«

»

Print this Post

Changing the Outlook: Regaining the Faith

In 1947-48 the BBC broadcast a series of lectures on the ‘The Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians’, which were published in The Listener.  One of these was by Frank Sherwood Taylor, Curator of The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, and soon to become Director of the Science Museum in London.  His subject was ‘Geology Changes the Outlook’, and during his talk he said:

“I myself have little doubt that in England it was geology and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.”[1]

At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, the Bible’s account of creation, the global flood, and the time-frame in which they are set were widely accepted.  By the end of the nineteenth century all three had been abandoned.  Taylor uses the discovery of Petra in 1812 to illustrate this.  Tourists soon began to visit this inaccessible wonder, described as, “the rose-red city, half as old as time.”  That phrase still persists in travel brochures; but when it was coined, it was meant literally.  Time was measured in thousands, not millions, of years.

But it came to be believed, almost universally, that geology and evolution had proved the Bible wrong in what it said about time, about biological diversity, about the stratigraphic record, and most of all about ourselves.[2]  Instead of being God’s special creation, we shared a common ancestor with the apes.  What a transition in two generations!   “Geology and the theory of evolution . . . changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.

Accounts of origins

Pagan accounts of origins, despite their wide variation in detail, have certain things in common.  They generally envisage some kind of evolutionary process, taking place over long periods of time.  A good example, nearly contemporary with the New Testament, is that of the Epicurean writer, Lucretius:(c94-55 BC):

“I will now set in order the stages by which the initial concentration of matter laid the foundations of earth and sky, of ocean depths and the orbits of the sun and moon.

Certainly the atoms did not post themselves purposefully in due order by an act of intelligence, nor did they stipulate what movements each should perform.   But multitudinous atoms, swept along in multitudinous courses through infinite time by mutual clashes and their own weight, have come together in every possible way and realised everything that could be formed by their combinations.

So that it came about that a voyage of immense duration, in which they experienced every variety of movement and conjunction, has at length brought together those whose sudden encounter normally forms the starting point of essential fabrics – earth and sea and the races of living creatures.”[3]

Concepts analogous with modern ideas about evolution are easy to identify.[4]  According to The Aquarian Guide to the New Age,

Similarities between ancient systems and modern thought are often eerily exact when one allows for the difference in terminology, [and] psychologists tend to interpret this as indicative of the fact that the human mind works in essentially the same way whatever the time and culture.”[5]

The Apostle Paul encountered Epicurean philosophers in Athens, and they, along with the Stoics, secured him a hearing in the Areopagus.[6]    In his speech about God as Creator he addressed the “very religious” character of the Athenians, but he also confronted the atheism of the Epicureans.  The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews had Greek cosmogonies in mind  – in particular, perhaps, the Epicurean – when he wrote:

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen is not made out of what is visible.”[7]

Creation is a fact, the writer says, an act of intelligence. There was no pre-existent matter (phainomena), from which everything was formed.  There was no process spanning ‘infinite time’; rather everything was created at God’s command.

Historic Christianity and Scriptural Revelation

Historic Christianity has drawn its cosmogonic convictions from Scriptural revelation, and has upheld the following truths:

  1. God created all things, while he himself is uncreated.  God is Trinity, and all Persons of the Trinity were involved in this creative work.
  2. He created all things ex nihilo – not from pre-existent matter.[8]
  3. He created by fiat, that is, he spoke and it came to be.[9]
  4. He created by wisdom.  The Son of God is the Logos (the word, the wisdom, the master plan) by which all things were made.[10]
  5. God finished his creation after six days.  The concept of creation being ‘finished’ is fundamental.[11]  Living creatures were created in kinds – everything that was required for immediate viability and subsequent diversification (within the parameters of the kinds) was included in the kinds.  Mankind was unique.  Only one man was created at first, in the image of God.  From him the woman was created, in the image of God.  All mankind, therefore came from Adam.[12]
  6. Finished creation gave place to Providence – God’s upholding of his finished creation.[13]
  7. Creation was very good.  There was no disease, decay, or death.  The man and the woman were in perfect fellowship with each other and with God.  They were naked and unashamed.[14]
  8. Adam was the representative of the whole human race.[15]  He was on probation and was forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge.  He disobeyed and brought sin and shame into the world.  Division and blame came in between the man and the woman and between them and God.[16]
  9. God put a curse on creation.[17]  Death came in.[18]  The universe was subjected to futility and a bondage to decay.[19]  That is its present state, further compounded by the flood in Noah’s day, in which all people, all land animals and birds (apart from those on the Ark) were destroyed.  This post-Fall, post-flood, world is the only world we know – the only world that science can investigate.[20]
  10. God’s plan is to restore.  The Son of God has come as the Last Adam,[21] to undo the work of the First.  In contrast to Adam’s one act of disobedience which brought death, Jesus, by his death on the cross, performed one act of obedience, by which all who believe in him are justified.[22]  Those who so believe are a new creation.[23]  That is spiritual.  Everything will be re-created bodily and tangibly, but not yet – apart from the risen body of Jesus, who is the firstfruits of the resurrection.[24]  The curse has not yet been removed, but one day it will be.[25]  All will be restored, infinitely more gloriously than it was, even at the first.  Paul describes this as “the freedom of the glory of the children of God”.[26]

The Outlook has Changed

Now, it is plain that this revelation is all of a piece.  You cannot take away part of it without doing great harm to the whole.  The acceptance of deep-time geology and Darwinian evolution meant the rejection of the true God, as revealed in Scripture.  ‘The outlook has changed’.

According to this changed outlook, there is:

  • No fiat God, who speaks and it happens
  • Never a time when God’s work was perfect and complete.
  • Never a time when man and woman were perfectly obedient and were in complete harmony with each other and with their Creator.
  • Never a time when creation was good, with no decay and no death.
  • No First Adam, and therefore – logically – no Last.

There is no way that a person committed to the process thinking of deep-time and evolution can consistently affirm the fiat resurrection of Jesus in his new body and the future in-the-twinkling-of-an-eye bodily resurrection and transformation of believers.[27]

As the 19th century gave place to the 20th, it was inevitable that this abandonment of Biblically revealed truth would take its toll!  Here are couple of examples.

A proposed Revision of the Book of Common Prayer was published in 1928-29.  It contained two Marriage Services – the 1662 version and an alternative form.  This alternative service was used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.[28]  But the assumptions behind  the two services are fundamentally different.  The 1662 text states that Holy Matrimony is:

“an honourable estate, instituted of God

in the time of man’s innocency.”

 The alternative form describes Holy Matrimony as:

“an honourable estate, instituted of God himself.”

 Original innocency has gone from the revised form, because there is no place for it in the evolutionary thinking which by that time prevailed.  ‘The outlook has changed’.

Was marriage – as God set it up – good?  Or did he institute a social relationship which, all things being equal, was likely to fail?  Some Pharisees once asked Jesus,

“Why did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”  Jesus replied. “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.”[29]

Is Jesus saying that the rules were much tougher at the start, and Moses made them a bit more lenient?  No, he is saying that, at the beginning – that is, before the Fall – the hearts of the man and the woman were not hard!  It was sin which brought division, disharmony and mutual recrimination.  So, if we ask Jesus –  who is never Yes and No[30] – “Is it important to affirm original innocency?”  What is his reply likely to be?

In 1998 Philip Jensen published the evangelistic booklet Two Ways to Live.   Here he claimed that,

“The sad truth is that, from the very beginning, men and women everywhere have rejected God by doing things their own way.”

That is untrue.  At the ‘very beginning,’ the first man and woman lived in glorious unhindered fellowship with God and with each other.  Philip Jensen himself, and the theology of Moore College in Sydney where he studied, have had a conspicuous influence on many Anglicans and Independents in this country.  To this may be traced the deliberate omission of the Fall in the 2010 A Passion for Life doctrinal statement.   No original innocency?  Then no Fall!  ‘The outlook has changed’.

How, then, are we to account for the continuing hold which deep-time thinking and evolutionism have even on the Church, so that our country in the 21st century is ever-increasingly more secular and pagan?

Here are two reasons.  The first is directly spiritual.  Evolutionism is a reflection of ‘the wisdom of the world’.[31]   Denial of creation is a suppression of the truth.[32]   Much Greek philosophy was evolutionary, and the early church opposed it.  Second, deep-time and evolutionism are propagated as scientific.   This is a claim which the early church did not have to face.  But in reality it is rather useful.  For only what is provable is scientific.[33]

Michael Gove wants to introduce the teaching of evolution to 5 year-olds.  He would do better to ensure that children at school were taught the scientific method.   Science and philosophy work in similar ways, but with this vital difference: the affirmations of science have to be proved.

The first stage in both philosophy and science is induction.  Seemingly similar data are collated, and reasoning proceeds upwards, to form an hypothesis.  The second stage is deduction – reasoning downwards:

“On the basis of hypothesis A, deduction B would have to be true.”

The philosopher is now in a position to write his book.  Not so the scientist!  Deduction B has to be proved by rigorous, repeatable, predictable, refutable experiment.

Proven?

Nothing about deep-time or evolution has ever been scientifically proven.  Science cannot explain the origin of anything.  The First Law of Thermodynamics illustrates this with regard to matter and energy.  This is a law, because scientific experiment has never demonstrated the creation of matter/energy.  But that does not mean that matter/energy had no origin, only that science cannot access that origin. The contemporary evolutionary consensus requires the spontaneous generation of life and of new genetic information.  Every experiment to demonstrate either of these has failed.  To claim they are scientific, therefore, moves the debate away from science and into the realm of the moral.  As W R Thompson said in his Introduction to The Origin of Species,

“The success of Darwinism was accompanied by a decline in scientific integrity.”[34]

Sometimes evolutionists break cover.  Nearly forty years ago Stephen Jay Gould wrote:

The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of palaeontology.[35]

There was a season of candour at the British Museum, Natural History, during its centennial celebration in 1981.  A special exhibition was staged asking, “Why there are so many different kinds of living things?”  “One idea,” the display stated, “is that all living things we see today have evolved from a distant ancestor.”  Then, a little further on, “Another view is that God created all things perfect and unchanging.” The editor of Nature magazine was furious, and published an editorial entitled, ‘Darwin’s death in South Kensington.’[36]  There was, he claimed, “Rot at the museum” for giving space to the possibility of creation!  His editorial provoked a vigorous reply from twenty-two of “the museum’s staff of distinguished biologists”, which was published in the next edition:

How is it that a journal such as yours that is devoted to science and its practice can advocate that theory be presented as fact?  This is the stuff of prejudice, not science, and as scientists our basic concern is to keep an open mind on the unknowable . . .

Are we to take it that evolution is a fact, proven to the limits of scientific rigour?  If that is the inference then we must disagree most strongly.  We have no absolute proof of the theory of evolution.  What we do have is overwhelming circumstantial evidence evidence in favour of it and as yet no better alternative,  But the theory of evolution would be abandoned tomorrow if a better theory appeared.”

Evolution is not a theory.  For the reasons stated above,[37] it is an hypothesis.  But there is a ‘better hypothesis’!  The exhibition was not correct in describing creationism as the “view that God created all things perfect and unchanging.”  God’s creation was certainly perfect, but not unchanging.[38]  The kinds which God created were replete with genetic potential (from the Logos), capable of producing  incredible variations – but all within the parameters of each particular kind.  This ‘better hypothesis’ absolutely fits the phenomena of scientific investigation.  It explains, “Why there are so many different kinds of living things.”  But it does not prove creation, because science cannot explain the origin of anything.  On the contrary, “we understand it by faith.[39]

The origin of life and the origin of the genetic information required for life are unsolved mysteries for the evolutionist.  Their hypothesis demands that there be a steady stream of new genetic information upon which natural selection can act.  Scientific observation is against this.[40]   But it is also conceptually impossible.  All information is meaning-expressed-in-a-code.  Logically and actually meaning comes first.  And meaning only comes from intelligence.[41]

An organisation calling itself The Origin of Life Foundation, was instituted in AD 2000.  With a view to determining how genetic information required for life and diversity might have been self-generated, it put up a prize of $1,000,000.  Applicants were required to show only how the process ­might have happened – not how it actually did happen.  200 leading scientists from 40 countries were appointed as judges, and advertisements were placed in Nature in this country and in Science  in the United States.  The competition was closed in October last year, without a single entry passing the vetting procedure and passing on to the 200 judges!

The Outlook Changed, The Faith Regained

We all desire to see Christian revival in Letchworth Garden City and in the nation.  We all know that revival is the work of the Holy Spirit.  But the Holy Spirit uses means.  We have weapons in our armoury.[42]  We have prayer, we have preaching, we have faith, but first of all we have truth.

No longer can we shy away from the causes of the ‘changed outlook’.  No longer can we rely on methods of evangelism which ignore the reasons why our country has become paganised.   In affirming that human beings are ‘made in God’s image’, we can no longer pay scant attention to the two phases of that wonderful privilege – before and after the Fall.

With marriage now ‘redefined’, we cannot invoke Genesis and ignore the innocent blessedness of marriage originally and the effects of the Fall and the curse thereafter.

We cannot short-change the Gospel by failing to emphasise original righteousness, original sin – the state into which we are all born – and the saving act of Adam II, which undoes the condemning work of Adam I.

We cannot demean God by failing to affirm the original glory and perfection of his creation and the reasons why he subjected his creation  to futility and a bondage to decay.   This is the context of our future hope: “the freedom of the glory of the children of God”.[43]

Geology changed the outlook.’   By the time the ordinary Englishman could ride an omnibus in Clapham, the change was well under way.  But, in reality, it was theology that had changed first – in the thinking of the Enlightenment.  When the deist James Hutton, the ‘father of geology’ looked at the rocks at Siccar Point in 1788, he could ‘see’ that the earth  had no beginning and would have no end.[44]  When Charles Darwin in 1859 published his On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, public belief in progress and English superiority was already gaining much ground.  World Wars of the 20th century have undeniable roots in supposedly ‘scientific’ interpretations of the world.  Had the Church stood its ground, and held to its revealed truth, it could have properly monitored the intoxicating and baseless claims that were being made in the name of ‘science’.  History might have been very different.

When Christian revival came to Northampton, Massachusetts, in the days of Jonathan Edwards, he remarked that, “a glorious alteration came upon the town.”  Such a change can come in our day, and in the Holy Spirit’s way – in our Garden City, and in our nation.  The Holy Spirit’s power is unchanging.  God sent his Son to save the world!

© Derek Moore-Crispin May 2014

 



[1]  ‘The Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians – X: Geology Changes the Outlook’ , The Listener, April 8, 1948, (vol 39, pp573-4).

[2]   Before Darwin, most long-age geologists believed in successive creations.  But, by proposing long ages for the deposition of the fossils, geology prepared the way for the acceptance of evolution.  See The Great Turning Point, by Terry Mortenson.  ‘Scriptural Geologists’, who rejected long ages, are very well documented in the book.

[3]   De Rerum Natura, Book V.

[4]   The obvious parallel here is with the Big Bang hypothesis.  This has been around since the 1920s, and has gained currency in the last sixty years or so.  It is based on the supposed expansion of the universe (light appears red-shifted) and Einsteinian mathematics.  A critical evaluation, signed by 33 leading scientists, and entitled, An Open Letter to the Scientific Community, was published in the New Scientist, May 22nd, 2004:  “The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed – inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples . . . The big bang theory can’t survive without these fudge factors . . . “  Many more scientists have since added their names to the letter.  For a detailed and thorough refutation of the Big Bang, see Dismantling the Big Bang, by Alex Williams and John Hartnett.  For a six-day creation model, based on geocentricity and Einsteinian mathematics, see John Hartnett, Starlight, Time and the New Physics.  The expansion of the universe might be supported in Scripture, by passages such as Isaiah 51:13; Jeremiah 51:15.

[5]  The Aquarian Guide to the New Age, by Eileen Campbell and J H Brennan, p 93.

[6]   Acts 17:18-20.

[7]  Hebrews 11:3.   “Nothing can ever be created by divine power out of nothing,” says Lucretius (Book I, 146).  The writer of Hebrews sets his sights on statements like this.

[8]  Renford Bambrough used to say that there was no trace of creatio ex nihilo in the whole range of Greek philosophy.   Pagan cosmogonies affirm eternal matter (cf Lucretius’  “the initial concentration of matter”), sometimes identifying it with God (pantheism)..   Matthew Henry said, “Nothing is more injurious to the honour of the eternal mind than the supposition of eternal matter.”

[9]  The word fiat “let it be” comes from the Latin version of Genesis 1:3: “God said “Fiat lux” (“Let there be light”), and there was light.

[10]  John 1:1-3.  The next verse adds: “In him was life.”

[11]  Genesis 2:2; Hebrews 4:3.

[12]  Acts 17:26; 1 Corinthians 11:8; 1 Timothy 2:13.

[13]  Hebrews 1:2-3.

[14]  Genesis 2:25.

[15]  Romans 1:18; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

[16]  Genesis 3:12.

[17]  Genesis 3:17; Romans 8:20-21.

[18]  Genesis 2:17; 3:19; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22.

[19]  Romans 8:20-22.

[20]   Science cannot discover the origin of anything.   Matter and energy came into existence, but science cannot

explain how.  All such ‘explanations’ are metaphysical (philosophical), not scientific.  See also p 7 on the First

Law of Thermodynamics.

[21]  1 Corinthians 15:45.  Luke, by giving us the genealogy of Jesus back to Adam I, ‘the son of God’,  affirms that Jesus is Adam II (Luke 3:23-37).

[22]   Romans 5:12-21.

[23]  2 Corinthians 5:17.

[24]  1 Corinthians 15:20, 23.

[25]  Revelation 21:4; 22:3.

[26]  Romans 8:21.

 

[27]  1 Corinthians 15:52.

[28]  Republished, virtually unchanged in 2000 as a Common Worship, Series One Alternative Service.

[29]  Matthew 19:7-8.

[30]  2 Corinthians 1:19

[31]  1 Corinthians 2:20.

[32]   Romans 1:18-20.

[33]   C H Spurgeon used to say that he believed everything in science that was true.

 

[34]   Everyman edition, Introduction p xxi.

[35]   Natural History, vol, 86 (May 1977), page 14.  He also said (ibid), “Palaeontologists have paid an exorbitant price for Darwin’s argument.  We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

[36]  Nature, 289, 26 February 1981, p 735.

[37]   P5.

[38]   See above pp 2-3.  The fixity of species was an Aristotelian doctrine.

[39]   Hebrews 11:3.

[40]  “In all the reading I’ve done in the life-sciences literature, I’ve never found a mutation  that added information”, Lee Spetner, Not By Chance!, p 131.

[41]  See (passim) books by Werner Gitt, In the Beginning was Information and Did God use Evolution?

[42]  2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-20.

[43]   Romans 8:21.

 

[44]  Very few of those who today revere him as the ‘father of geology’ would think he was right!

 

Permanent link to this article: http://letchworth-baptist-church.org.uk/changing-the-outlook/