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Seventh-day Darwinians

Clifford Goldstein


Clifford Goldstein

Editor of the Adult Sabbath School Ministries Quarterly


  • July 2, 2010
    12:10 PM
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Back in 2003, I wrote a column. I have a monthly column in the adventist review, and I wrote a column called “Seventh-day Darwinians,” in which I stated what I assumed and still assume was a no-brainer. And it was the simple point that anyone I thought what any logical and any reasonable person would assume which is that Darwinism is completely incompatible with Seventh-day Adventism. And contrary to the height (because there was a lot of height that followed) I never advocated throwing people to get out of the church over this issue. What I simply advocated was for people to take their premises to their logical conclusion. And I simply advocated, I think for a little honesty. I was asking people to at least believe the name they claim for themselves. Okay? And anyone —— Seventh-day Adventist. And anyone who knows anything at all about the history of Adventism, about our background, everything, understands that we were referring to the final day of a literal six day creation. And I know it is only the most cynical misuse of language and disregard of Adventist history and theology can allow for it to mean anything else, especially some kind of neo-Darwin synthesis of evolution- you know taking billions of years. Well, ah, let’s just say, a small vocal minority had somewhat of a hissy bit over this and I was the object of scorn a ridicule, and ah, still am. Though I should say that that was just a small, variable minority. And I believe that the vast majority of the Adventist church agrees with that decision. Because it is just obvious. It’s just obvious. I mean, again, starting from the back with the name, Seventh-day Adventist. Everybody knows what that means, and the background, to it. That’s knowledge that I think there’s the slight problem- there’s a slight problem of the texts in Genesis themselves. 


Let’s get hypothetical. And let’s pretend, let’s pretend that the Genesis creation account was never meant to be taken literal. Okay? Because that is one of the arguments. Let’s assume- let’s assume it was meant to be a broad account. Okay? Not literal. Okay? Even the most broad account reading of Genesis. “And God said, Let there be light.” And boom there was light. “And God said let there be water under the heaven.” And then there was water. “And God said, Let the dry land appear.” The dry land appeared. On, and on, and on. God said and it was done. On, and on, and on. When you read it, even the most broad reading- broad reading of it shows that everything was precise, planned, calculated. There was no hint, no hint of any kind of randomness at all. It would take a godless interpretation of Genesis to somehow derive randomness out of there.


Then, number two. Let’s look at another point. Again, we’re taking a broad reading of it. We aren’t locking ourselves into (I say locking —-) what we read. You read Genesis and it says, “And God created the whales of the waters after their kind. And the fowls of the air after their kind. And the —of, you know, after their kind.” And each one after its own kind. So, what you see here, the texts here aren’t ambiguous that each creature was made after its own kind. And this is a broad reading. So even from a non-literalist interpretation of Genesis, now with these two points stand out very, very clearly. Which is that nothing was left to chance. Nothing was left to chance and that there is no common ancestry for all the different creatures, all the different forms of life. Is that/does that seem fair enough? Nothing left to chance and non- common ancestry.


Well now, along comes Darwinian evolution and all its various incantations. And even the broadest reading of any form of evolution than anything I have ever read, fundamentality teach two things. They teach of course, randomness, and they teach common ancestry. So how then does one interpret Genesis through the theory that at its most basic level contradicts Genesis at its most basic level? It just doesn’t make sense to me. Just doesn’t make sense. Think about this too. If evolution were true, through thousands of years, the whole Israelite period, up through the early New Testament period, up through the Protestant Reformation, all the way up through the 19th century, the church was kept in darkness about origins until God raised up His man Charles Darwin, basically an agnostic, basically a man who had some very wrong and horrible misunderstandings about the nature of the world- that’s the one God used to suddenly straighten us all out after thousands of years on history. I don’t know. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It would seem the one who created language, would seem —- God couldn’t have done a better job of communicating to us on creation than He did. Why inspire a creation account that teaches non-randomness and a non-common ancestry of all species, when God, according to theistic evolutionists use randomness and a common ancestry as means of creation. I’m sorry. It just doesn’t make sense to me. 


If that’s true, why can I trust God on anything? I mean, creation of life on earth took 4 billion years or whatever they’re saying 3 million years as opposed to 6 days? Man! It’s off quite a factor of about like— I’m not very good at Math— a hundred and eighty five trillion, five hundred billion to one (185,500,000,000,000:1). You know? Why trust Him on anything if He couldn’t do an act something more accurate out of a fortune cookie, then (thump) the word of God. Is that it? Then you go on. And people say, “Well the ancients, they weren’t, they couldn’t comprehend these ideas. These ideas were too complicated for them. See, it’s funny, a friend of mine, one of my best friends at the GC, Dr. Angel Rodriguez. He’s been doing some research, and he is showing that you can find in ancient writings- he’s looking in the Egyptians concepts of evolution, concepts of creatures having formed, you know, through — process or other, from animals. This isn’t anything new. And I know it comes much later. But if you have ever read Lucretius De Rerum Natura/On The Nature of things, I mean, this is a purely materialistic, atheist, naturalistic view of origins that sounds just like evolution. God didn’t have to dumb it down for the ancients. The Lord could have revealed to them and us the truth instead of promulgating a fairy tale- one that hardly parallels, you know, the model any way. Billions of years of false starts, chance events and endless death allegorized as a six day pre-prep plan creation with nothing left to chance and no death? I mean, I’m sorry! Again, even if you do not want to take it literally. You do not want to take it literally? How can you possibly read any kind of evolutionary paradigm into that? 


And what works? What follows in Genesis 1 and 2? It becomes even more —. And that’s only half the problem. What do we have? The Lord incarnates into an evolved ape created through the vicious and painfully murderous type of natural selection, al in order to abolish death, which Corinthians calls the “last enemy.” But how can death be the enemy when it was one of God’s chosen means for creating humans to begin with? You know. The Lord must have expended plenty of dead Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalis, and on, and on, and on. Or He finally came up with one in His image Homo sapiens. Okay? So, Jesus came to save mankind from the very process that He used to create it in the first place? I don’t know. Maybe were missing something. But it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. 


And then we’ve got the idea of the fall. How does this work? God uses violence, selfishness, the dominance of the strong over the weak in order to create a morally flawless and selfless being who falls into a state of violence, selfishness and dominance of the strong over the weak, a state from which he has to be redeemed from or else face final punishment? I mean, does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? 


And then the last point, and then I will leave it open for questions. Oh my —. Whatever. Think about Eschatology. Think about the end. What the hope that we have for. The final- you know the resurrection in the twinkling of an eye. You know, God’s gonna make a new heavens and a new earth, we’re gonna be, people are gonna be on it again. Is it gonna be- Will that be by divine theot? Or will it be life again- endure the rigors and the joy of natural selection and survival of the fittest for billions of years into a “new world one in which dwelleth righteousness” finally appears. 


Can you see the problem here? He could do it by divine theot the first time, why doesn’t He do it/that you know — I mean if He is does it this time, why didn’t He do it that way the first time?


I wanna end on one other point, I think our church has taken that very clear position on creation.

And I don;t think we can budge on that. But at the same time, too, we have to acknowledge the difficulties. I am a staunch 6 day literal creation, recent time. I believe in Noah’s ark. Adam and Eve and talking snake. The whole field. I take it literally. I don’t question. But I know that there are problems. I don’t have problem with that. My problems is everything. I don’t even know how a can opener works. And I don’t deal with that. And I wanna just make sure as we have a firm, firm position on this because we cannot budge on this. And to make sure that the church is still a safe place for honest people who are struggling with the questions. The problems are there. The questions are there. I got probably more questions than I’ve got answers and the older I get and the more I learn, I discover more questions I have than I have answers. That’s what stepping out by faith is. Believing what you fully don’t understand. So, you take a firm stance on this. And I wanna make sure we have a safe place where we could nurture and work with those who are honestly struggling with it. If you already made up your mind, you believe in Darwinian evolution, then, I ‘m sorry, you do not belong in the Seventh-day Adventist church. Say that, “Sorry, but don’t you think you should take your / go somewhere else where at least the name doesn’t mitigate against everything that you believe. But on the other hand, if you’re struggling, we’re all struggling. We can work together and work through these and come with strong reasons for the faith that we have. 


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