One of my favorite words has been hijacked, thanks to Charles Darwin, and I want to bring it back to its original meaning. Evolution has always meant “change with respect to time,” which is a hallmark of divine creation. Cosmology exemplifies this point. Discoveries showing that the universe is neither infinitely old nor static in its conditions but rather continuously expanding and changing (i.e., evolving) since its beginning a finite time ago turned non-theistic cosmology upside down. Everything researchers learn about the universe’s unfolding features speaks of the cosmic creation event and of exquisite design specifically for humanity’s existence and benefit.
Recently, another example of evolution as evidence for creation has emerged. A team of geologists and geophysicists has published their findings about the evolution of life-essential minerals on (and in) Earth’s crust.1 Their research shows that new minerals arose and multiplied as environmental conditions changed throughout geologic time,2 somehow “blindly” preparing and providing for the best interests of a creature who did not yet exist.
As it turns out, the dust particles in the pre-stellar molecular cloud from which our solar system formed contained only about a dozen minerals. Gravitational clumping within that cloud led to formation of a disk surrounding the Sun, and careful fine-tuning of the disk’s features increased the number of minerals to 60. A series of just-right thermal and other developments as Earth was forming increased that 60 to 250.
Once Earth had fully formed, biological processes led to explosive increases in Earth’s surface minerals. The research team found that with each biological “big bang” (sudden, widespread radiation of new life-forms, i.e., creation of new species), a mineral big bang followed. The most dramatic by far was the multiplication that took place after the Cambrian explosion some 543 million years ago.
It appears that life-forms play a crucial and unique role in Earth’s surface chemistry. Living systems “work” in ways that change their surroundings. Their metabolic processes, for example, convert various elements and compounds into other elements and compounds. The enormous diversity and abundance of life throughout the past 543 million years resulted in an especially large number and variety of such conversions—many of which are important for human life and quality of life.
The number of distinct minerals (sometimes referred to as mineral species) now exceeds 4,100. The more we learn about them, as well as about our own biochemistry, the more we understand how they contribute to the existence and functioning of the human body. These minerals have also played a vital role in launching civilization. And today they help sustain our advancing global technology.3 This kind of evolution bears witness to our great Creator.
1 Robert M. Hazen et al., “Mineral Evolution,” American Mineralogist 93 (November-December, 2008): 1693-1720.
2 Crisogono Vasconcelos and Judith A. McKenzie, “The Descent of Minerals,” Science 323 (January 9, 2009): 218.
3 Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2009).