Dust to Dust
William Jones | 4/14/2010, 5 p.m.
When we think of April, thoughts are often conjured up of flowers, rain, rebirth and possibly Easter Sunday, a day of giving praise, and for those who are believers, a time for reflecting on ways to get closer to the almighty. This month is also an appropriate time to explore religious subjects such as the origins of man in depth.
There is a creation theory and it is much closer to the Book of Genesis creation theory than many people realize. It is a theory that has been circulating in the scientific community for decades known as abiogenesis. Both the biblical theory of creation and abiogenesis, although from different schools of thought, deal with the origin of life and possibly show similarities of evolution on a molecular scale, if we over look the concept of time as defined by man.
Time and creation
Civil Rights veteran Rev. James Lawson Ph.D., who is teaching at Vanderbilt University, talked about the theological concept of time.
"For (those) who are not familiar with the Bible and its chapters such as the Book of Genesis, should note that it has several passages and you should not attempt to quantify or define time as man knows it, when referring to the writings of the Bible. "You have to overlook the concept of time as man comprehends time (24 hours in a day). The Book of Genesis and other chapters can run parallel to some biological concepts if you overlook time" says Rev. Lawson. He also added "God's time is immeasurable in the eyes of man, and I have hope one day scientists and theologians can get along and find the similarities in science and religion and grow from there."
Rev. Lawson did share his knowledge of abiogenesis the sciences and their similarities to scripture. He said scientists must be careful, when they attempt to play with genetic codes and control the laws of nature, because the results can be devastating.
"For example, this article is discussing the pre-biotic condition of earth. It was hot and had an atmosphere unable to sustain life; today our planet is suffering from global warming. It was not planned, but it's here as a result of us being dependent on fossil fuels. It harms our environment. Astronomers take that same technology we have learned from burning fossil fuels (creating global warming), and theoretically apply it in a laboratory to simulate the increasing temperature of Mars, thinking that inducing global warming (heating up the surface of Mars) will create an atmosphere, so one day in the future we can inhabit that planet without considering the effects on a universal scale . . ."
There are two main scientific theories that attempt to explain the creation of life on earth, and each has different variations. There is also a well-known biblical recording known as the Book of Genesis that details creation. They all attempt to explain how a planet void of life became plentiful and thriving with microbes, trees, animals and humans.
The Book of Genesis is based on our faith in God, and scientific theories are based on the understanding that primitive organic molecules were present on the planet earth and how they got there.
In the first scientific concept known as Terrestrial Origins (abiogenesis), organic molecules were formed by the presence of methane gas, water, ammonia, and hydrogen and that were ignited by an electrical discharge.
In the second scientific concept, known as Extraterrestrial Origins, organic molecules were delivered to earth by frozen meteors or other space projectiles attracted by earth's gravitational pull.
According to Brian Capone who earned his doctorate degree in biological sciences from the University of Chicago, the Terrestrial concept known as abiogenesis isn't far from the Book of Genesis, if you keep an open mind. The concept of abiogenesis or spontaneous generation is usually a lecture that all undergraduate biology college students will experience during the first week of instruction. Brian Capone said he was aware of the sensitive discussions involving the origin of life even before it became a major controversy for the George W. Bush' administration involving church and state.
He recalled an incident during a morning lecture that made him change his approach to teaching about creation.
"A young lady, after sitting through my entire lecture on abiogenesis, raised her hand and asked, 'where does God fit in?'"
This was during the mid to late 1970's and prompted Professor Capone to begin going the extra mile not offend anyone during his lectures covering this subject. Instead, he carefully showed the similarities between the Book of Genesis and the theory of abiogenesis. He explained the similarities in great detail, and showed how the theories were similar when, the concept of time was excluded.
Capone said he was once approached by a colleague, who questioned his classroom diplomacy during lectures on the subject. "He asked, why not just tell them the truth: 'science is the way it is and religion is the way it should be.'"
Now retired from teaching and focusing on his career as an author of many articles, books and scientific abstracts, Capone expounded on his view of creation and science. The retired professor said if you look at the overall process of abiogenesis and the Miller-Urey experiment from the 1950's, creating organic molecules under pre-biotic conditions, and compare it to the Book of Genesis, you will see similarities.
"God created man from the earth, and all organic molecules are found in soil (earth). However, abiogenesis requires an electrical charge to fixate nitrogen, a gas that was present in the pre-biotic atmosphere. (Fixating nitrogen means grabbing it from the air using lightening or bacteria and then it is combined with other basic elements to make a usable chemical.) What if, at this last stage, a bolt of lightening from the heavens could be seen as the breath of God bringing life to earth by striking the primordial soup (moist earth)? The only problem is the concept of time. The Bible says that in some form or fashion God is outside of time. When we look at the concept of time it, creates a major issue," Capone continued.
The comparisons continue: "Genesis states man was created in God's image. Abiogenesis states the first life form was a one-celled animal that over a very long time evolved into a human; however they both have the same building blocks--organic dust."
Capone points to an answer that then-Senator Barack Obama gave during a press conference, while being interviewed by the "York Daily Record," a newspaper out of York Pennsylvania. A reporter asked about his thoughts on evolution. "His response was, 'when you look at the Bible and science, the issue is the concept of time. The conflict between faith and science has always been one to perplex me. I've never had a problem reconciling my faith and science. Although some of my friends have, they have never gone as far as some on the religious right by calling for schools to stop teaching the theory of evolution. The conflict comes from the creation story in Genesis in which God creates everything in six days then rests on the seventh. Why does the day have to mean a 24-hour period that we humans experience?'"
"In my theology," Obama continued, "God's time is so much different than our time. Furthermore, why try to impose a conservative religious belief onto an entire school district? Religious beliefs need to be taught at home and in the church, while science and other academic matters are taught in school. Then the student can make up his or her own mind. Simple enough right?"