Evolution and the Origin of the Universe
The theory of evolution is a major stumbling block for many people in seeking to believe in the God of the Bible. The popular impression is that the theory of evolution is supported by a vast body of evidence, and that the theory, in itself, disproves the existence of God. Neither of these propositions are accurate.
THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION DOES NOT DISPROVE THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
There are Christians, both scientists and non-scientists, who believe that God used the process of evolution to create life. They see no conflict between their Christian faith, and the process of evolution. I am not of this opinion, but there are plenty of intelligent people who hold this position. This view is commonly referred to as “theistic evolution”. A survey of American churches in 2007 revealed that 51% of Protestants and 58% of Catholics believe that God used evolution to create life . Among the scientific community, there are scientists at the cutting edge of their fields who have published academic papers and books reconciling their Christian faith with their belief in evolution. For example, Dr. Francis Collins, a respected geneticist and the head of the Human Genome Project, published a book, “The Language of God; A Scientist Presents Evidence For Belief” , in which he argued that the evolutionary process is completely consistent with the God of the Bible.
The reason why many Christians have no problem believing in the theory of evolution is that it is not essentially a theory about origins, but about processes. It proposes a possible explanation about the processes by which the variety of species that we see today may have developed. But it has nothing to say about the origin of the universe itself. The theory of evolution assumes that the earth, and the whole universe, was already existent when organic life began, and it proposes no explanation for its pre-existence. Furthermore, the theory has no scientifically satisfactory explanation as to how a lifeless, inorganic universe could have produced living, organic matter in the first instance. For the answers to these key questions, Christians turn to the Bible and to their faith in a transcendent Creator God.
In fact, anyone who believes in evolution and does not have a belief in a Creator is left with a huge problem; how to explain the origin of the universe itself. Until recent decades, atheists have side-stepped this issue by maintaining that the universe has always existed. This belief in the eternal existence of the universe was upheld from the time of Aristotle (350 B.C.) until the mid-20th century, and it effectively removed the necessity to believe in a Creator. For example, outspoken atheist, Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) once famously stated, “The universe is just there and that’s all.” However, several very significant scientific discoveries in the 20th century have completely overturned this view. These discoveries include:
- 1915: Extrapolations from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which predicted, from a purely theoretical point of view, that the universe, including time itself, had a beginning. These extrapolations were deeply disconcerting to atheists.
- 1927: Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaitre (astronomer and Belgian priest), extrapolated Einstein’s theories further, and predicting that, if Einstein’s theories are correct, the universe must be expanding and, as a corollary, must have originated from a single point in the distant past.
- 1929: Edwin Hubble provided the first visual confirmation of the expansion of the universe. From an observatory at Mount Wilson, USA, he observed and measured the doppler red-shift effect of light emanating from observable galaxies. This was the first physical evidence that confirmed what had only been a theory until this point. Hubble also concurred with the conclusions of Friedman and Lemaitre that the universe, including time itself, must have originated from a single initial point in the space-time continuum.
- 1964: Drs Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered and measured Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation that exists in the space between galaxies; radiation with a frequency and ambient temperature that cannot be accounted for by the surrounding galaxies. The only logical explanation is that it is vestigial – an echo of cataclysmic events from the beginning of the universe itself. They won a Nobel Prize for this ground-breaking discovery.
As a result of these and other advances in the science of cosmology, the once-convenient belief in the eternal existence of the universe has now been completely repudiated. Even renowned atheist, Stephen Hawking, was forced to concede this shocking development, stating;
“All the evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning. This is probably the most remarkable discovery of modern cosmology.” (http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-origin-of-the-universe.html)
Stephen Hawking continues;
“We have made tremendous progress in cosmology in the last hundred years. The General Theory of Relativity and the discovery of the expansion of the universe has shattered the old picture of an ever-existing and ever-lasting universe. The discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation also supports this conclusion. This is a profound change in our picture of the universe and of reality itself.” (http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-origin-of-the-universe.html)
Hawking is correct; it is a profound change in the way we view the universe. Because if the universe had a beginning, it begs the question: Who put it there? How can nothing become something unless Someone beyond the universe creates it? The cosmological evidence for the universe having a beginning cries out for a supernatural explanation, because only something outside of nature (“supernatural”) can possibly create nature. Nature cannot create itself out of nothing!
So, the first important point to make in our discussion of God and evolution, is that the theory of evolution does not even come close to disproving the existence of God. In fact, it has absolutely nothing to say about the most important question of all: Where did the universe come from in the beginning? And, as I will demonstrate in future posts, the evidence base for the theory of evolution, as a description of the process of species development, is rapidly diminishing.
As Albert Einstein said, “The more I study science, the more I believe in God”. Max Born, the German physicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Science in 1954, said; “Those who say that the study of science must make a person an atheist must be rather silly people.”