John N. Clayton is the editor of a bi-monthly magazine titled Does God Exist? Last year, Mr. Clayton, a retired high school teacher in South Bend, Indiana, awarded two scholarships as a result of an essay contest he sponsored via his journal. Applicants were required to compose an essay on “how science supports belief in God and how they plan to use this to help others” (2000, 10).
Two contestants were declared winners. The first essay was published in the September-October issue of Does God Exist? The second piece appeared in the November-December issue (11-18).
In this editorial we cite some quotations from the second effort—an article titled, “Synthesis of Faith and Fact – Possible or Impossible?” It represents a textbook case of compromise between a believer and the theory of evolution. It is egregiously fraught with error—a blatant affirmation of theistic Darwinism.
Our criticism is not so much with the student who composed the essay—quite obviously a misguided novice attempting to grope her way through a difficult ideological forest.
Our indignation is directed toward the magazine editor—who has been admonished again and again for his subversive views on creation-evolutionary matters. This is the gentleman who regularly claims that “evolution and the Bible show amazing agreement on almost all issues” and “one [view] is not mutually exclusive of the other” (1990, 135).
Now, note the influence that this teacher is having upon others.
The author of the essay, whom we will simply designate as SH, begins by briefly discussing the conflict that has existed between “religion” and “science” over the past century and a half. While many feared the “rift” would be permanent, SH rejoices in the fact that today “there are many educated men and women, scientific and religious alike that are saying that it is possible to reconcile the miracle of Creation with the evidence of evolution.”
SH believes it is entirely possible to effect a marriage between Darwin’s evolution and the biblical record. Supposedly, Genesis—which she says “was compiled by Moses”—uses the term “day” (as in the days of the creation week) in a figurative sense. The author alleges that this “story” provides no chronological data; hence, one is free to adapt the Genesis “story” to the evolutionary calendar. She opines that the earth could be “four billion years old”—if that is how long “God needed” to set things into motion.
SH momentarily raises the issue of dinosaurs. What happened to them? One explanation, she says, is the “myth” that the “flood wiped out the dinosaurs.”
SH then proposes to discuss the real “facts” of the case. She asserts that the evidences of geology “show” that algae and worm-like creatures appeared first. Then in the “evolutionary chain” were fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Eventually, there were birds, dinosaurs, and mammals. “From these life forms evolved primates, monkeys, ‘ape-men,’ and finally humans.”
Next, our disoriented essayist directs her attention to certain “fictions” which she proposes to dispel. For example, she claims Darwin has been given a bad rap by some creationists. Darwin, she affirms, did not “despise” Christians. Incredibly, the lady says, “While Darwin came to have a disbelief in God and the Bible he still enjoyed Church.” Is that supposed to somehow exonerate the celebrated naturalist?
SH continues by admitting that there may be some problems with the evolutionary case—which, she says, may be perceived as a strange admission from her, “considering [that] the argument of this paper is that evolution and Creation do not come into conflict with one another.”
The author blends the biblical text with Darwinism by contending that the former is a “‘religious’ text” which really is a “doctrine of feelings,” while the latter is “science” which involves a “process of reasoning.” Supposedly, though, the two views are saying the “same thing essentially.”
Again, the statement is made “the story of Creation and the theory of evolution do not come into conflict.” “Evolution is a tool and the plan and design of [the] grand designer.”
Nor does this advocate of Darwinism exempt humans from the evolutionary process. She argues that it is “generally accepted” that Homo sapiens (modern man) made his first appearance about forty thousand years ago; prior to that, humans had been in a “lesser state.”
If God used billions of years to form the earth, then it is also conceivable that these same forces willed for mankind to come into existence as early as 40,000 years ago.
This pathetic presentation is a tragedy beyond description. How we feel for this misdirected soul. But the student truly has been at the feet of her tutor.
Finally, in a note at the end of this paper, editor Clayton says that there “are a few differences between [SH’s] understandings and ours on this topic.”
A few differences? What, pray tell, are they? Understandings? Neither teacher nor student have an understanding of these issues.
The fact that this essay was awarded a “scholarship” reveals more about the philosophy of the Does God Exist? program than any half-hearted disclaimer can possibly ameliorate.
And yet there are numerous apologists for the Does God Exist? enterprise who contend that this work is not flawed—or else they rationalize the matter, claiming that the “good” accomplished outweighs any error advocated. This effort is a malignancy in the kingdom of God.