June 29, 2004

BALONEY DETECTORS

“Claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22 RSV).

The ayatollahs of evolution are in a tizzy. The sultans of science are aghast. They are horrified that the Ohio state board of education approved a science curriculum for public schools which includes a section called “Critical Analysis of Evolution.” This brief section doesn’t deny evolution but only mentions some problems the theory hasn’t solved. No teacher is required to teach this part, and no student will be tested on it. It’s only a small part of the curriculum, much smaller than the section which teaches evolution. But even this tiny hint of heresy was too much for the mullahs of modernism. The National Academy of Sciences objected. The American Civil Liberties Union threatened a lawsuit. How dare a school system even hint that Darwinist doctrine is not absolutely certain? Doubt must not be permitted. Tender young minds must be sheltered from any questions.

I can’t help smiling at the panicky reaction to the Ohio decision. Next thing you know, other states and school systems might cease brainwashing. They might join Ohio in allowing students to weigh evidence for themselves. This could spread not only in America but it could also infect Canada. It might spread to schools in South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. Even frozen Antarctica might not be safe from doubts about Darwin. Students everywhere might ask questions and think for themselves—a terrifying thought to the scientific censors.

The high priests of humanism have their sacred creeds. One textbook states, “Evolution is random and undirected… without either plan or purpose.” The infallible dogma of Encyclopedia Brittanica declares that natural selection is “automatic, with no room for divine guidance or design.” Darwin’s disciples believe these righteous revelations with fanatical zeal. They sing the glory of evolution and see belief in a Creator as wickedness. One inquisitor for atheism called for holy war, saying, “The fight against creationism is a fight for all knowledge, and that battle can be won if we all work to see that Darwinism, which has had a great past, has an even greater future.”

I’m one of those horrid heretics who think that students ought to understand more than one side of an issue. My own children are educated at home from a Christian perspective. They read the Bible every day and firmly believe in creation. But my children also learn about the theory of evolution. When my daughter was fifteen, she took a computerized exam from a secular company and got 100 percent correct in the section about evolutionary theory. This homeschooled teenager knows more about the theory of evolution than public high school graduates. But unlike many public school students, she also knows the Creator and evidence for divine design, and she knows weaknesses and problems in evolutionary theory.

When my wife and I educate our children, we don’t shelter them from every idea we disagree with. We want them to know the evidence, to think for themselves, and to understand the theories of people who think differently. Would it be so terrible if public schools took a similar approach? Will society collapse if students are not indoctrinated in Darwin’s catechism alone but also do a little “Critical Analysis of Evolution”?

Apparently some gurus want students not to think but merely to meditate on mantras: “Random, random, random. Evolution, evolution, evolution. Every living thing exists by accident, without plan or purpose. Belief in a supernatural plan or purpose is like belief in magic. It’s fantasy, not fact. Belief in God is like belief in Santa Claus or the tooth fairy. It’s okay for little children, but educated adults should know better.”

Beware of Baloney

Every student and adult should be equipped with a baloney detector. What’s a baloney detector? It’s not a machine, and it has nothing to do with lunch meat. A baloney detector is for the mind. It tests whether a claim is based on solid fact and clear thinking or just a bunch of baloney. Don’t swallow every idea people try to feed you. First use a baloney detector.

Baloney detectors are especially important in a school where the principal’s name is Mr. Darwin. In many schools and universities, students are fed the teaching of Charles Darwin. Textbooks and teachers explain all forms of life in terms of a process based on chance variation and natural selection, excluding intelligent design or a Creator.

But most students remain unconvinced. The late astronomer Carl Sagan complained a few years ago, “Only nine percent of Americans accept the central finding of modern biology that human beings (and all other species) have slowly evolved by natural processes from a succession of more ancient beings with no divine intervention needed along the way.” Despite the efforts of the scientific establishment, despite years of indoctrination by public schools, despite so-called “civil liberties” lawyers squelching teachers’ liberty to mention divine creation, most people don’t think life would exist if there were no Creator. Over 90 percent believe in God and believe that he created everything, including human beings. Of that 90 percent, about half believe that God created all the main forms of life by miraculous creation from nothing, while the other half believe God directed evolutionary processes as his method of creating.

This widespread belief in God as the designer and source of all life struck Carl Sagan as a sign that more people need baloney detectors. It bothered Sagan that some people believe in silly things like horoscopes and psychics and aliens in flying saucers, and it bothered him just as much that most people continue to believe in the Creator and not just in a process that is entirely random. In the last book Sagan published before his death, he wrote of using a baloney detector kit to protect us from such unfounded beliefs.

Sagan was right that we should beware of baloney. His problem was that he seldom aimed his baloney detector at his own ideas. Sagan was a selective skeptic. He liked to attack weird superstitions and lump them together with belief in creation and miracles and life after death, but he didn’t check whether the science and education establishment might be producing baloney. If we bring a baloney detector into Mr. Darwin’s classroom, we find a shortage of evidence and a surplus of rotten reasoning.

Teachers, books, and museum exhibits often make it seem as though Darwinism is supported by huge amounts of fossil evidence. But they are bluffing. The fact is that there is little fossil evidence to support the idea that one form of life gradually evolves into a dramatically different form. Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould doesn’t believe in creation, but he admits “the extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record.” He says bluntly that the evolutionary family trees in textbooks are based on “inference … not the evidence of fossils.”

We need baloney detectors in school, and we need baloney detectors in museums. One museum created what it called a “Hard Facts Wall,” displaying evolutionary ancestors for various animals. Museum visitors might assume that the ancestors portrayed on the “Hard Facts Wall” have actually been found–but the hard fact is that the museum simply invented those animals to fill in the gaps. People don’t expect museums to make things up and present them as fact–but that’s what the museum did.

Darwinists can be as dogmatic about their beliefs as the most narrow-minded religious person. When you recognize their dogmatism for what it is, you are set free from the myth that they are purely objective thinkers who base every idea on actual scientific discoveries. You won’t believe something just because they say so. Instead, you will use your baloney detector to test each aspect of the theory of evolution in light of the evidence, and you’ll be free to ask whether the biblical story about God’s creation of different life forms makes more sense than the story told by atheists. Indeed, you’ll begin to see that it’s downright foolish not to believe in the Creator.

Educated Fools

Some experts and educators might give you the impression that if you are really smart, you won’t believe in God. But according to the Bible, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'” (Psalm 14:1). Unbelief is not a mark of the wise; it’s the mark of a fool. It takes a fool to say there is no God.

Isn’t that rather harsh? Isn’t it unfair to call an unbeliever a fool? After all, many unbelievers aren’t stupid. They’re brilliant. They’re intelligent and educated. How can the Bible call them fools?

Well, it’s possible to be an educated fool. You can have a high I.Q. and lots of education and still be a fool. You can know lots of information and not have much wisdom. You can learn more and more details and yet never see the big picture. You can have overwhelming evidence of God right in front of you and yet concoct a theory to explain him away. That’s educated foolishness. In Romans 1 the Bible says,

What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made… But they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools… they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:18-25).

What a description of educated fools! “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” How can you look at a universe filled with so much matter and energy and think that it popped into existence from nowhere? How can you see the structure and design of things and not believe there is a Designer? How can you see so many different forms of life and not believe there is a life-giver, a God who is a great fountain of life? Some people ask, “How can you believe in a God you’ve never seen.” But a better question is, “How can you not believe in God, with so much evidence all around you? When people say evolution is obvious and there’s no evidence for divine design, get out the baloney detectors.

Evidence of Design

Here are some simple facts about the planet we live on. The earth is about 93 million miles away from the sun. If it were much closer, we would all fry. If it were further away, we would freeze. But it’s exactly the right distance from the sun. Is that just an accident?

The earth spins around once every 24 hours. If it took, say, 5,000 hours for each rotation, as some planets do, no living thing could survive. The days would be so long and hot that all moisture on the planet would boil away. The nights would be so cold that if anything had survived the day, it would certainly freeze to death during the night. Fortunately for us, however, earth rotates once every 24 hours. Is that just an accident?

And what about the origin of life? Could living things come from dead matter as the result of a purposeless process? Has anyone ever observed such an event? Never. In fact, scientists ever have completely discredited spontaneous generation, the notion that living things spring up from dead matter. It never happens. Scientists and educators know this, and yet some cling to their faith that somehow, long ago, spontaneous generation did take place, that dead matter did somehow produce living things.

They’ve run all kinds of experiments, trying to produce a living cell from non-living material. They’ve spent a great deal of research, time, and money trying to show how it could happen. They still haven’t succeeded. But just suppose they finally did succeed. Suppose they somehow produced a living cell from dead matter. What then? What would that prove? That life is an accident, with no creator or intelligent designer? Far from it! Obviously, any life form that resulted from years of study and work would be the product of intelligent design and creativity, not a proof that life evolved by accident. Meanwhile, no such experiment has worked.

Now, if so many brilliant scientists still haven’t been able to produce even the simplest life form, doesn’t it make sense to conclude that it would take someone with power and intelligence far greater than ours to design and create the fantastically complex forms of life that we see on our planet?

Inside the Black Boxes

Molecular biologist Michael Behe speaks of “irreducible complexity” in his book Darwin’s Black Box. What is “irreducible complexity”? It’s when something can’t begin to work until all of its parts are present and working together. Behe uses a mousetrap as an example. You can’t take part of a mousetrap, such as the wooden base, and catch a few mice, then add a spring and catch a few more, add a hammer and catch a few more, and so on. The mousetrap needs to be designed and built with each part in place and connected to the other parts before it can catch its first mouse. In the same way, an irreducibly complex system in the body must be assembled all at once before it can do its job. It can’t appear gradually, piece by piece.

An example of this is the eye. The eye has a lens, an adjustable focus, a variable diaphragm which controls the amount of light, light sensors, and so forth. None of these parts can do its job unless the other components of the eye are also present. Darwin spoke of natural selection as the force that drives evolution, but creatures that evolved only some parts of an eye would have no adaptive advantage over their relatives. The eye would be useless in natural selection until all its parts were present and working together. Darwin himself wrote, “When I think of the eye, I shudder.” “To suppose that the eye … could have been formed by natural selection,” said Darwin, “seems absurd in the highest degree.” But despite the absurdity, Darwin went ahead and preached his doctrine, and people put their faith in him.

Back in Darwin’s time, the complexity of the eye made him shudder—and Darwin didn’t know half of it. He didn’t know a thing about biochemistry. Disciples of Darwin might tell tales of a light-sensitive spot accidentally evolving into a group of cells cupped to focus light better, and so forth until eventually a complete eye somehow appeared. But the fact is that even something as seemingly simple as a light-sensitive spot is not simple at all. It is irreducibly complex.

Nevertheless, people still talk in broad terms about living things accidentally and gradually evolving one organ or body part, then another, then another. Michael Behe compares this to thinking you’ve explained how a stereo system works when you speak of “plugging a set of speakers into an amplifier and adding a CD player, a radio receiver, and a tape deck.” It’s easy to talk about adding one black box, then another, and then another, to a stereo system. But inside those black boxes are all sorts of interrelated parts arranged in a very complex design.

So it is with the organs and cells of living things. The more you discover about what’s inside, the more complex and intricate the design turns out to be. It’s easier to believe that mousetraps and stereo systems evolve by accident than to believe that complex organs and cells and biochemical processes evolve by accident. Darwin once wrote, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” With what we now know about biochemistry, says Behe, Darwin’s theory does indeed face breakdown. Perhaps the only alternative is to speak of intelligent design, even if that implies a designer of some sort—a Creator.

Many educators and educated people have somehow convinced themselves that everything can and should be explained without mentioning God. They see design and complexity all around them, but they invoke the miraculous powers of chance, and they take a leap of faith. They believe the doctrines that nothing produces something, that randomness produces design, that lifelessness produces life, that blind accident produces eyes. They preach these doctrines as an indisputable creed for all sound education, the accepted dogma of public schools and universities. When we hear such things, our baloney detectors should be buzzing.

Mice and Music

British author John Young tells a parable about a community of mice. These mice lived in a place that opened into a music room with a grand piano. Sometimes, through the door of their home, they could hear beautiful music coming from the piano. They sighed in amazement at the beauty of the music. Soon, however, the mice got into a disagreement.

Some said, “There couldn’t be music like that unless there was a musician.” But other mice said, “Nonsense. There is no musician.” Still others were agnostics: “We’ll never know whether there is a musician or not. Now get on with sharing the cheese.”

One day, when the music began to play, a particularly bold and curious mouse decided to venture into the music room and see for himself. He scurried across the floor and scrambled up the shiny black leg of the grand piano. He peered into the piano for a few moments, and then hustled back home to the other mice, breathless with excitement at his discovery.

“I have seen how music is made. I saw many tiny hammers striking tight wires. But I saw no musician.”

The atheist mice nodded and smiled with satisfaction. The agnostics shrugged and continued eating their cheese. Those who had believed in a musician were disappointed. At least they knew the truth now, but life seemed a lot less interesting.

The mice think their question has been answered. Now they are educated. But they are educated fools. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The mice know a bit more about hammers and wires, and they think they know everything. They know something of the way a piano makes music, and they think they’ve proved that nobody designed the piano and that the piano can play itself. Of course there’s no designer or musician inside the piano, but does that mean he doesn’t exist? No, it just means he’s not part of the piano.

When we look at creation, we won’t see a Creator, but does that mean he doesn’t exist? No, it just means he’s not part of his creation. We don’t see him, but the intricate designs of creation are clear evidence of a Designer, and the music of creation is clear evidence of a Great Musician.

My Father’s World

We live in one great universe which is designed, created, and operated by one great God. Every new discovery should impress us even more with the power and divine nature of God. The only fitting response is to glorify him and give him thanks. We must adore and worship the Lord who gives us a glimpse of his splendor and wisdom in the things he has made. And we must acknowledge that everything we have comes from him. Every breath we take, everything we have, is a gift from the hand of God. We owe him everything, and so we should be grateful to him. We can’t simply believe that there is a God out there, and leave it at that. We must glorify him as God and give him thanks.

What happens if we know about God but don’t glorify him or thank him? Romans 1 says that our thinking becomes futile and our foolish hearts are darkened. When we turn from God and live life on our own, sin clouds our minds and ruins our lives. Romans 1 goes on to describe how, when people reject God, the Lord hands them over to the consequences of their sins. We wallow in foolish theories, sexual perversions, social breakdown, cruelty to each other, and a host of other evils. When we don’t have a personal relationship of awe and thanksgiving with our Creator, things go from bad to worse. We become fools, both in our theorizing and in the way we live. We ignore our Creator and destroy ourselves.

Once we’ve begun doing this and have provoked God’s wrath, there’s just one way back to him, and we won’t find that way just by studying the creation. The creation can help us to take the reality of God seriously, but only the Bible can show us a fuller picture of what this powerful, magnificent God is actually like.

The Bible tells us that every created thing was made through Jesus Christ and in him all things hold together. Through our sin, we have damaged ourselves and God’s creation. The only one could rescue God’s people and restore his creation is the one through whom everything was originally made. God’s Son, Jesus, the source of all creation, became a creature, a human being. He died on the cross to break the grip of sin, and he arose from the death to crush the power of death and decay.

Only Jesus can give you a personal relationship with the God who created you. Only Jesus can restore God’s creation to perfection when he returns to earth. When you trust in Jesus, God adopts you as his child. His Spirit opens your eyes to see God’s power and majesty and love shining in the things he has made. The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” But the believer sings, “This is my Father’s world.”

By David Feddes. Originally broadcasted on the Back to God Hour and published in The Radio Pulpit.