After Communism's Collapse: Creation in the Crimea
Ken Ham meets Ukrainian geophysicist and creation warrior Sergei Golovin.
(Creation Ex Nihilo Vol.22 No.4, September - November 2000, pp. 24 - 27. Reduced.)
Sergei Golovin has a Master's degree in geophysics, and lives in the Crimea region, Ukraine, where he heads a creation ministry, the Christian Center for Science and Apologetics.
Sergei spoke of the vast cultural and philosophical differences between people in the former USSR and the West. 'Three generations of communist "atheology" has trained people not to search for a logical answer,' he said. 'The logical contradictions in communist ideology were carefully explained away as just the "dialectics of history". So even if they see contradictions in parts of evolution theory, many still just accept it.' 'Evolution,' he said, 'was the "scientific foundation" the communists used to promote their humanistic ideology and attack Christianity. Even though many have suffered much under communism, they still think that science has proved they are products of time and chance. Having heard no alternative to evolution, life has even less purpose or meaning than under communism.'Sergei said, 'Capitalism alone is not able to fill the "spiritual vacuum" left by Marxism's collapse, and the result is the general growth of crime, drugs, occultism, robber barons, moral decay and suicides. In Ukraine, we now have 1.3 divorces for every new marriage, and about two abortions for every child born. Plus a lot of abandoned street kids. Our ministry is also involved in missions to street kids and orphanages, but this is fighting the symptoms; to fight the disease itself we have to change the general worldview, to restore the foundations of society and the family. When people believe they are nothing more than evolved animals, they tend to behave accordingly, and to act increasingly less human.'
Asked about feedback to his ministry, Sergei said that people commonly said that now that they knew that belief in Christ does not contradict scientific knowledge, they were solid Christians. 'We believed in Christ,' they would say, 'But we also "knew" that evolution was a fact, contradicting the Bible. Now, through the creation materials, our understanding and belief are reconciled, so we have a world-view on which we can stand strongly.'
A research scientist, Sergei has led geophysical expeditions in Crimea, the Caucasus Mountains, and the Arctic. He says 'One problem of today's science is specialization. One person told me: "In my area of science I don't see any proof of evolution but since everybody believes in it, it must be true". I've worked in different areas - geophysics, laser optics, and information theory. I saw that atheism doesn't fit any of these areas, and I looked for another ideological foundation. While studying Earth and Solar System physics, I started to see design everywhere. It made me discouraged with atheism. I only came to the Bible later; I had been indoctrinated to think that only old women and crazy people believed in God. We had a lot of anti-religious communist propaganda - a major one was that the original sin of Adam and Eve was sexual. But the Bible, which we weren't allowed to see for ourselves, says the complete opposite - they were told to be fruitful and multiply. The communists found that if you repeat something often enough, it begins to take effect. A bit like evolution indoctrination in the West.
'So, I started my search for truth with oriental philosophies; these are actually very close to materialism in their evolutionary ideas. I found the same mistakes in them as well. Then, still a sceptical agnostic, I read the New Testament several times. It was for me just an interesting story, nothing more.'
World's northernmost convert?
Sergei's first contact with the Old Testament was on the island of Spitzbergen, 1000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole, in 1990. He said, 'This is Norwegian territory, but there were Russian settlements too. I drove a snow scooter across the mountains to the Norwegian settlement Longierbuen, the world's northernmost city. I went to make a phone call, and they gave me a card, "The northernmost phone station in the world." Then the supermarket gave me a bag, "The northernmost supermarket in the world." Starting to feel like a tourist, I saw a road sign saying, "The northernmost church in the world". So I decided to visit there, too. The man at this Norwegian church gave me my first complete Bible in Russian. They had a stock of these to supply Russian miners working there, for whom Bibles were still illegal. Having installed geophysical recording equipment, I was alone with little to do, and I started to read from Genesis.
'I found that everything I know, from my personal experience and my science, fits with this book. This was the only book that told the truth about all "earthly things" which I could put to the test. So if looking for a reliable source of information on matters I cannot test, on 'heavenly things' - this was it. And if I accept Genesis, I have to accept the rest. From Genesis I found out why the Gospel is so important, and why Christ had to come and sacrifice His life. So through science I came to the Bible, through the Bible I came to Christ.
'After three months, everything I had read before in the New Testament made personal sense. So I went to a Russian Orthodox Church - the only church I knew - told them I believed in Christ, and asked to be baptized. I didn't join the congregation, because this church seemed unlike the Church in the Bible - much more like a State Church. I actually had to pay for my baptism.'
One year later, Sergei was working in a university research department. 'I wanted other people to see this wonderful truth, and so I started to tell students about Creation, but this was soon forbidden. So I held secret, underground meetings with students, professors, and colleagues.' When this was discovered, Sergei was told that if he persisted, he could not continue in his Ph.D. His thesis was completed already, and he had a number of patented inventions in geophysics and laser optics, plus professional journal articles, to his credit. But he decided to continue to share the truth, and left the university.
It took him two years of intensive writing and seeking contacts to commence the ministry, while his wife Olga, a qualified physicist, sewed garments to earn food for the family. Sergei explained that the anti-family philosophy under the communists did everything possible to discourage mothers from staying with their young children, but Olga nevertheless chose to do this as a 'biblically better way', rather than using her qualifications. She still occasionally has to sew to meet ministry or family needs, which, he says, 'is very humbling for me as a husband.'
Sergei's ministry centre is supported mainly from donations by (mostly Western) individuals and churches. Though he strives for it to be self-funding, he knows this is unrealistic for the moment, as his nation is so poor. The average Ukrainian, I discovered, earns US$40 a month. 'Though a loaf of bread only costs 14 cents, it takes about $100 per month for a person to have regular, sufficient food,' said Sergei. 'The biggest problem is for retired people, whose pension is only about $16 a month. We often see them at flea markets trying to sell their possessions.'
I asked what would be considered a large donation from a Ukrainian Christian. He said, 'The largest, considered massive, was about $50. This would have been a very, very sacrificial one. People really believe in what we are doing, and write encouraging letters. Most say they have no money, but will pray for us, which we greatly appreciate.' Sergei seemed close to tears when he told me about the most precious donation ever - from an 8-year-old girl who sent US$1, a Christmas gift from her grandmother. He said, 'One dollar is huge money for kids in our country - this girl encouraged me so much.'
Sergei told of a Latvian man who, after seeing Sergei's video series Science and the Bible, said, 'It's right - God created us.' The next day he went to church, repented there and was baptized. 'For ten years his wife had preached the Gospel to him,' said Sergei, 'but the seeds fell on the pavement. But as soon as the pavement was broken by the creation message, the fruit came.'
Increasingly, scientists in Russia/Ukraine are asking Sergei's ministry for materials on Creation. But it is not enough to just 'believe in Creation' or be 'anti-evolution'. Unless the Bible is trusted on such obvious teachings as a real six days, not billions of years, the Gospel makes no sense - a fossil record with death, cancer and thorns cannot have been a part of what God called 'very good' (Gen. 1:31). If the church fails to take a stand on the obvious meaning of the six days of Genesis, they have 'unlocked a door' to 'reinterpreting' other parts of Scripture.
Sergei said, 'As a geophysicist, before I knew of evidence for a young earth through creation science, I sorted out the difference between data and its interpretation. No data, no evidence I knew of, contradicted the Bible, only the interpretations put on it. So you either believe in millions of years or "six days" - and the interpretation based on the Bible is more sound. If you accept the Bible's truth, there's no room for you to think that it's only partly true.'
Sergei had a particularly creative way of reaching out to his academic colleagues in Simferopol. Since they would not talk to him about Christ or creation, he said, 'I hired some of them as translators and scientific consultants, which forced them to read the material. It meant I had to very carefully check the end result, but several became baptized Christians as a result.'
Asked what he saw as the main point of resistance (from newly converted Christians with scientific training) on the six days and a young earth, he unhesitatingly said, 'It's a general resistance to God's Word; if they have a high view of the authority of Scripture, it doesn't take long for them to come around. Pride is a factor, too - pride in one's experience, or academic achievements.'
Sergei said that, in communist times, it was dangerous to question the establishment worldview. 'Everyone who did it was sent to Siberia,' he said, 'so it is hard to get people to think for themselves today. For instance, speaking to students at a medical college, I explained Haeckel's fraudulent theory of recapitulation. They asked why I would attack a "scientific theory". I knew they had studied embryology, which demolishes the recapitulation theory, and asked, "Don't you ever try to compare the data from your biology and embryology courses?" "No," they said, "the professors know best what to teach." Passive acceptance of authority has become part of the culture.'
Sergei also functions as the pastor of a church, and has a family ministry tied in with the creation ministry. He said, 'I agree with the stand of Answers in Genesis, that you're not just about creation vs evolution, but about the authority of Scripture, in which our doctrines are ultimately founded in Genesis. New believers in our country have no understanding of the Christian family. They need to come together and learn about it from the Bible. "Creation science" is not a goal in itself, it's a tool. It's not just an interesting club to talk about technical issues, it's getting people conformed to the image of Jesus Christ and building their thinking on the Bible.'
Sergei Golovin spoke of the calamitous decline of his great fertile country Ukraine, which last century was considered the 'breadbasket of Europe', but today imports food. What happened? 'The sun is the same, the soil and water are the same,' he said. 'I think we need to repent and restore our relationship with God before He will heal our land. We cannot do it without restoring families, without restoring biblical authority, so that is why we started this ministry.'