Genesis Critics Flunk Forensic Science 101
by James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. *
The forensic character of origins science, as opposed to the observational nature of empirical science, is routinely bungled and botched by uniformitarian evolutionists. They strain out gnats, yet they drink down whole camels, illustrating a kind of blindness that the Lord Jesus spoke of during His earthly ministry:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:23-24, emphasis added)1
Note that the Pharisees were correct in their careful attention to tithing mint, anise, and cummin. However, they completely missed the boat when they “omitted the weightier matters” (the obligations of justice, compassion, and personal belief in God’s Word).
Straining Out Bugs from Beverages
To appreciate this metaphor, which applies to modern-day evolutionists, consider the following account by Alaskan explorers:
How in the world could there be this many bugs?…We tried once to have hot chocolate and coffee, but heating water without making mosquito tea first was impossible. The mosquitos are attracted to heat, and one could always count on a dozen or so [mosquitos] ending up in the drink before it was boiling.2
In biblical times, before serving or drinking a beverage, it was not unusual to use filters to strain out bugs and other impurities.3 The hygienic practice of straining out gnats would have been quite common and understandable to the Lord’s immediate audience. But the idea of swallowing whole an entire camel while drinking would have been a jarring thought to imagine! Christ criticized the cleanliness-obsessed Pharisees for practicing outrageous irrationality that resulted in truly unclean results.4
This picturesque metaphor describes the nonsensical illogic of the Pharisees, who filtered out small impurities from their daily living while ignoring gargantuan intrusions. That same failure of logic infects the uniformitarian approach routinely used by evolutionists to (supposedly) learn about our beginnings.
Beginnings Are the Key to the Present, Not Vice Versa
If humans really want to understand themselves, their world, their destinies, and their Maker, they need to understand their origins. Origins are the key to understanding cause and effect relationships. Present effects are often not representative of what their temporal causes physically looked like. It is the past that provides the key to understanding the present, not vice versa—because past causes produced present effects.5
For an extreme example, look at a city devastated by an earthquake or by an atomic bomb. Just by looking at the physical results, how would one guess at the physical causes?
For a less extreme (yet miraculously more complex) example, consider the amazing processes and details that accompany the conception, gestation, and birth of a human baby. The way a baby “breathes” inside the womb has virtually no resemblance to how it acquires oxygen after it is born. Placentas serve as super-organs during gestation, yet after birth they are superfluous. Baby lungs don’t breathe inside the womb, yet afterward they begin to breathe. Life inside the womb is starkly different from life after birth.6
Consider also the amazing processes and details that accompany the formation of an acorn—its fall to the ground, its burial and germination, and its early sprouting above its burial site. The beginning of an oak tree’s botanical life as an acorn is not much like its growth and development after it sprouts above the soil level.
This is not surprising because beginnings are qualitatively different from what follows a beginning. This is seemingly so basic that any well-educated scientist could not miss it; yet missing the distinctiveness of earth’s historic beginning is exactly what uniformitarian evolutionists routinely do. This does not negate the fact that evolutionary scientists sometimes do good empirical science work, but it does mean that the forensic aspect of origins science is frequently botched by their uniformitarian thinking habits.
Straining Out Cosmological Bugs, Swallowing Cosmogonical Camels
A gigantic stumble in scientific thinking occurs when cosmology is confused with cosmogony. Cosmology is the empirical (i.e., present observations-based) study of the cosmos as it exists today. Cosmogony, however, is the non-empirical study of how that cosmos began in the unobservable past.7
Cosmology involves using observation tools (such as radio telescopes and spectrophotometry equipment) to learn about presently existing matter in the universe. Cosmogony, however, is an origins science, a type of forensic science that focuses on learning the past, not examining the present.
Some methods that work well for understanding present processes do not work equally well for understanding past events. For example, at what temperature does water boil at sea level today? To learn the answer, use a repeatable experiment: Boil water at sea level and read the thermometer. This is empirical science, analyzing a present process.
But what if the question concerns the causality of a past event? For example, what physical cause produced a patient’s fever last Saturday night? A thermometer reading today tells nothing about the cause of a previous thermometer reading. Or, for another example, what physical cause produced a patient’s drop in blood pressure yesterday? Measuring blood pressure today tells us nothing, directly, about why a patient’s blood pressure was low then.8
The prior two questions seek specific information about the historical past, not how natural processes generally operate in the observable present. Accordingly, doing a repeatable experiment is not a scientific methodology that works well, directly, for answering questions about historically past cause and effect questions.
Perhaps the best known examples of this kind of inquiry are legal investigations, such as forensic autopsies used to understand murder crimes, or courtroom cross-examinations of eyewitnesses, testing witness reliability, in an effort to determine who proximately caused an accident by committing negligence in a traffic intersection.9
Such investigations of the past involve the specialized history analysis that we often call forensic science, because discovery and analysis of the past is vital to the forensic contexts of criminal and civil evidentiary proceedings. Forensic science methods—which include testing the probative value of eyewitness testimony and trial exhibits with process-of-elimination logic—are used to learn about past events that are historically and geographically unique. They can never occur again—they are singular events in history.
The beginnings of our cosmos, the heavens and the earth, and the beginnings of the human race, starting with Adam and Eve, are all unrepeatable and unique historical events. The methods of empirical science are evidentiarily inadequate to determine meaningful or accurate truth about what actually happened during those beginnings. Only God was there to witness it. That is why Charles Lyell’s uniformitarian assumption—that “the present is the key to the past”5,10—will never be adequate for learning about those eternally important beginnings.
In other words, when evolutionists preach that “the present” (cosmology) is the key to “the past” (cosmogony), they are blindly swallowing a camel of illogic. But God wanted us to know about our origins—the beginnings of the heavens and the earth, the beginnings of the human race (man and woman), the beginnings of sin and death, the beginnings of God’s promised redemption in Christ, and much more. God wanted us to know about these important beginnings, so He took action to reveal this otherwise unknowable information in an error-free text of understandable words—the Holy Bible.
The book of Genesis tells us what empirical science cannot—the details of our origins.
- “Swallowing” refers to drinking rather than to eating. The word translated “swallow” in Matthew 23:24 is a form of the Greek verb katapinô, the same verb that appears in Hebrews 11:29 (referring to the Red Sea swallowing up the Egyptian army) and in Revelation 12:16 (referring to a flood being swallowed up). This verb is an accentuated form of a simpler Greek verb, pinô, which is translated 75 times as “drink.”
- Davis, B., M. Liston and J. Whitmore. 1998. The Great Alaskan Dinosaur Adventure: A Real-Life Journey Through the Frozen Past. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 23, 30.
- According to an ancient Hittite inscription, a water carrier named Zuliyas was executed for his carelessness in allowing a hair to be found in the king’s water pitcher. See Prichard, J. B., ed. 1992. Instructions for Palace Personnel to Insure the King’s Purity. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd ed. A. Goetze, transl. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 207.
- Both gnats and camels were “unclean” (see Leviticus 11:4, 20-23), i.e., not kôsher for Hebrew cuisine purposes.
- Morris, H. M. 2008. The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, rev. ed. Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 65-66, 282-286.
- Guliuzza, R. J. 2009. Made in His Image: Examining the Complexities of the Human Body. Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 32-33.
- See the entries for “cosmology” and “cosmogony” in New American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. 1976. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 301. Unsurprisingly, this secular dictionary presupposes an evolutionary origin for the cosmos.
- Physicians and surgeons are especially qualified to understand and integrate empirical and forensic sciences because they must use exacting scientific methods to understand a patient’s medical history (past condition) and his current symptoms (present condition) in order to promote healing. Dr. Randy J. Guliuzza, who has practiced medical science (and engineering science) in the real world, has used just such a forensic science-oriented analysis to expose and refute the fallacies of so-called “natural selection” theory in his recent series of Acts & Facts articles.
- The slang for a crime mystery novel — “whodunit” — illustrates that the investigation and discovery of truth about the no longer observable past is a matter of forensic science, not a matter of repeated observations and experiments by a scientist with laboratory equipment.
- The “willful ignorance” that 2 Peter 3:4-6 describes is perfectly illustrated in evolutionary uniformitarian thinking. Because God has revealed our beginnings to us in Genesis, there is no logical reason for the scientific community to endorse the forensically illogical Big Bang theory of Belgium’s Monsignor Georges Lemaître, or to endorse the forensically illogical Natural Selection theory of England’s Charles Darwin.
* Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Johnson, J. J. S. 2012. Genesis Critics Flunk Forensic Science 101. Acts & Facts. 41 (3): 8-9.