Summary: Christianity answers three basic questions: 1. What is the origin of life? 2. What is the meaning of life? 3. What is the value of life?
On March 5, the Ohio House of Representatives began hearings on two controversial bills which are attempting to allow students to be taught alternative views of biological origins. House Bill 481 would call for “origins science” classes to be “taught objectively and without religious, naturalistic, or philosophic bias or assumption.” The new standards must be adopted by December 31, 2002. Surprisingly, according to the Columbus Dispatch, a majority of the state board’s Standards Committee supports presenting the “intelligent design” concept, and wants to add it to the curriculum alongside evolution, and fully half of the full 19-member board supports the idea. If passed, it would make Ohio the only state to require the teaching of alternatives to evolution. It would not do away with teaching the evolutionary theory, but simply present other theories objectively as well so that the students could decide for themselves. The bills have gained a lot of press, and the ensuing firestorm has produced a great deal of heat without generating much light.
I’m not sure whether I would be in favor of the adoption of the bills or not, but it would be interesting if an accurate and thoughtful presentation of the theory of intelligent design were given an honest hearing along with the theory of evolution. I have heard at least two different sources on the radio recently that referred to evolution is a “proven fact.” Evolution is not a proven fact any more than the theory of intelligent design is a proven fact. Our belief that the world was created by a good and loving God is a matter of faith not fact, but it is based on what we believe to be a thoughtful and reasonable consideration of the evidence in the world around us. As Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Some sincere Christians believe that God created the world, but he did it using the evolutionary process (Theistic evolution), but today I want to address non-theistic evolution as it is usually thought of. The evolutionary theory, based on the non-existence of God, proposes that all that exists in the universe happened by chance — the stars and planets, and everything in the cosmos and on the earth, are the result of an unexplainable accident. There is no purpose or design to the world. There is no reason for our existence. It is a philosophy called Nihilism which believes that nothing matters. It states that there was no higher Being which called the world into existence, and therefore there are no values in life, and all attempts to discover values or meaning are pointless. This is the message of evolutionary theory properly understood. It is pretty depressing actually. If you believe that we are alone in the universe, and that we are the result of accident and chance with absolutely no meaning to life, it is a very bleak worldview.
The message, from those of us who believe that the world was created in love by a good, all-knowing and all-powerful God, is that there are answers to the basic questions of life. The first question we believe we hold the answer to is: What is the origin of life? As Christians, we believe that the origin of life is God. He is the one who wanted the world to exist, because he desired a relationship with intelligent beings who could exercise their free will. We know from the world around us that life does not come from inanimate objects, life comes from something else which is living. Life does not come from nothing, it comes from something, and that something is always something which is alive. A living God created the world and all life that exists came from him.
The Bible says, “For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). But where does God come from? God does not come from anywhere; he has always existed because he lives outside of time and space. He is without beginning or end. He always has been and always will be. Unlike us, he is not defined or limited by time or spatial existence.
Carl Sagan, opens his book Cosmos by saying: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” We are not children of God, but “children of the Cosmos,” according to Sagan. Most people think that Carl Sagan was an atheist or agnostic, but in reality he was very religious. He believed that if we are to worship something, “does it not make sense to revere the Sun and the stars?” Later in life he even proposed that god-like aliens would come to rescue planet earth. In his popular, made-for-television series, he eloquently stated that life began somewhere in a primordial slime pond. But let’s think about that for a moment. Even the slime on a pond is living. In fact, in any pond in the world if you take one drop of water from that pond and put it under a microscope, you will discover that every drop of water in that pond is teaming with life. This primordial pond, to which Sagan referred, would have been before one cell of life existed on earth — only non-living things would have been here. There would have been no grass, no trees or any other kind of vegetation — a landscape similar to the moon. There would not have been a single amoeba, bacteria or any other life form present. But somehow, in this pond, chemicals reacted to form the first cell of life. This cell would have to have been able to find food near (and remember there is nothing living to eat). This cell would have to take in food, process it and eliminate it, and somehow reproduce. And remember that a single living cell is exponentially more complex than our most sophisticated computer. If it were not, we could create life, but in spite of all our enormously complex technology, we have not been able to create one single living cell.