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THE BIBLE AND THEISTIC EVOLUTION

 

In the February issue of Torch and Trumpet appeared a very interesting and instructive article written by Dr. Henry M. Morris, head of the Civil Engineering Department at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. This article deals with the question of whether theistic evolution is compatible with the truth of the Bible.

Theistic evolution is intended to be’ a Christian interpretation of the theory of evolution as first advanced by Charles Darwin. Although evolutionism always implied a denial of the existence of God, certain theologians in the Church and “Christian” scientists took over this view of evolution and tried to make it compatible with the confession of the Church. These theistic evolutionists also spoke of the fact that the origin of all things was by way of biological development from lower to higher forms of life with the species best adapted to their environment surviving the struggle for survival. They differed from atheistic evolutionists only in putting God at the far end of the evolutionary process as the One Who had started the entire train of development, and as the One Who exercises a certain amount of control over the process in course of time. The so-called “period theory” is a form of theistic evolution, and is an attempt to harmonize this type of evolution with the Genesis narrative of creation.

By way of introduction Dr. Morris speaks of the inroads which these views have made in Christian theology, He writes:

Orthodox Christians may not yet be generally aware, however, of the serious inroads evolutionary thinking has been making in Christian theology and Biblical studies in recent years, even in hitherto conservative circles. Theistic evolution has, of course, been generally adopted in modernistic and liberal churches and seminaries for almost as long as Darwinism has been popular among scientists. Fundamentalist and other conservative schools and churches have, for the most part, reacted healthily against these trends and have maintained a vigorous insistence on the full reliability of the Biblical account of origins by special creation.

In support of the fact that theistic evolution has grown in popularity, he refers to the case of the American Scientific Affiliation which is an organization of some eight hundred evangelical scientists committed to the belief that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The president of this society, Dr. J. Frank Cassel, recently wrote an article in the journal of this organization in which he is quoted as saying:

Thus, in fifteen years we have seen develop in A.S.A. a spectrum of belief in evolution that would have shocked all of us at the inception of our organization. Many still reserve judgment but few, I believe, are able to meet Dr. Mixter’s challenge of, “Show me a better explanation.” Some may see in this developing view the demise of our organization, but it seems to me that we only now are ready to move into the field of real potential of contribution—that in releasing Truth from the restrictions we have been prone to place upon it, we can really view it in the true fullness which the Christian perspective gives us.

This Dr. Mixter, referred to above, has recently written:

Genesis 1

is designed to tell who is the Creator, and not necessarily how the full process of creation was accomplished.

However, Dr. Morris must have nothing of this entire view. His reasons are sound and convincing, and worth a summary here.

His first reason is that theistic evolution conflicts with Genesis, particularly with the account of creation in the first two chapters. He gives six specific conflicts.

1) He maintains that theistic evolution requires that the days of Genesis 1 be made long periods of time. Yet, he says, this is impossible.

a) The context does not allow for such an interpretation.

b) There is at least one other good Hebrew word (olam) which means “a long time” and which could better have been used if this was the intention of the Holy Spirit.

c) There are only very rare instances in the Old Testament where the word “day” means a period of time; and then it is plainly indicated in the context.

d)The word “day” is never used with a, limiting number or ordinal (e.g., “the first day,” “the second day”) unless it means a day of 24 hours.

e) When the plural “days” is used as in the law (“. . . in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and ail that in them is”) it is always used in the literal sense.

2) Moreover, theistic evolution conflicts with Genesis because the account literally states that various kinds of organisms were made and that to reproduce after their kind. This is stated nine times in Genesis 1, and yet is denied by theistic evolutionists.

3) The author states further that the order of creative events differs from the order deduced from evolutionary historical geology. To give but one example: in the Genesis account, fruit trees were created before fish. But geologists deny this on the basis of the order of fossils found in rock strata.

4) The words for “morning” and “evening” are found more than one hundred times in the Bible and always have a literal meaning. This must also be the case inGenesis 1. Yet the period theory must necessarily deny this.

5) The Sabbath marked the end of God’s creative work. Thus it is impossible to reason back to the nature of the creation on the basis of the earth as we know it now.

6) There was no death or suffering prior to the fall, for death came as a result of the curse. So all the fossils of dead animals must have been since the time of the fall, not prior to it. Yet these dead fossils form one of the chief arguments in support of theistic evolution as this evolution took place before the fall.

In concluding this first argument, the author writes:

Such facts as outlined above are increasingly recognized by Bible scholars today, so that the “day-age theory,” for harmonizing Genesis with evolution, is not nearly as popular as it once was. A more common device now, reflecting the influence of neo-orthodoxy, is to treat the creation narrative as a “poem” or “allegory,” designed merely to express in dramatic form the great truth that all things originally came from God. In this view, none of the details are to be taken as actual statements of historical fact, but merely as stressing the orderliness and purposefulness of creation. 

Obviously, such a method of exegesis will enable one to dispose of any other portion of Scripture, which, for one reason or another, he finds distasteful. One wonders why the Holy Spirit bothered to insert so many irrelevant details in the account!

The second argument against theistic evolution is that it conflicts with the New Testament. His point is that time and again the authors of the New Testament in speaking of creation always referred to it as literally true. “Thus denying the historical validity of the creation account also, undermines the authority of the New Testament and of Christ himself!”

Thirdly the author argues that theistic evolution is anti-Christian. He makes especially two points: 1) “The genius of evolution is the struggle for existence and the attendant extermination of the weak and unfit.” But the author maintains that this is precisely the basis for Communistic and Fascistic morality and is directly opposed to Christianity which is founded upon the principles of love and selflessness. 2) Secondly, the author argues that the purpose of God in creation was the creation and redemption of man. Yet how strange it is that God would spend aeons of time in “tortuous drama and evolution” to reach this goal. Such a view is a denial of the fact that God pronounced His creation as being “good” and does away with all purpose in God’s work. In connection with this the author also points out that evolutionism in any form must necessarily conclude that man is still evolving upward. But this is simply a denial of the fall and of the need of a Savior.

Finally the author briefly mentions that theistic evolution is even without scientific basis. He writes:

The supposed scientific basis of evolution, when critically analyzed, is extremely nebulous and contradictory, and has been adequately refuted time and again. The only reason why most people believe in evolution is because “most people believe in evolution”—a kind of mass delusion fostered by group pressure and fear of being thought old-fashioned. The Biblical Christian, in the judgment of this writer, should reject theistic evolution wholly and unequivocally.

In all this we concur. Surely when Scripture speaks of the fact that it is by faith that we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made from things which do appear, it means that all theories contrary to this Scriptural statement of creation are outside of the sphere of faith—the faith of the Church expressed in her confession; the faith of the believer in his trust in God.

SCIENTIFIC ATHEISM Comments on an interesting article that appeared in The Soviet Review are found in a recent issue of The Banner. This article was a report of a conference of the members of the medical profession in the Soviet Union. The subject of this conference was “The Physician’s Role in Educating the Working People to Scientific Atheism.”

Often the word of the doctor is taken as law, not only by the sick, but by the well individual. 

(It is lamentable. that) even in some of the institutions in our capital city there are among our medical personnel persons belonging to religious organizations. This means that the propagation of atheism must be reinforced in every way. 

(In performing his service) the physician should show how science struggles for the health of the individual, how much damage is done by religious prejudices. 

We know that many religious believers never attend lectures on atheism but will gladly go to lectures on biology and medicine. Thus it is the skill of the physician-lecturer that determines the degree to which, without ridiculing the religious sentiments of communicants, he is able, by combining medical and atheistic material, to convince his listeners of the correctness of materialistic views. Today medicine offers so many “miracles” greater than those of the gospels that their mere description acquires a distinctively atheist character. 

A Catholic once quipped that “God in creating man, did not provide him with spare parts.” Today, however man is “improving on God” and creating “spare parts” for his own body. Today there are corrugated nylon and capron tubes of various lengths which may be used to replace damaged blood vessels; a complete hip joint has been made of plastic; it is possible to replace the esophagus and other organs. After all, the mean life expectancy in our country has risen to 68, whereas in pre-Revolutionary Russia it was 32. Is this not proof that God’s will has nothing to do with such matters?”

Apart from the outrageous blasphemy and willful ignorance of the Soviet scientist, the fact is that in the Soviet Union science has become the god in whom men trust. Openly and boldly they deny the existence of the God of Scripture and set up their idol of scientific advancement as their certain salvation.

But one wonders if really it is any different in our own country. True, the name of God is still occasionally mentioned, and no one is so foolish as to deny flatly that God exists. But the name of Christ is never heard. Sin is a thing of the past. The blood of atonement and the sovereign salvation of God through the blood of the cross is pointedly ignored and even mocked. Here too science has become the idol of men. To science men look for salvation from suffering and sickness and death. The man in the white coat with a test tube in his hands is the man of the hour. The laboratory is the place where heaven is created. The advance of technology is the guarantee of utopia. The satisfaction of all man’s wants and needs is in the hands of man himself. Is this any different from the atheism of Russia?

—H. Hanko