Research Report #23 (1984)

EVOLUTION-RELIGION AND THE GENESIS ACCOUNT

Robert C. Newman
Biblical Theological Seminary
Interdisciplinary Biblical
Research Institute

Copyright © 1984 by Robert C. Newman. All rights reserved.
 

EDITOR'S NOTE

Although the author is in agreement with the doctrinal statement of IBRI, it does not follow that all of the viewpoints espoused in this paper represent official positions of IBRI. Since one of the purposes of the IBRI report series is to serve as a preprint forum, it is possible that the author has revised some aspects of this work since it was first written. 

ISBN 0944788-23-8


INTRODUCTION

The recently concluded McLean vs Arkansas creation-evolution trial was widely heralded in the media as a confrontation between science and religion, a virtual re-enactment of the Scopes trial. Religion, it was suggested, again came off the loser in a contest between religious dogmatism and scientific objectivity.

Not so prominent in media reports was the fact that both sides of the controversy had their own scientists and theologians.1 Although many in the creationist camp are aware that there are scientists who support creationism, this knowledge does not seem to have reached the public with any clarity. Creationists probably also realize there are theologians who are evolutionists, though it is doubtful that many are aware of the number and influence of such people. This latter point is our concern here.

In fact, two thirds of the plaintiffs in the Arkansas suit, who protested teaching "creation-science" in the public schools, were "ministers or other leaders in Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish organizations."2 These religious leaders included "the resident Arkansas bishops of the United Methodist, Episcopal, Roman Catholic and African Methodist Episcopal Churches, a principal official of the Presbyterian Churches in Arkansas, [and] other United Methodist, Southern Baptist, and Presbyterian clergy."3 The Jewish plaintiffs were the American Jewish Congress, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and the American Jewish Committee.4 If this trial was really a struggle between science and religion, why were there so many religionists on the "anti-religion" side?

In fact, the trial was not basically a matter of science vs. religion, but (to a significant degree) a struggle between two kinds of religion as well as between two kinds of science -- between "creation-religion" and "evolution-religion" as well as between "creation-science" and "evolution-science."

It is not our intention in this paper to consider the issues raised in the trial -- whether "creation-science" is a science (it is, by at least one reasonable definition of science). Nor shall we consider to what extent it is correct science (it seems to be mistaken in regard to the age of the earth). Nor do we wish to consider some of the tactical mistakes made in drawing up and passing a law which appeared to limit the creation model to a young-earth view only. Instead, let us consider where the religionists who attacked the law are coming from. Are they believers in "evolution-religion"? If so, what is this "evolution-religion"? How is evolution-religion related to the religion taught in the Bible? Is evolution-religion really true?

WHAT IS "EVOLUTION-RELIGION"?

To start with, let us admit that the name "evolution- religion" was invented for this paper, so far as we know. Nevertheless, the phenomenon to which it refers really exists. The name is designed to draw attention to the fact that evolution is a crucial part of the belief-system of the religion held by a number of the plaintiffs and their witnesses in the Arkansas trial.

Most people who are familiar with the terms Marxism and Secular Humanism realize that these modern ideological systems are based upon evolution as one of their foundations. Likewise some religions unrelated to Judaism and Christianity are founded on or at least compatible with evolution (e.g., Bahaism, Hinduism). All these systems might be categorized as "evolution- religions."

Not so well-known to the average person (religious or not) is the fact that liberal versions of Christianity and Judaism are also strongly tied to evolutionary thinking, so that they too are evolution-religions. Though theological liberalism in Jewish and Christian circles actually predates Darwin's Origin of Species, evolution quickly became an important part of liberal theology in the late 19th century after Darwin's work appeared.5

The growth of liberal theology in Protestantism led to a showdown with Bible-believers during the first decades of the twentieth century in the so-called fundamentalist-modernist controversy. The fundamentalists claimed that certain doctrines of the Bible are basic or fundamental to Biblical Christianity and that modernists by denying these were teaching heresy. These so-called "fundamental" doctrines were: (1) belief in the miraculous; (2) the deity and (3) the virgin birth of Jesus; (4) his payment for mankind's sin by dying on the cross; (5) his second coming; and (6) the complete accuracy of the Bible on all subjects it mentions. The modernists claimed that these beliefs were ancient superstitions and not necessary to modern Christianity. Although the evolution question was not mentioned in the so-called "fundamentals," it figured prominently in the debate, even though not all fundamentalists rejected it.6 Perhaps it is not surprising that the original Scopes trial also occurred at this time.

The upshot of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy was a political and ecclesiastical victory for the modernists, who gained control of most of the mainline denominations, their publishing houses, mission boards, colleges and seminaries. This is why we see officers of these mainline denominations as plaintiffs in the Arkansas trial, and why Roland Frye, in his recent book Is God a Creationist? can maintain:

The essays gathered here analyze the creationist controversy calmly and
judiciously, appraising it in the light of how major religious leaders,
scholars, and mainstream denominations understand the doctrines of divine
creation in the Bible and in religious tradition.7

Though fundamentalism appeared to be mortally wounded by the mid-30s, it did not die as predicted for its failure to accept the so-called "facts of modern science." On the contrary, liberal churches have been the ones losing membership since then, and the conservative churches growing.8 Church growth, of course, does not prove one has the truth, but this increase in evangelical Christianity has probably been one of the factors in the recent revival of the creation-evolution controversy.

However theological liberalism and fundamentalism may have fared since the 30s, our concern here is to understand how it is that so many of the plaintiffs against teaching creation-science in Arkansas are religious leaders. The answer, we suggest, is that liberal theology is an evolution-religion and it doesn't want any competition from creation-religion in the public schools.

One of the main points of dispute in the fundamentalist- modernist controversy was the occurrence of miracles. The fundamentalists lined up behind the historical accuracy of biblical miracles; the modernists denied that miracles really occur. This liberal position may be seen in any work which discusses the question, though the subject is often ignored today as being long settled. We cite three important liberal works here.

One of the prominent early advocates of liberalism was Adolf Harnack, Professor of Church History at the University of Berlin at the turn of the century. In his influential work What is Christianity?, Harnack writes:

Miracles, it is true, do not happen; but of the marvellous and the inexplicable
there is plenty. In our present state of knowledge we have become more careful,
more hesitating in our judgment, in regard to the stories of the miraculous which
we have received from antiquity. That the earth in its course stood still; that a
she-ass spoke; that a storm was quieted by a word, we do not believe, and we shall
never again believe; but that the lame walked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard,
will not be so summarily dismissed as an illusion.9

Harry Emerson Fosdick was one of the most popular and influential liberal pastors at the height of the fundamentalist- modernist controversy. In his book The Modern Use of the Bible, Fosdick says:

Approaching the Bible so, there are some narratives of miracles there which I do
not believe. To suppose that a man in order to be a loyal and devout disciple of
our Lord in the twentieth century AD must think that God in the ninth century BC
miraculously sent bears to eat up unruly children or made an axe-head swim seems to
me dangerously ridiculous. Folk who insist on that kind of literal inerrancy in
ancient documents are not Fundamentalists at all; they are incidentalists. Joshua
making the sun stand still may be poetry and the story of Jonah and the great fish
may be parable; the miraculous aspects of the plagues of Egypt and the magic fall of
Jericho's walls may be legendary heightenings of historical events; the amazing tales
of Elijah and Elisha may be largely folk-lore; and, in the New Testament, finding a coin
in a fish's mouth to pay the temple tax, or walking on water, or blasting a tree with a
curse, may be just such stories as always have been associated with an era of outstanding
personalities and creative spiritual power. Certainly, I find some of the miracle-
narratives of Scripture historically incredible.10

Rudolf Bultmann, late Professor of New Testament at the University of Marburg, has probably been the most influential New Testament scholar and theologian so far this century. In his book Jesus Christ and Mythology, Bultmann writes:

The whole conception of the world which is presupposed in the preaching of Jesus as
in the New Testament generally is mythological; i.e., the conception of the world as
being structured in three stories, heaven, earth and hell; the conception of the
intervention of supernatural powers in the course of events; and the conception of
miracles, especially the conception of the intervention of supernatural powers in
the inner life of the soul, the conception that men can be tempted and corrupted by
the devil and possessed by evil spirits. This conception of the world we call mytho-
logical because it is different from the conception of the world which has been formed
and developed by science since its inception in ancient Greece and which has been accepted
by all modern men. . . . In any case, modern science does not believe that the course
of nature can be interrupted or, so to speak, perforated, by supernatural powers.11 

But if miracles don't occur, then the origin of life on earth was not miraculous. There are then only three non-miraculous alternatives: (1) life has always existed on earth; (2) it was brought here by natural means; or (3) it developed naturally on earth. Since most agree that the earth has not always existed, only the latter two are usually considered. The third alternative is clearly evolution, whether or not in its Darwinian form. As for the second alternative, if life was brought here by travelling spores (or in spaceships!), then it still had to originate somewhere, since the universe does not appear to be infinitely old either. Thus some form of natural origin and development of life must be postulated anyway, and both the second and third alternatives reduce to evolution.

To the extent, then, that liberal or modernist theology denies the miraculous, it simultaneously affirms the occurrence of evolution. To the extent that denial of the miraculous is a crucial part of theological liberalism, so is evolution, whatever part God may be viewed as playing in the evolutionary process. Theological liberalism is therefore rightly classified as an evolution-religion.

EVOLUTION-RELIGION AND THE BIBLE

One need not be a theologian to realize that miracles form an important part of the Biblical narrative. The creation account itself contains miracles. Israel's history begins with the miracles surrounding the exodus from Egypt and the giving of the law at Sinai. Christianity begins with Jesus' miracle-filled ministry, and especially with his resurrection. As the apostle Paul points out:

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Cor 15:17).

How then is theological liberalism related to the religion taught in the Bible? The fact is that theological liberalism is not biblical Christianity, whatever its historical roots in Christianity may be. Professor J. Gresham Machen of Princeton Seminary made this perfectly clear over sixty years ago:

In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict;
the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling
against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive
of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This
modern non-redemptive religion is called "modernism" or "liberalism." Both names are
unsatisfactory; the latter, in particular is question-begging. The movement designated
as "liberalism" is regarded as "liberal" only by its friends; to its opponents it seems
to involve a narrow ignoring of many relevant facts. And indeed the movement is so various
in its manifestations that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will
apply to all its forms. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the
root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in
naturalism -- that is, the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as
distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of the
Christianity.12 

Lest Dr. Machen be accused of bias in this regard, being a fundamentalist himself, we also quote Professor Kirsopp Lake of Harvard:

But it is a mistake, often made by educated persons who happen to have but little
knowledge of historical theology, to suppose that Fundamentalism is a new and strange
form of thought. It is nothing of the kind: it is the partial and uneducated survival
of a theology which was once universally held by all Christians. How many were there,
for instance, in Christian churches in the eighteenth century who doubted the infallible
inspiration of all Scripture? A few perhaps, but very few. No, the Fundamentalist may be
wrong; I think he is. But it is we who have departed from the tradition, not he, and I
am sorry for the fate of anyone who tries to argue with a Fundamentalist on the basis of
authority. The Bible and the corpus theologicum of the Church is on the Fundamentalist side.13

Theological liberalism thus relates to the Bible in two ways. In those cases where it agrees with biblical teaching, it accepts and uses the Bible. Elsewhere it proceeds by explaining away biblical teaching as mythological, primitive, pre-scientific, figurative or simply mistaken. In the case of the Genesis accounts of creation several devices are employed: (1) it is alleged that there are actually two creation accounts which contradict one another; (2) mythological elements borrowed from paganism are identified in the text; (3) the accounts in any case do not go back to God through Moses on Mt. Sinai, but were written up by unknown authors hundreds of years later. Let us look briefly at each of these in turn.

TWO ACCOUNTS OF CREATION

Liberal theologians regularly identify two different creation accounts, one in Gen 1:1-2:4a and the other in Gen 2:4b-25; contradictions are then alleged between the two. For instance, Robert Davidson, author of the popular liberal commentary on Genesis 1-11 in the Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible, notes regarding Gen 2:5-6:

The picture of creation here is very different from that of Genesis 1 and the Babylonian
creation epic. Instead of watery chaos there is an arid, plantless, uninhabited wilderness.14

Conrad Hyers is typical in claiming a chronological discrepancy between the two chapters. Whereas Genesis 1 has creation in the order: plants, animals, man, "In Genesis 2 ... Adam is created before plants and animals and Eve after."15

None of this is necessary. All these discrepancies depend upon the assumptions that Genesis 1 and 2 were originally two different documents and that the editor who put them together was too stupid to notice the differences between the accounts. In fact, however, as the two chapters stand in the Genesis account, Genesis 1 gives an overall view of creation from universe to man in an explicitly chronological order. Genesis 2, on the other hand, gives a detailed account of the creation of man, in which it is noted that Adam had a chance to learn for himself that he needed woman before God created her. There is no need to assume that either the plants or animals were created after Adam, nor that the "watery chaos" at the beginning of Genesis 1 refers to the same time period as the "arid wilderness" of Genesis 2.16

MYTHOLOGY IN GENESIS

Liberal theologians have regularly seen myth in Genesis 1-2. Though there is a confusing variety of definitions of myth, they all include the idea that a myth is not historically reliable. Bernhard Anderson speaks of the Paradise story as mythical:

Taken by itself, the story is filled with images -- like the Tree of Life and the cunning
serpent -- which are found in ancient folklore. Indeed the story evidently once circu-
lated as the storyteller's answer to several questions: Why are man and woman attracted
to each other? Why does social propriety demand the wearing of clothes? Why must there
be the pain of childbirth and the misery of hard work? Why is the serpent hated by man?17

Davidson concurs:

Some of the material in Genesis 1-11 may be handled as "story myths," e.g., the story of
the Garden (2:5-3:24), the Flood (chapters 6-8), the Tower of Babel 11:1-9). Such stories
may draw on fantasy this is probably true of the story of the Garden . . . or they may
draw on fact.18

But Davidson also identifies another kind of myth: "the spoken word which accompanied the performance of certain all-important religious rituals." Gen 1:1-2:4 is seen as this kind of myth, a ritual protecting the worshipers from the dreaded return of primeval chaos.19

It is hard to know how to answer these charges. We cannot return to antiquity to learn if there actually was an Eden and a fall of mankind. Yet if biblical Christianity is true, we cannot afford to wait until we die to find out. We certainly have no evidence from the Bible that the ancient Hebrews ever acted out the creation account as some sort of ritual; even if they did, that would not preclude its being a revelation from God, rather like baptism or the Lord's supper. Genesis 2 can be read as a primitive attempt to answer various intriguing questions, but it presents itself as actual history. Serpents and trees (or plants) which give life can be found in pagan stories. Did the Bible borrow from them, they from the Bible or from some memory of what happened, or is the resemblance accidental? After all, there are lots of animals and magical objects in folklore. We should not be surprised if some of these happen to coincide with Biblical animals and objects.

It has regularly been claimed that the biblical creation account was borrowed from the Babylonians ever since the Babylonian creation account Enuma Elish was discovered in the last century. The two accounts are actually drastically different. The Babylonian tale is a story of the origin of the gods and how Marduk became the chief god. Creation is almost incidental to Enuma Elish (which is mainly a war between the gods) but central to Genesis 1. The Bible is monotheistic; Enuma Elish polytheistic. Matter is eternal in the latter and created in the former. Man is an after-thought in the creation part of the Enuma Elish but the climax of God's creative activity in the Bible.

Yet there are also some striking similarities, namely in the order in which the few overlapping topics are treated. Alexander Heidel lists these as follows:20

Enuma Elish
Genesis
Divine spirit and cosmic matter are coexistent
& coeternal
Divine spirit creates cosmic matter & exists
independently
Primeval chaos; goddess Tiamat in darkness The earth a desolate waste, darkness covering deep
Creation of firmament Creation of firmament
Creation of dry land Creation of dry land 
Creation of luminaries Creation of luminaries 
Creation of man Creation of man 
The gods rest & celebrate God rests & sanctifies the seventh day

Some liberals explain these similarities and differences by suggesting the writer of Genesis intentionally used the Babylonian creation myth to show the contrast between Israel's God and the false gods.21 Perhaps he did; God might well have had Moses do something of this sort. Yet we suggest that God was also describing what really happened, as set out in our book Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth. There we have suggested an even stronger correlation between the events of Genesis one and the scientific sequence for the origin of the earth:22

Biblical Material
Scientific Theory
In beginning God created
Earth without form, void
Darkness on face of deep
Beginning, the big bang? Earth amorphous, tenuous nebula
After some contraction, cloud becomes dark within
Spirit of God moves on face of waters
Let there be light
(Providential oversight with occasional intervention)
Further contraction causes cloud to glow
Light divided from darkness
Light = day; darkness = night
Planetary material thrust outside glowing cloud
Planet condenses from planetestimals, sun, rotation
give day/night sequence
Waters burst forth from womb of earth;
firmament appears
Earth is heated within by pressure, radioactivity,
driving out water & gases to produce atmosphere & oceans
Division of waters above & below firmament
Gathering of water, dry land appears
Presence of atmosphere allows both surface & atm. water
Continental material develops from sub-oceanic by vulcanism
& erosion
Earth brings forth vegetation Land vegetation appears
Lights appear in sky to mark off days, seasons,
sun to dominate day, moon to dominate night
Photosynthesis by vegetation replaces carbon dioxide with
oxygen, clearing atmosphere so sun, moon, stars visible,
also prepares atm for animals, man

No idea that Genesis is merely pagan mythology warmed over, or the guesses of ancient men, explains this correlation.

MULTI-DOCUMENT THEORIES

The third feature of the liberal approach to the creation accounts involves the claim that the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy are not really the revelation of God to Moses. Instead they are an editorial interweaving of several much later sources -- usually four -- designated by the abbreviations J, E, D and P.23

Though there are some signficant differences among liberal scholars on the number, date and extent of these sources, the usual view today is that the earliest was J, a Judean source that used the name "Yahweh" for God and was written in the 10th century BC. The second was E, so called because it used the name "Elohim" for God, a Northern or Ephraimite source written in the 9th cen. BC. The third, D, basically Deuteronomy, is dated in the 7th cen. BC and connected with the reforms of King Josiah. The fourth source, P, so named because of its alleged priestly interests, is dated to the Babylonian exile or shortly thereafter.24 In Genesis 1 and 2, it is alleged that Gen 1:1-2:4a is P's account of creation, and Gen 2:4b-25 is J's.

The criteria used to "prove" the existence of these sources and to separate them from one another include: (1) different styles, (2) different names for God, and (3) repetitions and (4) alleged inconsistencies within a particular account. Although almost universally accepted in liberal theological circles, the evidence for the existence of the documents is really quite weak.

In responding to this type of theory we can do no better than to quote from an article by Allan A. MacRae, Professor of Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary, who has spent over fifty years researching the Old Testament and related areas. Dr. MacRae notes:25

We have hundreds of manuscript copies of the first five books of the Bible, all of which
present them in the form in which we have them today. Not even one ancient copy of J, E, D,
or P as a separate and continuous unit has ever been found. 

No record that has come down to us from ancient times contains any mention of these documents.
There is no ancient reference to the writing of any such document or to such process of combining
them as the theory assumes. There is no evidence that any such process actually occurred. 

The theory is almost the lone survivor of a method of 19th-century literary study that has otherwise
been almost completely discarded, except in the field of Biblical criticism. A century ago it was a
common practice to develop theories of this type regarding almost any ancient or medieval document.
Most such theories have today been abandoned and are viewed merely as literary curiosities. It is only
in the field of Biblical study that this 19th-century attitude has been retained. 

During the 19th century various German scholars presented widely differing theories regarding the origin
of the first five books of the Bible. No one of these theories gained complete ascendancy until 1878,
when a particular theory, strikingly different from most of the views previously held, was advanced by
Julius Wellhausen. This new theory was publicized throughout the English-speaking world by S. R. Driver
and other followers of Wellhausen. Even though a century has passed, in the course of which no new evi-
dence for the theory has been discovered, it is today being widely taught in almost the identical form
in which it was then presented. 

A great part of the reason for the acceptance of the multidocument theory advanced by Professor
Wellhausen in 1878 was the fact that he based it upon his skillful presentation of a particular idea
of the development of Israelite religion. This idea, however, has now been almost universally dis-
carded. Few scholars today hold to a theory of Hebrew religious development that is even approximately
similar to that upon which Wellhausen based his idea of the sources of the Pentateuch; and yet Well-
hausen's method of dividing these alleged sources, and his view of the order of their composition
(although based upon a theory of development no longer held), are still being presented as established
fact. 

An essential feature of the theory as taught by Professor Wellhausen, was his claim that the various
documents -- all of them written, according to the theory, long after the time of the patriarchs present
only the thought patterns and ideas of the various periods in which they are alleged to be written, and
tell us nothing about the actual time of the patriarchs. In the light of archaeological discoveries it
is now recognized that this attitude is no longer tenable. Therefore most of the recent presentations of
the theory assert that a great part of the material in each of the documents was transmitted orally for
many centuries before being incorporated into written form, and that even the latest of the documents
contains much material that is really early. Thus an important basis of the Wellhausen idea has really
been abandoned by its present promoters. 

Its protagonists assert that the theory can be demonstrated by pointing out differences of style between the
documents. Yet these alleged differences in style mostly settle down to the fact that certain parts of the
Pentateuch are statistical or enumerative, while other parts have more of a running narrative style, and the
greater part of the Book of Deuteronomy consists of exhortation. There is no reason why the same writer
should not use any one of these three styles, depending on the nature of the particular subject matter. Thus
we have an enumerative style in Genesis 1 where the formation of the material universe is set forth in definite
stages. For the subject matter of Genesis 2, which describes in more detail the creation of man and the
formation of a proper habitat for his life, the narrative style is more fitting. In addresses of warning and
admonition, the style of exhortation is natural. Similar instances of the use of styles at least as different
as these could be found in the works of almost any extensive writer of recent days. 

It is frequently said that the names given to two of these documents are based upon the allegation that the 
so-called J document uses the name JHWH (Lord in the King James Version) for the Deity, while the so-
called E document is said to use the name Elohim (God in the KJV). Yet actually each of these alleged
sources uses both divine names in the Pentateuch, and in all of the alleged sources the name JHWH is far
more common than the name Elohim. In explanation the supporters of the theory assert that, according to
the E and P documents, the name JHWH was not revealed until the early chapters of Exodus. The theory is
thus not that each document preferred a certain name, but that each document had a different theory as
to when the name was first introduced, and deliberately avoided it before that point in the account.
Since all the documents are alleged to have been written many centuries after the time of the Exodus,
a procedure such as the theory assumes would be artificial and rather unlikely to have occurred.
Furthermore, its foundation in Biblical statements is extremely weak. Moreover, the use of varying
names in different connections is not at all unusual, and can be easily explained on other grounds
than that of a patchwork origin. 

The claim that there is constant duplication of material in the various alleged sources is grossly
exaggerated. Some of these so-called duplicates are really different events that are somewhat similar,
but actually no more so than is often the case in ordinary life, as can be demonstrated fairly easily.
In other cases an alleged repetition is merely a summary given at the beginning or end of an account,
a helpful recapitulation, or a literary device to make an account more vivid. Most of the alleged
repetitions or duplications, if examined without prejudice, can be shown to have a natural purpose
in the narrative. 

Most of the alleged contradictions between the so-called sources disappear on careful examination.
Thus it is alleged that the J and P documents exhibit Rebecca as influenced by different motives in
suggesting Jacob's departure from Canaan: the motive being in the one case to enable him to escape his
brother's anger; and in the other case to induce him to procure a wife agreeable to his parents' wishes.
Actually there is no contradiction whatever in supposing that Rebecca was influenced by both motives and
that, in dealing with the two men whom she wished to influence, she used in each case the argument that
she knew would appeal to him, rather than the one that would be apt to antagonize him.

Here again, there is no need to accept the liberal argumentation that the Genesis accounts could not have been written by Moses on the basis of God's revelation.

IS EVOLUTION-RELIGION TRUE?

In the preceding sections we have examined the form of evolution-religion which played a significant part in the McLean vs Arkansas creation-evolution trial, namely theological liberalism. We concentrated on the Protestant form of theological liberalism, though there are considerable similarities in the Catholic and Jewish sort. We have suggested that this form of religion is not that actually taught by the Bible. Instead, it dismisses any biblical statements that conflict with its own theology by treating them as figurative or mistaken. Of course, liberal theology agrees with the Bible in some points, but this could be said of any world religion.

Yet the most important question for us to consider is not whether evolution-religion and the Bible agree, but (since they don't) which is right? Why should one be worried about agreement with the Bible if it is only the guesswork of ancient men and not the very word of the living God? Likewise, why should one be worried about agreement with this particular form of evolution-religion if it is only the guesswork of modern men? It is our understanding of the relevant evidence that the statements of the Bible and the facts of science agree when interpreted within an old-earth creationist framework, though not within either a young-earth creationist or liberal theological framework.26

That the Bible is to be accepted as God's revelation to mankind is evidenced in numerous ways. Let us sketch a few of them for you.

These lines of evidence indicate that evolution-religion as we have described it is mistaken in regard to the nature of God, His connection with the Bible, and the mode of His activity in history. The exclusion of this evidence from public education under what seems to be an erroneous interpretation of the First Amendment has surely been a significant factor contributing to our present moral decline and national loss of nerve. The decision in the case of McLean vs Arkansas continues this situation and effectively favors the propogation of secular humanism and theological liberalism at public expense. It does not bode well for the future of our nation unless significant changes take place.

REFERENCES

1. See the rather full discussion in Norman L. Geisler, et al, The Creator in the Courtroom: "Scopes II" (Mott Media,1982).

2. "News Briefs from the Editor," Creation/Evolution 5 (Summer 1981): 33.

3. Introduction to Judge William Overton's decision, McLean vs. Arkansas, here cited in Geisler, Creator in the Courtroom, p 166.

4. Ibid.

5. See, for instance, Julius Wellhausen's influential work, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel (1878, 1883; reprinted by Meridian Books, 1957), which applies the evolution of religion to the origin of the first five books of the Bible; Adolf Harnack's What is Christianity? (1901; reprinted by Harper and Row, 1957), which denies the miraculous and sees Christianity as a religion which evolved.

6. The works by fundamentalist J. Gresham Machen [Christianity and Liberalism (Macmillan, 1923; reprinted Eerdmans, n.d.)], and modernist William P. Merill [Liberal Christianity (Macmillan, 1925)], give some idea of what both sides saw as at stake. An earlier work, The Fundamentals, [R. A. Torrey, A. C. Dixon, et al, eds., 4 vols. (Bible Institute of Los Angeles, 1917; reprinted Baker, 1970)] shows the uneasiness fundamentalists felt over evolution, though it was not rejected by all of them.

7. Roland Mushat Frye, ed., Is God a Creationist? The Religious Case Against Creation-Science (Scribners, 1983), p 1. Our italics.

8. See Dean M. Kelley, Why Conservative Churches are Growing (Harper and Row, 1972). The author is a liberal, Director of Civil and Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches.

9. Adolf Harnack, What is Christianity?, p 28.

10. Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Modern Use of the Bible (Macmillan, 1924), pp 163-64.

11. Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology (Scribners, 1958), p 15.

12. Machen, Christianity and Liberalism, p 2.

13. Kirsopp Lake, The Religion of Yesterday and Tomorrow (Houghton Mifflin, 1926), pp 61-62.

14. Robert Davidson, Genesis 1-11, The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible (Cambridge, 1973), p 30.

15. Conrad Hyers, "Biblical Literalism: Constricting the Cosmic Dance" in Frye, Is God a Creationist?, p 99.

16. See the helpful discussion in Edward J. Young, An Introduction to the Old Testament, rev. ed. (Eerdmans, 1964), pp 49-52.

17. Bernhard W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament (Prentice-Hall, 1957), pp 167-68.

18. Davidson, Genesis 1-11, p 10.

19. Ibid., p 11.

20. Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, 2nd ed. (Phoenix Books, 1963), p 129. This work contains the whole text of Enuma Elish and a good discussion of its parallels with Genesis.

21. Nahum Sarna, "Understanding Creation in Genesis" in Frye, Is God a Creationist?, pp 155-173.

22. Robert C. Newman and Herman J. Eckelmann, Jr., Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth (IBRI, 1989, p 87.

23. The JEDP or Wellhausen theory was given its classic form by Julius Wellhausen, Prolegomena to the History of Ancient Israel; most influential in the English-speaking world for gaining acceptance of the theory was S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (1897; reprinted Meridian Books, 1956); a more recent liberal treatment is Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1965); on a more popular level, see Bernhard Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament; for evangelical critiques of the theory and its close relatives, see William Henry Green, The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch (1895; reprinted Baker, 1978); Oswald T. Allis, The Five Books of Moses (Presbyterian and Reformed, 1964); Young, Introduction; R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1969).

24. For recent (and somewhat technical) discussions of these alleged documents, see the relevant articles ("Yahwist," "Elohist," "Deuteronomy," and "Priestly Writers") in The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume (Abingdon, 1976).

25. Allan A. MacRae, "Facts About the J.E.D.P. Theory," Biblical Bulletin 9, no. 32 (Winter 1980): 1-3. Available in tract form from IBRI, POB 423, Hatfield, PA 19440-0423.

26. See Newman and Eckelmann, Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth; John Wiester, The Genesis Connection (Nelson, 1983); Robert J. Dunzweiler, "A Proposed Creationist Alternative to Evolutionism," IBRI Research Report 12 (1982).

27. See Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (Norton, 1978); Wiester, The Genesis Connection, chs 1-2; Robert C. Newman, "The Evidence of Cosmology" in John W. Montgomery, ed. Evidence for Faith: Deciding the God Question (Probe/Word, 1991); Owen Gingerich, "Let There Be Light: Modern Cosmogony and Biblical Creation," in Frye, Is God a Creationist?, pp 119-137; Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God, 2nd ed. (Promise, 1991).

28. See Gingerich, "Let There Be Light"; Alan Hayward, God Is (Nelson, 1978), esp. pp 53-70; Ross, Fingerprint of God. Even P. C. W. Davies, The Accidental Universe (Cambridge, 1982) gives excellent data here, though he opts for no design.

29. See Wiester, The Genesis Connection, ch 6; Hayward, God Is, chs 3 and 5; Phillip Johnson, Darwin on Trial (Regnery-Gateway, 1991).

30. See J. K. Anderson and H. G. Coffin, Fossils in Focus (Zondervan, 1977); Alan Hayward, Creation and Evolution: the Facts and the Fallacies (Triangle, 1985); Wiester, The Genesis Connection, chs 8-11.

31. See John Urquhart, Wonders of Prophecy (c1900; reprinted by Christian Publications, n.d.); Robert C. Newman, ed. The Evidence of Prophecy (IBRI, 1988); Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict (Campus Crusade, 1972), chs 9 and 11; Montgomery, Evidence for Faith, chs 4.2-4.4; J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Harper and Row, 1973).

32. See F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? 5th ed. (InterVarsity, 1960); Josh McDowell and Bill Wilson, He Walked Among Us: Evidence for the Historical Jesus (Here's Life, 1988); Jon A. Buell and O. Quentin Hyder, Jesus: God, Ghost or Guru? (Zondervan, 1978); Frank Morison, Who Moved the Stone? (Century, 1930); John Wenham, Easter Enigma (Academie, 1984); Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Inter-Varsity, 1987).

33. See McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict, ch 12, plus the massive number of personal testimony books found in any evangelical Christian bookstore.
 
 

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