From the print edition of The New American
ISTANBUL, Turkey — Did you come from slime and monkeys? Not according to scientists here. A collection of prestigious academics and experts from around the world, representing various disciplines, came together in late April to challenge what many described as a “lie” or a “hoax.” This ruse, they said, has underpinned all manner of evils since it first gained widespread acceptance. From communism and national socialism to terrorism, atheism, and eugenics, this theory has been crucial to propagating countless curses and scourges that have afflicted humanity for centuries, they argued.
The Enemy: The theory of evolution. Each speaker at the 3rd International Conference on the Origin of Life in Istanbul had his or her own specialty. They had varied religions, too, ranging from evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Mormons to Muslims and more generic deist-monotheists. But they all agreed on one point: A growing battery of scientific evidence debunks the evolution hypothesis, which some in attendance even compared to a powerful false religion.
The scientific conference, put on by the Turkish Technics and Science Research Foundation along with the Foundation for the Preservation of National Values and the National Values Foundation, has played a major role in undermining trust in the evolutionary worldview within Turkey. In fact, Turkey is now one of the most anti-evolution nations in the world, with the government announcing last year that the controversial theory would no longer be pushed on students in primary and secondary schools.
Already, the efforts to use science against the evolution theory are bearing fruit across the Islamic world and beyond. Now, conference organizers and speakers are hoping that their efforts will have an effect across the West, too. “We share a language that declares Almighty God created the universe from nothing,” said Adnan Oktar, the honorary president of the conference and one of the world’s leading Muslim creationists. “We thank the speakers who traveled thousands of kilometers from their homes to come here and expose the dictatorship of Darwin.”
This article will provide a very brief sketch of what the experts at the conference had to say. The purpose is to present the other side — the side those who get all of their information from the media or the government’s schools may not even know exists, at least within the scientific community. On the other hand, this piece is by no means definitive or comprehensive. Readers, particularly those who may never have been exposed to scientific anti-evolution arguments, are invited to consider what the experts have to say, and, if the article piques an interest, to explore further.
Biochemist Touts God’s Design of Human Genome
Biochemist Dr. Fazale “Fuz” Rana, vice president of research and apologetics at Reasons to Believe, a Christian organization that uses science to promote its views on creation, gave a fascinating talk on “The Human Genome: Encoded by Design.” From the start, he argued that scientific evidence points to the existence of God, and “undermines the evolutionary paradigm.” His speech emphasized God’s programming language used in DNA, and he made a powerful case. One point in particular he focused on was the incredible complexity of the chemistry and the biological systems of a cell, and how everything must work perfectly together for it to function.
“As a Christian and a scientist, I am convinced that nature provides evidence for God’s handiwork,” he explained, citing the book of Job and the growing scientific evidence supporting Creation. “And yet, when presented with compelling evidence for design that comes from biology, so many skeptics reject the evidence — and with this rejection, they reject belief in God.”
Rana, who in addition to authoring numerous scientific papers wrote the book The Cell’s Design: How Chemistry Reveals the Creator’s Artistry, focused in particular on the design of the human genome. The sequence of it, he argued, is the language God used to create mankind. Even then-President Bill Clinton, hardly a paragon of religious ideals, described the human genome sequence as “the language in which God created life” in 2000 as more was being learned.
Contrary to earlier beliefs among scientists that much of the DNA sequence was useless “junk” — an argument used by evolutionists for years — the latest discoveries show it has a purpose. The ENCODE project, short for the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, which helped decipher the purpose of the genes, was crucial to exposing the “junk DNA” fallacy. “The set of genes found in the human genome are like words used in the dictionary,” added Rana, who converted to Christianity from Islam. “It’s not a wasteland of junk, but an elegant biochemical system that is far more complex than we initially imagined.”
Citing the growing understanding of the genome, the biochemist closed with Psalm 139, in which David writes: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Physicist on Design Principles in Biology
Another scientist who focused on the scientific evidence of creation was Dr. David Snoke, a professor of physics at the University of Pittsburgh and the head of the Christian Scientific Society. In his speech, “How biologists are already widely using intelligent design principles ... and why their explanations for this are problematic,” Snoke argued that scientists all over the world rely on the assumption that biological systems are designed — even if they refuse to accept the logical implications, namely, that a brilliant Creator did the designing. “The whole universe looks like it is designed and has purpose,” he said.
To begin with, he used the analogy of a microchip given to an engineer, who was tasked with reverse engineering it. The engineer would only have two options to explain its origins: Either it was designed by a master engineer, or it was randomly created by chance after many attempts. “It is assumed that living systems are optimally designed,” he explained, noting that engineering principles today are common in biology. The scientific literature today is filled with references to purpose and design, he added.
Information intrinsically implies teleology, or a purpose, he continued. To illustrate his point, he showed a video representation of DNA’s duplication mechanism at work, something so complicated it could scarcely be imagined by a mere mortal. “Imagine in your mind the dance that God has put into the cell,” said Dr. Snoke. “This mechanism has to work before natural selection can do anything, because you have to copy the DNA. All of this is necessary for life to even exist.”
In a follow-up interview with The New American, Snoke said many scientists still reject God and Creation because of “social reasons,” not scientific evidence. Addressing one of the non-scientific reasons for the rejection of God — the notion that talk of God would result in superstition, mysticism, and other perceived problems — he argued in his speech and the interview that it would do no such thing. Indeed, in the wake of the Reformation, the majority of scientists were Christians, he explained.
Among the high-profile Christian scientists were the founders of modern science. “Newton believed strongly in God,” said Snoke. “He wrote two books on science and four on theology.” Other examples included William Harvey, father of modern medicine; Blaise Pascal, founder of fluid mechanics; G.W. Leibniz, father of calculus; William Thompson (Lord Kelvin), father of thermodynamics; Wernher von Braun, father of space travel; and more.
“All of these scientists are saying that God can be seen in what He has made,” Snoke concluded, echoing scripture. Belief in God and that God designed the universe for a purpose “led people to do very good science.”
Astrophysicist Highlights Uniqueness of Earth
Another prestigious scientist, Dr. Bijan Nemati, an Iranian-born convert to Christianity who serves as principal research scientist at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, spoke to the audience about “The Pale Blue Dot Revisited: Appreciating Our Uncommon Place in the Universe.” While the ruling paradigm in science today rejects a Creator, this view is inadequate to explain the evidence and countless questions. “For example, what is the nature of consciousness?” asked Nemati, who spent more than 15 years working at NASA. “What is the origin of morality? Does it even exist? What about love, or mercy?”
Nemati told a story that was used by Carl Sagan to promote his materialist view, about what happened as NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft photographed the solar system it was leaving. In short, the scientists had trouble finding Earth. But then, when they did find it, it looked like a pale blue dot, with Sagan suggesting it was a “delusion” to believe that the Earth, and therefore humanity, had some privileged position in the universe. But as Nemati explained throughout the rest of his speech, Earth really is unique, as far as can be determined.
The astrophysicist went through the dizzying array of criteria needed to conceivably host life on a planet. It must be terrestrial, it must have water, it must be in the circumstellar habitable zone (where water can be liquid someplace), it must have a magnetosphere to protect from cosmic rays, and it must be in a planetary system within the galactic habitable zone — among other criteria.
Still, in 1960, Francis Drake estimated that there ought to be a million planetary systems in the galaxy capable of sending a signal to Earth. “But half a century later, we know there are many more factors required than he considered,” said Nemati. “And since the probability that they all are present for a planet is proportional to the product of their individual probabilities, a simple calculation shows that we should not expect to see a single Earth in a thousand Milky Way-sized galaxies. The Earth is very rare. This goes directly against the so-called Copernican principle.” Far from being a common, insignificant speck, then, the Earth is “a very special planet in a very special place,” Nemati added, citing Psalm 19 and its assertion that “the Heavens declare the glory of God.”
This article appears in the June 18, 2018, issue of The New American. To download the issue and continue reading this story, or to subscribe, click here.
“There is abundant, solid evidence that the work is designed, and we can infer as well that God wants us to study this world and see its design and realize the glory of its Creator,” he concluded. “So, far from being a mere blue dot, our planet was not only made for supporting life, but it was also made to support knowing about the universe, and extending from that observation, to know, and be amazed by, its Creator.”
Muslim Brain Surgeon Ridicules Darwinism
Perhaps the most energetic speech came from Dr. Oktar Babuna, a U.S.-educated neurosurgeon and prominent Islamic creationist who has spoken on the topic all over the world. While he is a Muslim who believes the Koran, he called for an alliance between Muslims and Christians to battle against Marxism and evolutionism. Separately, he said, Christians and Muslims could be defeated by Darwin’s adherents. “But together we can defeat this, and religious morality will prevail,” he said.
Much of his speech was scientific in nature. For example, he showed how proteins are synthesized and that DNA is needed to synthesize proteins. “There have to be proteins for proteins to come into existence,” said Dr. Babuna, a native of Turkey. “A living cell must exist first, then it can synthesize proteins. This is a fatal blow to Darwinism.”
The fossil record is the second “fatal blow” to Darwinism, Babuna argued. “If we evolved, we must have transitional fossils,” he said, referring to fossils showing creatures between two different kinds of creatures. “We have 700 million fossils, and yet there are no transitional fossils — not one. The foundation [that organized the conference] will pay $3 million to anyone who can show one.” He showed fossils that he said were many millions of years old or even older, and showed how the creatures all look exactly the same as the creatures that exist today.
“Science is anti-Marxist, anti-Darwinist, and anti-materialist,” Babuna said. “Darwinism will definitely be defeated.” In fact, he predicted the end of Darwinism within five years as more and more scientists lose their fear of speaking out and the evidence continues to pile up. “Science confirms the facts of creation,” he added. “Chance or coincidence had no role in the creation of the universe.”
Babuna’s speech also focused on theological arguments, which included many passages from the Islamic Koran about Creation that bear some similarities to biblical texts. Both say clearly that God created everything by speaking, for instance. While he repeatedly referred to “Prophet” Jesus, he said Islamic scriptures acknowledge that Jesus had no earthly father and was born of a virgin. He also gave some examples that Christians would recognize, such as God’s transformation of Moses’ staff into a living snake. “God creates from nothing with no need for natural causes,” he said, adding that God was not constrained by the laws of nature that He created.
On the other hand, he said, evolution is simply based on lies, and they are not new. “Evolution is a pagan superstition dating back to the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians,” Babuna said. “We will see scientifically that evolution is impossible.” Today, Darwinism is “the official state ideology in almost every country, even in Muslim countries,” Babuna said, adding that this official ideology has unleashed tremendous evil and suffering on humanity.
Theology: Theologian Interprets Genesis
Creationists differ on whether the Earth is billions of years old, or less than 10,000 years old.
One of the prominent speakers at the summit, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Dr. Ken Keathley, gave his view in his speech, “The Seven Days of Genesis One: An Old-Earth Interpretation.” He believes God created the world and that Darwin was wrong. The respected theologian, diverging from many American evangelicals, argued that the Bible’s Book of Genesis should not be understood literally. Instead, he said that God more likely created the universe billions of years ago.
In America, about half of people surveyed say they believe God created humans in their present form sometime within the last 10,000 years. That is a common view among creation scientists and theologians in the United States, too. Many even argue that to be a creationist and a Bible-believing Christian, one must accept that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old. “I would like to respond to this,” Keathley said, adding that young-Earth creationists are still his “brothers” despite the disagreements.
“Typically we should interpret the Bible literally, unless the text provides good reasons not to,” he said, noting that the Bible is “inerrant and has no errors in it at all.” But in this case, as in others he cited, the director of the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture argued that it is theologically “essential” that Genesis be interpreted in non-literal terms, offering a number of arguments. Basically, he said the “days” in Genesis ought to be understood as “ages.” In a follow-up interview with The New American, he pointed to the time it takes light to travel from stars to the Earth as a scientific reason for his argument.
Other Christians, though, disagree with that idea. Creation Ministries International (CMI, Australia) managing director Dr. Don Batten, a Ph.D. in plant science, told The New American that science and theology both require a young earth. “Jesus believed Genesis was history and in the biblical (‘young earth’) timeframe (e.g., Mark 10:6); so do I,” he said in an e-mail. “Jesus put the origin of mankind at the beginning of creation. Old-Earth creationists put it at the end of time. But this is just one little thing.”
Batten gave a number of additional arguments, and suggested that the old-Earth view undermines fundamental biblical doctrines that are core to the Christian faith. For example, if the old-Earth view is correct, that means “God created a world of death, disease and suffering,” because that means there are hundreds of millions of years of rock and fossil records predating Adam and Eve. God would not have described this as “very good,” Batten suggested, along with a number of other theological arguments. He said a proper understanding of this is crucial to understanding why Christ had to come.
The creation scientist also said the scientific evidence demands a young-Earth understanding. To back up his view, he pointed to 101 scientific evidences collected by CMI that support the view that Earth is around 6,000 years old. Among others, he said DNA has been extracted from fossils that are claimed to be almost half a billion years old, though DNA would be destroyed if it were more than a few thousand years old. “I have many more evidences that I have collected, but ‘101’ has a nice ring to it,” Dr. Batten said.
Most of the speakers at the conference believed in an old Earth.
Mormon Psychologist on Human Emotions and Genetics
Anna Manja Larcher, who holds a master’s degree in theoretical psychology from Brigham Young University, highlighted the propensity of psychologists to try to explain human behaviors using evolutionary theory. But in her talk, “Beware the Procrustean Bed: Evolutionary Explanations of Love and Compassion,” she made a compelling case that the view is wrong — and totally unscientific. The talk was built around the legendary Greek robber Procrustes, who infamously either stretched his guests or cut part of their legs off to make them fit in his bed.
“Genetic explanations of behavior derived from evolutionary theory have become a Procrustean bed,” argued Larcher, who wrote a paper on the subject with BYU Wheatley Institution Director Richard Williams. “Proponents of these genetic explanations have become quite expert at stretching and cutting as need be to make the facts fit the theory.... But the price of preserving genetic explanations of our behavior is too high.”
The effort also relies on logical fallacies — “affirming the consequent,” in particular — and unscientific speculation. One example she used is the claim that evolution explains the observed fact that children are more likely to be abused by step-parents than birth parents. The evolutionary thinking is that, because birth parents want to perpetuate their genes, then they are more likely to carefully protect and love their natural child. Of course, correlation doesn’t equal causation. Increased rates of abuse in stepfamilies could be caused as well by the stresses of a second marriage and the same problems that led to the break up of the birth family carrying on into the stepfamily. As she says, “There is no scientific test that could possibly separate evolutionary causes from the host of social and personal causes of this sort of child abuse.”
The moral implications of the evolution view are troubling, too. “When such genetic explanations are applied to human and family relationships, the consequence is the loss of our very humanity, and, even more importantly, beyond that, it means the loss of our divine, God given, eternal identity,” said Larcher, a Mormon from Germany who received her advanced degrees at U.S. universities. “Without agency and responsibility, there is no humanity and no divine identity in our lives. We become mere marionettes.” Even love, compassion, and other human emotions become meaningless, she said, arguing that this, in and of itself, is enough reason to reject evolutionism.
But evolution will not die easily. “Unfortunately, a story that has become as popular as evolution has become often takes on a life of its own,” the psychologist and business owner concluded. “Before long, its very popularity convinces many that there is no alternative explanation of our behavior.” Even still, though, “we should not agree to spend even one night in Procrustes’ bed,” she added.
Sociologist Slams Lies in School Books
Sociologist Fabrizio Fratus, among Italy’s leading creationists, spent his time attempting to show that lies and frauds are used to support the evolution theory. “The theory of evolution unbelievably claims to explain the genesis of the forms through a series of processes that all lead to degradation,” he said, speaking in Italian. “All the verifiable expectations of the theory of evolution have been dashed, and in Italy, as in many other countries of the world, Darwin’s theory is presented through scientific falsification.”
Dr. Fratus, a Catholic whose doctoral thesis focused on scientific creationism, explained that school books in his homeland were filled with lies marketing evolution. Among the examples he used is the “Archaeopteryx,” a fossil that many evolution theorists claimed represents a “missing link” or a “transitional fossil” — such fossils should be everywhere if evolution is true — between birds and reptiles. In reality, he said, it is just a normal bird, as even some leading evolutionists have conceded.
He gave as another example of a fraud, being used to promote the theory of evolution to children, the supposed “drawings” of “embryos” by pseudo-scientist Ernst Haeckel, in which all embryos initially look identical, but then grow into different species because of changes in genetic coding caused by evolution — drawings that are now almost universally condemned as fraudulent, even by die-hard evolutionists. Similarly, Italian textbooks cite “Lucy,” a skeleton that evolutionists long touted as a “missing link” between apes and humans but which was actually just a regular ape. Fratus also slammed “lies” about DNA, saying that to go from an ape to a human would require some 240 million mutations. “So, the transition from ape to human is to be considered impossible,” he said.
The prominent Italian creationist also pointed out that observation and observable facts would show that evolution cannot happen as imagined. “Genetic mutations never add new information, but, on the contrary, the result is always a loss of information, as shown by the work of the geneticist John Sanford from Cornell University,” he said. “Mutations are the errors in reproduction, and the accumulation of errors certainly cannot create something complex. Natural selection produces less biodiversity and reduces genetic diversity.... It is folly to think that a collection of errors could improve a living organism.”
Philosopher Explores Monotheism and Coexistence
The conference was not all about evolution. With the world shrinking at a rapid pace, and with civilizations now in constant contact, the topic of coexistence among different peoples and faiths was explored by Dr. Hans Köchler, the retired chairman of the department of philosophy at Austria’s University of Innsbruck who now leads the International Progress Organization. In his speech on “Monotheism and the Meaning of Coexistence: A Philosophical Perspective,” Dr. Köchler began by stating the obvious fact that humanity is now in an unprecedented era.
“Anywhere on the globe, the human being is faced with the simultaneity of different metaphysical conceptions and belief systems,” he said. “This diversity exists under conditions that are increasingly determined by technology.” Before, communities could retreat, and seek to isolate themselves. Today, that is no longer possible. The question now is how to deal with it. In short, Dr. Köchler advocated dialogue and understanding, and even cooperation, among the world’s three most significant monotheistic faiths.
“If there exists only one God, then this God must be one and the same for all,” he said. “There cannot be three different ‘gods’ for Jews, Christians and Muslims — only three different perceptions of God or manifestations of truth in the context of the respective revelation. Awareness of this logically obvious, but nonetheless often neglected, truth can foster a deeper sense of community among believers and may contribute to religious and societal peace beyond historical and socio-cultural differences.” Of course, plenty of believers in each of those faiths would disagree, but his speech was well received nevertheless.
The search for truth can unite people, he continued. “Endowed with the capacity of self-reflection which cannot merely be reduced to the physical realm, the human being has always striven for the ultimate truth and meaning of life,” he said. “The search for the transcendent has united thinkers of all civilizations throughout the ages.… In the spirit of ‘unity in diversity,’ coexistence between the monotheistic religions can indeed become the cornerstone of a lasting order of peace and justice in the 21st century.”
The hundreds of attendees in the mostly young, hip crowd included university students, ambassadors, business leaders, political figures, and more. The event featured beautiful dancing and performance arts. The audience was thoroughly impressed. But impressing the audience was not the point. Instead, the goal, as proclaimed by one of Turkey’s most celebrated TV hosts who served as master of ceremonies, was to bring down the “dictatorship of Darwin” and all the evil associated with it — not just in Turkey, but worldwide.
The theory of evolution has become increasingly discredited in Turkey, with public schools no longer teaching it to young Turks. Adaptation and mutation, which are observable and well established, are still taught. But while secularists and evolutionists around the world expressed outrage over the move to drop evolution in primary and secondary education, authorities and attendees at the conference defended the decision.
Even in America, despite evolution being taught in schools for generations, polls show less than one-third of Americans identify as (theistic or atheistic) evolutionists. Meanwhile, about half identify as young-Earth creationists. The number of creationists is growing, too. All across the country, activists, ministries, churches, scientists, and conferences are working hard to promote creationism and debunk evolution. And with the rise of the Internet and increasing public skepticism about what is taught in public schools and what is promoted by the establishment press, evolution theory is likely to come under growing pressure in the years ahead.
With more and more scientists now debating whether God created the universe thousands or billions of years ago, rather than whether He created it at all, this may be the start of a major paradigm shift. And either way, as G.K. Chesterton explained, a miracle is still just as miraculous whether it occurred quickly or slowly.