Why is the Creation-Evolution Issue Important?
|Author: Doug Sharp
Subject: Overview of Creation-Evolution
A response to a letter of inquiry.
|I recently received this letter from the Internet:
Let me share something about myself before I share some concerns:
1. I am a Christian, saved at 12, renewed in the faith at 18 after backsliding, and Called to Pastoral Ministry, in which I have been serving for 23 years.
2. I believe that the Bible is the inspired written Word of God, irreplaceable for spiritual instruction, the written signpost that points to God, Jesus His Son, our Savior and Lord, and God’s own Holy Spirit.
3. I have no doubts that God, His Holy Spirit, and Jesus created all things that have been created. I have no doubts that there are serious holes in evolution theory. I am not a believer in “chance” – though I do believe that the Bible is full of examples of people cursed (disease, broken relationships, even international tensions) by the serendipitously painful results of past sins.
Yet as a Christian I remain puzzled as to why you and other brothers and sisters are so wrapped up in this whole “Creationism” vs “Evolution” debate. I’ll go even farther and then try to explain myself. Please do not be offended by what I say next! It is not intended to offend. It is to illustrate what I perceive to be a truly serious threat to the Christian faith.
Since I have known no one whose faith was “destroyed” by the concept of evolution (I suspect we are personally responsible for letting our faith be “destroyed”); nor known anyone who was “saved” because of Creationism – I can’t help but feel the focus and whole debate is waste of time, keeping us from the task we are to be fulfilling; that being, of course, to go into all the world proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. It seems this “Creationism/Evolution” debate is an extension of the Church’s resistance to Copernican theory of the 1500’s (the Sun is the center of our Solar System as opposed to the official church view of the time – that the earth was the center of the solar system – and universe). For the most part, most Christians accept Copernican theory as NOT contradicting the “figures of speech” about the “sun rising” in the Bible.
But I am unsure as to why so many have determined that a form of evolution (again, not exactly as scientifically specified since it is not proven, but a theory) is not one of the ways God uses to affect His will. The Bible, after all, is not a scientific textbook, but a book of faith. The main question it proposes is not “What are all the details of how God created things” (a book, I suspect, too big to be written). Instead the Bible asks us to answer the bigger spiritual-based question: “Did God create all things?” My answer, unequivocally, is “Yes, of course!”
At the same time I am fairly certain that evolutionists are not entirely wrong, either. I just see no contradiction in evolutionary theory that necessarily contradicts my faith (Evolutionary theory is, after all, an attempt at a Scientific, not a Spiritual, answer to that question, and is thereby very limited in its scope; except in the case of most immature scientists, it doesn’t try to answers of faith nor say that this theory is anything more than just a piece in a larger puzzle; to my understanding, around 50% of scientists who feel that there is some substance to evolution ultimately feel, however, that God is still the Creator behind it all). Just witnessing animal husbandry today and the changes wrought in species by such practices should indicate to us that forms of “evolution” can happen. I am not arguing the ethics of whether human-invoked evolution is appropriate – I am just stating that some of the mechanics of it are demonstratively present. The same argument could be used in terms of other physical/natural events. What is to keep God from using a flood (which, by the way, I do agree was a worldwide flood), meteorite impact, and the like to accomplish His will? Couldn’t He have done the same with a form of evolution?
Don’t get me wrong. I also believe our God supersedes the nature that He created (i.e. does not limit Himself to a “natural” or scientifically-based response to our needs). I believe that human life would not exist without His intervention. I also believe He continues to intervene miraculously – just as He has in my life – sometimes to cure, challenge, judge, save, Call, empower and to equip.
Also please understand that though my research into Creation Science has limits, what I have read leaves me seriously unconvinced of its underlying truth (i.e. that all of evolution is flawed). It has illuminated some of the holes in this scientific theory. Yet, as mentioned, it ignores the fact that many of the world’s scientists who believe there is some validity to evolutionary theory also believe in God -and that God stands behind and/or is responsible for evolution – just as He is responsible for gravity (Just because God does not mention the word “gravity” in the Bible does not mean it is not a part of the reality He created)! Stephen Hawking, considered the world’s premiere physicist – and not a Christian from what I understand – still says this about scientists who are searching for the beginning of the universe: “I suspect at the end of it all we will find God.”
Please understand. I am not trying to be smart-alecky. I am concerned, however, by this huge investment of time and money in an issue that seems to do so little to reach people for Christ – and may damage the church just as much as the false “Copernican Theory” crisis has. Secularists and atheists still use that as an example of how the church, when it loses its focus on it’s real mission, will kill innocent people and stand in the way of the truth. Instead Creationism seems to be attempting to provide “proofs” that violate our own Scripture’s insistence that we live by “faith, not by sight.” I think most Christians can understand that “evolution” is “theory” – not fact. At the same time I have met many who do not see a conflict between their faith in God and this “theory” of evolution.
I am asking that you protect my anonymity not because I am afraid of my beliefs, but because I cannot, in my position as one individual, answer the volumes of email this might generate. I also want to say that I am not close-minded on this issue. I am open to reasoned responses from brothers and sisters in Christ who can, from a Biblical and practical perspective, illuminate me in the errors of my ways, if indeed I have erred.
Since many Christians are asking these same questions I think a public response to my letter – perhaps on this web site – would be appropriate. I only ask that my letter – albeit a bit long – be quoted in it’s entirety rather than piecemeal (I’ve been the victim of selective criticism in the past, and don’t find such responses helpful). In return I will regularly visit your site to see your response!
Though we may not be able to agree on this point, let us agree on this, however: Jesus is Savior and Lord!
Because He Lives and Loves,
Thank you for your inquiry. These are questions that often come up and you have stated them well. Does the creation-evolution question really make any difference at all? Sometimes we wonder that ourselves. Many people do not care a fig about this issue, and if it does not interfere with their relationship with Jesus Christ, I am sure they are going to receive their reward in heaven just as I. But, if you have ever ministered on a college campus, you will find that intense pressure is placed upon young people to abandon their faith, and the tool that is used is evolution. I have personally seen many turn away from their faith as soon as it is challenged in the classroom. When they turn to the church for answers, there are none. When they drop out of church as soon as they leave home, the parents wonder why. I believe it is because these foundational questions about who we are, where we came from, and why we are here are never discussed. That is why The Revolution Against Evolution exists, to field these questions of inquiring minds to whom they become stumbling blocks for their faith.
Another problem is that there are many who use the theory of evolution as an excuse, a justification for why they are living apart from Christ. I cannot believe that you have never met anyone like this. It is true that most people, when they accept Christ, do so for emotional reasons, and for the most part they have had some familiarity with the gospel from past church experience. But, there is a generation of people growing up today that have never even been inside a church or heard the gospel at all. To these folks, the preaching of Christ and the cross is foolishness. “Why do I need a savior when the story of Adam and Eve is just a myth?” they ask. And for the most part, the church has let these people down, for if the story of Adam and Eve is just a legend, then there was no fall of man, no original sin, and no need of the cross of Jesus Christ for redemption.
There is a misunderstanding when we talk about evolution. We should qualify our discussion by talking about microevolution, which is observed changes within specific limits, and mega evolution, the idea of gradual change and emergence of species from molecules to man. Creationists do not dispute that microevolution takes place, in fact, it is a keystone to their theory.
Creationist believe that microevolution takes place in two different ways: (1) laterally, that is, reshuffling and rearranging existing genetic information or (2) downward, where through mutation genetic information is damaged or destroyed, inactivating a biochemical pathway that leads to death. We do not believe that new genetic information emerges from the mutation process. Instead, we believe that in His original creation, God planted all of the genetic information found in nature today, and it is either turned on or turned off to produce variety. Microevolution is simply the change mechanism God built into his creation to produce the mind-boggling variety found in nature. “Devolution” is the mutated changes that take place to the detriment of the organism. This is part of the curse placed upon creation after the fall of man, and it causes disease and death. This is also why we need a Redeemer, to deliver us and give us life after death.
We believe that the idea of mega evolution strikes at the very heart of the gospel. It is a message that says that man is only a part of a long drawn out process that took place over millions of years; that molecules became proteins and DNA, which evolved into cells, and gradually evolved into dinosaurs, monkeys, and man. Man, as the pinnacle of evolution, so they say, has no need of God, and he determines his own destiny. He is responsible to no one but himself.
If Genesis is true, who sets the rules? God does. If Genesis can be discredited, who then sets the rules? You do. If you believe Genesis to be a myth, then you are not accountable any more to God. You can make up your own rules. This is reflected in society today. Everyone has a different opinion on what is right and wrong. It is all based upon feeling. In fact, a popular philosophy today is existentialism, the idea that what’s right for me may not be right for you, and your morality is subject to the individual. “Do your own thing” is a popular extension of this idea, and this is directly related to our society abandoning Genesis as straightforward truth. Even Christians have become existentialists, choosing God though it makes no sense to them scientifically. But they split their mind into parts, one that believes God, the other that carries on with everything else in another physical world.
Now I believe as you do that Christianity is to operate by faith, and not by sight. But that does not mean that we are less spiritual if we find concrete facts that support our faith. In fact, I like to think of science as “thinking God’s thoughts after him” as George Washington Carver so aptly put it. Our Christian faith should be such as to apply to all areas of our life: to the arts and sciences, to mathematics, literature, the media, and our world-view. For years, we Christians have been content to allow the secular world to box us into a cubby hole where we can sing our Christian songs, worship God, and do our Christian thing without having any effect on the world around us. Science has been stripped of any Christian influence, and has been defined to be mechanistic only. That is like saying that we are going to discuss color, but we can’t say anything about red.
I for one do not want to be double minded (James 1: 6-8), splitting my life into a Christian compartment for Sunday, and a secular compartment for the rest of the week. To me, everything has to make sense in a Biblical framework, or none of it makes sense. That is why I grapple with these tough questions, and dare to look foolish in front of my atheist colleagues who mock me publicly. I got into this after studying biochemistry and computer science, realizing the tremendous amount of engineering that needed to take place in order for life to begin. Hundreds of scientists have come to the same conclusion as I, that the answers to the origin of life does not come from chemical evolution. It is that same chemical dance between DNA and proteins in a complex manufacturing process that convinces me that mega evolution cannot work. The problems with forming the original set of proteins and DNA apply to the problems of creating a viable evolutionary change. Mutations cause dead-end chemical pathways, and are an enemy to constructive change in an organism. If you don’t believe this, select a dozen biochemists, line them up, and ask them to volunteer to have their genes mutated, and see what their response might be. The confusion comes when they misinterpret lateral redistribution of existing genes created by God. They believe they are seeing mega evolution in progress.
For more information about the importance of the Creation-Evolution issue, I highly recommend the video “The Genesis Solution” and the accompanying book by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. I certainly have not covered everything here, and I recommend that you research other articles on this site.