Everybody who tries to answer these questions ends up giving a response that is anchored in faith. We no choice but to believe what happened because it is impossible see it, to repeat it, or to test our understanding in any meaningful way. Scientists, who typically profess to be rationalists, working only with cold hard facts, don't like to admit that they too have to speak from faith when they delve into this major issue. It is a foremost issue. Anchored within it are additional questions regarding our existence, purpose, and the meaning of life. Many scientists will also include a few, perhaps lesser, additional questions...
The drive to know what our origins are and, for that matter, our future destiny, both seem to be part of how God has made us. One word best describes the focus of this longing; "eternity."
Because fallen mankind cannot naturally understand what God has done, nor are people normally inclined to seek out God 2, answers to these questions remain a compelling mystery.
A summary of the quest and perceived means of arriving at a solution (no matter how valid or invalid) are as follows:
Quest: To know the origins of the universe and mankind.
1: To have observed it
Immediately, two opposing propositions can be offered regarding the Quest itself:
1: We can find an answer
If a person believes in proposition 2, that we can't find an answer, logically it would hold that there is no sense in trying. The very fact that we have a list, of five proposed means of solution, says that there are many who hold to proposition 1, that we can find an answer. If this isn't the goal, why bother to search?
The mere act of searching is, of itself, an exercise of faith - faith that there is an answer. Wait a minute, some would say. We have a reason to believe that we can arrive at an outcome - our sciences have always come up with answers. But how much true science actually applies to this quest? Is it observable? No. Is it testable? No. Is it repeatable? No. Hosts of scientists would also argue against even the cornerstone of legal proof: Were there witnesses? No. It's important the topic of legal proof be raised early. The confines of the remaining quest, to examine resultant evidences, are more in search of legal proof than of scientific certainty. The result, for most, becomes an exercise of blind faith operating under solution number 5, total speculation. Albeit it is often educated speculation, so it can sound good when couched in technical and scientific jargon.
n. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.
n. Christian. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1"
To be fair, most scientists claim to be utilizing solution 4, believing that they can deduce all the original conditions, and intermediate state, by looking at now present evidences. But it's the lack of these evidences that leads them to invent concepts and things to fill the gaps - the many gaps! Even the evidences, we're assured are actually there, are often suspect. Admittedly, hosts of known and unknown forces, or circumstances, may or may not have acted on these evidences, perhaps distorting them beyond all recognition. And, of course, there are evidences that - for no particular (or presently understandable) reason - contradict each other, often requiring one to be discarded in favor of another. This is as scientific as flipping a coin. While appealing to solution 4 as a nobler means, the actual result still looks a lot more like solution 5, speculation.4
Solution 3 calls for recreating the conditions and testing results. If everyone was honest, they would have to admit that there is no way to recreate the conditions of our origins, for two major reasons. Firstly, no one knows for sure exactly what was happening at that time. Secondly, small tests in a limited environment cannot guarantee that the same result would be possible, or probable, in a large-scale cosmic setting. These problems drive the scientist to start with limitations, preconditions, or presuppositions. (For example: even if it was possible, creating life in a lab does not prove that it arose naturally and spontaneously.7 Doing so would, perhaps, be better evidence that it took an intelligent designer - assuming the intelligence of the scientists involved.)
It's common for scientists to proclaim their belief in the unchangeability of systems and currently observed constants (i.e. the speed of light), but these too are acts of faith. Others dogmatically, a priori, dismiss any fundamental proposition that opposes the prevailing theory or their own preferred explanation. A science program, viewed while writing this article, illustrates this well. The commentator was clear of his belief ("faith") that evolutionary origins are based in fact, while all creationist views are founded on a fiction. Though not fully defining the alleged fiction, the implication was any belief in some supernatural Supreme Being.
Since recreating the conditions of our origins is untenable, most scientists confine themselves to half of solution 3, testing results. From their starting hypothesis (or "presupposition") they test their predicted results - what should be observable today, or as found in other available evidences - with a goal of logically establishing a course of events. If they were impartial, this should not exclude testing alternate starting presuppositions, no matter how widely they differ from the accepted view. This rarely happens. The evolutionist will gladly discard hundreds of variations of their own hypothesis, to test another, so long as the next option still assumes a totally materialistic and mechanistic starting place.5 Their chosen limitation is also a derivative of their faith. To believe that everything came from nothing, by something that came from nothing, is (no matter what they call it) an act of faith. Observed evidence and testing shows that something cannot come from nothing by something (force, process, etc.) that also arose from nothing. Postulating that, therefore, all matter/energy comprising the universe is eternal doesn't answer this challenge either.6 This is another declaration of their faith. Perhaps the greatest failure of this method arises in the arena of life. While science has been quite able to manipulate life, or existing building blocks of life (i.e. DNA, RNA, etc), one of the most persistent observations (or conclusions) has been that life does not arise from non-life.8 To claim otherwise, without any proof, is a statement of faith.9 And no, the mere existence of life cannot be construed to be the proof that somehow it arose from non-life. Moving the origins of life into space, a theory called Panspermia, doesn't solve this problem either.10
n. The supposed development of living organisms from nonliving matter. Also called autogenesis, spontaneous generation.
n. biology. The now discredited theory8 that living organisms can arise spontaneously from inanimate matter; spontaneous generation.
Note: Evolution, with its nothing to something and non-living matter to life theory is a modern form of abiogenesis - something that testable science has proven impossible by natural means. It's an exercise of blind faith to believe otherwise.
Even though some scientists claim to be able to peer back in time, through their telescopes, often claiming to see "shortly after the Big Bang", this too is a statement of faith, one that assumes that there was a Big Bang before it. The only thing these scientists can say with certainty is that they are seeing conditions after everything existed - which may or may not infer anything about how they came into existence. The results, of all their studies and speculations, has left most resolutely clinging to their latest model solely by faith, hoping that it might just turn out to be true and yet no way to know for sure.
Solution 1, to have observed our origins, would be the most preferential solution, but as we know, it didn't happen. Both creationists and evolutionists are in rare agreement here. A close second, then, is a trustworthy record from one who was there, as the next best thing. This is our single act of faith as Bible-believing Christian - and not one that is without evidence. We believe, from God's word, that he was there. In believing the Bible to be God's word, His perfect revelation of Himself and what He has done, we start with a solid presupposition. Logic alone tells us that everything cannot come from nothing, by a process created by nothing, let alone that life came from non-life. This leaves our Bible-based presupposition logically tenable, that everything was created by an all-powerful Being, along with the subsequent conclusion that all life came from that Life.
Secondly, our faith in the Bible as being God's word, as something trustworthy and accurate, has been repeatedly shown to have stood the test of time and examination. Those who argue that the Bible is full of contradictions and errors do so from arguments of silence or ignorance, not study. Perceived contradictions have always shown they have a higher unity that can be discerned through a fair and diligent search. Multitudes of "we've never found evidence to support this" have fallen aside through the efforts of archaeologists. And many a "we've proven this didn't happen" have been retracted as further evidence has been uncovered causing necessary reconsideration of earlier interpretations. Simply put, the number one reason that people discredit Scriptures is that they have, as many scientists have done, started with a presupposition that everything must have a natural explanation. This view discards any active God along with all miracles.
It's time for people to start speaking the truth on this matter of origins. Sure, they can believe in their nothing to everything, or molecules to men, theories, but teach them as they really are: theories and models founded on their faith (presuppositions). Writing as one who is a Bible-believing creationist, I'll gladly proclaim that my understanding of these things is also rooted in my faith. My starting point, believing in God and His revelation, to me, takes far less faith than theirs.
One final thought. To have faith in the God who created everything is far different than having faith in a nothing that supposedly created everything. Only God can provide a reason for living. As the source of our origins, He is the source of our purpose, meaning, goals, and hope. When faith is placed in anything outside of Him, such as a process (i.e. evolution; that they claim stemmed from their nothing), there can never be a real purpose for living, let alone hope for eternity. If you are merely a product of chance, random processes, and an uncaring universe - having only the here and now - nothing really matters as everything is beyond control. As a believer, I freely confess that much is beyond my control, but the big difference is that I serve the One who has everything in His control. My hope rests in God who created all things with a purpose.
1. Quotes throughout this work, unless otherwise noted, are excerpts from "Greatest Mysteries: How did the Universe Begin?", written by Ker Than, a staff writer for Space.com, August 13, 2007. This article is also one part of LiveScience's weekday television series "Greatest Mysteries". Ker's article came about because they "asked several scientists from various fields what they thought were the greatest mysteries today."
2. It is clearly stated in Old and New Testament scriptures, that the human race does not naturally seek God. The very fact that any do find Him has to be the result of God's gracious revelation of Himself to them.
3. The late Carl Sagan, perhaps best known from his book and series "Cosmos", was an ardent humanist and evolutionist. His self-empowered quest for answers, to this timeless mystery of origins and destiny, led him to the conclusion that mankind was an insignificant speck in the vast reaches of space, the product of solely natural forces. Ultimately the extent and focus of his faith was expressed in the lie he embraced to the end, "We've evolved only recently... Evolution is a fact, it really happened!"
5. Ker Than's article (see end note 1) continues to show how random appendages get added to their theory, or model, based on observations that otherwise wouldn't work. The resultant hodgepodge, while technically providing an explanation, by no means provides the best or necessarily true explanation. All are still anchored in their belief ("faith") that the start had to be a Big Bang. No challenge is allowed to this initial presumption.
6. While Than echoes the claim that an eternally existing universe is a radical departure from the dogmatic Big Bang starting point, it is not. In fact it merely multiplies the questions, with repeated Big Bangs in infinity and perhaps the arrival of life during each, again all through mysterious and inexplicable means. Instead of everything coming from nothing, by forces produced by nothing (and then life from non-life), this theory attempts to drop the initial "nothing." To claim that everything is eternal is a leap of faith as great as claiming that there is a God who is eternal. In fact, unless they claim their initial energy and matter to have some innate intelligence or ability, it still begs the question of how their eternal "everything" without a purpose or ability (i.e. nothing) started making everything.
7. The Associated Press distributed another news item during the time I was working on this article. It's title, "Scientists still can't define life, but can modify it." (by Seth Borenstein. The Tennessean, August 20, 2007), summarizes a key issue in this whole quest for origins. Life is certainly different from non-life. Speculations that life can be created in a lab, or invented through programming (i.e. robotic intelligence), all presuppose that life is a natural product of existence. Yet, in the biological realm, all science has been able to do is manipulate, or reinvent, utilizing life that already exists or components of that life. Life is something that goes beyond mere mechanics, or processes, having a spiritual component whose effect science can observe but never create.
Grand claims accompany many of mankind's manipulations of life. The aforementioned article confidently proclaimed...
Manipulation of life and its existing building blocks should never be misrepresented as creation. When science can make it from nothing (Genesis 1:1), or a human out of dirt (Genesis 2:7), then they could legitimately make such a claim. Reconfiguring that which God created is something that mankind has been doing all along, only perhaps now becoming more scary in the results.
It's only a matter of time before the definition gets changed enough for someone to declare themselves a creator.
8. Louis Pasteur disproved the theory of spontaneous generation of life from nothingness in 1859. Evolutionists, who nominally affirm this disapproval, subsequently add millions of years and a professed host of intermediate processes to, in fact, embrace the opposite.
9. Both creationists and evolutionists profess to be using the same science in their study of the natural world. Evolutionists often, unfairly, claim that creation scientists are merely making religious statements, asserting that they alone are dealing with science. The reality is that both use the same operational science. Each equally use, and appeal to, sciences such as genetics, geology (distinguishing types of rocks), and even natural selection (which is observable). What the two sides are irreconcilably at odds over is their view of history. Their starting presupposition (or belief), of what happened in the past, is what causes them to interpret the viewed evidences in opposing ways. The creationist's biblical history combined with operational science provides a consistent and more rational explanation to the observable evidence. Admittedly it's one based on faith, but so too is the less rational evolutionary alternative.
10. The host of evidence, and experimental science, that actually opposes the spontaneous generation of life on earth, has led some scientists to take a leap of faith. Certainly it is not one towards the revealed truth of Scripture, but one that still enables them to cling to a professed naturalistic understanding of origins.
Panspermia enables a scientist to push the origins of life out into space, where somewhere and somehow they believe that the right conditions for it to spontaneously arise must have existed. It had to be out there, because they concede observable evidence actually supports the creationist view that there is no evidence that it happened. Placing origins into space becomes another act of faith, completely non-testable, but certainly one that still allows them to cling to the equally untenable view that everything else subsequently evolved here on earth.
Panspermia is merely another theory built on hosts of non-testable claims and fanciful speculations. It's easy for each theory to point a finger at others and say "your's is an article of faith" but, as this entire article establishes, all theories of origin are built on an article of faith.
Brent MacDonald of Lion Tracks Ministries. (c) 2007