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Evolution

I respectfully disagree with Sigmund Brouwer’s claim in his article “Evolution in the Classroom” (February 2009) that the science of evolution is “God-neutral.” For that to be the case, we would have to be able to separate “evolution” as strictly a theory of mutation and natural selection from “evolution” as blind-watchmaker thesis, the worldview in which the words purposeless and unguided become integral to the definition of evolution. I believe the two definitions are more necessarily bound together than do my friends in the theistic evolution camp. All you have to do to see this is pick up Darwin’s Origin of Species: most of the argumentation in that book is not scientific, strictly speaking, but anti-teleological, that is, against purposefulness. I submit that the success of the theory of evolution, from the beginning, was not due to its being better able to explain the facts of the natural world than its competitors, but to its removal of teleology, of purposefulness, from biology. Clearly that is not God-neutral.

—Randy StadtEdmonton, Alberta

Regarding the article “Speaking of Evolution” (February 2009), like the Haarsmas I have a rigorous secular scientific education and experience (physical science for them, biochemistry and biology for me). In the end we come to different conclusions regarding origins.

Evolutionary Creationism is based on the idea that the God of the Bible employed an evolutionary process to create. When Christians merge evolution with the biblical message, either they must compromise or the scientific community must compromise. Rest assured, the scientific community at large will not compromise. Darwin started out as a believer and died an agnostic. Compromise of biblical authority is highlighted by rejecting six days of creation, maintaining billions of years, death and pain before the fall, and only a local flood. Danger lies in not only undermining our faith but also that of those we influence.

There is scientific evidence against evolution. Volumes have been written by Ph.D.-level scientists who support a recent creation. Modern creation science research continues to develop models operating on the basis of Genesis chapter one to be a historical and sequential account of creation. Scientific data can be interpreted to support a recent creation.

My purpose has been to bring attention to the many past and present scientists who have and are practicing science without harmonizing evolution with Genesis.

—Gary EckhoffDelavan, Wis.

I agree with the Haarsmas’ negative view of naturalistic evolution. However, their apparent acceptance of theistic evolution is not based on genuine science and responsible hermeneutics.

Naturalistic evolution is a mindset without a mechanism. . . . More than 500 scientists from Princeton, Cornell, UC-Berkeley, UCLA, Purdue, and elsewhere (most holding doctorates in the biological sciences, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, computer science, and related disciplines) have signed a statement declaring their “skepticism of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life” (see www.dissentfromdarwin.org).

But, why not theistic evolution? Recalling that the apostle Paul warned against false teachers (2 Tim. 4:3-4), remember this:  

General revelation must be understood in light of the clear teaching of Scripture, meaning that the Bible is not to be subordinated to external evidences, influences, and authorities.

The Hebrew yom (“day”) combined with certain descriptors, such as “evening” and “morning” and/or “darkness” and “light” and/or an ordinal number (1st, 2nd, 3rd day, etc.) always means an ordinary-length day—not only in Genesis, but everywhere else in Scripture.

Death is the result of sin. But if death preceded Adam, then humanity “inherits” death rather than “brings” it. Death is then naturalized, making Christ its Creator. But if death was a part of Christ’s creative methodology, then the Cross is meaningless—making God a liar.

Holding to the veracity of Scripture, isn't it obvious that humanity’s origin, nature, purpose, and destiny are tied to creation/perfection—and God’s holiness and grace? “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

—Dr. Mel Mulder
Banning, Calif.

Though it is right to encourage young Christians to pursue science while maintaining their faith, as the article suggests, it is not good to portray Evolutionary Creationism (EC) to them as a "Christian view" on evolution without even telling them how significantly one's view of the Bible would change in going to that from the position that interprets Genesis 1 literally.

Some Christians who appreciate science (my field is mathematics) believe that EC takes too weak a view of the Bible and reason that the literal view should be maintained.  The article seemed to offer reasons to allow a person to dismiss the literal view, but it did not look at any rationale why intelligent Christians might hold the literal view and reject the other.

For example, we need to trust that what God says is relevant is relevant. At times those who reject a literal Genesis 1 argue that it is about "who" created, not "how."  However, in four places in the Bible, God uses "how" he created (in six days) and then rested, as the pattern for the Sabbath—so the "how" is in fact relevant.

We learn a proper view of the Bible from the Bible itself; this tells us we need to consider the Bible authors reliable in their view of the Bible. When the author of Hebrews speaks of the seventh day as if it was an actual time at the end of God's creative work (4:3-10), quoting Genesis 2, we have an inspired author giving us an example of how to view the Bible. On whose authority would we possibly reject that example?

Although understanding the Bible requires some interpretation, on which we can err, the Bible is the standard for its own interpretation; we do not have to wait for scientists to tell us what it says.

—Duane EinfeldLincoln, Neb.

I am very disappointed that Christian Reformed Church would take the position they have on the evolution versus creation issue.

The Faith Alive book Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution takes a completely compromised view of Scripture, trying to make the infallible Word of God fit in with the fallible words of men.

Those among the Lord’s family who are inclined to merge some portion of the evolutionary dogma with the biblical message are doomed to undermine their own faith, as well as those whom they influence. These two belief systems are diametrically opposed. The first doctrine to fall was the age of the earth, and the companion doctrine of the global flood. Once God is relegated to the long ago and far away, it is easy to dismiss him from the affairs of men altogether. Evolution and long ages free man to live as if there is no Creator to whom he is accountable for his actions and choices.

As God’s people we should boldly be proclaiming God’s Word without compromise.

—Patrick CrandallGreece, New York

The Haarsmas admit that “biblical scholars can make errors in interpreting Scripture, and scientists can make errors in interpreting nature.” However, they present many ideas as “science,” rarely calling those ideas “scientific interpretations.” Meanwhile, they rarely refer to what the Bible says as “Bible” without adding the word “interpretation.” In other words, while saying the book of creation and the book of Scripture are of “full authority,” the Bible is treated as having little or no authority wherever it might serve to correct or change scientific ideas.

In my experience, all who accept the theory of evolution are required by that acceptance to change their understanding of biblical history, especially in the areas of God’s creation and the flood. Rarely do they change their scientific hermeneutic to match God’s verbal revelation in Scripture. . . .

Far from teaching that God gave inaccurate information modified to suit the worldview of the ancient Israelites, John Calvin taught that Genesis means what it says, speaking of things all men can observe in all times and places. The quotation used by the Haarsmas from John Calvin makes precisely that point: “Moses . . . states those things which are everywhere observed, even by the uncultivated, and which are in common use. The common language of this text has made it accessible to the people of many times and cultures, aiding the communication of the gospel around the world.” In other words, Genesis stated accurate history in common language so it could be understood by “people of many times and cultures,” that is, common people virtually everywhere. (This view of biblical hermeneutics is consistent with the 1972 CRC Statement on Biblical Authority, reprinted as Appendix A in the Haarsmas’ book Origins.)

Scientists speculate on events and dates in the past, making assumptions to draw conclusions about things they can neither observe nor repeat. God gave us an eyewitness account of what he did in creation. Which will you believe?

Moses, Paul, and Peter spoke of Genesis as accurate history (Ex. 20:8-11; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45; 1 Tim. 2:13-14, 2 Pet. 3:3-7). So did our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 19:3-6; Mark 10:6-9; Luke 17:26-27). As cited above, even John Calvin believed it. So do I.

—Steve HarrisGrand Rapids, Mich.

I have read both the article entitled "Speaking of Evolution" and the book Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design and Evolution by physicists Deborah and Loren Haarsma. The book is interesting and thought-provoking, but it leaves me with great reservations.

The Haarsmas, it seems, are firmly committed to the theory of evolution as fact. That theory, as Darwin intended and as scientists today understand it, means a process whereby life arose from non-living matter and subsequently developed entirely by natural means. Of course, the Haarsmas, being Christians, believe that the hand of God is present in this process—but in the various scenarios they have outlined in their book, when there is an apparent conflict between science and theology, it is theology that must make the adjustments. On page 223 of their book they say, “ We summarized scientific evidence that the earth is billions of years old and that the theory of evolution is an accurate description of the history of life.”

This comes at a time when other scientists are seriously challenging the theory of evolution as inadequate to explain the diversity and complexity of God's great creation. Scientists like microbiologist Michael Behe are of the opinion that "there are compelling reasons - based on the structure of the [biological] systems themselves - to think that a Darwinian explanation for the mechanisms of life will forever prove elusive." He says that attempts to explain "the evolution of highly specified, irreducibly complex systems . . . by a gradualistic route have so far been incoherent."

I also wonder about the subtitle of the book, A Reformed Look at Creation, Design and Evolution. Is it really a Reformed look? The subtitle seems to imply some sort of endorsement from the Reformed community. Or could it be more accurately described as a book written by scientists who happen to be of the Reformed persuasion?

—Harry Kruisselbrink

I appreciate the IMHO “Evolution in the Classroom” and the article “Speaking of Evolution” in the February issue. Both clearly point out why we should reject evolutionism but need not fear what God reveals as we investigate his created world, as is stated so well in Article 2 of the Belgic Confession.

It has been my privilege for nearly eight years to answer questions e-mailed by inquirers via the "Ask a Geologist" link on the website of the Affiliation of Christian Geologists (www.wheaton.edu/acg). Some writers inquire about the creation-evolution controversy, indicating they see a conflict between general revelation (science) and special revelation (Scripture. I point out that many scientists are Christians, and all scientists are studying how God preserves and governs the universe he created, whether or not they realize it.

I tell those who inquire about where a Christian can earn a degree in geology that I know of only four Christian institutions in the U.S. that grant geology degrees (Calvin, Hope, Wheaton, and Olivet Nazarene), but a Christian can get a good education at many public institutions, also, and many have geology faculty members who are Christians and members of the ACG.

—Kenneth Van DellenGrosse Pointe Park, Mich.

This article limits the power of our great God. What makes us think God cannot have created the world in six 24-hour days? It cannot be explained. It must be believed.

The same Spirit that “hovered over the face of the water” planted the seed in the body of Mary, and Christ Jesus came (Matt. 1:18, Luke 1:35). It cannot be explained. It must be believed.

Jesus calmed the waters and walked on water. He limited his powers only in obedience to his Father. It cannot be explained. It must be believed.

This same Spirit moved holy men of old to write what is in the Bible. We are people who believe God’s Word and have faith in a God who is almighty, or we are without hope. Join me in rejoicing in this wonder-working God. The God of this article is too small.

—Anne TamelingHudsonville, Mich.

I was excited to learn that The Banner had addressed the issue of evolution in the February 2009 issue. “Darwin Day” celebrations were held around the world that month to mark the 150th anniversary of Origin of Species and Darwin’s 200th birthday. Dr. Ankerberg and other Christian apologists have taken this opportunity to respond to and present their views on this issue.

With that in mind, it was nice to see the CRC’s publication participating as well, especially since the denomination’s stance toward evolution/creation has never really been made clear to me.

After reading the article, however, I’m still not sure of my church’s position. Simply stated, it seems to be that the method of creation is up for debate, provided that God oversees it and that the creation of man is entirely separate. I want to ask the CRC to take a firmer, clearer stand on this issue and decide which side of the fence it’s on.

—Kevin Baas

Isn’t believing the theory of evolution placing the science book above the Bible? “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ” (Col. 2:8).

If the first chapter of Genesis is not believed as written, aren’t there many other parts of the Bible that should be cut out also? If evolution is true, many deaths occurred before Adam, yet the Bible tells us that “therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin . . . in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12).

There is not a single proof of evolution that cannot be refuted by a scientist who believes in a young earth, created in six days. Isn’t it ironic that at a time when unbelieving scientists are giving up on evolution because it can’t be proved, that Christians are embracing it?

As to young people being confused by the creation account, how many are being confused by the teaching that the first chapter, or even the first 11 chapters, of the Holy Bible may not be true? If the very foundation of the Word of God is questioned, why should they believe John 3:16?

—Henrietta Vanden BoschRock Valley, Iowa

If I were “Jennifer” I would still be very confused. I was encouraged by the gracious tone of this article and by its clear rejection of evolutionism. But there are strong biblical considerations that contradict the evolutionary creationist or theistic evolution position advanced in the article.

Christ, God himself, the One who created everything, said with reference to humankind, “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). This puts Adam and Eve in the garden at the beginning of time without prior millions of years for them to have evolved. Certainly Christ wasn’t speaking allegorically on this topic in Mark.

Common ancestry, the concept of one single, original primitive life form from which all life evolved, contradicts the Bible. God created all sorts of plant and animal life to produce offspring, but each after its own kind, as stated repeatedly in Genesis 1 and implied in Genesis 6. This too rules out theistic evolution. . . .

But most crucially, the scriptural explanation of the glorious gospel as set forth in Romans 5:12ff. and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 would be erroneous and untrue if death preceded our first parents’ sin. The heart of the Bible’s good news is that Christ has provided a way of deliverance from the fact and consequences of Adam’s and our own sin. One major consequence is death. Adam and Eve couldn’t be the result of lots of natural selection. . . . Adam’s sin brought on the previously nonexistent phenomenon of death. Death was the result of Adam’s sin after Adam was created, not a creative process that gave rise to Adam and Eve.

I conclude that evolutionary creationism is a Trojan horse in any Christian worldview. Its core ideas contradict Scripture. The prime reason a Christian might try to accommodate it is the perception that science necessitates it. But there is increasing new and powerful scientific evidence that evolution was a false idea. Could you give us an article summarizing some of this evidence? It well might help both Jennifer and me, though it won’t avoid the world’s scorn for following Christ.

—Thomas F. GreeneMedina, Wash.

While taking a “Science and Religion” course at a local church (non-CRC), I was amazed to find I was the only person in class who believed in a literal interpretation of Genesis. In fact, many of the participants had trouble believing other aspects of the Bible as well, including the virgin birth of Jesus. In light of books like Origins, I shouldn’t be surprised. They insinuate that the science behind the theory of evolution is infallible and that we should correct the flaws in our biblical interpretations until they agree with scientific thinking. The 1991 CRC synod study on creation and science finds that evolutionary theory also has flaws. To paraphrase section VI-L, “In the context of present knowledge, there is more evidence for evolutionary theory than any comparable alternate theory, but the authors also have no doubt that evolutionary theory’s statements of fact far exceed the supporting evidence.”

My present knowledge tells me that when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, stating, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them” (Ex. 20:11), God meant exactly what he said.

—Gary RekkerOrono, Ontario

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