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Humanism vs. Christianity
~
The Polarization of America

by Patrick Vosse

Chapter 1

In the Beginning


Humanism vs. Christianity
~
The Polarization of America

by Patrick Vosse


Part One
Evolutionism vs. Creationism


Chapter 1 - In the Beginning


The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Psalm 19:1


Often a cold shudder has run through me,
and I have asked myself
whether I may have not devoted myself to a fantasy.
(Charles Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 1887, Vol. 2, p. 229)

I am amazed at how words written 3,500 years ago can have such a polarizing affect on 21st century America. Much of the conflict between Humanism and Christianity is defined in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Genesis defines some of the major premises of the Christian faith and much of what Humanism opposes. In order to have a complete understanding of the Humanism-Christianity conflict, it is necessary to understand the Creationist-Evolutionist debate. In itself, evolution is merely one issue that polarizes. However, it plays major role in the advancement of Humanism today. For that reason, the fist part of the book is devoted to creation and evolution. The reason for this will become clear as the discussion advances.

There have been many words written about how God created the universe; not all of them have been accurate or consistent with what the Bible says. So, to begin our discussion on Creationism, let us take a close look at what the Bible actually says in the book of Genesis. However, before we begin it is necessary to consider the purpose of the Bible.

We cannot know God without some help. At the time of Abraham, Satan and his demons ruled the world and the only religion was the satanic system of superstition and paganism with its attending occultism and idolatry. Satan and his demons were the focus of all mankind’s worship. No one knew about the "God of Abraham". God had to reveal himself. Abraham and the Patriarchs knew God through direct revelation. It was a special time calling for special action. Direct revelation was reserved for special circumstances; for mankind in general, God revealed himself in the written word.

The written word increased throughout the centuries as God revealed himself in greater detail and as the time grew near for God to reveal himself with perfection in the Living Word– Jesus. However, the first words of revelation are found in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament that were revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Consider the difficulty in presenting this revelation. The initial audience was a rag-tag group of nomads escaping from slavery. They were uneducated, mostly illiterate, and superstitious. From this humble group, the audience would grow to include intellectuals of the 21st century. How does one reach such a broad spectrum?

It is an interesting phenomenon that it is often more efficient to convey an abstract and universal truth indirectly in metaphor, allegory, and symbolism. Shakespeare was a master of this and we still quote him in archaic English because his metaphors convey the truth better than any other words. This is why poetry is so profound – it hits you in the heart and works its way into you head (and visa versa) to affect a complete understanding, cognitive, intuitive, and most important, it conveys the emotional content often missing from communication that is more objective. The Bible is full of poetry, metaphors, allegories, and similitude. This is one reason that the Bible is as current today as it was thousands of years ago. Consider the comfort, insight, and presence of God we get from the Psalms.

This type of communication does not have the precision of a prosaic report. The purpose of the Bible is not to give a detailed account of creation but to give an enduring revelation of the Creator. As we study the account of creation, keep in mind the following:

  • The initial audience was ignorant, superstitious nomadic ex-slaves.
  • The eventual audience is educated and sophisticated
  • The revelation must reach both of the above.
  • The revelation is about the Creator more than the creation.
  • Metaphor, allegory, and poetry are used in Genesis and throughout the Bible. In fact, Jesus was a master of the metaphor – consider the parables.

We must be able to determine when the Bible is giving a fact and when it is alluding to a truth through metaphor. We must be able to know when we are reading prose and when we are reading poetry. With that background in mind, let us look at what God has to say about creation in Genesis.

Gen 1: Verses 1 and 2: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

Jn 1:1-3


Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing.

Humanist Manifesto 3

Note that at this point, the Bible does not say anything about the process of creating the universe (i.e. the heavens) or the earth. The narrative begins with their existence. The universe and earth could have just popped into existence or developed over billions of years. What the verse does say is that God created everything and that his Spirit was a presence in this creation. The Humanists and those scientists that deny God in the formation of the universe have difficulty explaining "in the beginning." They have a hypothesis of the "Big Bang," a sudden emergence of energy that eventually condensed and developed into the universe that we see today. Where did that energy come from? This is a major problem for the atheistic scientist. That is one reason why the "Big Bang" remains just a hypothesis.

We should always keep in mind that, in the creation of the material, physical existence, the laws that govern the physical universe were also created with matter and are integral with it. The unseen beauty of God's creation is the elegance of how everything works in harmony–consistently. There is no reason for God to abandon this organization of function during the creation process and, in fact, the laws of nature are part of the process.

Gen 1: Verses 3-5, Day 1: And God said, "Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day’ and the darkness he called "night". And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day.

Right away in Day 1, we are faced with a problem. Here we have "light" and "dark" but the sun was not created until the fourth day. Obviously, this light is something different. And there is another interesting observation; physical darkness is merely the absence of light. Here we see darkness considered as a substance that can be separated from the substance light. Perhaps the explanation shows just how profound the Bible can be.

Light is energy, photons that move in waves. Depending on the amount of energy the photon has, we can see it as a color or, at very high energy, invisible ultraviolet light. With even higher energy, the photon can be X-rays or cosmic rays. Low wave frequencies, express the energy as invisible infrared or radio waves. It is all the same phenomenon, just different photon frequencies and energy. About a century ago, Albert Einstein proposed his theories of General and Special Relativity and the famous equation E = mc2. This equation was profound and shook the scientific community. Simply stated it says that energy can become solid mass and solid mass can become energy. This led to the development of the nuclear bomb where the uranium mass transforms into energy: visible light, invisible light, radiation, and heat. And it did so with enormous force or kinetic energy.

With Einstein’s theories, scientists were able to postulate a theory of how the universe began – it is called the Big Bang. The hypothesis goes something like this. An intense point smaller than an atom and with almost an infinite amount of energy burst into existence. The energy burst outward from its source and, as it expanded, it cooled and some of the energy converted to mass, sub-atomic particles at first, then hydrogen. The hydrogen atoms gradually collected into gaseous clouds, then more and more dense structures until eventually stars, where the elements of the universe formed. This is a greatly simplified version of the Big Bang, but sufficient for our discussion here.

However, in recent years, scientist measured the amount of matter and energy in the universe and its rate of expansion and discovered that things just do not add up. To make a long and complicated story short (and much simplified), scientists now believe that, in addition to the "light" energy and visible matter that we are all familiar with, there is "dark" matter and "dark" energy – and a lot of it. In fact, there is more dark matter in the universe than the light matter we can see.

So here we have a narrative of creation simple enough for the illiterate nomad, yet describes a phenomenon that challenges the minds of the best astrophysicists today. It also shows that it is the laws of nature that are an integral part of the creation that God uses to fashion his creation.

Gen 1: Verses 6-10, Day 2: And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky". And there was evening, and there was morning – the second day. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground land, and the gathered waters he called seas. And God saw that it was good.

In Day 2, God established the earth’s atmosphere with the water vapor that would eventually become rain. It seems a small event to devote an entire period to, however, the establishment of earth’s atmosphere is extremely significant; no other planet in the solar system has an atmosphere that can sustain life. It took a long time with numerous events, some rather unlikely, for the atmosphere to develop a condition that is perfect for sustaining life. The land and seas are separated in preparation for life. It should be noted that this is not a creative act but a manipulation of matter already in existence.

Day 2 is an example of God directing his creation through the laws of nature–which he created to govern matter. In the Genesis account of the creation, there is an important principle that Creationists often overlook. God does not merely create each element of nature. With the physical, material existence, God also establishes laws that regulate the material universe. For example, God does not directly cause a rock to fall from a mountainside because he has established gravity to do the job. Day 2 describes some of the most impressive forces of nature. What is described as gathering water and land into separate places is, in fact, the movement of the earth forces we experience today as earthquakes and volcanoes were at work on Day 2, but with even more impact. Those geological forces formed continents and mountains as well as the expanse and depths of the seas. They are still at work today.

It is interesting to note that some scientists now theorize that the early formation of the earth was exactly as described here. In the atmosphere, water developed that precipitated as rain and, initially, water covered the entire earth. Volcanic and tectonic forces caused the land to rise, separating land from water.

So again we have a description of the formation of the earth's features in a way simple enough for the Hebrew nomads but accurate enough to be consistent with modern geological theories.

Gen 1: Verse 11-13: Day 3: Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seeds in it, according to their kinds. And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds. And God saw that is was good. And there was evening, and there was morning, the third day.

The operative phrase here is, "Let the LAND produce vegetation." The matter that God creates operates and functions according to the laws established by God. The Bible does not say God created each and every type of plant and tree. When the time was right, the potential for vegetative life was released. How was this accomplished? The Bible does not say–remember this is all about the Creator not the created, what about bacteria, viruses, molds, and fungi? Details such as this are not necessary to meet the objective of the narrative, but obviously these organisms were also produced because, without bacteria, soil cannot be produced that will support vegetation. It is clear that the Genesis account is not complete in every detail–it is not a scientific account.

It is interesting to note that evolutionary scientists have long believed that life began in water and then migrated to land. Here God's says life began on land. But recently many scientists have come to the conclusion that life indeed began on land, citing the fact that the mineral structure of clay is far more conducive to primitive life that the water environment. It seems that the more we learn about science, the more accurate the Bible becomes!

In this account, we see another law of nature: Bearing seeds according to their kind. This law of nature is evident everywhere. Apples produce apples and oranges produce oranges and no one has ever seen and apple tree bearing oranges. It is here that the Creationist draws a line that the Evolutionist says we must cross.

Remember, Day 3 is about the laws of nature through which God is manipulating his creation and not creating individual plants. We have already established that his account is not a complete scientific treatise. Its focus was on the Creator and was written by and for the nomadic Hebrews. There is much more to the laws of nature at work here than are described. Just how the land brought forth vegetation is not stated.

We must be careful in our interpretation of the phrase, "according to its kind." Does this mean that every plant bears seed that develops into a plant that is exactly like the parent, a clone? The answer is NO! Sexual reproduction allows for mixing of genes and that, in turn, provides for variation. This is true for all living things, both plant and animal. Agronomists use this selective breeding to develop drought-resistant crops, seedless watermelons, and hybrid roses–all different from their parental source. In the animal world, we use selective breeding to produce Great Danes and Chihuahuas, both of which are adaptations of the wolf; and all are the same species. It is this capacity for life to adapt that allows organisms to survive environmental changes.

In life's capacity to adapt, we see the beauty and efficiency of God's laws governing nature. The question that is the center of the Humanism–Christian debate is: Do these laws extend from adaptation within a species to changes that evolve into another species?

Gen 1: Verses 14-19: Day 4: And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons, and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day, the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day.

Day 4 presents a few problems for the Christian and ammunition for the Humanist’s argument. As mentioned regarding Day 1, God made some form of light that was not from the sun or stars because these were not made until Day 4. Another problem is that vegetation cannot survive without light–but vegetation was produced in Day 3, before there was a sun! Of course, scientists will argue that stars formed before planets and many stars and galaxies are older than our solar system. However, those arguments are for another time. Here we are looking at the internal inconsistency of the Genesis account.

This is poetry intended to show the hand of God in the creation of the universe. That it is inconsistent with modern science is not relevant. However, because it is inconsistent, we must regard the narrative as poetry, metaphor, and symbolism aimed at revealing the Glory of God. Could God have created things out of order? Of course, but why would he develop a beautiful system of matter and laws to govern it and then ignore the very organization he made?

We must remember who the primary audience is: the nomadic and relatively primitive Hebrews. They had a geocentric view of the universe, i.e., the earth was the center of the universe and the reason for everything. As such, God gave his account of the creation so that these nomads could comprehend it. They did not have the background or education to understand an accurate, scientific account of astrophysics and cosmology– they were a little weak on calculus and celestial mechanics. In fact, it was not until about 500 years ago that the geocentric view of the universe was challenged scientifically.

The lesson of the Genesis narrative is that God spoke creation into existence. The details are irrelevant and, in fact, scientists today struggle to understand the complexity of nature and will never fully comprehend it.

Gen 1: Verses 20-23: Day 5: And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that is was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in numbers and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning – the fifth day.

In the creation narrative, the word Bara, created, is only used three times: In Verse 1, here in Verse 21, and in Verse 27 with regard to man. Much of the creation development is about God ordering the created matter to develop according to God’s plan. Here animal life comes out of the water in a creative act and birds fill the air. This is a different type of life from vegetation, sentient life. As we will see in Chapter 6, Evolutionists have difficulty explaining how the evolution from vegetable to conscious life occurred.

Gen 1: Verses 24-7: Day 6: And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kind: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind. And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in is own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.

Gen 2: Verse 7: – the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.

On the sixth day, the land produced living creatures as the water did in Day 5. As in Day 3, God ordered the land to produce life. Just how God "made the wild animals according to their kind" is not stated. In addition, the list of creatures is not complete. There is no mention of insects, dinosaurs, bacteria, worms, or "Homo erectus." In other words, this is not a detailed account of creation; it is a generalized account, painted in broad strokes.

A literal interpretation of Day 6 that extrapolates specific creation of individual creatures would not be accurate; the account does not say that. In fact, a literal interpretation would better support the Evolutionist's position, i.e., the land produced the creatures.

It is in Day 6 that God also created Man. There are two accounts of Man’s creation: Gen 1:24-27 and Gen 2:7. In these accounts, we see Man developing in a two-step process. First, a body was formed from the dust of the earth. Then God breathed into him the breath of life and made Man in his own image. In the entire creation account, Man is the only creature of which it is said was made in God’s image. Just what is God’s image?

Jesus tells us, in Jn 4:24 that "God is spirit." We know that he had to exist before there was any universe because he created all physical existence. Does God have a nose and ears? No, not in the physical sense. Does he have a material body? No, as Jesus said, he is spirit. Therefore, that creature God formed from the dust of the earth was not yet in the image of God. Look at any human today. His physical body is an animal and, much to the delight of Evolutionists, resembles an ape. If our bodies are not made in the image of God, what is?

"Respiration" (breathing) and "inspiration" (filled with spirit) are words both based on the word for spirit. Many ancient cultures believed that a person’s breath was his spirit because when he dies and the spirit left the body, breathing stopped. In Gen 2:7, the NAV translation of neshamah is "breath of life," but this word is also translated as "spirit" and is done so in other verses. It is after God breaths spirit into Man that he is declared to be created in is image.

Of all the creatures, only Man has a spirit that is the image of God. We have seen, in the Genesis account, the creation of several types of life: basic vegetative life of the plants, simple sentient life of the animals, and with Man a spiritual life. Note that this spiritual life did not occur as a natural process "produced from the land" as was the body. The spirit is not of the natural world. It is super natural, i.e., above or outside the natural, physical realm. As such, God directly inspires man with his spirit. Humanity is not about the body, it is about the spirit. It would not matter if we had two heads and four legs we would still be human if we had God’s spirit within us. Another creature could look very much like us but, without the spirit, would not be human.

In Genesis, Chapter 3, God tells Adam and Eve that they may eat from any tree in the garden except the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If they eat of that tree, they will die. However, they ate the fruit of that infamous tree and– they did not die. Not only did they not die, they lived for centuries. Was Satan correct when he said they would not die? Their bodies did not die. But what about their spirits? Jesus clearly makes the distinction between man’s two natures in John 3:5-7:

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying ’You must be born again.’

Adam and Eve did die, in the spirit that we can have a spiritual rebirth. This is the message of the Genesis creation account. This is the foundation for the cause of Man’s fallen nature and his redemption. We explore this further in Chapter 12.

Most important to the conflict between Humanism and Christianity is the creation of Man. As we will see in the next few chapters, the issues raised in Genesis concerning how the world developed are not fundamental to the discussion. Evolution is a distraction but not the foundation of the Humanism-Christianity conflict. In the next chapter, we discuss that, within the Christian community, there are several positions on the Genesis narrative. The real opposition the Humanists have to the Genesis account of creation is God. Humanists do not like having God in the discussion. As we will discuss in Part 4, the biblical teaching that Man is made in the image of God is the root cause of many Humanist issues that conflict with Christianity. If Man is not made in the image of God, then his is just an animal. If he is just an animal and there is no accountability to a higher Being, then the Humanist philosophy can be justified. If, however, there is a God and Man is made in his image, then we are not just animals; we are something special. And most important, we are accountable to a higher Being; and Humanist, and everything derived from it, is fundamentally wrong.

However, the issue of Man’s spirit goes deeper still. If Man is not unique with a divine-like spirit and is just an animal, it is easier to justify abortion, euthanasia, and many other Humanist positions. Morality is human-based not divinely ordained. Man is the focus of worship, not God.

~

Genesis presents three issues that are fundamental to the Christian-Humanism conflict and the current polarization of America. Genesis states there is a personal God, Humanism denies there is a God or even a supernatural existence. Genesis states that God created everything; Humanism states that the universe is self-existing. Genesis states that Man is unique among all the creatures, made in the image of God, Humanism states that Man is merely an advanced animal. Humanism rejects revealed truth and, therefore, anything based on the Bible and this fact tends to immunize the Humanist against traditional Christian witnessing techniques.

In Genesis, we have the foundation of the Humanism-Christian conflict. In the following chapters, we will explore how these issues developed to result in the political and social divide we see in America today. We will also explore how these issues are part of the fabric of American society and how Humanism threatens to tear that fabric. We will show how Humanism attempts to replace the threads of a personal God and a unique humanity made in the image of God with other threads that will change the nature and character of American culture at the expense of Christianity. The first of these threads considered is evolution.


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