A Call to Compromise
Approximately 3,500 years ago, the inspired scribe recorded in the book of Genesis the events which signalled the beginning of physical creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The first chapter of Genesis records in straightforward, concise language the origins of the universe, life, and man himself. For thousands of years men accepted at face value what the inspired writer penned, "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Genesis 1:31-2:2).
The presentation of the Genesis account, together with the geneologies contained in that book present a clear history which shows the creation of the universe and the history of mankind to be of recent origin in relation to the claims of great antiquity advocated by evolutionary theorists.
Some men have chafed under the yoke of accountability, and desired an explanation of origins which could account for man's existence without referencing the obvious evidence of a creator. Charles Darwin, with the publication of his The Origin of Species in 1859, gave such individuals the rallying point of "chance and time." Basically stated, if sufficient time were supplied for gradual, unguided change, then even blind chance could account for the universe and life itself in all its glorious diversity.
Theorists trumpeted the eventual victory of reason over faith, of science over superstition. As evolutionary theory was further developed, men began to confidently assert that the universe and life could be explained without reference to divine intervention. In 1970, the Nobel Prize winning French biologist Jacques Monod wrote in his treatise Chance and Necessity, "The ancient covenant is in pieces: Man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance."1
Many who are ostensibly Bible believers have felt pressured to reinterpret the Biblical account of creation, in an attempt to reconcile Genesis with the interpretations atheistic evolutionists have put on the physical data supplied by nature. Perhaps the climactic event in this compromise took place with the proclamation of the Catholic Pope that, "new knowledge has led us to realize that the theory of evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis."2
The Evolutionist's Call for Compromise
The December 2002 issue of Wired Magazine, in a special feature entitled The New Convergence, points out that many evolutionists are now backing off of their strong claims that science has made the concept of the divine obsolete and unecessary. What once was trumpeted as sure knowledge that man "is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance", is now being questioned, and not by Bible believers, but by the very men who once proclaimed it as established fact. Notice the following startling admissions:
"In recent years, Allan Sandage, one of the world's leading astronomers, has declared that the big bang can be understood only as a "miracle." Charles Townes, a Nobel-winning physicist and coinventor of the laser, has said that discoveries of physics "seem to reflect intelligence at work in natural law."3
"Science luminaries who in the '70s shrugged at faith as gobbledygook - including E.O. Wilson and the late Stephen Jay Gould and Carl Sagan - have endorsed some form of reconciliation between science and religion."4
"Meanwhile, decades of inconclusive inquiry have left the science-has-all-the-answers script in tatters. As recently as the '70s, intellectuals assumed that hard science was on track to resolve the two Really Big Questions: why life exists and how the universe began. What's more, both Really Big Answers were assumed to involve strictly deterministic forces. But things haven't worked out that way. Instead, the more scientists have learned, the more mysterious the Really Big Questions have become."5
What is even more startling is the admission made by Easterbrook as to why scientific thought is trending back toward the possiblity of a designer for the cosmos. He states:
"Why the renewed scientific interest in spiritual thinking? One reason is the cyclical nature of intellectual fashions. In philosophy, metaphysics is making a comeback after decades ruled by positivism and analytical theory of language. These restrained, empirically based ideas have run their course; now the pendulum is swinging toward the grand vision of metaphysics - someday, surely, to swing away again. Similarly in science, the pure materialistic view that reigned through the 20th century, holding that everything has a natural explanation, couldn't keep other viewpoints at bay forever. The age-old notion that there is more to existence than meets the eye suddenly looks like fresh thinking again."6
What Easterbrook describes is the cyclical nature of popular thought. It has always been that men have devised theories that seem true and unassailable, only to be shown false in later generations. This in fact, is what sets apart the revelation of God from the thoughts of men. While the theories of men are often ultimately rejected, the truth of God's word has been established throughout the generations of humanity.
It is not surprising that men, even when admitting they were wrong, seek to find a middle ground rather than returning to revealed truth. Rather than accepting the Bible account which proclaims what they once rejected, but now embrace, these men are calling for a "new convergence." Easterbrook is saddened that the how-did-life-begin question is usually lost between "orthodox Darwinians and hard-line creationists"7, and calls for a compromise between the two. In effect, scientists could accept the concept of a designer, if creationists could see fit to give up their literal interpretation of the creation account. The call is for compromise.
The Christian's Call for Compromise
What is less understandable, and more disturbing, is that at the very time evolutionists are making great concessions in regard to their theories of origins, there are Christians who are advocating compromise as well. While it is common for popular thought to change, why should those who accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God seek to conform Bible teaching to such current popular thought. Why compromise with theories and views which have shown themselves in the past to be transitory? Why hitch the wagon to scientific theory that has been shown to be dependent upon the "cyclical nature of intellectual fashions"? And yet, many in the Lord's church are calling for such compromise. Note the following quotes, taken from correspondence this writer received at the publication of the Open Letter to Florida College on this issue, posted to the Watchman site in July, 2002.
"There are aspects of the Bible that cannot properly be interpreted unless one takes extra-biblical considerations into account. Interpreted in this manner, objective examination of the real world can be and many times is very relevant to biblical hermeneutics." (correspondence)
"Men who had not one iota of understanding of the scientific method or the way scientists are taught to seek truth. These men contradicted, not just a small amount of evidence, but mountains and a universe of it." (correspondence)
"The "big bang" theory is the most widely accepted theory by true Christians and scientists" (correspondence)
"The present controversy about whether to take the Biblical account as literal or not seems just as silly to me.
"The earth is very ancient, without question, and those who believe otherwise simply are not well educated and do not understand the enormous amount of evidence in favor of an ancient earth. You might as well believe the earth is flat, as to believe that it is only a few thousand years old." (correspondence)
"As a matter of fact, I am a scientist with the same religious background as you. I do get upset though, with preachers who are so narrow minded on this issue that they will not consider the evidence. You are trying to make decisions and authoritative statements in an area in which you are not qualified and in which have no experience or training. That sir, is the height of arrogance. I quit going to church in part because of ignorant preachers such as you. Good day." (correspondence)
All of these quotes indicate an emerging view of Bible interpretation that is becoming more prevalent among Christians today. More and more brethren are advocating our interpretation of scripture based upon man's understanding of the natural world. Such a method of interpretation leaves us vulnerable to the vagaries and inaccuracies of popular thought. It subjugates the word of God to the human interpretation of scientific data. Rather than interpreting the world with a Bible view, some now advocate interpreting the Bible with a world view. This is readily admitted by proponents of the "old earth" position. Note the following quote from Hill Roberts, a proponent of the Big Bang theory who serves as a deacon in one non-institutional church:
"Still, it is a valid complaint that anyone hearing or reading the Genesis account without the benefit of any other information would naturally conclude that everything beginning to end was all accomplished in 6 X 24 hours. It certainly could have been done by God that way, but as shown here "six days" could be understood in other ways. God himself did give us more information to work with, if we are really interested in knowing such details. Most of that information is contained in His creation, awaiting our exploration and understanding."8
You note that Roberts accedes to the fact that the Genesis account alone would lead one to believe the earth was created in seven days. It is his position that the natural creation would preclude that interpretation, and so the Genesis account must be understood in light of what man determines as scientific fact.
Tom Couchman, himself a member of a non-institutional church, takes the same position in his response to the Open letter, in defending Roberts:
"The creation, with its abundant evidence of antiquity, speaks to Bible-believers too! A scientist, particularly a scientist like Hill Roberts who is performing what I presume the sixty-seven would agree to be the valuable service of fighting the anti-Christian philosophies of scientism and evolutionism, cannot ignore or even neglect to present this evidence without cutting the ground from beneath his own feet."9
Couchman and Roberts and many others believe that to ignore the claims of science in this area (which they say contains very clear and indisputable evidence as to the antiquity of the universe) is tantamount to being a member of the "flat earth" society. Amazingly, Couchman and Roberts claim that the evidence of the Big Bang and an ancient universe is clear (stellar evolution), but deny the clarity of the evolutionary process regarding the diversity of life (biological evolution). The evolutionists quoted in Wired Magazine believe just the opposite. Note the following quote from the late biologist Gerald Soffen, who oversaw the life-seeking experiments carried out by NASA's Viking probes to Mars:
"Once you reach the point of a single-cell organism with genes, evolution takes command. But the early leaps - they're very mysterious."10
Brethren need to understand the danger of conforming God's will to popular thought. Such attitudes resulted in Israel clamoring for a king (cf. 1 Samuel 8:5-7), the Judaizers binding circumcision upon the Gentile (cf. Galatians 6:6-9), and the Gnostics denying the humanity of Christ (cf. 1 John 4:2-3). It led to the adoption of ecclesiastical heiarchy leading to the establishment of the Catholic church, the embracing of the instrument in Christian worship, and the acceptance of the social gospel concept in our generation. And, it is leading some to deny the literal nature of God's account of His creation of the world.
Too, brethren need to understand the extent of this compromise. The quotes used earlier in this article indicate the foothold it has among Christians. Hill Roberts and his Lord I Believe organization has been utilized by approximately 75 different congregations. This hermeneutical view is affecting the thinking of brethren throughout the world, and the leaven, if unchecked, will lead to another apostasy of God's people. We must heed the words of the Apostle Paul:
"Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8).
As quoted in Wired Magazine, December 2002, page 165, by author Gregg Easterbrook. The New Convergence: Science + Religion. (return to text)
As quoted in Wired Magazine, December 2002, page 172, by author Margaret Wertheim. The Pope's Astrophysicist. (return to text)
Wired Magazine, page 166. (return to text)
ibid (return to text)
ibid. (return to text)
ibid. (return to text)
Wired Magazine, page 169. (return to text)
Appendix to Evidences That Have Led Many Scientists to Accept An Ancient Date for Creation of the Earth and Universe, page 11. Hill Roberts. (return to text)
A Response to "The Creation Account & Florida College, by Tom Couchman. www.watchmanmag.com/0306/030623.htm (return to text)
As quoted in Wired Magazine, December 2002, page 169. (return to text)
top of page