Atheists know that “changing sides” is against the code. Not many of us do that – change sides – but I did. Atheists have been asking me for the past 40+ years why I went from atheism to theism. It’s a fair question and why I’m writing this series of articles about what convinced me that God exists. I’m reaching back to those months before May 1971 when I made “the change” to demonstrate that what I did was both “reasonable” and “necessary.”
My belief about the origin of the universe was affected by a variety of theories. As a child of the mid-20th century, I heard about creation at church and about evolution at school. Many churches taught a blend of creationism and evolution (theistic evolution), so it was easy to move between what I was learning at church and learning at school. I don’t remember any conflicts. As a student of martial arts in my early teen years I learned about a variety of origin beliefs from China, Japan and India, but they were obviously mythological. Evolution became the most reasonable explanation to me, especially as atheism became my dominant belief system in my later teens.
I became a radio journalist after college and had the opportunity to have my own talk shows in addition to producing shows for other hosts. My atheistic worldview became an issue with many listeners, which led to some interesting discussions about the origin of the universe and life. I interviewed people from a variety of backgrounds including atheists, agnostics, communists, witches, warlocks and satanists, but it was my interview with a science professor that led me to search for answers to questions I had not considered before.
The Cosmological Argument was interesting to me because it dealt with something I could see – the cosmos. I remember reading about many theories concerning the universe (e.g. Eternal Steady State, Big Bang, Static/Expanding, Oscillating). The Static and Steady State theories had been beaten up pretty well by the late 1960s and the Big Bang was growing in appeal. The discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation in the mid-60s gave support to the theory of an explosive, hot beginning to the universe. The idea of a “beginning” to the universe was sounding more plausible than an eternal cosmos.
However, I had not given serious consideration to a simple question: what existed before the “big bang?” That question bothered me as journalist. How could nothing become something? Especially if there was nothing to cause it to become something?
The science professor talked about how the Laws of Thermodynamics were in opposition to the theory of a “big bang” starting the universe. I looked it up and read about the First Law of Thermodynamics – “energy cannot be created or destroyed.” So, how could nothing (which has no energy) create something with energy? I also learned about the Second Law of Thermodynamics which deals with the efficiency of energy. It states that “the energy available after a chemical reaction is less than at the beginning of the reaction.” Entropy was another way to understand the Second Law. It’s the process of gradual decline from order to disorder. The concept of “heat death” in the universe comes from that Law of Thermodynamics.
I must admit that digging into sciences in 1971 was fascinating, which was interesting given my previous disinterest in science as a youth. Something about what the professor told me drove me to continue looking for answers to questions that seemed to rise continually in my mind.
The question about the beginning of the universe led to more questions — many of them about evolution. Evolution was something I had believed without question for as long as I could remember, but I was starting to have doubts.
I was taught as a child and youth that “science” had proven evolution, but had it really? Evolutionary science sounded good to me until I saw it challenged by “creation science.” Some of the arguments led me to question what I had been taught.
Fossils: if evolution was true, where were all of the transitional fossils from millions of years of “evolving” from one species to another? Shouldn’t scientists have easily found billions or trillions of “proof” fossils instead of a small number of “questionable” ones? Why so much emphasis on finding “missing links” when tens of millions of years of living and dying creatures should have produced all the links necessary to prove evolution was true? Where were all the intermediate varieties that should be found everywhere? Shouldn’t we find all kinds of fossils showing species in various stages of change? Shouldn’t we see through the fossil record proof of every step of the creatures “evolving,” especially in light of the length of time for macro-evolution to occur? You would think the earth would be filled with billions of tons of layers of these intermediate fossils that demonstrate gradual changes, but where are they?
Civilization: if evolution was true and humans began showing up in substantial numbers millions of years ago, why didn’t civilizations begin much earlier than just thousands of years ago? Where are the “tells” of villages and cities from millions of years ago? Why are the oldest remains of human life and invention measured in thousands of years instead of millions? If evolution was true and humans learned a little more with each generation of gradual change, why don’t we have proof of their experiments and knowledge that date hundreds of thousands of years (or millions of years) into the past? Why didn’t written communication begin millions of years ago, or at least hundreds of thousands of years ago, instead of just “thousands” of years ago? Where’s all the proof that humans evolved slowly and developed human skills over a very long period of time? The proof, as I was beginning to see it, was in favor of a more recent development of civilized skills. Did that also mean a more recent development of the humans who made up civilizations? Could it be that the beginning of the human race was thousands of years instead of millions of years ago?
Sex: how did asexual organisms develop into sexual organisms? Asexual organisms would seem to have the advantage in an evolutionary world because all of them could reproduce. Sexual organisms would seem to have the disadvantage because only a fraction of them could actually reproduce another of its kind. It would seem that sexual males would be a wasted resource since they cannot birth one of their own. The difference in sex cell division between asexual species (mitosis) and sexual species (meiosis) seemed to also point to the greater efficiency of asexual over sexual. If evolution is the survival of the fittest, why would sexual species win over the asexual species? 100% of the asexual species were able to reproduce another one of their own. It seemed to me that evolution would have naturally selected asexual species as more efficient than sexual. Also, I wondered, where is the evidence of the gradual change from asexual to sexual in the fossil record? Shouldn’t we see all of the experimental parts and pieces from the sexual development through the millions of years of evolution?
The science professor I interviewed on my talk show explained that evolution was naturalistic, self-contained, non-purposive, directional, irreversible, universal, and continuing. He said that special creation was different from evolution in that it was supernaturalistic, externally directed, purposive, and completed, but was similar to evolution in that it applies universally and is irreversibly directional. He said that direction was downward toward lower levels of complexity and that the original creation, though perfect at the beginning, had been running down.
I wondered how creation would hold up under the light of the thermodynamic laws that gave evolution such a hard time. The professor said that creation actually predicted the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics. He said the First Law proved that the universe did not create itself and that nothing in natural law could account for its own origin. He said the Second Law proved that the universe was moving from order to disorder and its energy was less available now than before. Given enough time, the universe would die a “heat death.” The professor added that the fact that the universe was not already dead was proof that it is not infinitely old.
The professor pointed out some of the major differences between evolution and special creation.
- Evolution – life evolved from non-life … Creation – life came from life
- Evolution – galaxies changing … Creation – galaxies constant
- Evolution – stars changing into other types … Creation – stars unchanged
- Evolution – heavenly bodies building up … Creation – heavenly bodies breaking down
- Evolution – rock formations different in different ages … Creation – rock formations similar in all ages
- Evolution – natural selection is the creative process … Creation – natural selection is the conservative process
- Evolution – mutations in organisms are beneficial … Creation – mutations in organisms are harmful
- Evolution – new kinds of life appearing … Creation – no new kinds of life appearing
- Evolution – man came from apes … Creation – man created as man, no ape to human intermediates
He had my attention. Those are some big differences. However, the idea of the supernatural was not something I could easily accept as an atheist. I needed more proof. What could he and others possibly say that would convince me? More about that next time.
I read the article and comments with interest. I have heard creationist and evolutionary perspectives and studied biology myself to degree level… One thing I came across was the evolutionary assumption strongly imposed on any interpretation of data. It only takes a few probing questions to reveal the bias of many science professors. I decided not to pursue a biology career and switched to IT instead so I didn’t have to play ‘let’s pretend’ with evolution.
Philosophically I imagined the question boiled down to a room with painted walls, an empty pot of paint on the floor and an open window. The current observable processes show occasional flies landing in the paint and walking on the walls. Some of these leave paint like strokes. It is conceivable that the entire room was painted by this process over a long period of time, however a painter and decorator may well have called earlier that day and be at home eating his tea at that point.
Common sense says origins science is forensic science and should look at all evidence in a dispassionate way – if evolution has such strong evidence what have educators to he afraid in allowing alternate views in apart from teaching students about science, evidence and logic?
Here’s a problem about the issue concerning asexual vs sexual reproduction: variety. Asexual reproduction has very little to no genetic variety whatsoever, which means that the organism cannot change if the environment requires change. Also, much like inbreeding and the negative affects associated with that, having the exact same genetic code repeatedly copied over and over allows for when errors to occur for that error to be copied over and over, and the more a same code is copied, the more negative affects are likely to occur. Sexual reproduction introduces such an incredibly vast, large amount of variety that the sexual organisms are much more fluent and flexible to adaptation to their environment. Each form of reproduction has both advantages and disadvantages, but in all actuality there are far more advantages for sexual reproduction vs asexual than you realize. That’s why many organisms reproduce sexually. This “waste” that you speak of for sexual reproduction is seriously misguided and could be solved with an entry level genetics college course. Also, the males not giving birth also means that there is less vulnerable states for each of the species. The females can house the future offspring while the males can guard the females and future offspring.
Then there’s the part where you say in evolution “mutations in organisms are beneficial.” not true. If you take a basic entry level biology class (like BIO 101) they will tell you that in the theory of evolution, almost all mutations are harmful, but there are very rare chances where mutations are beneficial. Also, evolution has been witnessed in field mice and the chance of changing colors to adapt to their environment.
Furthermore, I would agree that there many intermediate species that are missing, but in order to find all the intermediate species, we would pretty much have to find every species that ever existed, and that is not realistic nor likely at all. We have small enough chances as is to get ahold of certain species. And who’s to say some of the species we have already found aren’t intermediate species? Intermediate species are anything between microscopic organisms and humans or other organisms today. In that sense, there will always be intermediate species we don’t find in between those stages. Also, like God, the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. Just because we haven’t found proof that God exists beyond any doubt, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist. Same goes for the intermediate species.
I have taken BIO 101 and 102 and a genetics 300 level course and I already see many flaws in your scientific knowledge. I could go on and on all day, but I don’t feel like wasting all of my days finding all the holes in your basic knowledge. The theory of Evolution is not perfect (no theory in science is ever perfect if it is true science), but it has lasted for ages without being proven impossible. Missing evidence is not proving it impossible. And there are mountains of evidence that prove it to be possible. Rather than finding lack of evidence in small areas that would be unreasonable to find complete evidence for (there is no way every species that walked this earth would be preserved as fossils), you must find evidence that proves that evolution for a creature was impossible, and good luck with that. People have been trying to do that for centuries and have failed.
Rather than wasting time trying to go against evolution, try supporting religion in some other way. Clashing with evolution is such a foolish move for religion to do. Why not say that God used evolution as a tool for creation?
I am a Christian and I love science, but I am afraid I am not impressed with some of your scientific knowledge. Much of your mistakes in your knowledge could be corrected by attending freshman level biology courses and actually paying attention to the theory of evolution more closely.
Hi, BillyBob. So nice to hear from a Christian brother. I took three years of biology during the early to mid-60s, but that was a long time ago. All my teachers were evolutionists, so evolution is what I learned. It was in the early 70s that I met someone who had another scientific perspective. Since that time I look at two perspectives instead of one. I’ve learned that who is teaching the course makes a big difference in what is learned. Evolutionist professors I studied with never mentioned creation as a possibility. To them evolution was settled science. Since becoming a Christian I’ve studied with teachers who believe Creation is a plausible model. Here’s an example.
Dr. David DeWitt earned a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from Michigan State University and a PhD in neurosciences from Case Western Reserve University. He is currently professor of biology, chair of the department of biology and chemistry, and director of the Center for Creation Studies at Liberty University. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Creation Research Society and served as chair of the biology section of the Virginia Academy of Sciences. Dr. DeWitt believes that the evidence of science points to Creation as a better model than evolution.
“Two definitions of evolution are often confused. Antibiotic resistance in bacteria, plant hybridization, and dog breeding are examples of microevolution. Microevolution refers to the changes in the percentage of individuals in a population that have a particular trait. Such evolution is more properly called adaptation. In these cases, there is no new genetic information being produced. Rather, we are simply seeing the selection of pre-existing information. These types of changes fit within a creationist framework in which God created different kinds of organisms with a range of variation and the ability to adapt to changes in environmental conditions. Observations and experiments have demonstrated that this type of change in the percentage of traits in populations does in fact occur.
In contrast, macroevolution describes the appearance of new traits that the ancestral population neither had nor possessed the genetic information that is required to produce them. An example of this type of evolution is the suggestion that dinosaurs gave rise to birds or fish while evolving into mammals. While the process of adaptation can be readily observed, macroevolution has never been observed or proven.”
“Complex molecular systems in organisms pose a considerable challenge to Darwinian evolution. Many of the proteins involved in processes within the cell need to interact together for a particular function. Proteins are comprised of a specific sequence of building blocks, the order of which is encoded in DNA. According to evolution, such sequences can only be the result of random mutation, yet random processes cannot produce information. Moreover, because many such proteins are required to co-exist simultaneously, it is impossible for the sequences to have evolve, as only a full system of proteins has a function. This is the basis of the argument of irreducible complexity.”
“Evolutionary scientists have identified several specimens that are supposed to be intermediates along the lineage from chimplike ancestors to modern humans. In most cases, the exact status of the specimens is a matter of debate even among evolutionists. For example, Sahelanthropus was suggested to be the oldest human ancestor, at about seven million years old. However, other scientists believe that this specimen is that of an extinct ape and not in the human lineage at all. Lucy, the australopithecine, was a leading candidate for a human ancestor until more recent evidence showed stronger apelike characteristics. Neanderthals have been pushed off to a side branch of the modern human lineage even though they buried their dead with rituals, which is a clearly human characteristic. From a creationist perspective, it is reasonable to assume that Neanderthals were descendants of Adam and Eve, just like modern humans.” Dr. David DeWitt
You mentioned that you love science, so you may enjoy some of the wonderful books and articles written by scientists who prefer the Creation model over evolution. It helps to know both sides.
Found this article via Poached Egg. The asexual question is one I’ve thought of myself and wondered about. If one rids themselves of all the preconceptions taught in our educational system, took a big step back and looked at all these questions again from a neutral standpoint…it seems to me that the faith required to believe in evolution/naturalism is far greater than in God.
Interesting point about sexual reproduction. I generally haven’t seen creationists of any sort really address that one.
At a later time did you interview and pose your questions to a second “science professor”, a professor who was not a creationist, someone who actually understood evolution? Your questions are decades old and have been answered for years over and over and over again. I hope your future essays demonstrate that you actually know something about science by showing how science’s often repeated answers to your questions are failures.
Yes, I interviewed many scientists who were evolutionists in the years after 1971. Their answers to my basic questions did not change my mind. Their answers, as you wrote, were failures. I’ve been studying the issue from both sides for more than 40 years and will include more about the science in future essays. I decided to begin with what I learned 40+ years ago because so many atheists have asked me what happened to change my mind about God. Once I finish addressing that, I’ll look at what science has discovered since 1971. Thanks for your question! Mark