Sermons

Summary: How can mankind account for the origin of the universe and of mankind? The message seeks to explore ideas that are current.

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“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” [1]

Is the universe twenty billion years old? Can we emphatically state that the earth is four and one-half billion years of age? Perhaps there exists evidence that the earth is relatively young. Would such evidence make any difference to those who are determined to ignore God and what He says concerning the beginning of all things? For the conscientious thinker the age of the earth determines in great measure his or her view of how all things came to be. In the realm of thoughtful postulates there are five views of origins which we must examine in cursory fashion during the course of this message.

Though I will present and discuss five views of origins, in reality there are but two views as we have already seen in previous messages. Either God is behind all that has been, all that is and all that ever shall be, or there is inherent within matter the ability to change into ever more complex forms. Either there is a personal, moral God behind the universe, or the universe itself assumes a godlike existence. Consequently, people must either worship the God who is or they are reduced to de facto worship of the universe. While the latter is perhaps the more popular view today, it is reprehensible to conscientious believers in the True and Living God.

NEO-ORTHODOX EVOLUTION — Despite the association with the name of Charles Darwin, the concept of evolution is preceded modern days by several millennia. Among the ancient Greeks, for example, Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Epicurus and Lucretius were all evolutionists. Likewise, Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.) believed in a complete gradation in nature accompanied by a perfecting principle. This was imagined to have caused gradation from the imperfect to the perfect. These early philosophers were convinced that man, as you might imagine, stood at the apex of this gradation.

There were evolutionists in more recent times who had preceded Darwin. Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), RenĂ© Descartes (1596 – 1650) and Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804) were each inclined to what can only be said to have been an evolutionary point of view. The first biologist making a contribution to evolutionary thought was the French naturalist Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707 – 1788). Another naturalist who contributed to evolutionary thought was Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin (1731 – 1802). The first comprehensive postulate of evolutionary thought was advanced by the Chevalier de Lamarch (1744 – 1829) who became a professor in zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Paris and later popularised his views in Philosophie Zoologique. It was Charles Darwin, however, who captured the world’s attention. His postulate was developed to a degree that none of the others were. Furthermore, his concepts were supported by an impressive array of observations which had been initially collected during an around-the-world tour of the HMS Beagle (1831 – 1836).

Darwin’s concepts may be arranged according to four postulates and two conclusions. POSTULATE NUMBER ONE addresses variation. There are variations within individuals of the same species. POSTULATE NUMBER TWO notes overproduction. In most cases, more individuals are born to a species than can possibly survive to maturity. Conclusion number one presents the struggle for existence. In order to survive, individuals must compete with other members of the same species.

POSTULATE NUMBER THREE presents the concept of the survival of the fittest. In a competitive environment only those individuals best fitted to survive will survive. POSTULATE NUMBER FOUR notes the inheritance of favourable characteristics. Fit individuals pass their “good” characteristics on to their descendants. The FINAL CONCLUSION is that new species arise by the continued survival and reproduction of the individuals best suited to their particular environment. [2]

In the one hundred years since publication of Darwin’s Origin, considerable work has been focused on the chief mechanism of evolution according to Darwin. The chief mechanism of evolution is natural selection—the impersonal preference given to a particular variation in a species permitting one individual a competitive advantage over another individual. Supposedly, this explains the variety of forms we recognise in the world of nature.

There is a flaw in the mechanism, however. Natural selection may explain how certain individuals have more offspring than others do and therefore survive, or survive and have offspring while other less favoured individuals do not. It cannot, however, tell us how there came to be the various organisms or “good” characteristics of organisms in the first place. There is no “selection” by nature, nor does nature “act” as it is said to do in biology texts. One organism may indeed be “fitter” than another from an evolutionary point of view, but the only event that determines this fitness is death (or infertility). This is not something which helps create the organism, but it is rather something which terminates the organism.

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