The belief that evolution is a scientific fact is once more emerging in our community and so the inevitable question arises: “Is evolution compatible with the principles outlined in the Word of God and our Statement of Faith?” The new line of reasoning supportive of evolution goes something like this:

DNA similarities prove that humans, chimpanzees and gorillas share a common ancestor and this common ancestry can be traced back to a single evolutionary source of origin.

Hence animal and human life arose through an evolutionary process and because ‘all things are of God’, He commenced this process. When this evolutionary line was nearing maturity God created a second line of beings 6–10,000 years ago and called them Adam and Eve. These were the first people with whom God established a covenant relationship.

Adam sinned, and was expelled from the garden into a world already populated by human beings. These other people provided a wife for Cain and were the ones alluded to by Cain when he feared for his life (Gen 4:14).

Sin did not exist as a concept prior to Adam and physical death was simply the wearing out of an organic body, a natural consequence of being ‘organic’. Death by sin on the other hand is altogether different. This came from the disobedience of the second line of people and results in one remaining forever dead as a consequence of sinning. To argue that Scripture teaches that there was no death before Adam sets Scripture against itself.

It has also been alleged that Adam was created mortal; that “in Adam” is a phrase which describes those humans who have sinned and is a moral term not descriptive of Adam’s physical descendants.

In addition to this, the same type of reasoning has been followed when it comes to interpreting the Scriptures:

God wrote two books – the ‘book of nature’ and the Bible – which when properly interpreted, cannot be in conflict. Hence if true scientific examination comes in conflict with any accepted interpretation of Scripture, our standard interpretation may need to be reviewed. Since evolution is an accepted scientific fact then our generally accepted view of the Bible needs to change.

With this in mind Genesis 1–3 are more allegorical than literal because the creation of the heavens and earth in six days is contrary to the evolutionary concept of countless aeons.

It has been postulated that since there is no mention of Eden until the exile (Ezek 28:12–19; Isa 51:3; Joel 2:3), and no mention of Adam until the post-exilic book of 1 Chronicles (see 1:1), the details of creation were not recorded until many years after Moses. It is likely therefore that Genesis 1–11 was written by someone in Babylon during the period of the exile, most likely Daniel, and these chapters describe a popular allegory of but one part of man’s origins.

Therefore, because the narrative describing the days of creation was outlined during the time of the Babylonian exile, the reference to God creating the world in six days mentioned in Exodus 20:11–12; 31:17, must be an interpolation inserted at the time of the exile to harmonise with the newly written allegory of Genesis 1–3. And lastly it is argued that belief in theistic evolution is not a fellowship matter because Brother Roberts wrote these words in an article entitled “True Principles and Uncertain Details” in The Christadelphian of 1898:

“General Principle – That God made man of the dust of the ground.

Uncertain Detail – But as to whether it was a direct action of the Father’s formative energy, after the manner in which sound creates geometric figures in sand scattered loosely upon a tightly extended vibrating surface, or by the expert manipulation of angelic hands, we cannot be sure. There are grounds for a strong opinion in favour of the latter, but it would be unwarrantable to insist on the reception of that opinion as a condition of fellowship. It is sufficient if the brother or sister believe that ‘God made man of the dust of the ground.’”

It is argued from this that Brother Roberts allowed a difference of opinion in relation to creation and evolution.

Evolution and our Statement of Faith

How does all this match up with our core beliefs outlined in the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith?

Let’s examine the last point first. Was Brother Roberts teaching that as long as you believe that man was made of the dust of the ground you can also believe in evolution? The short answer is ‘No.’ He was writing about the mechanics of creation, not contrasting creation and evolution. There were two views he was highlighting. The first was that God personally formed man by His direct power without using the angels in this work; the second was that He gave the command and His angels executed the details of that command. This was the uncertain detail he was referring to. He was not saying that you can believe in a line of evolutionary beings living at the same time as Adam and Eve. He was asserting that God made man from the dust of the ground, not from protozoa evolving in a primordial sea.

What about the second point; that Genesis 1–3 is mainly allegorical? This question has been dealt with in the article entitled, “Creation, Emphatic of Scriptural Teaching”.

The argument from silence (ie specific events in Genesis 1–3 are not mentioned until exilic and post exilic times) is flawed because, in fact, it is not correct. It should be noted that the garden of the LORD is mentioned in Genesis 13:10 many centuries before so-called exilic and post-exilic writings. Plus we have the evidence of the New Testament where Adam was called “the first man” in 1 Corinthians 15:45 – something that would not be correct if there were other human beings in existence at the time. The Hebrew word adam is used hundreds of times throughout the Old Testament to describe man and is obviously based on Genesis 2:19,33 outlining the first human being.

And then there is evidence of Job 38:8–12 which mentions the appointing of clouds and the dawning of each day. Similarly Job 40:15 describes God making (Heb asah) behemoth at the same time as He made man. These are both referencing the creative acts of Genesis 1. In similar fashion Psalm 8 written by David 300 years before the exile makes direct allusions to the events of Genesis 1 and describes man (Heb adam) as being made a little lower than the angels. Not only does this corroborate the literality of Genesis 1 but it also invalidates the concept of humankind commencing life in an evolutionary line of protein well below the glory of the angels!

References to Creation in the Law

What about the argument that Exodus 20:11–12 and 31:17 were later post-exilic insertions in the record? This is where the hypothesis runs aground and comes into conflict with the Foundation Clause of the BASF, our Statement of Faith, which reads:

That the book currently known as the Bible, consisting of the Scriptures of Moses, the prophets, and the apostles, is the only source of knowledge concerning God and His purposes at present extant or available in the earth, and that the same were wholly given by inspiration of God in the writers, and are consequently without error in all parts of them, except such as may be due to errors of transcription or translation.

This Foundation Clause quotes John 10:35 in support of this belief where Jesus categorically affirmed: “the scripture cannot be broken.” He also said in John 17:17 about the Scriptures: “Thy word is truth.”

Whilst those espousing these quasi-evolutionary views may, with some reservation, acknowledge that the Bible is given by inspiration, we discover in actual fact that by presuming to insert words into Genesis and Exodus from later periods they introduce errors into the context and falsify the record.

For example let us examine Christ’s view on the book of Exodus. In Mark 12:26 we read: “And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” Now why would Jesus call the whole book of Exodus the book of Moses if there was some part written by someone else? Either the whole book of Exodus was written by Moses or the Lord made a mistake. Clearly the latter viewpoint cannot be correct.

Paul made a similar point in Hebrews 9:19 where he wrote: “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people.” If Exodus 20:11–12 was added later, as it is claimed, then the covenant Israel assented to was incomplete in not giving them every facet of the covenant details. Any contract which has additional clauses added hundreds of years later invalidates the agreement! As such the words of Exodus would be a false record and a false covenant!

Furthermore Exodus 20:1 commences with the words: “And God spake all these words, saying …” this means that Exodus 20:11–12 concerning the Sabbath was part of God’s words given on that occasion. To say they were someone else’s once again falsifies the record. Hence in John 7:19 Jesus said: “Did not Moses give you the law?” If Exodus 20:11–12 was written by someone else then how could Jesus say Moses gave them the Law? He should have said Moses gave you the Law except for an explanation about why you should keep the Sabbath which was given by another prophet.

These beliefs in assigning God’s words to someone else many years later are in direct conflict with the Foundation Clause of the Statement of Faith. They deny the totality of inspiration by introducing a number of anomalies and errors into the divine record. By doing so, they breach the integrity of the Scriptures.

It should be noted that these arguments about post-exilic insertions into the Pentateuch are nothing new. They were first postulated by the school of the German higher critics in the late 1800’s and have been examined and put to rest by numerous scholars over 60 years ago.

Christadelphian Teaching

This brings us to the final examination of these evolutionary beliefs.

Clause 4 of the BASF states:

“That the first man was Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul, or natural body of life, ‘very good’ in kind and condition, and placed him under a law through which the continuance of life was contingent on obedience.”

This precludes any other human beings living before Adam because he is called “the first man” (1 Cor 15:45). This also rules out the idea of a lesser line of evolving people from which Cain’s wife is purported to have come.

It also teaches that man was not made mortal. He was made “very good” – a state of being which is subsequently defined in clause 5 as not being subject to death.

Clause 5 of the BASF states:

“That Adam broke this law, and was adjudged unworthy of immortality, and sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken – a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.”

Clause 6 of the BASF states:

“That God, in His kindness, conceived a plan of restoration which, without setting aside His just and necessary law of sin and death, should ultimately rescue the race from destruction, and people the earth with sinless immortals.”

These clauses teach that mortality came as a result of sin and that God’s law of sin and death was just and necessary. Romans 5:12 is cited in support of clause 5: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Death is the consequence of sin (Rom 5:21). It has been added to humanity’s lot as a result of Adam’s disobedience. If there was an earlier line of evolving beings ‘ceasing to exist’, that is, dying, then God is unjust because He is punishing human beings with mortality without them sinning. And if they are sinners then this contradicts Paul’s point that Adam introduced sin and death into the world.

Clause 7 of the BASF states:

“That He inaugurated this plan by making promises to Adam, Abraham and David, and afterwards elaborated it in greater detail through the prophets.” If Genesis 3 is allegorical, even in part, then God’s promise concerning the seed of the woman who should redeem mankind may not be literal either, and hence God did not mean what He said. Subsequent generations expecting the coming of that seed would have been deluded. This is contrary to the sense of the record and the point of clause 7.

Conclusion

In summary then this debate about a secondary line of evolving beings existing as contemporaries with Adam and Eve is not just a fanciful idea – it is contrary to the principles of our Statement of Faith and a departure from the Christadelphian faith.

If the Genesis account is metaphorical there is no literal serpent, no tree of knowledge of good and evil, no lie, no fruit, no sin, no sentence of death; Jesus Christ, our Saviour and his Gospel of salvation have no rationale or basis, as set forward by the Apostle Paul in Romans etc.

The adoption of theistic evolution by most Protestant churches has led to a decline in acceptance of the authority of the Scriptures, the miracles and principles of God’s Word. Doctrinally and morally the departure accelerates. We need to hearken to the warning of a former editor of The Christadelphian: “The introduction of an evolutionary philosophy among us would be disastrous … adopted among us I am convinced that it would in time pervade the whole of our belief and change it as the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul changed the belief of the early church.” LG Sargent (Vol 102, p346).