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Evolution is a fact only at a very small scale. It is fantasy when it is used to explain how plants and animals came into existence or how human beings supposedly evolved from apelike ancestors. We might summarize the fantasy by saying that, where the theory of evolution is true, it is not very interesting, and where it is most interesting, it is not true.
If “evolution” merely refers to a process of cyclical (back and forth) variation in response to changing environmental conditions, then evolution is a fact that can be observed both in nature and in laboratory experiments.
For example, when a population of insects is sprayed with a deadly chemical like DDT, the most susceptible insects die but the individuals most resistant to the poison survive to breed and leave offspring, which inherit the genes that provide resistance. After many generations of insects have been sprayed, the entire surviving population may be comprised of the DDT-resistant variety, and some new form of insect control will have to be applied. Such changes are not permanent, however, because the resistant mosquitoes are more fit than the others only for as long as the insecticide is applied. When the environment becomes free of the toxic chemical, the insect population tends to revert to what it was before.
A similar effect explains how disease-causing bacteria become resistant to antibiotic drugs like penicillin, which then are no longer as effective in controlling the disease as they formerly were.
Genesis 1:1 BDC: Is the earth only 6,000 to 10,000 years old? Are the creative days literally, only 24 hours long?
Almost all illustrations of “evolution in action” in textbooks or museum exhibits are similar to these examples. They involve no increase in complexity or appearance of new body parts or even permanent change of any kind. Small-scale, reversible population variations of this sort are usually called microevolution, although “adaptive variation” would be a better term.
It is misleading to describe adaptive variation as “evolution,” because the latter term commonly refers also to macroevolution. Macroevolution is the grand story of how life supposedly evolved by purely natural processes from very simple beginnings to become complex, multicelled plants and animals, and eventually human beings, without God’s participation being needed at any step along the way.
Charles Darwin assumed that macroevolution was merely microevolution extended over very long periods of time. Biology textbooks, museums, and television programs still teach people to make the same assumption, so that examples of microevolution are used as proof that complex animals and even human beings evolved from simpler organisms by a similar process.
The primary flaw in the story of macroevolution is that all plants and animals are packed with information—the complicated instructions that coordinate the many processes enabling the body and brain to function. Even Richard Dawkins, the most famous living advocate of Darwin’s theory, admits that every cell in a human body contains more information than all the volumes of an encyclopedia, and every one of us has trillions of cells in his or her body, which have to work together in marvelous harmony.
The greatest weakness of the theory of evolution is that science has not discovered a process that can create all the necessary information, which can be likened to the software that directs a computer. Without such a demonstrated creative process, evolution is merely a story, because its supposed mechanism can neither be duplicated in a laboratory nor observed in nature.
It is true that there are patterns of similarity among living creatures. For example, humans, apes, mice, worms, and even plants have many similar genes. The important question is not whether there are similarities among all living things, but whether those similarities came about through a natural process akin to the observable examples of adaptive variation that we find in textbooks and museum exhibits.
One mistake Christians often make in debating evolution is to take on too many issues at once, rather than starting with the most important problem and solving it first. For example, evolution requires a time scale of many millions of years, while many people understand the Bible to allow for an earth history of only a few thousand years. The evolutionary time scale is debatable, but debating it involves several complex scientific disciplines and distracts attention from the most important defect of the theory of evolution. The only mechanism the evolutionists have is a combination of random variation and natural selection, illustrated by the survival of the insects that happened to be resistant to an insecticide. This Darwinian mechanism has never been shown to be capable of creating new genetic information or new complex body parts such as wings, eyes, or brains. Without a mechanism that can be demonstrated to be capable of the necessary creation, the theory of evolution is just a fantasy with no real scientific basis.
The Bible teaches, “In the beginning God created” and “In the beginning was the Word.” A simple way of explaining this basic principle is to say that a divine intelligence existed before anything else and that intelligence was responsible for the origin of life and for the existence of all living things, including human beings. No matter how much time we might allow for evolution to do the necessary creating, the evidence shows that the process would never get started, because all evolution can do is to further minor variations in organisms that are already living, without any change in their basic classification. When the Bible says, “In the beginning God created” (Gn 1:1), it is presenting us with a fact, which we need to know to understand everything else, including what we were created for and how God wants us to live.
The Bible also says that God created men and women in His own image. That, too, is a fact. If it were not true, there would be no science, because no theory of evolution can demonstrate how intelligence came into existence, including the intelligence of misguided people who misuse science to try to explain creation without allowing any role to God.
“In the beginning was the Word.” The Bible says it and, properly understood, the evidence of science confirms it. Anyone who says otherwise is peddling fantasy, not fact.
2:19 The verb rendered “formed” can also be “had formed” (NIV), which would alleviate the alleged contradiction with the order of animals created before man (1:24–26). Moreover, chapter 2 may be understood as a topical telling, setting the creation of the animals in contrast to the creation of the woman so as to highlight her dignity as fully human.
3:1 While snakes do not speak, this is more than just a folk story explaining why people tend to find them repulsive. The animal’s life is finite and will end in a future destruction (“all the days of your life,” v. 14). Snakes/serpents in ancient times were associated with both life and death, wisdom and evil (Nm 21:6, 8; Mt 10:16). Thus they served as effective symbols for wisdom that gives life or for evil that leads to death. Though a literal creature, the serpent in the garden embodied the evil being (Satan) that opposed God and the human couple (see Job 1–2; Zec 3:1–2; Rm 16:20). The serpent was an unclean animal (Lv 11:42) and symbolized the enemies of God (Is 14:29; Rv 12:9; 20:2). The snake talked to the woman as would a deceitful opponent.
3:4 The couple did not immediately die physically (cp. 2:17). By God’s grace, their death was postponed till a later time. But their expulsion from the garden (vv. 23–24) shows that the word of God was indeed fulfilled as the immediate consequence of their disobedience. They were cut off from access to the tree of life, which symbolized the source of life (2:9; Rv 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). In Israel expulsion from the tabernacle in the camp, such as quarantine (e.g., Lv 13:46), meant that the person was ceremonially dead until he was declared fit again. The human couple’s expulsion signaled their spiritual death (see Eph 2:1). That their physical death occurred is confirmed by the refrain “then he died” in Adam’s genealogy (Gn 5:5). Physical death for humans was the result of disobedience in the garden (Rm 5:12–21; 6:23).
Mormons believe humans can reach godhood. This verse clearly shows that the idea originated with the serpent and is contrary to God’s revelation (2:17).
3:8 That God walked is a common figure of speech (anthropomorphism). From the human standpoint, it is not possible to describe God’s interaction with people without attributing to Him some of the properties of a human body, such as back or face (Ex 33:11, 23), eyes or ears (1 Kg 8:29; Ps 34:15), arm or hands (Ex 3:20; 6:6; Dt 4:34; 33:3; Is 53:1; Heb 1:10; 10:31). God does not have a physical body (see note on 1:26–27), although He can manifest Himself in the form of a man (Gn 18:16–22; 32:30; Ezk 1:26) or even a burning bush (Ex 3:2–4) or a fiery pillar (Ex 13:21–22).
3:9–11 The Bible is full of affirmations of God’s unlimited knowledge (see 16:13; Ex 3:7; Job 12:13; 28:23–24; 36:4; Ps 33:13–15; 139:1–4; Is 46:10; Jr 23:24; Mt 10:29; Acts 15:8; Heb 4:13). Therefore God’s questions here are rhetorical; He is not unaware of the couple’s location and what had transpired in the garden. The passage describes God as a parent who instructs His children with restoration as His purpose. He did not question the serpent, because He had no plan to redeem the tempter.
3:14 The snake’s penalty does not suggest a belief that snakes once walked on legs. The characteristic slithering of the snake was a sufficient symbol of its degradation. Food laws were to prohibit the eating of animals who crawled along the ground, making them abhorrent to Israel (Lv 11:42). The mention of “dust” further symbolized the snake’s humiliation for its crime (see Mc 7:17).
Many Pentecostal Oneness sects use this verse to promote the serpent seed theory. William Branham, a faith healing evangelist of the 1940s, taught that Eve’s sin in the garden was an illicit sexual affair with the serpent, resulting in her pregnancy. The serpent’s seed was Cain and his descendants. Scripture is clear that the first sin was not sexual but rather consisted of Adam’s disobedience to God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (2:16–17).
3:15 This predicted battle between the serpent and the woman would not be a literal confrontation in the garden. The language is figurative, indicating the life-and-death struggle between the adversary and the human family borne by the woman. Like the word “sheep” in English, the word “seed” in Hebrew is both singular and plural, meaning either descendants without number, taken as a whole, or one particular descendant. The passage incorporates both meanings by referring to the ongoing opposition to the people of God by their enemies and by predicting the rise of a particular seed, Jesus Christ, who will destroy the serpent in the end (Rm 16:20; Rv 12:9–10).
3:16 The woman’s penalty was not in bearing children but in the pain attached to giving birth. “Yet he will dominate you” does not warrant the enslavement of women as chattel. Woman is also created in the image of God and has the honored role of giving birth by which the blessing for all humanity is realized (1:26–28). The Lord’s pronouncement predicts the future rivalry between the sexes for dominance, a rivalry resulting from the sinful condition of the man and woman. These words are not an exhortation directed to the man to dominate his wife. Hebrew law recognized the vulnerability of women and required special deference to them (Ex 22:22; Dt 25:5–10). The NT explicitly commands husbands to love and honor their wives (Eph 5:25; Col 3:19; 1 Pt 3:7), and Christian husbands and wives observe their spiritual equality (Gl 3:28) while carrying out their respective God-given roles.
3:20 Although skeptics find it absurd that Eve “was the mother of all the living,” the meaning of her name makes sense in this passage. Her husband recognized that she was the source of the “seed” (v. 15) that would eventually defeat the serpent and restore life. She was the first woman to bear children (4:1), and Adam showed faith in God’s promise that she would bear more in the future.
3:22 God’s admission that the man “has become like one of Us” does not indicate that the serpent’s suggestion that God was insecure about His position was correct. God was not threatened by the man’s wisdom when He expelled him from the garden, but it was necessary to prohibit the couple’s access to the tree of life or the penalty of death for disobedience could not be carried out. Although the human couple would die, it was ultimately merciful to deny them the tree; otherwise they would live forever in a sinful and painful world. God graciously provided for their new environment outside the garden (v. 21), and ultimately for their eternal salvation through the promised “seed.” For the plural “Us,” see note on 1:26–27.
4:4–5 God preferred Abel’s offering not because He liked meat more than vegetables or shepherds more than farmers, but because Abel’s offering was made in faith (Heb 11:4). He offered the best of his flock (“the firstborn”), and Cain offered only “some” of his produce (Gn 4:3; cp. Ex 23:19; Lv 2:14).
4:12, 16–17 That Cain founded a city does not contradict the Lord’s declaration that Cain will be a “restless wanderer.” “Nod” sounds similar to the word “wanderer” (Hb nad), creating a wordplay between the punishment of wandering and the region where he roamed. The point of the curse is that Cain could no longer live a settled life as a farmer. Therefore he developed the first urban center “east of,” that is, no longer affiliated with, his parents and their descendants.
4:15 Although the only other humans mentioned thus far are his parents, Cain’s fear of retaliation for the murder of Abel is understandable. Adam fathered many children during his 930 years (5:4–5), producing future generations that could exact revenge. That God marked to safeguard Cain does not contradict the divine provision of capital punishment (9:6). By this sign God declares that the taking of life is His prerogative, in contrast to Cain’s presumptuous murder of Abel. With the threatening development of widespread violence, the Lord instituted capital punishment as a societal obligation to restrict murder (6:11–12; 8:21).
4:17 The age-old question, Who was Cain’s wife?, has raised the specter that Cain committed incest, which was prohibited (Lv 18:6–18). But the Mosaic laws were not given until much later, and even the implied condemnations of incest in Genesis (Lot in 19:30–38; Reuben in 35:22; 49:3–4) relate to a time later than that of Cain and his siblings.
Mormons cite this verse and their own scriptures (Doctrines and Covenants, section 132) in order to justify polygamy. Polygamy, however, came into existence only after the fall in the garden. The creation mandate directs that a man shall be joined to one wife (2:24). Other verses that teach monogamy include Pr 5:18–19; Mal 2:14–15; Mk 10:2–8; 1 Co 7:2, 10; 1 Tm 3:2, 12; and Ti 1:6. While there are examples of polygamy in the OT (2 Sm 5:13; 1 Kg 11:3), they did not receive God’s approval. Instead God, in His mercy, issued laws to protect the many wives and children of polygamists.
4:19, 23 The Bible nowhere explicitly forbids polygamy, and Lamech is the first of many polygamists in the OT, including favored patriarchs and kings (e.g., 29:21–30; 1 Sm 27:3). We must not assume, however, that the absence of explicit prohibition entails divine approval. First, God’s mind and will may also be expressed implicitly through story and description. Here Lamech’s arrogant vengefulness is clear, showing him to be a true descendant of the murderer Cain. His practice of polygamy, then, is to be understood as typical of the wicked whose willful pride seeks to be satisfied by the multiplication of wives or other symbols of status and acts of self-indulgence (Gn 26:34; 28:9; 36:2; Dt 17:17). Second, God’s mind and will can be gauged from positive statements like Gn 2:21–25, which mandates the divine pattern of monogamous marriage (see Mal 2:14, 16; Mt 19:4–6). Plural marriage is not, and never has been, biblical marriage. When polygamy occurred, it had predictably disastrous results for the family (e.g., 2 Sm 13:4–37). We may not fully understand why God did not denounce Abraham, Jacob, David and others when they corrupted true marriage in this way, but we should not take His silence as indicating His lack of interest in the matter.
5:24 That God “took” Enoch obliquely describes his ascension to heaven (cp. Heb 11:5). He alone in this genealogy avoided death, thereby reflecting the hope that death was not inevitable. The statement in Jn 3:13 that “no one has ascended into heaven” except the Son of Man refers in context to the acquisition of spiritual truth, not to physical ascension as with Enoch and Elijah (2 Kg 2:11). If Nicodemus cannot understand the spiritual significance of Jesus’ teaching when He uses an earthly analogy (spiritual birth), he cannot understand the things of heaven where there is no analogy (Jn 3:12).
The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith, ed. Ted Cabal et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2007), 7–13.