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Originally published in Creation 20(4):17-19, September 1998
Ken Ham: André, how many Christians are there in France?
Dr Eggen: France has about 55 million people. Perhaps 20–30% would claim to believe in God in some way or another. Those who are really believing Christians would, I think, be less than 2%.
In fact, I’ve heard that the number of real born-again Christians may be less than half a percent. So this is a fairly pagan nation. You are a Christian who is a scientist; you believe that God created everything in six days just as Genesis teaches. Could you tell us how you became a Christian?
I grew up in a Christian family; my father is a missionary in a part of France. I was taught the Genesis account of Creation from the Bible. But at school I had to learn evolution, so when I was about 12–13, the conflict began. If the Bible was true, then it was clear that God created in six ordinary days, but that was completely contradicted by what I was being told at school. So I had a hard time accepting the Bible, and went further away from the Bible as I reached high school. By the age of 17, I knew that I had to make a decision, so during the summer I took several books on the topic of evolution/creation to study the subject carefully and to reach my own conclusions. Several of these books helped me to see that I could comfortably believe in biblical creation from a scientific point of view. This was a huge discovery for me, and it pushed me to become a Christian.
So evolution was a big stumbling block in your life to believing the Bible?
Sure—it’s a massive problem. Especially at that crucial age of 12–14 years, when you have a tendency to reject the authority of your parents anyway. So you tend to believe more of what you learn in school than at home.
So, it was creationist books that really helped you. This tells me again the importance of people getting hold of literature. Were they in French?
Yes. I would love to have, in the future, more good, modern creationist literature in French, to counteract the indoctrination from the media.
What does your work for the government involve?
Presently, cattle genetics. Trying to find out why some cows give more milk than others, why some cows have horns and others don’t, and genetic diseases.
I gather you’ve worked with some scientists from Australia’s government research body, the CSIRO?
Yes, with some from their Tropical Institute in Brisbane. We are still working with them, as well as with researchers from the US government, from universities and also from some private companies.
André, there are evolutionist scientists in America, Australia, England, and other places who would say, ‘You can’t be a real scientist and a creationist at the same time.’ What would you say to that?
Although I know the opposition can be strong in such countries, I actually find that French scientists are even more intolerant, on the whole, of someone that doesn’t believe in evolution. In America, for example, I was more often able to share my mind on creation and they respected me. Maybe because they knew me from the scientific work I’ve done. But in France, the intolerance against creation is very, very strong.
Does being a creationist detract from your science at all?
Oh, no—exactly the opposite. Being a creationist, I found it fascinating to study what God did in six days, particularly in my field, genetics. I find it marvelous to discover how God used the genetic codes to inscript life—so brilliant, so amazing.
So, looking at DNA, and the machinery of heredity, you could never believe that chance processes brought these into being?
Oh, no. In genetics, we deal a lot with probability. For instance, in something like the O.J. Simpson trial, you say, ‘OK, there is one chance out of one billion that somebody didn’t do such and such.’ Because it’s such a small chance, you reject it. But calculating the chance of just a small part of the genetic machinery arising by randomness, it’s much, much less than that. If you take an entire DNA molecule, coding for all the proteins required for life, I think it’s about 1 followed by 40,000 zeros (which is really no chance) that such coded DNA can arise by chance.
You have a Ph.D. in genetics, working at evolution-based secular universities. If all the evolution was taken out of your course, would that cause your ability to do scientific research to fall apart or would it make no difference whatsoever? Some people say that evolution holds science together, and it’s the whole fabric of science.
I could easily take away the evolution part of my study without losing any really important stuff from the scientific point of view. I would lose nothing, and would be left with real, observable facts, real science.
So evolutionary teaching is just a religious faith added to real science?
Exactly. I agree completely. Most of the time, evolution will inhibit the study of real science. People begin with something they want to reinforce continually, namely evolution, and so all observations on the cell, for example, will be squashed into serving this end.
How does evolution feature in the French education system?
In France, evolution is taught as a fact that you have to learn, and if you try to oppose that, you will be in trouble.
What about the Church? We know the Church is small, but would most of them believe in Genesis and six days of creation, or have they been influenced by evolution, as well?
The Church in France is having difficulties, I think, because the pastors have been influenced by what people thought were scientific evidences for evolution. So the church leaders have tended to try to fit the Bible more and more with evolution. So this meant re-inventing the Bible, thinking this would help them reach more people.
So has it?
No, because belief in the absolute authority of the Bible has been largely lost in the process. Once you start taking part of the Bible away, belief in the rest of it starts eroding. So the message of faith, the death of Jesus on the cross, has less and less importance for a way of thinking that is framed in terms of millions of years, for example. Generally, the final result of this is people losing their faith in God altogether.
Do you know of any other real scientists like you who are keen creationists, here in France?
Yes, I know of a handful, but some of them have real difficulties in being open about it because of problems with their jobs. I think we need creationist scientists in France to develop support networks inside and outside the country.
You’re presently helping to set up a creation organization here in France. You want to establish a website, maybe eventually be a part of our Answers in Genesis organization worldwide. What do you see as one of the first priorities?
To go to churches and tell folk that you can take Genesis just as it is written, and explain how important it is. If we don’t take Genesis literally, then we lose completely the meaning of the Bible—why Jesus came to earth, suffered on a cross, and died in our place, because of sin. The Church in France will remain impotent unless it understands the crucial importance of the first eleven chapters of Genesis for the entire message of Christianity.
This is very, very important. I think if we had more creationist literature in French, this could really open the minds of many of the students in France, and also the minds of many Christians who are not clear about the idea of evolution. If we could have Creation magazine in French, that would be a big help to Christians here.
As well as calling the Church out of its compromise, and arming and equipping Christians for creation evangelism, what will be another aim of your group?
To try to reach people in the public and the education arena. We have to try to hold meetings, seminars, camps, and to support all that with literature—and audio tapes and videos.
I understand that you have already been doing a little bit of speaking in some local churches and the like. What’s the response been?
Responses like … ‘I never thought about that … Is it so simple to take Genesis literally? Are there so many facts that are scientifically correct that show that the earth is young? That evolution cannot be true? That evolution is a religion?’ And so on. So, the first reaction is really encouraging. While some are still skeptical, Christians are realizing, more and more, that they can take Genesis from a scientific point of view so easily.
What about pastors?
Some are really excited about it, there’s resistance from a few. But we’re making headway.
What would you like to say to readers in closing?
First, please pray for France, for the ministry that is just beginning here. And especially for the battles we will have to fight here in France, because like your experience elsewhere in the world, this is a spiritual fight, and it won’t be easy. Creation really is the work of God.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.