discovered countless uses for God’s resources that improved the lives of many people. But today, the evolutionary world-view justifies pursuit of research for the motivation of vainglory. The result is often shortsighted inventions that create more problems than they solve. I remember seeing a sign on a chemistry professor’s door that read something like this: “If a person tells me he wants to go into research to better humanity, I advise him to rather go into charity. Science needs egotists, true egotists, whose motivation is for the sake of science itself.”
The Complex Chemistry of Life
The issue that first sparked my interest in the Creation-Evolution controversy had to do with the origin of life from non-life. A naturalistic explanation of the origin of life must deal with this issue; otherwise the entire theory collapses. The chemistry that makes up life is a complex information system that produces building materials, energy, locomotion and reproduction. The structure resembles a complex computer program that automates the production of chemicals and building blocks needed for life. An explanation of the origin of these complex systems is crucial to the credibility of the theory of evolution. But, attempts at producing a reasonable model for the origin of life fall short of the mark.
The problem is much like throwing paint at a canvas and expecting it to produce a beautiful landscape of Yosemite Valley. The closest they have come to producing life in a test tube from off the shelf chemicals is to make some of the building blocks of life under carefully controlled laboratory conditions where the amino acids were removed from the reaction with a trap as soon as they were formed. But, that is much like forming a few letters by carefully dropping ink on a page in comparison to producing words, sentences, books, encyclopedias, and libraries.
The challenge of the origin of life is so formidable that many who are experts in the field like Dr. Dean Kenyon of San Francisco State University have become creationists. Dr. Kenyon was the author of Biochemical Predestination, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on chemical evolution. One of his students challenged him to examine Dr. A. E. Wilder-Smith’s book, The Creation of Life: A Cybernetic Approach to Evolution. As a result, much to the consternation of his department head, Dr. Kenyon declared that the evolutionary conclusions of his former work were nonsense. He now embraces the creationist point of view and recently published an excellent textbook titled Of Pandas and People, which is now being used by schools all over the country as an alternative to evolution.
Since Louis Pasteur first discredited the idea of spontaneous generation back in the 1800’s, researchers still can’t uncover any new evidence to support it. Additional experiments create new problems, and leave the old problems unsolved. Here are some examples of the quandaries that puzzle evolutionists:
The chemical reactions needed to produce amino acids and nucleotides, the building blocks of life, require the absence of oxygen. Yet, there is no evidence in the rocks that the earth ever had an environment without oxygen.
The chemical reagents needed to produce life would have to be present in the early earth, then quickly change to an environment with oxygen to sustain life. There is no geologic evidence for this either.
The chemicals needed to produce amino acids, which are the building block of proteins; conflict with the chemicals needed to produce nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Reactions between the two sets of reagents would destroy all possibility of producing either, yet they would have to quickly come together shortly after they were produced to form life.
Experiments that produce amino acids in a laboratory environment produce equal mixtures of right handed and left handed amino acids. These are three-dimensional configurations that are mirror images of each other that react the same way. Yet life only uses the left-handed variety. An evolutionary explanation must demonstrate a way that only the left handed variety is selected in the production of proteins, or a synthesis that produces only left handed amino acids. Life also only uses right-handed sugars instead of left handed, and cis-configured lipids rather than trans. The fact that certain chemicals are picked specifically for their use in life where others could have reacted just as well or easier, points to a Creator.
The production of chemical components that make up life is an efficient, tightly integrated manufacturing system that must be explained as an entity unto itself. The DNA molecule unravels and produces a molecule called messenger RNA that resembles a computerized tape containing the instructions for producing a protein. Another type of RNA, called transfer RNA, carries an amino acid ready to be added to the protein under production. The manufacturing process takes place in a ribosome which is a combination of RNA material and protein. The ribosome travels along the messenger RNA reading it like a computer tape. A sequence of three nucleotides on the messenger RNA acts as an instruction, telling a transfer RNA molecule that matches it with complementary nucleotides to attach an amino acid to a growing protein chain. The result is a protein built in a three-dimensional configuration ready to be used by the cell. The problem is that the end result of this process, the protein, is needed to catalyze all of the steps of the process. You can’t form DNA without the protein DNA polymerase, and you can’t make DNA polymerase without DNA. Any explanation of the origin of life would have to account for the simultaneous origin of thousands of protein and DNA manufacturing systems that interrelate with each other.
The components of life, proteins, DNA and RNA, are extremely fragile and spontaneously break down when left to themselves outside the environment of life.
Attempts to produce the DNA molecule by biochemists are frustrated because the phosphate group bonds in the wrong place.
The addition of energy to amino acids (such as an electric charge or ultraviolet light) produces non-biological goo, not proteins. Attempts to produce usable proteins in this manner have met with utter failure.
Mutations have not proven to be the driving force for evolution scientists expected. In almost every case, they are destructive or harmful, rendering useless a part of the manufacturing process to create proteins.
These examples provide overwhelming evidence for the creative power of God. At the very foundation of the theory of evolution is the biochemical makeup of life. If evolution fails there, the entire theory must be called into question. The only alternative is to consider that God is the designer and origin of the complex order found in life.
The Test of Thermodynamics
Two scientific laws provide a test for evolution. The first law of thermodynamics states that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, they just change forms. The second law observes that matter and energy continuously and spontaneously proceeds from a state of order to disorder. As scientific laws, there are no known exceptions that have ever been observed. Evolution appears to be in direct violation of the second law of thermodynamics, since it requires change from simple to complex. An evolution model would have to explain a mechanism that converts energy from an outside source into information and complexity.
Evolutionists have been scrambling for an explanation that makes sense. The addition of more energy compounds the problem, since it usually speeds the breakdown of order. This totally contradicts evolution, and the problem gets worse as time passes. Time is an enemy to order, and if the earth were billions of years old as evolutionists claim, we would expect it to be in a total state of disorder. The Biblical point of view provides an explanation that fits perfectly. It talks about a creation designed originally to last forever, but altered and cursed by the introduction of sin. Death and destruction were the result.
One difficulty this presents for evolutionists is that we observe the results of the second law of thermodynamics in the extinction of animals all the time. The problem is that the origin of new species is not observed. This would take the introduction of new information in the forms of new genes. Mutations occur when the cell replaces damaged genes as a result of a repair process and a mistake occurs in the repair, or when genes are swapped into new sequences. These scenarios result in useless proteins and less efficient organisms. There is no mechanism proposed for new, improved genes producing new species.
The Bible talks about a time where the conditions of Eden will be restored to the earth. Creationists speculate that at this time, the second law of thermodynamics will be repealed, and time will be no more. Since the second law is irreversible, it begs for a time when the universe was wound up and created. Evolutionists call it the “big bang;” creationists call it the “big beginning.” It also indicates that unless God intervenes, the universe is doomed to total randomness, destruction and death. Creationists hold to His promise that he will do that someday, evolutionists have no such hope.
Fossils and Fault-Finding
Evolutionists often used the sequence that fossils are found in the rock strata as evidence that evolution took place. But this presumes that no Biblical explanation exists for the order of fossils, and that exceptions to this fossil sequence can always be explained in evolutionary terms.
The Bible describes an event in earth history that caused an upheaval of the entire earth’s crust. That event was Noah’s flood. Creationists are quick to point out that fossils wouldn’t exist unless they were buried quickly in an environment where mineral replacement of the bone material could take place. Otherwise, complete skeletons of fish revealing their soft parts would not be possible.
What would you expect to find if the Biblical account of Noah’s flood is true? The bottom layers (labeled Precambrian by evolutionists) would represent the base rock from the period before the flood that was undisturbed. Very few fossils would be found there. But, the next layers (Cambrian) would contain sea bottom dwelling creatures, such as shellfish and trilobites, since they would be buried first. Next to be buried would be fish, followed by amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. Last of all, man would be found in the top layers. The sequence of fossils represents an order of burial and hydrodynamic sorting into layers, not a succession of ages.
This scenario explains why a complex creature such as the six-foot long lobster-like creature called the Anomalocaris was found in the Cambrian layer. It also explains the numerous cases where fossils and strata are found out of sequence. These exceptions to the geologic column are called overthrusts by evolutionists.
An overthrust is a geologic event where tremendous earth forces causes a block of rock strata to uplift, shear, and shift over the top of other strata. Such an upheaval would leave an ample trail of evidence: ground up and broken rock, scraping marks, and re-cemented rock. Furthermore, it would likely be accompanied by volcanic activity resulting in lava flows.
Many such areas where the fossils and the strata that contain them are out of sequence do not exhibit such evidence. They appear just as if they were laid down by water in that sequence, with no physical signs of movement. The following are examples that creationists have investigated.
THE LEWIS OVERTHRUST
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK:
|THE FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS|
|THE EMPIRE MOUNTAINS:|
The Lewis Overthrust is an entire region of the Rocky Mountains that contains out of order strata. It extends from Glacier National Park in Montana into Canada. It is a 12,000 square mile section of Precambrian rock strata that rests upon rocks identified as Cretaceous. The rocks look as if they were laid down by water: no signs of a massive uplift and shift in the earth’s crust can be found. The contact line between the layers of rock is sharp, with no interbedding, rock gouge or scraping marks.
The Empire mountains near Tucson, Arizona presents a similar problem, except the contact line between the rocks are meshed together like a gear. This is a strange appearance if the top layer was thrust over the bottom layer. Other examples show more than two layers out of sequence, such as at Glarus in the Alps, or inter-tongued strata found at an unconformity in the Grand Canyon.
It is much more reasonable that something is greatly wrong with the traditional dating methods of evolutionary geology than it is to suppose that these sequences were thrust into these strange positions. It should also be noted that claims of an old earth based upon radiometric methods are themselves based upon assumptions that the earth is old. Because we do not have the capability to go back in time and verify the original state of the rock, we have no basis to determine the age of a rock based upon radiometric decay. Furthermore, these same methods were used on volcanic rocks from eruptions where the dates were known to be recent, and the results were in the thousands and millions of years, not hundreds.
A creationist has the advantage that God could have created the earth at any time. He could have done it in six days, millions of years, or instantaneously. But the evolutionist needs millions of years of gradual change. If it can be shown that the earth is much younger, it gives us all the more reason to believe the Biblical account of Genesis.
Nothing Works until Everything Works
One of the greatest demonstrations of God’s existence is the tremendous evidence of design in nature. If we found that an arm or a leg or a gill or an eye or a heart could exist on its own, we would have more reason to believe that life as we know it could have evolved by chance. But every creature is a living system with millions of integrated parts that cannot exist by themselves. Even the single celled ameba is made up of highly complex molecules and organelles that work together in a tightly interrelated system. Take away any part of this system and the cell dies. A crude comparison would be to a gasoline engine, made up of pistons, a crankcase, valves, and a spark plug. Take away any of these parts, and the engine does not run.
That is why we say, “nothing works until everything works.” The systems that make up life appear fully formed and functional, otherwise the organism would not work at all. Transitions between types of organisms, such as between reptiles and birds, would not function at all well in either world, and would die before they had the chance to reproduce.
It is interesting to watch the evolutionist’s struggle with the problem of animals that do not fit their theory. The origin of flight is one of the best examples. Flight would have had to originate four different times: in birds, insects, bats, and flying reptiles. I suppose you could even count flying fish if you wanted to. How many attempts did a non-flying creature make in trying to fly before it was able to solo for the very first time? Can you imagine packing all of the flight technology of a Boeing 747 into the size of a gnat? Just because a creature is small doesn’t mean that it is less complex. In fact, the smaller the package, the more amazing the miracle becomes.
The anableps is a fish that lives on the surface of the water. His eyes are split into two parts, uniquely designed to watch for predators in the air, as well as watch for food below. One might wonder how many different gradual stages of nearsightedness this poor creature could have gone through in its evolutionary history before it eventually received its unique set of bifocals.
Amazon Stingrays lurk on the bottom of the river like spotted pancakes. Natives in the Amazon would rather swim with a school of piranha than risk the whip-like tail of these creatures. The problem for the stingray is how did the gills move from the bottom by the mouth to the top in back of the eyeballs? It is ridiculous to believe that such a transformation could have taken place by chance. Transitional forms could not have been functional at all.
William Paley gave an argument a century ago that still has never been answered. He pointed to a watch, and said that the existence of the watch demanded a watchmaker. The watch did not assemble itself from metal parts that materialized out of the rock. Likewise, life in all of its obvious design and functionality demands a creator. That Creator is the God of the Bible.
The God of the Bible is a Personal God You Can Trust
Who is this Creator God, who claims to have made all things? The Bible says that He is a God of love. Blaise Pascal, the famous mathematician, said that he had nothing to lose and everything to gain from trusting Jesus Christ. Many people ask, “If God exists, is He personally interested in all of his creation, and would he care about me?” The answer is a resounding yes! Millions of Christians prove his existence by their faith, watching Him intervene in their lives. The trouble is that we have become used to miracles that constantly and consistently occur around us, which is the direct hand of God. We simply do not recognize them as such.
Perhaps an angel’s hand moved your car when you had a close call on the freeway yesterday. Maybe the train that held you up for five minutes delayed you from a fatal collision. We take God for granted when things go right, and we forget to thank Him.
We draw our next breath only by the grace of God. That simple automatic act is controlled by thousands of complex interrelated processes designed by the creator. Just think what might happen if one of your fingers forgot to stop growing, and grew to be six feet long! That’s why he designed each one of us with marvelous control mechanisms that regulate the production of materials to just the right amount at the right time, so we come out symmetrical, functional, and in working order.
Then why does God allow so much suffering in this world? It is because sin keeps us from receiving all of the benefits that He wants to give us. The world is under a curse because man has chosen not to trust God. Man wants to determine his own destiny, and is fooled into thinking that his own designs are better than God’s purposes. Man suffers as a result of his own schemes and plans.
Do you want to know your highest destiny? Then discover and flow with God’s purpose for your life. It is the grandest scientific experiment of all time: to prove God by standing on his promises and discovering his world. It is a bold experiment, with radical ideas like going the extra mile, loving your enemies, and trusting God for all needs. Does God exist? The world says to God, “Make yourself known to me and I’ll trust you.”
God says, “Trust me, and I’ll make myself known to you.”