STUDY THREE: EVOLUTION

© Rosemary Bardsley 2005, 2015


The theory of evolution was popularised by Charles Darwin’s book The Origin of the Species which was published in 1859.

A. EVOLUTION – A SUMMARY

Werner Gitt summarizes the concept of progressive evolution:

‘The entire cosmos, our earth and all life forms resulted from an extremely slow process of development from the simple to the complex, from barely structured to higher forms of organization, from inanimate to animate, and from low life forms to higher levels. All organisms can be arranged in a line of descent and development right up to man. According to the evolutionary view this process is still continuing. All earlier living organisms were merely temporary forms of life at that moment, and present-day individuals should then be regarded as half-way stations for future developments…’ [p 87 Did God use Evolution?]

He then includes quotes from others:

Continuing cosmic evolution: “Not only life, but also the entire cosmos went through a process of development. Beginning with a singularity of immense density and temperature and with the ‘big bang’. The universe assumed its present form after a development lasting approximately 15 thousand million years” ‘[quoting Siewing].

Continuing biological evolution: “ … the kinds originated during long epochs of earth’s history, one after the other, fulfilling themselves and changing, dying out or branching off in new directions from an upward flowing current aspiring to the organic perfection of living matter. Eventually the present diversity of forms developed” [quoting Illies].

Continuing human evolution: “… when I realise that our recent ancestors … were very ordinary monkeys, closely related to chimpanzees, then I catch a glimmer of hope. It does not require undue optimism to assume that something better and higher may yet develop from us humans … The long sought for missing link between animals and real human beings – are we!” [quoting Lorenz]’ [pp87-88]


The media assumes that evolution is true. Schools are required to teach it. Our society as a whole has accepted it as fact without much serious thought as to whether or not it is the truth about our origins. Because evolution dominates our lives in this all-embracing way many within the churches have also thoughtlessly assumed that it is true, and those coming into the church through conversion usually bring an evolutionary mindset with them.

Two conflicting conclusions confront the average citizen when the theory of evolution is pondered:

On the one hand, if evolution is true, then I am released from responsibility to obey God, because he is not there, and therefore the laws supposed to be his, are not. When I die that is the end, so I don’t have to worry about heaven or hell.

On the other hand, if evolution is true, then I lose my significance as a human being. I am just a glorified ape. I have no particular purpose or role or meaning.

These two conclusions are behind much of the lawlessness and lostness which we see in our world today.

 

B. SOME QUOTES FROM DR MICHAEL DENTON, MOLECULAR BIOLOGIST

Biologist Michael Denton, who makes no claim to be a Christian or a creationist, wrote in the preface to his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis:

‘The idea [of evolution] has come to touch every aspect of modern thought; and no other theory in recent times has done more to mould the way we view ourselves and our relationship to the world around us. The acceptance of the idea one hundred years ago initiated an intellectual revolution more significant and far reaching than even the Copernican and Newtonian revolutions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

‘The triumph of evolution meant the end of the traditional belief in the world as a purposeful created order – the so-called teleological outlook which had been predominant in the western world for two millennia. According to Darwin, all the design, order and complexity of life and the eerie purposefulness of living systems were the result of a simple blind random process – natural selection. Before Darwin, men had believed a providential intelligence had imposed its mysterious design upon nature, but now chance ruled supreme. God’s will was replaced by the capriciousness of a roulette wheel. The break with the past was complete.’ p 15.

Denton also comments:

‘The Origin was revolutionary and shocking to Victorians [ie Victorian England] because nineteenth-century England was steeped in biblical fundamentalism and creationist biology. The thesis Darwin had developed implied an end to the traditional and deeply held teleological and anthropocentric view of nature. Instead of being the pinnacle and end of creation, humanity was to be viewed as a cosmic accident, a produce of random process no more significant than any one of the myriads of other species on earth.

As far as Christianity was concerned, the advent of the theory of evolution and the elimination of traditional theological thinking was catastrophic. The suggestion that life and man are the result of chance is incompatible with the biblical assertion of their being the direct result of intelligent creative activity. Despite the attempt by liberal theology to disguise the point, the fact is that no biblically derived religion can really be compromised with the fundamental assertion of Darwinian theory. Chance and design are antithetical concepts, and the decline in religious belief can probably be attributed more to the propagation and advocacy by the intellectual and scientific community of the Darwinian version of evolution that to any other single factor. …

‘It was because Darwinian theory broke man’s link with God and set him adrift in a cosmos without purpose or end that its impact was so fundamental…’ pp66-67.

And on the inadequacy of the Darwinian theory he says:

‘The raising of the status of Darwinian theory to a self-evident axiom has had the consequence that the very real problems and objections with which Darwin so painfully laboured in the Origin have become entirely invisible. Crucial problems such as the absence of connecting links or the difficulty of envisaging intermediate forms are virtually never discussed and the creation of even the most complex of adaptations is put down to natural selection without a ripple of doubt.

The overriding supremacy of the myth has created a widespread illusion that the theory of evolution was all but proved one hundred years ago and that all subsequent biological research – paleontological, zoological and in the newer branches of genetics and molecular biology – has provided ever-increasing evidence for Darwinian ideas. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that the evidence was so patchy one hundred years ago that even Darwin himself had increasing doubts as to the validity of his views, and the only aspect of his theory which has received any support over the past century is where it applies to microevolutionary phenomena. His general theory, that all life on earth had originated and evolved by a gradual successive accumulation of fortuitous mutations, is still, as it was in Darwin’s time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe.’ p77

In his concluding chapter Denton comments:

‘Whatever view we wish to take of the current status of Darwinian theory, whatever the reasons might be for its undoubted appeal … there can be no doubt that after a century of intensive effort biologists have failed to validate it in any significant sense. The fact remains that nature has not been reduced to the continuum that the Darwinian model demands, nor has the credibility of chance as the creative agency of life been secured.

The failure to validate the Darwinian model has implications which reach far beyond biology…
The entire scientific ethos and philosophy of modern western man is based to a large extent upon the central claim of Darwinian theology that humanity was not born by the creative intentions of a deity but by a completely mindless trial and error selection of random molecular patterns. The cultural importance of evolution theory is therefore immeasurable, forming as it does the centrepiece, the crowning achievement, of the naturalistic view of the world, the final triumph of the secular thesis which since the end of the middle ages has displaced the old naïve cosmology of Genesis from the western mind…

‘The influence of evolutionary theory on fields far removed from biology is one of the most spectacular examples in history of how a highly speculative idea for which there is no really hard scientific evidence can come to fashion the thinking of a whole society and dominate the outlook of an age. Considering its historic significance and the social and moral transformation it caused in western thought, one might have hoped that Darwinian theory was capable of a complete, comprehensive and entirely plausible explanation for all biological phenomena from the origin of life on through all its diverse manifestations up to, and including, the intellect of man. That it is neither fully plausible, nor comprehensive, is deeply troubling. One might have expected that a theory of such cardinal importance, a theory that literally changed the world, would have been something more than metaphysics, something more than a myth.

Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century. …

The truth is that despite the prestige of evolutionary theory and the tremendous intellectual effort directed towards reducing living systems to the confines of Darwinian thought, nature refuses to be imprisoned.’ pp 357,358.

Even though he does not write from a Christian perspective Denton’s book is honestly, deliberately and unapologetically anti-evolutionist. As a scientist he has looked at the evidence and found that it simply does not tie in with the Darwinian theory. He also astutely perceives the great impact that the evolutionary theory has had on the mindset, philosophy and morals of the western world.

Discussion points:
Read through the Denton quotes above. Circle or underline his descriptions of the impact of evolutionary theory on the way western man understands himself and life. Discuss the implications of this from a Christian perspective.

 

 

 

 

C. EVOLUTION WITHIN THE CHURCH

Within the church however are many who endeavour to embrace what is known as theistic evolution, in which God is added as the prime mover and designer of the process of evolution. Yes, they say, we took billions of years to evolve from single celled life forms into human beings; yes, each species has developed gradually into another; but this was done by the creative power of God. He is the creator, as the Bible teaches, but the way he did it was by the evolutionary process.

On the surface this theistic concept of evolution seems to solve the problem that evolution poses for the Christian. It appears to enable the Christian to accept the evolutionary theory, which is assumed to be true, and to continue to hold to the Scripture at the same time. It allows room for the presence of a personal, creative Designer, which accounts for the amazing complexity of even the smallest elements in nature. It allows room for a supreme Mind to be the origin of the incredible amounts of information packed into the DNA molecules of every living creature.

Beneath the surface however, as Werner Gitt points out, theistic evolution is only one step removed from evolution:

EVOLUTION = Matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods.

THEISTIC EVOLUTION = Matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods + GOD. [p99 ibid]

 

D. BIBLICAL PROBLEMS WITH THEISTIC EVOLUTION

There are, however, significant problems with theistic evolution. Among these are:

[1] The theory of evolution necessitates and assumes the existence of incredibly long ages of suffering, death and destruction before fully human beings evolved. Yet Genesis 1:25 and 31 teach us that God looked at what he had made and saw that it was ‘good’ and ‘very good’.  Only the most perverted of human beings would call such tooth-and-claw, survival-of-the-fittest struggles ‘very good’. This survival of the strong and dominant and the loss of the weak and helpless are completely contrary to the Biblical revelation of God as compassionate towards the helpless.

[2] Genesis teaches that God made man in his own image, which assumes an immediate creation of a fully human person. The developmental process of supposed evolution makes it impossible to define at which point ‘man’ became the bearer of the image of God, and at which point ‘man’ became responsible and answerable to God. The factuality of the Genesis account is called into question.

[3] The evolutionary assumption of long millennia of death and destruction is also in direct conflict with the teaching in Genesis 2:17, 3:1-24, and Romans 5:12-21. According to these passages suffering and death entered the world because of human sin. God created the first human beings as responsible creatures, accountable and answerable to him. The origin of suffering and death is the direct consequence of their choice to live independently of God and his command. Theistic evolution, assuming the existence of suffering and death before sin, undermines this basic teaching of Genesis 3, again regarding it as mere myth, and not a factual account of what actually happened.

[4] If the factuality of the Genesis 3 account of the origin of sin and suffering is denied, a significant flow-on occurs: Our understanding of sin, our  understanding of our relationship with God before and after conversion, our understanding of the significance of the death of Jesus Christ, our understanding of the concepts of salvation, redemption, justification and reconciliation, our understanding of the concepts of judgment, condemnation, heaven and hell, all are undermined and re-interpreted by the non-factuality of Genesis 3. If Genesis 3 is not fact, the death of Christ is robbed of the meaning given to it in the rest of the Bible.

[5] All of the above constitute a serious departure from the traditional Christian belief in the infallibility and authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God. Jesus Christ and Paul both grounded aspects of their teaching on the facts of Genesis 1 to 3. They viewed these chapters as facts not as myth. If we allow the theories of fallible human scientists to determine and dictate the validity of the Scriptures which up to this present era of the church have been regarded as the infallible word of a trustworthy God, then there has indeed been a major shift in our attitude to both God and his Word.

Werner Gitt [pp 89 – 109] lists and discusses the following ten consequences and dangers of theistic evolution:

1. Denial of central Biblical teachings
‘Events reported in the Bible are reduced to mythical imagery, and an understanding of the message of the Bible as being true in word and meaning, is scorned and regarded as superstitious’ p 91.

2. Misrepresentation of the nature of God
‘The anti-biblical consequences of theistic evolution have become clear …'

-    a false representation of God and of Christ
-    God is seen as imperfect
-    Death and ghastliness are ascribed to the Creator as principles of creation
-    It is assumed that the holy God used sin to create life
-    Sin is regarded as a harmless evolutionary factor, causing Jesus Christ’s work of redemption as the only possibility of man’s salvation, to appear (nearly) absurd
-    Adam’s fall into sin is seen as a myth instead of reality, conveying a false impression of death and suffering in this world’ p 94.

3. Loss of the key for finding God
‘Only those persons who realise that they are sinful and lost, will seek the Saviour. … Evolution knows no sin in the biblical sense of missing one’s purpose (in relation to God). Sin is made meaningless, and that is exactly the opposite of what the Holy Spirit does – He declares sin to be sinful.’ [Gitt then refers to writers who describe sin as an essential part of the evolutionary process: ‘aggression as the flywheel that actually set evolution in motion’ … ‘the fist as the active instrument and proof of becoming human’ … ‘murder, hate and aggression as the “eggshells of evolution” the prerequisites without which man could not have developed’ and then comments: ‘If sin is seen in this way, then one has lost the key for finding God.’ p 95.

4. God’s incarnation becomes incidental
Quoting Von Ditfurth “The only way that I see of resolving the contradiction (between evolution and the incarnation of Jesus) is to ascribe a basic historical relativity to the person Jesus Christ.” Gitt comments:’ Von Ditfurth continues by saying that Jesus could not be a universal mediator between God and man, because neither the Neanderthal people (regarded as our probable ancestors), nor our potential descendants could or will understand Jesus.’ p 96.

5. Relativisation of Jesus’ work of redemption
‘If one does not regard Adam as a real historical person but as a mythical figure, then one can consequently not accept Jesus’ work of redemption as real.’ p 97.

6. God becomes a God of the gaps
‘In this system God is not the omnipotent Lord of all things whose Word has to be taken seriously by all men, but He is integrated into the evolutionary philosophy. The only workspace allotted to Him is that part which evolution cannot explain with the means at its disposal. In this way He is reduced to being a “god of the gaps” for those phenomena about which there are doubts.’ p 99.

7. Loss of Biblical chronology
[In respect to both past (creation and the age of the earth), and future (return of Christ and end of the age) time frames]

8. Misinterpretation of reality
Evolution is presented and proclaimed as if proven and factual, whereas there is no proof. [See E below]

9. Loss of creation concepts
‘the biblical creation principles are ignored in theistic evolution, but, on the other hand, evolutionary ideas are carried into the Bible. In this way God’s omnipotent acts are eventually negated.’ p106.

10. Missing the purpose
‘The very thought of purposefulness is anathema to evolutionists. There are no blueprints, not any purpose. … [and quoting Bresch] … “man has … made a taboo of the question of the meaning of human life – its portal has been nailed shut with planks. He no more dares to touch it, because he fears to find the dismal answer that our life has no meaning at all”. … If man is unplanned, then he also has no purpose.’ [p107-109]

 

E. SCIENTIFIC PROBLEMS WITH EVOLUTION

We must also realize that atheistic evolutionary scientists admit the inadequacy of, and deficiencies in, the theory of evolution. Among these are:

[1] The theory cannot be proved by true scientific method because no one was there when it happened. Nor can it be reduplicated in scientific experiments. Conclusions based on the supposed results of the evolutionary process are subjective deductions made by fallible humans who already presupposed that the theory was true.

In addition, Gitt states: ‘No natural process which resulted in information forming automatically in matter, has ever been observed. Neither is this possible in the most spectacular or costly experiments.  No transition from one basic kind to another has ever been observed.’ [p103]

[2] Changes currently observed are changes within species, not changes from one species to another. They are mutations, which involve loss of genetic information, not the addition of information. As such they are the opposite of supposed evolution.

[3] The theory of evolution fails to explain the source of the massive amounts of coded information packed into DNA. Information necessitates an intelligent source of information; it cannot just happen; it cannot somehow come out of either a ‘big bang’ or a mud pool. It has to come from intelligence.

[4] The theory of evolution does not explain the incredible complexity of even the least significant organisms. All living things, even inanimate natural things, display indescribable, intricate design of both appearance and function. We would never credit that objects made by humans could have evolved by the process of time plus chance, yet in nature we see things far more complex, far more intricate, and are tempted to believe the evolutionists’ theory that these incredible designs are the result of chance combinations of molecules. The mathematical law of probability renders the theory of evolution the height of absurdity, exposing the sheer impossibility that the degree of complexity consistently occurring in nature could be the result of chance.

[5] The so-called ape-men which turn up every  so often and are hailed by the media to be the ‘missing link’ turn out to be either (1) true apes, (2) true humans, or (3) deliberate frauds. The media seems to keep quiet about that, leaving us only with their report of the supposed proof of evolution.

[6] Despite the fact that the theory of evolution has been dominating science for over a century, and scientists have been intent on proving it, not one genuine fossil of any intermediate, in-the-process-of-change, creature has been found. Given the supposed millions of years in which these intermediate creatures lived it is reasonable to assume that they would have left fossils, but all known fossils are those of distinct known species.

[7] In addition to this, fossils believed by evolutionists to be of extinct creatures living millions of years ago are identical to living specimens.

[8] There are objective facts in the natural world that challenge the long ages/old earth presuppositions of the theory of evolution. Among these we could include:

The degree of salinity of the oceans.
The rate of decay of the earth’s magnetism.
Polystrate fossils (fossils extending through many layers of rocks).
Massive fossil graveyards.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics.
The observed rapid formation of certain rocks previously thought to take millions of years to form.
The discovery of unfossilised dinosaur bones with red blood cells and haemoglobin.
Observed rapid fossilisation.
The amount of helium in the earth’s atmosphere and in rocks.

[Most of these and more can be researched in Refuting Compromise, by Jonathan Sarfati.]

 

F. RECLAIMING THE FIRM FOUNDATION

While evolutionary scientists strive to find validation for this theory, and earnestly wish to find that validation, many of them have the integrity to acknowledge the difficulties inherent in the theory.

They also realise that to hold to the theory is to make God redundant. Because of this, evolutionary sceptics affirm the absurdity of the theistic evolution position. They perceive clearly that it is impossible to believe both evolution and the Bible at the same time. In this they are wiser than some Christians.

In our efforts to present a credible Christianity to the world, in our efforts not to appear scientifically ignorant, we must never give in to the temptation to jettison any part of Biblical truth. To do so is to jettison the whole, and be left with a watered-down, non-biblical apology for Christianity with no power to reveal the truth about either God, or man, or salvation. To do so is to reduce Christianity to just another man-made ideology on the religious supermarket shelves, one option among many, all equally valid.

Let us hold fast then, to the one firm foundation of truth: the written Word of God which speaks of the Living Word, Jesus Christ. It says of him that ‘he sustains all things by his powerful word’ (Hebrews 1:3), that ‘in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17), that ‘through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made’ (John 1:3). He claimed to be light and truth (John 8:12; 14:6), and to have existed before the time of creation (John 8:58; 17:5).  Let us cast aside those doubts and fears with which evolution tempts us, and to this Lord Jesus, and his understanding of Genesis, commit ourselves.

Carefully study the verses below.
Think deeply about and discuss their implications for our attitude to the theory of evolution and to the Bible as the Word of God. Comment on their significance for the contemporary evolutionary mindset.

About the Bible as the inspired and authoritative Word of God
Matthew 5:17-18

2Timothy 3:16


Hebrews 2:1-4


2Peter 1: 20-21


About creation as the work of God
Genesis 1:1-2:2


Job 38:4-11


Psalm 33:6-9


Zechariah 12:1


John 1:1-4

Colossians 1:16


About God’s on-going involvement in the existence and life of the world
Job 38:31-33


Psalm 104:10-16


Isaiah 40:25-26


Colossians 1:17


Hebrews 1:3


About the purposefulness of existence, including human existence
Psalm 139

Isaiah 43:7

Acts 15:28

Romans 11:36

1Corinthians 8:6

Colossians 1:16