In one of my recent sermons, I compared the statistical probability of Jesus fulfilling 43 of the 353 specific prophecies spoken by the Jewish prophets hundreds of years before His advent. I laid the foundation by stating the current theory of science. The total number of atoms in the universe is estimated to be 10 to the 82nd power. That is a number so vast that it is impossible for any of us to imagine it. Then I said, “The statistical probability of Jesus fulfilling just 43 of the 353 prophecies about His first coming is one chance in 10 to the 157th power!! That’s a number so enormously beyond the number of atoms in the universe; it ranks fulfilled prophecy as the most verified fact of history. It is immensely more statistically valid than scientist’s estimated number of atoms in the universe!
So when skeptics rail against the Christian faith with arguments that may sound plausible, they fall miserably short of the facts. It reminds me of this quote by English biologist Thomas Huxley over a century ago: "The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." When the Human Genome project was completed the question arose: What is in the DNA of ancient skeletal “finds” that evolutionists claim are our human ancestors? This question is pivotal since evolutionists need evidence of “missing links” in the evolution of man to support their theory. And Christians, who believe the creation account in the Bible, welcome evidence that supports the sudden appearance of man and woman in a creative act of God.
While I was in Ethiopia, our team had a chance to visit the national museum in Addis. In the basement of a humble two-story building are the reconstructed skeletal remains of “Lucy” the famed and acclaimed “oldest human ancestor every discovered.” I recall 1974 when the world of science shifted under the weight of these ancient remains found in the Rift Valley. The front cover of Time screamed that proof of ancient man evolving from apes was an indisputable fact. Even though Lucy’s frame was not like a human skeleton, Lucy’s mouth and teeth were not like a human, her posture was like a monkey and her fingers and toes were long and curved like a monkey. Newspapers and scientists declared that humanity’s ancient ancestor had been found dating back 3.6 million years!
I now stood over the glass case and peered down on the skeletal fragments that more than forty years earlier had shaken the world of science. My first question was: How did the anthropologists draw such sweeping conclusions based on such sketchy evidence? I questioned the theory that found its way into our children’s textbooks. As I examined the fossil remains I was struck with the realization that Lucy was not even close to a full skeleton. She was a loose collection of bits and pieces laid out. The second thing that struck me was that the vast majority of what I looked at was not Lucy at all. The skeleton was a remake of what the scientist decided was the likely original bone structure. The bits and pieces that were used to reconstruct the outline of a skeleton were, in fact, tiny fragments of bone. The third thing that crossed my mind is that today’s more advanced science has disproven the original theory – Lucy’s DNA does not match the human genome! At that moment the wisdom of Thomas Huxley’s words crossed my mind: The great tragedy of science - the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
The scientific method which originally came out of the biblical worldview of scientists like Faraday and Newton rests on the foundation that the cosmos is the product of God as the Creator of the material universe. The order and design of the universe is a reflection of God’s infinite intelligence and creative power. The opening line of the Bible introduces us to God as the Creator. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” – (Genesis 1:1) Psalms 19:1 teaches us that all things in nature continually shout praises to God, the Creator. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork."
Then in Romans 1, we are given a more detailed message about how the universe came into being, but it comes with a stark warning. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.” (Romans 1:20-23) The Bible teaches us that every person on earth has ample evidence of God’s existence, His character, and His creative power through looking at nature. Everything in nature calls out the same message: “This did not happen by chance. A loving, orderly and intelligent Designer created it.” But sin has made mankind blind, stubborn and rebellious to the evidence for God. The tragic outcome is man ignoring the facts and finding other gods to worship in the form of human images and animals. But, thank God, the story of mankind does not end there.
The biblical narrative teaches us that God created everything as a backdrop to His most important and eternal project. The redemption of fallen humanity made in His image. I was talking with my son, Jon, recently and this question came up. Why would God create an expansive, ornate and finely tuned universe as a backdrop for redemption? My son, who is a student of astrophysics and cosmology said something like this. “Dad, when a daughter gets married, there are many ornate and finely tuned preparations for the big day. They are not necessary to get married, but they create the surrounding context and beauty for it to happen."
Similarly, our vast universe with its billions of stars and our earth brimming with diverse life is a backdrop to God’s greatest purpose: The salvation of lost humanity, the final conquest of evil and the eventual remaking of the cosmos. That narrative is not only true but increasingly verifiable by science. On a personal level, I don’t need science to “prove” God or the Bible. I KNOW at the depth of my being that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. However, the alignment of all things to that end makes it a pleasure to be a Christian in a world where science sometimes draws false conclusions.
Lucy is a good reminder to us that scientists are flawed humans with biases that cloud or color the evidence. But, with the passage of time and advances in science, the “ugly” facts turn “beautiful” theories on their head. I don’t think Time Magazine will be correcting their Lucy story any time soon. The Bible stands!
"While I was in Ethiopia, our team had a chance to visit the national museum in Addis. In the basement of a humble two-story building are the reconstructed skeletal remains of “Lucy” the famed and acclaimed “oldest human ancestor every discovered."
"My first question was: How did the anthropologists draw such sweeping conclusions based on such sketchy evidence? I questioned the theory that found its way into our children’s textbooks."
"The biblical narrative teaches us that God created everything as a backdrop to His most important and eternal project. The redemption of fallen humanity made in His image."
"I KNOW at the depth of my being that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. However, the alignment of all things to that end makes it a pleasure to be a Christian in a world where science sometimes draws false conclusions."