Evolution and the Character of God

Are they reconcilable?

HERSCHEL C. LAMP, M.D., SDA Mission Hospiial, Ile-Ite, Nigeria

The apologist for special creationism has two ave­nues of defense open to him. For the atheist and agnostic, to whom Biblical evidence is not acceptable, the approach must be basically a scientific one. Fortunately, as Seventh-day Adventists we have in our midst capable scientists who have ably pointed out that the facts of science are not all stock­piled in the arsenal of our opponents. It would be profitable for us all to become fa­miliar with the fundamental arguments on both sides of the controversy, in order that we may be able to give a reasonable presen­tation of the creationist's viewpoint rather than indulge in scientific inaccuracies or, what is worse, stoop to invectives and ridi­cule, which one sometimes hears from the zealous but uninformed.

Not all evolutionists, however, are un­believers; in fact, probably the greater number of these who accept the evolu­tionary hypothesis in our country still cling to a measure of Biblical belief, assuming that the evolutionist's conclusions and the Scriptural record are not basically anti­thetical, but that both can be accepted without sacrificing the essence of either. It is to this group that we can direct a Bibli­cal approach.

One of the most persuasive examples of the wedding of evolutionary and Christian concepts comes from the brilliant and lucid Christian writer, C. S. Lewis, in his book The Problem of Pain. "For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself. He gave it hands whose thumb could be applied to each of the fingers, and jaws and teeth and throat ca­pable of articulation, and a brain sufficiently complex to execute all the material motions whereby rational thought is incarnated. The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man: it may even have been clever enough to make things which a modern archaeologist would accept as proof of its humanity. But it was only an animal because all its physical and psychical processes were directed to purely material and natural ends.

"Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say T and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty, and goodness, and which was so far above time that it could perceive time flowing past...

"We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell. Someone or something whispered that they could become as gods —that they could cease directing their lives to their Creator.... They wanted, as we say, to 'call their souls their own.' But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, 'This is our business, not yours.' But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives. We have no idea in what particular act, or series of acts, the self-contradictory, impossible wish found expression. For all I can see, it might have concerned the literal eating of a fruit, but the question is of no consequence."—Pages 65-68.

Christianity is founded upon the prem­ise that Christ, as incarnate God, came to this world to die as a propitiation for the sins of a rebellious mankind. Sin and re­bellion in turn are predicated on an intel­ligent, free will that is at liberty to choose to act contrary to the divine will. Any at­tempt to bring harmony between the evo­lutionary origin of man and the Biblical origin of sin must be built upon these ten­ets if the conclusion is to be accepted by the Christian. Dr. Lewis accepts these nec­essary Christian facts and weaves them into a pattern that superficially seems to satisfy both, the demands of science and revela­tion. A closer look at this Christianity-evo­lution compromise, however, reveals a po­sition that clearly is scripturally untena­ble.

The basic belief of emergent evolution is that simple organisms, over vast epochs of time, developed by natural selection into increasingly more complex organisms, cul­minating at last in modern man.

Inseparable from the concept of natural selection is the idea of the struggle of the species for survival. Few of us have not seen in an artist's conception, in graphic painting or sculptured tableau in muse­ums, the hairy, low-browed prehistoric man engaged in his primeval struggle with his hostile environment, living amid the ever-present reality of the sudden and vio­lent death of the weak at the hands or fangs of the predatory strong.

Evolution by its very nature implies vio­lent struggle and death as the instruments of its emergent process. The Christian who claims that he accepts this inter-creature conflict of organic evolution as the explan­ation for the origin of man is faced with a dilemma. If sin did not appear in our world until after millions of years of evo­lutionary development, how do we account for the existence of violence, pain, and death before transgression occurred? If only subhuman creatures not yet possessing moral responsibility inhabited our planet, how are we to explain the biological may­hem and death the evolutionist postulates, unless we charge God Himself with being the willful instigator of it all?

Clearly this view is not Scriptural, for the Bible tells us that man was created in pristine perfection, a noble creature formed in the image of his Maker (Gen. 1:26). Further, Adam's Edenic home was not marred by fear of enemy assault, or the anguished cries of the dying, or the woeful laments of the bereaved, either ani­mal or human. The evolutionist's picture of an unfriendly world of marauding car­nivores preying relentlessly upon one an­other is not true to the Biblical account of the earth before sin. As the sixth day of Creation week came to its close, God said to Adam: "Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every foul of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so" (Gen. 1:29, 30).

We may have some idea of the original animal to animal, and animal to man, re­lationships by reading those scriptures that depict the kingdom and dominion re­stored, when God shall make an end of sin and create all things again as they were in the beginning: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord" (Isa. 65:25). "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

We do not know what all the changes were that took place in the natural world after the inception of sin, but there was a change in the biological economy, for we read in the third chapter of Genesis that thorns and thistles appeared (verse 18), the soil became less productive (verse 17), and the bearing of children became a painfuI experience (verse 16). But all this was after Satan had beguiled Eve and she in turn had induced her husband to disobey.

Dr. Lewis would teach us, however, that death and all its painful precursors antedate sin, but this we cannot accept, for the apostle Paul says in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."

Sin and death are father and son, and both entered as aliens and intruders into the serenity and harmony of God's original creation. Suffering and death in all their tragic forms did not appear in the world as the studied design of a sadistic deity. They came rather as the natural but terrible con­sequence of the willful and needless diso­bedience of our first parents, who chose darkness rather than light, sorrow rather than joy, and death rather than life.

The theory of evolution then is a clever and intricate, but monstrous lie devised by the adversary of souls to attempt to make it appear that not he but God is the author of suffering and death; and this false representation of our God of love we as Bible Christians must reject.

The evolutionary theory has become so deeply entrenched in the education and philosophy of our present-day society that few seriously challenge its scientific founda­tion. Christian evolutionists by and large quietly accept what most of them consider overwhelming evidence, and urbanely con­cede that the theory does no violence to their Christian belief, not realizing that it strikes at the very heart of religion by ma­ligning the character of God.

By pointing out to our fellow Christians that there is indeed "a great gulf fixed" be­tween organic evolution and Christianity, we may more clearly portray the loving character of God as it unfolds in the grand perspective of the great controversy that rages from Eden to Eden. Moreover, we may stimulate them to join us in a deeper and more diligent study into the scientific problems of biology and geology that con­front both the evolutionist and the special creationist.

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HERSCHEL C. LAMP, M.D., SDA Mission Hospiial, Ile-Ite, Nigeria

November 1962

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