Background

Ever since the publication of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” by Charles Darwin in 1859, the Genesis account of creation has been under attack. If the Genesis account is discounted then the central teaching of Scripture, “the ransom sacrifice” of Jesus, is negated. The issue is that evolutionary theory teaches that man is rising higher and higher as a living being through purposeless naturalistic processes. In the Biblical account, man is created perfect, or sinless, in the image of God. Man sins and loses his sinless state—having fallen, he cannot fulfill his God-ordained purpose. Man needs to be saved from his fallen state and the ransom of Jesus is the means of restoration and restitution.

The default position in the Western World is that the “Theory of Evolution” is scientifically established and often taught as a fact, and dissent has consequences for those in academia. This permeates through into wider society and people accept evolution without questioning or really examining it in any depth.

In 1986, I read “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” by Michael Denton, and this was the first time I had come across a systematic critique of the Neo-Darwinian theory without the use of the Genesis account. I have taken a keen interest in the subject and watched the debate grow along with the birth of the Intelligent Design movement which has since challenged the Neo-Darwinian theory.

Over many years, I have discussed and often debated this on my Christian ministry and have also delivered talks on the subject. Often, the arguments based on sound scientific evidence are presented, but they didn’t seem to have an impact on the individual’s position. After a great deal of reflection, I realised I wasn’t applying the scriptural wisdom found in Hebrews:

“For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword  and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (He 4:12 NWT)

I had left out the word of God and was relying on my own secular research and knowledge and hence could not be blessed with holy spirit. It needed a new approach that included the scripture.

One of the issues that happens in these discussions is that the Neo-Darwinians like to deflect the focus from the theory of evolution, and start questioning the Genesis account and other areas in the Bible that on a surface reading might undermine the scriptural account. This route can also end up in many debates that go around in circles. After a great deal of praying and meditating, the thought came to me that Jesus should be in the centre of the discussion as he is the living “Word of God”.

One Approach

From this, I have developed a very simple Bible-based approach that is centred on the Lord Jesus. When a point is discussed with an evolutionist about when an event happened, the reply is ‘millions or billions of years ago’. They never provide a specific location, date or time for the event. It has a similar ring to fairy tales that start, “once upon a time in a land far, far away…”

In the Bible, we can focus on one event that happened at 3.00 pm Friday, April 3rd, 33 CE (3.00 pm Nisan 14th) in the City of Jerusalem: the death of Jesus. It was a Great Sabbath for the Jewish nation, when the weekly Sabbath coincides with the Passover celebration. This is a fact about which nobody really argues. On Sunday the 5th, there was an empty tomb and the claim is made that he came back to life. This is controversial and is questioned in many quarters.

A Typical Conversation

My conversations on this topic now focus on this one event, and they tend to follow this format:

Me: I would like to share with you one specific event from the Bible that is the foundation of my belief system, and which convinced me of the existence of God.  Would it be alright to share it with you?

Evolutionist: I cannot see how that is possible, but I’ll listen.  But you should be prepared for challenging questions for real world evidence.

Me: I want to talk about an event that happened in Jerusalem at 3.00 pm on Friday the 3rd of April 33 AD[2]: the death of Jesus. He was executed by a Roman order and died at Calvary, and there are two possible locations in Jerusalem for this execution. This death is accepted by the vast majority of people and only a few on the fringes deny this, but they often tend to deny Jesus or claim he did not die. Would you agree that he died?

Evolutionist: His death is claimed by his disciples, and there are other records that talk about his execution.

Me: Good, now on the following Sunday the 5th, there was an empty tomb and his disciples saw the risen Jesus for another 40 days.

Evolutionist: (interrupting) I must stop you there as I cannot accept this event as it is not real.

Me: Why can you not accept that Jesus came back to life?

Evolutionist: It is impossible for someone dead to come back to life.  (A very few use the term it is improbable.) This just cannot happen and such an event has never been observed by science.

Me: Are you saying that the dead (inanimate matter) cannot be brought to life (animate matter)?

Evolutionist: Yes, off course that is obvious.

Me: If that is the case can you please explain to me how inanimate matter became animate matter in your understanding of the origin of life?

At this point, there is normally a silence as the impact of the statement sinks in. I give them a moment and state that I have five lines of evidence that has convinced me why this incredibly unlikely event actually happened. I ask if they are interested. Many say “Yes”, but some decline to go further.

Five Lines of Evidence

The five lines of evidence are as follows:

  1. The first appearance of the risen Lord was to women. This can be found in Luke 24:1-10:[3]

“But on the first day of the week, they came very early to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, and when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.While they were perplexed about this, look! two men in shining garments stood by them. The women became frightened and kept their faces turned toward the ground, so the men said to them: “Why are you looking for the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised up. Recall how he spoke to you while he was yet in Galʹi·lee, saying that the Son of man must be handed over to sinful men and be executed on the stake and on the third day rise.” 8 Then they remembered his words, and they returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 They were Mary Magʹda·lene, Jo·anʹna, and Mary the mother of James. Also, the rest of the women with them were telling these things to the apostles.”

In this account three of the women are named. This is interesting as the testimony of women carried very little credibility in that society. So, if the account is a fabrication it is a poor attempt.

  1. The apostles who later become the pillars of the new congregation would not believe the testimony. This can be found in Luke 24:11-12:

“However, these sayings seemed like nonsense to them, and they would not believe the women.12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, and stooping forward, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went off, wondering to himself what had occurred.”

These men were the leaders and pillars of the early congregation and this account paints them in a very poor light along with their abandonment of Jesus two days earlier. If this is a fabrication, again, it is a very poor one.

  1. Over 500 people were eye-witnesses and saw the risen Lord Jesus and most were alive 20-plus years later when Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:6:

After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death.” 

Paul was a lawyer. and here he is offering a huge number of eye-witnesses to the event, stating that only some have died.  This is not consistent with a fabrication.

  1. What did they gain by becoming a Christian? If the account was not true, then what did they gain from believing and living for this falsehood? The early Christians did not gain material wealth, power, status or prestige in Roman, Greek or Jewish society. This position is very well stated by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:

Now if it is being preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how is it that some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If, indeed, there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised up. 14 But if Christ has not been raised up, our preaching is certainly in vain, and your faith is also in vain. 15 Moreover, we are also found to be false witnesses of God, because we have given witness against God by saying that he raised up the Christ, whom he did not raise up if the dead are really not to be raised up. 16 For if the dead are not to be raised up, neither has Christ been raised up. 17 Further, if Christ has not been raised up, your faith is useless; you remain in your sins. 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in death in union with Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are to be pitied more than anyone.”

  1. They were willing to stake their lives on the fact that Jesus was resurrected and alive. The Greek word ‘martyr’ meant to bear witness but took on added meaning from Christianity where it came to include sacrificing one’s life to the point of death. Ultimately, the early Christians were willing to stake their very lives on this event. They suffered and even died for this belief. This is discussed in 1 Corinthians 15:29-32:

Otherwise, what will they do who are being baptized for the purpose of being dead ones? If the dead are not to be raised up at all, why are they also being baptized for the purpose of being such? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 Daily I face death. This is as sure as my exultation over you, brothers, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32  If like other men, I have fought with wild beasts at Ephʹe·sus, of what good is it to me? If the dead are not to be raised up, “let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.”

Conclusion

This simple approach, in my experience, has led to many meaningful conversations. It provokes thinking on the subject, builds real faith and gives a witness to Jesus and his Father. It avoids long discussions and also helps those who believe in evolution to realise that their belief is based on a foundation of sand. It will hopefully stimulate their mental faculties and begin an exploration of the word of God.

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[1] All scriptures are based on the New World Translation 2013 edition.

[2] AD stands for Anno Domini (In the year of our Lord) and most people are familiar with this rather than the technically more accurate CE (Common Era).

[3] It is recommended to read all 4 Gospel accounts of the resurrection to create a fuller picture. Here we are focusing on Luke’s Gospel.