Monday, February 14, 2011

A Sermon on The Problem with Theistic Evolution

Standing for the Word of God at Dartmouth College –
I am here from Dartmouth College, a college founded to train missionaries and Pastors to reach the Indians.  Unfortunately, the College has lost her way, adopting humanist philosophies. 
We believe…
2 Tim. 3:16 – “All scripture is God breathed…”
We believe in the Authority of the Scripture:

“The authority of the Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s word in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.” 
(from Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000, p. 73)

One of the chief ways that the authority of the scripture is undermined today, especially in academia, is through the dogma of common descent evolution.

I went to Dartmouth four years ago with both guns blazing for Intelligent Design, the idea that the best explanation for certain features of our universe and biology is an intelligent designer.  I was ready to go, to help change the prevailing philosophies there. Of course I expected opposition from the secular humanists. 
I had lunch with a religion and philosophy professor who specializes in the creation/evolution dialog, hoping to work with her on some projects, even though she accepts evolution.  She wanted to know what programs I offered.  When I mentioned I was leading a book study on apologetics, she wanted to know how I resolved the problem of evil:  If God is all powerful and all good, why is there evil and suffering in the world?  I spoke of free will as the reason for moral evil and of the fall of man as the reason for natural evil. 
She responded, “Surely you accept evolution!”  When I told her I didn’t accept common descent, in the most condescending tone she replied, “You won’t find anyone who believes that way around here!
Needless to say, lunch wasn’t very pleasant after that.

But what surprised me was apathy and opposition from believers.

Early on I learned from a Christian Professor and friend, “We (Christian Professors) have decided as a group not to support anything having to do with Intelligent Design.”  I was surprised and discouraged but kept looking for a partner to help start an origins discussions group. 
I talked to a Dartmouth grad student who wrote an apologetic article on beauty to see if she had ideas on who to talk to.  She recommended I talk to a certain Christian professor who was especially good at starting new ventures.  Unfortunately, he belittled me and absolutely refused to help start group.  He gave me audio disks on the history of faith and science – endorsing theistic evolution and referencing creationists as “na├»ve literalists”.  I later learned that he was distributing copies of the disk set to our student leaders!
You might ask, “ How can this be?”  You have to understand that Dartmouth students and professors get into this prestigious school by trusting their educators.  There is tremendous academic peer pressure to conform to the prevailing philosophies.  Naturalism rules the day and evolution is the cornerstone of a liberal education.  These students and professors want to be respected and thought of as well educated.  They may fear of loss of reputation and career opportunities if they do not conform.  Christians are not exempt from these pressures.
Another factor is the influential Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, former head of the human genome project and author of The Language of God.  He is an elite scientist turned Christian, yet he is stuck on evolution.  Our faculty and students admire him.   Unfortunately, his theology is a mess.  Among other things, he suggests that Adam brought spiritual death, but not physical death.   More on that later.

Why does it Matter?
How many of you are Protestant?  What does that mean?  There are five pillars, the five Solas.  I’m going to talk about two of them which are in limbo today.  The first is Sola Scriputra – only through the Scripture do we know truth.   The second is Solo Christo, we have salvation only through Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.
                Now, how many of you accept common descent, the idea that humans developed slowly over time from animals?  As I talk with Christian students at Dartmouth I find that about half fully accept common descent.  Does that make it alright?  I hear, “Francis Collins is a Christian and he accepts common descent”.  I hear, “The Catholic Church and the mainline protestant churches accept common descent.”  I ask, “Does that mean it is theologically sound?”
               
                Ladies and gentleman, I’m here to tell you that common descent is not theologically sound.  In fact, it completely undermines orthodox Christian doctrine and the reformation.   It destroys the authority of scripture and diminishes the need for Christ.  First let’s look at what common descent does to Solo Christo, Salvation only through Christ. 
                Can anybody tell me why Christ had to die, according to the Bible?  I mean, how could one man die for all of us?  Theologically, how does that work?  Can anyone tell me what Paul wrote about this?

                A big Question is, “Is Genesis Literal or Figurative?” 
                The principle of hermeneutics, that scripture interprets scripture, resolves this question.  Let’s look at what Paul wrote about Genesis.

Rom 5:19
 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
                So, here is the deal.  Adam, like Christ is a Federal head – they both represent all of mankind.  Christ makes us righteous just the way Adam made us sinners.  The problem is, Common Descent, the idea that man arose gradually from lower animals, destroys Adam.  If Adam didn’t bring sin, why do we need Jesus?
                Let’s take a closer look.  First, you cannot reconcile the Adam and Eve of the Bible with common descent evolution.   The Bible says Adam was the first man, formed from the dust of the ground.   Common descent says no, the first man came from other animals.  The Bible says Sin and Death entered the world through Adam.  Common descent says no, there was death all along, and sin too.  The Bible says that Eve was formed from Adam’s rib, that she was the first woman.  Common descent says woman evolved just like man.
Christians who accept common descent, known as Theistic Evolutionists, have tried to reconcile with the Bible in various, but unsettling ways.  First, some claim that there was not one Adam, but more of a group, and that Adam is just an example, or type of early man.  Others claim that God took an apelike creature and recreated it into a man.
                The problems with these theories basically fall into two groups.  First, they always regard the Bible as less authoritative than science, and second, they put sin and death before Adam.  Let’s look at these.
First, the modern scientific method, operates under what is called methodological naturalism, which assumes from the start that God does not intervene with the world.  When the Bible and “science”  seem to disagree, why are we surprised?   Science, operating with those constraints, will never posit creation.  It is ruled out from the start.  Why should the church submit to the premise that God does not intervene?   What about Sola Scriptura, Truth coming only from scripture?  I submit to you today, that science is changing constantly and God’s Word never changes.  So why should the church submit to “science”?  No way.
And it’s not just a matter of how you interpret Genesis.  Special creation is endorsed throughout the Old Testament and the New.  Moses, Job, Isaiah, Jesus, Peter and Paul all support it.  By the principle of hermeneutics, special creation is established truth.
God Himself wrote in stone with His own finger, in the Tablets of Ten Commandments, “"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.   For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.”   This passage alone should settle the matter, “Sola Scriptura”.  The Bible says that God wrote that with His finger!  
If science seems to point to another age or origin of mankind, then there must be a problem with the assumptions of that estimate, not with the scripture.  Again, if science seems to tell us something other than what scripture clearly tells us, there must be a problem with the science.  “Sola Scriptura”.  Only through the Scripture do we know truth.  Common descent makes a mess of that.

So, the second issue is the entry of sin and death into the world.  The Bible says sin and death came through Adam. 
Rom 5:12 “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men

This passage also refers to “...Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.”  That is Jesus.  The passage continues,
 15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
 18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
So, here is the deal.  Christ makes us righteous just the way Adam made us sinners.  But if Adam was not a real person, what does that say of Christ?  I mean, if Paul thought Adam was just a symbol, why would he make this analogy?  His whole argument falls apart if Adam is not a real person.
Furthermore, the Bible tells us that previous to Adam’s sin, the Earth was a paradise.  There was no sin or death.  The sin of Adam affected all of creation, according to the Apostle Paul.  In Romans 8:20-21 we read, “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.”   
This is how we know Francis Collins has it wrong.  Adam brought physical death and decay to all of creation, not just spiritual death.  Also, in
                1 cor. 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
So, Adam brought the curse and death, Jesus will bring eternal life and a new paradise.  Jesus reversed what Adam did.  This is God’s story.

So, if, according to common descent, Adam didn’t bring sin and death, I ask, why do we need Christ?  For a good example?  No!  That is not what the Bible says!  Christ saves us from sin and death.  One pillar of the reformation is Solo Christo, Only Christ Saves.  He is the only mediator between God and man.  We cannot save ourselves.
The problem is, Common Descent, the idea that man arose gradually from lower animals, is not compatible with a real Adam and what the Bible says about him. 
Look, in Gen. 2:17, God told Adam that if He ate from the tree, they would die.  Was God’s threat of death empty?  After all, if common descent were true, and Adam had seen parents or grandparents had died, be they apes or men, what was the big deal?  Was God’s threat of death empty?   No, God’s threat was not empty.   Adam was the first man.  He had no parents, be they apes or men.  Death was something new after God gave the curse after Adam and Eve ate fruit from the forbidden tree.
Common descent does not fit orthodox theology.  You have to ignore and twist the scripture to make it fit.

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Let me explain how God allowed me to address the Dartmouth professors, many of whom accept evolution.  The Christian professors had a meeting on The Essence of the Gospel.  One man opened, “Why should we put stumbling blocks in front of unbelievers like requiring them to take a certain stance on science before they some to faith?”  I knew he was talking about evolution.  I struggled to speak because of all the leaders in the room who I know disagree with me about evolution and not wanting to look stupid.  But God gave me words.  I said, “I would never want to give up the historical Adam and Eve”, then offered some of the reasons outlined above.  I explained how diminishing Adam diminishes the need for Christ.  I warned about damaging the integrity and authority of the scriptures and how this throws doubt on the moral teachings.
God is good.  He allowed me the chance to speak that day and gave me the words I needed.  I hope I can help students and professors trust the word of God.  Thank you for making that possible.

Common descent is scientifically bankrupt.
I.  The millions of transitional forms predicted by Darwin have not materialized
II.  Genetics studies are not telling the story predicted by common descent
                A.  When  scientists try to trace the evolutionary history of various genes, they get a different history depending on the gene they study
                B.  More interestingly, population genetics shows that the human genome is becoming less fit with each generation (Micheal Lynch, [2010] Rate, molecular spectrum, and consequences
of human mutation.  Periodical of the National Academy of Sciences 107:961-968) and (John Sanford,  Genetic Entropy, Elim Publishing, New York, 2005)

I hope I can help students and professors trust the word of God, that they would know that they should live by it.  Again, thank you for making that possible, through your support of our ministry.

See my website at www.tonyandkaylene.com