Wonderful life

Biology is the study of life. The natural world evokes endless delight and wonder, and the study of it - learning about the variety of animal and plants, their behaviour and different habitats - can keep a person fascinated for a lifetime. One direction of study is finding out how life got to be how it is now. That inevitably involves some idea of 'evolution', because in this impermanent world nothing ever stays the same. It also naturally leads to some idea of creation. Until the 19th century most people in the West believed that God created the universe. Millions of people, including many scientists, still do, seeing in Genesis nothing incompatible with what we know today from modern science.

That said, many in the West do not believe in creation. Instead, evolution is seen as a process whereby nature created itself. The origin of everything, including the amazingly precise and constant laws of physics that make our world possible, was a Big Bang some 13 billion years ago. The universe & solar systems formed, and biology began when somehow (scientists do not know) bacteria assembled themselves into highly complex, genetically programmed, self-reproducing cells from a soup of chemicals. 'Life' then continued to develop into more and more complex forms by mutations, becoming more and more various, until it reached its climax two million years ago with the emergence of human beings.

A different point of view

In this section of the website, and without wishing to cause offence, we explain why we believe this latter position is not satisfactory. We are all indebted to Darwin for pointing out that species are related to other species. When he wrote The Origin of Species most people believed that they had always been fixed and were separately created. However, Darwin went a lot further than merely disproving this presumption. He argued that the natural selection of small, naturally occurring variations could eventually bring about very great change, and that to explain the origin of the differences between one species and another was to explain how life as a whole originated. We do not believe this is so. To cross the species barrier is not to cross every boundary that makes one form of life (such as a horse) distinct from another (such as a butterfly). It just means that some species are related to others and explains the evolutionary trees we see in the fossil record.

At their most extreme, creationists hold that the Earth is about 6,000 years old, that a global Flood occurred c. 2500 BC, and that the Earth's fossils tell the story of Noah's Flood. That is not our view. It seems to us obvious that civilisation itself is older than 6,000 years old, let alone the archaeological record that precedes civilisation and the geological record that precedes the archaeological record. If we do, nonetheless, hold that the Earth was created and subsequently destroyed, it is not simply because we think the book of Genesis in the Bible provides good authority for such a view, but because the complementary studies of biology and geology themselves point that way. They don't, however, do so if one tries to interpret the past within the straightjacket of preconceived ideas about evolution and chronology - whether the preconceptions be Darwinist or creationist.

To be clear, we have no wish to contest the order in which fossils appear, nor the evidence that fossilised organisms were buried very close to where they lived before they were fossilised. The only major respects in which we differ from the orthodox view are the same two in which we differ from the creationist one: genealogy (since the fossil record suggests many separate family trees rather than a single tree or no evolution at all) and time (since the evidence of depositional rates does not support either a 4-billion-year or a 1-year timescale). Once both these issues are clarified, the fossil record can be seen as telling a story of ecological recovery following a global mass extinction (which included the devastating flood described in ancient texts including the Bible).

Body and spirit are both facts of biology

All reproducing organisms, plant and animal, have a genetic code which controls their growth and development. Since the complexity of this information exceeds that of the most sophisticated computer programs, it seems obvious that the information must have originated in a supremely powerful intelligence. Inanimate matter is incapable of producing information.

Animals have the ability to move voluntarily: they have life in a sense in which plants do not have life. Because life in the sense of consciousness is not a property of matter, the existence of animals requires a life-giver as well as an intelligent programmer. The normal word for such a being is 'God'.

Increasing biological variety over time

Our conclusion is that the genetic information with which the original kinds were endowed enabled them to evolve over time into a great variety of species, leading to the flora and fauna we study today.

The evolutionary change was sometimes very great. To give one example, there are now more than 2,000 species of snakes, and snakes themselves appear to have descended from a branch of early lizard. Genesis itself suggests as much when it says that the 'serpent' was fated over time to crawl on its belly - in other words, to lose its legs. That is exactly what the fossil record shows.

On this website we have included a few pages that touch on some of the critical issues, such as the evolution in the fossil record, geological dating and the differences between apes and man. We are keen to encourage discussion, for if it really is reasonable to believe that the world created itself, it is surely also reasonable to suppose that God created it. The concepts of creation and evolution are complementary in many ways.