Q: I’m a biology student, and our teacher discussed evolution. Is he really teaching us the truth? What is the biblical truth about the dinosaurs? Is the theory of natural selection true? Did we humans evolve from apes? — Zenyfaye, from the Philippines
A: I’m turning over the question to Dr. Tim Standish at the Adventist Church’s Geoscience Research Institute:
Zenyfaye, thanks so much for your questions. I’ll provide some brief answers here, but encourage you to explore the Geoscience Research Institute webpage. There you will find Frequently Asked Questions with in-depth responses as well as other resources, including some great free movies about the creation.
Your teacher is probably teaching you the best that he or she has to share, so please appreciate that and always be sure to respond to what you are being taught in a respectful and Christian way.
A lot hinges on the word evolution, which can have many different meanings ranging from simple change over time to the idea that all life originated from a single cell that was produced by unguided chemical reactions.
As Bible believers, we understand that the world today is very different from the “very good” world God first created. There are predators that kill, thorns on plants and many other changes that have occurred in the creation, so we have no issue with evolution in the sense of change over time.
On the other hand, the biblical record of the 6-day creation tells us that distinct organisms were produced on different days of creation — plants on Day 3, fish and birds on Day 5 and land animals as well as humans on Day 6. In addition, when reasonably interpreted, scientific evidence points strongly against the theory of universal common descent of all organisms from a single ancestor, while strongly suggesting a common Creator of all things as the Bible records.
What About Dinosaurs?
The Bible doesn’t specifically mention dinosaurs, although some people believe that the “behemoth” and “leviathan” referred to in Job 40 and 41 might be dinosaurs. However, we can’t be certain these are actually dinosaurs.
What we can be fairly sure of, based on the abundant scientific evidence, is that dinosaurs did exist and that they were spectacular creatures, giving every indication of being beautifully designed. Most people think of them as gigantic, and some certainly were, but most dinosaurs fell within the normal range of modern creatures, ranging from about the size of a turkey to the size of a cow. Many of them appear to have been peaceful vegetarians, although terrifying carnivores seem to be emphasized in popular media.
WHAT ABOUT NATURAL SELECTION?
The theory of natural selection is true in that some individuals in any population will produce more offspring than others. In populations, this can result in changes to the frequencies of different gene variations called “alleles.”
The question is, could natural selection change one kind of organism into another kind of organism? This seems very unlikely because in the Darwinian mechanism of random DNA changes in conjunction with natural selection, the random changes do not produce new genetic information.
Even if they did, making a new kind of organism involves more than adding a small amount of information. That information must work along with all the other information in an organism’s genome to produce an organism more fit than all the others in a population of a species. That requires multiple coordinated changes, but random changes are by definition not coordinated so that they work with other changes. Coordinated changes require a plan that is intelligently executed, and that is the sort of thing that we only observe as a result of an intelligent mind.
The Bible tells us that man was created directly by God as was the first woman, so the biblical record precludes the idea of humans evolving from apes. Science also suggests this is a very unlikely story.
THE HUMAN AND CHIMPANZEE GENOMES
The human genome is more than 4 percent different from the chimpanzee genome and there are very dramatic differences between some of the chromosomes. For example, the chimp and human Y chromosomes are very different in both size and content.
While the differences are far more profound and complex than a simple percentage can convey, you can think of each percent of difference representing about 30 million differences between humans and chimps. To generate and then select these differences would require each individual human ancestor to produce hundreds of babies, even given the millions of years suggested by Darwinists.
I wish you well on your quest to understand biology, particularly as it relates to the eternal truths revealed in the Bible. Please do visit the GRI website at grisda.org. I believe you will find it very useful.
We will never have all the answers to all the possible questions, but the data in much of science tend to be quite consistent where they touch on what the Bible reveals. Differences typically revolve around interpretations of those data.
Your teacher is no doubt doing his or her best to give you the finest education possible. You may not always agree, but we can always be a clear witness to the power of Christ our Creator in our own lives.
Tim Standish, Ph.D.
Environmental Biology and Public Policy
Geoscience Research Institute