I have been in the ministry for 36 years. As I look back over those years, one of the things that stand out is the size of the congregation seemed to reflect the confidence (or lack thereof) in the Old Testament in general and the book of Genesis in particular. The smaller the congregation the more confidence. The larger the congregation, the more skepticism. That is just my observation. But I also observe that America’s largest cities tend to be its most liberal/progressive while its smaller but vastly more numerous towns and villages tend to be its most conservative/evangelical. Maybe that’s why the early church exploded as the house church but when persecution eased and cathedrals and basilicas became prevalent the church declined.
When the numbers are against you it feels like paddling upstream and after a while it gets exhausting. It is easier and less problematic (in the short run) to just go with the flow. The theory (and religion) of evolution has been embraced by more and more churchgoers because they bought into the lie that it was a proven fact and were thirsty for approval from the burgeoning numbers of those in the pews beside them who adopted it in the place of creationism.
The explanation goes something like this:
“Well, I believe God created the universe but science has proven that the Big Bang and evolution are how we got where we are. So, God created everything but He used evolution as the mechanism of His creation.”
It’s called theistic evolution or theistic Darwinism. Either way, it is wrong on so many levels.
In order to rationalize evolution as a Christian, you have to do so much violence to the text of the creation account that it is rendered less than a fable because the words end up meaning absolutely nothing. At least in a fable, there is some moral to the story. If evolution is true then God really didn’t do anything beyond the Big Bang. He turned on a switch and nothing else (unless of course, you are thinking of Stanley Kubrick's monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey). If God used evolution then nothing beyond the first sentence of Genesis is needed. As a matter of fact, everything beyond the first sentence is not only unnecessary, it’s untrue.
The forthcoming series of blogs centered in Genesis is not an attempt to disprove evolution, the JEDP multiple author hypothesis, or that the ‘Table of Nations’ is really the only goal of Genesis. Rather, these blogs are aimed at helping us to see where Genesis was/is aiming. Genesis sets the course for mankind not only for the rest of the Bible but for the entirety of eternity. Sell out in Genesis and you are selling out your own eternity.
Let’s begin with the first account of creation as told in Genesis 1:1 – 2:3.
As you read the text in Genesis a certain phrase recurs repeatedly:
And there was evening and there was morning, the __ day.
Six times. Because evening and morning are both facets and characteristics of a 24-hour day that has been experienced by every single living person, it borders on the ridiculous to suggest that the text in Genesis means something different than what we all experience. To propose that the author was sublimely intimating that there was a recurrent evening and morning to an epoch of a billion years or so is simply nonsensical.
Moses lived approximately 2,500 years after Adam. For two and a half millennia people were used to the components of a day having both an evening and a morning. Now, all of a sudden, the dusk and dawn of each 24-hour day isn’t referring to a 24-hour day? Remember, God may in fact have had the greater audience of all readers of Scripture in mind when the inspired words of Genesis were initially written, but Moses only had the Hebrews he was leading out of bondage in mind. It is ludicrous to believe that Moses expected those Hebrews to understand anything but the same kind of day they had experienced in Egypt and the wilderness.
Another problem with interpreting each day of Creation as an eon or epoch on the evolutionary time scale is the command to observe a “day” of Sabbath or rest. Jews and Christians may differ on which 24-hour period to observe but we both agree that God’s intent on Sabbath rest was (and remains) one 24-hour day. So, the seventh day was 24 hours but the first six days were billions of years?
The Bible has no problem with being vague when it wants to. We can’t be sure if the serpent in the Garden of Eden was Satan, was possessed by Satan, or was an accomplice of Satan (Genesis 3:1-5). We don’t know who Cain was afraid of when he told God “whoever finds me will kill me” (Genesis 4:14). We don’t know what the Bible means when it says that “Enoch walked with God, and he was not” (Genesis 5:24). There is no specificity in the texts to answer those questions (because those aren’t the questions the texts are prompting). But when we read about the days of creation that after each day “there was evening and there was morning” we are reading with clarity. There would be no need to include that phrase repeatedly if a day was not intended to mean the same kind of day all of mankind is familiar with.
Worse than that, however, is that including that phrase over and over again but not meaning it the way everyone understands it, would be misleading. And because of the specificity of the phrase…intentionally misleading. If a building contractor tells you that it will take five months to build your house but after a year it is still not finished and you say “You told me it would only take five months to build my house” and his answer is “I never said five consecutive months” then you know you have been intentionally duped. If you believe God used evolution as His mechanism of creation then you must also believe that He duped all of us in Genesis chapter one with the words that He used. Gaming language just like the dishonest contractor.
There is simply no way to fit a Big Bang Darwinian evolutionary world view into the biblical account of creation without it doing a substantial amount of violence to the text. For instance:
- The earth was created BEFORE the rest of the universe (the earth was created on the third day while the lights in the expanse of the heavens along with the sun and the moon were created on the fourth day).
- Light was created before the sun, moon, or any of the stars (light on day one and the other lights on day four).
- All animals and humans were vegetarians (see Genesis 1:29-30 [which is absolutely antithetical to evolution]).
Another recurring phrase in Genesis 1 is that God declared that what He had made was “good.” Seven times the declaration of the goodness of God’s created order is made. Try and get “good” from ‘survival of the fittest.’
Every single communist, socialist, and fascist dictator who ever lived believed they were merely applying Darwinian evolutionary principles in their march to either subjugate or exterminate the masses. And that is “good”?
Look around yourself right now. If you are going to church on Sundays believing God used evolution to create everything, then everything is as it should be right now. The machine is producing the results it was intended to produce. Do you seriously think this world is what God calls “good”?
The next blog will delve into some of the most serious theological implications of believing in theistic evolution. Things that most who sit in the pews congratulating themselves on embracing modern thought seldom consider. Watch for it soon.