Science in Christian Perspective



Creation In Terms of Modern Concepts of Genetics and Physics

From: JASA 5 (September 1953): 7-10.

There has long been a need among Christian men of science for a working correlation of the facts of our environment that will be consistent with what we know of God. The more generally accepted theories today attempt this correlation apart from God. The purpose of this paper is to give a consistent correlation of certain genetical and physical data that will in addition, be, true to the revealed Word of God.1

A recent paper by Alpher and Herman of Johns Hopkins University gives a simple account of how they believe the elements could have been formed in the beginning. That there was a beginning some 2 to 3 billion years ago is evidenced according to these authors, by the amounts of radioactive elements such as Uranium and Radium, and by the present rate of expansion of the Universe. The expanding universe is what one would expect if the universe was once densely packed and was blown out by an explosion. The uniform relative abundances of the elements throughout the universe, except for explicable exceptions, as measured chemically on the crust of the Earth and meteors, and measured spectroscopically on the stellar bodies and gas clouds, points to a common origin of the elements prior to the condensation of the stellar bodies. Known nuclear reactions at the temperature and pressure that must have existed in the initial exploding mass, can account for these abundances.

Several hundred seconds after the initial explosion, the universe was uniformly filled with a very hot gas consisting of neutrons, protons, positrons, electrons, neutrinos, and electromagnetic radiation, (principally high energy light rays). Tremendous collisions between particles took place that at first shattered both collidants, but as the gas expanded and cooled, the colliding energy fell so that more and more of the particles stuck together after hitting, resulting in larger and larger aggregates. The larger aggregates had a greater ability to capture neutrons. As the neutrons became excessive the aggregates or nuclei became radioactive to electron emission, thereby raising the number of protons and hence its atomic number. It then continued to grow by further neutron capture. After an half hour to an hour the, temperature had dropped so low, and the capture of neutrons and their radioactive decay had so reduced their number that little or no further synthesis could occur.

This theory assumes the particles and their properties, and the cohesive forces that bind the nucleus; and assumes it's initial high density and temperature. Granted these assumptions, they are certain that a other properties of the elements and their compounds can be explained by the chance aggregation and random motion of the sub-elemental particles. However, the assumptions they have made logically lead to the periodic table of the chemical properties of the elemehts and the present form of the physical universe, an order that God designed. Where they assume, we acknowledge the Hand of God. This theory as has been mentioned,1 fits in well with a creationist point of view and may well have been the technique used by the Creator in originating the elements. The suddenness and finality of the beginning postulated by Alpher and Herman is in sharp contrast to theories, such as the theory of Evolution, which assume that given enough time anything could happen.

At first sight there would seem to be an infinite numer of elements possible due to the infinite number of ways in which the sub-elemental units could be combined. But actually there is a limited number due to certain basic principles of exclusion. At first sight of the organic realm of living protoplasm there would seem to be an infinite number of possible basic designs or species, but actually there is.a limited number of stable combinations of individual genes or genetic factors though no two individuals are identical. The genes in the organic realm seem to be the building blocks created by God just as the protons, electrons, etc., are the building blocks in the inorganic realm. The basic character of the genes is evidenced by the existence of similar enzyme systems throughout the breadth of organic life. However the total original complex of genetic factors from which all individual species were formed may have had no physical existence prior to the appearance of the individual species, but existed only in the mind of God. (A-11 living things are able to organize lifeless elements into their own protoplasm. During the life of an individual the elements carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. that once composed it, change; some of them many times. The protoplasmic patterns then are the lasting entities, not the momentary physical expression of them. Hence these patterns need not have had any physical existence prior to the moment God supervised their first physical expression. God then United and harmonized the individual genes or factors into discrete species patterns. This uniting and harmonizing act of God would explain why changes or mutations are usually deleterious. How and when God gave his species patterns a physical expression is not a problem when we realize that God was the one who did it, and that it did not and could not have occurred by any chance. The heterogeneity and the degree of variation possible in, each species pattern is characteristic of each species and was characteristic at the time of Creation.

A brief presentation of a few of the authors reasons for rejecting the usual theories of gradual origin of the variation we find in the organic realm is now In order.

According to the geologic time scale as generally accepted by geologists, approximately 1,000,000 years have elapsed since Eocene times. According to orthodox paleontological thought the ancestor of the modern horse first occured in Eocene times or at least skeleton remains are first found in stratified rock generally attributed to this era of geologic history. As stated by Cordelia Erdman3 "This little animal was about a foot high, the size of a fox terrier, with a short, slender face and eye orbits in the center of the skull so that the face length was one half of the cranial length. Its legs were relatively long and slender and were unique in that the front feet bore four toes each, whereas the hind feet bore only three. Vestigial toes brought the number to a total of five for each foot. The teeth . . . were low crowned and in most species were bunodont, a condition in which the surface is smoothly undulating rather than ridged or folded. From this it may be inferred that Eohippus was omnivorous in diet, just as from his feet we infer that he was a forest dweller rather than a plains animal."

Obviously this group of animals differed from the modern horse in so many features that only by the use of a certain amount of "scientific imagination" called deduction can one understand the reasons causm*g paleontologists to consider Eohippus as the ancestral type from which our modern horse evolved. By successive stages or changes during Oligocene, Miocene, Pliocene and Pleistocene larger animals having fewer t es, longer legs and teeth more and more adapted to a plains grazing life gradually evolved until finally the modern horse appeared on the scene by the beginning of the Ice Ages in Pleistocene times.

From the genetic viewpoint the number of differences, each based upon at least once allelomorphic pair of genes or factors, between the presumed ancestral Eohippus and the modem genus Equus must be at least well over 100. What are the time requirements for the accumulation of such changes, i.e., the occurrence of the various original mutations and the subsequent incorporation of them into the genetic system of Eohippus in homozygous condition? Fortunately the answer to this question has been thoroughly worked out by Patau4 and a brief presentation of his conclusions are now in order.

Though admittedly most mutations confer no selective advantage, Patau makes the assumption that mutations do occur occasionally having a selective advantage of 1%, i.e., confer upon the animal in which they occur some superior physiological behavior or physical characteristic giving it a 1% advantage in survival and reproduction. Such a mutation according to Patau would increase in frequency from .01 to .1 percent of the population only after 900,230 generations. Another 100,511 generations are needed to increase the frequency to 100%. Certainly the time for natural selection alone to effect a change in a large population is enormous even geologically speaking. And very few mutations have been shown experimentally to confer any selective advantage. In small populations mutations are incorporated more rapidly, but one must assume very small populations indeed to appreciably shorten the time involved. Now the modem horse has a breeding cycle of about three years. Even assuming a yearling breeding cycle for the ancestral Eohippus it would take about 1,000,000 years for even one mutational change to become a constant feature of the entire species. Even assuming population 1/10 the size postulated by Patau, one would still have the slow rate of accumulation of one mutation per 100,000 years. Though several mutations could of course, be simultaneously undergoing fixation, obviously the number necessary to account for the many differences between Eohippus and the modern horse could hardly have occurred since Eocene time by natural selection of advantageous mutations.

The situation is the same no matter what groups of Plants or animals is considered. As pointed out by Lammerts and Tinkle5 the differences separating even very closely "related" species are very many. The only way changes are known to occur at present is by mutation and the overwhelming number of mutations are actually harmful to the organism in terms of survival. A particularly lucid review of this situation is presented in the American Scientist by C. B. Martin. The article entitled, "A Non-geneticist looks at Evolution," shows most conclusively that "all mutations seem to be in the nature of injuries that to some extent impair the fertility and viability of the affected organisms." He further states, "I doubt if among the many thousands of known mutants one can be found which is superior to the wild type in its normal environment."6 Even however assuming for the sake of the argument that occasional mutations are beneficial, their chances of incorporation in the genetic system of the organism or species are small indee d as discussed above. A satisfactory explanation of the remarkable diversity of the organic realm in terms of evolution by mutation and natural selection is indeed difficult, even assuming that the long periods of geological time postulated by geologists are correct. (An assumption incidentally, not granted by the authors.)

Is it not then time to consider the bearing of Alpher and Hermans concept of the formation of the inorganic realm on our ideas of the origin of specific diversity?

As discussed above by Sinclair, the old idea of the necessity of postulating enormous periods of time for the origin of the elements and development of the material universe has been seriously questioned by these physicists. Granted the right conditions of enormous heat and a potential system of various units of mass, the whole series of elements could have been formed almost instantly even on the basis of chance alone. How much more should we as Christians recognize the omnipotence of God in place of the chance reactions postulated by Alpher and Herman?

Applying this reasoning to the organic realm it seems quite reasonable to us that God first set up the gene system as the immaterial basis of life. By this we mean that a certain total number of distinctive genes or allelomorphic factors constitute the complexity of the many kinds of plants and animals. We do not imply, however, that all organisms have the same number of genes, though some genes are, of course, common to all organisms. Thus on the basis of economy of effort a wise Creator would certainly use the same genes in all organisms wherever possible, i.e., whenever the same function was to be achieved. Thus in all probability an amoeba and man have the same genes making possible the conversion of the various food compounds into protoplasm. For though the steps involved in digestion of food by mammals are more complex than the digestion of food by the amoeba, in all probability the final conversion of the organic chemicals to protoplasm is similar. Again all organisms may well depend on basically the same genes for the phenomena of cell division. Plants in terms of this creation concept differ from animals by virtue of a gene system making possible the synthesis under the influence of light, of water and carbon dioxide into sugar giving off oxygen which in turn is used by all animals. On the basis of economy of effort a wise Creator probably used the same set of genes or genic system to accomplish photosynthesis in all plants. All birds probably have many genes possessed "in common" so to speak since in their creation certain basically identical problems of adaptation to air flight had to be met. When we as students of nature attempt to group plants and animals into classes, orders, families, genera and species we are attempting to correctly understand and classify the enormous complexity of God's organic creation in terms of which groups belong together by virtue of possessing most genes in common. The grouping then of all genera resembling the rose into the family Rosacease if properly done, would merely mean that more genes were possessed in common by species of this group of flowering plants than were shared by a species of the genus Rosa and let us say a species classified in the genus Geranium of the order Geraniales. In no sense of the word would this classification imply relationship due to descent from a common ancestor. The relationship would be the result of creation from the original "stockpile" or complex of genes. My various friends of the evolutionary school of thought so frequently express the thought that creationists must have the ridiculous idea that one species can in no way be related to another. Or stated in different terms, they believe that if two species are shown to have a large number of homologous genes, i.e., genes which are identical, evolution from a common ancestor is thereby proved: Surely on the basis of economy of effort a wise Creator would use the same genes wherever possible and consistent with His obvious desire to create an organic world of marvelous diversity. The remarkable similarity of the eye of the octopus to the vertebrate eye so well described by George Barry O'Toole7 certainly cannot be due to any inheritance of genes from a common ancestor since the two classes of animals are obviously not closely related. From the evolutionary point of view the resemblance is apparent only, and marine zoologists go to considerable lengths attempting to show the Importance of minor differences in eye structure in the octopus and the vertebrate eye as being proof of independent origin.

On the basis of-the above creation concept, however, such similarities in the organic structures of relatively unrelated plants or animals is just what one would expect to find, i.e., similarity of structure and function because of the use of the same gene system whenever possible.

In order to, allow for variation in the environment, all species, some more than others, are endowed with a number of genes capable of responsive adaptation, the resulting character expression being greatly influenced by the environment. Thus peach varieties vary greatly in the amount of winter chilling they require, some being practically evergreen and thus adapted to semitropical climates while others require more than 1200 hours at 40 0 F. or lower to break dormancy and leaf out. It is of interest that varieties having a long chilling requirement are also the ones which first go dormant in the fall, thus being better adapted to survival of sudden drops of temperature in the fall, and accordingly, having the maximum degree of winter hardiness. Fortunately, the number of factors involved in this adaptive responsive is small enough that varieties may readily be bred combining almost any degree of winter chilling requirement with desirable fruit and flower characteristics. A series of varieties adapted to the almost sub-tropical conditions of Southern California, combining large double ornamental flowers and good quality fruit have accordingly been recently developed and introduced.*

Many characters of both plants and animals are dependent on quantitative factors present in heterozygous

* Daily News 2, 3 and 41 Star varieties, originated by W. R Lammerts of Descailso Gardens, Ia Canada, California and Altair originated by H. 0. Swim, Armstrong Nurseries, Ontario, California.

condition. Rather rapid adaptation to changes in the environment within, a few generations is thus possible. Undoubtedly this potential of individual variability is as much a characteristic of certain species as any of their physical characters such as flower shape, color or petal number. Indeed, we must realize that in many

genera and species we may often have specific and varietal diversity simply for the sake of variety as such. Thus Camellia cuspidata is a remarkably constant species having inconspicuous small white flowers, whereas Camellia japonica is a highly variable one exhibiting many thousands of beautiful varieties. Yet both are diploid species having the same number of chromosomes. The limits of individual variability within the species were then also set at the time of creation along with the potential physical expressions of the gene systems.

The total number of genes necessary for us to assume for this concept is by no means infinite, or even very large. Possibly a total of less than 100,000 would suffice. Even only 12 different gene pairs give us 4,096 different combinations of true breeding organisms. Not only were all species created almost simultaneously according to our concept, but also all the potentially possible individual variations were -anticipated and their limits set.

We must also realize that originally, along with the creation of the organic kingdom, a perfect world in which the gene systems making up the myriad of plants and animals could function perfectly was also created. The gene systems and the environment in which they functioned were perfectly attuned. Obviously to secure such complete balance practically instantaneous creation was necessary, since each part of the organic realm is so dependent on every other part. One of the fundamental weaknesses of the evolution theory is the failure to appreciate fully this relationship. Thus, how could the animal life of the ocean exist for millions of years without the corresponding complement of land plants? Or could the many flower feeding types of insects live without the higher forms of flowering plants?

As long as a perfect world existed, complete balance was possible. But with the entrance of sin a vicious unbalance began leading to a more and more imperfect relation of the gene system with the environment both internal and external. Even the very basic system of gene reproduction by chromosome division and transmission became subject to flaws and imperfections. Hence we witness the large number of mutations which are mostly defective in one way or another.

It is believed by the authors that a careful study of the facts of genetics, embryology, geology and paleontology will show that all the marvelous complexity of the plant and animal kingdoms was created from a common total sum of genes arranged in various integrated patterns of complexity. Their materialization as recorded in Genesis was accomplished in a very few days.


1. Alpher, R. A., Herman, R. C., Johns Hopkins Magazine, March, 1951.

2. Eggenberger, D., Gamow's Theory of Element Building, J.A.S.A., 2 (3), 23- ('50).

3. Erdman, Cordelia, Paleontology of the Horse, J.A.S.A. 2(4), 25-36 (1950).

4. Pateau, K., Die Mathemathische Analyse de Evolutions Vorgange, Seitschrift ffir Ind. Abstam. und Vererbungslehre, 76, 220-2Z8.

5. Lammerts, W., Tinkle, W. J., Modern Science and Chris tian Faith, Ch. 4, Biology and Creation, 78-83, 90-93 (1950)

6. Martin, C. P., A Non-Geneticist looks at Evolution, American Scientist, Jan. 1953, Vol. 141, no. I' pp 100-105.

7. O'Toole, George Barry, The Case Against Evolution, . MacMillan Co., 1926.