Knowing toil, knowing soil
Jonathan Sarfati chats with agricultural scientist Craig Russell about how real science confounds evolution
Dr Craig Russell (left) obtained his doctorate in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition from the University of Western Australia. He has worked at the University of Guelph in Canada and at Michigan State University in the USA. Dr Russell is now a Research Fellow with the University of Western Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management in Albany, Western Australia.*
* The views expressed in this interview are Dr Russell’s own, not necessarily those of his employer.
Here’s a scientist who knows what Adam was up against when God consigned the first man—and his descendants—to eat ‘through painful toil of the ground’ (Genesis 3:17–19). The problem of preparing soils and maintaining their fertility so that we might eat of their produce is not always a simple matter—sometimes seemingly impossible. But Dr Craig Russell knows more than most about soils and the nutrients needed for plants to grow, having researched nitrogen and other nutrient movements in North America and southern Australia.
Dr Russell’s research work uses incredibly complex equipment and chemistry in the quest to overcome problems ranging from dry-land salinity to flooded soils. And he is yet another living example of a Bible-believing Ph.D. scientist actively doing cutting-edge research with direct benefits to the community.
Is evolution really necessary?
Many evolutionists parrot leading 20th-century evolutionist, Theodosius Dobzhansky, who claimed, ‘Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.’ Since Dr Russell is a working biological scientist, I asked him whether evolution has any relevance to his own field. ‘Absolutely not!’ was his retort. He pointed out the bait-and-switch word games of many evolutionary propagandists:
‘There is a real problem with semantics. Evolutionists often use ‘evolution’ to mean very different things. Evolution, used in the popular sense i.e. molecules-to- man, has no bearing to any reality that I’m aware of in my scientific understanding. Far too many scientists portray observations of descent with modification, natural selection, ability of organisms to adapt and “survival of the fittest” as evidence for evolution. Given this, any biological change can be identified as “evolution”.’
Then Craig identified a fundamental problem with real evolution:
‘But molecules-to-monkeys-to-man evolution requires organisms to gain new information, and in sufficient quantities, to become different kinds of organisms. It’s a quantum leap of information that requires a quantum leap of faith to believe it is possible.
‘Biological change within each kind of organism is taking place all the time across successive generations as a result of the segregation and recombination of existing genetic information. Occasionally a mutation of an existing gene or new combinations of existing information occur that allow a competitive advantage. Nevertheless, selection always eliminates information, so the genomes are running down. Life is devolving, not evolving.’
Craig affirmed that pesticide and herbicide resistance was certainly an example of natural selection of resistant individuals. Usually the resistance was already present, so there was no new evolution. Even where the resistance was the result of a mutation, it was still an information-losing one.1
Demolishing evolutionary arguments—at university!
Dr Russell is not only an active researcher, he also teaches university students. He is able to expose evolutionary urban myths:
‘Recently I delivered a lecture on water chemistry to a group of 3rd-year biology students. It’s a great opportunity to do some myth-busting. Several years ago I heard a leading scientist give a seminar on salinity; he opened his talk by stating the old myth that blood and seawater were quite similar in their chemistry due to our evolutionary descent from marine creatures. Amazingly, no-one raised an eye-brow.’
He could not allow this misinformation to stand, as he continues:
‘So, I figured it’s about time we blow away two popular water myths. The seawater myth is easily demolished by presenting a table of chemical composition and concentrations, no similarity at all.2
‘Now for the second myth, that wherever there’s water the evolution of life is inevitable. However, water is detrimental to the formation of biological polymers [long molecules comprised of many single units] such as proteins. It’s only the design of life that can harness the use of water to nurture life.
‘But scenarios of life arising from non-living chemicals (chemical evolution) include very dilute solutions of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. They fail to tell folk that the formation of proteins from amino acids is an equilibrium reaction that yields water. This means that proteins are continually forming and breaking apart within a closed system. As the concentration of water increases, the reaction is reversed and the proteins fall apart. The same is true of DNA and RNA and their building blocks. Unregulated water is fatal.’3
Students stunned by T. rex blood cells and vessels
Dr Russell then applied this knowledge from real chemistry to the new finds of dinosaur blood vessels and bones:4
‘Armed with this understanding I then showed the students pictures of the recent find of T. rex flesh and emphasized that the same problem for protein synthesis occurring by chance is also true for the preservation of proteins. There’s no way this flesh could have survived many thousands of years, let alone millions.
‘Amazingly, none of the students had ever heard of this find. It’s little wonder though—this report was tucked away at the back of a popular science weekly, didn’t even get a mention on the cover, or from the popular press. Now you can’t totally cover up a find like this; you’d have to destroy the evidence, but what they’ve done is the next best thing. I also showed these pictures at a public talk on nutrient cycling—after all, these samples of T. rex flesh have yet to undergo their cycle. That’s mind-numbingly awkward to explain if this dinosaur flesh really is millions of years old, but readily understandable if it were only a few thousand years old.’
Man and the environment
Much of Dr Russell’s work is inextricably linked to man’s stewardship of the environment. As a Bible-believing agricultural scientist, Craig knows that our land management practices need to be responsible, i.e. in line with the original stewardship mandate given by our Creator (Genesis 1:28–29).
But it’s ironic, says Craig, that evolution-believing environmentalists (‘greenies’), who happen to share with Craig a desire to look after the environment, don’t realize that they have no objective moral basis for doing so. He points out:
‘God commanded man to nurture the garden (Genesis 1:26–28). This is a benevolent stewardship, where the strong must protect the weak. But we can’t function as a society under a survival-of-the-fittest mentality, and nor does this provide any reason why we should protect endangered species. Why not let them die out if they are weak?’
A solid foundation
Craig doesn’t mince words when it comes to why so many people today have been taken ‘captive’ (Colossians 2:8) by a sense of hopelessness and meaninglessness—and why ‘love’ doesn’t mean what it used to:
‘If we believe we’re just an accident, then how can one accident love another accident? But the Bible teaches that we were created by a loving God.’
As Craig points out, the Bible not only reassures us that we were created, but that God has communicated specific details about the timeframe and order of events. This is vital to a correct understanding, as he explains:
‘A straightforward interpretation of Genesis is so very important because it demonstrates:
- God is the ex nihilo (out of nothing) Creator
- God has a definite purpose, knows what He is doing, and is in control.
- God’s character is good, perfect, loving and just; and
- God judges sin.’
Craig goes further about how foundational the issues are:
‘The Bible teaches that spiritual strongholds begin in the mind (2 Corinthians 10:3–6). It is quite apparent to me that across Western society there are two principal spiritual strongholds that keep people out of God’s kingdom:
- A misunderstanding of the character of God. Over 80% of Australians say they believe in God, but what kind of God? The impression of most is a God of rules, judgments and death. How can a God of love allow suffering?
- A faith in naturalism that is justified by the belief in molecules-to-man evolution over billions of years.
‘This is why it’s so important, whatever we are toiling at in our daily lives, to have a right foundation—and to teach it to others.’
Thank you Craig; keep up the good work!
Update, July 2019: CMI is very sorry to report that Dr Russell died in hospital on 26 June 2019 from complications of a massive heart attack while playing hockey, aged only 53. CMI offers deep condolences to his wife Neralie and their four children Hayden, Bethany, Katelyn, and Cameron. He was mourned by his city Albany, and had recently been recognized for his 10 years in the Albany City Wind Ensemble, playing the trumpet (see Jessica Cuthbert, He made our city better, Albany Advertiser, 4July 2019).
- Compare antibiotic resistance, e.g. Wieland, C., Superbugs not super after all, Creation 20(1):10–13, 1997. Return to text
- See also Batten, D., Red-blooded evidence: Refuting the evolutionary ‘sea-water’ argument, Creation 19(2):24–25, 1997. Return to text
- See also Sarfati, J., Origin of life: the polymerization problem, Journal of Creation 12(3):281–284, 1998. Return to text
- See Wieland, C., Squirming at the Squishosaur: A refutation of a progressive creationist response to our articles on the finding of soft dinosaur tissue, 16 May 2005. Return to text.