For a century and-a-half, scientists and theologians have debated the theories of creation and evolution. One of the most famous debates was between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham, CEO of the Creation Museum in Kentucky (USA) in 2014. Drawing international attention, the event sold out within minutes and received more than 3 million live views.
Although no score was kept, academics and commentators were quick to share their opinions. The scientific community generally agreed that Nye won, while the religious community praised Ham for his composed and easy-to-follow arguments. Writer Michael Schulson, while siding with Nye’s scientific message, even said, “It was easy to pick out the smarter man on stage. Oddly, it was the same man who was arguing that the Earth is 6000 years old.”
While individual opinion was polarised, media organisations framed Ham’s arguments in a negative light. The Biologos Foundation claimed the debate would “further alienate Christianity from science in the public consciousness”, while the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said it “drew world attention . . . on the US as the home of whacky Christianity”.
The origin of life is a hot topic. And with evolutionary theory increasingly being taught in schools and universities, creationism is often dismissed entirely, without regard for any of its claims.
Instead of trying to unequivocally prove either theory, this article will attempt to re-establish creationism in the “public consciousness”, offering it as a viable and beautiful theory that still speaks to how we choose to live life today.
Evolution: a leap of faith
Creationism is often considered faith-based and “lacking scientific proof”, but many creationists would argue that evolution has the same characteristics. In a roundtable discussion at the University of Waikato (NZ), evolutionist and resident biology professor Dr Carolyn King conceded that the evolutionary perspective requires faith. “The forms of faith are different, but you are right, both require trust. One in intellectual processes, and one in spiritual experience.”
As opposed to “supernaturalism”, evolutionary theory is founded on naturalism, which doesn’t allow anything outside the observable laws of nature to explain the origins of life and biology. Ironically, however, evolution violates approximately half a dozen natural laws of the universe. Here are just two examples:
i) The law of biogenesis
The law of biogenesis states that life can only come from life. Yet, the process of life originating from non-living substances is an essential element of evolution. While the Miller-Urey experiment is often used as “evidence” that amino acids can be generated from inorganic compounds, it has been widely criticised and never successfully replicated. Some scientists have suggested the experiment was a fraud.
Even if organic compounds could arise by chance, the process of evolution thereafter—where information is added to the genetic code over time—has never been observed in nature. On the contrary, genetic information is only lost from generation to generation. Further, species survival requires not only genetic information but an ability to decode it—two separate processes occurring in tandem. Breaking the law of biogenesis, which is necessary to substantiate evolutionary theory, has never been observed naturally.
ii) The laws of probability
Another strong argument for intelligent design is the statistical impossibility of life originating by chance. The “Single Law of Chance” developed by French mathematician Emile Borel in 1962 states that “events whose probability is extremely small will never occur”. Borel calculated that any event in the universe with less than a 1 in 1045 chance is effectively impossible—that is, no rational person would argue that the event could ever occur.
In comparison, evolutionist and Yale University professor Harold Morowitz calculated the probability of a single cell forming by chance as being 1 in 10340,000,000. A few years later, renowned evolutionist Carl Sagan made his own estimation of life evolving on any single planet as 1 in 102,000,000,000. These calculations were made in the 1970s prior to the past several decades of complex scientific discoveries, and don’t include the probability of complex biodiversity, delicate ecosystems or human consciousness (something that scientists still don’t understand) forming over time.
The purpose of this article is not to provide an indisputable argument for or against evolutionary theory. Instead, this brief exploration of evolution’s statistical impossibility, combined with its shaky scientific assumptions, are to show that believing in evolution requires an immense amount of faith.
Operating from this faith-based stance brings creationism back into the conversation. An interesting question to now ask is: which theory has more beauty or benefit to our world and society today?
Creation—the answer to global issues
The biblical creation narrative reveals God’s original intention for mankind and the earth prior to sin and suffering. Applying the principles God instituted in Eden to our lives has the potential to restore harmony and address some major issues faced by humankind.
Mission Australia’s recent Youth Survey Report 2021—which surveyed more than 20,000 15-to19- year-olds—revealed that Covid-19 (45.4 per cent), the environment (38.0 per cent), equity and discrimination (35.4 per cent), as well as mental health (51.5 per cent) are among Generation Z’s greatest concerns in the Western world.
The creation origin story addresses some of these issues:
1. BY REINSTATING THE SANCTITY OF BEING HUMAN
One of the first characteristics ascribed to humans in the creation narrative is “made in God’s image” (Genesis 1:27). This isn’t necessarily from a physical standpoint, but may explain human consciousness, morality and emotion. God is described in the Bible as being gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6). He is also described as being love itself (1 John 4:8).
Recognising that we are God’s workmanship, created to love others and do good works (Ephesians 2:10; John 15:12), can bring a sense of hope, peace and purpose to the chaotic, divided and sometimes violent society in which we exist.
In contrast to the evolutionary “survival of the fittest” narrative— where life exists by chance and the weak don’t survive, a creation outlook says that every human existence is intentional and precious; “knit together [by God] in the womb” (Psalm 139:13). This perspective combats discrimination and breaks down hierarchy by recognising every individual as equally valuable and infinitely loved.
2. BY COUNTERACTING EXHAUSTION AND BURNOUT
As opposed to an evolutionary perspective where working hard is necessary for self-preservation and survival, a creationist perspective gives individuals generous permission to rest and enjoy life. Before telling Adam and Eve to work in the Garden, the first thing God does is invite them to participate in Sabbath rest (Genesis 2:2,3). Rest is not framed as a reward for hard work. Rather the creation framework provides insight into God’s original design for humans as requiring regular, rhythmical rest.
All attempts throughout history to change the length of a week have resulted in tremendous human suffering, sickness and burnout. Unlike other measures of time— days (earth’s rotation), seasons (earth’s tilted axis), months (lunar phases) and years (earth circling the sun)—there is no planetary explanation for the existence of a seven-day week. In fact, the Britannica online dictionary says it is “associated with the ancient Jews and the biblical account of creation”.
Creation and Sabbath rest act as a reminder that a person’s work does not define them, and that God is the ultimate provider. Engaging in this mentality can provide numerous physical, mental and environmental benefits.
3. BY PROTECTING AND CARING FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
In the creation narrative, God takes Adam and “puts him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Life in the natural world was meant to be experienced in abundance and work was intended to be a hands-on, organic, rewarding process.
Today, workers sit behind desks in large offices, removed from the natural world and often emotionally or physically disconnected from seeing their work come to fruition. In the name of profit, multinational corporations have caused widespread pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and worker exploitation. Coca-Cola alone produces more than 3 million tonnes of plastic packaging per year, and according to National Geographic, less than 10 per cent of the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic waste generated globally is recycled.
While sustainability is slowly becoming more of an issue worldwide, there is a long way to go. Returning to an Edenic ideal for the planet, however, would stop environmental exploitation in its tracks.
The creation narrative, expressed in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, demonstrates God’s original intention for mankind as being good, loving and hopeful. While it is a theory grounded in faith, so is the theory of evolution.
So, would you rather exercise your faith to believe in a primordial soup origin story that leaves you with little purpose or hope for the future, or in a loving, creative God who made you intentionally and desires your wellbeing? Where will you direct your faith?
The choice is always yours but I encourage you to read and ponder the creation narrative. You might be astounded by its philosophical depth, scientific basis and purpose-filled practicality.
Maryellen Hacko is an artist and illustrator living in Sydney, Australia