n Plato’s Timaeus
the philosopher tackles the tough question of origins, of creation. “Now everything that becomes or is created must of necessity be created by some cause,” he wrote, “for without a cause nothing can be created.” And for Plato that cause was, of course, God. What else?
However faultless his thinking thus far, it degenerates fast. Despite occasional spurts of insight and genius, the dialogue is page after page of the most tedious and ridiculous “scientific” explanations of creation unequalled since many of the “scientific” explanations of creation given today. (Have you heard the latest? After finding the fossil of fish supposedly 370 million years old, some scientists now think our ancestors used to breathe out of their ears. “It looks as if the first step in the evolution of the middle ear had nothing to do with hearing,” says Professor Per Ahlberg, of Sweden. “Our forebears developed ears in order to breathe through them.”)
That’s about on par with Plato. According to him, God created the universe out of a series of endless triangles, and among that creation was man (as in male), and only afterward did women and animals come. How?
“Of the men who came into the world,” wrote Plato, “those who were cowards or led unrighteous lives may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation. . . . But the race of birds was created out of innocent light-minded men, who, although their minds were directed toward heaven, imagined, in their simplicity, that the clearest demonstration of things above was to be obtained by sight; these were remodelled and transformed into birds, and they grew feathers instead of hair.” He continues, explaining how land animals arose from the degeneration of men “who had no philosophy in any of their thoughts,” while fish, including shellfish, were originally men whose souls were “made impure by all sorts of transgression.”
What’s fascinating here is that this pseudoscientific gibberish was written by one of humanity’s most brilliant and influential thinkers, which just goes to show how the greatest minds, divorced from the truth of God’s Word, will inevitably get it wrong, even in a big way. No wonder Scripture says that the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God (it’s foolishness to many of us, too). The Timaeus
dramatically shows the kind of nonsense that reason and empiricism--left to themselves, and unaided and unguided by the Word of God--will produce.
Yet as ridiculous as Plato’s view of origins may be, it’s still miles ahead of modern evolutionary theory. Plato at least has the direction correct; that is, he had things degenerating, getting worse, winding down. What’s a more ludicrous concept--a human degenerating into a mollusk, or a mollusk evolving into a human? Decay, entropy, is all around us: it’s the second law of thermodynamics. And yet evolutionary theory teaches that lower things somehow, naturally, acquire higher traits and attributes that weren’t in them to begin with, traits such as love, reason, creativity, and thumbs--all of which arose by chance from carbon, water, and a few proteins. No one’s surprised when a picture is created by the artist. Evolution (unaided reason and empiricism, not guided by the Word of God) asks us to believe that the artist is created from the picture.
Theistic evolutionists want to bring God into the schema. They need to (they need something, anyway). But which God? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The God of Genesis? Please! If you can get evolution from Genesis, then I can get the day and hour for the close of probation, for the national Sunday law, and for the early time of trouble--all from the Song of Solomon.
Plato’s Timaeus is an ancient example of the errors that reason and empiricism, without the Word of God, will bring; evolutionary theory is a modern one. All things considered, Plato--even with his men turning into mollusks--is a lot closer to truth than modern evolution, with its ears that breathe and its proteins and carbons that over millions of years morphed into Euripides and Bode Miller.
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.