1. Where does Knowledge Come From?

“…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:3

Adam was created with knowledge–with the knowledge that he was a creature of God, with a language with which to think and to talk with God and receive more knowledge from God. Adam naturally and spontaneously believed God, experienced His love and care, and responded with loving obedience. Adam learned by experience also, as he served and had fellowship with his Creator in the Garden, but he always had the perfect wisdom and personal counsel of God to guide him in his experience and learning about the world and its plants and animals which God had created.

Thus, our first parent was also the first scientist, for a scientist learns about the natural world by means of human experience. But for Adam this kind of learning came second and was always subject to and guided in accordance with the knowledge that God gave him as they communed from day to day. God had commanded Adam to “subdue” the natural world and “have dominion” over all its creatures. This required that Adam learn about the world so that he could exercise dominion over it for the glory of God, intelligently and obediently. (Genesis 2:19-20)

The Fall and Its Consequences

Adam could learn all he needed to know in a good and perfect world if he continued to believe and obey his Creator. But there was a knowledge forbidden to him, the knowledge of “good and evil.” Our first parents, exercising their free will, did disobey and immediately knew both good and evil. They had performed a single experiment with disobedience which plunged them and the race which sprang from them into a history of rebellion, wickedness and unbelief, just the opposite of God’s will for mankind created in His image. The Fall resulted in the corruption and ruin of every human capacity and attribute, including his intellect, affections, moral capacity and will. (Romans 5:12ff)

Down through the millennia since Eden, time and sin’s degenerative effects caused the knowledge of God to become distorted and fade from the collective consciousness of the race (Romans 1:19ff). But the defaced divine image in man caused him still to desire to know. Cut off by his unbelief and sin from receiving knowledge by the divine Word, man was shut up to learning by his own experience, by science. So great was the power of even the ruined human intellect, that knowledge flourished, secular knowledge apart from God and from His Word. But such knowledge, though it may bear some good temporal fruits, is really darkness, not light. Into the darkness God from time to time sent light, by His Word, delivered by His inspired prophets. Some in every generation responded in faith to the message of grace, but the mass of humanity continued to stumble on in the darkness of their secular knowledge. God spoke through the patriarchs, through the nation of Israel and her prophets, and finally through His son, Jesus Christ, whom He sent into the world to become man, the God-man, who gave Himself and died the death for sin on a cross, was buried and rose again from the dead–all to redeem the rebel people from their darkness and sin (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Modern Science and the Two Streams of Faith

After Christ’s resurrection and ascension the Christian Church bore witness to the Truth, and following the dark period of the Middle Ages, this truth of the Gospel broke forth in the renewed brightness of the 16th century Reformation. The Word of God, the Bible, illuminated many nations and wrought a transformation of western society. One of the fruits of biblical faith was the founding of modern science, which depended upon the Christian concept of an infinite-personal God who created a real, lawful and knowable world which was worthy of systematic study. Modern science was founded by men who believed the gospel and who believed in the Creator-God of the Bible. They believed that they were studying God’s creation for His glory. They were not stumbling in the darkness of the ancient pagan philosophers who did not have the light of the Word of God concerning creation. They believe that there were two paths to knowledge, the way of human experience, i.e., science, and the way of faith, i.e., the written Word of God. But the latter, the Bible, was held to be of supreme authority. They were men of faith as well as men of science.

One medieval philosopher and theologian of the Catholic Church, Anselm, set down the basis of man’s knowledge in the 11th century when he wrote, “I believe so that I may understand.” He was saying that man must first establish a right relationship with the Creator by faith, believing what God says, before he can rightly understand the world and his own place in it. Reason must be subject to faith that is informed by the Spirit of god. This expressed the view of knowledge adopted by the Protestants who came out of the Reformation. It is the biblical view, revealed theology, which is received by faith in the biblical revelation. (I Corinthians 2:9-16)

Some two centuries later Thomas Aquinas, chief of Catholic theologians, made faith subject to autonomous human reason. Man must first establish by reason the logical proof, for example, of the existence of God. Then faith would be justified. Reflection upon the nature of things could lead to the knowledge of God and His relationship to His creatures apart from the Bible, and faith is thus sustained by reason. This is natural theology, which might be characterized by the maxim, “I understand so that I may believe.” Human reason was held to be autonomous, independent.

The Faith Undergirding Darwinism

So there were two streams of faith–in human reason and in divine revelation–which competed for the western mind. Gradually, after the Reformation period, faith in divine revelation receded and faith in autonomous human reason advanced. In science the competition between the two philosophical grounds for the scientific enterprise came to a decisive climax in the publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Darwin had rejected the sovereign God of the Bible, Creator and providential Ruler and Sustainer of the universe. He purposed to remove from science any concept of divine plan, purpose or design in the world, any possibility past, present or future, of divine intervention in the world. And Darwin succeeded. Science soon began to be remolded after his model and men of faith were first silenced and then excluded from the Establishment, although some silent ones and a very few vocal men of faith remained.

Most practitioners of science today hold that the only way to knowledge about the natural world is science. They deny, therefore, that divine revelation in the Bible can afford to man any true knowledge about nature. They include that denial in their definition of science, but this is an error, a distortion of science. It cannot be proved that science is the only source of knowledge about the natural world. It cannot be proved by science that the biblical revelation about the origin of the world is not true. Science cannot prove that divine revelation is not a source of true knowledge, particularly concerning origins. Belief in science as the only way to such knowledge is a faith, just as much as is faith in divine revelation. Faith in autonomous human reason is a faith, even as is faith in divine revelation. And neither one is science.

Failure and Hope

The tragic fact about the supposed progress for science accomplished by Darwin is that it put modern back with the ancient, pagan scholars who struggled in the darkness produced by their reliance upon human reason coupled with ignorance or rejection of divine revelation. Sadly, much of the professing Christian Church has regressed with secular science back into the same darkness. Even the so-called evangelical churches are being drawn into compromise with it, so great is the desire to be respected by the secular scientific Establishment.

Yet there is hope, for the Word of God is powerful and living. The people of God are beginning to stir, beginning to see their responsibility to bear witness to the whole counsel of God. They are becoming willing to stand for divine truth against secular error, however impressive its scholarly credential may be. Increasing numbers of Christians, many scientists among them, are coming out into the open with a firm declaration of their rejection of evolution and their faith in the biblical record of creation. They are unashamed to own their faith in the Jesus Christ, the unchangeable divine Lord of His creation and the coming Judge. They intend to see God and the Moral Law again honored in the nation’s public life.

2. The World Prepared for Darwin, and the World he Made

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” “God…has in these last days spoken…by his son…by whom also He made the worlds.” Genesis 1:1, Hebrews 1:1, 2

Ancient and Medieval Views of Origins

The biblical revelation alone proposes that the infinite-personal Spirit, God the Creator, is the only eternally existent entity. Only the biblical faith holds that everything else, the entire natural order and spiritual order, had a beginning, was created from nothing. All other ancient religions postulate an eternally existent natural order of some kind to which a God or gods may or may not be attached. They also have, in their beginning or somewhere along the way, incorporated, assumed or implied some kind of evolutionary development in the world. Ancient Greek philosophers, including Anaximander (600 B.C.), Empedocles (450 B.C.) and Democritus (400 B.C.) assumed evolutionary processes of one kind or another. The Hebrew Scriptures (1400-400 B.C.) taught special creation, and the New Testament revelation strongly reinforced faith in creation.

During the Medieval Period in Europe the literal biblical picture of creation apparently predominated in religious and philosophical thought, and the last great theologian of that period, Aquinas, espoused a strictly literal understanding of the Mosaic creation account. The Protestant Reformation theologians continued this traditional view, and the early founders of modern science generally believed in creation. Nevertheless, in Catholic circles some evolutionary thinking was being published, and even in the 18th century some philosophers and scientists were playing with theories of evolutionary development.

Evolutionism in Scientific Thought Before Darwin

During the 17th and 18th centuries, as such sciences as astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology and biology began to germinate and develop, although most scientists were Christian believers, some started to espouse a Deistic view of the world. According to Deism, god created the world and then walked away to let it run according to built-in laws. This idea of a self-running, evolving mechanical world gradually took over astronomy and geology. The idea soon appeared in biology. By the mid-19th century some scientists were openly anti-biblical and promoting evolutionary ideas. Erasmus Darwin, the grandfather of Charles, published long before his grandson’s birth several ideas basic to later evolutionary theory. By the early 19th century Jean de Lamarck in France, openly anti-biblical in spirit, had proposed a theory of evolutionary progress by the inheritance of acquired characters. These pressures against the traditional biblical view of special creation led the English Archdeacon and theologian, William Paley, to publish in 1802 his classic book, Natural Theology. In this book he skillfully supported special creation by appeal to a wealth of evidence for intelligent, purposeful design in living things.

The Attack On the Bible In the Churches

In the church world profound changes were also taking place. The great state churches in England and Europe which came out of the Reformation had for the most part declined from their original biblical faith and fervor, becoming approved and tax-supported social institutions. But even more damaging for the future of the Christian churches was the beginning in the early 19th century of a concerted attack upon the Bible. Initiated in the German universities and theological schools by scholars who claimed to be studying the Bible scientifically, this “Higher Criticism” was actually a program for destroying the credibility of the bible. One of its major products, the Documentary Hypothesis of the Books of Moses, made out Moses’ writings to be “pious” forgeries. Supposedly the first five books of the bible were written 500 to 1,000 years after poor old Moses died. The real authors allegedly were assorted persons and groups who had pet religious and political axes to grind. One assumed group of authors used “Jehovah” as the name for God, another group the name, “Elohim,” a third group promoted the law (Deuteronomy means second giving of the law), and a fourth crowd composed of priests promoted their professional interests. So the modern critics cut up Moses’ books into piles of scraps which were called the J (for Jehovah), E (for Elohim), D (for Deuteronomy) and P (for Priestly) “documents,” although no such documents were ever found. The higher critical “scholars” claimed that over a period of centuries these bits and scraps were put together by unknown editors until the present books of Moses resulted.

The higher critical analysis of the “documents” was made under the assumption that the religion of the Hebrews slowly evolved from polytheism to henotheism (one-God-among- many) to monotheism, and that all references to supernatural activity in the Bible are spurious. But the facts of history and archaeology contradict these assumptions. It is obvious that anybody who accepts the assumptions and conclusions of Higher Criticism of the Bible can have no respect for faith in the bible as the authoritative Word of God. This view of the Scriptures spread from Germany to England to America in the mid-19th century. Theologians holding this anti-Christian view became professors in seminaries and Christian and secular universities. Soon hundreds of young ministers tainted with this unbelief were filling pulpits in Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran churches. This “Modernism” began to conquer the old-line denominations in England and America.

The rejection of the historic biblical faith and its replacement by an evolutionary view of the Bible, set the stage for the acceptance of Darwinism by the churches. Other social changes were preparing the way for Darwin. The Industrial Revolution which began in the latter part of the 18th century greatly increased wealth, promoting worldliness and materialism among the general public and the upper classes, engendering resistance to the restraints of biblical morality. Darwinism sold to a Prepared World All of these factors–the materialistic philosophy of scientists, the attack in church circles against the historical and scientific validity of the Bible, and the growth of wealth, worldliness and materialism–these had eaten away the spiritual substance of nominally Christian western culture and society. The Christian character of Victorian society was really a shell, empty and ready to be filled with a new idea or faith which would support and justify the surrender of the former faith. Thus when Charles Darwin, in 1859, finally rushed into print the theory which he had persistently developed and cautiously promoted among his scientific peers for over twenty years, he became the super-salesman of an idea whose time had come. His book sold out over night and had to be reprinted. Its influence was immediate and sweeping, although debated continued for decades. Within a few years the scientific Establishment was largely converted to Darwinism or at least to evolutionism. His book, Origin of Species, became perhaps the most influential of all time, outside of the Bible, and its effects have been distinctly the opposite of those the Bible had in the world.

Now that a world prepared for Darwin had received his work with applause, what were the effects of the conversion of thinking about man nature? One thing that is clear is that Darwinism reinforced and accelerated the very changes that had prepared the way for its reception. Science was rather quickly monopolized for materialistic philosophies. The attack on the Bible inside the religious community was reinforced and advanced by the incorporation of Darwinism into the theology of main-line Protestant denominations as well as into the thinking of many theologians and priests in the Roman Catholic Church.

As a result the divine authority of the Bible was systematically undermined in these churches, unbiblical ideas supplanted the Truth of the Gospel, and spiritual life declined. Finally, the general drift of society into worldliness, materialism, immorality and social-political chaos continued as reasons for faith and concern for the spiritual values of life declined in the minds of the common people. In our century there is no question that Darwinian evolution lies in the foundations of both Nazism-Fascism and Communism (Marxism-Leninism). Hitler’s vision of the superior, conquering super-race and Communism’s vision of materialistic, economically determined man evolving toward perfection in the collectivist environment both either flow from or are reinforced by Darwinism. And what of the Western world’s present march toward an ultimate socialist world government? Darwin’s evolved and evolving man is the subject of all of these schemes for people control and exploitation.

What Is the Remedy?

The remedy for this social-political-religious degeneration is the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ and the Law of God. The doctrine of man created in the image of God must be allowed to compete in the public as well as in the private sector with Darwin’s doctrine of evolved man. The responsibility of sinful man before a Holy God must be preached to a wicked, unbelieving world. And the believing Church must take up its full responsibility to do this evangelism for the glory of the soon-returning King. Is it too late? No, it is never too late to obey God in this world which He created, rules over, and will judge.