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Question #75

Can Natural Selection Co-exist with Faith?

I'm curious as to why Christians can't (or won't) let the studies of biology and physics coexist with faith? When Galileo discovered alternative motion and methods to the solar system (theories that contradict the Bible in its literal meaning) the church rebuked his theories and put him under house arrest. Yet today, it is obvious the he was mostly correct with his theories. The Bible had to be slightly reinterpreted to account for this new found understanding of the universe.

Why can't we say the same about biology and natural selection? More and more evidence is being produced that supports natural selection (which is not the same as pure Darwinism). Yet the many Christians refuse to merge the science with the faith. Why? Just because life on this planet may emerge from a common "spark" or life doesn't mean that God didn't form us into his likeness. It just causes us to review our interpretation of the Holy Bible.

The Answer:

Since the Enlightenment continuing efforts have been made to harmonize scripture and man’s reason. Unfortunately, most, if not all, of those efforts have sacrificed Scripture to “science.” The most glaring example is neo-orthodoxy that harmonized Scripture and science by demythologizing Scripture – anything that smacked of the miraculous was rejected and given non-miraculous meanings. This included even the resurrection of Jesus Christ. For example, Rudolf Bultmann felt that the miraculous must be demythologized to reveal the true Christian message. He said that the resurrection was a call to "authentic existence in the face of death." Bultmann said that if the bones of Jesus were discovered in Palestine tomorrow then all of the essentials of Christianity would remain unchanged. While it is true that Galileo made discoveries that conflicted with some understandings of Scripture, it is not true that he discovered anything that conflicted with a correct understanding of Scripture. While it is not true that the earth is the physical center of the universe, it is true that the earth is central to the meaning and moral nature of the universe. God made the earth for a habitation of man. Man, not the sun, is the crowning creation of God according to Scripture. Unfortunately, any specific scriptures that you allege needed “reinterpretation” cannot be addressed because you provided none.

Moreover, you fail to define what you mean by “natural selection.” If by that term you mean changes within a particular species (microevolution), you are correct that it occurs. If, on the other hand, you mean Darwinian natural selection that brings man into existence from what you call the “common ‘spark’ or life” (macroevolution) you are incorrect. Not only is there no increasing evidence for Darwinian natural selection, there is increasing evidence against it. There are any number of books that you can read that, if honestly read, can lead to no other conclusion. For example, a number of books by Phillip Johnson: Darwin on Trial; The Wedge of Truth, Splitting the Foundations of Naturalism; Reason in the Balance, the Case Against NATURALISM in Science, Law & Education; and The Right Questions, Truth, Meaning & Public Debate. Add to these such books as: Doubts about Darwin, A History of Intelligent Design, by Thomas Woodward; Total Truth, Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity by Nancy Pearcey; The Design Revolution, Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design, by William Dembski; What Darwin Didn’t Know, by Geoffrey Simmons; and How Blind is the Watchmaker? Nature’s Design & the Limits of Naturalistic Science by Neil Broom. The truth is that if Darwin’s theory were being published in this day of peer review and under the high standards of truly scientific journals, it would never see the light of day. It is replete with unproved and improvable assumptions. No scientific theory has been based on more incorrect information and supported by more fraud than the theory of evolution. See, The Icons of Evolution, by Jonathan Wells.

The battle is not and has never been between Scripture and science. There has always been and will be as long as the earth stands a battle between Scripture and science falsely so-called. 1 Tim. 6:20-21. There can be no armistice or compromise. Theistic evolution is not a possibility because the very concept of evolution (theistic or otherwise) is that the species are always improving. If this is true, there has never been a “fall” of man. The fact of a “fall” necessarily implies a reversal of evolution’s upward rise. If there has never been a “fall,” there is no need for a Redeemer because evolved man needs no redemption. Thus, the very center of the Gospel is false.

The theory of evolution does not require the amount of faith required to believe in God – it requires even more faith. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek wrote an interesting book entitled I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Being an atheist and believing in the theory of evolution require the same amount of faith. No man can consistently believe in God and Christ as His Son and believe in the theory of evolution. The two beliefs are diametrically opposed.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)