WHAT IF EVOLUTION WERE TRUE? #1

 

Almost monthly—and certainly several times every year—world renewed scientists—especially anthropologists—announce through the national and international media that fragments of human bones millions of years old have been discovered in Africa or in Asia or in some other part of the world.  These bone fragments are supposed to prove the evolutionary origin of mankind.  The discoverers of the bones often claim that they provide the missing link between human beings and their nearest ancestors.  What do the bones prove?  Do they really prove anything? Whatever they prove, they do not establish a genetic link between men and monkeys or between men and any other creature.

 

But what if they did show conclusively that we are descendants from the lower animals?  What if men are "human animals," as Phil Donahue has said in his book by that title?  I am asking and answering this question today: "What If Evolution Were True?"  What possible difference could it make in our lives?  Would we not still be human beings as distinguished from the apes, the monkeys and other animals?  Please listen carefully and communicate with me if you have questions or comments.

 

I hope you noticed the form of the question I am discussing with you today: "What If Evolution Were True?"  The verb "were" is in the subjunctive mood.  In case you have forgotten your high school English, the subjunctive mood suggests a condition contrary to fact or a wish. The question, "What if evolution  were true?”, from my viewpoint means that evolution is not true.  There is no hard evidence to prove that the theory of evolution, as the word "evolution" is normally defined, has ever occurred.  The evolutionists themselves--at least, many of the internationally respected evolutionists—admit to many weaknesses in the evolutionary hypothesis.  Lesser lights are probably afraid to speak of these weaknesses for fear of losing their academic positions, but some of the leading scientists in the world acknowledge that evolution has not been proved beyond dispute.

 

My purpose today is not to outline the illogical and unscientific nature of evolution—whether organic or theistic or emergent—but to show what it would mean to Bible believers if it were true.  I do need to explain that I am not speaking primarily of theistic evolution.  The theistic evolutionist believes—or claims to believe—that God started the whole process and then allowed the world, including man and the animals, to develop as nature directed that development.  Theistic evolutionists do not rule God out of the process, but they would not confuse and deceive so many people as they currently do, if they would rule God out altogether.  Personally, I am as strongly opposed to theistic evolution as I am to organic evolution.  Theistic evolution seeks to compromise the truth of the scriptures and is unscriptural and unscientific.

 

Most of us are aware that the Bible does not use any formal argument to establish the existence of God.  However, the Bible writers do use solid arguments to prove that God is.  The inspired Psalmist wrote: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.  In them has he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoicing as a strong man to run a race.  His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof" (Psa. 19:1-6).

 

Paul's argument for the existence of God is not so elaborate as the one I have just read to you from Psalm 19, but it has great power.  He affirms that "that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God has shown it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19-20).  Both Psalm 19 and Romans 1 argue that there is much we can know about God simply by examining what he has made.  This is technically called the "teleological argument" or the argument from design.  Very simply stated the argument says, "If there is evidence of design in the universe, there must have been a designer.  I could give you hundreds of examples of design in the universe—especially in the human body.  How does one explain this design?  There had to be a designer.  Automobiles, computers, airplanes and houses do not just happen. They are designed by someone and built by human ingenuity.  How could the world with all its intricate adjustments just happen?  There is no possibility of the world's just happening.  It had to be brought into existence by God almighty.

 

God's creation does not tell us all we need to know about the Creator.  God understood that truth and in his infinite grace and wisdom has given us his divinely inspired revelation.  If we want to know the nature of God, his will for our lives, the eternal destiny of the human soul and many other essential ideas, we have only one way of learning these truths: Studying what the Bible teaches.  Paul speaks of what he calls "the things of God," that is, the great ideas and concepts God wanted men to know.  He then added: "But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God....Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual ideas with spiritual words" (1 Cor. 2:10, 13).

 

My friends, if evolution were true, what I have read to you from Psalm 19, Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 1 would be false.  The idea of organic evolution is not compatible with the existence of God.  Either God created the world or it evolved.  There is no in-between.  Organic evolution puts men in the same condition Paul described in the Ephesian letter.  The Gentiles "were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12).  If God does not exist—as all organic evolutionists must believe—we are descendants of worms and birds and apes.  The late Dr. Carl Sagan promoted evolution with great vigor.  He no longer is an atheist; nor does he any longer believe in organic evolution.  He has had to learn the hard way about the existence of almighty God.  Please, dear friend, do not make the same mistake.

 

How in the world could a man as brilliant as Carl Sagan deny the existence of God?  The Psalmist wrote a long time ago: "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God" (Psa. 14:1).  That verse probably ought to read: "The fool has said in his heart, I will have no God."  Many people are practical atheists.  They may not deny that God exists, but they do not want him interfering with their lives.  Is that not what Paul meant when he wrote: "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened....And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" (Rom. 1:21, 28)?  I agree with Dr. William Nolen, a highly respected American medical writer, who said, "A man would almost have to be irrational to be an atheist."  I would remove the word "almost" from Dr. Nolen’s statement.   A man has to ignore millions of facts and ideas to be an atheist or an agnostic or a secular humanist.  The theory of organic evolution and New Testament Christianity are absolutely incompatible.  There is no way under heaven to harmonize the two positions.

 

One of the central truths of Christianity is the death of Jesus Christ for the remission of the sins of the world.  The Old Testament predicted the death of Christ as a substitute for our having to die for our sins.  "Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed....It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him. to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand" (Isa. 53:4-5, 10).  When Paul explained to the Corinthians what the gospel is, he wrote: "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures" (1 Cor. 15:3).  "But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8).

 

But if men and women are nothing more than material substance—which organic evolution teaches—whether or not Christ died for us has absolutely no meaning.  If there is nothing in man which survives death, the death of Christ was unnecessary and cruel.  If there is no possibility of our going to heaven, we are no better off than the animals.  In truth, we are immeasurably worse off than they.  They are not concerned about how they should live so as to inherit eternal life.  They do not think about eternity.  But human beings spend many hours—if they are rational people—thinking about the meaning of life, whether or not God exists and where they will go when this life is over.  I have never met one reasonable person who did not think about these matters.  Evolution says we are going nowhere, but the vast majority of the human family vigorously rejects this materialistic concept.  Neither financial success or sexual fulfillment or earthly popularity can change the fact, that most of us have a longing for heaven in our very souls.  Dr. Peter Kreeft says that heaven is the heart's deepest longing. 

 

The members of the body of Christ at Corinth were not questioning the existence of God or the fact of the resurrection.  But some of them were convinced that the resurrection was already past.  If that were true, Paul argued, then our preaching is vain....Your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.  Then they who are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable" (1 Cor. 15:14, 17-19).  Can you live with the belief that when you die or your loved ones die there will never be any reunion with those you have loved for so long?  My parents are both dead; I have four brothers and sisters who are dead; I have hundreds of fellow believers whom I have known for years who have gone into eternity.  Am I not going to see these loved ones and fellow Christians any more?  Evolution says NO.  New Testament Christianity says YES.  Is that mere wishing on the part of Christians?  We are assured of an eternal home by one who came to earth from the very presence of God and promised us a home he has gone to prepare (John 14:1-3).  "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57)

 

For more than fifty-three years I have preached the Bible from pulpits across the United States, from radio and by other means.  I have spent many years in teaching the Bible to thousands of young people in the college and university classroom.  I have also sought to defend the inspiration and authority of the scriptures against secular humanists, like Steve Allen and Will Durant, against atheists, like Madylyn Murray O'Hair -and against liberal theologians, like John Shelby Spong, Leslie Weatherhead and Paul King Jewett.  I have been preaching the Bible on radio since 1947 and speak to hundreds of thousands of people very week on the International Gospel Hour.  You cannot know how grateful I am to be able to speak for my Lord to so many hearers.

 

But all of that preaching, teaching and defending the Bible has been in vain--if the theory of organic evolution is true.  My friends, there is no possibility of harmonizing any theory of evolution with the teaching of the inspired word of God.  I am aware that many liberal theologians disagree with that statement, but how could it be otherwise if you read the following words with any understanding: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1).  Either God created the world or he did not.  If he did, evolution is false.  If he did not, Christianity is false and the Bible is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the human family.  The creationism of biblical Christianity leaves no room for evolution—any kind of evolution.

 

Genesis one tells of the creation of human beings.  "And God said, Let us make man is our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion of the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing which creeps upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:26-27). Do you honestly think there is any possibility of harmonizing these concepts with the theory of evolution?  Evolution says we arose from the slime through worms, birds, and other animals to become the highest earthly creatures—so far.  The Bible says we were created miraculously by the God of this universe.  We did not evolve; we were created.  One of the reasons divine inspiration gives for capital punishment is very simple: "Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Gen. 9:6).  But who can imagine God's saying that about monkeys or baboons or apes?  Only men and women are created in the image of God.

 

When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai, he said concerning the sabbath: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath, and hallowed it" (Ex. 20:11).  The New Testament is no less explicit in its teaching on divine creation.

 

The apostle Paul wrote as follows to the Colossians: "For by him (that is, by Jesus Christ), were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him" (Col. 1:16).  The Hebrew writer affirms that God made the world through Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:2).

 

As most of you know, if you have thought about it seriously, the creation of the universe including man is the very heart of New Testament Christianity.  Jesus and his apostles either implicitly or explicitly build their teaching about man's relationship to God on the creation story in Genesis.  In our Lord's teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage, he asked the Pharisees, "Have you not read, that he who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man lave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they two shall be one flesh.  Wherefore they are not more two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mt. 19:4-6).  If the creation account is not true, then Jesus falsely built the marriage relationship on it.  Are those who claim to be Christians willing to live with that idea?

 

The apostle Paul outlined the relationship of the sexes in the worship services of the church.  He commanded the woman to learn in silence with all subjection.  "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."  Why did Paul argue for such an arrangement?  "For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Tim. 2:11-14).  If the Genesis account of creation is false, then Paul's argument makes no sense.  But the biblical account is true and evolution is false—completely false.  What God has revealed about creation provides the foundation for life, for hope and for moral values.

 

Winford Claiborne

The International Gospel Hour

P.O. Box 118

Fayetteville, TN 37334

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