Is it possible to believe in the evolution of man without compromising one’s Christianity?
A good many people claim to be believers while at the same time accepting the current scientific view that man has evolved from apes. They reject a strict literal interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis in favour of a wholly allegorical meaning. Is such a view right, and if it is not, does it really matter anyway?
The question might be asked as to why the Genesis record of the creation of man cannot be taken literally. The answer is not that Scripture itself suggests that these passages are merely allegorical - in fact quite the opposite - but that science finds them unacceptable. We thus have the astonishing situation in which so-called Christians force the Bible to accommodate itself with the scientific opinion of the day. The word of man counts for more than the Word of God!
It may seem a small step to abandon creation in favour of evolution, but it is the first step on a disastrous road to a religion that believes in nothing. If, for example, I cannot have confidence in the apostle when he speaks of Cain and Abel as real, historical figures, (1 John 3: 12), then what confidence should I place in him when he says “These things have I written to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life”, (1 John 5: 13)? None whatever! Again, why should we content ourselves with only denying the literality of the Genesis record? The miracles of Scripture, the virgin birth, even the resurrection - all these are scientifically unacceptable. Indeed it is but a short step between jettisoning belief in creation to abandoning belief in God altogether.
Crucially, the Lord Jesus Himself interpreted the early chapters of Genesis literally. For example, on the question of divorce He says, “from [the] beginning of [the] creation God made them male and female”, (Mark 10: 6). Now if Christ cannot be believed, who can? Are we saying that there were occasions when He who is the truth was not quite truthful? Is this not a slur upon His holy name?
According to the evolutionist, man is merely an advanced ape. According to the Bible, man is nothing of the sort. Of all creation, man alone was made in the image of God, (Gen. 1: 26, 27). No other creature was the subject of a special creation, and had breathed into them the “breath of Life”, (Gen. 2: 7). Man alone was put under a law, (Gen. 2: 17), and man alone was able to speak and commune with God. To reduce man to the level of a beast, however, removes all necessity for man to be redeemed. The beast is not morally responsible, and if man is a beast then he has no responsibility for his sins - he cannot be held to account for his actions. It is quite fantastic that any true Christian could accept the theory of man’s evolution when its effect is to make the Gospel meaningless. Scripture asserts that “by the disobedience of the one man the many have been constituted sinners”, (Rom. 5: 19). This is very clear: it is because Adam fell that man is a sinner. Evolution, teaching as it does, the rise of man from monkeys, denies that Adam was a real, historical figure. If Adam is fictional however, then so is the Fall, and if there is no fall into sin, then there is no need of salvation from sin! What kind of Christian, I ask you, could accept this?
Go back a few verses in Romans: “by one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death; and thus death passed upon all men”, (Rom. 5: 12). Death, then, entered into the world through Adam’s sin (compare Gen. 2: 17, 3: 19). Evolutionary theory, however demands that millions of creatures must have lived and died before a creature as complex as man could arise! Of course liberal theology could dispense with Rom 5: 12, but to be balanced it would have to reject the other half of the equation, namely the free gift in grace which is by the one man Jesus Christ! (see v15). The fact is, religious man is quite content with evolution because it destroys the link that Scripture establishes between sin and death, (Rom. 6: 23).
No genuine believer giving these things careful thought could retain his acceptance of the theory of the evolution of man. It is dishonouring to God, to Scripture, and to man himself, and it undermines the very foundations of the Gospel whereby we are saved.