Darwinism in the Classroom

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Darwinism in the Classroom

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As high school and college students return to their studies this fall, many will encounter teachers advocating Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to explain how we humans came to be. Although some schools may permit the biblical account of creation to be taught as a competing theory, many instructors will teach Darwin's popular theory as though it were a proven fact. If you believe the Bible's explanation that God made human beings in His image, what should you do? Are there any strategies for dealing with teachers who require students to learn Darwinism?

From the outset, it is important to understand that proponents of Darwin's theory will often pit the Bible against science. Science is described as the logical, intelligent, rational choice because of its systematic attention to observation and experimentation. The contrasting implication will be that the Bible's account of creation is merely a fable—an unprovable myth generated by primitive peoples to explain their existence. Some will subtly, but mistakenly, imply that science disproves the Bible.

Actually, between the Bible and Darwin's theory, the evidence is decidedly in the Bible's favor. After Darwin's death in 1882, proponents of his theory believed that over time evidence would continue to be discovered affirming their beliefs. For example, they believed that fossil evidence would be discovered showing the mutations that had changed various animals into new species. But such “missing link” fossils haven't been discovered. The flaws in Darwin's theories, some of which Darwin acknowledged himself, remain. His theory has remained unproved over the last hundred years.

During this same time, however, many prominent scientists including Louis Pasteur (developer of pasteurization and vaccines for anthrax, chicken cholera and rabies), Dr. Wernher von Braun (former NASA director), Paul Lemoine (president of the Geological Society of France) and Sir Ernst Chain (coholder of the 1945 Nobel Prize for isolating and purifying penicillin, as well as director of Rome's International Research Center for Chemical Microbiology) have publicly attested to their belief in a Creator and the failure of Darwinism. Some of them have plainly stated that Darwinism is impossible—that this theory is based on nonexistent evidence and is incompatible with the scientific facts. Other scientists have tried to support Darwinistic reasoning by offering new, equally unprovable theories. While the credibility of Darwin's theory has languished at best, the Bible's credibility has been steadily increasing. New archaeological discoveries continue to confirm the Bible's validity.

Critics who claimed the Bible was filled with fictionalized stories are systematically being proven wrong as archaeologists make discoveries confirming historical figures and cities previously known only from the Bible. (If you would like to learn more about archaeological discoveries confirming the Bible, read the series of articles titled “The Bible and Archaeology” in past issues of The Good News .)

A popular argument. One of the most popular arguments used to disprove the Bible is the claim that scientific research shows the earth to be millions of years old while the biblical account says the earth is only 6,000 years old. Yet, under careful scrutiny, this apparent discrepancy is easily reconciled.

Genesis 1:1-2 Genesis 1:1-2 1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.
American King James Version×
says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void …” The Hebrew phrase, “The earth was without form, and void,” can be translated, “The earth became formless and void.” Such
a translation allows for a gap in time between verses 1 and 2 and permits the earth to be much older than the 6,000 years of recorded human history described in the remainder of the Bible. Interestingly, this understanding has been noted by various biblical scholars for almost 2,000 years—long before Darwin's theory of evolution ever surfaced. (If you would like to learn more about the validity of the Bible and this explanation of the earth being older than 6,000 years, request our free booklet Is the Bible True? )

Defining evolution. Understanding various definitions of evolution can be helpful to students facing Darwinism in their studies. It also explains why I've used the term Darwinism in this article instead of evolution . The word evolution has many variations of meaning. While many are familiar with its most common meaning—the changing of simple life forms to higher life forms as theorized by Charles Darwin—this word can also refer to the process of change and adaptation within a species or any progression of knowledge or understanding.

The latter definitions of evolution are not in conflict with the Bible. For example, due to temporary environmental conditions such as smog or pollution from burning coal, one color of moths may become predominant (lighting conditions make one color of moths easier for birds to see and the birds eat more of that color).

Another example would be bacteria and drugs. Antibiotic drugs are designed to kill or inhibit bad bacteria. But occasionally, a few bacteria cells are found to have an immunity to the drug. When these bad cells reproduce, they can be said to have evolved into a drug-resistant strain. While this limited form of evolution does occur, it does not mean these bacteria will eventually become elephants or human beings. They will always remain bacteria.

As our overall body of knowledge on a variety of subjects continues to increase, it is correct to say that our knowledge base is evolving. Here again, this definition does not prove Darwin's theory regarding how human beings came into existence.

The reason it is important to understand these varied definitions is simply this: When some scientists say evolution is a proven fact, they are referring to these latter definitions. Honest scientists will admit Charles Darwin's theory is still an unproven attempt to explain life without a Creator.

Why Darwinism lives on. When rational human beings consider the intricacies and perfect balance of nature in the world around us, it seems strikingly obvious that all of this marvelous creation requires a creator. As King David put it, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalms 19:1 Psalms 19:1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork.
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). In light of such physical evidence, why does Darwinism survive? Why hasn't it been discarded like other empty, inaccurate, failed theories?

The apostle Paul answers this question for us in Romans 1:20-22 Romans 1:20-22 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
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: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.”

This passage tells us that the basic reason for rejecting the biblical account of creation is because people reject God. Although such people can appear intelligent and understand many things, when it comes to acknowledging God their thinking is foolishly unsound. The Bible explains, “The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'” (Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
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; 53:1).

When people believe they are part of the animal kingdom, they reject an extremely important concept that gives humanity our unique identity and destiny. We are created in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:26-27 Genesis 1:26-27 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
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) and have the opportunity to become His children (John 1:12 John 1:12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
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). We are called to become part of the God Kingdom—not the animal kingdom. God's whole purpose and plan for humanity is to give every human being the opportunity to acknowledge Him as creator (Psalms 14:2 Psalms 14:2The LORD looked down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
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) and receive eternal life (John 3:15-16 John 3:15-16 15 That whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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) in His family (Ephesians 3:14-15 Ephesians 3:14-15 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
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).

The biographies of some proponents of Darwinism clearly explain why they reject God—they don't want to be subject to God's laws. They want to be free to do whatever they want to do—even act like animals if they so choose. Such thinking leads to and promotes sexual immorality, envy, murder, strife and hatred of God, just to name a few items off a long list of negative qualities generated by this kind of perspective (Romans 1:28-31 Romans 1:28-31 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
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). By contrast, those who aspire to be children of God practice righteousness (1 John 3:10 1 John 3:10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.
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), which means respecting and living by God's instructions.

Strategies for coping. Now that we have reviewed a few of the fundamental issues regarding Darwinism and the Bible, what can a student who believes in God do when he or she takes science classes teaching Charles Darwin's theory? What strategies might one employ?

• Realize that you are studying a theory. Theories are just attempts to explain something not clearly understood. Charles Darwin didn't understand how human beings came to exist. One can read his work and study his arguments without agreeing with them. On a test, one can write, “Charles Darwin's theory of evolution says …”

• It isn't necessary for you to publicly debate with your teachers or professors if they believe in evolution. Through greater experience, they usually have pat, but erroneous, arguments to make believers appear ignorant. Remember, the Bible reveals that those who reject God are the foolish and ignorant (Psalms 14:1 Psalms 14:1The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good.
American King James Version×
; Romans 1). If someone genuinely wants to know what you believe regarding this issue, tell them (1 Peter 3:15 1 Peter 3:15But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
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). But you don't have to set yourself up for public ridicule.

• If you are asked to do additional research on this subject, a number of possibilities emerge. You might want to read Darwin's book and draw special attention to the areas where he acknowledges that his theory may be flawed. Another possibility would be to do a book report on material written against evolution (see “The Case Against Evolution” on our Web site for a list of popular books written from this perspective).

• Use this opportunity to strengthen your relationship with God and your convictions that He is our creator. Consider the ultimate rewards of belief in Darwinism or belief in God. In the former, when you're dead you're dead, with no hope of living s again. With God, you have an opportunity to live forever. VT

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