by Kurt P. Wise
November 12, 2008
is the professor of science and theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He earned his PhD in geology from Harvard University and has published numerous articles on biblical geology. He has also written the book Faith, Form, and Time.
Each of these myths looks at only a limited amount of God’s creation. Evolution, for example, sees similarities and proposes that all organisms are related by common descent. Ancient cultures, in contrast, developed pantheons of diverse gods to explain the diversity they saw in the universe.
The God of the Bible, on the other hand, filled His creation with clear examples of both similarities and differences. He created the universe in such a way that no human would be confused about the Creator. The similarities, or continuity, are evidence of One common Creator. The differences, or discontinuity, are evidence of the diversity within the One Creator—three unique persons with one divine nature. God made the similarities and differences in creation so obvious that every human, even children, can see them (see Matthew 11:25; Romans 1:18–19; and related verses).
When God planned His creation, He was strategic in His placement of continuity and discontinuity. Foreknowing every creation myth that humans would ever devise, He created in such a way as to falsify every one of them. He placed enough continuity to demonstrate that multiple gods could not have constructed such a unified creation. He also placed enough discontinuity in just the right places to show that no natural process could have generated such a diverse creation.
A few examples of this discontinuity follow. Most are covered in standard biology classes, but rarely is their significance recognized. All this discontinuity points toward the triune Creator, who made every distinct kind of living thing in six days, according to Genesis 1.
Bacterial DiscontinuityIf evolution had occurred, it would have followed the simplest course—developing first a single organism of the simplest form possible, and then in time, developing more organisms and more complexity. Because the simplest known organism which can exist without other organisms is a bacterium,2 it is assumed that evolution would have begun with a bacterium and, in time, modified it into other bacteria and finally into other organisms.
Yet differences (discontinuities) found among the bacteria seem to indicate that this evolutionary story cannot be true. First, there is an enormous discontinuity between even the simplest known bacterium and the earth chemistry from which it is purported to have evolved.
Second, discontinuities separate all organisms into three major, distinct groups (called domains)—the bacteria themselves are divided into two different domains (Bacteria and Archaea) and all non-bacteria grouped into a third (Eukarya). These realms are so very different that even many evolutionists believe they evolved separately. The fact that bacteria make up two realms shows just how fundamentally separate the various bacteria really are (more different, at this scale, than any two plants or animals!).
Third, within one of these realms, Archaea, are discontinuous creatures known as extremophiles. (Phileo is a Greek word for “love,” so an “extremophile” is something that loves extremes—extremes that would kill any other organism.) Every extremophile is vastly different from every other organism on earth, with no viable common ancestor. Barophiles, for example, love the immense pressures found under thousands of feet of rock; thermophiles love the temperature near that of boiling water; and acidophiles love the acidity of fuming sulfuric acid. Any one of these extreme conditions destroys the organic molecules in all other organisms. Virtually every molecule of these extremophiles has to be specially designed for the extreme conditions for which they were created.
Cellular DiscontinuityFurther discontinuities divide the realms according to how they get the energy they need to survive (what is called metabolism). Some organisms get energy from organic compounds made by other organisms. Animals, for example, get energy by ingesting, while fungi get it by absorbing. Other organisms get energy from the sun—plants using certain wavelengths of radiation (light) and other organisms using other wavelengths. Still others, such as many different bacterial groups, get their energy in ways radically different from any plant, animal, or fungus.
Unusual energy sources range from gases, such as hydrogen or carbon monoxide (which are poisonous to other organisms), to metals (such as iron or magnesium) and rock-forming compounds (such as nitrite or phosphite). The differences are so very foundational to how these organisms live, that it seems quite impossible to evolve one into another.
Further discontinuities separate organisms according to how they move around—amoebas, for example, move by changing cell shape; paramecia move by tiny cilia; and still others move by a long flagellum. Other discontinuities separate organisms according to how they build “armor” to protect themselves—for example, mollusks use carbonate; radiolarians use silica (glass); and arthropods use stable organic molecules.
Animal DiscontinuityDiscontinuity also abounds within each of these groups. Discontinuities, for example, divide the animal kingdom into about three dozen distinct groups, called phyla.
Consider just a few of the profound differences between phyla. Chordates have skeletons inside their bodies, whereas arthropods have skeletons outside their bodies. Even among animals that protect themselves with very specific armor plates, such as two carbonate shells, different phyla often put them together in radically different ways: clams place the shells on the sides of their bodies, while brachiopods place them on the front and back of their bodies. Sponges are identical, or symmetric, in every direction around a line, while echinoderms, such as starfish, are symmetric in five directions around a line, and worms are symmetric along a plane.
Looking deeper, discontinuity can also be found within phyla. There is such discontinuity between turtles and all other reptiles (for instance, turtles have shoulder blades inside their body cavity) and between bats and all other mammals that evolutionary transitions are not only unknown, but sometimes even difficult to imagine.
These are but a few examples of the discontinuity that abounds among life-forms. This pervasive discontinuity is both a challenge to the creation myth of evolution and a manifestation of the Creator’s true nature.
- According to Romans 1:18–20, everyone knows God through His creation but suppresses the truth. See Jud Davis, “The Creator Clearly Seen,” Answers (July–September 2008), p. 32.
- “Bacteria” is used here informally to refer to all single-celled organisms that lack a cell nucleus. With this informal use of the word I am including the group of single-celled organisms known as archaea, not technically a part of the monera (the true bacteria). This larger group (archaea + monera) is officially called prokaryota, but I am avoiding this term because of its evolutionary etymology (it assumes that these organisms lived before single-celled organisms with nuclei). Plus, the differences between monera and archaea are rather subtle (only at the biochemical level).