Refuting Evolution 2—Chapter 2
A sequel to Refuting Evolution that refutes the latest arguments to support evolution (as presented by PBS and Scientific American).
Argument: Evolution is compatible with Christian religion
Evolutionists say, ‘Evolution is not necessarily antithetical to Christianity—science and religion just deal with different realms of knowledge.’
First published in Refuting Evolution 2, Chapter 2
Though the media love to attack creation as unscientific, they’re too canny to appear blatantly anti-Christian. In fact, they typically downplay the rabidly atheistic faith of many leading evolutionists. The PBS series ‘Evolution,’ for example, invited several virulent atheists, such as Stephen Jay Gould and Eugenie Scott,1 to speak on their program; but it breathed not a word about their strongly held religious views and open assaults on Christianity. Such outspoken atheism does not play well in religious America.
Is Darwinism anti-Christian?
The opening episode of the Evolution series is aptly titled ‘Darwin’s Dangerous Idea,’ presumably inspired by Daniel Dennett’s book of the same name. Dennett argues that Darwin should be ranked ahead of Newton and Einstein as a scientific genius, because he united the disparate world of purposelessness and meaninglessness with the world of purpose and meaning. ‘Evolution’s’ producers acknowledge that Darwin’s idea posed a ‘threat’ to the established views of his day, but they omit Dennett’s famous insight that Darwinism was ‘universal acid,’ eating through every traditional idea, especially ‘meaning coming from on high and being ordained from the top down.’ Presumably that would have alerted the Christian viewers too soon.
Annie’s death and the problem of evil
PBS 1 dramatizes a turning point in the spiritual life of Charles Darwin—the sickness and death of his beloved daughter, Annie. Although the series does not spell it out, Darwin’s biographer James Moore makes it clear that this tragedy destroyed the truth of Christianity in Darwin’s mind. How could there be a good God if He allowed this to happen? Instead, Darwin decided that Annie was an unfortunate victim of the laws of nature, i.e. she lost the struggle for existence.
Annie’s death raised serious questions about God’s goodness, but the prevailing view of Darwin’s day—that the earth was old and had long been filled with death and violence—provided no adequate answers. Alas, the church adopted this prevailing view, which placed fossils millions of years before Adam. This view entails that death and suffering were around for millions of years before Adam, and yet God called His acts of creation ‘very good.’ Such a view evidently didn’t appeal to Darwin. It’s sad that many church leaders today still promote theistic evolution (the belief that God divinely ordained evolution—the struggle for survival and death—as His method of creation) and progressive creation (the belief that the ‘days’ of creation in Genesis 1 refer to long ages of death and suffering). Both of these compromise views2 have the insuperable problem of allowing death before sin. However, the proponents of these views claim that they are more acceptable to unbelievers than the literal Genesis view, failing to realize that this battle was already lost in Darwin’s day.
Yet the Bible is very clear the earth has a ‘young’ age (i.e. about 6,000 years), and the events described in Genesis 1–3 perfectly explain how God could be good and yet the earth be filled with death and suffering. The Bible says that God created everything ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31), whereas death is an intruder, called ‘the last enemy’ (1 Cor. 15:26). God did not introduce death and suffering millions of years ago—as many church leaders were saying in Darwin’s time—but instead, suffering was the direct result of Adam’s sin (Gen. 2:17, 3:19; Rom. 5:12–19, 8:20–22; 1 Cor. 15:21–22). To any Bible believer, this truth entails that the fossil record—a record of death, disease, and suffering—must date after Adam’s sin.
In the end, Darwin concluded that Christianity is a ‘damnable doctrine’ because his unbelieving father would be condemned to hell, but of course the PBS episode doesn’t mention this! It does, however, show Darwin’s older brother Erasmus (named after their evolutionary grandfather) mocking hymn singing in church.
Kenneth Miller–a good Christian and an evolutionist?
While PBS 1 attempted to mute Darwin’s obvious anti-Christianity, it prominently featured Kenneth Miller, who claims to be ‘an orthodox Catholic and an orthodox Darwinist.’ He wrote a book, Finding Darwin’s God, an anti-creationist polemic, to try to reconcile God and evolution. Miller has had a long history of joining forces with leading humanists against creation, and his book is full of straw-man arguments, misinformation, and outright deception.3 The last sentences in his book are revealing: ‘What kind of God do I believe in? … I believe in Darwin’s God.’4 Since Darwin was anti-Christian, as shown above, this is not the God any Christian can believe in. But PBS 1 shows Miller attending mass and taking communion, hoping that this show of outward religiosity will convince people who prefer outward appearances to inward convictions (cf. Matt. 23:25–28).
Religion and science–‘non-overlapping magisteria’?
Despite Darwin’s obvious anti-Christianity, evolutionists like to say that Darwin didn’t intend to disparage ideas of God. In fact, PBS 1 quotes evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould saying so. This is consistent with Gould’s widely publicized claims that religion and science are ‘non-overlapping magisteria’ (NOMA).5 That is, science deals with facts of the real world, while religion deals with ethics, values, morals, and what it means to be human.
However, this is based on the philosophically fallacious ‘fact-value distinction,’ and is really an anti-Christian claim. For example, the resurrection of Christ is an essential ‘value’ of the Christian faith (1 Cor. 15:12–19), but it must also be a fact of history to be of value—it had to pass the ‘testable’ Bible prophecy that the tomb would be empty on the third day; and it had to impinge on science by demonstrating the power of God over so-called ‘natural laws’ that dead bodies decay, and do not return to life. Christians should be aware that this is not only a theoretical argument about the anti-Christian implications of NOMA—Gould openly dismissed John’s historical narrative of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to doubting Thomas as a ‘moral tale.’6
This NOMA distinction really teaches that religion is just in one’s head, which seems to dull the senses of many Christians more than an overt declaration that Christianity is false. So NOMA is even more insidious.
Christians should not fall for this false distinction between facts and morality. Christ is the Lord of the universe, and the Bible is accurate on everything it touches on, not just faith and morality, but history, science, and geography, also. So Christians should not give up any part of the ‘real world’ to those with a materialistic agenda—especially when atheists are happy to let their own faith influence their science, by promoting evolution.
Gould’s real anti-Christian sentiments are shown by his 1990 lecture at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. The whole theme of his lecture was that Darwin deliberately tried to counter the argument from design, and Gould speculated that this was because FitzRoy had browbeaten him with this argument. Gould also addressed the popular notion that evolution can be reconciled with religion and purpose because evolution is supposedly ‘progress.’ Gould slammed this idea, saying that evolution was just a blind, purposeless struggle for existence.7 It seems that science and ‘God’ are compatible only when trying to pacify concerned Christians, but at other times Gould makes it clear that there’s no room for God, at least in the ‘real world.’
None other than Kenneth Miller, who was impressed by Gould’s NOMA idea, when he saw documentation of Gould’s true feelings about belief in God, conceded that creationists had a point when they accused Gould of double talk:
Some wonder if Gould, in his heart, really believes these words. Late in 1997, Phillip Johnson described Gould’s essay as ‘a tissue of half-truths aimed at putting the religious people to sleep, or luring them into a ‘dialogue’ on terms set by the materialists.’ Had Johnson seen Gould on television a year later, his sense of Gould’s duplicity might have been dramatically confirmed:
Interviewer: Gould disputes the religious claim that man is at the center of the universe. The idea of a science-religious dialogue, he says, is ‘sweet’ but unhelpful.
[Speaking to Gould]: Why is it sweet?
Gould: Because it gives comfort to many people. I think that notion that we are all in the bosom of Abraham or are in God’s embracing love is—look, it’s a tough life and if you can delude yourself into thinking that there’s all some warm and fuzzy meaning to it all, it’s enormously comforting. But I do think it’s just a story we tell ourselves.
Hard to see how something Gould regards as ‘just a story we tell ourselves’ could also be an obligatory step in ‘the attainment of wisdom.’8
On PBS 1, Stephen Jay Gould said that Darwinism answers who we are, as far as science can answer that question. Boston University biologist Chris Schneider said that evolution ‘stirs the soul.’ The episode ends with a comment by Darwin’s biographer, James Moore: ‘Darwin’s vision of nature was, I believe, fundamentally a religious vision.’ In the light of this, it’s amazing that the series persists in claiming that evolution is ‘science’ rather than ‘religion.’
Deep time—the truth seeps out
Despite cunning efforts to deceive people that evolution and Christianity are compatible, the truth eventually leaks out. Probably everyone has seen one of the cute illustrations that show man’s tiny place on the ‘yardstick of time.’ In PBS 2, for example, Neil Shubin, a paleontologist from the University of Chicago, shares his version of the story. He claims that the earth is 4.5 billion years old; and to show how insignificant humans are, he scales this time to one hour. Then he claims that animals existed only in the last 10 minutes, while humans appeared only in the last 100th of a second.
Despite the PBS series’ claim to be respectful of Christianity, this is one of many examples of the direct contradiction between evolution/billions of years and Christ’s teachings. Jesus says in Mark 10:6, ‘But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.’ This statement is consistent with Christ’s belief in a literal interpretation of Genesis, which teaches that the earth was created about 4,000 years before He spoke those words. Adam and Eve were created on day 6, which on the scale of 4,000 years is almost indistinguishable from the beginning. But this time frame is diametrically opposed to Shubin’s illustration, which has man appearing almost at the end, not the beginning.’9
What about God?
‘What about God?’ is the title of the final episode (7) in the PBS series, ‘Evolution.’ To the very end, the producers tried to obscure the obvious—that evolution and biblical Christianity are diametrically opposed. Actually, they hardly discussed biblical Christianity, but interviewed people who believe that ‘God’ used evolution. As is typical of most evolutionists, they acknowledge biblical Christianity and even interview representatives of it, but they omit the strongest case of the best defenders, and give much airtime to those who haven’t the faintest idea about defending biblical Christianity. But the PBS program was honest about one thing: it clearly showed examples of the baneful effects of compromise among Christians, and these incidents should raise alarms among pastors that they have an obligation to exhort their flock to be ready with answers, as the apostle Peter commanded in 1 Peter 3:15.
Concealing the truth about ‘fundamentalist’ concerns
The PBS narrator (Liam Neeson) talks about the views of ‘Christian fundamentalists like Ken Ham’ (president of Answers in Genesis in the United States), but he never defines the word, of course. Presumably, the producers hope to exploit modern connotations of the word, and their attempt at name-calling received an unexpected bonus after the 2001 terrorist attack against the United States, attributed to Muslim ‘fundamentalists.’ But this modern usage of the term reflects ignorance of its original honorable meaning:
Historically, fundamentalism has been used to identify one holding to the five fundamentals of the faith adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of the USA in 1910. The five fundamentals were the miracles of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the substitutionary atonement of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the inspiration of Scripture.10
Of course, Mr Ham and AiG/CMI as a whole uncompromisingly affirm fundamentalism in its historic sense.
The PBS narrator scornfully dismisses Mr Ham as one of those who teach a literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis. This is a common tactic among evolutionists, who imply that there is something unusual about taking Genesis literally, but they completely ignore what ‘fundamentalists’ teach about interpreting historical narrative as historical narrative, interpreting poetry as poetry, and making distinctions between them.11
The Hebrew grammar of Genesis shows that Genesis 1–11 has the same literary style as Genesis 12–50, which no one doubts is historical narrative. For example, the early chapters of Genesis frequently use the construction called the ‘waw consecutive,’ usually an indicator of historical sequence. Genesis 1–11 also has several other trademarks of historical narrative, such as ‘accusative particles’ that mark the objects of verbs, and terms that are often carefully defined. And the Hebrew verb grammar of Genesis 1 has a particular feature that fits exactly what would be expected if it were representing a series of past events. That is, only the first verb is perfect (a type called qatal), while the verbs that continue the narrative are imperfect (a type called wayyiqtol or waw consecutive). In Genesis 1, the first verb is bara (create) which is perfect, while the subsequent verbs that move the narrative forward are imperfect. But parallelisms, which are characteristic of Hebrew poetry, are absent from Genesis, except where people are cited, e.g., Genesis 4:23. If Genesis were truly poetic, it would use parallelisms throughout.12
The mention of ‘creation accounts’ is simply a hint at the defunct ‘documentary hypothesis,’ which argued that Genesis was pieced together from several contradictory sources.13 The charge of contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 is amply resolved by noting that Genesis 1:1–2:4a is a summary outline of the whole creation, while Genesis 2:4b and the rest of the chapter focuses on the creation of male and female, so they are complementary rather than contradictory.14
PBS 7 showed a small segment of an interview with Ken Ham, who says that evolution is an ‘evil’ to be fought and points out the conflicts between the Bible and secular ‘science’ that deals with origins. Then the program showed snippets from a free seminar Mr Ham gave, but deceitfully shows money changing hands at the same time as it shows people entering the auditorium. But the money was either for books, videos, etc., or for another seminar (most CMI meetings are free). The PBS program presumably wished to present Christian ministries as ‘in it for the money.’
When PBS showed Mr Ham presenting arguments against evolution at a seminar, the omissions were conspicuous. Cameramen were present for the whole seminar, and they also recorded a two-hour interview with him. But the final cut omitted Mr Ham’s discussion of the key problem for all proponents of evolution or billions of years: the problem of death and suffering before Adam’s sin. Ken Ham also presented extensive scientific criticisms of evolution in both the seminar and the interview, but these criticisms were omitted. For example, he showed that natural selection and variation, e.g., breeding of dogs, merely involves sorting and loss of genetic information, while goo-to-you evolution requires increase of information.
Presenting this information wouldn’t suit the PBS propagandists for two reasons: In general, they wished to portray all objections to evolution as ‘religious.’ Of course, they had to ignore the many scientists who are creationists, as well as most of the founders of modern science. Specifically, these points blow most of the PBS program’s ‘evidence’ sky high.
Christian college compromise causes confusion!
The damage that evolution has caused on college campuses is legendary, and it’s not difficult to cite examples of children from Christian homes who have turned away from their childhood faith after attending college—even ‘Christian’ college. The final episode of the PBS series gives a striking example from Wheaton College, which is said to be a conservative Christian college. According to Wheaton’s website:
Wheaton College selects candidates for admission from those who evidence a vital Christian experience, high academic ability, moral character, personal integrity, social concern, and the desire to pursue a liberal arts education as defined in the aims and objectives of the College.
This college is the show-pony of the PBS series, showing viewers how people can mix ‘God’ and evolution. But one must wonder how the school defines a ‘vital Christian experience’ since their professors evidently don’t believe the Bible, the only source of information about Christ. At one point in the PBS series, it shows a teacher on a school field trip who proclaims that a water hole is 33 million years old.
There was quite a stir back in 1961 when Prof. Walter Hearn promoted evolution at Wheaton. As a result of this controversy, now the school apparently insists that professors sign a statement that Adam was a historical figure.
But the PBS clips make it abundantly clear that this statement is a dead letter. If the professors themselves ‘support’ this apparent anti-evolution statement, they have no qualms about inviting visiting lecturers who don’t believe the biblical account of creation and even attack it.
One example is Keith Miller, who claimed on the PBS program to be an ‘ardent evangelical Christian.’ He asserted, without evidence, that there are lots of transitional forms. When questioned, he said that God chose Adam and Eve out of other humans that existed. This just shows that the word ‘evangelical,’ like ‘Christian,’ has become debased currency. At one time it meant someone who believed the Reformation (and biblical) doctrines of the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture. This is not always so nowadays, and certainly doesn’t apply to Miller.
Genesis 2:7 teaches that the first man was made from dust and became alive when God breathed the breath of life into him. This rules out the idea that Adam was already a living primate of some kind when God breathed on him. Eve was made from Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21–24). Luke’s genealogy of Christ traces His lineage (through Mary) all the way back to Adam, then directly to God, not via any ape-like creatures or pond scum (Luke 3:23–38). Further, 1 Corinthians 15:45 states that Adam was the ‘first man,’ and Eve was so named because she was to become the ‘mother of all living’ (Gen. 3:20). Also, Paul’s teachings about male and female roles in 1 Corinthians 11:8–9 and 1 Timothy 2:13–14 explicitly support the historical order of creation in Genesis 2:21–23.
The sad thing about Wheaton is the admission—shown on the final PBS episode—that most people become more confused about their Christian faith while they attend this ‘Christian’ college. The students wonder whether there’s a place for God if evolution is true, and rightly so.15
This confusion should hardly be surprising—Billy Graham’s former colleague Charles Templeton totally apostatized after attending the compromising Princeton Theological Seminary.16 Answers in Genesis has received several testimonies of people whose faith was shipwrecked by compromising ‘Christians’ but later restored with the help of CMI and other Christian ministries that present a consistently biblical approach to origins.17
Seeds of apostasy
In contrast to the claims of evolutionists, evolution is a direct assault on the authority of Scripture, and it is the seed of most modern apostasy. Exhibit A is Nathan Baird, a geology major who stars in the final PBS episode. He had a creationist upbringing, sort of, but now from his lofty height at Wheaton he proclaims that most Christians dismiss evolution because they don’t understand it. Now he thinks that God used the big bang and evolution, and infused a spirit supernaturally into some humans. He proclaimed: ‘God is bigger than the box I’ve put him in.’
This slogan is hardly original with Nathan. Rank apostates like retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong18 also spout such vacuous tripe. But creationists don’t put God into any box; rather, they are humble enough to believe what God has revealed about himself in the Bible, including when and how He created. It’s people like Nathan who put God into a box of their own making, by presuming that God would not have intervened in His creation in a different way from the way He currently upholds it (Col. 1:16–17; Hebrews 1:3—passages referring to Jesus Christ, the God-man). They also, in effect, presume that God was unable to communicate in clear language about the history of the universe.
Lack of apologetics
Nathan’s upbringing is sadly typical of the lack of apologetics teaching in the churches. Many Christians have no idea how to defend their faith. The most serious problem is that parents do not have answers to their children’s questions.
PBS 7 showed Nathan’s family outside having lunch. Nathan’s father correctly believed that evolution was a frontal assault on Genesis 1 and his son’s faith, but he didn’t seem very well informed about the issues (or else his most telling arguments were edited out, as with the creationist ones). Nathan’s father couldn’t answer some of his son’s facile arguments, and he asked his mother to bail him out.
Nathan’s mother correctly pointed out that unwavering adherence to the Bible was a common factor in church growth. She also recounted the advice of a friend: ‘Don’t send Nathan to Wheaton—it could destroy his faith.’ One might argue whether a person who ‘loses his/her faith’ truly had saving faith to begin with (1 John 2:19), but this incident shows that Wheaton had a reputation for undermining students’ faith. It’s a shame that Nathan’s mother didn’t follow this advice before forking out a fortune to a college that doesn’t teach what it claims. The money may as well be spent on a secular college, because at least their students know what to expect. It’s fortunate for Wheaton and many other ‘Christian’ colleges that they can’t be sued for false advertising.
Darwinian evolution truly was a ‘dangerous idea,’ one that consciously undermined faith in God and belief in the Bible, replacing it with skepticism and a materialist worldview. It’s the height of hypocrisy for atheists like Gould to claim that evolution is ‘compatible’ with Christianity.
References and notes
- D. Batten, A Who’s Who of Evolutionists, Creation 20(1):32 (December 1997–February 1998 ).
- See Q&A: Creation Compromises for more information.
- For a thorough refutation of Miller’s book, see J. Woodmorappe <www.rae.org/johnw.htm> and J. Sarfati, Mutilating Miller, Journal of Creation 15(3):29–35, 2001.
- Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God (New York, NY: Cliff Street Books, 1999).
- S.J. Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (New York, NY: Ballantine, 1999).
- Gould, Rocks of Ages, p. 14.
- For an accurate account of Gould’s lecture, see C. Wieland, Darwin’s real message: have you missed it? Creation 14(4):16–19 (September–November 1992).
- Miller, Finding Darwin’s God.
- There are also many scientific problems with any assertions that the earth looks old. The conflicts between billions of years with the words of Christ and true science are well outlined in C. Wieland, The Earth: how old does it look? Creation 23(1):8–13 (December 2000–February 2001).
- P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), p. 613.
- See R. Grigg, Should Genesis be taken literally? Creation 16(1):38–41 (December 1933–February 1994).
- W.C. Kaiser Jr., The Literary Form of Genesis 1–11, in J.B. Payne, New Perspectives on the Old Testament (Waco, TX: Word, Inc., 1970), p. 59–60.
- The documentary hypothesis is amply refuted by R. Grigg, Did Moses really write Genesis? Creation 20(4):43–46 (September–November 1998).
- See D. Batten, Genesis contradictions? Creation 18(4):44–45 (September–November 1996).
- See John Woodmorappe <www.rae.org/johnw.htm>, The horse and the tractor: why God and evolution don’t mix, Creation 22(4):53 (September–November 2000).
- See K. Ham and S. McKeever, The slippery slide to unbelief: a famous evangelist goes from hope to hopelessness, Creation 22(3):8–13 (June–August 2000).
- See Sonia’s Testimony: Creation Magazine opened my eyes to the Gospel!, A testimony: ‘Joel Galvin’ and ‘No excuse not to believe’ by Lita Cosner.
- See M. Bott and J. Sarfati, What’s Wrong with Bishop Spong? Apologia 4(1):3–27, 1995.
Note about citations: Quotations from the Scientific American article by John Rennie will be labeled ‘SA,’ followed by the page number. Quotations from, and other mentions of, the PBS-TV series ‘Evolution,’ will be labeled ‘PBS,’ followed by the episode number, e.g. ‘PBS 6’ refers to Episode 6. Return to article.