Dr Jonathan Swingler is head of the Engineering Department at the University of Southampton. He has been a creationist since he was 18, the same age at which he began studying physics. Richard Harris finds out what he believes

In Genesis on the first day God said "Let there be light", but he did not create the sun until the fourth day, where did the light come from?

Not all light comes from the sun because stars produce light too. It's believed that God was the source of light because, in terms of creation, the sun had very little to do with life on earth. I don't know exactly where the light came from, I wouldn't want to commit myself but I can definitely say it didn't come from the sun.

Does the phrase "Let the earth bring forth" not imply that God made things via a process of evolution?

I can see where people get that idea from but that's not the case, we have to understand that when the Bible says 'a day' it means a day as in a 24-hour period. So what happened was God put the plants on the earth and caused them to grow in one day.

Could we not suggest that God created evolution?

I don't think that happened but I do know a few Christians who are also evolutionists. I don't know how they came to that conclusion. From my perspective I have a lot of problems theologically and scientifically because it just doesn't hold together. I believe in devolution, which is the loss of genetic information, and that's what's happening to humans and animals. As we devolve we get things like mutations and deformities.

What did Adam and Eve look like?

They would have been mid-brown in colour and possessed all the characteristics that we have on this planet, so they would be the stock that all humans came from, like a hybrid.

How has mankind developed into so many different races in such a short time?

Adam and Eve would have had all the genetic information there and as they breed their offspring would have different characteristics, and as the breeding continues and certain groups breed within themselves then certain characteristics would start to dominate, such as black skin and smaller eyes. There is no reason that couldn't occur within several hundred years. The common thinking at the moment is that Eve came from Africa.

Why did God flood the world?

Because Mankind became very wicked, in the sense that we had forgotten our moral code (the Ten Commandments). We were murdering, stealing and committing adultery etc.

What evidence is there that the flood actually took place all over the world and not just where Noah was?

There are three lines of evidence 1) the Bible says so itself 2) There are stories from other cultures, such as the Gilgamesh, which talks about a flood at that time, and 3) The fact that we have billions of fossils laid down in sedimentary rock, which is made with catastrophic amounts of water, all over the planet. To me this is evidence for the flood rather than evidence for millions of years of sedimentary rock laying down.

How would the food chain have worked on the ark?

When God originally made the animals they were all herbivorous, then after the problems in the Garden of Eden they started to eat each other. Interestingly the Bible records that God didn't give permission to humans to eat animals until after the flood. On the ark there would have been a large supply of grain and other vegetable material and I think that the animals would have eaten that and not each other. Even from a nutritional point of view that's not a problem because all animals eat vegetables; 95% of a grizzly bear's diet is plant life. I'd never thought about this until you asked me and I did have to think about what they would have done. At the end of the day it's speculation because the Bible doesn't say.

How would Noah have collected animals such as polar bears and penguins?

Creationists believe that the moving of the tectonic plates which make up different continents didn't take place over millions of years but instead happened during the flood.

So before the flood occurred there was one big continent that all the animals could move around on and get to the ark very easily. The Bible also tells of how God drew the animals to the ark so Noah didn't have to collect them. The interesting point is about spiders because we don't know if they'd been on the ark and I think that they weren't. The Bible talks about "land breathing animals" on the ark, I don't know whether that would include insects and spiders. It's more likely that the eggs of these insects would have survived the flood and that's why we still have them today.

Where would Noah and all the animals have found food after the flood?

If we look at it chronologically, the Bible records that it took seven days to load on the animals which consisted of 8,000 species, this was followed by 40 days of rain. It's estimated that 150 days (5 months) passed before the ark came to rest, then it took another 73 days (2 ½ months) for the tops of mountains to be seen, then 40 more days before he sent out ravens and doves… the point I'm making is that it would have been close on a year before the waters had completely disappeared. So by the time the land was visible it's quite likely that vegetation would have already grown back.

Why have no remains of the ark been found?

It landed 4,300 years ago and I really wouldn't expect anything to last that amount of time. When Noah's family came out of the ark I expect they would have used it for building materials for their homes. If someone was to come along and say they'd found the ark I would be the sceptic!

Where do dinosaurs fit in to the creationist belief?

Creationists see dinosaurs as any other animal. What's interesting is that there are 668 different genres of dinosaur and 1/6 of them are known to be the big type, whereas the rest were quite small, like sheep. But we certainly think that they co-existed with humans and other animals on earth. I also think Noah would have taken them on the ark; the estimated 8,000 species on the ark actually included the dinosaurs.

You say Noah lived for 950 years. How is that possible?

I think the question we should be asking is not why did Noah live for so long but why we don't live so long. We see in the Bible that before the flood it was common for people to live for the length of time Noah did, it wasn't until after flood that the ages people lived took such a massive dip. This goes back to what I was saying earlier about devolution, because our gene pool is being reduced and watered down so much we are not living as long as we used to.

If you believe dating equipment and techniques are so inaccurate what are you doing to make them more precise?

Well the creationist community has got what's called the R.A.T.E. project going on at the moment. They are looking into other methods. Other scientists are doing it as well, there is one technique that we thought was going to be promising and it's called Isochron methodology.

You're very eager to use evidence to prove your point. Supposing evidence for evolution and the age of the Earth did emerge, would you openly admit that you were wrong or would you still believe?

The answer to that would be yes, I am open minded enough to do that. However the only piece of evidence that could possibly make me go back on what I believe would be if someone could prove that Jesus was not the son of God and he did not get resurrected from the dead, because that is the basis of my religion.

Richard Harris is a freelance writer.

Dr Swingler's most recent publication is Micro-arcing and arc erosion minimisation using a 42 volt DC hybrid switching device, 2004 (with J.W McBride)