Should Christians Accept Evolution and an Old Earth to Win Converts? (Part 1)
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is the first installment in a two-part series. Part II will appear in the May issue of R&R.]
We regularly encounter secular individuals who scoff at our strong stand against Evolution1 and its claim of a billions-of-years old Universe. From time to time, however, we encounter Bible-believing, self-identifying Christians who vehemently oppose our work on those subjects as well. They often argue that our teaching on a literal six-day Creation week 6-8,000 years ago causes many people immediately to reject Christianity and the Bible, since such positions seem far-fetched to some. They believe we should “back off” of such subjects so that more people will consider Christianity to be palatable and come to Christ. We should, they argue, accept, along with the Bible, mainstream scientific thinking on Evolution and the age of the Earth, allowing for compromises like “theistic evolution” and “progressive creationism.” Why do we oppose Evolution and an old Earth? Should we? Are we running off potential converts and keeping people from Christ?
In truth, we can show, through our correspondence with our audience over the years, that our positions on Evolution and the age of the Earth have actually caused many to develop more faith in Scripture and, subsequently, come to Christ. It is, however, no doubt true in some cases that there are people who “write off” Christianity because of “Young Earth Creationist” teachings. So, should we teach Creation/anti-Evolution more and help strengthen faith? Or should we teach the subjects less and “run fewer people off”? Ultimately, the answer is not up to us and our opinion. We must use reason and revelation from God to determine what God would have us to do. Here are seven reasons we believe it to be essential to oppose Evolution and an old Earth.
Reason #1: If Evolution Is Right, then the Bible Is Wrong
First, if evolutionary theory is true, then the Genesis account of Creation is, at best, misleading and, at worst, inaccurate—which would categorize the Bible as uninspired. Genesis 1-11 is straightforward in its declaration that the Universe was created in six literal days, and it gives no indication that it should be taken in any other way. It is not couched in figurative or poetic language, like that found in other places in Scripture. It is narrative, reporting history, and is treated as such throughout the rest of Scripture, by virtually every New Testament writer and by Christ, Himself.2
Some, attempting to inject a figurative meaning of “day” into Genesis 1, argue “The days of Genesis 1 could be millions of years each, because, with God, a day is the same thing as a thousand years (2 Peter 3:8—‘…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’). So, God could’ve meant that each day was long.” Is 2 Peter 3:8 truly justification for inflating the days of Genesis 1? A careful study of 2 Peter 3:8 (e.g., the dual use of the word “as”) and the surrounding context3 reveals that 2 Peter 3:8 is utilizing simile, a figure of speech not to be taken literally, comparable to that used in Psalm 90:4—“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.” Second Peter 3:8 in no way teaches that every time the word “day” is used in conjunction with God’s activity in the Bible, we must convert the word “day” into 1,000 Earth years—as though God simply is not capable of communicating with humans using human language. Even if such were the case, 1,000 years is a far cry from 2,300,000,000 years, which is closer to the length each Creation day would have to be to attempt to make Genesis 1 fit with the current conventional age of the Universe.
In truth, Moses used practically every means at his disposal in the Hebrew language to convey the idea that the Creation of the entire Universe consisted of six normal days, not millions or billions of years in length, and without gaps before or in between them.4 The Hebrew word for “day” that is used in Genesis 1 is yom, and it almost always means either a full 24-hour day or the 12-hour period of daylight. Some argue, however, that in some cases, yom can mean a general, rather than specific, period of time like, for example, “In my day, we walked everywhere.”5 As in modern English, the context of a statement must be used to determine how a word that has multiple meanings is being used. We do so constantly, without a second thought. “In my day, we went to the store during the day, and we didn’t wait three days to get it done.” We have no problem understanding what that sentence means, even though “day” is used in three different ways in the same sentence. Contextual clues help the reader to interpret the uses of “day” correctly.
Similarly, Moses helped his audience to understand his use of the word “day” in reference to the six days of Creation by, for example, modifying it with numbers: “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (1:5); “…second day” (1:8); “…third day” (1:13); etc. Using numbers in conjunction with the word “day” limits its meaning to normal days. Moses further helped his audience by using the words “evening” and “morning” in conjunction with “day.” In the words of Hebrew scholar, Justin Rogers, “While it is true that the Hebrew term ‘day’ can be used in a nonliteral sense in other contexts, the terms ‘evening’ (‘erev) and ‘morning’ (bōqer) are always used in a literal sense…. There is to my knowledge no place in the Bible in which the terms ‘evening and morning’ refer to a broad scope of time. They are always literal….”6 Ironically, Moses could have used the Hebrew word, dor, which refers to a long period of time (an “age” or “generation”), but he did not. He used yom, modified it with numbers, and used “evening” and “morning” with the word, clearing up any confusion about its meaning. There is little more he could do to communicate to his audience on behalf of God that the days of Genesis 1 were normal days.
Later in his writings, in Exodus 20:11, Moses clarified his meaning in Genesis 1 once again. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the Earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day….” One would have to be unwilling to accept Moses’ clear declaration to misunderstand his meaning. What aspect of the Universe is left outside of the heavens (i.e., space), the Earth, the sea, and all that is in them? According to Moses, the Universe was not created gradually, in steps over eons of time.7 Everything was created in six days, not six billion years, and God rested on the seventh day.
Notably, the seven-day week concept, which characterizes Jewish and Christian calendars, is based on that idea, with the Jews celebrating the Sabbath on the literal seventh day of every literal week, not the seventh billion “years.” Question: did the Jews get it wrong? Did they misunderstand Moses? No. The Jews kept the Sabbath day after every six literal days of every literal week, and if they did not keep the Sabbath Day correctly, they would have been executed (Exodus 31:14), as was the case in an incident recorded in Numbers 15:32-36. Proper observance of the Sabbath Day was crucial to the Jews. They recognized that they were to mirror their weeks after Creation week.
If Evolution and deep time8 are right, then Moses was wrong in his writings, implying that the first five books of the Bible are uninspired. But that would not be the extent of the damage. Was Paul wrong when, in referring to man, he highlighted in Romans 1:18-32 that God’s attributes have been clearly seen “since the creation of the world”? If man did not arrive until roughly two million years ago, then he was not around anywhere near the Creation of the world based on the deep-time Evolution timeline. If Paul is wrong, then how can Romans through Philemon—the bulk of the New Testament—be inspired?
But it gets even worse: in Luke 11:50-51, Jesus said that the shedding of Abel’s blood occurred at “the foundation of the world.” According to Evolution, the Big Bang Theory, and deep time, the Earth formed roughly 4.54 billion years ago. Humans, once again, did not arrive on the scene until roughly two million years ago. In other words, humans arrived on the scene at the very end of the world as we know it, not its “foundation.” According to the Big Bang model, 99.96% of the Earth’s existence was spent without humans. In Mark 10:6, Jesus said God made man “from the beginning of creation, male and female,” quoting from Genesis 1:27—the creation of humans. Again, according to modern “science,” the Universe is roughly 13.8 billion years old, meaning that humans were not around “from the beginning of creation.” Instead, 99.99% of the time that the Universe was in existence passed prior to the emergence of humans. Was Jesus wrong? If so, He is not deity, and our faith is in vain.
The Hebrew language does not allow for Evolution and an old Earth in the Bible. The Bible writers do not allow them. Jesus, Himself, does not allow them. And, ironically, Evolution itself will not allow a merger with the Bible, either.
- According to Genesis 1, the formless Earth was created initially (1:1), prior to the creation of the stars on Day 4 (1:14-18). The Big Bang model has our solar system beginning to form roughly nine billion years after the first stars began to form.
- According to the Bible, the Earth was initially covered with water (Genesis 1:2,6),9 while popular science today argues that the Earth was initially molten.
- The Big Bang model postulates that our Sun formed roughly 3.9 billion years before the first land plants evolved on Earth. The biblical model places the creation of plants on Day 3 and the Sun on Day 4. If there was a gap of time between Days 3 and 4 (i.e., Multiple Gap Theory) or if each day was millions of years in length (i.e., Day Age Theory), how did the plants survive without photosynthesis throughout the long period of darkness/night (1:5)?
- Many plants require pollination and symbiotic relationships with flying creatures, but flying creatures were created two days after the plants (1:11-13,21-23), according to Genesis 1. If these days were millions of years in length, or if gaps of time existed between the Creation days, how did the plants survive for millions of years without their pollinators?
- The Big Bang model claims that fish preceded the evolution of fruit trees by hundreds of millions of years, while the biblical model states that fruit trees (1:12) were created two days prior to the swimming creatures (1:21).
- The evolutionary model claims that birds evolved from the dinosaurs, while the biblical model states that the flying creatures were created on Day 5 (1:21) and land creatures (including the dinosaurs) were created on Day 6 (1:24).
Bottom line: the Bible does not allow for Evolution or the injection of billions of years into Genesis 1. Either Evolution/old Earth are right and the Bible and Christ are wrong, or Evolution/old Earth are wrong and should be rejected as false and taught as such. Question: should we cease opposing Evolution to attract more potential converts, if such a position implies that the Bible and Christ are wrong and the basis of our faith is null and void?
Reason #2: Belief in Creation Is A Matter of Faith
If a person without any preconceived ideas about the origin of the Universe picks up the Bible and simply reads Genesis 1, taking it at face value, he will not arrive at the conclusion that Evolution or the Big Bang Theory are responsible for the origin of the Universe and life. Let an eight-year-old child read Genesis 1 and wait to see if he decides on his own that the text teaches the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, the Modified Gap Theory, the Multiple Gap Theory, or Progressive Creationism. Obviously, that would not happen without prompting from others. In fact, the unambiguous teaching of Genesis 1 about Creation is surely the reason why few have dreamed up such theories after reading Genesis 1 without prompting from some other (non-biblical) source. Now, the important question: what changed?
The answer is clear, is it not—especially to naturalists, skeptics, and atheists? In the 1800s, anti-Bible sentiment was gaining popularity in the world, and individuals like Charles Darwin and James Hutton arrived on the scene, developing and popularizing naturalistic (rather than supernaturalistic) science, Darwinian Evolution, and uniformitarian geology (all of which require an old Universe). Literal, biblical Creation and catastrophism (the global Flood) had been the mainstream beliefs in “Christian” nations, and naturalism, Evolution, and uniformitarianism began to replace them. Since such beliefs were becoming mainstream in scientific circles and anything involving supernatural activity was beginning to be viewed as “unenlightened,” preposterous, and outdated, many scientists felt compelled to believe them. As scientists within Christendom began considering the new theories and feeling pressure from their peers, their biblical positions were naturally affected. Their faith in what Scripture plainly teaches was shaken.
It is likely the case that evidence was presented to the Bible-believer that caused him to question and, ultimately, re-interpret Scripture’s clear meaning. Every evidence that has been brought forth to substantiate Evolution and an old Earth, however, has been shown to be erroneous, irrelevant, or inadequate.10 Logically, then, why would a person attempt to twist the Scriptures to force an unwarranted interpretation? Is peer pressure a legitimate reason to re-interpret Scripture? Certainly not (Exodus 23:2). Should a person put his faith in popular scientists over the straightforward teaching of God’s inspired Word?11
Notice, then, that if a person capitulates to the irrational, self-contradictory worldview12 of the admittedly naturalistic scientific community over Scripture, it becomes a faith issue.13 Such a person is failing to believe what God said and is putting his faith in naturalistic science instead. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:6). That truth makes opposition to Evolution an essential aspect of apologetics and evangelism, does it not?
Reason #3: If Evolution Is Right, Then We Can’t Trust Anything in the Bible
Since Genesis 1 has all the indicators of being a description of literal history,14 if Evolution is true anyway, then Genesis 1 cannot be what it seems to be. It must be figurative, poetic, mythic, and non-literal, despite its narrative indicators. Hebrew scholar Steven Boyd conducted a statistical analysis of words in 97 poetic and narrative biblical texts and showed that Genesis 1:1-2:3 unquestionably belong in the narrative category.15
So, if Genesis 1 should be interpreted as being non-historical, despite the evidence against that interpretation, then how can the proper interpretation of anything in the Bible be conclusively known? Anything and everything in the Bible becomes questionable as to whether it should be taken literally. Did the miracles of Christ actually happen, or are they to be taken figuratively? Was He really born of a virgin, or are Matthew and Luke speaking hyperbolically? Are murder or adultery prohibitions to be taken literally? Accepting Evolution causes faith in Scripture to crumble, leading man to do what is “right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
In many cases, Evolution is a doctrine that, in the long run, undermines faith in the Bible and, therefore, leads many into total faithlessness.16 Why? One reason is summarized well by famous skeptic Michael Shermer: “[I]t doesn’t take a rocket scientist—or an English naturalist—to understand why the theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection would be so controversial: If new species are created naturally, what place, then, for God?”17 Further, the Bible becomes less trustworthy when we reject its straightforward teachings. If a person cannot trust the Bible’s most basic, clear, obvious teachings, how can he trust any of the Bible? How can he know with certainty what the Bible actually teaches?
In John 5:47, Jesus, in discussing the writings of Moses, said, “if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” If a person is unwilling to believe Moses’ account of Creation, then, according to Jesus, it will ultimately impact his faith in Christ. Is that not an important reason to oppose Evolution?
1 In this article, by “Evolution” (uppercase “E”) we mean “molecules-to-man Evolution,” which generally includes the Big Bang Theory coupled with Darwinian Evolution (i.e., the Theory of Evolution or Macroevolution). We distinguish “Evolution” in that sense from “evolution” (or microevolution). Microevolution (which, unlike Evolution, has been demonstrated in the real world and which does not contradict the Bible) refers to small changes within clearly established groups of creatures, amounting to mere variety. Microevolution occurs within phylogenic boundaries that disallow evolution beyond divinely defined limits (Genesis 1:24; Galatians 6:7).
2 Dave Miller (2020), “Genesis: Myth or History?” Reason & Revelation, 40:50-57, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2005-web.pdf.
3 Eric Lyons (2007), “‘With God One Day is a Thousand Years’?” Apologetics Press, https://apologeticspress.org/with-god-one-day-is-a-thousand-years-2191/.
4 Cf. Justin Rogers (2015), “Does the Hebrew Word Yom Endorse an Old Earth?” Reason & Revelation, 35:98-100, September, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1509w.pdf; Justin Rogers (2015), “Is Gap Theory Linguistically Viable?” Reason & Revelation, 35:134-141, December, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1512.pdf.
5 Cf. Genesis 26:18; Joshua 24:31; Genesis 2:4.
6 Rogers, “Does the Hebrew…,” pp. 99-100, emp. in orig.
7 Contrary to the Gap Theory and its varieties.
8 i.e., a billions-of-years-old Universe.
9 Or possibly composed of water (cf. 2 Peter 3:5, ESV).
10 See www.apologeticspress.org.
11 For evidence of the Bible’s inspiration, see Kyle Butt (2022), Is the Bible God’s Word? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press); Dave Miller (2020), The Bible is from God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
12 Jeff Miller (2012), “The Atheistic Naturalist’s Self-Contradiction,” Reason & Revelation Resources, 31:53, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1205.pdf.
13 This is not to say that all Evolutionists have accepted Evolution due to peer pressure.
14 Cf. Dave Miller, “Genesis: Myth of History?”
15 Don DeYoung (2008), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books), pp. 157ff.
16 Jeff Miller (2012), “Literal Creationists Holding Their Ground in the Polls,” Reason & Revelation, 32:94-95, September, https://apologeticspress.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/1209w.pdf.
17 Michael Shermer (2007), Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design (New York, NY: Henry Holt), Kindle edition, Loc. 115.
Science vs. Evolution
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