Creation on Trial

Anyone who keeps up with the news, must have heard in the past months of a strange court trial which took place at Little Rock, Arkansas. It was a trial which pitted evolution against what was called “creation science.” The legislature of Arkansas has passed a law requiring the teaching of “creation science” whenever evolution was presented. Concerning the law, Discover, a secular science magazine, Feb. 1982, states:

If evolution was taught in any school, the law decreed, “balanced treatment” had to be given to “creation science” as well. The law specifically prohibited “religious instruction or references to religious writings.” That provision, however, seemed to mean little in the light of the law’s nettlesome Section 4, which becomes the focus of the ACLU complaint and of the trial. 

Section 4 rashly attempted to define “creation science” to include “Sudden creation of the universe, energy, and life from nothing; . . .changes only within fixed limits of originally created kinds of plants and animals; separate ancestry for man and apes; explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood; and a relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds.” In passing, it took a swipe at evolutionary theory by criticizing “the insufficiency of mutation and natural selection in bringing about development of all living kinds from a single organism,” a deficiency that evolutionists themselves have long since addressed. One candid state witness, theologian Norman Geisler, of the Dallas Theological Seminary, declared, “I think in all honesty that the people who devised this (law) got their model from the Book of Genesis.”

In the trial, the attorney general, Steve Clark, made use of six lawyers—but the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) had some 20 lawyers. So it turned out to be an interesting confrontation. The ACLU lawyers sought not so much to discuss scientific arguments for creation, but rather attempted to gain their point by discrediting the creationist witnesses. From Discover, we note:

Even before the teachers’ testimony, the ACLU lawyers had mapped out their strategy of attack against state witnesses. Anthony Siano talked at one point of “short crosses”—quick cross-examinations to discredit the witnesses, without any long discussions of their scientific arguments. That was the strategy employed, and Siano was the first to use it. 

The first witness for the state, theologian Norman Geisler, argued that the concept of a creator was not necessarily a religious one. It was commitment that characterized religion, said Geisler, and without that commitment a supernatural being was not necessarily a religious concept. Aristotle postulated a first cause, an unmoved mover, noted Geisler, “but Aristotle didn’t worship this cause.” Similarly, Geisler added, Satan believes that God exists but by no means worships Him. 

Siano pounced on the Satan reference, pressing Geisler to recall any personal experience that confirmed his belief in the Devil. Geisler finally admitted that in his pre-trial deposition he had spoken of “dealing with demon-possessed people and the study of UFO phenomena.” Pushed further, Geisler declared, “I believe UFOs exist.” He explained that “they are a satanic manifestation in this world for the purposes of deception.” Siano: “No further questions.”

One notes too in this trial that many of the wit nesses on the side of the ACLU were of various churches—including George Marsden of Calvin College who is reported to have stated, as he likened the creationists’ zeal with 19th century fundamentalists, “Literal defense of the Bible is the first defense against modern thought.” From the article, one concludes that Marsden disagrees with the “literal defense of the Bible.” It is a sad day when such kind of support is given by a man of the Reformed community: for it gives further occasion for the world to mock with the church and its confession concerning Scripture. 

Marsden makes further comments on the trial in theReformed Journal, Jan. 1982:

. . .One of the striking characteristics of fundamentalists is that while they may well attack real problems in our society, they typically reduce the choices involved to simply two. “Choose ye this day,” they cry, whether we be on the Lord’s side or Satan’s. The Lord’s side is often defined by a literal interpretation of Scripture; Satan’s side is everything else. So, for instance, Henry Morris, founder of the Institute for Creation Research, says that the philosophy of evolution was “really the foundation of the very rebellion of Satan himself.” Theistic evolution and other compromises are allowed no place in such thinking. While not mentioning God or Satan, the Arkansas law reflects such dichotomized thinking. Whenever naturalistic evolution is taught in public schools, it must be balanced by instruction, textbooks, and library resources teaching creation-science. Creation-science is defined to include “a relatively recent inception of the earth and living kinds” and an “explanation of the earth’s geology by catastrophism, including the occurrence of a worldwide flood.” Virtually the only views and publications fitting this definition are those of the Institute for Creation Research and related agencies which teach that creation occurred in six twenty-four hour days, that the earth is about 10,000 years old, and that the geological evidence is explained by the Genesis flood.

Marsden concludes that the solution to many problems “could be found in public support for alternative educational systems, such as Christian schools. . . .” 

It is sad to hear a man of Marsden’s position and ability mocking the position of “fundamentalists” in stating that “the Lord’s side is often defined by a literal interpretation of Scripture; Satan’s side is everything else.” He is combating the Arkansas law for improper reasons—unreformed reasons. 

Others report the decision of the Arkansas court with severe denunciations. The Presbyterian Journal, Feb. 17, 1982, quotes approvingly in an editorial from columnist William F. Willoughby:

“Judge Overton, let me ask you: Why is it that simply because creation-science proponents (real live scientists, some on major faculties) arrive at precisely the same conclusions that the Bible does on the origin of the universe and of life, you have the right to accuse them of trying surreptitiously to slip the Bible and not science into the classroom? 

“And Judge Overton, since when is atheism the official religion of this country? I thought no religion was to be favored over the other. Yet, by your own reasoning, it appears that if it’s atheistic it’s on the side of the gods. 

“. . .There is mischief that is made of the Judge’s interpretation of the Constitution. It isn’t our religious freedom that is at question here, it’s our academic freedom. Archbishop Iakovos is absolutely right that what it amounts to is a form of censorship—not about something that might be morally reprehensible and not good for society, but at the level of academia itself. Someone else is determining for us that we can’t even discuss one hypothesis in a school classroom simply because the Bible isn’t written in the jargon of the atheist or agnostic. Medievalism is back upon us. . . .”

Far more than all the above, I appreciated the editor’s comments in Covenanter Witness, Feb. 1982. The editor expressed hesitation about stating his opinion that the Arkansas law was wrong—though for reasons far different from those given by the judge in the case. His reasons are important:

. . .First of all, the law would have required teachers to teach a portion of God’s Word in the context of the science curriculum. I do not believe that God intended for His Word to be dissected, divided into parts and analyzed in order to “prove” that what He said to be true was indeed true. God’s Word is a whole unit. And God’s Word from beginning to end points to His Son, Jesus Christ, and shows the way of salvation through Jesus. The Genesis account of creation plays a fundamental role in pointing to Christ as Creator and eventual Redeemer of a yet-to-be-fallen creation. To strip away this glorious doctrine and teach the remaining skeleton in a junior high school science class is inconceivable. 

. . .The law also places the Genesis account of creation on an equal footing in the classroom with the theory of evolution. Now, of course, Christians believe creation is true and evolution is false. But, even the Christian teacher has no freedom in his or her classroom to instruct the students as to the truth of the matter. Both God’s Word and Darwin’s Theory would be taught side-by-side. The individual student would be left to make up his own mind. . . .

One could, of course, strongly deplore the ruling of the Arkansas judge who would so emphatically condemn what was called “creation-science” while insisting that evolution is “science.” In upholding evolution as the sole “scientific” possibility, the judge continues in the footsteps of so many of the educated men. His “science” is based obviously and first on a “uniformitarian” principle—that is, that all things always remain constant. That itself can not be scientifically proven. It ignores too the testimony of Scripture which speaks of the flood, the fall, and creation—all of which point to the error of “uniformitarianism.” 

It is of interest in this connection to observe that the evolutionist himself is having trouble with some elements of the theory (it is not an established scientific fact): “. . .Mutation and natural selection are insufficient to account for evolution—is hardly at issue. Evolutionists already admit that objection, since other processes, like recombination of genetic material, are also necessary.” 

One also could object that man should arbitrarily rule out of public school education all Scriptural truth. The judge wants to rule out religion based on Scripture—but allows religion based on humanism and atheism. Such is the mark of the rebellious sinner. 

Yet, if I properly understand the law in Arkansas, we too must object to it. First, it places light and darkness side by side. It is nothing less than compromise, so strongly condemned by Scripture, when evolution and creation are presented as alternative possibilities for the origin of the universe. The Christian must rather insist that there is but one possibility with respect to origins: that is creationism. One can not, while maintaining Scripture, allow even for the possibility of evolution. 

Secondly, as the editor of the Covenanter Witnesspointed out, to isolate the idea of creation from the rest of Scripture is to separate it from the cross. No Christian can possibly condone that sort of thing. Scripture is a whole and, says Jesus, can not be broken. 

Thirdly, the Arkansas law evidently ignores the Scriptural truth that creation itself can be understood and confessed only by faith (Heb. 11:3). Though there might indeed be evidences which could be pointed out showing a young earth and universal flood, basically only faith holds to the Scriptural creation account. 

Fourthly, the law implies that school children can make a choice between alternative views. Scripture does not allow for that either. Children are to be taught the correct view and reminded that only to this can they hold. 

Fifthly, the law required that teachers are to present impartially the two contradictory views. That is surely impossible. An evolutionist will assuredly present creationism in an absurd way and will indicate in his very presentation his scorn for the view. An impartial presentation is hypocritical and ultimately impossible. I surely would not want my children taught a view of creation by an evolutionist . 

Finally, it seems to me that this law would place the Christian schools in great jeopardy. If the law demanded equal time for both views in public schools, it must inevitably demand that also within Christian schools. The law must then insist not simply that Christian school children be taught the idea and error of evolution (as they already are), but that the view be presented fairly, without prejudice, without condemnation. There too, the children would be the ones called upon to choose for themselves which view they would prefer. And that, we could never approve. 

The Christian must face reality. There is no way in which Scripture can be imposed by law upon the world. They will not have it. Nor will they teach according to its principles. The wicked reject the word of God and teach rather the philosophies of man. For that very reason the Christian can not have his children instructed in such schools. The only alternative open to us is that we, parents, see to the instruction of our own children. Christian schools alone can present the truth concerning origins—and the reason for the existence of all things: the glory of God in Christ. We must work hard and sacrifice much in seeking that goal!