Creation/Evolution: What are the issues for the Church?
A Brief Overview
This is the overriding issue - the authority of God's Word versus man's opinions. All the others are more or less related to this one. First, we need to establish that God's Word really does contradict man's opinion in the case of creation/evolution. The following table is an overview of the major areas of conflict.
By “man's opinion” we are referring to the majority or “establishment” view of Earth (and human) history, as taught and believed in most educational establishments.
We next need to explain what is meant by “God's Word claims”. After all, are there not many different exegetical opinions on Genesis 1-11? The criteria used to establish this here are as follows:
The primary, straightforward, natural/apparent meaning of the text using the best available translations.
The overwhelming consensus of linguistic scholars as to the intent of the original Hebrew. Note that we are not here referring to theologians, who may be attempting various ways of “harmonizing” the text with the prevailing world view. Professor James Barr of Oxford University has written that he knows of no professor of Hebrew at any world-class university who would not agree that the intention of the author of Genesis 1-11 was just as a simple, straightforward reading would indicate. That is, global flood, six ordinary days, all people descended from Adam and Eve who were real people, genealogies intended as a chronology from the beginning of all things, and so on.
One also finds overwhelming New Testament support for the straightforward understanding of the early chapters of Genesis. In short, biblical criteria alone, ignoring any prevailing extra-biblical world views are used in the first instance, as in all time-honored post-Reformation exegesis.
Some Major Contradictions (more than 20 in all)
Note that they also apply to “theistic evolution” and its major variants.
|Topic||God's Word Claims||Man's Opinion Claims|
|Order of Appearance||Earth before sun,
Fruit trees before fish
|Sun before Earth,
Fish before fruit trees
|The First Man||Formed directly from the elements (dust)||Descended from pre-existent anima|
|The First Woman||From man's body||Descended from pre-human female|
|Time Taken for Creation||All things created in six days||All things appear over vast ages|
|Noah's Flood as Judgment on Sin||Globe-covering||No global flood|
|Death, Violence, Suffering and Bloodshed (humans & animals)||Only after Adam -
the results of rebellion
|Eons before Adam -
extinction of the unfit and gene pools
|The Fall of man and the Curse||Affects all of Creation||Creation already “groaning in bondage to decay” (Romans 8) for billions of years before man|
Christians are thus faced with a choice -
Abandon the popular world view.
Abandon belief in Scripture.
Attempt to harmonize.
In practice, one often sees a blend of (2) and (3). Which bring us to the next issue, because many will then say that the Bible may be right on some things, but wrong on others.
Much has been written on the importance of this, which is to a large extent self-evident. Simply put, if the Bible contains some truth and some error, who is to judge which is which? How may we know anything reliably about God or Christianity or Jesus? Perhaps “God is love” is one of the mistakes.
The attempt to artificially split truth into “religious” and “scientific” often does so in violation of the basic laws of logic, where “A” cannot be non-“A”. Jesus either rose bodily from the dead, or He did not. Bloodshed was either in the world before Adam, or it was not. Christ does not enter the stage of human history in a ghostly, existential vacuum, but in a carefully laid out framework of history, part of a long line of descent from Adam. For Christianity to be credible, the Bible must be true where it does touch on what Schaeffer calls matters pertaining to “history and the cosmos”. Jesus said that if His hearers did not believe when He told them of Earthly things, how could they believe when He told them of heavenly things?
Belief in a true Bible does not mean that it is claimed to be a science textbook-true revelation does not mean exhaustive or detailed revelation.
The Nature of God
God's goodness—could He use death and struggle to create, the strong wiping out the weak over agonized eons before sin entered the world? Would He call a bloodstained world, the culmination of such a violence and disease-ridden process, “very good”?
God's truthfulness—if God created by evolution, would He so mislead people in His word, by giving an overwhelmingly contrary impression to virtually all readers?
God's miracle-working power and intelligence. It is no coincidence that denial of Genesis creation is very frequently accompanied by a denial of the miraculous in the Gospels. A God who has to use “process”, trial and error and many dead ends and blind alleys over millions of years to reach His goal is not one whom one would expect to have the sort of power over natural laws that could raise the long-dead in a twinkling, create thousands of loaves and fishes “ex nihilo”, and defy gravity to walk on water.
The Framework of Biblical Cosmology
A “good” world, which was marred by Adam's sin, is groaning under the curse, and will one day be restored to a sinless deathless paradise. This Creation/Fall/Redemption framework is not based on a twist of a Hebrew or Greek word, but is woven intimately throughout the fabric of both Old and New Testaments. This leads on to…
The Logical Foundations of the Gospel
The very reason for the cross is predicated upon the Fall. By the first Adam came death by the second comes resurrection from the dead. Without Adam's fall into sin and death, why does Christ have to die? Without the historical event which caused a great gulf between God and man, why is there any need for the atoning blood? These logical contradictions between the preaching of the Gospel and the world view of the public leads to the problems caused by evolutionary thinking in…
“For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death”. Beautiful words, but what can they possibly mean to a culture that is raised on the belief that death always was (and thus cannot be the wages of sin); that man is not a fallen image but a risen ape: that the law contains such obviously mythical statements as Exodus 20:11 (all things created in six days); that sinful behavior is the result of animal ancestry; and that the Bible which contains these words cannot be trusted to be error-free, anyway?
Peter exhorts us to be ready to give a “reason for the hope”-that is, defend the faith. The area of greatest attack is in Genesis. As the book of origins, Genesis contains the structural base of all Christian doctrine, directly or indirectly. Destroy this logical base, this foundation, and the structure is seriously weakened.
The very existence of God is denied by evolution. Paul says that the evidence from design is so overwhelming that all are without excuse. Yet schoolchildren are brought up to believe that a Designer is not necessary to explain design in nature. Theistic evolutionists deny that evolution is essentially atheistic, but the dynamic behind all evolutionary theories is to explain all things in terms of their own processes and properties-that is, without the need for intervention by a transcendent God via miraculous intervention in the created order.
In Revelation we read that God is worthy to receive honour, glory and power-because He has created all things. Paul condemns those who have abandoned the worship of the Creator in favor of the creation itself. In consistent evolutionary thinking, it is “nature” (the creation) which gets the glory for creation.
Society and Ethics
Sin is the root cause of human problems, but evolution has given a scientific justification for rejecting the absolutes of God's Word in Western society. The starkest example was the openly admitted application of consistent evolutionary thinking in Hitler's Germany. (The atrocities of the Inquisition and Crusades, though in a Christian society, were inconsistent with this world view, by contrast.) Many Western scientists pre-war praised the Nazi policy of elimination of the mentally retarded and genetically diseased as “scientifically enlightened”. Increasing lawlessness (no one owns me, there are no rules); abortion (we're all just animals anyway); marriage breakdown (Jesus' teaching on marriage and divorce always went back to the historical basis in Genesis) and ever more open homosexual practices are just some of the fruits being reaped by a society rearing its young in this anti-biblical world view.
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