Why do Christians want to defend evolution?
Published: 27 October 2012 (GMT+10)
Illustration by Caleb Salisbury
In today’s feedback, to a theistic evolutionist who thinks that we don’t
believe Christians can be evolutionists.
Dr Don Batten responds,
pointing out that we have consistently said that evolutionists can be Christians
because Christian belief is not defined by a denial of evolution (cf. Romans 10:9–10;
Andrew W., from Australia, writes:
Now, I know that you don’t exactly play nice with people like me (theistic evolutionists, or ‘evil-utionists’ as I am so colourfully labeled by creationists, including those in my family), but I was curious as to if we could sit down and have a little chat anyway. Now, I’m only nineteen years old, and I surely haven’t seen everything that this world has to offer, but I happen to have a keen interest in genetics and biology, which led to my understanding of evolution and the logic behind it. I prefer “understanding” to “belief”, as the latter implies a belief structure, whereas my acceptance of evolution was based on logic.
Anyway, that was just for contextual information. So, my question is: why am I not accepted by you as a Christian? I believe in Jesus, in a heaven and a hell and that God created the world-the only difference is that I believe we got here differently to you. Most, if not all Christian denominations have accepted evolution and taken it in stride, but creationists seem unable to accept the concept, but (from your Q&A section anyway) seems like you admit most of the basic concepts that build up to the topic of “evolution”, but you just have an aversion to that particular word. I mean, it’s not in the bible, so it’s against your belief, but motor cars, telephones or gravity weren’t mentioned either (to my knowledge)
So, why the hatred? As the great Charlie Chaplin said: “In the seventeenth chapter of saint Luke is it written: “The kingdom of God within Man. Not one man or a group of men, but in ALL men.”
CMI’s Dr Don Batten responds:
Thanks for making contact and asking.
Firstly, I don’t know a speaker with CMI-Australia who calls evolutionists “evil-utionists” (although I have heard someone not connected with CMI say it this way). We normally say the ‘e’ as in “egg”. Most Americans also say it with the short 'e'. However, speakers of British English normally say “evil-utionist” including evolutionists such as Richard Dawkins.
Secondly, I too have a keen interest in genetics and biology, which lead to my understanding of evolution and the lack of logic behind it. I have a PhD in plant biology and worked in full-time research for over 20 years (work I really enjoyed). You can read my biography on creation.com if you are interested. We have many PhD biologists either working for CMI or who support what we do. In fact, I would say that not only does evolution not make sense of the evidence, it has been a decided hindrance to scientific progress (I am preparing to write an article “How evolution harms science”. You can see a few things here, but there is much more to be told). Evolution is only really logical for someone who has decided that supernatural creation is ruled out, because then it is the only game in town and ‘has to be’.
It continually surprises us that Christians want to defend evolution. It is really the creation myth of the materialist (atheist) and has been ever since Greek philosophers thought of the idea before the time of Christ (BC) and also with its modern popularisation by Darwin and his disciples. Adam Sedgewick, one of the two main mentors of Darwin at Cambridge University, called it a “dish of rank materialism”. Well-known atheist Richard Dawkins said it enables him to be “an intellectually fulfilled atheist”. It is quite preposterous when you think about the grand claim that “everything made itself” (see Familiarity breeds … respect?). This is the ‘evolution’ that we reject: that everything is self-created (which is a self-contradiction, for a start). You say of the word ‘evolution’, “I mean, it’s not in the bible, so it’s against your belief ”. Frankly, that is absurd and indicates that your reading on Creation.com Q&A pages has been quite superficial, or you are being deliberately rude.
Biological evolution is not just that things change or that new species form, but that microbes changed into microbiologists over billions of years. Please note that ‘change in allele frequency’ is not evolution, or I am an evolutionist (along with all my creationist biologist friends). Please note also that mutations, natural selection and adaptation are not ‘evolution’. I will leave you to use the creation.com search facility to find explanations for these statements; there are many articles, from layman-level to technical (hint: natural processes cannot create new biochemical pathways or even new enzymes, which are really nano-machines (e.g. ATP synthase, helicase, kinesin, etc.), which evolution needs for it to be a viable explanation of the diversity of life. See also: 15 Questions for Evolutionists.
But let me deal with your main question: “why am I not accepted by you as a Christian?” Well, you are, if you “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9). We never say that because someone believes in evolution that they cannot be a Christian. This is a common misconception. This article spells it out: Can Christians believe evolution? (please read this, as it points out also that if someone understands what the Bible says about these things and refuses to believe it, then that person’s claim to be a Christian is questionable).
You say that “I believe in Jesus, in a heaven and a hell and that God created the world-the only difference is that I believe we got here differently to you.” I was once a theistic evolutionist, like you, but that was before I came to understand the implications for the Gospel (see Harvesting real fruit). If you only think about things superficially, it is possible to think that ‘Maybe God used evolution to make everything’, but if you think about what the Bible teaches and how this is foundational to the Gospel, you have to let go of any idea that ‘God used evolution’. Here are several strong biblical reasons why theistic evolution just does not cut it, for example: Some questions for theistic evolutionists and “progressive creationists”.
You say, “Most, if not all Christian denominations have accepted evolution and taken it in stride”. Yes, sadly the major, mainline denominations are riddled with compromise on this issue (and others that follow, like night follows day, such as supporting ‘gay’ marriage). However, there are many churches that agree with us. We do about 600 ministry events in Australia each year, largely in churches that agree that Genesis is history and crucial for the foundations of the Gospel, understanding the goodness of God and eschatology, etc. These churches tend to be the growing ones, whereas the churches most compromised with evolution are in decline (e.g. the Uniting Church and the ‘high church’ Anglicans). If you read the book, Creation without Compromise, you will see how Christian institutions decay over a couple of generations once they compromise on Genesis. This is already happening in several once-biblical denominations in Australia.
So, why the hatred?
Hatred? I would like to know where you can see “hatred” in what we write and do.
As the great Charlie Chaplin said: “In the seventeenth chapter of saint Luke is it written: “The kingdom of God within Man. Not one man or a group of men, but in ALL men.”
Actually it says, in modern English: “For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (ESV) or “For indeed, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (NET) or “For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Modern KJV). If I read you correctly here, you are espousing a form of universalism, some sort of ‘cosmic Jesus’. If that is the case, you are out of step with what Jesus taught, which is clearly that not everyone will be saved and that only through Him can people be saved (clearly in context, in Luke 17 Jesus is speaking to Pharisees, many of whom opposed him, so the Kingdom of God could not have been within all of them).
I encourage you to follow through on this and check out what the Bible has to say and begin thinking biblically about these matters. This requires us to re-think things that are not in alignment with God’s Word. See 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Romans 12:1–2.
Praying for God’s blessing on your thinking.
With kind regards,
PS. Theistic evolution is a proven stepping stone to atheism, so please beware! See: What all atheists have to believe.
The similie of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27) has been in the Bible for almost 2000 years. Yet, incredibly, so many of those who believe they are following Jesus (who doubtless know this passage very well) and who believe the Bible can be picked-and-chosen (rather than taken as written in entirety) fail to see that He was warning those like them that that way is the path of destruction.
If you start from the assumption "the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, any apparent contradiction can be resolved by thinking about it, and all physical evidence in the present will be interpreted within the paradigm that the Bible's historical narrative is completely accurate" then your faith is practically unassailable. There are no cracks in the fortress. But anyone who is willing to admit the possibility of error in the Bible opens-up the whole ediface to collapse. So does anyone who tries to reinterpret any factual narrative as fictional.
It doesn't surprise me when the claim is made that a Christian institution declines in size over a couple of generations when they compromise on Genesis creation teaching. Christianity is inherently a conservative belief system, so liberal thought is going to drive away the most faithful types. It is also true that liberal minded people have fewer children thus stunting the growth of a liberal church and very likely liberal thinking results in fewer of the liberal parents' children becoming Christians. Most church growth can be attributed to the Christians in a given church having children who also share their parents' belief.
What really strikes me about this common argument is that it is blatantly self-refuting (as are most other arguments against the plain meaning of the Bible). It is assumed that by virtue of biblical Christians disagreeing with compromising Christians, we're saying they aren't saved. Yet, they are disagreeing with us. So are they not also implying that we are not saved? And thus doesn't their own rejection of such a judgment defeat their own argument?
Why is it that long-age creationists never seem to feel the need to assure us that they believe we are saved even though they disagree with us on other things?
I suspect that what is really going on here is that many compromising Christians are aware of Jesus' challenge to Nicodemus -- if we don't believe God on the earthly things, how will we believe on the heavenly things? Deep down, they recognize that ours is a secure faith -- built fully on the rock, while their faith is hanging desperately on the side of a slippery slope, half on the rock, half on sand. While they are saved right now if they do have faith in Jesus, they are making themselves at risk of falling away -- they are trying to serve two masters.
The Bible gives tons of insight that would show them the way to get out of this pickle; the three I just alluded to are right from Jesus himself. I've often noticed that compromisers miss even some of the most basic teachings as a side effect of their lack of trust. Many of them are things that -directly- benefit our everyday lives, like peace, joy, patience, self-control, etc. Trusting the entire Bible has much more benefit besides the Big issue of salvation. :)
Another of those is love, by the way. Those who believe God entirely are the -least- likely to hate! Indeed, we are to love even our enemies. :)
I have a disturbing prediction about the dangers of compromising Christians. If years from now the general theory of evolution becomes "one of the great jokes in the history books of the future", as Malcolm Muggeridge stated; then it will be viewed similarly to that of the Ptolemaic system. As a result, atheists of the future may very well criticize all Christian scientists (as well as the church) for believing and teaching that microbes could evolve into humans; just as they claim the Bible taught the sun revolved around the Earth. They’ll likely wash their hands of any responsibility they played in the theory, and cite Christian compromisers and probably go so far as to paint Darwin as a Christian apologist to make their case. History then, will have repeated itself all thanks to the compromisers.
Awesome intelligent and well researched reply. I'm truly thankful to God for this ministry & the scientific contributions. May God bless!
Andrew W. makes some good points and, as a young Australian, needs some answers. The bible is not the only text from ancient times. The Koran, the Talmud, Hinduism, Buddhism, Egyptians, Greeks, the Mayans and the the list goes on and on. Evolution is science, creationism is belief. There's a big difference.
The Bible is the only text that is authenticated as the word of the Creator of the Universe; see Chapter 1 of the Answers Book.
By whatever criteria you would like to put creation outside of science, those criteria also put evolution outside of science: Is evolution pseudoscience?
One thing I have become aware of. The word 'hatred' is becoming synonymous with 'disagreement.' Especially if one disagrees with modern progressive beliefs. For example, if I vote for a candidate for public office that is not progressive in philosophy, some say I vote against the progressive candidate because I am a hater. Some also have a disagreement with my philosophy thus I am a hater. As a Christian, I believe that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. Many progressives say I am a hater because they disagree with that. So when I am labeled as a hater, I always suspect the person calling me a hater is progressive in philosophy. Calling someone a hater is a hot button for me and causes me to believe that the person speaking is a progressive, or perhaps simply misinformed. For the record, I do not hate you because you believe differently than I. I simply want you to hear why I believe what I do about Jesus, so that you can make an informed decision whether to believe as I do or not. If you choose not to, I will still love you because my Lord commanded me to love others as I love myself.
Your firm approach is probably good. Mark is a book which highlights Jesus’ rebukes toward the human heart, which is indeed evil. He even labeled as ‘evil’ those in the crowd who gave good gifts to their children. How much more the heart of a man which in one breath confesses the Lord Jesus and in the next, denies the original Image in which he was fashioned. You know as well as I that such a divided heart will soon self-destruct. A faith which cannot hold onto the text of the original creation cannot long hold onto the confession of the new creation. I do not believe in a “blessed inconsistency” in this matter. A single heart which attempts to serve two masters is far worse off than merely inconsistent. And there is certainly no blessedness to accompany such a position. Those who continue to hold to theistic evolution will almost surely not be found true children on the day God makes up his jewels. He simply cannot abide such duplicity.
I'm wondering what Mr. Andrew W., from Australia,thinks of "hate"... All he would have to do is join up with a true evolutionist group, reveal his belief and the response he gets would certainly define "hate", and every other negative receptive emotion one can get from a group of a "true atheistic evolutionist" group. Sad but true - there is no 'half-way' nor compromise with the reality of belivers - either way. The secular belief system will on-the-surface accommodate you until you are no longer useful to them and then drop you. One would would never be accepted into the innermost discussions nor the so-call "real discoveries" they may be privy to. The 'half-way' believers are considered as the 'useless-idiots' (a term I'm sure you have heard before in other discourses of political nature...). Either one actually believes our Lord and clings on to the truth or one doesn't. One must stand for the revealed truth of creation. If our Lord believed the Genesis account - how can we possibly differ? Anyway... thats my two cents worth. Blessings to you all!
Anne C., unfortunately, the term 'hate' has taken on a whole new meaning for this generation. 'Hate' now means simply disagreeing with someone's opinions or beliefs.
I am convinced that Christians who defend evolution are doing so in a desperate bid to be accepted by the popular culture. They want to be seen as 'hip' and 'progressive'. They seem to think that Christianity would be more popular if only it would be less rigid and fall in line with modern thinking. The real problem, I think, is the common notion that popularity = truth. Hence Andrew's reference to 'most denominations have accepted evolution.' It must be especially difficult for Christians who are professional scientists because of the threats of ostracism in the workplace due to creationist beliefs. I would bet that even Francis Collins would be completely discredited if he confessed belief in YEC despite all of his accomplishments in genetics. Christ after all told us that the world would hate us because we are not of the world.
A well written response from Don with useful references that we can refer back to for ease! Don's response is firm but gentle. Sometimes the CMI responses appear too harsh which is why this young man may feel that Creationists hate evolutionists. Perception influences.If we are to lead the lost to Christ, we must do this with firmness, clarity and gentleness. Not easy!
That creationists refer to evolutionists as "evil-utionists" is a claim or inference I've often encountered from critics, but one that doesn't stand much scrutiny.
I can't, of course, speak of what individual creationists might say in jest or otherwise when talking to family member or friends, and perhaps it does happen on various Internet forums, for all I know. However, I do also know that I've seen the term used by anti-creationists far more than by creationists.
I've just repeated some research I've done before, Googling the terms "evilution", "evil-ution", "evolutionist" and "evil-utionist" on the web-sites of what are perhaps the four leading biblical creationist organisations. Here are the results:
* This web-site (creation.com) has two hits, one being this very page, and the other use of the term being in reader feedback.
* The web-site of Answers in Genesis has one hit, in which the term was used not by an AiG representative, but by a reader in feedback.
* The web-site of the Institute for Creation Research got eight hits. This is the one organisation that has used the term, in one single article (the other seven pages merely had the term in links to that article). And that was to "evil-ution", not "evil-utionist".
* The Creation Research Society's web-site had no hits at all.
In contrast, the anti-creationist TalkOrigins web-site returned "about 87" hits. Most are related to a short-lived online magazine titled "Cretinism or Evilution?", but most of the rest of the uses of the term are by evolutionists. (The author of that magazine joked that 'Therefore, if someone asks you whether or not you're an evolutionist, you ought to reply, "Evolutionist? Heck no, I'm an EVILutionist and damn proud of it!"')