Dr. Paul Giem, Medical Research
In Six Days: Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine
Why I Choose to Believe in Creation
Dr. Giem is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Loma Linda University. He holds a B.A. in chemistry from Union College, Nebraska, an M.A. in religion from Loma Linda University and an M.D. from Loma Linda University. Dr. Giem has published research articles in the areas of religion and medicine. His current research includes work on carbon-14 dating methods. He is author of the book Scientific Theology, which deals with a number of science-Bible areas, including dating methodology and biblical chronology.
I grew up in a family in which science was greatly respected. My father was a physician, and I learned to enjoy physics, chemistry and biology.
My family was also deeply religious. My parents believed the Bible, and were committed to following it.
Their belief in the Bible led to a belief in the creation of the world in six literal days of approximately 24 hours, as indicated by a straightforward reading of Genesis 1. This belief was reinforced by their reading of the Fourth Commandment, where the Sabbath is stated to memorialize a six-day creation with a rest on the seventh day. The Sabbath is a literal day, and this implied that the six days of creation were also literal days.
My parents solved the conflict between the majority of scientists and the Bible in this area by believing that science, if done properly, did not really conflict with a recent creation. It was only when science was misunderstood or misused that it conflicted with a recent creation. My father remembered the struggles he had had to integrate Piltdown Man into his worldview, before it was discovered to be a fraud. Understandably, he did not fully trust evolutionary science.
The way I was taught science, it had no room for authority without evidence. Rather, the only acceptable authority was that which was backed up by evidence, and only precisely to the extent that it was backed up. My religious tradition was similar in some ways. Only tradition that could be backed up by Scripture was worth anything. The two attitudes were compatible, except at one point. The religious tradition was willing to accept Scripture without much question, whereas in principle, science might ask the question, why choose Scripture? Why not choose the Koran or the Vedas or the writings of Confucius? Or why not reject holy books entirely? And what does one do when science apparently conflicts with Scripture?
Many of my teachers in college had an answer to the latter question. They said that the evidence from science was equivocal at best. Scripture provided the additional evidence to allow one to choose a theist and Christian position. This way of answering the question at least did not require one to be a scientist to be saved. It seemed to me to be unsatisfying, but I had nothing better to suggest.
In college, I took a double major in theology and chemistry. For my senior chemistry seminar I wanted to examine a subject related in some way to theology, so I chose to review the experiments that had been done relating to the origin of life. It was popularly reported at the time that experiments had created life in a test tube, and had shown how life could have appeared on a prebiotic earth spontaneously. I was expecting some room for doubt, but was to find in the main a plausible scenario somewhat supported by the experiments.
I was stunned by the one-sidedness of the evidence I found. In fact, the evidence seemed (and seems) overwhelming that spontaneous generation did not happen. (A more detailed account, with general references, is in my book Scientific Theology, La Sierra University Press, 1997.) This evidence convinced me of two things. First, from that time on I never doubted that there was a God. I might not know whether He cared for me, but He certainly existed. Mechanistic evolution was dead. Second, at least in some cases, science can support theology. Theologians can expect the scientific evidence to come out strongly in their favor at least some of the time…
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