I must have first read this piece at least fifty years ago though I know I’ve read it dozens of times since then. I don’t know that I’ve ever read it without a sense of shame at my failures in life. But I also know that reading it made me want to be a better man and reading it again today brought the same feelings and the same resolve.
It reminds me of men and women I knew personally when I was a boy. My family was poor–but then, all the families around us were poor—and I saw every day the kind of thing the writer talks about here. Back then I didn’t see it as heroism—it was life and you had to muddle your way through it. Even as I write this, names and faces come quickly to me, and easily. Mrs. Montgomery, Mary Crosset, Bobby Tomelty, Billy Nut, Mr. Henderson and Mr. Mc Erlean.
Years later I began to see the glory of their endurance and gallantry and I began to be jealous that I hadn’t what they had. I feel that right now. I’m happy for them and I’m trying not to mope at what I think I’ve never had. God will help me (as He has–He must have always helped me or I wouldn’t still be here, resolving…). George Adam Smith, Scots theologian (died in 1942) wrote what follows.
“Temptation, too, is a bit of the destiny of man. Suddenly though the assault surge upon him, it is no accident. Solitary as he feels in his battle, he does not in fact fight alone. He is one of an innumerable army of warriors, and if for a little he will give play to his imagination, what an army it will appear. On that field no living soul is idle, or left to itself without orders, without a trust, without a pledge. Every one with his own temptation; every human figure interesting, pathetic and stimulating to look on. Some may be blind, some in panic, some forlorn.
But there are a nobler multitude. If God be hidden, they cling the more tightly to His bare word; if they sometimes feel He has left them alone, they cherish with the more passion—and by just the measure of the distance to which He seems removed—the conviction that He has trusted them to be alone.
Think of the dim multitudes who are fighting temptations more grinding and persistent with far feebler strength than yours. Think, for such are still left in the world, of those who prefer a life of exhausting poverty to daily opportunities of compromising with honesty or selling their purity for gold. Individualize them, my brothers, individualize them; and you will find a conscience and a rally in every one of them.
Think of the men, and they can be found in every city, who when the law had freed them from all obligation to pay their creditors, have as fortune came back to them used its favors to pay every one of their former debts, though it means a life of hard labor instead of one of comfort and ease.
Think of the women, you will find them, too, in every great city, who are battling for themselves and their children on a few shillings a week against temptations that say, “Yield to us and we can give you food and clothing enough for them and you.” You’ll find them holding out!
What starved garrison, that marched from its inviolate fortress with all the honors of war and to the admiration of its foes, ever deserved half the glory or for our hearts was charged with half the inspiration, which thousands of tempted souls deserve and can afford to us, who hold the fortresses of their lonely lives against the devils of dishonesty and greed and lust. And yet you have strong men whining to-day all the world over— and some of them parading their whines in literature—that the temptations of their strength are too great for them; and slipping off into the pleasant mire with the cry, I cannot help it. What forgetfulness! What cowardice!”
(Holy Father, lover of this entire human family of yours. Come to our aid and generate within us the gallantry you’ve generated in others—so many who did not even know your name—and deepen our faith and gratitude even by the struggle and when we don’t experience your presence in tangible ways enable us that we can cling to your bare word. This prayer in the gallant Lord Jesus who so loved strugglers.)
You state: “The Old Testament canon was accepted as it is at least by the second century B.C. The New Testament canon was accepted within one generation after the death of the apostle John. The Bible canon has stood the tests applied to it by critics throughout the centuries. Counterfeit books of the Bible have been discovered to be false when compared with the genuine. The inspiration of the Bible books is inherent and does not rely upon verification by outside sources.” How do you know that “The Old Testament canon was accepted as it is at least by the second century B.C.”? How do you know that “The New Testament canon was accepted within one generation after the death of the apostle John”?The querist with the cryptic signature of “Agabus” questions a couple of statements of mine that appear in an article about canonicity. His critique pertains to my concluding paragraph to the article entitled “Biblical Canonicity.” Immediately following that paragraph the following list of resources appears. The substantiation for each affirmation I made in the article, including those under review presently, reside in those citations.
These are SERIOUS questions that I would like you to answer. ~ Agabus
Suggested reading includes: Revelation and the Bible by Berkouwer and others, published by Baker Book House (1958); Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible by Harris, published by Zondervan Publishing House (1974); General Biblical Introduction by Miller, published by Word-Bearer Press (1960); and, Introduction to the New Testament by Thiessen, published by Eerdmans Publishing Co. (1973).The entire article appears in this issue of Gospel Gazette Online on page 2. Additionally, the following information is presented for your consideration. First, the summary statement immediately following presents the canonicity of both testaments as represented above.
The New Testament Canon was formed gradually under divine guidance. The different books as they were written came into the possession of the Christian associations which began to be formed soon after the day of Pentecost; and thus slowly the canon increased till all the books were gathered together into one collection containing the whole of the twenty-seven New Testament inspired books. Historical evidence shows that from about the middle of the second century this New Testament collection was substantially such as we now possess. Each book contained in it is proved to have, on its own ground, a right to its place; and thus the whole is of divine authority. The Old Testament Canon is witnessed to by the New Testament writers. Their evidence is conclusive. The quotations in the New from the Old are very numerous, and the references are much more numerous. These quotations and references by our Lord and the apostles most clearly imply the existence at that time of a well-known and publicly acknowledged collection of Hebrew writings under the designation of “The Scriptures;” “The Law and the Prophets and the Psalms;” “Moses and the Prophets,” etc. The appeals to these books, moreover, show that they were regarded as of divine authority, finally deciding all questions of which they treat; and that the whole collection so recognized consisted only of the thirty-nine books which we now posses. Thus they endorse as genuine and authentic the canon of the Jewish Scriptures. The Septuagint Version (q.v.) also contained every book we now have in the Old Testament Scriptures. As to the time at which the Old Testament canon was closed, there are many considerations which point to that of Ezra and Nehemiah, immediately after the return from Babylonian exile. [Easton, M. G., M. A. D. D., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1996.]It is generally acknowledged that the inspired men of God in the latter years of Judaism assembled the Old Testament canon. “. . . Ezra . . . with Nehemiah, and the great men of the Jewish synagogue formed a canon of Old Testament Scriptures about 420 years before Christ.” [Vine, W. E., Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, (Grand Rapids, MI: Fleming H. Revell) 1981.]
All indications are that the Law was firmly fixed by the time of Ezra, 400 B.C. We can speak of its being canonical or authoritative by that time. The Prophets (the historical books were known as “the earlier prophets” and the prophetic books were “the later prophets”) were probably recognized as canon by about 200 B.C. [Harrop, Clayton, History of the New Testament in Plain Language, (Waco, TX: Word Books) c. 1984, p. 106.]Josephus, the Jewish historian, denotes that the Old Testament was fixed and universally recognized by the Jews as such from about 424 B.C. [Miller, H.S., General Biblical Introduction, (Houghton, NY: Word-Bearer Press) 1960, pp. 103-104.] Further,
The Septuagint Version, begun about 280 B.C. and continued for about 100 years, until about 180 B.C., is a translation of the entire Old Testament into the Greek language. It proves that all the books of the Old Testament existed at that time and were considered canonical. [Ibid., p. 104.]Any doubt regarding the veracity of an Old Testament canon prior to the New Testament era is adequately dismissed by the acceptance of the status quo, regarding that canon, by Jesus the Christ.
The Old Testament canon in the time of our Lord was precisely the same as that which we now possess under that name. He placed the seal of his own authority on this collection of writings, as all equally given by inspiration (Matt. 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; Luke 16:29, 31). [Easton]The compilation of the New Testament canon was in progress from the initial presentation of the God-inspired epistles. As noted in my original article, the epistles were at least acknowledged to be God-breathed (inspired) by their original recipients from their inception. “The first trace of it appears in 2 Peter 3:15, where a collection of Paul’s epistles is presumed to exist, and is placed by the side of ‘the other scriptures.’” [Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997.] Extra-biblical evidence also portrays the adoption of a New Testament canon within the life spans of associates of the apostles who overlived them.
The principal books of the New Testament, the four Gospels, the Acts, the thirteen Epistles of Paul, the first Epistle of Peter, and the first of John, which are designated by Eusebius as “Homologumena,” were in general use in the church after the middle of the second century, and acknowledged to be apostolic, inspired by the Spirit of Christ, and therefore authoritative and canonical. This is established by the testimonies of Justin Martyr, Tatian, Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, of the Syriac Peshito (which omits only Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and the Revelation), the old Latin Versions (which include all books but 2 Peter, Hebrews, and perhaps James and the Fragment of Muratori; also by the heretics, and the heathen opponent Celsus—persons and documents which represent in this matter the churches in Asia Minor, Italy, Gaul, North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria. We may therefore call these books the original canon. Concerning the other seven books, the “Antilegomena” of Eusebius, viz. the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Apocalypse, the second Epistle of Peter, the second and third Epistles of John, the Epistle of James, and the Epistle of Jude,—the tradition of the church in the time of Eusebius, the beginning of the fourth century, still wavered between acceptance and rejection. But of the two oldest manuscripts of the Greek Testament which date from the age of Eusebius and Constantine, one—the Sinaitic—contains all the twenty-seven books, and the other—the Vatican—was probably likewise complete, although the last chapters of Hebrews (from Heb.11:14), the Pastoral Epistles, Philemon, and Revelation are lost. [Ibid.]
. . . from the time of Irenaeus [140-203] on the New Testament contained practically the same books as we receive today, and were regarded with the same reverence that we bestow on them today . . . but there was a minority that continued to question the genuineness and authority of some of the books for a long time. [Thiessen, Henry Clarence, Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) 1973, p. 10.] The Old Latin version was made about 150 A.D. for the churches of North Africa. It was used by Tertullian, Cyprian, and others. It contains 26 books, omitting 2 Peter. [Miller, p. 133.]According to Harrop, “The first man to list our current twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical—these and no others—was Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in his Easter Epistle of A.D. 367.” [p. 131.] Before this time, then, the present content of the New Testament we know was widely recognized. New Testament Scripture itself indicates that a canon or body of Scripture existed about the end of the first century. Additional to being the means by which new revelation was received and confirmed (Galatians 1:11-2; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:3-4), miracles were slated by Scripture to endure until replaced with a written revelation of the previously piecemeal and partial revelations (1 Corinthians 13:10-13; Ephesians 4:11-14). True, Bible miracles ceased when written revelation (i.e., the New Testament) was available. Miracles were performed last before the apostles and those upon whom the apostles laid their hands to grant miraculous ability died.
Besides extra-biblical evidence regarding the formation of the Old and New Testament canons (and internal or biblical evidence of the same), reason also concludes the early canonization of Scripture. Anyone who acknowledges divine inspiration under either testamental period surrenders, knowingly or unknowingly, to the indication of early canonization of both testaments.
The Canon grew, but the concept of inspiration, which the idea of canonicity presupposes, was fully developed from the first, and is unchanged throughout the Bible. As there presented, it comprises two convictions. The words of Scripture are God’s own words. . . . 2. Man’s part in the producing of Scripture was merely to transmit what he had received. [The New Bible Dictionary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.) 1962.]Anyone who discounts plenary, divine inspiration should not weary himself about canonicity. Instead, he should direct his attention to divine credentials of the biblical books (e.g., historical accuracy in matters pertaining to antiquity, prophecy and fulfillment, etc.). Anyone who acknowledges the supernatural and divine nature of God, knowingly or unknowingly, argues for the inspiration of Scripture and the subsequent canonization of biblical books. If God possesses the divine attributes of God, among which is his charitableness toward his human creation, God then has (1) the capacity to provide mankind with written revelation that he can comprehend, (2) the willingness to provide an intelligible revelation to mankind, (3) the capacity to collect and preserve that revelation, and (4) the capacity to create human subjects capable of comprehending that revelation. The act of being God and interacting with his human creation from whom he expects obedience presupposes divine inspiration and canonicity.
Admittedly, discussions and even debate regarding canonicity, especially of New Testament era books, continued beyond the initial acceptance of canonical books. This fact, though, does not alter the makeup of the biblical canon. Ongoing critique of even canonical books is not of itself evidence whereby any Bible books should be dislodged from the canon. For instance, simply because Martin Luther failed to comprehend the harmony between Romans and James or since the so-called “Jesus Seminar” hacks away at supposed interpolations in Scripture does not adversely and directly affect the biblical canon.
It may well be that the terminology “canon” or “canonization” was not applied to Scripture until the fourth century (as Harrop reports, p. 105-106), yet the body of Old and New Testament volumes respectively predates the use of the terms. The canonization of Old and New Testament books remain fixed from time long ago. Canonization of Scripture was the product of participation by divinely inspired men and the willingness and ability of God to provide and preserve written revelation for his human creation. Canonicity of Scripture is further evident from the internal evidences of the canonical books and external, historical evidence regarding their canonicity.
"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Paul And Barnabas At Antioch Of Pisidia (13:13-52) INTRODUCTION 1. Following their ministry on Cyprus, Paul and Barnabas arrived in Perga of Pamphylia... a. At which point John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem - Ac 13:13 b. This later became a sore point between Paul and Barnabas - Ac 15:36-40 2. From Perga they journeyed to Antioch of Pisidia... a. An arduous trip over the Taurus mountain range b. A road known for robbers and brigands - cf. 2Co 11:26 [At some point Paul may have become ill, either in Perga or on the way to Antioch (cf. Ga 4:13). But neither illness nor physical dangers prevented him from carrying on his mission. And so we read of...] I. PAUL'S SERMON IN THE SYNAGOGUE A. THE SETTING... 1. As noted earlier, Paul's custom was to first visit the local synagogue - Ac 13:5; 17:1-3 2. At Antioch of Pisidia, Paul accepted an invitation to speak - Ac 13:14-16 B. THE SERMON... 1. He reviews God's dealings with Israel - Ac 13:17-22 2. He proclaims that Jesus is the promised Savior - Ac 13:23-26 3. He reviews Jesus' death, and evidence for His resurrection - Ac 13:27-37 4. He proclaims that forgiveness is now offered them through Jesus - Ac 13:38-39 5. He warns not to fulfill prophecy by rejecting God's work in Christ - Ac 13:40-41 [Paul's sermon echoes the same themes preached by Peter (Ac 2:22-36; 3:12-26), and the defense given by Stephen (Ac 7:2-53). We saw how some responded to Peter and Stephen. Now let's consider...] II. THE RESPONSE TO THE SERMON A. ON THAT SABBATH... 1. The Gentiles (people, ESV) begged for more on the following Sabbath - Ac 13:42 2. Many Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who persuaded them to continue in the grace of God - Ac 13:43 B. ON THE NEXT SABBATH... 1. Almost the whole city came to hear the word of God - Ac 13:44 2. The Jews were envious of the large crowds, and began resisting Paul - Ac 13:45 3. Paul and Barnabas grew bold, and turned their attention to the Gentiles - Ac 13:46-47 a. Jews had the privilege of hearing the gospel first b. But those who did not believe judged themselves unworthy of eternal life c. Gentiles would then be given the opportunity, as God commanded - Isa 42:6; 49:6 4. The Gentiles were glad and glorified the Word, and many believed- Ac 13:48 a. What does "as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" mean? b. It is a difficult passage; at face value it seems to support Calvinistic views of election c. But God desires all men to be saved; He is unwilling that any perish - 1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9 d. Perhaps the appointment here is based on God's foreknowledge; knowing that they would believe in Christ, they were appointed for eternal life (e.g., given the opportunity to hear) e. When someone rejects the Word of God, they judge themselves unworthy of eternal life (Ac 13:46); for those who will believe, God has appointed them worthy of eternal life! [As elsewhere, there was a mixed reaction to the preaching of the Word of God. As would become increasingly common, the reaction on this occasion eventually led to...] III. EXPULSION FROM ANTIOCH A. PAUL AND BARNABAS FORCED TO LEAVE... 1. The Word was being spread throughout the region - Ac 13:49 2. But Jews stirred up prominent devout women and chief men of the city - Ac 13:50 3. Paul and Barnabas were persecuted and expelled from the region - Ac 13:50; cf. 2Ti 3:11 4. Shaking the dust off their feet, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium - Ac 13:51; cf. Mt 10:14 B. DISCIPLES FILLED WITH JOY AND THE HOLY SPIRIT... 1. Perhaps rejoicing they had suffered for righteousness' sake
- Ac 13:52; cf. Mt 5:10-12 2. Empowered by the Spirit with joy, peace, hope, in their faith - cf. Ro 15:13; Ga 5:22-23 CONCLUSION 1. In Antioch, Paul and Barnabas experienced what the apostles did in Jerusalem... a. Success to some degree, winning many converts to Christ b. Persecution for preaching Christ, but leaving a strong church behind 2. If you had been in Antioch of Pisidia, how might you have responded to Paul's ministry... a. Wanting to learn more? Willing to believe and rejoice despite persecution? b. Envious of his success? Easily stirred up and willing to persecute him? 3. And what is your standing in regards to eternal life... a. Have you judged yourself unworthy of eternal by rejecting the Word of God? b. Have you shown yourself appointed by God for eternal life by believing in Christ? If you want to be filled with joy and the Holy Spirit, then become and remain faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who died for your sins and rose from the grave. In the words of Jesus... "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." - Mt 11:28-30
"THE BOOK OF ACTS" Barnabas And Saul On Cyprus (13:4-12) INTRODUCTION 1. Previously we studied "The Call Of Barnabas And Saul", two men who were... a. Working with the church at Antioch with other prophets and teachers - Ac 13:1 b. Separated by the Holy Spirit for the work to which He had called them - Ac 13:2 c. Sent out by the church with fasting, prayers, and laying on of hands - Ac 13:3 2. Thus "sent out by the Holy Spirit" (Ac 13:4), they began their missionary journey... a. First to Seleucia, a port city on the Mediterranean coast, 16 miles away b. Then sailing to Cyprus, an island 130 miles southwest of Seleucia [Upon their arrival at Cyprus, Barnabas and Saul began their preaching ministry. We begin our study with a few observations about...] I. THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS A. GEOGRAPHICAL FACTS... 1. 43 miles S of Asia Minor, 76 miles W of Syria - ABD 2. The third largest island of the Mediterranean, after Sicily and Sardinia 3. Maximum length E-W is 138 miles; maximum width N-S is 60 miles 4. An area of 3584 square miles B. BIBLICAL FACTS... 1. Barnabas himself was from Cyprus - Ac 4:36 2. The gospel had previously been preached in Cyprus - Ac 11:19 3. The church in Antioch of Syria had been started by men from Cyprus - Ac 11:20 4. Barnabas and John Mark would later return to Cyprus - Ac 15:39 [It is interesting the Spirit sent Barnabas and Paul to Cyprus, a place well-known by Barnabas (Perhaps a principle to be gleaned regarding missionary efforts?). We next read of their preaching in...] II. THE SYNAGOGUES AT SALAMIS A. BARNABAS AND SAUL PREACH THE WORD... 1. In the synagogues of the Jews - Ac 13:5 2. As Jews, Barnabas and Saul would have access 3. Being from Cyprus, Barnabas may have been well-known 4. Starting at Jewish synagogues became Paul's pattern - Ac 17:1-2; cf. Ro 1:16 B. ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN MARK... 1. As their assistant - Ac 13:5 2. Whose mother Mary had a home in Jerusalem - Ac 12:12 3. He had accompanied Barnabas and Saul back to Antioch - Ac 12:25 4. He was the cousin of Barnabas - Col 4:10 [We will have opportunity to consider a sermon Paul preached in a synagogue in our next study. But as we continue with Barnabas and Saul's ministry on the island of Cyprus, we read about...] III. THE PROPHET AND PROCONSUL AT PAPHOS A. A FALSE PROPHET CONFRONTED... 1. A Jew whose surname was Bar-Jesus - Ac 13:6-8 a. Who was also called Elymas the sorcerer b. Who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus c. Who sought to prevent Sergius Paulus from hearing the gospel 2. Whom Saul (also called Paul) miraculously blinded - Ac 13:9-11 a. Being filled with the Holy Spirit 1) Paul was not acting on his own initiative 2) He was moved by the Holy Spirit (i.e., inspired) b. Able to see Elymas for what he truly was: 1) Full of deceit and fraud 2) A son of the devil and enemy of righteousness 3) Seeking to pervert the ways of the Lord c. Blinding Elymas by a mist and a darkness 1) The hand (judgment) of the Lord was upon him 2) But only for a time (perhaps as an act of mercy?) 3. Should we emulate Paul's manner? (Not unless we are similarly inspired!)
- cf. 2Ti 2:24-26 B. AN INTELLIGENT PROCONSUL CONVERTED... 1. Proconsul - the highest-ranking official in a Roman senatorial province 2. Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man, wanting to hear the word of God - Ac 13:7 3. He believed - Ac 13:12 a. Seeing what was done to Elymas b. Astonished at the teaching of the Lord 4. Teaching that was confirmed by miracles! - cf. Mk 16:19-20; He 2:3-4 CONCLUSION 1. An auspicious start for a missionary journey begun by the Spirit... a. The word of God proclaimed in the synagogues of Salamis b. The teaching of the Lord confirmed in the city of Paphos 2. Note that Luke begins using the name of Paul instead of Saul... a. Up to this point, Saul was called by his Hebrew name - Ac 13:1,2 b. From this point, Paul will be called by his Roman name - Ac 13:9,13 3. Note also how Paul begins to have precedence over Barnabas... a. Formerly the two men were called Barnabas and Saul - Ac 13:2,7 b. Now the two men will be called Paul and Barnabas - Ac 13:43,46,50 The precedence of Paul is seen further as Luke describes their departure from Paphos ("when Paul and his party" - Ac 13:13). Leaving the island of Cyprus, they sail on to Perga in Pamphylia, where we will begin our next study...
The Quran and the Flood
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Quran’s depictions of the great Flood of Noah’s day contain oddities that cause one who is familiar with the Bible to question the Quran’s reliability. For example, in Surah 11:36-40 the Quran describes Noah’s conflict with his contemporaries and, in the process, makes a puzzling remark pertaining to the condition of the Flood waters:
And it was inspired in Noah, (saying): No one of thy folk will believe save him who hath believed already. Be not distressed because of what they do. Build the ship under Our Eyes and by Our inspiration, and speak not unto Me on behalf of those who do wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And he was building the ship, and every time that chieftains of his people passed him, they made mock of him. He said: Though ye make mock of us, yet we mock at you even as ye mock; And ye shall know to whom a punishment that will confound him cometh, and upon whom a lasting doom will fall. (Thus it was) till, when Our commandment came to pass and the oven gushed forth water (Surah 11:36-40, emp. added).This peculiar allusion to the waters of the Flood coming from an oven is repeated in Surah 23:
And We verily sent Noah unto his folk, and he said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other god save Him. Will ye not ward off (evil)? But the chieftains of his folk, who disbelieved, said: This is only a mortal like you who would make himself superior to you. Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels. We heard not of this in the case of our fathers of old. He is only a man in whom is a madness, so watch him for a while. He said: My Lord! Help me because they deny me. Then We inspired in him, saying: Make the ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command cometh and the oven gusheth water, introduce therein of every (kind) two spouses, and thy household save him thereof against whom the Word hath already gone forth. And plead not with Me on behalf of those who have done wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And when thou art on board the ship, thou and who so is with thee, then say: Praise be to Allah Who hath saved us from the wrongdoing folk! (Surah 23:23-28, emp. added).The above renderings of the Quran are taken from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Muhammad Pickthall. In contrast to Pickthall’s rendering, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translated the phrase “the oven gusheth water” with the words “the fountains of the earth gushed forth.” Observe that these two renderings are significantly different translations of the Arabic. Ali offers the following explanation for his rendering: “Far al tannur. Two interpretations have been given: (1) the fountains or the springs on the surface of the earth bubbled over or gushed forth; or (2) the oven (of Allah’s Wrath) boiled over. The former has the weight of the best authority behind it and I prefer it” (2001, p. 520). But this “explanation” offers no rationale for accepting his preference, and it fails to provide linguistic proof to justify the preference.
In stark contrast, consider the discussion posed by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, Sunni Pakistani Muslim scholar, revivalist leader, political philosopher, and prominent 20th century Islamist thinker. His ancestry on his paternal side was traced back to Muhammad. In 1974, the title of Imam-ul-Muslimeen was bestowed upon him in the annual meeting of Raabta-e-Aalam-e-Islami in Saudi Arabia (“Sayyid Abul…,” 2009). From 1942-1972, Maududi produced the Tafhim-ul-Quran (تفہيم القرآن)—a six-volume translation and explanation of the Quran. Here is a Muslim scholar, well-qualified to provide assistance in making sense of the text of the Quran. In his insightful discussion of Surah 11:40, Maududi explained:
Commentators on the Qur’an have offered different explanations of this incident. In our view, the place from which the Flood began was a particular oven. It is from beneath it that a spring of water burst forth. This was followed by both a heavy downpour and by a very large number of springs which gushed forth. Surah al-Qamar provides relevant information in some detail: So We opened the gates of the heaven, with water intermittently pouring forth, and We caused the earth to be cleaved and the springs to flow out everywhere. Then the water (from both the sources—the heaven and the earth) converged to bring about that which had been decreed (al-Qamar, 54: 11-12).
In the present verse, the word tannur has been preceded by the article al: According to Arabic grammar, this indicates that the reference is to a particular tannur (oven). Thus, it is evident that God had determined that the Flood should commence from a particular oven. As soon as the appointed moment came, and as soon as God so ordained, water burst forth from that oven. Subsequently, it became known as the Flood-Oven. The fact that God had earmarked a certain oven to serve as the starting-point of the Flood is borne out by al-Mu’minun 23:27 (n.d., endnote 42, emp. added).In his commentary on the parallel passage in Surah 23:27, Maududi further explained:
In view of the context, we see no reason why one should take a farfetched figurative meaning of a clear word of the Qur’an. It appears that a particular oven (tannur) had been ear-marked for the deluge to start from, which was to all appearances an unexpected origin of the doom of the wretched people (n.d., endnote 29, emp. added).Of course, the Bible makes no reference to any oven or the temperature of the Flood waters. However, Jewish legends codified in the Talmud do. Jewish rabbinical sources (Midrash Tanchuma 5; Rosh Hashanah 12a; Sanhedrin 108b; Zebahim 113b; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10,29b; et al.) provide the basis for the Quran’s allusion:
The crowd of sinners tried to take the entrance to the ark by storm, but the wild beasts keeping watch around the ark set upon them, and many were slain, while the rest escaped, only to meet death in the waters of the flood. The water alone could not have made an end of them, for they were giants in stature and strength. When Noah threatened them with the scourge of God, they would make reply: “If the waters of the flood come from above, they will never reach up to our necks; and if they come from below, the soles of our feet are large enough to dam up the springs.” But God bade each drop pass through Gehenna before it fell to earth, and the hot rain scalded the skin of the sinners. The punishment that overtook them was befitting their crime. As their sensual desires had made them hot, and inflamed them to immoral excesses, so they were chastised by means of heated water (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:106, emp. added).Keep in mind that these Jewish legends are just that—legends. The rabbis that formulated them recognized that their renditions were not to be confused with actual Scripture. The brand of Judaism to which the author of the Quran was exposed, like Christianity at the time, was a corrupt one. Literally centuries of legend, myth, and fanciful folklore had accumulated among the Jews, reported in the Talmud, the Midrash, and the Targumim. These three Jewish sources were replete with rabbinical commentary and speculation—admitted to be uninspired. These tales and fables would have existed in Arabia in oral form as they were told and retold at Bedouin campfires, among the traveling trade caravans that crisscrossed the desert, and in the towns, villages, and centers of social interaction from Yemen in the southern Arabian Peninsula, to Abyssinia to the west, and Palestine, Syria, and Persia to the north. The allegedly hot waters of the Flood are one example among many of the Quran’s reliance on uninspired Jewish sources. Indeed, the Quran is literally riddled with such allusions. The evidence that the Quran contains a considerable amount of borrowed material from uninspired Talmudic sources, rabbinical oral traditions, and Jewish legends—stories that abound in puerile, apocryphal, absurd, outlandish pablum—is self-evident and unmistakable. [For more discussion on this point, see Miller, 2005, pp. 73ff.]
REFERENCESAli, Abdullah Yusuf (2001), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Productions), tenth edition.
Ginzberg, Louis (1909), The Legends of the Jews (Charleston, SC: Forgotten Books, 2008 reprint).
Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala (no date), Tafhim al-Qur’an (The Meaning of the Qur’an), englishtafsir.com.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi” (2009), English Islam Times, May 16, http://www.islamtimes.org/vdca.onyk49nomgt14.html.
What About the Discovery of Q?
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
Qhas been found! So claims Burton L. Mack, professor of New Testament at the School of Theology at Claremont, California. It has been postulated for years, but its discovery is now said to be official. No, a cache of ancient scrolls and artifacts has not been uncovered in Asia Minor. And no, a janitor has not found a previously unclassified manuscript upon a dusty shelf in the basement of a museum somewhere that scholars can now recognize as Q. So where was the document found?
Scholars have long supposed that, besides Mark, Matthew and Luke employed a common source when they composed their Gospels. The main clue to this was the fact that besides the material that they share in common with Mark, both Matthew and Luke contain additional material in common with each other that is not in Mark. This shared material amounts to over 200 verses. Luke’s comment that other reports concerning Jesus were circulating before he put his record down on paper has led some scholars to suspect that more than mechanical dictation or “inspired memory” was at work when the Gospels were written (Luke 1:1-4). The question then arose: What was this source that both writers used? Because the German word for source is quelle, it became scholarly shorthand to refer to this undiscovered source as “Q.”
The search for Q overlapped and sometimes came in conflict with what became known as the search for the historical Jesus. Many scholars came to the opinion that the New Testament tended to obscure the actual character and identity of Jesus. They reasoned that the well-meaning writers of the New Testament embellished the actual historical facts about Jesus. So they set out to find the authentic Jesus. One of these efforts was attempted by Adolph von Harnack (1851-1930), who extracted from the Gospel records all the “sayings” of Jesus. He thought that if we would read those sayings without their narrative settings, we would be able to form a more objective opinion of the historical Jesus.
Eighty years later, some scholars believe that Harnack was both very far from, and yet very close to, finding Q. Where he went wrong was in putting all the sayings on equal footing (whether they were actually said by Jesus or merely attributed to Him). He was close to Q, though, because it has now been decided (by some) that Q is a subset of the sayings that Harnack had isolated.
Q’s discovery, on the one hand, is somewhat anti-climatic, since (according to these scholars) we have been reading it all along, but just didn’t know it! On the other hand, it has created a maelstrom of controversy. Why all the furor? The reason is because scholars who have isolated Q suggest that reading Q alone leads us to a radically different picture of Jesus and the earliest movement He created. By analyzing Q as a document that arose out of a particular cultural, social, and political climate, we are given insights into the original community of people who followed Jesus. What does Q tell us about these people? Mack explains:
The remarkable thing about the people of Q is that they were not Christians. They did not think of Jesus as a messiah or the Christ. They did not take his teachings as an indictment of Judaism. They did not regard his death as a divine, tragic, or saving event. And they did not imagine that he had been raised from the dead to rule over a transformed world. Instead, they thought of him as a teacher whose teachings made it possible to live with verve in troubled times. Thus they did not gather to worship in his name, honor him as a god, or cultivate his memory through hymns, prayers, and rituals (1993, p. 4).That is Mack’s story. Conservative scholars, however, are not so impressed.
While recent enthusiasm over Q is running at an all-time high, there are fundamental problems that must be addressed. First, merely distilling the gospel material that is common to Matthew and Luke (and absent in Mark) and printing it as a separate Gospel ignores the question as to whether the Q hypothesis is the best explanation for the commonality. The issue of literary dependence cannot be merely assumed, but must be proved. This has not been done (Linnemann, 1992, pp. 145-152). A more likely explanation for common material is that the Gospel writers were all discussing the same core of historical data surrounding the same central figure. Second, there is no manuscript evidence that Q existed or was in circulation as an independent document. Its existence is still mere conjecture. Third, even if the so-called Q material in Matthew and Luke were drawn from an independent source (and this stretches the imagination), there is no way to know how much of that source actually exists in the Gospels. So, all efforts to reconstruct the beliefs of an early community of Jesus’ followers based upon the Q material alone are lame. To say, as does Mack, that the “people of Q” knew nothing of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus begs the question. It assumes that the Q material isolated in Matthew and Luke was all there was to the original document. That is a claim that never can be substantiated without a Q manuscript.
The bottom line is this: Q has not been discovered.
Mack, Burton L. (1993), The Lost Gospel—The Book of Q and Christian Origins (San Francisco, CA: Harper).
The Law of Biogenesis [Part II]
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this two-part series appeared in the January issue. Part II follows below, and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]
“Well, I know it’s impossible, but maybe…”How do atheistic evolutionists get away with teaching a viewpoint that so brazenly contradicts the scientific evidence? Concerning this question, Wald said:
Most…biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing. [Actually, they “are left” with God.—JM] I think a scientist has no choice but to approach the origin of life through a hypothesis of spontaneous generation. What the controversy reviewed above showed to be untenable is only the belief that living organisms arise spontaneously underpresent conditions. We have now to face a somewhat different problem: how organisms may have arisen spontaneously under different conditions in some former period, granted that they do so no longer (1954, pp. 46-47, emp. added).So, pre-biotic planetary conditions were different? Conditions which would allow for the spontaneous generation of life? On what is this conjecture based? Has any evidence been brought to light which proves that there are any possible conditions that could lead to abiogenesis? No. Else scientists would be able to create life in a laboratory. Conclusion: “different conditions” = evidenceless speculation. Abiogenesis is impossible, but life is here and had to come from somewhere. We, the atheistic, evolutionary community, refuse to consider the God option. That leaves us with the assumption that Earth’s planetary conditions must have allowed for the miracle of abiogenesis in the past. There is no evidence for such speculation, but who cares? In his next breath, Wald went on to admit:
To make an organism demands the right substances in the right proportions and in the right arrangement. We do not think that anything more is needed—but that is problem enough. One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede thatthe spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are…. (1954, pp. 46-47, emp. added).Evolutionists write, in essence, children’s fables—full of wild speculation, theories, and conjecture about the possible pre-life planetary conditions, but ultimately their viewpoint is “inaccessible to the empirical approach” (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1978, p. 26). Richard Dickerson agreed with Wald. Writing in Scientific American under the heading of “Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life,” he remarked that when speculating about Earth’s pre-biotic conditions we have “no laboratory models: hence one can speculate endlessly unfettered by inconvenient facts” (1978, p. 85, emp. added). He went on to concede: “We can only imagine what probably existed, and our imagination so far has not been very helpful” (p. 86, emp. added). So, basing theories upon imagination is now considered scientific!
Notice from this discussion that in holding to such a position about “pre-biotic conditions,” atheistic evolutionists have nonchalantly moved away from the standard evolutionary model—recognizing that it simply cannot account for the existence of life. Evolutionary theory has historically been based on uniformitarian principles, which assume that geological processes existing today on Earth have existed throughout the past as well (Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary, 2003). Theorizing conditions that are not in existence today is, in effect, a rejection of standard evolutionary assumptions. It is the creation model—not the evolutionary model—which has historically rejected uniformitarianism. Sadly, in today’s scientific community, it appears that evolutionists have been given the freedom to cherry-pick what their standard assumptions will and will not apply to. How can such be deemed scientific?
“Watch us convert young minds to the Church of Evolution, in spite of the evidence!”Some 50 years ago, in Frontiers of Modern Biology, George Wald admitted:
As for spontaneous generation, it continued to find acceptance until finally disposed of by the work of Louis Pasteur—it is a curious thing that until quite recently professors of biology habitually told this story as part of their introductions of students to biology. They would finish this account glowing with the conviction that they had given a telling demonstration of the overthrow of mystical notion by clean, scientific experimentation. Their students were usually so bemused as to forget to ask the professor how he accounted for the origin of life. This would have been an embarrassing question, because there are only two possibilities: either life arose by spontaneous generation, which the professor had just refuted; or it arose by supernatural creation, which he probably regarded as anti-scientific (1962, p. 187, emp. added).So, according to Wald, in 1962 the demise of spontaneous generation was openly taught in biology classes “until quite recently,” and then, with the next breath, the teacher would proceed to engage in self-contradiction by teaching evolutionary theory with its abiogenesis myth. Though this statement was made years ago, the same is still the case a half century later.
According to evolutionists, the planetary conditions must have been different in the distant past—more conducive to abiogenesis. Enter the endless speculation about the pre-biotic world. Consider an example of how such speculation plays out in the high school biology classroom. In one high school biology textbook from the 1990s, published by the popular company Prentice Hall, immediately after explaining how Pasteur, Redi, and Spallanzani disproved spontaneous generation, the authors queried: “If life can come only from life, how did life on Earth first arise?” (Miller and Levine, 1991, p. 342). The book proceeds to speculate with profound certainty what conditions were like on Earth billions of years ago. The observant student, who is able to see through all of the jargon, will notice that throughout the ensuing discussion about these hypothetical conditions, subtle disclaimers are made. “No one can say with certainty…”; “Somehow these earliest life forms appeared…” (p. 343, emp. added). While discussing the experiments of Miller and Urey conducted in 1953, the textbook says, “Thus, over the course of millions of years, at least some of the basic building blocks of life could have been produced in great quantities on Earth” (p. 344, emp. added). The authors proceed to admit concerning the experiment’s products: “A collection of organic molecules such as amino acids is certainly not life” (p. 344, emp. added).
Next, as if emphasizing the power of intelligent design, the authors briefly discuss the experiments of Russian scientist Alexander Oparin and American scientist Sidney Fox and the round droplets (deemed “protolife”) they “created” in their lab, which can “perform tasks necessary for life” (p. 344). However, they admit that, “we would still not say that these droplets are alive” (p. 344, emp. added). So, recapping the evolutionary rhetoric to this point: evolutionary theory’s explanation of the origin of life is based on words and phrases such as, “no one can say with certainty,” “somehow,” “some,” “could have,” “certainly not life,” and “still not say that these droplets are alive.” Recall that the original point of the authors’ discussion was to explain how life could have spontaneously arose in the past. The authors, in spite of several paragraphs of “explanation,” have yet to answer the question. Assuming they have a brilliant answer coming in the following paragraphs, the ambitious student reads on.
Unfortunately, by now, the authors have likely “lost” the typical student. At this point, these students, probably not catching the authors’ disclaimers, will tend to “zone out” and just take the evolutionist’s word for it—“So, we came from goo. Please move on.” However, now the authors actually start to make candid, significant admissions. Under the heading “From Proto-life to Cells,” the authors concede:
The next step in our story is the most difficult to understand completely. From the jumbled mixture of molecules in the organic soup that formed in Earth’s oceans, the highly organized structures of RNA and DNA must somehow have evolved. Scientists do not know how these vital information-carriers formed, but there are several interesting hypotheses (pp. 344-345, emp. added).The authors then imaginatively give several potential suggestions for how matter could have arranged itself in preparation for life to spring into existence, liberally sprinkling in words like “could have arisen” and “might have combined.” They finish off the section stating, “This is one piece of evidence supporting this interesting, but as yet unproven, hypothesis” (p. 345, emp. added). Notice that the authors still have yet to prove, or even attempt to explain, how spontaneous generation could have occurred. They spent their time presenting imaginary ways matter allegedly could have randomly and accidentally arranged itself in ways that might prepare it for life—although they have no way of knowing whether that arrangement would help or hinder the process, since abiogenesis has never been observed to occur. No evidence was given for how matter could have actually sprung to life.
Finally, the authors simply skip over the question of how the spontaneous jump from inorganic matter to living cells occurred, perhaps correctly realizing that most of the dazed and confused students will not catch this subtle sleight of hand. The authors boldly state, “Although the origin of the first true cells is uncertain, we can identify several of their characteristics with certainty” (p. 345, emp. added). So, the student is quickly distracted and led away from the original question. According to the authors, scientists do not know how living cells actually spontaneously generated, but they assert they know “with certainty” what those cells were like once they mysteriously sprang into life. The authors state this assertion as if they have decisively answered the original question about how life arose. They then proceed to speculate concerning the nature of these living cells, never answering the question of how they originally came to life. In all fairness, how could they answer such a question? Spontaneous generation has already been disproven—scientifically—and they admitted as much on previous pages. Yet they have conveniently failed to come to grips with the import of their own admissions.
The 2006 edition of the textbook did not rectify the problem. The authors acknowledge the work of Spallanzani and Pasteur, unabashedly stating that Pasteur’s work,
convinced other scientists that the hypothesis of spontaneous generation was not correct. In other words, Pasteur showed that all living things come from other living things. This change in thinking represented a major shift in the way scientists viewed living things (Miller and Levine, 2006, pp. 12-13, emp. added).Sadly the evolutionary community has not allowed Pasteur’s findings to “shift” the way they view living things and their origins.
In this same, more recent edition, the authors “wisely” separated the discussion of Pasteur’s and Spallazani’s work from the discussion on the origin of life by 415 pages. This helps students to forget that evolution contradicts the scientific evidence found by these scientists’ work. In discussing the origin of life, the authors once again fail to accept the implied conclusion from Pasteur’s work regarding the origin of life, stating, “As you will see shortly, researchers still debate such important questions as precisely how new species arise and why species become extinct. There is also uncertainty about how life began” (p. 386, emp. added). Undaunted, the authors proceed to engage in the same hapless speculation they engaged in 15 years earlier. Similar to the previous edition, they discuss the findings, or rather non-findings, of the Miller-Urey experiments. A significant change in the 2006 edition was a candid admission about those experiments which was couched in the midst of the discussion: “Scientists now know that Miller and Urey’s original simulations of Earth’s early atmosphere were not accurate” (p. 424, emp. added). If such is the case, one might rightly ask why the experiments are still discussed at all. The answer lies in the embarrassing fact that evolutionists still have absolutely no evidence that can corroborate abiogenesis. Leaving the discussion out would highlight the unscientific nature of evolution. Leaving the discussion in the textbook creates the impression with youth that some hidden support remains for the abiogenesis postulate in the Miller-Urey experiments—support that is somehow too advanced to discuss with them at their current competency. After all, many youth are more likely to believe the teachers and textbooks they have been trained and taught to believe than they are to think critically about the material actually being presented.
In the next section, under the heading, “The Puzzle of Life’s Origins,” the authors admit, “A stew of organic molecules is a long way from a living cell, and the leap from nonlife to life is the greatest gap in scientific hypotheses of Earth’s early history” (p. 425, emp. added). And that’s it. Proof for abiogenesis is not presented. A scientific refutation of the Law of Biogenesis is not conducted. Once again, the authors fearlessly launch into pages of speculation concerning the origin of the building blocks of life, liberally using qualifying language to subtly admit that nothing the authors are saying has been proven. Concerning proteinoid microspheres, which have some cell-like characteristics but which are not considered living entities, the authors note: “Microspheres are not cells, but they have some characteristics of living systems…. Several hypotheses suggest that structures similar to proteinoid microspheres might have acquired more and more characteristics of living cells” (p. 425, emp. added). Such unending speculation, not backed by any proof whatsoever, is being allowed to fill the minds of unsuspecting youth, causing them to lose faith in the biblical model of life origins—which, in reality, is the origin model actually in keeping with the scientific evidence. The authors proceed to admit once again, “Another unanswered question in the evolution of cells is the origin of DNA and RNA” (p. 425, emp. added). So, in their pointless trek to prove evolutionary theory, evolutionists cannot even reach the abiogenesis chasm of impossibility that they must cross in order to prove their theory. They are still hampered by the chasms that exist much earlier in their mythical journey.
|Structure of a Cell|
In spite of the truth, sadly, with the wave of a hand, the typical biology student becomes an evolutionary disciple, not realizing that he has just succumbed to the longest, evidence-less leap into the dark that he may ever make in his life. Such vague speculation, substanceless hope, and blind “faith” can hardly be dignified as scientific. One might rightly ask, “Why are Americans allowing their children to be subjected to such anti-scientific propaganda? Why are parents not outraged that their students are wasting valuable class time learning about such speculation, rather than learning true science?”
OTHER IMPLICATIONS OF THE LAW OF BIOGENESIS
An Unreasonable Assumption which Leads to Contradiction of the EvidenceThere is no scientific evidence in nature that life can come from non-life. Not one experiment has been conducted which can boast an exception to this rule. One must start with the assumption that there is no Creator and that only nature exists in order to even consider abiogenesis—in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. Again in his lecture series, Origins of Life, Robert Hazen said:
In this lecture series I make a basic assumption that life emerged by some kind of natural process. I propose that life arose by a sequence of events that are completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics. In this assumption I am like most other scientists. I believe in a universe that is ordered by these natural laws. Like other scientists, I rely on the power of observations and experiments and theoretical reasoning to understand how the cosmos came to be the way it is (2005, emp. added).[Notice the fact that Hazen contradicts himself by claiming that he relies “on the power of observations and experiments” in his belief on the origin of life, while also admitting in his lecture series that he and all evolutionists are “woefully ignorant” concerning the origin of life, and that likely, “any scientific attempt to understand life’s origin is doomed to failure; such a succession could not be duplicated in a program of lab experiments” (2005, emp. added). He claims to rely on “observations,” “experiments,” and “reasoning” to arrive at his scientific conclusions—one of which is abiogenesis. However, he accepts this belief without reason since it is not, and cannot be, backed by observation or experiment, and according to his own words, such may not ever even be possible.] Hazen states that he considers himself to be in line with “most other scientists” in his self-contradictory assumption regarding the naturalistic origin of life. Of course, he means “atheistic evolutionists” when he speaks of such “scientists” and is absolutely correct in his assertion.
Atheistic evolutionists begin with the biased assumption that there is no God, regardless of its contradictory and unsubstantiated nature. Atheistic evolutionist, prominent science writer, and director of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at M.I.T., Boyce Rensberger, admitted:
At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don’t usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position (1986, pp. 17-18, emp. added).Rensberger’s overgeneralized statement certainly does not describe all scientists’ approach to their day-to-day research, but it is clear from its handling of the matter of origins that such a statement certainly describes the evolutionary mindset—hardly “objective and dispassionate,” and often given to “wild guesses.” Regardless, with the assumption in place that only the physical or natural exists—no Creator exists—abiogenesis must be true, since life is here and had to start somehow. Thus, if abiogenesis is true, biogenesis cannot be a law. [Note: Rather than making assumptions that do not contradict the scientific evidence, evolutionists resort to unscientific assumptions—assumptions that contradict scientific laws which have been time-tested to be scientifically accurate 100% of the time.]
Consequently, some scientists have become increasingly uncomfortable with calling biogenesis a “law,” since a scientific law, by definition, is “a regularity which applies to all members of a broad class of phenomena,” and abiogenesis would constitute an exception, thus removing it from “law” status (McGraw-Hill…, 2003, p. 1182, emp. added). What once was commonly taught in textbooks due to its universal support by the scientific evidence is being systematically stripped from biology courses in spite of its continued universal support. In the commonly used middle school/junior high textbook, Life Science, the text’s authors do not even mention the word “biogenesis,” much less, “The Law of Biogenesis.” Instead, under the heading, “Life Comes From Life,” the authors explain the work of Redi and Pasteur and proudly proclaim:
Living things arise from living things through reproduction…. The mistaken idea that living things can arise from nonliving sources is called spontaneous generation. It took hundreds of years of experiments to convince people that spontaneous generation does not occur (Coolidge-Stolz, et al., 2005, pp. 36-37, emp. added).So, the truth of biogenesis still stands as law, though now stripped of its appropriate scientific designation: “Living things arise from living things”; “[S]pontaneousgeneration does not occur.” Unfortunately, it seems that evolutionists, like these very authors, still have not gotten the memo. One would think that the admission, “spontaneous generation does not occur”—clearly implying there are no exceptions to this rule—would mean that biogenesis is still a law. After all, the same statements were made when it was considered a law. The only change appears to be the removal of the word “law,” while still teaching the same truth. Starting on page 170, the authors proceed to teach evolutionary theory, never even addressing the question of how life could have come about—a question which must be able to be answered before the impossible theory of evolution could even begin its “work” millions of years ago.
Other textbooks still use the term “biogenesis,” but have lowered its standing from that of a law. Under the heading, “Spontaneous Generation and Biogenesis,” another prominent life science textbook briefly explains the work of Pasteur, stating that he “provided enough evidence to disprove the theory of spontaneous generation. It was replaced with biogenesis, which is the theory that living things come only from other living things” (National Geographic…, et al., 2005, p. 19, emp. added). Notice the sly adjustment from a “law” to a “theory.” Why change biogenesis to a “theory” instead of a “law,” particularly since the same textbook defines a “scientific law” as “a statement about how things work in nature that seems to be true all the time” (p. 10)—a statement which perfectly describes biogenesis? Based on this definition, has scientific investigation over the last several years nullified biogenesis as being a “law”? As we have already seen above, the answer to that question is a resounding, “No.” There is absolutely no evidence for abiogenesis. Thus, biogenesis, by all rights, is still a law, not a theory. Only the biased evolutionist would proclaim otherwise.
Again, in spite of “hundreds of years of experiments,” in an attempt to lighten the certainty and implication of biogenesis, others are now calling it a “principle,” instead of a law. Has experimentation proven there are exceptions to its validity? No. Quite the contrary is true. However, if it is considered to be a law, then atheistic evolution cannot be true, and one must then concede the existence of God. In their textbook, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, Moore and Slusher discuss the Law of Biogenesis. In a footnote, they say:
In truth, calling Biogenesis a “principle” instead of a “law” does absolutely nothing to aid the evolutionary model, other than making its proponents falsely feel more comfortable with the self-contradictory viewpoint they embrace. After all, the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms defines a “principle” as “a scientific law which is highly general or fundamental, and from which other laws are derived” (2003, p. 1671, emp. added). Evolutionists simply cannot escape the truth of the Law of Biogenesis. Evolution cannot be true, and the Law of Biogenesis also be true. Why go against the scientific evidence in support of an unscientific whim?Some philosophers call this a principle instead of a law, but this is a matter of definition, and definitions are arbitrary. Some scientists call this a superlaw, or a law about laws. Regardless of terminology, biogenesis has the highest rank in these levels of generalization (1974, p. 74, emp. in orig.).
A Recent QuibbleToday’s evolutionist tries to side step the abiogenesis problem by contending that evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life, but rather is a theory which starts with life already in existence and explains the origin of all species from that original life form. However, this is wishful thinking. Historically, evolutionists have recognized that abiogenesis is a fundamental assumption inherent in evolutionary theory. Recall that Kerkut listed abiogenesis as the first assumption in a list of non-provable assumptions upon which evolution is founded (Kerkut, 1960, p. 6). Recall further that atheistic evolutionist Robert Hazen admitted that in his assumption of abiogenesis, he is “like most other scientists” (2005). After all, without abiogenesis in place, there is no starting point for atheistic evolution. One would have to concede, at the very least, some form of theistic evolution. However, proposed theistic evolutionary models have been found to be untenable as well (cf. Thompson, 2000). Further, evolutionists themselves often use the term “evolution” as a generalized catchall word encompassing all materialistic origin models, including those dealing with the origin of the cosmos, not just the origin of species. Creationists are merely using the evolutionists’ terms in the same way they use them. The truth is, one cannot logically commence a study of Life Science or Biology—studies which are intimately linked with the theory of evolution by scientists today—without first studying the origin of that life which allegedly evolved from a single-celled organism into the various forms of life on Earth today. The two are linked and logically cannot be separated. The reality is that since macroevolution cannot harmonize with true theism (cf. Thompson, 2000), that theory is left alongside abiogenesis as a fundamental plank of atheism. The two are intimately linked and stand or fall together.
One wonders why some “scientists” are so unscientific in their view of origins. Why pick the view that is, by their own admission, “impossible”? Why not look at the scientific evidence and allow it to lead to a conclusion that is in keeping with that evidence—regardless of whether or not they wish to accept it, and regardless of whether the ultimate Cause of life can be directly observed? Would not such an approach be the reasonable one? Would not such an approach be the scientific one? Why should the assumption be made that there is no Creator? Recognizing the existence of a Creator allows for an explanation of the origin of life that is in keeping with the scientific evidence—unlike abiogenesis. The late, renowned British philosopher and former atheist, Antony Flew, after decades of promoting atheism, decided at the end of his life to accept the evidence and concede the existence of a Supreme Being. He wrote, “The only satisfactory explanation for the origin of such ‘end-directed, self-replicating’ life as we see on earth is an infinitely intelligent Mind” (2007, p. 132). While his willingness to stand against the overwhelming tide of false science in becoming somewhat of a deist is certainly commendable, coming to such a conclusion should not be difficult. An unbiased examination of the scientific evidence on the matter shouts the truth to the unbiased mind.
CONCLUSIONIf it could be said that the Law of Biogenesis contradicts the scientific evidence, it would be false. However, such is not the case. It is in keeping with all the evidence. Consider, though, that if one rejects the Creation model, the Law of Biogenesis must be false, since without the Creation model, life had to come from non-life—in violation of that law. The atheistic evolutionist’s conclusion: all of the scientific evidence over the centuries which has proven, according to the evolutionists themselves, the impossibility of abiogenesis, should be discarded in support of a theory which has no scientific support.
Evolution is not in harmony with true science. Creation, however, is. If abiogenesis is not true according to science, special creation, which does not contradict the Law of Biogenesis, must, of necessity, be true. Science, once again, is the friend of God and His Word and the enemy of the atheist.
REFERENCESCoolidge-Stolz, Elizabeth, Jan Jenner, Marylin Lisowski, Donald Cronkite, and Linda Cronin Jones (2005), Life Science (Boston, MA: Prentice Hall).
Dickerson, Richard E. (1978), “Chemical Evolution and the Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 239:70-110, September.
Flew, Antony and Roy Varghese (2007), There Is No God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: HarperOne).
Hazen, Robert (2005), Origins of Life (Chantilly, VA: The Teaching Company).
Hoyle, Fred and Chandra Wickramasinghe (1978), Lifecloud (New York: Harper & Row).
Kerkut, George A. (1960), The Implications of Evolution (London: Pergamon).
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms (2003), pub. M.D. Licker (New York: McGraw-Hill), sixth edition.
Miller, Kenneth R. and Joseph Levine (1991), Biology (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).
Miller, Kenneth R. and Joseph S. Levine (2006), Biology (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall).
Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary (2003), http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary.
Moore, John N. and H.S. Slusher (1974), Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
National Geographic Education Division, Lucy Daniel, Peter Rillero, Alton Biggs, Edward Ortleb, and Dinah Zike (2005), Life Sciences (New York: McGraw-Hill/Glencoe).
Rensberger, Boyce (1986), How the World Works (New York: William Morrow).
Thompson, Bert (2000), Creation Compromises (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Wald, George (1954), “The Origin of Life,” Scientific American, 191:44-53, August.
Wald, George (1962), “Theories on the Origin of Life” in Frontiers of Modern Biology (Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin).
The Law of Biogenesis [Part I]
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
INTRODUCTIONIt is highly unlikely that a high school or college biology student will learn about the gaping chasms that exist in evolutionary theory: chasms over which scientists have no crossing bridges designed or constructed. The existence of these chasms causes the entire theory of evolution to collapse, and that is precisely the reason these chasms are not broadcasted in school curricula: chasms such as the origin of matter as well as the laws which govern it [see Miller, 2007 for a discussion on the origin of matter]. At least two of these chasms exist due to the existence of the irrefutable, highly respected Law of Biogenesis, or Biogenic Law (Simmons, 2007). This law states that in nature, life comes only from life and that of its own kind.
The Earth is filled with non-living matter. The Earth also abounds with living creatures. The difference between the two is hardly insignificant. Human beings cannot create life, though many attempts have been made (e.g., Wong, et al., 2000; Miller and Levine, 1991, pp. 343-344; Hartgerink, et al., 2001; for refutations, see Houts, 2007; Thompson and Harrub, 2003). There is no evidence that anyone has ever been able to bring about life from non-life in nature (i.e., excluding supernatural occurrences during the miraculous periods of human history [e.g., Peter in Acts 9:32-41; Elisha in 2 Kings 4:17-37; and Elijah in 1 Kings 17:17-24]). The jump from non-life to life is no trivial matter.
So, how did life originate? Entire worldviews are built upon the answer to that question. There are ultimately only two possibilities. Years ago, evolutionist George Wald, professor at Harvard University and Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine, recognized as much, stating that “the reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position” (1954, p. 46). There are only two options for the origin of life. It was created; or it created itself. The late, eminent evolutionist, Robert Jastrow, founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said, “either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet” (1977, pp. 62-63, emp. in orig.).
The biblical creationist asserts that life originally came directly from God. Concerning human beings, Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” [Note: This view, incidentally, is in contradiction to the theistic evolutionist’s attempt to harmonize the Bible’s story of origins with evolutionary theory, which portrays God as giving life to the original cell on Earth. Then, that cell, in accordance with evolutionary theory, evolved and passed on life from creature to creature until humans came on the scene. God, in this portrait, never “breathed” life into man’s “nostrils” at all, but rather, into the “nostrils” of a noseless cell.] The atheist asserts that life created itself, a belief known as biopoiesis. The Encyclopaedia Britannica defines “biopoiesis,” also called spontaneous generation, abiogenesis, and autogenesis (McGraw-Hill Dictionary…, 2003), as “a process by which living organisms are thought to develop from nonliving matter, and the basis of a theory on the origin of life on Earth” (2011, emp. added). In essence, once upon a time, there was a dead rock that oozed non-living, primeval, prebiotic, organic soup (Lahav, 1999; Miller and Levine, 1991; Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1978). One day, lightning struck, and that soup came to life.
The atheistic evolutionist must hold to a belief in abiogenesis in order for his position to appear tenable. It is a fundamental premise of the theory of evolution. If biopoiesis did not occur, atheistic evolution cannot occur. This fact was recognized as far back as 1960, when G.A. Kerkut published The Implications of Evolution. Therein he listed seven non-provable assumptions upon which evolution is based. “The first assumption is that non-living things gave rise to living material, i.e., spontaneous generation occurred” (p. 6). In spite of the admission that evolution is based on non-provable assumptions, many today in the evolutionary community boldly assert that their theory is a scientific fact. However, the unbiased observer must ask: what does the scientific evidence actually have to say about the origin of life?
THE HISTORY OF THE LAW OF BIOGENESIS
Francesco Redi (1626-1697)
Redi hypothesized that the maggots actually arose from eggs that were laid by flies on the meat. The eggs, he claimed, were too small to be seen by the human eye. In 1688, he conducted experiments to test his hypothesis. Redi placed meat in jars, some of which were left open to the air, and some of which were covered with netting or were tightly sealed. Maggots were found to grow only on the meat that flies could reach. Thus, it was determined that life did not spontaneously generate on the rotted meat (Miller and Levine, 1991, p. 340).
Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799)
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902)
The Result: The Law of BiogenesisSadly, many simply refuse to accept the evidence. This refusal to accept the impossibility of abiogenesis has resulted in many scientists scrambling to conduct research that could be used as scientific support for abiogenesis. And subsequently, media personnel, along with many in the scientific community, are quick to jump to rash conclusions about the finds of research. When a researcher’s work can conceivably be twisted to support the idea of spontaneous generation, it seems that the evolutionist will strive to do so—against all reason to the contrary. A stream of research has surfaced over the years to try to prove that abiogenesis could have happened (cf. Haeckel, 1876; Miller, 1953; Wong, et al., 2000; Hartgerink, et al., 2001; Sommer, et al., 2008; Gibson, et al., 2010), all to no avail. [NOTE: See the Apologetics Press Web site for a discussion and refutation of these references.] In their desperation, some evolutionists have begun to acknowledge the unlikelihood of abiogenesis and have even begun to theorize the baseless idea that aliens seeded life on Earth billions of years ago (cf. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981; Gribbin, 1981; Stein and Miller, 2008).
Regardless of such speculation and conjecture, the evidence that science has found is clear. In nature, life comes only from life of its own kind. Period. All scientific evidence confirms this well-established principle of science. There are no known exceptions. Thus, biogenesis is a law. Abiogenesis is impossible. Prominent marine biologist and evolutionist, Martin Moe, admitted: “A century of sensational discoveries in the biological sciences has taught us that life arises only from life” (1981, p. 36, emp. added). Evolutionist George G. Simpson, perhaps the most influential paleontologist of the 20th century, stated, “[T]here is no serious doubt that biogenesis is the rule, that life comes only from other life, that a cell, the unit of life, is always and exclusively the product or offspring of another cell” (Simpson and Beck, 1965, p. 144, emp. added). In their textbook, Biology: A Search for Order in Complexity, Moore and Slusher wrote: “Historically the point of view that life comes only from life has been so well established through the facts revealed by experiment that it is called the Law of Biogenesis” (1974, p. 74, emp. in orig., ital. added).
What does the scientific evidence indicate about the origin of life? Life creates life. The evolutionists themselves begrudgingly admit this, and yet refuse to accept its implications. If atheistic evolution is true, abiogenesis must be true. Belief in abiogenesis is a stubborn refusal to accept the scientific evidence, choosing in turn to give credence to evolutionary superstition, myths, and fables.
EVOLUTIONISTS' CANDID ADMISSIONS CONCERNING ABIOGENESIS
“It’s impossible”In light of the extensive amount of scientific evidence against abiogenesis, many scientists have made candid admissions about it. Evolutionist John Horgan conceded that if he was a creationist, he would focus on the origin of life to prove his position, because it
is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology. The origin of life is a science writer’s dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion (1996, p. 138).Hosts of high school, evolution-based biology textbooks commonly make comments concerning Pasteur’s experiments like, “the hypothesis of spontaneous generation was finally disproved” (Miller and Levine, 1991, p. 341, emp. added), although they continue to propagate evolutionary dogma and the spontaneous generation of life, sometimes on the very next page of the book (Miller and Levine, 1991, p. 342). Evolutionist and Nobel Laureate, George Wald, of Harvard University wrote: “As for spontaneous generation, it continued to find acceptance until finally disposed of by the work of Louis Pasteur” (1962, p. 187, emp. added). He further stated: “One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are, as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation” (1954, p. 47, emp. added). So, “spontaneous generation is impossible, but I’m going to believe it anyway”?
Hoyle and Wickramasinghe discussed the origin of life, saying:
Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly minuscule as to make the random concept absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate…. It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect in a valid way the higher intelligences…even to the extreme idealized limit of God (1981, pp. 141,144, emp. added).Evolutionist J.D. Bernal, one of the leading scientists among x-ray crystallographers and the man who coined the term, “biopoesis” (Bernal, 1951), stated: “It is possible to demonstrate effectively…how life could not have arisen; the improbabilities are too great, the chances of the emergence of life too small. Regrettably from this point of view, life is here on earth…and the arguments have to be bent around to support its existence” (Bernal, 1967, p. 120, emp. added). In other words, “Life could not have spontaneously generated, but I refuse to accept the only alternative. The arguments must be bent to explain everything without the need of that alternative.” Such a rationale (if it can be deemed rationale at all) is hardly scientific.
Not only do evolutionists recognize that arriving at life from non-life is impossible, but many even concede that the problem is far worse than that. They conjecture (rather wildly) about what the conditions on Earth must have been like to produce life. However, they realize that arriving at those conditions would have been equally as impossible as the actual jump from non-life to life. John Keosian, biology professor at Rutgers University, said, “Even conceptually, it is difficult to see how a system satisfying the minimum criteria for a living thing can arise by chance and,simultaneously, include a mechanism containing the suitable information for its own replication” (Keosian, 1964, pp. 69-70, emp. added). Writing in New Scientist, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe lamented concerning the “prebiotic” soup allegedly necessary before abiogenesis could occur:
Precious little in the way of biochemical evolution could have happened on the Earth. It is easy to show that the two thousand or so enzymes that span the whole of life could not have evolved on Earth. If one counts the number of trial assemblies of amino acids that are needed to give rise to the enzymes, the probability of their discovery by random shufflings turns out to be less than 1 in 1040,000 (1991, 91:415, emp. added).John Horgan wrote in Scientific American:
DNA cannot do its work, including forming more DNA, without the help of catalytic proteins, or enzymes. In short, proteins cannot form without DNA, but neither can DNA form without proteins. But as researchers continue to examine the RNA-world concept closely, more problems emerge. How did RNA arise initially? RNA and its components are difficult to synthesize in a laboratory under the best of conditions, much less under plausible prebiotic ones (1991, 264:119, emp. added).A decade later, Horgan was still at a loss concerning the origin of DNA, RNA, and enzymes. Again writing for Scientific American,he wrote, “DNA can make neither proteins nor copies of itself without the help of catalytic proteins called enzymes. This fact turned the origin of life into a classic chicken-or-egg puzzle: Which came first, proteins or DNA?” (2011). That’s quite a problem. How likely is it that DNA and its necessary proteins happened to evolve at exactly the same moment? Again, Horgan pressed the fact that the RNA-world hypothesis is not the answer. “The RNA world is so dissatisfying that some frustrated scientists are resorting to much more far out—literally—speculation” (2011, emp. added). In concluding his article, he stated: “Creationists are no doubt thrilled that origin-of-life research has reached such an impasse…” (2011). He is right about one thing. Creationists are thrilled at such findings. However, the thrill is not from origin-of-life research reaching an “impasse.” Rather, it is from the removal of an impasse in front of true origin-of-life research!
Evolutionists themselves realize that abiogenesis is impossible. The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms defines “abiogenesis” as, “the obsolete concept that plant and animal life arise from nonliving organic matter,” although the contributors would hardly be deemed creationists (2003, p. 3, emp. added). It bears repeating: the notion of spontaneous generation is an obsolete concept!
“We Don’t Have a Clue”Given the impossibility of abiogenesis, one might logically ask the evolutionist, “How, then, did life arise?” Over seven decades ago, J.W.N. Sullivan admitted what remains true to this day:
The beginning of the evolutionary process raises a question which is yet unanswerable. What was the origin of life on this planet? Until fairly recent times there was a pretty general belief in the occurrence of “spontaneous generation”…. But careful experiments, notably those of Pasteur, showed that this conclusion was due to imperfect observation, and it became an accepted doctrine that life never arises except from life. So far as the actual evidence goes, this is still the only possible conclusion (1933, p. 94, emp. added).The student of evolution might very well reply, “Well, that was over seventy years ago. We know how it all happened now.” Moving into the sixties, the question was still unanswered. Chemists D.E. Green and R.F. Goldberger asked:
How, then did the precursor cell arise? The only unequivocal rejoinder to this question is that we do not know…. There is one step [in evolution—JM] that far outweighs the others in enormity: the step from macromolecules to cells. All the other steps can be accounted for on theoretical grounds—if not correctly, at least elegantly. The macromolecule-to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions, which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis. In this area all is conjecture. The available facts do not provide a basis for postulating that cells arose on this planet. This is not to say that some para-physical forces were not at work. We simply wish to point out that there is no scientific evidence (1967, p. 403, 406-407, emp. added).In the late 1970s, Jastrow said, regarding the evolution of life:
According to this story, every tree, every blade of grass, and every creature in the sea and on the land evolved out of one parent strand of molecular matter drifting lazily in a warm pool. What concrete evidence supports that remarkable theory of the origin of life? There is none.... At present, science has no satisfactory answer to the question of the origin of life on the earth (1977, p. 60, 62-63, emp. added).One might suppose, “Surely, by the 1980s an answer had been reached!” Evolutionist Douglas Hofstadter said, “There are various theories on the origin of life. They all run aground on this most central of all central questions: ‘How did the Genetic Code, along with the mechanisms for its translation (ribosomes and RNA molecules) originate?’ For the moment, we will have to content ourselves with a sense of wonder and awe rather than with an answer” (1980, p. 548, emp. added). Evolutionist Andrew Scott, writing in New Scientist, observed:
Take some matter, heat while stirring, and wait. That is the modern version of Genesis. The “fundamental” forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak nuclear forces are presumed to have done the rest…. But how much of this neat tale is firmly established, and how much remains hopeful speculation? In truth, the mechanism of almost every major step, from chemical precursors up to the first recognizable cells, is the subject of either controversy or complete bewilderment.
We are grappling with a classic “chicken and egg” dilemma. Nucleic acids are required to make proteins, whereas proteins are needed to make nucleic acids and also to allow them to direct the process of protein manufacture itself.
The emergence of the gene-protein link, an absolutely vital stage on the way up from lifeless atoms to ourselves, is still shrouded in almost complete mystery…. We still know very little about how our genesis came about, and to provide a more satisfactory account than we have at present remains one of science’s great challenges (1985, 106:30-33, emp. added).In the late 1980s, Klaus Dose pointed out:
More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of theimmensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance (1988, 13:348, emp. added).The arrival of the 1990s did little to help evolutionists find an answer for the origin of life. Evolutionist John Maddox, writing in Nature, said, “[I]t is disappointing that the origin of the genetic code is still as obscure as the origin of life itself” (1994, 367:111, emp. added).
And today, scientists are still at a loss as to how life could have arisen spontaneously. In the lecture series, Origins of Life, Robert Hazen made several notable admissions:
- “This course is unusual because at this point in time, there is so much that we don’t know about life on Earth.”
- “The origin of life is a subject of immense complexity, and I have to tell you right up front, we don’t know how life began.”
- “It’s as if we are trying to assemble a huge jigsaw puzzle. We have a few pieces clumped together here and there, but most of the puzzle pieces are missing.”
- “How can I tell you about the origin of life when we are so woefully ignorant of that history?”
This course focuses exclusively on the scientific approach to the question of life’s origins. In this lecture series, I make an assumption that life emerged from basic raw materials through a sequence of events that was completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics. Even with this scientific approach, there is a possibility that we’ll never know—in fact, that we can’t ever know. It is possible that life emerged by an almost infinitely improbable sequence of difficult chemical reactions. If life is the result of an infinitely improbable succession of chemical steps, then any scientific attempt to understand life’s origin is doomed to failure; such a succession could not be duplicated in a program of lab experiments. If the origin of life was an infinitely improbable accident, then there’s absolutely nothing you or I or anyone else could do to figure out how it happened. I must tell you, that’s a depressing thought to someone like me who has devoted a decade to understanding the origin of life (2005, emp. added).Evolutionist Paul Davies, theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and professor at Arizona State University, writing in New Scientist, said, “One of the great outstanding scientific mysteries is the origin of life. How did it happen?...The truth is, nobody has a clue” (2006, 192:35, emp. added). Richard Dawkins stated in an interview with Ben Stein regarding the origin of life, “Nobody knows how it got started. We know the kind of event that it must have been. We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life. It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.” Stein asked, “Right. And how did that happen?” Dawkins replied, “I’ve told you. We don’t know.” Stein then said, “So, you have no idea how it started?” Dawkins replied, “No. Nor has anybody” (Stein and Miller, 2008, emp. added). John Horgan did not even try to veil his admission within an article. He titled one of his articles, “Pssst! Don’t Tell the Creationists, but Scientists Don’t Have a Clue How Life Began” (2011, emp. added). Such admissions are quite telling, albeit incorrect. What Davies, Horgan, and Dawkins mean is, no naturalist “has a clue.” Biblical supernaturalists, on the other hand, know exactly how life originated, and the answer harmonizes perfectly with the Law of Biogenesis—unlike evolution’s life-origins fairytale.
“It’s a miracle!”So, according to atheistic evolutionists, the origin of life through spontaneous generation—a fundamental plank of evolutionary theory—is impossible. “Nobody has a clue” how life could have started. What conclusion is left? It must have been a miracle. No wonder many evolutionists have ironically started cautiously using religious terminology to describe the origin of life, in spite of the attacks they have made against the religiously minded community for doing so. Jastrow stated:
At present, science has no satisfactory answer to the question of the origin of life on the earth. Perhaps the appearance of life on the earth is a miracle. Scientists are reluctant to accept that view, but their choices are limited; either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet. The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science. The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief (1977, pp. 62-63, emp. added).“Faith”? “Miracle”? Evolutionist John Sullivan admitted, “The hypothesis that life has developed from inorganic matter is, at present, still an article of faith” (1933, p. 95, emp. added). Sir Francis Crick conceded, “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going” (1981, p. 88, emp. added). Noted physiologist and zoologist G.A. Kerkut said that spontaneous generation is “a matter of faith on the part of the biologist…. The evidence for what did happen is not available” (1960, p. 150, emp. added).
The very people who claim that Bible believers are beholden to ancient mythology and fables without evidence are beginning to admit that they, in fact, are the ones guilty as charged. In his classic text, The Immense Journey, the late evolutionary anthropologist, Loren Eiseley, said the following regarding the idea of spontaneous generation:
With the failure of these many efforts, science was left in the somewhat embarrassing position of having to postulate theories of living origins which it could not demonstrate. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today, had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past (1957, pp. 201-202, emp. added).Hoyle and Wickramasinghe concluded:
It is doubtful that anything like the conditions which were simulated in the laboratory existed at all on a primitive Earth, or occurred for long enough times and over sufficiently extended regions of the Earth’s surface to produce large enough local concentrations of the biochemicals required for the start of life. In accepting the “primeval soup theory” of the origin of life, scientists have replaced religious mysteries which shrouded this question with equally mysterious scientific dogmas. The implied scientific dogmas are just as inaccessible to the empirical approach (1978, p. 26, emp. added).If the origin of life is “a matter of faith” in the sense that no human being was physically present to observe it, then how can we determine which view—spontaneous generation or special creation—is the truth? The atheistic evolutionist insists: “I don’t know how it happened, but I won’t accept God.” However, the Bible asserts that the evidence is available for us to arrive at truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32). It is not a “leap into the dark” without evidence. God “did not leave Himself without witness” (Acts 14:17). Knowledge of God’s existence, and thus special creation, is not only attainable, but those who reject the evidence are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20). The created order “declares” the truth of the matter (Psalm 19:1).
Is it not true that the reasonable view on the origin of life will be the view that is in keeping with the evidence we do have? Why would science lie? It has no agenda or bias. Science should support the correct view—not contradict it. What does the evidence say? In nature, life comes only from life and that of its kind. Therefore, abiogenesis does not happen. Science has proven this truth time and time again. To continue to champion abiogenesis is to hold to a view that flies in the face of the evidence, taking a leap into the dark without evidence. The only plausible option—an option that does not contradict the scientific evidence—is supernatural creation.
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