Archive for February, 2010

Is Theistic Evolution A Legitimate Christian Option?

February 21, 2010

Title: Is Theistic Evolution a Legitimate Christian Option?

Text: Genesis 1:1, 3, 6, 9, 14-15, 20, 24, 26

Time: February 17th, 2010

I recently read a book written by a Christian, a scientist, Francis Collins, who argues that there is no incompatibility between Christianity and Darwin’s theory of evolution. He claims that Christians can believe that God created through the use of natural selection. And there are other well-known Christians too who claim that evolution is perfectly compatible with authentic, biblical Christianity. Yet despite the claims of these and other Christians that evolution takes nothing away from the biblical Christian faith, I must strongly reject this position. Why? Because evolution is most certainly not compatible with an authentic, biblical Christian faith. How can one read the Bible from start to finish and come up with an evolutionary understanding of God and creation? The only way this is possible is to twist and distort the biblical data to fit the consensus view of modern science, but why would we wish to do so considering science is an ongoing process, a method of perpetually pursuing truth in the physical and material world. It rarely reaches a definitive conclusion on anything — because there is always another test to be made, another theory to verify or falsify. Yes, there can be provisional theories that we accept as valid today, but we shouldn’t become too committed to any specific scientific finding because, after all, the history of science is one of theories coming and going. For example, who would have questioned Newtonian physics in the 19th century? Yet in the 20th century Einstein replaced many of the concepts of Newtonian science with his theories on relativity, time and space. As Christians we don’t want to tie our faith too closely to any current or popular scientific theory that may go in or out of fashion in the future. So that’s why it makes so little sense for Christians to jump on the band-wagon of Darwinian evolution and defend it as if it’s the one and only way of seeing how life came to be on the planet earth. Rather, the best Christian response to evolution should be one of skepticism and doubt. Not only from the scientific side of things, but more importantly, from the biblical side. The theory of evolution isn’t compatible with the biblical data of Genesis — as anyone who seriously considers the account of Creation will plainly see. Most atheists, to their credit, can see that the theory of evolution basically eliminates any talk of God creating life on planet earth. According to evolution no Creator is needed because life can be explained in purely naturalistic terms. But more importantly, a natural explanation of life, the evolution of all life from simple life to the most complex form of life is clearly not what the biblical creation account is describing. Genesis is describing a creation account not a naturalistic evolutionary account of life. There is a Creator being described in Genesis. Evolution needs no Creator in its account of life. Yet still, there are Christians, like Francis Collins, who insist that naturalistic evolution is still completely compatible with the Genesis account. So in order to explain how evolution is not compatible with biblical Christian faith, I’d like to briefly outline a number of reasons why these two — evolution and the Bible — don’t fit together. I don’t have the time or space to go into very much detail on each point, but I’d like to simply make the points and support them with as much information as I can to communicate the basic incompatibility. I’m not saying a person can’t be a Christian and still believe in Darwin’s theory of evolution; I’m simply saying that it’s not consistent; it isn’t correct. One can still be a Christian — and be confused or mistaken or mixed up. Christians who hold to the theory of evolution, thinking that it’s completely compatible with biblical Christianity, are confused, mistaken or mixed up. I’d like to try to clarify things briefly. (more…)

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So on the Seventh Day God Rested From His Work

February 20, 2010

Title: So on the Seventh Day God Rested From His Work

Text: Genesis 1:27, 33, 2:2

Date: February 15th, 2010

Since the beginning of the New Year I’ve been working my way through the first chapter of the Book of Genesis and dealing with common issues that arise while reading this section of the Bible. But one of the main issues that I haven’t dealt with directly, but which is especially important, is the whole topic of how we should interpret the Bible. The simple answer to the question of how we should interpret the Bible is – we should interpret it the way the authors, or should I say, Author, intends for it to be interpreted in any given instance. That will be different in different contexts because the Bible is made up of different kinds of writings, not just one form. For example, the Book of Proverbs is made up of short aphorisms, pithy saying, small and memorable general truths. But the prophets, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah or Ezekiel are different kinds of writings altogether. We need to read each book of the Bible in its own context and interpret it in light of the type of writing it is. So then it would be impossible to say categorically then that we should interpret the Bible literally or figuratively or a combination of both, because that would be too general a statement. Each book should be interpreted in the manner appropriate to its writings; but even more than that, each section or paragraph within each book should be interpreted according to its type of writing. Because after all, an individual writer can change the form in which he writes depending on his subject matter or what he is intending to communicate. So the question about how the Bible should be interpreted is tricky. Now in respect to the Book of Genesis, and specifically in respect to the first two or three chapters of it, we face the same question – how should it be interpreted? This is particularly relevant as it relates to the topic of Creation, Man and the Fall, which we find in the first three chapters of Genesis. There are some people today who view the Bible generally, and these first three chapters specifically, as essentially symbolic or figurative. Then there are others who take the Bible, including Genesis 1-3 as entirely literalistic. And still others see the Bible and Genesis as probably a combination of the two, at times literal descriptions and at other times figurative to some degree or another. So which view is correct? This is very important because how we interpret Genesis will largely determine how we see God and Creation, and also how we view Man and the Fall. So today, I’d like to outline the three main ways that people approach the Book of Genesis and how these different ways affect the way they see how everything came to be. As you can tell by the way I’ve treated the Book of Genesis so far, I hold to a general literal principle of interpretation, but as you’ll see today, I try to let the specific passage control the principle of interpretation used instead of trying to impose my own will upon the text. I may not always be successful in this, but it’s my goal. So with that, let me explain what I believe is the safest and best way to interpret the Book of Genesis, specifically chapters one, two and three. (more…)

Each According to Its Kind

February 10, 2010

Title: Each According to Its Kind

Text: Genesis 1:11-13, 20-21, 24-25

Date: February 7th, 2010

I’ve been teaching through the first few chapters of the Book of Genesis since the first Sunday of the New Year 2010. Today I’ll take some time to deal with the topic of the “fixity of species” – or more accurately, the limitations to biological evolution as witnessed in the Bible and the fossil record. The “fixity” doctrine is the understanding that natural development within different types of biological life is limited to fixed points. Or in other words, every kind of biological life has its limits as to how far it can adapt naturally. This “fixity” belief is in direct contradiction to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which teaches that every type of biological life has no fixed limits in naturally adapting to the environment. In fact, the whole theory of evolution is based on the notion that biological life does in fact develop gradually into different species and kinds in response to the environment and with the help of mutations. But this evolutionary teaching directly contradicts the Bible, which clearly states, for example, in Genesis 1:11-13, “Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation; seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.’ And it was so. The land produced vegetation; plants bearing seed according to their kinds and the tress bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.” Each type of plant life was created by God for reproduction “each after its own kind,” which clearly implies fixed limits. Apple trees would produce apples, orange trees oranges. Apple trees wouldn’t gradually and naturally develop into orange trees, neither would orange trees evolve into apple trees – or any other kind of tree. According to the Bible, God the Creator made things to have definite fixed limits. That goes not only for plant life, but animal life of all kinds and finally human life. But according to Darwin and his theory of evolution, every kind of life developed from a single life source millions or perhaps billions of years ago on earth. According to evolution all animals – including humans – are related to one another because of their common ancestry ages ago. Where did humans come from? Where did you and me come from? According to Darwin, we came from apes and monkeys. Through a natural process of one species or kind of monkey evolving into something more developed, such as an ape, and then apes developing gradually into something more complex, us humans appeared. In order for this to happen there cannot be any fixed boundaries or limits to the natural development process. But according to the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, God’s Word, the creation of all kinds of living things came with natural boundaries or fixed limits in their development. So we come to a decision to make – is the Bible correct or is Darwin right? I’d like to argue that we can trust the Bible not only because it’s God’s Word, given to us for the purpose of revelation, but because it confirms the actual fossil record concerning the fixity of species or kinds. Let me explain. (more…)

In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth

February 10, 2010

Title: In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth . . .

Text: Genesis 1:1

Date: February 7th, 2010

I’ve started teaching through the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, because it’s foundational for everything else that follows in the Christian faith. Without Genesis the rest of the Bible doesn’t make sense, which is why so many people are clueless as to what Christianity teaches or what it means – they don’t know or understand the Book of Genesis.  Today, I’d like to deal with the important subject of creation vs. evolution. Genesis gives us a creation account in the first few chapters, so as far as the Bible is concerned, God created everything that exists. That is contrary to what Charles Darwin explained in his famous book “The Origins of the Species.” What he argued and what the modern day theory of evolution also advocates is that everything evolved naturally without the need of a Creator, without needing to be created. The theory of evolution says that the universe, the world, all of life including plants, animals and humans, everything, developed naturally without the need for any supernatural design or creation. Evolution says the planet earth formed naturally through the right combination of matter, energy, time and chance. Evolution also says that all life formed naturally through the process of natural selection – random mutations plus any of the advantages or disadvantages these mutations caused with respect to the environment. Under the theory of evolution there is no need for a Creator to start or supervise the natural process. As one evolutionist said, “Evolution put God out of work.” Contrary to the theory of evolution, the Bible teaches that everything was created, and that means there needs to be a Creator. The Bible is very clear that God created the universe, the world and all life on it. So then the contrasts couldn’t be sharper. Either life is the product of a totally random and purposeless process that naturally formed by itself, or life is the product of a loving Creator with design and purpose. The implications are profound, because one essentially advocates atheism and the other promotes belief in God. I agree with historian Paul Johnson who says, “The existence or non-existence of God is the most important question we humans are ever called to answer. If God does exist, and if in consequence we are called to another life when this one ends, a momentous set of consequences follows, which should affect every day, every moment almost, of our earthly existence. Our life then becomes a mere preparation for eternity and must be conducted throughout with our future in view. If, on the other hand, God does not exist, another momentous set of consequences follows. This life then becomes the only one we have, we have no duties or obligations except to our own interests and pleasures. There are no commands to follow except what society imposes upon us, and even these we may evade if we can get away with it. In a Godless world, there is no obvious basis for altruism of any kind, moral anarchy takes over and the rule of the self prevails.” So then we see the question of evolution or creation is profound. The answer we give will influence our entire life. I’ll argue that the Bible describes God as Creator and therefore creation is true and evolution is false. Not only does the Bible teach this but so also does reason and evidence, contrary to what is often taught in secular classrooms. Let’s look at Genesis 1:1 closer. (more…)

Is Violence Ever Justified in the Pro-Life Cause?

February 5, 2010

Title: Is Violence Ever Justified in the Pro-Life Cause?

Text: Matthew 2:16-18, Romans 13:4, Romans 13:1-2

Date: January 31st, 2010

January 21st was the 37th anniversary of the infamous Supreme Court decision Row v. Wade – the legalization of abortion in the United States. Since 1973 over 50 million abortions have taken place in the United States, 50 million unborn babies were murdered legally in this nation, 50 million innocent human lives taken in a so-called Christian country. It’s important to pause, reflect and pray each year at this important anniversary in order to keep the memory of that tragic decision and to never forget that the killings are stilling going on today, everyday. I first became aware of the tragedy unfolding in respect to abortion and the unborn as a student at Wheaton College. I began attending meetings of a pro-life group on campus and started reading as many books on abortion as I could. I began to see abortion as the greatest evil in our nation. I’ve prayed every day since then that abortion could somehow end and the laws of the land could once again protect the unborn. I’ve participated in abortion protests, once outside a hospital which performed them and another time in a “life chain” alongside a busy intersection with hundreds of other people carrying signs and pro-life messages. I’ve voted for only pro-life political candidates over the years, never once voting for anyone who was committed to the continued legalization of abortion. I’ve followed the Supreme Court decisions over these last few decades, hoping and praying that at some point there would be a decision that prohibits or at least bans most abortions in the United States. After all these years I have to say that not much progress has been made – thousands, millions of abortions are still performed each year in this country. One encouraging sign has been that the worst type of abortion – partial birth abortion, where the baby is late term and is partially born and then murdered – has been somewhat curtailed in some parts of the country. But overall, we still have a long way to go before the unborn baby in the womb is protected once again by law. But the battle over abortion is still raging on, against all odds. After all, abortion could have quietly become a non-issue after the Supreme Court decision of 1973 and especially after so many years have passed since that tragic decision. Yet against all expectations by secular scholars 37 years later it’s still being fought over. For example, in the latest health care debate abortion was front and center in that legislation, whether or not to include it in national health care coverage; it’s still being debated. But perhaps the biggest abortion-related news of late has been the murder of the late-term abortion doctor George Tiller and the trial of his killer Scott Roeder. Roeder was found guilty of murder in a court of law just a few days ago. I have to admit, when I heard of the murder of the abortion doctor I felt no sadness, I shed no tears. I thought to myself, “Maybe justice was served,” but I wondered, “Was his death justified?” Since that time I’ve thought a little more about the situation and I’d like to share a few points on this subject – since we are remembering the infamous Row v. Wade decision.  (more…)