Suppose you were asked to take a sampling of the adult population in the Western world today. Your assignment is to ask your interviewees: "Do you believe in God as the First Cause?" You would probably find that over ninety percent profess a belief in God as First Cause. But there is a second question you are assigned. You ask the same group for their opinion on the theory of evolution: "Do you believe life on earth evolved?" You are likely to find that an equally high proportion of interviewees believe in evolution. Somehow belief in God as the First Cause and evolution as his mechanism for creation have been welded together. But is evolution God's method of creating? Is God a necessary First Cause? Is it scientific to believe in a God who made only the first life and then left the rest to self-governing evolutionary processes?
"The supernatural is being swept out of the universe.... God can no longer be considered as the controller of the universe in any but a Pickwickian sense.... Operationally God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat." HUXLEY: Religion Without Revelation "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." ROMANS: Romans 1:20
A Satisfying Combination?
The concept of theistic evolution — the idea that God created life through the process of organic evolution — is generally hailed as a great problem-solver by representatives of both the churches and the scientific community. Undoubtedly this is why most accept it. With God at the helm, religion can remain honorably in the picture. But with evolution as the process, science can be left alone to provide the specific mechanisms. As Prof. Theodosius Dobzhansky, world-known geneticist and outspoken evolutionist, said recently: "It is wrong to hold creation and evolution as mutually exclusive alternates. I am a creationist and evolutionist. Evolution is God's or Nature's method of Creation" (1972, San Francisco Symposium, Biology Teachers of America). So both within and without the scientific community, the idea that God used evolution seems to be a common solution to otherwise conflicting beliefs. Blending God and evolution has come to be basically accepted by almost all large Christian denominations today. As James H. Jaucey, in his book, Science Returns to God (1961), has said:
There are a great number of biologists who at least tentatively believe in evolution, but who nevertheless are active members of Christian churches and find no problem at all. The general attitude is that even if evolution were to prove true, instead of making God unnecessary, it would merely show that this was the method God used (p. 20).
The idea of theistic evolution as a way to reconcile science and scripture is not new. Many perhaps do not realize that Charles Darwin believed in both a Creator and the evolutionary concept. In Darwin's history-making work, On the Origin of Species, he concludes:
There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved (Sixth Edition, 1872).
Thus from Charles Darwin in 1872 to eminent scientists a century later, the call is for uniting the concepts of God as originator of life and the theory of evolution as the method whereby he created all life.
What Does God Have to Say?
But surely the most important question is: "What does God have to say about how he created life?" The very first chapter of the Bible seems to go out of its way to emphasize the basic truth that plants and animals were created to reproduce only "after their kind." This phrase definitely sets a limit on the capacity of an animal or a plant to change. It
"There is a grandeur in this view of life. with its several powers. having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that. whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity. from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been. and are being evolved." DARWIN: On the Origin of Species "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind.... And God made the beast of the earth after his kind...." "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." GENESIS: Genesis 1:20, 24, 25; 2:7
is unsaid here exactly how much a Genesis "kind'! of plant or animal can vary in relationship to the biological classification scheme of species, genera, etc. The scriptures nowhere, for example, limit all life forms to variation within the species level. Species is not necessarily equivalent to the biblical kind. *The fact that some species have varied does not nullify the repeated Genesis statement of "after their kind," or "after its kind." A misunderstanding of this point has caused endless confusion in correlating a correct understanding of the Bible with the demonstrable, observational findings of science. Observational science has shown the amazing variability of life forms. But such variation has never crossed the biblical kind threshold. And yet it is basic to fundamental evolutionary theory that it can do so. The geologist Carl O. Dunbar commented on this fact:
It is known, for example, that all modem breeds of dog can be traced back to a single species of wild dog, that all our domestic horses have come from one or two species of wild pony, and that the many breeds of cattle have sprung from one, or at most a few, wild ancestors. If it has been possible, within a few thousand years, to change a wild dog into forms as diverse as the whippet, the bulldog, and the poodle, and if, by careful selection and breeding, it has been possible to transform the scrawny wild pony of central Asia into the sleek Arabian race horse, the toy like Shetland pony, and the ponderous Percheron, then we can only wonder if in similar fashion each kind of wild life has developed from some other, by gradual change and specialization. This line of thought led to the doctrine of Organic Evolution, which is the belief that from some geologically remote, primitive form of life all the diverse kinds of animals and plants have developed, each evolving from some previous form by gradual and orderly change. According to this conception, all creatures are genetically related, like the members of a great human family, and the degree of relationship of different groups of animals and plants may be represented by the branches of a family tree (pp. 69-70, Second Edition of Historical Geology, 1960).
When Dunbar's line of thought takes him beyond observed changes in life forms, then he is going beyond both science and scripture and is entering the realm of unproved speculation. No provable living chain of life forms exists from amoeba to man, as the theory of evolution postulates. Such a proposed chain of life forms is an assumption or a philosophic conclusion, but neither a scientific nor a biblical fact. Instead of one gigantic tree of life which is interrelated, one more properly observes all contemporary life to consist of a whole forest of independent kinds which can greatly vary within their kind, but no further. The vital links between the kinds are missing — both in the living world around us and in the fossil record beneath our feet. The December 1966 issue of Scientific American carefully notes:
Living things are enormously diverse in form, but form is remarkably constant within any given line of descent; pigs remain pigs and oak trees remain oak trees generation after generation (p. 32).
This is a principle basic to life itself. The world around us teaches that life varies only a certain amount within each life kind. Much of the present controversy between the Bible and the theory of evolution. could have been avoided if reality had been faced by both sides.
Avoiding Two Extremes
A too strict definition of a Genesis kind (a Genesis kind was often falsely limited to a species by many theologians in the 19th century) led to the intellectual rejection of whole sections of the Bible by many scientists. The problem was not in the Bible. but in a wrong interpretation of the word "kind" by some theologians. In like manner. growing numbers of scientists, instead of merely reporting the limited changes they could observe in the world around them, began to insist philosophically that all life ultimately must have come from a common ancestor! If all the present world of plants and animals could be viewed at one time, one would not see a host of utterly unrelated species as theologians commonly proposed, nor would one see an unbroken series of intergrades between all the various types of life. Instead, a multitude of separate, unrelated kinds, often composed of various species, would be seen. One literally does not find a fish that is in the process of evolving into an amphibian, or a reptile into a bird, or a primate into a man. Such changes are only suspected by the evolutionary community. It is for this precise reason that scientists themselves acknowledge that the living world affords only circumstantial evidence for the theory of evolution. This is why the fossil record of the earth's crust is asked to bear the burden of proof.
Fossil Record Proof of Evolution?
What does one find in the pages of the earth's stratigraphic record? Will an unbroken sequence of life be clearly demonstrated in the hardened layers beneath our feet? If the theory of evolution is true, then the rocks should have preserved a sufficient record of life's advances throughout geologic time. The fossil record should give us a satisfying continuous record of life evolving from the one-celled forms to man himself. Charles Darwin, over 100 years ago, squarely faced the enigma presented by the fossil record. He wrote:
From these several considerations, it cannot be doubted that the geological record, viewed as a whole, is extremely imperfect; but if we confine our attention to anyone formation, it becomes much more difficult to understand why we do not therein find closely graduated varieties between the allied species which lived at its commencement and at its close (chapter 10 of On the Origin of Species, 1872 edition).
It was thought that further investigation of the strata would solve the problem. In the century since Darwin's above statement, we find that paleontology still cannot find the needed transitional links. Let the paleontologists speak for themselves:
It remains true, as every paleontologist knows, that most new species, genera, and families and that nearly all new categories above the level of families appear in the record suddenly and are not led up to by known, gradual, completely continuous transitional sequences (George G. Simpson, The Major Features of Evolution, 1969, p. 360).
"'Links' are missing just where we most fervently desire them, and it is all too probable that many 'links' will continue to be missing" (Genetics, Paleontology and Evolution, chapter by A. S. Romer, 1963. p. 114). We also read:
There is no need to apologize any longer for the poverty of the fossil record. In some ways it has become almost unmanageably rich, and discovery is out-pacing integration.... The fossil record nevertheless continues to be composed mainly of gaps ("Fossils in Evolutionary Perspective," by T. N. George, Science Progress, Jan. 1960, pp. 1, 3).
The evidence for plant evolution is especially difficult to find:
It has long been hoped that extinct plants will ultimately reveal some of the stages through which existing groups have passed during the course of their development, but it must be freely admitted that this aspiration has been fulfilled to a very slight extent, even though paleobotanical research has been in process for more than one hundred years. As yet we have not been able to trace the phylogenetic history of a single group of modern plants from its beginning to the present (C. A. Arnold, An Introduction to Paleobotany, 1947, p. 7).
It must be considered significant that the fossil record lacks the links between the various kinds. **So the fundamental fact of the fossil record remains: The biblical kind with its internal variations is visible, but a continuous unbroken sequence of life is not shown in the geological record. No valid transitional forms have ever been observed in real life or in the fossil record. Theories may abound. Conjectures are abundant. But proof is wanting. Nevertheless the theory of evolution has gained a strong foothold throughout the modem world, in almost every facet of our lives. To reject it is to slay a sacred cow of the educational community.
Denying the Creator's Power
Many theologians have felt obliged to accept it as a fact, and thereby compromise the plain statements of the book they profess to believe. But theistic evolution makes God out to be — a liar. It makes him out to be a weak God. Why make him capable of creating the first spark of life, but incapable of producing more complex life forms? All life is complex. Those who wish to "do God a favor" by allowing him to create man (or any other creature) by an. evolutionary process need to realize such beliefs exclude him from dealing in a direct way in the affairs of man, nullify the plain words of the Bible, and, in fact, deny God's power. Why kid ourselves? The real advocates of the evolutionary theory understand what the theory leads to in respect to God. Listen to Sir Julian Huxley:
The supernatural is being swept out of the universe.... God can no longer be considered as the controller of the universe in any but a Pickwickian sense.... Operationally God is beginning to resemble not a ruler, but the last fading smile of a cosmic Cheshire cat (Religion Without Revelation, 1927, pp. 58, 62).
And along the same lines, George G. Simpson adds:
"... we did not appear all at once but by an almost incredibly long and slow progression. It shows too that there was no anticipation of man's coming. He responds to no plan and fulfills no supernal purpose. He stands alone in the universe, a unique product of a long, unconscious, impersonal, material process, with unique understanding and potentialities. These he owes to no one.... He can and must decide and manage his own destiny (Life of the Past, 1968, p. 155).
These candid professionals know that if one logically follows the evolutionary line of thought, God is nowhere in the picture. Those who wish to join the two opposites of belief come away with a poor compromise. In the whole process, the deep and profound meaning of Genesis I is lost from view by theistic evolution. The well-intentioned individual who joins together the opposites of creation and evolution will miss the fundamental significance of "after its kind." Genesis I is the key which unlocks the meaning of man's existence as well as the key in understanding the when and how of God's creative acts.
Purpose of Life Lost From View
Verses 11 and 12 of Genesis 1 tell of God's creative powers used to bring forth fruit trees, grasses, and herbs which will continue their kind according to set limits. Verses 20 through 22 repeat similar limitations on sea life and the bird kinds. Verses 24 and 25, speaking of the beast of the field, cattle, and creeping things, again set definite limits on their variation capacity — each within its kind. The crowning physical creation is mankind itself: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (verses 26-27). Man is fashioned after the God kind. His body and mind are in the likeness of the Creator's. The purpose of creating man physical and mortal is that he might become divine, born of God, no longer composed of physical, earthly matter, but composed of spirit — like God. Paul of Tarsus understood the Genesis account and revealed the deep significance of the early Genesis revelation when he wrote: "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam [Jesus Christ] was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit. Howbeit, that was not first which is spiritual.... The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.... And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Corinthians 15:45-49). Genesis 2:7 says that God created man directly from the dust of the ground. Man does not possess an animal lineage. Genesis 3:17-19 also shows that, at death, man returns to the dust. Man was made a living soul, or better rendered, a living creature. The word translated "soul" here is the same word translated "creature" in Genesis 1:20-21. Genesis 2:7 does not tell us that Adam had a unique soul, but rather shows how he became a living creature (flesh, of the earth, subject to physical death as is all physical life). His body was formed directly from the dust of the earth, and his physical life came from the breath of life breathed into his nostrils by God. There is no plainer way in which God could have told us how he created Adam, and, as we shall see, Eve. This is no mere poetic way to express an evolutionary process. To postulate, as some have, that Adam and Eve are merely symbols for the first humans who had evolved out of the animal kingdom is directly contrary to biblical scholarship. Again, if one is willing to admit into his thinking the existence of a Creator God, then why should one want to limit the power of God and make the scriptures of no effect? Genesis 2 is also clear concerning the origin of Eve. She was made out of a rib from Adam (verse 22). The apostle Paul in the New Testament confirmed this understanding of the Genesis account when he wrote: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.... For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God" (I Corinthians 11:8-9, 12). Paul's statement can only sensibly be understood in the context of a literal creation of Eve from a rib of Adam. God made every living thing to reproduce only after its own particular kind of life. God made man after the God kind, first in physical composition and limited mind ability. Later, in a coming resurrection, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 15, man will be composed of spirit as God is spirit, with all the vast potentials of spirit (I John 3:2). Man will eventually become a spirit member of the God kind if he will but put aside his own wrong ways and beliefs and be transformed by the ways and teachings of God as revealed in the Holy Bible.
*Genesis I uses the term kind ten different times. See verses 11, 12, 21, 24 and 25.
**Certain fossil forms are, of course, mentioned as possible links between basic types of creatures. For example. the gap between amphibians and reptiles has often been explained by a fossil dubbed Seymauria. However, as G. A. Kerkut of the University of Southampton, himself an evolutionist, says: "Seymouria is sometimes thought of as a link between the amphibia and reptiles. Unfortunately Seymouria is found in the Permian whilst the first reptiles arose in the Pennsylvanian, some twenty or more million years earlier" (Implications of Evolution. p. 136).