Evolution and Christianity Galileo In 1633, Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment by
Evolution and Christianity
In 1633, Galileo was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Inquisition in Rome.
The charge was "suspicion of heresy". He was teaching the Copernican theory,
that the earth revolves around the sun. This was after the church had adopted
the position (during and because of the Renaissance) that if a Biblical
interpretation was found in conflict with scientific fact, the Bible was to be
interpreted allegorically. It was simply too difficult for people who had not
studied mathematics and astronomy to believe that mathematical pencil marks on
a piece of paper could have any relationship to the real world.
Today, people accept these concepts without question even though they have not
made the measurements and performed the calculations for themselves. However,
people who have not studied geology and paleontology have trouble believing
that the measurements and classifications of those scientists are real.
Genesis contains two separate passages that talk about the creation of human
beings. This has been cited as evidence that Genesis was an oral tradition
coming from different sour ces, or explained as a general account followed by
a detailed description (Richard P. Belcher, The Inerrency Debate, Moody Bible
Institute of Chicago, 1980, pp.17,18). There is a third explanation.
Genesis 1:27 says that mankind was created in God's image. God is Spirit,
therefore so are we. This passage seems to be talking about the creatioon of
the human soul. Gen. 2:7 says God formed Adam from the dust of the ground.
Here the Bible is clearly talking about the creation of the human body. The
breath of life is the uniting of the human soul to the body; the human part
from God animates the physical part from the earth. So these passages may be
talking about two different aspects of the creation of human beings. Whether
the physical body was formed by an act of divine sculpture or was formed from
lower forms of life through the physical laws God created; the soul is what
makes us human. The spirit God created sets us apart from the animals. I am a
human being; I have a body.
If the earth were 4 billion years old, formed out of cosmic dust and gases, and
life evolved over the last billion years or so, those concepts would not be in
Genesis. The early Hebrews simply did not have those concepts in their world
picture, and could not have understood them. The account in the Bible is to
instruct us about God's authorship of the universe. The Bible is not a text
book on geology or paleontology.
The miracle of creation is the same miracle whether God did it in 144 hours
starting Oct 10, 4004 BC at 9:30 AM, or he created the universe with its
natural laws and set it into motion 7 billion years ago. The record of the
formation of the earth and the rise of life is written in the earth itself. By
the Creator. If the earth was created in six 24-hour days 6000 years ago, then
the record written in the earth is either a forgery or a practical joke. I
don't believe it is either.
Explaining the World
The fact [sic] that atheists [sic] use the concepts of cosmology, geology,
and evolution to support their religious beliefs [sic] does not invalidate
those concepts. A person can ignore any facts or evidence it takes to
support his beliefs. Explaining the universe and the earth through cosmology
and geology alone does nothing of the kind. The origin of the physical laws
on which they rest remain unexplained. Explaining ourselves through evolution
alone again does nothing of the kind. The soul which makes us human remains
unexplained. These disciplines can only explain part of the mechanism by which
the earth, or our bodies, were formed. They do not address God's underlying
authorship [sic], or our own humanity. They are limited to the physical world.
Many "fundamentalists" seem to insist that to be truly Christian, we must
believe the traditional interpretation of the creation story. Our children
will be confronted with overwhelming evidence from the earth itself that it is
much older than 6000 years, and that the human form evolved from lower forms.
If they believe they must accept "creationism" and Christianity as a package,
they will quite logically reject both. This is an unnecessary tragedy, because
Christianity is about the soul, not the mechanism God used to create the
universe. We must not insist that our children limit their knowledge of the
world and ignore the record written in the earth. They will not. We must give
them something to hold on to.
Christianity survived the revelation that the earth is not the center of the
universe. It will survive the knowledge that God took slightly longer that 144
hours to create the universe, and that the human form is closely related to
and descended from lower forms of life. However, we must not weaken it by
seeming to insist on ignorance of the world God built for us as a condition of
being a Christian.
Origins: What Does the Fossil Evidence Reveal?
In 1859 Charles Darwin published a book entitled "The Origins of Species by
Means of Natural Selection." This one book has spawned hundreds more and raised
controversy in religion, science, education, and government. People in all
walks of life have been effected whether a person is an atheist or a believer
in a deity. Most of Darwin's conclusions are based on what he observed in the
fossil record. This, of course, would be the place to come to look for
evidence to support his theory of evolution. Here in the fossil record the
remains of creatures that lived perhaps millions of years ago would be found.
This is exactly the same place that creationists go for evidence to support
the theory of creation. Just how well does the fossil record support one
theory or the other?
In discussing the origins of life we are concerned with how the world and the
multitudes of living organisms all came into being. There are only two
accepted models used when speaking of origins. The first and most widely
accepted viewpoint is that of evolution. The evolution theory requires
extremely long time spans; some scientists believe that it took as long as
three billion years for life to reach the complexity that we see today (Volpe
144). Long time periods are needed because evolution works slowly with chance
and natural selection guiding structural change. Another require-ment of
evolution is that life occured spontaneously by accident from non-life. The
origin of life is a process which is innate in matter (Gish 17). All life, as
we know it today, emerged from single celled organisms which evolved over
billions of years. Evolution also mandates that geologic processes on earth
have been uniform. That is to say, there have been no sudden changes in
geography or the environment here on earth. Man and apes have a common
ancestor; the universe and our solar system have all ocurred through natural
In order for evolution to be true, the fossil evidence must support the
evolution model. The slow and gradual change necessary to bring about highly
complex creatures should be clearly shown in preserved animal remains. During
the billions of years that evolution has been operating there must be millions
and millions of transitional forms of life. These transitional forms would be
in the process of changing from one form to another. The change may be from
invertebrate to vertebrate or from fish to amphibian. It is believed that
lizards evolved into birds. To support this tremendous change in form and
function we can expect to find fossil evidence which is rich in transitional
forms. This means that creatures will be found with partially formed wings or
fea-thers or front leg structures that have partially changed to wings. The
evidence of the transitional form is critical to the evolution model.
The creationist has an obviously divergent point of view. The earth is
relatively young. Its age is on the order of tens of thousands of years.
Earth's geology has been one of catastrophy rather than uniformity. All life
occured through the willful act of a Designer. Each type of species was
complete and highly complex at the moment of creation. Life has not become
more complex with the passage of time. Any change in speciation has been small
and limited to particular kind. These changes are controlled by the
constraints of genetics. Man and apes are not related. Again we can say that
the evidence in the fossil record must support the theory. The creationist
would not expect to find transitional forms, but rather, highly complex
creatures should appear in the sedimentary rock. There should be no evidence
of any gradual change from one kind to another.
Before going any further, it is important to establish one other point. Neither
theory, creation or evolution, can be proven in the laboratory. Evolution
requires tens of millions of years for any observable changes to occur. It is
intuitively evident that it is not possible to conduct an experiment over such
a vast time period. Creation has a problem of even greater magnitude. For
creation to be true, it must be proven that it occured through divine
intervention. This is a major obstacle for the theory. Again, it is
impossible to perform any such experiment in the lab-oratory. We now have a
dilemma because neither of these two theories can be proven in a controlled
situation. Here is where the fossil evidence will prove to be of such great
importance. The fossils are a historical record of what creatures existed in
the past. This historic information can be used with the two origin models we
have established. By comparing the historical evidence with what can be
expected on the basis of these two origin models we should be able to see
which model best fits the evidence.
The fossils which are found around the world give scientists an accurate
picture of species which existed in the past. Fossils are generally found in
sedimentary rocks. Most scientists believe that these rock deposits were
formed over many millions of years. A classification system has been devised
which dates rocks by the type of fossils in them. Specific fossil remains are
used to classify and date each layer of rock. The less complex early forms of
life would be found in the oldest rocks. Inverti-brates would be in rocks
older than those containing vertebrates. The fossils used for this dating
method are called index fossils. The resulting layers of rock and their
corresponding dates are called the Geologic Column.
The Geologic Column is generally represented vertically with the oldest rocks
appearing at the bottom. Each layer repres-ents a time period in the earth's
history. Scientists generally feel that it has taken hundreds of millions of
years for these layers of fossils to have accumulated. It should be mentioned
at this point that the Geologic Column is not found in its entirety throughout
the world. In many places there are large gaps and dis-continuities in the
column. At other locations the oldest rock strata appear on the surface and
the younger layers are in an inverted order below the surface. (Morris-Parker
The oldest sedimentary rocks known to contain any preserved remains are the
Cambrian Rocks. These rocks are considered to be as old as six hundred million
years. These rocks contain life forms such as corals, jellyfish, crustaceans,
trilobites, and brachiopods. In fact, scientists have found every one of the
major invertibrate life forms in the Cambrian Rocks. Many of these fossils are
highly complex. Researchers have also found trilobites with their eyes in
excellent fossilized condition (Levi-Setti 24). Trilobites are remark-able
creatures which are now extinct. They are marine invertebrates which varied in
size from several inches to over one foot. Scien-tists have used the electron
microscope to study the remains of these prehistoric animals. The geometric
precision of their eyes is starling (Levi-Setti 33). Some authorities believe
that the trilobite had vision which was as good as we have today (Gish WFSI).
What an amazingly intricate organism to find in the Cambrian Rock layer!
Darwin believed that one of the major obstacles to his theory was "organs of
extreme perfection and complication "(Darwin 223). He marveled at the eye's
ability to focus and adjust for various levels of light, as well as its
corrections for sperical and chromatic aberration (Darwin 224).
The discovery of the complexity of trilobites is remarkable when it is
considered that Cambrian Rocks are the oldest sediment-ary rocks and should
therefore have the simplest forms of life. Based on the evolution model the
oldest rocks will have fossils of primitive life forms. This does not appear
to follow the evolu-tion model. Scientists are hard pressed to explain the
appearance of such a complex species in such extremely old rocks. How does
this discovery fit in with the requirements of the creation model? The
creationist believes that highly intricate forms of life appeared abruptly.
This finding is favorable to the position of the creationist.
If the Cambrian Rocks contain the oldest known fossil remains, what can we
expect to find in Precambrian Rocks? Before answering that question, let's
consider what might be possible based on our two model approach to origins.
Evolution requires long time periods and slow gradual change. Therefore, based
on the evolu-tion model we would expect to find simple forms of life which
lived prior to Cambrian times. The older rocks should contain evidence of the
ancestors of trilobites and brachiopods. The continuity of slow and gradual
change should be maintained in the evidence found in the sedimentary rocks. On
the other hand, the creation model would suggest a sudden appearance of
complicated forms of life. Considering the creation model further , the
Precambrian Rocks might contain other complex life forms or possibly no life
forms at all. In fact scientists have not found any fossils in Precambian Rock
(Gish 45). This supports the creation model and leaves evolution with a lack
Another look at the fossil record will reveal an interesting fact. The
creationist theorizes that life appeared suddenly and in complicated form with
many varieties. The evolutionist believes that life became more complex
through slow and gradual change. If evolution is to support its model then
there should exist millions and millions of fossils that are preserved in a
state of change. That is to say, the environment and natural selection forced
species to go through a change of structure. The invertebrates slowly and
gradually changed and gave life to the vertebrates. In that case, the fossil
record must be full of creatures which are in a state of transition. Some may
have one-half or one-quarter of a back bone while others may have a backbone
that is too large for their body structure. The fossil record should have
myriad transitional forms. In the same manner, the fossil evidence should
document the tremendous change from lizard to bird. The change from the scales
of a lizard to the feathers of a bird should be well represented in the fossil
record. This is a dramatic change from a crawling animal to a flying animal.
Such a quantum leap in structure and function should be supported by millions
of years of fossil evidence. What in fact does the fossil record reveal with
regards to transitional forms? There is a lack of trans-itional forms in the
fossil record (Morris 83). Darwin attributed this deficiency of evidence to
the relatively short life of paleon-tology at the date his book was published
(1859). However, in the more than one hundred years that have transpired, the
evidence of transitional forms has not improved (Morris-Parker 96). Since
Darwin's time, paleontologists have been baffled by the lack of transitional
forms (Coffin 424). Instead of a history of change and transition the evidence
shows stability of species. Each species has remained relatively fixed. There
is a variability about a mean. The dog family can be used as a good example.
The Great Dane is an ext-remely large dog weighing more than one hundred
pounds, while the Chihauhau is the smallest of dog species and may weigh
between one and six pounds. There is tremendous variation in size between
these two, but they are both dogs. This is exactly what is seen in the
geologic record. There is a variability about a mean within a particular kind
of species but distinct separation between types. Birds always remain in the
bird family and lizards are always in the lizard family.
The fossil record also shows an amazing amount of stability for some particular
species. The Horseshoe Crab has remained stable for hundreds of millions of
years and remains with us to this day. The Ginkgo tree has also remained
stable and shown no evidence of change during millions of years and into the
present (Coffin 339). This has baffled evolutionary scientists because it is
contrary to the prediction of constant change and increasing complexity as
time progresses. Some species have died out and become extinct, while others
have appeared suddenly only to disappear again.
There are other branches of science which also support the creation model. The
recent revelations on the extreme complexity of the DNA molecule combined with
the science of probability has shown that there is no chance for life to have
occured by accident (Morris-Parker 235-239). The age of the earth is also
highly debated. Recent studies of the decay of the earth's magnetic field,
helium and radiocarbon in the atmosphere have indicated that the earth may be
tens of thousands of years old rather than billions of years old (Coffin 330-
340). Studies of the Mount St. Helens volanic errup-tion have shown scientists
that during a cataclysmic event geologic changes can occur which were thought
to have taken thousands of years (Austin).
The fossil record documents what creatures lived in the past. By looking at the
evidence, without the pre-bias of evolution, one can come up with some
Austin, Steven A. "Mount St. Helens and Catastrophism." Acts and
Facts. July 1986.
Coffin, Harold. Origin by Design. Hagerstown, MD: Review and
Herald Publishing Assoc. 1983.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural
Selection. Akron. OH: The Werner Co. 1859.
Gish, Duane T. "Fossil Evidence for Creation." Conference Echoes.
WFSI. Annapolis, MD: 9 March 1976.
Gish. Evolution the Fossils Say No! San Diego, CA: Master Books.
Levi-Setti, Riccardo. Trilobites. Chicago, IL: The University of
Chicago Press. 1975.
Morris, Henry M. Evolution in Turmoil. San Diego, CA.: Master
Morris and Gary E. Parker. What is Creation Science? San Diego, CA:
Master Books. 1982.
Volpe, Peter E. Understanding Evolution. New Orleans, LA: William
C. Brown Co. 1972.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank