On March 11, 2004, three days before Spain’s general elections, 191 people were killed by a series of explosions set off in the city of Madrid. Based on a fingerprint match, attorney Brandon Mayfield was arrested and jailed.
The quality of the fingerprint match was considered to be an “absolutely incontrovertible match.”1 Typically, examiners demand that “12 unique traits correspond to declare a match.”2 Mayfield’s print shared 15 traits with the one found in Madrid. The fingerprints were so close, even the expert witness Mayfield hired testified it was a match.
While Brandon Mayfield awaited trial, Spanish police announced the fingerprint actually belonged to an Algerian terrorist named Ouhnane Daoud. This revelation challenged a “century-old pillar of forensic science–that no two prints are identical.”3 If this “rock solid” concept could be called into question, what other “truths” can be challenged?
Ultimately, the finding led the United States Congress to request the National Academy of Sciences to launch an investigation into the technologies and techniques used in forensic science. The findings were released in July 2009 and found that “forensic science was fractured.”4
Dr. Robert Shaler, one of the authors of the National Academy of Sciences’ report, said, “Human error touches every aspect of forensic science, because every aspect of forensic science requires a human interpretation.”5
During the airing of Forensics on Trial, NOVA concluded, regardless of how sophisticated the technology may be, “many of the most trusted forensic disciplines come down to interpretation. And with interpretation comes error.”6
When one considers the field of Evolution and the supposed age and makeup of those things they claim as evidence, it is difficult to see their findings as more reliable than those in the field of modern forensic science.
Prior to the Mayfield mishap, those within the field of forensic science were more than certain of the reliability and results their technology and techniques could produce when properly put into practice. The Mayfield incident helped expose numerous issues within the field and had a sobering effect on those within it. Dr. Robert Shaler said, “I have to begin to question my own training, things that I’ve believed my entire career. I agree with the National Academy report. We need to look at the scientific basis of these determinations.”7
Like their forensic counterparts before the Mayfield incident, many within the field of evolutionary studies claim authoritative insight as it relates to such things as the origin of the universe, the age of the earth, and how man came into existence.
Their claims are based on “evidence,” and just as their forensic counterparts, their findings greatly depend on human interpretation.
For many, the modern secular scholar is viewed as a factual knowledge base, a luminary, an enlightened one possessing the keys to modern and age old questions. But are they deserving of such homage? Do they indeed bear keys to age old locks?
Apart from their personal claims, do those purporting knowledge and insight of ancient events hold a better vantage point than those in the field of modern forensic science? Is interpretation in their field less vulnerable to “human error” than in forensic science? If modern forensic science openly admits to struggling with interpretive errors, the only thing keeping those in evolution science from making the same profession is arrogance or ignorance.
Dr. Shaler’s summation of the challenge forensic science faces, “Human error touches every aspect of forensic science, because every aspect of forensic science requires a human interpretation,”8 can be expanded to embrace not only forensic science, but everything and anything that demands human interpretation.
I can’t help but wonder if God has purposely created levels of complexity simply to show those who take pride in their mental prowess just how small and limited they really are. Perhaps, just when man thinks he’s mastered the profound, God reveals yet another layer of complexity merely to help man see how small his understanding of the big picture really is.
The Small Picture
Let’s take a moment to consider the picture posted at the beginning of this article. If the colored area represents man’s comprehension of reality in relation to the big picture, and the darkly shaded area all that falls outside of his comprehension, how accurate will the smartest, most discerning and committed of us be? As the picture denotes, regardless of how advanced a person may be, his or her inability to comprehend the big picture renders their findings suspect at best.
Because man is distinctly finite in nature and exceptionally limited in terms of eternal universal comprehension, apart from outside assistance and/or more comprehensive (big picture) information from a greater source, godless man is doomed to delusions of grasping a picture too big for his tiny mind to grasp. Doomed to believing he is on the cusp of understanding big picture topics like the origin of the universe, the age of the earth, how man came into existence…, man, in truth, is groping in the dark.
How is it those with great intellect, discernment and commitment can delude themselves into believing they grasp great and expansive concepts? To some degree, it has to do with their inability to appreciate how small and limited they are in relation to a larger vantage point. More importantly, as Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” (NKJV) They think they are right because the foolishness of their hearts conditions and limits their minds. This leads them to the inevitable practice seen in Romans 1:22 which says, “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (NKJV)
This is not to say those who claim Christ as Lord and Savior are assured a more comprehensive and accurate understanding of reality. Sadly, local churches are ripe with intellectually challenged disciples of Christ.
The apostle Peter spent roughly three years of his life with Christ. He witnessed Christ perform numerous miracles and utter prophetic words, but when push came to shove and Christ spoke of His impending suffering and death, Peter reproved Christ saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” The Lord, in turn, said to Peter in Matthew 16:23, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
In verse 23, Christ equated Peter’s response as linked to “the things of men.” In other words, Christ was saying, Peter, your ability to comprehend the big picture is tainted. The foolishness bound up in your heart will not allow you to grasp and appreciate expansive concepts. Why? Because Peter’s intellect, discernment and commitment was deluded to the point that even when the Lord Himself conveyed truth, he could not distinguish it from falsehood.
Just as Peter stood in the way of helping Christ fulfill His broader mission, far too often we too allow ourselves to follow a similar path of blindness as Peter. Let us bathe in God’s Word and go before Him in prayer, seeking not our will, but His, seeking not our perfect picture, but the true and expansive one placed before us by our “outside source.”
Whether Christian or non-Christian, if we desire truth, we must first recognize our limitations with respect to our ability to discern, comprehend and maintain commitment pursuing it.
Like forensic science, human error touches every aspect of human reason.
For those committed to embracing truth, remember how small the picture we look at is.
1 NOVA Forensics on Trial aired 10/17/2012
4 ibid Jessica Gabel Professor of Law at Georgia State University and lectures on the NAS results.
5 ibid Dr. Robert Shaler founded the forensics program at Penn State University and led the DNA identification of the victims of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001.