Evolution and the Gospel

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By E.J. Waggoner
From The Present Truth, June 29, 1893

Years ago, when the subject of evolution began to be generally discussed, the prevailing idea was that it was wholly an infidel scheme in opposition to the Bible.

Now, however, things have greatly changed, and we find that evolution is believed and defended by the greater number of religious teachers, and is regarded as an essential part of religion.

Indeed, the minister who does not believe in evolution to some extent, is considered greatly behind the times. They feel that it would be dangerous to their reputation as scholars, if they should not agree with the men who have given their whole lives to the study of science.

A Scientific Papacy

Besides, it is claimed that no mere “layman” has any right to express an opinion upon matters purely scientific. The lordly position is taken that the dictum of “scientists” ought to be received without question by common men. But as evolution has to deal with the very fundamental teachings of the Bible, that is the same as saying that none but a privileged class may form a just opinion on all matters of faith.

This is the very spirit of the papacy, which will not allow that common people can decide matters of faith for themselves, but that they must accept the decision of their leaders. But this is a thing that God never designed that any man should do. No man on earth has a right to assume the control of another man’s judgment and conscience, and no man has any right to allow another man to so control him.

1 Corinthians 11
8 The head of every man is Christ.

The promise of the new covenant is,

Hebrews 8
11 They shall all know Me, from the least to the greatest.

No man on earth is or ever was wise enough and good enough to stand in the place of Christ to any other man; and no man on earth is so poor and uneducated that he needs another man to stand between him and the Lord, to interpret the will of God to him.

When Christ was on earth, “the common people heard him gladly,” for the reason that they could understand Him. Even the children pressed around Him to catch the gracious words that came from His lips. Those same words are in the Scriptures. In them Christ is speaking to the humble, believing soul as clearly and as plainly as when He was in Judea.

The Bible is the living word of the living God. It is able to make a man “wise unto salvation;” to make him “perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” And it reveals Christ, who is “the fulness of God.” Therefore it is a complete revelation, and perfectly adapted to all time. It is inexhaustible.

Now while it is true that the ordinary man cannot follow the scientists through all the mazes of argument by which they reach their conclusions, and it is fortunate that he cannot, it is true that he can take those conclusions when they are stated in plain English, and by comparing them with the Bible can tell whether or not they are true.

If this were not true, then there would be no other alternative but an infallible Pope. For it is evident that the people cannot trust every man who may want to teach them. Scientific teachers, like purely religious teachers, differ greatly, and so there must be an infallible teacher to decide among them.

But the Lord has provided for this, not in the person of any man, but in the Holy Spirit, which is freely given to all who believe. Thus no man is left to follow blindly the dictum of some other man.

Authoritative Statements of Evolution

In the month of April, Professor Henry Drummond delivered a course of lectures in Boston, U.S.A., before the Lowell Institute of that city, taking the Evolution of Man as his subject. Those lectures were quite fully reported in the current numbers of the British Weekly, from which we shall quote.

Professor Drummond is a religious teacher of prominence, and is also a teacher of science, so that in his utterance we have the latest and best theories of evolution from a religious point of view. Let the reader decide whether it is possible for a man to be a believer in the theory of evolution and a believer in the Bible at the same time.

The Professor began his first lecture by saying that he proposed to introduce his hearers to “a few of the more recent facts bearing upon the account of man.” That when the evolutionist speaks of the “ascent of man,” he refers to the man spiritually as well as physically, is shown by the following statement concerning man:

Should his pedigree prove to be related in undreamed-of ways to that of all other things in nature, “all other things” have that to gain by the alliance, which philosophy and theology have often wished to dower them with, but could never lawfully do. Every step in the proof of the oneness in an evolutionary process of this divine humanity of ours, with all lower things in nature, is a step in the proof of the divinity of all lower things. If evolution can be proved to include man, the whole scheme of nature from that moment assumes a new significance. The beginning can then be interpreted from the end, and the end from the beginning. All that is found in the product must be put into the process.

This is in direct contradiction of the Bible, which declares that:

Ecclesiastes 7
29 God has made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

These “inventions” are not the discoveries of good things, but the products of the “inventors of evil things,” (Romans 1:30), on which the Lord takes vengeance. Psalm 99:8.

Ascending or Descending?

Evolution speaks of man as ascending; the Bible speaks of him as having fallen. Which is true? And remember that evolution is entirely independent of faith. It applies to all men and to all things alike. So that while the Bible teaches that men have fallen, and that only through faith in Christ can they rise, evolution teaches that man has never fallen, but has always been ascending.

Evolution, however, discounts the Bible entirely. As Professor Drummond says:

The beginning must be interpreted from the end, not the end from the beginning.

If that is so, then the record of the creation and fall of man, as related in Genesis, is of no use to us. According to evolution, therefore, even as set forth by a professed Christian teacher, the Bible is not a guide to us, but is to be interpreted by human science. In that case, there would be really no need for the Bible, since the science which interpreted the Bible must be amply sufficient of itself, and the study of the Bible would become merely an unnecessary pastime.

Another Form of Spiritualism

Take the above statement, that “all that is found in the product must be put into the process,” and put it with the following:

Men begin to see undeviating ethical purpose in this world, a tide, than from eternity has never turned, making for perfectness. In that vast procession of nature, that vision of all things from the first of time, moving from low to high, from incompleteness to completeness, from imperfection to perfection, the moral nature recognizes in all its height and depth the eternal claim upon itself.

What do they teach? This: that man is his own saviour. Not only that, but that every man will be saved; evolution is universalism. Still more, they teach that everything that is in all men is good; for if there is from the beginning a steady tide working in all nature, making for perfectness, and all that is in the product must be put into the process, then it follows that perfectness has been in all men from the very beginning. That is just what evolution means,—an unfolding.

Therefore all that the Bible says is evil in man, evolution says is only undeveloped good; and that is simply the teaching of Spiritualism. So evolution is Spiritualism. But let us note further.

A Solution for Despair?

Mr. Drummond says:

The supreme message of Science to this age is that all Nature is on the side of the man who tries to rise. Evolution, development, progress are not only on her program, these are her programs. For all things are rising, all worlds, all planets, all stars and suns. An ascending energy is in the universe, and the whole moves on with one mighty idea and anticipation. The aspiration in the human mind and heart is but the evolutionary tendency of the universe becoming conscious.

Darwin’s great discovery, or the discovery which he brought into prominence, is the same as Galileo’s—that the world moves. The Italian prophet said it moves from west to east; the English philosopher said it moves from low to high. And this is the latest and most splendid contribution of Science to the faith of the world.

With the above, contrast the following declarations of men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;

Hebrews 1
10 You, Lord, in the beginning have laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of your hands;
11 They shall perish; but you remain; and they all shall wax old as does a garment;
12 And as a vesture shall you fold them up, and they shall be changed.

Romans 8
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails together in pain until now.

Isaiah 64
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken away.

Immediately after the last quotation from Professor Drummond, that the discovery of evolution—the movement from low to high—come the following words:

The discovery of a second motion in the earth has come into the world of thought only in time to save the world from despair.

What does that mean? It can mean nothing but that the gospel, which has been in the world for ages, gives man no hope, but on the contrary has plunged the race into despair! The Gospel provides a perfect salvation for all, if they will accept it; yet a professed Christian says that evolution, which means the salvation of all in spite of themselves, is the only thing that stands between man and despair.

Can there be any doubt that evolution is only one manifestation of Antichrist? Which shall we take as a basis for our faith—the “latest contribution of science,” or the word of the Lord?

What is Man?

Genesis 1
26 And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the face of the earth.
27 So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.

Genesis 2
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Psalm 8
5 For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and have crowned him with glory and honor.

The Revision has it,

“You have made him but little lower than God.”

This is what the Lord says; what does evolution say? Read the following:

Nature husbands all it gains. A momentum won is never lost. Each platform reached by the human embryo in its upward course represents the embryo of some lower animal which in some mysterious way has played part in the pedigree of the human race, which may itself long since have disappeared, from off the earth, but is now and forever built into the inmost being of man. These lower animals, each in its successive stage, have stopped short in their development; man has gone on.

Why this contradiction should occur in evolution; why the dog and the monkey should not go on developing into men, and finally into gods, the evolutionists do not explain. But read farther:

The single cell, the first definite stage which the human embryo attains, is still the adult form of countless millions both of animals and plants. Just as in modern America the millionaire’s mansion—the evolved form—is surrounded by labourers’ cottages,—the simple form,—so in Nature, living side by side with the many celled higher animals, is an immense democracy of unicellular artisans.

These simple cells are perfect living things. The earth, the water, and the air, teem with them everywhere. They move, they eat, they reproduce their like. But one thing they do not do—they do not rise. These organisms have, as it were stopped short in the ascent of life. And long as evolution has worked upon the earth, the vast numerical majority of plants and animals are still at this low stage of being.

So minute are some of these forms, that if their one-roomed huts were arranged in a row, it would take twelve thousand to form a street a single inch in length….Yet as there was a period in human history when none but cave-dwellers lived in Europe, so there was a time when the highest forms of life upon the globe were these microscopic beings. It is a general scientific fact, however, that over the graves of these myriad aspirants the Animal Man has risen.

If there were any such thing as the evolution of which the Professor speaks, then these microscopic beings would in turn become men, just the same as those others did in the ages past. The acknowledged fact that the microscopic forms “do not rise,” should be sufficient to show the baselessness of the whole evolution fabric.

Indeed, Professor Drummond, for all of his positiveness in regard to evolution, admits that…

…part of this embryological argument is at present founded on analogy,

and still further, that…

…evolution is after all a vision.

It is a creature of the imagination. The Professor says that

No one asks more of evolution at present than permission to use it as a working theory. Without some hypothesis no work can ever be done.

But the work that is done with this hypothesis is only evil. A fact is surely more valuable for working than an hypothesis; and the Bible furnishes us with facts, with which righteousness may be worked.

The Origin of Evil

The Bible says:

Romans 5
12 By one man sin came into the world, and death by sin.

What does evolution say? Let it be remembered that the argument is that man has in his structure the characteristics of all the lower animals out of which he has been evolved. Contrary to the common supposition, however, Professor Drummond says that

…it is not to be supposed that man is descended from any existing ape.

In fact, the Professor is impartial in his distribution of honors, and gives all the animals a chance. The fishes come in also, the fact that in man there is a connection between the ear and the throat being evidence to his mind that man has brought the remnants of gills as a legacy from his fish ancestors. With this statement the reader can understand what follows on the problem of evil:

If man inherits the gill slits of a shark, is it unscientific to expect that he will also inherit the spirit of a shark?…If man inherits the head of a tiger or a bear, shall not some blood of the tiger or the bear run in his veins? and if the temptation is to let these loose in his family life, are the means for helping him to check it a thing of laughter? It is not to be supposed that his animal past has left nothing more in man than material relics. A father leaves his son his money, his home, his business, his material likeness, it may be, and physical constitution. But these are nothing. His chief legacy is his mind and soul. What mind and soul, what disposition and nature an animal has, that it has partly left in man.

Does the reader detect any lack of harmony between this statement and that of the Scripture? The Bible tells us that the serpent, “which is the devil and Satan,” beguiled Eve, and that she induced Adam to partake of the forbidden fruit. Adam was not deceived, therefore his was the greater sin. Thus “by one man sin came into the world.”

But evolution, according to the latest and best exposition, tells us that sin came into the world of human beings through all the lower animals. Which will the reader accept?

Removing Evil by Evolution

Do you think that this is not a very serious matter, after all? Then consider the further statement that

…the problem really is not how sin came into the world, but how to get it out.

And the statement that if science can even in part diagnose the disease, that is a step toward removing it.

If we saw how vestiges disappeared in the animal world, that knowledge might accelerate the disappearance of evil.

Thus we see that the Gospel is wholly ignored as a means of salvation. The disappearance of evil becomes simply a matter of training and education and environment.

But the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ has been set forth for the remission—the sending away—of sin. It is by faith, and not simply by education and training.

Acts 4
12 There is none other name under heaven given among risen, whereby we must be saved.

It is not possible for a man to be an evolutionist and at the same time believe the Bible. The very name contradicts the Bible narrative of the fall of man, and thereby denies the necessity for the Gospel.

Our views on evolution will doubtless be thought very antiquated. That may be the case; we shall not stop to dispute it, but simply to ask a candid decision of the question as to whether evolution does not contradict the Bible.

The Charge Against Evolution

The charge is this: that it is one of the devil’s means of undermining the Gospel, or rather to undermine the sense of need of the Gospel, on the part of men. The only result of its teachings can be an increase of wickedness. And this danger is augmented by the fact that so many men in high position in the church have taken up with it.

1. Evil is only Undeveloped Good

How does it tend to evil? In this way: As noted above, it teaches that everything naturally tends to rise. It teaches that the perfection which is sure to be seen at the last, exists in every man; so that everything in man is really good, and that evil is only undeveloped good. Therefore there cannot possibly be any incentive on the part of those who are consistent in their belief of evolution, to lay hold of the Gospel of Christ.

2. Not Responsible for Evil Habits

Moreover evolution, if true, would do away with the possibility of any Judgment day, or of any punishment for sin. For just as the jelly-fish is not to blame for being a jelly-fish, and the undeveloped cell is not to blame for being only a cell, so, if evolution were true, the man who is all deformed by evil habits is not to be held responsible for them. This is the direct teaching of Spiritualism, which is only evolution under another name.

3. No Need for the Bible

Evolution, by directly contradicting the Bible, lessens its hold upon men; indeed, it cuts them entirely loose from it. Thus they have no safeguard against sin; for the word of God hidden in the heart is the only protection against sin.

4. No Need for the Sacrifice of Christ

The record of the fall of man, as given in the Bible, being declared untrue, the necessity for the sacrifice of Christ is also denied, and thus the entire Gospel is cast aside as a myth.

5. The Power is Naturally in You

The Bible teaches that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes; but evolution teaches that it itself is the power of nature unto salvation of every one, whether he believes or not.

6. Follow Your Inclinations

It virtually teaches that whatever is, is right. Evolution being the law of nature, and all the good that can ever be developed in man, being in him all the time, it follows, as Spiritualists tell us, that all a man has to do is to follow the inclinations of his own heart. But…

Mark 7
21 …out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
22 Thefts, covetousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness;
23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Therefore the man who with all his heart believes in the theory of evolution will act out all the evil that Satan can suggest to him. Surely,

Proverbs 28
26 He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

God’s Answer to Man’s Foolish Boasting

In spite of the contradictions in the theory of evolution, and the acknowledgment that it is at best only a vision, we are gravely told that:

Evolution is seen to be little more than the story of creation, as told by those who know it best.

That is either to deny the inspiration of the Bible, or else to claim that modern “scientists” know more about the story of creation than the Lord Himself! To all this wise folly the words of the Lord, as recorded in Job, chapters 38, 39, and 40, are strikingly applicable:

Job 38
2 Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now your loins like a man;
For I will demand of you, and you declare unto Me,
4 Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Declare if you have understanding.
5 Who determined the measures thereof, if you know?
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened
Or who laid the cornerstone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 Or who shut up the sea with doors,
When it brake forth as if it had issued out of the womb;
9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof,
And thick darkness a swaddling hand for it,
10 And prescribed for it My decree,
And set bars and doors,
11 And said, Hitherto shall you come, but no further;
And here shall your proud waves be stayed?
12 Have you commanded the morning since the days began,
And caused the day-spring to know its place
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed unto you?
Or have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Declare, if you know it all.
19 Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
And as for the darkness, where is the place thereof;
20 That you should take it to the bound thereof,
And that you should discern the paths to the house thereof?
21 Doubtless, you know, for you were then born,
And the number of your days is great!
31 Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the bands of Orion?
32 Can you lead forth the Mazzaruth in their season?
Can you then guide the bear with her
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you establish the dominion thereof in the earth?
34 Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That abundance of waters may cover you?
35 Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go,
And say unto you, Here we are?
36 Who has put wisdom in the inward parts?
Or who has given understanding to the mind?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust runs into a mass,
And the clouds cleave fast together?
Job 39
19 Have you given the horse his might?
Have you clothed his neck with the quivering mane?
26 Does the hawk fly by your wisdom,
And stretch her wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle mount up at your command,
And make her nest on high?
Job 40
7 Gird up your loins now like a man
I will demand of you and declare then unto Me,
8 Will you even disannul My judgment?
Will you condemn Me, that you may be justified?
9 Or have you an arm like God?
And can you thunder with a voice like Him?
10 Deck yourself now with excellency and dignity;
And array yourself with honor and majesty.
11 Pour forth too overflowing of your anger:
And look upon every one that is proud, and abase him.
12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low;
And tread down the wicked where they stand.
13 Hide them in the dust together;
Bind their faces in the hidden place.
14 Then will I confess of you
That your own right hand can save thee.

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