The origin of life is the issue we are wrestling with this week. Psalm 33:6 and 9 make a very clear statement about the origin of life for those of us who believe the Bible to be the Word of God: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.”
When I was pastoring Swan Creek Baptist Church, I borrowed one my teenager’s biology book just to see what they were being taught in our local public school. Her biology textbook clearly pitted evolution against God’s Word:
For thousands of years, most people believed that each separate species of organism had been specially created. This view was set forth in the Bible’s Book of Genesis. From time to time philosophers proposed that the living world changed over centuries, but by the mid-seventeenth century most of the Western World took the word of Genesis literally and believed that animals and plants were created during the six days of the Creation. From about 1750 on, however, many people became convinced that species changed over the ages (Camp, Karen Arms. Biology-A Journey into Life. Saunders College Publishing, page 249).
The biology textbook went on to discuss Charles Darwin, father of the modern theory of evolution, who studied theology and as a young man believed in special creation.
Years of observation and reading, however, presented Darwin with evidence that seemed incompatible with the notion of God as the Designer and Creator of living things, and a more logical explanation for the origin of species took shape. Darwin then was appointed naturalists on the Beagle, a British naval ship embarking on a five year mapping and collecting expedition. In 1859, Darwin wrote The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. In it he marshaled an impressive array of evidence to support his theory. Not until the 20th Century, however, did most biologists fully accept the idea that evolution was by means of natural selection (Camp, page 250, 251).
Did Charles Darwin believe each species was a special creation of God? Let’s hear him on the question:
As many more individuals of each species are born that can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently reoccurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in a manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principles of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form (Darwin, Charles, Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection Chicago: Thompson & Thomas, n.d., page 457).
More and more 21st century scientists and scholars are rejecting evolution. Paul Le Moine, a French scholar clearly represents this growing group: “Evolution is a fairy tale for adults” (Lutzer, Erwin W. Twelve Myths Americans Believe Chicago: Moody Press, 1993, page 31).
What are the tenets of evolution
First, the evolutionist must believe in the Eternality of Matter. Evolutionists don’t know where matter came from for our planet to exist and life to start as my teenager’s biology textbook declared:
If we could trace the ancestry of living organisms, we should find a long line of cells stretching back billions of years. Each cell came from division of a previously existing cell. . . . But where did the first cell come from? Some people say the first organisms came to earth in spaceships or meteorites, but this only moves the question of how life began to a more distant arena beyond our reach to study (Camp, page 307).
Theologian Wayne Grudem cites an example of the above theory. Francis Crick called his theory “Directed Panspermia.” The theory is that life was brought to earth from a far away planet by a spaceship. About Francis Crick, who won the Nobel Prize for helping to discover the structure of DNA molecules, Grudem observed:
It seems ironic that brilliant scientists could advocate so fantastic a theory without one shred of evidence in its favor, all the while rejecting the straightforward explanations given by the one book in the history of the world that has never been proven wrong, that has changed the lives of millions of people, that has been believed completely by many of the most intelligent scholars of every generation, and that has been a greater force for good than any other book in the history of the world (Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology Grand Rapids: Inter-Varsity Press, page 286).
God’s Word declares that God created the universe out of nothing or to use the common Latin phrase, creatio ex nihilo. Creatio ex nihilo is implied but not clearly stated in Gen. 1:1 because the word bara means to create something new and great, such as the universe in 1:1 and man in 1:27. BDB (page 135) defines bara as to shape, fashion, create, always of divine activity but never as something out of nothing. Clearly God used preexisting matter (2:7) to create man. However, John 1:3 does teach creation ex nihilo when it declares “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” There are other verses that use “all things” in relationship to creation: Col. 1:16; Heb. 11:3; and Rev. 4:11. Grudem reminds us of the significance of rejecting creation ex nihilo.
Were we to deny creation out of nothing, we would have to say that some matter has always existed and that it is eternal like God. This idea would challenge God’s independence, his sovereignty, and the fact that worship is due to him alone: if matter existed apart from God, then what inherent right would God have to rule over it and use it for his glory? And what confidence could we have that every aspect of the universe will ultimately fulfill God’s purposes, if some parts of it were not created by him? . . . .The positive side of the fact that God created the universe out of nothing is that it has meaning and a purpose. God, in his wisdom, created it for something. We should try to understand that purpose and use creation in ways that fit that purpose, namely, to bring glory to God himself. Moreover, whenever the creation brings us joy (cf. 1 Tim. 6:17), we should give thanks to the God who made it all (Grudem, page 264).
In my next post, I will discuss other evolutionary tenents such as eternality of matter and spontaneous generation.