February 27, 2008

Homage to the Stork

2008 1506 page17 caphen asked, “What would it take to get you to leave Christianity?” I responded, “Convince me that God doesn’t exist.” After some musings, I added, “Let’s lower the bar. Convince me of a scientific ‘fact’ supposedly as indubitable as ‘the earth goes round the sun’ (Richard Dawkins), that is, the neo-Darwinian synthesis (i.e., simple life starting billions of years ago, primitive genetic replication, natural selection, Homo erectus, the whole dog-and-pony show). Convince me that’s true, and I’m gone.”
How not? If Darwin were even close to getting origins right, God might as well have told us that the stork brings babies as to inspire Genesis 1 and 2. If creation took 4 billion years, as opposed to six days (off by a factor of only about 182.5 billion:1), why should I believe anything God says? A fortune cookie from a Chinese take-out restaurant would give better odds of getting things right.
Also, concepts similar to evolution were known in the old world. God didn’t have to dumb it down for the ancients. The Lord could have revealed the truth to them, and us, instead of promulgating what some would call a fairy tale, one that hardly parallels the model anyway. Billions of years of false starts, chance events, and endless death allegorized as a six-day preplanned creation, nothing left to chance, and no death? In such a scenario, Genesis becomes satire, and God a fabulist.
2008 1506 page17And the seventh-day Sabbath in memorial of a six-day creation that really took aeons? Please! We might as well pay homage to the stork. (And who—believing creation required billions of years, instead of six days—will actually risk persecution for the seventh-day Sabbath as opposed to “the mark of the beast”?)
Worse, what follows Genesis 1 and 2 in Scripture—unfolding from such antecedents—becomes as dubious. The Lord Jesus incarnates, not as the unique Son of God, but into an evolved ape created through the vicious and painfully murderous cycle of natural selection, all in order to abolish death, “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26)? But how can death be the “enemy” if, as evolutionists assert, it was one of God’s chosen means for creating humans? The Lord must have expended plenty of Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, and Homo neanderthalensis in order to finally get one into His own image (Homo sapiens). So Jesus comes to save humankind from the very process God used to create it in the first place?
Then there’s the altruism problem, one that troubles even atheistic evolutionists, much less those who toss a loving God into the mix. If this vicious, dog-eat-dog process of natural selection—in which the strong overpower the weak—were the means by which we came into existence, why should we do differently? Are we not following God, and the dictates of nature as He ordained it, when we advance our own interests at the expense of the less “naturally selected”? Shouldn’t we eliminate the weak, making way for those already closer to the “image of God”—the process for which all this pain, suffering, and death were ultimately to lead? (One theologian argued that animals don’t really feel pain, a mind-bogglingly brilliant attempt to get God off the hook for all the suffering evolution entails.) Homo erectus didn’t become Homo sapiens by following the golden rule. Why should we? Maybe this is God saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
And then the “Fall”: how did this work again? Oh, yes. God used processes of violence, selfishness, and dominance 
of the strong against the weak in order to create a morally flawless being who “falls” into a state of violence, selfishness, and dominance of the strong over the weak—a state from which he has to be redeemed or else face final punishment. Hardly sounds sensible, does it?
In an evolutionary paradigm, eschatology becomes problematic too, especially God’s promise to make a new earth. Will that creation be by divine fiat, or will life again endure the rigor and joy of natural selection and survival of the fittest for billions of years until a new world, one “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13, KJV), finally appears?
For these reasons, and others, if convinced that Darwinian evolution were true, I’d have to leave Jesus. Though I can’t judge the hearts of those who see things differently, honesty and simple logic would allow me no option but unbelief.
Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. He is also featured on the television program Cliff!, broadcast on Hope TV.