PHIL: Hi, I’m Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace to You, and we’re here today with John MacArthur, our pastor-teacher. John, we want to have a discussion today about evolution.
JOHN: Great. That’s a very, very hot topic.
PHIL: It is, and I know you’ve noticed that more and more evangelicals seem to be willing to compromise on this issue. They want to adjust and tweak and tone down their opposition to evangelicalism. And there have been some pretty aggressive campaigns to get evangelicals to sort of silence their firm commitment to the Genesis account of creation.
JOHN: There’s no question about that; and I think there is at the same time, juxtaposed against these massive efforts, the greatest amount of evidence for creation that has ever been marshaled on a scientific side. There are creation organizations that do nothing but marshal the endless array of evidences for a young earth, for a creation that fits the biblical account.
That is what’s so bizarre about it. You know, we’re not talking 50 years ago when we hadn’t brought the science up where we could understand all of this, say, before The Genesis Flood was written by Whitcomb and Morris. Here we are now 50 years into understanding true science, all of which, all of which as well as just plain human reason, points to a Creator and even to a young earth and a brief period of creation. And at the same time, you have this concerted kind of exploding BioLogos interest diminishing the Christian’s responsibility to hold to an accurate account of Genesis.
PHIL: Yeah, and we’re going to talk about BioLogos, which is an organization that has been founded and funded with quite a bit of foundation money to basically wage war against the Genesis account of creation; and I want to get into that. But you make an interesting point; and you wrote an article, you wrote, I think it was a forward to a book that was honoring – maybe it was Dr. Whitcomb or Dr. Morris –
JOHN: John Whitcomb.
PHIL: a couple of years ago. And you started that article, I remember, with what I thought was a very simple but powerful scientific point, that prior to 1850 or so, many scientists believed in a biogenesis, or the idea that life could spring from non-life, spontaneous generation. And it was about the same time Darwin wrote his book on The Origin of Species that science proved definitively that life doesn’t come from non-life; and yet evolution really is based on the principle that it does. And there are many who insist that evolution is scientific and all that, and yet science to this day cannot explain the origin of life through any kind of means known to science.
JOHN: You know, one of the things that’s interesting is – a lot of ways to respond to what you’re saying. One of the things that continues to interest me is this kind of Big Bang theory, because even people like Stephen Hawking and others who are atheists and who want nothing to do with the biblical account have gone backwards from the expanding universe concept that the universe is continuing to expand, expand, expand. And if you go the other way, you know, through Einstein’s theories and the refinements of Einstein – recent guys have gotten Nobel prizes for, and you keep going back, back, back, back – you’ve got a moment in which everything instantaneously comes into existence; and it explodes into existence, that’s why it’s called the Big Bang. So the old idea was that once there was a puddle, and in this puddle there was a spontaneously developed, one-celled thing, and that one-celled things said to itself, “I think I need a friend,” and became two, and this slow, long…
That isn’t what you hear today. What you hear today is – and it’s from the study of the micro universe – is that this thing just blew into existence out of nowhere. And that speaks close to the truth, because that is exactly what the Genesis account says happened. So from that standpoint, I think these guys that are trying to defend evolution scientifically are having a hard time.
Then if you add another component to that: the whole concept of design. Darwin had no concept of genetics, he had no concept of DNA; he had no concept of the massive complexity of programming that goes on in cells and all of that. And now we look at all of this scientifically, and they know these things are complicated beyond description, you know, self-producing – self-reproducing cells, I should say, self-replicating cells, self-repairing cells, unbelievable complexity which has led to the ID, you know, the “intelligent design,” that this has got to be a design, or somebody has to program all of this, and so forth and so on.
So I’m only saying all that to say here we have this rising place for a kind of theistic evolution, or some kind of evolution at the very time when science is choking on these very issues. This thing is trying to survive against what is becoming really apparent.
PHIL: Yeah, and one of the points you made a couple of years ago in that article you wrote was that because of that, evolutionary theorists have fallen back on making dogmatic pronouncements, just insisting that, you know, this is factual, it’s not theoretical. Let me read one of the quotes you put in that article. You’re quoting here an evolutionist named Lewontin who says, “It’s time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, it’s time for them to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory. Birds arose from non-birds, and humans from non-humans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts.” And they make dogmatic pronouncements like that and it has the effect, I think, of intimidating people.
JOHN: Yeah. It’s like, “Weak point, yell here.”
PHIL: Exactly. And now this is sort of creeping in to the evangelical movement, or I should say it’s being driven like a Mack Truck into the evangelical movement by organizations like BioLogos, which is, as I said, a foundation that was created, founded by Francis Collins, who is a scientist. He doesn’t, as far as I know, have any theological credentials; but he’s a scientist who professes to be a Christian. He was the head of the Human Genome Project, and he founded this organization, and its funded with money from the Templeton Foundation. And their reason for existence is to try to convince evangelical Christians that evolution is true and the early chapters of Genesis are myth.
JOHN: Yeah, and here’s the motivation. Motivation is not scientific. Let’s be real honest; basically very simple. I can’t stand toe-to-toe on the scientific front with Mr. Collins, but I can stand toe-to-toe with him or anybody else on the rational front. And here’s rationality: nobody was there at creation, nobody, except God. So you can look at what happens now and you can draw conclusions about scientific processes now, it doesn’t tell you anything about what happened to creation. That is an independent event. What we see scientifically now is the product of it. It isn’t creation, it is the result of creation.
So, I’ve tried to make this simple point over and over again: no one knows what happened in creation, and whatever you see going on now doesn’t tell you anything about what happened in creation. That is an event prior to the existence of anything. Another way to say it is, there is no scientific explanation for the creation event. There is no scientific explanation for the creation event. You have nothing, then you have something; there’s no science for that.
So Collins, or anybody else – you can line up all the BioLogos guys, you can bring in the people that they’ve managed to sort of pull over from the, quote-unquote, “evangelical world,” like Bruce Waltke, a theologian. They may say, “Well, this is what science – we think science observes now.” Well, so what. What does that have to do with what happened before there was anything?
PHIL: Yeah. And as a matter of fact, by the very nature of what it is, creation is not something that can be observed or put to the test by any scientific process.
JOHN: It is a non-repeatable event. It is a non-repeatable event. The only way we know anything about it is if the one who did it told us; and that’s the Scripture.
But let’s back up to motive. What is the motive here? The motive is intellectual pride, that’s one motive, intellectual pride. That is a huge motive. They are so enamored with science as such, they are so elevated in their own minds as to the importance of the role they play. They have such vast knowledge of processes that are observable in the world today that it’s a matter of intellectual pride. They think that if Christians don’t bow to this elite, scholastic, scientific community, we’re going to look like fools. I mean, they have as much as said that.
PHIL: That is exactly what Waltke said that sort of got him in trouble, Bruce Waltke, the Old Testament professor who said, “If Christians don’t yield on this issue, then we will look to the world like we’re nothing more than a cult.”
JOHN: Yeah, and, you know, I’ll give you a parallel to that. I remember years ago when I was invited to go to Fuller Seminary to speak to the board and some of the leadership at Fuller Seminary, it was a very interesting experience for me there. And what I discovered in the dialogue there – and I made some statements about this – was that they were so concerned, the faculty, that they would be accepted by the liberal elite, the eastern liberal academic establishment in the Ivy League schools that had long defected from the faith, but were still in schools of theology, and writing commentaries, critical theory commentaries, they were so concerned to be accepted by that elite core of people that they essentially abandoned the faith.
PHIL: And they’re still not accepted by the elite.
JOHN: Well, that was the irony of it, because I read them an article from the Union Seminary Journal and it said something like, “Watch out for the people from Fuller, they’re masquerading as liberals, but they’re really evangelicals.” I mean, they didn’t fool anybody. And we would have said the same thing: “They’re masquerading as liberals and they’re not even evangelicals.” And they were like the guy in the Civil War with a gray coat and blue pants, he got shot by both sides. They never accommodated anybody, actually. But I think that is what one motive that drives this is this desperate need to be embraced by the intellectual elite in the scientific community in spite of the fact that what they hold is not rational.
The second motivation – and this is an underlying motivation that is even more sinister – is they don’t like the Bible, and the best way to create doubt about the authenticity and authority of the Scripture is to make sure that people understand that you can’t trust it, even at the very beginning.
PHIL: Yeah. Now lest someone think you’re imputing to them motives that they don’t hold, I want to read you some things, because – and in fact, the illustration you used is exactly true of BioLogos. You remember last year, I believe it was, you wrote a series of articles for the Grace to You Blog on BioLogos and their campaign to introduce evolution into the church, and so on. And they responded. The president of BioLogos is a man named Darrel Falk, and he wrote an article in response to something you had written, and in response to something I had written on my blog. And he was trying to convince us that, you know, this is a faith-based organization, that they’re religious, and so on.
Some of the hard core atheistic evolutionists attacked him that same week, and so when he wrote in response to your piece, he was both trying to defend himself against both sides. Like, as you said, he’s wearing gray pants and a blue shirt. And so here’s what he wrote. He’s especially keen to assure the atheistic evolutionists that he’s not a religious wacko, and so he’s defending against the accusation that he just simply wants to peddle a wooden literal view of the Genesis account in the scientific community.
And he writes back to them and says, “No, the BioLogos exists” – these are his exact words. Quote: “BioLogos exists in no small part to marginalize this view, the belief in the historicity of the Genesis account.” And then he said, and he said this, again quoting, “A fundamental part of our mission is to show that the Genesis account of Adam is not tenable.” So he clearly has a motive to undermine what Scripture teaches, and he says that’s the goal of the entire organization.
JOHN: Is there a more serious thing than that? Is there a more deadly, a more devastating, a more destructive, a more ungodly act than to openly and purposely and publicly denounce the veracity of the Bible? Is there a worse crime? Is not that the crime of all crimes? Because if you can’t believe what the Bible says, all is lost. And if you think because you have a Ph.D. in microbiology that you are the judge of all the earth and you have a right to edit what God has revealed by His Holy Spirit, then we’d better run over to wherever you are and bow down, because we need to worship you since you’ve got it right and the writers of the Scriptures, though inspired by the Holy Spirit, didn’t get it right. I mean, there is no more serious crime than that. That is the ultimate crime, is to attack the veracity of Holy Scripture at any point.
And listen, this is not because there are alternate readings of Genesis – let’s get that straight. This is not because we have some kind of manuscript diversity of Genesis. This is not because we’ve got five different accounts of Genesis and they’re all over the place. No. The manuscripts that we have of Genesis are all in absolute agreement and uniformity. This is exactly what Moses wrote and said, “This is the Word of the Lord. This is a firsthand, eyewitness account by the Creator Himself.”
So I don’t know that there’s a more heinous crime than destroying people’s confidence in Scripture. And if you start tampering in Genesis 1 and 2, where can we trust this book?
PHIL: Right. Yeah, I love that expression, “Eyewitness account of the Creator Himself.” If creation is not an event that is repeatable or scientifically observable, the question of origins is really as much, or maybe more of, a theological issue than a scientific one, right?
JOHN: It’s totally a theological issue.
PHIL: So for scientists to make dogmatic declarations on the relative importance of how we understand Genesis is really out of their realm anyway, isn’t it?
JOHN: Yeah. And I really think that there’s no difference between BioLogos and Darwin. They don’t like the God of the Bible. They don’t like what the God of the Bible says. I know the Templeton Foundation doesn’t like what the Bible says.
JOHN: I know that for a fact, because they have given financial awards to heretics of all ilk and all sorts. And I say that from firsthand knowledge, because I know people connected with that. But this is an anti-biblical thing, and it is built on human pride; and I really think it’s also built on the idea – and I don’t know that everybody in BioLogos feels that way. I don’t think Bruce Waltke is necessarily trying to destroy people’s confidence in the Bible. He’s trying to concede ground to the elite so they can be accepted in the establishment.
PHIL: Well, he said himself what he craves is academic acceptance, he doesn’t want to be regarded as a bumpkin.
JOHN: Right. But I do think that underlying that is this great movement to destroy integrity in the Word of God. And where do you see this? Look, these guys ought to read the third chapter of Genesis, because this is exactly what they’re doing. Satan comes and says, “Has God said? Has God said? You can’t believe what God said. You think God said that?” and you call into question the Word of God.
That’s what got the whole human race to fall. And that’s exactly what these guys do with Genesis 1 and 2. They follow the route that Satan wants them to follow. They’re like modern-day Eves: the snake has come out of the tree again, and they bought it, that you can’t believe what supposedly God said.
PHIL: Now, one of the questions on my original list to ask you was whether you think this is a supremely important issue; but I don’t have to ask that because you’ve already answered that. But I want to note that, you know, that’s not an unusual opinion among Christians. BioLogos would like you to believe that key Christian leaders have all conceded that this is not that important of an issue. But that is not the case.
I just watched an interview with several pastors who had been assembled primarily because they disagree with one another on major issues of theology and philosophy and all that. And someone threw out the question of creation in the Genesis account, and it was the one thing they all pretty much had consensus on. They all said, “No, this is a supremely important issue.” These were leading pastors who all would say that. They had differing views on dozens of theological, and practical, and philosophical questions; but all of them listed this, the issue of creation, the true meaning of Genesis 1, as a watershed issue for the church.
JOHN: Yeah, none of them because they were scientists.
JOHN: None of them because they said, “You know, I got a degree in science and I figured it out.” Every one of them understood that you cannot breach the integrity of Scripture, or you’re done. I mean, they know the implications of that. You can sit in an ivory tower as a scientist, or down in there wherever you are in BioLogos, and say whatever you want to say about the Bible. But you can’t get up in a pulpit and communicate to the congregation that you don’t believe everything in the Bible and expect to be accepted in the mainstream of the evangelical church and those who are committed to biblical authority and biblical integrity. I mean, you can’t do that.
They also understand that if the Bible is not trustworthy in one place, then the door is open for its lack of trustworthiness in any other place. So why should science have any more power than, say, psychology does? Doesn’t psychology call itself some kind of a human science? If psychology decides that certain things in the Bible are unfair, or unjust, or unkind, or debilitating to people’s personality, like – wow, Joel Osteen. He thinks you don’t talk about hell, you don’t talk about judgment, you don’t talk about sin, you don’t talk about punishment, you don’t talk about pain, you just talk about everything that makes people feel good. So in a same sense, he has stripped the Bible. I mean, it’s just another way to say, “The most important thing is what science says, or the most important thing is what I think as a hip-pocket psychologist is best for your sense of well-being.”
PHIL: So, would you say it’s a fair statement to say that evolutionary doctrine is a direct challenge to foundational doctrines of the Christian faith?
JOHN: It is a direct challenge to the most foundational doctrine, and that’s the doctrine of Holy Scripture. Now, you remember this: we had a meeting in this building with Hugh Ross.
JOHN: And Hugh Ross says he believes in God as the Creator. But instead of days in Genesis, he’s got billions of years of ages and ages and ages, which, of course, you can’t find in Genesis. So he has to tamper dramatically with the Genesis account. And you remember when we had that discussion; you know, we didn’t give an inch on that discussion. It went on for a long, long time; it was a few hours.
JOHN: The bottom line was, okay, you don’t have death until the fall in the third chapter of Genesis. So how can you have all these life forms living and dying, and elevating and ascending, and everyone better than the next, and all this evolutionary process going on for billions of years when you don’t even have death till the third chapter of Genesis? It comes down to things that are so simple, and so foundational, and so basic as that. You can’t explain anything.
Now you’ve got a problem not only with Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, but you’ve got a problem with Genesis 3. Then you’ve got a problem with the whole concept of death, the whole concept of the fall; and if you say, “Well no, there were people before Adam,” Well, wait a minute; then you’ve got a concept that Paul doesn’t understand, because for Paul, “In Adam, all die; in Christ, all are made alive.”
If all didn’t die in Adam, when Adam died, then what about Christ? You just don’t get to tamper with the first two chapters without tampering with the third. And then you’ve tampered with all that we understand about redemption.
PHIL: So this is not a dispute over some nuance of hermeneutics and how you interpret this isolated verse in an early chapter of Scripture, it is the essence of Christianity that’s at stake.
JOHN: Absolutely the essence of Christianity.
PHIL: You know, I read a lot of – I read most of what BioLogos puts out, and despite what they say about not wanting to undermine, you know, Christianity itself, they just want the church to embrace, you know, scientific knowledge. I would call it science, falsely so-called, what Scripture refers to it as.
JOHN: Well, there’s true science. True science is the way things really are; and God knows the way they really are. He also knows what science can’t know: how creation came about. And I don’t argue with true science. I’m glad they know the way things really are. But they can’t extrapolate from that prior to when they were and talk about how they came into existence.
The other thing you need to say at this point is this. Look, there’s no proof that anything actually evolves upward outside of its own category of life into another life form. There are no missing links. There is no proof for evolution at any point in any way. There are different kinds of dogs, and different kinds of horses, and different kinds of breeds of this and that and the other thing. But catapulting from one genus of life into a completely different one, not only is there no evidence that it ever happens, but science knows now that genetic code means it can’t happen. It can’t happen because there’s not the information to make that leap.
JOHN: So again –
PHIL: And it’s biblical too that animals reproduce after their own kind.
JOHN: Their own kind; that’s what I’m saying. Everything that is true science fits the Genesis account.
PHIL: Yeah. Now but science aside, take the science out of it and let’s just look at the theology of it. BioLogos is notorious for making dogmatic theological pronouncements that are not grounded in Scripture at all, but they are grounded in scientific theory. And there’s a pattern that emerges as you read their stuff. There are three issues that they constantly hammer, and I want you to talk about each one of these. The three issues are they often attack directly the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.
JOHN: Oh, of course, of course.
PHIL: They despise the idea that Scripture is inerrant. They believe that –
JOHN: Yeah. And that’s what I wrote in that letter about.
JOHN: And I said, “The question is,” – when I wrote back to them – “the question is whether you people are Christians.” Right? Remember?
PHIL: Yeah, yeah.
JOHN: I said, “The question for me is not whether you’re scientists, but are you Christians? Because how could you be a Christian with view of Scripture?”
PHIL: Right. And then the second issue is they have, I think, a clear agenda to make the historicity of Adam an optional doctrine. There are, I think, men in the organization who would maybe fudge a bit, but ultimately say, “Okay, there was a single pair of human adults that represent Adam and Eve, and in that sense they’re historical.” But they uniformly deny the idea that Adam was created from the dust and that God breathed into him the breath of life, and they say that’s a totally optional doctrine anyway, it’s unimportant whether you take that literally or not. Now I’m going to want you to talk about that.
And then the third one is they seem to have what strikes me as an irrational but very militant opposition even to the idea of intelligent design, the notion that you can observe the evidence of design in what has been created. Now I don’t understand why anyone who claims to be a Christian and they say they believe God is in the process of evolution, and yet they bristle any time anyone tries to point out evidence of design in nature. And I want you to talk about those three things. You want to take them in a reverse order?
JOHN: To say that there’s no design is just stupid. I mean, are they kidding? The complexity is absolutely staggering. The complexity of the macrocosm, the complexity of the microcosm, all the way down to the cell, the DNA strip, how could they possible think that that comes out of non-intelligence? I mean, that is just intellectual suicide. That is just – that is willful blindness at the rankest level. That isn’t even rational thinking.
So they are so self-deceived to consider this as intellectualism, that they put themselves in the category of Romans 1, “Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools.” I mean, it is like the emperor’s clothes; they don’t know they’re naked. They think they’re clothed in their academic garb, and they’re stark naked, because that’s not rational.
PHIL: Evolution – or, well, intelligent design: that’s a movement actually that’s with several leading figures. Probably the best known is Phillip Johnson, who is not me, not related to me.
JOHN: No, not you, not you. But Phillip Johnson would believe that the designer is God.
PHIL: Right. And yet –
JOHN: Some of them wouldn’t go that far.
PHIL: And he doesn’t actually make that argument. The whole intelligent design movement is simply making the point scientifically that there is the evidence of design in what exists. And you would say that’s not a sufficient answer, really, to evolution, because you might prove the existence of design, but you haven’t thereby proved the God of Scripture.
JOHN: No. You can prove the existence of design; that’s Romans 1, “That which may be known of God is manifest to them.” In other words, the fact that there is God, that He is mighty, that He is powerful, Romans 1, is so evident that man is without excuse. I mean, what is the evidence? It is His reason by the creation, right? That’s Romans 1. By the creation God can be known. Anybody’s a fool who would say nobody times nothing equals all of this, the complexity of it. But it doesn’t necessarily tell you who that God is; and that’s what you’re driving at.
JOHN: So it’s not enough to say, “Well, there’s an intelligent design.” Clearly there is intelligent design, but that should drive you to the designer. So you go to Romans 2 and you learn even more. This designer has written His law in the heart of every human being. So, we know Him not only be powerful and mighty, and a complex and incomprehensible mind, but we also know Him to be moral, and righteous, and just, because that law is written in our hearts. And even the Gentiles who don’t have the written law have the law of God written in their heart and a conscience that activates on the basis of that law.
So, I think all of those things chase you back to a designer who is moral, who is personal, as well as powerful. But from there, you’ve got to go to the Scripture to meet that God.
PHIL: So we would say that the big picture argument that’s being made by the Intelligent Design movement is true, but it’s not sufficient.
JOHN: It’s true, but it’s not sufficient. Let me say it this way: it’s enough to damn you, but it’s not enough to save you.
PHIL: Yeah, well that’s the whole essence of natural revelation, isn’t it: we see enough of God in nature to damn us, but not enough to give us salvation.
JOHN: Yeah, to make us inexcusably guilty.
PHIL: And I’m asking you maybe to speculate a little bit here; but why would you think then that a group like BioLogos whose members profess to be Christians, why would they be so ardently opposed to the very idea that there is – that design exists in what we observe?
JOHN: I think it’s a slander of God. I think it’s a failure to recognize the full glory of God in His creation. I think that’s a sin. I think it’s an open, flagrant, blatant sin not to give God glory for His creation.
PHIL: It is a rebellion against what Romans 1 teaches, isn’t it?
JOHN: You have an incomplete view of God if you don’t see God as Creator. And you can go through the Scriptures and I can show you where God has extolled again and again and again and again as Creator, over and over in the Psalms, and even in the book of Revelation. Again and again throughout all history from the Old Testament times on into eternity and the praise of the redeemed, God will always be extolled as the Creator, which means He is the designer, He is the power source. I think it is affront to God not to accept Him in the full revelation of who He is.
You know, I’ve often said this about worship: you are required to worship the God who is, in the fullness of who He is, the way He desires to be worshiped and the way He demands to be worshiped. I think it’s an affront. I think it is failure to worship in spirit and in truth; and the Father seeks true worshipers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.
And that is why I always ask the question, “Are these people Christians?” because there’s a self-evident reality to Scripture in the heart of a believer. Paul even talks about that in 2 Corinthians when he talks about the fact that even when you preach the glory of the gospel of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, it has a self-evident reality to it. Even the sinner by the law of God in his heart knows that he’s hearing reality.
That is why I say often to people who do evangelism, “You have an ally when you evangelize in the sinner, because you have a mind that must go to God as the source and as the moral law and order. There’s an ally in the heart of the sinner. It’s the law of God written in his heart, and it’s the knowledge that God exists that’s in his mind.” And that’s your ally in doing evangelism. That’s why you go to the law.
That’s why Paul goes on Mars Hill and says, “Let me tell you who the Creator is.” Everybody knew there was a Creator. There was no evolutionary movement then. There were all the philosophies, and Paul says, “Let me introduce you to the God who made everything.” Oh, sure; it was obvious somebody did.
JOHN: So I think it’s, first of all, an affront to God. Secondly, I think –
PHIL: Wait, wait, before you get past that, let me get you to say what you said about worship one more time, that we’re required to worship God as He is, in the way He demands to be worshiped. Have I got it –
JOHN: I said we are demanded to worship God for who He is, as He is, in the way He requires us to worship Him.
PHIL: And in an even more fundamental way, I think we’re required to believe in God in the manner He has revealed Himself.
JOHN: Well, that’s assumed.
JOHN: You can’t worship Him as He is, for who He is or what He’s done – let me add another component to that. Worship is giving God glory for who He is and what He’s done; and the greatest thing He’s done is in creation and then redemption. So I think this is, first of all, a severe affront to the honor, and glory, and majesty of God; and then it is an attack on Scripture. And that is why I ask the question – you know, Jesus said it this way. He said, “He who is of My Father hears My words. You don’t hear My words, because you’re not of My Father.”
I keep going back to the fact that if you don’t believe the Bible, that’s not a scientific issue, that’s an issue of nature, because I promise you this: if you’re a believer, the Holy Spirit witnesses with your spirit that you’re a child of God, and the Holy Spirit also knows that in your heart is a hunger and thirst for truth. I think if that hunger and thirst for truth isn’t there, if that love of Scripture isn’t there – David says, “Oh how I love Your law.” “Yeah, I don’t believe all of it, but I really like it.”
You know, “My delight is in Your law,” in Psalm 119. No equivocation, no questions, no caveats, you know. I just think that’s the nature that that’s what happens in transformation – regeneration, new birth – this hunger and thirst. Man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. And there’s not this critical attitude toward the Bible. There’s not this elitist sit in judgment attitude toward the Bible.
So that’s why – back to what I was saying before – that’s why I question, “Are you people Christians?” I mean, where is the witness of the Holy Spirit to the truth of Scripture?
PHIL: Yeah, yeah. And I try to figure out what’s in the mind of someone who would profess to be a Christian and yet deny the evidence of design in creation? And I think it’s because the intelligent – I think what’s in the forefront of their minds is this: the Intelligent Design movement carries this stigma in the scientific community, and they so crave that worldly stature and academic acceptance that they’re willing to even argue against what seems to be obvious of all things in creation, most obvious.
JOHN: Yeah. Well, they just keep yelling that something exists that doesn’t exist. You know, it’s like Harvey the Rabbit: “Look at my friend Harvey.” They’re convinced this is reality when it doesn’t exist. They’re not dealing with reality.
PHIL: All right, let’s move on to the other issues. What do we sacrifice theologically if we do away with Adam as a historical person?
JOHN: Well, first, you’ve just said the Bible isn’t true, so now we’ve lost the confidence in the authority of the Word of God. And if you say, like all these BioLogos guys, “You know, we fight against the inerrancy of Scripture,” then if Scripture does have errors, who tells us where they are? I mean, this is Pandora’s box, obviously.
Secondly, as I was saying earlier, you have a problem with Jesus, because He believed Adam existed. Paul believed Adam existed. All the New Testament writers assumed the existence of Adam, they build cases on the reality of Adam. But in particular, you convolute the whole idea of the fall and –
PHIL: Yeah, the doctrine of original sin.
JOHN: The doctrine of original sin, which originates with Adam and with Eve; and that’s why death doesn’t come until Adam and Eve. And if there have been hominoids, or humanoids, or whatever has been evolving dying and being changed, and dying and being changed, then you’ve got death. And if you’ve got death before Adam, you’ve got sin before Adam, because if you don’t have sin, you don’t have death. So this isn’t even the first sinner. So what role does Adam play in the fall of the human race? And what in the world is all this Scripture written by the apostle Paul about the whole race falls in Adam mean? We can’t trust what he says. I mean, the implications just don’t end.
PHIL: Yeah, and the doctrine of original sin is really one of the root truths of Christianity. Without it, you don’t have Christianity at all. I think it was G. K. Chesterton. He was a Catholic, but they believe in original sin. And he said of all the points of theology and Christian doctrine, the one that ought to be beyond dispute is the doctrine of original sin, because the evidence of it is everywhere.
JOHN: It’s also the most hated doctrine.
JOHN: You know, if you want the doctrine that people hate the most, just find the doctrine that most liberals won’t talk about.
PHIL: Original sin.
JOHN: Yeah, original sin.
PHIL: Yeah, I agree. In fact, from the beginning of the church, that doctrine –
JOHN: “Oh we don’t talk about sin in our church because that’s negative.” Yeah? Well, you just categorized yourself, because if you don’t talk about that, then you’ve got no message of salvation.
No. That is the most hated of all doctrines, the doctrine of original sin. You hear people say, “Well, I don’t like the doctrine of the sovereignty of God.” And there are people who bristle at the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. But you have a whole population, a world full of sinners who hate the Christian doctrine of total depravity, man’s total inability and unwillingness to come to God, because they want to believe in human goodness, and they want to come to God on their own works and their own merit, and they’re good enough.
PHIL: Well really, if you buy the BioLogos doctrine, then that’s what you’re left with is a religion of works, because there is no explanation for how we became sinners other than, you know, each individual choice we mess up; and so the way to fix that is to do something to undo it, or whatever. The whole pedigree of sin and how we became sinners and how humanity fell is messed up under the BioLogos doctrine. And if you throw that out, then you throw out the possibility of redemption.
JOHN: So Adam didn’t introduce sin, so the account of the fall is not accurate. “So maybe God never came down and killed an animal, and covered Adam; and that was the first death in Scripture. Maybe the garden of Eden didn’t exist either, so maybe He never threw them out of the garden of Eden; so maybe the rest of the story isn’t true.”
So I ask the question, “What chapter do you start? When do you kick in and say, ‘Okay, this part’s true’? And based on what?”
PHIL: Yeah, that’s a great question. And, in fact, if you follow the BioLogos argument, the answer to that question keeps getting moved further and further back. It’s not just creation, it’s the fall and the entire Genesis record, which is subject to question. And the thing I’ve always asked is, if you take that same, you know, scientific skepticism that they apply to the early chapters of Genesis and apply that to the resurrection of Christ, what do you have?
JOHN: Yeah, a denial of the resurrection.
JOHN: Yeah. But see, it’s okay to do this, just don’t call yourself a Christian, you know, and we can understand you. I’ve said that so many times. The reason these people confuse people is because they call themselves Christians. If they didn’t call themselves Christians, we’d say, “Oh, yeah, we’ve seen that a lot. That’s plain old critical attitude, anti-Scripture, anti-Christian.” But what confounds people is they call themselves Christians.
You know, you could line up a whole lot of scientists who would say the same thing, who would reject Christianity. And that’s pretty clear, that’s to be expected. The insidiousness of this is that they’re trying to corrupt Christianity, they’re trying to corrupt Christians. And I promise you, they’re going after a young generation of intellectual Christians. They’re going after a young generation of students. They’re going after young Christians in the science departments trying to convince them of this to sustain their academic credibility; and it’s an insidious campaign.
PHIL: Yeah. In fact, this was going on 30 years ago when I was in college. I faced the same thing.
JOHN: Yeah, in those days it was a theistic evolution or it was called progressive creationism, and it was coming from Russell Mixter at Wheaton. Theistic evolutionist jumped the fences way back in the, I don’t know, ‘70s or so when they started talking about progressive creationism at Wheaton under Russell Mixter; and he wanted to allow for evolution. And then there wasn’t a lot of scientific – I mean, the knowledge has exploded in the last 15, 20 years. But that was the first entrance that I saw of it in, and it was always based on science, and, “This is the intellectual approach, and we can’t be marginalized if we take this primitive, sort of infantile view.”
PHIL: Yeah. You spark a thought there. Let me read a quote from Spurgeon, because one of the complexities of this whole issue is that it’s pretty hard to nail down the evolutionists; their theories are constantly in transition. And here’s what Spurgeon said 150 years ago, he said this: “Considering that the so-called science is constantly changing and it seems to be the rule for scientific men to contradict all who have gone before them, and that if you take up a book on almost any science, you will find that it largely consists of repudiations of all former theories,” Spurgeon says, “I think we can afford to wait until the scientific men have made up their minds as to what science really is.” That’s a great quote, isn’t it?
JOHN: It is great. And it’s so applicable like so much of his insight.
PHIL: I want to mention the complexity of this. When these discussions come up in evangelical circles about origins, there are about five different major category categories of theories that are thrown around. You’ve got atheistic evolution, which is the notion that, you know, there is no God, there’s nothing supernatural, everything is a materialistic accident. You’ve got theistic evolution, which is the notion that, you know, evolution – everything the scientists say about evolution happened, but God is behind it, controlling it, or at the very least – and I think this is the BioLogos idea – He set it in motion and then just let it happen.
JOHN: The deist kind of approach.
PHIL: It is, it’s deism; that’s classic deism. You’ve got Intelligent Design, which, as I said, we wouldn’t disagree with what they say, we just think they don’t go far enough.
PHIL: You’ve got old earth creationism. That’s Hugh Ross’ view. He believes God created the world, but we have to tweak our understanding of Genesis in order to accommodate ages and ages of time. And then you’ve got biblical creationism, or often called young earth creationism. I think most of our listeners know which view you hold.
JOHN: Well, I just read the Bible; and what the Bible says is what I believe. And Genesis says, “Evening and the morning was the first day, and the evening and the morning was the second day, and the evening and the morning was the third day.” And you could ask the question, “Could God do that?” And this is the question I’ve asked some of these people: “You think God could have done it in a day? Could He have done that in one day?”
Well, if you say no, you’ve just diminished God. What are the forces that God depends on then, okay? “Well no, He couldn’t have done it in one day.” “Oh, really. Well, because of what? I mean, what hinders God from being God?”
So if He could have done it in one day, then we could ask the question, “If He could have done it in one day, is their evidence that He did it in one day?” “Well, I don’t know.” “Well how about an eyewitness account from Him? Would that work?”
JOHN: Okay. That’s where I’m at.
PHIL: Yeah. So what I hear you saying is, despite all those different theories and all the arguments and all the books that have written, this really is not that complex of a problem; and it boils down to either believing the Bible, or having to adjust the Bible to fit the ever-changing, whatever is current scientific theories.
JOHN: You know, my scientific skill amounts to boiling water in the morning and pouring it over a few tea bags. So, that’s my foray into the phenomenon of science. I don’t know anything about science, but I trust the Bible. And I read a lot from various and sundry organizations of scientists that are putting out an endless array of material supporting from real science a biblical account.
In fact, I’ve got more of that than I can possibly handle. I’m convinced; I don’t need another article on another aspect of real science that is supportive of intelligent design, young earth. I think there’s reams of that. So these guys, on the one hand, have their own agenda, and they’re unwilling to take a look at the real evidence.
PHIL: Are you not troubled by the fact that Ivy League colleges are not going to be conferring on you honorary degrees?
JOHN: I don’t need any honorary degrees. I don’t care what the scientific elite thinks about me; I do care what they think about Jesus. And I’ll tell you one thing: if I did anything to diminish anybody’s confidence in the Bible, then I should be silenced. Who would do that? Who would say, “I’m a Christian, but I want you folks to know that you can’t trust this part of the Bible.”
Oh, thanks. Now what you’ve just done, you’ve just loosened all the screws on the Bible, and it’s all shaky. Why would anyone say he’s a Christian and do that?
PHIL: Especially with the very beginning of the Bible.
JOHN: Yes. And against all the evidence, the real science.
PHIL: Let me read one more quote. This is on that subject of academic credibility and the craving for worldly stature. This is from Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Here’s what he said, I think this is powerful. He says –
JOHN: Pulling out the dead guys.
PHIL: Yeah. He says, “The Christian Church in her utter folly during this present century has been recognizing a new authority, and the new authority, of course, is the man of knowledge, the man of culture, and particularly the man of scientific knowledge; and the church has been at great pains to do everything she can to please this new authority. This man of learning must never be offended; and in order to please him and duplicate him, the church has been ready to take things out of the Bible. She rejects and throws out the whole of the first three chapters of Genesis. Much of the other history throws out all the miracles. She’ll throw out anything in order to make her message pleasing and acceptable to this new authority, the man of knowledge, the man of learning, the man of science.”
JOHN: And guess what?
PHIL: He was a man of a science, wasn’t he? He was a doctor.
JOHN: Yeah, he was a medical doctor. But guess what? The man of science doesn’t buy it.
PHIL: That’s right.
JOHN: You know what you’ve done? You’ve just kowtowed to the man of science, who now you’ve put in a position not to believe your message. In other words, “We’re doing this because we need to be intellectually acceptable if we’re going to reach these people. So here’s the plan. Here’s our plan.” And this sounds like something you’d read in Screwtape Letters. “Here’s our plan. We’re going to undermine people’s confidence in the Bible so we can get the gospel to them. How’s that for a plan? That makes a lot of sense.”
PHIL: In fact, that brings us back to the issue of how important this whole thing is. I’ve actually heard you say in the past that if you want to know here a person, or a pastor, or a church, or a seminary, or any ministry stands with regard to –
JOHN: Christian colleges.
PHIL: biblical fidelity, you ask this question: “Ask about creation. Ask about the early chapters of Genesis.”
PHIL: Is that a reliable litmus test?
JOHN: Absolutely. You know, you want to talk to a prospective pastor for your church? You want to talk to a perspective professor for your Christian school, Christian day school? You want to go to a Christian college as a parent and ask about that college and what your child’s education is going to be? Go right to the people in the college and the faculty and ask them one question: “What do you believe about Genesis 1 and 2?”
PHIL: Now, to be clear, they might be right on that and wrong on other important issues of theology.
JOHN: But you’re going to be right about the authority of Scripture.
JOHN: And I’d rather have somebody right about the authority of Scripture and wrong about something in the Scripture, because now I can go to them and say, “Let me help you to understand that.” But if you cut loose my confidence in the Scripture, then trying to explain the Scripture doesn’t get you anywhere.
PHIL: That’s a great help, John. Thanks for your time. Thanks for the work you do on this issue, and thanks for your faithfulness to the Word of God.
JOHN: Well, it’s mutual. Thank you, Phil. Thank you.
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