The next book on my list is Evolution and Christian Faith, by Bolton Davidheiser (I hereby reserve the right to name my child “Bolton”). This book was published in 1969 by the Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company. Before this time, evolution wasn’t seen as that big of a deal in Christian circles. Of course, it was, and had infiltrated much of Christian thought. This book was a wakeup call. Almost every active creation science group today can be traced back to Davidheiser’s work. He was the primary inspiration for Dr. Morris and all of his wonderful work on the subject.
He hasn’t even started the book before he lays out the battle lines. What’s the real issue? What’s at stake?
If man evolved, the process was gradual and there never was a first pair of human beings distinct from the animal kingdom. If man evolved and there was never a first pair of human beings, then the Biblical account of the fall of man is not true but is a myth or an allegory. If man evolved, we are getting better and better and what is called sin is just a remnant of selfish animal nature. If man evolved, Christ was just a reformer and not the Redeemer; he was a martyr and not the Savior. Then the Christian religion becomes a code of ethics and not the way of eternal life through a risen Lord. As Paul said, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (I Cor. 15:19).
That’s the issue. If you believe in evolution, theistic or otherwise, then the Bible is not true, and you have no reason whatsoever for believing the things you do. Moreover, it is foolish to put your trust in Christ. You cannot be a Christian and an evolutionist. Simply not possible.
This is a good place to mention that this book, and this post, was written primarily for Christians. While he does get into a little bit of the science involved, he’s more concerned with showing that evolution is incompatible by nature with Christian faith in Jesus. You cannot have it both ways. We can tackle the atheists after we all agree that the Bible is true. Because if we don’t believe that, then we are against Christ, and he is not for us, and we are doomed to fail.
It is also worth pointing out that Davidheiser is a futurist (i.e., not a preterist). He often refers to the influx of evolutionary thinking in the Church as the increase of abomination in the Body, which will increase until Christ comes. I don’t agree, but that’s another topic.
So, if evolution was true, Jesus was a liar. And, as C. S. Lewis so aptly showed, if he is a Liar, he cannot be Lord. Davidheiser repeats this point about every page, as well he should. It is this idea (along with more explicit concepts later in the book) that Dr. Morris would pick up on to show that evolution is a faith-based religion, not a scientific stance.
The textbook definition of evolution says that it is gradual change of one organism into a completely different organism. Through equivocation, the evolutionists try to get us to deny that there is change, which is obviously wrong.
To say that evolution is merely change, or even to say that it is hereditary change, is comparable to the situation in which the gambler says that gambling is merely taking a chance, and therefore everyone is a gambler in spite of himself because it is impossible to live without taking some chances.
He returns to a more full explanation of his earlier point in a section title “The Issue:”
According to the theory of evolution there never were two human beings who were progenitors of the human race, for man emerged gradually from an animal ancestry. According to the theory of evolution, that which the Bible calls sin is merely a remnant of a bestial nature, which will be overcome in time as man continues to improve.
These two views contradict at every point.
In summary, the issue is twofold. In the first place, the theory of evolution cannot be reconciled with the historical account of creation as presented in the Bible. In the second place, the theory of evolution cannot be reconciled with the basic Christian doctrine of salvation by grace, because this is based upon the historical account of the fall of man. If there never was a historical fall of man through disobedience to God, then there is no need of a redeemer, and Christ therefore was a martyr instead of the Savior. Acceptance of a theory of evolution leads logically to a religious position which, if called Christian, is Christian in name only.
Emphasis mine. But that’s the real issue, isn’t it? Not only does the theory of evolution deny the Creation (and no, don’t insert millions of years between the days), it also means that Jesus was a Liar, and you have a false hope. Paul says that if Christ was not crucified for our sins, and did not rise from the dead, then we Christians are the greatest fools of all.
It seems that no matter what an evolutionist may say, a search of the biological literature will reveal that some other evolutionist has said just the opposite. In some cases it may seem like satire, while in fact it is serious science.
To be fair, the same can be said of Christian literature. Which, by the way, mostly agrees with itself. So don’t say evolution’s not a religion – it is. And it’s not based on anything. It’s certainly not based on “objective science.” If it is, then why so much disagreement?
Chapter 2 is a simply excellent history of the evolution of evolutionary thought (see what I did there), beginning with Empedocles and moving through many influential men whose names have been largely forgotten, all the way to a wonderful explanation of what the Scopes trial actually was about.
With the acceptance of evolution, the social gospel is substituted for the gospel of salvation by grace through the atonement of Christ by way of the cross.
This is a necessary conclusion. To accept evolution is to deny the efficacy of Christ’s death.
[Speaking of Robert Chamber’s book on deistic evolution] The fact is that it was a presentation of evolution, which therefore count not but oppose the writings of Moses and be inconsistent with the gospel of salvation by grace through the atonement of Christ.
Again and again, he hammers this point home.
Evolutionists cannot very well accept the death of Christ as an atonement for sin, because according to the concept of the evolution of man from lower forms there is no need for an atoning Saviour [sic]. Instead of the origin of sin through a historic fall through disobedience of the first parents of mankind, man is improving from an animal status.
And of course, a phrase that I shall adopt into everyday speech:
It is not a matter of anyone’s opinion.
Now, it should be noted that not everyone is qualified to fight against this sinful concept. Just as in war, some are unfit for battle, so it is here. Thomas Huxley (father of Aldous, and “Darwin’s bulldog”) absolutely destroyed Bishop Wilburforce in a debate on evolution. The good bishop had every right intention – but he had not the tools nor the wit (which wins more often than facts) to defeat Huxley.
It needs to be noted that unfortunately some others since that time who have desired to defend the Bible against the theory of evolution have merely brought discredit upon themselves and reproach upon their cause by making foolish statements after the manner of Bishop Wilburforce. Some scientists have also made foolish statements, but they are more easily overlooked by the public.
This goes back to what I’ve said earlier – when the most well-intentioned creation scientists make mistakes, they are lambasted without mercy, while the atheists can get away with a myriad of things. This points to the need for good Christian scientists who do their work well and thereby praise God by it. Paul told Timothy that elders should be above reproach, and this applies to us in our capacities as scientists. If the worst they can say is that you believe something they cannot prove is wrong, and that they deny based on their own faith, then you are doing well.
[Asa Gray] seems to have anticipated modernism in saying that the Bible contains truth instead of being truth. His biographer recognizes it as a “light dismissal of Biblical authority[.]”
Once we’ve made that mistake, there is no point in continuing further with the debate, because we have already ceded the argument.
There is too much on the Scopes trial for me to quote here or even summarize – but suffice it to say that “the most famous court trial in history” was a sham, and is almost universally misunderstood from what actually happened. It is also worth mentioning that this is not a “conspiracy theory,” but is taken directly from the minutes of the trial, which no one cares to read. Also, we should never forget Mr. William Jennings Bryan, the lead prosecutor, who is often vilified, but in fact was a staunch man of God who defended the biblical faith to his last breath (he died five days after the verdict). He understood the issues at hand (biblical truth and salvation by grace), and yet is much-maligned for his “medieval thinking.”
Let us not forget this saint, this martyr for the faith.