Steve Maltz on Darwin's dangerous legacy

Steve Maltz
Steve Maltz

Just over two thousand years ago, in the womb of an unmarried Jewish girl, a life was created through the fertilisation of her egg by a non-human entity called the Holy Spirit. The correct chemicals were created out of nothing, as was the genetic information to ensure that the resultant human being was going to be very special indeed. Around thirty years later this same human being, Jesus, having been dead for three days, his decomposing body marked by the most horrific and disfiguring injuries, brought about by scourging and crucifixion, was brought back to life, his body healed so that he could walk, talk and eat broiled fish.

Of course you believe this, it is what marks you as a Christian. Without the miracle of the resurrection of Jesus, in the words of Paul, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. For Christians, God gives us the gift of faith to believe these miracles. Then there are other miracles. Did the red sea part for Moses? Did the sun really stand still for a day for Joshua? Did the water turn into wine? Science tells us that all of these are impossible acts, the Bible tells us that these are miracles. Where you stand on these issues is determined by where you stand in your faith. Has God given you faith to believe that pure water can be transformed at Jesus' command into a complex but tasty smorgasbord of organic chemicals or that he could take a handful of loaves and fish and feed the equivalent of a small football crowd? God is a God of miracles, which puts Him on a collision course with those who cannot or will not admit to such possibilities. But where do you stand? Do you really believe all of those stories in the Bible where God seems to act in a way that is contrary to our rational minds?

Around a hundred and fifty years ago many Christians were beginning to falter in their faith. They still believed in the Resurrection, the minimum requirement for Christian belief, but the World had already entered the "age of Enlightenment", when human reason took over from divine revelation as the dominant force in society. Human reason, rationalism, was the response to the dogmas of the Church and the pointless religious wars of recent years and Science took a firm foothold on the minds of the great thinkers of the day. God was relegated from an active role in the affairs of man, to the one who kick-started the Universe then left it alone. Nothing was considered exempt from this process and the Bible found itself re-examined, God's written revelation was subjected to analysis by the human mind. It was called Higher Criticism. In the first edition (1771) of Encyclopedia Britannica, the entry for Noah's Ark included much musing over the finer details of the Biblical account of the flood. In the ninth edition (1875) these had disappeared, no longer considered worthy of inclusion, the account having moved from Biblical account to mythology. That was the fruit of Higher Criticism.

It was within these changing times that a man appeared on a white charger as an embodiment of this new thinking. Charles Darwin was that man and his book, "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" proved a rallying point for rationalists, intellectuals and even many Christians to declare the victory of the mind over the spirit, of naturalism over supernaturalism. What did Darwin do? He must have been significant because even now, 150 years later, we are celebrating "Darwin Day", our Natural History Museum is a shrine to the man and the BBC is churning out hours of radio and TV dedicated to his ideas.

What Darwin did was to provide a scientific methodology to disengage mankind from the influence of the Bible. What had been considered as certainties could now be dismissed as myths, legends or poetry as discoveries and theories, interpreted by the rational mind of the scientist, began to take centre stage. The clincher came a few decades later at the infamous Scopes "monkey" trial, when a clever prosecutor managed to ridicule the ill-prepared Baptist minister and the theory of evolution firmly cemented itself in the Christian psyche as the most reasonable explanation for life on Earth. For Creationism, the prevalent view before Darwin, it was a long slippery path, certainly in the UK, into ridicule, denigration and bitterness. Creationists are now portrayed as simple-minded innocents at best or contemptible liars at worst. How could it have come to this, how can Christians fall out so spectacularly?

If you took a straw poll of any group of British Christians and asked them their views on this issue, the vast majority would say something like this: I believe in the Bible and that God created life on Earth, but we surely need to marry this up with the overwhelming scientific evidence of the evolutionary process. This is a reasonable view, after all. But, then we must ask ourselves whether, as Christians, we are governed by "reasonable" views . or Biblical revelation. In our scientific age, with our secular educations and fed by our humanistic media, it is safest to take refuge in a majority view, held by those we have grown to respect, from David Attenborough to Auntie Beeb. Clever people have assured us that evolution is a done deal, the answer to everything. That is why there is a Darwin Day this year. Inasmuch as the human heart requires explanations of the World in which we live, the theory of evolution is the closest we have come to a secular religion. Darwin is the secular messiah and Dawkins and his ilk are his prophets. This is what you have bought into.

The trouble is that evolution as an explanation of the origin of life on Earth is inconsistent with a Biblical world view and any attempt to shoe-horn it into Holy Scripture is a fudge and a compromise. To illustrate this, I ask just one question. Did Adam and Eve actually exist? The apostle Paul certainly thought so.

So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)

And so did Jesus.

But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female' (Mark 10:6)

But what about you? What do you think? Can the Bible be trusted in every way, or do we just pick and choose what to believe in, swayed by the prejudices and cleverness of others. The Bible genealogies suggest that Adam's grandson was a contemporary of Noah. So if Adam was not flesh and blood, then what about Noah, was he a legendary figure and the Flood just a myth or an allegory? Noah's own son, Shem, lived at the time of Abraham, the father of our faith, so could they have actually met? Or is Abraham just another legend, in which case who exactly decides when fables give way to actual history? Or, putting it another way, when does that great gallery of faithful ones in Hebrews 11 switch from fiction to fact? And if Abraham's existence is questionable, then that takes us into very dangerous waters indeed. If the foundations of your faith are shaky then on what basis are you secure in your salvation?

Our Christian faith depends on the fact that Adam was flesh and blood. A real man had to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and bring about that curse on mankind known as the Fall, the falling away from God and the need for redemption, bought for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Adam sinned and, as the Bible tells us, death came into the World.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12)

If death came into the world through Adam and Eve, then what about the dinosaurs, crocodiles and mammoths that supposedly pre-dated them in the billions of years since the first cell was created by some chemical accident? How do you explain their deaths if death hadn't yet entered the World? How do you explain the cancers and other diseases that these animals suffered, if the Fall hadn't yet occurred? There are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Scenarios have been put forwards by Christians attempting to marry evolutionary theory with Scripture. Some put the millions of years required by the theory of evolution in between the first two days of Creation, others put them later in Creation week. They say they are being consistent with Scripture, but they still fail to explain how death had crept in before the Fall. Still others accept the full secular deal and concede a full animal ancestry! To these people we need ask, what is your starting point, the Bible or Science?

If Science is our starting point we are saying that our frame of reference is the constantly developing world of the scientist, the world of reason. If the Bible is our starting point, then it is the unchanging Word of God, the source of revelation. When these two Worlds seem to clash, as Christians we either stand or fall by the Word of God, without compromise, even if we are vilified by others, even brothers and sisters in Christ!

Six days, six days, I ask you! From billions of years to six days! You're asking too much of me! Yes, it seems unreasonable, of course it does. Yet many scientists, proper scientists with qualifications and academic success are Creationists and have provided reasonable alternatives for their beliefs that don't compromise the Word of God. But the virgin birth and the resurrection are unreasonable too, yet we accept them as truth. How big is your God? Do you struggle to fit Him into the box marked "miracles of Jesus"? If you can live with this then just consider Jesus' other miracles. The reason why Jesus himself believed in a six day creation was because he was the one who did the creating! He was around at that time. Were Dawkins or Darwin around too? So who better to believe, an active eyewitness or an atheist postulator of theories?

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:15-17)

Make no mistake, evolution is the religion of our age and it serves a jealous god that is most definitely not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It not only tells us that life came about through blind chance and that we are descended from apes, but it has insinuated itself into our consciousness, through our educational, legal, communication and - sad to say - ecclesiastical systems. It tells us that as life itself was a random chance, then our lives are random too. It has no room for absolutes, governed only by its rule of survival of the fittest. It makes abortion and euthanasia acceptable and finds its perfect expression in totalitarian regimes, like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, where individual freedoms are sacrificed for the good of the majority, because individual lives are considered worthless.

One parting thought. Charles Darwin was groomed by his father to be a clergyman and, in his own words, "did not then in the least doubt the strict and literal truth of every word in the Bible". His life, of course, followed a very different path, one that destroyed that faith, to the extent that, in a letter to a correspondent shortly before his death, wrote "'I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, and therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God'.

Darwin's life work on formulating the theory of evolution was to lose him his faith in Father God. Don't let it do the same for yours. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.