Previous article in this series: April 15, 2012, p. 319.
“And the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do: the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.”
In our previous article the case was made that modern science’s adoption and strict adherence to Darwin’s doctrine of evolution has resulted in serious detrimental consequences for the study and development of science. Further, it was pointed out that the evolutionist’s position is rooted in the philosophy of naturalism (everything can be explained in terms of natural causes and laws), which is in itself a gigantic “leap of faith.” Modern day Israel could live with that. After all, this is exactly what one would expect from a reprobate world that does “. . . not like to retain God in their knowledge” ( ).
There is, however, a more significant problem with the cult of Charles Darwin for modern day Israel. Within the church there are those who believe that the message of Charles Darwin and the testimony of Scripture can be harmonized. On this and its serious consequences we will focus in this article.
The attempt to harmonize the theory of evolution with what Scripture teaches about creation is called “theistic evolution.” Those who try to harmonize the two often argue that Scripture’s account of creation demonstrates that God created, but does not address the question of how God created. With that as his premise the theistic evolutionist proclaims that he honors Scripture, which informs us of the fact that God created the heavens and the earth; but since the Bible was not intended to be a science textbook, it does not inform us concerning how God did it. Science must do that; and the theory of evolution provides the best explanation of this. (Mind you, this position is maintained in the face of God’s clear revelation of how He made all things. Eight times in, with the words “and God said, Let there be . . . ,” God tells us that everything in the creation was called into existence by the word of His power.)
It is of interest to note that the idea of theistic evolution is not some new phenomenon. This monster raised its ugly head early on. What Darwin relates in Origin of Species is proof of that. He writes,
A celebrated author and divine has written to me [Darwin, CK] that “he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that he created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws.¹
Modern day Issachar might wonder, what would motivate the “divine” quoted above and his present day look-a-likes to take the Darwinian approach in the face of the clear testimony of Scripture. Some will piously answer, for one to hold unequivocally to the biblical creation model actually results in losing credibility in the sharing of the gospel with others.² Whether this is a real concern or simply an excuse is left for the reader to decide. Phil Hills and Norman Nevin present the matter somewhat differently:
No coherent, cohesive theology has yet been offered that would allow Christians to embrace evolution with integrity. Science has uncovered a great deal of empirical evidence that is challenging the Darwinian paradigm. Why then do so many want to embrace it? It appears that the only possible reason is the fear of appearing intellectually inferior to the academic consensus.³
The Devastating Consequences
Of far more significance than the reasons “Christian” scientists embrace evolution are the devastating consequences of their actions. As we list a number (not intended to be exhaustive) of these consequences, we leave it to the reader to order them according to importance.
First, in his book Suicide of a Superpower, Patrick Buchanan attributes the decline of the West in part to the cult of Charles Darwin. His argument runs something like this: The decline of the West is in part a consequence of the decline of Christianity in the West. To the degree that Darwin’s theory of evolution has had an impact on the decline of Christianity’s moral influence on the West, it has contributed to the West’s decline. Buchanan writes, “Our poets and seers saw it coming. Eight years after Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared, Matthew Arnold, in ‘Dover Beach,’ saw the faith that had created Europe inexorably receding.”4 Fred Wilson supports Buchanan’s analysis when he writes, “It is tragic to realize that Western Europe rapidly changed from an area of strong Protestant faith to its present day paganism. The cause was not evolution but Christians compromising to make Scripture fit evolution . . . .”5 To be noted is that it is becoming increasingly clear that the United States is not far behind Europe in this regard.
Second, while some may say that for one to hold to the biblical model of creation results in blunting their credibility in sharing the gospel with others, a better case can be made for just the opposite. Tom McIver, writer of anti-creationist articles and books, condemns Christians for trying to make Genesis fit evolutionary science. He writes: “Each [theory, CK] . . . involves critical compromises with the plainest, most literal reading of the Bible to force Scripture into concordance with scientific evidence regarding the age of the earth.”6 Another secular humanist, A.J. Mattill, concurs: “Many creationists have taken the dishonest way of lengthening the days into millions of years, but the creationists make it clear that such an approach is nothing but a makeshift and is unacceptable biblically and scientifically . . . .”7 Sad to say (regardless of their motives for saying it), these secular humanists are right on target. And the ironic result is that the credibility of these gospel-sharers is also compromised in their gospel-sharing.
Third, theistic evolution is the death blow to the truth of the historicity (and along with it the infallibility) of Scripture. As Ed Wharton notes, “Any view of these chapters in Genesis other than authentic history will necessarily regard the genealogies and the tracing of the messianic seed-line as unhistoric and unimportant. This will eat away at trust in God’s Word and cause faith’s fire to go out.”8 James A. Herrick calls this “taking leave of history.” He writes, “. . . advocates of the Revealed Word perspective have always insisted on history . . . as the ground of religion.” Herrick goes on to explain why this is so important:
Should history ground spirituality, as the Revealed Word tradition has insisted? Or should myth, allegory and private experience—each cut free from external events—provide the basis of our religious commitments? We might say that the advantage and the risk of basing spirituality on history are the same—the possibility of proof and disproof. Vulnerability to historical scrutiny imports openness and candor. When a religious claim can be examined, tested, subjected to critical review, the public being asked to accept the claim is at the very least invited to participate rationally in a process of choice. When, on the other hand, a claim cannot be tested or subjected to any ordinary tests of truthfulness, we are left with no recourse but to trust the probity [integrity, CK] of the claimant . . . .
Does spirituality need history? The Revealed Word tradition has always answered yes; the New Religious Synthesis says no.9
By “taking leave” of the history with respect to the first chapters of Genesis 1, one loses claim to the historicity of all of Scripture and is left at the mercy of the self-proclaimed “experts.” This becomes painfully clear by tracing the evolution of theistic evolution at Calvin College.
While we do not have the space to trace that sad journey in this article, the interested reader could easily do so by following this sequential thread: Beyond the Atom (1948) by John DeVries; The Fourth Day (1986) by Howard J. Van Till; Science Held Hostage (1988) by Howard J. Van Till, Davis A. Young, and Clarence Menninga; and most recently the writings of Dr. John Schnieder and Dr. Daniel Harlow. While it is true that the writings of Schnieder and Harlow have not been upheld by the college, they demonstrate the theological implications of embracing theistic evolution, namely: “. . . Adam and Eve are purely symbolic literary figures, that there was no historical fall into sin, and that the doctrines of original sin, Christ’s atonement, election and eternal punishment need major revision.”10
As an aside, this case study demonstrates the potential detrimental consequences of allowing the proverbial nose of the camel (theistic evolution) into the Reformed tent. It eats like a canker and tends finally to evolve into the all-consuming elephant in the room, a room now devoid of the Reformed faith.
Fourth, the truth of the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture is another sad casualty of the theistic evolutionist’s ungodly tinkering with the creation record. The numerous and varied attempts to harmonize Scripture with evolution speak loudly here. The multiplicity of theories (the Gap Theory, the Period Theory, the Framework Hypothesis, and who knows how many variations there are of each?) clearly demonstrates the confusion that results when one departs from the inspired historical record. Is Scripture really so murky as to be open to all these different theories? Furthermore, ifmay be twisted so unrecognizably, doesn’t that also place the rest of Scripture in jeopardy? There can be little doubt that an evolutionary approach to the creation account has had serious consequences for those churches that have tolerated it. The loss of the perspicuous nature of puts all of Scripture at risk. It leaves the church at the mercy of the interpretation of the “experts” with respect to the rest of Scripture; after all, if God’s Word is so confusing in Genesis, why would things be any different elsewhere in His Scriptures? Little wonder, then, that churches have also adopted innovations concerning divorce and remarriage, Sabbath observance, women in the special offices of the church, homosexuality, etc.
Fifth, the teaching of theistic evolution is a denial of the Lordship of Christ. This becomes clear when one takes into consideration passages in Scripture that declare that Christ as Lord was active in the work of creating. Take for example:
15. Who [Christ, CK] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Consider how theistic evolution removes this work from Christ and therefore also Christ as Lord of this work. Consider also, if Christ was not Lord in the work of creating, what right does He have to claim the “preeminence” now? Dreadful thought! Satan must laugh at those “useful idiots” (Lenin’s words for those who unknowingly served his communist cause) who piously claim Christ as Lord in their lives and yet deny Him lordship in the work of creating.
Sixth, ultimately the precious gospel itself is lost! The Heidelberg Catechism (Q & A 19) makes this abundantly clear: “Whence knowest thou this [that Jesus was very God and very man, and had to be that to serve as our Mediator, CK]?” Answer: “From the holy gospel, which God Himself first revealed in Paradise; and afterwards published by the patriarchs and prophets, and represented by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law; and, lastly, has fulfilled it by His only begotten Son.” The Scriptures are one! To cut out the gospel “first revealed in Paradise” (which is done by rejecting the historicity of the first chapters of Genesis) is to put the gospel as revealed throughout Scripture on the chopping block. In this connection, one cannot help but be reminded of the stern warning at the end of sacred Scripture on those who “…shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy,” namely, “God shall take away his part out of the book of life” ().
The Cult of Charles Darwin
Indeed, the teachings of Charles Darwin have had, and continue to have, serious consequences for the church. It remains to expose his followers for what they are: part of the cult of Charles Darwin.
While it is true that in the formal sense evolutionism is not a cult, the five articles we have written on this subject demonstrate that it does bear a number of cult-like characteristics. Note just a few: they have their cult-like leader (Darwin) and an unquestioning adherence to his teachings. In fact, they demand that his teachings alone be used to brainwash unsuspecting victims in the public schools. Further, no tolerance is allowed for other views or challenges to the basic tenets of evolution. Also, total commitment is required of Darwin’s disciples; to deviate in the least can, and often does, result in loss of position or even of the possibility of being considered for employment. This is true especially for those seeking employment as professors in the colleges and universities. Another characteristic of a cult is that its adherents are devoted to converting others to their view. Again this characteristic can be readily observed on the college and university campuses, both Christian and secular, of our day.
The sons and daughters of Issachar are called to do battle with this cult of Charles Darwin, and in the process are enjoined never to “. . . make a peace treaty with the enemy of your king” (which is what those who hold to theistic evolution have done).11 Very likely this will result in various forms of scorn and ridicule. In such times find comfort in these words of Herman Hoeksema: “It is the resilience of faith by which we are enabled, in the midst of all the attacks of Satan, to remain faithful, to stay standing, and to bear suffering with joy for Christ’s name’s sake.”12
1 Charles Darwin, Origin of Species (New York: Mentor 1959), 498.
2 Erin Roach, “Mohler vs. BioLogos Over Creation,” Christian Renewal March 16, 2011: 12.
3 Norman C. Nevin, editor, Should Christians Embrace Evolution? (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 2011), 220.
4 Patrick Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower (New York, Saint Martin’s Press, 2011), 67-68.
5 Fred Wilson, “Compromises and Consequences: The Genesis Account,” Impact January, 1994: 3.
6 Tom McIver, “Formless and Void: Gap Theory Creationism,” Creation/Evolution XXIV, vol. 8, no. 3, 1988.
7 A.J. Mattill, “Three Cheers for the Creationists,” Free Inquiry, vol. 2, Spring, 1982: 17-18.
8 Wilson, 4.
9 James A. Herrick, The Making of the New Spirituality (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 252 & 257.
10 John Byl, “The Evolution of Calvin College,” Christian Renewal, November 24, 2010:6.
11 Herman Hoeksema, Peace for the Troubled Heart (Jenison, MI: Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2010), 149.
12 Hoeksema, 149.