Christianity—Confused About Creation

iStock photo

Christianity—Confused About Creation

How did you come to be on the Earth? Are you here by the act of a living God, or the result of a lifeless process of evolution? Religion should be able to give us the answer.
From the October 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

Why is it so difficult to get one answer to the question, how did human life begin on Earth?

Think about it. Our prosperous and well-educated Western societies, founded on Judeo-Christian principles—meaning religious values—cannot come to a satisfying conclusion as to whether human life originated as a planned, purposeful act of a supreme, all-powerful being, or as the result of a random, gradual process called evolution. There can only be one answer to this very important question. Yet examining the beliefs people embrace on the subject is like standing in foaming stormy seas—massive confusion.

Religion ought to give us a definite, truthful answer. It has not and does not. In fact, the predominant religion of the Western world—Christianity—has only added to the confusion.

Mixed Signals

Since taking office in 2005, the current pope has been accused of sending mixed signals on the theory of evolution.

In November 2005, the head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Paul Poupard, said, in the words of the British Times Online, “that the Genesis account of creation and Darwin’s theory of evolution were ‘perfectly compatible’ if the Bible was read correctly” (April 12). Besides being a priest and a cardinal, Paul Poupard is a scientist. He is powerfully influential within the Catholic hierarchy. Benedict xvi would have full understanding of his views. There was no public attempt to correct what Poupard said.

However, in 2006, the pope fired his chief astronomer, George Coyne, “after the American Jesuit priest made similar comments in the Tablet,” the Times reported. “The sacking was interpreted by commentators as a clear endorsement for intelligent design” (ibid.). Intelligent design refers to the belief that the origin of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not by an undirected process such as natural selection.

Coyne, director of the Vatican Observatory, had openly criticized intelligent design. In a lecture at Palm Beach Atlantic University last year, Coyne stated, “Religious believers must move away from the notion of a dictator God, a Newtonian God who made the universe as a watch that ticks along regularly.” He directly criticized Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn for an attack he had made on neo-Darwinism and for supporting intelligent design. Coyne emphasized that intelligent design diminishes God into “an engineer who designs systems rather than a lover.” He explained, “God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity. … God lets the world be what it will be in its continuous evolution. He does not intervene, but rather allows, participates, loves.” Coyne supported his comments by pointing out that John Paul ii’s declaration that “evolution is no longer a mere hypothesis” is “a fundamental church teaching.”

The Times observation that the pope firing Coyne was an endorsement of intelligent design may not be totally accurate. It is more likely that he was fired as a show of support for Schonborn—a fellow Teuton and personal friend of Benedict—rather than a support for intelligent design. Putting any interpersonal conflicts aside, it is still clear that there is major disagreement within the ranks of Catholic leadership on the subject of origins.

Pope on Origins

The pope definitely holds his own views on origins. In April, he made international headlines with the publication of Creation and Evolution. The book, published in German, features this pope’s (and other Catholic theologians’) comprehensive thinking on creation, Darwin, faith and the role of science. The work is the result of a meeting conducted by the pope at the papal summer estate, Castel Gandolfo, in September 2006. What this pope has to say is quite revealing.

The Times reported that, referring to the origins of human life, the pope has written for the record that “Evolution has not been ‘scientifically’ proven and science has unnecessarily narrowed humanity’s view of creation” (op. cit.).

On the surface it appears the pope wants to put science in its place—to give all scientists a good spanking. Scientists have been working feverishly to prove evolution in the laboratory; yet the pope says, “We cannot haul 10,000 generations into the laboratory.” Associated Press reporter Melissa Eddy explained, “Benedict added that the immense time span that evolution covers made it impossible to conduct experiments in a controlled environment to finally verify or disprove the theory” (April 11).

If evolution is impossible to prove, is the pope saying science should stop its useless effort?

Reflecting on the differing views of his predecessor, Benedict stated, “[John Paul] had his reasons for saying this. But it is also true that the theory of evolution is not a complete, scientifically proven theory.” It could appear that the pope has committed himself to an anti-evolution position, but careful analysis tells us otherwise.

Relying on Human Reason

It is interesting to note that the pope’s book was released while American conservative Protestants do battle with science educators over the teaching of evolution in public schools. The pope is fully aware of what is taking place in the United States. Protestant leaders have fought hard and failed to win the legal right to have intelligent design taught alongside evolution in secondary schools. Some commentators understood the pope’s views as an aid to keep the fight going in the United States. But the pope has not actually given his spiritual cousins much support.

Eddy reported, “He stopped short of endorsing intelligent design, but said scientific and philosophical reason must work together in a way that does not exclude faith” (ibid.). The pope may have had conservative Protestants drooling over his anti-evolution statements. Yet, in effect, the pope let the Protestants know that they are going to have to cook their own meal. Essentially, he wants creationists and evolutionists to work together—as long as evolutionists don’t hurt people’s faith!

The pope stated, “The question is not to either make a decision for a creationism that fundamentally excludes science, or for an evolutionary theory that covers over its own gaps and does not want to see the questions that reach beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science.”

Isn’t it impossible to understand what the pope is actually saying? Is he truly opposed to evolution? Is he for creationism? He is throwing his support toward both. Let’s be honest. The pope is guilty of classic fence-straddling.

His solution to soothe the debate between creationism and evolution reveals his true position on the whole matter. The Times reported that the pope advised Catholic theologians “not to choose between creationism and evolutionary theory but to adopt an ‘interaction of various dimensions of reason’” (op. cit.). This may sound good to the scholarly, but where is the clear direction from the leader of the largest Christian denomination?

When we cut through the rhetoric, we must conclude that this pope gives his full support to the Renaissance theme that human beings must look to human reason to finally decide the issue.

Supports Theistic Evolution

Here is how the Times summed up what the pope is teaching: “The comments of this pope, like those of John Paul ii, best adhere to the doctrine of theistic evolution, which sees God creating by a process of evolution. This is accepted—openly or tacitly—by Roman Catholicism and the mainstream Protestant denominations” (ibid.). In essence, this pope is sticking to traditional Catholic thinking that has been established for decades—that God used the process of evolution to create life. As the Times noted, traditional Protestant denominations embrace the same doctrine.

Here is the point. Any person who believes in theistic evolution is still an evolutionist. Theistic evolution basically states that God was not directly involved in the origin of life. Those who accept this belief may think God created the building blocks. God may have established the natural laws that govern life. God may have even considered that organic life would emerge from inorganic matter, but at some point God withdrew His hand and let evolution take over. Some theistic evolutionists may believe that God stepped in miraculously at certain points, but Darwin’s view of the path life took from the primordial simple to the current complex stands firm.

Essentially, the pope—the supposed vicar of Christ—leaves the door wide open for evolutionary science to proceed unchallenged. Could it be that Benedict, with all of his seemingly strong anti-evolution words, is simply working the crowd—appealing to as many as possible?

The Missing Dimension

How should religious leaders speak on the subject of creation and the origin of human life? A religious leader should be able to give a clear, easily understood answer on the subject. It is not a difficult question if human beings go to the correct source. Human reason alone will never be able to deliver the answer. Here is the crux of the problem.

Theistic evolutionists view the Genesis account of creation including Adam and Eve as allegory. This means that they downright exclude the Bible as the source of knowledge on the subject.

We should not be surprised that the pope embraces theistic evolution. Catholic doctrine dictates that the Bible takes a back seat to the authority of the ruling body of the church when it comes to doctrine. Catholic theologians as far back as Thomas Aquinas warned “against the danger of literal interpretation of the Bible” (Time, March 12, 1984).

This is why the pope put so much emphasis on human reason. Without the Bible, that is all one has left to rely on.

Yet human reason cannot answer the question. In fact, the very nature of the question of origins requires that the answer be revealed by a source from outside of human experience. Human beings can dig in the dirt and gaze at the stars for lifetimes on end but still cannot come up with more than supposition, speculation or superstition. Only the Bible can give the answer all humans want to know. The Bible alone holds the missing dimension in knowledge men desire most. It tells us clearly how God created the universe, the Earth and human life—and why.

No Compromise

In our time, a religious leader has given us clear and inspiring answers to the questions related to creation and the origins of human life. Herbert W. Armstrong thoroughly investigated the subject. He took a two-pronged approach—viewing all the facts. He studied both the scientific works on evolution and the Bible account of creation. In his Autobiography, he wrote: “The two subjects—or, rather, the two sides of the same subject of origins—should be unprejudicially and objectively studied together, yet seldom are!”

Mr. Armstrong knew most people accept blindly what they are taught without proving it. To prove the truth takes hard work. Mankind is known for preferring the easy way. He stated: “Most believers in the Bible and in the existence of God have probably just grown up believing it, because they were reared in an atmosphere where it was believed. … [F]ew ever studied into it deeply enough to obtain irrefutable proof” (ibid.). He saw great danger in this kind of attitude. Lacking real understanding and proof of what the Bible actually says opens the door to become easily biased against it when it is challenged.

In a similar vein, he stated: “Likewise, the educated … have, in the main, been taught the theory of evolution as a belief. They have accepted it … without having given any serious or thorough study of the biblical claims” (ibid.).

The Bible is the most important textbook written during the age of man—yet it is purposely cut out of public education. Mr. Armstrong recognized at the very beginning of his ministry that college- and university-trained men and women had succumbed to the intellectual notion that study of the Bible is a sign of ignorance. This has been and still is the greatest and gravest error in modern education. Mr. Armstrong knew there could be no compromise with evolution. Why? Evolution makes it impossible to believe the Bible.

Let’s get this straight. When a religious leader sets out to harmonize a work on evolution with the Bible, the Bible will always be thrown out!

Religion’s Failure

For over 50 years, Herbert Armstrong challenged millions to truly educate themselves and prove the Bible. This incredible book gives us the only authoritative answer on the question of origins. We must prove the Bible to be the reliable Word of God.

In his booklet The Proof of the Bible, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “Isn’t it about time—and the point of rational wisdom—that you prove this important question once and for all? Because if the Bible is in fact the inspired, authentic Word of a living, all-knowing, all-powerful God, then your eternity will be judged by it.” Please write for this free, easy-to-read and extremely important booklet.

When we study the press’s coverage of Benedict xvi’s comments on creation, evolution, science and faith, we cannot find even the slightest reference to the Bible! That fact should be telling, shocking and alarming!

Mr. Armstrong recognized religion’s failure to see the dangers of evolution. He wrote: “We have simply failed to realize the deep-rooted nature of the doctrine of evolution. And so we left wide open the door of our own children’s minds to an easy acceptance of evolution as truth—and a consequent rejection of fundamental [meaning true] Christianity” (Tomorrow’s World, October 1969).

Let us be frank. Religion, of all things, has paved the way for the easy acceptance of evolution as truth. Let’s not be naive; evolution is true religion’s greatest enemy.

No one needs to fall victim to weak or failed religion. Jesus Christ promised those hungering for satisfying truth, “[You] shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). You do not need to be confused about creation. Now is the time to invest the time to search for and prove the answer to the all-important question, how did human life begin on Earth?