Free to believe
On the Scriptures, biblical creation and State censorship1
Published: 23 July 2015 (GMT+10)
The following convictions, concluding statements of a Congress that met in August 2014, make interesting reading (bold type in the original):
The right to freedom of thought and belief is one and the same right for all.
Freedom of thought implies the right to develop, hold, examine and manifest our beliefs without coercion. … Pressure to conform to ideologies of the state or to doctrines of religion is tyranny.
The right to freedom of expression … includes the right to ‘seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media … ’
Respect for people’s freedom of belief does not imply respect for those beliefs. … Violence and censorship are never legitimate responses.
States should ensure in the law of the land, in their education systems, and in the conduct of national life generally, that freedom of thought and expression are actively promoted …
It’s likely that most readers will affirm these things as eminently sensible, even praiseworthy; we take for granted that these are bound up with what it means to live in a free, democratic society. Try reading through the above statements again, this time appending the words ‘regarding biblical creation’ to each mention of ‘thought’, ‘expression’, ‘belief’, ‘ideology’ or ‘ideas’. Do these statements still sound reasonable?
Biblical creationists will say ‘yes’, but there’s a sting in the tail, for those statements are taken from a document published by the 2014 World Humanist Congress.2 Clearly, most humanists would utterly reject such an application of their Declaration. In practice their document fails in the very first sentence, the one quoted above in bold type. ‘All’ doesn’t mean all. The final statement of the Declaration is very telling (bold type in the original):
Freedom of belief is absolute but the freedom to act on the belief is not. … our freedom to act must sometimes be restricted, if and only if our actions would destroy the rights and freedoms of others.
Certain applications of this statement are, of course, right and necessary—for instance, we restrict and actively resist those who think they have the right to take the law into their own hands, to thieve, rape or murder. However, many atheists and secular humanists want to extend such restrictions so that any questioning of evolution in State-funded schools is outlawed. They believe in the ‘right’ of children to be free from what they see as the tyranny of Christianity and its foundational teaching in Genesis. Writing some years ago in The Humanist, John Dunphy wrote,
“The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism … ”3
This is not mere rhetoric; they are actively pursuing this very agenda. Not satisfied even with this, some want to remove the freedom of parents and teachers at private Christian schools to teach the evidence against evolution and for biblical creation; or they want to insist that such children be taught that homosexual behaviour is normal and healthy. No, the humanists’ talk of ‘Freedom of thought and expression’ is self-serving. There is no place for God in their thinking (Psalm 10:4) and while much of the Declaration may sound reasonable, the philosophy at its heart is fundamentally man-centred; the secular slide is not imaginary.
Is creationism true?
The above subtitle headlines the final chapter of a recent book by leading evolutionary biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala4 in which he argues that “science and religion need not be in contradiction”—but what he actually advocates amounts to a theistic evolution position, perhaps not surprising for someone who was once a Dominican priest. While apparently a believer in some sort of god, he is what some would term a ‘practical atheist’; in other words, his teaching about origins from an evolutionary perspective is identical to that of his unbelieving colleagues and God doesn’t feature at all.
Where Ayala does differ from the atheists and humanists is in his assertion that evolution has nothing to say about such things as morality or the meaning and purpose of life—in this Ayala explicitly distances himself from Richard Dawkins and William Provine (leading atheists on both sides of the Atlantic). However, as CMI has shown in numerous articles, it is the faith-denying (i.e. atheistic) evolutionists who correctly articulate the implications of beliefs about origins and how the evolutionary worldview fundamentally undermines the Bible’s teaching on sin, death and even the Christian Gospel. Like so many today, Ayala sits in the ranks of those who deny a literal Genesis, effectively aiding and abetting the avowed Bible sceptics and anti-Christians. Moreover, theistic evolutionists frequently side with atheistic evolutionists and humanists in seeking to curtail the freedom of biblical creationists regarding their influence in education and the media.
Reaching ‘a culture that reveres science’
In the ‘science’ book discussed earlier, Ayala makes the tired old claim that Genesis presents two different creation narratives, going on to further attack Scripture by alleging “numerous inconsistencies and contradictions throughout the Bible” and “erroneous factual statements”.5 While he doesn’t give any examples, such assertions have been comprehensively answered in CMI’s literature and this website (here and here). However, the point remains that theistic evolutionists defend their right to ‘reinvent’ Scripture in the public arena (media and education) but frequently side with secular humanists in denying biblical creationists the right to defend Genesis as history.
Theistic evolutionists like Ayala exhibit little (if any) reverence for the Bible. The organisation Biologos (a major theistic evolutionary think tank in the USA) is currently spending millions of dollars6 funding “projects that explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith”, so long as these don’t “reject … old earth, common descent [i.e. evolution], etc.” In practice, science is exalted and the Bible is made subservient to it. A biology professor, David Wilcox, is being funded to write a book on human origins. He thinks original sin might simply be something that is passed down from ‘Adam’ as a by-product of cultural and brain development. Another Biologos grant recipient, Prof. Oliver Crisp, says “How sin entered the world, when and where it got started, these are questions that we’re researching and discussing.” But this is because they’ve rejected what the Bible teaches about these things (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21–22)!
Among the reasons Biologos president Deb Haarsma gives for funding such ‘research’ is, “churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science … ”! Whatever happened to concerns about reverence for God and His Word? Intelligent Design (ID) advocate John West (of the Discovery Institute) is rightly critical of such projects as they muddy the waters about whether the first humans were morally good and whether they evolved as selfish:
“If you deny [Adam’s Fall], then you say Jesus is your Savior—saving you from what? From His own botched creation?”6
But is ID a better option?
Is Intelligent Design the reasonable middle ground?
Like so many theistic evolutionists, Francisco Ayala tries, very unconvincingly, to dismiss various scientific arguments for the intelligent design (ID) of life.7 However, his critique of ID’s theological implications is pertinent. His line of argument has some lessons for Christians who stop short of a bona fide biblical creationist position with its rejection of millions of years and attendant death-and-bloodshed before Adam. Would we really want to make God responsible for creating a world where 20 per cent of all human pregnancies end in spontaneous miscarriage? “Is God the greatest abortionist of them all”, he asks? What of the cruelties of predators tearing apart their prey, parasites destroying their hosts’ internal organs and the many other examples of dysfunction in today’s world?
According to Ayala, “ID leads to conclusions about the nature of the designer quite different from those of omniscience, omnipotence and benevolence that Christian theology predicates of God … [the bad things] evidencing ‘incompetent’ rather than ‘intelligent’ design.”8 CMI completely agrees with this. The science of ID is sound but the failure of ID advocates to insist on and teach an originally perfect world (free from human death or animal death) is the fatal flaw in their position. And it’s a vulnerability that Ayala and other theistic evolutionists are quick to exploit. But, is their solution any better?
Evolution and Christian theology are not friends!
After other theistic evolutionists, Ayala claims that “Darwin [is] religion’s disguised friend” and talks of “Darwin’s gift to theology”. To justify this, he tries to make a favourable comparison between Darwin’s dangerous idea and ID: “ … the theory of evolution … has now convincingly removed the need to explain the world’s imperfections as failed outcomes of God’s design.” But this is to demote God to the god of the deist,9 a position so similar to atheism that even outspoken atheist Laurence Krauss recently stated that he could become a deist. It is certainly not the God of the Bible who was (and still is) intimately involved in His creation (consider Genesis 1:31 and Matthew 10:29). And there are numerous other ways in which theistic evolution does violence to the Scriptures and weakens the church.
So, although some argue for ID as ostensibly the reasonable position (rejecting evolution but also refusing to reject millions of years of death before Adam) it is an untenable position theologically. Theistic evolution fails scientifically (as powerfully demonstrated in the book and DVD Evolution’s Achilles Heels) and is also theologically bankrupt.
The Lord Jesus Christ once said, “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). As a young man, I held to theistic evolution for a time, then to an ‘old earth’ compromise (gap theory). However, I experienced the reality and truth of Jesus’ words the very moment I accepted biblical creation—and for me the final realisation did happen that suddenly. Many sincere Christian people remain shackled by the various compromises they hold, sometimes thinking that these provide more intellectual respectability in the eyes of the secular world. This, however, is mistaken: the intolerance of secular humanists for biblical creation is ultimately not founded upon science, but upon the secular worldview (faith) being anti-Christian at heart—just as John Dunphy admitted.
At CMI, we rejoice in the many testimonies we receive from people who, helped by the magazines, resources or website, are now truly ‘free to believe’, such as Jason W:
“I discovered this site recently and I enjoy it and find it very informative. I have battled doubt in my faith life for a long time, and most of it comes from evolution and dinosaurs and scientific stuff. I have found your website most useful in combating some of this …”
Similarly, Kenneth M. shared,
“I was raised in the church until my teens, before rejecting it and declaring myself an atheist/agnostic. I decided a few years ago that it might be worth just checking that I had it right! In my search, the creation/evolution issue was the number one sticking point for me—how could I possibly believe the Bible if it was wrong from the very start (and with no good reason to be wrong … if God used evolutionary processes, the big bang etc., then surely Genesis would simply state such things, or at least allude to them, rather than constricting itself so clearly to 6 literal days and a certain order of events)?
“So to me, it mattered A LOT. And it continues to matter, which is why I am a very frequent visitor to your site and have purchased several books from your store. Thank you and God bless!”
Faith cannot thrive while doubts assail a person’s mind. By God’s grace, the ministry of CMI is being used to dispel doubts about the trustworthiness and integrity of biblical creation that come at people thick and fast in our age of scepticism and so-called reason. We are grateful to all those who stand with CMI, prayerfully and financially, in this fight for true freedom, the freedom to believe!
References and notes
- First published as CMI-UK/Europe’s Update, February 2015. Return to text.
- Oxford Declaration on Freedom of Thought and Expression, iheu.org, 12 August 2014. Return to text.
- Dunphy, J., A Religion for a New Age, The Humanist, Jan.–Feb. 1983, p. 23. Return to text.
- Ayala, F.J., The Big Questions: Evolution, Quercus, 2012. Now 80 years old, he is the author of some 950 articles and 30 books. He is a past president and chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Return to text.
- Ref. 4, p. 194. Return to text.
- Biologos Foundation pushing to change the way Christians read Genesis and view Adam and Eve, www.christianheadlines.com, 26 November 2014. Return to text.
- Ref. 4, p. 196-198. Return to text.
- Ref. 4, p. 200. Return to text.
- There are several variants of deism but in most cases, god is virtually an absentee landlord who hasn’t been seen since he first created the rules of the universe, wound it up and left it to run. Return to text.