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Tilting at Windmills?

 

I fear that Herman Hanko’s article (“Charles Darwin and Evolutionism,” March 1, 2005) did not help to advance the cause of creationism. As he informs us,

The fact of the matter is that we who believe in creation have an ironclad case that is unassailable. We have absolute proof for creation, proof than which there is no stronger. That proof is that God Himself tells us how He made the world. If that isn’t proof, then I do not know what is (emphasis added).

But if Prof. Hanko’s “proof” is unassailable, then why is it always being assailed, and why does he write? Is he tilting at windmills?—battling straw men?

There is nothing ambiguous about the word “unassailable.” Synonyms like “impregnable,” or “undeniable,” or “incontrovertible” come to mind. The fact that Hanko felt compelled to write in the first place is because creationism is not unassailable.

Proponents of theistic evolution and the Framework Hypothesis are guilty of syncretism. If plowing with an ox and an ass yoked together is forbidden, how much more so when we attempt to yoke together God’s account of our origins with the pronouncements of science? Is science on the bench, and Genesis in the dock?

A large part of the problem stems from the fact that few non-scientists understand what a “theory” is. Theories are neither true nor false, while the conclusions that flow from them may be either true or false. As the argument is usually stated by Christians, evolution is only a theory, while creation is a fact.

This formulation is unfortunate, as it establishes incompatible categories of thought. It would be helpful to consider both evolutionism and creationism as competing theories, each one supported by evidence unacceptable to the other.

Simply stated, evolution finds support in the fossil record, while creationism is supported by the Genesis account. The impossibility of conflating the two becomes immediately apparent.

Prof. Hanko quotes Del Ratzsch, who, after discussing creationist and evolutionist models, says that “Both models are beyond the reach of human proof.”

Ratzsch is correct, and it is here that Hanko’s argument collapses. The Genesis account proves nothing to the scientists, while the fossil record proves nothing to the Christian. The issue is not the objectivity of the evidence; it is the subjectivism of those considering the evidence. There is no proof recognized by both sides, so constructive dialogue is impossible, and the issue will never be settled.

Hanko’s “ironclad” case works only for those of us who believe; it doesn’t work for our antagonists in the scientific community.

Like many human endeavors, science is neutral; it can be used for both constructive and destructive ends. The thing about science that frustrates is its messianic character. Truth, we are told, can be discovered only by “hypothetico-deductive” reasoning, with conclusions subjected to rigorous statistical analysis and to peer review.

And because we have no other source of truth, the thought of placing any restraints on scientific investigation, or limiting government funding, is simply out of the question. Science has become our god; its practitioners our saviors.

Unfortunately, Prof. Hanko concludes with two very problematic statements: 1) “To deny creation is to deny salvation in Christ,” and 2) “To believe in creation is to be saved by Christ.”

The first is debatable; the second indefensible. I doubt that he believes the latter himself.

Ralph W. Hahn

Boise, Idaho

 

RESPONSE:

 

The proper way to consider “proof” for the doctrine of creation is to consider Hebrews 11:3: “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

Faith is not acceptance of propositions which have no “proof.” Faith, in Hebrews 11, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The things “hoped for” and “not seen” are the promises of God that He will, through Christ, save His elect people and His creation from the curse and death of sin. Faith has, therefore, as its object, not the creation, but the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures. And faith in the Holy Scriptures is faith in Christ, who is revealed in the Holy Scriptures—from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

Faith is a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), and is given by the Holy Spirit of Christ to the elect only, as a part of their salvation—indeed, as the necessary means of their salvation, for faith is the bond that unites the elect to Christ (John 15:1-7, Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7).

The creation is full of evidence that God is the Creator. In fact, there is no other evidence to be found anywhere in the creation than evidence of God’s work of creation. (One ought to read Augus—tine’s marvelous description of the creation in his Confessions.) But the creation is under the curse and man is desperately wicked. That is, the creation speaks most loudly of God’s fury against sin, and man is so implacably an enemy of God that whatever he may learn from the creation he suppresses in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). Hence, his evolutionism is not born out of his study of the “evidence” in creation; nor out of his ignorance; it is born out of his determination to drive God from God’s own world. Wicked man is guilty of Paul’s scathing denunciation of the theory of evolutionism developed by wicked man: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man…, [and] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 1:21-25). Evolutionism is an idol, because it holds up before us a god who cannot create in six days of twenty-four hours.

The wicked do not have faith. They will not, but they also cannot, believe in creation. Among many others things, Hebrews 11:3 means: Faith is the only way to believe the doctrine of creation.

The man devoid of faith will not believe the doctrine of creation as it is given us in Scripture, even were he to be confronted by the angel Gabriel, who, standing in God’s world, would assure all who hear that God indeed formed this world in six days of twenty-four hours. “They have Moses and the prophets (Holy Scripture); let them hear them…. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:20-31).

The one to whom God graciously gives faith has wickedness banished from his heart, has his eyes opened (Matt. 13:16), and is given the power to receive the Scriptures as the Word of God, infallibly inspired, and the only means to know Truth (with a capital “t”). When he, through faith, receives the Scriptures, also the creation narrative, he receives the Christ of the Scriptures as His Savior and Lord—and is saved. Hence, yes; yes, indeed: “To deny creation (as it is taught in Scripture) is to deny salvation in Christ,” and, “To believe in creation (as it is taught in Scripture) is to be saved by Christ.”

—Herman Hanko