Monday, December 19, 2005

It Takes An Atheist to Deny Evolution

It is truly a marvel of foolishness that sincere Christians, who deny well-established geological and biological facts, rest their case upon a foundation of atheism. A good example is prominently displayed among the propaganda offered to the world by Answers in Genesis. At the heart of all AIG’s denial of plain evidence and sound science, not to mention twisting of Scriptural truth, lies a statement by the well-known atheist, Richard Bozarth:

“Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.”

How sad. This statement appeared in ‘The Meaning of Evolution’, American Atheist, p. 30., 20 September 1979. No reputable scientific journal would publish such unverifiable rubbish. Christians should not be giving credence to this nonsense by devoting time and effort to denouncing it. Rather, we should laugh at it, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up in the morning, refreshed and ready to go on living the Gospel as best a falliable human can do, confident that by Jesus’s birth, life, death and resurrection, we are saved. What has evolution to do with that fundamental truth?

Bozarth’s statements do not even qualify as a lie. They do not rise to that level of integrity.They are a series of false premises, which lead with perfect logic to a perfectly wrong answer. Bozarth first strips away 99% of the significance of Emmanu-El, which means God With Us, then asserts that evolutionary theory destroys Adam and Eve, which it does not. Finally, Bozarth suggests that if life developed from simpler to more complex forms over billions of years, then Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins. It is not evolution, but Bozarth, who says that “Christianity is nothing.”

Why was the human baby Jesus born to a Jewish family? Why was the Holy Spirit not incarnate of a virgin in China, or South America? After all, God can do anything that God pleases. This child was to be, among many many other things, “a light to the Gentiles.” The Covenant that God had made with one people was to be expanded, and made available to all peoples. That began with a human child learning the Scriptures of the Covenant, among the chosen people.

Human reason might suggest that the Son of God, by whom all things were made, would know this without needing to study in a synagogue or at the Temple. Beware reliance on human reason in spiritual matters. Remember that Jesus, “became fully human,” among the people God had chosen as his own. Suppose there had been no original sin. Would Jesus as a light to the Gentiles have been of no significance? Would God have been silent when Moses climbed to the summit of Mt. Sinai? Would the Ten Commandments have been moot?

I once heard a highly respected pastor, who preaches to three packed services every Sunday, teach from the pulpit “Let me tell you why I am a Christian, because there is a lot of truth in other religions. But when I pray, I know I am praying to a God who has been through what I am going through.” Is that not one of the unique and marvelous features of the Gospel? God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, the first, the last, beyond all things, but this incomprehensibly mighty God chose to take on human flesh and dwell among us! Is this nothing?

Evolution does not, and cannot, deny even Adam, or sin, much less the need for salvation. Human origins are neither so precisely known, nor so vaguely defined, to provide a foundation for such denial. Genesis does not in fact specify that a single man and a single woman were the ancestors of all human life. The word “adam” in the original Hebrew means humanity, all of humanity. It is not the name of an individual. Only in European cultures is “Adam” given as a name for an individual baby boy.

Genesis 1:27, in English translation, says both “in the image of God created he him” and “male and female created he them.” Genesis 5 refers to “the generations of Adam” and verse 2 refers to “when God called their name Adam.” Adam could have been an entire tribe. There is a lot more to Genesis than our cherished Sunday school stories cover. More important, there is a lot more to Genesis than Richard Bozarth cares to answer to.

The Word of God cannot be reduced to the limitations of the human mind, either by human science OR human theology. We should not let our faith get wrapped up in empirical details. Bozarth and his ilk find those details a convenient snare for the weak and the unwary, but why should we walk into this semantical trap? We already know that we fall short of the glory of God. (And that is the real meaning of “sin.”)

The honest truth is, we don’t know exactly what Adam was, who the first people were, because God didn’t really care about revealing those details to Moses. There are many pious paintings, but no detailed revelation from God. That there were first generations of humans, that they made some bad choices that still afflict their descendants, is all we need to know. Mark Twain has written a humorous account of Eve’s diary, but God did not give us an account of daily life east of Eden.

The geological record is full of humanoid species that seem more and more like humans, but they were NOT human. The genetic record suggests that OUR ancestors emerged from a “genetic bottleneck” in the last 50,000 to 200,000 years. That means a very small number of individuals was separated out from all others of their kind, for a prolonged period of time. Perhaps only two, but science cannot tell us that. Nor can science tell us anything about what preceded that genetic bottleneck.

Genesis makes a very significant distinction between the creation of adam and the creation of all other life. Verses 11, 20 and 24 reveal the command “let the earth bring forth” and “let the waters bring forth,” – God watched it happen, then intervened over some period of time in the results. Verse 27 says “So God made man in his own image.” The creation of adam, man, male and female, was a distinct and different act. How was it different? Only in this: it was a direct act of creation by God, not a call for the waters and the earth to “bring forth” life. Whether it was spiritual or physical or both, is a matter we can study and speculate on.

None of this tells us that there was, or was not, an original sin. Nor did God bother to tell us exactly what the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was. Genesis does not even satisfy human understanding or curiousity as to why adam was not to eat of the tree. Most Bible-believing Christians settle for “because God said so.” We don’t know any more than that.

The first and most important requirement of faith is NOT that God did this for us, or that God did that for us, but recognition of what God first told Moses in the desert, out of the burning bush: “I AM.” Jesus taught that the first and most important commandment is “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God is one God, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” Praise for what that God has done for us, even to giving his only Son, follows immediately after. But if God never did anything for us, he would still be the Almighty one and only omnipotent creator.

Most Christians find salvation in the precious blood of Jesus through their own painful life experiences. How low we have sunk in our own lives, not the intellectual recognition of some abstract doctrine, is what leads to a born-again experience. Sin is, on the one hand, a very singular definition of the gulf that separates mere mortal man from the glorious infinity of God. But individual humans are more intimately familiar with their own sins, and revere Jesus as the Christ because of “What he’s done for me.” If Richard Bozarth hasn’t found that, that is his problem. Don’t blame the fossils.