One hundred and thirty years ago a question arose in the brotherhood about inspiration, particularly as it relates to the early chapters of Genesis. Was the Creation record to be taken literally? Was there actually a serpent in the garden of Eden with the power of speech etc, or was symbol mixed with fact? Some consequences of this controversy were the inclusion of the words, “The Bible True, Wholly Inspired, and Infallible” on the cover of the Christadelphian magazine, and also of the Foundation, a statement on inspiration that prefaces our Statement of Faith, the BASF.

Similar questions arose in 1965, when it was put forth that there were man-like beings called pre-Adamites in existence prior to Adam and that he was chosen from their midst as the most advanced in the evolutionary spiral; the literacy of the serpent was also set aside. When the implications of these theories were digested after much patient enquiry, they were repudiated and the plain and natural reading of the Bible reaffirmed.

In some quarters today there is an attempt being made to blend evolution with Creation, but they are no more compatible than oil is with water, and we need to be aware of the challenge this poses to the record of Scripture. It is not that the Bible is out of harmony with true science. It is not. But the Bible does not have to be reconciled with science; rather the other way around, science with the Bible, God’s Word.

We may not have all the answers to questions that have arisen from recent “discoveries”, which are often confusing and contradictory at any rate. What we do know is that the Bible and true science are harmonious. Our affinity is with the record of Scripture, the way in which it was read and understood by Moses and the prophets, by the Lord Jesus and the apostles; and their belief is clear, without contradiction and, what is absolutely conclusive, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The record of Creation in Genesis 1 stresses the fact that six twenty-four hour days were taken, each day being punctuated by the words, “And the evening and the morning were the [first] day”. How else could the words be understood when Moses affirms the Sabbath to be a sign: “for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested…” (Exod 31:17)? Picking up on this the inspired Psalmist shows that action instantaneously followed fiat: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth … For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast” (Psa 33:6–9). The Psalmist reflects on what this means: “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (v8); indeed, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14).

With equal force the prophets affirm Creation to be the incontrovertible evidence of Yahweh’s omnipotence, something that could not be attested by a theory that postulates small changes over vast periods to account for the immense variety, the diversity and interdependence of “perfect” creatures – “design masterpieces”. Five times Isaiah, speaking the Word of God, says in chapter 45, “I am Yahweh, and there is none else” (v5, 14, 18, 21, 22), affirming too that He “created the heavens … formed the earth and made it … not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited” (v18). No wonder Yahweh expostulates with human presumption, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker … Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or to thy work, He hath no hands?” (v9). Today the pride and arrogance of man in his technological achievements have spurred him on to deny his roots, berate against his Maker, forget his mortality and need, and spurn the Word of God, with tragic, eternal consequences. We can have no part in, nor should we be influenced by the “cunning craftiness” of men “whereby they lie in wait to deceive”.

In Jeremiah, too, Yahweh declares that He has “made the earth, the man and the beast, that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm …” (27:5; 10:12–16; 51:15–19).

The witness of the New Testament, Christ and the apostles

The New Testament is no less insistent on the literality of the Creation and the events that took place at the “foundation of the world” (Gen 1–4). Jesus, taking the natural reading of Genesis said, “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother …” (Mark 10:6–7; Gen 2:24); he referred to Abel (Matt 23:35); and speaking of the last days he says there shall be affliction, “such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created” (Mark 13:19). There can be no doubt where he stood on the issue, nor what his hearers would have understood from his words – and nor should there be among believers today, despite the scepticism and unbelief of mainstream Christianity.

And what about the miracles of Jesus? These were astounding demonstrations of the creatorial power enacted instantaneously upon the word of his mouth. There was no lengthy staged process involved. Legion was restored there and then, the blind and dumb both saw and heard, lepers were cleansed, the impotent walked, Lazarus was raised, the stench of death having passed – all this and more, the result of divine power vested in the Son in whom God was well pleased. And was not the conception of a virgin, and the Lord’s resurrection the third day miraculous, the hallmarks of the sovereign power of the Almighty? Stumbling blocks they may be for faltering man, but not so for those who know and believe the Word of God. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Numerous references by the Apostle Paul and other apostles to the early chapters of Genesis make it clear that they took the record as read, the plain uncomplicated and natural meaning. Consider the following: Acts 14:15; 17:26; Romans 5:12–21; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22,45; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Hebrews 11:4; 2 Peter 3:5–7; 1 John 3:12; Revelation 2:7; 4:11; 10:6; 14:7.

Doctrinal implications

There are serious doctrinal implications if the early chapters of Genesis are spiritualised and not taken literally and as read. If Adam was not created by God in the beginning, then who was he? And how did Eve come into existence then, for the Genesis record of her creation has to be as a result of an instantaneous creative act. If the serpent was not the creature described as “more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made”, what was it? Did the conversation with Eve actually take place? Or are we made to believe a fable, a ‘fairy tale’? Are we the hapless victims of deceit, as were apparently the Lord, the apostles and those who have believed these accounts in the Bible to be true? I think not. They are the deceived who have sought to discount, dilute and diffuse the plain words of divine revelation.

What do these ideas do to our belief about the origin of sin, the advent of the sentence of death, its universal sway? What is the significance then of the clear apostolic teaching of the Lord’s identity with those he came to save, as set out in Hebrews 2:14, Romans 6; 8:3 etc? In what sense was the power of sin destroyed and how does baptism relate to this and the Lord’s resurrection? The foundations of Paul’s teaching, received from the Father, and comprehensively set forth in Romans is undermined and upended; and the BASF, upon which the Central fellowship rests is emasculated.

Stubborn unassailable facts

There are simple facts that confound the evolutionist and for which little scientific background is required for them to be understood.

  1. Professors Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (University College, Cardiff) declared, “For life to have been a chemical accident on earth is like looking for a particular grain of sand in all the planets in the universe and finding it!!” They found that the odds against the spark of life igniting accidentally on earth were staggering – 1040,000. Professor Wickramasinghe concluded from this, “that such a number is such an imponderable in the universe that I am 100% certain that life could not have started spontaneously on earth.”
  2. The simplest life forms are dependent on the more complex: they cannot exist and live without them … yet they came first in time, according to the evolutionist!?
  3. Mutations of genes are the only source of evolution and yet they are rare, and almost always deleterious and would have to occur in huge numbers simultaneously to change significantly a plant or animal in a viable way. The multiple special adaptations and systems in all life are of such complexity and intricacy as to make this impossible. The stability of species was indicated at Creation: the herb yielded seed “after his kind”, and fish and fowl reproduced abundantly “after his kind”, and likewise the beast of the earth (Gen 1:11,12,21,24,25). This stability in inheritance was first demonstrated by Mendel in the 19th century. Evolution is left as a theory without a method, bereft of a mechanism.
  4. Palaeontology, the study of fossils, has failed to yield the evidence Darwin believed would establish his theory (On The Origin of Species, published by Everyman’s Library, Introduction by W F Thomson, page 19).
  5. The bewildering complexity of all that lives is evidence of intelligent design, as we read, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The wonders of Creation demand an answer. Israel’s God, the God of the Bible, lays claim and charges that those who fail to see in Creation His sovereignty and Godhead are “without excuse” (Rom 1:18–20; Psa 19:1).

Let us hold fast to our biblical, Christadelphian heritage and not surrender to a godless world, “a world (that) by wisdom (knows) not God” (1 Cor 1:21). In these last days we can expect such challenges from men fulminating in their ignorance against the Word of God, men like Richard Dawkins, author of the book entitled “The God Delusion”. Truly he and his kin are the deluded, “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Cor 3:19). And are not they in themselves a vindication of the Word of God, a fulfilment of the more sure word of prophecy? “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts … For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water … Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved … be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet 3:3,5,13,14).