Many people in the Church of God may be troubled by what they read or hear about the theory of evolution and what secular science teaches on that subject compared to what they read in the book of Genesis in the Bible.
We in the Church of God have learned a tradition, a tradition of doctrine based on the Bible. We have learned both the doctrines themselves, doctrines that come from the Bible, and the process of learning those doctrines, and that process is simply believing what God says in the Bible. That process can also include first proving that God exists and that the Bible is inspired by God (the proof is fulfilled prophecy), then believing God's word out of faith and trust towards God and Christ, trusting that they cannot lie and will only tell us the truth.
This trust in God's word is the foundation of all the doctrines we have believed, including the Sabbath and holy days, Israel in prophecy, the coming Kingdom of God, the mortality of the soul, and every other doctrine we have believed. It is also the foundation of the doctrines we have believed concerning the creation account in Genesis and the flood during the days of Noah.
Yet, just as our religious doctrines are in conflict with the traditional doctrines of mainstream, traditional religion, which believes that God is a trinity, Sunday is the Christian sabbath, and the soul is immortal, so our doctrines about creation, equally based on the Bible as our other doctrines, are in conflict with mainstream secular teaching in schools and universities.
But this presents a problem to our members and their children. For while almost no Church of God member would send his children to a Catholic or Protestant religious school to learn the traditional, mainstream doctrines that are contrary to Church of God doctrine, most members, unless they home school their children, cannot help but let them receive a secular education in the public schools. Young people attending college must often take classes in biology and evolution, especially if they major in any of the sciences. And it is here that they are exposed to indoctrination diametrically opposite to the doctrines of the Church regarding creation.
Thus, the faith of the membership and young people in the Church in the word of God regarding creation is being directly challenged in a way that it is not challenged in other doctrines of the Church regarding the soul, the nature of God, the Sabbath and holy days, etc.
It is almost impossible to escape the doctrine of evolution. It is taught everywhere: in libraries, on TV, in movies, in news articles, and most importantly, in colleges and even high schools. Evolution has become the established religion of the United States and most of the world. It is the lens through which everything else is viewed.
And it is godless. It is atheistic. It is taught and virtually forced on the public with a militancy that rivals the militancy of false religions throughout history. And that is fitting, for evolution has become the religion of atheists.
What do I mean by "evolution"? By evolution I mean the theory that all species of life on earth have come into existence through natural causes only, that they came into existence from a common ancestor through random mutation and natural selection only.
Atheists hate religion with a passion. They are on a crusade to wipe religion out. They are aggressive, militant, forceful, and intolerant. And they give no quarter. They are not trying to be reasonable or fair. They do not hesitate to "play dirty". They view religion as their enemy, and evolution is a tool in their hands to destroy it. And they are very clever and articulate.
Deep down they hate God, and they express their hatred by denying His existence. They do not believe in God because they do not want to believe in God.
And they directly challenge the faith of our members and young people in the Bible.
But we can maintain our faith in the face of these challenges if we have proved that God exists, if we have proved that God has inspired the Bible, and if we stick to our commitment to God to believe what He says.
Atheistic science uses its interpretation of physical evidence, which they say points to evolution, to contradict what God says in the Bible. And they can present what appears to be very convincing arguments in favor of evolution.
Mr. Armstrong said in his autobiography that before he came into the Church of God he went into a dual study of the Sabbath and the theory of evolution. This occurred in late 1926 and early 1927, as I recall from the autobiography. He said that his head was swimming when he studied evolution because the arguments of science were very convincing. Yet, he felt he disproved, once and for all, evolution.
Yet, as persuasive as science's arguments in favor of evolution were in 1926, they are even more persuasive today. Much physical evidence has been gathered and interpreted according to evolutionary thinking in the last 80 years. Science has learned about DNA and genetics, and the scientific community has accumulated many more fossils during that time. And scientists have had eight decades to polish their theories and sharpen their arguments.
The Church of God may be better equipped to deal with challenges to the Bible than many other religion bodies. That is because we do not share some of the errors in understanding the Bible that some groups outside the Church of God make. Many religious people outside the Church think that the Bible says that the earth is only six thousand years old. But we understand that the earth existed and was covered in water before the six days of creation took place. Mr. Armstrong understood it, and he showed this to us from the Bible. The earth could have existed for millions of years before God renewed the face of the earth during the six days described in Genesis. Yet we know these were six literal days and that the Bible is literal.
Nevertheless, there may be other aspects of what science teaches that our ministers, members, and children of members cannot explain in a way consistent with the Bible, cannot reconcile with the Bible. Does this mean that the real physical evidence science examines, be it genetics, DNA, fossils, or any other evidence, is inconsistent with the Bible? No. It simply means we do not know how to explain certain things. There are some things we do not know.
There are answers. We may not always know what those answers are.
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known" (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
Today, as Paul says, we know only in part. We do not know everything.
But neither do scientists.
At some point, we simply have to choose whether we will trust scientists and what they say or God and what He says. And for myself, I choose to trust God.
I can't explain how every bit of evidence in the earth fits with the events in Genesis. There are parts of the Bible I cannot explain. But I trust that God is telling me the truth. I trust God more than I trust scientists and their interpretation of the evidence.
And as far as those events in the Bible are concerned that are clear and understandable to me, I trust that they are absolutely true. God is faithful, and He cannot lie (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18).
So when Genesis says that God renewed the face of the entire earth in six days, and gives the details of what He did on each of those six days, I believe what God says, literally. When He says that he destroyed all air-breathing animal life on planet earth in a flood in Noah's day, except for those in the ark with Noah, I believe Him literally. Can I answer every objection a scientist might make? No. But I don't have to.
What is it about the teaching of science and scientists that is more trustworthy than God? The answer: nothing.
What is trustworthy about man? Nothing. What is trustworthy about God? Everything.
Everything science and the scientific community says about the origin of things, everything this secular, atheistic educational system says about the origin of the universe, the earth, biological species, and man, is fallible. Any of it can be in error. From the reporting of evidence to the interpretation of that evidence, there is no part of human activity that is error-free.
They say "to err is human". That is an understatement.
Human lives are catalogs of error. The teaching of man is full of error, just as a general principle. The religions of man are full of error. The governments of man are full of error. And the science of man is full of error. And not just error, but deliberate lies, in many cases.
Politicians lie. Businessmen lie. Religious leaders lie. But are scientists exempt? No, scientists are just as human, just as carnal, as anyone else. Scientists lie.
Not every scientist, necessarily. Some may have high moral standards and always tell the truth, as best they understand it. And that is true for businessmen and some politicians (I suppose). But scientists can lie just as they can make mistakes.
But God neither lies nor makes mistakes. His word is true and is trustworthy.
Everything regarding the physical evidence that science claims proves evolution is based on man's work, and is therefore subject to error and possible deceit. All physical evidence in their teaching, from fossils to DNA sequences, has been collected by man. All physical evidence used to support evolution has been described, reported, and interpreted by man. And at any step of the way - collection, describing and reporting, and interpretation - errors, mistakes, sins, and lies can come into play, especially when you take into account that Satan is the deceiver of all mankind. So what part of man's explanation, contrary to the Bible, is trustworthy?
Not that we have to ignore all physical evidence. Much of it we can explain, and we should explain those parts of the evidence, according to the Bible, that we are able to understand.
But some of it we may not be able to explain, either to ourselves or to others.
But that is exactly the point at which God tests us to know if we believe what He says.
There may be simple explanations for the physical evidence, consistent with a literal reading of the Bible, that God does NOT want us to understand right away. He can reveal that to us later, but first He may want to test our faith in His word.
For what kind of test is it if we have a simple explanation for every fossil, every DNA sequence, every point of evidence, that is consistent with the Bible? Not much of a test. It is easy to believe the Bible under those conditions.
But show us some evidence and an interpretation of the evidence that seems contrary to the Bible, evidence we cannot explain in any way consistent with the Bible, and then we are really tested.
But the test is the same, believe God or believe man. For no matter how convincing man's evidence and the interpretation of that evidence is, it still comes from man and can be in error at any point of the process of gathering, reporting, and interpreting.
The Bible is full of scriptures in which God commands us to trust in Him and His word more than in man and the teaching of man.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5).
" 'For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the Lord. 'But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word' " (Isaiah 66:2).
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him" (Proverbs 30:5).
"Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 146:3).
"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit' " (Jeremiah 17:5-8).
Suppose a scientist showed me physical evidence that he says proves the Bible account false. He shows me the evidence, or he reports the evidence. He interprets it. And he says to me, "Can you explain this any way consistent with the Bible account?" And I say, "No".
But I still believe God, not the scientist. The scientist could have lied concerning the evidence. He could have made a mistake reporting it. He may have made mistakes or lied in the interpretation of it. His argument is not reliable.
But I trust God's word. I have proved God exists. I have proved through fulfilled prophecy that God inspired the Bible and the Bible is God speaking. I trust Him that He will tell me the truth and not lie to me. And when God tells me through the Bible that He renewed the face of the earth in six literal days, and that he destroyed the earth in a flood during the days of Noah, I believe Him, unconditionally. I believe God whether I can answer the scientists' arguments or not. I trust God whether I can explain what the scientists claim is physical evidence or not.
Christ will answer everything when He returns to set up His kingdom. All mysteries will be solved. Today we know in part, but in that day we will know fully. And when Christ reveals the answer to me in the kingdom of God, I may hit myself in the head and say, "Of course. Why didn't I think of that? How stupid of me. It is so simple, why couldn't I think of it before?"
But we humans have minds that are limited. We do not think of everything. And it may be that God does not want us to have the explanation until we first prove to Him that we are willing to trust what He says more than what the scientists say. Then, in the kingdom of God, God can reveal to us all things we have not understood in this life about science.
But to be in that kingdom, I have to prove to God now that I will believe and trust Him unconditionally for eternity.
So maybe it is not such a bad thing if I cannot answer every argument of science according to the Bible. For that gives God the chance to test my faith, and it gives me the chance to pass the test so God can give me eternal life, trusting me to trust Him for eternity because I can prove my trust in Him now.
I believe the Bible is very clear that the six days of creation in Genesis were six literal days, that the renewing of the face of earth prior to the creation of man was a planet-wide event, that the human race started about 6,000 years ago, and that Noah's flood was world-wide, not just a local flood, and that all land animals at that time on the entire planet Earth, except the animals with Noah in the ark, died.
When the Bible is clear, I trust what God says unconditionally, and I don't care what science says, or how much "evidence" they claim to have for their teaching, or what that "evidence" is. Nor do I care if I can answer the arguments of scientists. When science teaches things that are not against the Bible because they fill in details that the Bible is silent about, I can accept those teachings, conditionally. But I do not accept anything science says that contradicts what God clearly says in the Bible. In those cases, science is mistaken or is lying.
It may be that this issue becomes a crisis for many Church of God members and their children at some point in their lives. It may even become a crisis for the Church of God or in various Church of God fellowships at times.
But that is not necessarily a bad thing. God wants us to face trials, crises, and tests to know where we stand. He wants us to believe and trust Him unconditionally. So He has to test us. He sets us up with challenges that may make it hard to trust Him, not easy at all. It must have been hard for Abraham to trust God when God told Him to sacrifice his son. But Abraham passed the test, and we have to pass the test also.
These trials of our faith can be hard, but they contain within them the seeds of an eternal reward IF we choose to trust and believe God all the way and remain steadfast in our commitment to believe Him and His word, the Bible, right to the end.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:6-7).
"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' " (Romans 4:3).
One more thing. If we look at or hear about physical evidence, and we cannot think of an explanation of the evidence that is consistent with the Bible, and if we then conclude, "the Bible must be wrong", are we not showing more faith and trust, not only in scientists more than God, but in OURSELVES more than God? For we are really saying, "I am so smart, if I cannot think of an explanation consistent with the Bible, then there is none. I can't think of any way this evidence can fit with the Bible, so because I cannot explain it, the Bible must be wrong".
Here is a link to chapter one of Preaching the Gospel. This chapter shows how to prove the existence of God and how to prove that the Bible is inspired by God and is God speaking. It also has a section on evolution, a section on the respect we should have for God's word, and a section on how to understand the Bible:
Chapter 1 - The United States and Britain in Prophecy