Evolution—still an option?
By way of introduction to the question asked above, I will use Dr Don Carson’s time-machine illustration. (Dr Carson is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Canada.)
Let us imagine that you and I have at our disposal a neat, comfortable, and very accurate time-machine which looks like a large telephone booth with two armchairs in it. We turn the dials all the way to the left, marked ‘creation—sixth day, morning’. Within a few moments we are present just as God has finished creating (the Bible says ‘fashioned’) Adam, the first man.
There Adam stands in all his beauty and splendour. So we get out of our time-machine, walk over to Adam and ask: ‘How old are you, Adam?’ Adam smiles and answers: ‘God created me just two minutes ago.’ So we look Adam up and down—yet what we see is certainly not a human being just two minutes after conception, nor two minutes after birth. Here stands a full-grown man of perhaps 30 years of age.
What a discrepancy! Adam claims he is two minutes old, yet his appearance indicates he may be 30 years old!
Who is correct? Is Adam right? Or are we, the scientists, right? Adam informs us of his age on the basis of a fact: the very simple, straightforward fact that he came into existence only about two minutes ago. How can anyone contest this fact? But you and I, with the advantage of our great scientific knowledge (after all we have just arrived in a time-machine), know exactly how to determine the chronological age of a human being: we measure the skull, the size of nose, ears, mouth, teeth; we measure the length of his arms and feet and the size of his torso. And we compare Adam’s body with our charts on anatomy—and, on the basis of the facts before our eyes, we come to the conclusion that Adam is some 30 years old, give or take a few years. How can anyone argue with these facts? Really, does it matter what Adam tells us?
Created mature means two ages
Facts against facts? Yes, in one way. But in another way, no. All of us must agree that any person or thing created mature has to have two ages: an actual (real, or revealed) age (two minutes) and an apparent (or scientific) age (30 years—apparent because it is determined by its appearance, and scientific because scientific methods and tools are used to determine the age). This is, first of all, not a discrepancy—but a necessity! In other words, one cannot even speak about ’creation’ without immediately necessitating the postulation of two ages.
What I am claiming is simply this: Creation, by definition, always results in two ages.
On Fraser Highway, in a suburb of Vancouver named Langley, I discovered a curious sign outside a shop. It read: New Antiques. Now I ask you, what does that mean? If the things inside are antiques, they cannot, by definition, be new. And if they are new, then by definition, they cannot be antiques.
There is a way out of this dilemma: the manufacturer may make ‘antiques’, that is, pieces of furniture which appear to be very old (the manufacturer has a special drill for drilling wormholes) but which are actually brand new.
But is this not deception? Are all these pieces not just fakes?
Well, that depends on the manufacturer, doesn’t it? If he sells you that Louis XIV chair for $10,000, claiming that the King of France himself used it in his palace in Versailles, then he would be swindling you. But if the manufacturer sells you the chair for $250, claiming he copied it out of a ‘collectors’ guide’, and that he has attempted to make it look as genuine as possible—then there is no deception.
Back to our question of what we mean when we say that God created this universe. If He created this world, as we believe, out of nothing—in other words, He spoke the Word and it came into being—then this universe and our earth was a fully grown, mature, fully functional creation. On the seventh day, it was only a week old.
But if the evolutionary scientists of today had been present on the seventh day, they could have measured the distance of the stars from the earth and would have claimed that the universe had to be at least hundreds of millions of years old because that is the time the light of the stars needed to reach earth. They could have studied the mountains and assigned ages to them in the millions of years. They could have cut a few trees and measured the rings, proclaiming that they were perhaps 30 to 100 years old. And so forth. Not one scientist could have measured scientifically any of the evidence and come to the conclusion that the earth and all in it was one to six days old.
Did God create with the ‘Big Bang’
So what do we mean when we say God created this universe? Did He create the universe by causing a ‘big bang’ and then allow everything to take its course, perhaps occasionally lending a helping hand with the evolution of things? Or did God create the universe out of nothing—ex nihilo?
We could philosophize about this and discuss what is most likely and what is somewhat probable and what would be the most elegant model considering who God is. We expect more.
We want the manufacturer to tell us the truth. That’s really all that counts. Actually, there is more involved, as we indicated already with the illustration of the antique-manufacturer. If the manufacturer does not disclose, reveal, to us that this genuine-looking antique is actually brand-new, just off the conveyor belt so to speak, he is deceiving us. If God the Creator, in other words the Manufacturer, had not informed us about who created this universe and how it was created, all of us would merely be guessing. There would be many speculations, many theories, many varied and colourful opinions, but absolutely no certainty.
However, God has revealed all the relevant information. He has told us how He has created this universe. It is a fallacy, propagated in some Christian circles, to claim that God has not told us the how, only the who: that He only told us that He did it but not how. This fallacious claim relegates the first two chapters of Genesis to the literary category of saga, myth, or legend (man’s philosophical speculation about origins) but does not believe that God’s Holy Spirit supervised the writing of these chapters so that only what actually happened was recorded, constituting—to remain within our illustration—the manufacturer’s manual which informs everyone who wants to know, how old the piece actually is.
Revealed in the manufacturer’s manual
The Bible clearly reveals that God created this universe:
1. By fiat (by decree, by his Word):
‘And God said, “Let there be lightâ€?; and there was light’ (Genesis 1:3). ’Then God said, “Let the waters below the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear!â€?; and it was so’ (Genesis 1:9). ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him [i.e. the Word], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being’ (John 1:1-3). ‘…by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by the water’ (2 Peter 3:5). ‘By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God…’(Hebrews 11:3).
2. Ex nihilo (out of nothing):
‘By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible’ (Hebrews 11:3). ‘…God, Who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist’ (Romans 4:17).
3. By creative acts:
Although the universe, heavens and earth, were created out of nothing, much of the contents of this universe were created out of the material which God had previously created out of nothing. Thus the Bible says, ‘God separated the light from the darkness’ (v.4) or ‘God made the expanse’ (v.7), or ‘God made the two great lights’ (v. 16), or ‘God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul’ (Genesis 2:7). But all these creative acts, though not by fiat and not ex nihilo, are nevertheless done in less than a day. They are not achieved over a long period of time, such as thousands or millions of years, but, according to the numerals used, in less than one solar day.
This, then, is the evidence before us in the Manufacturer’s Manual. Therefore we know how this antique-looking world was manufactured—and there is no reason to accuse the Creator of deception or cheating. His manual, His disclosure of the process and method—is freely available to those engaged in the scientific pursuit. Most scientists have ignored this manual.
They have chosen not to believe God’s revelation.
Mind you, God did not only reveal His method of creation to mankind in the Bible but He also, graciously, built into His creation certain factors which appeal to the common sense in an inquirer and point him to God: that’s what Psalm 19 is all about. And that is what Romans 1:20 is all about.
In other words, man, using his common sense, looks at the stars or solar system or galaxies in the sky; he looks at the sun and moon; he looks at the mountains and the seas; he looks at the trees and plants and birds and animals; he looks at the human body—the eye, the food-processing plant, the brain—and he comes to the conclusion that all this cannot have come into being by chance, but that there is a Creator, an intelligent Maker behind it all.
Is Evolution an Option Today?
Evolution (and we are discussing macro-evolution, one kind of creature’s supposedly evolving into a completely different kind, not minor changes such as different skin colour, ear shapes, and so on) has never really been an option for the Christian, though it always has been a strong option for the scientist. Evolution is the attempt of man to assess the evidence without consulting the manual. Thus, evolution is a system which denies the necessity for and the existence of God. Evolution has chosen to ignore some of the evidence; it has opted to ignore the Manufacturer’s Manual. Evolution has sifted through the evidence and chosen what it could use and ignored that which spoiled the model.
Even as a scientific hypothesis evolution has fared rather badly, so much so that evolutionism is no longer a respectable hypothesis in some scientific circles (cf. among others Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution, Rider & Co., London, 1984; Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Burnett Books, London, 1985).
We conclude that evolution is not an option for a Christian and not a convincing option for a scientist. We believe the Manufacturer’s Manual, the Word of God:
‘In the beginning God created the universe [ex nihilo—by fiat, by creative acts—as a mature creation which, of necessity, had to have an actual/revealed/young and an apparent/scientific/ old age].’