First published in a CMI Update newsletter, August 2014.
Out on ministry at churches, our speakers often encounter anguished parents (and grandparents) lamenting that their children now reject the faith in which they were raised. If you too are a parent with this same angst, I remind you that Adam and Eve failed even with the best possible raising from God Himself, as well as enjoying perfect health and living in paradise. And Judas Iscariot remained unsaved despite three years with the best teacher ever: Jesus Himself.
Evolution undermines basic Christian doctrines
Having said that, there is a common pattern in many apostasies—exposure to evolution.1 This teaches that Scripture is not the final authority; rather, uniformitarian ‘science’ is. And if this same ‘science’ also teaches that virgins don’t conceive and dead men don’t rise, can you see where this would lead to unbelief? Evolution also teaches that death has been around for millions of years, which contradicts the biblical teaching that death is the result of sin. This undermines the Gospel, because if death has no connection with sin, then how could Christ’s death pay for our sin?2 One Australian biology student, Kevin B., is just one of many with this too common testimony:
“I was brought up in public schools that taught the evolutionary worldview. There seemed to be no room for Genesis in it and so I began to doubt the Word of God. There were no answers to be found in my church and the Christians I knew just wanted to ignore my questions. Or they would tell me to just have faith. It didn’t make sense to me. If it was all true then reality should reflect that. So I fell away from God.”
Even atheists know this only too well, e.g. biologist William Provine said:
“[B]elief in modern evolution makes atheists of people. One can have a religious view that is compatible with evolution only if the religious view is indistinguishable from atheism.”3
Church and parents: we have a problem
Sometimes pastors and parents see no need for CMI ministry in their churches: “We believe all this; why would we need your ministry?” Yes, you may believe it, but can you defend it? And do your children believe it? Rather, young people like Kevin perceive that the government schools teach about the real world, while church teaches ‘Bible stories’. However, the Bible is real history—but if the church and family doesn’t teach that, then how will the children learn? An American mother, Susan W., wrote to CMI confirming this with her observation that many young people in church homes …
“can’t remember evidence they are presented in favor of [creation]. Raising and working around teenagers, I see that is because they are indoctrinated with the idea that ‘real scientists don’t believe the Bible’ from day one, and if their parents don’t help them, usually they will have no support.”
Another problem is the common claim, “Evolution was just an excuse; the real problem was sin.”4 However, this is like explaining an airplane crash with, “A mechanical fault or pilot error wasn’t responsible; gravity was.” True but useless, because gravity, like sin, is universal. It doesn’t explain why this particular plane crashed while so many planes avoid crashing. Similarly, blaming the universal sin condition of all Adam’s descendants for a particular apostasy doesn’t explain the strong correlation with evolutionary indoctrination.
CMI presents answers
However, our ministry exists as a servant to the Church, to provide refutations of evolutionary indoctrination (2 Corinthians 10:4–5), and to equip them with good reasons for their faith (1 Peter 3:15). So with Kevin, there was a happy sequel:
“Then I discovered CMI and suddenly I had resources that confirmed my suspicions that atheistic naturalism could not be true. If only I had the answers when I first began to ask!”
Along with our books and website, our #1 resource is Creation magazine—an equipping tool for the whole family. Susan told us:
“I am so grateful that my children have had the lifesaving benefit of being exposed to your magazine for years. … Thank you for your ministry. Thank you for reminding us about Newton and other great Bible believing scientists. You have been a great blessing to me and my family.”
Theological termites: eroding faith at ‘evangelical’ Bible colleges
Most well-informed pastors and parents are aware of the evolutionary indoctrination from outside the church: the schools, universities, and media. So they can prepare their children to expect it. But a far more insidious attack comes from within the church: even within supposedly evangelical Bible colleges and seminaries.5 The young people expect that these colleges will teach them how to strengthen their faith, but instead they undermine it. Some of these theological seminaries have been nicknamed theological cemeteries: killing the church by degrees. And in most cases, pastors and parents are oblivious until their young people leave the church after attending these colleges.
In fact, some of these underminers are even proud of it. One of these ‘theological termites’ is physics lecturer Karl Giberson.6 He is reflexively hostile to biblical creation and in love with the whole gamut of evolution, from goo to you via the zoo,7 and was vice-President of BioLogos, which is happy with the idea that Jesus was mistaken about creation.8 For many years, he taught at the ostensibly evangelical Eastern Nazarene College (ENC), but the problem is far from being isolated, as Giberson gloats:
“Most evangelical colleges teach evolution, albeit quietly, carefully, and often tentatively, although there are exceptions. … Those of us teaching evolution at evangelical colleges are made to feel as if we have this subversive secret we must whisper quietly in our students’ ears: ‘Hey, did you know that Adam and Eve were not the first humans and never even existed? And that you can still be a Christian and believe that?’”9
Notice how insidious they are: just as real termites avoid the light, these theological termites undermine the Bible under the radar, in case they lose support. If the secret got out, then why would parents pay $40,000 per year to ENC? If they are to be indoctrinated in evolution, then why not at a secular university for a fraction of the price? At least with the secular university, the students would know what to expect.
The results have been disastrous. While Giberson and his fellow compromisers wanted these students to spread their evolution into their churches, instead they have abandoned the church (so at least the rot doesn’t spread):
“[I]nstead scientifically informed young evangelicals became so alienated from their home churches that they walked away, taking their enlightenment with them. … Many of my most talented former students no longer attend any church, and some have completely abandoned their faith traditions.”
This should hardly be a surprise—once again, showing that evolution makes atheists out of people. However, Giberson’s lament is not the damage he has done to people’s faith, but that church leaders are irate about this—of course it can’t be his fault.
“Viewed from ‘outside’, the phenomenon alarms and even enrages church leaders. Children are nurtured carefully in their faith through Sunday school, church, summer programs, and at home—and are then sent to expensive private evangelical colleges with the expectation that this faith will be protected as the children mature into well-educated adults. But often students are educated out of their childhood faith and even into no faith at all.”7
Countering the compromise
Parents and churches need to become better aware of what these seminaries are teaching. Fortunately, Giberson’s over-reach alerted them, much to his chagrin:
“Youth pastors informed the admissions office at the college that they were discouraging students from attending the college because it promoted evolution. Affiliated churches withheld financial support. Donors went elsewhere with their money.”7
That’s a good start: nothing like the sound of chequebooks snapping shut to bring seminaries into line. However, as Giberson says, the ENC’s problem with him was not that he taught evolution, but that he made it blindingly obvious that the college as a whole was OK with it:
Administrators complained that I was too controversial and creating public relations problems—not because they disagreed with what I said but because I was no longer just whispering it quietly in the classroom.
So even though Giberson eventually left ENC, the underlying problem is not fixed: a low view of Scripture. It may even be more insidious, because it’s now off the radar. To help you detect such foundational problems, CMI has produced a questionnaire, with accompanying notes, that might help.10 Also, for prospective seminaries, it’s not enough to see the ‘official’ position, but also to know what is actually taught in the classrooms.
Helping the victims
To end on a high note, even victims of seminary indoctrination have been greatly helped with creation apologetics. A while ago, we published a testimony from a young man whose faith was shipwrecked by a compromising ‘Christian’ college, but restored by creation ministry.11 This was not just the evidence, but more importantly correct thinking, as the ministry showed him that:
“ ‘Creationists often appeal to the facts of science to support their view. Evolutionists often appeal to philosophical assumptions from outside science.’ Knowing this helped to fine tune my ‘bologna detector’, which [CMI] also helped me to develop, so I could better know what to accept as truth, and what I should question right from the start.
To this day, when some aspect of science makes me wonder, [CMI] can usually help. Science does still get me to wonder at times, about certain little things, but whether or not God exists is something I haven’t questioned since I first realized Christianity was truth. My faith now is solid, and far from blind.”9
Provine, W.B., “No free will” in Catching up with the Vision, Margaret W. Rossiter (Ed.), Chicago University Press, p. S123, 1999. Return to text.
This is not totally wrong. One astute observer of creation compromise wrote about many ‘deconversion’ accounts he knew of, “Half the time (or more), it has later come to light that the person’s original ‘doubts’ were related to a moral struggle.” Some observations about apostasy, teampyro.blogspot.com, September 2008. Return to text.
Provine, W.B., “No free will” in Catching up with the Vision, Margaret W. Rossiter (Ed.), Chicago University Press, p. S123, 1999.
This is not totally wrong. One astute observer of creation compromise wrote about many ‘deconversion’ accounts he knew of, “Half the time (or more), it has later come to light that the person’s original ‘doubts’ were related to a moral struggle.” Some observations about apostasy, teampyro.blogspot.com, September 2008.
See Batten, D.,
See for example Cosner, L.,
Giberson, K., 2013 Was a Terrible Year for Evolution, thedailybeast.com, January 2014.
As a Missionary and Church Planter for 47 years I encourage every parent, every pastor, every seminary professor and every public or Christian school teacher to study this article thoroughly and prayerfully. So practical and so accurate.
Terry P., United States, 17 February 2015
Brilliant article! I also talk to other Christians who admit that they feel that God could have used evolution to create everything. I believe your words “Evolution also teaches that death has been around for millions of years, which contradicts the biblical teaching that death is the result of sin. This undermines the Gospel, because if death has no connection with sin, then how could Christ’s death pay for our sin?” is close to what I tell them. I know there is no ‘knock-out punch’ in the debate of creation/evolution, but this one statement alone stuns the people I have talked to. Actually I am kind of shocked that they never heard this argument before, but I love that look on their faces when they actually begin to connect the dots and see that ‘goo-to-you’ theory is completely incompatible with the belief in an almighty and powerful God that loved us so much to create us in His image. Thank you again for all this much needed information that CMI shares with us.
Marie A., Canada, 17 February 2015
I have written to an evangelical college and pointedly asked for their stand on the creation issue. It took two tries to get a straight answer and no, they wouldn't say that they were biblical creationists or that their teachers were. So, parents (or kids) have to really go after them to find out what they teach.
Jonathan Sarfati responds
Indeed, just as I said: many are slippery and fear the loss of donations and students if their real views were known. But our questionnaire in note 10 should help, unless they simply lie through their teeth.
KEITH T., Canada, 17 February 2015
I think the title for this article is a little misleading as people are born atheists and evolution merely makes them comfortable in their unbelief. Nothing but the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit can ultimately change the heart of sinful man. But I do love the work of CMI and enjoy the articles that bring glory to the God who created and saved us. Keep up the good work. Keith