A few weeks ago, two local seminary students stopped by the ICR headquarters in Dallas. One of them, a Th.M. student, regularly receives our Acts & Facts magazine. As I showed them around, we chatted about seminary life, professors we knew, and getting through the rigors of coursework in preparation for ministry.
When one student saw the newest ICR fossil acquisitions--the enormous skulls of a mosasaur and a phytosaur--he told me that during the study of Genesis in his Old Testament class, he mentioned to the teacher that dinosaurs and men had lived together and that Noah took dinosaurs on the Ark. He didn't expect the chuckles he received from his classmates, however.
"Are you serious?" the professor asked him.
"Of course," the student replied. "It's what the Bible describes."
"Son, I am an Old Testament scholar," declared the professor, "and that's not what the Bible says."
When I heard this account, I was saddened. Similar episodes are occurring on seminary campuses across the United States. In fact, the number of Bible colleges, seminaries, and Christian universities that have abandoned the plain-sense reading of Scripture is increasing at an alarming rate as more and more academicians in Christian higher education acquiesce to hybrid theories that seek to "unify" Scripture with evolutionary processes.
The same is happening in local churches where members challenge their pastors and teachers regarding the literal reading of Genesis 1-2. Inundated as we are with the beautiful photography of National Geographic, Discovery Channel programs, and PBS's Nature, who could argue for something as "unscientific" as the Bible?
More disturbing are the Christian leaders who allow science to govern their interpretation of Scripture, touting "new discoveries" that "prove" evolutionary claims, and treating the Genesis account as a mere framework for expressing the fact that God created, rather than as a narrative relating the actual details of God's work during the creation week.
Can there be unity between creation and evolution? Did God just get life going and let evolution take over? Six days or six billion years--does it matter?
Some would say that it does not matter, that it's not an "essential" of the faith. There are, in fact, born again believers who do not believe in a literal reading of Genesis 1-2. Are we to question their faith?
Not necessarily. But the contradictions with which these individuals must live should jar them into coming to terms, once and for all, with whether they believe in the accuracy and authority of God's Word. If the Bible is in fact authored by God, the Creator of life, then those who doubt God's writings are burdened with proving that science--based on human theories--explains the origin of life better than Scripture.
In the introduction to The Battle for the Beginning, Dr. John MacArthur wrote these startling words about how naturalistic science has infiltrated the church:
Many who should know better--pastors and Christian leaders who defend the faith against false teachings regularly--have been tempted to give up the battle for the opening chapters of Genesis. An evangelical pastor recently approached me after I preached. He was confused and intimidated by several books he had read--all written by ostensibly evangelical authors--yet all arguing that the earth is billions of years old. These authors treat most of the evolutionists' theories as indisputable scientific fact. And in some cases they wield scientific or academic credentials that intimidate readers into thinking their views are the result of superior expertise, rather than naturalistic presuppositions they have brought to the biblical text.1
Not mincing words when it comes to those who would elevate science over Scripture, MacArthur laments the drift among evangelicals toward compromise:
The evolutionary lie is so pointedly antithetical to Christian truth that it would seem unthinkable for evangelical Christians to compromise with evolutionary science in any degree. But during the past century and a half of evolutionary propaganda, evolutionists have had remarkable success in getting evangelicals to meet them halfway. Remarkably, many modern evangelicals…have already been convinced that the Genesis account of creation is not a true historical record. Thus they have not only capitulated to evolutionary doctrine at its starting point, but they have also embraced a view that undermines the authority of Scripture at its starting point.2
This capitulation is beginning to creep into many areas of Christian ministry. At our seminars, Christian educators express frustration at having to use evolution-based textbooks in their classrooms. Science materials that teach the Big Bang and other evolutionary processes are being sold at homeschool conventions. Sunday school and Bible study materials are sometimes laced with teachings that favor the Gap Theory, Theistic Evolution, Progressive Creation, and other hybrid attempts to wed God and evolution within the sacred confines of the church.
Of course, this is not to suggest that the entire church has been lost to compromise. There are still many pastors who unashamedly uphold the integrity of Scripture from their pulpits every Sunday. But pressure is mounting on ministers to give science even more influence.
Is this an issue that affects your local church? Consider this fact: Since 2004, nearly 12,000 pastors throughout the U.S. have signed a statement rejecting the biblical doctrine of creation. Called "An Open Letter Concerning Religion and Science," it states:
Within the community of Christian believers there are areas of dispute and disagreement, including the proper way to interpret Holy Scripture. While virtually all Christians take the Bible seriously and hold it to be authoritative in matters of faith and practice, the overwhelming majority do not read the Bible literally, as they would a science textbook. Many of the beloved stories found in the Bible--the Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark--convey timeless truths about God, human beings, and the proper relationship between Creator and creation expressed in the only form capable of transmitting these truths from generation to generation. Religious truth is of a different order from scientific truth. Its purpose is not to convey scientific information but to transform hearts.
We the undersigned, Christian clergy from many different traditions, believe that the timeless truths of the Bible and the discoveries of modern science may comfortably coexist. We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as "one theory among others" is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children. We believe that among God's good gifts are human minds capable of critical thought and that the failure to fully employ this gift is a rejection of the will of our Creator. To argue that God's loving plan of salvation for humanity precludes the full employment of the God-given faculty of reason is to attempt to limit God, an act of hubris. We urge school board members to preserve the integrity of the science curriculum by affirming the teaching of the theory of evolution as a core component of human knowledge. We ask that science remain science and that religion remain religion, two very different, but complementary, forms of truth.3
Many of these same 12,000 ministers devote one weekend every February to exalt the person and work of Charles Darwin, whose birthday falls on February 12. The next "Evolution Weekend" will be held February 13-15, 2009. You can be sure that this, the celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday, will be the grandest evolution party ever.
Perhaps it's time to find out whether the book stocked in your church's pews is The Origin of Species or the Holy Bible.
- MacArthur, J. 2001. The Battle for the Beginning: The Bible on Creation and the Fall of Adam. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 18.
- Ibid, 25.
- For more information, visit the Clergy Letter Project website at www.butler.edu/clergyproject/rel_evol_su
* Mr. Ford is Executive Editor.
Cite this article: Ford, L. 2008. Capitulating on Creation: Changing the truth of God into a lie. Acts & Facts. 37 (9): 4.