Creation and the Certainty of the Second Coming
Who are we? Are we here by chance, because a lightning strike and a concentration of chemicals coincided billions of years ago? If that is the case, how should we then live? How should we relate to others? Does the principle of the survival of the fittest provide the foundation of our moral life? And if not, why not, and what would be morality’s origin? If we are the culmination of long evolutionary development, does it mean that we depend solely on ourselves for our achievements, and that our mind provides the foundation of our knowledge? Are we therefore autonomous, independent of any force outside of ourselves, and thus the masters of our own personal universe? What does the future hold for the human race? Can we define salvation and heaven as the continuing progress of the evolutionary process?
And if we are here because of evolutionary process, what does that say for God? Does He exist at all? If He does, who is He? Is He simply a principle we call “chance”? What kind of influence, if any, does He have on the universe? What role, if any, would He play in history, in our lives? Does He know that we exist? Does He even care? Is He some great, inanimate force in the universe, or maybe a mastermind? Is He also a person? If He is a person, how does He relate to us?
Should God exist, did He initiate the first spark of life and then somehow guide the process of evolution? If so, why did it take Him billions of years to bring evolution to the stage of human development? Is His problem one of limited power? Or is it that He really does not care? Why did He use the cruel process of the survival of the fittest to create humanity? Does that mean He is a tyrant? Or is He really a God of love doing the best that He can with His finite power? Perhaps He is a God of power and of love, but just not very smart—a little slow, but making it? And if He is a personal God, a God of love, why did it take Him so many millions and billions of years to get around to telling us about His love? Why did it require so long for Him to express it?
What implication does theistic evolution have for the way God acts in the world? If God either cannot or does not behave in the way that the Genesis creation account describes, then what does that say for other reports of His activities in the rest of the Bible? Did God bring about a worldwide flood and guide Noah’s ark to safety? Did He really bring the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea? Did He really come in Jesus Christ to become one among us, to die for our sins, to be resurrected on our behalf, and to ascend into heaven? Will He literally and visibly return to take us home with Himself? Will He create a new heaven and a new earth?
If we have a problem with the miracle of Creation, why would we not also question the miracle of the resurrection, the Second Coming, and the creation of the new earth? And if we struggle with miracles, how do we account for the supposed evolution of the human race from the animal kingdom to our ability to think and make moral decisions? The infusion of mind and morality at some point in the history of evolution would be itself a miracle. Why not therefore accept the miracle of Creation recorded in Genesis?
Suppose God did bring about life on our planet by the process of theistic evolution, developing it through the survival of the fittest from simple life forms to the complexity of a moral and intelligent creature called Homo sapiens. What would then be the meaning of sin and salvation? If humanity is in the process of evolutionary development, is sin simply a lack of progress? At what point did we become children of God? What role does Christ play? If we are only in some process of development, we would have no need of a Substitute to die for us, since we did not fall from the image of God in the first place. One could hardly call our slow progress sin. Therefore, we do not need a Savior. Is Christ then the peak of evolutionary development? Did He somehow become an example for us in order to speed up our development?
What would the theory of theistic evolution say for the nature of the Bible? In what sense, if any, would the Bible then be the Word of God? If the Bible is God’s Word, and if His Word is the foundation of our life, including our understanding of the world, then on what basis would we reject the Creation account? Maybe the Bible is only the history of the evolution of human spirituality—individuals and communities shared their religious concepts and passed them on from generation to generation. Spirituality matured through the process of evolution. Finally, Jesus Christ Himself became the height of evolutionary spirituality. He is thereby the catalyst for the development of our own spirituality.
As we can see, if we do not accept the biblical account of Creation, we are left with many questions, a few guesses, and no answers. We have only an uncertain identity. It puts the nature and even the existence of God into question. Our future is in limbo.
“Those who question the reliability of the Scripture records have let go their anchor and are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. When they find themselves incapable of measuring the Creator and His works by their own imperfect knowledge of science, they question the existence of God and attribute infinite power to nature.”1
“God has permitted a flood of light to be poured upon the world in discoveries in science and art; but when professedly scientific men lecture and write upon these subjects from a merely human standpoint, they will assuredly come to wrong conclusions. The greatest minds, if not guided by the Word of God in their research, become bewildered in their attempts to investigate the relations of science and revelation. The Creator and His works are beyond their comprehension; and because they cannot explain these by natural laws, Bible history is considered unreliable. Those who doubt the reliability of the records of the Old and New Testaments will be led to go a step farther, and doubt the existence of God; and then, having let go their anchor, they are left to beat about upon the rocks of infidelity. Moses wrote under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and a correct theory of geology will never claim discoveries that cannot be reconciled with his statements.”2
The biblical concept of the origin of life and of the history of humanity is completely opposite from the evolutionary concept. The Bible declares that God created life and its habitable environment in six literal, consecutive, 24-hour days (Genesis 1). Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 confirm creation in six days. God gives the six-day creation as the reason for the fourth commandment. Instead of creating us during a period of billions of years, He “formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Gen. 2:7, NKJV).3
Though the theory of evolution envisions the formation of life during millions and billions of years, the Bible declares that Creation took place by the word of God. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. . . . For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:6–9).
Some try to discount the historicity of Genesis 1 to 11 by saying that the chapters are not trying to relate what actually happened, that they are poetry, not history. Their purpose consists of nothing more than conveying the message that in the beginning, God created. Thus, the Bible does not give us the how of Creation, but merely the fact of Creation. However, we view the question as to whether or not Genesis 1 to 11 is historical narrative or poetry really does not alter the outcome, for the Bible often uses poetry to present history. Thus, the poetic argument does not undermine the intended historicity of these chapters.
In addition, we must allow Scripture to interpret itself. When we look at the whole of Scripture, we find that the Bible writers—and Christ Himself—took these chapters seriously as history. Paul confirmed that “Adam [not some bit of slime in the water] was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13). Christ referred to the creation of the first couple: “‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning “made them male and female”’” (Matt. 19:4). The Savior used this fact as a ground for morality based upon the design of God: “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (vs. 5). Morality rests upon God’s original plan for humanity when He created them in Eden, not upon a theory of survival of the fittest. Also, Christ took seriously the Genesis story of Noah and the Flood: “‘For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away’” (24:38, 39).
The agent in Creation, according to the Bible, was not evolution driven by the survival of the fittest, but rather God’s Son, Jesus Christ Himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1–3). “By Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible. . . . And in Him all things consist” (Col. 1:16, 17).
Our concept of Creation also affects our understanding of God and of how we relate to Him. The fact that God is Creator provides the foundation of our respect (Isa. 17:7, 8) and our worship of Him: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am the Lord, and there is no other’” (Isa. 45:18). “‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created’” (Rev. 4:11). Creation distinguishes God from other deities (1 Chron. 16:26).
In addition, it forms the basis of our relationship with Him, for in the beginning He made us for fellowship (Eph. 3:9). He who first commanded light to beam out of darkness also shines into our hearts the light of the knowledge of God’s glory revealed through Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). By virtue of His creative power, He is the basis of our own strength (Ps. 121:2; 124:8). Our acceptance of the account of Creation rests upon faith: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).
The biblical account of humanity differs greatly from that offered by evolution. We are not sons and daughters of primates, but sons and daughters of God! Adam’s genealogy does not trace back to a primitive cell. He was the son of God (Luke 3:38). We are not created in the image of some beast, but in the image and likeness of God Himself (Gen. 1:26–28; 5:1, 2).
“The conclusions which learned men have reached as the result of their scientific investigations are carefully taught and fully explained; while the impression is distinctly given that if these learned men are correct, the Bible cannot be. These philosophers would make us believe that man, the crowning work of creation, came by slow degrees from the savage state, and that farther back, he was evolved from the race of brutes. They are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe, that they demean man, and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. Nature is exalted above the God of nature; she is idolized, while her Creator is buried up and concealed from sight by science falsely so-called.”4
The Bible links the historical accounts of Creation and the Flood and the Second Coming. “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’ For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:3–7). Christ made this same connection: “‘But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be’” (Matt. 24:37–39). Thus, Scripture uses the historical conditions of humanity at the time of Noah as an analogy to the times just before the coming of Christ. Furthermore, the same word that brought about Creation and the Flood will bring about the destruction at the Second Coming.
Theistic evolution finds it necessary to reinterpret the biblical concept of the Second Coming and the new earth. If God did not break into history in Creation, then surely He will not do so in a literal, visible Second Coming. Nor, if He does not create by the word of His mouth, will He re-create in the resurrection. And if He did not originally create the Garden of Eden, will He re-create the new earth? For the theistic evolutionist, eschatology is not a decisive entrance of God into history at the Second Coming. It is the continuing evolution of a better life, a process that humanity accelerates by bringing about a moral and just society through human act: revolt, rebellion, redistribution of wealth, education. Thank God, though, we can have hope in the future Second Coming because God is our Creator and Redeemer!
Adventism will not be Adventism if it accepts theistic evolution. The active God who created by the word of His mouth, who communicated through the prophets, who lived among us, died in our place, was resurrected, and ascended to minister for us, who will return the second time to take us home with Himself, who will bring about the resurrection of the dead and the re-creation that produces a new earth, and who will finally destroy sin. We cannot worship such a God if He does not exist. Adventists do not worship a god who dragged his creatures through the slime of evolution, but the God of Creation, a personal God who desires to fellowship with us and to dwell among us. We worship Him because He created us. It is that act that distinguishes Him from would-be gods.
Christianity is a relationship with God and Jesus Christ. It is not an imaginary, contentless relationship, but one based upon knowledge of the “‘only true God’” (John 17:3). If our relationship is with any other deity, it is idolatry. Whether in its Darwinian form that rejects the existence of God, or in its theistic manifestation that claims God as the controller of the evolutionary process, the theory of evolution denies the biblical doctrine of God. It builds another concept of divinity based upon science, history, and philosophy that denies the God who has revealed Himself. Relying upon human ability to discover truth, such approaches follow the same path Satan did. They set us up as independent of God, capable ourselves of defining or creating a god out of our own imagination.
Evolutionary theory requires that we rewrite the history of God, and therefore redefine His nature. In so doing, it leads us to enter a relationship with a false god, an idol. When Christ appears the second time, He desires to return to a people who are waiting for Him, not for some other false god. He will come to a people who are like Him in character, not like our “designer gods” that are the creation of our own imagination. Christ wants a people who are not in the dark about who He is. Therefore, He is calling forth a people who will accept and proclaim the fullness of the biblical message—the everlasting gospel—part of which is “‘worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Rev. 14:7).