Evolution: Perspectives of a Born-again, Biological Scientist

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Evolution: Perspectives of a Born-again, Biological Scientist

James R. Aist

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

Some have wondered how it is that a successful biological research scientist like me could have ever come to be a born-again Christian. The truth is, this question should, in reality, be reversed. I became a born-again Christian at just eight years of age, and it was not until I was about 19 years of age that I became a biological research scientist. My conversion (click HERE) was an amazing, supernatural experience that settled, in my mind and spirit, once and for all, the central question of who Jesus is. And it was with that unshakeable knowledge and understanding that, 11 years later, I began my scientific research career. I knew all along that I was working merely to more fully understand the amazing and exciting world of biology that the God of the universe had so masterfully created. And with every new discovery, I sensed how blessed of God I was to be the first human being to ever know it! I saw my entire academic career through the eyes of a born-again Christian.

How can we really know anything?

Let’s explore how we humans can really know anything at all. Here is what I have come up with: we can know through personal experiences, the “testimony” of others, scientific observation and/or experimentation, and, for the born-again Christian, divine revelation (i.e., the written word of God, dreams, visions, the voice of God, etc.; click HERE for some examples). Of these several ways of knowing something, only divine revelation is, in fact, fully reliable, because it is knowledge obtained from God himself, who knows all things (John 16:30; John 21:17; and 1 John 3:20) and is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). Moreover, “By faith we understand that the universe was framed by the word of God, so that things that are seen were not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Thus, we can know that God, who existed before anything that is material in nature existed, is primary reality, whereas the material world, being created by God, is merely secondary reality. So, when we conduct scientific studies of the material world at any level, we are merely probing into the nature of secondary reality, and the knowledge we discover does not deny, but confirms, the existence of the primary reality (God) who created it (Psalm 19:1).

Evolution at its core

In its very formulation and assumptions, evolution denies the existence and role of intelligent design in the development of the universe, of life and of biological diversity. The Bible, on the other hand, clearly describes the role of intelligent design (God) in the creation of all things (Genesis 1:1-27). Evolution says that diversity came about by random chance without purpose, direction or meaning (no “intelligent design”). The Bible says that diversity came about by the purposeful and intentional creative acts of God, who gave it meaning. Therefore, evolution is not consistent with the God of the Bible, but is diametrically opposed to Him. The ongoing controversy about the age of the earth is not altogether unimportant, but it does not get at the heart of the matter; and that’s why many of my Christian contemporaries are being fooled into believing that God and the theory of evolution are not at odds.

The heart of the matter

It all boils down to this: does the God of the Bible exist? The atheist says “No, God does not exist, and therefore, only the material world is real.” Whereas, the God of the Bible says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1a). And it goes on to explain that “…the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is the basic clash of two diametrically opposed world views, theism and atheism. The atheist starts with the basic assumptions that there is no God and that, therefore, the material world could not have been created by an “intelligent designer.” The theists, on the other hand, know that God does exist because He has revealed Himself to them, and that He created the universe and everything that is in it (Hebrews 11:3). And this is the key to understanding why the notion of “theistic evolution” is an oxymoron: if it is truly evolution, then it is atheistic, not theistic.

The body of evidence

What, then, does a born-again Christian do with the enormous body of valid, scientific evidence that is interpreted by evolutionists to be proof positive that this God-denying theory of evolution is no longer a theory, but a fact? Here’s what I do with it. First, I ask myself, does this body of evidence concerning materialistic, secondary reality do anything to deny the existence of the primary reality that gave birth to it? My answer is a resounding “No, it actually confirms the primary reality!” Now, stay with me here. God is no dummy. Don’t you suppose that when He set about creating life and then biological diversity, He would be smart enough to not “reinvent the wheel”, so to speak, every time He wanted to create a new “kind” or a new “species?” Would He not start with a creature He had already made and modify it to make the new one? So then, of course, at the morphological, anatomical, genetic and biochemical levels, the closely “related”, but different, newly created form would have very considerable commonality with the form from which He created it. What I’m saying here is that the same body of evidence that is used to support the theory of evolution can just as easily be seen to support the theory of “intelligent design”, if one does not begin with the assumption that an intelligent designer does not exist. And that brings us right back to the heart of the matter, discussed above. It is not sound, objective, scientific protocol to begin an investigation by eliminating one of two tenable and competing theories based on a mere assumption. That is what we call “junk science”, and it is not really science – the search for truth – at all. The “science” of evolution is a prime example of how a body of valid scientific information can be misused to give the impression that a mere assumption (e.g., that God does not exist) is actually proven fact, the objections of some heavily vested evolutionists notwithstanding.

God, random mutations, natural selection and survival of the fittest

In the previous section, I presented a case for the direct involvement of God in the creation of the spectacular biological diversity we see in the world around us. This case would work well for the scenario in which the earth is only about 6,000 years old, as many born-again Christians believe and a literal reading of the relevant Bible passages would lead one to believe. The God of the Bible could very well have created the universe in just 6 days, as we know days. But, the enormous body of relevant, valid, scientific evidence clearly points to an earth that is a few billion years old, not a few thousand. I do not believe that this body of evidence should be summarily dismissed, because scientific investigation is one of several valid ways to obtain knowledge. So, is there a plausible way to envision the God of the Bible creating biodiversity over millions of years?  The evolutionary theory for biological diversity as we know it involves, at its most fundamental level, random mutation (natural, molecular modification) of genes, a resultant sub-population of organisms carrying mutated genes that are beneficial, and selective survival of the organisms that are carrying the beneficial gene(s) because they are best adapted (most fit) for different climatic conditions that develop naturally from time to time. Over millions of years, such a process, repeated over and over again, is believed to have produced new species and “kinds” (e.g., dogs, cats, horses, fish, reptiles, grass, trees, seaweed, etc.) of animals and plants. It is assumed that this process occurred “naturally”, without the influence of an intelligent designer. But wait a minute, who is it that controls the climatic conditions that drive evolution? The God of the Bible is sovereign over all of His creation (Genesis 1:1-27; Revelation 19:6). It is He who placed the moon and the stars in the heavens and maintains them in their respective orbits (Genesis 1:14). He caused the earth to pause in it’s rotation for a full day, giving the impression that the sun had stood still (Joshua 10:12-13). He commands the wind and the waves, and they obey (Exodus 14:21; Mark 4:39), and He calls forth drought to scorch the land (Haggai 1:11), and it is so. And, it is He who sends the rain as He pleases (Genesis 7:4, 11-12; Matthew 5:45). The relevant conclusion here is that the God of the Bible is sovereign over the so-called “natural” weather and climate changes that evolutionary theory credits with driving the “natural selection” process leading to the appearance of new species and kinds. Thus, by manipulating climate change again and again over millions of years, God could have steered what we refer to as “evolution” in any direction He desired, thus controlling and directing both the extinction of species and kinds and the development of new species and kinds, using the very mechanisms of random mutations, selection and survival of the fittest that are so fundamental to the theory of evolution. This scenario would involve intelligent design from start to finish, and it would look to us just like natural evolution. Thus, the same body of evidence used by evolutionists to prove “natural” evolution, could just as well be seen as validating this theistic mechanism of extinction and biodiversity. I would refer to it simply as “theistic biodiversity.”

Something from nothing…wait, say what?!

In the overall world of material things, there are two claims of the atheist (actually, assumptions) that require far more faith to believe than does the existence of God. First, the atheist must contend that all this material stuff of the universe (e.g., galaxies, stars, planets and moons) came from either nothing at all or a tiny little ball of something (the “big bang” theory). And, if from a little ball of something, then where did this hypothetical little ball come from? The fact is, there is no direct evidence at all that anything has ever come from nothing; the entire material universe in which there is always a cause and an effect for everything that exists (cf., the law of conservation of mass and energy) is proof positive of the foolishness of this claim. And second, the theory that life began by spontaneous generation from (non-living) chemicals is nothing more than unbridled imagination and wishful thinking, and it is likewise without any direct, scientific evidence at all. Both of these preposterous assumptions are made necessary by the unnecessary starting assumption that God does not exist. Biblical theism, on the other hand, solves this problem by concluding that God exists and is the uncaused cause of the entire universe. When God spoke there was, suddenly, time, space and matter (the heavens and the earth), where previously there had been only God (Genesis 1:1). Now that I can believe!

The mouse family who lived in a piano

I close with a simple parable that succinctly portrays what I believe is really going on here:

Once upon a time, there was a family of mice who lived all their lives in a large piano. To them in their piano-world came the music of the instrument, filling all the dark spaces with sound and harmony. At first the mice were impressed by it. They drew comfort and wonder from the belief that there was someone who made the music, though invisible to them; above, yet close to them. They loved to think of the Great Player whom they could not see, and yet blessed them so much with the beautiful music.

Then, one day a daring mouse climbed part way up the piano and returned very thoughtful. He had found out how the music was made. Wires were the secret; tightly stretched wires of graduated lengths which trembled and vibrated. They must revise all their old beliefs: none but the most closed-minded could any longer believe in the Great Player.

Later, another mouse explorer carried this materialistic explanation further. Hammers were now the real secret, numbers of hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. This was a more complicated theory, but it all went to show, once and for all, that they lived in a purely materialistic world, a world that did not need the imaginary Great Player to make the music, because the materialistic world itself could make the music without Him. The Great Player came to be thought of as a myth, and those who believed in Him were thought of as blind fools.

But the Great Player continued to play, and the mouse believers continued to believe.

Now, what is this story really about? It’s about astronomers and astrophysicists who believe that their modern theories and discoveries about the universe prove that the universe caused itself. And, it’s about evolutionary biologists who believe that their modern theories and discoveries about biology prove that life came about by spontaneous generation and that biological diversity came about without design, purpose or meaning.

God continues to sustain his creation, and His believers continue to believe, because God himself has revealed His existence to them. And the God who existed before anything material existed, calls the unbelievers “fools”, because of their unbelief (Psalm 14:1a).

To read a companion article, click HERE.

(For more of my biblical teachings, click HERE)

Abortion: A Biological Perspective

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Abortion: A Biological Perspective

James R. Aist

“…the unborn child, being 2N, is, biologically speaking, a human being all along.”

Introduction

When I took my first formal course in high school Biology in about 1960, everyone seemed to know that human life begins at conception. We studied the two-phase “life cycle” of several organisms, from microbes to plants to animals to humans, all of which reproduce by a sexual process. The adult organism is the phase that embodies the actual life of the organism, and it has two of each of the chromosomes of the species. This condition is referred to as diploid, or “2N”, meaning “two each of the normal set of chromosomes.” This 2N phase is the one that produces the sexual reproductive cells – the egg and the sperm – which are haploid, or 1N, having only one each of the normal set of chromosomes. In every one of the organisms we studied, including humans, the 2N phase — the phase that embodies the actual life of the organism – begins when the egg and sperm unite at conception. This is the basic biology of sexually reproducing organisms, including humans, and this is how their life cycles are depicted in biology textbooks to this day.

The Human Life Cycle

From a biological perspective, the human life cycle is essentially the same as the life cycle of all the other organisms that reproduce sexually (See the diagram, at the upper right). Without uniting in the mother, the egg and sperm have no human life at all and do not develop into anything; they remain just an egg and a sperm and soon die. The 2N phase of the human life cycle, which includes all of the developmental stages of human life from conception (fertilization) to fully formed babies in the womb to newborn babies to adolescents to teens to adults, actually begins with conception in the mother (See the diagram). At the moment the sperm enters the egg a new, never before existing and never to be repeated, totally unique, human life begins. All of the necessary DNA is present and all that is needed from that moment until birth is time, nutrition and a safe environment suitable for growth (a healthy womb). These are the basic, biological facts of human reproduction. So, from a biological perspective, human life (the diploid, 2N phase) begins at conception (fertilization) and proceeds on an uninterrupted continuum of developmental stages, first in the mother, and then outside of the mother. There is no identifiable point in this continuum at which an unborn child becomes suddenly human; the unborn child, being diploid, or 2N, is, biologically speaking, a human being all along. And that is why, in 1960, everyone seemed to know that human life begins at conception.

Roe vs. Wade

Fast forward, now, to 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court made abortion legal in the entire country. The Court did not rule on specifically when human life begins, so it was left to others to decide this detail for themselves. These decisions were based on the false premise that there is a moment when a developing child changes suddenly from non-human to human. This premise is a fantasy that has no basis whatsoever in the science of biology. Rather, it is a figment of the human imagination, a transparent attempt to rationalize and justify the termination (i.e., murder, by definition) of helpless, innocent human life in the womb by declaring the existence of an arbitrary “transition” point in what is, in reality, a developmental continuum. Isn’t it ironic that, in America, we permit murder only if the victim is a helpless, innocent child in his/her mother’s womb, an environment that should be the safest place in the world for them?!

Enter Ultrasound Technology

Ultrasound images or videos — especially the new 3-D versions, see above – of a developing child in his/her mother’s womb provide conclusive and convincing evidence that the unborn child is, indeed, a human being in the early stages of development. In fact, such images are so convincing that when women considering an abortion see their unborn child in their womb via ultrasound imaging, 88% of them change their minds and decide against abortion (click HERE). They KNOW that they are carrying a fully human being! To view an ultrasound video of an unborn child, click HERE.

An Appeal for the Rights of the Unborn

If you want to make me cry, then remind me of the accidental traffic death of my daughter, Liesel, when she was only 20 years old. Or, remind me of the accidental drowning deaths of twin toddlers in Knoxville a few days ago. But, if you really want me to weep and mourn deeply, then remind me of the intentional deaths of tens of millions of innocent, helpless, unborn babies, murdered in their mother’s womb, in America since Roe v. Wade. The United States will have no claim whatsoever to any moral high ground concerning anything, unless and until we, as a nation, rise up against this, the most despicable of man’s inhumanity to man, and legally declare it to be what it is: murder of the worst kind. And that’s why we need more and more pro-life justices, judges, governors, legislators, presidents and God-fearing voters to lead the charge against abortion. America, bless God and stand against this unthinkable, but very real, national tragedy!

Conclusion

The premise that there is a moment when a developing child changes suddenly from non-human to human is a fantasy that has no basis whatsoever in the science of biology. Rather, it is a figment of the human imagination, a transparent attempt to rationalize and justify the termination (i.e., murder, by definition) of helpless, innocent human life in the womb by declaring the existence of an arbitrary “transition” point in what is, in reality, a developmental continuum. When will America, once again, value common sense and basic morality?

(For more of my articles on ABORTION, click HERE)

Abortion: Biology, Bible and Forgiveness

A 3D ultrasound taken of a fetus at 17 weeks.Abortion: Biology, Bible and Forgiveness

James R. Aist

 “I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing.” (Psalm 37:25-27)

Introduction

There is no moral issue that grieves and saddens me more than abortion. I believe that abortion is, perhaps, the most egregious example of man’s inhumanity to man. But I am not writing this article to preach, judge or condemn. My purpose and motivation are to have a positive influence, to help save the life of at least one unborn child and to encourage at least one regretful mother to find forgiveness and peace.

Biology

When I took my first formal course in high school Biology in about 1960, everyone seemed to know that human life begins at conception, the union of a man’s sperm with a woman’s egg. Without uniting in the womb, the egg and sperm have no human life at all and do not develop into anything; they remain just an egg and a sperm and soon die. The part of the human “life cycle” that we universally agree includes all of the developmental stages of human life from babies to teens to adults actually begins with conception in the mother’s womb. Those are the basic, biological facts of human reproduction. So, from a biological perspective, human life begins at conception and proceeds on an uninterrupted continuum of developmental stages, first in the womb, and then outside of the womb. There is no identifiable point in this continuum at which an unborn child becomes suddenly human; the unborn child is a human being all along. The idea that there is a moment when a developing child changes suddenly from non-human to human is a fantasy that has no basis whatsoever in the science of biology. Rather, it is purely a figment of the human imagination, designed to rationalize the termination of innocent human life in the womb and, thus, avoid the enormous emotional toll that routinely follows in the aftermath of an abortion.

Ultrasound images or videos — especially the new 3-D versions, see above — of a developing child in his/her mother’s womb will provide conclusive and convincing evidence that the unborn child is, indeed, a human being in the early stages of development.

Bible

To receive the guidance of the God of the Bible – the Creator of human life — let’s have a look at some Scripture passages relating to abortion:

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

How could David have been sinful before he was a person? If he was sinful from the moment of conception, then he must also have been a person from the moment of conception!

  • “Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.” (Isaiah 49:1)
  • “I have been a Nazarite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb.” (Judges 16:17)
  • “… God… set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace…” (Galatians 1:15)

God has a plan for each of us, before we are even born! What is God’s plan for your unborn child?

  • “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them….” (Genesis 1:27)
  • “Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.” (Genesis 9:6)

Abortion is an attack on the very image of God himself.

I would guess that very few people are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sin of abortion will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!

Forgiveness

Abortion is, first and foremost, a sin against God (see above). So, forgiveness and peace will come only through and from Him. Here’s how you can receive God’s forgiveness and peace:

  • Repent (turn away from your sins): “The Lord … is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
  • Believe and Trust in Jesus: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • Accept His Forgiveness: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
  • Receive the Peace of Christ: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

It’s important to keep in mind that there is no sin that is so big and so bad that God will not forgive it. In fact, God wants to forgive you and bring you peace. He has made this promise to you: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). He is “faithful” to forgive you because He has promised to do so, and God does not lie or break His promises (Numbers 23:19); He is “just” to forgive you because Jesus paid the full price for your sins when He suffered and died for them, in your place, and, therefore, it would be unjust to not forgive you. And He doesn’t stop there. He will also cleanse you from the stain of your sin and of the guilt and shame associated with it; God will separate your sins from you “as far as the East is from the West” (Psalm 103:12), and he will not keep bringing it up and holding it against you (Isaiah 43:25). You have God’s word on it (Numbers 23:19), so take Him at His word, receive His forgiveness and move on with the peace of Christ; God has a wonderful plan for your life.

An Appeal for the Rights of the Unborn

If you want to make me cry, then remind me of the accidental traffic death of my daughter, Liesel, when she was only 20 years old. Or, remind me of the accidental drowning deaths of twin toddlers in Knoxville a few days ago. But, if you really want me to weep and mourn deeply, then remind me of the intentional deaths of tens of millions of innocent, helpless, unborn babies, murdered in their mother’s womb, in America since Roe v. Wade. The United States will have no claim whatsoever to any moral high ground concerning anything, unless and until we, as a nation, rise up against this, the most despicable of man’s inhumanity to man, and legally declare it to be what it is: murder of the worst kind. And that’s why we need more and more pro-life justices, judges, governors, legislators, presidents and God-fearing voters to lead the charge against abortion. America, bless God and stand against this national tragedy!

(For more articles on ABORTION, click HERE)