Literal Creationists Holding Their Ground in the Polls
According to a Gallup poll released in June, the percentage of Americans who hold to the creationist view on the matter of origins, as opposed to the evolutionary view, has remained essentially constant over the last 30 years (Newport, 2012). Nearly half (46%) of Americans believe that God created human beings “pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so” (Newport). Amazingly, in spite of decades of incessant bombardment on the minds of young people in public schools by the evolutionary community, Darwinian evolution is making no headway in swaying biblical creationists.
The pollsters highlighted a sobering connection between how religious a person is and their likelihood of being a creationist versus an evolutionist. According to the poll, “the most religious Americans are most likely to be [young earth—JM] creationists” (2012, emp. added). Of those who attend worship each week, 25% believe in theistic evolution and 67% believe in the creation of the Universe within the last 10,000 years. For those who attend almost every week or month, 31% believe in theistic evolution and 55% believe in creationism. Of those who attend seldom or never, 38% believe in theistic evolution and only 25% believe in creationism (2012). The implication is that the less religious a person becomes, moving away from a consistent contemplation of spiritual matters (i.e., the worship of God and a study of His Word), the more he will capitulate to the prevailing secular viewpoint instead of the biblical viewpoint.
One unfortunate finding from the Gallup poll was that the percentage of those who believe in theistic evolution, in one form or another, appears to have gradually declined over the years (from 38% to 32%), while the percentage of those who believe in secular evolution has increased by the same amount (from 9% to 15%) (2012). That’s 19,000,000 Americans! This finding supports the contention that theistic evolution is a gateway doctrine that leads many to atheism—which is a major reason why Apologetics Press has long sought to fight the spread of this debilitating doctrine. Darwinian evolution is not a belief which comes from a straightforward reading of the Bible. It is a theory that is championed by the secular world and that many religious people have felt pressure to accept. Many feel the need to attempt to squeeze Darwinian evolution into the text of Genesis chapter one, in spite of its clear teaching that the Universe was spoken into existence in six, approximately 24-hour days.
Theistic Evolution—A Devastating Doctrine
This practice can be devastating in the long run, destroying one’s faith in the Bible and Christianity and giving ammunition to the Bible’s skeptics. How so? The theistic evolutionist often tries to get around the clarity of the Genesis account of Creation by contending that it is not a literal, historical account, but rather is figurative and symbolic. In other words, Genesis chapter one does not actually mean what it says. The Bible certainly uses figurative language at times (e.g., in the Psalms, Revelation, Daniel, etc.). However, the fact that we can know that such language is being used, proves that there are textual indicators that distinguish historical from figurative and symbolic genres of writing in the Bible.
For example, when Genesis 25 describes Esau’s appearance as being “like a hairy garment all over,” we understand that his skin was not literally a hairy garment. Rather, it was similar to the appearance and feel of a hairy garment. When the 23rd Psalm says that the Lord “makes me to lie down in green pastures” and “leads me beside the still waters,” we understand that the text is not speaking literally, but figuratively. In Daniel chapter 2, Daniel interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, which depicted a “great image” with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and its feet composed of iron and clay. Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar, “You are the head of gold” (vs. 38). We, of course, understand that Daniel was not speaking literally. He was explaining that the gold head of the image was symbolic and represented the greatness of Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire in comparison to the lesser kingdoms that would follow his. We can know that Revelation is a book that is to be taken figuratively and symbolically, because John tells us so right at the beginning of the book (i.e., Revelation 1:1—“And He sent and signified it….” Revelation is a book filled with signs, not to be taken literally).
Similarly, one can easily distinguish the difference between a heavily symbolic account of Creation, like that given in Psalm 104, and the account given in Genesis one—which is given in straightforward, narrative terminology. Genesis one gives every indication of being a historical account of Creation. [NOTE: Biblical Hebrew scholar, Steven Boyd, in the book Thousands…Not Billions,engaged in a fascinating study, where he showed, using a statistical analysis of verb uses in 97 poetic and narrative biblical texts, that Genesis 1:1-2:3 unquestionably belongs in the category of narrative texts (DeYoung, 2005, pp. 157-170).]
That said, if a text like Genesis one, that has no indication that it is anything other than a historical narrative, is taken to be figurative, as the theistic evolutionary proposition requires, then what would keep a person from doing the same thing anywhere else in the Bible? How can we know for certain that Jesus was really born of a virgin, was crucified, and was resurrected? What would prohibit such accounts from being interpreted as figurative and symbolic as well? Some have gone so far! When the Bible tells us things that we should or should not do to be pleasing to God, what would keep us from interpreting those areas of Scripture as figurative as well? Interpreting Genesis one as figurative has far reaching implications.
In truth, one can come to know what in the Bible is figurative and what is not. When the evidence from the biblical text is weighed (cf. Thompson, 2000), it is clear that Genesis one relates a literal account of Creation in six, approximately 24-hour days, within the last 10,000 years. The scientific evidence supports this contention, as we point out on a regular basis at Apologetics Press. However, such issues highlight how critical the question of origins is, as it is fundamental to our interpretation of Scripture. Reading things into the biblical text that are not warranted can be a very slippery slope. Such practices are just as forbidden as adding man-made doctrines and practices into the church of the Bible (cf. Matthew 15:8-9; Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 4:6; John 4:24; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:8-9).
Consider further, if theistic evolution is true, then Moses was in error in his writings and was, therefore, not inspired by God. Moses clearly stated in Exodus 20:11 that everything—“the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them”—was made in six days. When the plural form of the Hebrew word for “day” (yamim) is used in Old Testament non-prophetic literature, like Exodus 20:11, it always refers to literal 24-hour periods of time. The same can be said when this Hebrew word is preceded by a numeral, as in Exodus 20:11 (cf. Thompson, pp. 188-201). Why? Because it would make no sense to speak of six “long periods of time.” So, according to Moses, the entire Universe, with everything in it, was created in six, literal, 24-hour periods of time. If theistic evolution were true, then Moses’ writings—a significant section of our Bibles—would be in error, and the skeptic would be accurate in concluding that Moses was not inspired by God. And further, any other biblical characters who quoted from Moses’ writings as though he was an inspired author (including Jesus, Himself—Matthew 4:4,7,10), would also be in error.
If theistic evolution were true, Paul also would be in error. Speaking of mankind, Paul said in Romans 1:20 that certain attributes of God have been “clearly perceived” by mankind “ever since the creation of the world” (ESV). If theistic evolution is true, mankind would not have been around to “clearly perceive” or see the world until billions of years after “the creation of the world.” So, either theistic evolution is false, or Paul was in error and was not inspired by God—a contention which would eliminate much of the New Testament.
And further, Jesus, Himself, said in Mark 10:6 concerning Adam and Eve, “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female’” (cf. Matthew 19:4; Genesis 1:27). Again, if theistic evolution were true, man was certainly not around “from the beginning of creation.” Evolutionary theory supposes that mankind was not around for the vast majority of the Universe’s history. If theistic evolution is true, Jesus, Himself—the Son of Almighty God—is in error and not worthy of our worship. Indeed, theistic evolutionary positions strike at the very heart of the Christian faith—the integrity and inspiration of the Bible, the inspiration of Moses and Paul, and the deity of Christ Himself.
Several have said to Apologetics Press personel over the years, “Does it matter? What’s the big deal if someone believes in theistic evolution?” This latest poll, and the implications of belief in this devastating doctrine with regard to the biblical text, make it clear that this matter is no “little thing.” It is critical that the Christian prepares himself for the defense of the truth on any topic (1 Peter 3:15). We are commanded to “prove” or “test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The proper interpretation of the first chapter of the Bible is no exception to this command. The Christian should be ready to cast “down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Newport, Frank (2012), “In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human Origins,” GALLUP Politics, June 1, http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx.
Thompson, Bert (2000), Creation Compromises (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/cre_comp.pdf.