A review of The Darwin Myth. By Benjamin Wiker.
With this year being a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth, and the 150th anniversary of his Origin of the Species, there has been much hagiography produced about Darwin. While many biographies try to paint Darwin as a secular saint, Wiker is willing to ask hard questions about his life and teachings.
This biographical sketch of Charles Darwin examines both the man and his thinking, as well as his impact. In it Wiker examines a number of myths that have sprung up around Darwin.
Among the biggest of these myths is the view that Darwinism is the same as evolution, and that Darwin invented the concept of evolution. The truth is, the idea of evolution had been around for at least two generations prior to Charles Darwin, even in his own family. His grandfather Erasmus had propounded the idea, as had numerous other thinkers and scientists prior to Charles.
Wiker also reminds us that Darwin insisted that evolution must be godless. What he is really famous for in fact is deliberately setting out to create a godless version of evolution. Many of his close friends and allies – such as Gray, Lyell and Wallace – disagreed with Darwin about this. Indeed, they also offered many criticisms of the weight Darwin placed on natural selection, and noted other major problems with his version of events.
He also highlights the major disconnect between Darwin and Darwinism. Darwin the man was kind, polite, humane, a great husband and father, and a gentleman. He was a philanthropist, and keenly supportive of the abolition of slavery movement. But his take on evolution ran directly counter to all of this, for it led of necessity to social Darwinism and the logic of the Nazis.
Indeed, as Wiker notes, social Darwinism is not the misapplication of Darwinism, “it is Darwinism”. While the first 85 pages of this book provide the biographical details, the last 85 pages make the case for this intrinsic connection between Darwinism and social Darwinism.
To make this case, Wiker reminds us that his two most famous works are in fact really one book in two volumes. His famous 1859 volume, which dealt with evolution as applied to plants and animals, was followed up by his 1871 The Descent of Man, which took evolutionary theory and applied it to humans. The two go together, and should be read as such.
And the end result is a worldview that totally goes against Darwin as a person, including his passionate abolitionism. In his earlier book he had written about the “slave-making instinct” found in nature. He used the example of how little black ants were enslaved by big red ants. This was how nature – and evolution – worked. It was neither right nor wrong – it just was, as is everything in a purely naturalistic evolutionary account of things.
So when he penned his next volume, he sought to show that mankind operates in the very same manner as the rest of the biological world. Man is merely an animal, and he too proceeds by principles of natural selection just as other animals do.
Morality itself is simply a product of evolution. Morality thus becomes whatever helps one tribe or race to survive over against another tribe or race. Therefore that which is “good” is whatever helps a particular race or people to survive.
If survival is the ultimate “goal” of evolutionary processes, then the stronger species will win out and rule over the weaker, and that is just the way it goes. But how could an abolitionist like Darwin promote a view which seems to provide a fixed biological rationale for slavery?
Darwin had to step back from the obvious implications of his own theory. Thus he introduced the idea that “sympathy” is an evolved trait. But this will just not do, as Wiker shows. Sympathy for the weak, sickly and intellectually inferior “is not just one more ‘moral’ trait. It is a trait that goes directly against the principle of natural selection.”
If the ruthless struggle to survive is where evolution has taken us, then humans, as well as animals, must simply submit to how nature has programmed us. “If Darwin’s theory were true, then human slavery was no less natural than ant slavery and hardly a matter for moral disapproval.”
And of course more consistent evolutionists like Huxley were happy to run with the logical implications of all this. Indeed, the whole eugenics movement, culminating in the horrific Nazi programs, was to find full justification in Darwin’s thinking.
The eugenicists were quite happy to latch on to Darwin’s ideas to provide the scientific underpinning for their nefarious schemes. His own son George became a leading eugenicist, and leagues of his followers were happy to take his ideas to their bitter – yet logical – end. Nietzsche, Marx and Stalin all warmly welcomed Darwin’s ideas, and happily made use of them. Indeed, hundreds of scientists, doctors, intellectuals and political leaders embraced the obvious implications of Darwinism.
And it does not matter if Darwin himself would have been appalled at how his ideas were used, especially by the Nazis. The truth is, his whole position provided the rationale and justification for what these social Darwinists were doing.
Moreover, so what if Darwin would be repulsed by how his followers took his theory? As Wiker notes, “by Darwin’s own principles, Darwin’s own ‘morality’ is no more than the shape of his nose or the color of his skin”.
The entire framework of Darwin’s theory leads inevitably to the gas chambers and the concentration camps. The biologically inferior had to be exterminated in order for humanity to survive and flourish. “If one society crushes another, that is not wrong. That is not even a shame. That is natural selection at work.”
Sure, there were “social Darwinists” before Darwin, but Darwinism provided the scientific grounds for, and vindication of, their position. It is as logical as it is scientific, if Darwin’s views are correct. If human evolution is to advance, it must go through the same process as in the rest of the biological world: the “favoured races” must exterminate the “less favoured races” to use Darwin’s own terms.
That is why Rudolf Hess could state with confidence, “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology”. That is why Hitler could boldly proclaim, the “highest aim of human existence is the conservation of race”. This comes straight out of Darwinian thinking.
As this important volume demonstrates, ideas have consequences. Or in this case, bad ideas have bad consequences. It is hoped that with all the hoopla surrounding Darwin this year, this book will get a wide reading. It might just take a bit of the edge out of the celebrations.
22 Replies to “A review of The Darwin Myth. By Benjamin Wiker.”
Darwin once confessed to being a theist, the belief in the existence of a god or gods, in particular the belief that God both created and rules all earthly phenomena. After the publication of the Origin, Darwin charged his original belief in God to the “constant inculcation” (instruction or indoctrination) in a belief in God” during his childhood, which was as difficult to cast down as “for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.” With self-assurance, Darwin purposed in his heart that he would no longer retain God in his knowledge, resolving instead to become an “agnostic.” The reader is, therefore, cautioned that, whenever reading books and articles about Darwin, most, if not all, biographical authors are predisposed to depict him in a favorable light, oftentimes allowing pro-evolutionist sentiment to prejudice their work.
The Old Testament did not escape Darwin’s inflamed rhetoric; concerning the validity of biblical histories (in particular, the Genesis account of creation), Darwin pointedly declared that “the manifestly false history of the earth….was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos (sic), or the beliefs of any barbarian.” Thus, Darwin likened the creation of the first man, Adam (Genesis 2:7-25), to a mere fairy tale. As an alternative to the counterfactual history, he summarily disposed of both creationism and God by declaring in the Origin that, once the reader entertains the “volumne (sic) on the origin of species…light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history,” meaning that man and apes diverged from a common ancestor through the agency of evolution without the aid or influence of God-there is no God.
Learn more at http://www.questforright.com/
C. David Parsons, USA
To balance the hagiographies, Creation Ministries International has also produced a high quality shot-on-site film-documentary examining Darwin’s voyage on the Beagle. This film, through interviews with leading evolutionists, period re-enactments etc examines whether Darwin’s ultimate conclusion is tenable particularly in the light of what we know now about the complexity of biological systems and the fossil record.
Currently this film is being screened in cinemas and churches around Australia. Session times are available here: http://creation.com/cinema-screenings
The DVD should be released about September.
Richard Weikart’s “From Darwin to Hitler” is a superb resource on this subject. Very scholarly. He has a website with useful essays.
Michael Burleigh’s “Death and Deliverance: “Euthanasia” in Germany c1900 to 1945″ is also handy.
Yes both books are outstanding. Weikart’s book (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) should be on everyone’s bookshelf. Let me offer just a few key quotes from it:
“Darwinian terminology and rhetoric pervaded Hitler’s writings and speeches, and no one to my knowledge has ever even questioned the common assertion by scholars that Hitler was a social Darwinist. It is too obvious to deny.” (pp. 7-8)
“Not only did many leading Darwinists embrace eugenics, but also most eugenicists – certainly all the early leaders – considered eugenics a straightforward application of Darwinian principles to ethics and society. Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, the founder of modern eugenics, developed his ideas upon reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species.” (p. 15)
“But even though not all Darwinists and eugenicists went along with Haeckel’s program of ‘rational’ extermination of the disabled, it is striking that the vast majority of those who did press for abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were fervent proponents of a naturalistic Darwinian worldview.” (p. 149)
“Hitler’s morality was not based on traditional Judeo-Christian ethics nor Kant’s categorical imperative, but was rather a complete repudiation of them. Instead, Hitler embraced an evolutionary ethic that made Darwinian fitness and health the only criteria for moral standards.” (p. 210)
“Darwinism by itself did not produce the Holocaust, but without Darwinism, especially in its social Darwinist and eugenics permutations, neither Hitler nor his Nazi followers would have had the necessary scientific underpinnings to convince themselves and their collaborators that one of the world’s greatest atrocities was really morally praiseworthy.” (p. 233)
“Nazi barbarism was motivated by an ethic that prided itself on being scientific. The evolutionary process became the arbiter of all morality. Whatever promoted the evolutionary progress of humanity was deemed good, and whatever hindered biological improvement was considered morally bad. Multitudes must perish in this Malthusian struggle anyway, they reasoned, so why not improve humanity by speeding up the destruction of the disabled and the inferior races? According to this logic, the extermination of individuals and races deemed inferior and ‘unfit’ was not only morally justified, but indeed, morally praiseworthy. Thus Hitler – and many other Germans – perpetrated one of the most evil programs the world has ever witnessed under the delusion that Darwinism could help us discover how to make the world better.” (p. 227)
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
This article about Darwin illustrates how nice people can hold deadly ideas. Darwinism has been called the universal acid because it erodes every civilized value.
We must remember that Charles Lyell provided the foundation for Darwinism when he argued that present geological processes are sufficient to explain all observed geology. He deliberately ignored the history of the Creation and the Flood documented in the Bible. Lyell’s idea leads directly to the conclusion that the world is millions of years old.
Lot’s of nice people believe the world is millions of years old and that it is a harmless idea. It is not. It destroys the history of the Bible, undermines the Gospel, leads to Darwin and the terrible consequences that Bill describes in his review.
Sadly, there are not many evangelical scholars who see this connection–nice people but undermining the credibility of the Christian worldview.
Apologies, but I think your ‘old-age earth -> Darwin’ link is far-fetched. I think you mean to address the ideology underlying these ideas (materialism), which results in non-scientific assumptions (i.e. Darwinian evolution must be true, we just have to figure out how) to hijack science into the said materialistic world view. It is not any idea or argument that set the foundation for Darwinism but the mindset that:
i) I won’t believe in a God.
ii) therefore I will strive to explain everything without ‘allowing a Divine foot in the door’, no matter how ridiculous or unfounded my argument becomes.
I do not understand how ‘old-age earth’ itself destroys the history of the Bible. The history of the Bible is well documented in archeology, ancient writings and the like. What ‘old-age earth’ does is question how much of Genesis we take literally.
Does believing that creation occurred by the Lord’s hand, by His guidance, by His plan – yet over a longer time – undermine the Christian worldview? I disagree. Regardless of the time-span the Lord is my God who created me, who “knit me together in the womb”, who knew me before existence began.
I would encourage you to identify the underlying ideology in such cases, rather than declaring ideas dangerous. We need not fear ideas, just people who purport the untruthful ones. If it has credence let it stand; if it is false knock it down.
Sorry for the OT Bill. I agree with your post – an amoral society is the logical outflow of Darwinism. But “learned” people dare not follow it too far (I mean really, Hitler and the like took it too far… you know, to its logical outcome), only far enough to rid them of God.
Tristan Ingle, Sydney.
You ask “Does believing that creation occurred by the Lord’s hand, by His guidance, by His plan – yet over a longer time – undermine the Christian worldview?”
The answer surely must be ‘yes’ if by the ‘Christian worldview’ you mean the worldview defined by the truths revealed to us by God in the Bible.
If you don’t base your Christian worldview on the Bible, then that is quite a different view to what Jesus took. Jesus quoted extensively from the Old Testament scriptures and gave absolutely no hint that they were not perspicuous or in any way in error. Jesus even rebuked his detractors for not seeing a truth in the Old Testament based on the tense of one Hebrew word (Matt 22:29-32).
So when Genesis says “day”, and numbers the days, and says evening and morning, and when God uses the days as the basis of our week, then I think we should read the text by the same principles Jesus did. Likewise when the genealogies place creation at about 4,000 BC then I think we should take this as seriously as what the Bible says about Jesus rising from the dead and being born of a virgin. After all,
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
I think you have me confused with someone who has an ‘open’ interpretation of the Bible. I do not. It is my highest truth.
I find it surprising that you think I don’t base my worldview on the Bible – I have not said that. Nor have I said the OT is in error. What I have said is that the question of an old-age earth undermines nothing of the Bible’s credibility, it only calls into question how much of Genesis is read literally (i.e. the start). Have I said this is thus untrue? No.
But please remember that “days”, just as “a time” has several interpretations when in the Bible (read Daniel). Also remember that God Himself uses both figurative and literal imagery. Am I suddenly to believe that the Lord contradicts Himself when He describes Himself as both “punishing down to the 70th generation but rewarding down to the 7000th generation” (correct quote plz) but also that He “judges each according to their merits”?. Of course not.
What am I arguing for? An open mind. If you are convinced that it is a literal seven days, wonderful – I don’t know, but am open to either literal seven day, or longer.
I am unsure whether the truth presented in the start of Genesis is fully literal or interspersed with metaphorical description too. From your reasoning I suppose that your Christian worldview is undermined if you wonder about Predestination, or the entirety of Revelation?
Of course not. We hold the Bible as true, not what we think it ought to say, and thus it is no big deal to change our minds when we are convinced of the true way of things. Which is the point I am making.
Sorry for another OT Bill.
Tristan Ingle, Sydney.
You ask, “Does believing that creation occurred by the Lord’s hand, by His guidance, by His plan – yet over a longer time – undermine the Christian worldview?”
The answer is clearly yes, if you read the Biblical account as it stands. Many Christians, because they have had a live-changing encounter with God think that because they have been “saved” and acknowledge Jesus as the only source of salvation, therefore hold to a Christian worldview. They do on the issue of salvation, but what usually happens is that the majority (rest) of their worldview is still largely uninformed by the truth of Scripture.
So many Christians presuppose millions and billions of years, as that is what most have been taught at school as true. They then read this into (or onto) the Biblical witness. Sadly too few actually let the Biblical witness inform their total worldview, rather than impose old age earth presuppositions upon the Biblical text.
If you didn’t presuppose millions and billions, what would reading Genesis be like then? Different I would bet. You say you “do not understand how ‘old-age earth’ itself destroys the history of the Bible. The history of the Bible is well documented in archeology, ancient writings and the like. What ‘old-age earth’ does is question how much of Genesis we take literally.” In this question and statement belies your presuppositions and perhaps inherited theology. You appear to believe that Genesis isn’t meant to be taken literally. Track that back to its origin, and I suspect you’ll again find the starting point of such thinking is millions and billions. Put me to the test.
Jesus took it as it is written, so did Paul. If it’s good enough for them, it’s also good enough for me. If I appear to be preaching, I apologise as that is not my intention. I do wish to challenge your worldview though, as it’s not consistent with the Biblical witness.
I speak passionately about such issues as I’ve been there before myself. Trying to reconcile two worldviews is difficult, but taking the careful time to read Scripture as it stands has a wonderful habit of challenging worldviews.
That is precisely the problem, Tristan. Doubting the six-day creation and the existence (and fall) of Adam and Eve places such severe problems on major things like the Ten Commandments to the reason for Jesus even coming to earth at all, that the whole Bible begins to fall apart very quickly. It can’t be brushed aside so easily if you really want to read the Bible and get something life-changing out of it for more than just the basics. Giving the impression that you can draw a line somewhere in Genesis where, afterwards, you can then take it literally, simply doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. If I asked 10 different liberal theologians where that line is and why, you would probably get 10 different answers. It becomes impossible for the Bible then to contain something life-changing valid for all humanity. It becomes ‘just another book’ to be critiqued by flawed men, if not rejected outright. I hope that you can see this is skating on thin ice.
My dad was a CSIRO scientist who believed in evolution but by the time I was in my early twenties he would walk away from conversations with me because he was unable to answer the questions I had. That experience (as well as similar deflections from committed devotees of naturalism – have a look at some of the exchanges on this blog for example) made me realize that I could legitimately call their authority into question. Ultimately, who do I believe – someone who was there, or someone who was not and can’t even reproduce some of the most basic assumptions? It is liberating to realize that a scientist committed to an evolutionary framework is no more an expert on the past than most people, no matter how qualified. Time-machines are fiction. Films like Jurassic Park and shows like Dr Who or even ‘science programs’ like Walking With Dinosaurs are fairy tales (but have just enough truth to be dangerous.)
And given that my dad was, as a 16 year old in 1943 Germany, called up to fight for the decimated army, grounded in a war aided by Darwinism, it’s all a tad ironic.
I know that many Christians do not understand what all the fuss is about and think it a small or insignificant matter. Or think it too big a fight to engage in. Indeed, immersed in a society that innocuously and insidiously assumes the ‘truth’ of evolution, it is hard to fight against (which is why I mentioned those film and TV shows). This is really what it is about, being swept up with common ideas unquestioningly. But I would rather follow the evidence than what is popular. Witness the hysteria about man-made global warming that is now beginning to unravel. So much for ‘consensus’. (Indeed, out for a ride on my bike at 7am yesterday morning, the idea seemed somewhat preposterous. I was freezing!)
But surely at least we owe it to ourselves to be honest for the sake of our own lives. And, speaking for myself, as someone with – like the rest of humanity – only little islands of knowledge in an ocean of ignorance, I want to defer to the ultimate expert. Who better than Jesus, who proved his authority over the laws of nature? (Find me an evolutionary scientist who rises from the dead and I might consider changing my mind!)
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”(Matthew 19:4-6)
and Jesus acknowledged and clarified the purpose of the Sabbath.
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)
Where did the Sabbath come from?
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)
I’ve never heard a remotely adequate biblical alternative for believing in six day creation and Adam and Eve. It might not be popular to say that, but that’s how I see it. I found it difficult to accept initially, but there really is no other way to be consistent. And asking a hard question of myself too – do I prefer to be right, or popular? How much are we willing to ask hard questions of ourselves?
Sorry about the length…
Tristan, I think you may a be taken in by the concept of scientific ‘truth’. ie. because of carbon dating we ‘know’ that the world is millions of years old; or because of we *now* ‘know’ about the universe the world must be millions of years old.
Since scientific ‘truth’ changes each generation – however Biblical truth doesn’t, yet eventually the more we know scientifically the more we understand how the Bible is absolutely true. You may want to begin by questioning what we ‘know’ about carbon dating and its accuracy, and what we ‘know’ about the universe, what we know about dinosaurs and when they lived etc. before you question scripture. Creation Ministries is a great place to start.
As Mark beautifully pointed out, *if* we are to believe Jesus then we must acknowledge the Genesis account to be so. Since Jesus *is* truth it’s a bit hard to sidestep this and many other ‘hard-to-accept-in-today’s-Darwinistic-world’ literal statements.
If you aren’t sure about the validity of the scriptures then study up on how they came about, their history, and how amazingly everything fits together. Pretty impossible to do humanly over the millenia I would have thought.
Just as C S Lewis said…
in the same way God is saying through the Scriptures, either you believe or you don’t, because I haven’t really left the door open for anywhere in between. It’s either fantastical or it’s true – you choose.
Tristan you ask how the concept of belief in an ancient age of the earth undermines the biblical worldview? It goes beyond the issue of “how much of Genesis we take literally”, and challenges biblical concepts such as the origin of sin and death, and gives credence to dysteleology – the doctrine of purposelessness in nature.
All the various theologies which attempt to harmonise a great age for the earth and universe with the Bible, all have one thing in common – they place death before the Fall. Therefore death can no longer be said to be a punishment and consequence of the first sin (an important part of the biblical worldview).
Tas and his colleagues very much understand the “ideology underlying these ideas” of an old earth. The ideology which underpins the belief in an old earth and universe is the same one which underpins belief in evolution – namely, philosophical naturalism.
A question for everyone: are untruthful ideas dangerous?
Wow. When did the people on this website become so ready to accuse me of believing things I haven’t actually stated?
I have no idea why you are mentioning Sabbath, Adam and Eve, etc. Did I not say I take it as true? That the Bible is my ultimate truth? Where have I discarded the Bible for ‘science’? Where have I elevated it beyond?
I have said twice that “I wonder” about the literal six-day creation, and people respond by inferring a bunch of stuff I have not said nor alluded to.
I know that mainstream science reckons the earth is ~5billion years old. I also know that dating with radio-isotopes might be hugely flawed (the Voyager satellite’s recent journey illustrates this).
You quote me Christ’s authority for the literal six-day creation – but He said nothing about it. Yes He mentions man being one with women – where have I denied that? I am talking about the timespan of creation – nothing else.
You think that I believe in materialistic evolution – don’t be ridiculous, I study Veterinary Science and can think for myself. You think I have dysteleologic leanings – where have I disputed what Genesis says about the Fall?
You have said I question the validity of Scripture, when I have wondered if it is literal or metaphorical, not whether it is untrue. Or do metaphorical descriptions not occur in our Bible?
Rather than jump at me for not being steadfast on young-age Earth, and in turn lumping in a bunch of assumptions about me that belong to your stereotypical picture of a person that thinks ‘science is god’, actually read what I’ve written.
Thankyou for all writing your responses in exactly the same format:
i) you are wrong.
ii) here’s a bunch of other stuff we’re going to link you to, despite you not actually saying you believe it (e.g. Darwinistic Macro-evolution)
iii) self-righteous/smug comment about me ‘struggling to get it right’ or ‘trying to be popular’.
Not a single link to a website to help me learn more? Not a single offer to answer questions? I don’t know what to say. Apparently I’m not allowed to admit that I’m unsure about things.
Tristan Ingle, Sydney.
In defense of Tristan, with the acknowledgement that none of us know what occurred in the beginning, that only God knows the precise time and format of the Creation and further that despite the clear description of that event, the human intellect still faces important challenges when either transmitting or receiving divine messages.
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
Let us first take note that the Creation account is a summary of what actually happened, and was delivered to Moses thousands of years after the fact. Because it is Gods transmission through a human agent, it would be foolish to take the account at face value or assume that it is indeed a thorough exposition of the event.
It is not.
It is merely a testament as to what happened, not so much that we should understand the Creation (e.g. the precise mechanisms), but to acknowledge that it happened. To figure out the whys and the wherefores is the duty of scientists, who might never even arrive at this knowledge. For us Christians, we acknowledge this event and go on to more important things; things to do with brotherly love, the Commandments, and how we can approach the perfect example Christ set for us.
I say this to remind us that St. Paul warned us against getting into “oppositions of science, falsely so called” We should never argue about things of which we have no understanding with atheists and the like, least of all among ourselves. Let us discuss these issues, but never use them as opportunities to berate one another, as some have attempted to do to Tristan.
As for the Genesis passage, I have read in a good number of places that there could be a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
I stress, “could”.
What this implies is that the universe is indeed billions of years old. The rationale for this is that the Universe as created was a beautiful and wonderful place of order and peace. However, as verse 2 says, the Earth was formless and void, that would be inconsistent with Gods perfect imagination and handiwork, implying a destruction of the Earth of sorts, rendering it formless and chaotic.
According to this argument, then the 6 day account is indeed a Creation week, but not an initial creation, but rather a renewal, a refurbishment of the chaotic, nearly-destroyed earth AND the population of the refurbished earth with wildlife, flora and human beings. This could be valid in that, since humanity appeared at around the same time, anything that happened before this time would be irrelevant to us and unnecessary to expound on.
Psalm 104:30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
This would support the physical claims that the vast expanse of the universe is as a result of billions of years of age and that the human species is indeed only 6000 or so years old, alongside all other life-forms on earth.
As for my take, like Tristan, I prefer to keep an open mind. This is because unlike many on this astute website, we must remember, the Holy Bible is a coded book, open to some, completely shut to others. Some understand it, others never will. It would be arrogant and furthermore silly for any one of us to claim a supreme revelation of all the truths found within it.
Let us please remember that this is a the most complex book on the planet, written in meandering cycles of literal descriptions, anecdotes, metaphors, legends, histories, poetry and prophecy. It is a book that has mystified even the prophets who were tasked with writing some of its pages; how are we to claim we understand it with absolute certainty?
One thing remains true for myself and perhaps for Tristan and many of you as well. We accept the Holy Bible as the highest truth and the most magnificent revelation of our origin, purpose and destiny upon this earth. What me must not claim, even accepting the supremacy of the Holy Bible, is that we understand precisely what the truth is.
That is for God alone, and His saints when He reveals such to them in the New Kingdom.
I remain your committed brother in the faith.
John Cerere, Washington, D.C., US
You were the one who wrote, “I do not understand how ‘old-age earth’ itself destroys the history of the Bible” as well as “it only calls into question how much of Genesis is read literally”. I have heard many say they believe in the truth of the Bible, but when asked certain questions they often appear to offer lame answers that don’t take Scripture as seriously as they say. So, prove the opposite.
I pretty much thought I laid out my case carefully (which is why my post was some length, not just “you are wrong”). Bottom line, you need to start laying out a biblical case for what you believe. (eg. Jesus, in explaining about the Sabbath, most definitely was reinforcing the passage in Exodus, which in turn relies on Genesis – which is definitely not a place where Scripture is written “metaphorically”.) You have not really answered the issue that introducing a long age creation does great harm to the Bible. It’s all very cleverly woven together, and you need to be careful about picking and choosing, that’s all I’m saying, especially when the basis for that appears to be influenced by naturalistic assumptions. Hope that helps.
Sorry if you feel ‘jumped on’.
Tristan this site may be helpful to you. I find this ministry the most helpful for any questions about the 7 days versus millions of years concept which I too was taught was true in the Catholic School I attended. http://www.creation.com
Contrary to what has been said on this blog the take on an old earth in the evangelical community is NOT settled. There is no unanimous position by stalwart defenders of evangelicalism and biblical inerrancy on how old the earth is according to Biblical scholarship.
The young earth 24 hour day literalistic view (‘wooden’ as I would see it) is just one interpretation and defying such an interpretation is NOT to defy biblical inerrancy at all.
Examples of evangelical leaders open to an old earth;
John Collins Professor at Covenant Theological Seminary
Walter Kaiser professor and notable author at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
J. P. Moreland prominent philosopher and apologist.
Others include Nancey Pearcey, Charles Colson, Norman Geisler, C. S. Lewis and William Lane Craig. And going back in history a bit futher Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield.
These are all prominent defenders of the Biblical worldview and so to say that this requires a belief in a young earth is complete nonsense.
I don’t mean to speak for Bill here but he seems to be sitting on the fence on this issue which indicates to me that he views it as a non-essential for belief in a Biblical worldview, contrary to the pontificatings of the young earthers here and their conflating of a young earth with revealed biblical truth.
Let me seek to be brief (in order that I can keep my own rules!).
-This particular post was on social Darwinism, so it is always preferable to stay on topic where possible.
-The age of the earth debate is important, and of course it has been debated ad infinitum, ad nauseam in all sorts of places, including countless books, magazines, websites, etc.
-It is my preference to see these important debates battled out in those other places, and not have it become the main topic of interest on this site. Sure, I am happy to give it a bit of a run on my site – which I have done numerous times – but it is not the number one purpose of, or reason for, this site.
-Given that this is my website, I hope you can respect where I wish to go with it.
-As to the issue at hand, it should be clear by now that I have attempted to stay out of it somewhat. This is not because I consider it to be unimportant, but because I am still wrestling with it myself.
-The truth is, on and off for over thirty years now I have read, studied, thought and prayed about this issue, and I have not fully come to a firm conclusion on the age of the earth debate.
-It is hopefully clear from this site that I have huge problems with macroevolution, and also have a high view of Scripture, and have some understanding of historical and biblical theology. So hopefully I am not operating out of ignorance here.
-And please, no need to send me more literature promoting your particular view on the matter. For what it is worth, I have at least 200 books just on this one issue alone. I think I am as well read on this topic as many of you. So I am quite aware of the arguments, counter-arguments, counter-counter-arguments, counter-counter-counter-arguments, and so on.
-So instead of either side (and there are in fact a number of sides here, not just two) seeking to convert me, perhaps just be patient with me and continue to pray for me. We all need more truth, more humility, more grace and more discernment here. Certainly I do.
-The bottom line for me here is can we agree to disagree on some quite important issues, and continue to show Christian grace and charity, as we seek to grow together in knowledge and understanding? It is my prayer that we can.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Tristan, I think you’re over reacting to the comments in response to your original question. Speaking for myself, I wasn’t accusing you of believing anything beyond what you wrote. I was simply answering your question and in the process needed to refer to a couple of other issues. I wasn’t suggesting you necessarily believed in death before the Fall for example.
You claim there was “Not a single offer to answer questions”, but I thought I was directly answering your original question.
If i may just say, having read the thread I feel that perhaps we all need to just take a step back and take a long deep breath.
Tristan, just because there are many people here who don’t agree with you does not mean that they are attacking you personally. Your take on the genesis account of creation may differ for many reasons to those who don’t agree with you, but as we have seen, this issue is by no means resolved, and quite possibly may remain that way for a good while yet.
Don’t get upset when people don’t agree. I commend you all as we seek to work out our faith together. Lets all just remember that we are all part of the same family, and that whatever views we hold, we are to work for His kingdom and to bring glory to His name.
May the Lord bless each and every one of you.
Thanks for your comments, Bill.
Have you seen the many reviews and articles at Living Tradition which critique the historical theories of evolution — http://www.rtforum.org/lt/index.html ?
Peter D Howard