Testing Truth with an Open Mind

Dr. Roy Spencer

Dr. Roy Spencer is a senior scientist at the Marshall Space Flight Centre, USA, and is a leading scientist with NASA. At one point in his career he was asked to advise the White House on global temperature trends.

To be honest, what little I knew about Christianity bothered me! In particular, Christians in my area who went from house to house inviting people to events at their churches irritated me! These people clearly believed they were part of the one, true religion, if indeed there was one. I asked myself, how could they be so sure? If Christianity were true, why weren't most people Christians? How could anyone in good conscience devote his or her life to any one religion without at least investigating all the other world religions too?

I also had a fundamental problem with the Bible. Was not its first book, Genesis, merely a mythical account of how the universe and life came into being? Anyway, it seemed to me that Christians picked and chose what they wanted to believe, selecting some things in the Bible, while rejecting others, often quite arbitrarily and subjectively – how, then, could I regard their 'holy book' as the inspired Word of God? Fundamentalists were all a bunch of biased faith-heads, while scientists were objective, honest, unbiased and open-minded. Well, sort of! The time came when I began to realise, to my initial surprise, that there was a group of scientists who believed that the universe and all life within it had been created by some greater intelligent Being, not by mere chance. They were seemingly able to do so using scientific arguments, not just religious dogma. I began to study their case and after some months of analysis I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world.

The possibility then presented itself that, despite all I had previously thought, Genesis, the first book of the Bible, might actually be true! That realization led me to open a Bible for the first time, and to read it for myself, from the beginning. I also became open to reading the Bible because I discovered that a very intelligent friend of mine believed the Bible was the word of God. My family and I accepted this friend's invitation to accompany him to church one Sunday. I was impressed by the genuine concern and friendliness shown by many of the people. Clearly Christianity was not a faith confined to simple, or even socially maladjusted, people, as I had previously thought.

As I investigated religions other than Christianity, I became aware that many of them assume evolution to be true. The Bible was the only 'holy book' in which I could find a record of God's creating the material universe from nothing! Next, the work of many historians revealed to me that the Bible is by far the most accurate and best-substantiated ancient book known to man. It truthfully portrays actual historical events and has been faithfully copied by scribes over the centuries so that what we have today in the Bible is, to a very high degree (within a percentage point or two), known beyond a shadow of a doubt to be the same as was originally written down by the authors. Furthermore, nothing in that two percent affects any of the major Bible teachings or events.

When I turned to the gospels I learned that the contemporary enemies of Jesus, who wanted to disprove His divinity, could not deny His many miracles, there being too many eye witnesses. Not being able to dispute the fact of His amazing deeds, they questioned the source: they asserted, feebly, that an evil superhuman power had performed the miracles, not the Spirit of God!

I was struck by the unity of the Bible's message – the way it agreed with itself even though it was written by 40 different authors over a period of 1,600 years. I realised that the gospel records were free of comment from the writers. They merely recorded what they saw without exaggerating the events, without covering up the faults and failings of the followers of Jesus and without trying to present the story in exactly the same way. There were enough differences between the four gospels to prove they had not collaborated, but not enough differences to stray into the area of outright contradictions and errors.

So, at last, I had to face the reality, based on all the evidence, that the basic tenets of Christianity were true, and that the gospel of Christ really changes people's lives. True, my decision to become a Christian involved faith, but not the kind of faith caricatured by the likes of atheist Richard Dawkins, a faith that 'just believes' in the teeth of real evidence to the contrary. My faith in Christ was evidence-based. I had very well founded reasons for believing in Him. In fact, the eyewitness writer of the fourth gospel, John, explains why he recorded what he saw – "That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God " (John 20:31). So, having examined the Biblical record of creation and the person and work of Christ on the cross for my sins, of which I knew I was guilty, I put my trust in Him for salvation and, to explain to others what had happened to me, I was baptised.

To examine the relationship between science and the Bible, a good place to start is with the origin of the universe. Science presents us with the laws of thermodynamics, the first of which states that the total amount of matter and energy in existence is constant. If this were the only natural law to be satisfied, it would be possible to believe that the universe has existed forever. Indeed, that was the prevailing view back in Darwin's day. However, the second law of thermodynamics states the overall amount of useable energy is constantly decreasing – it is being degraded into a less useful form. In other words, the universe is dying. If the universe were eternal it would by now have experienced what astronomers call a 'heat death' – a state of total equilibrium in which entropy would be infinite. This, among other factors, has led a majority of astronomers to agree that the universe had a beginning. Several thousand years of scientific endeavour has brought the majority of scientists in line with the first verse of the Bible which states, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Well, the first three words of the verse anyway! If there is no God, who or what caused the universe to begin? There really are only two basic options – it created itself out of nothing or it was created by something greater than itself! If everything that begins to exist has a cause, and the universe began to exist, the universe must have had a cause.

A second issue is the origin of life. There is a vast gulf between the most complex non-living compound such as a crystal and the simplest form of life such as a bacterium. The gap is much larger than the gap between a bacterium and a human being. Science, despite expending enormous amounts of time, is actually further away from an explanation as to how non-living chemicals can accidentally and spontaneously come alive than it has ever been. All the evidence on hand, both in nature and in the laboratory, points to the fact that life only ever comes from life. The Bible credits the origin of life to the power and design of a 'living' creator God.

A third huge issue is the complexity of life. In recent years scientific advances have uncovered the complexity of the cell, both biologically (DNA, RNA, proteins, amino acids, etc.) and atomically (electrons, protons and neutrons etc.). It turns out that the nucleus of every human cell is a digitally coded database containing more information than Wikipedia, and is vastly more complicated than New York City. An increasing number of scientists consider it to be impossible that such a structure could have evolved through random processes, as evolutionists assume. The last 50 years or so have seen real evidence come to light that random mutation and natural selection are incapable of building complexity. Observation of malaria, E. coli and HIV, all of which exist in vast numbers and have short life cycles, have shown that while 'Darwinian' processes can cause minor changes, always involving a loss of complexity, they cannot build complexity – nor can they begin to explain where the proteins and genes came from in the first place. Again, the Bible has said all along that life was originally created and has ever since reproduced 'after its kind'.

Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer. In fact, every year that passes reveals all the more starkly that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe, life, complexity, consciousness and reason is not merely 'difficult' but hopelessly impossible. It took me a long time to finally approach the Bible with an open mind, but I am very glad there came a time when I did. My advice to you would be to seek out the truth for yourself. Unfortunately, much of what people believe is based less on evidence and more on unsubstantiated just-so stories. In relation to the basic claims of Christianity, do what I did! Read the Bible. Judge it for itself. Put it to the test. I am confident that you too will find the Bible not only to be in agreement with proven facts of science, but also to be the book which will lead you to a personal faith in God the creator of all things.