The Creation Explanation
|The Changing World: Physical Laws & the Origin of Life|
Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and
the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, all of
them will grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be
changed. But You are the same, and Your years will have no end.
The Psalmist saw that the world around him was continually changing, never static, never the same today as it was yesterday. Even the most stable, rocky mountains were slowly wearing down. Perhaps David could not detect change in the starry heavens, but the Spirit of God taught him that the heavens, too, were changing. God alone changes not, the Creator God of the Bible, whom David worshipped, trusted, and served.
The processes of change in the physical world are among the most important subjects of scientific research. The physical laws which govern such change have profound significance for Christians as they read the Genesis record of divine creation and compare it with the theories which unbelieving scientists have devised to explain the origin of all things--the universe, earth, life, and man. An understanding of these physical laws discovered by scientists can serve to undergird Bible-believing Christians as they contend with science falsely so-called.
A satisfying understanding, however, of these laws of energy and change requires some rudimentary knowledge of such things as force, motion, and energy, which are fundamental concepts in physics. The objective of this chapter is to impart a basic comprehension of those concepts and principles which are necessary for the appreciation of those very fundamental physical laws which afford powerful support for the biblical record of creation. These ideas are really not complex, and they will be explained in as simple and direct a manner as possible. To grasp them is to comprehend a great deal about what we see going on in the world around us, as well as to have important insights about the two competing explanations of origins, creation and evolution. We will see how physical science supports the Bible. So let us observe the changes occurring around us all the time and try to understand just what is happening.
Processes of Change
Change and the processes which bring about change give significance to existence in the physical universe. We have all observed many different kinds of change, some obvious and some more subtle, but all important to our lives. The most obvious type of change merely involves the relative motion of objects, as in the case of the apparent motions of the sun, moon and stars, an airplane or meteorite hurtling through the sky, a stone rolling down the hillside, a walking man or flying bird. Viewed superficially, most of these changes do not seem necessarily to produce permanent effects, for the objects can be returned to their former positions.
Flow of heat through the bottom of a metal frying pan, and the transmission of light and other kinds of radiation such as radio waves through space are more subtle processes of change which seem to be less permanent in their effects. Even with these processes, however, there appear to be governing laws which cause change to take place in only one direction. For example, heat is always observed to flow from warm objects toward colder objects.
Chemical reactions, producing changes continually in our environment, are basic to life. Living creatures absorb food and oxygen from their surroundings and combine them chemically to build tissues and to provide energy for life processes, releasing carbon dioxide gas and water vapor into the air. By the process of photosynthesis, plants absorb energy from the sun with which to transform water and carbon dioxide gas from the air into sugar, cellulose, and other substances necessary for plant and animal life.
We observe, however, that whereas non-living substances containing carbon and hydrogen do combine with atmospheric oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and water and release heat and perhaps light to the surroundings, they never accomplish the reverse process. For example, the burning of a candle transforms the wax into carbon dioxide and water, releasing heat and light, but the reverse process never occurs spontaneously in nature. A candle never "unburns," that is, the water, carbon dioxide, and energy released to the air are never observed to collect spontaneously and reform once again into wax and cotton fibers to make a candle, and oxygen gas, even if heat and light are introduced in ample amounts. On the other hand, green plants can absorb carbon dioxide and water and, using the energy of sunlight, synthesize wax and cotton fibers which could be used to produce a candle.
Though modern scientific research has unraveled many of the mysteries of photosynthesis, more remains to be learned. And the more scientists learn, the more the scientific facts suggest that the photosynthetic process, the complex structures required, and the complicated enzyme systems and cycles involved are the result of intelligent design.
All living things are characterized by metabolism (consumption of food for energy and building materials), growth, response to environment, and reproduction - processes of change which distinguish living from non-living substance. But concurrent with the growth process, again a change called aging inevitably occurs, so that continually some of the initial organizational excellence of the creature is being degraded. Ultimately the creature dies, and processes of decay soon destroy all vestiges of the ordered structures and systems which made up the living thing.
The universal tendency of all things toward degeneration and decay is common to our experience. The works of man seem particularly vulnerable to this natural law of degeneration, regardless of how precisely and strongly they are constructed or how carefully they are maintained and protected. Metals corrode, paint cracks and chips, wood decays. Clothing and machinery wear out, automobiles and toys end up in the junk yard; indeed, anything that money can buy progresses finally to dust and ashes.
Cyclic change in nature
Many kinds of change are coordinated with reverse processes so that a continually repeating cycle of change results. The water cycle illustrates cyclic change in nature. Radiation from the sun causes liquid water in the oceans to vaporize and disperse into the atmosphere. Wind currents carry the moisture laden air to high altitudes, where the reduced pressure permits the air to expand and thereby become cooled below the dew point so that the moisture condenses as snow or rain. Falling on the land, this condensation ultimately finds its way back to the sea whence it came, and so the water cycle is closed. At first glance this cycle might appear to cause no permanent change, but such is actually not the case. For example, energy has left the sun never to return, and the rain waters have produced permanent erosional changes on the earth's surface. The flow of solar energy keeps the weather cycle going, but the sun and the earth permanently changed.
The biblical author, Solomon, writing in a supposedly pre-scientific age, accurately described the global cycles of water and wind, in Ecclesiastes 1:6, 7.
The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north; the wind whirls about continually, and comes again on its circuit. All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; to the place from which the rivers come, there they return again. Other examples of cyclic change in nature include the annual revolution of the earth in its orbit and its daily rotation, the carbon and oxygen cycles which intersect in the photosynthetic activity of plants and in the respiration of animals referred to above, the nitrogen cycle, and a number of other material cycles which are vital to the continued existence of life on earth. On first view one might conclude that no permanent changes are brought about by these cycles, but more careful examination reveals in each case that permanent loss of useful energy occurs and that consequently the cyclic process cannot be eternal.