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Evolution or Creation

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not been a hallmark among Catholics

through much of the 20th century.Asked

about the pope’s statement, Peter Stravinskas,

editor of the 1991 Catholic Encyclopedia,

said: ‘It’s essentially whatAugustine

was writing. He tells us that we should not

interpret Genesis literally, and that it is

poetic and theological language’” (Time,

international edition,Nov. 4, 1996, p. 59).

The Catholic theologianAugustine lived

354-430.The Encyclopaedia Britannica

describes him as “the dominant personality

of the Western Church of his time, generally

recognized as the greatest thinker of Christian

antiquity.” It adds, “He fused the religion

of the NewTestament with the

Platonic tradition of Greek philosophy”

(15th edition, 1975,MicropaediaVol. 1,

“Augustine of Hippo, Saint,” pp. 649-650).

Little did Augustine realize he was

doing his followers a grave disservice by

viewing parts of the Bible as allegorical

while simultaneously incorporating into

his teaching the views of the Greek

philosophers. For the next 1,300 years,

covering roughly the medieval age, the

view of those pagan philosophers became

the standard for the Roman church’s

explanation of the universe.

Furthermore, ecclesiastical leaders

adopted the earth-centered view of the universe

held by Ptolemy, an Egyptian-born

astronomer of the second century. “It was

. . . from the work of previous [Greek]

astronomers,” says the Encyclopaedia Britannica,

“that Ptolemy evolved his detailed

description of an Earth-centered (geocentric)

universe, a revolutionary but erroneous

idea that governed astronomical

thinking for over 1,300 years . . .

“In essence, it is a synthesis of the

results obtained by Greek astronomy . . .

On the motions of the Sun,Moon, and

planets, Ptolemy again extended the observations

and conclusions of Hipparchus—

this time to formulate his geocentric

theory, which is popularly known as the

Ptolemaic system” (Britannica, 15th

edition, 1975,MacropaediaVol. 15,

“Ptolemy,” p. 179).

The Bible and the universe

Thus it was not the biblical perspective

but the Greek view of the cosmos—in

which everything revolved around a stationary

earth—that was to guide man’s concept

of the universe for many centuries.The

Roman Catholic Church made the mistake

of tying its concept of the universe to that of

earlier pagan philosophers and astronomers,

then enforced that erroneous view.

Although the Greeks thought Atlas held

up first the heavens and later the earth, and

the Hindus believed the earth rested atop

four gigantic elephants, the Bible has long

revealed the true explanation.We read in

Job 26:7 an astonishingly modern scientific

concept, that God “hangs the earth on

nothing.” Science has demonstrated that

this “nothing” is the invisible force of

gravity that holds the planet in its orbit.

Centuries passed before Nicolas

Copernicus calculated that the earth was

not the center of the universe. However,

he was cautious about challenging the

Roman church on this belief. More than

a century would elapse before someone

would be bold enough and possessed

sufficient evidence to clash with the

established religious authorities.

In the 1690s, after observing through

a telescope the moons orbiting Jupiter, Italian

astronomer Galileo Galilei beheld clear

evidence that the earth revolved around the

sun and not vice versa. Catholic authorities

considered the idea heretical, and Galileo

was threatened with death if he did not

recant. Finally he did, although legend has

it that, as he left the presence of the pope,

he muttered under his breath: “But it [the

earth] still moves.”

“When the Roman church attacked

Copernicus and Galileo,” says Christian

philosopher Francis Schaeffer, “it was not

because their teaching actually contained

anything contrary to the Bible. The church

authorities thought it did, but that was

becauseAristotelian elements had become

part of church orthodoxy, and Galileo’s

notions clearly conflicted with them. In

fact,Galileo defended the compatibility of

Copernicus and the Bible, and this was one

of the factors which brought about his trial”

(How Shall We Then Live?, 1976, p. 131).

Ironically, these first battles between

scientists and the Bible were over biblical

misinterpretations, not what the Bible

actually says.

The Bible and scientific advancement

Several centuries later, a more-proper

biblical understanding actually furthered

scientific advancements and achievements.

The English scholar Robert Merton

maintains that the values Puritanism

promoted in 17th-century England

encouraged scientific endeavors.A Christian

was to glorify God and serve Him

through participating in activities of practical

value to his community. He wasn’t

to withdraw into the contemplative life

of monasteries and convents.

Christians were to choose a vocation

that best made use of their talents. Reason

and education were praised in the context

of educating people with practical knowledge,

not the highly literary classics of

pagan antiquity, that they might better do

their life’s work. Puritanism also encouraged

literacy, because each believer had

to be able to read the Bible for himself and

not depend on what others said it meant.

Historians note that the invention of the

printing press and subsequent broader distribution

of the Bible in the 1500s played a

large role in the emergence of modern science.

“The rise of modern science,” says

Francis Schaeffer, “did not conflict with

what the Bible teaches; indeed, at a crucial

Many passages show us that

Christ and the apostles fully

accepted the Genesis account

of the creation. Jesus talked about

“the beginning of the creation which

God created” (Mark 13:19; see also

Matthew 24:21).

He once asked some who questioned

Him: “Have you not read that

He who made them [Adam and Eve] at

the beginning ‘made them male and

female’?” (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6).

Later the resurrected Christ referred

to Himself as “the Beginning of the

creation” (Revelation 3:14).

Many are surprised to learn that the

Bible reveals Christ as the Creator! More

than once the apostle Paul explained to

early Christians that God had created all

things by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9;

Colossians 1:16). Hebrews 1:2 tells us

that God “has in these last days spoken

to us by His Son, . . . through whom also

He made the worlds.”

Paul also told the Athenians that

God made all nations “from one

blood” (Acts 17:26); all are descendants

of Adam and Eve. Paul believed all that

was written in the Law and the

Prophets (Acts 24:14), including the

creation accounts.

Finally, both the specifics and the

tenor of Peter’s last letter tell us that he,

too, believed in creation (see 2 Peter

3:4-7 in particular).


Sermon text with italics and bold and John 3:16 and v. 20.

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