Ian Campbell, South Shields, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
It was in 1859 that Charles Robert Darwin published his renowned book, The Origin of Species, in which he outlined his theory of natural selection, or as Herbert Spencer defined it, ‘the survival of the fittest’. This book was to have a tremendous bearing upon Christianity and society, in that it immediately challenged the authority of Holy Scripture, insisting that life began in some primordial soup millions of years ago. Consequently the Genesis account of creation as outlined in the first two chapters of the Bible, and the subsequent fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, were relegated to the status of myth. Mankind therefore is perceived, not as having been made directly by God and in His Image, but as being ‘little more than an intelligent orang-utan’. The obvious conclusion of the theory is, ‘God did not create man; but rather, man created God’. Though Darwin has been dead for well over a century, he still reigns from the grave, for Darwinism is taught, and in many cases taught as FACT, and not as a theory, to all on the educational conveyor belt, from primary school to university. I myself remember that as an eleven-year-old being subjected to a weekly dose of Darwinism that was pumped out into the classroom from the loudspeaker in the corner of the room. The programme was called How Things Began. Little did those enthralled pupils know that they were being fed with a poison that would numb their God-consciousness!
The effects upon a society imbibing Darwinism are far reaching, but the main one lies on the surface and is easily detected. We quote from three writers to demonstrate this important point.
Professor Sedgwick, a contemporary and friend of Darwin, described evolution as ‘a dish of rank materialism, cleverly cooked and served up to make us independent of a Creator’.
In discussing why Darwinism has such a huge following, Dr. William Dembski writes, ‘It provides a materialistic story that dispenses with any need for design, or God, and this is very convenient for those who want to escape the demands of religion, morality and conscience’.
Finally, Dr. Michael Denton, a molecular biologist, notes, ‘It was because Darwinian theory broke man’s link with God and set him adrift in a cosmos without purpose or end that its impact was so fundamental. No other intellectual revolution in modern times . . . so profoundly affected the way men viewed themselves and their place in the universe’.
Clearly therefore, at the root of Darwinism is the appealing statement that ‘there is no God to whom we are accountable!’
In the early days of my personal witness, I found, invariably, that the topic of evolution would crop up, and the conversation would go as follows. ‘You waste your time speaking to me about God and Christ because the constant message through the various media is that the scientists have demonstrated evolution to be a fact. I therefore see no need to accept the Saviour of whom you speak because there is no God!’ We might put it this way, ‘Many have a problem in accepting the Last Adam because they cannot accept the reality of the first Adam’.
style="color:#0056B5;"The way forward
I felt totally inadequate when witnessing to such people. All that changed when a friend put into my hand several back issues of a well produced Australian quarterly publication entitled Creation ex nihilo (‘Creation out of nothing’). The magazine is still produced but goes under the simple title of Creation. This was to be ‘a red letter’ day for me. Here were Christians who defended zealously the literal interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis, contending that, ‘If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ Ps. 11. 3. In it many of the articles were written by Christian scientists who provided a wealth of enlightening material useful in personal witnessing, showing that only a fool would say, ‘There is no God!’ So began my journey into Creationism.
Creation and the presentation of the gospel
The gospel message is clearly defined by Paul as ‘Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures’, 1 Cor. 15. 3. However, observe that the apostle, when communicating the gospel, was ever conscious of the background and culture of the audience he was addressing. For example, in Acts 17 we see Paul address two distinct sets of people, in two settings, both in cities.
Firstly, while in Thessalonica, he speaks to Jews in the setting of a synagogue. ‘Three sabbath days (he) reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ’, vv. 2-3. Paul, aware that the Jews he spoke to were familiar with the concept of a coming Messiah and that this hope was firmly based on the writings of Moses, the psalmists and the prophets, opens these very same scriptures upon which they rightly put so much importance, to reason logically that the Christ they waited for was none other than Jesus the Nazarene.
From Thessalonica Paul eventually journeyed to Athens where ‘he saw the city wholly given to idolatry’. In his witnessing he is found both in the synagogue and in the market place and his message is the same as he preached at Thessalonica. We know this because when certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, heard his preaching they said, ‘He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection’. In their curiosity to hear more from Paul, they bring him to Areopagus (Mars Hill), a convenient meeting place for those who spent their time in telling and hearing the latest news. Paul, conscious now that the majority of his congregation were Gentiles, does not use the scriptures to reason with them, but instead he seizes upon one of their many shrines; an altar upon which were inscribed the words, ‘to the unknown god’. The apostle makes known to them the ‘unknown God’ and speaks of Him as being the Creator, the One who ‘made the world and all things therein’. Not only that, he emphasizes they owe their very existence to Him, ‘He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth’. Instead of using the scriptures, Paul actually quotes one of their own poets, v. 28, ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring’. Having laid the foundational fact that God is the great Creator, Paul is able to use it as a springboard to address the vital subjects of repentance, judgement and the resurrection. I feel convinced that Paul’s wise, masterly approach has much that is relevant for us in our testimony in a society that becomes increasingly godless and almost void of any meaningful Bible knowledge.
Creation and Evolution, and the case for evangelism
Dr. W. Dembski has commented that ‘Darwinism is a magic trick performed far enough away from the audience to dazzle them . . . until someone starts handing out binoculars’. In the 21st century, the Christian has never been in a better position of getting out ‘the binoculars’ and using them to expose the falsity of Darwinism. By this I mean there is a plethora of information available, in visual and written format, from a host of sound sources which points out the errors of evolution. The weight of evidence for creation is substantial and so much so that those who subscribe to evolution find themselves very much on the defensive. For those keen to use the truth of creation as a means of evangelism the following sites on the World Wide Web offer many helpful and up-to-date resources:
www.creationsciencemovement.com (this is the world’s oldest creationist organization, based at Portsmouth, UK),
It has been my privilege, in recent years, to present the positive case for creation to children, students and adults in a variety of settings: schools, colleges, hired rooms, and Gospel Halls. I have experienced threefold blessing from this ministry. Firstly, young impressionable minds have heard a truth they would seldom hear: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. They have also met someone who stands unashamedly on the authority of Holy Scripture. Secondly, skeptics have been challenged to the point of acknowledging the fact that God did indeed create all things. This has then been the stepping-stone to share with them the stupendous truth that the Creator came down into manhood in order that He might die upon the cross for the sins of fallen mankind. Thirdly, Christians, especially those young in the faith, have stated that they have been strengthened by what they have heard and seen.
Atheism is not a phenomenon limited to the 20th and 21st centuries. The apostle Paul knew it to be a philosophy current to his own generation. ‘[They] became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things’, Rom. 1. 21-23. May we, to our generation, say what Paul said to the agnostics and atheists of his day, ‘Ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein’, Acts 14. 15.
There is no greater joy than seeing the fool of whom Paul wrote, becoming ‘a fool for Christ’s sake’, 1 Cor. 4. 10.
AUTHOR PROFILE: He is in fellowship in the assembly at South Shields. He was commended to the Lord‘s work in 1994 and is now heavily involved in school and children‘s work all over the UK, as well as sharing the gospel through the development of ‘Creation’ presentation.