Evolutionary ideas are all around us. Every time you turn on the TV, watch the news, or read a science magazine you will more than likely find evolutionary content. How did this philosophy become so popular that it literally took over science?
Evolution owes much of its popularity to a guy you’re probably familiar with…Charles Darwin. While he wasn’t the first person to develop evolutionary ideas surrounding the development of the species, he did popularize these ideas.
In 1859 he published his famous book, which most people have heard of, called: On the Origin of Species. This book was based on his observations while serving as the naturalist on board the ship, the H.M.S. Beagle. If you’re familiar at all with Darwin’s work, you know that he observed finches on the Galapagos Islands that had different sized beaks. Eventually he would interpret this to mean that these finches all had a common ancestor and from there he inferred that all life had a common ancestor. Of course, that’s a pretty big leap! We’re talking frogs and giraffes and YOU, all coming from the same prehistoric ancestor!
Most people think of Darwin as a dispassionate observer who simply reported on what he saw and this led him to draw the conclusions that he did. But that’s not accurate. Long before Darwin ever set foot in the Galapagos, he’d already rejected both the Bible as an authoritative source of truth and the idea of a God who interfered with His creation. Building on the ideas of his grandfather and others, he was SEEKING to explain life without God… Actively looking for a way to push a creator out of the picture.
It wasn’t just Darwin who had a low view of God. Many in both the church and the scientific community had accepted the idea of millions of years and uniformitarianism, the idea that slow and gradual processes account for what we see in the world. They didn’t trust God’s Word as the authority in matters of history and science, but instead relied on human reasoning… in other words, they ignored an actual historical account, choosing to re-write history using nature as the supreme authority.
Now, the church had also accepted an idea called the “fixity of species.” This is the idea that God created the species exactly as they are today and that species don’t change. This idea doesn’t come from the Bible but it WAS a popular idea of that time that people read into the Bible. In The Origin of Species Darwin clearly showed that this was wrong—species do change. And they change a lot!
Once Darwin showed that species do change, the idea of the fixity of species was proved wrong. It seemed like the Bible was wrong and since people had already added millions of years into the Bible, it didn’t take much for them to accept Darwin’s new idea and relegate the Bible to just a religious text that didn’t have much to say about the origin of life.
But it wasn’t the Bible that Darwin proved wrong. It was the unbiblical idea of the “fixity of species.” As believers, we need to be careful that popular ideas of our day aren’t used to interpret the Bible. Instead, when we use the Bible to interpret what we see around us (the natural world), we actually find that science fits perfectly with the Biblical historical accounts.
I’m David Rives. Truly, the heavens declare the glory of God.