The Bible and Evolution
Wm. E. Wallace
At home, in Bible class, and in church, our children learn about how things started. In high school and college they hear an entirely different story. What happens when they are confronted with this challenge to their faith? The concept that Bible and science are incompatible enters their minds. In reaction the Bible is abandoned or science is ridiculed. Some move from conservative to liberal religious conviction, others are indifferent, many become skeptics.
Among the intellectuals the theory of evolution is accepted as being most probable, and when religionists dare to categorically deny evolution they do so at the cost of a "marked loss of intellectual respect." How religion and evolution can harmonize is thus one of the most anxious questions of our disturbed world.
Several roads of thought confront us. Evolution may be completely or in part rejected as a fallacy. Evolution and God may be accepted by either modifying the theory of Evolution or "modifying" God to accommodate the theory. Evolution may be accepted without God -- this is atheism. Our youth stand at the crossroads.
Bible and Science
The Bible is a book of religion, not of science. Many writers produced the Bible over a long period of time. These inspired men were developing the grand theme of salvation through Christ. They produced a book of religion, not of science. When they referred to science they often did so in terms to accommodate the thinking of their day regarding scientific matters. References to the nature of the universe and related subjects are usually secondary or purely incidental to the author's main objectives in writing. Yet the Bible often speaks of things pertaining to the universe in scientifically accurate expressions that indicate more advanced information than that available to the ancient world (Job 38:8-11, 35; Isaiah 40:22; Job 26:7). But we must realize that the value of the Bible does not stand or fall on the basis of its scientific value. It is not a book of science.
Evolution and Science
The tension between science and religion is due to excessive claims on the part of either scientists or religionists. There are two extremes. One affirms that "kinds" of life changed to others -- from mineral to vegetable to animal. The other extreme asserts that all species have always been as they now appear.
Most unbiased scientists will admit, "Actually science proves nothing about first causes at all." Yet there is fostered on the public the idea that evolution is a fact that cannot be successfully disputed. An image of the universal acceptance of a "fact" is created. However, there is controversy among scientists over the limits of evolution. The involved discussions regarding evolution, among evolutionists, indicate uncertainty and weaknesses in the theory. We must realize that "science is based on experimentation and observation, its truth is always on trial, always subject to revision, and never fully assured." We must remember that there is no science of origins. "Where both experimentation and observation are impossible, the scientist makes an intelligent guess, or hypothesis."
God Plus Evolution?
Liberal religionists contend "it is just as possible to worship a God who works through natural laws, slowly evolving life on this planet, as it is to worship a God who creates by sudden command." They assert further "God might have brought animals and plants into being by a process of evolution, and then have produced man as a separate creation." This is theistic evolution.
What Is Evolution?
Evolution is simply change. We must indeed admit change but not the kind and degree of change set forth in the theory of organic evolution. The following definition of the theory of evolution is an adequate one: "The theory that plants and animals now living are the modified descendants of somewhat different plants and animals which lived in times past. These ancestors, in their turn, are thought of as being the descendants of predecessors which differed from them, and so on, step by step, back to a beginning shrouded in mystery." It is supposed that "millions of years ago lifeless matter, acted upon by natural forces, gave origin to one or more minute living organisms which have since evolved into all living and extinct plants and animals including man."
The theory considers origins and transitions of life in contrast to ordinary development of new varieties within kinds by crossbreeding. There are three major stages in the theory of evolution which are unproven: (1) Origin of lower forms of life from lifeless matter as result of natural forces, (2) development of higher forms of life from lower forms, (3) development of man from animals. The sequence is assumed to involve transitions from fish to amphibians to reptiles to mammals to man.
Evidences of Evolution
Evolution involves a vast study with contributions from anatomy, histology, cytology, physiology, genetics, geology, paleontology, anthropology, zoology, botany, et cetera. The vastness and enormity of the study are impressive and these factors alone convince many that the theory is true. But the theory can be reduced to a number of fundamental contentions.
It is assumed that similar or identical structural parts among animals and man prove progression from the same source in the evolutionary scale. The developing human embryo is supposed to go through the same stages of the assumed evolutionary process and in these stages the human embryo resembles the lower animals in various stages or progression -- fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal and then human. Imbedded in the crust of the earth are fossils and bones believed to indicate evolutionary descent. Blood precipitation tests supposedly show that different species are related to each other in descent. Parts in the body like the appendix and the coccyx are suspected to have been functional organs required in lower and previous stages in man's evolution. The modification of species through development of new varieties and the unearthing of fragments of human skeletons are believed to be evidences of transmutation or organic evolution.
The powers or forces effecting evolutionary development are explained to be the "directive effect of preceding events" and "natural selection."
Refutation of Evolution
The fact that evolution is not a fact, but a theory, stands out glaringly. A theory becomes a fact when it can no longer be classified as possible or probable, but as certainty --not one fact against it! This cannot be said of evolution -- there are too many facts against it.
The gaps in the evolutionary scale or chain include the missing links between one-celled and multi-celled animals. Next, there are no intermediate or transitional forms between the higher forms of mammals and their supposed ancestors. There are no transmutational forms from mineral to vegetable to animal to human. Evolution cannot account for the origins of life, nor for the originating and sustaining forces which created and preserved the upward evolutionary trend.
There is no such thing as spontaneous generation of life. There is no example or proof of life arising from inanimate matter. There is no example or proof of one kind of life changing to another.
Some difference and controversy exists among scientists as to proper definition of species. I understand species to be kinds --"groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups." Or, as the Bible states it, "whose seed was in itself, after his kind" (Genesis 1:12, 24-25). There are no transitional forms of life between the kinds of life that are reproductively isolated from each other.
The fossils and bones discovered and unearthed are fragmentary, intermediate forms rather than complete and transitional. Certainly there is the presence of change, but this does not involve the extreme changes asserted in the theory of evolution.
The Bible teaches us that man was created in the image of God, that he was formed from the dust of the ground, shaped into the form in which he is now recognized (Genesis 1:21, 24, 26-27). The separation of species of kinds is recognized in the statement of Paul concerning bodies (I Corinthians 15:39, 40). So the Bible and the theory of evolution do indeed clash as to the origin of man and the isolation of species. Those who are confronted with this collision of revelation and theory must choose in favor of one or the other.
In further refutation of the theory of organic evolution we point to man's acquirements of movement, sensation, ideas, language, laws, sciences, arts, et cetera. Are we to think that these evidences of intelligence and design come from mere chance combinations of molecules and cells -- from unorganized simplicity to organized complexity?
There are too many "missing links," or what evolutionists prefer to call "deficiencies of record," for evolution to be accepted in place of revelation in the matters of creation and origins. The notorious Charles Darwin, who produced the classic "Origin of Species," recognizes this truth and confesses the weaknesses in the theory of evolution: "That many and serious objections may be advanced against the theory of descent with modification through variation and natural selection, I do not deny... I have felt these difficulties far too heavily during many years to doubt their weight" (pages 476, 483).
Before we pass to a consideration of the dangerous effects of the theory of evolution, we must consider the matters of the coelacanth and the attempts to produce life in test tubes. The coelacanth is a fish that evolutionists believe to be a missing link in their evolutionary scale. Recently, several of these fish have been caught and examined. It was formerly believed that such a creature was extinct. The coelacanth has fins allowing for mobility in water or on rocks under the water. It has gills and lungs -- the latter vestigial or not used. Because of these unique characteristics, which appear to make it almost adapted for amphibian life, the evolutionists are excited and they create intense interest in contending that they have found a "missing link." Yet the coelacanth is still just a fish! It is not a transitional form! It is within the same species as all other fish! It may be unique, or freakish, but it is still a fish and it is not a missing link of the kind needed to prove transmutation. The excitement engendered comes from propaganda unbecoming to scientific principles and methods.
Another source of some excitement is the amazing claim of some scientists to be near a solution in creating life from non-living matter in the test-tube. Suppose they succeed in evolving life from experimentation with acids and gases? It must be conceded by all that the experiments were controlled by intelligence superior to the elements under control, and this is what the Bible teaches us-- a Creator superior to the elements, created living things! Thus success in these experiments would refute the theory of chance in the origin of life.
Results of the Theory of Evolution
The theory of evolution involves some concepts and ethics that are detrimental to society and the human race. As result of the theory there has emerged a code of ethics based on the "survival of the fittest" --whatever will enable the individual to survive is right and good. This is a contrast to the ideal of the worth of every individual. the idea upon which our nation has been built, the idea for which our Lord suffered and died. Note the full title, of Charles Darwin's book: "On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life." Such Philosophy helped breed Marxism and Nazism. Much of the political and social world disorder, religious confusion or tension, skepticism, and despair come directly from the concepts of the theory of evolution. If such a theory had been universally accepted in the days of the founding of our nation, the sacred rights and liberties we hold dear today would have been the privileges of the few.
Religion and evolution come together in the consideration of the orderliness, design and continuity of creation or the creative processes. They depart when evolution emphasizes natural process or processes instead of the Creator and creative power. But we hasten to note that many evolutionists are devout or reverent toward God. One eminent evolutionist has stated, "The more I study science the more I am impressed with the thought that this world and universe have a definite design -- and a design suggests a designer." If evolutionists will recognize the value of the revelation of the Bible and treat evolution for what it is -- a theory -- then there can be fair and unbiased study between evolutionists and religionists, regarding the evolutionary change.
Truth Magazine VIII: 6, pp. 3-6 March 1964