WHAT IF EVOLUTION WERE TRUE? #2

 

There was a time in this nation's history when conservative religious institutions wielded a greater influence on personal lives and on government than they do today.  Men's belief in God and in his word seemed to have made an impact on almost every phase of American life— from the local schools to the Congress in Washington.  What has happened in our society which has curtailed the beneficent influence of churches and of religious schools?  Liberal theologians and academicians think the American people have become better educated and have cast aside the superstitions which have held millions of men and women captive.  One of America's most distinguished evangelical scholars, Dr. Harold 0. J. Brown explores the reasons for the decline in religious commitment in the United States.  In his scholarly book, The Sensate Culture (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1996), Dr. Brown lists voyages of discovery, the rise of biblical criticism and the theory of evolution (p. 85).  Dr. William Martin's new book, With God on Our Side (New York: Broadway Books, 1996), lists two major challenges to what he calls "the then-dominated form of American Christianity" which prevailed in the 19th century: the Darwinian theory of evolution and radical historical criticism (p. 8).  I agree with these scholars about the detrimental influence of evolution on American religion in the 19th and 20th centuries.

 

Belief in Darwin's theory of evolution has wreaked havoc with men's and women's faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the deity of Christ, in the inerrancy of the scriptures, in the atoning blood of Christ and in his glorious second coming.  Millions of men and women worldwide have been adversely affected by evolution—even though evolution is not true.  Dr. Colin Patterson, Director of the British Museum in London, says that evolution does not convey any knowledge.  In fact, he says it produces anti-knowledge.  Tragically and inexplicably, Dr. Patterson has not renounced belief in evolution. Apparently, Dr. Patterson would prefer to embrace anti-knowledge than accept the creationism of the Bible.  Besides, if he were to announce belief in the creation story in the Bible he would probably be released as Director of the British Museum and find it very difficult to gain employment in any university in England or in the United States.  You may think I am exaggerating somewhat, but there is absolutely no question about it.  Firm believers in divine creation could not be hired in many universities in this nation.  The founding fathers are probably turning in their graves.

 

But what if evolution were true?  What difference in our lives and in the affairs of this nation would it make?  Would we be a healthier people physically, spiritually and morally?  Can evolution provide any incentive to help the sick, feed the hungry, visit the fatherless and orphans in their afflictions, sacrifice one's life for anyone or anything?  Would belief in evolution make a man a better father and husband?  Would it encourage women to be better wives and mothers? Has belief in evolution ever inspired men and women to do good for anyone?  Oh, evolutionists may do good for others, but there is nothing in the theory which requires or encourages it.  If evolution is true, our greatest desire under all circumstances is to survive and prosper. Benevolence and evolution are cut from different cloths.

 

The Bible has been the source of hope and comfort for millions of people for almost two thousand years.  I personally know hundreds of sincere, humble servants of the Lord who have memorized hundreds and hundreds of passages, lived by biblical precepts all their lives, taught their children and their neighbors to love and to obey the word of the Lord and based their hope for eternity on the precious promises of God. Are we saying to those people that their lives have been in vain, that there is nothing to the teaching of scripture, except, perhaps, some good moral instructions?  If evolution is true, that is precisely what we are saying to them.  Organic evolution would prove the Bible to be a purely human production with no more authority than that of any other book—even though the Bible claims to be the very word of almighty God. But if evolution is true, it does not matter what the Bible claims for itself.

 

What if God does not exist--as organic evolution teaches—what if the Bible is a purely human production--which evolutionists believe--how could that influence men's and women's moral values and behavior?  Is it possible that the enormous increase in crime and violence can be laid at the feet of organic evolution?  If we have ascended from the animals, where do we get our moral values?  Why do we use words like "sin" and "error" when we speak of human behavior and never when we talk about the animals?  If we are of animal ancestry, why not use the same language of both men and dogs?  Do you believe your dog is morally responsible when he bites a human being?  Do you require him to take a course in ethics?

 

If evolutionists believe in moral values--and without a doubt, most of them do--what is the source of those values?  As many of you know, that question has troubled atheists, agnostics and secular humanists for a long time.  The secular humanists of our generation conducted a symposium in which they attempted to work out some values by which they and others could live.  The papers which were presented at the meeting were printed in a book with the title, Humanist Ethics, edited by Dr. Morris Storer and published by Prometheus Books of Buffalo, New York--the most prominent humanist publishing house in the United States.  The introduction to the book was written by the late Dr. Will Durant, one of humanism's and America's most brilliant historians of philosophy.  You need to hear what Dr. Durant said about the possibility of humanism's developing a system of moral values which they and others could adopt.  "We shall find it no easy task," Dr. Durant says, "to mold a natural ethic strong enough to maintain moral restraint and social order without the support of supernatural consolations, hopes and fears" (p. 8).  Another chapter in the book, Humanist Ethics, was written by Dr. Alastair Hannay, professor of philosophy at the University of Trondheim in Norway.  Dr. Hannay’s words are worth hearing.  "Humanists naturally want to believe that we have moral obligations, duties in some virtually legalistic sense, but not the product of arbitrary legislation, to one another.  But on what can the belief be based?  The divine legislator and guarantor of human values has gone by the board, but the human legislator doesn't seem to have the credentials" (p. 187).  Both Durant and Hannay have admitted the emptiness and meaninglessness of every form of unbelief.  There is no way under heaven evolution can provide and enforce a coherent system of moral values.  Evolution creates a dog-eat-dog world.  The only reason it has not happened is the residual influence of New Testament Christianity.  Even evolutionists are often influenced by their early training in Sunday school classes and in religious homes.

 

Dr. Alastair Hannay's question should be examined a little more in depth.  He asked, "On what can the belief in moral obligations be based?"  He argues that the divine legislator and guarantor of human values has gone by the board.  In other words, humanists—most of whom are evolutionists—have rejected God and his revelation given in the Bible.  They cannot base their moral values and obligations on the scriptures; so where do they go to sustain their moral lives?  Can they go to tradition? What authority does tradition have?  Can they go to human reason?  Whose reason will prevail? Will it be a Hitler or a Pol Pot or a Khadafi? Can they decide by the will of the majority? Humanists have no foundation for their ethical views.  "Every man does that which is right in his own eyes" (Judges 17:6).  As you can readily see, organic evolution is not exactly a benign theory.

 

Dr. Antony Flew, an English atheist, wrote a book several years ago on Evolutionary Ethics.  He attempted to find some naturalistic basis for human values and ethical principles.  As you would expect—even if you have not read his book—Dr. Flew miserably failed in his search.  Every humanist and every evolutionist will fail because there is no other basis than the will of God for grounding our moral and ethical values.  Let me illustrate.  Across the United States—especially in many of our large cities—there are violent gangs who kill each other on a daily basis.  They rape and rob and commit murder without any compunction of conscience.  By what standard can anyone condemn such behavior?  I know what the Bible says, but let us forget the Bible for just a moment. Can an evolutionist consistently oppose the violence of gangs?  Are not the gangs living by the survival of the fittest?  Can evolutionists and secular humanists prove that murder, theft and sexual assault are morally wrong every time everywhere?  By what standard?  They could say they do not like it, but that sounds like children explaining their actions.

 

Since we have descended from the animals--according to evolution--where do we get an ethical framework for supporting or opposing any act?  If the fit are the ones who survive, does that not furnish the impetus for those who think they are most fit for doing whatever they please?  The weak do not deserve to survive and will not in the long run.  If cheating in business or in the professions will advance one's interests, why not engage in any kind of behavior--if one can evade the punishment of the law—and the majority of criminals in this country are able to do that?  Besides, how can an evolutionist decide what criminal behavior is—except on the basis of arbitrary law?  If the law is arbitrary and has no moral basis, why pay any attention to the law?

 

It is true that most evolutionists do not live by their naturalistic creed and many who call themselves Christians fail in their duties to God and to their fellowmen, but what if both lived consistently with their professions? Would you prefer to live near an evolutionist who believes we all came from animals and that the fittest survive?  Or would you prefer to live by a devout Christ whose aim in live is to serve God and his fellowmen?  If the evolutionist shows compassion toward his fellowmen—and many of them do--it is not required by his belief system. On the other hand, Christians are morally obligated to help-others.  The apostle Paul commanded the Philippians: "Look not every man on his own welfare, but every man also on the welfare of others" (Phil. 2:4).  These words from the mouth of Jesus Christ were designed to govern all human interactions.  "Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, do even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets" (Mt. 7:12).  Is any evolutionist under moral obligation to live by the golden rule?  Are not all Christians bound by the law of God to live by the golden rule?

 

You can readily see from our discussion that evolution not only would rob man of any solid foundation for behavior; it would also rob him of any hope for the life to come.  I know you have thought about the significance of hope for human beings.  The Hebrew writer calls hope "the anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast."  Hope "enters into that which is behind the veil; whither our forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus Christ, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedek" (Heb. 6:19-20).  Paul describes the condition of the Gentiles before they heard the gospel and obeyed it.  He affirmed that 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).  Can you imagine a condition worse than having no hope?  From the evolutionist's viewpoint, we know when this life ends there is nothing beyond or above.  We die and perish from the face of the earth—never to live again--never to seek our loved ones and friends anymore.  If the evolutionists are right—and they definitely are not—we will just have to live with this pessimistic and nihilistic worldview.

 

But what if the evolutionists were right?  If they are, then Jesus was not.  Jesus assured his faithful followers: "Let not your heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).  The evolutionist's faith leaves him in the grave to decay and to disappear forever.  The Christian's hope takes him home to live with God, with Christ and with the saints of all the ages.

 

If evolution were true, it would rule out the existence of God; it would make the death of Christ both cruel and unnecessary; it would prove the Bible to be a human production; it would destroy the basis for all moral values; it would rob all human beings of any hope for the life to come.  Can you understand why evolutionists often find life dull, cruel and meaningless?  These words from one of England's most famous agnostics, Bertrand Russell, will serve to challenge your thinking on the topic I am discussing with you.  "That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve any individual beyond the grave; that all the labor of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins—all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand....Brief and powerless is man's life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls pitiless and dark."

 

If you listened carefully to my reading from Bertrand Russell's godless philosophy, you can understand why he and his first wife Dora were notoriously immoral.  What is there in his philosophy which prohibits any behavior he chose for himself or for others?  Oddly enough, he did not want his only daughter who married a missionary to be sexually immoral. He encouraged her to choose her life's partner carefully and to govern her life according to moral principles--although, he did not give her any substantial principles to guide her behavior.  But a man's own conduct may be very different for what he wishes for his children--especially for his daughters.  It is impossible for an evolutionist to be consistent and live among civilized human beings.

 

My friends, evolution is false and destructive.  But you do not have to live by this godless, Christless, hopeless philosophy.  In the words of the prophet Daniel, "There is a God in heaven" (Dan. 2:28). That God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  The Son of God commands us to believe in him, to repent of our sins, to confess our faith before men and to be baptized for the remission of sins.  When we have initially obeyed the gospel, we are to live for him all the days of our life.  After this life is over, we are going to be raised by the power of God to an endless life of happiness and joy.  "Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).  If you have not obeyed the gospel of Christ, will you not do it today?  If you have become a Christian and turned your back on your Savior, will you not come back to him today? Like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, our heavenly Father waits to welcome you back into his arms.  Will you not return to him today?

 

Winford Claiborne

The International Gospel Hour

P.O. Box 118

Fayetteville, TN 37334

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