Thursday, April 1, 2010

Response to “Ten Reasons” – 2 and 3

This is a continuation of our response to an article entitled “Ten Reasons Why Evolution is Dangerous and Evil” published in Clarion in January. See this introductory response for the context and our approach. In the interest of clarity, and to avoid further unnecessary polarization, we presented these responses in advance to the authors of “Ten Reasons” to provide an opportunity to identify any misunderstanding or misrepresentation. No response was received.

Original from Clarion [numbered for our responses below]

Evolution requires pre-Adamite human beings - Luke 3:38 disallows it

The genealogy of the Lord Jesus, as Luke gives it, ends with saying that Seth was the son of Adam, and that Adam was the son of God (Luke 3:38). In the Greek, the word “son” occurs only in v. 23 (“[Jesus] was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, of Heli, of Matthat, etc.”). But “son” is clearly implied every time. Our English translation, supplying the word “son” in every instance, is not incorrect.

To be a son of someone is to have your existence from that person. Seth had his existence from Adam. To use an old expression, he was the fruit of Adam’s loins. Adam had his existence from God–of course, in a way different from how Seth was of Adam. The point of comparison is that as Seth was directly of Adam, so Adam was directly of God.

The context of this verse is very instructive. The genealogy of Jesus is preceded by the account of his baptism. There the Father calls Jesus “my Son.” Context is king. As the eternal Son of God has his existence directly from the God the Father, so Adam had his existence directly from God.

Those who believe that man and chimpanzees have a common (animal) ancestor will have difficulty with the position that Adam was the direct creation of God. They will suppose that Adam had ancestors, possibly human, assuredly animal. Luke 3:38 would contradict that supposition.

The only way to get around the conclusion that Luke 3:38 teaches that Adam was the direct creation of God (and not the offspring of another creature) is to take the position that Luke 3:38 is mythological.[12] (GvP)

Evolution challenges God’s self-revelation in Scripture

The scriptural doctrine of creation is not an issue that can be pushed to the side as a “non-essential” of the Christian faith. Many will claim that Darwinian evolution and the Christian faith can co-exist as partners, or at the very least as peaceful neighbours, that the matter of “how” God created is not as important as the fact that He created. However, Scripture repeatedly reveals that God’s act of creation by the awesome power of his Word is intimately related to, and indeed one with, the central doctrines of our faith.

Why is our Lord and God worthy to receive glory and honour and power? Because He created all things, and by His will they existed and were created” (Rev 4:11).

How can the Lord have the power to call his people, and to redeem us? He is the One who created us; He is the one who formed us (Isa 43:1).

What is the true nature of the Son of God? Through Him the Father created the world and He upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1:2,3).

In Isaiah 40, the Lord speaks through his prophet, detailing the close relationship between his creative power and his personal work of redemption. His power in creating the world and sustaining it, an infinite power and authority that had no need[13] for millions, or billions, of years of evolutionary development, is intimately connected to his power to know his people personally, to save us, and to give us all that we need. The God who created the world in an instant,[14] who arranged and filled the universe in an unimaginable, awesome show of power and might, is also our Redeemer (Isa 40:25-29).

The Darwinian doctrine of evolution takes[15] the awe-inspiring creative power of God Almighty and places it in the hands of genetic mutations, chance,[16] and aeons of natural selection and development. It creates a distance[17] between God and his creation; it detracts from the power of God’s creative Word; it subtracts from God’s glory, and it paints a picture of the one true God that does not at all line up with his self-revelation in Scripture.

Who is our God? How should we live in the presence of such a God? “Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For He spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm” (Ps 33:8,9). This is the God who has revealed Himself. This is the God we worship and adore.[18] (JW)

Responses by Reformed Academic

12. The assumption in this “Reason” is that, in the case of humans, animal ancestry and direct creation by God are mutually exclusive. No reasons are given why God could not have created Adam from animal ancestors. The Bible characterizes all things as the result of God’s creative activity irrespective of whether the things created come about supernaturally or naturally. In both cases God creates. Therefore, the conclusion that Luke 3:38 must be mythological does not follow. We understand the concern about a possible denial that Adam was the son of God. We certainly do not take that position because we take Luke 3:38 to be true.

In the case of Adam, this section seems to posit a dichotomy between being a son of God and having any other ancestors, but in the case of Jesus, it acknowledges both “opposites.” But we are all sons of God (Galatians 3:26), as well as sons of our parents. Jesus was the son of David, David the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1), etc. There is thus no need for the dichotomy, and so this section seems irrelevant.

13. Certainly God did not need millions or billions of years to create the world. He could have created the universe yesterday, with all memories and historical records in place. But since scripture does not speak about the age of the earth (or of the universe), then, as Calvin says, “He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere...Astronomers investigate with great labour whatever the sagacity of the human mind can comprehend. Nevertheless, this study is not to be reprobated, nor this science to be condemned, because some frantic persons are wont boldly to reject whatever is unknown to them. For as astronomy is not only pleasant, but also very useful to be known: it cannot be denied that this art unfolds the admirable wisdom of God” (Commentary on Genesis 1:6 & 16). Taking time to make something does not detract from God’s glory either; it is a false dichotomy between fiat and process. After all, why did God let the Israelites suffer through a history of redemption if He could have redeemed them in an instant? Because it was in God’s plan. If that history can be in God’s plan, why would that not apply to the history of the Earth as studied in geology?

14. The claim that creation was instantaneous cannot be supported from Scripture. Even those who affirm a literalistic interpretation of Genesis 1 see God working through processes over time.

15. No explanation – scientific or otherwise – ever takes away the power of God and replaces it with natural causes. That view would be the position of an atheist or a materialist such as Dawkins. As Reformed Christians, we believe that God is involved in everything including what are called “chance” events. The notion of “chance” is often misunderstood as referring to fate, but no Christian is bound to that atheistic interpretation. The scientist who is a Christian acknowledges the God of creation and providence while also investigating the lawful patterns of regularity by which the Trinitarian God speaks the world into being and behaviour.

16. A Reformed doctrine of creation and providence acknowledges a place for “chance,” as seen from the human perspective, without implying this is hands-off for God (Proverbs 16:33). In all things, God’s decree is sovereign.

17. The Reformed doctrine of creation and providence holds to both the transcendence and immanence of God. God forming and filling creation is an intimate personal process.

18. In case there is any doubt, we at Reformed Academic fully accept all of Scripture, including (especially) the texts cited here. In fact, Dr. Arnold Sikkema has written a paper entitled “Laws of Nature and God’s Word for Creation”, Fideles v. 2 (2007) pp. 27-43 (accessible at our “collected papers” in the sidebar; direct link here), which cites many of these same passages in support of a Reformed Christian understanding of the character of natural laws.

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