Two former astronauts have been in the news recently talking about science and the Bible. Both of these astronauts claim that Christians can accept millions of years and evolution without any problems so that Christians aren’t in conflict with secular “science.” But in saying that, they are ignoring many theological and scientific problems—and once again are confusing observational science and historical science.
Dr. Leslie Wickman, a former astronaut who worked as a Hubble Space Telescope engineer, reportedly said that the supposed conflict between “science” and religion is “an illusion of conflict . . . perpetuated by people at the extremes of the dialogue.” Apparently, she said that one extreme is the atheist who claims “science” leaves no room for God, and the other extreme is “religious fundamentalists who think that there’s no room for science, that science is the enemy that [sic] the Bible is a scientific textbook.” Reportedly she also said, “Because I believe that God is who he claims to be as the creator of everything, then it doesn’t seem logical to me that the truth about God and who he is could contradict the truth about his creation—and so, for me, there’s this kind of fallacy in logic that if you study what God’s created it’s somehow going to contradict who he is.” She reportedly holds to an old Earth and universe and says that evolution is a “plausible explanation.” She apparently added, “If we don’t allow ourselves to question anything, then our faith is a very shaky faith.”
In a separate, unrelated article, famous astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth, reportedly said that “he sees no contradiction between believing in God and believing in evolution.” Evidently he once made the statement that "to look out at this kind of creation out here and not believe in God is to me impossible.” In a recent interview he apparently said that “facts about scientific discovery should be taught in schools—and that includes evolution.” He also reportedly said, “I don't see that I'm any less religious by the fact that I can appreciate the fact that science just records that we change with evolution and time, and that's a fact . . . It doesn't mean it's less wondrous and it doesn't mean that there can't be some power greater than any of us that has been behind and is behind whatever is going on.”
Astronauts like Wickman and Glenn who claim that ideas like an old universe and evolution are compatible with the Bible are ignoring many theological and scientific problems. Firstly, there is the problem of death before sin. Genesis 1:31 tells us that everything God made was “very good.” Scripture also tells us that death is the result of sin (Genesis 2:17), not an original part of God’s creation, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). But if God used evolution to create, then He used a process of millions of years of death, disease, bloodshed and suffering to create life. He then looked over millions of years of death, bloodshed, suffering, disease, and animal carnivory and called it “very good.” The God who calls death “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26) and will eventually destroy it in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) would not call death and suffering “very good.” This is a major theological problem with evolution and millions of years—and it’s just one of many!
But there are also many scientific problems with the idea of an old universe. For example, the universe is full of brightly burning blue stars. These stars burn so brightly that they would burn out in just a few million years, and yet they appear all over the universe no matter how far away we look. Scientists posit that they must be forming spontaneously even in modern times in order for them to remain so populous all throughout the universe. Yet scientists have never observed even one forming! This confirms a young universe, not a billions-of-years-old one.
Now, an old universe is not the only idea in secular thought that has major scientific problems. Biological evolution also has huge problems. For example, evolution requires the addition of huge amounts of brand-new information into the DNA of a creature in order for new features to arise. But there is no known process that adds brand-new information into the genome of a creature. But without new information you absolutely cannot turn an amoeba into an astronaut no matter how much time you have! Evolution just cannot happen.
Now these two astronauts might refuse to accept what the Bible clearly teaches and might deny the strong evidence for a young universe and special creation, but many other scientists at NASA don’t! I spoke at the Bible Club at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center near Baltimore, Maryland, in 1994, when AiG was just beginning as a ministry in the US. During my time at NASA, I was thrilled to meet many scientists who were also biblical creationists! When they looked at the heavens, they saw evidence for a young universe, just as the Bible teaches. In 2011, Bill Daniels, an engineer with NASA, came with his wife to the Creation Museum and reconnected with me. We are encouraged by the many biblical creationists working at NASA and other places who uphold the authority of God’s Word from the very beginning.
Our final authority is not fallible man’s ideas about the past. Our final authority is God’s unchanging, infallible Word. We need to start our thinking with God’s Word and refuse to compromise with secular ideas about the past. We need to remember that secular ideas come and go, “but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
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This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.