Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘theistic evolution’

Bigger than the Bang!

One day this week, the Wall Street Journal reported the discovery of “the missing link.”  Somewhere in Africa, scientists had discovered an ancient deposit rich in bone fragments.  From all those fossils and shards, they were able to piece together a plausible skeleton with humanoid features and a tiny skull.  Was this really a primeval apeman or just an unlucky freak of nature?  Or was it simply misplaced bones accidentally glued together for a press conference display?   Speculation is fascinating but, frankly, we’ve heard it all before.

There’s a fundamental reason why most Americans and many scientists remain so skeptical of the current theories of our origins, but it’s not religious Fundamentalists. Even in a world where the Christian Faith did not exist, this particular question would still present nagging problems.  Thinking Americans want to know, “Where did the first Thing come from?”  As hard as Darwinists try to dismiss the question with condescending glances and semantics, it’s a problem that won’t die.

In his breakthrough book Cosmos, published in 1980, astronomer Carl Sagan opened with this sweeping statement: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”  Many Christians criticized him at the time for espousing a secular religion.  They argued that it is a statement of faith to say that apart from the cosmos, nothing else ever will be.   But in fact, Dr. Sagan was stating a natural truth apparent even to atheists: it’s impossible for nothing to produce something. The laws of science insist that matter cannot be created or destroyed.  If there is no  substance or force outside the current universe, then any new thing that might ever turn up can only be a new form of something else already in existence.

Skeptics were delighted that a best-selling scientist had just publicly imagined a universe where God is not necessary.  Unfortunately, that celebrated first sentence only served to underscore the First Question.  If all the heavenly bodies of the universe are merely shrapnel from an exploding marble of densely packed matter, where did the marble come from?  I have no problem with the universe being forged in some Big Bang. (I believe that mega explosion was the voice of God calling out, “Let there be light!”) But if you don’t believe in a Creator, you’ve gotta tell me where those cosmic blasting caps came from.

The mythical missing link between apes and men only begs the question.  The indisputable puzzle piece that’s required here is the missing link between Nothing and Something.  Who created that?  Hitting a stone wall in their search for the original Non-Life Form  that gave birth to a Life Form, some well-known scientists were forced to conceive a theory called “panspermia.”  They hypothesized that the original seeds for life on Earth were planted here long ago by meteors or advanced creatures from other regions of space.  But even that fanciful notion is crushed by the weight of the First Question: Before you worry about how Life originated on that other planet deep in space, kindly explain where that First Thing came from.  How big was that original IED that was tripped to set the cosmos in place?  Who wired the Big Bang?

The Bible opens with Genesis 1:1 in territory where arrogant 21st Century biologists dare not tred. “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.”  Even with all the media hype, sophistry, and condescension surrounding the First Question, God’s Word remains the only answer on the table.

Lift up the Cross!

Remembering Adam

Research suggests that most Americans still believe God created the heavens and the earth, but there’s a trendy new paradigm sweeping the church that reimagines how God might have done his work.  The new spin is called Theistic Evolution.  It a nutshell, it suggests that the Bible is true, but Darwin was correct as well.  The underlying assumption is that God relied on evolution to create the stars, the planets, the animals, as well as human beings over billions and billions of years.  A lot of believers are quite excited about this new possibility.  They assume that they can now identify themselves as Christians without being labeled morons and “flat earthers” by skeptics and unbelievers.

They’re wrong on two counts.  First, no matter what we might opine about evolutionary science, it’s the idea that Jesus Christ is the only way to God that has always brought the brickbats and insults flying in our direction.  Slap a Darwin bumper sticker alongside the  One Way sticker on your car and you’ll still look like a superstitious ignoramus to some people.

Secondly, champions of theistic evolution are also wrong about the Bible.  Science books change every decade or so as new ideas are developed which reverse the old ideas.  In fact, whenever new discoveries make the headlines, one of the most frequently used taglines insists “this rewrites everything we know about this field!”  Meanwhile, the Bible has remained faithful to God’s account of creation for more than three thousand years.  And the biblical concept of the fall of man does not sync with Darwin’s theory about the rise of man.

Progressive church people like to shake their heads and insist, “Don’t take the Old Testament so literally!”  But in fact, theistic evolution has problems with the New Testament as well.  Everyone knows that Genesis 3 attributes our sin problem to Adam and Eve.  But some have apparently forgotten that Paul uses the same explanation when he frames the theology of Christ in the New Testament!

  • In Romans 5:17 after alluding to the story of Adam and Eve, Paul concludes, “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”
  • In 1 Corinthians 15:22, he explains, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
  • In 1 Timothy 2:15 he continues, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

Paul traces the universal sin nature of all mankind all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  He identifies Jesus as the remedy for the epidemic that Adam spread to his descendants.  He explains that the reason we need new life in Christ is because of the death brought about by Adam.  And he takes the Genesis account so seriously that he actually bases church policy on the details of who was created first and second.  There is no rational basis for the silly notion that Paul considers the accounts of Genesis to be an inspiring and instructive creation myth- or that we have the freedom to make that assumption.

In contrast to Paul, Darwinism leaves no place for original sin.  There is no possibility for the fall of man because the theory of evolution does not begin with an ideal situation or a perfect world or a righteous creature.  Evolution begins with disorder and chaos.  Change is the random result of natural selection, not willful choices.  There are mistakes, dead-ends and hopeful monsters on every branch of the evolutionary tree.  But there is no place for any sort of fall, just as there is no standard other than survival by which any choice may be measured.  By the time a Cain-figure could emerge from the evolutionary swamp to murder an Abel-figure, it’s would all be a matter of no harm, no foul.  Apes and other predecessors would have been killing and eating each other for millennia.

Liberal Protestant author Rob Bell writes hopefully, “I have long wondered if there is a massive shift coming in what it means to be a Christian.  Something new is in the air.”  In fact, what he’s wondering about is not new at all.  Universalism is not new.  The Church has refuted it and dismissed it for 2,000 years.  Misinterpreting scripture is not new.  That’s why church leaders met at Nicea three hundred years after Christ: to confront and reject false doctrine.  And pretending to respect the Bible while actually distrusting it isn’t new either.  Satan quoted Deuteronomy on three separate occasions during his temptation of Christ.  He cited it.  But he didn’t mean it.

Lift up the cross!

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