ENGL 102: Research and Academic Writing
9 May 2015
Literal Creationism—Biblically and Scientifically Accurate
In the church today, there is an ongoing debate concerning the process God used to create the universe. Traditionally, Christians have believed in a literal reading of the Genesis creation narrative as well as in a worldwide, catastrophic flood responsible for the drastic alteration in earth’s geography. However, within the last two centuries, a number of Christians have adhered to non-literal, theistic evolutionary ideas of origins. By attempting to harmonize the Genesis account with a modern evolutionary, old earth worldview, these segments within Christianity deny a straightforward reading of Genesis’ beginning chapters. However, both Biblical teaching and scientific evidence—including cell design and complexity, sediment strata, and the fossil record—show theistic evolutionary models to be inaccurate and instead favor literal creationism.
For the Christian to properly evaluate the evidence, it is important that these opposing worldviews be understood. Literal Creation believes that God, using “a definite sequence of creative acts” (Snelling 4), made the heavens and the earth and every living thing, including man, individually, according to its kind, in six literal days. This view means that earth’s history and human history cover a period of only 6,000 to 7,000 years (Snelling 5). Literal Creation also states that the temptation of Adam and Eve and their disobedience to God’s command brought the curse of physical death upon man, the animals, and the earth. God then judged the antediluvian civilization with a global Flood that was upon the earth for over a year, covering even the highest mountains, and destroying every air-breathing, land animal upon the earth. Only Noah, his family, and the animals with them in the ark were spared. According to literal Creation, the catastrophic Flood rapidly deposited most of the earth’s sedimentary strata, which may have undergone deformation shortly afterwards (“Soft-Sediment” 16).
Contrary to this view, theistic evolutionists believe that the God of the Bible employed an evolutionary process to create. According to the leading theistic evolutionary science organization BioLogos, it and likeminded individuals call their belief Evolutionary Creationism because they “affirm that God is the creator of all life—including human beings in his image” (“How is BioLogos?”) and believe in the inspiration and authenticity of God’s Word. Yet, they accept the science of evolution as the best description of how God made life and brought about diversity of life (“How is BioLogos?”). BioLogos believes that all living things are related to each other through common descent from a common ancestor, the earliest life form which supposedly was on earth 3.85 billion years ago. Each new generation of a given species experiences small genetic modifications (in DNA) due to random or unpredictable mutations. These modifications accumulate over time to alter that population’s characteristics, thereby forming a new species. Natural selection, which is non-random, allows creatures with advantageous variations to more likely survive (“What is evolution?”). BioLogos and other theistic evolutionists also believe the age of the earth to be 4.6 billion years old (“How are the ages of the earth?”). They view the Genesis curse of death more as a spiritual reality and as punishment only upon human beings, thereby allowing for the prior death and extinction of animal life (“Did death occur before the Fall?”). The fossil record then is an evolutionary history of life (“Fossil record?”), and the Flood is considered to be only a local event, although they are not certain where it occurred (“How should we interpret?”).
To gain greater insight into theistic evolutionary beliefs, I contacted BioLogos myself and had the opportunity to speak with Brad Kramer, BioLogos’ content editor. When asked about God’s degree of involvement (does God allow stochastic evolutionary processes to work themselves out without direction or intervention, or does He tweak the process to bring it to a planned finished point), Kramer answered that, in the organization’s view, God is the creator and not the process. The evolutionary processes do not occur by themselves but rather God is over the process and guides it, but it is not necessary for Him to intervene at different points (Kramer). When asked about BioLogos’ belief in miracles, Kramer commented that BioLogos does believe in Biblical miracles, including healing of the sick and in Christ’s resurrection, and stated that Biblical miracles are one-time events which display God’s power. Scientific processes, however, are repeatable events. If the miracles were more than one-time events, they would not be miracles (Kramer). Based on the answer to questions one and two, I asked Kramer whether there was a particular theological reason for why God had to use a process consisting of millions of years of death, decay, and random mutations when He has the power to create directly. Kramer responded that BioLogos neither had a particular theological reason nor was the organization trying to build a chain of inferences. Rather, Biologos merely attempts to analyze what it feels is the scientific evidence and Scripture together, taking both into account (Kramer).
Acceptance of these theistic evolutionary ideas is widespread and even prevalent among variant Christian colleges, evangelical seminaries, and Bible scholars who “accommodate old-earth thinking and accept it as true” (“Why Seminary Professors?”). A 2012 Gallup poll also demonstrates that while forty-six percent of the general population believe God created humans in their present form at some time within the last ten thousand years, thirty-two percent believe that humans evolved under God’s direction (Newport). One of the main reasons for this acceptance is due to atheistic naturalism’s current dominance in many avenues of science, politics, law, sociology, and psychology. Because of this modern trend, theologians have endeavored to harmonize these majority worldviews with the Bible’s message. Beginning in the late 1800s, this trend has led to hybrid theories between Genesis and evolution, and consequently, many Christians have rejected the literal reading of Creation and the world-wide Flood. While these Christians may believe they are successfully merging the Scriptures and supposedly “scientific” information together, they are mistaken in both areas.
Therefore it is necessary to examine the evidence favoring literal, young-earth Creation and the world-wide Flood. The initial set of evidences comes from a straightforward reading of the Bible itself. First, Genesis Chapter One clearly states that God created the universe in six days. When used with a number as part of an ordered list, the Hebrew word for day, yom, is always translated as an ordinary day, and the description of “evening” and “morning” together with this word in Genesis Chapter One constitutes a twenty-four hour cycle for the Genesis day (Lisle and Johnson 30-31). Second, the narrative speaks against evolutionary development from a common life form by describing God as creating all living things, including plants and animals, “according to its kind” (New King James Version, Gen. 1.11, 21, 25), and making man, male and female, “in His own image” (Gen. 1.27). Third, concerning the Flood, Peter writes in his second epistle that the world which God made “out of water and in water…perished, being flooded with water” (2 Peter 3.5-6), thus stating that the Flood was indeed global, destructive, and covered the entire world.
Moreover, the theistic evolutionary view is also doctrinally incorrect. The Scriptures state that God pronounced five of the six creation days as “good” and described all of His creation as “very good” (Gen. 1.31). The Hebrew word for good, used over five hundred times in Scripture, means pleasant, agreeable, excellent, of benefit, and that which God called good would have to agree with His nature (“Genesis and Character” 14, 15), for God is good (Mat. 19.17). This would preclude anything that was deficient or less than perfect. Because God is holy, omniscient, and flawless, He would neither deceive us about the creation process, nor would He use a trial and error methodology to create (“Genesis and Character” 16-17). God would also not allow man to evolve from a common ancestor of all living things, including animals, for man is unique, separate from the animals in that he was directly created in God’s image. For God to create man from a lower life form would be to debase His own image. In addition, there would be no death in the original creation, for “He [God] gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17.25). Jesus Christ, God’s Son and the Prince (Originator) of life (Acts 2.15), described Himself to His disciples as “the life” (John 14.6) and stated that He has come to give life and life more abundantly (John 10.10). Death is not characteristic of God; rather, death is a byproduct of man’s sin. Paul writes that it was by one man, Adam, that sin entered into the world, and death through this sin (Rom. 5.12). This death is not simply spiritual death limited to humanity but extends to the physical creation. Paul also writes that “the creation was subjected to futility” (Rom. 8.20) and that it will one day “be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Rom. 8.21). The Greek word used in this Scripture for creation, ktisis, means the sub-human creation (“How Old Is Our Planet?” 7); thus the universe as we see it now was not the “very good” that God originally created. Lastly, because death is a product of sin, it cannot be from a holy God. Rather, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die a substitutionary death on Calvary for sin in order that He would defeat death, spiritual and physical, and bring in a new heaven and new earth (“The Whole Counsel” 6). If death is not God’s judgment for sin, then there would be nothing from which we must be saved. Christ’s sacrifice is merely “martyrdom for an illusionary cause” (“Genesis and Character” 17), and the Gospel message becomes meaningless. Indeed, any combinations between the Bible’s teaching and evolutionary processes twist the Scriptures’ clear words and “make a story with a naturalistic message that excludes an omnipotent and omniscient creator entirely” (“The Whole Counsel” 7).
In addition to the Biblical evidence, there is abundant scientific evidence demonstrating the impossibility of life developing by evolution. One such fact is the improbability of random protein development. Proteins are critical molecules to life and Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, in Signature in the Cell, discusses how different experiments prove that the odds of obtaining one protein of modest length (150 amino acids) by chance is at best 1 in 10164 (212). But even a minimally complex cell requires at least 250 proteins (213), making the chance of random cell development for all practical purposes zero. Another evidence is the concept of cell irreducible complexity, which states that the cell is a very complex, highly designed biological machine whose thousands of parts must have been engineered and fully integrated in order for it to be functional (Design and Complexity 24). Rather than being a simple structure, the cell itself contains tiny factories which construct its chemical building blocks including proteins, phospholipids, and DNA (Jeanson and Thomas 122). Some of the complex cell mechanisms include exosomes which “shred” used mRNA into recyclable molecules (“Complexity Revealed”); the cell division mitotic spindle apparatus, which one evolutionary website, PhysOrg, stated is “arguably the most complicated piece of machinery in existence” at the cellular level (“‘Dicer’ Enzyme” 14); and the amazing Dicer enzyme, specifically designed to prohibit the simultaneous activities of cell replication and DNA transcription from colliding with each other along the chromosome—a destructive act which could cause aging and cancer (“‘Dicer’ Enzyme” 14). In addition, gene function also involves a host of mechanism categories including diverse regulatory DNA sequences, complex inter-connections between gene and gene networks, dynamic regulation of three-dimensional chromosome architecture, and cell tissue type differentiation, thereby exhibiting extreme complexity (“Irreducibly Complex” 6). Cell complexity also displays the property of an interdependent system, a system in which at least two parts are mutually dependent upon each other. An excellent example of interdependence is that of DNA and proteins. In the cell, proteins manufacture, repair, and access DNA, yet the DNA also provides the blueprint for protein structure. Because DNA and proteins depend directly upon each other for function, both had to be present from the beginning (“Interdependence” 13).
Lastly, the specificity of components and the functional dependence within the entire biological systems put severe limitations on genetic evolutionary change of one kind of creature into another. A genetic change to a biological system’s any one operational component, unless matched by numerous corresponding and very improbable genetic changes, would result in functional loss and often death (Darwin’s Doubt 232-233). And, any mutations affecting a creature’s body plan formation early in the development process results not in macro evolutionary (large-scale) changes but instead “inevitably damages the organism” (Darwin’s Doubt 259-260). From the early twentieth century (by geneticist T. H. Morgan) until today, experiments were conducted systematically mutating fruit flies. But the results of such mutations were definitely pathological, most often lethal, or resulted in an organism that could not survive in the wild (Darwin’s Doubt 260).
Scientific evidence also supports a world-wide Flood. In contrast to the evolutionary belief that sediments were deposited slowly over millions of years and then hardened (lithified) into sedimentary rock, evidence, such as the sequence at Split Mountain in San Diego, California, display quick deposition, hardening, and deformation. Evolutionists believe the sedimentary sequences were formed over millions of years; however the fold strata geometry clearly indicates the entire strata were still in a soft, unhardened condition at the time of deformation. Moreover, the sedimentary sequence could not have hardened first and then tightly folded and deformed, for solid rock has a limit to how much tension it can endure without breaking, and the layers, which were bent excessively, demonstrate no evidence of broken cement grains. Rather, the evidence appears as if the strata “flowed as mud or deformed plastically” (“Soft Sediment” 16).
Furthermore, the fossil record also contradicts the theistic evolutionary claim of being an evolutionary history of life. Instead, it is a witness to the Flood. First, the fossil record begins in the Cambrian strata with the sudden appearance of all the different invertebrate phyla with their different body plans and with no apparent common ancestor to evolve from in any Precambrian strata (Snelling 729). Second, rather than being in their evolutionary place in the sedimentary rocks, certain fossils are out of place. The fossil record contains a mixed variety of creatures, including apparently present-day clam kinds both throughout the sediment layers and frequently mixed with dinosaurs. Another example is the fact that the five major mollusk classes, as well as modern parrots, penguins, ducks, owls, and possums can all be found in dinosaur rock layers (Cupps and Thomas 21). Other cases include a fossilized T. Rex tooth discovered in rock supposedly predating the T. Rex by sixty million years; the discovery of human artifacts (jewelry, tools, and glue) in layers far below their normal strata; and the discovery of a spider web trapped in an amber deposit from a rock layer supposedly 100 million years older than the time spiders were thought to have evolved (“Fossil Discoveries”). Third, fossils not only appear suddenly and fully formed but are also without transitional forms between kinds. When fossils are found which resemble a modern counterpart, they always appear nearly identical and show no signs of evolution (Tomkins, Clarey, and Lisle 14). Fourth, there exist fossil beds indicating violent death by catastrophic covering of mud (Cupps and Thomas 21). One example is the Ordovician Soom Shale in South Africa, containing thousands of well-preserved fossils, which exhibits catastrophic live burial of these creatures for thousands of square kilometers in undisturbed mud and silt laminae shale (indicating rapid deposition and lithification) (Snelling 538-539). Fifth, considering that fossils are in a general order (sea creatures at the bottom, shore creatures higher, then swamp and land creatures higher), it should be noted that this setup does not indicate evolution from sea to land, but instead demonstrates different environments deposited “in successive tsunami-like” stages during the Flood (Cupps and Thomas 21).
Despite these evidences, theistic evolutionists will cite different oppositions. Concerning the clear Scriptural evidence, one opposition is that the Genesis creation narrative is simply Hebrew poetry and thus cannot be read literally. It conveys a sense of truth about origins, but it is not a literal description of actual events (DeYoung et. al. 158). In my interview with Brad Kramer, Kramer stated that God gave the Bible, and Genesis, in a way that the ancient world could understand; therefore, God did not correct scientific ideas for the ancient world. His opinion was that the Young Earth Creationist view was both incomplete and made the assumption that God must be literally accounting the creation in a scientific way (Kramer). Concerning the scientific evidence, theistic evolutionists will point toward many of the same claims secular evolutionists make. For example, BioLogos, when giving “proofs” for evolution, comments how radiometric dating has shown some Earth rocks to be billions of years old. Examples the organization cites include a Greenland rock formation dated 3.6 billion years and Western Australian zircon grains dated 4.4 billion years (“How are the ages?”). BioLogos and theistic evolutionists will also state how the fossils must likewise be millions of years old due to their corresponding rocks’ ages (“Fossil record?”). Lastly, theistic evolutionists view genetic science as proof of relationships between species and thus evidence of common descent (“Genetic evidence?”). One specific piece of evidence cited is the supposed close genetic relationship between humans and chimpanzees (“Human evolution?”).
Although these oppositions may appear valid on the surface, further examination will prove otherwise. First, concerning the historical authenticity of the Genesis narrative, it must be kept in mind that Jesus Himself considered Genesis to be literal history, and referred directly to the details of Genesis Chapters One through Seven fifteen times, one of which was His comment on marriage—that from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female (Snelling 6-7). Most of the New Testament writers quoted the early Genesis chapters as literal historical events, and both Moses and many of the Old Testament writers either quoted from or referred to the creation week (“The Whole Counsel”). Moreover, the Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth, or RATE team, a team of creation scientists endeavoring to explore the earth’s age from a Biblical perspective, conducted experiments to prove that the Genesis creation account was indeed historical narrative. In one statistical technique called logistic regression, the team examined the ratio of Hebrew preterite finite verbs to the total finite verbs for ninety-seven selected Old Testament texts, thereby finding a passage’s probability of being narrative literature. The value was zero for poetry and one for narrative. The data showed that Genesis 1:1-2:3 is statistically classified as narrative with a probability of 0.9999, a value of practically one, thus showing significantly strong confidence (DeYoung et. al. 167-168).
Concerning radiometric dating analysis of the earth’s age, there are important evidences supporting a young earth. One comes from carbon-14 dating, the most familiar radiometric dating method. Carbon-14 is distinguishable from the other dating methods in that it has a very short half-life of 5,730 years, compared to the millions or billions of years of other isotopes (DeYoung et. al. 46). After 17-18 half-lives, about 100,000 years, carbon-14 decays to a completely negligible level undetectable by current measuring standards. Thus, all the original carbon content in earth materials classified as ancient should be completely decayed away. Yet, within inorganic rocks and minerals from all around the world as well as in samples from throughout parts of the fossil record assumed to be hundreds of millions of years old, readily detectable amounts of carbon-14 inherent to the samples have been discovered (DeYoung et. al. 49).
In addition to carbon-14, there is another dating technique measuring the helium content within zircon crystals. Found within the biotite segments of granite rocks, zircon crystals incorporate radioactive uranium and thorium atoms as they grow. In the zircon crystals, the uranium -238 decays to lead-206 through a series of steps during which eight alpha particles are released. The alpha particles combine with nearby electrons to become helium atoms, which do not combine with other atoms to form molecules. Because the helium atoms remain as gas particles and are thus difficult to confine, any helium atoms formed in the distant past should have long ago migrated outward of zircon crystals after about 100,000 years (DeYoung et. al. 67-68) (Snelling 887). However, the RATE team conducted a study in which they obtained zircon-containing rocks from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and examined the zircon crystals’ helium diffusion rate at increasing temperatures. The rocks were initially dated as 1,439 ± 2 million years old using a uranium-lead radiometric dating method (DeYoung et. al. 72-73). Having determined the amount of helium retained in the zircon crystals and having measured the helium diffusion rate, the RATE team calculated the predicted diffusion rate for the time scales of both 6,000 years and 1.5 billion years. The experimental diffusion data correlated closely with the 6,000 year creation time scale, and statistical analysis gave an estimated zircon helium diffusion age of only 6,000 ± 2,000 years (DeYoung et. al. 75-76) (Snelling 887). This helium diffusion “clock” casts great doubt on the often accepted long-age “clocks” derived from radioisotope daughter element concentrations, indicating that nuclear decay rates are not constant as evolutionists have assumed.
Compelling evidence for significantly young fossil ages also exists. This evidence involves the presence of un-mineralized organic fossil tissue (“Original Tissue” 5). While the majority of fossils are mineralized remains of once-organic, long-dead creatures, there are fossils which contain remnants of animal bio-chemicals such as proteins, pigments, and DNA that minerals never replaced, and laboratory tests denote that these organic tissue pieces could not last for a million years (“Original Tissue” 6). Fossils containing organic tissue have been discovered since the 1800s, including those by English geologist Mary Anning, who in 1823, discovered well-preserved eye lenses of the extinct fish lizard Icthyosaurus. Some of the lenses were perfect to the point that they were split off and used as magnifiers (“Original Tissue” 6-7, 8). More currently, in 2000, North Carolina State University paleontologist Mary Schweitzer made the astonishing discovery of elastic tissue and transparent blood vessels inside a recently excavated Tyrannosaurus fossil’s femur. Considering that the fossil was supposedly 68 million years old, this discovery was impossible. In 2009, Schweitzer also discovered a supposedly 80 million year old hadrosaur bone containing soft, bendable tissues and blood vessels which were verified as such by a third party (“Dinosaur Soft Tissue Makes”).
Furthermore, DNA analysis demonstrates the fallacies of human/chimpanzee comparison. Within the last decade, the common evolutionary belief has been that DNA evidence proves a supposedly overwhelming 98% or 99% genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees, thus showing that humanity cannot trace their ancestry back to a single primal couple. However, Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins from the Institute of Creation Research, discovered that “the actual overall identity between humans and chimpanzees is only about 70%” (“Purpose” 9). In this analysis, Dr. Tomkins studied the transcribed DNA regions located outside the DNA’s protein-coding areas. These regions contain genes for long non-protein-coding RNA molecules, called long intergenic non-coding RNAs, or lincRNAs, which have the same type of control structures and features in their DNA sequence as do the protein-coding genes (“Human lincRNA” 13). By analyzing three different human lincRNA datasets and one vlincRNA (very long intergenic non-coding) dataset in comparison to the chimpanzee genome, Tomkins discovered that the short human lincRNA regions (less than 600 DNA bases in length) were about 75% to 79 % similar to chimpanzee, while the larger lincRNA regions which were greater than 600 bases were about 71% to 74% similar. The human vlincRNA genomic regions were only 67% similar (“Human lincRNA” 13). From Tomkins’ analysis, it was shown that there was, in terms of DNA letter differences, a 900,000,000 letter gap between humans and chimpanzees (“Purpose” 9). It would be impossible to obtain this type of genetic divergence in only six million years by random mutation, natural selection, and fixation (spreading out mutations through a species’ entire population) (“Purpose” 9).
In addition, the entire set of DNA letters within the human genome are broken down into two sets of 23 chromosomes. Chimpanzees, however, have two sets of 24 chromosomes. The evolutionary hypothesis is that the common ancestor for apes and humans had two sets of 24 chromosomes but that a genetic error “fused” two of the chromosomes together to make the number 23, and that the human chromosome number 2 bears the mark of this event (“Purpose” 9). However, if the supposed site were a fusion site, it is highly corrupted and small in size (very different from evolutionary expectations). More importantly, the site is a key functional part of an already active gene (a DNA sequence that codes for proteins) and not a remnant of fusion. Thus, no such mark of a fusion incident exists (“Purpose” 9) and the problem of the difference in chromosome number for evolutionists remains.
Lastly, an important topic which speaks against evolutionary development in favor of complex design is the misnomer of “junk DNA.” For years, scientists have taught that the protein-coding sections of DNA (a small fraction of DNA in human and other genomes) are functional, and that the non-coding segment (80% to 90%) (“‘Junk DNA’ Keeps”) represents the evolutionary vestiges of viruses, defunct genes, and other repetitive sequences from evolutionary history (“Another Setback”) (“Junk DNA Scam” 153). However, this non-coding DNA has in recent years been proven to serve the important purpose of regulating gene expression. It not only contributes to exon selection and placement decisions, but “also controls the recognition and usage of alternative transcriptional start sites, splice site recognition, transcriptional and translational cues…genome architecture, and nuclear membrane architecture” (“Junk DNA Scam” 155). In a current study analyzing the full amount of non-coding DNA sequences expressed in the nematode worm, fruit fly, zebrafish, and humans, researchers discovered that the levels of expressed non-coding DNA increased in correspondence to the living thing’s organismal complexity (“Explaining Complexity” 19). Actually, certain types of non-coding DNA called transposable elements (TEs) also control embryos as well (“Revealing Purpose”). Moreover, the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), which are copied from the non-protein-coding DNA segments, have been shown to regulate heart function (“‘Junk’ DNA Keeps”) and further analysis demonstrates that single letter variations and mutations in this part of the genome can increase cancer risk through “wormhole-like” effects on far off genes. Mutations in a similar DNA type called pseudogenes, once thought to be “junk” as well, can also contribute to cancer if mutated (“Cancer Research”). It is thus shown that while the protein-coding genes act like building blocks, the non-coding DNA controls and orchestrates genomic function “as a huge sea of finely tuned and critical metadata” (“‘Junk’ DNA Keeps”). “Now, studies confirm that virtually all DNA is used for some task, in some tissue, at some time during a creature’s life” (“Cancer Research”).
Certainly, it is evident from the data that literal creation is both Biblically and scientifically accurate in contrast to theistic evolution. Unfortunately, many people have no knowledge of this information, and a number of believing Christians, who either have not studied the material or have been deceived by false teachings, cannot provide this valuable information to others. As believers who have been commissioned by the Lord Jesus to “make disciples of all the nations” (Mat. 28.19), we must be actively involved in defending literal creation. This can happen by first learning the information for ourselves and then sharing it with family, fellow believers, and those with whom we interact. We can also help support Christian organizations dedicated to proclaiming the scientific accuracy of literal Biblical creation and sponsor spokesmen from these ministries to speak at our local churches. Because the doctrine of origins affects how we view the Lord, His goodness, His nature, and His truthfulness revealed in the Scriptures, we must stand firm for the truth of the Genesis account in order that the body of Christ would be nourished in sound teaching and thus effectively lead others into an accurate knowledge of Christ’s truth.
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© 2015 Francis-David A. Scalzo. All rights reserved.