It’s often said that one can’t be a real scientist without believing in evolution. However there are many real scientists who reject evolution, and believe in a young earth, and I had the pleasure of interviewing another such individual. I took the time to interview Dr. Michael Groves and discuss his scientific background, as well as his take on the topic of creation. Dr. Groves was born in Birmingham, England and moved to Australia as a child. He graduated from University of New South Whales, and then received his doctorate at Flinders University in Adelaide Australia.
What is your scientific background? I started with a Bachelor’s in science, majoring in physiology and physics, an honors degree in physics, and then a PHD in biophysics, studying the photosynthetic pathway. After that I spent a number of years in research and development looking at developing medical products, primarily in the area of hematology and immunoassays, and eventually developing products for use at the bedside in cardiovascular OR’s, ICU’s and particularly in pediatric neonatal ICU’s for doing blood gasses, electrolytes and a range of tests. I then sold and marketed those products, and trained people on how they could best be used to save lives.
How would you describe your view of creationism? I would describe myself as someone who holds to the Biblical view that life was definitely created in six days… but that is not the view I held originally. I held an evolutionary perspective. When I was younger I wrestled and wrestled with this and have moved from an evolutionary view to a theistic evolutionary view, but that didn’t hold much weight. I am now convinced of a purely creation view, primarily because of the Biblical record, and also because of the science… Creation just makes an enormous amount of sense.
How did you see the world when you were an evolutionist, and how did you progress into a creationist? Until I was age 19 I took a purely materialistic view of the world. I didn’t think a great deal about it. It’s just that’s what it was. I was taught we have a material world and that everything came from that. We came from the apes, monkeys, and everything had evolved. And it wasn’t until I was age 19 that I turned my life over to Jesus Christ, and that was because of studying the Bible. But then I had a “disconnect” because I still held to an evolutionary perspective, so that hadn’t caught up with my new belief in the Bible as of yet. So one of the things I really didn’t like doing was going to the zoo. I was rather like Darwin. Darwin hated peacock tail feathers because they reminded him of the eye. He knew the eye was complex, and he hated that because he knew that did not fit his theory. I loathed going to the zoo because I would see all the monkeys and would think, “Well, they are very similar to us,” and I’ve been taught an evolutionary perspective. Maybe this whole thing about God is manmade and isn’t real because of the evolutionary “evidence” I could see when I went to the zoo. I realized in retrospect that that was a serious mistake because I was drawing conclusions from looking at similarities. If I see similarities in man-made objects (such cars), they scream out design! So why doesn’t similarity scream out “design” in life? That’s the confusion I had. There’s a different philosophical perspective that I had to come to, and it took me many years before I started to wrestle with those ideas because of the dichotomy in my mind and the doubts that it often caused me. Evolution is based on a philosophical idea that matter is all there is, so by definition it must see creation as false. I had to wrestle and go back through the prophecies of the Old Testament, realizing that this Jesus is very real, that he is there. Once I understood that my philosophical view included both a spiritual and material element I could see the world through a creation perspective. Scientifically it was tremendously uplifting and encouraging because then I started to see God as the creator in everything I saw. Being trained as a scientist, that was extremely encouraging and stimulating.
Some evolutionists will claim that you can’t do any real science unless you believe in evolution, or that no real science can be done unless you believe in evolution and are using it. So when you’re practicing science, did evolution ever come into play? No. Evolution had absolutely no role to play in my work as a scientist. In science, what you’re doing is observing what’s around you and applying the laws that we’ve discovered in science- which aren’t “laws of evolution”. As a scientist I was applying the laws of physics and chemistry. Evolution was irrelevant. I mean, quite honestly, in a way, so was creation, from the perspective of you were just doing the work of observing how things go together and discovering those things. What we’re doing when we talk about creation and evolution is asking the question, “Where did we come from”, and that’s a very different question that a scientist asks when trying to solve problems. I don’t really need to know where we come from in order to understand how the laws of physics work. But I would say this: A very recent discovery in science that’s really only occurred within the last decades is the understanding of the structure of DNA. We have seen that DNA is very complex. There’s a relatively small percentage- by that I mean less than 2% of the DNA- in the genome that actually codes for protein production. The rest of the DNA controls that whole process. For many years- in fact since the ‘70’s- this 98% of the DNA it was considered “Junk DNA”; i.e. junk left over from failed experiments- so to speak- of evolution. And what that led to was the idea that we only need to really study that 2% as that’s the real functional part of the genome. The rest is just “junk” and is sitting there. So, in fact, that whole area was ignored for probably up to 25 years. I would say that an evolutionary perspective has done serious damage to our progress and understanding of how DNA works. Now that we know DNA is no longer junk (this has been admitted by scientists since 2009) and that it programs for control of everything that goes on in the cell, I think we can see the whole idea of evolution no longer makes any sense. In fact because DNA controls everything, you’ve got to ask the question, “How could the regulatory functions of the DNA possibly evolve before cells get to encode for the proteins that DNA is designed to do”? How do you put all the control mechanisms in place and design the entire infrastructure before you know what it’s for? It screams to me that it’s designed. We’ve only discovered this huge mistake in thinking in the last five years. To me this is real vindication that a creation perspective would have enabled us to look at that material much earlier and with much more detail. After all, cancers are the result of the malfunctioning of the regulatory part of the DNA! In this case, evolution has actually done us a huge disservice in the area of science, in particular in the area of molecular biology and cancer research.
What would you say to someone who said that you can’t be a real scientist unless you believe in evolution, or that you can’t be a Biblical six-day creationist and be a scientist? The problem they have is that they have redefined the word “science”. Both Newton and James Clark Maxwell are considered to be great scientists. Thinking of Maxwell, he was one of the greatest scientists in the 19th century, discovering the laws of electromagnetism, which we depend upon for all of our electronics today… an incredible scientist. Both of those men and many other scientists took a world view that there is a creator who’s designed us and made us, and therefore we can discover that design as we study science. In other words, the world should be orderly, because a designer has designed it. It should make sense. We should be able to look at how things fit together. Today people are taking a materialistic viewpoint in which they have totally removed God from the picture. One should ask, “Why should we expect to find laws of behavior of the universe if it is one big cosmic accident with no overriding laws governing it”? Einstein answered this when he said, “God does not play dice with the universe.” Today, many have redefined science as being a materialistic study of a purely material world… So I’m afraid the problem is that modern day science has redefined itself to exclude a creator. It all comes down to how one redefines the word “science”.
What are some examples that disprove evolution? We live in a modern age in which we now understand the role of information in communication. This is at the core of everything we do. We understand, also, if we’re honest with ourselves, that information cannot be created by the physical laws. If, for example, I went down on the beach and saw the ripples on the sand, I know that those have been created purely by wind, rain, maybe the action of the ocean. We’re seeing those ripples based on the laws of physics in operation. If, on the other hand, I’m down there and I see a sandcastle and it says “Mechanicsburg, 2012” on it, I know for sure that that did not get there by the laws of physics. That got put there because people said I want these grains of sand to go in these very, very specific locations to create this picture that I have in my mind. Someone had imagination.
Information is an organization of material entities such that it communicates ideas or instructions for action. Information is not intrinsically material. When we really start to grapple with that and understand it, then we start to understand that information requires a non-material entity. Let’s look at life, for example. Do you know what distinguishes life- you and me- from a rock? It is information. That’s the only thing. The elements are common between us and rocks, but are organized in very specific ways to create life. It is information that drives all of life as we see today in our study of DNA. However, information is not a material entity. You do not change the weight of a DVD by loading it up with a film – all you do is rearrange the “bits” on the surface of the disk. So information screams out that there must be something beyond the material that creates that information. It is delightful that as we see information around us we know that it’s created.
What we in fact see is, unfortunately, deterioration in information over time, especially when left to its own devices. In other words the laws of physics do nothing to help create information. They do the exact opposite. They will actually destroy information.
We’ll go back to the sandcastle now for a moment. I don’t expect next year to come back and see that sand castle- exactly the same one. Why? Because the laws of physics are going to break down, they’re going to move that sand around and move it a way dictated by the laws of physics. Deterioration in information is all around us, especially in our bodies. In physics this is known as the second law of thermodynamics – which basically says that the use of energy results in an overall increase in disorder. The bottom line is that the operation of the laws of physics result in greater disorder, and ultimately destroy information. Hence, to imagine these laws are responsible for creating information is ludicrous.
I believe from what we are now seeing about the role of information in life there is an incredible designer, and an incredible intelligence. This gives me a glimpse of the mighty God who created all of this. So I believe the presence of information is the arch nemesis of evolution.
The Bible is the infallible Word of God. Would you agree? What does this mean to you? I would agree with this statement. What that means to me is that God has created all that we see around us. God has written and told us, not only how things came into being, who we are, the problems that we have, but it is also full of history as well, which has been verified so well by historians digging and archaeologists. It tells us of our great need for a redeemer, in the person of Jesus Christ. It tells us of what he did. It tells us of our future too. It tells us the complete picture: where we come from, where we are, and where we are going. This can only be done by somebody who knows the big picture- who’s designed us completely. As we look at God’s Word we can trust that God- having made us in this incredible way- is able to communicate with us. Think about it, wouldn’t it be incredibly silly if God couldn’t communicate with us, being that he is such a great designer? Indeed, as we look at the consistencies within the Bible and prophecies over thousands of years coming true, it’s an incredible testimony. That’s what convinced me that the Bible was true. God says that the Bible is actually true (Jesus consistently said and acted in such a way as to confirm this). So we have to believe it, but not only on that basis, but also because we have rational minds and the intelligence that God has given us to actually dig into it and wrestle with it and indeed find that it supports the claim that it is infallible as Gods’ Word to us.
What happened at the curse and the fall of man? The fall is the most tragic part of the whole Bible. The Bible is clear that there was no death of man before the fall. The evolutionary model of death certainly doesn’t make any sense in terms of the Bible. In this model death would have been going on as a natural process of life. The fall has caused a catastrophic change in our ability to relate to God. It’s actually destroyed that ability to relate naturally to God. God wanted to correct that problem that we had caused, and so provides a savior who had never lost that relationship with God- namely His own Son, Jesus. So the creation and the fall are some of the most critical parts of the Bible. If you ever throw them out, you throw out the whole need for Jesus Christ. There is no need for redemption if death has been the normal modus operandi of life. Unfortunately, the fall of man also means that I can’t just be good to get to heaven because I don’t have any hope of restoring that broken relationship with God. God has to do that.
What are your thoughts on a global flood? Was Noah’s flood a real event? The first evidence is the Bible states it. God wiped out all of mankind except Noah and his family. So that would be the first piece of evidence. The next question would be, people would say it was probably just a local flood. The problem is, if it’s big enough to wipe out all of humanity, it has to be a pretty big flood. We have no full understanding of what the land mass looked like back then, except for today we see that the whole land mass was one. Something we now call Pangea. The Bible talks about the waters of the deep and the land breaking up, so our idea of Pangea is actually correct. We see it by all the organization of land masses that were broken up. Well what caused it to break up? The Bible is quite clear. It was a catastrophic change. So now the question is, we’ve got the Bible on one side stating this, but is it a fairy tale? Do we see no evidence for it? Well we look all over the earth, and what we see are huge amounts of fossils. The fossils are probably the best evidence for the flood that we could possibly have. Fossils don’t get created by animals just dying slowly and so on and just getting buried slowly. It happens only with catastrophic events. You’re a fisherman, you go out and fish, and you see some dead fish around, and what are they doing? They’re lying on the surface of the water belly-up… They get eaten or eventually sink to the bottom. Those don’t become fossils. You have to actually bury them quickly in mud in order for them to become fossils. Most of the fossils around world are marine fossils. That makes a lot of sense. Fossils are as high as Mount Everest. That was one of the big surprises when Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mt. Everest. He saw shells- clam shells, but they were closed. Well, we see dead clam shells on the beech all the time. Eventually they just open and the shells lie there, separated from each other because of the wind and the waves and so on. What Hillary saw was that something catastrophic had buried them. Right up as high as Mt. Everest. Mt. Everest may not have been as high as it was back then. But the key is you see the evidence of fossils everywhere. Just recently people have discovered huge amounts of coal in the center of Australia, which is a desert. Well coal comes from rapid burial, again, of trees, of plants, and so on. So again, we see fossils, we see coal depositions all over the world. You see everything we’d expect to see from a global flood. So I would say the evidence is rather clear that there must have been a global flood.
Is it possible for life to come from non-life? In or by itself? The answer is no. Again, information can’t arise without a designer or intelligence. Let’s say we create amino acids, which we know we can do in the spark chambers that were done in the 1950’s, those great experiments. If those amino acids naturally wanted to go together in a specified way by attraction, that’s lethal. Because what happens is we can only end up with certain sequences and that can never be changed. It’s rather like looking at a salt crystal. It’s sodium chloride everywhere you look. No matter how far you dig down the tunnel of salt crystal, all you see is sodium bound to another chloride which is bound to another sodium. Why? The laws of physics tell us that sodium with one valence electron has to combine with that chloride with seven valence electrons. And you will never, ever get a sodium with another sodium. It always has to be a sodium surrounded by the chloride. In exactly the same way, if those amino acids could form because of natural attraction what we’d have is something like a salt crystal with no information content whatsoever.
What can you tell us about the reliability of various dating methods and techniques? All of the techniques make various assumptions. The assumptions are very critical. Carbon dating actually has a relatively short half-life in the 5,000 yr range. The amount of radioactive carbon is a very low concentration- it’s 1 trillion to one in terms of carbon 12 to carbon 14. So by about 60,000 years there’s virtually no carbon 14 left in any bone that would be around, or any piece of wood. The consequence of this is that it should be impossible to date dinosaur bones assuming the youngest ones are 65 million years old. So if you measured carbon 14 in the bone, then it clearly, from a scientific perspective cannot possibly be 65 million years old. Now why do I talk about dinosaur bones? Because people have dated dinosaur bones using carbon dating and got dates in the 10 to 16,000 year range. We’re familiar with the very recent discovery of soft tissue in a dinosaur bone, and that seems to be totally incongruous with an idea that they died 65 million years ago. It’s much more compatible with thousands of years. Then we look at other materials that are now carbon dated- diamond, coal, and other elements like that. The dating is suspect because we have to know the beginning conditions.
The biggest issue we have with Carbon 14 dating has to do with the needed assumptions. It’s important to note that Carbon 14 doesn’t come from carbon 12; it comes from nitrogen in the upper atmosphere due to cosmic radiation. So if you have a change in cosmic radiation, such as the change in the magnetic field, that will affect the amount of carbon 14, but not the amount of Carbon 12. Carbon 14 dating depends on the ratio of these two amounts. This throws a variable into the calculation that we have no way to measure. So for example, what if we had a lot more carbon 12 around thousands of years ago before the flood and now we have less carbon 12? That ratio of carbon 14 to 12 would be lower pre flood than it is today. This would lead to a considerable overestimation of dating of carbon material deposited at the time of the flood or before. So we can see there are at least two very big variables. The assumption used in Carbon dating that the ratios of Carbon 14 to 12 have remained the same is therefore not justified. Hence it is impossible to date past organic material beyond about 5 thousand years owing to significant events that are recorded in the Bible. Even if you don’t believe the Biblical record of the flood you would have good reason to be suspicious of the dates. One researcher in the field of carbon dating wrote that it is not surprising that more than 50% of the carbon dating measurements are rejected – what is surprising is that so many of the other measurements are accepted.
Let’s talk about the long-lived radioisotopes that we know of. There are several very, very big challenges we face in those dating methods. One is that if we date materials using all the different methods that are available to us which have the half-life of the material is hundreds of thousands to millions of years, such as uranium, lead, potassium, argon, and so on. What we discover is those methods do not agree. Recent dating of rocks in the Grand Canyon have revealed discrepancies of the order of ½ billion years! That is not an error in the measurements themselves; it is a true disagreement between the methods. That says there’s something wrong with our understanding. A huge assumption that we make in most of these datings is that what’s called the daughter product of the radioisotope decay has been removed by some process. For example molten lava should remove the gases such as Argon and the lead should flow out, leaving the radioactive mother material only. It is this that then decays, producing a daughter product that is then measured to determine how long the mother material has been decaying for. The problem is, when we go to volcanoes- many of the volcanoes around the world that have erupted in our lifetime, we find rocks that we date at 200 million years old. So again, that assumption isn’t quite correct. And if they’re not quite correct, they lead to huge disparities. And so really, those dating methods aren’t as reliable as they are made out to be. That’s a huge problem, especially when you’re trying to date things millions and billions of years that we have no evidence from archaeology. There were no civilizations around and no written record. It’s all complete guesswork.
What books would you recommend? Michael Behe’s, “Darwin’s Black Box”. He’s a scientist who really wrestles with the issues. Not on a conceptual level, but on a very much practical level. He is a professor of Biochemistry and so has a good understanding of this subject. This book looks at how Darwin had no idea of the complexity of what was going on in a cell. As a good scientist, Darwin did acknowledge weaknesses in his theory stating that if these weaknesses could be substantiated then his theory would have to be modified or dropped. Behe gives good scientific reason why Darwin would have had to drop his theory based on what we know and are learning today.
Michael Denton’s book, “Evolution, a Theory in Crisis” This is a very good book that really challenges evolution. It doesn’t propose an alternative, I think, because Michael Denton probably does not come from a creation perspective. But I find that makes the book even more interesting. It’s not as though he has a different philosophical stance. Rather, he just sees all these holes in the theory that don’t make any sense as a scientist. He’s not willing to swallow those. So I find his book incredibly interesting.
The final book is by Philip Johnson: “Darwin on Trial”. Philip is a lawyer and looks at the rhetoric surrounding the evolution creation debate and has great insights into some of the misunderstandings.
Any closing comment’s you’d like to leave us with? I think in today’s age, understanding the science of life is extremely exciting because I believe that it just confirms the understanding in the Bible and confirms that we need an intelligence to create us. So I’d say to anybody who is in any way afraid of science because they may be Christian and they’ve seen a conflict in the Bible and what mainstream science is saying, I’d say don’t be afraid of it. Go into it boldly. Whatever you discover will never contradict what God is saying- after all God created it.