How do we know God created nature?; and: The religious nature of evolution
Published: 13 January 2013 (GMT+10)
It is one thing to believe God created nature—but how do we know? In today’s first feedback, Dr Carl Wieland explains that the only way we can know reliably is if God reveals it to us. The Bible tells us God has revealed to us in creation (Romans 1:19–20) and of course by telling us plainly in the Bible (Genesis 1:1). But the biblical explanation can’t be separated from biblical history, which is why the biblical God could not have used evolution. And in the second feedback, Dr John Leslie advances his earlier contributions on the religious nature of evolution.
Russ H. from Canada writes, with comments from Dr Wieland interspersed.
Dear Mr H./Dear Russ
Thank you for your email. You wrote:
I have just been reading your website reason for being. It seems to be taken for granted that naturalistic and atheistic are the same.
Respectfully, if by naturalistic you are using the modern sense of the word, which is synonymous with ‘materialistic’ (i.e. the philosophy that either ‘nature is all there is’ or ‘matter/energy is all there is’) they are the same. If you mean that an evolutionist using naturalistic assumptions in their belief system about origins is not necessarily an atheist, we would agree with you. In fact, a great deal of the articles on our site deal with that, e.g. Is evolution ‘anti-religion’? It depends. They do not deny that one can believe in a ‘god’ of one’s own imaginings and with the evolutionary account of origins. However, if by ‘God’ one means the infinite/personal God who reveals Himself in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures, then yes, we would deny that. This is because that God is incapable of lying, which He would have had to do ‘in spades’ by giving us such a totally false account. An account of a good world, ruined by sin through the Fall and the Curse, is totally incompatible with nature bleeding and struggling and dying for billions of years (see for example Did God create over billions of years.
Since God created nature they are not.
But absent His revelation, how do we know that God created nature? If we believe that because of the opening words of Genesis, for instance, then we are given the details in the rest of those early chapters, which make it clear that this is a totally different order of events, for one thing (see this table).
If evolution happened, it happened because that was the way God designed it.
But if that is so, one could only believe that on a quite arbitrary basis; the materialist/naturalist would say that one was wanting to cling onto an infantile imaginary friend because one could not face the implications of evolution; namely that the Bible is hopelessly wrong, and the world has made itself, by means of its own properties and processes. Compare also the parable The horse and the tractor.
Please remember that scientists are people who study the record God left in His creation.
So are the scientists who work for CMI, who have advanced qualifications from secular universities, and they come to quite different conclusions (as do many others). That’s because they have different starting points in the interpretation of the evidence. But it’s worth repeating that if the geological record truly spoke of a long evolutionary history (as opposed to being interpreted in that way due to the Huttonian and Lyellian rejection of the Flood and other post-Enlightenment rejections of the Bible’s authority) then one would have little basis for any confidence in the rest of what the Bible claimed to be a direct revelation from God. Therefore the ‘God’ who is alleged to have left that record would have to be one of one’s own preferences and imaginings, logically. The entire NT Gospel has the Genesis ‘big picture’ woven right through it. See Genesis and the New Testament and Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history, for instance.
Our website has almost 9,000 articles, a powerful search engine, and a well-organised Q and A section. I invite you to open-mindedly explore the possibility that the Bible means what it so plainly says, and what the Lord Jesus Christ so obviously taught and believed, for example on the age of the earth. And that there are serious problems with the whole notion of evolution, the more we find out about modern genetics. See for instance this review from our peer-reviewed Journal of Creation: From ape to man via genetic meltdown: a theory in crisis.
John Leslie PhD, MD, PhD, a creationist biologist and biblical historian who wrote some articles for Creation and Journal of Creation in their ‘early days’ writes in response to article: Can evolution and religion co-exist?
Thank you CMI for continuing to deal with evolution and religion. I and Dr Pallaghy wrote comments about the religious nature of evolution in Creation 7(4) 1984. My thoughts have developed since then and I am now convinced that the debate needs to be argued at the level of how science, philosophy, and religion interface when deriving any worldview. Creation and Evolution are worldviews. I no longer call evolution a theory because if you test it as such, i.e. “macro”, it is falsified. Thus one must make extrapolations from “micro” evolution, which is simply variation among known groups of animals, to “macro” evolution.1 This in no way can be used as scientific (empirical) evidence for evolution. With this extrapolation one adds another philosophic assumption that I do not accept. If this extrapolation is retrogressed into the distant past or telescoped into the future then one begins to add elements of religion. It cannot be otherwise. Creationists do the same thing. So the battle remains as to who has the real worldview. Standard Evolution does exclude standard Creation and visa verse. Creation is an essential element of Christianity, and Evolution to the various forms of Atheism(s). If educators were really interested in helping young people become thinkers they would spend more time instructing them in an understanding of the interface of science, philosophy, and religion. Every single human being on the face of the earth uses all three to come up with what he or she believes, i.e. their worldview.
John G Leslie PhD, MD, PhD
- Ed. note: We normally discourage this distinction, because the main issue is the direction of change not the size. Return to text.
Naturalists and Materialists believe all reality is the reality of Physics and Chemistry. How do they deal with Non-Physical realities like INFORMATION and MEANING which are even more important in the daily lives of human beings ... ????
I would add that natural theology reasonably leads to the conclusion that a personal being with God's attributes must have been the creator. The Bible identifies Him. We are therefore without excuse.
It is quite amazing how much energy some people spend in trying to bend God's word out of shape (called the 'ungodly' in scripture) for no real gain, since in the end they still have to stand before him and give an account of themselves anyway. It all ends standing before God's throne.
Their energy would be better spent in studying and living by the plain meaning of God's word, which was given so that even the uneducated can understand the history of the universe and the simple message/good news of salvation; that being, that we don't have to spend an eternity separated from our Creator while being eaten alive by our own sins (which the Lord of hosts, the Son, warns us about in Isaiah, and which he repeated when he was manifested in the flesh [1Tim 3:16] as Jesus) and tormented by a burning conscience...
"Where 'their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched [Isaiah 66:24].'" Mark 9:44
...while at the same time, being a good example of what NOT to do:
"And they shall go forth and look upon the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me. For their worm does not die..." Isaiah 66:24