Evangelicals and biblical creation
Published: 28 June 2012 (GMT+10)
Evangelicals believe that the Bible is the word of God, but most of them (in the Western world outside the USA, at least) do not believe that God created the universe in six literal days about six thousand years ago. Furthermore, they say that those who do believe it are interpreting the Bible wrongly. Why? Are they right? And why do so many of them say it? Also, why are so many resistant to even considering this matter? This opens up a huge area of discussion, and this brief foray does not intend to be comprehensive. Also, I write it in the knowledge that many ‘old-earth’ Christians are very sincere in their belief and commitment to the Gospel.
First, my own experience. Although I never believed in macro-evolution, for many years I was convinced that the ‘millions of years’ were a proven fact of science. I was aware that if this were true, it would mean that God’s method of creation involved millions of years of death, disease, violence, suffering and waste. I was uneasy about this, but the evidence for a billions-of-years-old universe seemed incontrovertible. However, I kept searching for the truth and the light finally dawned when I came to realise that the millions-of-years scenario is by no means a proven fact of science and is totally incompatible with the Bible. In fact, the scientific evidence supports the literal understanding of Genesis 1–11. The turning point, for me, was when I read Refuting Compromise.1
Secular deception and intimidation
The Western world has been duped into believing that macro-evolution, with its millions of years, is a proven fact of science. This belief, and the associated intimidation by secular science, is a major reason why so many evangelicals try to reconcile the Bible with evolution and/or millions of years. They tell us that the Bible has to be ‘interpreted’ in the light of modern science. They seem to forget, or do not realize, that evolutionary belief is itself simply an interpretation of the evidence, based on a materialistic worldview and a naturalistic definition of ‘science’. Instead of interpreting the scientific evidence in the light of what the infallible, unchanging God has told us, they interpret the God’s word, the Bible, in the light of fallible, changing human opinions.2
Evangelical church leaders in particular think that harmonizing the Bible with secular science is the ‘academically respectable’ thing to do. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that biblical creation is the orthodox, reformed belief of the church. The Reformers recognised that Genesis 1–11 is meant to be understood as straightforward history, and were unanimous in rejecting symbolical interpretations.3 It is those who try to reconcile the Bible with secular origins science who have departed from sound doctrine.
It is significant that no conservative biblical exegete thought of vast ages until secular scientists began to promulgate their theories in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.3 It was only then that Christians began to try to interpret the creation account in terms of vast ages. This is clear evidence that these ‘exegetes’ are not drawing the meaning out of the text, they are reading men’s ideas into the text. They are engaged in eisegesis, not exegesis.
Lack of knowledge, indifference and opposition
Many Christians are simply unaware of the powerful reasons for believing in Genesis creation—biblical, scientific and historical.4 Some of them do not want to know. But there are others who have read some of the literature, and are aware of at least some of these reasons, but they still hang on to their belief in evolution and/or millions of years—and they oppose biblical creation. Why?
One reason is that they think they can avoid the controversy by sidelining it as a side issue─and they may think genuinely that it is a side issue. They say that there are much more important things to be concerned with. However, to the extent that the following statements are true of the modern theory of evolution, it cannot be described as a side issue:
- It was invented by anti-Christians in order to exclude God from science.5
- It is the foundation of secular humanism, not to mention Marxism and Nazism.
- It is a dogma which is no more than a flawed interpretation of the evidence, based on a materialistic worldview. Yet it is relentlessly taught as fact, and all other views are suppressed.
- It has had other evil consequence, such as eugenics and a particularly nasty kind of racism.6
- It logically undermines the historical foundations of the Gospel.
- It has caused and is causing many people to reject Christianity and the Bible.
Another reason is the stigma attached to belief in biblical creation. The secular world ridicules ‘creationists’ and equates them with believers in a flat earth. If it can, it destroys the careers of all who doubt the truth of Darwinism and denies them higher degrees.7,8 If a creationist biologist (for example) wants to earn a Ph.D., he can expect to be told by his professor that a Ph.D. will not be awarded as long as he is a creationist. Thus there is a significant cost to being a creationist in science. Unfortunately the ridicule heaped on creationists has rubbed off on many Christians, so that creationists are regarded (by other Christians, as well as by non-Christians) as ‘fundamentalist’, naïve and unwilling to accept the discoveries of modern science.
In spite of this, thousands of scientists believe in biblical creation, including many with higher degrees and a substantial number of professors (heads of department) at secular universities.9 These generally have tenure, meaning they cannot be dismissed now that they are ‘out’ as creationists. It is therefore quite wrong to label biblical creationists as naïve and unwilling to accept modern science.
Ridicule because we believe in the literal truth of Genesis 1–11 is to be expected. But it is sad that many Christians seem to be so influenced by this ridicule that they reject biblical creation—or worse, join others in propagating the ridicule.
Those who do believe it do so generally not because they are wooden literalists, but because of
- the way in which the rest of the Bible understands Genesis 1–11 (including the teaching of Jesus),
- the grammatical structure of the Hebrew,
- and the context. Genesis 1–11 continues without a break, merging seamlessly with the straightforward history of Genesis 12–50. The grammatical structure of both parts is the same.
These things have always indicated clearly that Genesis 1–11 is meant to be taken as literal, real history.
Furthermore, most of the scientific evidence makes much more sense when interpreted according to the biblical creationist worldview, rather than the materialistic one.
Another reason is the influence of church leaders─and they, in turn, are influenced by what they are taught in theological or Bible college. The policy in most evangelical colleges is to try to reconcile the Bible with secular science. This, as mentioned above, is thought to be the academically respectable thing to do! The mistake which so many evangelicals make is to accept this teaching without testing it against Scripture and examining the case for biblical creation─carefully, prayerfully, in depth and with open minds. The assumption seems to be: ‘If so many learned and respected evangelical leaders say that evolution and/or millions of years are compatible with the Bible, then surely that must be so.’ There is, therefore, on the part of both academics and non-academics, a failure to search the Scriptures, the science and the history with truly open minds in order to find out if this teaching is true (Acts 17:11).
An important further reason is that there is spiritual blindness in this area. I know that when I came to understand the truth, I felt that my spiritual eyes had been opened regarding this matter. Even when some people know most of the facts, they still cannot see the truth. They read or hear the facts, but do not really take them in. If one is to see the truth, one needs genuine openness and willingness to change.
- Sarfati, J., Refuting Compromise, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, Georgia, 2nd Edition (updated and expanded), 2011. Return to text.
- See: Wieland, C., Jesus on the age of the earth, Creation 34(2):51–54, 2012. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Ref. 1, Chap. 3, pp.105–137. Return to text.
- For an introduction, see Gurney, R., Six-Day Creation: Does it matter what you believe? Day One, 2009. Return to text.
- Charles Lyell, for example wrote that he wanted “to free the science [of geology] from Moses”. See creation.com/lyell. Return to text.
- Gurney R., Ref. 4, pp.19–22. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Slaughter of the Dissidents, Leafcutter Press, Southworth, 2008. For a review of this book see: To, L., If you can’t beat them, ban them, J. Creation 23(2):37–40, 2009. Return to text.
- Stein, Ben (presenter), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, DVD. Return to text.
- See e.g. Aerospace engineer professes creation: interview with Dr Dewey Hodges by Dr Rob Carter, Creation 34(2):32–34, April 2012. Return to text.