Genesis: the roots of the Gospel
Creation worldview undermined
Christians who believe in including Genesis in their witnessing often receive negative comments such as, “Forget the trivial issues; just preach the Gospel”. So what approach to witnessing is most effective?
There is a multitude of witnessing material available presenting various points in a variety of formats—tracts, courses, books, DVDs etc. The diagram below is based on the tract Knowing God Personally by Campus Crusade for Christ.
However, people’s receptiveness to the Gospel message can be affected by various stumbling blocks. Many people have difficulty with the first step—acknowledging that there is a loving creator God—if they have been indoctrinated with evolution.
Until the 1950s, people in western societies generally had a Christian worldview.1 This was still the case in Australia in 1959, for example, when Billy Graham held a crusade there. Virtually no-one who attended had any knowledge of the theory of evolution at that time, but almost all had been exposed to Christian teaching as children through Sunday school and religious education at school. Hence, the vast majority of those attending the crusade knew the Bible stories of creation (i.e. step 1 above), the birth and death of Jesus (part of step 3), and they were familiar with the 10 commandments and sin (step 2). As the building blocks of the salvation message were already in place, most people understood the Gospel message and a huge number of people responded.2
Dramatic change in society
However, Richard Lewontin from Harvard University writes regarding schools in the USA: “Evolution … was barely mentioned in school textbooks as late as 1954 … After Sputnik  … the study of evolution was suddenly in all the schools.”3 Over the next decade, evolutionary curricula spread from the USA and became the norm in most western countries, filtering from the evolutionary-focussed university system right down to primary school level (and often to the children’s parents). As a result, the background thinking of people regarding politics, religion, and morality changed dramatically as well.
Many public figures felt free to openly profess atheism. It became acceptable to offer a multitude of entertainment options on Sundays including competitive sport, and there was a resulting drift away from church and Sunday school attendance. Many role models such as sportsmen no longer concealed behaviour that contradicted the Bible’s teachings on issues such as adultery (Exodus 20:14; Proverbs 6:25–35; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) and homosexuality (cf. Genesis 19:4–5,24; Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:27). Other anti-biblical values also became openly and widely accepted—e.g. abortion (cf. Psalm 139:13–14 and Luke 1:31),45,6 prostitution (cf. Proverbs 3:27 and 1 Corinthians 6:15–17), extreme feminism (cf. Galatians 3:28),7 etc. “Pandora’s box” had been opened.
To understand why this progressive change from a biblical worldview to an evolutionary worldview affected people’s receptiveness to the Gospel message, it is necessary to understand the important ways in which the false claims of the theory of evolution contradict the Bible.
According to the theory of evolution, molecules in a “primordial soup” repeatedly combined by random chance through various intermediate stages until the combination became a living cell. Then natural selection and beneficial mutations supposedly acted on this simple form of life producing a more complicated form of life and this process continued, producing all the animals from the simplest ones through to mankind.
In natural selection, weaker animals are killed off by predators or stronger members of their own species (i.e. “survival of the fittest”), while mutations are mistakes in the genetic code which change the animal’s characteristics. While evolving from lower animals, higher animals supposedly retained some organs which are now allegedly useless (vestigial organs).8 And, the millions of random chance improvements required were alleged to have taken many millions of years. However, these claims contradict the expanding body of scientific evidence.
For example, the renowned creationist scientist, Louis Pasteur, demonstrated the law of biogenesis—that life can only arise from life. And, while both natural selection and mutations really do occur in nature,9 both actually decrease the genetic information present whereas we now know that the development of a higher form of animal would require a massive increase in genetic information to produce new structures. Further, continuing research is revealing important uses for more and more of the organs once alleged to be useless leftovers from evolution, e.g. the human appendix10 and human spleen.11
More importantly, evolutionists’ claims challenge the authority of the Bible and contradict the character of God. Would a loving God use the violence, suffering, and death of the “survival of the fittest” mechanism to produce mankind and the animals? Would an all-knowing God need to make copying mistakes (mutations) in order to produce new animals and mistakenly leave useless organs in animals? Further, would an all-powerful creator God have required the many millions of years to produce everything as evolution alleges?12 Could God then declare that the result of such a process “was very good”? (Genesis 1:31).
Clearly, the requirements of the evolutionary process contradict the character of the loving,13 intelligent,14 powerful15 Creator God of the Bible, and God cannot contradict his own character. Once the true character of our loving Creator God ceases to be clear in people’s minds, the Gospel message breaks down at the first step toward becoming a Christian.
Paul’s approach to witnessing
When the apostle Paul first preached in a new town, he usually chose to do so in the Jewish synagogue because the building blocks for the salvation message were already in place. Those present were familiar with the Jewish scriptures including creation (step 1), the 10 commandments and sin (step 2), and the promise of a saviour (messiah) to come.16 However, when Paul found himself facing the pagan evolutionary philosophers in Athens, the building blocks for the salvation message were not there. Hence, he began his witnessing by discussing the first of the building blocks of the Gospel message—creation (step 1) (Acts 17:19–25).
Paul demonstrated that understanding a person’s worldview and its implications is part of successfully communicating the Gospel message to them. Christians today need to understand that an evolutionary worldview can be a stumbling block to many as it contradicts the Bible’s teaching on the character of God and the authority of the Bible. They need to firmly resist the theory of evolution’s attack
However, a great many Christians are misled by the evolutionists’ false claim that the theory of evolution is proven fact endorsed by the whole scientific community.17 Many of these Christians therefore become theistic evolutionists, i.e. they try to combine their Christian beliefs with evolution by presuming that creation is the result of God guiding the process of evolution. However, the incompatibility of God’s character and the mechanism claimed by evolution (discussed earlier) means that this cannot be done successfully. Plus it contradicts the entire order of events in the book of Genesis. However, this certainly does not mean that a theistic evolutionist is not a real Christian. I myself was a theistic evolutionist for about ten years.
When I became a Christian at the completion of my Bachelor of Science degree, I had very little understanding of Christian teaching and had very little knowledge of the Bible, but I had been taught evolution as fact since high school and I had never doubted that it was true. I initially saw no conflict between Christianity and the theory of evolution, but, as my knowledge of the Bible grew, I came to realize that Christian beliefs and the theory of evolution were incompatible. I also came to realize that, despite having become a science teacher, I was not differentiating between facts (measurements and observations) and interpretations inferred from those facts (e.g. evolution or creation).18 I then realized that evolution should be rejected.
Unfortunately, when many theistic evolutionist Christians recognize this contradiction, they do not reject evolution. Instead, they lose confidence in the historical accuracy of the Bible and assume that the early chapters of Genesis must only be symbolic. However, once one part of the Bible is re-interpreted to fit in with secular thinking, no part is safe from re-interpretation—not even the message of salvation or Christian moral values19 (1 Timothy 6:20).
As the theory of evolution undermines the authority of the Bible and it contradicts the character of God, combining the theory of evolution and the Bible (i.e. theistic evolution) is not viable, and trying to do so greatly compromises the effectiveness of our witness.
In a world that is increasingly being indoctrinated with evolution through education, the media, and the claims of most scientists, you will undoubtedly encounter some people for whom evolution and its moral and religious consequences are a stumbling block to accepting Christianity. It is therefore important to re-establish the building blocks of the Christian message, the first being belief in a loving creator God. It is important to “know your enemy” as Paul did and witness accordingly.
References and notes
- Your worldview is the set of background beliefs that influence your thinking on all other matters. Return to text.
- e-newsletter of Christian Today Australia, 14 June 2007. Return to text.
- Richard Lewontin, Harvard University, in the introduction to Scientists Confront Creationism, Godfrey, L.R. (ed.), W.W. Norton, NY, 1984. Return to text.
- The human foetus is biologically separate from the mother with its own DNA, blood type, gender, etc. Return to text.
- If the mother (the stronger individual) believes that the arrival of a baby will adversely affect her career, lifestyle, or family size, then “terminating the pregnancy” (i.e. killing the baby, the weaker individual) is consistent with the “survival of the fittest” mindset of evolution. Return to text.
- Although totally discredited, Ernst Haeckel’s fraudulent claim that a human foetus goes through various animal stages before it becomes human still appears in many textbooks and is often used in abortion clinics to convince women of the lie that they are only killing some lower form of animal. Return to text.
- In many countries, women are treated brutally and as possessions, while in western countries many women aggressively demand alleged “rights” which harm others, e.g. abortion on demand. However, both extremes would be avoided if the biblical teaching that men and women are of equal value to God (Galatians 3:28) were embraced. Return to text.
- Almost all of these have been found to have some function after all. Not knowing a function was of course never the same as no such function existing. Return to text.
- After Adam sinned, our world became “in bondage to decay” (Romans 8:22). Natural selection (i.e. violent competition for resources) replaced the previous harmony among the animals, and mutations meant bodies were no longer perfect (Genesis 1:31). Return to text.
- The human appendix is important part of the body’s immune system. Martin L.G., Ask the Experts, 21 October 1999, accessed at www.scientificamerican.com/article. Also, search “appendix” on creation.com. Return to text.
- The human spleen has the function of helping to remove old blood cells from circulation. It has also been found to help prevent heart attacks and aid recovery from one. Maggie Koerth-Baker, news.nationalgeographic.com/news, 30 July 09. Return to text.
- In fact the Bible mostly shows God demonstrating His power promptly, e.g. the parting of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21–22), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:4–25), and the sending down of fire when Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:16–46). Return to text.
- E.g. God will supply all our needs (Matthew 6:25–34) and “the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7) Return to text.
- Nature clearly displays intelligent design: beauty (e.g. Luke 12:27 and Matthew 6:28–29), functionality, and efficiency including engineering marvels that are copied by modern scientists. (see creation.com/biomimetics) Return to text.
- E.g. sustaining all of creation (Hebrews 1:3) Return to text.
- Understanding the building blocks for the salvation message is necessary, but not sufficient in itself. Paul’s message was readily understandable to those in the synagogue, but the hardness of heart of many of the people present limited the response. Return to text.
- “Theory” (an unproven suggested explanation) and “fact” (a proven/demonstrated truth) are actually contradictory terms, although a certain theory itself may become proven fact at a later time. Return to text.
- E.g. humans, dogs, and bats all have similar bone structure in their limbs. Evolutionists interpret this as resulting from common ancestry, while creationists interpret it as a result of having a common designer. (Neither can be proved scientifically as no observer was present when the animals were formed.) Return to text.
- E.g. some churches openly advocate the acceptability of being a practicing homosexual, even within the clergy. Christian Today Australia, 26 September 2010. Return to text.