Things that are Made
by Gary Parker, Ed.D.
"Evidence of creation? Isn't creation just something you believe? How can you find scientific evidence of creation?"
Evolutionists routinely say that creation doesn't belong in the science classroom because you can't observe it, and even many Christians wonder if it's really possible to find positive scientific evidence of creation. Yet recognizing evidence of creation is something we do easily and naturally in the normal course of events.
Suppose, for example, you are strolling down a creek bed. Once in a while, you pick up a pebble with some interesting shape, perhaps one that reminds you of a shoe, or doll. Although these objects have some appearance of design, they are really only what you would expect from time, chance, and the natural processes of weathering and erosion.
But then suddenly you spot among the pebbles an Indian arrowhead. Even if you had no prior knowledge of Indian artifacts, the object would immediately stand out as distinctive. In the pebbles shaped by time, chance, and erosion, contours are rounded and the overall shape follows lines of weakness, mineral variation, and often the "grain" of the rock. But in the arrowhead, the sharply angular chips cut equally across one kind of mineral and, another, weak areas are no more worn than others, and the chip line can go either with the "grain" or across it.
It is obvious that time, chance, and erosion would never produce such a pattern; indeed, they would act to obliterate the pattern and replace it with one reflecting the natural resistance to erosion of the various minerals and lines of weakness in the rock. The chips and notches you observe clearly seem to reflect some kind of pattern, but just as clearly that pattern must have been deliberately produced by an agent following a plan that went far beyond what erosion and the inherent potential of the minerals would produce. Without seeing either the creator or the creative act, you have found and easily recognized evidence of creation.
In this case, of course, I am only talking about shaping and molding materials and creating new patterns and arrangements, the kind of creative work we usually associate with human craftsmen. But the evidence of such creative activity is really based on logical inference from the kind of relationship actually observed, and such scientific inference from observations can also be extended to other objects, even when the identity of the creative agent is unknown. Astronomers and government officials are right now considering spending millions on a search for intelligent life in outer space, convinced that they can tell the difference between signal patterns produced spontaneously and those sent out with deliberate intent.
In our everyday experience, then, we regularly distinguish between two classes of objects: created objects and those that result from time, chance, and various natural processes. The difference is not "design" per se, nor even the complexity of design necessarily, but the kind of design.
A snowflake, for example, may have an incredibly beautiful design and appear quite complex, yet each snowflake results from water molecules "doing what comes naturally" under certain conditions at 0° C. A tile mosaic done in a snowflake pattern has no greater apparent design and perhaps even lesser complexity, yet we recognize it as a created pattern. Why? Because we know that bits of colored stone have no tendency to arrange or maintain themselves in such patterns. Such a pattern must be imposed from the outside, and something must be used to maintain the tiles in proper alignment.
In spontaneous systems like the snowflake, then, properties of the whole are completely derived from properties of the parts. In created systems, properties of organization imposed from the outside can confer new properties on the parts, properties that the parts of the system do not and cannot develop on their own. In short, time, chance and natural processes can produce only systems whose order is "internally determined;" creation can produce systems with "externally determined" order.
Given that we can and do distinguish created objects on the basis of scientific observation and logical inference, let's take a fresh look at living systems.
From viruses up, the two basic "ingredients" in living systems are DNA (or an equivalent nucleic acid) and protein. DNA is the molecule of heredity, and proteins are the fundamental molecules of structure and function.
Although you might not think so after reading my programmed instruction textbook on DNA1, DNA and protein are essentially simple molecules in that each is a chain or polymer of repeated units. DNA is a series of bases or nucleotides, and a protein is a series of amino acids. In all living systems an inherited sequence of bases in DNA directs production of the specific sequence of amino acids characteristic of each kind of protein.
If this relationship between DNA and protein is a result of time, chance, and natural processes, then there must be some sort of chemical tendency for DNA and protein to react. Is there? Yes, indeed. Everyone who has mixed baking soda and vinegar knows that acids and bases react, and certainly amino acids and DNA bases would react. Sugar-acid, aminephosphoric acid, and a whole host of other natural chemical reactions would also occur among any random fragments of DNA and protein.
Does this natural tendency of DNA and protein fragments to react chemically, then, suggest that time, chance, and the laws of chemistry would eventually produce life from some mixture of these molecules? No. Just the opposite. The problem is that all these natural chemical reactions are the wrong reactions as far as living systems are concerned. Left to time, chance, and their own chemical tendencies, DNA and protein react in ways that destroy a living system and would prevent any postulated evolution of life. In fact, natural cross links between DNA and proteins contribute somewhat to gene inactivation during aging, and base-amino acid reactions are part of the wholesale chemical catastrophe that occurs in a dying cell.
But in living cells, DNA is used to code for the production of proteins in a special way that no chemist would ever have a reason to suspect. Groups of bases, taken three at a time, are used to specify the alignment of particular amino acids each identified by its R group. The 20 different R groups vary widely—acid, base, fat soluble, water soluble, a single hydrogen atom, a long chain, no ring, single ring, or double ring. Now, there is no natural chemical tendency whatsoever for a series of triplet base groups to line up a series of amino acid R groups. Further, since there is no chemical basis for the triplet base/R group relationship, time and chance cannot help establish that link any more than they could make it possible to roll a l3 on a pair of dice.
We can recognize an arrowhead as a created object and distinguish it from pebble shapes that result from time, chance, and erosion. In a similar way, then, logical inference from the kind of relationship observed between DNA and protein provides direct and positive evidence that life on earth was created.
Notice that the evidence of creation here is based on what we do know and can observe of the relationship between DNA and protein. Creationists are sometimes accused of using God to fill in gaps in our knowledge. Not so. It's what we do know about the properties of minerals and the processes of erosion, for example, that enable us to distinguish sculptured artifacts from the products of time and chance; similarly, it's what we do know about the properties of acids and bases and biochemical processes that suggest the first living things were the products of special creation.
Not so long ago I was speaking with a renowned biochemist who has published much on chemical evolution. I stated that the case for creation is based on what we know now about DNA and protein. He freely stated that his acceptance of evolution was based on what he believes would be discovered in the next 50 years.
During his talk on life's origin, he had freely admitted that there simply are no theories concerning the origin of the vital link between DNA and protein. And with a dramatic pause before and after, he asked the question, "Is the transition [between non-life and life] chemical or philosophical?" That is, can living systems be derived from spontaneous chemical processes, or must we look beyond the chemicals to an Organizing Plan? The evidence we presently have surely points us beyond the chemicals to the God of creation.
Yet, somewhat paradoxically, once living systems have been created and the vital DNA-protein relationship established, living things continue to multiply after their kinds in understandable and predictable ways that certainly violate no laws of chemistry. Given meaningful DNA, given a controlled supply of energy and raw materials, and given a coordinated (not random) set of "translating" molecules (including messenger and transfer RNA, ribosomes, and very special amino acid activating enzymes2) living cells use DNA to continuously "make" proteins, which. in turn, regulate other cell activities, growth, even the replication of DNA in reproduction. These mechanisms are rather well understood, but they help explain only the operation and not the origin of living systems.
In that sense, a living cell is somewhat like a television set. No laws of physics and chemistry are violated in the operation of the set, yet these laws do not explain the origin of the TV set. No matter what the time or chance involved, TV sets simply do not result from Ohm's Law and Coulomb's Law, etc., acting upon copper, phosphorus, and glass left to "do what comes naturally." Again, the kind of design observed points us back to a deliberate, purposeful, creative act, one that endowed the materials with the property of television picture transmission that they do not have and could not develop on their own.
Consider another example. Can aluminum fly? Will mixing it with rubber and gasoline make it fly? Of course not—unless you arrange all these ingredients in just the right way to make an airplane. And what makes an airplane fly? The wings? The engine? The pilot? None of these can fly by themselves. In fact (though don't think of this on your next flight), an airplane is a collection of non-flying parts! Its property of flying cannot be derived from nor reduced to the properties of aluminum, rubber and gasoline. Properties of these substances are used, but the ability to fly is really a property only of the total organization.
So it is with living systems. A living cell is a coordinated set of non-living molecules. Their ability to grow, react, and reproduce does not derive from the properties of the molecules involved, but from the special features of their organization. And the kind of organization we observe is not the kind of organization we see in snowflakes or pebbles in a creek bed. It's the kind of organization we find in and only in those objects that are the products of deliberate creation.
In that sense, creationism stands between the classic extremes of vitalism and mechanisms3. Mechanists, including evolutionists, believe that living systems are simply a complex form of matter, and that the laws of physics and chemistry and the properties of molecules important in the operation of living systems are also sufficient to explain the origin of life.
Vitalists, at the other extreme, maintain that "life" is something totally different from matter, a "vital force" that mysteriously invades matter so that neither the origin nor operation of living systems can ever be scientifically described.
Creationists appreciate that living systems operate in orderly and understandable ways that reflect God's faithful care of His creation, but they also recognize biological levels of order and organization that originate not in properties of matter, but only in the mind of God. This distinctive biological order can be understood and described scientifically, but it cannot be derived from nor reduced to the laws of chemistry and the properties of matter. Instead, our knowledge of operational mechanisms and organizational patterns points us back to the origin of life by special creation.
None of this has been said so well as the Apostle Paul put it in Romans 1:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." So clearly does the creation bear witness to the Creator, in fact, that Paul adds (Romans 1:20) "… so that they [unbelievers] are without excuse."
But if the evidence is so clear, then why don't more people see it? Paul answers that people suppress the truth (Romans 1:18).
In a talk on the origin of life to science graduate students and university professors, no one questioned the biochemical details of my case for creation. But a molecular biologist said she could not accept my conclusion because she didn't believe there was Anyone "out there" to create life.
The problem, then, is not the mind nor the scientific evidence. It's a heart problem. We need that precious gift of faith to open our eyes to the evidence that afterwards seems so overwhelmingly clear.
The created order itself encourages that faith in us, for "the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1). What a fantastic "silent sermon;" what a call to faith! The evidence of creation is all around us; how precious when the Creator is in us.
1 Parker, Gary E., W. A. Reynolds, and Rex Reynolds, 1975, DNA: The Key To Life, 2nd Ed., Programmed Biology Series, Educational Methods, Inc., Chicago.
2 Parker, Gary E., 1970, "The Origin of Life on Earth," Creation Research Society Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 2, 97-103.
3 Parker, Gary E. & T.R. Mertens, 1973, Life’s Basis: Biomolecules, Self-Teaching Guides, John Wiley & Sons, New York.
* Dr. Parker Is Chairman of Life Sciences at Christian Heritage College and Research Associate with the Institute for Creation Research in San Diego, California.