Is evolutionary theory compatible with the church’s basic functions of worship, evangelism, and the edification (building up) of believers? In last month’s article, we saw how evolutionism has a profoundly negative effect on a believer’s worship.1 But what does it do to evangelism?
Let’s consider a young man named Dan, an outstanding mechanical engineering senior at a state university. He regularly shares the gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ and is a faithful member of his church.
However, things drastically changed for Dan in the second semester. During a sociology lecture on human evolution, the professor called on Dan to participate in a mini-debate on the subject. Dan was somewhat familiar with the topic based on some training he had received in Sunday school. He thought this was a rare opportunity to tell of his belief in the Lord Jesus.
The “mini-debate” turned out to be a sham. The professor opened the discussion with a long rant against Christianity. He took most of the time for himself. He peppered his talk with humorous sarcasm of Christians and the Bible. This had the class in hysterics. In the few minutes remaining, Dan attempted to present scientific facts regarding evolution. Class attention was disrupted by lingering laughter. But by far the worst disturbance was the constant interruptions by the professor. Dan could never finish a full sentence. At one point as Dan explained how there are no clear-cut ape-to-human fossil transitions, the professor scoffed that people like Dan might be the best evidence for cavemen.
Dan felt like just walking back to his seat. But he did the last thing the professor expected. He asked for a rematch the next week with a dean acting as referee. Initially, the professor refused. But then he conditionally agreed if Dan could find “just one other person to take his side.” Dan agreed.
Dan asked another Christian, Beth, with a solid academic record in geological engineering to be his partner for the next debate. She thought for several moments. She agreed with Dan that evolution was a ridiculous theory and that it certainly contradicted the Bible. She continued, however, that college was only a small portion of a person’s life. She had to consider the personal impact of helping Dan. Her involvement could spell doom for a decent recommendation from her department for a job or graduate school. Her career could be ruined. The conversation ended with her questioning both his “good judgment” and his concern for her as a friend to “even ask me” to participate.
The second debate never took place. Dan still received an A in sociology. But now fewer students take him seriously when he tries to share the truth about Jesus Christ due to his “anti-scientific” views about evolution.
If you had time to talk with Dan and Beth, what would you say?
Evangelism and the gospel are summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved….For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
If we define the gospel “according to the Scriptures,” this would indicate that related passages should be considered. Pulling several together, we may say that evangelism is a Christian’s duty (Romans 1:14-17) as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8) to preach the good news of salvation from sin (1 Timothy 1:15) by the word of God (Romans 10:17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) through the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:21; 4:12; Romans 3:21-26; 1 Peter 1:18-19) for the purpose of someone’s salvation (Romans 10:14-15; 2 Corinthians 5:18; Ephesians 6:19; Jude 1:20-23).
1 Corinthians 15:21-22 presents a fact tied directly to creation: “For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Thus, a real Adam brought real sin and death to everyone, meaning that all need a real Savior—the “second Adam”—who is Jesus Christ.
Evolutionism Nullifies the Meaning of Sin, Salvation, and the Savior
Evolutionary ideas have religious implications. The atheistic notion that nature creates itself—from the Big Bang to the diversity of life on Earth—is contrary to the biblical truth that God created nature. Last month we saw how this strikes at the very doctrine of God.1 Evangelism deals directly with a person’s accountability to God. A person may indeed want to mentally deflect dealing with that impending reality. Evolutionism offers a Creator-denying, and thus conscience-appeasing, worldview that allows someone to live as if God doesn’t exist.
Historians depict the longstanding tension between what evolutionism means and the Christian faith. William McLoughlin of Brown University sums up what many Christians concluded early on about evolutionism:
It challenged the Bible by denying its account of creation. It challenged the concept of an absolute moral law by its doctrine of survival of the fittest. It challenged the millennial goal by describing nature as amoral and purposeless.2
When discussing worship, we saw that when people fail to credit God with creating nature, they inevitably begin to worship nature as God. Charles Darwin introduced a worldview substitute to Christianity called selectionism that personifies nature by projecting onto it volitional selective capability. Selectionism sees nature as exercising agency in shaping organisms, which predictably is substituted for God’s creative agency. The reality of a supreme moral lawgiver and, therefore, our understanding of what sin is are questioned.
Animals may behave in ways we find unacceptable, but they are not seen as sinners or believed to face accountability for sin after they die. How might a human adopt the guilt-releasing mental state of animals? One avenue is to embrace the evolutionary view that humans are just another animal. Evolutionism offers a new view of sin since “the views of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and his successors created the idea that there was no such thing as sin or that sin was merely the remnant of animal instinct in man.”3 But this contradicts Christian evangelism, in which the recognition of one’s sinfulness is necessary to salvation.
Within evolutionism, “salvation” does not represent someone being rescued from God’s judgment and the deserved punishment of sin. McLoughlin shows that shortly after Darwin’s publications, prominent Christian ministers were eagerly redefining salvation:
John Bascom, minister and president of the University of Wisconsin, provided the most sophisticated statement of the new relationship between religion and science in “Evolution and Religion, or Faith as a Part of a Complete System” (1897). Christianity as he saw it was a spiritual process of adjustment to environment; salvation was the slow, evolutionary progress of the race in conformity with the laws of nature.4
Christians had long understood that God directly created the first human couple, Adam and Eve. The reality of Adam—and his original sin—was opposed by “new ideas and a new vocabulary [that] were being used to explain man’s place in the universe. Man was redefined as the descendant of a ‘hairy quadruped’ that, over eons of time, had evolved from an amoeba-like cell in ‘the primordial slime.’”5 Thus, “because man was not guilty through original sin, there was no need of Christ as Saviour.”6
Even though ICR geneticist Dr. Jeffrey Tomkins has refuted the claim that humans and chimpanzees are 98% genetically similar,7 two theistic evolutionists still recite a 98% similarity as proof positive that humans were not directly created by God:
In a recent pro-evolution book from InterVarsity Press, The Language of Science and Faith, [Francis] Collins and co-author Karl W. Giberson escalate matters, announcing that “unfortunately” the concepts of Adam and Eve as the literal first couple and the ancestors of all humans simply “do not fit the evidence.”8
Theistic and atheistic evolutionists embrace the same selectionist mechanism of evolution, yet it seems only the atheists recognize how evolutionary thinking negatively impacts Christian evangelism. One outspoken atheist succinctly and accurately explained why
Christianity has fought, still fights, and will 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. Take away the meaning of his death. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing!9
The effect of evolutionism on the church’s duty to evangelize is devastating. Like Dan, we need to fully believe the Bible and be bold in our witness. Next month’s article will examine the effect of evolutionism on the area of edification.
Click here for the first article in the Creation and the Church series.
Click here for the third article in the Creation and the Church series.
- Guliuzza, R. J. 2019. Evolutionism Poisons Christian Worship. Acts & Facts. 48 (9): 18-19.
- McLoughlin, W. G. 1978. Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform: An Essay on Religion and Social Change in America, 1607–1977. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 151.
- Cairns, E. E. 1967. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Press, 450.
- McLoughlin, Revivals, Awakenings, and Reform, 156.
- Ibid, 152.
- Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries, 451. Emphasis added.
- Tomkins, J. P. 2011. Genome-Wide DNA Alignment Similarity (Identity) for 40,000 Chimpanzee DNA Sequences Queried against the Human Genome is 86-89%. Answers Research Journal. 4: 233-241; Tomkins, J. and J. Bergman. 2012. Genomic monkey business—estimates of nearly identical human-chimp DNA similarity re-evaluated using omitted data. Journal of Creation. 26 (1): 94-100.
- Ostling, R. N. 2011. The Search for the Historical Adam. Christianity Today. 55 (6): 22-27.
- Bozarth, G. R. 1978. The Meaning of Evolution. American Atheist. 20 (2): 30.
* Dr. Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative. He earned his M.D. from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Guliuzza is also a registered Professional Engineer.