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Since the 1990s, the Intelligent Design (ID) movement has broadened the attack on Darwinism. Though ID proponents typically are not Bible believers and might even claim to be agnostic in regard to the identity of the Designer, they argue that the Darwinian mechanisms of natural selection and random mutations are insufficient to explain life. William Dembski says that the basic claim of ID is that “there are natural systems that cannot be adequately explained in terms of undirected natural forces and that exhibit features which in any other circumstance we would attribute to intelligence” (The Design Revolution, p. 27). Intelligent Design proponents point to the intricate design that we see everywhere, from the DNA molecule and the living cell to the perfectly balanced conditions on earth and beyond that allow life to exist. Influential ID books include Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box (1996), which argues the concept of “irreducible complexity,” Phillip Johnson’s Darwin on Trial (1991), William Dembski’s The Design Inference (1998), and Stephen Myer’s Signature in the Cell (2009).
BENEFITS OF CREATION SCIENCE MATERIALS
Today there are a vast number of books and DVDs, entire school curriculums, and sophisticated museums that debunk Darwinian evolution from various perspectives, and there are many benefits that derive from the use of these materials.
Creation science materials are tremendously helpful in fortifying God’s people, particularly young people, against the devil’s lies. Titus 1:9-11 says that sound teaching is necessary to stop the mouths of false teachers. This is the first purpose of creation science materials. Young people, particularly, need to be fortified against Darwinist propaganda.
Creation science materials teach analytical thinking and sound argumentation. The writer of Hebrews says that the spiritual and moral senses must be trained through use.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
We do not naturally know how to refute error. Like most things in life, this must be learned and we must grow in the exercise of it. By learning God’s Word and weighing everything in life by God’s holy Standard, proving what is right and what is wrong, we strengthen our spiritual and moral senses so that we can know God’s will and be approved by Him. Well prepared creation science material is a tremendous help in this education. By this means we learn how to deal with the wiles of the devil.
Creation science materials lift the believer’s heart to God, the Almighty Creator, and teach lessons about His character and power. “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 1:20). The creation-science issue covers every aspect of God’s creation, from biology to astrology. It is thrilling research.
Creation science materials enrich one’s life. The student of creation science learns countless things about nature which greatly enrich his life. He learns wonderful things about the living cell, peacocks, bird migration, bacterial flagellum, whales, butterflies, stars, and countless other things.
Creation science materials are useful in evangelism. Creation science has been called “pre-evangelism,” and many people have been saved after first being confronted with creation science arguments against evolution. This caused them to doubt what they were taught from the secular sphere and made them willing to explore the Bible and to look at the claims of Jesus Christ. Consider the following example:
“I was raised in a Christian home, believing in God and His creation. However, I was taught evolution while attending high school, and began to doubt the authority of the Bible. If evolution is true, I reasoned, the Bible cannot also be true. I eventually rejected the entire Bible and believed that we descended from lower creatures; there was no afterlife and no purpose in life but to enjoy the short time we have on this earth. My college years at Penn State were spent as an atheist, or at best as an agnostic. Fortunately, and by the grace of God, I began to read articles and listen to tapes about scientific evidence for creation. Over a period of a couple of years, it became apparent to me that the theory of evolution has no legitimate factual evidence, and that scientific data from the fossil record, geology, etc. could be better explained by a recent creation, followed by a global Flood. Suddenly I realized that the Bible might actually be true! It wasn’t until I could believe the first page of the Bible that I could believe the rest of it. Once I accepted the fact that there is a creator God, it was an easy step for me to accept His plan of salvation through Jesus Christ as well” (John Cimbala, Ph.D. in aeronautics from California Institute of Technology, In Six Days: Why fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation, edited by John Ashton, pp. 200, 201).
SOME DANGERS OF CREATION SCIENCE MATERIALS
At the same time, there are some dangers in the use of creation science and Intelligent Design materials.
1. The danger of thinking that defeating evolution will result in salvation.
Materials debunking evolution are great tools, but we must not forget that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). We can’t argue and reason people into salvation. It is not only the mind that must be convinced, but also the heart and will converted. The individual must be born again through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We should reason and persuade (Acts 18:4), but at the end of the day faith does not come by reasoning; it comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17). God has chosen to confound the wise of this world through the apparent foolishness of gospel preaching (1 Corinthians 1:19-21). Therefore, anti-evolutionary materials and apologetics should never take center stage in our witnessing efforts. When used wisely and in their proper place, they are tools that can remove stumbling blocks and false thinking, but preaching the gospel and simple Bible teaching and earnest prayer must always be our main instruments.
“In a way, scientific and historical evidences are like the five stones David used to kill Goliath (1 Sam. 17:40). Winning the battle is not about the size or number of the stones. What’s much more important is how you use them. It really doesn’t take a lot of knowledge of science to refute evolution, but some knowledge of science can be very helpful if used properly. David knew how to use a slingshot properly; he had practiced. More importantly, he knew that mere weapons were not what would ultimately decide the fate of a battle; the victory would belong to God alone (1 Sam. 17:47). There is a lesson here for the modern apologist” (Dr. Jason Lisle, The Ultimate Proof of Creation, p. 103).
2. The danger of forgetting that God has exalted faith.
Biblical faith is not blind; it has substance and evidence (Acts 1:3; Hebrews 11:1), but it is faith nonetheless, because it is involves believing something that cannot be seen or empirically proven. We must not become so enamored with creation science and apologetics in general that we think we don’t need faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
3. The danger of becoming high-minded.
Another potential problem with creation science is the danger of the pride of intellect. “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matthew 11:25). The Bible warns well over a hundred times about pride, because it is part of the fallen nature and is a chief characteristic of the “god of this world,” the devil. Scholarship and education are good and helpful in the Christian life and ministry, but they must be kept in their place, which is at the foot of Christ, and every “scholar” must guard himself from being puffed up in knowledge (1 Corinthians 8:1; Colossians 2:18). It is good to remember that no matter how much we know, it is almost nothing compared to what there is to know.
4. The danger of being enamored with debating.
It is possible to become addicted to debating and to an apologetics approach to Christianity. One blogger describes himself as “a Christian, librarian, palaeoanthropologist, and evolutionary biologist with an all-consuming interest in apologetics and controversies in science and religion.” This is not healthy. It does not lead to settled truth. It results in strife and confusion. It is more in line with the false teachers described in Paul’s prophecy in 2 Timothy 3:7, who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth,” or the Athenians who “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).
5. The danger of overly complicating the truth.
Some approaches to creation science and Intelligent Design can become extremely complicated. For example, William Dembski, one of the founders of the Intelligent Design movement, defines design as “specified complexity.” This is a helpful definition, but when he attempts to break this down scientifically and answer the critic’s arguments against it, he can become almost bewilderingly complicated. Consider, for example, the five ingredients of Dembski’s specified complexity:
“a probabilistic version of complexity applicable to events, conditionally independent patterns, probabilistic resources, which come in two forms: replicational and specificational, specificational version of complexity applicable to patterns, and a universal probability bound” (The Design Revolution, pp. 81, 82).
Try explaining that to the average member of a Bible-believing church! Of course, Dembski is not aiming for this, but the fact is that his material is published by a Christian press and used widely by Christians in the creation science debate. Dembski has a Ph.D. in philosophy, so it is not surprising that he is philosophical, and his arguments are brilliant and interesting, but at this level the flower of truth tends to get lost in the wilderness of rhetorical complexity.
The biblical approach is different. Though the Bible contains many deep and difficult things, the truth found there tends to be simple enough for average people to understand. The apostle Paul warned about corrupting the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). He also warned that God cannot be found through the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1:21-24).
If our objective is to win men to Jesus Christ, the KISS rule (“keep it simple, stupid”) is always relevant! To deal effectively with evolutionary philosophy one must stand unhesitatingly and simply on God’s Word. That’s how Jesus dealt with Satan (Matthew 4). When we do not base our arguments solidly upon Scripture, we descend to the slippery ground of philosophical debate, which can never lead men to absolute truth. The philosophical approach might be intellectually satisfying but it is spiritually powerless.
6. The danger of progressive creationism and the gap theory.
Many of the prominent Christians who have written against evolution have held some sort of progressive creationism (that the earth is billions of years old and God used some sort of progressive process to create). They have interpreted Genesis 1-2 in a non-literal manner and have allowed for long periods of geological times, either through the gap theory (i.e., there is a gap of indeterminable time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2) or through the day-age theory (each creation “day” represents an indeterminable period of time).
One of the founders of the day-age theory was Hugh Miller (1802-56), who taught that the Genesis Flood was local and interpreted the days of creation as “epochs,” with the final three days corresponding to geological ages. This theory appeared in Miller’s book Testimony of the Rocks, which was published posthumously after he committed suicide on Christmas Eve 1856.
The fundamentalist movement has been permeated with the gap and day-age theories since its inception even though these are blatant attempts to reconcile “modern science” with the Bible.
Examples include William Jennings Bryan, who defended Tennessee’s law against evolution at the Scope’s Trial, George Pember (Earth’s Earliest Ages), John Ambrose Flemming (1849-1945), Byron Nelson (The Deluge Story in Stone, After Its Kind, Before Abraham), Arthur Isaac Brown (Footprints of God, Miracles of Science), and George Frederick Wright (contributor to The Fundamentals).
Henry Morris observed,
“The majority of fundamentalist creationists (the most conservative camp) continued to accept the geological ages, differing among themselves only as to whether they could be handled better in terms of the gap theory or the day-age theory” (Morris, History of Modern Creationism, p. 61).
There are many reasons why we reject the day-age theory or any theory that allows for billions of years of earth history. First, the attempt to reconcile the Bible with the massive geological age theories of evolution destroys the authority of the Bible, because it plainly teaches a literal six-day creation. In the Law of Moses, the days of creation are likened to the sabbath, which obviously refers to a literal 24-hour day (Exodus 20:10-11). Second, the Bible’s genealogies do not allow for mankind to be older than about 10,000 years. Third, the evolutionary dating methods are based on evolutionary assumptions, such as uniformitarianism, and are therefore unreliable and should never be used to overthrow the Bible’s witness. Fourth, there is a large and growing body of scientific evidence pointing to a young earth. Fifth, the Bible says that death did not enter into God’s creation until the fall of man (Romans 5:12), whereas progressive creationism and every type of evolution says that death existed prior to man and has been the major means of “progress.” Sixth, if the first three chapters of Genesis are not literal, the fall of man is not literal and the sacrifice of Christ was a meaningless event. In fact, if Genesis 1-3 is not literal history, the rest of the Bible makes no sense.
As for the gap theory, it was popularized by the Scofield Reference Bible. That it was an attempt to reconcile the Bible with modern science is evident by the following statement from J. Sidlow Baxter’s Explore the Book: “Modern geology furnishes dates proving the immense age of our globe. ... Between the first two verses of Genesis there is ample scope for all the geologic eras.”
The gap theory can be refuted briefly as follows (from H.L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible): First, it is unscientific. The gap theory was (in part) an attempt to reconcile the creation account with the long periods of time in the theory of evolution. But evolution is totally unscientific, defying the second law of thermodynamics [that the universe is in the process of decay and decline rather than in a process of evolving]. Second, it is unscriptural. Paul states in Romans 5:12 and 8:20-22 that man’s sin brought about death, even of animals. But the gap theory would have Adam walking on top of a gigantic fossilized animal graveyard! Third, it is unnecessary. The most natural interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 is to take it at face value, without addition or subtraction. Genesis 1:1 thus becomes a summary statement of creation. In the first verse God tells us what he did. In the remaining verses He tells us how He did it.
A thorough refutation of the gap theory can be found in The New Answers Book 1 by Ken Ham.
A refutation of “progressive creationism” can be found in Refuting Compromise by Jonathan Sarfati.
7. The danger of the fact that Intelligent Design and theistic evolution ultimately are not friends of biblical faith.
Materials promoting Intelligent Design and theistic evolution are useful to show the error of atheistic evolution, but ultimately they are not friends of the Christian faith. In fact, most of these authors speak disparagingly of a literal six-day creation and salvation only through the blood of Jesus Christ. Belief in an unknown and perhaps unknowable “Designer” leaves one far short of absolute truth and eternal salvation.
Consider some of the chief names in the ID and theistic evolution fields:
Michael Behe is a Roman Catholic and a theistic evolutionist. He says that “as regards the identity of the designer, modern ID theory happily echoes Isaac Newton’s phrase hypothesis non fingo [to make no hypothesis]” (“The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis,” Philosophia Christi, Vol. 3, p. 165, 2001, cited from Casey Luskin, “Misrepresenting the Definition of Intelligent Design,” Nov. 10, 2009 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/11/misrepresenting_the_definition.html).
Neil Broom, author of How Blind Is the Watchmaker, is a theistic evolutionist.
William Dembski holds to theistic evolution, stating that he does not accept literal young earth creationism. He taught at Baylor University 1999-2005, Southern Seminary 2005-06, and since then, at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “William Dembski says with Jonathan Wells that ‘[e]xplanations that call on intelligent causes require no miracles but cannot be reduced to materialistic explanations’ (The Design of Life, 2008, pp. 13-14)” (Casey Luskin, “Misrepresenting the Definition of Intelligent Design,” Nov. 10, 2009 http://www.evolutionnews.org/2009/11/misrepresenting_the_definition.html).
Michael Denton, author of Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, is an agnostic. His book Nature’s Destiny is subtitled “How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe.” He plainly rejects supernatural creation. He says: “It is important to emphasize at the outset that the argument presented here is entirely consistent with the basic naturalistic assumption of modern science--that the cosmos is a seamless unity which can be comprehended ultimately in its entirety by human reason and in which all phenomena, including life and evolution and the origin of man, are ultimately explicable in terms of natural processes. This is an assumption which is entirely opposed to that of the so-called ‘special creationist school’” (Denton, Nature’s Destiny, p. xvii).
Scott Hahn, co-author of Answering the New Atheism, is a Roman Catholic apologist and a theistic evolutionist.
Philip Johnson is a theist and an agnostic as to how God created. He says: “I am a philosophical theist and a Christian. I believe that a God exists who could create out of nothing if He wanted to do so, but who might have chosen to work through a natural evolutionary process instead. I am not a defender of creation-science, and in fact I am not concerned in this book with addressing any conflicts between the Biblical accounts and the scientific evidence” (Darwin on Trial, p. 14). He also says: “I am not interested in any claims that are based upon a literal reading of the Bible, nor do I understand the concept of creation as narrowly as Duane Gish does. If an omnipotent Creator exists He might have created things instantaneously in a single week or through gradual evolution over billions of years” (Darwin on Trial, p. 115).
Antony Latham, author of The Naked Emperor, is a theistic evolutionist.
John Lennox, author of Has Science Buried God? is a theistic evolutionist (see http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/theistic-evolution-intelligent-design-in.htm and (“Evolution a Theory in Crisis,” www.cmf.org.uk/literature/content.asp?context=article&id=641).
Simon Conway Morris is a theistic evolutionist. He says, “Evolution is true, it happens, it is the way the world is, and we too are one of its products. This does not mean that evolution does not have metaphysical implications; I remain convinced that this is the case” (Life’s Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe).
Geoffrey Simmons, author of What Darwin Didn’t Know, believes that the earth is millions of years old (p. 304) and that there was a stone age (p. 133).
David Swift, author of Evolution under the Microscope, is a theistic evolutionist.
Jonathan Wells is a member of the Unification Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_design). He believes that “[e]xplanations that call on intelligent causes require no miracles but cannot be reduced to materialistic explanations” (The Design of Life, 2008, pp. 13-14).
Benjamin Wiker is a Roman Catholic who rejects a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-3. He says, “The myth places the entirely secular evolutionary approach of Darwin against the irrational approach of scriptural literalists, and asks us to choose: Darwinism or nothing. Either a systematically Godless account of evolution or a young-earth creationism that sees every warbler and butterfly as being immediately created by God” (The Darwin Myth, p. 138).
8. Beware of the New Evangelical influence in creation science.
Another problem with creation science materials is that most of them are written by New Evangelicals.
Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research are two examples. They do a fantastic job of defending the literal Genesis account of creation against Darwinian evolution. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum is a masterpiece of biblical apologetics. I truly and fervently thank the Lord for what these men are doing for the cause of Christ ....... as far as it goes. The problem is that it doesn’t go far enough, and the part that is lacking is serious.
What is the problem? It has to do with the issue of separation. They don’t believe in it. The rejection of separatism has been at the heart of New Evangelicalism for more than half a century. Harold Ockenga, one of the fathers of the movement, said, “We repudiate separatism.” (For documentation see my book “New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit.” It is also available as a free report in the Topical Database at the Way of Life web site.) Billy Graham epitomized and popularized this philosophy.
If they believe in separation at all, they believe that it only has to do with the “cardinal doctrines.” When I visited the Creation Museum in 2010, Ken Ham told me that since Answers in Genesis is “not a church,” it doesn’t have to concern itself with issues other than creationism. Thus such organizations typically do not take a clear stand against unscriptural modes of baptism (e.g., infant baptism, pouring, sprinkling), women pastors, allegorical interpretation of prophecy (rejection of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture), the heresy that a born-again believer can lose his salvation, errors pertaining to Holy Spirit baptism, sealing, and filling, Franklin Graham-style ecumenical evangelism, the errors of the church growth movement (e.g., Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bill Hybels), the error of Christian psychology, and the heresy of modern textual criticism, to mention a few.
The representatives of these ministries speak in churches that represent a wide variety of doctrine. They will be in a Methodist church one Sunday, a Lutheran the next, and a Pentecostal the next. They are invited to such a wide variety of forums because they narrow down their message and focus only on creation science or basic apologetics or evangelism or the family or music or some other constricted orientation.
They might have more than one issue; they might have ten. The problem is that they refuse to make an issue of the WHOLE counsel of God. In contrast, Paul exemplified exactly what they neglect to do (Acts 20:27), and in this, he was merely following in His Master’s footsteps. Jesus commanded His disciples to teach converts “to observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Mat. 28:20). Paul instructed Timothy to keep the truth “without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:14). A spot is a small, seemingly insignificant thing. Jude instructed every believer to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). As Jude didn’t delineate what part of the faith is to be defended, the obvious meaning is that whatever aspect of the faith is under attack, God’s people should rally to its defense rather than pretending that it is a “non-essential.”
I challenge anyone to show me where the Scripture encourages the believer to “stand for the cardinal truth and downplay the peripherals” for the sake of unity and a broader ministry.
The New Evangelical philosophy is often capsulized by the dictum, “IN ESSENTIALS UNITY; IN NON-ESSENTIALS LIBERTY; IN ALL THINGS CHARITY.”
The rejection of biblical separation by New Evangelical ministries is also evident in their refusal to take a stand against the worldliness and compromise that characterizes the contemporary church growth philosophy which has permeated evangelical churches, with its love for rock music, sensual fashions, Hollywood entertainment, and pretty much everything the pop culture produces.
The failure to preach and practice separation has very real consequences. For example, Ken Ham admits that the churches he is associated with lose most of their young people. There is a reason for that, and the reason is not just because they are weak on defending literal creation. It is far deeper than that. It has to do with an overall soft approach to the Word of God and Christian living and discipleship. The preachers in these churches don’t boldly proclaim the WHOLE counsel of God and reprove the pop culture and other forms of worldliness, and they typically don’t preach sold-out discipleship or practice effective church discipline. As a consequence, the people tend to live much like the world. This is a foundational error that is not addressed clearly in any of the books I have ready by Mr. Ham, because he has determined to focus on creation-science and basic apologetics. He doesn’t even deal clearly with the salvation issue. His book Already Gone, about the departure of youth from evangelical churches, though excellent in some ways, doesn’t deal sufficiently with this most important and foundational issue, which is the fact that a vast number of the young people in these churches aren’t born again, nor does it deal sufficiently with the issue of separation from the world.
If someone argues that these ministries aren’t New Evangelical and that they do not actually reject separatism, I would like for him to send me the documented answers to the following questions:
First, when has that ministry issued a statement delineating and supporting the doctrine of biblical separation as applying both to ecclesiology and to the world?
Second, when has that ministry renounced the unscriptural philosophy, “In essentials unity; in non-essentials liberty; in all things charity”?
Third, when has that ministry supported and promoted fundamentalist, separatist ministries?
Fourth, when has that ministry taken a stand against Billy Graham and all of the evil he has done through his New Evangelical philosophy and ecumenical evangelism?
Please send me the published statements or the sermons and lectures in which the organization has taken such stands.
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