|Vol. 14 No. 9 September 2012||
Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has become one of the most universally accepted ideas of our time. Debates on the subject have highlighted the alleged conflict between science and faith, although capable men and women have shown the two disciplines to be compatible. Unfortunately, evolution’s influence permeates everything today from textbooks to television to children’s toys. As a result, this theory can have a dangerous effect on the way people think about important spiritual matters.
Evolution and the Purpose of Life
The Bible reveals God’s purpose for man, both in creation through Adam, and re-creation through Christ. God’s power is displayed by man’s weakness (Exodus 9:16), while man’s potential is realized in Christ (Ephesians 2:10). By contrast, evolution essentially teaches that the purpose of life is simply to exist. The weak die; the strong adapt and survive. In effect, this way of thinking is the ultimate form of materialism. However, a man’s life consists neither in the abundance of his possessions, nor in the superiority of his genes. Long life, good health and a large family may all be desirable, but they do not commend men to God. In fact, the absence of these things may well teach men to depend on God for their strength (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:10). “And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Evolution and the Value of Life
Long before Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, the apostle Paul proclaimed that “God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 20:26). However, the principle of natural selection demands that all men are not equal, and the removal of inferior traits is necessary for the good of the species. This sort of warped mindset has influenced entire cultures (including our own) to accept the atrocities of slavery, eugenics, ethnic cleansing, euthanasia and abortion. Evolutionary thought places value on human life based on a given set of characteristics considered desirable at the time. The Bible places value on every human life because it is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). It is very good in God’s sight (Genesis 1:31), and it is the motivation for Christ’s death (Romans 14:15).
Evolution and the Existence of Morality
The apostle Paul quoted a poet who wrote “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). Today, some men still behave like beasts. The Bible defines this behavior as willful ignorance and disobedience, which will be punished at the Judgment (Romans 1:18-35; Acts 17:30-31). Evolutionists, however, try to explain man’s behavior as the result of primitive survival instincts, which have no intrinsic moral value. A Natural History of Rape, published by MIT Press, is one such “scientific” attempt to explain a heinous act as the byproduct of natural selection. God will ultimately require accountability even if men do not (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Evolution and the Inspiration of the Bible
During the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial, William Jennings Bryan was forced to admit his doubt in the biblical account of creation. The inability to reconcile the millions of years necessary for evolution to occur with a literal account of creation has since caused many other Bible readers to doubt the credibility of the Scriptures. Several theories have been devised to allow the seven days of Genesis to be interpreted figuratively, but the notion of “theistic evolution” has only served to further weaken the conviction that the Bible is the fully inspired, authoritative Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16).
Evolution is simply an idea, but ideas have real consequences. They influence decisions and eventually shape the values of a society. Surely, the danger can be seen in a valueless society shaped by the folly of evolution.
An epitaph is a memorial inscription. Over the years, after either attending a funeral or having preached someone’s funeral, I have walked through the cemetery to pay attention to the oldest grave marker there and also to notice the different epitaphs inscribed on the tombstones. I have often wondered how different those words would read if God was the one who briefly summarized each life by inscribing an epitaph on each tombstone.
On the humorous side, I am reminded of the story of the man who had too much to drink and had decided he would take a short cut home. His wanderings led him through the local cemetery late at night. He stumbled upon a grave, fell down and passed out. When he awakened the next morning, he lifted his eyes to read these words from the tombstone. “As I am now, someday you soon shall be, so prepare yourself to follow me.” He thought on those words for a little while, and then he took a marker from his coat pocket and scribbled underneath the epitaph his own words. “To follow you, I am not content, until I find out which way you went.”
Seriously, all of us need to be more concerned about what is going to become of us when this life is over (Job 14:14; 19:25-27; 1 Corinthians 5:10; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!
Jesus – A good summary of his life is found in Acts 10:38. He “went about doing good.” We should strive to be like our Lord. We should try to be more like Him day by day. When our work here on earth is done, people should truly be able to say of us it was a better world because this person lived in it. Jesus left us a good example, and we are to strive to walk in His steps (1 Peter 2:21). Why not leave this as an epitaph for your life? “This person went about doing good.”
Dorcas – “Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas; this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did” (Acts 9:36). When she died “all the widows stood by Peter weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them” (9:39). What about leaving this as an epitaph, “This person was full of good works. _____ truly cared for others.”
Enoch and Noah – It is said of these two men in Genesis 5:22 and 6:9 that they walked with God. What a fine tribute to pay to a man. Wouldn’t that be a great epitaph? Each of us should be striving to live in such a way that when it comes our time to leave this old world in death, that others can truly say of us as well, “_______ walked with God” (1 John 1:7). We must first enter into Christ and then walk in Christ, so that we may die in Christ (Revelation 14:13).
Paul – “I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
All faithful Christians now deceased – “Asleep in Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Look forward to the Lord’s return and the great resurrection day (1 Corinthians 15).