What About Evolution?

Let’s state at the beginning that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. Then many questions raised when evolution is discussed are automatically settled. For example, the believer of an infallible Bible knows that man has a soul and that animals do not. He also knows the first woman was derived from the body of the first man. Therefore, when believers of the infallible Word exchange ideas among each other about evolution they cannot seriously discuss whether man has descended from animals.


Is it not a mistake, however, to act as if there are not great differences of opinion concerning origins among Bible-believers? We can see that the differences are large if we examine two of the approaches which are used. One extreme approach used by Bible-believers practically leads to Darwinian evolution, except for the matter of the origin of man, The other extreme approach leads to a denial of all evolution and a belief that the universe was created in six twenty-four-hour days no more than ten thousand years ago. Perhaps some discussion of a few of the implications of these extreme views is in order.

Some Problems of Evolutionists

Some claim the Bible is true and that the means of creation which God used, except for the creation of man, was evolution. The origin of both organic and inorganic matter is included. There are real problems with this position.

The most obvious problem is the actual text of Scripture. Christians who themselves do not possess the skills necessary for exegeting the original text are nevertheless impressed with the testimony of those conservative scholars who claim the “day” of Genesis 1 cannot be a long period of time. If the Spirit had meant to indicate a long period of time, would he not have said so? Likewise, the Christian who accepts evolution often seems to be careless concerning the precise meaning of the words denoting creation in the creation account. Has it not been shown that Genesis speaks of a creation-from-nothing more than once, even in addition to the creation of man? How then is the continuity implied by evolution possible? Again, it is hardly fair to say there is a break between the creation and flood accounts. These Christians accept the details of the flood account; why not accept also the “literal” interpretation of the creation account?

There is also a basic scientific problem for anyone who accepts some theory of biological evolution which states that all animals have evolved from a common source. The scientist continually strives to explain how a natural process occurs. Yet many evolutionists doubt that the mechanism of biological evolution really has been explained. Biological evolution is said to occur by mutation, but a large majority of mutations are deleterious. Consequently some evolutionists whose scientific reputation cannot be questioned wonder if mutation can account for evolution. The existence of the well-known gaps in the fossil record is also disturbing when considered in the light of this postulated mechanism. It seems to many evolutionists that this mechanism just would not lead to a situation in which there are gaps in the fossil record. Occasionally one receives the impression that some evolutionists rather doubt an acceptable mechanism ever will be presented.

The Non-evolutionists’ Position

At the other end of the spectrum of belief among Bible-believers are those who say that both organic and inorganic matter were created in six twenty-four-hour days several thousand-likely no more than ten thousand-years ago. The only “evolution” among living things is that small variation within species which we see even now. An example of this kind of evolution is the existence of several races of man, all descended from the same human pair. According to this view, there were very many separate creations of living things. Yet here also there seem to be problems for the Christian if his faith is to be a faith in a great God, a God whose power is unspeakably magnificent.

Consider sunlight, which travels from the sun to the earth in eight minutes. The sun is our star, much closer than other stars. The light from other “near” stars takes several years to reach the earth. Other stars emit light which reaches us hundreds or thousands of years after leaving a star. It is no problem at all to see light which left a star ten thousand years ago. 1nat is when creation is said to have taken place.

The problem is this: we can also see light which left a star a hundred thousand, or a million, or a hundred million, or a billion, or five billion years ago. Or should we say that light on1y appears to have left a star so long ago? When God created did He create light already well on the way towards earth? That is certainly a possibility. Some have suggested God also created the universe with old rocks and fossils, giving it the appearance of age. Probably most Christians are justified in their fear of accepting any “appearance” concept; it seems to be questioning what God reveals in general revelation. What we must note is that there is one additional point concerning starlight; this is a point that does not bear on the “appearance” concept many have discussed with respect to ancient rocks and fossils.

This is the heart of the matter: if starlight were created ten thousand years ago, we have no proof of the existence of any star more than ten thousand light years distant. In other words, almost all of the “universe”, including most of our galaxy, the Milky Way, might not exist. It would be presumptuous to believe anything beyond the ten thousand light year limit exists—except, of course, if it· can be shown that the Bible teaches the existence of one or more stars beyond that limit. One could say, “All right; I don’t know if anything beyond the ten thousand light year limit exists.” If that is the admission to make, let us make it. Let’s be free to admit we don’t know about the existence of 99.9999…% of the universe postulated by those who have a different idea of creation. (Actually, using the ten thousand light year boundary to oW’ knowledge of existence, we say we know of the existence only of a universe containing less than one-one hundred billionth of the space and matter of the universe the astronomers speak about). This idea of existence should not be something dragged out of us by others. We ought to make it an integral part of the ten thousand-year old creation, if that is the creation we accept.

Perhaps it is difficult to conceive of such a small universe. Such a response from a Christian could be an indication that he ascribes infinite power to God. Does this perhaps indicate a weakness in a position which forces the ten thousand-light year limit on what God tells us of Himself? Are we not on questionable ground when we take a position which leads us to state that the heavens which declare to us the glory of God are really much smaller than the Milky Way?

Some have felt that this problem—if it is one—can be solved by postulating that only the first creation days were long periods of time, while the later ones were twenty-four hour days. This surely is not a reasonable modification, if the exegetical arguments suggesting the first creation days were twenty-four-hour days have no force, neither do they have force in determining the length of the later days.

Still others have suggested that the inorganic universe, which includes stars, was created prior to the first day and that Genesis 1:1 describes this creation. Yet the creation of the stars is described within the six-day account much as the creation of life is described. Here again it is true that if an exegetical argument teaches us to accept part of the creation account in a certain way, the same argument must be used for the whole account.

What is the Answer?

Probably many more arguments could be cited to show that the two positions described are at least uncomfortable. if not untenable. What must we believe? The point is this: we might not know enough to answer the questions posed. Perhaps we never will. Could it not be that most persons who have attacked these problems were those who became too interested in defending preconceived ideas?

We know the Bible is God’s infallible, inspired Word. We also know that there are Biblical passages (not necessarily having a bearing on creation questions) that are seemingly contradictory. Our faith in infallibility does not therefore waver. We know our sin-clouded minds cannot be the final arbiters in deciding the question of whether or not the Word is perfect. Perhaps the answers to some questions concerning creation are in the same stage of development as the attempted reconciliation of these seemingly contradictory passages. If we have patience as we attempt to understand all of God’s Word more fully, know· ing all the while that our faith and salvation are sure. he may give us greater insight. We ought not to demand this insight or to pretend we have it when we do not. The Lord might allow us to know—and he might not.

Mr. Russell W. Maatman is professor at Science at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa. He sums up for the reader some of the problems involved in positions taken today on the origin of man.