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Harvard is launching a research project to study how life began.
Not to be outdone by the likes of the pope, the president (USA) and pro-Darwinian professors from Oxford, namely the well-known atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins, Harvard University (which began as a Bible-proclaiming school) announced yesterday (August 15) that it is joining the long-running and politically-charged debate over evolution.
With its “Origins of Life in the Universe Initiative,” the school (once known as a leader in evolutionary thought when Harvard’s own Dr. Stephen Jay Gould was the world’s leading spokesperson on the subject before he died in 2002) is launching a research project to study how life began. According to a Boston.com report (August 14), researchers from a variety of fields, including astronomy and biology, hope recent scientific advances, such as the findings of NASA’s rovers on Mars, will help them learn more about life’s origins.
According to a report in the New York Times (August 15), the team of researchers will receive $1 million annually from Harvard over the next few years. The project, they say, begins with an admission that some mysteries about life’s origins cannot be explained.
And yet their minds seem to be already made up on several things, considering David R. Liu’s statement in the New York Times. “My expectation is that we will be able to reduce this to a very simple series of logical events that could have taken place with no divine intervention,” said this professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard.
This preconceived idea doesn’t surprise Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis–USA, at all. “Harvard is designating millions of dollars to show that life arose without divine intervention. They’ve already started with the assumption that there’s no God. Now, that’s what you call open-mindedness,” he said tongue-in-cheek.
John West, a senior fellow at Discovery Institute, an intelligent design think tank, said in a Reuters report (August 15), “This is a stunning admission that the current theories do not explain it, and it has not refuted the idea that things are the product of intelligent cause.”
It doesn’t matter how much money Harvard spends because they’re not going to come up with evidence that proves that there’s no divine intervention in life.But Ken Ham says it doesn’t matter how much money Harvard spends because they’re not going to come up with evidence that proves that there’s no divine intervention in life. “Number one, you can’t scientifically prove things in relation to the past anyway. Number two, God is Creator, the Bible is true, and no matter what they find, life is built on information, a code system. Codes come from intelligence … in the beginning God. Chemistry shouts out, in the beginning, God.”
The timing of Harvard’s entrance into the debate over life’s origins has raised some questions, after all the attention given to this debate in the recent cover story of Time (see Time for Evolution Wars) and President Bush’s remarks that students should hear alternative arguments, such as intelligent design.
Not surprisingly, Harvard tried to downplay the timing of the project. Harvard spokesperson B.D. Colen said in a Reuters news report (August 15), “This is not something that began recently or something that began in reaction to what’s going on in the larger environment. It’s a project that began because scientists are seeking answers to some of the biggest questions ever posed.”
Ham sees Harvard’s foray into the origins debate as a response to what’s happening across America: progress made by the creation movement, spearheaded by ministries like Answers in Genesis and its upcoming opening of the Creation Museum, and recent efforts, especially among numerous school boards around the country, to challenge the dogma of Darwin.
With Harvard’s vast resources and ability to impact the lives of thousands, Ham is concerned about the moral implications that this research initiative—already biased against God—will have on the next generation of students and the culture as a whole:
“If you take whole generations through an institution like Harvard, and teach them there’s no divine origin of life—what they’re really saying is there’s no Creator, no God—then that’s affecting the souls of people for eternity. If people don’t believe in God, they are going to be lost for eternity.”
Some supporters of Harvard’s new research initiative, such as Steven Benner, a University of Florida scientist who is reportedly one of the world’s top chemists in origins-of-life research, are raving about the implications this can have on Harvard’s future, as he commented to New York Times: “It is quite gratifying to see Harvard is going for a solution to a problem that will be remembered 100 years from now.”
But as Christians, our sights are set much higher—on eternity.
“For all the PhDs that Harvard may hand out, and for all the good science they might do, none of that is important when it comes to your eternity,” Ham says. “You can produce great doctors and great engineers, but if they are atheists, then what’s the point in the long run, because it’s your soul that’s important. As Matthew 16:26 tells us that, ‘What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?’”
Our prayer at AiG is that God will use what is meant for evil, for good, and that He will open the hearts of these researchers to recognize that there has to be a God. We pray they would not just come to believe in creation, not just believe in God, not just believe the Bible, but ultimately that they would be saved.