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Response To Your Critique


Dear R****,

Thank you for writing so that there is a chance for dialogue. Otherwise, you might have continued to think that your objections to creation were unanswerable. I very much appreciate the chance to interact in a cordial manner that is not a “Jerry Springer-type” shouting contest. It is fine to be frank and point out apparent fallacies wherever they occur. You have done your bit and I will respond.

Let me make a few preliminary remarks. First of all, I firmly believe that it is possible to be a Christian, even to be used by the Lord in wonderful ways, and still be wrong about any number of points of fact. The core of the gospel according to the Scripture is that we have been created by God, that we have all sinned and separated ourselves from God, that He loved us too much to leave us that way and that Jesus became a human being in order to take the punishment we deserve so that if we confess our sins and receive His forgiveness, we can be restored to fellowship and be guided by the Holy Spirit in a life that increasingly approximates His will for us.

Therefore people can have a wide variety of ideas about the Bible and creation and still be Christians. Some ideas, however, have consequences that may lead them astray. For example, believing that there are many ways to God, and Jesus is only one of them, will certainly affect a person's attitude towards missions and evangelism. I am convinced that we are all wrong about at least a few things (although I can't imagine what mine might be ;-)

You did not define what you meant by “I am a Christian,” although the fact that you go to a Baptist Church whose pastor believes in creation probably indicates that you must be familiar with the Biblical definition as I have summarized it above. A couple of things make me want to clarify further, however. One is that you said you chose a church because of “entertaining and moving sermons.” Perhaps you intend that statement to imply that you are being spiritually fed and challenged to exercise your spiritual gifts, to serve others and to be a light in the part of the world where God has put you. Those are the reasons we ought to join a church, not the consumer attitude alone.

In making your conclusions about my own position and creationism in general, you have looked at a short article, essentially a transcript of a 30' talk given to a group of atheists, and seem to have assumed that it contained all that I have to report on the subjects touched. I hope to enlarge your understanding of the depth and breadth of the evidence for the things I only mentioned.

I was a theistic evolutionist after coming out of my medical training. I think I fell in the camp of those who now talk about the “totally competent creation” in which God threw out the first matter and energy knowing that it would organize itself into life in all its present diversity and splendor. I accepted this because I believed evolution must have been proven, otherwise so many smart, educated people would not have affirmed it.

My brother, who is a science teacher, sent me a book by biochemist A. E. Wilder-Smith called The Creation of Life, in which the author showed clearly that information does not arise spontaneously and long periods of time do not help – information degrades over time. It took me a year to even open the book because it sort of revolted me – being so far out of the mainstream. After finishing it, I re-examined the things I had been taught in college and medical school as I returned to the University of Minnesota for pediatric training. As I read more, I found that the evolutionists talked all around the issues, denounced creationists, pounded the table, but not answering the crucial questions. Prominent anti-creationist Philip Kitcher's Abusing Science made elaborate arguments that sounded impressive but on close examination did not hold water. See . Yet other evolutionists quoted Kitcher as having destroyed creationist arguments. I was radicalized! Full professors with tenure at this major university were completely out to lunch on the issue and I, a lowly pediatric resident, knew something they did not.

You say you studied the question and came to the opposite answer. Let us look at your conclusions and see if you might have missed something.

First of all you question my broad definition of evolution. I am well aware of the move by evolutionists to eliminate abiogenesis from the theory. For an atheistic world view, however, it is essential, and that is what I was targeting in my talk. Since you seem to have misunderstood this point, let me explain. Either things are here because of natural processes alone, or because – in part or in whole – of supernatural causes. Either life came about altogether by chance and the laws of nature or there was intelligent intervention. These are the only two logical possibilities. For the atheist, it has to be the former. They will tolerate no “divine foot in the door.” Of course there are theists, even Christians, who believe in evolution. Some even believe in spontaneous abiogenesis as I once did. But the comprehensive atheistic worldview has to explain everything without resort to God. Thus the hard-core naturalists claim that the big Bang originated from a “quantum fluctuation of nothingness” in which “nothing” spontaneously became “something” and essentially “blew up.” They then believe that the entire universe developed from that point on into stars, planets, life and ultimately human beings.

If you look at presentations of the whole story of evolution in texts and teaching intended for children, abiogenesis is part and parcel of the package. When Stanley Miller's reducing atmosphere electric spark experiments are discussed, it is implied that life flows naturally from this sort of reaction, even though it only produced a few amino acids and would have destroyed them as fast as they were produced were they not trapped and thus removed from further reaction. I visited our local Science Museum recently and heard both abiogenesis and evolution presented in a play designed for children as a seamless continuum without the slightest indication of any controversy or difficulty.

So in popular presentations, abiogenesis is included or glossed over, but in debates, a sharp distinction is made. I find this practice disingenuous and deceptive. The reason for the arms-length treatment is that the thoughtful evolutionist realizes that spontaneous abiogenesis is indefensible. See my debate with Edward Max, an MD PhD who many quote as an authority. ( ) He admits that there is no explanation for the origin of life and none anywhere on the horizon. There is NOT any progress (as you claim) taking place in this area. In fact as more is known about the degree of complexity and inter-relatedness of living systems, the more clearly impossible it becomes.

To claim life came from aliens is a cop-out. Unless you believe that the aliens are eternal supernatural beings (in which case, you have chosen your god), they must have arisen somewhere sometime. If you postulate that the laws of physics were different somewhere else in the universe, that is a completely ad hoc leap of faith with no reasonable basis.

On another level, the odds against abiogenesis taking place apply equally to the new features being added to a living organism, even though at that point there is the possibility of natural selection favoring a more adaptive variation. The problem is not selecting the variation, the problem is getting one that is helpful.

But the immediate application of that principle is to your quote of Douglas Futuyama that “evolution is merely change.” This is a trivial definition and not helpful for your cause, but it illustrates the fallacy so commonly employed by evolutionists, that of equivocation, or “bait and switch.” Of course change takes place. Everyone agrees with that but it does not mean that the change taking place is going to make fish into amphibians or dinosaurs into birds, much less bacteria into biologists. For that you need NEW INFORMATION. You need lungs instead of gills to live on land. You need wings and guidance systems in order to fly. It is either naïve or downright deceptive to say as some evolutionists do, “ability to fly gave the protobirds a selective advantage.”

Also, unless you believe in the “hopeful monster” theory, even Gould's punctuated equilibrium requires small changes in successive generations. A small wing would be a hindrance, not a help, and would be eliminated by natural selection. Evolution cannot say, “this will be helpful later so keep it.” The ideas that small wings could be useful for catching insects is pretty far fetched and coming up with uses for intermediate characteristics really runs out of credibility pretty quickly when you have to account for the plethora of life with all its variations.

Your treatment of the probability issue indicates that you did not do the math. Yes, indeed, there are several possible configurations for a given active protein. In other words not all positions in the linear sequence are critical. This improves the odds for spontaneous formation of an active protein. The problem is that the odds are so monstrous that it does not help. It is like the difference between an Olympic class jumper and a couch potato attempting to leap the Grand Canyon.

Let me illustrate. You mention Cytochrome C which has 208 amino acids and is found to have 80 active variations. In my article, I did the math for a 100 amino acid protein and found the odds of putting it together correctly to be 1 in 10130. For simplicity, let's consider Cytochrome C to be 200 amino acids long, in which case the odds of assembling in the correct order would be 1 in 10260. Let's say there are 100 active variations or 102. Therefore if there are 100 possible correct answers, the odds now improve to 10260-2 which is 10258. Does it help? Hey! I'll even give you a trillion possible correct answers. Then the odds improve to one in 10248. It doesn't help you! There are only 1080 atoms in the universe. But you say there are other proteins that we also might make by chance. OK, there are perhaps 60,000 genes coding for 100,000 proteins (105 ) in the human body and there are many that other organisms have that may not be found in humans. How many proteins should we say, a billion? A trillion? A trillion-trillion, which is 1024?

For simplicity, we can consider all the proteins to be 200 amino acids long. We can start with the primordial soup and try to put the 200 amino acids together knowing that we could be trying for 1024 possible proteins and each one has 1012 possible “correct” variations so the chances of getting one of them right is one in 10260 - 24 - 12 or one in 10224. And suppose you got one right, do you have life? No, you have to get a minimum of at least 230 for the simplest theoretical living cell, all put together in the proper configuration for the machinery of life to operate correctly. And we haven't even talked about protein folding. Once the linear structure is complete, the protein is folded into the active form. This is also controlled by complex mechanisms and if it is not done correctly you get a prion, as in “mad cow disease.”

This is not a “straw man” although in a brief relating of the argument all these details were not given. A person familiar with math concepts or willing to actually crunch the numbers will quickly realize that multiple right answers is not enough help to make a difference. And to say that maybe there are many more possibilities for different metabolic pathways leading to life on a completely different basis is whistling in the dark. Any system, like any computer operating system, must meet minimal requirements to function and will run into similar odds.

Your example of people standing in line betrays a very poor understanding of biologic reality. In this you are in the company of many others who seem to think that if water is found on Mar, life is a virtual certainty (instant life – just add water). You say that the odds of life occurring is like the odds of “SOME sequence of people standing in line for dinner.” But not all sequences have biologic activity. We just went through all that. And life is not just one molecule. Also, arriving at the active sequence by steps only works if each step has some “selective advantage.” See my response to Dawkins “METHINKS IT IS LIKE A WEASEL” computerized evolution in my debate with Edward Max. ( )

To my comment on persecution of creationists, you respond, “I noticed that you are unable to give any examples of such behavior.” I gave no examples, to be sure – it was a 30' talk – but that does not mean I am not able to do so. For goodness sake! (I hope you don't argue with your wife like that!) Also, to give examples where creationists were NOT punished does not prove that it never happened. But this proves to me that you are taking your cues from the pro-evolution popular science media which spouts that sort of line and claims that creationists are paranoid – in addition to being stupid.

Allow me to cite a few examples of discrimination. Please read them with an open mind and consider the evolutionists' rationalizations.

There is the case of Dean Kenyon a tenured biology professor at San Francisco State University who even wrote a major pro-evolution book Biochemical Predestination, but began to have doubts about evolution and talked about the evidence, pro and con, in his classes. There was attempt to remove him from teaching Biology 101 which he had been teaching for 22 years. After multiple appeals to various bodies he was allowed to teach but forbidden to criticize evolution. See and

There is then the case of Forrest Mims, a science writer who was scheduled to do a column "The Amateur Scientist," in Scientific American, when it was discovered that he was a creationist. The offer was withdrawn even though his column was unlikely to even touch on the creation-evolution issue. See .

Consider the Minnesota high school teacher Rod Lavake, who had not even started teaching biology when he was preemptively censored. See the articles on TCCSA's site at and on at . Also see .

Jerry Bergman literally wrote the book (The Criterion:Religious Discrimination in America ) regarding his dismissal from Bowling Green University despite being the most productive writer in his department and the consistently most popular and sought-after teacher, because it was found that he was a creationist. See .

Raymond Damadian invented the MRI but was surprised to find that the Nobel prize for the MRI went to someone who had taken his work and further developed it, not the usual way the Nobel Committee deals with new inventions and discoveries. The Nobel proceedings are cloaked in secrecy but Damadian was not in the least secret about his young earth creation position. There may well have been those who feel it is not intellectually respectable and might reflect badly on the Nobel Committee and that conversely it is not good for the cause of evolution to give a high honor to one who does not bow to the sacred cow. See and .

John Patterson, engineering professor at Iowa State wrote that any graduate who is later found to be a creationist should have his degree revoked retroactively because his view is a sign of intellectual incompetence. He was criticized by his evolutionary colleagues not for the content of his statement but for putting it out in plain sight for the whole world to see. He wrote, “… as a matter-of-fact: creationism should be discriminated against.... No advocate of such propaganda should be trusted to teach science classes or administer science programs anywhere or under any circumstances. Moreover, if any are now doing so, they should be dismissed.” ( John Patterson," Do Scientists and Educators Discriminate Unfairly Against Creationists?" Journal of the National Center for Science Education, Fall 1984, p. 19.) See

(Note: that reference has been removed from the web site.)

Robert Gentry was Former Guest Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the world's top expert on polonium halos in granite. After he presented scientific evidence for creation in an Arkansas Case, testing the constitutionality of a law requiring a balance between evolution and creation in the schools, he was dropped from Oak Ridge. See .

As to whether science welcomes new information, your view of the scientist as a man in a white coat “wearing the white hat” betrays to me that you are not a professional scientist. Are you familiar with Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions? (See ) Science does not easily accept a new paradigm, especially if the prominent figures in the field have made their life work and reputation based on the old one, even more if it touches on moral and spiritual issues. To succeed in a scientific field, you first have to get a degree and if you challenge the professor, you are unlikely to get an advanced degree. If you get a faculty position but disprove the work of your department head, you are not likely to get tenure or secure grants.

Science is a very human enterprise and when a person has an ulterior motive to favor one view, for example if he does not want to be accountable to a Higher Power, he is capable of very elaborate rationalizations. The brighter the person, the more clever the smokescreen. This is not to say that all scientists are con men, because many areas are not emotionally or spiritually sensitive. But, for example, it was very hard for me to believe that aspirin could trigger Reyes syndrome (a swelling of the brain that is often fatal) in susceptible children when they are infected with chicken pox or influenza. Why was it hard? Because I had used it and at least one child that I know of died as a result.

You idolize Albert Einstein as an innovator and point out that his radical theories were eventually accepted. Do you realize that there is a group of physicists who have come up with a new model for the atom as well as explanations for all the things that relativity and quantum theory were supposedly needed to explain, using only classical physics? They have shown the mistakes in Maxwell's equations that were based on the notion that elementary particles were points – which is impossible to start with. Their model of elementary particles as spinning rings of charge explains the nuclear forces as electromagnetic and predicts not only the possible stable configurations that make up the periodic table, but the spectral emissions of each element (including some not seen before their prediction) and the half lives of radioactive elements. And do you think they have been welcomed to the table to discuss these things? Not at all! See and click on “Foundations of Science Newsletters.”

As to whether there is merit in the case for creation, I ask you to read a few of the articles on the TCCSA web site and inform yourself before making such a rash statement. Look at my debate with Dr. Edward Max. ( ) He concludes that none of his examples support evolution – which he still accepts, apparently on faith – and yet he is quoted by others as having proved it. Look also at the debate surrounding Richard Dawkins 11 second pause. ( ) What you are doing is parroting the bluster of the establishment evolutionists.

Your statements about whether there are only two possibilities, creation or evolution, indicate that you really did not understand what I meant. I did not say “evolution or six day Biblical creation.” “Creation” means the purposeful assembly of the component parts by an intelligent designer. “Evolution” is intended to mean assembly by undirected natural processes and chance. These are the only two possibilities. Think about it. Either it was natural or it was supernatural. Maybe you don't like dichotomies. But there are only two kinds of people in the world, the kind that think there are two kinds of people and those who don't.

As I said before, claiming life came from outer space is no help for the naturalist. How did it start there? You, by the way, seem to be willing to allow God to have created the first life, which you then think improved itself by natural selection. This has implications for how we see the nature of God and whether it is compatible with the picture we see in the Bible, something I hope you will seriously consider.

Then you get all tangled up in the story of Stephen Jay Gould saying “Evolution must be true because we are here,” and the children I told this statement responding, “He thinks there is no God.” This is logical despite your convoluted attempts to discredit it. If he believed that there might be a God, he would have said, “Evolution or creation must be true because we are here.” Does this imply that all evolutionists are atheists? Of course not! Maybe you had better draw yourself a diagram, but if a person thinks that evolution (undirected increase in complexity by natural processes including natural selection) is the only we could have gotten here, then he is not allowing for God. If another person thinks there is a God who had nothing to do with the development of life (and perhaps nothing to do with its origin either) then that person is not an atheist. He seems to believe in a peculiarly wimpy God, to be sure, but he is not an atheist. If a person believes that there is a God, however, then he needs to allow for the possibility that God had something to do with creation, even if he personally believes in evolution.

Talking about assumptions, the critical point is that the person who does not believe in the supernatural (the “naturalist”) runs into trouble coming up with a reason to trust his mind, which he sincerely believes is an organ “designed” and built by random processes, selected for their survival value. What goes on in the brain is thus basically molecules bouncing around in response to the input of stimuli, occasionally producing a response. There is no room for free will in this mechanism. One molecule cannot tell another to go the other way. Free will is only an illusion. When B. F. Skinner wrote his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity, he really had no choice. The previous configuration of his brain influenced by past experience combined with the stimuli of the time period involved produced a sequence of letters, words and thoughts that became his book. Is this the way we live? And if it were, our words and actions would have no necessary resemblance to truth.

You claim that Christianity hindered the progress of science. That is the standard argument. But on closer inspection it was the unquestioned acceptance of Aristotle's philosophy which caused the problems. Aristotle believed that the earth was the center of the universe, not a position of honor but the lowest place. The heavens were perfect because they were far away from the center. The Scholastic scholars of the universities were trained in this philosophy and anything else was forbidden until Francis Bacon challenged the system and the societies of natural philosophy were formed to examine nature experimentally, analyze the results, discuss and publish. The universities did not allow discussion and were very slow to change but “kept the faith” while this was going on around them.

This is analogous to the present universities allowing no discussion of alternatives to naturalism and evolution. There are other groups looking into these things and slowly winning over the public.

Yet all of this arises in a Christian (more precisely a Theistic) world view. The Hindus believe that the universe is an illusion. Why experiment on that? The animists believe that all things are controlled by spiritual forces. Would that be reducible to equations or laws? The Theist believes that the universe is a rational creation of a rational Creator Who also gave us the capacity to understand it. Otherwise, why expect anything to be consistent? Why assume that you and I see the same reality? (Well, maybe we don't.)

As I get to the latter part of your letter, I get the distinct impression that you did not re-read what you wrote. Perhaps you are accustomed to rapid fire exchanges, but you need to really think about what you are saying. I did not say I believed that the brain is essentially a random number generator, only that the naturalist has no mechanism to believe anything else. I believe we have free will. To be sure we are conditioned by our experience. For example, if a young man views pornography repeatedly, it begins to get a grip on his thinking and behavior. (See ) . He still has the freedom to stop, but it begins to get difficult. I believe that there must be a mechanism for that free will because the Bible tells us we were made with free will and because nothing really makes sense otherwise.

When you talk about God's foreknowledge and man's free will, I suppose it is not surprising that you get tangled up because many people do. But when you really think about it, God, who sees the future, can see what I will do even if it is entirely my choice to do so. He can view it without having to influence it. Now there is a legitimate question about what happens if I become aware of that prediction and it alters my behavior. But I recall when I was talking many years ago to some Jewish friends about the prophecies that Israel would survive as a people, be reestablished as a nation and become strong in the face of many enemies – a remarkable thing in the history of the world. They said that most Jews did not believe in God and yet they were still doing the things necessary to make the prophecy come true. I responded that this made it even more remarkable.

Claiming that evolutionists believe in free will, take another look at what you wrote. Gould says that if you ran evolution again it might be smart insects at the top of the food chain. What does that have to do with free will? Evolution does not have free will! There are no creatures along that randomly generated path exercising free will! It is all just a series of random events.

If you believe in souls, then you believe that there was supernatural intervention, at least in the development of human life.

You state categorically that there is no rational case for a young earth. Apparently you are omniscient since otherwise there might be a case outside of your knowledge. As a start, I recommend that you start by looking at some of the articles on age. (See )

You accept the Big Bang, probably not aware of all the debate going on regarding it's validity. See ( ).

Finally, although you claim to have been listening to your pastor's sermons, you seem to have missed the Biblical teaching about the Fall. Or perhaps you rejected it because the doctrine starts with the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis. It permeates the whole scripture, however. Because of man's sin, the whole creation was changed. Death and suffering entered. Struggle for survival became the norm after the perfect creation was spoiled. Jesus came to take the penalty for sin not only so that individuals could be redeemed and restored to communion with our Creator-Redeemer, but so that eventually the whole of creation could be remade as described in Revelation.

You claim that God is dishonest, cruel and uncaring if the creation story in Genesis is true, but the truth is that the God you believe in seems to have allowed suffering, competition and death to go on for hundreds of millions of years after He created the first simple living organism until it produced human life (into whom He placed a soul.) The world which they first perceived as soulish creatures was one with all the suffering you describe. If this is what can be described as “very good” by God (Genesis 1:31), then how much confidence can you have in the goodness of heaven?

I believe that God created a perfect world but allowed free moral agents to be free. Yes, I do believe that He knew we would fall – that did not cause the Fall but makes us wonder if He could have made us free and able to remain good. But that is a much more sophisticated argument than you have come up with. There seems to be a logical necessity for freedom to allow the possibility of failure. Yet even in the face of this tragedy, God has taken the results of evil and turned them into something beautiful. In our suffering we recognize our need for Him. And in redeeming us, He shows how deep and wide is His love. I sincerely hope that you know that love – I hope that this is what you mean by being a Christian. That is the most important thing in all of eternity and forms the foundation for the discussion of everything else. We could even continue this discussion in heaven in that case, although I sincerely believe that by that time your thinking would be radically different. If your thinking now keeps you or others from the truth of the gospel, then there will be bitter tears in eternity.

Ross S. Olson MD


Dear R****,

After sending my response to your January 22 e-mail, I found your e-mail of the 23rd with my notes on it. For completeness, I will add those few comments.

You question my use of the phrase, “… the case against evolution removes the illusion that atheism is intellectually respectable…” You then go on to claim that creation is not intellectually respectable.

To begin with, you either misunderstand or ignore the context of my remark. The point is that if there is no credible explanation for life in all its diversity other than an intelligent Creator, then the person who says, “but I don't believe in a creator” is just whistling in the wind, like the child who says, “I can't HEAR you!”

You quote Augustine on science and his advice is fine. Christians should indeed do good science and good Biblical interpretation. I believe that evolution is both bad science and bad Biblical interpretation.

You recall the case of a friend who was turned off on the gospel by a creationist acquaintance. You don't say if you were a Christian at the time, but I wonder if your friend would have been turned off if you told him you believed that Jesus rose from the dead. There are many reasons people use to reject God, for example the presence of hypocrites in the church. Hypocrites do not disprove the gospel but only prove that God has made his church of fallible human beings. Some reasons are just excuses for what the people really want to do and they are not genuine seekers.

On the other hand, I have seen many people come to Christ when they realize that the world could not have come about by chance. I do not hear about many whose lives are changed by a belief in evolution.

You berate Henry Morris for his firm belief in the flood, on the basis of the Biblical record, even if there are “geologic difficulties.” First of all, may I remind you that the origin of a hypothesis does not disqualify it if it fits the data. The ring structure of benzene was first proposed by a man who got it from a drug-induced dream.

I believe that the flood hypothesis much better fits the data than the uniformitarian hypothesis. You see huge areas covered by a particular kind of sediment, then abrupt change to another type. Some of the sediments, like sand, require rapidly moving water and are said by uniformitarians to be river deltas, yet they often cover hundreds or thousands of square miles. There is also pollen in PreCambrian rocks in the Grand Canyon (before there should have been any flowering plants) and 200 million years is missing with the layers above and below intermingled. See the articles on the Grand Canyon from CRSQ. (See ).

As to whether a person is intellectually dishonest to hold to the Biblical record when science seems to be going the other way, there was a time when archaeology claimed that there was no city of Jericho at the time of Joshua. Thus the “scientific” conclusion had to be that the Biblical story was just a story, maybe with a good moral but with no basis in fact. Were the people who believed the Bible betraying an anti-intellectual stance? Were they wrong? No!! The archaeologists were wrong! They had misdated the Exodus and when the correct strata were examined, it was just as the Bible stated. The walls fell in a way that allowed the invaders to walk in, it was harvest time, the city was not looted and there was clear evidence of the horrible practices for which God judged the Canaanite people – ritual heterosexual and homosexual prostitution and infant sacrifice.

I wonder if you would reject your own faith if science claimed that you carried the “religiosity gene?” (Such a genetic mechanism has been proposed as a reason why people believe irrational things.) In my days at the University there was the psychological explanation that weak people need an all-powerful cosmic parent figure to lean on, a point of view also recently espoused by that famous philosopher, Jesse Ventura.

I look forward to the next round. Ding. There goes the bell!

Ross S. Olson MD

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