Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy,
A Biblical View of the Origin of Life on Earth
I. Why Origins Matter
A. Knowing the source of something usually tells much about what it is
1. Food: Kroeger green beans are worse than any other brand
2. Automobiles: Dodge or
3. Wines, authors, drugs, and so on
B. Human origins
1. Naturalism: An impersonal, materialistic source (change and natural law) for nature, or:
2. Theism: A personal, moral, spiritual source for nature
II. The Origin of life: Two Major Worldviews in Conflict. Two stories of reality
1. Naturalism: all life arose and evolved through natural, unintelligent causes over long periods of time
a. Universe has always existed or came into being out of nothing for no reason or purpose (godless Big Bang)
Story: In the beginning were the particles and the laws of nature; these did all the arranging of matter and energy from the beginning until now. Chance and necessity
b. Abiogenesis: life from non-life without a designer
Story: On the ancient earth, lifeless matter somehow evolved into living matter according to chance and natural law
c. Speciation through natural selection (Darwinism)
Story: after the first reproducing life form came into existence, each generation varied from its predecessors sufficiently to generate all the species now in existence
d. Implication of a-c: Life has no design plan, no purpose, and no destiny
2. Christian theism
a. God created and designed the universe (Psalm 90:1-2; Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5)
b. God created and designed all of life (Genesis 1); each thing created according to its “kind” (see also 1 Corinthians 15:35-41)
c. Allows for change within basic kinds, but claims that God has created and designed life and has left evidence of himself (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23)
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. –Psalm 139:13-14
d. Implication: Life has a divine design plan, purpose, and destiny
III. Defending a Christian View of Origin of Life
A. How Christians address this:
1. Theistic evolution (Francis Collins, The Language of God, 2006; Tim Keller, The Reason for God, 2008). Darwinism explains biology: no need to appeal to intelligent causation (design)
a. Reason against this: Doesn’t fit Scripture. God has left evidence of his handiwork
b. Scientific evidence doesn’t support it
B. Intelligent design challenge to naturalism (broadly understood)
Designing intelligence is necessary to explain life and is evident in life’s forms. Naturalism cannot explain life adequately.
C. The case for intelligent design: inference to best explanation based on empirical evidence (not the Bible itself). Relies on no uniquely religious assumptions, but does have conclusions that point toward God.
1. Review: molecular machines: bacterial flagellum (First sermon in this worldview series)
Irreducible complexity cannot be explained by naturalism; it requires intelligence
2. Information argument (DNA). Film clip.10 minutes of “The Case for a Creator”
a. The cell has a tremendous amount of information in DNA
b. This information is not explained by any merely natural process (chance and natural law) because the information is highly specified and complex
The information in DNA and RNA is digital and the entire system is far more sophisticated than any computer we have designed.
c. Therefore, a designing mind (an intelligent cause) is the best explanation for the information in the cell
3. Evidence for Darwinian natural selection (speciation) is inadequate
a. Evidence for micro-evolution (finch beaks) does not establish macro-evolution
b. There is no genetic mechanism to increase information required for adaptive mutations; most all mutations are harmful. (These genetic mechanism themselves are designed.)
c. There is no strong evidence for gradual Darwinian evolution in the fossil record. Rather: “sudden emergence and stasis” (Stephen Jay Gould, Darwinist, paleontologist)
IV. God, the Designer of Life
A. Naturalism fails to explain nature adequately: molecular machines, information in the cell, vast number of different species
B. Also fails to explain morality and resurrection of Jesus. See D. Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, chapters 15, 21
C. Intelligent design explains these facts logically, based on scientific evidence
D. Intelligent design points to the God of the Bible; although it does not tell us all we need to know about God. But gives good reason to investigate the biblical claims since nature does require a designer.
E. We learn the rest of God’s truth from the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15-16)
- Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (InterVarsity, 2011). See chapters 13-14 on Darwinism and design.
- Michael Behe, Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 10 anniv. ed. (Free Press, 2006). A pivotal book for the Intelligent Design movement.
- Lee Strobel, The Case for a Creator (Zondervan, 2004).
- Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution (Moody, 2000). Images for Darwinism are bogus.
- Philip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (InterVarsity Press, 1993). Logical critique.
- William Dembski and Sean McDowell, Understanding Intelligent Design (Harvest House, 2008). Introductory, but excellent.
- Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Adler and Adler, 1986). Influential scientific and secular critique of Darwinism.
- Stephen Meyer, The Signature in the Cell (HarperOne, 2009). Magisterial defense of design of life. The best philosophy of science book I have read.
- Lee Strobel, “The Case for a Creator” (Illustra Media, 2006). The various scientific arguments for God from biology, physics, cosmology.
- “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” (Illustra Media, 2002). The evidence for God from biology.
- “The Privileged Planet” (Illustra Media, 2004). On the special design of the earth.
- “Expelled” with Ben Stein (2008). Shows how Darwinists persecute dissenters.
’s Dilemma” (Illustra Media). On the Cambrian explosion, which Darwinists cannot explain. Darwin