The theory of evolution is one which must often be dealt with in evangelistic campaigns, because the whole basis of our denominational movement is the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the memorial of creation. A true Sabbathkeeper cannot be an evolutionist. The two cannot mix in any shape or form. Obviously, you will have many people in your audience who have been taught the doctrine of evolution. It is taken for granted today. Not only in science but even in the study of geography, present-day textbooks are full of evolution. History books, professing to give an outline of history, start off with the early general ages of prehistoric man. Thus, any person having an ordinary education has had sown in his mind the doctrine of evolution, and when you say that you are preaching the truth of the Sabbath because it is in memorial of a seven-day creation, there is bound to be difficulty.
An inquirer may ask you privately to help him, and I would suggest that this is the best time to bring out your strongest ammunition. I do not think that it would be best to bring out a mass of detail on the platform. I would keep much in reserve for those who desire individual studies afterward and want to ,get help. Then you can give special information and study the subject with them.
We all have sufficient faith to believe in the Word of God. But that, unfortunately, is not sufficient for the audience. They need to have their faith supplemented. You can supplement it by appeals to reason.
Evolution has changed in its outlook in the past thirty years. It is almost as old as man. Its roots go right back into the past, with the speculators who guessed that man came from eggs or seeds or the like, and developed until we find them as they are today. It is not a new theory. The word itself means "unrolling" or "unfolding." It is a philosophy based on the principle that all things move gradually, steadily.
Physicists have come to the conclusion that phenomena happen by jumps and not gradually. It looks gradual, to our eye, but when we begin to use sensitive instruments we find that all sorts of chemical and physical changes take place in jumps. But evolution believes in gradual changes. Although it has changed in its details, it still maintains that millions of years ago life came and has since been developing so that a higher, more developed form of being results. But do not make the grave mistake of saying that evolution claims we are descended from apes. That used to be said fifty years ago. The popular idea, now is that apes and man came from one common ancestor, not discovered as yet. They are still looking hopefully.
Evolution, in every case, implies that there has been a gradual ascent from something. It need not say from what. That, of course, is diametrically opposed to the Biblical story and does not recognize a fall, when sin came and man lost his first estate.
Evolution involves a long period of time. I believe we are the only denomination that makes no compromise at all on this phase. There must not be any compromise between our doctrine of seven days in creation week and any idea of some gradual creation. Obviously, we cannot unite the two, because of the Sabbath's coming every week. That is a wonderful safeguard against walking into error.
The doctrine of evolution began about one hundred years ago. I do not think that is insignificant, and I have found it good to make a point of that—how this denomination began about 1844, or just after that, by proclaiming the Sabbath truth, and at the same time a movement began which supported the idea of evolution. The two are diametrically opposed. If everyone had paid attention to the advent message at that time, the theory would never have taken hold, and there could not possibly have been an evolutionist. The theory has been in existence thousands of years, but had not gained headway until the last seventy years.
The book Darwin wrote on the origin of species by the process of natural selection, should be read before being criticized. There is a great deal of wisdom and truth in the book. If anything were wholly bad, it would never be accepted. It is the devil's way to wrap up a little piece of truth in a multitude of error. So there is much truth in Darwin's book. He was a keen scientist. He studied interbreeding of plants and animals. He wrote sound monographs on various subjects of natural history. It does not pay to sneer at anyone simply because he is an evolutionist. That is a great mistake to make.
The very first debate that took place between the evolutionists and those who believed the Bible resulted in catastrophe. Huxley (grandfather of the present one) debated the case, acting as Darwin's agent and standing up for his theory. Bishop Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, opposed it, and his greatest argument against it was, "If you prefer to trace your ancestry from an ape, then you must be rather foolish," which is no argument at all, is it ? People are not ashamed now of tracing their ancestry from lower forms of life, and it does not pay to cast scorn on their beliefs. A thinking man will say to himself, "There is no argument in that at all, and so the preacher evidently does not know what he is talking about."
Darwin has been responsible for this wrong theory, but let us not castigate him for it. He was a most retiring man. He took forty-five years to publish his researches, and he did not want them published even then. Since his day men have given much thought to the origin of species.
"Species" is an important word. It does not have a definition. Its meaning varies among scientific people. They cannot come to a conclusion as to what a species really is. Let me try to illustrate it. Some call different breeds species; some call them varieties. You would all know a dog. I should be inclined to call the dachshund and the St. Bernard varieties of dog, although there is a great difference between the two, and if there were not any intermediate animals between them, we might even call them different species. But I belong to the "Iumpers"—those who bring the whole lot of different animals that look very much alike under one species.
The opposite camp are the "splitters"—those who, if an animal looks a bit different, class it in a different species. They would multiply the different kinds of creatures. The cat, lion, tiger, panther, and leopard are different animals, but I personally am inclined to put them in the same species, because a great deal of variation can occur between animals of the same species. Others would call them different species. There is no hard and fast line that can be drawn.
All sorts of variation can occur. Brothers are not the same, although they are born of the same parents. Even twins are not the same. Variation occurs in the same species. An audience could be classified as blue-eyed or brown-eyed, or fair-haired or dark-haired. Variations occur, and you cannot predict them.
Darwin's point was that by a succession of variations like that you gradually got a different kind of animal altogether. You know the stock illustration of the giraffe. Food being scanty, animals that happened to have longer necks reached the lower branches of the trees and so obtained food. And in course of time this was transmitted to their descendants, who were eventually born with long necks, and so could graze from the tops of tall trees. That, Darwin says, was how new species came. The race that did not have long necks simply died off. The race that had long necks survived and produced like animals with long necks.
That was what Darwin said in the past century, but no one says it today. His point was that you could get new species by that method, so that if you started off with something that had fins, you could, if you put it in the right place, get it to change its fins to four legs; and then, by putting it onto the hard ground, you could develop the fins into long legs such as the horse has, giving it speed. So a fish, in the course of untold millenniums, could gradually change to something entirely different. That was his belief, but it is not considered to be the case today. You have to be careful about criticizing outmoded theories.
In the book Genes and Genesis,* we are shown that animals do change. We used to say that an animal did not change, ever. It was created that way, and all its descendants would be like that forever. In thinking this, we laid ourselves open to objections. The chameleon and the frog are illustrations of variation. They change the color of their skins according to the background. The fox changes its fur according to the season and its environment. There are changes—wide changes—that do occur. There are also changes in plants.
Interbreeding of animals and plants has helped the creationist considerably. There is a fine book written by Doctor William Bateson, one of the greatest authorities on Mendelism—Menders Principles of Heredity. He shows how many c.hanges can take place, and how twenty-five years ago we would have called these changes new species, but now we know that they are only new varieties. Man, by the way, has made new varieties; for example, loganberries. The loganberry was not created in the beginning, but the potentialities were there, and when man took the raspberry and the blackberry and crossed them, they produced something new. We observe, many cases of interbreeding, but there is no proof that anything really new is produced. That is why I belong to the "lumpers." I think it is the safer side to be on.
The book Genes and Genesis mentions the body cells, and this branch of science is worthy of attention. The cell is like a brick. You put a quantity of bricks together to get a house; a quantity of cells to get a living creature. Each cell is like any other cell superficially. That is, each cell in one animal is like any other cell of the same animal. The different arrangement of cells makes a different creature. The cell has a nucleus, which at certain times splits up into a certain number of little particles now called chromosomes, so named because if you put another chemical with them they pick up a stain, but no other part does.
There are a certain number of chromosomes in a certain species. In man it is forty-eight, and in cell division before fertilization each germinal cell contains twenty-four. In other animals and plants it is a different number. These chromosomes can be split up still further into little units that are known as genes. In each gene there are potentialities for some characteristic, whatever it may be—for size, in one; in another, color ; and in another, intelligence; and so on. As the genes of one male cell associate with the genes of a female cell, some characteristics may be Missing, or a double quantity of another may result. This is what causes variation, but it does not cause new species.
If you were to take twenty-six letters of the alphabet in the left hand and twenty-six in the right hand, and divide each into two parts at random, the chances are that when the two groups of thirteen were reassembled, the twenty-six letters would not make a complete alphabet. Some letters would be lacking, and others would be duplicated. That is why we get variations, and that was the plan of God in the beginning. Surely He would not want us to be all the same. It is good to have differences. It is in His plan that the flowers and animals should be different. Thus there is almost unlimited scope for variation, because God has ordained that animals and plants should produce by the mixing of chromosomes.
There are three main arguments that are used by the evolutionist. I do not think you should mention this in your public addresses, but you ought to have the arguments at your finger tips in case someone challenges you.
I. Geology. This is the study of the rocks and their contents. In brief, rocks are oldest because they contain the oldest fossils; these fossils are the oldest because they are in the oldest rocks. That is arguing in a circle, and the geology argument is essentially that.
2. Embryology. This argument for evolution is definitely untrue, for embryos increasingly diverge as they develop, and so have fewer similarities as they become larger.
3. Morphology. This is just as much an argument for the creation theory as for any other. God created the animals on a certain plan, and hence there is a fundamental similarity in structure. On the other hand, if you want some evidence for creation, use the fact that life can only come from existing life. That is a fact that you ought to use in your sermons.
Then, also, I should mention the weekly cycle. There is no astronomical reason why we should carve off time into periods of seven. The best explanation men have found was the one given by Moses. Study the article "Week" in the Encyclopaedia Brittanica. You could build up your Sabbath discourse on that.
As evolution involves a climbing upward it does away with salvation. In evolution there is no need for the story of the cross, no need for the sacrifice of Jesus. If man is going upward he never has fallen. Evolution destroys the whole appeal of the gospel. The story of the fall is more out of date. Men think that the world is getting better, and that they are evolving into supermen who do not need a Saviour. But the creationist believes the complete opposite and shows man in his true, woebegone condition. Taking the Biblical story as our foundation, we can agree with the famous geologist and naturalist, Sir William Dawson, who said, "I know nothing about the origin of man except what I am told in the Scriptures—that God created him. I know nothing more than that, and I do not know of anyone who does."