The Tragedy of Compromise: Evolution as Christianized Paganism

I’ve entitled this series “the tragedy of compromise”; not “the tragedy of evolutionary beliefs”. We’ve discussed the definition of religion, the definition of science, and we have linked this discussion to evolutionary thought (though we could – and eventually will – make similar connections with much of psychology, as well).

The tragedy of compromise is not that atheists believe in evolution – although, this is tragic because of the consequences to their souls. Rather, the tragedy of compromise is found in the number of Christian intellectuals who try to incorporate evolution into Christian thought.

A number of months ago, I put forward a series of sermons on evolution. My central text was Exodus 20:3 – “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Whenever theologians or Christians compromise on evolution, that commandment is being violated.

The actual danger for ancient Israel was not that they replaced the worship of Yahweh (commonly transliterated as Jehovah) with the worship of Ba’al, Molek, or any of the other pagan deities. The true danger was that the Israelites worshipped Yahweh and Molek, Ba’al, and added elements of pagan worship to the worship of God (the second commandment). This, in fact, is what occurred. There are temples to Yahweh that have been discovered by archeologists, which included an Asharah pole (an idol representing a deity’s wife). The books of Kings and Chronicles indicate the same thing: the worship of God was adulterated with pagan elements. Then, the Israelites began to add foreign religions, along with the worship of the God of Heaven. Ahaz, for example, was an idolater, but he was also involved in the worship of God enough to change the design of the altar, in the Temple.

The consequences were devastating; similarly, the tragic consequences of evolution are equally devastating.

Atheists regularly assert that racism and the Ku Klux Klan have received safe haven in the Church. But, they often fail to realize (due to the typical atheist tendency to avoid actually looking into the details of their arguments) that a major element of Christians’ holding to racist ideas was compromise on the issue of evolution.

When uniformitarianism (the geological basis of much of evolutionary thought) was first postulated, Christians began to accommodate evolutionary thought to the book of Genesis. This is the source of numerous ideas, such as the gap theory (the idea that the world fell and needed recreation after Genesis 3), the day age theory (the days of creation are not literal days, but are references to epochs of time), and various other viewpoints. Over time, evolutionary theory was accommodated further and further. The classic case was made (perhaps ironically) by B. B. Warfield in 1911 (“ironically” because the best discussion defining the Biblical doctrine of Inspiration is a collection Warfield’s essays on the topic). These theories were the standard approach to Genesis for nearly a century.

One of the results, of course, was that Christians grew more open concerning issues of origin than they had been previously; this included openness on racial origins. This, again, was in keeping with the racist ideas that were an integral part of late 19th century and early twentieth Century Darwinian theory. Social Darwinism was nothing less than the logical conclusions of Darwin’s work The Descent of Man.

Some argued that black men were not descended from Adam and Eve, but evolved from lower animals. Others incorrectly connected blacks to the curse of Noah’s son Ham. Still others treated Genesis 1-12 as myths, and history as having begun at a later date, in which case the unity of the human race was ignored. In all cases, the Church was open to racism because of compromises with naturalism.

As believers, then, we must seriously consider the damage to the Christian faith when we compromise with evolutionists. As I noted before, evolution requires an a priori assumption of the principles underlying philosophical naturalism. The intellectual element of my faith is couched in the Resurrection of Christ (see our on-going series on our more technical site). Because I believe that Christ was resurrected, I am forced to repudiate naturalism. If I rebuild that which I have destroyed, I am become a transgressor of the Law (Galatians 2).

If someone asks me, as Ken Ham was once asked, what would cause you to change your mind on evolution, my answer is once again, “Find the Body.”

13 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Compromise: Evolution as Christianized Paganism

  1. And here I thought salvation came by grace alone obtained through faith alone in the crucified and risen Lord alone. But no, you have to reject evolution too. Who knew?

    • You have my cart before my horse. My argument is that the logic of salvation leads to a rejection of evolution. After all, salvation by faith in Christ and obedience within the faith are not mutially exclusive.

  2. But I don’t see a rejection of evolution as obedience to Christ, but obedience to men, much as when Galileo was commanded to remain silent about his observations of Venus travelling behind the sun. Truth is truth. If the Bible rejects the Grand Synthesis of descent with variation (which it does not), then so much the worse for the Bible.

    • Sub-Christian views of the Bible aside, your answer lacks substance, its bluster. This piece rests on logic detailed in several previous pieces. It seems to me to argue your point you can either demonstrate specifically where my reasoning is incorrect or you can demonstrate how evolution is certain without using naturalistic presuppositions, which I believe to be impossible. Because the physical, historical resurrection of Christ is an irreducible minimum of the Christian faith, we cannot logically accept naturalism. Besides, naturalism is based on an argument by Hume that begs the question, which means it is illogical on its face. My argument is that evolution is not science, it is naturalism (a religion). Karl Popper, a leading expert on philosophy of science and not a believer said much the same.

      As to Galileo, might I suggest you have things backwards. The Heliocentric solar system presents no issues to the Bible (in fact some of the books that were censored were commentaries on the book of Job that indicated Jerome erred in his translation of some key passages). The real point of contention was a similar mixture as I’ve spoken of here with Aristotelean metaphysics. I believe Eta Linnemann discussed this issue in one of her later works.

  3. You said, “Because I believe that Christ was resurrected, I am forced to repudiate naturalism.” This is what Karl Popper, the expert you cited, would term an unfalsifiable and hence unscientific claim. No matter what evidence is accumulated, you will fall back on your faith that death, which is defined as the irreversible cessation of life, was reversed in the case of at least one man.
    This is well and good, since you are a religious person and make no claim that your belief is based on things which you have seen, and indeed you cannot, for ” we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” But in totally repudiating naturalism, you have slipped into a kind of neo-Gnosticism and dualism that itself is a pagan encrustation that infected Judaism and Christianity through Greek philosophy. John warned against this in his first epistle, where he wrote: “And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
    Now I’m hardly one to judge your orthodoxy, what I’m striving to get at is that supernaturalism is untenable because it raises questions rooted in the “mind-body problem”: How does a spirit, which is pure intellect, get traction on the physical, such as the operation of a body. A naturalist, which you so rightly peg me to be, has no such problem. To me, the spirit is simply the mind, which is the operation of a human brain, and no consciousness can exist apart from a living brain.

    • One of the irreducible minimums of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Christ, by definition a supernatual miracle. Naturalism begins with the assertion that miracles cannot happen, which means one cannot assert both to be true without violating the law of non-contradiction. That doesn’t mean I reject natural law or the existence of natural processes it means I do not believe natural law is sufficient to explain the origin, purpose or destiny of the universe and that I believe God can set it aside when He deems necessary. If science is the study of natural law, then defining natural becomes its limits. The rest then os philosophy, which is an approach to religion.

      As to gnosticism no, definitely not. Platonism is really the first century version of naturalism.

  4. Since you say naturalism begins with the claim that miracles cannot happen, then I must not be what you define as a naturalist because I make no such claim. Instead, I assert that no testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact, which it endeavors to establish. The testimony of the resurrection of Christ does not rise to this level for many reasons, chiefly the conflicting testimony across the four gospels. For instance, in Matthew and Mark, Jesus meets them in Galilee. In Luke, the disciples never leave Jerusalem until the ascension. This is a serious discrepancy.

    • Your thesis is a variation on Hume’s approach – basically its sophistry. As to the rest, we can argue the merits of the chronology of the timer period discussed post resurrection period discussed in the gospels but I would suggest starting with the articles on apologia fides (see the contact page) – to big a topic for work breaks on my android.

    • By the way innerrancy is a later discussion start with the issue of historical reliability something that has been demonstrated for the book of Acts by William Ramsey.

      • Unfortunately, whatever historical compatibility you argue for the book of Acts is undermined by its own internal contradictions, such as when it calls Paul an apostle soon after defining an apostle as one who witnessed his death and resurrection, thus, in chapter 1: ” Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” This definition was appropriate, since Paul’s claim to have seen the risen Christ had no more corroborating evidence than people who claim to have seen Mary in an apparition.

      • The term apostle is not synonymous with the twelve common error. Matthias joined the twelve. Barnabus was also designated an apostle in 1 Cor they were a larger body. As to Paul something happened with both he and James to change their view – but I think the real question is whether you are open minded enough to explore the data – start with the articles I mentioned, or if you prefer I can note some lay level works.

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