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The vast majority of Christians believe that The LORD is the Creator, but there are different opinions as to exactly what this means. Some years ago I wrote to a number of well-known Christian organisations asking them what they believed about creation. Did it happen as the plain reading of Genesis suggests or did it take place in some other manner? Essentially they all replied in a similar vein, “We believe it does not matter what one believes about creation.” For many years this has been the standard response from organisations which want to offend neither those who hold the traditional view of a relatively recent six-day creation nor those evangelicals who seek to blend modern scientific theory with the Biblical record in some way. My purpose in this article is to examine how our beliefs about The LORD’s work in creation reveal the nature of our own relationship with Him.
One only has to look at the the result of someone’s work to know whether they are good at their job. I once built a wall, but it was nothing to boast about to my friends. In contrast, a piece of furniture made by a skilled carpenter or a painting done by a gifted artist declare not only the quality of the materials used, but also the character and skill of the object’s creator. In previous articles I have considered how the New Testament tells us that we can understand the nature and character of our Creator through the work He has done.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead. (Rom. 1:20a)
Since Charles Darwin popularised a secular world-view of origins, based as it is on Greek philosophy, it has become almost mandatory to believe that the material universe in which we live denies the existence of a Creator, rather than informs us about His character and power. So many evangelicals have been caught up in this wave of scepticism that a significant number of Christian leaders now believe it is a safe option to deny Genesis as a literal account of creation, and say instead that their God used evolution to populate the earth with plants, animals and mankind. My experience is that they rarely think through the implications of what they teach when they put forward such arguments, especially in regard to what their doctrine is saying about The LORD’s character.
Adrian Bailey is an Anglican vicar from the Oswestry area who published a book entitled “Why Darwin Matters to Christians” in 2009. After hearing him give a promotional talk in 2012, I offered to debate him on the thesis of his book. Though he initially showed a willingness to do this, the debate never materialised. Since then I have published an on-line review of his book under the title of Jesus in the Rubble. Whilst I disagree with his arguments, there are some things Adrian must be commended for; in particular he is the only person I am aware of who, believing that God used evolution to create mankind, has actually thought through some of the implications of moving away from a straightforward reading of the scriptures which speak of creation.
Adrian was brought up in an evangelical home but, after studying A Level Biology, he embraced Darwinism and consequently rejected most of what he had been told in his earlier years. In one way his book is an attempt to justify his own journey and as such it provides an honest summary of his thinking. One point he makes quite early on is that “if he [God] made the universe, the world, and life as we know it, then surely that must also reveal something about him.” This statement is almost in agreement with Rom. 1:20, although he does not cite it as such. The LORD did create the universe, the world and life, but not “as we know it” today and this is a major flaw in Adrian’s world-view. Denying the Fall and the subsequent corruption of creation and mankind, he assumes that God created a universe where death, disease and violence were commonplace from the start. Creation to Adrian has always been so red in tooth and claw that he cannot accept that any god would choose to make a world in that way. Rather than choosing to create through evolution, Adrian argues that God had no option but to use evolution!
It is not my purpose to refute all of Adrian Bailey’s arguments here, but to use him as an illustration of how the character of God becomes distorted by those who teach that The LORD used evolution to create. Adrian is unusual in that he has thought about the implications of teaching this and also because he has reached the conclusion, unique in my experience, that God could only create mankind through evolution. Where then does this lead him? His beliefs about the incarnation of Jesus, stemming from his views on creation, should suffice to highlight the error of his reasoning.
“as already explored, the universe and life could not realistically exist in another way [than through evolution], so becoming part of humanity to bring life and light to it (John 1:4-5) somewhat extricated God from moral criticism for life’s cruelty and waste, and shows that there is a good side to his nature after all.” (p.48)
“In this sense, then, Christ’s mission was not just about making atonement to restore our relationship with God. It was arguably about God making atonement with us by sharing our humanity in all its harshness.” (p.49)
“I therefore prefer to look at the incarnation and the atonement as a single package by which we find our way to God and he to us. The incarnation was in part God’s apology to us for having created us, and his answer to the howls of protest found in Ecclesiastes and Job that it would have been better for us not to have been born.” (p.51) [Emphasis mine in all instances]
Other characteristics of the Father and the Son which arise out of Adrian’s world view are: a god who is weak, being limited by natural laws; a Jesus who was a sinner but who did his best, given his limitations; a saviour who did not die to overcome ‘sin’ and ‘death’ because these are not our enemies; and one who, whilst it was not necessary for him to die and be resurrected, did both.
The ‘American Atheist’ magazine of September 20, 1979 carried an article by staff member G. Richard Bozarth (p.30). In it he asserted:
“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly, and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble, you’ll find the sorry remains of the son of god. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the Redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!”
Sometimes it seems that atheists understand more about the implications of accepting evolution than Christians do. This is the quotation which inspired me to entitle my review of Adrian’s book Jesus in the Rubble. I did so because “Why Darwin Matters to Christians” clearly illustrates what happens to the Gospel and the characters of the Father and the Son when anyone seeks to blend evolution with Christianity. I for one am very glad that the Creator whom I know and worship does not possess the character attributed to Him by Adrian, and I am equally glad that my Redeemer was never an apology for His Father’s bad workmanship!
“Why Darwin Matters to Christians” is not available from bookshops, it has to be ordered directly from Adrian Bailey or it is available through Amazon in either paper or Kindle versions see here. It was self-published through YouCaxton.
Randall Hardy – March
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