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Many Christians, including most Christian leaders, don’t understand the connection of evolution to the social ills of our culture and the difficulties in getting people interested in Christianity.
When I was teaching in the public schools in Australia, I certainly made no secret about the fact that I was a born-again Christian. What I noticed, though, was that some students would scoff at me for believing in the Bible, because the teaching of evolution had convinced them the Bible wasn’t true.
During my years as a teacher, and many times since then as I have spoken around the world, I’ve had people use evolution as their excuse as to why the Bible couldn’t be trusted. In fact, I’ve found that evolution is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, stumbling block to people being receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some students would scoff at me for believing in the Bible, because the teaching of evolution had convinced them the Bible wasn’t true.
I have many letters of testimony on file from people who admit that it was after they were shown that evolution was not scientific fact that the Lord opened their heart to the truth of His Word (see chapter 14 for examples of such testimonies).
The situation I detailed in chapter 1 concerning the Australian pastors and their problem of communicating with students back in 1975 really sums up a major problem with which the church needs to grapple today.
Many Christians, including most Christian leaders, don’t understand the connection of evolution to the social ills of our culture and the difficulties in getting people interested in Christianity. They see evolution as something totally separate from such issues. I think the main reason for this misunderstanding is because many Christians have been indoctrinated to believe that evolution is factual science.
Now, I taught real science as a teacher. I taught students about computers, chemical reactions, the technology that put man on the moon and so on. But I also taught them that when a person talks about origins—about the past—they have just stepped outside of the science they use in everyday life. Evolution is a belief about the past. (There are a number of books I highly recommend to study this issue.1)
It is true that most evolutionary scientists, the media and the average public school textbook today present atheistic (perhaps subtly rather than overtly) evolution as fact. Students are taught that the universe and all life arose by strictly material causes. God is not given any place in the ‘origin of anything.’ Over the years, the teaching of evolution has intensified in our school systems and through the media. So much so that the average person believes that scientists have proved the earth is billions of years old and that the different forms of life arose through an evolutionary process of death and struggle.
For instance, consider this 1993 quote from the widely read Natural History magazine:
As for the claim that evolution is an unproved theory, that’s nonsense. Evolution is a fact, established with the same degree of confidence as our ‘theory’ of disease, and the atomic ‘theory’ of matter. Yes, there is lively debate about the particular evolutionary mechanisms that caused particular changes, but the existence of evolutionary change is not in doubt. Our own bodies provide walking evidence.2
What most evolutionists really think is summed up by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin in his review of Sagan’s Billions and Billions of Demons:
We take the side of science in spite of the absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door3 [emphasis ours].
And in 1998, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences made a book available to public schools and colleges to help teachers further indoctrinate students in evolution. In this book, which was to be used by many in the public education system, we read how the academy wants public school students to be taught:
The theory of evolution explains how life on earth has changed. In scientific terms, ‘theory’ does not mean ‘guess’ or ‘hunch’ as it does in everyday usage. Scientific theories are explanations of natural phenomena built up logically from testable observations and hypotheses. Biological evolution is the best scientific explanation we have for the enormous range of observations about the living world. Scientists most often use the word ‘fact’ to describe an observation. But scientists can also use fact to mean something that has been tested or observed so many times that there is no longer a compelling reason to keep testing or looking for examples. The occurrence of evolution in this sense is a fact4 [emphasis ours].
Now think about this connection: the more that generations of students are indoctrinated to believe in solely material causes for the origin of life—and the more their thinking processes are devoid of any understanding of a Creator God—the more they are led to believe that there are no absolutes and truth is relative, what will ultimately happen?
Well, consider what the humanists say will happen:
The day will come when the evidence constantly accumulating around the evolutionary theory becomes so massively persuasive that even the last and most fundamental Christian warriors will have to lay down their arms and surrender unconditionally. I believe that day will be the end of Christianity.5
The more evolutionary ideas pervade the culture, the more a person’s whole way of thinking will change.
The more evolutionary ideas pervade the culture, the more a person’s whole way of thinking will change. For them, right and wrong will be whatever they determine for themselves, if they can get away with it. If they are just an animal, then no-one owns them, so their body is their own. Thus, why can’t they do what they want with sex? Also, if this life is all there is, and death ends it all, then if things get tough, why not commit suicide now and get out of it—after all, a person won’t remember they ever had life, so what’s the point anyway? And, if we get rid of spare animals by killing them, then what’s wrong with getting rid of spare babies by abortion?
Now, don’t get me wrong here. People are not stupid. They are just being consistent with their presuppositions. Hitler was not silly. Some even say in some ways he was a genius, albeit he was warped in his thinking. But he consistently applied what he believed about origins. This led to the deaths of millions of people. Abortionists today are not intellectually inferior. They are just being consistent with their presuppositions, the foundation they ultimately have for their thinking.
I read an article recently about a famous Christian leader discussing the school violence problem in America. A number of recent situations have occurred where students have killed teachers, fellow students and even their parents. This man of God concentrated on abuse in childhood as a major contributing factor to these killings. Now while I agree that this is a complicated issue, and certainly child abuse leads to all sorts of problems, the overall problem, I believe, is much deeper than this.
Some people misunderstand me when I say there’s a connection between evolution and these social ills mentioned above. I’m not saying that evolution is the cause of abortion or school violence. What I am saying is that the more a culture abandons God’s Word as the absolute authority, and the more a culture accepts an evolutionary philosophy, then the way people think, and their attitudes, will also change. I’m not saying that a student says to himself, ‘Now, I’m just an animal—I know evolution is true—therefore there’s no basis for right or wrong—so there’s nothing to stop me from shooting my teacher.’
But what has happened is that the thinking of generations of people has gradually changed so that they don’t think in a Christian framework anymore. Their presuppositions are different. They approach life with a different philosophy, and thus their actions result in abortion, school violence, child abuse, sexual perversion and so on. Now take abuse: this fuels the fire and accelerates these existing presuppositions to their natural conclusions, and young people become angry inside. Because of this ‘mental pain,’ they can justify all sorts of wrongful actions.
Now it is true that people who don’t believe in evolution can do these same sinful things. But, the more people abandon a Christian basis, the more these ills will become prevalent throughout the whole of society. The restraining influence of absolute authority starts to dissipate.
The following diagram best sums up what I see as the major problem in our Western nations today:
Let’s consider this diagram in some detail.
On the right we see the castle of Christianity (representing doctrines such as sin, marriage, salvation, etc.), which is founded on the proposition: ‘God’s Word is Truth.’ Under this is the word ‘creation.’ It’s important to note that ultimately, all biblical doctrines of theology are founded in the creation account of Genesis 1–11.6 In Matthew 19:4–6, when Jesus Christ was asked about marriage, he immediately quoted from Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:24 to explain the doctrine of marriage as one man for one woman for life.
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:4–6).
Thus, Jesus believed Genesis as real history. If you think about it, if Genesis is just an allegory, or mythological, then marriage can be defined any way you want. The historical fact that God made man from dust and then a woman from man’s side is the only reason marriage (being that of a male and female) can be defended. Jesus and Paul (Eph. 5) taught that a couple become one in marriage.
This oneness is based on the historical fact that Eve was created out of Adam’s side. Sadly, there are many Christians who believe that God used the evolutionary process to form life and finally man. However, the evolutionary story has the man descended from an apeman and the woman descending from an apewoman. If, as some Christians insist, God then created souls for this evolved man and woman, then the doctrine of marriage has been destroyed. Only a literal Genesis has the woman being made from the man, and this is the only basis of oneness in marriage.
As we mentioned in chapter 2, if the fall of man was not a literal event involving a literal man, serpent, garden, tree and fruit, then sin can be defined any way you want. My book The Lie: Evolution7 deals with this issue (and with all major Christian doctrines) in much more detail. Suffice it to say that if Genesis is not accepted as literal history, then there is no foundation for any Christian doctrine to stand upon.
On the left of the castle diagram, the castle of humanism, and the social issues of abortion, homosexual behavior, etc., are built on the foundation of ‘man’s opinions determine truth.’ Under this is the word ‘evolution.’ I need to define here what I mean by evolution. Most people think of the molecules-to-man belief that Darwin popularized. Although this is certainly a part of evolution, I believe we need to realize that evolution per se is much more than this. In essence, it is a philosophy of life which teaches that man, independent of God and independent of revelation, determines truth. Thus, man’s opinions determine truth.
Humanism, of course, is a religion that teaches that man is the measure of all things. There is no supernatural being to whom we are accountable. Man can then decide truth for himself. The evolutionary teaching that man has evolved as a higher animal is a part of the Humanist Manifesto, for this is foundational to the religion of humanism.
Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created … . Humanism believes that man is a part of nature and that he has emerged as the result of a continuous process … . Humanism recognizes that man’s religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage.8
As non-theists, we begin with humans not God, nature not deity. Nature may indeed be broader and deeper than we know; any new discoveries, however, will but enlarge our knowledge of the natural.9
Logically, then, the more a person believes he is not special, but just an animal (and therefore driven by instinct and impulse), the more he will believe that he can decide truth for himself. The more he believes there is no God (absolute authority) to whom he is accountable, the more he can consistently decide right and wrong for himself. He will thus yield to the desires of the flesh. So, why shouldn’t he conclude that marriage be two men—or why bother with marriage at all?
These two castles, then, represent a battle: the battle between the humanist worldview and the Christian worldview. At a foundational level, this battle is between man determining truth for himself and God’s Word being the ultimate truth. Or, it can be summarized as creation (God’s Word is truth) versus evolution (man’s opinions determine truth).
Look closely at how this battle is portrayed. The humanists are seen as very clever. They have aimed their guns at the foundations of Christianity. They have attacked the authority of the Word of God. There is no doubt that they’ve been successful in undermining the Word of God in our Western culture. But how have they done this? They have directly attacked the foundational book of the Bible—Genesis.
Through the education system, the media, the movies—through all the culture—evolutionary thinking is all pervasive. Creation versus evolution is not a side issue. They are really the front lines of the battle.
Now, read the description of this battle as seen through the eyes of a humanist:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.10
Most of Christendom has succumbed to the attacks at this foundational level. Most Christian leaders have allowed the teachings of evolution to one degree or another to be added to the Bible. They haven’t understood that this has undermined the authority of the Bible.
For instance, most Christian leaders have accepted that the earth is billions of years old.11 Yet, clearly from the words of Scripture alone, God created the universe in six literal days.12 Christian leaders admit this, but they believe that scientists have proved the age of the earth to be billions of years. Therefore, they believe the days should be reinterpreted. In doing so, they have just allowed the authority of the Bible to be undermined. If the words of the Bible mean six days, but can’t because of so-called science, then it means that the Bible is fallible! If we can’t trust the words in Genesis, where do we start trusting the words and why?
I believe that humanists relish this compromise by Christian leaders. For instance, a Christian teacher friend attended a ‘Teaching Evolution’ seminar for public school teachers. This seminar was designed to help teachers in public schools teach evolution more effectively. At one stage of the discussion, the question came up regarding what they should do with students who are Christians. One of the leading spokespersons for humanism in America gave the following reply (as summed up in my friend’s letter to me):
The teachers were advised to suggest to the Bible-believers to consult their clergy, who would usually assure them that belief in evolution is OK!!13
What a sad indictment on the church! The humanists use the compromising Christian leaders to further their cause to undermine the foundations of Christianity.
I believe this is what happened: the older generations in the church allowed the teaching of evolution and/or millions of years to be added to the Bible. They didn’t realize the true nature of what was happening. Most of these people believed the Bible to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God. They just added evolutionary teaching (e.g. millions of years of history) to this. But the next generation then grew up already disbelieving Genesis. This, I’m convinced, has led to generations in the church being skeptical about the Bible’s teaching in many other areas. They lost a sense of absolutes.
As just one example of what has happened to the younger generation, the following quote from a student at a well-known Christian college says it all:
We cannot read the Bible by itself and expect to understand its messages. Instead, we need to apply rational thought and research to our biblical studies … . One way of seeking truth is by questioning the Bible … . Perhaps it would be better to read it as it was intended to be read, as a variety of texts intended to reveal God’s unchanging truth to ancient cultures. Because the Bible was not directly addressed to our culture, it is important that we read it in its proper context instead of deifying it by reading it literally.14
Let me add something very important here. There are many Christian leaders who do not believe in evolution as such, but they do accept billions of years for the age of the earth and millions of years for the formation of fossil layers. These people will call themselves creationists and they are, in the sense that they don’t believe in chance, random processes to produce life. Many of them don’t even believe that God used an evolutionary process. But they have accepted that there were millions of years of death, disease and suffering before Adam.
Now, when a Christian believes that the death, bloodshed, disease, suffering and violence in the fossil record represents millions of years of history as God ‘created,’ then what did sin do to the world? What did the Curse do? Why does death have anything to do with sin? Why does God describe this as very good? Does that mean violence and disease are ‘good’ in God’s eyes? Is it any wonder young people today have no sense of sin and the holiness of God? I have written a number of articles explaining this important matter in detail.15
With so much energy and money expended in the fight for Christian morality, why are Christians losing the battle?
Look at the castle diagram again and notice how the Christians usually fight the battle. They don’t really understand that their foundation is being shot out from under them. They know there’s a problem. Yes, they see the social ills and they’re concerned about the increasing problems of abortion, pornography, homosexual behavior and all the other evils. But they don’t realize that the change has occurred foundationally. Thus, they aim their guns at each other—or fire into nowhere—or shoot at their own foundation (when they believe in evolution and/or millions of years), or merely shoot at the issues.
This is a major problem in Christendom. Too many people concentrate solely on fighting the issues, when the issues are not the problem. They are simply the symptoms of the real problem.
I believe this was born out in America in the 1998 election results. Many Christians expected a real backlash against the president [his party] because of his admission of a moral failure. Christians were perplexed and despondent, however, when the election results indicated that the population as a whole was not concerned about morality as an issue.
In fact, if we are really honest, the church is losing America. The once-Christian moral fabric is in tatters, and is getting worse every day. And yet, billions of dollars have been donated to major Christian organizations that have been fighting issues like abortion, homosexual behavior, pornography and the destruction of the family. With so much energy and money expended in the fight for Christian morality, why are Christians losing the battle?
I believe it’s because these organizations have not understood the real nature of what has happened. The main reason is because they themselves (regardless of the other good things they are doing) are not ultimately involved in proclaiming the Word of God as truth, beginning with Genesis. They are not fighting the humanists at the very place where humanists have attacked the Bible.
Personally, I believe that Christian leaders and Christians in general come across to the culture as being judgmental. This is because the Christians are insisting that these social ills (abortion, etc.) are wrong—and that is true. But they are only wrong if the Bible is true! And this is the problem: the culture as a whole doesn’t view the Bible as the absolute authority any more. And sadly, most of the church doesn’t either, because they have allowed man’s beliefs (e.g. millions of years, etc.) to be a judge on Scripture. Until the church and these Christian organizations recognize this, my prediction is that increasingly, despite all the billions of dollars spent by Christians in fighting social ills, the nation will actually become more anti-Christian every day.
Many Christians (and non-Christians who hold a Christian morality) are becoming frustrated. Some people are resorting to violence because they don’t see any real change occurring. But it’s not the fighting of the issues or resorting to violence that will stem the tide of the secularization of society. The answer is so basic—and it’s the same answer Martin Luther gave back in the 16th century. When Luther opposed the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of justification by faith, some followers wanted to resort to violence to settle the issue. How did Luther respond? Read this excerpt from a book on the history of Protestantism:
Ulrich of Hutten … also offered himself as a champion of the Reformer. His mode of warfare, however, differed from Luther’s. Ulrich was for falling on Rome with the sword; Luther sought to subdue her by the weapon of Truth.
‘It is with sword and with bows,’ wrote Ulrich, ‘with javelins and bombs that we must crush the fury of the devil.’ ‘I will not have recourse to arms and bloodshed in defense of the gospel,’ said Luther, shrinking back from the proposal. ‘It was by the Word that the Church was founded and by the Word also it shall be re-established.’16
Yet, in our time, the Word has been compromised, and thus the church has lost her weapon that can bring victory.
What has happened is that there’s been a foundational change in our culture. This is what most of the church has missed, mainly because most of the church has compromised in some way with some or all of evolutionary teaching anyway. Even those Christians who have rejected evolutionary teaching and millions of years often don’t understand the foundational connection of Genesis to Christian doctrine or the foundational connection of evolution to humanism and our social ills as pictured in the illustration:
This change foundationally from God’s Word (creation) to man’s opinions (evolution) is the change I referred to as from being like the ‘Jews’ to being like the ‘Greeks.’
Let me illustrate this practically for you. Look again at the right side of the castle diagram. Generations ago, when the Bible was really the foundation of the American culture, and someone preached about sin, people understood what was meant. They had the right foundation. However, because America has changed its foundation (now look to the foundation on the left—man’s opinions/evolution), when a person preaches about sin and because the culture has a different foundation, then he doesn’t understand what this is all about. People today don’t think the same way as previous generations did with the other foundation. It’s a different culture.
Let me give you another example. When America had the foundation on the right of the illustration (God’s Word is truth—creation), then when someone said ‘abortion is wrong,’ on this former foundation a person would say, ‘Yes, you are right. Abortion is sin.’
Because the culture has changed its foundation to ‘man’s opinions determine truth’ (evolution), then when the same message is preached, ‘abortion is wrong,’ the answer is more like this: ‘What are you talking about? I have a right to do what I want with my body. We’re just animals anyway. No one has a right to tell me what to do.’
I want to also illustrate for you how this battle applies in the average church situation. Most Sunday school and Christian school (or equivalent) literature concentrates on teaching Bible stories. Now, these stories are important. My parents taught them to me. But this is what is happening today: in our churches we teach Bible stories—Jonah and the whale, Jesus’ death and resurrection, the feeding of the five thousand, Noah’s Ark and so on. But the children then go out into the world. Most go to public schools, watch secular television, and read newspapers and magazines.
And what is the world saying to them? That you can’t trust the Bible. Science has proved the Bible wrong, they say. Anyway, Noah couldn’t get all the animals on the ark—it’s just a fairy tale. Dinosaurs prove evolution is true. Humans evolved from apemen—the story of Adam and Eve is a fairy tale. There’s no evidence of God’s existence. And you can’t answer questions like ‘Where did Cain get his wife?’
And how do churches respond? They just keep teaching Bible stories.
Lest we think that it’s only been liberal churches who have accepted evolutionary presuppositions about Genesis, note The Message of Genesis, a 1961 book by Ralph H. Elliot (published by the Southern Baptists’ Sunday School Board):
One can say with [Alan] Richardson: ‘We must learn to think of the stories of Genesis—the creation, the Fall, Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel … in the same way as we think of the parables of Jesus; they are profoundly symbolical (although not allegorical) stories, which aren’t to be taken as literally true … .’
Since the 19th century, church leaders have embraced the proponents of atheistic naturalism, and today many of them walk hand in hand.
For years and years, humanists have slowly but surely taken over the thinking of the culture. While they were eroding the foundations of Christianity, the church kept on just teaching Bible stories, without answering the attacks of the critics of the Bible.
The church has expected each generation to continue believing these Bible stories, when each successive generation has been given increasing doses of evolutionary teaching attacking the Bible’s historicity, particularly in the book of Genesis, the foundational book of the entire Bible.
So now, not only is the culture as a whole more like the ‘Greeks’ than the ‘Jews,’ but we have generations of people in our churches who have been trained to think like ‘Greeks.’ They may believe the Bible stories, but they don’t understand why they believe what they do. They don’t know what to do about the collapsing Christian culture—they see the issues, but not the foundational problem, because they’ve had the foundation removed from their own thinking.
To most Christians today, the Bible is separate from the real world—it doesn’t really connect. They don’t understand that the Bible must be foundational to all of our thinking. They don’t think with a Christian worldview—they really have a secular philosophy. That’s why, when confronted with topics like dinosaurs, most shrug their shoulders. They don’t know what to say. They haven’t been trained to think in terms of the Bible being a history book that outlines when animals were made, what they ate before sin, how death entered the world, that animals (like dinosaurs) got on a boat and so on. My book, The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved, offers details on how to develop this Christian worldview and apply it in the real world.17
Churches haven’t trained their people to defend the Bible against the onslaughts of evolutionary humanism; instead they’ve been influenced by it.
The world has attacked Christianity at a foundational level, and the church has for the most part just continued teaching Bible stories. Christians need to be trained to believe God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, and know how to defend it. But we are commanded to be trained to logically defend the Word of God:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15).
Churches haven’t trained their people to defend the Bible against the onslaughts of evolutionary humanism; instead they’ve been influenced by it. If a skeptic were to approach the average Christian today and ask questions like: Where did the Bible come from? How do you know it’s the Word of God? Where did God come from? How did Noah get all the animals on the Ark? How do you fit dinosaurs with the Bible? If we all go back to Adam and Eve, where did Cain get his wife? I suggest that most Christians would not have answers to these and many other basic questions.
These are just some of the questions that are thrown at Christians today to intimidate them, because the humanists know most Christians can’t answer them. God’s people have been so evolutionized that they just ignore these questions and tell people to just trust in Jesus. But these are the questions that need to be answered to show we can defend God’s Word. When this happens, it actually opens the door to talking more about the Bible and presenting the salvation message.
When my brother was in seminary, a Christian worker in the school system came to speak to the students about evangelism in public schools. During his lecture, he told these seminary students that the two most-asked questions he received were, ‘Where did Cain get his wife?’ and ‘What about evolution?’ He then laughed and told the students to ignore these questions, that they were just ‘red herrings.’
Wrong. They are not red herrings. The reason these are the two most-asked questions is because they illustrate the real foundational problem. The school students are really challenging Christianity: ‘Come up with answers—we know you can’t. Why should we believe the Bible when you can’t answer these questions? We know evolution’s true—science has proved the Bible wrong. You believe in Adam and Eve, well, you can’t; you don’t know where Cain’s wife came from, so we’re not interested in Christianity.’
So where does this leave us? What’s the solution? There is a solution, but only if we are prepared to put on the correct pair of glasses!
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.