What Should a Christian Think About Evolution?
I have every sympathy with those who find this question difficult to answer. In my teens I believed that creation was true, but during my University years and afterwards I began to compromise. I became a theoretical creationist on Sundays, and a practical evolutionist for the rest of the week. In practice I thought little about the matter, although it remained a mild irritant in the background. Later I worked out a fairly comfortable position as a theistic evolutionist—that is, I accepted the evolutionary theory as true, but wherever an atheist would write “chance,” I would substitute “God” or “Providence.” How man and animals evolved, I did not know, but I was certain that whatever means had been used, God was in control. Recently, however, the evidence has compelled me to become a creationist. I say compelled because my whole medical training and indeed all that I hear from day to day in books and the media, shouts evolution at me. It is hard to abandon the thought processes of a lifetime.
This recent change of opinion has not occurred because I discovered creation to be more scientifically credible than evolution. Even convinced evolutionists find it difficult to account for the origin of the worlds from nothing and of life from primordial slime; they wonder at the complexity and beauty of design in nature, as they often acknowledge by giving the word a capital “N”—Nature. I am a creationist because I believe that Creation alone conforms to the total thrust of Scripture as it is unfolded from Genesis to Revelation, and particularly as the Gospel is revealed in the New Testament.
Most devout Christians ask, “But does it matter? Why rock the boat? The battle, creation versus evolution, was fought (and lost) by previous generations of Christians. Why bring it up now?” But it does matter, for the following reasons:
(If you are a Christian please ponder this deeply with an open Bible and prayer.)
Genesis 1-9 purports to be history rather than poetry or mythology. Writers throughout Scripture, particularly in the Psalms and the New Testament, treat it as history, as did our Lord. Genesis is more quoted in the rest of the Bible than any other book. If the early chapters of Genesis are allegory, what about the walls of Jericho, Jonah and the great fish, the virgin birth, and the resurrection of Christ? At what point do you say, “But that I can’t believe?”
Unless the world was originally created “good” it is difficult to see how man could “fall” From what state did he fall? If Adam was derived from some pre-existing hominoid what is the significance of sin? If there was no historic fall, why is there need of a Saviour?
Adam was told that the penalty for sin would be death, but what thrust had that if millions of animals, including hominoids, had died over thousands of years? In both Old and New Testaments sin is repeatedly coupled with death: “The wages of sin is death,” Romans 6:23. Adam’s sin is specifically linked with death in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15. In the latter passage it is certain that physical death is intended. If death occurred before Adam sinned the total Gospel is negated, including our hope of the resurrection.
The evolutionary method involving violence, pain and death is totally out of keeping with the character of God as revealed in Scripture. Our God is a God of joy, peace and love. He destroyed the Earth at the time of Noah because it was filled with violence. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7). It is noteworthy that it was the violence of animals as well as man that God deplored.
Atheistic evolutionists have difficulty accounting for altruism. Where do love and philanthropy come from in a world evolving by chance mutation and natural selection? Theistic evolutionists have a problem too. If God used the evolutionary method, then He is the author of pain and suffering and evil. God becomes a devil. Only an initially perfect world, created by a loving God but ruined by the entrance of sin can account for both the good and evil which we find around us.
The origin of many basic doctrines can be traced to the first chapters of Genesis. For example, it is impossible for the narrative of the creation of Eve and out of Adam—woman out of man—to be anything other than fanciful mythology or historic truth. At least seven fundamental Biblical doctrines are linked with the last three verses of Genesis 2, the passage which recounts the creation of Eve:
- If Eve was born per via naturalis, from some pre-existing animal, then all these doctrines are based on a misleading myth.
- The Judeo-Christian pattern of one day’s rest in seven follows directly on the fact that the world was created in six days and God rested on the seventh (Genesis 2:2, Exodus 20:11).
- Evolution (including presumably theistic evolution) is a continuing process. Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species, was subtitled, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Evolution provides the scientific orthodoxy for the philosophies of Marxism, fascism, racism, apartheid and unbridled capitalism.
- Evolution lowers man from the “image of God” to the level of an animal. Why then should he not behave as one, in his own life and towards others?
- The longevity of Adam, Seth and others (Genesis 5) can be nothing but mythology if evolution is true. Primitive man rarely lived much beyond forty years.
A Christian has the following options:
- To assume that Genesis 1-9 is allegory, myth or poetry not to be taken literally. But if so, what do we do with the rest of the Bible? Why stop there?
- To hold on to both creation and evolution and try to reconcile the two. This state is unstable and readily leads to liberalism.
- To ignore the Old Testament and make an existential leap to a shallow believism.
- To accept that “by faith we understand that the worlds were made by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). Only in this, the Scriptural way, do we find release from the tensions of the conflict.