Some time ago we quoted parts of an article by Dr. Menninga found in the Banner of November 12, 1984. In that article, he expressed his conviction that the earth was very old—and that Adam was, perhaps, not created directly of the dust of the ground. Adam could well have been the fruit of evolution, perhaps a Neanderthal man. That article called forth letters of disagreement—and an issue of Christian Renewal(Mar. 4, 1985) containing several good articles in refutation of Menninga’s position. One brief article quotes the late Dr. Abraham Kuyper in which he warns against the evil of evolution:
Hesitation in the face of evolution amounts to a betrayal of one’s own convictions. Evolution is a new concept, a newly created faith which strives to encompass and dominate our entire lives. It has established itself in direct opposition to the Christian faith and seeks to establish its temple on the ruins of our Christian confession . . . .
. . . In opposition to Nietzsche’s law of evolution which proclaims that the strong must trample the weak, we cling to the teachings of Christ who seeks what is lost and shows compassion to those who are weak. In opposition to the mechanistic rootlessness of evolution, we affirm faith in God who has worked all things, and continued to work all things according to the counsel of His will. In opposition to so-called natural selection which seeks to establish the species but neglect the individual, we hold to Divine election which promises “a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.”
. . . I now consider it my calling to raise my voice against the even more subtle and deadly danger of evolution. It is a warning addressed not merely to people of Reformed persuasion, but to all those who walk on the holy ground of the Christian religion. I conclude by taking my stand where the Christian church on earth has always stood and will always stand by giving a reaffirmation, in the face of the false claims brought by evolution, of the first article of the Christian faith where we confess: “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.”
In another article in the same paper, Rev. John Hultink writes:
. . . The first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis are proving to be extremely problematic, if not downright embarrassing, for many Christians in the twentieth century. Especially those with a higher education suffer acute embarrassment when asked to state their views of
On the one hand, they do not want to treat the biblical revelation of the origin of the universe lightly, but on the other hand, they feel obligated to defend the theories of unbelieving scientists. For many Christians today, God’s revelation in the Bible contradicts God’s revelation in His creation. So they belittle the biblical account of creation or dismiss it as “time-bound.” Unless the Christian community extricates itself from this morass, its distinctive Christian voice will be completely swallowed up by the godless views advocated by non-Christians.
History has convincingly demonstrated that compromise in the face of evolutionism will ultimately result in the irrelevance of Christianity. And how could it be otherwise? One would have hoped that by now reformed Christians in North America would have learned this lesson from the liberal professors in The Netherlands.
H.M. Kuitert, professor of ethics at the Free University of Amsterdam, has no difficulty with the problem, “How are we to understand the biblical revelation about Adam and Eve?” Kuitert simply dismisses the belief in Adam and Eve as historical persons. Adam and Eve never existed. The story of creation, as well as the story of early civilization recorded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis, were never meant to be taken literally, Kuitert argues . . . .
When Kuitert first published his unscriptural ideas, he cautioned that the core of the Christian faith must remain intact . . . . He emphasized that theologians should not be permitted to question the biblical teachings about the resurrection. The resurrection was not to be viewed as part of the time-bound baggage of Scripture that could be discarded. Kuitert considered the resurrection essential to the Christian faith. That is, until he changed his mind a few years later. Within a few short years he indicated that there were at least ten different ways, all of them acceptable, in which one could believe in the resurrection of Jesus. . . . And so it came to pass that for Kuitert the resurrection was no longer essential to the Christian faith . . . .
The first step that Kuitert took upon this perilous journey was to discard the first eleven chapters of Genesis as part of God’s divine revelation. Since God’s Word disagreed with some of the theories posited by evolutionists, Kuitert chose to discard God’s Word. Once he began this process, it was only a matter of time before the cancer of his unbelief ate away at all the essentials of the Christian faith, and he was left with only the carcass of his own pitiful ideas.
It is therefore all the more remarkable that no less than three professors at Calvin College have decided to set out on an equally perilous journey. Davis A. Young, Clarence Menninga and George Marsden no longer know what to do with the first eleven chapters of the book of Genesis. Their embarrassment is everywhere evident from the articles they write and the speeches they give. Although some lip service is still being paid to the book of Genesis, their articles make it quite clear that their evolutionistic thinking takes precedent. Some of their published statements are so contradictory that one is inclined to dismiss them as incongruous and dishonest. But this doesn’t make their views any less dangerous to impressionable school teachers who sit in their classes year after year. There is every reason to believe that if the Christian community travels the path chosen by these three professors, it will only be a question of time before we all arrive at Kuitert’s destination.
One would at least expect that if a Christian academic teaching at a Christian institution of higher learning is going to treat the biblical account of the creation of the universe so lightly, he would do so on the basis of compelling and irrefutable evidence. One would also think that if such compelling evidence supporting the evolutionistic origin of the universe is so readily and convincingly available, it would be shared freely with the entire Christian community. But this is not the case . . . .
Why is it, if, as it is contended, that man has lived on the earth for fifty thousand or possibly two million years, that there are no fossil remains to support this view? And how does one account for the continued popularity of the theory of evolution in some quarters when there are enough missing links in this theory to forge a chain and wrap it around the earth? Why is it that in the face of insurmountable contradictions, Christian scholars at Calvin College continue to insist not only on advocating evolutionistic views, but on placing God in charge of this highly dubious enterprise by calling themselves theistic evolutionists? . . . .
Another writer, Dr. John Byl, comments about the assertions of Menninga and others:
. . . There are many possible theoretical interpretations of the present data: we can devise explanations in terms of constant laws, varying laws, miracles, catastrophic collisions with comets, etc. The problem is that theories about the past can not be logically derived from the data. Rather, they are primarily the product of a scientist’s creative imagination. Theories are not so much given to us by nature, as imposed by us on nature. As such, our choice of theories is heavily dependent on our philosophical biases.
Recently there has been considerable debate between two competing interpretations of the geological data. On the one hand, secular geology operates under the central thesis that all the data can be explained in terms of natural, evolutionary processes. On the other hand, creationists work on the premises of a young earth, global-Flood, and the possibility of miracles. The former is ultimately based on non-theistic materialism; the latter on the traditional reading of Scripture.
Both strive to explain all things in terms of their own central thesis, fitting all the data into a preconceived mold. In so doing they must devise and apply secondary theories regarding specific geological mechanisms and processes. But, due to the subjective nature of theorizing, both sides are free to choose only those theories that are consistent with their own central thesis.
When Menninga and Young detect deficiencies in creationist explanations this does not falsify creationism, as they assert. For the fault can always be attributed to inadequate secondary theories. The creationists can always remove such shortcomings by making suitable adjustments to these theories. For both evolutionists and creationists their central thesis can never be scientifically either proven or disproven. It is a necessary presupposition that is chosen on the basis of prior philosophical commitments.
. . . Menninga and Young appear to be blissfully unaware of the deeper epistemological issues.
So the debate about creation vs. evolution continues—but, sad to say, it now exists within the churches. As some of the above writers pointed out, Kuitert in the Netherlands began his pilgrimage toward open unbelief just as do Menninga and others today. In the Netherlands nothing was done about Kuitert (I understand that he is still a member in good standing in the church and continues to teach); but also here in this land, there appears to be nothing done about professors who teach a so-called theistic evolution.
Yet even among some within educated circles of unbelievers, doubt seems to be increasing about the validity of the theory of evolution. One unbelieving scientist is said to have declared that man could as likely be the result of an evolutionary process as a tornado, sweeping through a junk-yard, could form a 747 jet-liner.
How beautiful, then, is the testimony of Scripture: “Byfaith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of the Lord.”