National newspapers were recently peppered with references to Emmanuel College, Gateshead, and its policy of teaching creationism alongside the evolutionary hypothesis on the origin of the universe.
This created some free publicity for the long-planned Creation Weekend conceived by Langley Park Baptist Church and supported by Evangelical Association in the North East (EANE).
Casting doubt on God
Dr J. H. John Peet and Paul Garner of the Biblical Creation Society were invited to lecture on the two themes of the weekend: The Biblical Issues and The Scientific Issues.
About thirty people gathered in Durham Presbyterian chapel to hear Dr Peet lecture on ‘The doctrinal implications of biblical creation’.
Beginning with the doctrine of God, he maintained that to deny the Genesis account of creation is to cast doubt on God’s omnipotence, or his power to work apart from means.
Also, he argued, it calls God’s trustworthiness into question since it asks the question: ‘Did God really say…?’
The fact that evolution requires disaster, asteroids etc., and especially death, contradicts the goodness of God as mirrored in his pronouncement that his work was ‘good’.
At the restitution of all things, the ‘new earth’ will have none of these problems, which suggests that the original creation did not have them either.
Passing on to the implications of evolution for the doctrine of Scripture, Dr Peet pointed out that those who rejected the biblical view of origins are generally weak on the authority of Scripture in other areas. The doctrine of eternal punishment is just one example.
They tend to replace ‘the Bible says…’ with ‘science says’, ranking the hypotheses of fallible scientists as valid hermeneutical tools.
The historicity of the early chapters of Genesis are taken for granted by the New Testament – the Lord Jesus included. In particular, Paul’s parallel of the two Adams in 1 Corinthians 15 loses it force if the first Adam did not exist as a unique creation.
Doctrine of man
Ditching the doctrine of creation has implications for the doctrine of man: his centrality in God’s plans for creation; his being made in the image of God; his ethical nature; and his attitude to work (including the day of rest).
Again, the basis for marriage and the relationship between its partners is grounded in a plain reading of the Genesis account.
The doctrine of human descent from one set of parents presents a philosophical bastion against racism, something that evolution lacks.
The doctrine of the Fall is affected. Evolution has no room for the curse.
Nor does it provide an explanation for the origin of evil and the resulting judgement, as seen in the Flood and such passages as Romans 1:24 ff.
If the Fall is affected, so must be our soteriology. Genesis teaches that death is a punishment for sin – not the result of an evolutionary process.
To atone for sin, therefore, Christ had to die, a substitute for the sinner. If death is unconnected with sin, the point of Christ’s dying for sin is lost.
Even the doctrine of nature is weakened by evolution, for the natural world witnesses to God and his character. This is reflected in the beauty and order of creation.
According to Scripture, God created the world for his pleasure and as an environment for man to enjoy (though its present condition mirrors also the curse of sin).
In contrast, evolution admits of no purpose. Although there is much concern for the environment today, this concern is entirely man-centred.
Scripture, on the other hand, bases the duty of environmental responsibility on God’s ownership of the world and man’s stewardship. God will hold us to account.
Even the doctrine of the Last Things is linked to the first things. Pre-Flood days will be mirrored by conditions preceding the coming of the Son of Man.
Quoting J. Montgomery Boice, Dr Peet said: ‘The proof of the final judgement is the fact that God has already judged the world once in the great Flood of Noah…’
The ‘new heavens and new earth’ of the New Testament are presented as a restoration. But restoration has no meaning if tears, death, mourning and pain are conditions that have always existed (as evolution maintains).
Dr Peet’s conclusion was the controversial assertion that ‘We cannot claim to be evangelical in theology and believe in molecules-to-man evolution’.
The Saturday meetings were hosted by Langley Park Baptist Church, near Durham. Creation tracts had been distributed locally showing that design in the universe points to the existence of the Designer.
The day began with a children’s session, ‘Talking about dinosaurs’, presented by Paul Garner.
Seventeen young people, most from unbelieving backgrounds, listened attentively as they heard about dinosaurs, their extinction, and a possible biblical description of one – behemoth.
The talk skilfully introduced the Fall and its consequences as well as God’s provision for sinners.
The afternoon was devoted to ‘The Scientific Issues’. The first lecture, by John Peet, was on the ‘Crumbling pillars of evolution’.
Paul Garner rounded off the day with a lecture on the geology of the Grand Canyon, pointing out many problems with the evolutionary interpretation of the evidence.
Sunday saw the theme continued with the pastor preaching on Revelation 4:11 in the morning. The church, represented by the twenty-four elders, worships God for his creative acts, before singing (in ch. 5) of his redemptive acts.
Men have to realise that they are created beings before they can worship the Creator and know his salvation.
The evening sermon, from John 1:3, dwelt on the astounding fact that it was the Creator himself who became the Saviour.
Attendance could have been better, but we were privileged to witness to our Creator God in a day when many prefer to ‘believe a lie’.
It is our prayerful expectation that consciences will be awakened by the Holy Spirit through the truth of the Scriptures.