Is there a valid conflict between evolution and creation?
That was the main question posed by Dr. Kenneth R. Diller to a packed house at a seminar hosted by Christian Students on Campus at the University of Texas last Friday. With standing room only, the seminar was abuzz with seeking Christians, skeptical scientists, and everyone in between. The attention of all was held by Dr. Diller, a world-renowned Chairman and Professor of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Doctor of Science by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1972 and has been with the University of Texas since 1973. He is the author of more than 250 scientific research publications.
By the end of the seminar, the answer to Dr. Diller’s question was a clear and emphatic NO!
There is a consistent harmony between verified science and the holistically interpreted Bible.
The adjectives in this statement are crucial. Verified science means science that is based on factual data, not on educated guesses used to fill in the gaps between real data. Interpreting the Bible holistically means looking at the Bible in its entirety, without taking a phrase or a verse out of context.
The meat of the seminar was split into two sections: facts and understanding. Facts are discrete points of evidence, while understanding makes sense of the bigger picture around the facts.
Some of the verified scientific facts that Dr. Diller mentioned were that evolution occurs and that humans share 98.6% of their DNA with chimpanzees. However, combining these two facts to posit that humans evolved from apes is pure speculation, not science. In addition, there is no scientific record that fills the gap leading to the most unique cross-cultural trait of humans: the ability to know God and the desire to worship God.
Dr. Diller’s main burden for the seminar was clearly not on the side of the facts of creation, but on the understanding of creation. All creation comes from God, but there are really two realms of creation: the old creation and the new creation. The old creation, consisting of the entire universe, is the physical, material creation. On the other hand, the new creation is entirely out of Christ and in Christ (Gal. 6:15, 2 Cor. 5:17).
There are two approaches to understanding the old creation: science and the Bible.
Both are perfectly valid, harmonious, and compatible. However, because they view the universe from two very different perspectives, science and the Bible should not be cross-mapped.
Science explains processes; the Bible explains purpose.
Science requires proof; the Bible requires faith.
Science exists for the “how”; the Bible exists for the “why”.
God’s eternal purpose lies not in the old creation, but in the new creation, which is revealed to us solely by the Bible, not by science. As explained by Ephesians 3:9-11, God’s purpose is to build the church, which is carried out through his economy. Dr. Ken Diller defined an economy as the way limited resources are distributed among members of a society. In God’s economy, the members are the believers, and the resources, which are the riches of God Himself, are unlimited! He is distributing them to His people through the bountiful supply of the Spirit (Phil. 1:19). This is entirely in the realm of the new creation, where unfortunately, your microscope just won’t work.