When at school and university I came across a number of people who were Christians, who believed the Bible, but had no difficulty in also accepting evolution as a fact. It can be confusing when someone believes much of what the Bible teaches, lives a moral life, even has a personal experience of salvation, but then denies the truth of the very first chapter of Genesis. In this article I hope to show simply how creation is foundational to the message of the gospel and to give you pointers to help you to challenge Christians you might know who describe themselves as ‘theistic evolutionists’ – those who believe God used evolution as the mechanism for creating all the different species. It is important to remember that someone can be a real Christian and also believe in evolution. However, as this article shows, it does severely undermine the rest of the Bible’s message and is therefore a dangerous compromise to make.
Creation and the curse
God created a perfect world, with Adam and Eve living in harmony with God and nature in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam and Eve that they could eat the fruit of all the trees but one – they were not to touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Satan then came as a serpent and tempted Eve into the sin of eating the fruit. Adam and Eve succumbed to the temptation, ate the fruit, thereby disobeying God’s command, and so sin entered into the world, destroying the perfect relationship which had existed between God and man (Genesis 3:1-6). Adam and Eve knew immediately that they had done wrong and they tried to hide themselves from God (Genesis 3:7-8). From this moment the perfect creation was cursed, death and disease entered the world and all of mankind was born estranged from God (Genesis 3:14-20). Romans 5:12 makes very clear the link between sin and death, ‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned’.
The gospel is the good news that God did not desert mankind in this sin cursed world, but made a way to restore the perfect relationship between himself and human beings which Adam and Eve knew before they sinned. God’s way was for his son Jesus to be born as a man, to live a sinless life, but then to die a sinner’s death so that those who believe on him will be saved.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Sin is the cause of death and Jesus’s death is the only way that this curse of deserved death and punishment can be overcome for any of us.
What has this got to do with evolution?
Evolution involves the gradual change of one species into another over many generations and long time periods. If one organism has some survival advantage over others, then it is more likely to reproduce and pass this positive characteristic onto its offspring; this is accurate, observable science and is known as natural selection. The theory of evolution takes this to extremes and proposes that, given enough time, there will be random advantageous genetic mutations which get passed on by natural selection until one species gives rise to another, and another and another. There are many articles available about the flaws in this theory (see CMI and AiG websites). As well as the scientific reasons, for a Christian, there is one major theological difficulty with evolution. If humans emerged at the end of a long evolutionary process lasting millions of years, then there must have been death on the earth for a very long time before Adam and Eve were alive. In this scenario, death must have come before sin. If death came before sin, then sin cannot be the cause of death. If sin is not the cause of death, then Jesus’s sinless life, and death on the cross, cannot take away the curse of sin. This would make the gospel false, and, as we are all sinners who need saving, would leave us in a hopeless situation. As Paul makes clear,
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)
For our hope of eternal life in Christ to be secure, Adam’s sin must have been the original cause of death. Evolution makes this impossible.
So if you have a friend who believes the gospel but is unconvinced by creation, perhaps you could challenge them with Romans 12:15,‘by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin’. Evolution requires death before sin, but the New Testament clearly teaches death as the consequence of sin. Point out to them how evolution undermines the gospel itself.
Finally, the Bible must stand or fall as completely true or completely false. If you know the gospel to be true from your own experience, then take time to consider the truth of Genesis 1-3. Or, if you’re convinced from a scientific perspective that creation is true, then consider carefully whether you believe the rest of the Bible, including the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.
[A00034 – 13/05/2017]