A couple weeks ago I was alerted to a NPR blog with the title, “Why Do So Many Have Trouble Believing In Evolution?” The blog’s author, Dr. Marcelo Gleiser, is a theoretical physicist at Dartmouth College. Gleiser begins the blog with statistics from polls that show many people do not believe in evolution and how that relates to educational level and church attendance. He states, “Not surprisingly, and rather unfortunately, religious belief interferes with people’s understanding of what the theory of evolution says.”
First of all the “theory of evolution” doesn’t say anything (this is the fallacy of reification). However, scientists do say things about evolution, and what they think about the unobservable past is greatly influenced by their “religious belief.” Especially when it comes to historical science (evolution and creation), the beliefs or presuppositions of the scientist play a major role in interpreting evidence in the present and the conclusions drawn about the past. Scientists such as myself begin with the inerrant Word of God and His eyewitness account from the beginning of time given in Genesis. Other scientists start with human opinion, imaginations, and ideas that are subjective and fallible.
Gleiser states, “The evidence for evolution is overwhelming.” He discusses the fossil record and radiometric dating and then talks about “in-your-face evolution” giving the example of antibiotic resistant bacteria. He writes that, “. . . there are creationist scientists who claim that mutation is not the true mechanism of resistance.” As I read it I thought, “That’s unbelievable, who could that be?” only to discover he thinks it’s me!
He quotes from an article I wrote for Answers magazine entitled, “Antibiotic Resistance of Bacteria: An Example of Evolution in Action?” He argues that I think horizontal gene transfer (bacteria swapping DNA) is the only way that bacteria become antibiotic resistant. I honestly have to question if he read the article, because I wrote the following in that article:
Bacteria can gain resistance through two primary ways:
1. By mutation, and
2. By using a built in design feature to swap DNA (called horizontal gene transfer)—bacteria share resistance genes.
I clearly don’t argue that swapping DNA is the only way. In fact, I only wrote one paragraph about bacteria swapping DNA following a much lengthier discussion on the role of mutation. Mutation is what results in changes to genes that can then be swapped to gain antibiotic resistance. I have written numerous articles (and focused much of my research) on mutations resulting in change in bacteria, here are just a few:
- Observation of Evolution in Bacteria
- A Poke in the Eye?
- The Role of Genomic Islands, Mutation, and Displacement in the Origin of Bacterial Pathogenicity
- A Creationist Perspective of Beneficial Mutations in Bacteria
Gleiser closes the blog with this:
Even though I’m not a believer, I wonder why those who are need to equate God with the hard work of designing people, bacteria, dinosaurs, or some 900,000 known species of insects. . . . Surely there are better ways to find God or other paths toward spiritual meaning in life?
For an omnipotent and omniscient God, creating was not “hard work.” He simply spoke and all things came into existence (Genesis 1). He didn’t create all the different species that we have today but rather created them according to their kind (for many organisms this is at the “family” level) and designed them with the ability to change and adapt in a post-Fall, post-Flood world leading to our modern species.
And God loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us (John 3:16–17) so that our relationship with Him could be restored. There are not “better ways” or “other paths.” Jesus tells us in John 14:6 that “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” May we pray that Dr. Gleiser and other scientists like him will come to the knowledge of the truth before it is too late.
Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!
 Marcelo Gleiser, “Why Do So Many Have Trouble Believing in Evolution?” January 18, 2012, npr.org.