Evolution: a message of hope?

Why humanity’s origin matters


Published: 7 February 2019 (GMT+10)

The hope of the Christian faith is inextricably linked with a belief in purpose. The Apostle Paul famously waxed lyrical with the words, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). By virtue of His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection, the Universe’s Creator and Sustainer (John 1:1–3, Colossians 1:16–17) became the Saviour. Having a personal relationship with God—through repentance and faith (e.g. Mark 1:14–15)—guarantees us a place in heaven. We have a confident, certain hope of eternal glory. But can this message be sustained if, as a consistent belief in evolution requires, humankind’s special creation by God is overturned?

“We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be.”1 So concludes evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne in his book Why Evolution is True. In other words, enlightened people know better these days than to rely on old-fashioned notions of their purposeful creation:

“Darwinism tells us that, like all species, human beings arose from the working of blind, purposeless forces over eons of time. … [S]upernatural explanations … are simply never needed: we manage to understand the natural world just fine using reason and materialism” (emphasis added).2

This humanistic autonomy, insists Coyne, need not be as bleak as some people fear. For sure, unguided natural processes brought men and women into being. And yes, there’s a lot of immorality, injustice and mayhem in society, but our evolutionary heritage has also produced altruistic human beings: many people support charitable causes, work to alleviate suffering, risk their lives to rescue others and so on. Based on his belief in human evolution Coyne claims that, “whatever genetic heritage we have, it is not a straitjacket that traps us forever in the ‘beastly’ ways of our forebears. … And although evolution operates in a purposeless, materialistic way, that doesn’t mean that our lives have no purpose.”3

Are moral values and meaning illusory?

British scientist Brian Cox concurs with Jerry Coyne. A TV personality and professor in particle physics at the University of Manchester, Cox concluded his best-selling book Human Universe (based on the BBC programme of the same name) with this confession:

“I want to be honest. We didn’t set out to make a love letter to the human race when we started filming Human Universe. We set out to make a cosmology series, documenting our ascent into insignificance. Things changed rapidly as we chatted, debated, experienced, photographed and argued our way around the world… It is surely true that there is no absolute meaning or value to our existence when set against the limitless stars. We are allowed to exist by the laws of nature and in that sense we have no more value than the stars themselves. And yet there is self-evidently meaning in the universe because my own existence, the existence of those I love, and the existence of the entire human race means something to me” (bold emphases added; italics his).4

Let us be clear about what Coyne and Cox (and many others) are claiming here: the stark conclusion of both secular cosmology and evolutionary biology is that human existence is happenchance and insignificant. But, they argue, we are sufficiently advanced in evolutionary terms to be in a position to create our own meaning. You really can ‘have your cake and eat it’, so they claim.

Cox claims that our capacity to love and imbue things with meaning is simply because evolution granted us complex brains and minds. Evolutionists will argue that this is a healthy state of affairs, that humans have been wired with a propensity to create what essentially are false views of the world. Such things as ‘love’ and ‘meaning’ help stifle the painful, nihilistic reality that man came from nothing and is headed for oblivion. No wonder, then, that such a useful tendency was fixed in the human psyche through natural selection! But, they chide, the reality is that meaning and value, good and evil, right and wrong, do not really exist—except as social constructs which ensure stable society (although sometimes, lying may be a better survival strategy). So, whatever hand you have been dealt in the ‘Lottery of Life’, keep your chin up and look on the bright side! Infamous Darwinist and atheist Richard Dawkins is insistent on this point:

“We’re extremely lucky to be here. The odds against your being here are far greater than the odds of your winning the lottery, so be thankful and spend your time—your brief time—under the sun, looking around and rejoicing and wondering and being fascinated and trying to understand everything about the universe in which you’re so fortunate to be born”.5

What are we to make of these claims? If believed and acted upon, they are certainly a potent hope-destroyer. You exist for no reason, for no purpose. It’s just that your ‘lucky number’ popped up in the great casino of the universe. After your brief foray on this planet, you’ll likely be quickly forgotten. But while you’re alive, you might as well make the best of it: love and be loved, be nice, be kind, try to do some good in the world for the benefit of humanity. Although your existence is, quite frankly, utterly pointless, consider yourself the lucky one—be thankful. ‘Thankful to whom?’ you ask? Well, not God, since He doesn’t exist. ‘Who, then?’ Well, your lucky stars of course! But don’t trouble yourself with delving too deeply into those questions.

For your own sanity, keep up the illusion that, in spite of your meaningless, insignificant existence, you’re unique—even special if you like—just as long as you keep firmly fixed in your mind that materialism is the name of the game. (In our materialistic world, there are no gods, nothing supernatural, no purpose or goals.) To survive and thrive, you’re going to need coping mechanisms. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. It’s the result of millions of years of ‘survival of the fittest’, at the expense of the weak. The unfit are life’s losers. But rejoice, you’re one of the survivors after all! So try to have an appetite for wonder,6 to see how fascinating the universe really is. Ponder your good fortune in being born at all. Make the most of it. There’s probably no God, so stop worrying and enjoy your life. Take a leaf out of Richard Feynman’s book (eminent theoretical physicist, 1918–1988):

“I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn’t frighten me.”7

Take it easy. Whatever you do, try to squash any fear of death or of a heavenly tribunal (such as indicated by Hebrews 9:27). Suppress such negative thoughts and remain optimistic! If you’re unfortunate enough to have to confront your imminent demise through terminal illness, try to stare death in the face, confident in your atheistic principles.

Well, enough of the psychological gymnastics of the atheistic scientists and others who are wedded to their materialistic and nihilistic view of the world (aka philosophical naturalism). Can any of this really satisfy the person prepared to take a long, honest look at human existence?

Living with the consequences of our ideas

Is it really as simple as the atheists and humanists would have us believe? Their message seems to boil down to this: ‘forget God and live for yourself, oh and maybe spare a thought for others too.’ To borrow a phrase from Scripture, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (Isaiah 22:13, 1 Corinthians 15:32). However, when the Apostle Paul employed those words, he was dealing with the Christian’s confident, glorious hope: beyond the grave, the righteous dead will rise again to eternal life. Earlier in his discourse he had asserted, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). In other words, the Bible acknowledges that a vain hope is worthless indeed. However, the Christian’s hope of eternal glory (heaven) is far from futile. It is founded on the rock-solid historical facts of the perfect life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:20).8

In contrast to these uplifting truths, atheistic philosophy and secular humanism have nothing to elevate the human spirit above despair and nihilism, not without dishonestly borrowing from ‘Christian real estate’. No logical basis for morality, meaning and purpose exists within such a godless worldview—see, Atheism—no objective morality? and Can we be good without God?.

Science writer Teal Burrell, while pushing the materialist’s line, concedes that the evolutionary perspective brings cognitive dissonance9 to people like herself:

“As human beings, it is hard for us to shake the idea that our existence must have significance beyond the here and now. Life begins and ends, yes, but surely there is a greater meaning. The trouble is, these stories we tell ourselves do nothing to soften the harsh reality: as far as the universe is concerned, we are nothing but fleeting and randomly assembled collections of energy and matter. One day, we will all be dust” (emphasis added).10

The problem for Teal Burrell—as with scientists like Cox, Coyne, Dawkins and Feynman—is that, intellectually, she has painted herself into a corner. Asserting God’s non-existence, atheists and humanists have no choice but to cling to a particular form of existentialism (whether acknowledged formally or not), kidding themselves that they can derive meaning entirely without God. Of this brand of existential thought, Encyclopaedia Britannica says, “it can hold that human existence, posing itself as a problem, projects itself with absolute freedom, creating itself by itself, thus assuming to itself the function of God. As such, existentialism presents itself as a radical atheism.”11 It is no wonder that the Bible is so unapologetic about the foolishness of such a position (Psalm 14:1, 53:1).

Isn’t theistic evolution the answer?

What is the solution to evolution’s wholly cheerless outlook on life? Can we not simply add God to the picture? Surely that would provide us with the best of both worlds: retaining academic respectability by accepting long ages of evolution as God’s method of Creation while, at the same time, maintaining belief in the purposefulness of human existence? And in light of this, theistic evolutionists will sometimes make claims of the following sort:

  • Evolution is a foundational scientific truth that stands up to rigorous scientific scrutiny. Therefore, to reject it is scientifically ignorant.
  • As we learn more about evolution, it helps us discover how wonderful God is.
  • Evolution is evidence of God’s continual creation. This instils hope because things are always improving.

However, there are many problems with these assertions. Let us briefly consider each in turn.

Evolution as objective science?

In answer to the first point, we answer, on the contrary, that there are many fatal flaws within the evolutionary edifice. The science simply does not stack up. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that these Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels are fatal to Darwin’s dangerous idea. True, the majority of people, scientists included, do not accept this conclusion. But objective scientific truth should never be decided by majority vote, scientific consensus, political will or court action. It is usually claimed that the detractors of evolution are scientifically ignorant. On the contrary, great strides in our advancing knowledge of science are causing an increasing number of scientists to question neo-Darwinian dogma (e.g. The Altenberg 16). They are no longer prepared to submit to the ‘party line’. Many of them possess advanced academic degrees and several are members of the academic elite; very few have any particular faith commitment, whether to Intelligent Design or biblical creation. However, as true empiricists they insist on maintaining the freedom to go where the evidence leads.12 They vehemently object to any intimidation or pressure to bow at the altar of materialism. American physicist Robert Oppenheimer (scientific director of the Manhatten Project) would have been proud of them for he once declared:

“The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.”13

Evolution enhances the wonder of God?

There is a huge disconnect between the claims of theistic evolutionists and popular opinion. Specifically, it is from today’s youth that we learn of their reasons for rejecting Christianity. Today’s pop culture is saturated with evolutionary influences, whether the lyrics of pop music or movies and TV series with evolutionary themes. We may ask, where is all of this leading the ‘millennials’ (Generation Y) or the iGeneration? Are they being driven to reflect on the wonder of God? Not at all! All the available evidence shows that an evolutionary view of mankind leads many to reject, not worship, their Creator.14 In many cases church surveys show that the youth are falling away at an alarming rate; see CMI’s own investigation into this tragic fallout! Theistic evolutionists can continue hiding their heads in the sand, or they can wake up to the fact that many young people are heeding the godless message of secular humanistic propagandists like Cox, Coyne and Dawkins.

In most cases, telling such people that evolution was God’s creative method will be met with bemusement. It will merely confirm their sense of the unmitigated irrelevance of the Christian Church in today’s world. When they are told that Genesis as history can be discarded in favour of evolution, they see little or no reason to retain the rest of the Bible. And there are plenty of influential humanist writers to give them a helping hand towards the total rejection of faith. Yuval Noah Harari is one such person, an Israeli historian, two of whose recent books, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016), are million-copy bestsellers. He writes:

“…in many countries around the world, including the USA and the UK, witnesses in courts put their hand on the bible when swearing to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. It’s ironic that they swear to tell the truth on a book brimming with so many fictions, myths and errors.”15

The only antidote to this deception is an unapologetic stand upon the authority of the Word of God, beginning in Genesis.

Evolution as evidence of continual and improving creation?

To say that evolution is evidence of God’s continual creation is blatant circular reasoning. Evolution is assumed to be true at the outset, then it is alleged that this demonstrates that God used a continual method of creation (evolution)! Incidentally, whichever method of creation God might have employed (taking billions of years, six days or a fraction of a second), the omnipotent Creator would have been no more tired after creating one star than a trillion of them. Arguably, however, ‘super-fast’ creation more obviously demonstrates God’s almighty power than a billions-of-years process. But to claim that a continual, evolutionary creation instils a hopeful message is strange logic indeed—it’s not at all obvious that, as some assert, things are always improving.

Evolution is, by definition, an inexorably slow process, during which death, suffering and extinction must sift out and discard the weak. The wanton slaughter and waste that are envisaged to attend the evolutionary process have long provided atheists with ammunition against Christian belief. Moreover, for a person struggling with their present circumstances to be expected to hope and wait for evolutionary improvements would be crass absurdity. On the contrary in fact, the evolution connection helps explain why, having abandoned all hope, so many people commit suicide.

Jesus explicitly contradicted the view that we should put our hope in things of this world, advising that our hearts need to be set on heavenly treasure (Matthew 6:20–21). The Apostle Paul put it like this: “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2). Indeed, it is fruitful to explore theistic evolution in the light of biblical teaching about the future new creation. God, we are told, will create a new heavens and earth (e.g. Isaiah 65:17–19, 65:25; Revelation 21 and 22). It will be a restoration because the Curse will be removed (Revelation 22:3), with many parallels with Eden (e.g. Revelation 2:7). As I state in Evolution and the Christian Faith:

“Dispense with the historical reality of the first things (as theistic evolution requires us to) and the last things would seem to be robbed of much of their significance. … The glorious hope of Christian believers is wrapped up with the promise of a restoration to that Edenic perfection. We look forward with great expectations to our place in the Paradise regained. Our blessed anticipation is to be with our triumphant, death‑conquering Saviour. … Disease, pain, sorrow, death and mourning will forever be consigned to the past.”16

Authentic hope

The hope of Christians is not to be based on anything earthly or material. Rather, Scripture emphatically teaches that their abundance of life now (John 10:10) and certainty of eternal life to come (hope) are based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ (for example, Galatians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Timothy 1:1, 4:10, Titus 2:13, 1 Peter 1:3). This amazing good news is inseparable from the foundational teaching that God’s original purpose for mankind—created in His image in a state of moral and physical perfection (Genesis 1:26–31)—was frustrated by the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). This is no empty claim on the part of biblical creationists. It is not some contrived teaching or a theological novelty, but the testimony of the Church right back through the centuries. The Apostle Paul himself continues the aforementioned teaching on the Christian’s resurrection hope (1 Corinthians 15:19–20) by making a direct comparison between the literal first Adam and the last Adam, Jesus Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 and 15:45).

So, in light of these things, can the Bible’s teaching on hope (as recorded in the sublime teaching of Jesus, or New Testament luminaries like the Apostle Paul) be divorced from its teaching on human origins? Many ‘neo-evangelicals’ claim that human evolution must, somehow, be accommodated within Christian theology. Those with the ‘courage’ to take this to its logical conclusion (ironically, people with a low view of Scripture) are questioning the infallibility of Paul, Peter, Luke and even Jesus Himself (see Jesus, just ‘a man of his time’?).17 That way, they feel they can ignore their teaching about the origins of humanity, human morality, the doctrine of the Fall and more (but note Jesus’ own warning in John 3:12).

No, hope must be securely grounded in the Bible’s truth. Unless the Bible’s entire teaching about humanity (biblical anthropology) is trustworthy, its message of hope is vain. Without doubt, the atheistic message (as exemplified by scientists like Cox, Coyne and Dawkins) is an exercise in vanity and folly because it is logically inconsistent. Such extravagant reasoning as we considered early on in this article is far from harmless. It is fallacious in the extreme, a spiritually lethal doctrine that is utterly destructive to faith and can have appalling consequences. Following the Columbine High School (Denver, USA) massacre in 1999,18 pastor and police chaplain Gino Gerraci gave the following impassioned reply to the school superintendent’s question of why such an atrocity had happened:

“You have taught our children that they come from nowhere, and that is where they’re going, and that life is a point of pain in a meaningless existence. And they believed you.”

Chaplain Gerraci’s convictions, based on the foundations of biblical creation, were a great help to him as he ministered to people caught up in that tragedy—see ‘Hope for the hopeless, based on a literal Genesis’ in the article Tragic Truth.

But theistic evolution also falls foul of a plain reading of biblical passages (see Should Genesis be taken literally?). Worse, it is a violation of the theological teaching of the apostles, even a denial of the infallibility of the very Christ these men and women profess. Evolution, in any form, adds nothing to the Gospel of Christ and, consistently applied, seriously diminishes Christian hope, if not destroys it altogether.

References and notes

  1. Coyne, J.A., Why evolution is true, Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 254. Return to text.
  2. Ref. 1, p. 245. Return to text.
  3. Ref. 1, pp. 251–255. Return to text.
  4. Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen, Human Universe, William Collins, 2014, p. 241. Return to text.
  5. Richard Dawkins, Beautiful Minds, series 2, programme 3, BBC4, broadcast 25 April 2012. Return to text.
  6. Richard Dawkins’s autobiography is entitled: An appetite for wonder: the making of a scientist, HarperCollins Publishers, 2013. Return to text.
  7. Richard Feynman, interview with BBC Horizon, 1981, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MmpUWEW6Is. Return to text.
  8. Or to quote the words of a famous hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Written by English pastor and hymn writer Edward Mote, 1834. Return to text.
  9. Defined as, “a state in which there is a difference between your experiences or behaviour and your beliefs about what is true”, dictionary.cambridge.org. Return to text.
  10. Teal Burrell, A meaning to life: How a sense of purpose can keep you healthy, newscientist.com, 25 January 2017. Return to text.
  11. Nicola Abbagano, Existentialism, brittanica.com, last updated 16 October 2018. Return to text.
  12. See for example: Mazur, S., The Paradigm Shifters: Overthrowing 'the hegemony of the culture of Darwin', Caswell Books, 2015. In this book, Susan Mazur interviews 19 scientists, some of whom are acknowledged world leaders in their fields, e.g. Carl Woese (1928–2012), Eugene Koonin and James Shapiro. Return to text.
  13. Barnett, L., J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted in: Life 7(9):58, International Edition, 24 October 1949. Return to text.
  14. This is covered in some detail in ‘Fruits of society’s evolutionary view of mankind’, chapter 6, and also chapter 12 of: Philip Bell, Evolution and the Christian Faith: Theistic evolution in the light of Scripture, Day One Publications, 2018, pp. 139–143 and pp. 268–290. Return to text.
  15. Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A brief history of tomorrow, Vintage (Penguin Random House), UK, 2017, p. 203. Return to text.
  16. See chapter 10 of Bell, ref. 14. Return to text.
  17. See Bell, pp. 58–95, ref. 14; chapters 3 and 4 are devoted to this question. Return to text.
  18. CMI’s article at the time highlighted how one of the killers wore a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Natural Selection’ and that both young men were obsessed with Nazi belief, fuelled by Darwinian struggle; see How to build a bomb in the public school system. Return to text.

Helpful Resources

Readers’ comments

John P.
So Cox, Coyne, Dawkins et al.think they have hope etc? Peter prophesied about them - evolutionists, They won't like where their lies lead them if they do not repent, as they think they can evolve into gods. Their god, evolution. is as dead as a door nail, and will not help them when they need it. The idol-worshippers of the past would agree with them though. Evolution has been around since Satan deceived Adam and Eve with this lie. It's just been given a lab coat, but it's still going to lead its followers into a ditch
Cowboy Bob S.
Something that I have been emphasizing for this year's Question Evolution Day (which through time, chance, and random meaningless processes happens to fall on Darwin's Birthday) is that people need to think about what is being said. In the examples of why evolution is such a wonderful thing, the writers are doing nothing more than offer their faith-based opinions based on their fundamentally flawed epistemology. Also, assertions of "evolution" are frequently made, but people are often equivocating on that word when what is observed are examples of variation and speciation.

Another problem is when people accept such assertions because they came from scientists. I reckon that critical thinking and using logic are mighty helpful to for the Christian, https://creation.com/loving-god-with-all-your-mind-logic-and-creation .

I am going to schedule this excellent article to post on social media now.
Thomas C.
It is back to the original temptation for Adam in the Garden, "you will be like God". So then we can and must create our own significance, after we kick God to the curb. The club of the intellectual and elite in educational degrees is such a strong group think, peer pressure to conform and be counted smart is rampant and following speculations of themselves without input from the one Who Created it all and runs it best. If we conform to what we were created to be, then we will be content in His creation, and not seek to displace God, with our own being. Science cannot tell us what happened in history. It can only tell us what happens within our vision and personal experiences. The truth about history must be left to the One who has seen it all and does communicate it to us.
David G.
The great failure of Theistic Evolution is that it sets aside the Bible's testimony as being about what is 'really real' (that really describes what is basic to existence) and claims that something else really describes what is basic to existence: evolution. Thus TE tells us that evolution is 'really real' and therefore is fundamentally definitional of basic existence. Back to a finally material world where there is no true significance: we are all versions of dust blowing in wind, and God's word is just part of that.
Kathy K.
I’m amazed at the garbage people believe to eliminate a Creator God. I can see absolutely no reason for theistic evolution. You either believe God’s Word of 6-day creation or you don’t.

Darwin and his cohorts in their day did not have what we have today - the advanced tools and equipment, the education, the information and knowledge, nor the great numbers of scientists studying all aspects of science. How can anyone, let alone a Christian, believe in evolution, which is still unproven today, when we can physically see the complexities in all creation? These complexities are all needed at the same time for these creatures to even exist!

And now our knowledge of space and how special our tiny little planet is for life gives me reason to declare the glory of God yet even more!

Only man was made in God’s image and only man will understand what his purpose is. All other creatures have purpose (for the existence of mankind) - thank you, Lord - but they don’t have man’s cognitive abilities to solve problems, help others, create useful tools, or create art, music, medicines. Too many things to mention.

We did not evolve. Don’t fall for the devil’s doctrine of creation. These advocates of evolution are false teachers. God is our Creator/Sustainer/Lawgiver/Saviour/Redeemer and one day will judge us, weighing the good with the bad. He’s our KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS.

Unbelievers will go with their father to his special place because they wanted nothing to do with our Creator God. Thank you, CMI. Another informative article of what’s being fed to mankind.
Chris M.
This stuff truly makes me sick. It really does. It HAS to take more faith to be an atheist than it does anything else in the entire world. So Coyne argues that we can use "reason" to understand this world that we evolved into? So "rationality" is just a byproduct of evolution over "eons" of time that came about by unguided processes over millions of years?!

If our brains are just the result of random, unguided chemical mixtures then how can we believe anything these "scientist" say? How can we trust anything any of us say?! I mean, my brain was just randomly developed with no intelligence source behind it therefore why should any one trust our own thoughts, actions or beliefs?!

This stuff is truly mind blowing stuff.
Bill P.
I knew there was more to the title of Darwin's book, "The Origin of Species" you helped me remember the rest, "Or the Preservation of Favored Races in The Struggle For Life". In a world that claims to hate racism I would think they would be up in arms and want this book banned in schools.
Instead they use their power to ban The Word of God which says: (Acts Chap 17 v. 26) "From one man He made every nation living on the face of the earth, and He fixed the limits of their territories and the periods when they would flourish". ALL of this book is "God Breathed" and is Truth and the world hates it. The result, they wrote their own book of lies.
We have had in history many people who led nations and thought as Darwin did and everyone of them were content to sit back and watch this world burn while they forced their will on others.Today is no different,they believe the lie that man is his own moral agent. Sounds exactly like "The Lie" told in Eden that fooled Eve and caused Adam to willfully sin against his Creator.
Today's world has many people who would rather destroy [God] than deny their godless ideas. History contains proof of this with many who died at the hands of these people because they would not deny The Living God.
Nebuchadnezzar a pagan ruler was lucky enough to have an adviser who served The True God. He regained his sanity when he praised, exalted and honored The King of heaven, saying "for His rule is everlasting, His kingdom endures forever, ALL who live on earth count as nothing, He does His Will w/the army of heaven and w/those living on earth. No one can stay His hand or say to Him "what are you doing ? For ALL His works are Truth, and His ways just, and He can humble those who walk in pride". "Let God be true and every man a liar".
King T.
I wasn't going to comment on this excellent article until I read Michael V's comment.
It just raised the question of "why NOT heaven?" After all Paul himself said he longed to be out of the body and to be with Christ. Where is Christ today? Definitely not here on earth! We know what Jesus said about where He was going - namely to the Father whom we know is in heaven. So the conclusion is that after death, but before Jesus returns, the born again believers go to heaven in a non-physical form.
There is so much more reality to that fact since we know that people who die are not to be found alive here on earth. Their bodies lie in the ground and we can confirm that by digging them up as happens in many forensic exhumations.I think it is much more comforting to people on their death beds because the reality clearly points to another type of existence in the interim period before Jesus returns. We might not live eternally in heaven but that is another issue altogether!
Philip Bell
This could open a 'can of worms' but our article comments feature is not a blog so this must be the last word on this issue (which is taking us somewhat off the main topic of the article). Here is a part of what I wrote in my book chapter (pp. 212-240), referenced in my response to Michael V:
Northern Irish Presbyterian pastor and author Edward Donnelly writes, “We are all too prone to think of [heaven as] a place which is fundamentally unsuitable for physical bodies. Yet the Bible tells us that heaven is the ideal environment for them” [1st ref.] So which is it? Will believers live in the new heaven or the new earth? The Bible seems to indicate a blessed unity between the two. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them…” (Revelation 21:3). Anthony Hoekema (1913–1988), a one-time professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, USA), comments very helpfully on this verse: "Since where God dwells, there heaven is, we conclude that in the life to come heaven and earth will no longer be separated, as they are now, but will be merged. Believers will therefore continue to be in heaven as they continue to live on the new earth." [2nd ref.]

Ref. 1: Edward Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell (Edinburgh, UK: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001), p. 112.
Ref. 2: Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), p. 285; quoted in Donnelly, Biblical Teaching on the Doctrines of Heaven and Hell, p. 112.
Revd Robert W.
When I was a late teen, in the early 1970s, and just out of school, I went into W.H.Smith and picked up a copy of 'Mein Kampf' and read parts of it, like you do, before putting it down again. It had a flavour about it, which I remembered, even though I did not look at it since. Then in the 1990s when I was a Law and History lecturer in Kings Lynn College, and somewhat older, I went into Waterstones and picked up the 'Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection', as you do, and began reading bits of it too: it had that same flavour about it, which I instantly recognised even after thirty years. 'My goodness..." I thought, 'This is Volume II of Mein Kamph". And then I saw and read, with shock, the subtitle of the Origin, 'Or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". But of course it is 'The Origin' which is the first, in point of time; though it was the second in terms of my personal experience. The problem with 'The Origin' is that it has a view of the facts which is scientifically wrong, but also within that view of the facts, it carries a set of values, which are deeply and grossly immoral. I believe that all Christian clergy should, therefore, oppose it vigorously, but do so in a way that patiently exposes both its insuperable scientific flaws, and why it matters morally. Look at the problems it brought on Germany, and on the rest of the world. In a different way - for history seldom repeats itself exactly - it could do the same again.
Michael V.
I would take issue with only one word in Philip Bell's article. He opens by saying a relationship with our Saviour, "guarantees us a place in heaven". I would say that emphasising the word "heaven' is not well directed. In a message of hope, our great hope as Christians lies in the resurrection. The early church had a recent memory of Christ's physical resurrection, and that, more than perhaps anything, is what gave them hope in such difficult times.
The preaching that we might "go to heaven after we die", I think, is a little vague, distant and ethereal. But is it even biblical? It's probably more related to Greek philosophical ideas that have crept into the church, coming about from a misunderstanding of the term, "Kingdom of heaven" in Matthew's gospel.
I would be happy if Philip Bell replaced that one word 'heaven' with something like "the new world to come", when Christ returns and makes all things new, which is more biblical. For Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died, so that everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life in turn. This is the great Christian hope.
Philip Bell
I concede this point. Ironically, I make this very clear in a whole chapter of my recent book (Evolution and the Christian Faith; see link in article side bar), entitled: "All restored ... but to what?" which is about "the future new creation".
James K.
Actually contrary to Cox et al: Nature is all there is and ever will be, nature is amoral, nature is meaningless. Therefore, since nature is all these things and is the only thing out there. The logical conclusion is THERE IS NO MEANING OR MORALITY in the universe. From an evolutionary perspective there is no morality or meaning to life. I wish atheists were consistent, I wish they would stop arguing and be quiet, alas they have to deify the writings of pond scum philosophers.
Philip Bell
To clarify, yes, if there was no God (thus the universe somehow had made itself, as atheists believe), nothing would have meaning, whether the natural world or humanity. However, the argument of Romans 1:20 as well as the rich body of God's Revelation throughout the Bible make clear that nature is not all there is. True, atheists often argue very inconsistently, as you say, and as the article seeks to demonstrate. Atheism is an utterly hopeless creed.
Richard G.
Despite the rantings of lie-pushing BBC and other intellectuals pushing evolution's hope-destroying fantasies, many people are not deceived by evolution. Most people would be unable to grasp your (properly) detailed,scientific rebuttals of evolution. Notice the scarcely-reported recent case of three brilliant intellectuals who absolutely fooled the editors of top-level magazines by writing articles of utter junk but in intellectual jargon. Top editors not only accepted the deliberate nonsense; in one case they even praised the crazy writer! Most people don't come even close to examining the intellectual stuff. Let's get actively offering God's hope to the 'common people' who "heard Him (Jesus) gladly". Surely they will believe. ( Rev 7:9) Hudson Taylor managed to recruit less intellectual missionaries and look at China's burgeoning church now! When I was 10 we were told to write an essay on "How the elephant got its trunk." Mother was no fool (look at her eight children?) but her advice to me was, "Say that God made the elephant with a trunk." Mother's simple statement of the truth was enough to protect her children from Satan's lies. Though her children have MA and BSc among others, we didn't bow to evolution. Four gave up NZ to preach Christ in South Africa, Zaire, New Guinea, Fiji and Japan etc.. God is demanding that we be labouring harvesters. Get the truth out widely and simply at least. In 58 years in intellectual Japan, I don't remember ever having wished I knew more against evolution. Satan's other lies yes, but not so much intellectual rantings. " You go and preach the kingdom of God." said Jesus.
Graham P.
Great piece. Cox, Coyne and Feyman are object lessons in spiritual blindness. You'd have to wonder about their cognitive abilities, reading the logical inconsistencies in their thinking.

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