So what exactly is the theory of evolution? It tries to explain how life first began; and it tries to explain how this first form of life changed over long periods of time, producing new life forms, which then changed into other life forms.
When we consider evolution, it is important to remember that it is not a scientific fact but a belief; so it is a religious approach to how life began. Those who believe in evolution like to present it as scientific fact, but the evidence to support this approach just does not exist. There are some things in the Bible which we accept on faith because we do not have hard evidence for it; as the Bible itself says, “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Heb 11:3).
Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence but interpret it in different ways and so come up with different conclusions. This is because they are starting from different belief viewpoints. Evolutionists will argue against this but, as we go on to look at their “evidence” in future months, God willing, we will come to see that “faith” is required to make the link between this evidence and their final conclusions. We will also consider evidence which clearly supports a belief in the Bible’s account of creation.
Evolutionists outline a general progression for the evolution of living organisms. It starts, they claim, with a single-cell organism which evolved into one with lots of cells. Then some of these organisms evolved into different plant forms and others into fish, some of which evolved into land amphibians, which in turn evolved into reptiles, and so on. Various timelines are produced showing the different branches of evolution for the different categories of living organisms and ending with the appearance of mankind, supposedly evolving, at last, from apes.
Scientists have carried out many experiments trying to prove that nonliving material can come alive. A well-known experiment, sometimes called the Urey-Miller Experiment, was carried out in 1953 at the University of Chicago. Its aim was to demonstrate that amino acids, which join together to make up proteins, could have come into existence by chance billions of years ago on the lifeless earth. Miller managed to synthesise three out of 20 amino acids, and the evolutionary world was delighted. Here was the proof they had been looking for!
But there were serious flaws in the experiment and in the conclusions drawn from it. Even scientists who believe in evolution accept that the experiment does not prove very much – just that some amino acids can be synthesised under rigorously-controlled laboratory conditions which are not even the same as those on early earth.
Proteins are known to be the “building blocks of life”; as already mentioned, they are made up of different combinations of amino acids. Another scientist, Sydney Fox from Florida State University, tried to advance on Miller’s experiment by showing that proteins could bring the evolutionary world one step closer to synthesising life. Fox managed to join a number of amino acids together under specific artificial conditions. These linked amino acids were supposed to be similar to protein molecules, but were not actually protein molecules, Fox named them “proteinoids”. So the “building blocks” of life have not yet been synthesised. Even if they had been, it would have needed faith and imagination then to conclude that, just because proteins had been made, life would follow.
Until the late 1800s many people believed in spontaneous generation – the idea that life could arise spontaneously from non-living matter. For instance, people thought that rats could form from flour in bags on a bakery floor, that one could get mice by mixing sweaty clothes with husks of wheat! Such beliefs seem ridiculous to us today but they are no more ridiculous than the “spontaneous generation” beliefs of many evolutionists. They insist that, with the right mixture of chemicals and the right amount of energy in the right sort of conditions, life started on this planet.
Charles Darwin is possibly the name most associated with the idea of evolution. But what made Darwin put forward this theory of organisms evolving without a “Designer”? He had a daughter called Annie who died as a young girl. He could not come to terms with this and began to question God and His goodness. He asked himself: If God is good, how could He have allowed my daughter to die? As a result, he could not accept that God exists and decided that Annie was the unfortunate victim of the laws of nature. And so Darwin tried to expel God out of his world; he did so by denying the truth of God’s existence. He then had to find other explanations for how life began, and so put forward the theory of evolution. Many evolutionist sources like to play down the fact that Darwin turned his back on Christianity.
So evolution is the belief that the universe and all living organisms within it arose from chance. Holding tightly onto this belief, scientists who believe in evolution look for evidence and try to interpret it in such a way as to justify their belief.
S M Campbell
[This is the second article in a series entitled “How Did it all Begin?”, and was first published in the November 2005 edition of The Young People’s Magazine. For the first article, see Aliens and the Big Bang.]