Some Problems With Darwinistic or Naturalistic Evolution

SERIES #’S 3-6: October 9, 16, 23, & November 6,  2022 – Pastor David Craig

Josef Tson, a Romanian Baptist pastor imprisoned for his faith under the communist regime, said: “I came to the conclusion that there are two factors which destroyed Christianity in Western Europe. One was the theory of evolution, the other, liberal theology … Liberal theology is just evolution applied to the Bible and our faith.” ~ Quoted in 15 Reasons to Take Genesis as History by Don Batten & Jonathan Sarfati

Michael Denton, author of a fascinating book titled Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, wrote: “The voyage on The Beagle [Darwin’s ship on which he set sail from England in 1831] was a journey of awesome significance. Its object was to survey Patagonia; its result was to shake the foundations of western thought. The Origin of the Species [which followed] has been referred to as “one of the most important books ever written” [it is because it seeks to shake the foundation of the most important book ever written – The Bible]. As far as Christianity was concerned, the advent of the theory of evolution and the elimination of traditional teleological thinking was catastrophic.”

Thomas Huxley, probably the most famous proponent of evolution who ever lived, stated, “It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of Creation. . . . Evolution, if consistently accepted, makes it impossible to believe the Bible.”

William Provine of Cornell University stated in a debate, “If Darwinism is true, he said, then there are five inescapable conclusions: there’s no evidence for God there’s no life after death there’s no absolute foundation for right and wrong there’s no ultimate meaning for life people don’t really have free will.”

“It is well known that Karl Marx asked Darwin to write the introduction to Das Kapital, since he felt that Darwin had provided a scientific foundation for communism. Throughout this century, all over the world, those who pushed the communist conspiracy also pushed an evolutionary, imperialistic, naturalistic view of life, endeavoring to crowd the Creator right out of the cosmos.” ~ Quoted in Why I Believe by D. James Kennedy

Oxford evolutionist Richard Dawkins said: “The more you understand the significance of evolution, the more you are pushed away from an agnostic position and towards atheism.” ~ Quoted in The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God by Lee Strobel

“Many layers of error have been built on the faulty foundation of evolutionism. Humanism is the natural result. If God is not central in all our thinking, then man must be. Atheism is humanism’s twin brother, and consistent evolutionists cannot logically believe in the personal God of the Bible, the God who is the Creator of all life. Abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are logical behaviors for those who have so easily disposed of the image of God in the eternal soul of man. The concept of a resurrected body and eternal life is also a casualty of this evil philosophy. The average person neither knows nor cares much about the error of evolution, and yet his or her life is constantly being influenced by it. Pornography, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, premarital sex, the destruction of the nuclear family—all are weeds that have grown from Satan’s big lie about the universe. We are now on the verge of adopting full-fledged animalism in human practice—promiscuity, vandalism, hedonism, even incipient cannibalism. Even the Holocaust is “explained” by evolution. Hitler’s extermination of the Jews grew out of his desire to speed up the evolutionary process.” ~ David Jeremiah in Henry Morris, The Long War Against God 

Some Key Problems With Darwinian/Naturalisitc Evolution

  • Darwinian evolution is based on a hopelessly illogical premise, the concept of spontaneous generation, or life arising from non-living matter.
  • If Darwinian evolution were true we should literally find millions of transitional forms in the fossil record, but the missing links are still missing.
  • Darwinists claim that natural selection is evidence of macroevolution. However, natural selection, which is basic science, simply demonstrates change within species or microevolution.
  • Critiquing Darwinism does not make a person anti-science. We all share the same scientific evidence. The question is, what theory or interpretive framework best explains the evidence? (Ron Carlson, Christian Ministries International)

Synopsis of 6 Big Problems with Evolution:

(1) Scientists today generally agree that the universe had a beginning. This implies the existence of a Beginner or Creator (Hebrews 3:4, “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.”).

(2) The universe is so perfectly fine-tuned for life on earth, it must have come from the hands of an intelligent Designer ([God] Romans 1:20 & Psalm 19:1, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse….The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork”).

(3) If evolution were true, the fossil records would reveal progressively complex evolutionary forms with transitions. However, no transitional links (with species forming into different species) have been discovered in the fossil records.

(4) Evolution assumes a long series of positive and upward mutations. In almost all known cases, however, mutations are not beneficial but are harmful to living beings. This is a huge problem for evolution.

(5) The Second Law of thermodynamics, which has never been contradicted in observable nature, says that in an isolated system (like our universe), the natural course of things is degenerate. The universe is running down, not evolving upward. In a closed, isolated system, the amount of useable energy decreases. That is, matter and energy deteriorate gradually over time. Also, things tend to move from order to disorder, not the reverse.

(6) Evolutionists often make false claims. Some have claimed that scientific evidence confirms that evolution is true. They generally appeal to the fact that mutations do occur within species (microevolution). But an incredible leap of logic is required to say that mutations within species prove that mutations can yield entirely new species (macroevolution). Two dogs cannot produce a cat! (Ron Rhodes, 5-Minute Apologetics for Today)

Sir Arthur Keith said: “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, which is unthinkable.”

“Essentially, mankind has only two choices. Either we have evolved out of the slime and can be explained strictly in the materialistic sense, meaning that we are made of nothing but the material, or we have been made on a heavenly pattern.” ~ Douglas F. Kelly, Creation & Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms 

“It is absurd for the evolutionists to complain that it’s unthinkable for an admittedly unthinkable God to make everything out of nothing and then pretend it is more thinkable that nothing should turn itself into anything.” ~ C.K. Chesterton

How Did the Universe Come to Be? The opening line of Genesis puts it succinctly: “In the beginning God created the heavens and earth” (1:1). The Bible teaches that through an act of God the temporal creation of the universe came from nothing (ex nihilo).

CREATORCREATION
UncreatedCreated
NecessaryContingent
EternalTemporal
InfiniteFinite
ChangelessChanging

Christianity teaches that God is the Originating Cause (Eph. 3:9) who created the space-time universe and is also the Sustaining Cause that keeps everything together (Col. 1:17). Moses declared, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11).

According to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716), a German philosopher and mathematician, everything that exists has a cause for its existence. We know the universe exists and didn’t get here on its own. God is the necessary being who produces external causes that don’t exist necessarily because they are contingent on something greater than their own existence.

But there are two other options: (1) Naturalism teaches that nothing created the universe—it just came to be with no real explanation. (2) Pantheism teaches that God and the universe are one and eternally the same. The problem with naturalism is that it holds to a contradictory claim that nothing created something created itself. But this is fundamentally irrational. Pantheism, on the other hand, is fundamentally flawed because it identifies the universe as eternal, when the Second Law of Thermodynamics proves that wrong.

To know there is a God who created the universe and controls all things ought to give you great comfort. Evolutionists attempt to rule out a Creator, but thankfully as a Christian, you know God as a personal Creator, and we are made in His image. (See Genesis 1-2; Job 26:10; Isaiah 40:22; John 1:3; Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3).

Is Evolution a Viable Option? Although macroevolution is the dominant scientific theory taught in schools and upheld in academia, the majority of the public still holds to a belief in creation. But how is this possible? How is it that the majority of people still don’t buy into the explanation of evolution? We will provide three essential flaws to the theory of evolution, but first, here’s evolution in a nutshell:

Evolution (common ancestry) is simply defined as a gradual development of simple life forms into more complex life forms brought about by natural processes. Thus, for evolution to be a viable option, it must be able to explain (1) the origin of the universe, (2) the origin of first life, and (3) the origin of new life forms.

  1. the origin of the universe: According to cosmic evolution, the universe just popped into existence. Though evolutionists now admit the universe had a beginning, they deny and designed cause or purpose behind the existence of the universe. Thus, evolution offers no real explanation for the existence of an incredibly big and complex universe.
  1. the origin of first life: Biological evolutionists teach that a primordial soup (simple organic chemicals) produced the first life a few billion years ago as the earth was shaped, formed, and cooled down. But the earth had to be incredibly fine-tuned from the start in order for the necessary and specific conditions to be balanced precisely to produce life. Some evolutionists even speculate that life arose on another planet and was transported here. But this is simply speculation; there is no real evidence for it. Further, if life arose elsewhere, the same problem exists, namely, that non life does not produce life.

(3) the origin of new life forms: Evolution teaches that certain genetic mutations occurred among species that eventually caused them to transition into completely new species with all new genetic information. This is known as macroevolution. The evolutionist bases this idea on observing slight changes or modifications in species within their environment (microevolution). Yet, macroevolution is a huge leap from the slight modifications that we witness and has absolutely no evidence to support it. What we do observe and can verify is that there is a single common ancestor of humankind (Adam and Eve). Humans beget humans and dogs beget dogs (Gen. 1:21-24). Thus, evolutionists make unwarranted claims that have never been proven that different species emanated from a single cell, or common ancestry.

“The positive evidence for Darwinism is confined to small-scale evolutionary changes like insects developing insecticide resistance…Evidence like that for insecticide resistance confirms the Darwinian selection mechanism for small-scale changes, but hardly warrants the grand extrapolation that Darwinists want. It is a huge leap going from insects developing insecticide resistance via the Darwinian mechanism of natural selection and random variation to the very emergence of insects in the first place by the same mechanism.” ~ William Dembski

“Natural selection may be able to explain survival of a species, but it cannot explain the arrival of a species.” ~ Norman L. Geisler 

Most revealing is that Darwin himself admitted, in his book Origin of Species (written in 1859), to the lack of evidence for “intermediate links” in the fossil record. The fossil evidence (as a whole) is even greater than in Darwin’s day, and yet it still does not show evidence of macroevolution. What the fossil record does show, however, are fully formed and fully functional species. This confirms the obvious: transitional forms cannot survive with missing or evolving parts, especially considering survival of the fittest

“Just because something is unseen doesn’t mean it’s not real. There are many unseen realities that scientists use every day, such as the laws of logic, the laws of mathematics, the laws of nature, their minds, and so forth. And scientists infer from the effects they do see to causes they don’t see. John Lennox observes, ‘Postulating an unobserved Designer is no more unscientific than postulating unobserved macroevolutionary steps.” ~ Frank Turek

Someone may ask, “What about Archaeopteryx?” Isn’t this a great example of a transitional species from a feathered dinosaur to modern birds? The problem with Archaeopteryx is that it’s not a transitional life form that evolved from reptile to bird. Rather, Archaeopteryx appears in the fossil record as a fully developed bird. Thus, Archaeopteryx is not a missing link between birds and reptiles. It’s a bird. 

In the end, what the evidence points to is a designer who created a good design and applied it to various other species to gain the best results.

When talking to evolutionists, make sure not to assume what they believe, and don’t allow them to make up evidence in support of evolution. Some great questions to ask evolutionists are:

  • What do you mean by evolution?
  • If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing?
  • Where did the first life come from?
  • Doesn’t there have to be preexisting life for life to exist?
  • What caused nonliving chemicals to produce life?
  • How did non intelligent matter produce intelligent life?

See Genesis 1-2; 5:1-3; Psalms 8; 33; Isaiah 42:5-9; Acts 17:26; Romans 1:20-27; 2 Peter 3:3-6.

Did God use Evolution as His method of creation? Under the banner of ‘theistic evolution,’ a growing number of Christians maintain that God used evolution as his method for creation. It is one thing to believe in evolution; it is quite another thing to blame God for it.

First, the biblical account of creation specifically states that God created living creatures according to their own “kinds” (Genesis 1:24-25). As confirmed by science, the DNA for a fetus is not the DNA for a frog, and the DNA for a frog is not the DNA for a fish. Rather, the DNA of a fetus, frog, or fish is uniquely programmed for reproduction after its own kind. Thus, while Scripture and science allow for microevolution (transitions within “the kinds”), they do not allow for macroevolution (amoebas evolving into areas or apes evolving into humans).

Furthermore, evolution is the cruelest, most inefficient system for creation imaginable. Perhaps Nobel Prize-winning evolutionist Jacques Monod put it best: “The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethic revolts.” Indeed, says Monod, “I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution.”

Finally, theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms—like the phrase flaming snowflakes. God can no more direct an undirected process than he can create a square circle. Yet this is precisely what theistic evolution presupposes. Evolutionism is fighting for its very life. Rather than prop it up with theories such as theistic evolution, thinking people everywhere must be on the vanguard of demonstrating its demise.

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” ~ Acts 17:26-27

Is it Possible for a Protein Molecule to Come into Existence by Chance? Evolutionary theory concerning how the first organized form of primitive life evolved hardly corresponds to reality.

First, there is not the slightest evidence for an evolutionary sequence among the unimaginably varied cells existing on our planet.

Furthermore, no living system can rightly be called primitive with respect to any other. Consider, for example, that life at bare minimum demands no fewer than 250 different kinds of protein molecules.

Finally, giving the evolutionary process every possible concession, the probability of arranging a simple protein molecule by chance is estimated to be one chance in 10[161] (that’s a 1 followed by 161 zeros). For a frame of reference, consider the fact that there are only 10[80] (that’s a 1 followed by 80 zeros) atoms in the entire known universe.

If in time a protein molecule were eventually formed by chance, forming a second one would be infinitely more difficult. As such, the science of statistical probability demonstrates that forming a protein molecule by random processes is not only improbable, it is impossible—and forming a cell or a chimp, beyond illustration. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” ~ Psalm 14:1

Sir Fred Hoyle, one of the world’s leading astronomers and mathematicians, said before the British Academy of Science: “The probability of life arising by chance is the same probability as throwing a six on a dice five million consecutive times.”

The Fossil Record: Historically, the most convincing evidence for evolution is the fossil record. Evolutionists claim that the fossil record displays a gradual evolution of animal and plant life from primitive forms to complex forms with transitional phases between major classes (e.g., between fish and amphibians, amphibians and reptiles, reptiles and birds, and so on).

But this scenario has no support. There is no evidence that complex life forms evolve from primitive life forms because no such transitional species between any of these groups of animals have ever been found in the tons of fossil-bearing rock recovered over the past one hundred thirty years. Textbook drawings of transitional species are simply artists’ conceptions of what they think such animals would look like if they did exist. All the major groups of animals are distinct from one another throughout the fossil record, and their particular characteristics are fully formed and functional when they first appear. For example, when feathers and wings first show up, they are fully formed feathers and wings. No part-leg/part-wing or part-scale/ part-feather fossils have ever been found. What use would a part-leg/ part-wing have anyway? According to evolution, for any trait to be passed along, it must have survival value. Certainly a part-leg/part-wing would have no survival value to either a reptile or a bird. In fact, it would likely be a detriment.

On the other hand, the creationist model explains the absence of transitional species. The Bible teaches that God created living creatures “after their kind” (Gen. 1:24). This can be interpreted to mean that God created all the original kinds of animals with specific “gene pools” that contained all of the genetic potential needed for each type of animal to produce diverse varieties within its own kind. For example, the canine family probably arose from an original created kind. From the first dog, all the various wild and domestic dogs on earth developed. But this is not evolution in the sense that modern canines evolved from some pre-dog ancestor. Rather, the original created dog-kind developed, through adaption to diverse environmental conditions, into the numerous forms of dogs we see today. This process is called microevolution, which is not one species evolving from a more primitive species but a created kind fulfilling its full genetic potential within the limits of its original gene pool. Both extinct and modern canines have always been just dogs. In the fossil record, there has never been a half dog/half cat or half dog/half some other animal. There has always been just dogs.

Natural selection within created gene pools accounts for every change seen in every kind of animal on earth, extinct or modern. All the illustrations given by evolutionists to prove evolution are in reality no more than adaptions within specific gene pools. Science has never seen in nature or observed in a laboratory one species of animal evolve into another. When cockroaches become resistant to a pesticide, it does not represent the evolution of a new species of cockroach. Rather it illustrates natural selection within the cockroach gene pool, allowing insects already resistant to a particular pesticide because of their existing genetic makeup to become dominant within a population of cockroaches. But the new breed of resistant cockroaches are still cockroaches.

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils.” ~ Stephen Jay Gould 

Professor Louis T. More, one of the most vocal evolutionists: “The more one studies paleontology [the fossil record], the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone.” 

“We have never observed evolution in the fossil record, and we have never observed evolution in the natural world. Evolution is a theory that exists only in the imaginations of evolutionists.” ~ Ron Carlson, Fast Facts on False Teachings 

Mutations: A second important argument used to support evolution focuses on mutations. Evolutionists argue that the mechanism by which one species evolves into another is through genetic mutations. The idea goes something like this. Through a genetic foul-up, a species of animal is born with a new trait that aids its survival. For instance, an animal is born with a deformed ear that actually allows that animal to hear an approaching predator better than others of his species. Because this characteristic is beneficial, that particular animal survives to pass on the trait to its offspring, which in turn benefit from the same trait and pass it on to their offspring. Eventually, after millions of years and countless generations, the animals with the more efficient hearing dominate the species, and what was once a deformity is now part of the genetic makeup of all the animals within that particular species. Evolutionists teach that with vast amounts of time, thousands of these tiny mutations can eventually give rise to an entirely new species of animal. Thus accidental mutations plus long time spans plus natural selection (“survival of the fittest”) result in the continual emergence of new species of animals.

The flaw in this theory is twofold. First, in practically every known case, a mutation is not beneficial but harmful to an animal and usually kills it. A deformity lessens the survival potential of an animal—it does not strengthen it. And even if there are “good” mutations, the tremendous number of bad mutations would overwhelm the fewer number of good ones. What one would expect to see, if mutations were passed along to future generations, is a tendency for a species to degenerate and eventually become extinct, not evolve upward to a new or better species.

The second flaw in the mutation theory is that the time needed for a primitive animal to evolve into a higher animal through random mutational changes is mathematically impossible. The problem lies in the fact that there must be a series of both related mutations and subsequent mutations that are complementary to one another. A new trait does not evolve in one generation. For a deer to evolve greater speed requires not only that it slowly, over countless generations, develops more powerful legs but that corresponding mutations in other areas of its body must also take place at the same time. To run faster, more efficient circulation, heart, lungs, and so on are needed. Creationist Dr. Gary Parker explains that the chances of getting three related mutations in a row is one in a billion trillion (1021). To illustrate the odds of this, he states that “the ocean isn’t big enough to hold enough bacteria to make it likely for you to find a bacterium with three simultaneous or sequential related mutations.” Moreover, the time that would be needed for enough mutations to occur to evolve even a simple organism is many billions of years longer than what evolutionists themselves believe the age of the earth to be.

A similar problem exists with regard to the probability of life accidentally coming into existence from non-life through chemical processes in the earth’s alleged primordial soup. With the discovery of the genetic code, we now know that the amount of information coded in the organization of a simple living cell is so vast that its accidental formation by random processes is beyond possibility. According to Sir Fred Hoyle, an eminent mathematician and astronomer, if the earth is 4.6 billion years old, as most evolutionists believe, the probability of a single living cell originating by random processes would be one chance in 1040,000 (ten with forty thousand zeros behind it). In other words, the probability is so small that it is not even considered as a viable option by most scientists familiar with information theory and probability studies. Today, thanks to “super computers,” it is firmly established that chance, long time spans, and mutations cannot account for the origin of life nor confirm the evolution of even a simple organism. As Hoyle puts it, “The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

The Age of the Earth: The third ingredient vital to the evolution recipe is an old earth. Although the age of the earth is not a factor in the creationist model of origins (remember, even if the earth is 5 billion years old, it is still not old enough for even simple organisms to evolve), time is of the utmost importance on the evolution model.

Evolutionists generally agree that the age of the earth is between 4.5 and 5 billion years old. The most common dating methods used by science to substantiate this age are one of several radiometric systems. These methods measure geologic time according to the rate of disintegration of radioactive elements. They are based on the assumption that decay processes have remained fairly stable throughout geologic history.

Today, much data is available that questions the accuracy of radiometric dating systems, and there are numerous other dating methods that suggest a young earth. In fact, over sixty chronometers date the earth as young (in geologic time, a young earth would be tens of thousands to hundreds of millions of years old rather than billions of years old). Dating methods that point to a geologically young earth include the decay of the earth’s magnetic field, the accumulation of meteoritic dust on the earth’s crust, the amount of helium in the atmosphere, the influx of sediment into the oceans via rivers, and the influx of specific chemicals into the oceans. In all of these cases, if the earth was billions of years old, the amount of decay or accumulation would be much greater than they are today.

“In many ways the age of the earth is an even more foundational issue for Christians than that of evolution. For if the earth is only thousands of years old, as the Bible indicates, then there’s not nearly enough time for evolution to have happened.” ~ Ken Ham, Pocket Guide to the Best Evidences

Thermodynamics: The first and second laws of thermodynamics are foundational to all of science and have never been contradicted in observable nature. The first law, also called the “law of conservation of mass-energy,” states that matter and energy are neither being created nor destroyed. In other words, matter and energy do not have within themselves the ability to create. This implies that they must have been created. The first law of thermodynamics points away from evolution to a creator.

The second law, also called the “law of increasing entropy,” states that entropy (which is the measurement of disorganization) always increases in an isolated system (a system which does not have an external influence that can sustain or increase its available energy, such as the universe). Now, what does this mean? Simply put, it means that the natural course of anything is to degenerate. An old automobile in a junkyard eventually rusts away. An animal is born and eventually grows old and dies. A star burns out and vanishes. In short, the universe is running down. But if the universe is running down, it must have had a beginning. It is not eternal. This implies a creator. It also contradicts evolution which depicts life moving upward rather than slowly degenerating.

The Anthropic Principle: One of the most compelling evidences supporting creationism involves the anthropic principle, although it is sometimes used as an argument supporting evolution. The anthropic principle observes that the earth is fashioned so precisely that life as we know it could not exist if the earth were even minutely different. Evolutionists acknowledge this and then argue that, although the universe is incredibly complex and wonderfully ordered, we should not be surprised that life came into existence through random process. Why? Because the very fact that we exist demonstrates that evolution occurred. In other words, in an infinite universe, the diverse circumstances needed for life to occur were bound to fall into place sooner or later—even if only once—no matter how unlikely it may be.

The fundamental problem with this argument should be obvious. It is merely a philosophical statement that relies on circular reasoning. It assumes that evolution accounts for the origin of life and then states, because life exists, we have proof that evolution is true. To counter this, we can offer our own philosophical statement. Robert Newman does this well: “If such a being as the God of the Bible exists, then an apparently designed universe such as ours would be a likely result rather than such a surprise as we have in an accidental universe.”

Hence, we are right back to arguing which model, creation or evolution, best fits the available evidence. And here is where the creationists can use the anthropic principle to their advantage. The value of the anthropic principle, as a support for creation, lies in its recognition that life can exist only within very narrow margins. For example, if the earth was located closer or farther from the sun, life could not exist due to excessive heat or cold. If the chemical composition of the atmosphere varied only slightly, the air would be poisonous to life. If the sea-to-land-mass ratio, depth of the oceans, and the earth’s cloud cover were different, the earth’s ability to store and release heat would change dramatically. All such events could result in the absence of life on earth. Rather than all of these variables being the result of accidental processes (luck), it appears much more probable that the earth was specifically designed to sustain life. And if it was designed, there must be a Designer—God.

Actually, this concept can be carried a step further. According to the evolutionary scenario, when the earth was formed, it did not initially possess the right chemical balance for life to exist. A hardening ball of gases would hardly support life. For the earth to reach a stage in which it could support life, some form of inorganic (nonliving) evolution would have had to occur. This would be necessary in order to achieve the right combination of ingredients from which organic molecules could emerge. Even if we can envision organic evolution (the evolution of living plants and animals), it takes a colorful imagination to accept the premise that nonliving elements such as gases and minerals evolved to a point where they could support life. I’m convinced that evolutionists demand we believe in the absurd.

Sir Cecil Wakeley, whose credentials are rather impressive—K.B.E., C.B., LL.D., M.CH., Doctor of Science, F.R.C.S., past president of Royal College of Surgeons of Great Britain—said, “Scripture is quite definite that God created the world, and I for one believe that to be a fact, not fiction. There is no evidence, scientific or otherwise, to support the theory of evolution.”

Applying Scientific Evidence (Creationism vs. Evolutionism)

EvidenceCreationismEvolutionism
No transitional fossilsNot expected because God created “Kinds.”Needed for evolution to work but missing in the fossil record.
MutationsMost mutations are “bad” and destroy organisms. The earth is not old enough for “good” mutations to account for evolution.Without an abundance of good mutations, there is no way to account for evolutionary change.
Age of earthCreation model fits with both an old and young earth.Old earth is necessary for evolution.
ThermodynamicsDemonstrates the universe had a beginning (created) and is running down (will end).Violates the evolutionary assumptions that the universe is eternal and uncaused.
Anthropic PrincipleExplains the order and design in the universe as the product of an intelligent Creator. God created the earth specifically to sustain life.Evolution requires that the ingredients necessary to support life are the product of random processes.

Atheism: The atheist often criticizes the believer by remarking, “How can you believe in creation when there is no God?” To say there is no God is to say one has enough knowledge to conclude there is no God. But an atheist can never have sufficient knowledge to be certain there is no God. He would have to be omniscient, for if there is something outside his area of knowledge, that something could include God. An atheist would have to be everywhere in and out of the universe all at one time; for if there is anywhere he cannot be, God could be there.

No atheist can claim total knowledge; therefore, atheism is self-refuting. Knowing everything and being everywhere is to be like God. Since no one can prove God does not exist, the question becomes irrelevant and so does atheism. Thus, creation cannot be ruled out as a potential alternative.

Origin of God: The Bible makes no attempt to prove the existence of God, nor to describe His origin. It simply says, “God has spoken; God has acted.” The first chapter of Genesis uses the word “God” 32 times, it is the most God-centered chapter in the Bible.

“The idea of creation is inconceivable without God.” (Wemher Von Braun, Vice President, Fairchild industries, German-town, Maryland)

Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn, winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature gave an address in London in which he endeavored to explain why so much evil had befallen his people, the Soviets: “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened…

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

The Atheistic Faith: Atheistic evolutionists believe:

* No supernatural power exists.

* All creation is the product of chance.

* Living matter comes from dead matter.

* intelligence and conscience appeared without sponsorship.

* Matter is self-creative, self-determinate and indestructible.

Conclusion:

* Nothing produced something.

* Intelligence, design, conscience, and personality are free from any external influence.

* Life follows a deterministic law.

It boils down to choosing to have faith in accidental miracles or created miracles—God or man.

“… In the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.…’ But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:4 NIV).

Evolution is an animistic religion requiring completely uncritical faith, offering an absurd life and absolute death as rewards for belief. The evolutionist says he does not believe in God because he cannot believe the supernatural miracles which violate or deviate from the known laws of nature. However, the theory of evolution violates every known law for its existence. The atheistic faith is more incredible than Christian faith in light of the evidences.

Is Evolution Scientific? No matter how one looks at it, the theory of evolution must trace back to a point at which inanimate matter became a living form. Here is the absurd story of evolution:

*Unknown chemicals

in the primordial past …

through.…

Unknown processes

which no longer exist …

produced …

Unknown life forms

which are not to be found …

but could, through …

Unknown reproduction methods

spawn new life …

in an …

Unknown atmospheric composition …

in an …

Unknown oceanic soup complex …

at an …

Unknown time and place.

*Composed by Dr. Henry Morris, the above reveals evolution does not constitute a bona fide scientific theory. Evolution is 20th century mythology.

The Odds for Evolution: One of the best known evolutionists, Julian Huxley, surmised that the probability of natural selection leading to higher forms to be one chance in a number so large, it would occupy 1500 pages of print. Yet he made the following statement, which shows the amazing depth of his anti-God religious zeal:

“No one would bet on anything so improbable happening … and yet it happened” (Huxley, Evolution in Action, 1953).

In his book, The Creation Evolution Controversy, R. L. Wysong makes a forceful expression from a technical standpoint.

“Evolution requires plenty of faith: a faith in proteins that defy chance formation; a faith in the formation of DNA codes which if generated spontaneously would spell only pandemonium; a faith in a primitive environment that in reality would fiendishly devour any chemical precursor to life; a faith in (origin of life) experiments that prove nothing but the need for intelligence in the beginning; a faith in a primitive ocean that would not thicken but would hopelessly dilute chemicals; a faith in natural laws including the laws of thermodynamics and biogenesis that actually deny the possibility for the spontaneous generation of life; a faith in future scientific revelations which when realized always seem to present more dilemmas to the evolutionists; faith in probabilities that reasonably tell two stories—one denying evolution, the other confirming the creator; faith in transformations that remain fixed; faith in mutations and natural selection that add to a double negative for evolution; faith in fossils which embarrassingly show fixity through time, regular absence of transitional forms and striking testimony to a worldwide water deluge; a faith in time which proves to only promote degradation in the absence of mind; and faith in reductionism that ends up reducing the materialist’s arguments to zero and forcing the need to invoke a supernatural creator.”

Battle Between Two Religions: The controversy over creation and evolution is really a battle between two religions. One must choose the chance, randomness, no-God evolutionary philosophy which provides the basis for the religion of humanism in which ‘anything goes’; homosexuality, nudity, abortion, incest, etc., cannot be regarded as evil, for evil does not exist. Or one must choose the absolutes of the Creator God who made everything, and therefore has the authority to dictate what is right or wrong for His creation. The choice, then, is between the religion of Christianity with the basis of its Gospel in a literal creation, or the religion of humanism with its basis in evolution.

Sir Julian Huxley, one of the world’s leading evolutionists, head of UNESCO, descendant of Thomas Huxley—“Darwin’s bulldog”—said on a talk show, “I suppose the reason we leaped at The Origin of Species was because the idea of God interfered with our sexual mores.””

What Scientists Think of Evolution:

Ultimately the Darwinian theory of evolution is no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth of the twentieth century.—Michael Denton, molecular biologist and medical doctor

It is becoming increasingly apparent that evolutionism is not even a good scientific theory.—Dr. Willem J. Ouweneel, Research Associate in Developmental Genetics, Ultrech, Netherlands

What I have learned in the past ten years of review of recent scientific knowledge of cellular morphology and physiology, the code of life (DNA), and the lack of supporting evidence for evolution in the light of recent scientific evidence is a shocking rebuttal to the theory of evolution.—Dr. Isaac Manly of Harvard Medical School 

  • Arthur Field has pointed out, evolution is based “upon belief in the reality of the unseen; belief in the fossils that cannot be produced, belief in embryological evidence that does not exist, belief in the breeding experiments that refuse to come off.”

The human fossil record is strongly supportive of the concept of Special Creation. On the other hand, the fossil evidence is so contrary to human evolution as to effectively falsify the idea that humans evolved.—Professor Marvin L. Lubenow, in his book Bones of Contention

  • Professor D. M. S. Watson, a famous evolutionist, made the remarkable observation that evolution itself is a theory universally accepted, “not because it has been observed to occur or can be proved by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative—special creation—is clearly incredible.” 

For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.—Robert Jastrow, Ph.D. Chief of the Theoretical Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1958–61) and Founder/Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute; Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University; Professor of Space Studies—Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, in his book God and the Astronomers

Can all of life be fit into Darwin’s theory of evolution?… If you search the scientific literature on evolution, and if you focus your search on the question of how molecular machines—the basis of life—developed, you find an eerie and complete silence. The complexity of life’s foundation has paralyzed science’s attempt to account for it.… I do not think [Darwin’s mechanism] explains molecular life.—Michael Behe, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University

NATURALISTIC EVOLUTION 

(NOTES adapted from Dr. James Boice, GENESIS, VOL.1)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.~ Genesis 1:1–2

When Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, he received more abuse than perhaps any modern scientist. To be sure, even Einstein originally objected to Slipher’s discovery of an expanding universe. He wrote, “This circumstance irritates me.” Others also objected. But none of these heaped personal abuse on Slipher. Darwin, by contrast, was greeted with: “Rotten fabric of speculation. … Utterly false. … Deep in the mire of folly [and] … I laughed till my sides were sore.”2 The remarkable thing, however, is that the theory that became the laughing stock and then eventually the battleground of the second half of the nineteenth century has now become widely accepted, not only by scientists but also by a wide variety of people from most walks of life.

Let us say at the beginning that a final answer as to how the universe came into being may not be attainable now. We may exclude some possibilities, both as Christians and as scientists. As Christians we may exclude even more. But this still falls short of a full answer to the “how.” Indeed, even taking the explanations of origins in the order proposed above does not necessarily imply that the latter positions are better than the earlier ones. They are taken in this order simply because they have appeared in this order historically.

The Evolutionary Theory

We begin by noting that in spite of the association of evolution with the name of Charles Darwin, evolution itself is nothing new. It existed among the ancient Greeks, for example. Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Epicurus, and Lucretius were all evolutionists. So also was Aristotle (384–322 b.c.), who believed in a complete gradation in nature accompanied by a perfecting principle. This was imagined to have caused gradation from the imperfect to the perfect. Man, of course, stood at the highest point of the ascent.

Again, there were evolutionists in more modern times before Darwin. Some early precursors were Francis Bacon (1561–1626), René Descartes (1596–1650), and Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). The first biologist to make a contribution to evolutionary thought was George Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707–1788), the French naturalist. Another was Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), the grandfather of Charles Darwin. The first fairly complete theory of evolution was by Chevalier de Lamarck (1744–1829), who became a professor in zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris and later popularized his views in Philosophie Zoologique.

It was Charles Darwin, however, who rightly captured the world’s attention. His theory was developed to a degree that none of the others were and, perhaps even more importantly, it was supported by an impressive array of observations collected initially on the world-encircling tour of the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. Darwin’s theory may be arranged in these postulates and conclusions.

Postulate number one: variation. There are variations within individuals of the same species.

Postulate number two: overproduction. In most cases, more individuals are born to a species than can possibly survive to maturity.

Conclusion number one: struggle for existence. In order to survive individuals must compete with other members of the same species.

Postulate number three: survival of the fittest. In a competitive environment only those individuals best fitted to survive will survive.

Postulate number four: inheritance of favorable characteristics. Fit individuals pass their “good” characteristics to their descendants.

Final conclusion: New species arise by the continued survival and reproduction of the individuals best suited to their particular environment.

What has happened to this theory in the one hundred or so years since the publication of Darwin’s Origin? For the most part it is still held, though much work has been done in the one area that presents a flaw in the argument. As anyone can see, the chief mechanism of evolution according to Darwin’s theory is “natural selection,” the impersonal preference given to a certain variation in a species permitting one individual rather than another to survive. This is supposed to explain how the variety of forms we know came about. But this is precisely what it does not do. Natural selection may explain how certain individuals have more offspring than others and therefore survive, or survive and have offspring while other less favored individuals do not. But it does not tell us how there came to be the various organisms or “good” characteristics of organisms in the first place.

Thomas Bethell, editor of the Washington Monthly, has written of this problem in an article for Harper’s Magazine. He observes, “There is, then, no ‘selection’ by nature at all. Nor does nature ‘act’ as it so often is said to do in biology books. One organism may indeed be ‘fitter’ than another from an evolutionary point of view, but the only event that determines this fitness is death (or infertility). This, of course, is not something which helps create the organism, but is something that terminates it.”

To deal with this problem evolutionists have come to speak of mutations as the primary source of variations. This was proposed first by a Dutch botanist, Hugo de Vries, in a work entitled Species and Varieties: Their Origin by Mutation (1905). It has since been suggested that mutations are caused by cosmic radiations, the latter being perhaps far more intense than in modern times.

The Fossil Record

What are we to say of Darwin’s theory? We must begin by noting that there is no question on the part of any informed thinker or writer that there are varieties within a given species. This is simply to say that all individuals are not alike. Some are tall, some short. Some are strong, others weak, and so on. The question is whether these acknowledged variations are sufficient to account for the development of entirely different species and, second, whether such development has in fact occurred. (The possibility of the development of species in this manner does not prove that this is the way it happened.)

At this point we have to turn to the evidence for evolution, and when we do we must acknowledge that the only true historical evidence is the evidence of fossils. There are other things that might be seen as supporting evolution: the possibility of classifying organisms from the simple to the more complex, similarities of structure in “related” species, the existence of vestigial organs (that is, organs like the human appendix for which no present function is known), similar blood types between some species. But these are all circumstantial arguments, and in some cases they are also ambiguous. The only truly historical evidence—evidence that evolution has actually occurred—is fossils.

The fossil remains may be evidence of evolution, but what is not adequately said today is that they do not prove evolution and are in fact highly questionable when applied to evolutionary theory. Let us begin with positive statements. First, although very fragmentary, the fossils do lend themselves to a historical sequence in which the more simple forms of life may be dated earlier (because found in older rock) and more complex forms of life may be dated later. Thus, although the very ancient dates given may be wrong, it does seem that algae, protozoa, and sponges came first. After that are fish, reptiles, and amphibians, then the land animals, including the dinosaurs. Finally, there are the animals we know today, and then man. Another positive statement is that some species have become extinct, the dinosaurs being the most notable example. The combination of these two sets of observations suggests that new forms of life develop and that others become extinct—according to Darwin.

But it is not that simple. There are problems in fitting the fossil record into an evolutionary system. Moreover, these are so great as to bring the entire theory into question.

For example, if evolution is true, what we should expect to find in the fossil record is finely graded and generally continuous development from the simplest forms to the higher forms. Although this is often claimed for the fossil record, it is not what is in fact found when we study it closely. Certainly there are simpler forms in (presumably) earlier rocks. Higher forms (like man) come relatively late. But there are no gradual developments. On the contrary, the major groups appear suddenly, and there is little or no evidence of transition. Everett C. Olson, a well-known evolutionist, mentions this difficulty: “More important, however, are the data revealed by the fossil record. There are great spatial and temporal gaps, sudden appearances of new major groups, equally sudden appearances of old, including very rapid extinctions of groups that had flourished for long periods of time. There were mass extinctions marked by equally simultaneous death of several apparently little associated groups of organisms. At the time the record first is seen with any real clarity [in Cambrian rock strata], the differentiation of phyla is virtually complete. As far as major groups are concerned, we see little clear evidence of time succession in differentiation with the simpler first and the more complex later.”

It may be argued at this point—indeed, it is argued by evolutionists—that the fossil record is simply incomplete, that if fossils for every prior form of life existed, such gaps would be filled. But in a hundred years of study the tendency has not been this way, and it is hard to convince oneself today that this will yet happen. It is not just a question of several missing links. There are hundreds of missing links. Moreover, the grouping of major species in certain past periods of earth’s history works strongly against this argument. Christians can argue, even if they cannot fully prove, that special creation is a far better explanation.

A second major problem with the use of fossils to support evolution is the subjective nature of arranging fossil histories. It might be argued by one who has seen the difficulty just mentioned that there is nevertheless evidence for development within one of the ancient time periods, even if not from one to the other. The supposed development of the horse from the Eocene period to modern times is an oft-cited example. During 60 million or so years the horse is supposed to have increased in size, lengthened its limbs, reduced and then eventually discarded toes, and become a grazer. Many museums have skeletons or pictures that are supposed to represent this development. But the fossils do not prove this development. They may suggest it, and the development they suggest may in fact be right. But there is still no evidence that one supposed form of the horse gave place to another. In actuality the skeletons may have come from similar but otherwise unrelated animals. Moreover, even if the fossils of these horselike animals prove a development, it is still not an example of the development of new species but only of a change within a species.

Mutations

Another area of difficulty for evolution is the mechanism used to explain the emergence of significant variations in the species, chiefly mutations (sudden unexpected changes brought about by otherwise unexplained alterations in the organism’s genes). This was the solution to the problem of “newness” proposed by Hugo de Vries. De Vries did his work with the evening primrose, a weed that he found in a potato field. He bred this plant over a period of several generations in the course of which he noticed a number of abrupt changes that he called mutations. He concluded that these were developments of such magnitude that the process itself could explain the emergence of new species.

Unfortunately, the new “species” of de Vries were not new species but simply varieties within the same species. Moreover, they were not produced by mutations in the sense of that word today but rather by breeding out recessive characteristics. In other words, de Vries produced nothing that was not in the plant originally.

De Vries’s failure does not entirely discredit the theory, however, for mutations do occur and can be passed down from generation to generation. The question is whether these mutations are sufficient to account for new species. Are they? Many evolutionists would say yes at this point. But it is important to note that no one has as yet demonstrated this to be so. In fact, there is important evidence to the contrary. Walter Lammerts is a rose breeder from southern California and the author of the books Why Not Creation? and Scientific Studies in Creation. He tells of attempts to breed roses with more petals or less petals, using every imaginable technique including radiation. He acknowledges that it is possible to use radiation to create roses with a significant increase in petals. But here is the point: there is a limit beyond which the increase in petals apparently will not go. If a rose has forty-four petals, for example, it may be reduced to thirty-two or increased to fifty-six. But that is all. Moreover, if the hybrid rose is left to mix with others from that point on, it does not retain its new characteristics but soon loses them. In fact, all the hybrid roses we have would soon turn to wild roses if left to them-selves—because they are bred from the wild roses originally. And if that in itself is not enough to cast doubt on the theory, there is the fact that the “improved” roses did not attain their improved form naturally but rather through the concentrated and prolonged efforts of Lammerts and other breeders. In other words, even in so limited a matter as this there is need for a design and a designer, a planner and a plan.

The Crucial Areas

An essay such as this can only begin to suggest a few of the problems the theory of evolution poses. But even in such a short study, concentrating on the basic scientific evidence for and against evolution, we can hardly pass over the far greater and (from the point of view of the Christian) unsolvable problems that exist where the crucial points of evolution are concerned. There are four of them.

First, even were we to grant the truthfulness of the evolutionary system as currently put forth, we still have the problem of the origin of the matter from which the later forms sprang. Evolution implies matter by the very meaning of the word, for in order for something to evolve there must be something there in the first place to evolve, and that first something cannot evolve but rather must be either eternally present or created. Since the eternity of matter is today increasingly untenable, as we saw in a previous study, we must have God as Creator. And this obviously nudges us toward the Christian position, whatever our opinions of a greater or lesser degree of evolutionary development may be.

Second, there is the form of matter. We may speak of “mere” matter as if it were a simple irreducible entity, but we do not actually know of any such “simple” matter and cannot in fact even conceive of it. Everything we know, however simple, already has a form—generally a highly complex form. Even hydrogen, the basic building block of everything according to astrophysics, is not simple. It has a proton, neutron, and electron, all operating according to fixed laws. Where did this fixed form and laws come from? They did not evolve. They are in matter to start with.

Third, there is the emergence of life. This is a complex problem, and much has been done to develop laboratory models according to which life could have arisen on earth during the early ages of the planet. The most acceptable model is a three-stage process involving: 1) the origin of bio-organics (amino acids, sugars) from inorganic compounds (hydrogen, water, ammonia, carbon dioxide, methane); 2) the origin of biopolymers (large molecules such as proteins) from the bio-organics; and finally 3) the origin of primordial life (simple plant or algaelike cells) from the biopolymers. But this is an extremely complex process, even assuming that this is how life came about, and therefore has an extremely low level of probability. True, scientists have achieved the first two of these stages in carefully controlled laboratory experiments. But the crucial third stage is elusive. And even in the second stage, the polymers seem to deteriorate faster than they would normally be created in anything approaching a natural environment. Again, it is not a matter of a single event of low probability. It is a matter of a long series of events, each with a very small probability, so that, as one writer says, “for all practical purposes the probability of this series of events may safely be regarded as zero.”

Two scientists, who nevertheless believe in the spontaneous generation of life, write, “The macromolecule-to-cell transition is a jump of fantastic dimensions, which lies beyond the range of testable hypothesis. In this area, all is conjecture. The available facts do not provide a basis for postulating that cells arose on this planet.”

The fourth of the truly great problems for an atheistic theory of evolution is the emergence of personality in man, or to be more specific, the emergence of the soul, spirit, or God-consciousness. What caused non-man to become man? One writer asks, “Where did the soul of man come from? Why is it that the highest and best animals are unable to pray? They are unable to communicate in a rational way. They are unable to do the things that man is able to do. The lowest type of man upon the face of the earth is far higher than the highest of the animals, because he has the capacity to worship God and can be brought to be a child of God, able to live in the glory of God through Jesus Christ, and that is true of none of the animals.” This writer concludes, “I am not ashamed to say that I believe in the first chapter of Genesis, but I should be ashamed to say that I held to any form of evolution.”

Why Evolution?

“Another reason, we believe, why evolution continues to be taught in spite of the contrary evidence is the educational mindset that grips our schools today. Our schools have essentially “ruled out the answer before they asked the question.” They have said, “There is no God! Now let’s ask the question: What is the origin of life?” The reason they never find the answer is because they ruled it out before they asked the question! It is highly unscientific and anti-intellectual to rule out answers before you ask questions…The tragedy is that evolution is a nineteenth-century philosophy that has been destroyed by twentieth-century science. Yet the lie continues to be perpetuated, not on scientific grounds, but because it is what morally justifies our immoral society today.” ~ Ron Carlson, Fast Facts on False Teachings 

Dr. Phillip E. Johnson, Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, has written a book exposing the falsehood of evolution entitled Darwin on Trial. He was speaking at a conference when he was asked this question, Why Is Evolution Still Taught when it is such a weak theory of origins?”. His reply was very interesting coming from someone within the academic community: Most professors continue to teach evolution in the universities out of fear. This fear is that of not being tenured, of not getting research grants, of not being published, and of not being accepted by their peers. So to be accepted, to be published, to be granted research money, and to be tenured by their university, they must follow the party line, which is evolution. This is how the academic game is played!”

I conclude with this question. Why is it, if the theory of evolution is as weak as it seems to be, that it has the popular appeal acknowledged at the beginning of this chapter? Why is it that evolution is today’s dominant view and not one of the other views mentioned? I think there are four answers, three of which I want to put in the form of statements and one of which I want to put in the form of a question.

The statements are these. First, according to evolution, everything—absolutely everything—is knowable, and this has obvious appeal. Everything comes from something else, and we can trace the developments back. It is a closed system. There is no need for anything outside. Above all, there is no need for God who by the very definition of that word is One who is unknowable and who does not need to give an account of himself. Second, according to evolution, there is one explanation for everything. Everything evolves: matter, life, ideas, even religion. We can project this framework from our own small world throughout the universe. Third, and this is perhaps the chief reason, if creation of the world by God is eliminated (as many clearly wish to do), evolution is the only other option.

On the basis of those three statements I now ask my question: Is it not possible, then, that in the last analysis the appeal of evolution is in its elimination of God and its exaltation of man? In this system man does not merely become the highest point of creation, which Christians would themselves willingly affirm. He becomes the god of creation. Consequently, to challenge evolution is to blaspheme against man, and blasphemy against man is the sin for which there is now no pardon. Algernon Charles Swinburne gives expression to this spirit in his Hymn of Man.

But God, if a God there be, is the

Substance of men which is Man.

Thou art smitten, thou God, thou art smitten;

Thy death is upon thee, O Lord.

And the love-song of earth as thou diest

Resounds through the wind of her wings—

Glory to Man in the highest!

For Man is the master of things.

Is man the master? If he is, then he can go his way and devise any theory of origins he chooses. But if he is not—if there is a God—then he is the creation of this God and owes this God allegiance.

“I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite Intelligence. I believe that this universe’s intricate laws manifest what scientists have called the Mind of God. I believe that life and reproduction originate in a divine Source. Why do I believe this, given that I expounded and defended atheism for more than a half century? The short answer is this: this is the world picture, as I see it, that has emerged from modern science…Although I was once sharply critical of the argument to design, I have since come to see that, when correctly formatted, this argument constitutes a persuasive case for the existence of God. ~ Antony Flew, There is a God  (Kindle:1087)

“If we don’t know that there is such a person as God, we don’t know the first thing (the most important thing) about ourselves, each other and our world. This is because… the most important truths about us and them, is that we have been created by the Lord, and utterly depend upon Him for our continued existence.” ~ Alvin Plantinga in Warranted Christian Belief

“Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded…We are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.” ~ J.I. Packer

“God exists by His own power. He alone is self-existent. Aseity, meaning “self-existence,” is the characteristic that separates Him from all other things. God is the only one who can say, ‘I am who I am…The grand difference between a human being and a Supreme Being is precisely this: Apart from God I cannot exist; apart from me God does exist. God does not need me in order for Him to be. I do need God in order for me to be. This is the difference between what we call a self-existent being and a dependent being…In Him we have our being. It is because of His self-existence that we can exist at all. You and I exist in His power and by His power. We are because He is.~ R.C. Sproul, Enjoying God, pp. 29, 32, 39.

Evolution (Naturalistic & Theistic) Critiqued

  • Ashton, John. Evolution Impossible: 12 Reasons Why Evolution Cannot Explain the Origin of Life on Earth.
  • Baugh, Carl E. Why Do Men Believe Evolution Against All Odds?
  • Behe, Michael J. A Mousetrap for Darwin: Michael J. Behe Answers His Critics.
  • *Behe, Michael J. Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution
  • Behe, Michael J. The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism.
  • Behe, Michael J. Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution.
  • Bergman, Jerry. Censoring the Darwin Skeptics: How Belief in Evolution Is Enforced by Eliminating Dissidents (Volume 3, Second Edition).
  • Bergman, Jerry. Evolution’s Blunders, Frauds and Forgeries.
  • Bergman, Jerry. Fossil Forensics: Separating Fact From Fantasy in Paleontology.
  • Bergman, Jerry. Hitler and the Nazi Darwinian Worldview: How the Nazi Eugenic Crusade for a Superior Race Caused the Greatest Holocaust in World History.
  • Bergman, Jerry. How Darwinism Corrodes Morality: Darwinism, Immorality, Abortion and the Sexual Revolution.
  • Bergman, Jerry. Silencing the Darwin Skeptics: The War Against Theists (Volume 2).
  • Bergman, Jerry. Slaughter of the Dissidents: The Shocking Truth About Killing Careers of Darwin Daughters (Volume 1, Second Edition).
  • Bergman, Jerry. The Dark Side of Darwin: A Critical Analysis of an Icon of Science.
  • Bergman, Jerry. The Darwin Effect: Its Influence On Nazism, Eugenics, Racism, Cammunism, Capitalism, & Sexism.
  • Bergman, Jerry. The Last Pillars of Darwinian Evolution Falsified: Further Evidence Proving Darwinian Evolution Wrong.
  • Bergman, Jerry. The Three Pillars of Evolution Demolished: Why Darwin Was Wrong.
  • Bergman, Jerry. Useless Organs: The Rise And Fall Of A Central Claim Of Evolution.
  • Berlinski, David. The Deniable Darwin.
  • *Bethell, Tom. Darwin’s House Of Cards: A Journalists Odyssey Through The Darwin Debates.
  • *Carlson, Ron and Ed Decker. “Evolution The Incredible Theory” in Fast Facts on False Teaching.
  • Carter, Robert, ed. Evolution’s Achilles’ Heels: 9 Ph.D. Scientists Explain Evolutions Fatal Flaws—In Areas Claimed To Be Its Greatest Strengths.
  • Comfort, Ray. Intelligent Design Vs. Evolution: Letters to an Atheist.
  • Comfort, Ray. Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution.
  • *Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory In Crises.
  • Denton, Michael. Evolution: Still A Theory In Crises.
  • Gale, Barry G. Evolution Without Evidence: Charles Darwin and The Origin of the Species.
  • Gallop, Roger G. Evolution: The Greatest Deception In Modern History.
  • *Gish, Duane T. Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No!
  • *Gish, Duane T. Letter To A Theistic Evolutionist: Sincerely your brother in Christ.
  • Gitt, Werner. Did God Use Evolution?
  • *Grudem, Wayne, ed. A Biblical Case Against Theistic Evolution: Is It Compatible with the Bible?
  • Ham, Ken, and Bodie Hodge, eds. Glass House: Shattering the Myth of Evolution.
  • Ham, Ken. The Lie: Evolution (Revised & Expanded Edition).
  • Hanegraaf, Hank. The FARCE of Evolution.
  • Javor, George. Evidences for Creation: Natural Mysteries Evolution Cannot Explain.
  • *Jeanson, Nathaniel T. Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species.
  • *Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial.
  • *Johnson, Phillip E. Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds.
  • *Johnson, Phillip E. Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law Education.
  • *Kethley, Kenneth D., and Mark F. Rooker. 40 Questions About Creation and Evolution.
  • Kinson, John M. God & Evolution: How An Atheist Scientist Changed His Mind.
  • Meyer, Stephen C. Paul A Nelson, et al. Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism.
  • Moore, David T. Five Lies Of The Century (Evolution is an established scientific fact).
  • Morrison John. Evolution’s Final Days: The Mounting Evidence Disproving Evolution.
  • *Rhodes, Ron. The 10 Things You Should Know About the Creation vs. Evolution Debate.
  • Richards, Jay, editor. God And Evolution
  • Richards, Lawrence O. It Couldn’t Just Happen: Fascinating Facts About God’s World.
  • Ross, Hugh. What Darwin Didn’t Know.
  • Sarfati, Jonathan. Refuting Evolution.
  • Sarfati, Jonathan. The Greatest Hoax on Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution.
  • Simmons, M.D. Geoffrey. What Darwin Didn’t Know: A Doctor Dissects the Theory of Evolution.
  • Sivanesan, Nirushan. Objections to Evolution.
  • Spetner, Lee M. Not by Chance! Shattering the Modern Theory of Evolution.
  • Spetner, Lee M. The Evolution Revolution: Why Thinking People Are Rethinking the Theory of Evolution.
  • Thomas, Neil. Taking Leave Of Darwin: A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design.
  • Woodward, Thomas. Doubts About Darwin.

Naturalism/Materialism/ & Scientism Critiqued

  • Berlinski, David. The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions.
  • Copan, Paul and Charles Taliaferro, eds. The Naturalness of Belief: New Essays on Theism’s Rationality.
  • *Crain, Natasha. Faithfully Different: Regaining Biblical Clarity in a Secular Culture.
  • Dembski, William A., and Jonathan Wells. How To Be An Intellectually Fulfilled Atheist (or not).
  • Gange, Robert. Godless Folly: Scientific Observations That Refute Materialism.
  • Gordon, Bruce and William Dembski. The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science.
  • Hunter, Cornelius G. Science’s Blind Spot: The Unseen Religion of Scientific Naturalism.
  • *Johnson, Phillip E. Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law Education
  • Johnson, Phillip E. The Wedge of Truth: Splitting The Foundations of Naturalism.
  • Lennox, John. Can Science Explain Everything?
  • Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
  • *Meyer, Stephen C. Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe.
  • *Moreland, J.P. Christianity and the Nature of Science.
  • *Moreland, J.P. Scientism and Secularism: Learning to Respond to a Dangerous Ideology.
  • Nagel, Thomas. Mind And Cosmos: Why The Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False.
  • Plantinga, Alvin. Where The Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism.
  • Shepardson, Andrew J. Who’s Afraid of the Unmoved Mover?: Postmodernism and Natural Theology.
  • Stokes, Mitch. How To Be An Atheist: Why Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough.
  • Turek, Frank. Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case.
  • Williams, Richard N. and Daniel N. Robinson, eds. Scientism: The New Orthodoxy.
  • West, John G. editor. The Magician’s Twin: C.S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society.

Book Review of: RC Sproul Defender of the Reformed Faith by Nate Pickowicz

A Good Overview of R.C. Sproul’s Theological Passions

By David P. Craig

This is the third biographical book I’ve read on one of my theological heroes: R.C. Sproul. The other two being by his son, Growing Up (with) R.C.: Truths I have learned about Grace, Redemption, and the Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul jr.; and R.C. Sproul: A Life by Stephen J. Nichols. R.C. is arguably (in my opinion, most definitely) the greatest and most influential evangelical theologian of the closing of the twentieth century and the first two decades of the twenty-first century. I am hopeful that more biographies will be forthcoming – that especially address some topics I will delineate below.

I like, the author, have been following R.C.’s teachings and have read all of his books, been to three Ligonier conferences, and have been heavily influenced by Dr. Sproul in my own life and ministry as a Senior Pastor. Many people have had their foot in the door to R.C.’s influence via reading his classic book the Holiness of God or through the Video series by the same title. In my opinion this book was the most important theological book written in the twentieth century, and will continue to be read until the return of Jesus Christ.

What Pickowicz does in this brief biography is really highlight the key points of Sproul’s life: his childhood in Pittsburgh; his conversion to Christ in college; his scholarly pursuits as a philosopher and theologian; and then hones in on his key ministries (Ligonier Study Center, Ligonier Ministries, and Senior Pastor of Saint Andrews Church) and worldwide theological influence through his speaking and writing.

The most interesting insight to me was how the controversies Sproul was involved with were reflections of the same controversies in the reformation during the 1500’s. As a template for what Pickowicz writes in the book early on he writes, “Once I began research for this book, it occurred to me that R.C.’s five decades of ministry loosely reflected the five solas of the Reformation. In the early 1970s R.C. led the Evangelical charge for the inerrancy and authority of the Bible (sola Scriptura). In the 1980s he labored for the rediscovery of the holiness and sovereignty of God, with his contribution Chosen by God firmly articulating the heart of sola gratia. In the 1990s he was quite literally contending for sola fide, as he was forced to stand against his own friends in opposing the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement. The fourth decade of his public ministry brought him into pastoral ministry—the shepherding of Christ’s church. For years he had defended the Protestant view of salvation against the errors of Roman Catholicism, which propagates salvation through celebrating Mass; R.C. was emphatic that the sole source of our salvation and central focus of church worship was Christ alone (solus Christus). Finally, in the last decade of R.C.’ s life, Ligonier Ministries broadened their worldwide reach as R.C. began to explore other expressions of ministry such as founding a Bible college, releasing two albums of original hymns, publishing children’s books, and more—his attempt to do all things for the glory of God—soli Deo gloria.”

The author does a good job of summarizing the theological emphasis of Sproul’s teaching and writing. He emphasizes the sola’s and their importance for Sproul, and for evangelicalism in the twenty-first century. Thus far the works listed above by Nichols, Sproul jr., and the current offering have a lot of material that can be gleaned through Sproul’s writings, videos, sermons, and lectures.

I hope someone who was close to him (maybe Vesta, his wife, or Sinclair Ferguson, Steven Lawson, John MacArthur, or Burk Parsons, hint, hint) will write a more personal biography that will examine some of these issues: (1) How did he spend his time? Sproul was prolific (the author writes that Sproul estimated he lectured, taught, and gave close to 30,000 speeches/sermons). I’d like to know how he did his lecture, sermon, and video preparation. There is some insight into this, but I’d like to see more. So far, not one has really talked about “how” he did what he did. Everyone has talked about the content, but how did he put it together. (2) How about his prayer life? When did he pray? Did he have any methods of prayer? (3) He loved sports – the Steelers and Pirates; and was at one time a scratch golfer. I’d like to know how he spent his free time. Did he take days off? I know he didn’t like to fly, but how about vacations and how did he integrate work with free time? (4) So far the three biographies above make R.C. sound super human and almost sinless. Not that I want “dirt.” But I’m glad that the Bible includes weaknesses as well as strengths of all of the saints. I’d like to know more about his struggles and how God helped him through those struggles. (5) He was an accomplished pianist and enjoyed the arts – I’d like to hear more about his side interests and how this influenced his love for God and giving glory to God in all things – including golf and playing the piano. (6) How did he balance life and work with family? He seems to be a wonderful husband, father, and grand father, but how did he do it? How did he make time for his family in the midst of so many demands? I could go on and on.

I hope and pray that someone will be able to write a respectful and yet more intimate biography of Sproul. Maybe we will never get that. But I hope we will. Like many who love R.C. as a theological mentor I hope that someone will “take up and write” what we don’t know and can’t find from his own works. I long for a biography that gets into the soul of Sproul. Since R.C. Sproul never wrote an autobiography, maybe we will have to wait until heaven to ask him ourselves. 

I am grateful for the influence of Sproul, and for those like Pickowicz who have taken the time to write about him and his theology. May many more biographies be forthcoming so that we can learn from a man who had a passion for God, truth, the gospel, Jesus, and His Word – for His glory. Thanks to the author for a job well done – R.C. would be pleased that His Lord and Savior was honored, the gospel was proclaimed, and God received glory. I especially recommend this book for those that aren’t as familiar with R.C., as a good introduction to his life, teaching, and worldwide influence for the glory of God.

*10 Books I Recommend to New Christians

(Compiled By David P. Craig, February 28, 2022)

(1) The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. I would read this book first because it is a paradigm shifter. It will show you how Great God is and how sinful we are by way of comparison…but it will set you on the right track of learning to be more God-centered than man-centered (which is mankind’s “default” mode).

(2) The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer. This is a short book with 23 chapters on the attributes of God. It shows how we can’t think rightly about ourselves until we think rightly about God. Again – gets the focus off of ourselves and onto God.

(3-4) The Bondage Breaker and Victory Over The Darkness by Neil T. Anderson. These were written by one of my favorite professors in seminary. The first deals with how to overcome negative thoughts, irrational feelings, and habitual sins; and the second book helps you to realize the immense significance of your identity in Christ and NOT having it in anything but Jesu

(5) The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller. Helps you to clearly understand the difference between “religion” and a “relationship” with God through the amazing good news of the gospel.

(6) Christ’s Call to Discipleship by James Montgomery Boice. There are many good books on what it means to follow Christ. This is a good first book to read on the subject. There is nothing more important in life than knowing what it means to be, become, make and multiply disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(7) Knowing Scripture by R.C. Sproul. Nothing is more important in the Christian life than knowing and applying Scripture. This book is a clear guide to learning how to read and study the Bible.

(8-9) Know Why You Believe and How To Give Away Your Faith by Paul E. Little- These two books by Paul Little are still unsurpassed in helping you to know how to give a reason for your faith by answering the biggest objections to Christianity and to be able to share the gospel with others effectively.

(10) Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook by Peter Scazzero. This book and the accompanying workbook will be one of the more difficult to work through. It will be challenging work. But if you persevere through both it will be absolutely liberating and life transforming. The subtitle of this book is “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” That’s so true. This book will help you become a well rounded and balanced Christian – especially after reading all the books above. 

*I (David P. Craig) have read over one thousand of books on Christian Doctrine, Living, Commentaries, Biographies, etc. over my 50 years since becoming a Christian at the age of six. It’s impossible to discern the order of, or specific top ten books for any particular Christian. But a lot of new Christians have no idea where to begin. So this list is at least a good start for anyone beginning the journey of being, becoming, making, and multiplying disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ for life.

Book Review of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”

A Monumental Achievement in Literature

By David P. Craig

I have to admit that I have picked up Moby Dick several times over the years and never been able to read it all the way through. One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year was to read Moby Dick from cover to cover no matter what the cost! I can now finally say that I’ve read Moby Dick from cover to cover. Was it worth it? I would say, absolutely yes!

We live in an age of instant gratification and a lack of imagination. Melville’s classic goes against the grain of both of these “modernisms.” Moby Dick is lengthy, verbose, tangential, and yet he manages to wax amazingly and fascinatingly into the realms of human nature, philosophy, science, history, theology, and numerous other realms. It is a journey in reading that I’ve never experienced before.

It helped me immensely to do two things to persevere through the book. (1) I decided to read only one or two chapters a day and not try to rush through it. (2) I read the book along with the Audible reading by Anthony Heald. Heald masterfully read the book and through his interpretations of cadence and accents of the various characters added immensely to the enjoyment of the plot.

Melville’s use of language, change of pace, colorful and imaginative descriptions, and brilliance in his weaving of a myriad of themes makes the book a masterpiece. It took me a few times in my life to get through the entire book, but now that I have made the journey, not only was it worth it, but I will most definitely make this journey again and again. I am looking forward to reading it again. It’s the type of book that has so much depth in its symbolism, so much creativity, so much to ponder, that it bids you to come back and feast again. It’s no wonder it has been dubbed “The Great American Novel.” A well earned and deserved title by Melville. Its ilk will never likely be written again. I will forever treasure Moby Dick. 

Take up Moby Dick and read it slowly, and ponder its truths. It will feed your senses and your soul. I am grateful for this masterpiece of literature. I hope that it will continue to be treasured in a world of quick fixes, fast food, and fads. Melville’s book is a delightful respite for the tranquility of the soul – especially as he touches on the meaning of life. I found it to draw me closer to my own sinfulness and the transcendent holiness and justice of God. What an amazing journey. All I can say is “Thank You” Mr. Melville for writing this treasure, and if you have never read it – take it up and read it. If you have already read it, take it up again and go deeper into its truths and delights.

*The Unholy Pursuit of God in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick by R.C. Sproul

It seems that every time a writer picks up a pen or turns on his word processor to compose a literary work of fiction, deep in his bosom resides the hope that somehow he will create the Great American Novel. Too late. That feat has already been accomplished and is as far out of reach for new novelists as is Joe DiMaggio’s fifty-six-game hitting streak or Pete Rose’s record of cumulative career hits for a rookie baseball player. The Great American Novel was written more than a hundred and fifty years ago by Herman Melville. This novel, the one that has been unsurpassed by any other, is Moby Dick.

My personal copy of Moby Dick is a leather-bound collector’s edition produced by Easton Press under the rubric “The Hundred Greatest Books Ever Written.”

Note that the claim here is not that Moby Dick is one of the hundred greatest books written in English, but rather that it is one of the hundred greatest books written in any language. Its greatness may be seen not in its sometimes cumbersome literary structure or its excursions into technicalia about the nature and function of whales (cetology). No, its greatness is found in its unparalleled theological symbolism. This symbolism is sprinkled abundantly throughout the novel, particularly in the identities of certain individuals who are assigned biblical names. Among the characters are Ahab, Ishmael, and Elijah, and the names Jeroboam and Rachel (“who was seeking her lost children”) are given to two of the ships in the story.

In a personal letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne upon completing this novel, Melville said, “I have written an evil book.” What is it about the book that Melville considered evil? I think the answer to that question lies in the meaning of the central symbolic character of the novel, Moby Dick, the great white whale. Melville experts and scholars come to different conclusions about the meaning of the great white whale. Many see this brutish animal as evil because it had inflicted great personal damage on Ahab in an earlier encounter. Ahab lost his leg, which was replaced by the bone of a lesser whale. Some argue that Moby Dick is Melville’s symbol of the incarnation of evil itself. Certainly this is the view of the whale held by Captain Ahab himself. Ahab is driven by a monomaniacal hatred for this creature, this brute that left him permanently damaged both in body and soul. He cries out, “He heaps me,” indicating the depth of the hatred and fury he feels toward this beast. Some have accepted Ahab’s view that the whale is a monstrous evil as that of Melville himself.

Other scholars have been convinced that the whale is not a symbol of evil but the symbol of God Himself. In this interpretation, Ahab’s pursuit of the whale is not a righteous pursuit of God but natural man’s futile attempt in his hatred of God to destroy the omnipotent deity. I favor this second view. It was the view held by one of my college professors—one of the five leading Melville scholars in the world at the time I studied under him. My senior philosophy research paper in college was titled “The Existential Implications of Melville’s Moby Dick.” In that paper, which I cannot reproduce in this brief article, I tried to set forth the theological structure of the narrative.

I believe that the greatest chapter ever written in the English language is the chapter of Moby Dick titled “The Whiteness of the Whale.” Here we gain an insight into the profound symbolism that Melville employs in his novel. He explores how whiteness is used in history, in religion, and in nature. The terms he uses to describe the appearance of whiteness in these areas include elusive, ghastly, and transcendent horror, as well as sweet, honorable, and pure. All of these are descriptive terms that are symbolized in one way or another by the presence of whiteness. In this chapter Melville writes,

But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul; and more strange and far more portentous—why, as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian’s Deity; and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things the most appalling to mankind. Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation, when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide landscape of snows—a colourless, all-colour of atheism from which we shrink?

He then concludes the chapter with these words: “And of all these things, the albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery hunt?”

If the whale embodies everything that is symbolized by whiteness—that which is terrifying; that which is pure; that which is excellent; that which is horrible and ghastly; that which is mysterious and incomprehensible—does he not embody those traits that are found in the fullness of the perfections in the being of God Himself?

Who can survive the pursuit of such a being if the pursuit is driven by hostility? Only those who have experienced the sweetness of reconciling grace can look at the overwhelming power, sovereignty, and immutability of a transcendent God and find there peace rather than a drive for vengeance. Read Moby Dick, and then read it again.

*Article adapted from Table Talk, August 1, 2011 (ligonier.org.)

Book Review on Hank Hanegraaf’s Fatal Flaws: What Evolutionists Don’t Want You To Know

Big Problems For Evolutionists Exposed

By David P. Craig

This short book by “The Bible Answer Man” packs a wallop. One of the things I like about most of Hank’s books is that he uses acronyms to help you remember the key points he is making in his writing. This is especially helpful for evangelism and apologetics so that if you read his materials you can recall the main points with those you are communicating with.

In this book Hanegraaf uses several acronyms to help one articulate the problems with evolution. One such acronym is F.A.C.E. Using FACE: F for Fossil record; A for Ape-Men; C for Chance; and E for Empirical science. The author quotes extensively from scientists, science facts, and creation scientists as well to demonstrate the lack of evidence for the religion of Evolution. 

For anyone looking for a quick guide to understanding key problems with evolution; this is a good place to start. Some books on this subject are very technical and difficult to follow. Hanegraaf’s book is not dumbed down, it is articulate, but also clear, simple, and concise in its presentation. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to know what science really teaches, what facts and fictions are believed by scientists, and what passes for real science and how science and the Scriptures are compatible.

Book Review of Brett McCracken’s “The Wisdom Pyramid”

How To Be Wise in A Fools Paradise

By David P. Craig

The way McCracken opens his book grips you from the outset. He writes, “Our world has more and more information, but less and less wisdom. More data; less clarity. More stimulation; less synthesis. More distraction; less stillness. More pontificating; less pondering. More opinion; less research. More speaking; less listening. More to look at; less to see. More amusements; less joy. There is more, but we are less. And we feel it.”

I really enjoyed reading this book because it spoke to the negative and positive realities of living in the “information age.” In the first three chapters the author deals with the data, statistics, and illustrates the downside of our information age and the technologies that have become so integral to our lives. However, he also shows that though we have more information, it has not brought us peace, but more stress. Information has not brought us more unity, but disunity. It has not made us more whole, but more fragmented. He doesn’t take a negative turn, but draws on how we can be wise in a fools paradise.

At least seventy percent of the book is how to use the God-given tools we have been endowed with by our Creator to learn what is true, and apply this knowledge wisely. Thus, having less stress, and more peace; be less hurried, and take time to “smell the roses;” and how to make effective use of our time, including a proper and productive use of technology. 

The key analogy used throughout the book is a simple one; and because of its simplicity it’s extremely memorable and effective. He uses the example of the food pyramid that was developed to balance our physical health. In the author’s usage the Pyramid takes on a similar strategy with examples of resources that our Maker has entrusted to us that if we implement strategically and intentionally we can become more wise. The sources he gives in succeeding chapters (from most important to least important) are as follows: (1) The Bible; (2) The Church; (3) Books; (4) Nature; (5) Beauty; (6) The Internet and Technology.

He makes a clear and logical case for the fact that most people in our culture (including Christians) have their Pyramid of priorities upside down. We use the most unsound source (technology) as the place we get most of our information (which may or may not be true) and let that dictate our beliefs and actions. Whereas the Bible — God’s revealed truth, and the other areas of truth — The Church, books, nature, and beauty — tend to take a back seat.

McCracken is to be commended for writing a short, clear, cogent, and practical book for how to live wisely by pursuing all truth in God’s general and special revelation. Those who read it will indeed benefit from its wisdom and if applied will also be more at peace, happy, efficient, and effective in their influence for good in a world that desperately needs God’s common and saving grace.

Book Review on David S. Steele’s “Spineless”

Book Review by David P. Craig

How To Get A Strong Spiritual Spine

Anyone who takes their Christian walk seriously recognizes that these are indeed difficult times we are living in. It is very easy to throw in the towel and capitulate to the modern relativistic thinking of our day. In this timely and relevant book Dr. Steele is short on problems and long on solutions. Reaching back to the ancient wisdom of the likes of biblical characters like King David, Daniel, and the Apostle Paul, and historical examples such as John Calvin, Martin Luther and Charles Spurgeon, Steele gives ample biblical principles and demonstrates how these men were able to stand firm in their times.

The strength of this book is in the biblical foundations to know and apply that are delineated from the beginning to the end. It is thoroughly God-centered, Christ-Centered, and Gospel-centered. It will help fortify you with the reasons, motives, and resources you need to stand firm in the truth and its applications in the midst of the relativistic sea in which we find ourselves in the 21st century. I can’t recommend this book highly enough as a solid resource to equip, encourage, and exhort you toward following Jesus with all of your mind, soul, and strength.

Why Read and Reflect on Herman Melville’s Classic: Moby Dick?

*”The Great American Novel: Moby Dick and Unparalleled Theological Symbolism” by Jason Duesing

Of all the great books, why read and reflect on Moby-Dick?

Nathaniel Philbrick gives one compelling answer: “Reading Moby-Dick, we are in the presence of a writer who spent several impressionable years on a whaleship, internalized everything he saw, and several or so years later, after internalizing Shakespeare, Hawthorne, the Bible, and much more, found the voice and the method that enabled him to broadcast his youthful experiences into the future” (Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick? [Penguin Books, 2013], 70).

Herman Melville’s ‘broadcast’ is worthy of reading and reflection, not only for its content and characters, but also for its construction. It is The. Great. American. Novel. For the Christian reader, it is also valuable for what R. C. Sproul identified as its “unparalleled theological symbolism” (R. C. Sproul, “The Unholy Pursuit of God in Moby-Dick,” Tabletalk, August 1, 2011).

In my own reading of Moby-Dick, I attempt to read it for what it is, a work of art. In this short reflection, therefore, I ask and answer three questions I’ve developed, to help me as a Christian, guide my observation of works of art, whether in painted, composed, or written forms—and regardless if the art was specifically created to illuminate truth revealed in the Bible or truth revealed in creation (See Jason G. Duesing, “The Christian, Art, and Rediscovering John the Baptist,” For the Church, October 10, 2019).

How Does Moby-Dick Glorify God?

To read Moby-Dick is to encounter many new areas of knowledge that appear tangential or skippable. There are chapters that cover biology, geography, nautical intricacies, and more information about whales and the use of whales in the 19th century than you might imagine.

It is said, if you want to learn about 19th century sewer systems, read Les Misérables; if you want to know all there is to know about whales, read Moby-Dick (For more introduction to the reading of Moby-Dick see Nathaniel Philbrick, Why Read Moby-Dick?; R. C. Sproul, “The Unholy Pursuit of God in Moby-Dick”; James Hamilton, “Tenants, Traps, Teaching, and the Meaning of Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick,’” For His Renown, June 14, 2011; Connor Grubaugh, “James and Melville, Two American Minds,” First Things, February 2, 2018).

Yet, while in the middle of reading, it may seem tangential, the details all serve a purpose—Melville is driving you toward a final battle with the White Whale, and one cannot appreciate the magnitude of that battle, in full, without first going on his instructional journey.

Likewise, a comparison can be made to how we read the Bible, especially the Old Testament. To read the Bible is to encounter many new areas of knowledge that might appear tangential or skippable. There are chapters on genealogy, indices of laws, detailed descriptions of movements of people, lengthy poetry and prophecy—instructions we may not fully understand.

Yet, when “reading through the Bible,” while some parts may seem tangential, they do serve an ultimate purpose. God, through his authors, is driving you toward his Christ—and one cannot appreciate the magnitude of his life, death, and resurrection, in full, without first going on this instructional journey. 

The reading of the Great American Novel glorifies God as it reminds the believer of The. Greatest. Story. and reminds regularly that something greater than Melville speaks, rules, and reigns.

What is Good, True, and Beautiful About this Work?

Melville’s experience and knowledge of the world about which he writes points to much that is good, true, and beautiful. Whether it is the depiction of the relationship between friends and shipmates, the telling of the intricacies of biology and the effects of the fall on creation, or the sublime portrait of a beautiful sea, Moby-Dick resonates because it echoes much of what the reader knows is good, true, and beautiful.

Consider even the trivial description Melville gives of Nantucket chowder served on the eve of Ishmael’s departure:

“It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt …. [W]e despatched it with great expedition” (Moby-Dick, Chapter 15).

The reader can resonate (and salivate) with the author’s care for presenting one of the main character’s last meals on land as a good and beautiful thing.

Further, there is the concluding example of the chief mate, Starbuck, who functions as a voice of conscience for the crew and in contrast to the deranged captain. Even after voicing opposition and a desire to abandon the fool’s errand of chasing the White Whale, Starbuck loyally serves. Near the tragic end, after the famous cry is made of “There she blows!—there she blows!” (Moby-Dick, Chapter 133) and a three day chase ensues, Starbuck murmurs to himself reflecting on his choices, “I misdoubt me that I disobey by God in obeying [Ahab]!” This leads to one last moment of courage as Starbuck pleads, “Oh! Ahab, not too late is it, even now, the third day to desist. See! Moby Dick seeks thee not. It is thou, thou, that madly seekest him!” (Moby-Dick, Chapter 135).

Starbuck’s lent hand is not returned and all is soon lost, but even in the telling, Melville’s story allows the Christian to see the truth of the gracious presence of the human conscience that leaves no one with an excuse (Rom 2:15).

*The article above is adapted from Jason Duesing’s article, “The Great American Novel: Moby-Dick and Unparalleled Theological Symbolism.” Jason Duesing serves as the academic Provost and Associate Professor of Historical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He came to MBTS after serving for more than a decade on the administrative leadership team and faculty at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Duesing earned his Ph.D. in Historical Theology and Baptist Studies from Southwestern Seminary in 2008. He is the author of several books including Mere HopeHenry JesseyFirst Freedom, and Seven Summits in Church History. Duesing’s entire article can be read in the May 8, 2020 issue of Credo Magazine (credomag.com).

Martin Luther’s Life: A Short Biography

By Albrecht Beutel (Translated by Katharina Gustavs)

Years As A Student

From the outside, Luther’s life passed by simply and steadily. With few exceptions, his whole life took place within the territories of Thuringia and Saxony, mostly in Wittenberg, the electoral capital at the Elbe river, and its surroundings. Only a few journeys led Luther beyond this small sphere of life: on behalf of his order to Rome (1510/11), to Cologne (1512) and Heidelberg (1518); later on behalf of a Reformation consensus to Marburg (1529), and also on his own behalf to Augsburg (1518) and Worms (1521). Equally, with regard to his profession, Luther’s was a remarkable and steady character. From entering the monastery through to his last moment, Luther always remained a man of the word: as a preacher, professor and writer (In addition to all the standard published “lives of Luther,” see also Helmar Junghans, Martin Luther: Exploring His Life and Times, 1483-1546, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998).

During Luther’s life the horizon of world history and humanities was in the process of becoming radically changed. The following names must stand for many others representing this era: the two emperors Maximilian I and Charles V, the popes Leo X, Clemens VII and Paul III (Council of Trent), as well as the names of such artists as Raphael, Michelangelo, Durer, Copernicus and Paracelsus. However, as far as Luther is concerned these changes could be deceptive because his childhood and youth had not been touched by the spirit of humanism or of the Renaissance. Limited to the provincial surroundings of his hometown, Luther grew up as a typical child of the late Middle Ages — just like thousands of other boys around him.

On November 10, 1483 Luther was born as the eldest of probably nine sisters and brothers at Eisleben in what was then the county of Mansfeld. The next morning he was baptized and named Martin after the saint of that day. Coming from a Thuringian family of farmers, his father Hans Luder, not being entitled to inherit, sought his luck in one of the most advanced business opportunities: the copper mines of Mansfield. During the course of his life he was able to gain a well-respected economic and social position through enormous hard work and thrift. We know only a very little about his wife Margarethe, Luther’s mother. She came from a family named Lindemann, resident in Eisenach. As the wife of a venturesome entrepreneur and as a mother of her large family, she had to work hard throughout her whole lifetime. Martin Luther was well aware of that fact that, as he put it, the bitter sweat of his parents had made it possible for him to go to the university.

Their parenting principles were strict, but not unusual for that time. Luther does not seem to have come to any harm. In fact, he honored the memory of his parents with love and respect. The devotional life at home also followed common church practices. Luther lived most of his life away from his parents’ home after he turned fourteen.

Between abut 1490 and 1497 Luther attended the town school in Mansfeld. Thereafter his father sent him to Magdeburg, probably because one of his friends also changed to the cathedral school there. Luther found accommodation with the “Brethren of the Common Life,” a modern religious movement emanating from the Netherlands. Once a year later he moved to the parish school of St. George in Eisenach. Closeness to his mother’s relatives may have played a role in this decision. Later Luther criticized the rigidity in late medieval schools. At any rate he owed them his proficiency in the Latin language, his familiarity with ancient Christian culture and his love for poetry and music.

In the spring 1501 Luther enrolled at the University of Erfurt. He stayed at a hostel, whose life followed strict monastic rules. To the prerequisite studies of liberal arts, which were mandatory for any prospective theologian, lawyer, or medical doctor, Luther devoted himself passionately. And after four years, in the shortest time possible, he graduated with excellent. When he was awarded his master’s degree in spring 1505, he took second place out of seventeen candidates.

Then Luther turned toward the study of law, as was his father’s desire. After having visited his parents, Luther got caught in a summer thunderstorm nearby Stotternheim on his way back home on July 2, 1505. A lightning bolt, which struck right behind him, scared him to death and caused him to vow: “Help me, Saint Anna, I will become a monk!” That Luther entered the monastery, but not before another fifteen days had passed, shows that he did not act under the effect of mere emotions, but that he became a monk only after careful self-examination. We will have to see his decision against the background of a deep existential fear, whose resolution he tried to force but whose dramatic expression it only became, since even in the Erfurt convent of the Augustinian Hermits, he was barred from the religious peace for which he had longed.

Luther’s father was outraged by his son’s unexpected turn: All the plans he had made for his eldest son’s life and career seemed to be thwarted. This conflict would cast a shadow over the relationship between father and son for many years to come and only in 1525 when Luther got married was it finally resolved.

During his first year as a novice, Luther subjected himself to an intense study of the Bible. He also familiarized himself with the rules and regulations of the monastic life. The strict way of living, which was predominant there, did not pose any problems to him. But soon it became apparent that even the most painstaking obedience to the three monastic vows Luther had taken at his profession (obedience, poverty, chastity) did not lead to the inner peace for which he had longed. An excessively pursued practice of confessing did not help either. It only increased his religious distress. Thus it was no coincidence that Luther got stuck in the high prayer during the first mass he had to read as a newly ordained priest. The young man who all of a sudden found himself facing God so closely was left speechless in his fear. Filled with awe of the sacred he tried to run away from the liturgy but his teacher admonished him to stay and finish mass.

In the figure of the pantocrator—the ruling and judging Christ—Luther’s fear of God became symbolically intensified. The anxieties and melancholies that haunted Luther throughout his entire life were fed from this image of the Judge of the World, so real for him during his early years. Yet Luther never lost himself to his religious anxieties. He rather felt spurred on to study the Bible more intensely. Unlike the approach of the scholastic tradition, Luther would not read the Scriptures for intellectual purposes but for existential meditation. Even later the professors at Wittenberg were always quite impressed by their young colleague’s outstanding knowledge of the Bible. The fact that Luther felt at home in this book more than any other became the characteristic trademark of his theology. No matter what he read from the fathers and teachers of the church, he would always relate it to the Bible and compare it with its original message.

In 1507, the same year he was ordained as a priest, Luther was selected by his superior to study theology. In Erfurt the Augustinian Hermits had established a general course of studies for their members. As a doctor of theology the respective chair had to fill the professorship of theology at the university as well. Through the works of Gabriel Biel, also von Ockam, Duns Scotus, Petrus of Ailly and Thomas Aquinas, Luther was introduced to Christian dogmatics. However, Augustine was the figure who became of utmost importance to Luther. Having studied his works most diligently, Luther preferred him over all other scholastics, turning him King’s evidence for his reformational renewal. In addition to these scholastics, he also came in contact with Aeropagitic (Dionysios, Gerson), the Roman (Bernard von Clairvaux) and the German mysticism (Tauler) as well as the German humanism (Reuchlin, Wimpfeling), though in a more limited, philology oriented manner.

At that time Johannes von Staupitz served as vicar general of the German monasteries of the Augustinian Hermits. Today there is still very little known about his theology, which was highly influenced by Augustine. He attached great importance to the study of the Bible in his monasteries. To Luther he became an important supported and father confessor, seeking to alleviate Luther’s fear of punishment and eternal damnation by pointing out that God only intends to punish the sinful nature in humans but seeks to win the person of the sinner for himself. In a somewhat modified manner this distinction can also be found later in Luther’s writings. At one point Luther tormented himself with an almost maniacal urge to confess, when von Staupitz, a pastor of high standing, objected that he could not even produce any real sins, but just hobbling stuff and puppet’s sins.

From fall 1508 to fall 1509 Luther was sent to the newly established university in Wittenberg where the Augustinian Hermits from Erfurt were in charge of one of the teaching positions. Due to a temporary vacancy Luther had to fill in as Master of Arts, reading about the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. After this interim in Wittenberg, Luther returned to the monastery in Erfurt. From there he accompanied an older fellow friar on a trip to Rome in winter 1510/11, where the latter was engaged by his order to settle business with the curia. Only in the late summer of 1511 did Luther move for good into the city which would make history through him and in which he himself would make history.

As his very own creation Elector Frederick the Wise had established a new university in Wittenberg in 1502, for which the imperial privilege had been granted whereas papal confirmation of the university was not given until 1507. Georg Spalatin, electoral court chaplain and tutor of the princes, became the crucial intermediary between court and university. Though Spalatin also cherished other theological ideas at first, Luther did not have much trouble in winning him for his own opinions. The bond of friendship that grew immediately between them turned out to be an essential cornerstone of the Reformation, lasting through the storms of decades.

In Wittenberg the two converts of the mendicant orders were each engaged with a professorship in theology. For the Augustinian hermits von Staupitz was the one giving the lectures. However, he wished to free himself from this responsibility and it was obvious he built Luther up into being his successor right from the start. Under his spiritual guidance Luther graduated through all levels of theology studies up to and including his doctorate — and all that within the shorter time frame possible, as five years of study were the minimum requirement.

On October 18 and 19, 1512 Luther was solemnly awarded his doctor of theology. The required fee of fifty guilders was paid by the elector himself. With the doctorate came the right of independent academic work. Anyone with a doctoral degree was entitled to voice his own opinion, which could then be heard in theological disputes—of course this was only as long as it resonated with the asserted teachings of the church. Even though at first Luther was most reluctant to pursue the academic career intended for him, it did not take long to adjust and he would refer to his doctoral degree without reservation whenever his authority was questioned, be it toward the papal legate Cajetan, the elector Albert of Mainz, or the pope himself.

With his promotion Luther entered a stage of his life which was characterized by extremely intense academic and spiritual work. Beside his academic responsibilities, he already faced an enormous workload as sub-prior and chairman of the general course of studies in Wittenberg, adding even more duties when he became district vicar of his order in 1515.

A Time Of New Departures (1512-21)

Luther’s series of early lectures — first on Psalms (1513/14), then on the Letters to the Romans (1515/16), Galatians (1516/17) and Hebrews (1517/18) — is an invaluable source of information for understanding Reformation theology. Those lectures document an exciting and far-reaching process during whose course of discoveries Luther got out of the rut of conventional theology more rigorously with each new insight: He interpreted the passages not with a scholastic’s eye any more, but from the Bible’s perspective, not on the background of traditional interpretations by the church authorities, but within the framework of the whole biblical tradition. The debate as to whether Luther experienced his Reformation breakthrough in 1514/15 or somewhat later, in 1518, which has not been settled as of yet, loses more and more of its importance when Luther’s Reformation theology is not looked at as a sudden event, which might even have occurred overnight, but rather as a complex developmental process spreading out over several years, furthering sudden insights on a continuous basis. Without a doubt the most famous discovery of all is about God’s righteousness (Rom. 1:17) — which is not based on demanding but on giving, not on the law but on the gospel.

Luther’s early lectures seemed to make a fundamental reform of the theological course of studies absolutely necessary. His criticism of Aristotelian prerequisites for thinking grew steadily into a criticism of the entire scholastic theology. The call for a new reform of the theological study course was the inevitable consequence: away fro Artistotelianism and the interpretation of the Lombard’s Sentences toward a study of the Bible and, with a proper distance, the church fathers as well. Luther’s criticism found its preliminary peak in his —partly harshly termed — disputation theses “Against Scholastic Theology,” which were published in September 1517, only two months before his famous Ninety-five Theses “On the Power of Indulgences” were announced, triggering a snowball effect. Strangely enough, at this time everything appeared to remain largely calm on the outside (WA 1, 224-28 [Disputatio contra scholasticam theologiam; 1517]. Luther’s writings are quoted hereafter according to Weimarer Ausgabe {Weimar Edition}, the only complete critical edition of his works, letters, table talks and Bible interpretations: D. Martin Luther, Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, Weimar: H. Bohlau, 1883-1993 {abbr, WA}).

Beside his academic work Luther had also assumed responsibility for the parish of Wittenberg as a preacher. In their inseparable connectedness these two, lectern and pulpit, formed together the decisive continuum of Luther’s theological existence. No later than 1514 he must have already filled in the preaching position at the town church of Wittenberg. Some of his sermons Luther sent immediately to press. However, the majority of his sermons — in the end somewhat over 2,000 – were handed down to us in form of shorthand transcripts. As a preacher Luther preferred a homiletic approach, which would closely follow the Bible passage. His interpretations were crafted in a down-to-earth manner without rhetorical pathos, but full of experiences from real life and faith. Beside the interpretation of individual passages of the Bible, Luther also liked to teach about central texts such as the Ten Commandments or the Lord’s Prayer. Those catechistic series of sermons formed the basis from which, later, the two catechisms grew.

The turning point in society, which Luther brought about not as an act of daring but unintentionally, was kicked off by his criticism of the widespread canonized practice of selling indulgences. By means of indulgences the church offered an opportunity to compensate for one’s untoned sin and punishments through money. Pope Leo X had reissued a plenary indulgence in 1515 for, among other territories, the church province of Magdeburg, near to Wittenberg. Many members of Luther’s parish made eager use of this opportunity, lulling them into a false sense of religious certainty. First of all, Luther voiced his pastoral concerns from the pulpit. On October 31, 1517 he presented his critique of the indulgences in a concerned letter to Margrave Albert of Brandenburg, who was at the same time Archbishop of Mainz as well as of Magdeburg. His Ninety-five Theses “On the Power of Indulgences” were also enclosed in this letter. In his writing he called repentance a lifelong attitude expected of Christians. He expressed his particular disapproval of the fact that humans were more frightened of punishments set by the church than of sin whose forgiveness lies in God’s power alone. Thus Luther’s criticism of the indulgences aimed at the church’s instumentalization of Christian repentance (WA 1, 233-38 [Disputatio pro declaratione virtutis indulgentiarum; 1517).

Whether Luther actually posted his Ninety-five Theses on the castle church of Wittenberg remains uncertain — Melanchthon at least talks about that only decades later. However, it is beyond any doubt that his theses spread throughout all Germany in no time and launched a meteoric development after they had been released at the end of 1517 and explained in German by Luther in March 1518. This marks the beginning of Luther’s unprecedented writing activities. At the end of April 1518, when he visited his orders chapter in Heidelberg, he was already a famous man. With his theses of the “Heidelberg Disputation,” in which he gave the theology of the cross as promoted by him a distinct image, he won some of his most important connections in southern Germany, among them Johannes Brenz, Martin Buber, and Erhard Schnepf (WA 1, 243-46 [Ein Sermon von Ablab und Gnade {A Sermon on Indulgences and Grace}; 1518).

In summer 1518 Rome opened a trial for heresy against Luther. The situation appeared to be hopeless: The ban of the church would most certainly be followed by the ban of the empire. Luther asked his territorial ruler, Elector Frederick the Wise, to lend him his support with the emperor’s consent so that the whole cause could come to negotiations in Germany. Frederick complied with his request, and because Rome had political reasons to reach an agreement with Frederick, Luther was indeed examined by a papal legate on German soil in October 1518, following the Diet of Augsburg. The interrogations were led by the papal legate Cajetan, a highly educated Dominican, who had the authority to readmit Luther to the community of the church if he would recant, but also to excommunicate him if need be. Through it all Luther remained steadfast. Therefore Cajetan demanded that Luther be extricated to Rome. That of course was flatly declined by Frederick the Wise, who demanded instead that Luther be heard before an unbiased court of scholars. Since Rome did not intend to bargain away Frederick’s favor in view of the upcoming imperial election, no particular measures were enforced in the causa Lutheri  for the moment.

Yet the debate continued. In summer 1519 the theology professor Johann Eck from Ingolstadt sought a confrontation with Luther. In the “Leipzig Disputation” they first debated about indulgences, but soon moved on to the question of papal authority. Provoked by Eck, Luther disputed that the pope’s primacy was grounded in divine right and at the same time he also disputed the infallibility of the church councils: Those might not only err, but had certainly already erred, as with the Council of Constance (1414-18), for example, in the case of the Bohemian Jan His. The Leipzig Disputation helped clarify positions: From now on Duke George of Saxony saw his enemy in Luther. On the other hand many humanists, such as Erasmus of Rotterdam, sided with Luther or at least showed solidarity while keeping their distance.

The breathing space which the year 1520 seemed to grant was used by Luther to give his theology a more clearly defined image in writing. With the four main reformational works of this year he showed that he did not only aim at the criticism of a specific, ill-developed, practice of piety, but that he was on his way to renew the whole church and theology based on the gospel. He started out with the treatise Von den guten Werken (Of Good Works; WA 6, 202-76 {1520}). This fundamental writing of Reformation ethics Luther clothed in the form of an interpretation of the Ten Commandments. Faith alone, he stated at the beginning, is able to fulfill the first commandment. However, when a person in faith knows herself accepted by God without any contributing works of her own, she will not need to speculate about attaining God’s salvation through her own activities, but fueled by her confidence in God will feel free to do good works as the most natural thing in the world. Following this line to practice a life lived out of faith, Luther also interpreted all the remaining nine commandments. In his writing An den christlichen Adel deutscher Nation von des christlichen Standes Besserung (To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Regarding the Improvement of the Christian Estate {WA 6, 404-69 {1520}), Luther encouraged the target group to make active use of their right as secular authorities to lend their active support to a reform of Christianity. And all the more, Rome would take cover behind a threefold wall against all legitimate reform efforts: First, through the unbiblical division of Christianity between priests and lay people; second, through the claim that the pope holds the supreme power of teaching; third, through the presumptuous prevention that the pope alone was allowed to convene a council.

The “Nobility Treatise,” written in German, was selling like hot cakes. Only a few days after its publication the 4,000 copies of the first printing were sold out. The Latin writing Von der babylonischen Gefanggenschaft der Kirche (On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church {WA 6, 497-573 {De captivitate babylonica ecclesiae Praeludium; 1520}), however, was geared toward a theologically educated audience. In it Luther unfolded the base line for a biblical understanding of the sacraments, which on the one hand sorted out confirmation, marriage, ordination and extreme unction, and with some reservation also repentance, as unbiblical, and on the other hand announced his fundamental opposition to the Roman Catholic understanding of the Lord’s Supper. The explosive potential of Luther’s new teaching on the sacraments can hardly be overestimated, not to mention its practical implications which, for example, would render private masses pointless. This in turn would also put many priests out of work and in general would make the separation between clergy and lay people irrelevant. Luther certainly did not have an impious destruction of the church in mind, but rather its basic Christian renewal. Yet Luther hit the vital nerve of current church practices. Erasmus commented on this writing with the laconic remark that the break with Rome could hardly be healed any more.

The best-known writing of them all explored Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen (On the Freedom of a Christian {WA 7, 20-38 {1520}). Luther portrayed Christians in their relationship to God as free, in their relationship to the world, however, as obliged to the service and compassion of their neighbor: Faith would set humans free from the compulsion for self-justification and therefore would render them free to serve their neighbors. In short, humans would be free out of faith in love.

The programmatic writings of the Reformation were hereby established. In the same year the proceedings against Luther were taken up again. As early as 1519 the two universities in Cologne as well as Lowen had already condemned Luther. On June 15, 1520 the bull threatening Luther with excommunication was finally issued, and in October 1520 it was publicly announced to have the force of law. Somehow Frederick the Wise was able to negotiate that Luther was not to be arrested at once but would first be interrogated at the Diet of Worms. On March 6, 1521 Luther was summoned before the emperor with the promise of safe-conduct.

The journey to Worms turned into a triumphal procession. Wherever Luther went, he was eagerly greeted with public interest and good will. In Leipzig the magistrate welcomed him with an honorary cup of wine, in Erfurt the rector of the university received him at the city wall with great splendor as if a prince was to be honored. Here in Erfurt Luther also preached in his order’s church. which was overfilled to the point of mortal danger. When the creaking of the wooden gallery caused panic to spread, with great presence of mind he was able to avert the danger: Please stand still, he called into the crowd, nothing evil will happen, the devil just tried to frighten us.

Finally, on April 18, 1521, his crucial appearance in Worms became reality. In front of the emperor and the imperial estates Luther refused to follow their demand of renunciation. He did not feel the slightest obligation to the authority of the pope, he stated. Instead his conscience was bound to Holy Scripture. Therefore he could not and would not recant as long as his teachings could not be refuted through Scripture or clear reasoning. With reference to his conscience as solely obliged to the word of God, Luther had denied access to human faith to the two world powers, represented by the emperor and the pope.

Though the effort was made to continue negotiations in Worms, they did not produce successful results. On April 26, 1521 Luther set out on his return trip. Shortly before, Frederick the Wise had informed Luther that he would have him kidnapped on his way home so he could be brought to safety. This is exactly what happened on May 4: To all appearances an attack was launched and Luther was taken to his new refuge at the Wartburg castle. Since Worms, Luther’s life was in danger: The Edict of Worms had placed him under imperial ban. Furthermore, all his books were to be destroyed and censorship of religious writings was to be introduced in all territories of the empire.

Soon it became obvious that the orders of the Edict of Worms defied enforcement in this form. Yet it should not be underestimated that as a legal instrument they served their purpose in the imperial religious politics until the Peace of Augsburg in 1555.

A Time Of Creative Prowess (1521-25)

Often enough Luther found his isolation difficult to bear while locked up in the Wartburg castle. An immense work schedule was his way of going about coping with it. He studied the Bible and beside numerous letters he also wrote some of his most important works such as the Wartburgspostille (Church Postil {WA 10, 1,1 {1522}) — a collection of exemplary sermons — and also an interpretation of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56 {WA 7, 544-604 {Das Magnificat verdeutscht und ausgelegt; 1521}), a broadsheet against the theologian Latomus von Lowen( WA 8, 43-128 {Rationis Latomianae pro incendiariis Lovaniensis scholae sophistis  redditae, Lutheriana confutio; 1521}), and a fundamental treatise on monastic vows (WA 8, 573-669 {De votis monasticis M. Lutheri iudicium; 1521}), whose rejection of the bonding force of the vows soon triggered far reaching practical consequences. The exodus from the monasteries began.

But above all Luther translated the New Testament from the Greek original, a first since Wulfila, at the Wartburg castle within just eleven weeks. Luther’s German translations of the Bible outshone all those before him by far: in their linguistic beauty and power, but also in their spiritual authority and theological precision. Luther’s New Testament was released in September 1522 (Septembertestament) with 3,000 copies and a rather high retail price, notwithstanding which it was out of print within a few days. By December a revised edition (Dezembertestatement) was published. Between 1522 and 1533 Luther’s New Testament saw a total of eighty-five editions. Soon after 1522 Luther set out to translate the Old Testament. This endeavor which engaged several collaborators, came to its fruition with the first edition of a complete Luther Bible in 1534. It is said that the print shop of Hans Lufft in Wittenberg sold about 100,000 copies of the Biblia, das list die gantze Heilige Schrift Deudsch (Biblia, That is the Entire Holy Scripture in German) over fifty years. The number of non-local reprints or illegal copies, however, is beyond our knowledge. From 1531 Luther presided over a revision commission, whose goal it was to improve the texts of the German Bible on a continuous basis and whose work can still come alive for us through some extant commission protocols.

During the creative break Luther had been forced to take at the Wartburg castle, the call for restructuring the church system became more and more urgent. Now it all depended on shaping this critical potential, fed from all those forces across Germany that aligned themselves with Luther’s protest, into a positive and creative power that would be able to give this new faith, which claimed to be the truly old and evangelical one, a visible and credible expression of life. That Luther met this challenge without hesitating and dedicating his entire life to it without sparing himself is what really shows his greatness and at the same time has given the cause he represented its lasting historic meaning. 

In 1522 turmoil broke out in Wittenberg. Blind enthusiasm for reform got out of hand. First Luther responded in written form only, with his Treue[n] Vermahnung zu allen Christen, sich zu hut for Aufruhr und Emporung (Earnest Exhortation to All Christians Against insurrection and Rebellion) {WA 8, 676-87 {1522}). When he realized that written encouragement would not help, he came in person. At the beginning of March 1522 Luther preached for a whole week every single day. Thus he was able to stop the radical iconoclasm, cooling down the very heated feelings. Non vi sed verbo – not through violence, but through the word alone. This was the message of the “Invocavit Sermons” he preached very eloquently. This was also the start for the reorganization of the budding church of the Reformation (WA 10, 3; 1-64 {1522}).

Luther reformed the current form of worship service cautiously but also with consequences. So that the congregation could play its active role as set forth by the new evangelical approach, Luther initiated congregational singing in the native language. As early as 1524 the first three evangelical hymnbooks could be released, with a large portion of the new hymns contributed by Luther himself.

Furthermore, the church assets had also to be reorganized. In Wittenberg a satisfying solution was quickly found. After a temporary trial of the so-called “begging ordinance,” the Gemeine Kasten (“common chest”) was established in 1522. This new institution was responsible for the finances church and school and also for the social services to be granted in support of poor local residents. The begging of foreigners was hereby prohibited.

The school system Luther regarded as an excellent object for reform work. Over and over again he complained about the lack of interest in schooling among citizens and the magistrates. In 1524 he therefore appealed An die Ratsherren aller Stadte deutschen Lands, dab sie christliche Schulen aufrichten und halten sollen (To the Councillors of all Cities in Germany that they Establish and Maintain Christian Schools {WA 15, 27-53 {1524}). A solid knowledge of the original languages of the Bible seemed to be indispensable for a preacher in Luther’s opinion, and likewise the professional skills to access the whole of education currently available. This was the only way that an evangelical preacher could fulfill his task satisfactorily, just the opposite opinion, that of a fanciful and low regard for school and academic education, would inevitably lead to a bargaining away of the cause of the church. The gospel, Luther was certain, could not be deliberately trivialized. The educational responsibility of the Lutheran Church as put forth by Luther became an essential factor in the modern history of humanities.

Not only for the history of the Reformation, but also for Martin Luther himself the year 1525 meant a deep caesura. It was marked by the Peasants’ War as well as the suspect role Luther played in it. As early as 1523 Luther noticed that Thomas Muntzer, one of his followers during the first years, began to drift further off from him: The rigoristic mysticism that Muntzer began to spread, Luther regarded as much against the gospel as was its objective, to execute the punishment of the godless through violent-revolutionary means. At the beginning of 1525 Muntzer became one of the protagonists of the peasants’ movement in Thuringia.

The Peasants’ War turned into a trial of strength for Luther’s political ethics. Luther regarded most of the peasants’ demands as legitimate. However, he disliked the fact that the peasants did not voice their concerns in a political and pragmatic manner, but rather justified their cause from the Bible, thereby revoking the secular system of laws in the name of the gospel. Luther asked for a clear distinction between law and religion. When open rebellion broke loose in Thuringia, Luther became outraged about the peasants: They had violated their obligation of allegiance and were guilty of violation of the peace as well as blasphemy. At the same time Luther admonished the princes to take up their duties as rulers, that is, to protect the system of laws and go into action against the rebellious peasants.

Of course, Luther could not hinder the rebellion. After all, we should not overestimate the influence he exerted over the course of events. However, the consequences followed really hard upon him: The Roman Catholic party sought to make him legally responsible for the uproar as its spiritual father. Among Luther’s friends there was irritation die to his hard line. The peasants were disappointed by him, and most of them remained embittered. From now on Luther kept reminding the secular authorities of their duties to be the chosen patrons of the Reformation. The Landersherrliche Kirchenregiment (territorial church government), which grew out of this development, would define the Protestant church governance in Germany until 1918.

Beside the Peasants’ War the year 1525 also brought another caesura: the break with Erasmus. Humanism and Reformation, Erasmus and Luther: They were a pair of brothers, sometimes arguing but certainly cast in the same mold. Not only in their criticism of ecclesiastical incrustations and the traditional scholastic education system were connected, but also in their philological dedication toward the original documents of the Western world and in their deep respect for the ancient languages of the civilized world.

At first Erasmus had been kindly disposed towards Luther’s appearance. No later than 1521 he considered the break between Rome and Luther as irreparable. At best he had preferred to keep silent. Yet because he was increasingly suspected of being one of Luther’s secret followers and also because he had felt hurt by some of Luther’s adverse remarks, he could hardly avoid making a public statement. In September 1524 he began to take a stand against Luther with his treatise On Free Will (Erasmus von Rotterdam, De libero Arbitrio diatribe sive collatio {1524}). The topic was chosen cleverly: It hit the core argument over which Luther had become involved in the church.

Erasmus opted for the path of the golden mean: On the way to salvation, many things would have to be ascribed to divine grace and others to human will. Luther replied with his counter-writing On the Bondage of the Will in the fall of 1525 (WA 18, 600-787 {De servo arbitrio; 1525; ET The Bondage of the Will, trans. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston. Westwood, NJ.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1957}). To the question whether the human will can be thought of as being free, he also answered: half and half. Unlike Erasmus he drew a line of categorical distinction: With respect to its relationship to God, the human will is totally bound. On the other hand, with respect to its dealing with worldly things, freedom of choice belongs to humans. If humans were to ascribe freedom to themselves, then, stated Luther, God’s gift of faith becomes a human effort. According to Luther, this was exactly the position toward which Erasmus was leaning. For Erasmus, human faith in God would become a moral postulate.

Erasmus responded once more with a detailed defense statement (Erasmus von Rotterdam, Hyperaspistes diatribae adversus serum arbitrium Martini Lutheri, 2 vols. {1526/27}). Luther did not react to it any more. The break between the two scholars was complete by then. The relationship between the two movements they represented did not suffer the same fate, fortunately for both.

A Time of Trials (1525-1546)

With respect to his personal life the year 1525 also meant an essential caesura to Luther. He left monkhood and entered into marriage. From the union with Katharina von Bora, a former nun, six children were born: Hans (1526), Elizabeth (1527), Magdelena (1529), Martin (1531), Paul (1533) and Margarethe (1534). Two of the girls died young: Elizabeth after eight months, Magdelena — Luther’s beloved Lenchen — in her thirteenth year.

The burden of Luther’s household was immense. In addition to his own children, he also took in children of both his deceased sister, and an aunt of his wife. Some students found also accommodation in Luther’s house as well as varying numbers of foreign guests; these alone could amount to twenty-five people. This large operation posed a continuous domestic challenge. And that Luther on the one hand was a man of warm generosity and on the other hand lacked a sense of finances did not make things easier. That Luther’s wife not only managed the domestic matters but also secured their economic survival through husbandry and agriculture, Luther always appreciated with deep gratification. The relationship between the two spouses was conducted in mutual respect and happy love. In contrast to the law of his time, Luther appointed his wife as sole heir in his last will.

Luther’s professional duties took up most his time. As a preacher, often also as a father confessor or pastor, he served the parish of Wittenberg, unflustered in his faithful and reliable devotion despite many a dispute. From 1535 Luther was appointed again permanent dean of the theology faculty. Highlights of his academic work included the second lecture series on Galatians (1531) and the great interpretation of the Book of Genesis (1535-45), which took about ten years and was worked on with many an interruption. The practice of disputations, which had come to a standstill during the disturbances of the early 1520’a, was revived in 1535. Luther had been involved in a total of fourteen circular as well as thirteen doctoral disputations. For the promotion of this literary style, bu which the Reformation had been sparked off so to speak, Luther spared neither trouble not care. Therefore nowhere else can greater examples of his outstanding writing and editing skills be found than in the series of disputation theses he drew up. As for the subject matter, he would always aim at the heart of Reformation theology: The doctrine of justification. later also Christology, the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as anthropology, were his favorite topics.

Again and again Luther emphasized the importance of disputation exercises for theological teaching and church life. In his opinion they offered prospective pastors and teachers an ideal opportunity to train their rhetorical-dialectical skills and to prepare them for all those arguments they would inevitably be confronted with owing to their profession. To Luther theology was a science of conflict par excellence: Its subject was the dispute about the truth of faith into which everybody had been baptized and into which each and every studying Christian would certainly and constantly become involved. In Luther’s opinion, theological reality would not find its expression in unconditional neutrality but in a constantly raging debate: Only in the defense of life-threatening evil would the truth of faith manifest itself in concrete terms.

After the disaster of the Peasants’ War Luther made an appeal to the elector to have visitations in the parishes carried out and to urge his villages to regard the support of schools and churches as at least as important as the maintenance of bridges and roads. Thus in 1527 the first visitation was conducted in Electoral Saxony. Luther contributed mainly in written form: the “German Mass,” (WA 19, 72-113 {Deutsche Messe und Ordnung Gottesdiensts, 1526}), a new liturgy for baptism and marriage, a prayer book for children, new editions of hymnals, a series of sermons and of course the two Catechisms (WA 30, 1; 125-425 {1529}).

Both Catechisms, the Large as well as the Small, were Luther’s way of dealing with the depressing visitation results. In view of the alarming lack of biblical and theological knowledge encountered in the pastors — not to mention the congregations — Luther set out to tackle the challenge, whose effort can hardly be overrated, of putting the essence of the Christian faith in basic sentences without trivializing or reducing it excessively. Fortunately he could draw on some groundwork he had done earlier, in particular on three series of sermons from 1528, in which he had worked through the “Principal Themes of Faith” one after the other: Decalogue, Confession, Lord’s Prayer, Baptism, and Lord’s Supper. From that source the Large Catechism was born: a handbook for pastors designed to provide them with the necessary tools of the theological trade.

The Large Catechism was published in 1529 and the Small Catechism in the same year. The Small Catechism is first of all nothing more than its superbly phrased shore form for domestic use. The one-page format made it possible for the individual pages of the entire Catechism to be put up on the wall as an educational aid for memorizing. With unsurpassed proficiency Luther knew how to summarize the heart of the Christian faith in concrete terms, always keeping his readership in mind so that its translation into the lives of those who would read and memorize the Catechism came alive with each sentence. “Your book says it all,” commented his wife Katherine. And this is exactly how it was meant to be.

Beside the Luther Bile the Small Catechism in particular unfolded an incredible sphere of activity throughout the history of Protestant piety, extending to the dawn of the present time. The scheme of having the question “What is it?” constantly repeated was meant as an encouragement to render account to each other for the mystery of faith on a daily basis.

At the Diet of Speyer in 1529 the evangelical imperial estates submitted a formal protestation. An alliance of all “Protestants” came into sight then, for which Luther assumed as inevitable an agreement on all questions of teaching. The “Schwabach Articles” (WA 30, 3; 178-82 {Ein Bekenntnis christlicher Lehre und christlichen Glaubens durch D. M. Luther in 17 Artikeln verfabt; 1529}) which he had co-authored with Melanchthon were supposed to form the foundation. The teaching on the Lord’s Supper led to an argument with the reformers from Zurich: Do we celebrate only the memory Christ — as Zwingli said; or even his bodily presence — as Luther stated? In October 1529 the “Colloquy of Marburg” was set up to bring about the indispensable theological as well as political unity. Yet no agreement could be reached. From now on each party would go their own way. The consequences caused by the separation between the reformers of Wittenberg and Switzerland have reached right into the twenty-first century.

The separation from the Roman Catholic Church also remained tormenting. For the Diet of Augsburg in 1530 the emperor had promised a peaceful settlement of the religious issue. The “Augsburg Confession,” written by Melanchthon since Luther was not allowed to leave his territory of Electoral Saxony, offered a careful and cautious summary of the Lutheran teachings. Unlike Melanchthon, Luther regarded the attempt to reconcile with Rome in theological and ecclesiastical matters utopian. Therefore he aimed at a political settlement. The “Peace of Nuremberg” (1532) seemed to offer than. However, appearances were deceptive: The political reality only took root with the “Peace of Augsburg” in 1555. Though Luther did not true the pope’s plans for a church council, in his “Schmalkald Articles” (WA 50, 192-254 {1536}) he did summarize the theological priorities of the Protestants, which ought not to be given up in the discussion with Rome. They became his theological will.

Luther’s workload, which rested on his shoulders over decades on end, was enormous. Just a glance at his written legacy, collected in over one hundred thick volumes of the complete critical Weimar Edition — equivalent to one thousand and eight hundred pages per year —, makes one stand in wonder at so much creative power. Luther always worked on the verge of exhaustion.

Hi life became overshadowed by more and more illness. An angina pectoris ailed him over decades; a severe attack in 1527 had his family fearing the worst. Among other chronic disorders were headaches as well as a stubborn kidney disorder, which almost cost his life in 1537 while on a trip to Schmalkald.

Luther devoted his last energy to the mediation of a fight over an inheritance which had divided the counts of Mansfeld. In the end they asked Luther to help negotiate between the parties. At the end of 1545 Luther had become involved with several letters and visits, but in vain.

Thus he set out for another trip to Eiselben in January 1546. This time his arbitration efforts attained their goal. On February 16, 1546  first arbitration contract could be signed. The net day Luther was unable to participate in the signing of the second contract due to acute bodily weakness. In the night of February 18 he died. Both of the friends who were with him asked the dying Luther if he would remain steadfast and intended to die in Christ and the teaching he himself had preached. Luther replied with a clear and audible: Ja (“Yes”). This was his last word.

During the two following days Luther’s body remained laid out in Eisleben. Thereafter he was transferred to Wittenberg where he was taken to the castle and university church with a solemn escort. At the funeral service Bugenhagen as the town pastor preached in German and Melanchthon representing the university spoke in Latin. Then Luther was interred next to the pulpit. When the imperial troops entered Wittenberg a year later, Charles V ordered his soldiers to leave the grave of his adversary untouched. Luther has shaped his time in an extraordinary way. Now he had become history himself.

*Adapted from Chapter One of The Cambridge Companion To Martin Luther, edited by Donald K. McKim, Cambridge University Press, UK, 2003. The author of this chapter, Albrecht Beutel, is University Professor of Church History in the Evangelisch Theologische Fakultat, Westfalische Wilhelms Universitat, Munster, Germany. He has written Martin Luther and In dem Anfang war das Wort: Studien zu Luthers Sprachverstandnis.

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