Genesis and the Limits of Science

The Limitations of Discovering the Origins of the Universe and Organic Life

Session 4

By Ron Jones, D.D. ©Titus Institute

Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), ©2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."


Genesis and the Limitations of Science The Limitations of Discovering the Origins of the Universe and Organic Life Session 4

Introduction:

We are in a series looking at the limits of science primarily as it applies to Genesis 1 and the creation of the universe and the age of the earth.

There are four sessions:

Session 1 – The Limitations of Scientific Inquiry in Discovering the Age of the Earth Session 2 – The Limitations of Stratigraphy in Discovering the Age of the Earth Session 3 – The Limitations of Radiometric Dating in Discovering the Age of the Earth Session 4 - The Limitations of Discovering the Origins of the Universe and Organic Life

Today we are in Session 4.

Session 4 - The Limitations of Discovering the Origins of the Universe and Organic Life

Before we look at it, I want to review just the major points we have seen from week 1 only.

1. Science is limited by its foundation upon inference and theories not just observation which cannot be proved.

In the first week we saw that science is not just about observing facts, but science seeks to explain the cause of physical phenomena. In science, there is a difference between inference and observation. Observations are descriptions of what we see, hear, taste, smell, or touch with our senses. Inferences are possible explanations made from observations of physical natural phenomena. Science does both.

Observed phenomena ? Inferences ? Hypotheses ? Theories Observed phenomena = description of the phenomena he observes. Inference = possible explanation of causation for the phenomena he observes. Hypothesis = formal explanation based upon inferences that can be supported or refuted through experimentation or observation. Theory = a hypothesis based upon inferences that has been supported by experimentation or observation.

Science itself says this. As one scientific article put it, “In its most fundamental sense, modern science is a process by which we try to understand how the natural world works and how it came to be that way. It is not a process for merely collecting "facts" about, or just describing, the natural world, although such observations do provide the raw material for scientific understanding. Scientific knowledge is the inferences that scientists draw from the data - the models for how things work.” “What Science Is” from the website of Indiana University (Bloomington) http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/unt.s.is.html

There may be more than one valid inference (theory) that the evidence supports. As we saw last week, if you come out of a restaurant and your car has a dead battery and won’t start, there are at least three possible inferences that can be drawn about the cause of the dead battery. Either you left your lights on, your battery was old, you have a faulty alternator and it as not recharging your battery as you drove. All three are equally valid inferences that explain a dead battery. We need to seek more evidence to eliminate or support possible inferences.

However, certainty is not possible with inferences. Science is a combination of observed phenomena, i.e. fact and theories (based on inferences) that can be wrong.

Scientists recognize this. The same article I just mentioned states, “One constant theme is that there is no certainty in science, only degrees of probability (likelihood), and potential for change. Scientific understanding can always be challenged, and even changed, with new ways of observing, and with different interpretations…. Therefore…in science nothing is ever proven (in the sense of finality or certainty that the word suggests). (Quote from “What Science Is” http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/lessons/unt.s.is.html)

2. Science is limited by its refusal to include a supernatural cause for any natural phenomenon, even one that can explain the natural phenomenon that is observed.

When we look at these three sessions, we see that science is limited because it refuses to acknowledge any knowledge of the creation of physical phenomena by supernatural means. I don’t have a problem with their refusal to consider the supernatural, but I do have a problem with them basing their conclusions on inferences and then stating that the Bible could not possibly be true when it gives a supernatural explanation for the same natural phenomena we all observe. This is the whole point of what we have been studying.

Why is this important to understand?

The same observations of the present earth and universe are made by all.

Scientific/Natural Inferences = Big Bang Theory & Theory of Evolution

Supernatural Inferences = Genesis 1 God created the universe & Genesis 6-8 God brought a world-wide flood upon the earth.

Both inferences/theories explain the evidences of the current universe.

My goal is to show that science is not able to prove that the earth and universe are billions of years old because of its limitations. So, whether you are old earth or young earth, do not base your view on the theories of natural science, but on careful interpretation of the Scriptures.

This morning I want to look at two final points about the limits of science.

1. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of the universe.

2. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of life.

There are two obstacles for science that not only stops all of their efforts to know about origins of life but is a shining light to the existence of God and his eternal reality. Those two obstacles involve the creation of all time/space/matter and energy and the creation of life, both human and animal life.

Where did the universe come from? What is its origin? Where did life come from? What is its origin? Science cannot ever explain the answer to these two realities because they involve the supernatural realm.

Let’s look at the first point in our outline.

1. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of the universe.

How did time/space/matter and energy originate? If there was a Big Bang where did the original material come from that exploded? The answer to this question has created a major problem for scientists who are holding to the theories of the Big Bang because of the Law of Causation or Causality” that states "everything which has a beginning has a cause."

Remember, we saw in the first session that a law in science is a description of observed natural phenomenon based on an inference where no exception has been observed that is accepted as an assumption. This Law of Causation is not only accepted as an assumption, it is one of the central tenets in scientific investigation.

In 1934, W.T. Stace, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, in A Critical History of Greek Philosophy, wrote: “Every student of logic knows that this is the ultimate canon of the sciences, the foundation of them all. If we did not believe the truth of causation, namely, everything which has a beginning has a cause, and that in the same circumstances the same things invariably happen, all the sciences would at once crumble to dust. In every scientific investigation this truth is assumed.” W.T. Stace, professor of philosophy at Princeton University, A Critical History of Greek Philosophy, London: Macmillan and Co., 1934, p.6

Science searches for the cause of natural phenomena. Then develop causal inferences. That is what science is all about. As we saw in the first session, science not only observes, but infers causes for observed phenomena.

How does this Law of Causation apply to the search for the cause of the universe itself? It is the search for the first cause. When science formulated the Big Bang Theory, that at one time everything in the universe was one single tiny mass and then exploded into the universe we know today, all they do is explain how the universe formed, but not how the universe came into existence. This is the ultimate question that science cannot answer, where did the original matter and energy which exploded come from?

This is the principle of first temporal cause. If there was a beginning of everything physical, there must have been a first cause. This is called by theologians the Cosmological Argument. Let’s look at a video describing it.

VIDEO: Craig Kalam ‘s Cosmological Argument https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CulBuMCLg0

So, the argument can be summed up like this:

The Cosmological Argument Premise 1 = Whatever begins to exist has a cause Premise 2 = The universe began to exist. Conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause.

This is, in fact, what the Bible teaches.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

v. 1 “In the beginning” This refers to the beginning of time itself.

v.1 “God” God is already in existence. This implies God’s eternal nature.

v. 1 “created” “Create” (bara?) is used in the Old Testament consistently in reference to God creating something new, but it does not in itself have the meaning “create out of nothing.”

v.1 “the heavens and the earth” This refers to the creation of time, space, matter and energy. According to a young earth interpretation, on the first day, God creates outer space and the earth. On the fourth day, he creates the sun, moon, and stars to fill up outer space. By the end of creation week, God has created everything that exists in the physical realm.

Since Genesis 1 reveals the creation of everything that exists in the beginning of time, then there must not have been anything existing before that time. God created the heavens and earth out of nothing. This is called creatio ex nihilo. This is implied in Genesis 1. This is an inference from Genesis 1:1. It is fully stated in John 1:3.

The Scriptures do reveal that God created everything out of nothing.

John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

v.3 “All things” means “everything that exists, both visibly and invisibly which is everything except God.”

v. 3 “were made” means “come into existence.”

v.3 “without him was not anything made that was made” means that everything that came into existence was made by him. In other words, there was nothing before he made everything. There was no pre-existing matter, no pre-existing energy. There existed only God.

Romans 4:17 As it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Revelation 4:11 Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

So, what do scientists say about the first cause?

Stephen Hawking tried to solve this problem. He tried to show that the whole question of a creator was nonsensical. There was no need for a creator. Science can explain everything.

He wrote a book called Grand Design and there was a Discovery Channel called “Curiosity: Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design. Did God Create the Universe.” In the Discovery Channel special Hawking gives his answer to the question, “Did God create the universe?” He lays out his entire view of the spontaneous creation of the universe taking it a step further than his book. He explains his theory by moving through a series of questions about the creation of the universe moving the audience step by step back to nothing when time began.

I can’t show you the whole video, but I will show you a clip from it. But first, let me give you a brief overview of his theory of the true nature of the Big Bang so you can understand the clip.

According to Hawking, at the Big Bang, there is a Black Hole Singularity. “In the centre of a black hole is a gravitational singularity, a one-dimensional point which contains a huge mass in an infinitely small space, where density and gravity become infinite and space-time curves infinitely, and where the laws of physics as we know them cease to operate. (Singularities - Black Holes and Wormholes - The Physics of the Universe www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_blackholes_singularities.html)

There is no time in a black hole and time did not exist before the Big Bang Singularity. So time did not exist before the Big Bang. Because of this “time” for Hawking is the key to answering the question, "Is there a creator of the universe?"

VIDEO: Curiosity 4 Hawking YT Clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7L7VTdzuY7Y

Hawking ends at the point of the beginning of the universe. All that Hawking says about quantum mechanics and black holes, etc. is a combination of theory and speculation and not necessarily held by a majority of scientists. However, he explains it, doesn’t really matter because it always goes back to the same point, the beginning of time.

Both Hawking and Christians agree that time and the universe began at some point and ask the question, "What existed before time?" Thus, there are only two answers to that question:

Bible’s answer: Before the beginning of time = Eternal Spiritual Existence = God Scientist Hawking’s answer: Before the beginning of time = Black Hole of no time

This is as far back as Hawking goes. Then he talks about time.

He states in the Dsicovery Channel special, “The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is, I believe, the final key to removing the need for a grand designer and revealing how the universe created itself…You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang because there was no time before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me, this means there is no possibility of a creator because there is no time for a creator to have existed. So when people ask me if a god created the universe, I tell them the question itself makes no sense. Time didn’t exist before the Big Bang, so there is no time for God to make the universe in.” (Hawking Quote from Video)

So, how do we respond to that statement?

Hawking’s Argument Premise 1 = A cause can only exist in time. Premise 2 = There is no time before time existed. Conclusion: Therefore, there is no cause of the universe and there is no creator.

Hawking says that the question, “Is there a Creator?” is nonsensical because there is no time for a creator to exist in. This argument may be true if reality and existence were defined only by the physical. His statement is based on the assumption that “existence” means “physical existence within time” and therefore, “if something cannot be explained scientifically it cannot be reality or exist.”

Natural Science’s Assumption: There is no existence outside of physical existence in time. Therefore, there is no supernatural creator and no supernatural creation. This is an assumption and cannot be proved! This is the fundamental assumption of natural science which only accepts natural existence and does not and will not accept supernatural existence. In other words, the natural world is all there is.

VIDEO: William Lane Craig, Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology Scientific Naturalism Refutes Itself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bVrafC1vi0

His refutation of scientific naturalism which Hawking’s theory is a part of goes back to our original statement in the first session. Science is not the only source of knowledge. If a supernatural explanation explains the evidence it is valid and cannot be dismissed outright.

Scientific/Natural Inferences = Big Bang Theory & Theory of Evolution

Supernatural Inferences = Genesis 1 God created the universe & Genesis 6-8 God brought a world-wide flood upon the earth.

Both inferences/theories explain the evidences of the current universe.

Let me make on more point. Where did the black hole with no time come from? A black hole is something. Something cannot come from nothing. What caused it? That question is still unanswered!

So, science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of the universe. Something cannot come from nothing. There is a second way that science is limited.

2. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of life.

How did life originate? If the Big Bang eventually developed stars and planets and the earth. All of that matter and energy is inanimate, there is no life in them. How did life originate? How did we get insects, and animals, and human beings? The answer to this question has created a major problem for scientists who are holding to the theories of the Big Bang and Evolution because of the Law of Biogenesis. This law states that life can only produce life. All living organisms come from living organisms. Remember, we saw in the first session that a law in science is a description of observed natural phenomenon based on an inference where no exception has been observed that is accepted as an assumption.

Previous to the mid 17th century, scientists believed in spontaneous generation, that is, life arose from non-living matter. They came to this conclusion by observing maggots developing on a piece of raw steak left out for a few days, not realizing that flies had implanted them there. Prominent scientists set about proving or disproving the hypothesis. It was eventually two scientists that brought to prominence the principle of Biogenesis.

Louis Pasteur performed an experiment finally proving that spontaneous generation did not exist.

He coined the phrase, “omnis vivum ex vivo” = “all life from life.”

A few years earlier, building on the work of other scientists, Robert Virchow had recognized that all cells come from cells by binary fusion. He made famous the phrase, “omnis cellula e cellula” = "all cells from cells." That is, living cells can only develop from living cells.

This is called a law because there is no example anywhere in the universe where life does not originate from life. Another way of saying it is “life can only reproduce life.” Inanimate matter or energy cannot produce life.

So, then how did life originate?

The Bible has a very clear answer in Genesis 1.

Genesis 1:20-21 The Fifth Day 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

Genesis 1:24-25 The Sixth Day Land Animals 24And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:26-28 The Sixth Day Human Beings 26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Genesis 2:7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2: 21-23 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

The first living creatures were created supernaturally by God, the divine creator of the universe. This Biblical revelation is in agreement with the Law of Biogenesis because it acknowledges the truth that if there was only inanimate matter and energy before physical organisms, then they had to originate from a source outside the physical universe. Physical life came from the living God who also created human beings with a spirit capable of living forever not just physical life.

How Do Scientists Answer the Question of the Origin of Life?

In understanding the claim of scientists, we have to understand that currently there is no observable evidence of life coming from non-living matter.

Jeff Miller of Answers in Genesis states, “There 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.” (Miller, Jeff, “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I]” http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4165&topic=93)

Two scientists, Nash and Storch, in an article entitled “Life on Earth” state this, “Today, it is an acceptable and basic biological principle that life can only come from preexisting life (biogenesis). The geological history of earth reveals, however, that early in the history of the Earth, there is no evidence of life as indicated by fossils and, furthermore, the evidence indicates that the physical and chemical characteristics of early Earth would not have supported life as we understand it today. Excluding an “inoculation” of life on Earth from an extraterrestrial source, it must be concluded that life on earth must have originated from the inanimate world.” (D.J. Nash and D. Storch, “Life on Earth,” Earth System: History and Natural Variability - Volume 3, Editor Vaclav Cilek, EOLSS Publications, 2009, p.1-2)

Notice in this statement that the Law of Biogenesis is accepted. The word “indicate” means these are inferences (based on uniformitarianism). The phrase “must be concluded” means the conclusion is based on the inferences.

So, this is the scientific inductive reasoning currently accepted about the origin of life on earth:

Law/Principle of Biogenesis (life can only come from life) ?accepted by scientists Supported by all evidence

Inference: Early Earth had no life on earth ?accepted by scientists Based on uniformitarian assumption of fossil evidence

Inference: Early Earth could not support life on earth ?accepted by scientists Based on uniformitarian assumption of present chemical properties

Conclusion: life on earth must have originated from the inanimate world Logical conclusion from inferences This is an exception to the law of biogenesis based on no direct evidence at all.

Notice, that scientists are reaching a logical conclusion based on inferences not on direct evidence of life coming from inanimate objects. This is their only choice unless as, Nash and Storch say, there was an “inoculation” of life on Earth from an extraterrestrial source.

This is all because they cannot and will not accept any supernatural explanation of the evidence. They would rather accept aliens from outer space because they would be physical and not supernatural.

This obstacle has not stopped scientists from speculating. If there is no evidence of life coming from inanimate objects, then it is speculation. Scientists have admitted the problem, but still have tried to come up with solutions that are within the physical laws of nature without the need for supernatural intervention by a Creator.

In the 1920’s, Oparin and Haldane suggested (speculated) that organic compounds could have been formed in the Earth’s ancient oceans. In other words, they proposed a theory that life on Earth developed through gradual chemical evolution of carbon-based molecules within a primordial soup. (http://www.scienceprofonline.com/microbiology/difference-between-spontaneous-generation-abiogenesis.html)

I want to show you a video of a possible origin of life proposed by scientists. This is speculation.

SLIDE/VIDEO 40: Abiogenesis Chemical Origins Captions 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLPanEZx1lc

This video shows the current direction of scientists trying to solve the problems of the origin of life. But it is all speculation.

Robert Hazen is a scientist based at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory and George Mason University. He teaches a Course called “Origins of Life.”

In describing his course he explains,

“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.”

He continues, “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.” (Hazen quoted in Miller, Jeff, “The Law of Biogenesis [Part I]” http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4165&topic=93)

So, this brings us to two current explanations on the origin of life on earth:

Scientific/Natural Inference = Life began as molecules in the ocean and developed by random evolutionary processes - Exception to the Law/Principle of Biogenesis

Supernatural Inference based on the Bible - Genesis 1-2 God created life fully developed. - Supported by Law/Principle of Biogenesis

Both inferences/theories explain the evidences of the current universe.

Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of life.

CONCLUSION OF SERIES:

1. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of the universe.

2. Science is limited because it is unable to explain the origin of life.

Recommendation: A good YouTube video that compliments this whole series is by J.P. Moreland, Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology as he speaks on the topic of “Is Science Against Religion?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUD3t7HKlXY