Coming to a School Near You:

Darwinism in the Classroom

If you believe the biblical account of creation and the origin of man, what strategies can you as parents and students use when confronted with the theory of evolution?

Every academic year many high-school and college students encounter teachers and courses that advocate the theory of evolution to explain the origin of mankind. Although some schools may permit a brief mention of the biblical account as a competing explanation, many instructors teach the theory of evolution as though it were a proven fact.

If you believe the Bible's explanation of the origin of the universe and mankind— that God made humans in His image— what should you do as a parent or student? What can you do to deal with teachers who require students to learn Darwinism?

From the outset it is important to do your homework, so to speak. Understand that proponents of the theory of evolution often pit the Bible against science. They describe science as the logical, intelligent, rational choice because of its systematic attention to observation and experimentation. The contrast they imply is that the Bible is merely a fable generated by primitive peoples to explain their existence. Some will subtly, but mistakenly, imply that science disproves the Bible.

Actually, between the Bible and Darwinism, the evidence is decidedly in the Bible's favor. Darwin and his early supporters admitted that they lacked hard evidence, but they believed that evidence would eventually be discovered to support their beliefs.

For example, they believed that fossil evidence would be discovered that would show the mutations that had allegedly evolved various species of animals into new species. But, in spite of more than a century of diligent searching, such "missing link" fossils are still missing. The flaws in Darwin's theories, some of which Darwin acknowledged himself, remain. His hypothesis has remained unproven ever since it was first proposed.

Meanwhile, during the century since Darwin, many scientists—including Louis Pasteur (developer of pasteurization and vaccines for anthrax, chicken cholera and rabies), Wernher von Braun (NASA director) and Sir Ernst Chain (cowinner of the 1945 Nobel Prize for isolating and purifying penicillin, as well as director of Rome's International Research Center for Chemical Microbiology)—have publicly attested to their belief in the Creator.

Some of them have plainly stated that Darwinism is impossible, that the theory is based on nonexistent evidence and is therefore incompatible with the scientific facts.

Other scientists have tried to support Darwinistic reasoning by offering new, equally unprovable theories. Although the credibility of Darwin's theory has languished at best, the Bible's credibility has steadily increased.

Continuing archaeological discoveries confirm the Bible's validity. Critics who claimed the Bible is full of fictionalized stories have repeatedly been proven wrong as archaeologists made discoveries that confirm historical figures and cities previously known of only from the Bible. (If you would like to learn more about archaeological discoveries confirming the Bible, read the series of articles titled "Archaeology and the Bible" in past issues of The Good News.)

A popular argument

One of the most popular arguments to supposedly disprove the Bible is the claim that scientific research shows the earth to be millions of years old while the biblical account would indicate that the earth is only 6,000 years old. Yet, under careful scrutiny, we can easily reconcile this apparent discrepancy.

Genesis 1:1-2 says: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void . . ." The Hebrew phrase translated here "The earth was without form, and void" can also be properly translated "The earth became without form, and void" (see the footnote to Genesis 1:2 in the New International Version).

This explanation allows for a gap in time between verses 1 and 2 and permits recognition that the earth may be much older than the approximately 6,000 years of recorded human history, of which a 4,000year span is outlined in the Bible.

Although many creationists believe the earth is only some 10,000 years old and reject the idea of a time gap between the first two verses of Genesis, at least a few biblical scholars have noted this understanding for almost 2,000 years—long before Darwin formulated his theory of evolution.

Defining evolution

Understanding definitions of evolution can be helpful to students facing Darwinism in their studies. Such varied definitions are why many times in this article we use the term Darwinism for the theory rather than simply evolution.

The word evolution can mean many things. Although many people are familiar with its most common meaning, the changing of simple life-forms to higher life-forms as theorized by Darwin, this word can also refer to the process of change and adaptation within a species—or even a progression of knowledge or understanding that has nothing to do with the origins of species.

The latter definitions of evolution describe processes and phenomenon that do, in fact, take place. For example, because of temporary environmental conditions such as smog or pollution from burning coal, one color of moth may become predominant (lighting conditions make one color of moth easier for birds to see, so the birds eat more moths of that color).

Another example is bacteria and drugs. Certain medicines are designed to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. But occasionally a few cells of a bacterium or virus are found to have developed an immunity to a drug. When these particular cells reproduce, they can be said to have evolved into a drug resistant strain. Although this limited form of evolutionary change does occur, it does not mean these bacteria or viruses could eventually become elephants or humans. They will always be bacteria or viruses.

As our body of knowledge on a variety of subjects continues to increase, it is correct to say our knowledge base is evolving. Here again this definition does not prove Darwin's theory regarding how humans came into existence.

The reason it is important to understand these varied definitions is simply that, when some scientists say evolution is a fact, not an unproven theory, they are referring to these latter definitions. By implication they would like to have you believe that Darwinism—the theory that new species can evolve and have evolved from others over time—is also true.

However, that is simply not the case. Intellectually honest scientists will admit Darwin's theory is still an unproven attempt to explain life without a Creator. In spite of decades of effort, they can nowhere point to real evidence that Darwinism is true.

Why Darwinism lives

When rational people consider the intricacies and perfect balance of nature in the world around them, it should become strikingly obvious to them that the marvelous creation requires a Creator. As King David put it: "The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship" (Psalm 19:1, New Living Translation).

In light of the lack of physical evidence for Darwinism, and abundant evidence against it, why does Darwinism survive? Why hasn't it been discarded like other empty, inaccurate, failed theories?

The apostle Paul answers this question in Romans 1:20-22: "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools" (New International Version).

This passage tells us that the fundamental reason many people reject the biblical account of creation is that they in fact reject God. Although such people may be intelligent and understand many things, when it comes to acknowledging God their thinking is foolishly unsound. The Bible explains, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

People who believe we are merely a part of the animal kingdom reject an important concept that gives us our unique human identity and destiny. The Holy Scriptures reveal that God created us in His image, the "image of God" (Genesis 1:26-27), and gave us the opportunity to become His children (John 1:12). God calls us to become part of the Kingdom of God, not the animal kingdom. God's purpose and plan for humanity are to give every human being the opportunity to acknowledge Him as Creator (Psalm 14:2) and live forever with Him as members of His family (John 3:15-16; 2 Corinthians 6:18).

The biographies of some proponents of Darwinism freely explain why they reject God: They don't want to be subject to God's laws. They want to be free to do whatever they want to do, even act like animals if they so choose. Such thinking leads to and promotes sexual immorality including homosexuality, envy, murder, strife and hatred of God, just to name a few items of a long list of negative qualities inspired by this kind of perspective (Romans 1:28-31). By contrast, those who aspire to be children of God strive to practice righteousness (1 John 3:10), which means respecting and living by God's instructions.

Strategies for overcoming

Now that we have reviewed a few of the fundamental issues of Darwinism and the Bible, what can a student who believes in God do when he takes classes that teach Darwinism? Here are a few strategies: Realize that you are studying a theory. Theories are simply attempts to explain something people don't understand. Darwin didn't understand how human beings came to exist. The Origin of Species was his attempt to explain how humans and thousands of perfectly designed species could have come into existence apart from God. You can read his work and study his arguments without agreeing with them. On a test or paper you can write, "Charles Darwin's theory of evolution says . . ." or a similar statement that verifies you know what the teacher or textbook has taught.

It isn't necessary for you to publicly debate teachers or professors who believe in evolution. Through greater experience, they usually have clever, though erroneous, arguments to smooth over the weakness of Darwinism or to make disbelievers in the theory appear ignorant. Remember, the Bible reveals that those who reject God are the ones who are truly foolish and ignorant (Psalm 14:1; Romans 1).

If someone genuinely wants to know what you believe on this issue, tell him (1 Peter 3:15). But you don't have to set yourself up for public or private ridicule. Thinking out your strategy in advance can be quite helpful. Often silence is golden.

If you are asked to do additional research on this subject, consider several possibilities. You might want to read Darwin's book or works on modern variations of his theory and draw attention to the areas in which he and others acknowledge flaws in the theory. Another possibility is to write a book report on material written against evolution.

Use this opportunity to strengthen your relationship with God and your convictions that He is your Creator. Compare the ultimate rewards represented by belief in Darwinism with belief in God. According to the former, when you die you're permanently dead, having no hope of living again. With God you have the marvelous opportunity to live forever in His Kingdom. Don't throw away that opportunity just to fit in with what is currently popular in today's culture.