Many are aware of the controversial comments made by Canada’s Governor General, Julie Payette. Since the comments were made at the annual convention of the Canadian Science Policy Centre and were framed as the consensus view of the scientifically educated, it seems appropriate to mention my academic background before commenting. I am currently studying medicine (MD program), I hold an honors degree in behavioral neuroscience and am completing a masters degree in molecular biology. I’m sure we can all agree that science is the driving factor of almost all human endeavors, from technological advancements to medicine, and from physics to ecology. Ms. Payette is an outstanding scientist, however, her comments surrounding creationism are exemplary of the ridicule that Christians will face when standing up for their faith. You can watch her speech here and below is an excerpt.
Does science conflict with what the Bible teaches about origins and what are some practical lessons we can learn from her comments?
“Can you believe that still today in learned society, in houses of government, unfortunately, we’re still debating and still questioning whether humans have a role in the Earth warming up or whether even the Earth is warming up, period. And we are still debating and still questioning whether life was a divine intervention or whether it was coming out of a natural process let alone, oh my goodness, lo and behold, random process. Yet so many people — I’m sure you know many of them — still believe, want to believe, that maybe taking a sugar pill will cure cancer, if you will it good enough! And that your future and every single one of the people here’s personalities can be determined by looking at planets coming in front of invented constellations.”
Payette is visibly incredulous that some people deny global warming or believe in creation, alternative medicine, or astrology. By listing these items together, the implication is these viewpoints are equally uninformed and contrary to clear evidence. Let’s consider each briefly, in terms of what science can tell us.
Science can directly test “sugar pills”, and in doing so, reject them as a sensible therapeutic option. The same is true for astrology, which is not testable and has no logical scientific basis. It is demonstrably false that all people born within a certain range of days have the same personality characteristics. These two examples can be tested scientifically and are obviously false; Her Excellency has accurately condemned these beliefs.
Rising global temperatures can be measured, but admittedly there are a limited number of tools available. We only have one earth, which means there’s no other earth that can serve as a control group. For this reason, global warming research is largely, though not exclusively, correlational. My personal belief is that Christians need not deny global warming. Objective experimentation records an increase in mean global temperature, such as the fact that “Sixteen of the 17 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001” (NASA). If objective, repeatable measurements indicate a rising global temperature, we can be confident that’s what’s happening. In any case, we should remember the Lord’s promise: “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” Gen 8:22.
The last point of derision is creationism, and this topic is not at all like the others. The origin of the earth and of life is not repeatable or testable, and therefore falls outside of the jurisdiction of science.
Below I will list a number of reasons why creationism is the exclusive logical explanation of origins, and the corollary, why evolution is not. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list and each point below could be written about at great length.
- The simplest life possible is still fantastically complex, requiring hundreds of precise, information dense molecules to be present. Here is a great article on the subject.
- Mutations plus natural selection, the proposed engine of evolution, can only fine tune existing information, thus it has a very limited capacity to add to biological information.
- The scale of biological information is unfathomable. Humans alone have around 20,000 genes that code for proteins.
- Evolution, even in theory, can only select for traits that give a specific survival advantage, yet organisms possess optimized design which far exceeds what is necessary to survive.
How This Impacts The Everyday Monday Christian Life
The Bible teaches a number of things that society wholeheartedly accepts: God is love, love your neighbor, care for the fatherless and widows, and the list goes on. The Bible also teaches things that are severely offensive to society, and one of these is that God created the heavens and the earth and man in 6 days.
Practically speaking, you may, and likely will, face mockery for trusting in God’s word. However, I’ll leave you with some important principles that have encouraged me.
- Above all, we know the Bible is trustworthy. “All Scripture is inspired by God” 2 Tim 3:16
- Because the Bible is true, we can honestly search for answers. Don’t hide from your doubts! The beauty of believing in the truth is that it can handle the most intense of scrutiny. The answers are out there. The beauty of believing in the truth is that it can handle the most intense of scrutiny. The answers are out there. Click To Tweet
- Speaking of answers, you can’t possibly have them all. There’s no shame in admitting you don’t know, most people will respect that. But go ask someone you trust or look up a reliable resource like creation.com (highly recommended!).
- Finally, you can win an argument but lose a soul. Our example is Christ, who was “full of grace and truth.” Be gracious. Acknowledge you hold a minority view. Assure the person that you only hold it because you believe it is true and logical, but don’t compromise on truth.
As Julie Payette suggested, much of the world is in an echo chamber, with people only listening to what they want to hear. Use your voice for Christ.