Tas Walker talks to geophysicist Dr Peter Vajda about Earth science and Earth history
Peter Vajda, Ph.D. is a research scientist with the Division of Geophysics at the Earth Science Institute, at the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia. He studied geophysics at the Comenius University, Bratislava, specializing in paleomagnetism, and obtained his doctorate at University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada, researching the earth's gravity.
These days, people think scientists do not believe in God or the Bible, but Peter is one of many researchers who shatter those ideas. He is a successful scientist who believes the Bible completely.
Dr Vajda (a Hungarian name pronounced VIE-da) is the internationally acclaimed head of the Department of Gravimetry and Geodynamics at the Earth Science Institute. With more than 60 papers to his name, he has presented at conferences all over the world including in South Africa, Canada, Fiji, USA (including Hawaii), and in several European countries.
His research interest is primarily geophysics, with a focus on the earth's gravitational field, its observation and interpretation. One important application of his research is studying magma deep inside volcanoes by carefully measuring the strength of the gravity in the surrounding area. It helps scientists understand how dormant volcanoes re-awaken, and the threat of impending eruptions. This helps keep people safe from volcanic explosions.
Peter grew up in Slovakia (formerly part of Czechoslovakia) in an orderly, happy home. His father lectured in physics at the university, and his mother taught at college. Peter recalls that the family enjoyed hiking, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, and mountain climbing.
It was his passion for the outdoor life and the beauty of nature that prompted Peter to study mathematics and physics.
Discovered something was wrong
Peter recalls, "I was a satisfied atheist. I firmly believed that the world and life came into existence through evolution, although I knew nothing about it. And I thought of myself as a good person who never hurt anyone."
Things started changing during his time in Canada. A friend introduced him to the Bible, which he began reading in the evenings. Within a few days he was 'hooked'. As he read, he realized he was selfish, used people, and hurt them. That made him think there was something wrong with his heart, which started him reflecting on life.
"I began reading the Bible in Genesis," Peter explained, "and the amazing thing is that, although I was an atheist and evolutionist, I did not dismiss it. As I read, the truth came through that the heart of man is corrupted. This matched my own experience."
When he read about animal sacrifices in the Old Testament, he felt he needed to get a flawless lamb to sacrifice somewhere to make him clean. "Eventually I reached the New Testament and discovered the solution—Jesus Christ died on the Cross 2,000 years ago as my sacrifice."
Peter explained, "I knew the Bible was right about the corruption of man's heart so I concluded it would be right about the cure." Eventually, he got on his knees and asked God to save him. Peter recalls, "And God did. With time, I realized there were new things at work in me. I had new values in life. I had new desires. I discovered that God is alive and personal."
The quest of evolution
Surprisingly, Peter's evolutionary beliefs were no obstacle to him reading the Bible. At that time, the origin and history of universe were not at the forefront of his thinking. Rather, he was consumed by the issue of his relationship with God.
that God is
personal”Evolution did pop up about two years afterwards. The context concerned the origin of death. According to evolution, death is a natural part of life on Earth, and has been around for hundreds of millions of years. But, according to the Bible, there was no death originally. It came into the world through the disobedience of the first two people, Adam and Eve.
Peter explains, "Then and there it hit me. I realized it was either/or. I immediately accepted the biblical account for the origin of death, based purely on the authority of the Word of God. For me the Bible stands infinitely higher than human speculation. My attitude was that the ultimate truth is the Word of God. He has all wisdom; He was the only 'eye witness' of the history; He reveals the truth to us."
That decision began a quest to understand where and how the evolutionary explanation was wrong. "I was especially motivated because I work professionally in research in academia, and the majority of the people I knew considered it fact. I wanted to know every possible detail about the errors with evolutionary thinking."
It's not empirical science
In this regard, Peter remembered his research work for his Master's degree* in Bratislava. He was studying paleomagnetism, the past magnetism of the earth, allegedly reaching back over millions of years. He recalls how, even as an atheist, he was deeply concerned about all the unknowns in trying to recover information about the deep past. He was uneasy about the way researchers said so many things with such certainty about what the earth was like 'millions of years ago'. He recalls thinking, "How can we know? How can we be certain?"
Peter quipped, "I eventually escaped from paleomagnetism to work in physical geodesy and geophysics, specifically gravimetry. I was very happy. Now I could research things that were verifiable by empirical science based on facts—on actual observations."
Recalling this confirmed for Peter that we cannot discover the origin and history of the earth using 'science'. "The past is inaccessible to empirical science. Observations can only be made in the present. The rest is reconstruction, in which beliefs play a pivotal role."
He said, "God had already explained this in Job 38:4, that the only genuine knowledge about origins is His Word. He was there, and He has revealed this knowledge to us. Not only does He know the history of the earth because He witnessed it; He actually did it—Himself."
One topic Peter initially found tricky to resolve was radioactive dating and the age of the earth.
This, too, became clear when he recognized the difference between empirical knowledge and speculation.
"The empirical knowledge, what is actually measured, is the ratio of isotopes. The age is a questionable interpretation based on untestable assumptions. Further, the value actually selected is chosen to match their naturalistic philosophy. Although they don't want to say it, the ages they quote are taken on faith."
"I was thrilled as I discovered that when we begin with biblical assumptions the outcomes beautifully harmonize with the true history of the world."
most interesting question
On the positive side, Peter refers to many scientific evidences that give insights into and confidence in the Bible. In geology these include the abundance and preservation of fossils, the horizontal and vertical extent of sedimentary layers, their deformation, and the interfaces between them.
Even more compelling are the evidences from biology: the impossibility of chemical evolution, the insurmountable problems with biological evolution, and the overwhelming evidence of design.
Peter said, "I find the origin and history of the cosmos and life to be the most interesting and ultimate of questions in the human quest for knowledge. And I am convinced that the Bible reveals the true history of the universe, and can be depended upon absolutely."•
* Rerum Naturalium Doctor (RNDr.): a degree issued in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, equivalent to the Masters degree in natural sciences. Not to be confused with Doctor rerum naturalium (Dr. rer. nat.), another European postgraduate science qualification, issued in e.g. Austria and Germany, and equivalent to a Ph.D.