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.”