Is Creationism A Red Herring?

“I think” wrote Charles Darwin on his iconic first sketch of the tree of life. He went on to express his thoughts when urged to write them as a book, On the Origin of Species, and took his thoughts to their logical conclusion in The Descent of Man. The nation had been primed to receive his theories. With the lessening interest in religion, and the growing hypocrisy therein Charles Darwin struck the match which seemed to blow the whole system up. But was Darwin actually right? And does it even matter? Can Christianity survive, even if evolution rules supreme in science? Does the Gospel of Jesus Christ rely on a literal six-day Creation?

How Darwinism crept into the church

The state of the church in Victorian England can be exemplified by the lives of two men, George Müller and Charles Spurgeon. To the people if God existed it was no matter, the country was full of poverty, harsh living conditions and deprivation, sickness and death made their presence felt. Where was the loving God? This issue struck Darwin when his daughter died. Most people who would be called ‘religious’, limited their religion to attending church and nothing else. Müller saw this and worked hard to open an orphanage and help people in their practical needs, he gave all that he earnt away, so although he was given much money and help he died a poor man. Spurgeon likewise dealt with the physical needs of the people, but his greater legacy was in his stand for the Faith, and this is nowhere more in evidence than the ‘downgrade’ controversy. Along with Darwin’s theory and German higher criticism the church was being infiltrated with little defence. Charles Spurgeon would not go along with this; he resigned from the Baptist Union as they would not stand with him against these alien beliefs.

But do not suppose that these men stood alone, Gregor Mendel (father of genetics), and James Clerk Maxwell (father of electromagnetism) rejected evolution, amongst others. In fact in 1864, 717 scientists (including eminent scientists such as Joule and Brewster) signed a declaration stating they believed in the scientific integrity of the Bible, and rejected evolution. In 1932 John Ambrose Fleming (father of modern electronics), and Douglas Dewar founded the Evolution Protest Movement. From then on other organisations have been founded to oppose the belief that evolution is sufficient to account for: the creation of the universe, galaxies, planets, life itself, and for the derivation of life-forms. It is a large area of study, and is an essential part of the national curriculum. It touches so many different people, and even those with very little scientific knowledge understand the basic principles of evolution, and most believe it.

With evolution being so prominent in society, and particularly within the scientific community it is interesting to see that even the Church has accepted the thoughts that Darwin popularised. Many churches now will go with it. As this is the case we cannot say that a Christian cannot hold to evolutionary thinking. We cannot say that evolution has got rid of God in many people’s views. We cannot even say that evolution has turned everyone away from Jesus. So were the attacks on evolution by these people in the past and the modern day apologetic organisations’ arguments against evolution really worthwhile? Or is all this endeavour distracting people from what really matters, is it a red herring?

Defining creationism and deistic & theistic evolution

Creationism is the belief that God created everything, including the world, animals and plants. It stands opposed to the view expressed by neo-Darwinists (modern day Darwinists), that the universe started from a ‘big bang’, and life formed on this planet millions of years ago and has diversified since. Creationism does not necessarily include the idea of a recent creation, 6,000 to 8,000 years ago; neither does it completely reject evolution, though often limits its capabilities. Adaptation is often mistaken for evolution, the former is an observable fact, the latter is still regarded, even by the most ardent evolutionists, as a theory. Creationists almost universally accept adaptation, which are small changes within a genus or family group of animals (often given the term ‘Genesis kind’). But, not all creationists accept the ‘tree of life’ belief – that all animals have descended from one single-celled organism. Yet this idea does not rid the world of God. Questions are asked, “How did this life form come about?” Before that, “How did the universe originate?” For this and certain other things people invoke God, and a ‘God-of-the-gap’ theory comes about, a God who is there just to fulfill the questions that natural processes cannot answer. He becomes a deistic God (and not the Bible’s theistic God) who sets the cogs turning and then takes a step back.

Others hold to a theistic-evolutionary idea, where God guides evolution. He is involved in each step, He does not take a back seat role but rather His hand is seen in the works of evolution.

What does the Bible say?

Despite all these theories, a simple reading of Genesis chapter one does not suggest evolution at work at all, but rather a literal six-day creation. There is plenty that could be said in support of this, but time does not permit us here to go into them. Nevertheless, there are other evidences that God did things in six days. In Exodus 20, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments, inscribed by His own hand on two stone tablets. He says that the reason why the seventh day should be kept holy and separate, a day of rest, is because ‘in six days he created the universe and everything in it, and on the seventh day he rested’. Furthermore Jesus said that God made them male and female “in the beginning”, which would not be so in theistic-evolution.

It would also not be so if day-age theory was correct. This theory is one that theistic-evolutionists resort to quite regularly. It teaches that each day in the Genesis 1 account is not a day at-all, but a long period of time. They allegorise the text found in the Bible, though the Bible is more likely to be recording historical events, as the language used and turns of phrases do not suggest allegory but reality. Neither does the use of the Hebrew phrase, translated, “and the evening, and the morning were the fourth day (or third day etc.),” realistically allow these to be translated as a longer period of time.

Therefore, those who want to replace the plain reading of the Bible with a scientific theory are not just discolouring what the Bible actually says but ripping pages out of the Bible, only leaving what they like so as to match whatever is the current trend in society. There is a well-known story about a minister who was prone to tell his congregation “well that doesn’t really matter, you can take that out of the Bible”, or “modern science has shown this to be wrong, therefore you can take that out of the Bible”. When he was about to leave and go somewhere else an old woman from his congregation gave him a gift, a Bible, well the cover for a Bible, perplexed, the minister asked the woman why she gave him such a gift, to which she replied, “Well, I took everything out you told me to and the other pages fell out, and this is all that I have left”.

What does this mean? It teaches us that if you discard one thing in the Bible you start on a slippery slope that undermines the authority, authenticity, inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible. If you cannot trust the history in Genesis why should you trust the history of the gospels? If you do not believe that Adam was a historical character then why is Christ called the second Adam? For that matter where did sin come from? Is it part of God’s original creation, and if so how come the Bible calls it an enemy? How could a good God have created a sinful world? Did He make a mistake and then need to send His Son to correct the error? Why should we trust Him or His Son then? How could Christ die for the sinner if sin is not the sinners fault but God’s, doesn’t that just seem unnecessary? Why should God punish sinners if sin is just part of His creation, which He pronounced ‘very good’ in Genesis 1? How can death be an enemy to defeat if it is the process by which God furthers evolution? What about the results of sin, the famines, wars, plagues etc? There are many more questions, many more challenges that can be issued.

So can a Christian be an evolutionist? 

A person can be a believer, yet hold erroneous views, which do not affect the fundamental beliefs of Christianity (for example a Trinitarian God, and Christ as the God-man). However, they are not helping themselves by compromising on Creation. They are digging themselves a hole that they will struggle to get out of, and which many others will fall into. Some think creationism is a small issue, as it does not strike at the central message, the gospel. But, special creation is foundational to the gospel; it explains where sin and death came from. It lays the foundation for the need of a second Adam. Also, to uphold what the Bible clearly teaches upholds the authority, inerrancy, authenticity and sufficiency of the Bible, as the trustworthy word of God. These things are not secondary issues, and neither should creation be, as it is inextricably linked.

Why cower away as has been done in the past? Why not stand with Spurgeon and others who rejected evolution? Here is an opportunity to show that God’s word matters, it is reliable, it is trustworthy, it is life changing. When someone grasps God as creator they will then find it easier to call Him Lord and Saviour – the first makes sense of all that we see, the second comes from faith, and the reliability of the book that the creation story comes from.

Some people spend too much time in apologetics and the Creation-Evolution debate, and the gospel is completely lost. But others give up apologetics altogether, and the word of God; in fact the very idea of God is lost, along with the basis for the gospel.

Fear and Faith: Some thoughts on the General Election

I think we can all agree elections and election campaigning are extremely divisive. Many worry about the outcome of the election. Meanwhile the politicians sling insults at each other, sharing untruthful and misleading memes and videos to try and win more support. They declaim the other side as evil and wrong, ‘we are the only ones that are right’. Love and godliness in any shape or form is conspicuous by its absence, as is any heart-felt calling out to God.

It’s almost impossible not to be involved in it in some shape or form. So in such a divisive and mean-spirited environment how should Christians act?

The Christian’s Calling

Our main calling in life is to glorify God and to spread the message of the gospel of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this calling includes involvement in politics, other times it doesn’t. Yes it is important that Christians play an active role in proceedings and, where possible, act as a force for good in shaping our future as a country. But I believe we must be very careful in all our discussions and debates not to do anything to stir up hatred, anger, or otherwise bring dishonour to the name of Jesus Christ. We must not act like a bull in a china shop with all guns blazing; instead we should be gentle and considerate, especially when others disagree with our views. We should disagree well and amicably.

Above all else, above journalists, politicians and prime ministers, above our political allegiances we have an allegiance to the Almighty Sovereign God who takes a meaningful and merciful interest in all the goings-on in the world; indeed, God is in complete control. Whilst His people continue to cry out to Him, He will not leave us alone to wrack and ruin, indeed God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5). This fact should unify us. I know Christians on all sides of the political spectrum (examples of these include the Conservative Christian Fellowship and Christians on the Left), but we don’t let our politics define us or divide us, instead we have unity in Christ.

We should not put our faith in any political leader however good they might seem, even though may talk a lot of good, promise a lot of things and perhaps have a profession of faith. At the end of the day they will let us down, they are human and all human beings fail. Their promises will most likely be proven empty and hollow. Instead we should put all our faith in our great and Almighty God, that He might be glorified even through such a discordant environment. He will never let us down, ever. The Bible, the ultimate authority on life, says quite simply:

“Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. [But] blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalm 146:3-4).

Pray

We are called to pray for all leaders and for all those in positions of authority, whatever we might personally think about them, their supporters or their policies. The Bible says:

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people –for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

We should pray for guidance and wisdom for the party leaders and other leading figures. We should pray for a government that brings glory to God’s name by being peaceful, loving, merciful, just, free, honourable and humble and preserving freedom of religion, so that we can freely proclaim our Saviour to the world.

Prime ministers, parties and individuals come and go. The Bible says:

“All men are like grass,
and all the glory of man is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of the Lord endures for ever.” (1 Peter 2:4).

Where we would despair and fear we should know that God is in control and seek to feel and witness His loving arms surrounding us. We shouldn’t expect much from this election, we shouldn’t worry about how things might turn out, we should never fear man and all his plans, rather more fear and trust God (Proverbs 29:25, Matthew 10:28). We should vote (it’s our democratic right and duty after all), and we should use our conscience and prayerfully consider everything (The Christian Institute offer some helpful resources) before casting our vote. Then, whatever happens, we should just remember Psalm 20:7:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

 

Looking Heavenwards

As Christians we are merely passing through this world, on towards a better place.  When we reach Heaven there won’t be any politics, just glory, and that is something we can look forward to.

No matter who is in power or who wins, they can’t fix everything in the world  because it’s a fallen world, broken to its core.  No party will make this world better, it won’t really make a big difference (although people can quite easily mess it up even more!). What will make a difference is how we live our lives. We should fix our eyes on Jesus and love our neighbour as ourselves.  If we want to make this world a better place, then we must love and act as Jesus acted, rather than having fanciful notions that our political heroes can perfect the world. We already have a hero, a champion who has changed the world, with the biggest revolution ever; His name is Jesus Christ!

Too many times do we put our hope and faith in man to achieve things that they will fail at. We must put our faith and hope in God, and in God alone.

 

God in Our Hobbies: Writing Worship

I love sitting down with my guitar and coming up with a song. Granted, I am not a great singer or a great musician, in fact, I’m probably one of the worst around. Nonetheless, to spend time with God and giving praise to him, there is nothing I’d rather do. The Bible says to ‘make a joyful noise to the Lord’; being in tune is just a bonus. Over the past few years, I have written quite a few songs, and I have to thank a friend at university for getting me into the habit. We used to come up with some song ideas, and then he would turn them into something amazing. Now that we live in different parts of the country that’s rather hard to do, so I’ve learnt the guitar to a basic standard and have a go myself!

What do we centre our hobby on?

When someone writes a song, it should be about something they are passionate about, for the Christian, what greater passion than Jesus? I find myself with little desire to write about anything else, even when I tried, I found the songs lacking. Jesus is what we are all about; he has brought us alive, he has set us free. When I write these songs I feel it’s giving back a small offering to God. An amazing thing about our Saviour is that there’s no list of do’s and don’ts (Colossians 2:20) no set religious pattern or legalistic ties we have to follow, no sin offering we have to bring before Him. All we do is, trust in Jesus Christ, giving us a desire to live our lives for him, and in my case write songs to glorify his name.

Experiencing the Holy Spirit

There is however no point in forcing a song out. I have tried and it has come out as a mess. Rather I decide to write when I feel close with him, when I feel led by the Holy Spirit to write one. A song written with the power and presence of the Spirit is amazing, like all things done in the presence of the Spirit. It some ways, for me, writing music and feeling the Spirit makes me desire the Spirit more and more, it’s a unique but wonderful feeling, it’s so amazing that you never want the experience to end, and you have the desire in your heart for more. Song writing really helped me look to Jesus and the Spirit and the Father and just allowed me to pour out my heart in worship to God.

When I have been in tough times at university, the Spirit comforted me and gave me a strong desire to write, and at certain times whilst back home I have had times where songs have poured out. Sometimes, that desire has gone, in some cases, when I allowed sin to rule my heart, the songs completely dried up, but also sometimes after a lengthy writing period, the desire tamed, a lesson was learned or an aspect of God was opened up in glory. I think that is the purpose of song writing, for me. It teaches me, it encourages me to read the Word, and it helps me to experience God in power. And when I look back at these songs, I am reminded of lessons, of times, and it helps me focus my eyes on Jesus more and more.

Finding God in our hobbies

I write this, because do we look for God in our hobbies? Do we find him all around us?   Whatever our hobby; big or small, God can be in it. Do we aim to glorify God in the life we lead, in the hobbies we take part in?   Sometimes it can be difficult to find God in what we enjoy, but perhaps we are putting the hobby before God in our heart? There is nothing wrong in our hobbies, just ensure that they don’t overtake God. God uses our hobbies and life experiences to teach us, we don’t just learn from the Bible. God is alive, he’s not confined to a book (although the bible is extremely important in our lives), and don’t you start quoting about the passing of these experiences in 1 Corinthians 13; nothing is perfect yet. God will use our life, our experiences to guide us, teach us, train us and this certainly applies to our hobbies.

I am no great guitar player or song writer, but I have been blessed with what God has given me. The Spirit of our Lord is amazing and I am thirsty for more. We have read from an article by Josh, of how important it is to read the Bible and rightly so, and also how important is it to be thirsty of His presence? To thirst for the gifts, God has given us, whether spiritual or supernatural? Song writing has opened so much to me and it’s all down to God. In our all hobbies, God can teach us, he can guide us. Christian, are you putting anything in the way and stopping the outworking of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19)?