Scientist and creationist?

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I was 18 when my sister and I moved into a room at the home of a retired Presbyterian pastor and his wife in Seaforth, Sydney. It was part of growing up. I was in uni. And life was great.

I loved my undergraduate science studies. I loved my uni friends. And I loved going clubbing. My favourite music was American R&B, soul and dance music. If you can dance to it, it’s a good song. I was a Christian. But I didn’t see a big conflict between my lifestyle and my faith.

What I find disappointing as a scientist are theologians who buy into evolutionary theory and try to bend the Bible around it.

One time we were out at a pub and a Baptist friend joined us. We were doing rounds of shots. I said to him, “have a shot.” And I couldn’t figure him out as he turned it down. I pressed him again. He said no. So I coaxed him a little more. And he turned to me and said, “You know, Christiana, you are like the devil tempting me.”

It really shocked me. I still think of that guy sometimes. I don’t think he realised the impact he had on me. Though a long time has passed I wish I could tell him now, “sorry!”

I had another friend who invited me to a campus Bible study. But I wasn’t interested. I always went to church every week. Even when I got home from the clubs at 5 am Sunday, I’d still be in church by 10 am. But studying the Bible? That wasn’t my interest.

Of course, during my studies I learned evolutionary theory. One day I asked the kindly Presbyterian pastor who had become like a grandfather to me, how to reconcile the Bible and evolution. He was a lovely man. And a very godly man. He calmly explained that in the past, people thought the Genesis account literally described how the world was created. However, as scientists studied the question further, we learned that evolution was the actual creative mechanism. And so we realised the Genesis account was a metaphor and shouldn’t be taken literally. It made sense to me, and I didn’t think about it anymore.

I saw myself as a very balanced Christian. I believed in Jesus and went to church. But I also knew how to have fun. I sort of tried to have a foot in both worlds. I couldn’t understand why Jesus says you can’t love the world. Why not? I loved the world! It was only later it became clear to me that I had to choose between the two.

After uni I got a plum job as a researcher at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. It had taken me a little while to find a job so when that came through I was incredibly thankful. The Institute is among the premier medical research entities in Australia—and a global leader.

In the interim, my parents had migrated back to Australia and I moved in with them and we eventually—providentially—settled in Wahroonga. One day a flyer came in our mailbox for a meeting at the Sydney Adventist Hospital focusing on prophecy. My parents were enthusiastic Presbyterians and so they decided to go.

They enjoyed the meetings and encouraged me to go. So that Friday night I went along. The young people from Waitara Adventist Church running the meetings were very friendly. But that night they presented the Sabbath and I thought, “This is really off.”

To my chagrin, we started having Bible studies with these two guys named Neale and Kevin. I warned my parents, “They are trying to brainwash us!” My mum said, “Christiana, keep an open mind. Don’t worry about these men, let’s look at what is actually in the Bible.” I took her advice and I was shocked at what we found.

Part of the Bible study focused on the interdependency of Scripture. I’d never thought about it before. But now I wondered how Genesis could be discarded and the rest of the Bible kept? What is the point of the Sabbath if there was no creation week? And that’s just the beginning of the problems. Romans 5 focuses on Christ being the second Adam. But how could there be a second Adam if there wasn’t an Adam in the first place? And if there was no fall how did sin enter the world? And if there was no Adam and Eve, why did Jesus Himself refer to them?

It was clear to me that Christianity without creation made no sense at all. So, either evolutionary theory was right and Christianity a myth from start to finish, or Christianity was right and evolutionary theory a man-made myth. The only way to decide was to look at the evidence.

And that’s exactly what I did. I talked to many of my fellow researchers. I explored the question thoroughly. And I was astonished at what I found. The longer I looked the more evidence for creation I found and the larger the holes in evolutionary theory. Let me give you just one example.

For DNA to synthesise a new protein there has to be a pre-existing protein in order to copy the DNA into RNA. That synthesis can’t happen until all three—that is DNA, RNA and protein—are in existence. Can you see the problem? In order for life to replicate we must have at the cellular level three interdependent building blocks. And one of those building blocks—RNA—cannot exist without the other two. But protein can’t exist without RNA and DNA. So where did the first protein come from? All three must have, at the start, been in existence together or none of them could exist. And without that very complex basic building block no life can exist. So it’s clear at the cellular level that life was created as a complete unit. If not, it simply could not exist. So why the resistance among scientists to accepting a designer? First, many scientists do believe in some kind of creative input from God. Second, scientists are just like the rest of humanity—sinful and proud. Many would rather believe there is no God than to acknowledge Him and thereby acknowledge their responsibility to Him. But maybe the most startling reason is that many haven’t thoroughly investigated the question.

One of my fellow researchers said to me one day, “If I were to walk into a church I’d have to take out my brain and leave it outside.” “You’re exactly wrong,” I replied. “We were taught evolution explains the origins of life on earth. And we unquestioningly believed it. We are the ones lacking critical thinking. We are accepting as true the orthodoxy we are taught. But when you look at the evidence it doesn’t hold up. The truth is, my faith confronted my lack of critical thinking. And it is through that challenge that I’ve really learned to critically evaluate the world around me.”

I’ve now completed a PhD in biomedical science at the University of New South Wales. Along the way I’ve seen so many evidences of creation in science. And my life has been thoroughly blessed by the God behind that creation. Today I love being part of the Fountain in the City church plant in inner Sydney. And remember those Neale and Kevin guys I mentioned? That’s Neale Schofield, my boss at Adventist Media, and Pastor Kevin Brown, who also attends Fountain.

We have to be open-minded as we search for the origin of life. The evidence points towards creation. I was blind. When I really looked into it, the evidence was overwhelming. What I find disappointing as a scientist are theologians who buy into evolutionary theory and try to bend the Bible around it. In doing so, they show a complete disregard for science, theology and logical reasoning. 

Since coming to know the truth my life has turned upside down with a new desire and purpose. I’m not proud of my past. I no longer crave for the old entertainment and night life. I crave now for God’s presence, a daily feeding from my Saviour, yearning to meet people to share about the God behind the creation and Jesus who died to set me free from my old self. Neale preached a sermon on the day our whole family was baptised together—saying that the old husband of self has to die and be buried before we marry the new husband Jesus. With God’s grace I’m now a new creation as I walk on a journey with Jesus.


Dr Christiana Leimena works for the HopeChannel Discovery Centre at Adventist Media in Wahroonga, New South Wales.