Caveat Emptor—"Let The Buyer Beware"
||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
Salesmen. We are surrounded by them. They pitch their products on billboards, infomercials, and through every form of available media. Their only objective is to push the product and make a sale. Men and women spend years in school or as apprentices to other salesmen, learning exactly what phrases to use and what displays will work best to market their merchandise. Good salesmen can take a lackluster product that performs poorly, and convince individuals that they simply “must” have it. Most people have experienced that queasy feeling of being sold a product by a slick salesman, only to realize later that the product did not live up to their expectations. While the salesman may have appeared professional, or had a great sales pitch, there was something “not quite right”—something those smooth and flowery words prevented prospective buyers from being able to discern. Nevertheless, a salesman often will present a product in such a way that one almost would feel foolish not to buy. And so our closets and garages are filled to capacity with things that were sold by successful pitchmen.
While these products may make a dent in our checking accounts or take up excessive storage space, they are, for the most part harmless. But consider products which individuals offer that possess a price much higher than is represented by any dollar amount. Have the “closets and garages” of our spiritual lives also become cluttered with material that is unwanted or unneeded—or, worse, harmful? Not all of the products that Christians “buy into” are spiritually edifying. Sadly, many individuals are more selective of items that are worn outside the body, than information that they take inside the body. As a result, many people unknowingly compromise their relationship with Christ and their Creator. The salesmen often come with outstanding credentials, and the pitch they use sounds intelligent. But the product these salesmen leave with you, not only will erode the foundation of your faith, but also can jeopardize your soul.
The product for sale under discussion here is organic evolution and its offshoots. While most Christians never would openly consider accepting evolutionists’ teachings, many “salesmen” offer a compromise that allegedly allows Christians to believe in both God and evolution. In the face of what many believe is “overwhelming scientific evidence,” and not wanting to offend either their religious friends on the one hand, or evolutionists on the other, many Christians have bought into concepts and theories that try to “marry” the two. The situation is worsened by the fact that there always are “salesmen” who are quick to point out that belief in evolution should pose no problem for a Christian. In the epilogue of his book, Can a Darwinian be a Christian?, atheistic philosopher Michael Ruse noted: “Can a Darwinian be a Christian? Absolutely! Is it always easy for a Darwinian to be a Christian? No, but whoever said that the worthwhile things in life are easy?” (2001, p. 217).
Sadly, this “slick sales job” occurs all too often via the media. And people by the millions accept the sales pitch as the final word—without any real knowledge about the consequences of the product (in this case, organic evolution) they are “purchasing.” Even within the church, Christians sometimes find themselves subconsciously marrying evolutionary pseudo-science with biblical teaching. In doing so, however, they have forgotten that God Himself had something to say on this matter when He instructed Moses to write by inspiration: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). If this is not true, then every word that follows should be called into question as well.
Can both the Bible and evolutionary theory be true? People who try to cling to both are known as “theistic evolutionists.” The word “theistic” comes from the Greek theos—God. Theistic evolutionists believe that God does exist, but they also believe in organic evolution (or, at least, the parts of it that they find convenient—such as an ancient Earth). They rationalize their belief by stating that “yes, God created the heavens and the Earth, but He used evolutionary processes to do it.”
Thus, “Bible believers” find themselves in the awkward position of having seriously compromised the opening chapters of the Bible. During the late 1940s, Woolsey Teller, second president of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, debated James D. Bales of Harding College (now University). During one of his speeches, Mr. Teller exclaimed: “If evolution is accepted, Adam and Eve go out! That story, the Bible fable, is interesting mythology but it doesn’t present the true picture of the origin of man” (1976, p. 54).
The point is well taken. If one accepts evolution, the Bible does not present the “true picture” of the origin of man or, for that matter, anything else in the Universe. The thrust of Mr. Teller’s argument was this: It is an “either...or” proposition, not a “both...and.” Either one accepts evolution, or one accepts creation. But it is not possible, logically, to accept both evolution and creation.
The key word here is “logically.” Theism, by definition, entails supernaturalism; evolution, by definition, entails solely naturalistic processes. The late evolutionist of Harvard, George Gaylord Simpson emphatically stated: “Evolution is a fully natural process, inherent in the physical properties of the universe, by which life arose in the first place and by which all living things, past or present, have since developed, divergently and progressively” (1960, 131:969, emp. added). Sir Julian Huxley once boasted: “Darwin pointed out that no supernatural designer was needed; since natural selection could account for any known form of life, there was no room for a supernatural agency in its evolution” (1960, p. 46). Paul Zimmerman couched the problem in these terms:
In other words, once the premise of evolution is granted that matter interacts with itself under the guidance of the process of natural selection, there is no need of God. Theistic evolutionists of course deny this. In effect they would attempt to baptize the theory and to make it Christian. After two decades of reading evolutionary literature, both philosophical and scientific, I am of the opinion that this baptizing cannot be effected. The theory is based on the interaction of matter with matter. It is based on the changes which are produced by chance and which are then developed by natural selection. If one places God’s guidance into the process, he violates one of the basic tenets of the theory (1972, p. 121, emp. added).
Evolution is based, in its entirety, on naturalism; creation requires supernaturalism. One cannot, with consistency, inject the supernatural into evolutionary theory and have it remain evolutionary theory. There is no such thing as “supernatural naturalism.”
Of course, there are those who, like Ruse, assert that belief in both creation and evolution is possible because, they say, certain Christians are living proof of exactly that—people who do believe in both. “Can’t we be Christian evolutionists?” they ask. In his book, King of Creation, Henry Morris dealt with this very issue:
Yes, no doubt it is possible to be a Christian and an evolutionist. Likewise, one can be a Christian thief, or a Christian adulterer, or a Christian liar! Christians can be inconsistent and illogical about many things, but that doesn’t make them right! (1980, pp. 83-84).
The question for a person who accepts the Bible as the inspired Word of God is not whether he can hold to a belief in theistic evolution. Rather, the question is whether he can believe in theistic evolution and remain logically consistent, without impugning the Bible or its Author. To put it another way: “Is it right?” A second, equally important question is: “Where will such a belief eventually lead?” Darrel Kautz, in The Origin of Living Things, concluded:
The theistic-evolution approach to biblical interpretation is highly rationalistic; that is, greater weight is given to human logic than to the reality of divine inspiration. When such a methodology is employed, it is just a matter of time until the Bible, in all its parts, is viewed merely as an ordinary book, and no longer as a fully trustworthy, divinely inspired document. Man’s word supplants God’s Word, and biblical truth becomes clouded—even lost. It is not difficult for a perceptive individual to see that theistic evolution leads to double talk. The Scripture is and is not God’s word; it is and is not trustworthy; it is and is not history; it is and is not the ultimate source of Christian theology (1988, p. 30).
In his book, The Creation-Evolution Controversy, R.L. Wysong commented on what occurs, once a person begins this journey toward belief in theistic evolution.
Many hold to evolution while at the same time espousing belief in a creator. The result is a sort of hybrid, a baptized evolution called theistic evolution.... The creator is used here as a vindicator of evolutionary difficulties. With time, as evolutionists explained more and more by naturalism, the creator was crowded further and further back in time and given less and less responsibility. For many, theistic evolution is only believed transitorily. The position is often only a filler, an easily passed bridge from theism to atheism (1976, p. 63).
The long-range results of belief in theistic evolution can be tragic indeed. The sad part is that so few Christians realize it until it is too late. Over a century ago, during the time of Darwin, James M. Wilson held the position of the Canon of Worcester as a minister, and simultaneously taught science. In his discussion of the transformation that belief in evolution brought upon his life, he stated clearly the reasons that caused him to all but abandon his faith.
The evolution of man from lower forms of life was in itself a new and startling fact, and one that broke up the old theology. I and my contemporaries, however, accepted it as a fact. The first and obvious result of this experience was that we were compelled to regard the Biblical story of the Fall as not historic, as it had long been believed to be.... But now, in the light of the fact of evolution, the Fall, as a historic event...was excluded and denied by science.... If there is no historic Fall, what becomes of the redemption, the Salvation through Christ? How does Jesus save His people from their sins? (1925).
The cost of opting for evolution is much higher than many at first realize. If Genesis 1-11 is tossed aside as merely a myth, then we must throw out the entire Bible, because the one major theme that is taught throughout the Bible is the theme of redemption. God fashioned mankind as the pinnacle of His creative activity. Man began in a covenant relationship with his Creator, but fell from that pristine relationship through his own sin. Evolutionary theory, on the other hand, teaches that man started at the bottom and worked his way to the top (via the old amoeba-to-man story). The Bible teaches exactly the opposite. Thus, one is forced to conclude that man either started at the top and fell, as the Bible indicates, or he started at the bottom and rose, as evolution suggests. Both simply cannot be correct. The prophets long ago declared the fall of humans, and the resulting need for a Savior. Scripture indicates that this was the reason for Christ’s arrival on Earth, and His eventual death—to bring humans back into a covenant relationship with their Creator-God. If humankind did not “really” sin, as described in the Creation account, then why did Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to this planet and suffer such a cruel death on the cross?
As long as Christians are willing to compromise Scripture, then why should they stop with the book of Genesis? In fact, those who are ready to discount Genesis as non-literal and non-historical might as well get out their scissors and excise all references to Creation, beginning with the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Christ Himself referred to Creation when He stated in Matthew 19:4 (cf. Mark 10:6): “Have ye not read, that he who made them at the beginning, made them male and female.” These words indicate that Adam and Eve had been on the Earth “from the beginning of Creation” (Mark 10:6). According to Genesis, is that assessment correct? Indeed it is. Adam and Eve were a part of that original six-day beginning during the Creation week. Of course, we also would have to throw out John, because the first few verses of chapter one review the beginning and Creation. Other scriptures such as Acts 4:24, Acts 17:25, Romans 1:20-21, Colossians 1:16, 1 Timothy 2:13, Hebrews 1:2, 1 Peter 4:19, and Revelation 4:11 also are called into question if the Creation account is viewed as merely “a nice story,” but not historically accurate. For those with scissors in hand, the only books that do not refer to the Creation in some fashion are the three books of Philemon, and 2 and 3 John.
Additionally, if we do not accept that God created the heavens and the Earth in six literal days, then we are making Jesus Christ—our Savior—a liar. Jesus stated: “But from the beginning of the Creation male and female he made them” (Mark 10:6), affirming that Adam and Eve were on the Earth since the beginning of Creation. Paul stated in Romans 1:20-21 that the things God had made had been “perceived” (from the Greek noeo, indicating rational, human intelligence) even “since the Creation of the world.” According to evolutionists, man did not arrive on the scene until roughly 3-4 million years ago. A person does not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that if the Earth is supposedly 4.6 billion years old, then the last 3-4 million years is not, by any stretch of the imagination, “from the beginning.” Rather, it is “from the end.” Thus, we are left with a choice: either Jesus Christ lied and evolutionists are correct, or Christ told the truth and evolutionists are wrong. But both cannot be correct.
Ah, but some say, “Adam was just a myth. We know today that man originated from a Neanderthal-type creature.” However, if this were true, why did the inspired apostle Paul pen these words: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22), and then in reference to Christ write, “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit’ ” (1 Corinthians 15:45)? If Adam and Eve are merely mythological, does this mean that this “last Adam,” Jesus Christ, was mythological as well? Remember: caveat emptor—“let the buyer beware”—the next time evolutionary salesmen come knocking at your door.
Huxley, Julian (1960), “ ‘At Random’: A Television Preview,” Issues in Evolution, [Volume 3 of Evolution After Darwin], ed. Sol Tax (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Kautz, Darrel (1988), The Origin of Living Things (Milwaukee, WI: Privately published by author).
Morris, Henry M. (1980), King of Creation (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
Ruse, Michael (2001), Can a Darwinian Be a Christian? (New York: Cambridge University Press).
Simpson, George Gaylord (1960), “The World into Which Darwin Led Us,” Science, 131: 966-974, April 1.
Teller, Woolsey and James D. Bales (1976), The Existence of God—A Debate (Shreveport, LA: Lambert).
Wilson, James Maurice, et al. (1925), Evolution in the Light of Modern Knowledge (New York: Van Nostrand).
Wysong, R.L. (1976), The Creation-Evolution Controversy (East Lansing, MI: Inquiry Press).
Zimmerman, Paul A. (1972), “The Word of God Today,” Creation, Evolution, and God’s Word, ed. P.A. Zimmerman (St. Louis, MO: Concordia).