Is Evolution Compatible With the Bible?
IS IT possible that God used evolution to make men from beasts? Did God direct bacteria to develop into fish and then to continue developing through reptiles and mammals, so that finally a race of apes became humans? Some scientists and religious leaders claim to believe both the theory of evolution and the Bible. They say that the Bible book of Genesis is a parable. Perhaps you have wondered, ‘Is the theory that man evolved from animals compatible with the Bible?’
Understanding our origin is vital to understanding who we are, where we are going, and how we should live. Only with knowledge of man’s origin can we understand God’s permission of suffering and his purpose for man’s future. We cannot enjoy a fine standing with God if we are not sure that he is our Creator. So let us examine what the Bible says about man’s origin, his present condition, and his future. Then we will see if the theory of evolution is compatible with the Bible.
When There Was One Man
Evolutionists generally claim that a population of animals gradually developed into a population of humans, denying that there was once only one man. However, the Bible presents a very different picture. It says that we originate from one man, Adam. The Bible account presents Adam as a historical person. It gives us the names of his wife and some of his children. It tells us in detail what he did, what he said, when he lived, and when he died. Jesus did not consider that account as just a story for uneducated people. When addressing well-educated religious leaders, he said: “Did you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:3-5) Jesus then quoted the words about Adam and Eve recorded at Genesis 2:24.
Luke, a Bible writer and a careful historian, presented Adam as a person who was as real as Jesus. Luke traced Jesus’ genealogy back to the first man. (Luke 3:23-38) Also, when the apostle Paul spoke before an audience that included philosophers who were educated in the famous Greek schools, he told them: “The God that made the world and all the things in it . . . made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth.” (Acts 17:24-26) Clearly, the Bible teaches that we descended from “one man.” Is what the Bible says about man’s original condition compatible with evolution?
Man’s Slide From Perfection
According to the Bible, Jehovah made the first man perfect. It is impossible for God to make things any other way. The creation account says: “God proceeded to create the man in his image . . . After that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:27, 31) What is a perfect man like?
A perfect man has free will and is able to imitate God’s qualities completely. The Bible says: “The true God made mankind upright, but they themselves have sought out many plans.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) Adam chose to rebel against God. By his rebellion, Adam lost perfection for himself and his offspring. Man’s fall from perfection explains why we often disappoint ourselves, even though we want to do what is good. The apostle Paul wrote: “What I wish, this I do not practice; but what I hate is what I do.”—Romans 7:15.
A perfect man would live forever in perfect health, according to the Bible. It is evident from what God said to Adam that if the first man had not disobeyed God, he would never have died. (Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:22, 23) Jehovah would not have declared the creation of man to be “very good” if the man had a tendency to get sick or to rebel. The fall from perfection explains why the human body, though marvelously designed, is susceptible to deformities and disease. Evolution is therefore incompatible with the Bible. Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal. The Bible presents modern man as the degenerating descendant of a perfect man.
The idea that God directed evolution in order to produce man is also incompatible with what the Bible says about God’s personality. If God guided the process of evolution, it would mean that he guided mankind into its present diseased and distressed state. However, the Bible says of God: “The Rock, perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he. They have acted ruinously on their own part; they are not his children, the defect is their own.” (Deuteronomy 32:4, 5) Therefore, mankind’s present suffering is not the result of God-directed evolution. It is the result of one man’s losing perfection for himself and his offspring by rebelling against God. Now that we have considered Adam, we can turn to Jesus. Is evolution compatible with what the Bible says about Jesus?
Can You Believe in Both Evolution and Christianity?
“Christ died for our sins.” As you probably know, that is one of the basic teachings of Christianity. (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Peter 3:18) To see why evolution is incompatible with that statement, we first need to understand why the Bible calls us sinners and what sin does to us.
We are all sinners in the sense that we cannot perfectly imitate God’s glorious qualities, such as his love and justice. Therefore, the Bible says: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) The Bible teaches that sin is the cause of death. “The sting producing death is sin,” says 1 Corinthians 15:56. Our inheritance of sin is also the underlying cause of sickness. Jesus indicated that there is a link between sickness and our sinful condition. He said to a paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven,” and the man was healed.—Matthew 9:2-7.
How does Jesus’ death help us? The Bible contrasts Adam with Jesus Christ and says: “Just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) By laying down his life, Jesus paid the price for the sin that we inherited from Adam. Thus, all who exercise faith in Jesus and obey him will receive what Adam forfeited—the prospect of everlasting life.—John 3:16; Romans 6:23.
Do you see, then, that evolution is incompatible with Christianity? If we doubt that “in Adam all are dying,” how can we hope that “in the Christ all will be made alive”?
Why Evolution Attracts People
The Bible reveals how such teachings as evolution become popular. It says: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, whereas they will be turned aside to false stories.” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4) Although evolution is usually presented in scientific language, it is really a religious doctrine. It teaches a philosophy of life and an attitude toward God. Its beliefs are subtly attractive to mankind’s selfish, independent tendencies. Many who believe in evolution say that they also believe in God. However, they feel free to think of God as one who has not created things, does not intervene in man’s affairs, and will not judge people. It is a creed that tickles people’s ears.
Teachers of evolution are often motivated, not by the facts, but by “their own desires”—perhaps a desire to be accepted by a scientific community in which evolution is orthodox doctrine. Professor of biochemistry Michael Behe, who has spent most of his life studying the complex internal functions of living cells, explained that those who teach the evolution of cell structure have no basis for their claims. Could evolution occur at this tiny, molecular level? “Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority,” he wrote. “There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. . . . The assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster.”
If evolutionists lack explanations, why do they preach their ideas so loudly? Behe explains: “Many people, including many important and well-respected scientists, just don’t want there to be anything beyond nature.”
The doctrine of evolution attracts many clergymen who want to appear wise. They are similar to those described in the apostle Paul’s letter to Christians in Rome. Paul wrote: “What may be known about God is manifest among them . . . His invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable; because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their unintelligent heart became darkened. Although asserting they were wise, they became foolish.” (Romans 1:19-22) How can you avoid being deceived by false teachers?
Evidence-Based Faith in the Creator
The Bible stresses the importance of evidence when it defines faith. It says: “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) True faith in God should be based on evidence that demonstrates the reality of the Creator. The Bible shows where you can find the evidence.
The inspired Bible writer David wrote: “I shall laud you because in a fear-inspiring way I am wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) Taking time to reflect on the amazing design of our own body and of other living things fills us with awe at the wisdom of our Maker. Every part of the thousands of systems that cooperate to keep us alive is ideally designed. Also, the physical universe displays evidence of mathematical precision and order. David wrote: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—Psalm 19:1.
The Bible itself is a rich source of evidence about the Creator. Taking the time to examine the consistency of its 66 books, the superiority of its moral standards, and the unfailing fulfillment of its prophecies will provide you with abundant evidence that its author is the Creator. Understanding the Bible’s teachings will also give you confidence that the Bible is, indeed, the Word of the Creator. For example, when you understand such Bible teachings as the cause of suffering, the Kingdom of God, the future of mankind, and the way to find happiness, you will see an evident demonstration of God’s wisdom. You may come to feel as Paul did when he wrote: “O the depth of God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable his judgments are and past tracing out his ways are!”—Romans 11:33.
As you examine the evidence and your faith grows, you will become convinced that when you read the Bible, you are listening to the Creator himself. He says: “I myself have made the earth and have created even man upon it. I—my own hands have stretched out the heavens, and all the army of them I have commanded.” (Isaiah 45:12) Surely you will never regret making the effort to prove to yourself that Jehovah is the Creator of all things.
[Blurb on page 14]
The apostle Paul told educated Greeks: “God . . . made out of one man every nation of men”
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Evolution presents modern man as an improving animal. The Bible presents modern man as the degenerating descendant of a perfect man
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“Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority”
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The amazing design of living things fills us with awe at the wisdom of our Maker