The Creation or Evolution Debate: A Vital Issue for Today’s Church
I appreciate the invitation to be here this evening as one of the two speakers on this important and vital issue regarding the Creation/Evolution debate, a subject which is not only a vital one for the Church in the 21st Century but is coming increasingly to the fore even in scientific circles as more and more ‘honest’ scientists and evolutionists are being faced with the facts of evolution’s inadequacy to explain the origin of the universe and of all animate life within it.
Let me begin by reminding you of the well-known words of Genesis 1:1, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. This often memorized opening verse of the Book of Genesis has been the answer, from the beginning of recorded history until recent times, to man’s question ‘How did the cosmos begin?’ But today, in an age of scepticism and unbelief which has inherited the rationalistic criticism of the Bible from way back in the nineteenth century along with the so-called ‘indubitable findings’ of modern science, can we say that statement is still relevant in this computer space-age? Is this a valid and believable account of our origins?
One thing at least can be said about this opening verse of the Bible, even by its enemies and detractors: it relates time, space and matter in a stunning economy of words, all the more remarkable for the fact that these three most basic entities are not mutually exclusive. (That is to say, no one entity can exist without the other two). Taken quite literally, the statement offers the reader a straightforward explanation for the origin of the universe and all that it contains, making no apology for the fact that the account involves supernatural creation ex nihilo, creation of something from nothing.
We are probably all aware that until the beginning of the 19th Century, the mainstream Christian Church had generally accepted the biblical account of creation as literal and historical fact, those who questioned the account being pretty much on the fringes. However, with the rapid development of the sciences and scientific enquiry in the nineteenth century, and particularly with the rise to notoriety of men like the geologist Charles Lyell (1797-1875) – whose book Principles of Geology espoused the age of the earth being not thousands but millions of years in age – and Charles Darwin (1809-1882) who published his On the Origin of Species in 1859 and his Descent of Man later, in 1871, the climate began rapidly to change. Previously, it had been generally accepted that the fossil record had been laid down rapidly in the sedimentary rock formations as a result of the great universal catastrophic Flood (recorded in Genesis 6-9), that the earth itself was of a relatively young age, and that the creation of the universe, plant and animal life (including man) had taken place as recorded literally in Genesis chapter one. But now, in the light of Lyell’s teaching based on the millions of years required for the fossil record, and following Darwin’s famous sea voyage to the Galapagos Islands (1831-1836) on board HMS Beagle (where he assumed that the micro evolution he observed there, i.e. changes within certain species of animal/plant life to adapt to their own unique environment, could be transferred to the principle of macro evolution, i.e. changes from one actual species into another and higher form of species), things began rapidly to change. Evolutionary theory was about to become respectable and to be embraced almost universally, sadly even in great sections of the professing Christian Church.
So, we have come ourselves to the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. And, somewhat ironically, as some of you will also be aware here tonight, this year happens to be the 400th anniversary of the birth of the great Genevan Reformer, John Calvin in 1509. John Calvin would have been aghast to see how radically great sections of the Protestant Church have abandoned the biblical teaching on creation and adopted either wholesale, or with supposed modifications, the evolutionary hypothesis with all of its unscientific bases and its undermining of the authority, inspiration and perspicuity of the Scriptures of God’s Word.
So much by way of introduction this evening. I want to do four things in this paper, time permitting: (1) To briefly outline the teaching and assumptions of the evolutionary hypothesis, pointing out as I do so its inadequacies. (I believe that Alastair Matthews will be dealing more fully here in his treatment), (2) To outline the attempts of Bible-believing Christians to compromise the biblical account of creation with the evolutionary hypothesis, (3) To focus attention on the biblical account of creation in Genesis 1, and (4) finally to summarize the effects of evolution upon certain vital biblical doctrines.
I. TEACHING/ASSUMPTIONS OF THE EVOLUTIONARY HYPOTHESIS
We are all aware, I’m sure, that the teaching of evolution has become the major hypothesis for explaining the origin of all animate life, if not of the origin of the universe itself as we know it today. This teaching has been in vogue for the past 150 years, popularized through Charles Lyell’s work in geology and especially Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published in 1859. (I refuse to call it the evolutionary theory, because the definition of a “theory” is that it is an explanation of a phenomenon which has been tested and proved to be a workable explanation, whereas evolution is not a theory at all but merely an unproved – and unproveable! – hypothesis). Its basic teaching is that all forms of life have evolved from single cell organisms, over a period of millions of years, to become animate life as we know it today . . . plants, fish, birds, animals and finally man himself. This is ‘macro’ evolution, as opposed to ‘micro’ evolution, i.e. a vertical change of one lower species into a much higher species of life, and not ahorizontal variation within a certain species itself. (We see the latter evidenced continually in our world today, e.g. there are over 200 different breeds of domestic dogs, but they are all still dogs!).
We must say that this whole hypothesis is a highly speculative one, without any foundation in actual fact through empirical evidence, and that it is not even a ‘science’ but rather a bizarre philosophy or even a religion in its own right. This is doubtless why an increasing number of modern biologists, paleontologists, geneticists and scientists of various disciplines are being forced to criticize and even deny the validity of evolution’s claims as to the real origins of life.
- The fossil record does not vindicate evolution’s claims. Darwin recognized that this should be able to provide indubitable confirmation, by way of empirical records showing the transitional forms of one species changing into another and higher species of life. He recognized that the records available back in his day were inadequate but he was confident that further developments and research would bring this empirical evidence to light in years to come. For instance, if monkeys gradually changed into men, there should be abundant evidence left in the fossil record. Whereas, there is a complete absence of any transitional forms whatever in the fossil record. This confirms creation, rather than evolution. Moreover, whole massive rock strata are often without any fossils at all. It is claimed that 150 million years are needed for invertebrates to become vertebrates, but no record has been left throughout this ‘assumed’ time-frame! Moreover, all the fossil records show clearly defined species – fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds – many of which are recognizable species today.
- Modern research into DNA reveals that while there may be horizontal variations produced, there are never any vertical variations (i.e. producing a higher form of life or change of species).
- Supposed extinct species are still being discovered today. (E.g. Japanese fishermen off the coast of New Zealand in April 1977 caught a 4,000lb dead creature in their nets identified as a plesiosaur [a sea-dwelling dinosaur], previously only found in fossils and thought to be extinct).
- It is well known that human footprints have been found in the same rock sediments that hold the footprints of extinct dinosaurs, yet evolutionists claim that a vast period of seventy million years separates the age of dinosaurs from the first appearance of mankind.
- Darwin’s hypothesis requires that mutations are to be beneficial, whereas modern medical research has shown that they are almost always harmful and even dangerous to life, not beneficial, and that they normally revert back to their original forms.
- In order to account for the absence of fossil evidence in the rocks, a punctuated equilibrium theory has been propounded (i.e. evolution happened in short spurts, followed by long periods of inactivity, hence the absence of fossils). This cannot be observed or proved and there is no evidence for this process empirically. It is subjective and arbitrary, merely yet another attempt by modern secular man to ‘salvage’ Darwin’s increasingly challenged hypothesis.
- Complexity of the cell structure is another challenge to Darwin’s hypothesis. Modern research has shown the almost unbelievable complexity of the structure of even the simplest cell with one hundred proteins. Tiny machines, amino acids, memory banks, blueprints etc! Yet macro evolution depends on a single cell being formed by accident, some scientists saying this would require a ’10 to the power 20′ chance for it to happen! Surely this points to a supernatural creation being necessary! The more so when you consider the sheer complexity of but a single organ in the human body, e.g. the human eye.
- Evolution contradicts both the First Law of thermodynamics (the energy level in the universe remains constant) and the Second Law of thermodynamics (that everything is gradually running down).
- Various physical phenomena indicate that the earth is comparatively young, and not the millions of years old required by the evolutionary hypothesis. For instance, the salt level in the oceans of the world would be very much higher than they are now; the earth’s magnetic field is known to be decreasing slowly and even secular scientists have come up with an estimated age of the earth of only about 10,000 years at most; 14 million tons of space dust are deposited on the earth’s land masses and oceans annually, which would have left a deposit 220ft thick if the earth were many millions of years old; and earth’s gravitation is slowing down, which would currently be impossible if the world were of an immense age; the moon is also slowly receding from the earth, but it would be much further away if the earth were millions of years old! It is well known that when the first American astronauts landed on the moon’s surface, the legs of the landing craft had been fitted with special pods to prevent it from being completely swallowed up in the deep layer of space dust which scientists supposed covered the surface of the moon because of its immense age, whereas to the astronauts’ surprise the dust was barely half an inch in depth, once more evidencing the young age of the universe.
- The supposed ‘missing links’ in human fossil remains have proved to be notoriously unreliable. There have been outright ‘hoaxes’ (such as the famous ‘Piltdown Man’), and other discoveries of supposed ancient human remains have often comprised so few fragments that it has been pure ‘guesswork’ to imagine what the original animal looked like!
- The much-vaunted carbon dating methods cannot be relied upon, tests having showed that their accuracy is limited at most to a few thousand years, and even the dating methods based on the decay of uranium are based on certain questionable assumptions (e.g. has the rate of uranium decay remained constant?).
- Finally, we observe that the supposed long age of the earth’s existence is based on the geologic column, which was supposedly formed over millions of years and which has the most primitive forms of life, therefore, at its base. But we note that the geologic column does not even exist anywhere in the world! It is a pure assumption: that is, the column has been organized according to the preconceived notions of natural evolution, with the ‘oldest’ rock formations being those which have the most primitive life forms as fossils and the youngest rocks the most advanced ones! (If ever there were a case of circular reasoning, it’s surely just here! The rocks are dated by the fossils, and fossils dated by the rocks!) So, if there are contradictions in the rock formations – e.g. older rock sediments overlaying younger ones! – this is simply explained away as an aberration. Or, if fossils are found in rock layers where they should not be, this is explained away as ‘stratigraphic leaks’!
Macro evolution is indeed a ‘religious’ belief that is not only not based on empirical evidence, but it is contrary to the overwhelming evidence which bears testimony against it, some of which we have just cited. Whereas, the evidence points much more directly and convincingly to creation by an Intelligent Designer, with the explanation for a young age of the earth, the fossil record, etc, arising from creation followed by catastrophism (i.e. the universal Flood in the days of Noah).
So, we need to take just a moment to reflect on why evolution is destructive of the biblical faith:
- It is openly antagonistic towards biblical revelation, desiring to deny and undermine biblical authority. It claims to put the supposed findings of ‘science’ above Scripture, thus promoting atheism, secularism and theological liberalism, leading inevitably to the rise of such figures as Karl Marx and Julian Huxley in the secular realm and the promotion of modernism in the ecclesiastical realm.
- There is no place for a personal Creator God nor any need for him. Hence, for instance, the rise of the ‘Big Bang’ theory for the origin of the universe, where pure chance (not God) rules.
- It denies the Person and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, who affirmed the doctrine of creation and who quoted or alluded to the Book of Genesis some twenty-five times in the course of his ministry.
- Scripture affirms the reality of the 1st Adam and Jesus Christ as the 2nd (or last) Adam. The denial of Adam’s creation by divine fiat as the federal head of the human race undercuts the whole basis and plan of man’s redemption through Christ, the 2nd Adam.
- Death is no longer the result of man’s sin as a divine judgment upon him, but merely a natural phenomenon. (We need no reminder that these views resulted in the rise of Nazi-ism and Communism and even in our own culture, the increasing loss of any sense of the sanctity of human life and the seriousness of man’s sinful condition before God).
So, there can be no compromise between evolution and creation. Evolution, in its essence, implies the destruction of evangelical Christianity. There cannot be, and ought not to be, any compromise with it. But we should be thankful, nevertheless, that we are living in days when more and more honest and enquiring scientists are questioning the validity of Darwin’s hypothesis because of many newly discovered factors and who are therefore no longer in agreement with Thomas Huxley’s arrogant assertion that ‘evolution is no longer theory but fact and cannot be questioned any more than that the earth goes around the sun’.
II. ATTEMPTS BY BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIANS TO COMPROMISE
(1) The Gap Theory
A widely held opinion among fundamentalists is that the primeval creation of Genesis 1:1 may have taken place billions of years ago, with all the geological ages inserted in a tremendous time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The latter verse is believed by these expositors to describe the condition of the earth after a great cataclysm terminated the geological ages. The cataclysm, which left the earth in darkness and covered with water, is explained as a divine judgment because of the sin of Satan in rebelling against God. Following the cataclysm, God then ‘re-created’ the world in six literal days described in Genesis 1:3-31′. (Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, p.46)
This is most popularly known as the ‘gap theory’ or ‘ruin and reconstruction theory’. Sadly, it was popularized in the mid-nineteenth century by a Scotsman, Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), who was one of the foremost figures in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland at the famous Disruption in 1843, when the Free Church left the Church of Scotland over the issue of patronage. Interestingly, and again sadly, this view has also been popularized by the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible (which bases its view on Isa 45:18, ‘For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; there is none else’). So, this view has been taught in many of the Bible Institutes and fundamentalist seminaries of the United States for the past century and it was also held by A.W. Pink, C.S. Lewis, and Donald Barnhouse.
The real purpose of this ‘gap theory’ is to try to harmonize the biblical chronology of a literal six day creation, with the accepted system of long geological ages which was becoming prominent in the days of Thomas Chalmers. The idea was to get rid of the problem of long evolutionary geological ages by simply pigeonholing them in the ‘gap’ and letting the geologists have all the ages they wanted.
What shall we say of this supposed ‘gap theory’?
- Even from an evolutionary perspective, it fails. The evolutionist believes in uniformitarianism (the belief that physical processes have always functioned in the past essentially as they do at the present time), which of course precludes any worldwide cataclysm as required in the ‘gap theory’. Moreover, a cataclysm of such dimensions which would leave the earth in darkness and inundated with waters would have been nothing less than an immense global explosion which would have obliterated the earth’s sedimentary crust and all its (supposed) fossils, thus leaving no evidence whatever of the ‘geological ages’ which the gap theory is attempting to accommodate.
- Not only is it impossible to accept scientifically, but it is also destructive theologically. The moment we accept the geological age system, we are also accepting the fossil record by which these ages are said to be identified. However, fossils speak of suffering, disease and death – of a world where often violent, widespread death was a universal reality. So, if that kind of world existed prior to the supposed pre-Adamic cataclysm, then it existed before the sin of Satan (which is supposed to have resulted in the cataclysm). That is, suffering and death existed for a billion years before the sin of Satan and the subsequent sin of Adam.
However, the Bible says explicitly that death came into the world only when Adam brought sin into the world (Rom. 5:12 & 1 Cor. 15:21).
Furthermore, if suffering and death existed then, God himself was responsible for such a state. And it is inconceivable that a God of love and order would create and use a system based on randomness and cruelty in his creation.
Also, the most natural reading of the text (Gen. 1:1 & 1:2) does not in any way indicate a ‘gap’, any more than the other pairs of verses throughout Genesis chapter one indicate any ‘gap’ in time. There is also no biblical foundation for rendering the Hebrew word ‘was’ (‘the earth was without form and void’) as ‘became’.
The natural reading of Genesis 1:1-2 suggests no such idea of a ‘gap theory’, nor is it warranted either scientifically or biblically.
(2) The Day-Age Theory
Another attempt by Bible-believing Christians to reconcile biblical creationism with the evolutionary hypothesis is the so-called ‘Day-Age Theory’. Sadly, again this was popularized by a Scotsman in the mid-nineteenth century, named Hugh Miller. He lived in the little village of Cromarty, near Inverness in NE Scotland, and I actually visited his cottage on a trip to Scotland last year, the cottage being a national heritage building and under the care of the Scottish National Trust. Hugh Miller was a stone-mason for much of his life and this occupation had made him very familiar with the fossil records in the rocks of NE Scotland. Although a staunch Reformed Presbyterian and a leading figure, like Thomas Chalmers, in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland in 1843, Miller was convinced that the fossil record required long aeons of time for its formation, which could not be reconciled with the views of a ‘young’ earth as held by the mainstream Christian Church for centuries previously. [This view was adopted by James Boice, E.J. Young and B.B. Warfield].
So he inaugurated the ‘day-age theory’, maintaining that the six days of creation recorded in Genesis chapter one were not literal 24-hour days at all, but long periods of geological ages. He popularized this view in his book Footprints of the Creator. He also maintained that Noah’s flood could not have been a universal flood as Scripture affirms, because the fossil record indicated such diversity of species that Noah could not possibly have gotten all the living animals and birds into the Ark! Sadly, in spite of Miller’s undoubted orthodoxy in other theological matters and his great usefulness in maintaining the biblical principles of the newly-formed Free Church of Scotland, he was defying the normal accepted interpretation of Genesis 1 and Genesis 6-9, challenging the infallibility of Scripture, and denying the obvious implications of the language of Genesis 1 (which speaks clearly of normal solar days . . . ‘evening and morning being the cyclical succession of day time and night time). Moreover, there are several other overwhelming objections . . .
- The order of creative events in Genesis 1 is very different from the accepted order of fossils in the rocks representing geological ages. (E.g. the first life developed on land not in oceans; plant life came first, not marine life; the earth was created before the stars, not vice-versa; birds before fish & insects; marine life created instantly; stars created on the 4th day, not still evolving etc.)
- The necessity of geological ages is based on the fossil records, and fossils speak unequivocally of suffering and death being present in the world. So, we have the same contradiction of Scripture as in the ‘gap theory’, i.e. that suffering and death are a divine judgment brought into the world because of man’s original sin (Rom. 5:12). In contrast, the ‘day-age’ theory must assume that suffering and death comprises an essential part of God’s work of creating and preparing a world for man, which is inconceivable for the biblical God of love, grace and omnipotence.
- As we have said, the biblical record itself makes it plain that the days of creation are literal days, not long indefinite ages. The ‘days’ are literal days and the events described happened in just the way described. Although the Hebrew word for ‘day’ (yom) may refer occasionally in other parts of the Bible to longer periods of time, the most natural and obvious meaning of the word in Genesis 1 is to the literal twenty-four hour day and therefore cannot be ‘stretched’ into millions of years! This is further borne out by the clear rationale given by the Lord when he instituted the Fourth Commandment later at Mt. Sinai, ‘For in six days, the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it’ (Exod. 20:11).
No compromise is possible between evolution and creation! E.g. creation ex nihilo, compared toevolution’s insistence on pre-existing matter; creation in six days, contrasted with billions of years; oceans were created before land not vice versa; profound differences in the areas of the hydrosphere and atmosphere; life originated on land not in the oceans; plant life first, not marine life; fruit trees before fish, not vice versa; stars created on the fourth day, not still evolving; birds created before fish and insects; whales before reptiles, not vice versaa; man created before rain; man created before woman,: light existing before the sun; plants before the sun; marine life created instantly; man’s body created from the dust, not evolving from an animal ancestry; man as a vegetarian; man’s dominion over all creation, from the very first; man’s Fall causing death both spiritual and physical, not therefore something already existing previously for aeons of time.
(3) Theistic Evolution
Even though the first two attempts by Bible-believing Christians to reconcile the evolutionary hypothesis with the biblical account of creation (the ‘gap theory’ and the Day-Age theory) are false, misleading and dangerous, nevertheless they had the merit of at least attempting to treat seriously the account of creation in Genesis 1. However, theistic evolution does no such thing. Its essence is to impose the conclusions of atheistic scientific assertions above the Bible and in place of the Bible’s clear teaching about divine creation.
It maintains that step by step, God directed the process of macro evolution, changing one species of life into a progressively higher order through aeons of time, so that Genesis chapters 1-11 are pure mythology or allegory and not to be taken as a literal account of man’s beginnings. This is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, for instance, and it has been embraced by countless Protestants as well.
It is not my purpose to go into a detailed refutation of this teaching, because of time-constraints, but it is worth noting that this whole position is plainly contrary to the express teaching of Scripture. For instance, Dr. Henry M. Morris in his fine commentary on the Book of Genesis, The Genesis Record points out that (1) There are at least 200 direct references to, or quotations from, the Book of Genesis in the New Testament. (2) All the books of the New Testament except Philemon, 2 & 3 John, contain allusions to Genesis. (3) More than half of the 200 New Testament allusions to Genesis are found in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. (4) Sixty -three allusions are to the first three chapters of Genesis. (5) Twenty-five of the references are directly from the lips of Christ himself. (Appendix 4, pp.677-682)
In other words, all the inspired writers of the New Testament scriptures accepted the accounts in the Book of Genesis as literal, historical facts, our Lord Jesus Christ himself referring to the creation events and the great Flood as literal and historical events.
In contrast, to quote Davis Young, ‘Theistic evolution is logically and inevitably the death of biblical religion’.
(4) The Framework Hypothesis
This is the most recent attempt to harmonize the creation account with the evolutionary hypothesis, allowing Christians to believe in a process of millions of years. It has been popularized in our day, sadly, by a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Meredith Kline, although the origin goes back to around 1924 in Germany, where a German rationalistic theologian observed a supposed parallelism between the first three days of creation and the second three days in Genesis 1 (i.e. two trios).
The reasoning is very involved, but as I understand it, it amounts to this: the ‘six days’ are in essence merely a ‘framework’ for the real emphasis on the 7th Day (when God rested from all his work of creation). So they are merely a device to give us only general information, not to be taken as literal days, but just two triads. So the six days are designed to teach us, not how long God took to create, but the emphasis instead is upon the three spheres (heavenly , earthly, and marine). So that Genesis 1 is merely describing some heavenly truth, which we can only understand in earthly and inadequate language.
The effect, of course, is to eliminate a literal understanding of Genesis 1, because Genesis 1 is unconcerned about chronology and time, and to replace it with merely a poetical and metaphorical description of creation. What are we to say of this extraordinary position? It must be rejected, because:
- No other Scripture is safe from similar treatment! (i.e. artistic structure/poetic form). E.g. Christ’s resurrection!
- This was never espoused earlier than the 20th Century. It is, after all, an assault upon the perspicuity of Scripture (cf. WCF I:VII). The Bible becomes a meaningless book.
- Once more, this bizarre explanation assumes that death and destruction were present in the world prior to man’s Fall.
- It denies and overlooks the plain fact that there is a climax in the six days of creation, leading up to the emphasis upon the 7th Day as the culmination of all of God’s creative work.
- This whole position is contradicted by the Lord’s words in the institution of the 4th Commandment (Exod. 20:11, ‘For in six days, the Lord made the heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and hallowed it’).
III. THE BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF CREATION (GENESIS 1)
(1) Some General Comments
It’s worth recalling the magnificent language of the Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter IV) dealing with Creation:
I. It pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost for the manifestation of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning to create, or make of nothing the world and all things therein whether visible or invisible in the space of six days and all very good.
II. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness and true holiness, after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing . . .
Once more, we must admire the amazing skill of the Westminster divines to set out the doctrine of biblical creation with such conciseness and economy of words, merely two short paragraphs amounting to only 150 words in length! Indeed, it summarizes the short, terse statements of God’s creative acts in Genesis 1-2, in six literal days, namely, the beginning of time/space/matter . . . the creation of light, the separation of the firmament, the gathering of the oceans, creation of plant life, the sun/moon/stars, animal life and finally man himself.
But, did you know? The first chapter of Genesis is one of the most God-centred chapters in the whole Bible! He is mentioned by name some 32 times in 31 verses . . . and, adding personal pronouns, some 43 times! So that, in the Bible’s opening chapter, the Holy Spirit brings us into the presence of GOD and keeps us there! No wonder, therefore, that Genesis 1 is a main focus of Satan’s assault, because abandonment of the God-centred truths of this chapter inevitably leads to Satan’s triumph. Moreover, if the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of Scripture cannot be trusted in the matter of God’s work of creation, how can he be trusted later in Scripture when he deals with the vital matter of man’s need for salvation? If he cannot be trusted in the first chapter of the Bible, can he be (for example) in the great salvation text of John 3:16? And if what he says about the earth in Genesis 1 can be questioned, what confidence can we have of his description of heaven in Revelation 22?
The magnificent opening verse of Genesis 1 is a sublime statement which sweeps away atheism (by asserting God’s existence),polytheism (by declaring he is one) and pantheism (by separating him from matter). Similarly, since we have every reason to believe that Moses was the human author of the book of Genesis, it is striking and instructive that he did not write the account of creation according the theories of his own day and age! That is to say, even though he was ‘learned in all the Egyptian wisdom’ (Acts 7:22), he did not reflect any of these erroneous and absurd views in Genesis chapter one, viz. that there was once a primeval ocean, out of which appeared an egg and from which emerged the sun God, who in turn had four children (GEB, SHU, TEFNUT & NUT), and their rivalry among themselves led to the creation as we know it! What a blessing that the account of Genesis is not at all like that, but instead like a snow-capped Himalayan peak rising majestically towards heaven. Moses wrote contrary to all the accepted learning of his day . . . he must therefore have written by divine revelation. (Take just one instance as example: the record states that on the third day of creation, all the waters were gathered into one place to form the world’s oceans. How could Moses possibly have known that all the oceans of the world form one interconnected body of water, when all that he could possibly have been acquainted with was a limited access to the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea? It must therefore have been shown to him by divine revelation!)
N.B. Peter Stoner, a modern mathematician, has noted that the thirteen steps of creation recorded in Genesis 1:1-26 have all been correctly listed and named by Moses in their proper order . . . and he calculates that Moses’ chances of being able to do this were one in thirty-one sextillion (i.e. 31 followed by 21 zeroes)! Yet secular humanism today would rather believe Charles Darwin’s unsubstantiated evolutionary hypothesis, which completely lacks empirical evidence, than Moses’ divinely inspired account of creation! Whereas, apart from any other consideration about the falsity of Darwin’s hypothesis, there is one expression, used no less than ten times in Genesis 1, which spells the death-knell to Darwin’s claims – namely, the basic command of God for all living things to reproduce ‘after their own kind’ (vv. 11, 12, 21, 24, 25). This alone is surely the rock on which the evolutionary doctrine founders!
(2) Some Specific Observations
The Westminster Confession of Faith is undoubtedly correct when it states, so succinctly, the reason for God’s performing the work of creation, viz. ‘It pleased God . . . for the manifestation of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning to create or make of nothing the world’, etc. As John Calvin aptly put it, the world is designed to be ‘the theatre of God’s glory’. This is a constant theme throughout the Bible, often used as the motive for men to worship and honour the true God (e.g. Psa. 33:6 – By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth’; Psalms 95, 100 & 136 similarly call for the Creator to be worshipped; Psa. 33:5 reminds us that ‘the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord’; Jer. 10:12 that ‘he made the earth by his power’; and in the New Testament, Paul reminds us that ‘the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are dearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead so that (men) are without excuse’, etc. (Rom. 1:20f). Moreover, a number of prayers begin with references to God’s work of creation (e.g. Neh. 9:6, Jer. 32:17, Acts 4:20. And we need to remember that even the last book of the Bible recognizes God’s work of original creation, and ascribes all honour and power to him because he created all things – Revelation 4:11: ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created’. In other words, the creation account is woven into the texture of the whole Bible OT & NT alike!
We surely need no reminder, too, that the Bible asserts that the work of creation involved each Person of the Trinity – the Father (Gen. 1:1 & Psa. 8); the Son (Heb. 1:2, John 1:2, Col. 1:15-16); and the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:2) – and that it was indeed creation ex nihilo (i.e. not from pro-existing materials, even though in the later stages of creation the Creator did use pre-existing materials, e,g. in the creation of man); and that it was fiat creation (he spoke the universe into existence); and that there was nothing else outside of God himself which he did not create. Surely, too, the repeated expression ‘and the evening and the morning’ – at the close of each act of creation – most naturally and logically implies six literal twenty-four days of creation, and not long ages of millions of years (vv. 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31)! And all was ‘very good’.
We need no reminder, too, that the creation of man had a distinct place in God’s purpose, as evidenced for instance by his being created after everything else (in a world prepared and amply furnished for him), and by deliberation (‘Let us make man in our own image’), as the image-bearer of God in knowledge, righteousness and holiness, and therefore distinct from the other animal creation entirely, with God’s law written upon his heart and with a reasonable and immortal soul. Moreover, the record clearly states that mankind’s origin was from one human pair, confirmed again in Genesis 10 (the genealogy of the nations) and in the apostle Paul’s address to the men of Athens in Acts 17:26. This is fundamental to the biblical doctrine of original sin and the doctrine of the resurrection, as stated clearly in Romans 5:12-19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21f).
Dr. Henry Morris, in his fine commentary The Genesis Record states the fundamental importance of the biblical creation account as follows (pp.18-20):
- Origin of the universe. The Book of Genesis stands alone in accounting for the actual creation of the basic space-mass-time continuum which constitutes our physical universe. Genesis 1:1 is unique in all literature, science, and philosophy. Every other system of cosmogony, whether in ancient religious myths or modern scientific models, starts with eternal matter or energy in some form, from which other entities were supposedly gradually derived by some process. Only the Book of Genesis even attempts to account for the ultimate origin of matter, space, and time; and it does so uniquely in terms of special creation.
- Origin of order and complexity. Man’s universal observation, both in his personal experience and in his formal study of physical and biological systems, is that orderly and complex things tend naturally to decay into disorder and simplicity. Order and complexity never arise spontaneously — they are always generated by a prior cause programmed to produce such order. The Primeval Programmer and his programmed purposes are found only in Genesis.
- Origin of the solar system. The earth, as well as the sun and moon, and even the planets and all the stars of heaven, were likewise brought into existence by the Creator, as told in Genesis. It is small wonder that modern scientific cosmogonists have been so notably unsuccessful in attempting to devise naturalistic theories of the origin of the universe and the solar system.
- Origin of the atmosphere and hydrosphere. The earth is uniquely equipped with a great body of liquid water and an extensive blanket of an oxygen-nitrogen gaseous mixture, both of which are necessary for life. These have never ‘developed’ on other planets, and are accounted for only by special creation.
- Origin of life. How living systems could have come into being from non-living chemicals is, and will undoubtedly continue to be, a total mystery to materialistic philosophers. The marvels of the reproductive process, and the almost-infinite complexity programmed into the genetic systems of plants and animals, are inexplicable except by special creation, at least if the laws of thermodynamics and probability mean anything at all. The account of the creation of ‘living creatures’ in Genesis is the only rational explanation.
- Origin of man. Man is the most highly organized and complex entity in the universe, so far as we know, possessing not only innumerable intricate physico-chemical structures, and the marvellous capacities of life and reproduction, but also a nature which contemplates the abstract entities of beauty and love and worship, and which is capable of philosophizing about its own meaning. Man’s imaginary evolutionary descent from animal ancestors is altogether illusory. The true record of his origin is given only in Genesis.
- Origin of marriage. The remarkably universal and stable institution of marriage and the home, in a monogamous, patriarchal social culture, is likewise described in Genesis as having been ordained by the Creator. Polygamy, infanticide, matriarchy, promiscuity, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and other corruptions all developed later.
- Origin of evil. Cause-and-effect reasoning accounts for the origin of the concepts of goodness, truth, beauty, love, and such things as fundamental attributes of the Creator himself. The origin of physical and moral evils in the universe is explained in Genesis as a temporary intrusion into God’s perfect world, allowed by him as a temporary concession to the principle of human freedom and responsibility, and also to manifest himself as Redeemer as well as Creator.
IV. EVOLUTION’S EFFECTS ON VITAL BIBLICAL DOCTRINES
I have alluded to these effects throughout this paper this evening and there is therefore the need only for a brief summary, as follows:
Denial of the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture
If we cannot trust the creation account in the early chapters of Genesis, doubt is cast upon the inspiration and veracity of the rest of Scripture as well. Moreover, we have seen that all the books of the New Testament, except for Philemon and II & III John , contain allusions to Genesis, and that more than half of the 200 NT allusions to Genesis are found in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Sixty-three of the allusions are to the first three chapters of Genesis. Twenty-five of the references are directly from the lips of Jesus himself (including his referencing chapters 1-3 of Genesis).
Denial of the Person and Authority of the Lord Jesus Christ
He was involved in the work of creation (John 1:1-4 & 10, Col. 1:15-16, & Heb. 1:2); he affirmed the divine creation of Adam & Eve (Mark 10:6-7), their being ‘one flesh’ (Mark 10:8), and he referred to ‘the creation which God created’ (Mark 13:19). It was the Son of God himself who taught his followers to accept the historical accuracy of the Old Testament in general and the Book of Genesis in particular (Matt. 19:4, 23:35, 24:37-39, Luke 17:19,32).
Denial of the Need for the Doctrine of Redemption
Sin, suffering and death, according to evolution’s teaching, are natural phenomena and not the result of divine judgment upon mankind through its federal head, Adam. Mankind is therefore in no need of divine redemption, in contradiction to the Bible’s plain teaching that sin was introduced by Adam’s disobedience and can only be remedied by the work of the ‘second’ (or last) Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:19f).
As Morris & Whitcomb say (in The Genesis Flood),
Uniformitarian paleontology dates the formation of the major fossiliferous strata many scores and hundreds of millions of years before the appearance of human beings on the earth. It assumes that uncounted billions of animals had experienced natural or violent death before the Fall of Adam: that many important kinds of animals had long since become extinct by the time God created Adam to have dominion over every living creature: and that long ages before the Edenic curse giant flesh-eating monsters like Tyrannosaurus Rex roamed the earth, slashing their victims with ferocious dagger-like teeth and claws . . . But how can such a description of the history of the animal kingdom be reconciled with the early chapters of Genesis? Does the Book of Genesis, honestly studied in the light of the New Testament, allow for a reign of tooth and claw and death and destruction before the fall of Adam? If not, we have further compelling reasons for questioning the uniformitarian scheme of reading (the fossil record in) the rocks and . . . strong encouragement for finding in the great Genesis Flood the true explanation for fossil formations in the crust of our planet (pp.454f).
Moreover, such clear-cut passages as Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 indicate that Adam’s sin and fall introduced spiritual and physical death into the human race. In the Romans passage we learn that
through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all sinned; . . . by the trespass of the one many died . . . the judgment came of one unto condemnation . . . by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one . . . through one trespas the judgment came unto all men to condemnation . . . through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners . . .
Likewise, we are told also in the Corinthian passage that ‘by man came death’ and ‘in Adam all die’.
The Bible further teaches that all human beings have descended from one human pair (Gen. 3:20 ‘Eve . . . was the mother of all living’; confirmed by Acts 17:26 ‘He made of one every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth’) and that these first human beings were created directly by God wholly apart from any evolutionary development of man’s body from animal forms.
- The Lord Jesus Christ stated that ‘he who made them from the beginning made them male and female‘ (Matt. 19:4)
- Genesis 2:21-23 clearly indicates that Eve came out of Adam and not from the animal kingdom by some evolutionary process! This is confirmed by the apostle Paul: ‘the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man’ (1 Cor. 11;8) So, if Eve received her body in this purely supernatural way out of Adam’s side, why should anyone postulate an evolutionary development for Adam’s body?
- The Bible teaches that Adam’s body was formed from ‘the dust of the ground’ (Gen. 2:7), not of evolved animal forms.
Therefore, in the light of this biblical revelation regarding the origin of Adam and Eve, Christians must insist on the essential unity and the supernatural, non-evolutionary creation of the human race. Otherwise there could be no such thing as human sin or eternal salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23, Heb. 2:9, 14, 1 John 1:5-2:2)
- Denial of the Future State of Perfection and Glory in Heaven
If there has been no Fall of man and no need of his redemption, there is no place for a future state of man’s full restoration. Whereas, the Genesis account is not only important as a history of man’s origin, but also as a prophecy of man’s future. The Book of Revelation makes this clear, where Paradise lost, in Genesis, becomes Paradise regained, in Revelation. For example, note the following comparisons between the original world and the final world:
Probationary World (Genesis) Eternal World (Revelation) Division of light & darkness (1:4) No night there (21:25) Division of land and sea (1:10) No more sea (21:21) Rule of sun and moon (1:16) No need of sun and moon) (21:23) Man in a prepared garden (2:8-9) Man in a prepared city (21:2) River flowing out of Eden (2:10) River flowing from god’s throne (22:1) Gold in the land (2:12) Gold in the city (21:21) Tree of life in midst of garden (2:9) Tree of life throughout the city (22:2) God walking in the garden (3:8) God dwelling with His people (21:3)
(Even more striking is the contrast between the world under God’s curse and the eternal world renewed, e.g. Cursed ground/no more curse, . . . daily sorrow/no more sorrow . . . thorns and thistles/no more pain . . . sweat of the face/tears wiped away . . . eating herbs of the field/twelve manner of fruits . . . returning to dust/no more death . . . evil continually/nothing that defileth . . . coats of skins/fine linen, white & clean . . . Satan opposing/Satan banished . . . Kept from tree of life/access to Tree of life . . . banished from the garden/free entry to the City . . . Redeemer promised/redemption accomplished.)
For these and many other reasons, it becomes evident that an understanding of the early chapters of Genesis is vital to an understanding of the eternal purposes of God. The Creation or Evolution debate is a vital issue in today’s church.