Number 6. Believing in the Evolution of Life – A Christian Option or Anathema?
Michael Garton


Summary

Ancient Greek philosophy anticipated the conclusion of modern Darwinian evolution. This was not because of the extraordinary scientific foresight of the Greeks, but because their evolutionary philosophies have gripped Western civilisation; to them all scientific theories must subscribe. Inevitably, this has led to fallacious scientific reasoning. One illustration is the accepted myth that life spontaneously evolved by chance. Such an assertion is incompatible with true science, the character of God or biblical revelation. Moreover, belief in organic evolution has been more destructive to biblical Christianity than any other single factor.

Greek philosophy followed ancient creation myths, which give a global testimony of belief in upward evolutionary development and of worship to created beings. Originating at Babal, the ultimate goal of all such evolutionary philosophy is the worldwide worship of a created being who will proclaim himself as the Almighty. Only when mankind fully repudiates the identity of the Jesus of Calvary can another maintain that it is he who is Yahweh.

There has never been a more urgent need to recover a biblical (and therefore scientifically correct) understanding of origins. It is vital that Christians reconsider their attitude to Scripture - and rediscover the awesome creative power of God as described in Genesis, along with the wonder that it was the Creator who gave Himself upon the cross.

Darwin in Perspective

The earth, and life upon it, had a beginning. There is widespread belief amongst Christians that that life began in the simplest possible form, and evolved through time. This was the concept popularised by Charles Darwin in 1889. Some form of evolution is endorsed by the majority of evangelical literature (eg. Lion Handbook to the Bible, 1973, 1992; Brooks, 1985) as well as by many influential church leaders (e.g. Forster & Marsden, 1989; or The Archbishop of York).

It is argued here that this is a grave and extremely serious misconception, which becomes the more apparent when Darwinian evolution is seen in the context of both history and modern science. Schaeffer (1990) painted in the historical context for the last millennium. Modern science also needs placing against the backcloth of an even wider canvas: it is a surprise to find that the latest scientific conclusions conform to the conclusions of ancient Greek philosophy. This cannot be because of the brilliance of the Greeks: we shall see that axioms central to modern evolutionary thought lack evidential support. They are, therefore, philosophically driven conclusions.

I seek to explode as myth the assumption that Darwinian evolution (in any form) marks a high-water mark in scientific progress - a myth used to justify the evolutionary basis to scientific, educational, political-sociological and religious thought at the close of the Twentieth Century. Whilst Darwin’s 'Origin of Species' was but a product of history; his work is still regarded today as “.... convincing evidence for evolution as the coordinating principle of life's history” (Gould, 1989, p282).

In reality, neither of the two fundamental axioms of Darwin's general theory of evolution (first that there is a continuous gradation between species, ultimately leading back to a primaeval cell, and second, that all life in the biosphere is the product of chance) have been validated by one single empirical discovery (Denton, 1985, p345). Indeed:-

“.... virtually every apparent scientific discovery that stimulated the theory in the first place and later assisted with its development has now been found to be false” (Milton, 1992, p163).

Despite this foundation, and the increasing number of books and papers questioning the validity of organic evolution, the majority of theologians and church leaders follow the scientific consensus - a consensus that still maintains that "the theory is about as much in doubt as the earth goes round the sun" (Dawkins, 1976, p1) a claim which is, of course, simply nonsense (Denton, 1985, p75). The very fact that such a claim can be made despite the want of empirical evidence, and made by a leading proponent of Darwinian evolution, illustrates how the concept is based more on an ideology, or metaphysics, than upon scientific analysis.

If the Christian community is, nonetheless, confident that some form of Darwinian evolution is compatible with biblical revelation, then we should further consider the implication, both as to the nature of the process and as to the character of God. Few Christians envisage that organic evolution proceeds by random chance processes (although this has been the scientific consensus, for the theory asserts that it has no need of God). From a scientific perspective, Denton (1985, p66) observed with clarity rare in theological circles:-

"As far as Christianity was concerned, the advent of the theory of evolution and the elimination of traditional teleological thinking was catastrophic. The suggestion that life and man are the result of chance is incompatible with the biblical assertion of their being the direct result of intelligent creative activity. Despite the attempt by liberal theology to disguise the point, the fact is that no biblically derived religion can really be compromised with the fundamental assertion of Darwinian theory. Chance and design are antithetical concepts, and the decline in religious belief can probably be attributed more to the propagation and advocacy by the intellectual and scientific community of the Darwinian version of evolution than to any other single factor" (Denton, 1985, p66).

Theistic Evolution Impugns the Character of God

Drawing back from such a reductionist position, Christians (and others) have generally attempted to accommodate themselves to the scientific community by embracing theistic evolution. Far from being a masterstroke in reconciliation, the very thought impugns the character of God revealed in the Old and New Testaments. Whatever the (unknown and hypothetical) mechanism of significant, macro-evolutionary development, once the new forms have evolved, they face the fight for survival - 'natural selection'. Whilst Darwin was writing from a reductionist, chance perspective, theistic evolutionists would have to embrace something of the brutal summary envisaged in the penultimate paragraph of 'Origins':-

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted (?) object which we are capable of conceiving namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows" (Darwin, 1859).

The geological record attests to mass dyings, through extremes of every kind of process from cosmological to climatic. Yet it is through such extremity that the evolutionary process is supposed to have prospered. To take but one well-known example, mammalian evolutionary radiation is said to have had to await the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. If evolution were a process directed by a deity, his instruments must have included the war of nature, famine and death - and all this would have occurred before the emergence of man.

The Judaeo-Christian revelation declares the awesome power of the Almighty, and that it was through the Second Person of the Trinity that the universe - including life - was commanded into being. Jesus is the Creator of the universe (Colossians 1:16). He emptied Himself, entered His creation as a man, and taught and exemplified love to the laying down of His life. If theistic evolution is true, it is a bald proclamation of the inconsistency of the God who declares He changes not, but is the same yesterday, today and forever (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). Monod, one of the most influential of modern evolutionists, put it this way:-

"(Natural) selection is the blindest and most cruel way of evolving new species... The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process... I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution" (Monod, 1976).

Theistic evolutionists have given another atheist, Bertrand Russell, reason to taunt God:- "Religion, in our day, has accommodated itself to the doctrine of evolution. We are told that... evolution is the unfolding of an idea which has been in the mind of God throughout. It appears that during those ages when animals were torturing each other with ferocious horns and agonizing stings, Omnipotence was quietly waiting for the ultimate emergence of man, with his still more widely diffused cruelty. Why the Creator should have preferred to reach His goal by a process, instead of going straight to it these modern theologians do not tell us." (Russell,. 1961, p73)

I am aware that such statements cause rancour and defensive anger in many theistic evolutionists who can envisage no credible alternative. Experience has taught me that the human intellect catalogues information into models, and those models strongly influence how facts and experiences are evaluated. In the absence of an acceptable alternative way of thinking it is often human nature to play fast and loose with evidence, distort reason and twist theology. It is to an evaluation of this control that we now turn.

Theories of Origins – Free or Conditioned Thought?

Darwin himself enumerated one of the most critical tests to the evolutionary theory he adopted:-

"On this doctrine of the extermination of an infinitude of connecting links, between the living and extinct inhabitants of the world, and at each successive period between the extinct and still older species, why is not every geological formation charged with such links? Why does not every collection of fossil remains afford plain evidence of the gradation and mutation of the forms of life? We meet with no such evidence, and this is the most obvious and forcible of the many objections which may be urged against my theory" (Darwin, 1859, Chapter 14).

Darwin was all too painfully aware that the fossil evidence was decidedly against him. He tried to blunt the force of this criticism by suggesting that geological investigation was in its infancy.

Publication of 'Origins' spurred the quest to find transitional forms to support the theory. However, further collecting only served to emphasize their absence. Within decades of publication, the reality of the situation would have been amply reconfirmed to palaeontologists. Darwin's attempt to explain the problem away completely failed. However, belief in the ideology of evolution was so strong that it took over a century before the embarrassing truth of the lack of transitional forms could be widely admitted:-

"The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic (gradual) evolution accomplishing a major morphologic transition and, hence, offers no evidence that the gradualistic model can be valid" (Stanley, 1979).

It borders on the incredible that a century after Darwin first published 'Origins', one of the foremost authorities on organic evolution could assert, "The first point to make about Darwin’s theory is that it is no longer a theory but a fact" (Huxley, 1960, p1). Huxley, along with most of Western civilisation, had chosen to embrace an evolutionary, ideological, belief.

Kuhn (1962) has shown that scientific theories are not purely objective. Rather, they are systems of belief, drawn up from a reference frame consisting of scientific, social, political, religious and philosophical ideas. Kuhn (1962) termed this ideological context a "paradigm". History is replete with examples of scientists continuing to believe in an established (and, therefore, ruling) paradigm in the face of totally contradictory evidence.

As further illustrations of just how objective the widely acclaimed 'facts' of evolution are, consider the settled scientific conviction that life first arose on earth quite by chance. There is no denying that this is taught as a fact in schools and universities. It is an axiom of Darwinism. It is also used as a major argument that Genesis Chapter One is a myth, long since disproved by 'science'.

The truth is that the origin of life on earth is an enigmatic problem. At least it becomes so, once the truly stupendous informational transfer outlined in the first six days of creation (Genesis 1:1-27) is disregarded as myth (Wilder-Smith, 1987, p100).

Could life have arisen by chance? Did the simplest possible life system - a bacterial cell - fortuitously assemble itself at random? Advances in molecular biology have revealed that the 'simplest life form is, in effect, an advanced machine, a micro miniaturised factory, containing thousands of exquisitely designed pieces of intricate molecular machinery. An "advanced machine" (Wilder-Smith, 1987, p6) is one far more complicated than any machine built by man (Denton, 1985, p250). All instruments and devices - computers, aircraft etc. etc. - made by or technologically conceivable to man are classified as 'simple machines'.

Experience establishes that even 'simple' machines do not arise spontaneously. Machines are purposeful aggregates of matter - the hybridisation of intelligence (thought or concept - in Greek 'Logos') with matter. Information theory is founded on the axiom that such ordered, orchestrated information does not and cannot arise by chance (Wilder-Smith, 1975, 1987; Croft,1988).

The evolutionary paradigm has thoroughly gripped the biological sciences. It is instructive to observe that when Sir Fred Hoyle, a mathematician/astronomer, came over to the biological sciences to consider whether life could have begun by random, chance processes, he concluded that this was so unlikely that, for all practical consideration, it was a mathematical impossibility (Hoyle & Wickramasinghe, 1981; Hoyle, 1984). Even the simplest of such advanced machines could not spontaneously generate themselves. There has to be an external source of intrinsic information, ordering the process. Hoyle & Wickramasinghe (1981), along with Crick & Orgel (1973), recognised this necessity. The Biblical account is one option. They chose another - that life was seeded from space (obviously this still leaves the enigma of ultimate biogenesis unresolved).

Such evidence shakes the very foundation of Darwinian ideology - or should do. In a perverse reversal of logic, illustrating the power of a ruling paradigm, Sagan can use the overwhelming evidence against spontaneous biogeresis as the very proof that it occurred!

"Thus the time available for the origin of life seems to have been short, a few hundred million years at most. Since life originated on the earth, we have additional evidence that the origin of life has a high probability" (Sagan, 1975).

With the 20th Century confidence in rationalism, in freethinking and objectivity, it is important to remember Kuhn's (1962) salutary warnings. That cherished prize - objectivity - is all too rarely achieved. This can be a common experience, even at the mundane level of bias to a political party, irrational attitude to a public utility, to a relative or to the reliability of a car! In the historical and biological sciences, the matter is altogether more serious, for the only alternative to a materialistic paradigm (atheism) is one that embraces some external source of intrinsic information (some sort of belief in God). Abandoning a materialistic ideology forces the scientist at least towards pantheism.

A priori, most modern scientists cannot admit the necessity of external intelligence, for modern science is founded upon the ancient Greek philosophy of the atomists (Munitz, 1957, p6), who defined all order in the universe as arising from the blind, random interplay of atoms (cf Wolpert, 1992). The concept of a Creator "is an anathema to biologists" (Jones, 1992).

Marxism in Science

If the paradigm can have priority over objectivity, this ought to be most evident where religious belief (or lack of it) is held most strongly. Stephen J Gould is a leading palaeontologist. He has aggressively attacked creationist thinking. Such attacks make newspaper headlines. A biblical cosmology is repugnant to him, for he makes no secret of his Marxism (Gould & Eldredge, 1977). This defines the paradigm through which Gould views the world: his 'science' is subordinate to a belief in matter itself. If Gould runs true to type, then in a Marxist paradigm matter in, and of, itself must be sufficient for the spontaneous generation and evolution of life.

Now we have already noted the conclusions of leading authorities on the random generation of life on earth: that even in the most favourable circumstances, it presents insuperable difficulties (Wilder-Smith, 1987). Hoyle and Crick surmounted these by postulating that life was seeded from space. There is no better illustration of just how intractable this problem has become than the fact that eminent authorities resort to such desperate 'solutions'. To a Marxist, however, materialism is the bottom line. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Gould (1989, p309) regards the spontaneous generation of life as a "chemical necessity" and not "a chancy or unpredictable event". This is not science (cf Ruse, 1983, p236), it is ancient Greek philosophy (Morris, 1989, p212; see also Denton, 1985, p39).

A revolutionary Marxist also believes that society develops through periodic revolutions. Under such a Marxist-influenced paradigm, one could readily embrace the idea that the evolution of life has proceeded by periodic revolutions: that upward development consists of long periods when fossil communities remained the same, punctuated by occasional revolutions, when new species formed. In fact, this is precisely what Gould has suggested (Eldredge & Gould, 1973): speciation takes place so rapidly, and in such small groups, that it leaves no evidence. Hence the gaps in the fossil record can be claimed to endorse Marxism!

Such a paradigm 'permitted' Gould to recognise and acknowledge what creationists have always maintained: that intermediate fossil forms do not exist. This had rarely been highlighted by the majority of earth scientists, who were wedded to the idea of gradualism. This illustrates yet again the control of the paradigm. Scientists had to believe in gradual evolution for there was no acceptable alternative model - except the anathema of some form of 'creationism'. Because gradualistic dogma was adhered to for so long, the new 'solution' has given great impetus to revolutionary Marxist ideology.

It is a solution that fails to solve - it does not even address - the fundamental scientific objection to organic evolution. How can a machine acquire orchestrated information to increase its own complexity without an external source to provide and order that information?

Despite the affront to information theory, the dinosaurs must now be envisaged to have suddenly sprouted wings - and so the first birds spontaneously evolved. Such is the power of materialistic philosophies - whether they be pagan myths or 20th century pseudoscience. Gould has, at least, blown the whistle on Darwinian biology, and revealed what he termed (Gould, 1980, p181) the trade secret of palaeontology: all biologists are now aware of the absence of transitional evolutionary forms, just as Darwin was. Yet Darwin's theory of evolution was embraced precisely because the intermediate were believed to exist.

Paul’s Opposition was the Same as Ours Today

Thus far, I have asserted that science (and civilisation in general) is in the grip of evolutionary philosophy, and that attempting to cling to a materialistic rationale has led to fallacy. If ancient Greek philosophy is truly central to modern thought, then this can only be half the picture, for it is well known that the Greeks divided into two broad groupings. One school were thorough going materialists - as are modern science, Marxism etc. The other advocated purpose and intelligence in nature: this latter group also has a fully modern counterpart which could simply be catalogued as the 'New Age Movement'.

However, evolutionary philosophy has done a more subtle and extensive work. First, it has made considerable inroads into the three creationist religions derived from the Old Testament (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Outside of these three, belief in God is vague (or polytheistic) because it is believed to be compatible with evolution. Common expressions like "I believe in Mother Nature having her way" or "it is nature's way", often betray the philosophical basis to modern society. More and more people will realise that they are already a part of New Age ideology, if not the movement.

Belief in evolution through the Eldredge-Gould model of a sudden increase in complexity certainly fits nicely with the sociological ambitions of the New Age, and has quickly become a key component (Morris, 1989, p129). In the words of Marilyn Ferguson (1980, p159) “…it opens us up to the possibility of rapid (human) evolution in our own time...” Like the Marxists, New Agers also see punctuated equilibria as powerful naturalistic support for their worldview.

Marxist-materialism and New Age pantheism are ideologies which will certainly become more prominent in the days ahead, as the church faces the full and naked blast of the evolutionary Greek thought which Paul countered in the first century. When Paul went to Athens (Acts 17:15-34) the evolutionists he disputed with were the Epicureans and Stoics: that division in Greek society which reflects modern views. The Stoics were pantheists, who embraced 'modern' New Age beliefs. Stoics viewed the world as imbued with intelligence: man is part of the cosmic animal (Barnes 1986, p376). Hence, the Apostle would have been familiar with the recent New Age concept of Gaia (Lovelock, 1987, 1988) which, Lovelock acknowledges, is but a revival of ancient paganism.

The Epicureans were materialists who followed the Atomists, upon whom modern science was founded (More, 1925, p48). It was Epicurean philosophy which "... elaborates the conception of a universe whose order arises out of blind interplay of atoms, rather than as product of deliberate design" (Munitz, 1957, p6).

At first sight, such materialists appear to have adopted a totally atheistic stance. Until one reflects that they must have astounding faith in matter itself (especially their latter-day counterparts conversant with modern science). They must assert that by chance the universe has randomly generated matter with an impossibly unlikely configuration - one that spontaneously generates life, and which somehow self-organises into ever more complex forms.

Such a faith in matter comes close to a statement of pantheism itself, as enumerated by More (1925, p57) on the philosophy of the Stoics: "Matter is vitalised because God has implanted in it from the beginning a ratio seminalis, or rational seed. Having once made a start the cosmos develops according to natural law in succession of time".

Darker Origins of Darwinism

Any form of wholesale Darwinian evolution is nothing more than unwarranted speculation; it has taken root in Western civilisation as a cancer, and more than any other single factor is responsible for the destruction of the Christian faith.

Evolutionary biology can be traced back to the so-called wisdom of the Greeks, which the Apostle Paul was at such pains to resist and supplant with Hebraic wisdom (Corinthians 1:17-2:16).1 Modern science is reiterating Greek wisdom with its adherence to belief in organic evolution. Such a remarkable resurgence of full-blown pagan thought today suggests that the Apostle was not being parochial when he highlighted the evil of Greek wisdom. Moreover, the earliest Greek philosophers, whose schemes clearly anticipate modern speculations, were themselves clearly developing earlier mythologies.

Morris (1989, pp233-260) has attempted to trace these creation myths further back into history, assembling evidence from every inhabited continent. There are vague parallels to Genesis 1, and the occasional acknowledgement that a Supreme Creator God exists (such as Shang Ti in China) which is clearly referring to the Lord. However, these ancient cosmologies have two common denominators: (i) they all begin with a universe of space, time and matter already in existence; (ii) they are evolutionary - the forces of nature, usually personified as gods, organise this pre-existing material.

Nowhere in all the world do we encounter the clear concept of a transcendent, personal, omnipotent Creator God who brought the cosmos into existence out of nothing but His own Word of power. Nowhere, that is, except the Bible. Consider the oldest civilisations. The Egyptian god Ra claims that "I came into being from primordial matter". Enuma Elish is probably the most ancient cosmogony of all, from Babylonia/Sumeria. It specifically assumes that all things evolved out of water (Morris, 1989, pp241-244).

At first sight, it might appear that there is ancient and widespread support for organic evolution! However, the chief god or gods are not omnipotent, but created. Ra even claims to have first created himself out of this pre-existing material! Either matter is eternal, or, as the Bible (Isaiah 57:15) declares, the most High God is. The most High cannot be the source of this worldwide witness and worship to a created being. The source must be a rebellious system, which has done so much to expunge the glory of the Lord. The common origin to all these ancient accounts is almost certainly Babel. When mankind had to be scattered from there (Genesis 11:1-9) it was necessary that this be in confusion, and we should ask ourselves why. This was surely to confuse the knowledge of the evil activities and worship which was taking place there. Even so, a garbled witness to those activities, and worship to a created being, was taken around the world and recorded in creation myths, after writing was re-established. From this evidence, I suggest that the one receiving worship was Satan, as head of an evolutionary, hierarchical system.

Conclusion

The influence of Greek thought in the Church is widely publicised. At a crude and obvious level, it is well known that the 'church' erroneously championed Aristotelian astronomy against Galileo, a brickbat which is still thrown at creationists today. Barder (1992) attempted a more subtle analysis. The root, I believe, is a masterstroke of subtlety, which the Church has not only ignored, but actually condoned and embraced. It is to fall for the lie of upward evolutionary development of life on earth.

As at Babel, so at the end, Satan desires worship. Only when the testimony of Christ has been totally discredited can a created being then attempt to proclaim that it is he who is Yahweh. Events in the scientific and intellectual communities throughout the last century conspired to trade evolution over vast ages for the Omnipotent fiat. Pagan mythology was substituted for the testimony of Genesis; a Satanic delusion for Omnipotence. This was crucial preparation for worldwide worship to a created being.

The evidence is that the end time falling away (2 Thessalonians 2:14) is intimately linked with evolutionary philosophy; it is already well under way. The powers of this world acknowledge that a Jew called Yeshua died on a cross. This will never be a point at issue. It is over his full and true identity that the Christian faith totally contradicts the assertions of all other religions - including Judaism and Islam. When mankind moves to that total, world-wide denial that it was Yahweh who came as Yeshua, to the cross, then freedom will come to an end. The appointed time will have come when preaching of the gospel will be forbidden and Satanic worship enforced on pain of death (Revelation 13).

The Apostle Paul withstood Greek/Babel philosophies unshakeable in his grasp of who Yahweh the Messiah is. Two thousand years later, the church is going to be exposed to the full and naked blast of the same philosophies, but in a vastly different position to the Apostle, for we have played fast and loose with Genesis. There has never been a more urgent time to re-establish our worldview firmly upon Genesis.

Yet this understanding of Christ as omnipotent Creator is all but lost to the Church today. Indeed, it became unnecessary. Belief in evolution questions the concept of original sin. It denies that death came in because of Adam. The consequences of the fall for nature - death, bondage and decay - have to be denied (for these are the very means of natural selection!). No, the whole material, created order fell with Adam, and Christ must be Yahweh, for only The Creator is sufficient to stand as redemption for man and the whole material universe. Tragically, such fundamental truths lie in ruins. Pantheism (or "paneverythingism" (Schaeffer, 1990, p60)) floods in.

Every Christian must put his hand to the plough, for we have given in to an erroneous, Satanic world view in most areas of human society. This does not mean a retreat to 'blind faith'. I have tried to illustrate from the so-called proofs for the origin of life that the evolutionary paradigm is false: it is philosophically driven to deny the testimony of God as Creator. In my own field - geology – I am particularly concerned with illustrating that 'geological ages' are scientifically invalid, as well as contradicting the Hebrew genealogies.

I believe Christians must turn again to reconsider the testimony of Yeshua in creation and the flood. The identity of God depends upon Genesis. Quite apart from Genesis, being the key (and at present the major stumbling block) to Gentile evangelism, there has never been a more urgent need to advance a Biblical understanding of origins. I believe this necessitates repentance - facing what omnipotence means. The power to create everything. that was created in six days, and to judge by devastation in the flood. Despite the opposition from pagan philosophy, this is theological and scientific integrity (Wilder-Smith, 1987; Scheven, 1988; Garton, 1993, 1991).

Notes

1 I am indebted to the powerful insights of Brian Austin. Austin has shown that Paul is referring to two kinds of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:19-2:16. Greek wisdom includes evolutionary philosophy, but Hebrew wisdom includes the treasures of the Creator, who created the world through his wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 3:19-20 etc). Hence in Paul's prayers, such as Ephesians 1:17-18, he is asking for the Creator's insights, the Creator's worldview. Austin has shown why the Church has despised knowledge, why Christians have fallen for the erroneous assumption that knowledge is evil, when it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil to which Adam was forbidden, not knowledge itself. Going adrift here, Christians have therefore failed to take the Creator's world view into every aspect of human activity - the dominion mandate of Genesis 1:28. Therefore science and society are being abandoned to pagan philosophy.

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(First published in Tishrei Vol 1 No 1, Ways of Thinking, Autumn 1992. The Journal Tishrei was launched in 1992 to highlight the need for the Church to return to its Jewish roots)