Calvin Versus Darwin:
Anniversaries, Origins and Worldviews
Rev. Angus Stewart
Calvin and Darwin
This year, 2009,
marks the anniversaries of the births of two of the most influential men
of the last few centuries, two men without whom the history and the
future of the modern world cannot be understood: John Calvin and Charles
Darwin. 2009 is the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth and the 200th
anniversary of Darwin’s birth. Which anniversary do you honour?
John Calvin was a sixteenth-century French Reformer,
the greatest Bible commentator, theologian and ecclesiastical organizer
of the Reformation. Charles Darwin was a nineteenth-century English
naturalist whose name is synonymous with evolution, natural selection
and survival of the fittest.
John Calvin studied in three French universities:
Paris, Orleans and Bourges. Charles Darwin studied at two British
universities: first, the University of Edinburgh, where he read medicine
but did not like the sight of blood and never completed the course, and
then Cambridge, where he studied theology and, surprisingly, came a
creditable tenth out of 178 passes.
Both men changed
their religious views. Calvin was brought up a Roman Catholic, but he
became a Christian through what he calls a "sudden conversion," when God
rendered his stubborn mind teachable by the inward work of the Spirit of
Darwin left nominal Christianity for agnosticism. His father was a
freemason and a freethinker who covered that up with attendance at the
Church of England. His mother was a Unitarian. Charles trained to be an
Anglican parson through his studies at Cambridge. But he became an
apostate through evolutionism. He came to regard the Bible as flawed and
filled with errors, and so he stopped going to church at all.
Both Calvin and
Darwin married once. Calvin outlived his wife Idelette by 16 years,
whereas Darwin’s wife Emma, granddaughter of Josiah Wedgwood the famous
potter, survived him by 14 years. John and Idelette Calvin had one child
that was born but died two weeks later. Charles and Emma Darwin passed
on their genes to ten children, two of whom died in infancy. Amongst the
other eight were some strong proponents of evolutionism, including a
son, Leonard, who was a eugenicist, believing that only the best and
fittest should procreate and convey their genes to succeeding
Calvin is forever identified with Geneva,
Switzerland. Darwin laboured on his evolutionary ideas and other studies
for the last forty years of his life in Down Cottage in Kent, England. A
plaque marks the location of Calvin’s house (long demolished); Darwin’s
house is now a museum.
As a preacher and teacher of theology, Calvin was
much in the public eye in Geneva, contrary to his own natural
inclination. Darwin was a retiring scholar largely shut away in his
cottage, engaged in his studies, allowing other people like Thomas
Huxley, called "Darwin’s bulldog," to debate and lecture on evolution.
Whereas "Darwin was
always rich, thanks to the Wedgwood inheritance,"
Calvin was a poor man, as his last will and testament indicates (25
In order to avoid any idolatrous veneration, Calvin
requested that his body lie in an unmarked grave in the Plainpalais
Cemetery, Geneva (28 May, 1564), awaiting the resurrection of the just
at the last day. Darwin was given a state funeral and is buried in
Westminster Abbey (26 April, 1882), close to Sir Isaac Newton, with full
honours of the Church of England.
and Darwin’s Origin
2009 is also the
anniversary of the publication of the key editions of the most important
books of both Calvin and Darwin. The final edition of John Calvin’s
Institutes of the Christian Religion was printed 450 years ago in
The first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was
published 150 years ago in 1859.
and Darwin’s Origin of Species sold very well and established the
reputations of both men. The first edition of Darwin’s work sold out on
the very first day it was published, though there was only a run of
Both Calvin’s and Darwin’s books were enlarged and developed in various
editions by their authors.
Both books were translated into various languages, both while the men
lived and afterwards.
The occasions for the
publication of their most important books varied greatly. Darwin
hastened to publish his ideas when he received a letter from Malaysia by
Alfred Russell Wallace, indicating that he (Wallace) had discovered
natural selection as providing a mechanism for the evolution of species.
Wanting to be first in print with his own version of that idea, Darwin
quickly readied the Origin of Species for the press in 1859.
Calvin’s Institutes, in both Latin and French, right from the
very first, is prefaced with a letter to King Francis I of France
explaining that the Reformed gospel is nothing less than the teaching of
the Bible and pleading with him to stop killing the French Protestants.
Both the Origin
and the Institutes built on the work of others. Calvin is very
explicit on this. He realized that building on the work of others had
apologetic value, for the Reformation was not teaching some new and
strange doctrine. Rather it was a return to, and development of, all
that is good about the earlier church. Calvin quotes frequently from
Augustine, Bernard of Clairvaux and other church fathers. Darwin, on the
other hand, gives little acknowledgement to others because he has a
different purpose: he is stressing his own originality and research.
This brings us to the
different subject matter and methodologies of the two men. Darwin is
working in the field of biology in the natural or created order. He is
using the empirical method of observation, recording and analysing data.
Reasoning and thinking contrary to the clear teaching of God’s Word,
Charles Darwin is an empiricist rationalist. John Calvin in his
is writing theology. His source is the Bible, God’s infallible Word.
Calvin repeatedly warns against speculation and the noetic ethic effects
of sin, since fallen man does not think and reason properly, especially
with regard to divine things.
The "liberal arts"
and "all the sciences" are "gifts from God," Calvin declares. But they
should operate "within their own limits" and must be "entirely subject
to the word and Spirit of God." "Hence they must occupy the place of
handmaid and not of mistress." However, if "they set themselves in
opposition to Christ," they are "empty and worthless" and "they must be
looked upon as dangerous pests." Moreover, "if they strive to accomplish
anything of themselves," they are "the worst of all hindrances."
Calvin’s fine explanation of Paul’s phrase "the wisdom of the world"
applies to Darwin’s evolutionism: "that which assumes to itself
authority, and does not allow itself to be regulated by the word of
and Darwin’s Origin have two different subjects, two different
sources and two different approaches.
"Calvin Scholarship" and the "Darwin Industry"
The lives and works
of both Calvin and Darwin, and especially the Institutes of the
Christian Religion and the Origin of Species, are studied
very closely and celebrated by their followers, especially in this
quadruple anniversary year: the year of the births of both men and the
publications of the key editions of their greatest works. On the one
hand, we have "Calvin scholarship;" on the other, we have the "Darwin
Industry"—that is the accepted term, with both words being capitalized.
Each year, there are books, lectures and conferences on their lives,
their works, their correspondences, their friendships, their influences,
etc. Of course, it all cranks up a gear for both Calvin and Darwin in
this anniversary year.
2009 witnessed an
outpouring of Darwin propaganda by the evolutionists, for example,
through newspaper articles and TV programmes, such as Andrew Marr’s
three-part series "Darwin’s Dangerous
Idea" on BBC 2 (5, 12 and 19 March, 2009).
Darwin’s "dangerous idea" is evolution, and lapsed Presbyterian Marr, an
evolutionist himself, traced some of its dangerous implications and
The UK’s royal mint produced a special two-pound coin with Darwin facing
a chimpanzee, eyeing, as it were, his great, great, great … grandfather.
There have been many such commemorations of Darwin right around the
The world even casts an occasional, brief glance at
Calvin. But 99% of it is left to the few Calvinists with limited earthly
resources, through speeches, articles, books, conferences, etc. No
matter the odds against us, we stand completely undaunted. We can go, as
it were, with Paul to Rome, the capital of the Roman Empire, and
proclaim in the face of all unbelieving, human wisdom, "We are not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ" (Rom. 1:16). Despite Darwin and all the
evolutionary hosts, we are victorious in Jesus Christ, for "If God is
for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31).
In this article, we
are comparing Calvin and Darwin, their ideas and the ramification of
their ideas. We are deliberately presenting them in an adversarial
relationship. It is not "Calvin and Darwin;" it is "Calvin
Darwin." Both men, in their own way, are seminal thinkers, that is,
their ideas are like seeds that have grown and developed, one in a
certain direction and the other in the opposite direction.
In the world today,
especially in the Western world, these two men serve as a sort of
shorthand for the two poles of thought in relation to which each person
and every ideology must be viewed. On the one hand, we have Calvin, the
leading spokesman for the biblical and Reformed faith—the truth; on the
other, there is Darwin, the icon of evolutionism, the fountain head of
so many evil currents, in church and state and in family and society.
The question is—and
this is always the question—where do you stand between these two
poles? Where does your church stand? Wholly with Calvin? Or wholly with
evolution? Or somewhere in the middle? To which pole are you nearer? To
which pole are you headed? All have to take a position. The calling for
us is to be wholeheartedly for the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ and,
therefore, wholeheartedly against Darwin and evolution, because there
must be no compromise between the two and no halting between two
opinions (I Kings 18:21). Remember, he who is not for Christ is against
Him (Matt. 12:30).
Let us turn to Darwin’s "dangerous idea." Evolution
is a biological theory: a theory about life, a theory about the origin
of life (where life came from) and the development of life (how human
beings, animals and plants came to be as they are now).
Darwin proposed that
single-cell creatures arose in a primeval pond. In time, they developed
into more complex creatures, which eventually became apes and humans.
In other words, life came from non-life, order came from chaos and
intelligence came from non-intelligence. Charles Darwin is famous today
as the living, orderly, intelligent man who made this ridiculous notion
respectable. Now it is even dominant!
Darwin did this by
proposing a mechanism whereby chaotic, non-intelligent non-life could
become orderly, intelligent life. He called this mechanism "natural
selection" or "the struggle for life"—two phrases found in the full
title of the Origin of Species.
Today, this mechanism is usually known as the "survival of the fittest."
Darwin did not use that term himself; it was invented a year after the
publication of his book by Herbert Spencer. The idea is that given
enough time and chance, over millions and billions of years, the less
fit will die off, the fit will survive and the fit will evolve into
higher life-forms, so, for example, chimpanzees will turn into humans.
The "survival of the
fittest" is, of course, circular. How do you determine the fittest? The
fittest is what survives; what survives is the fittest. So it is
equivalent to the "survival of the survivors." The survival of the
fittest does not explain, never mind prove, evolution. The survival of
the fittest merely explains the loss of information. First, those
who survive to pass on their genes do not add new information. At best,
the information they possess is retained. Second, those who die without
breeding fail to pass on their genes. This does not increase information
or complexity; this is information loss. Evolution, more specifically
macro-evolution, the development of one species into another, requires
the addition of information, a positive development in complexity, and,
for the evolution of human beings, intelligence.
Darwin is significant not because he was the first to
promote evolutionism; that idea goes back millennia. There were ancient
Greek philosophers, such as Anaximander, who believed that life evolved
out of the sea and eventually from this life human beings arose. In
early modern times, there were philosophers and scientists in Western
Europe who believed in evolution before Darwin, including Darwin’s own
grandfather, Erasmus Darwin.
Darwin is significant because he was the first person
who proposed in a book a mechanism that claimed to explain how this
could come about. This is the distinctive thing
about Darwin; this is his chief contribution. Darwin presented
his idea as "science," and with the rise of modern science and the
Industrial Revolution came the development of "scientism," the well-nigh
worship of science. Many people were quick to embrace Darwin’s
"scientific," evolutionary ideas; it was an idea whose time had come. In
our age, if someone claims, "Science says," most people will accept it
as truth, no matter what God’s Word says.
Humanist historian, J. M. Roberts, identifies the
significance of Darwin’s ideas:
Darwin dealt a blow against
the biblical account of creation (as well as against the unique
status of Man) which had wider publicity than any earlier one. In
combination with biblical criticism and [uniformitarian] geology,
his book made it impossible for any conscientious and thoughtful man
to accept—as he had still been able to do in 1800—the Bible as
evolutionism must be understood along with two other
intrinsically-related scientific theories of origins. Biological
evolutionism needs to seen, first of all, along with uniformitarian
geology. Geology is the study of rocks and rock layers.
Uniformitarianism comes from the word uniform or constant. According to
uniformitarian geology, the erosion or deposition of rock layers is
uniform or constant.
As it is commonly expressed, "The present is the key to the past."
An example should make it clear. Think of a river in
a valley. Every day the river erodes a little, carrying a certain amount
of sediment downhill. Uniformitarianism reckons that if you can work out
how much sediment is removed in a day or a year, and how much sediment
would need to be removed to hollow out the valley to its present
condition, than you can calculate how long it took for the valley to
form—usually in tens or hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of
Thus, if one is
committed to a naturalistic explanation of rock layers and believes that
the present rates of erosion are the key to the past, and so presupposes
that God did not create the world some 6,000 years ago, that man did not
fall into sin, that there was no universal flood and that the Most High
did not carve out valleys for rivers (cf. Ps. 104:8-10), with erosion
then operating within the valleys, then one will conclude that
uniformitarian geology is true.
The evolutionist sees
two great benefits in uniformitarian geology. First, it requires long
ages: thousands upon thousands and millions of years. This gives time
for evolution, which needs both a lot of time and a lot of luck. Second,
uniformitarian geology discredits the Scriptures. If the erosion and
deposition of rock layers has been going on for millions of years, then
our planet must be millions of years old, and since the Bible says the
world is a few thousand years old, then the Bible is wrong.
The man who first
presented the theory of uniformitarian geology was a lawyer, Charles
Lyell. The first edition of the first volume of his Principles of
Geology was published in 1830, almost 30 years before Darwin’s
Origin of Species. Lyell helped advance the spread of Darwin’s
ideas, not only by providing the long periods of time needed for
evolution and by undermining the Bible; he also encouraged Darwin to
publish his Origin of Species.
Big Bang Astronomy
Biological evolutionism needs to seen along with big
bang astronomy, as well as uniformitarian geology. Big bang astronomy
teaches that the entire universe expanded from an infinitely hot and
dense mass the size of a pinhead or less. Everything in the universe—our
planet, our solar system, all the stars, etc.—was once contracted to a
spec of dust, as it were. Then came the big bang, a giant explosion
13.3-13.9 billion years ago, according to the latest estimates. This is
the only explosion that has ever brought order and not chaos.
This theory raises
all sorts of questions: Eternal matter?
Where did this eternal matter come from? How did it come to be an
infinitely dense mass the size of a pinhead? How did the galaxies, our
solar system, our planet and our moon form out of this huge explosion?
The big bang theory was accepted in the middle of the
twentieth century after the other two theories. First, the geologists
endorsed uniformitarianism, then the biologists adopted evolutionism and
finally the astronomers embraced the big bang.
The Three-Piece Jigsaw
What do you get when you put these three theories
together—the big bang forming all the galaxies, uniformitarian geology
shaping Planet Earth and evolution producing multitudinous life forms?
To answer this question, we should ask other questions. Where did
life—human, animal and vegetable—come from? Evolutionism. Where did
earth’s oceans, seas, landmasses, mountains and valleys come from?
Uniformitarianism. Where did the earth, our solar system and the entire
universe come from? The big bang.
three—evolution, uniformitarianism and the big bang—are three parts of a
jigsaw. They propose to explain the origin of human beings, the origin
of life, the origin of our planet and the origin of the universe. That
is to say, these three theories together, as three parts of one jigsaw,
claim to explain everything! Without any one of the three pieces,
the jigsaw of origins is incomplete; all three fitted together form the
anti-supernaturalist’s favourite jigsaw.
"All things were made by the big bang,
uniformitarianism and evolution and without the big bang,
uniformitarianism and evolution there was nothing made that was made."
This is the reading of John 1:3 according to humanistic scientism.
This is the wonder of
evolutionism (along with its accompanying geological and astronomical
theories): everything’s origin is explained without God! God is "an
unnecessary hypothesis." Man’s origins lie in what Darwin called "a warm
little pond," and not in the Garden of Eden. Everything’s beginning is
to be explained without reference to the Bible, especially Genesis 1-3
and the flood. Better than that for the evolutionist, everything’s
origin is to be explained contrary to the Word of God and
contrary to the God of the Word.
This is the beauty of
evolutionism for unbelieving, fallen man! Evolutionary biology
(explaining the origin of life) plus uniformitarian geology (explaining
the form of the earth) plus big bang astronomy (explaining the existence
of the universe) equals atheistic naturalism. There is no God, no sin,
no judgment and no eternal hell. Therefore, there is no need for
repentance and faith, no need for redemption in the cross of Jesus
Christ and no need for the church. That is exactly the point. That is
why evolution is loved, taught, defended and praised by so many: "We
must hold to and promote evolutionism above everything else, because
without evolutionism our whole worldview and way of life would collapse
around us. But if we can maintain evolutionism, then we are OK. We can
live and die as we please and deny any need for a creator whom we are to
love and serve." No wonder that "in the course of the BBC’s ‘Evolution
Week’ in 1998," Darwin was called "the man who killed God."
Of this unholy
trinity—the big bang at the very start of the universe, uniformitarian
geology shaping the earth so that it is the way it is today and
evolutionary biology producing life on our planet—evolutionism (and,
therefore, Darwin) is the most important. This is the case because
evolutionism is the end of the chain. It immediately affects man and the
world in which we live more than the other two. Moreover, of the three
different theories, evolutionism most obviously and most frequently
contradicts the Bible. Evolutionism most clearly excludes God from the
world, and it affects many fields of knowledge and other issues, as we
will see later. Thus evolutionism is the number one thing that today’s
explicit and open naturalistic enemies of Christ must cling to
Origin Determines Nature
It needs to be stressed that origin determines
nature, that is, what something is is determined by where it came from.
Man’s origin determines what he is; earth’s origin determines what it
is; the universe’s origin determines what it is.
According to the evolutionist worldview, what is
this universe? It is made of eternal, pre-existent matter. It is the
result of a giant explosion involving matter and energy. It is the
product of time and chance. We live on a planet that is 4.54 billion
years old, according to the latest estimates.
What is this planet? It is debris from the primeval
explosion that has been cooling for millions of years. The earth’s
present form is entirely the result of natural processes, such as
erosion and deposition, involving oceans, mountains, volcanoes, rivers,
What are the living creatures on this planet? All
living creatures are the product of time and chance. More specifically,
you are a developed ape; you are evolved slime.
Origin determines nature. Who or what you are is
determined (at least, to a significant degree) by where you came from.
If every human being is evolved slime or a developed ape, this changes
everything. Gone is the biblical storyline of creation, fall and
redemption. Gone is the theology and ethics of the Word of God. This is
the beauty of evolution for those who do not want to know God in Jesus
Evolutionism’s Effect on Various Fields of Study
What are the ramifications of Darwin’s "dangerous
idea"? What fields of study and areas of thought does it affect?
By definition, evolution affects biology first of
all, for evolution is a biological theory concerning the origin and
development of life. It is, therefore, closely related to botany, the
study of plant life, and zoology, the study of animal life. Today,
evolutionism rules in these fields; it is viewed as the unifying theory
of the life sciences.
Remember the other
two pieces in the three-piece anti-supernaturalist jigsaw?
Uniformitarian geology goes hand in hand with evolutionism. This
geological theory is very closely related to geography and
palaeontology, the study of fossils, for the fossil record is
interpreted through evolutionary and uniformitarian spectacles. The big
bang permeates astronomy, the study of the stars and outer space.
The Christian who is working or studying in any of these fields is up
against it, because the evolutionary worldview is the current paradigm
or dominant scheme.
biological ideas, along with uniformitarian geology and big bang
astronomy, spread to affect many fields of study. Darwin’s theory of
evolution, writes Dave Breese, "led to a decisive shift in thinking
about the natural sciences, a change that would, in turn, influence the
world of thought outside the natural sciences, leading ultimately to
changes in the entire culture of many a nation."
According to evolutionist Brian Silver, "The major breakthrough [of the
nineteenth century], in terms of its intellectual influence, was
undoubtedly Darwinian evolution, which left its mark on social and
political thought and infiltrated philosophy and literature."
Evolutionism’s Effect on History and Linguistics
What about history?
If you read a history of the world or a history of a country or a
history of a particular theme, and if that history book does not confine
itself to a specific period but aims to go back to the very beginning,
the first chapter or so of that book is about evolution. It is filled
with sheer guesswork: "So many millions of years ago, creature X
probably crawled out of the water and did such and such." "We think that
Y may have happened." "The current scholarly consensus is that Z …" Not
only is this speculation (based upon flawed, anti-Christian theories),
but it is also very boring and repetitive. The first chapter in these
"histories" could be written in one line: "The evolutionists think that
it took millions and billions of years and lots of chance, and there is
a lot of guesswork based upon these theories … so it would be best to
move to chapter 2 and start with some history rather than fables." Maybe
chapter one should begin, "Once upon a time." Not just the first chapter
though, but all of history is affected to some degree, since, for an
evolutionist, the history of the human race is the history of evolution.
the origin and history of languages or families of languages. Why do we
talk? How is it that we can listen to and understand what others are
saying? Where did the families of languages come from? The evolutionists
are adamant that God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 has
no part to play in this, except, perhaps, as a record of what some
primitive people thought. The origin of language lies with animal sounds
since we all came from the animals. We are developed animals; our speech
is a development of animal grunts.
Evolutionism’s Effect on Psychology
What is human psychology to an evolutionist? Human
psychology is the study of the thinking and behaviour of man. But what
is man to an evolutionist? An evolved beast. Evolutionary psychologists
experiment with monkeys and other creatures, including insects, because
they believe that we are developed beasts, and studying animals can help
us understand human mental functions and behaviour. Remember, origin
probably the world’s most famous psychologist, was an ardent follower of
Darwin and a resolute enemy of Christianity. Freud opened his first
psychoanalysis clinic on Easter Sunday as an act of defiance, thereby
saying, "The resurrection of Jesus Christ means nothing to me. I reject
God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. People are evolved
monkeys and I am going to work with those who come to my clinic within
Through Freud, unbelieving man is comforted by the idea that there is no
need for God in order to explain the human mind or even man’s
Our English word
"psychology" comes from two Greek words and means the study of the soul,
but there is no soul according to evolutionism. We are all developed
monkeys. Monkeys do not have souls; we do not have souls either. We
consist only of matter and energy; our thinking is chemical
reactions—that is all. According to this view, there is, of course, no
But some might
object, "I have a conscience. I can determine between right and wrong."
But there is a problem with right and wrong in evolutionary theory. What
is called "conscience" is, according to this view, the product of
evolution. If we have conscience, then it must be that conscience gives
us (or our group) a better chance of survival, in keeping with the
survival of the fittest. If we feel guilty—a bad feeling—it is because
we have done something that might harm ourselves and/or our group’s
chances of survival.
Evolutionary psychology leaves no room for the
forgiveness of sins, for there is no sin and there is no divine
forgiveness, since there is no God against whom we sin or who has the
prerogative to pardon sin. There is no way back to the Father; we live
in a very lonely universe. The cross of Jesus Christ is mythology. As
for the care and cure of souls—the traditional preserve of the Christian
church with its pastors preaching the Word, bringing comfort from the
Bible and urging people to confess their sins and know peace through the
blood of Christ—it is, at best, nonsense and, at worst, mental cruelty.
As the evolutionists become more numerous, dominant, aggressive and
antithetical, they are claiming that catechising children is a species
of child abuse. Ardent evolutionists reckon that the people who need
psychological help most are the pastors and the people who believe the
Bible: "You are psychologically deranged. You need to be cleansed of
this and grow up to be a mature and reasonable individual accepting the
truth of evolution."
Evolutionism’s Effect on Ethics
What about ethics or
morals? Well, there is no God and there is no right or wrong in
evolutionism, that is, no right or wrong in absolute terms. There
are things that we may say are right or wrong, but there is no
transcendent standard of truth or morality. Right and wrong are simply
what harms somebody else or has negative effects. There are no
transcendent standards for evolved beasts: right and wrong are what the
dominant beasts tell you are right and wrong—and that is it.
What about abortion?
It is a necessary by-product of evolutionism. Given man’s depravity,
there always has been and always will be the killing of unborn babies,
but evolutionism makes abortion so much easier to justify. What the
mother kills in her womb is not really human; it is more like an animal.
In fact, we are all animals and we kill animals all the time (and we eat
them at the table). Evolutionism believes in the survival of the
fittest, but guess who is fittest? The unborn child has no chance. The
mother has made a choice—"freedom of choice." There you have it!
euthanasia? Euthanasia is a euphemism that means "good death." Within an
evolutionary framework, elderly or terminally ill persons are unfit;
they are a drain on resources. Why not hasten their end, if the cost of
care for such people is expensive or if they request it?
What about suicide? Suicide is simply killing an
animal—yourself. Evolutionism facilitates suicide because (1) there is
no absolute moral law against it and (2) there is no hope in
evolutionism, for there is no meaning and no purpose to your life apart
from what you decide to give it. Where evolutionism comes in, not only
abortion and euthanasia but also suicide rates inevitably rise, all
other factors being equal.
What about murder? Homosexual Jeffrey Dahmer was a
notorious American serial killer, necrophiliac and cannibal, who
murdered and then sexually molested or ate seventeen men and boys
between 1978 and 1991. His confession is striking:
If a person doesn’t think
there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of
trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges?
That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of
evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we,
when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing ...
Dahmer’s conclusion logically follows from his
premises. Believing in evolutionism’s survival of the fittest; denying
God’s existence and judgment after death; and enjoying murder,
necrophilia and cannibalism; there is no reason why Dahmer should not do
what brings him pleasure. Later, Dahmer claimed he had converted to
Christianity and so he repented of his evolutionary faith and his
Here are the words of
Pekka-Eric Auvinen (a.k.a. "NaturalSelector89," "Natural
Selector," "Sturmgeist89" and "Sturmgeist"),
a self-proclaimed social Darwinist from Finland, who went on a shooting
rampage in Jokela High School, about 40 miles from Helsinki, on 7
Modern human race has not only
betrayed its ancestors, but the future generations too. Homo
Sapiens, HAH! It is more like a Homo Idioticus to me! When I look at
people I see every day in society, school and everywhere ... I have
evolved one step above! … Humans are just a species among other
animals and world does not exist only for humans. Death and killing
is not a tragedy, it happens in nature all the time between all
species. Not all human lives are important or worth saving … Of
course there is a final solution too: death of entire human race. It
would solve every problem of humanity. The faster human race is
wiped out from this planet, the better ... no one should be left
alive ... Life is just a meaningless coincidence ... result of long
process of evolution and many several factors, causes and effects …
I’m the dictator and god of my own life. And me, I have chosen my
way. I am prepared to fight and die for my cause. I, as a natural
selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human
race and failures of natural selection. No, the
truth is I am just an animal, a human, an individual, a dissident
... It’s time to put NATURAL SELECTION & SURVIVAL OF THE
FITTEST back on track.
Of course, not every mass murderer is an
evolutionist, but evolutionism provides a rationale or justification for
this wicked behaviour, as the two testimonies above show.
What about drug abuse? Why not, if there is no God
and it brings you pleasure!
What about nudity?
Evolution teaches that we are evolved animals. Animals go about naked,
so why not? With the undermining of biblical ideas and the rise in
evolutionary, atheistic naturalism in society has come, naturally
enough, a rise in nudist camps, nudist beeches, etc.
Evolutionism’s Effect on Religion
Evolutionism not only affects biology, history,
psychology, ethics, etc.; it also affects one’s view of religion,
specifically, the Christian religion. Here we shall only consider the
evolutionary interpretation of the Old Testament. In this field too,
evolutionism sees a "progression."
The Bible teaches
that there is only one God who is the creator, governor, redeemer and
judge. Fallen man is naturally an idolater.
People fall away from the true God in their generations, going deeper
into idolatry. However, evolution sees progress and development, not
only in life forms but also in religion. The evolutionary religious
ascent begins with animism (all of nature infused with divinities) and
develops through polytheism (many gods) to henotheism (one god higher
than the other gods) to monotheism (one god) to atheism (no god), once
man understands and embraces evolutionism.
This led to a radical reinterpretation of the Old Testament to fit the
evolutionary hypothesis. Not just the opening chapters of the
Scriptures, but the history of Old Testament Israel’s religion, had to
be rewritten to fit with this view of naturalistic development.
Modern higher criticism of the Bible prepares the way for, and flows out
Ultimately, evolutionism destroys truth, absolute
truth, for there is no (transcendent) truth in an evolutionary world.
What you say is true and another says is false is just a chemical
reaction in your brain and a chemical reaction in his or her brain.
Truth is not something that can be predicated of chemical reactions or
electrical signals. Thus evolution itself cannot even be "true," because
there is no absolute truth if we have all evolved from slime in a
naturalistic universe; there are just electrochemical reactions in the
As Dave Breese puts it,
At this point the evolutionary
concept breaks down completely. If all things, including human
thought and spirituality, are determined by electrochemistry in the
human cranium, we have a mechanistic universe. In such a universe,
existence is the same as nonexistence, up is not different from
down, logic is nonsense, and rationality evaporates before our eyes.
Nothing remains but nihilism …
Evolutionism’s Effect on Education
Not only does evolutionism affect the various fields
of study: biology, geology, linguistics, religion, etc.; and not only
does it attack the very idea of truth itself; evolutionism also affects
education, that is, the passing on of knowledge.
It affects education, first, because evolution
determines both the subject and the object of teaching. The teacher is
an evolved ape and those taught are developed slime. If a teacher
believes that he is teaching human beings originally created in the
image of God and that he is accountable to Him, that is one thing. But
if he believes that a classroom is a place where one evolved ape
instructs other, usually younger, evolved apes, his view of education is
worldview of evolutionists is presented, consciously or unconsciously,
through their instruction. I remember when I went through the state
school system, I unconsciously imbibed the unspoken assumption that God
is irrelevant. "I can study the various disciplines and grasp all these
things, but I do not need to know the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ through the forgiveness of sins in the cross. I can be a
fully-functioning human being with real, substantial knowledge without
knowing God." God is irrelevant; God is absurd within the state school
system—the real God, revealed in the whole of Scripture and
summed in the Reformed confessions. In my day, Religious Education (RE)
was a joke—way down at the end of the curriculum, with poor textbooks
and poor teaching. The real action was in the other subjects—science,
maths, languages, etc. The knowledge of the true and living God of
heaven and earth, before whom we live every day and to whom we must give
account, was reckoned as nothing.
Manifesto I (1933) is deliberately anti-Christian. How does it
begin? Article 1 claims that the universe was not created; it arose
through a huge explosion. Article 2 reckons that the human race evolved
from slime. The big bang and evolutionism—that is how the Humanist
Manifesto I starts. It rigorously excludes God’s creation, the
Bible, the church and Jesus Christ. Building on its first two
evolutionary articles, its next thirteen articles attack religion and
Manifesto I was followed forty years later by the Humanist
Manifesto II (1973) and then A Secular Humanist Declaration
(1980). All three of these documents make it very clear that the
humanists desire, and are working towards, an education that is totally
committed to, and whole-heartedly promotes, evolutionism. By education
they mean state education—at kindergartens, primary schools, high
schools and universities. This is their goal and this is what is
happening in Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, the European Union,
the United States and the whole Western world, year after year and
decade after decade. With each generation, state education—and therefore
the students that receive this indoctrination—has become more and more
consistent with evolutionary, big bang philosophy.
Evolutionism, a Worldview
In short, evolutionism is a worldview. Proof 1 for
this statement comes from our consideration of some of the spheres that
it most obviously affects. To this, one could add economics, philosophy,
law and punishment, politics, comparative anatomy, meteorology,
climatology and others. Proof 2 that evolutionism is a worldview is
that, as we have seen, it creates its own ethics. Proof 3: evolutionism
reveals itself as a worldview by promoting itself by education,
especially of the young. First, the universities, then the high schools
and then the primary schools are controlled more and more by
evolutionary belief. As the older people die off, each succeeding
generation receives an even more liberal dose of evolutionism, and so
comes to believe that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is
irrelevant. As Christians, we pay our taxes to the civil government, as
God commands (Rom. 13:6-7), but it is tragic that this money goes, in
part, to promote evolutionism!
As a worldview,
evolutionism attempts to explain all things. Richard Dawkins, perhaps
the most well-known and aggressive atheist in the Western world today,
says of evolutionism, "Never were so many facts explained by so few
Never in the history of the world, Dawkins claims, has so much been
explained by so little, including the speck that exploded into our
universe and the first single-celled life form. Evolutionism is
invaluable, Dawkins reckons, because he thinks it enables him to be an
"intellectually fulfilled atheist."
In other words, he could not be an atheist with any semblance of
integrity and honesty, if it were not for evolutionism. Believing
evolutionism, Dawkins can maintain that there is no need for God.
quotations on evolutionism as a worldview from Sir Julian Huxley,
"arguably the leading evolutionist of the twentieth century," are,
perhaps, even more revealing than those of Richard Dawkins. Sir Julian
Huxley was the grandson of Thomas Huxley, "Darwin’s bulldog," and the
brother of Aldous Huxley, a "leading atheist philosopher and patriarch
of the modern drug culture."
Sir Julian Huxley writes,
The concept of
evolution was soon extended into other than biological fields.
Inorganic subjects such as the life-history of stars and the
formation of the chemical elements on the one hand, and on the other
hand subjects like linguistics, social anthropology, and comparative
law and religion, began to be studied from an evolutionary angle,
until today we are enabled to see evolution as a universal and
When Sir Julian Huxley wrote these words, he had
already served as the first Director-General of UNESCO, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. About that
wide-ranging branch of the United Nations (UN), he states,
It is essential for UNESCO to
adopt an evolutionary approach … the general philosophy of UNESCO
should, it seems, be a scientific world humanism, global in extent,
and evolutionary in background ... Thus the struggle for existence
that underlies natural selection is increasingly replaced by
conscious selection, a struggle between ideas and values in the
Here Huxley is urging UNESCO (and the UN) to give
evolutionism a helping hand by controlling its developments in human
societies in the future. We should all become more and more conscious
of, and act in accordance with, the idea of evolutionism. Thus the human
race will become more committed to evolutionism and rise to a higher
level. The spectre of genetic engineering (to further human evolution)
is drawing nearer and nearer in our day.
Dave Breese summarises the radical nature and
pervasive influence of the evolutionary worldview:
revolution has caused man to reinterpret his past, rethink his
present, and revise his anticipations for the future. Darwin is seen
as giving the world a comprehension of itself so unlike the view
held in the past that, in a sense, he restarted history. Darwin’s
influence continues to be pervasive today, and he holds a leading
rank among those men who rule the world from the grave.
Darwin, the man with
the "dangerous idea," according to Andrew Marr, "is destined to
be the prophet and guide of the next few hundred years. His time is only
Not only does origin determine nature, as we
considered earlier; also first things determine last things. Where the
human race and the universe come from determines where the human race
and the universe are going. The beginning determines the end; alpha
leads to omega.
As a worldview,
evolutionism has a view (or views) about the future, what we, as
Christians, call eschatology or "the end times." Like all eschatologies,
the evolutionists’ ideas of the end times come with a calling
as to how one should behave.
Evolutionists have fears concerning the future, and
they have plans and activities designed to address those fears.
Evolutionism’s fear is emphatically not—in fact, this is what it wants
to exclude—that Jesus Christ is coming again to judge the world and cast
those who reject the truth into hell. Evolutionism certainly does not
call on man to repent and do good works in the light of Christ’s
One fear of the
evolutionary humanists involves world temperature. In the short term,
the fear is global warming. In the 1980s, we heard frequently on the
news, for example, that scientists were predicting another ice age. But
now the fear is global warming. People have very short memories and have
failed to hold the scientists accountable for this huge flip-flop.
The response to global warming is environmentalism.
The evolutionists’ long-term fear for the world is
heat death. The sun will eventually cool and life on earth will die off.
That is one reason why we need to build spacecraft and (ultimately) move
to other planets, for we have only a certain time on the earth before we
are all chilled to death. Many believe that it is only by becoming a
"multiplanetary species" that we can truly guard against being wiped
Another fear of the evolutionists is that something
some day will collide with the earth, such as, a large asteroid or a
comet. This would not be as big a bang as at the start of the
evolutionists’ universe, but it would be a fairly big bang. Earlier in
2009, this anniversary year of Charles Darwin, astronomers declared that
one of the nearest planets to us—Mercury, Venus or Mars—may one day hit
us and wipe out life on earth. But do not get too worried about it,
because they say there is only a slim chance and, if it does happen, it
would be in about 3 ½ billion years. So there is no need to panic just
Another fear of
evolutionism is a terrible pandemic that will wipe out much, or all, of
the human race.
Given that many species have become extinct, and that evolutionists
reject the Bible with its teaching on the preservation of mankind, they
have no guarantee that man will continue.
There is also the threat of aliens. If life evolved
on our planet, then it may have evolved somewhere else, given enough
time and chance, for the universe is a big place. In general, aliens
would fall into two main categories: good aliens and bad aliens. In the
future, bad aliens may attack, eat or destroy us; good aliens may share
some of their knowledge with us and help us along our evolutionary
pathway. Some evolutionists believe that, in the past, aliens either
started or assisted our evolution. Richard Dawkins is open to this. He
cannot believe in God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, but he can
believe that little green men, as it were, came down and helped the
human race evolve.
The United States civil government and other states
around the world have spent, and are spending, billions on SETI (Search
for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence). Top scientists in multi-million
dollar observatories are looking into outer space wondering if anybody
is there. The God who is worshipped by myriads of angels declares that
He has come to earth in Jesus Christ and commands us to call upon Him.
But foolish man does not want to know. Instead, the evolutionary
astronomers are looking out into deep space with powerful telescopes to
try to find any sign of life on other planets.
Every now and again,
they claim to have found something. During this year of the 150th
anniversary of Darwin’s Origin of Species, evolutionary
astronomers loudly heralded a rock from outer space containing something
like worm casts.
They shouted to the skies, "There you are! This is proof that there is
life on other planets!" But a few weeks later, what did they whisper?
"Oops, they are simply marks on rocks."
Before that, we had another claim. The SETI people
thought that they had struck gold, reckoning that they had picked up
signals from outer space that were coded messages from other life forms.
"Someone is trying to communicate with us!" But later they realized that
it was just random variation of background electrical charges.
The evolutionists shout loud and far about their new
scientific finds, desperately wanting to prove their hypothesis to
themselves and others, and win more people to their cause. Whenever it
turns out that they were wrong, one only hears about it in hushed tones
and on the inside pages of the newspaper, so to speak. But each time,
the fanfare of some new "discovery" that "proves evolution" deceives a
few more fools. One wonders if these claims are made periodically in
order that these scientific projects continue to receive huge state
funding. "If we don’t shout about it, the politicians and people won’t
know about us and our work, and our finances may be reduced or stopped."
The evolutionary idea of extra-terrestrial life leads
some to look for UFOs, and when people hear of or see (or think they
see) UFOs, they are more open to evolutionism.
Science fiction, like
UFOs, often serves as a popular means of bringing people round to
evolutionary beliefs. H. G. Wells (1866-1946),
a biology student of "Darwin’s bulldog," T. H. Huxley, was one of the
most famous early science-fiction writers. Together
with Jules Verne, he has even been referred to as "The Father of Science
An ardent evolutionist, eugenicist and promoter of one-world government,
Wells’ numerous writings include The Time
and War of the Worlds (1898).
Wells used the genre of science fiction to promote evolutionism, for
entertaining novels about primeval human life or life on other planets
raise the possibility in people’s minds that, and suggests ways in
which, intelligent beings could have evolved.
In Wells’ The Shape
of Things to Come (1933), a future one-world government, consisting
of an enlightened science-trained elite,
systematically persecutes and completely eradicates Christianity (and
all other religions)—a positive act deemed indispensable in order to
give the emerging "Modern State" a complete monopoly over education and
the media to mould the thinking of future generations worldwide.
Wells’ science fiction presenting evolutionary eschatology is similar to
Antichrist and his kingdom!
The Significance of Calvin
But what about
versus Darwin (and the evolutionary worldview)? Why especially should
we highlight Calvin (and the Reformed faith he helped shape)? Why is
this the key in the creation versus evolution debate?
seeks to remove the Lord of glory from every aspect of His universe and
from every field of knowledge or activity, Calvin was a "God-intoxicated
Calvin’s theology, perhaps more than that of any Christian dogmatician,
is theocentric theology: it is all about God—soli Deo gloria.
Calvin was rightly dubbed "The Theologian" by Melanchthon, and was so
considered by his contemporaries.
Moreover, Calvin’s theology is a worldview (and this
is true of Reformed theology which takes its cue from Calvin). This is
vital because evolutionism is a worldview and needs to be fought with
an opposing worldview. Calvin proclaims clearly, consistently and
forcefully, "God is here and in the entire universe. He is not silent
for He has not left Himself without a witness. He is the creating,
ruling, redeeming and judging God. He is the Triune God—God the Father,
God the Word and God the Holy Spirit—who must be thanked, worshipped and
Within this framework and contrary to the
naturalistic approach of evolutionism, Calvin exhorts us to "learn to
contemplate the works of God" and see His "hand" in His creation:
Let us always recognize the
hand of God, and let us not be like unbelievers, who much amuse
themselves by seeking out nature’s secrets while forgetting [or even
burying] God, who is the principle figure. That lets us see the hand
of God in all his instruments and realize that he uses them with
such freedom that he could do without them if he chose to, and that
he does so to be glorified and to lift us up to himself. And let us
use them as mirrors by which he shows us his face, that is, reveals
to us his powers, because of which he deserves to be glorified by
Creation, the Theatre of God’s Glory
Calvin’s doctrine of
creation is robust and faithful to the Holy Scriptures. God made all
things out of nothing (ex nihilo) by the Word of His power about
six thousand years ago.
This work took neither a single moment (as some in Calvin’s day
reckoned) nor billions of years (as many in our day conjecture) but six
Calvin argues, "by this circumstance," that "God’s work was completed …
in six days," "we are drawn away from all fictions to the one God who
distributed his work into six days that we might not find it irksome to
occupy our whole life in contemplating it."
Calvin rightly views
Genesis, including its opening chapters, not as myth, legend or saga, or
even poetry, but as "history," with Genesis 1f. giving us "the history
In the "Argument" at the start of his commentary on Genesis, Calvin is
emphatic that the first book of the Bible, the book of beginnings,
records what actually happened, real "history."
The first sentence of the "Argument" includes this line: "THE HISTORY OF
THE CREATION OF THE WORLD."
Institutes 1.14.20 provides some of Calvin’s clearest remarks in
this regard. The Genevan Reformer speaks of Moses as having "faithfully
and diligently recorded the narrative of Creation [Gen., chs. 1
He also writes of "the history of the creation of the universe, as it
has been set forth [and not in any other way!] briefly by Moses
[Gen., chs. 1 and 2]."
The Father formed the
universe by His hand. God created by His divine and personal Word, "Let
there be light" (Gen. 1:3), etc., and the Spirit was brooding upon the
face of the waters (Gen. 1:2). The Triune God is creator and, contrary
to Darwin, He is the origin of species, for He made them "after
their kind" (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25).
Calvin’s teaching is not compatible with, and totally irreconcilable to,
Unlike the closed
universe of atheistic, materialist naturalism, Calvin, following Holy
Scripture, believes in the existence of angels and demons. Indeed, the
bulk of Institutes 1.14, which treats the creation of the
1.15 deals with man as created—is given to a (non-speculative)
discussion of angels and devils.
This is the very
first sentence of Calvin’s Institutes: "Nearly all the wisdom we
possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts:
the knowledge of God and of ourselves."
This is why evolutionism is so pernicious: it destroys the knowledge of
both God and ourselves. The person who believes evolutionism does not
know who he is or where he came from; he thinks he is an evolved monkey.
He does not know where the planet on which he is living or the universe
came from; he thinks all originated with a huge explosion. True wisdom
is to know God and oneself; without this, the evolutionist is a fool.
The very first Scripture alluded to in the Institutes is Acts
17:28: "in [God] we live, and move, and have our being."
This must be asserted and maintained over against Darwin and his
Book 1 of the four
books of the Institutes is entitled "The Knowledge of God the
Creator." Notice that it is not "God the Creator;" it is very
deliberately "The Knowledge of God the Creator." With this title
Calvin is affirming not only that God is creator but also that we
must know Him as creator. Unless you know God as creator, you cannot
know Him as the governor of the world; you cannot know Him as the
redeemer of the elect; you cannot know Him as the judge. By rejecting
God as creator, evolution makes the knowledge of God—the true God, and
not merely some idol—impossible.
In his Institutes,
commentaries, sermons and other writings, Calvin refers frequently and
characteristically to the creation as the "theatre of God’s glory" that
reveals His majesty: "God has put us in this world as in a theatre to
contemplate his glory."
Thus, Calvin declares, "wherever you cast your eyes, there is no spot in
the universe wherein you cannot discern some sparks of his glory."
Calvin waxes eloquent
when describing the beauty and wonder of God’s creation. This aspect of
the man, however, is not widely recognised. Those who abhor Calvin’s
strong biblical and Reformed theology have maligned him as a boor with
no aesthetic sense. Others, who have not read Calvin for themselves,
have thereby gained a false impression of the French Reformer. To
correct this misapprehension, T. H. L. Parker recommends "reading in the
Commentary on Genesis, or that on the Psalms, or Book I,
chapter 5 of the Institutio."
To this we would add that one should peruse Calvin’s Sermons
Chapters 1-11, especially the homilies on
Genesis 1-3. Parker reckons that while Calvin "praises the beauty and
wonders of the earth, he is still more moved by the majesty of the
After providing several appropriate quotations from Calvin to sustain
his point, Parker continues, "Yet, lovely and magnificent as are the
heavens and the earth, there is an even more wonderful example of God’s
handiwork—man, the crown of God’s creation."
Calvin speaks of man as a microcosm or little world or
world in miniature:
accordingly, long ago not ineptly called man a microcosm, because he is
a rare example of God’s power, goodness, and wisdom, and contains within
himself enough miracles to occupy our minds, if only we are not irked at
paying attention to them.
But the evolutionist wants to deny the creator and
sustainer of the theatre and rob God of His glory. This is how Engelsma
expresses the issue between Calvin and creation versus Darwin and
This, then, is at stake in the
contemporary struggle for the biblical truth of creation. Shall this
creation be viewed as the theater of God’s glory, or shall it be
regarded as the accidental outcome of the blind forces of natural
powers over billions of years?
Romans l teaches that
the visible things of our universe do not indicate evolution through
time and chance; the visible things reveal for us the invisible creator
and "his eternal power and Godhead" (Rom. 1:20). This is what the
universe all around us witnesses; this is what your body proclaims; this
is what your mind says: "God!" This true God must be thanked and praised
(Rom. 1:21). But foolish and depraved man does not want to do this (Rom.
1:21-22). He is inexcusable (Rom. 1:20), for he suppresses and holds
down the truth (Rom. 1:18) with idolatry (Rom. 1:21-23), which,
particularly in our highly sophisticated pagan society, takes the form
of the "lie" of evolutionism (Rom. 1:25).
Calvin is emphatic
that there is in every human being a sense of divinity (sensus
Everyone knows it; it is innate, inbuilt and ineradicable in every human
being, and "God daily discloses himself in the whole workmanship of the
universe … men cannot open their eyes without being compelled to see
God is and He is the creator and Lord of all things who must be
worshipped. Related to this is Calvin’s strong doctrine of "conscience"
so that all—even pagans who have not heard the law or the gospel of the
Scriptures—know the difference between right and wrong. All are
inexcusable before God for their idolatry and their sinful thoughts,
words and deeds. All know that "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Rom. 1:18). This is
what evolutionism, with crusading zeal, wants to drive out of man’s
mind. This is what Calvin and the Reformed faith and faithful churches,
following the Bible, seek to bring home to fallen men in need of
redemption in Jesus Christ: "the knowledge of God and of ourselves."
Providence, God’s Orderly Government and Hand
creation, Calvin has an equally robust doctrine of providence.
God is not merely active at the start of the world; His fatherly hand
does not draw back after creation; it stays in creation, everywhere in
the world, every second of every day. God, with all of His infinite
being—His wisdom, justice, holiness, truth, goodness and mercy—is
present and active in all of heaven and earth, as the One who fills,
governs and directs all things.
He must never be viewed as absent or "indolent" or "idle."
For Calvin, God’s providential rule lavishes man with
all kinds of good things, that we may glorify Him:
There is no man of a mind so dull and stupid but
may see if he will be at the trouble to open his eyes, that it is by
the wonderful providence of God that horses and oxen yield their
service to men,—that sheep produce wool to
clothe them—and that all sorts of animals
supply them with food for their nourishment and support, even from
their own flesh. And the more that this dominion is apparent, the
more ought we to be affected with a sense of the goodness and grace
of our God as often as we either eat food, or enjoy any of the other
comforts of life … the legitimate order which God originally
established no longer shines forth, but the faithful whom God
gathers to himself, under Christ their head, enjoy so much of the
fragments of the good things which they lost in Adam, as may furnish
them with abundant matter of wonder at the singularly gracious
manner in which God deals with them.
This is a far cry from evolution’s godless,
materialist universe of blind chance!
Everything in the
universe, including good and bad angels, even sin is "directed by God’s
Calvin is emphatic that God’s providence governs the fall of our first
parents in Genesis 3—it was not a "bare permission"—as well as His
judgment in all the actual transgressions and billions of deaths that
flow from it.
Even the terrible sin of the cross comes in God’s providence too (Acts
In setting forth the
biblical doctrine of providence, Calvin constantly has one great enemy
in his sights: chance. With providence as with creation, the Genevan
Reformer thunders, "nothing takes place by chance"!
Instead of fortune and chance, Calvin stresses order and purpose in
God’s creation and providence.
There is no chance; there is no fortune; all things are governed by
God’s fatherly "hand."
In this, Calvin is
attacking something fundamental in evolutionism, for evolution requires
vast amounts of time and chance! It has been said that
given enough time with enough chance, a troop of monkeys on keyboards
will type up Shakespeare’s complete works. But the monkeys will never
type up even one of Shakespeare’s plays no matter how long they are
given. Even if they did, a single human being will never evolve out of
Immanence, God’s Closeness to His People
Not only did God
create the world and not only does He govern the world; God also came
into the world in Jesus Christ. God’s immanence (or in-ness) is not
just His immanence in the universe through creation and providence; it
is His immanence on earth through the incarnation. God became man,
living in our universe and on our planet, like us a human being! We are
redeemed by one who is both fully God and fully man. He is the mediator
between God and man. In Him, God comes to us; through Him, we come to
God. By Jehovah’s grace, we are always close, always in God’s presence
through our representative and saviour. Calvin writes,
Hence, it was
necessary for the Son of God to become for us "Immanuel, that is,
God with us" [Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23], and in such a way that his
divinity and our human nature might by mutual connection grow
together. Otherwise the nearness would not have been near enough,
nor the affinity sufficiently firm, for us to hope that God might
dwell with us.
On the basis of, and
as a reward for, Christ’s earlier redemptive works, He poured out the
Holy Spirit on the catholic or universal church at Pentecost. This means
that God’s immanence is not just His immanence in the world; it is His
immanence in us, both corporately as the church and personally as
individual believers! The Spirit of Christ indwells us; He is inside us,
in our hearts and minds and souls—that close! In the first section of
the first chapter of Book 3 of the Institutes, Calvin declares,
"To sum up, the Holy Spirit is the bond by which Christ effectually
unites us to himself," and, hence, with the Triune God.
The Spirit works
faith. In his Genevan Catechism (1545), Calvin gives a
"true definition of faith:" "It may be defined [as] a sure and steadfast
knowledge of the paternal goodwill of God toward us, as he declares in
the gospel that for the sake of Christ he will be our Father and
Faith, for Calvin, is personal and includes
assurance: God is my creator, governor, deliverer and Lord, who
will never leave me nor forsake me.
Faith is also the bond that unites and ties me to God in Christ,
inseparably and everlastingly. "To sum up," concludes Calvin, "Christ,
when he illumines us into faith by the power of his Spirit, at the same
time so engrafts us into his body that we have become partakers of every
Calvin views the
covenant, as "the binding of God," as a recent book on this subject
In the covenant, God binds himself to us in Jesus Christ, so that we are
His people and He is our God forever. He will be to us everything that a
God can be and should be. In God’s covenant, we have friendship,
fellowship, union and communion with Him.
This divine immanence and closeness stands in sharp relief against the
cold, atheistic worldview of evolutionism.
What is the church?
It is the body of Jesus Christ on earth (and in heaven), which He
cherishes, loves, protects and guides as His bride. This is intimacy and
closeness! Agreeing with Cyprian and Augustine that one cannot have God
as father without having the church as mother, Calvin writes, "those to
whom he is Father the church may also be Mother."
Almighty God works through "the visible
church" as "mother:" "For there is no other way to enter into life
unless this mother conceive us in her womb, give us birth, nourishes at
her breast, and lastly, unless she keep us under her care and guidance
until, putting off mortal flesh, we become like the angels."
Thus all believers ought to join, and remain in fellowship with,
faithful instituted churches.
is, for John Calvin, nothing less than the speech of Jesus Christ from
His throne in heaven. It is not just some man saying some religious
things at the front of a hall. The preaching of the Word is the sceptre
of the kingdom of God. Preaching is the main way in which Christ governs
in His rule of grace. Not only or chiefly are the angels present in the
worship services of faithful churches (I Cor. 11:10); Christ is there as
the One who is speaking through the pastor, as the great prophet
and Lord of the church.
Calvin comments on Isaiah 11:4,
When the Prophet says, by the
breath of his lips, this must not be limited to the person of
Christ; for it refers to the Word which is preached by his
ministers. Christ acts by them in such a manner that He wishes their
mouth to be reckoned as his mouth, and their lips as his lips; that
is, when they speak from his mouth, and faithfully declare his Word
Calvin developed and
defended the truth about Christ’s real presence in the Lord’s Supper—a
spiritual presence by the Word and Holy Ghost. In this way, Christ
personally comes to the church to give us His broken body and shed blood
to be our spiritual food and drink, nourishing us unto life everlasting.
What does the future hold according to Calvin
(exegeting Scripture)? Chiefly and centrally, the personal return of
Jesus Christ in glory with the angelic host in order to take us to
Himself for ever.
If the Lord will share his
glory, power, and righteousness with the elect—nay will give himself
to be enjoyed by them and, what is more excellent, will somehow make
them to become one with himself, let us remember that every sort of
happiness is included under this benefit.
At His second coming, Christ will speak to the dead,
"Come out of your grave; you have been there long enough. Come to the
last judgment." Then the final separation between the sheep and the
goats and the great theodicy will take place, when God will be
vindicated in all His works and ways, and every mouth will be stopped
for all the world will become guilty and inexcusable before God (Rom.
3:19). All will fall down on their knees and confess that Jesus Christ
is Lord to the glory of the Triune God (Phil. 2:10-11).
This old world will
be consumed with purifying fire.
In the new heavens and the new earth, we will share in His throne and be
near Him and with Him for all eternity—perfect and everlasting
Behind all this is
God’s eternal decree. Absolutely everything in the history of the world,
even the movements of the fish in the oceans, is "predestinated
according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel
of his own will" (Eph. 1:11). God’s glory, as Calvin stressed, is the
supreme and highest goal in his decree, realised through the
unconditional election and reprobation of every single human being for
God’s good and holy ends.
The alpha of God’s election of us in Christ before the foundation of the
world (Eph. 1:4) determines the omega of our being gathered together in
Christ and sharing in His everlasting inheritance (Eph. 1:10-11).
Scripture, the Spectacles
We know all this
about life in our world, not by examining the beaks of finches with
Darwin or by speculating about uniform rates of erosion or deposition
over millions of years with Lyell, but through the Holy Scriptures,
which are inspired or God-breathed (II Tim. 3:16) and, therefore,
inerrant and authoritative.
Calvin rightly states
that the divine authority of the sixty-six books of Holy Writ is
established by the "inward testimony of the Spirit," so that Scripture
Our assurance that the Bible is God’s Word comes not merely from the
church, never mind modern unbelieving science.
Calvin’s teaching is comforting, profound and theocentric, honouring the
work of God’s Spirit:
If we desire to
provide in the best way for our consciences—that they may not be
perpetually beset by the instability of doubt or vacillation, and
that they may not also boggle at the smallest quibbles—we ought to
seek our conviction [that God authored Holy Scripture] in a higher
place than human reasons, judgments, or conjectures, that is, in the
secret testimony of the Spirit.
Since God’s Word is also perspicuous and sufficient,
we are able to arrive at a true and God-glorifying understanding of the
origins of the universe, the earth, life and mankind, and, hence, a
Christian and Reformed worldview.
Calvin is adamant:
Scripture is not a "wax nose." Strikingly, Calvin makes this remark in
the dedication of his commentary on Genesis to Henry, Duke of Vendome (1553–1610),
who was to become King Henry IV of France (1589-1610).
Calvin warns against "audacious scribblers" who "indulge in doubtful
speculations" and "render Scripture flexible (so to speak) as a nose of
To apply this to contemporary issues, Scripture, especially Genesis, is
not to be treated as a wax nose to be shaped or twisted (II Peter 3:16)
in order to try to make it fit with an "old earth" and evolutionism.
This is precisely what happens with theistic evolutionism, progressive
creationism, the gap theory, the framework hypothesis and all the
various modern compromises and corruptions of the biblical truth of
Instead of being a
"wax nose," Calvin presents the attractive image of Scripture as
"spectacles" or "eyeglasses."
According to John T. McNeill, the editor of the Institutes, the
"spectacles" simile is "probably Calvin’s decisive utterance on the role
of Scripture as related to the revelation of the Creator in creation."
Without the Word of God, we do not see the created order or ourselves or
the Most High correctly because of our sin. At best, our vision is
blurred and indistinct. We are like blind men stumbling around an
unknown room. But when the believer puts on the spectacles of Scripture
and by faith views all things through these glasses, he understands God,
himself and the world. The oracles of God interpret the works of God, as
T. H. L. Parker puts it: "the oracula Dei (as Calvin was fond of
calling the Scriptures) are necessary to the understanding of the
This is a key point against those who believe that if
Calvin were alive today (and were aware of contemporary evolutionary
scholarship), he would not hold to a literal six-day creation and a
young earth. Joseph A. Pipa Jr. explains,
… contrary to modern
assumptions, he [i.e., Calvin] never placed general revelation on a
par with special revelation. Calvin clearly asserts that we can
understand natural revelation only by the spectacles of Scripture
and that creation can only be properly understood by the believer.
Scripture, in fact, corrects the observation of nature.
believer knows that "the things which are seen were not made of things
which do appear" (Heb. 11:3).
There was no eternal, pre-existent matter that exploded over 13 billion
years ago; life did not evolve from a primeval pond. From the creation
week of Genesis 1, we learn that God "spake, and it was done; he
commanded, and it stood fast" (Ps. 33:9). This explains the origin of
man and his universe.
But what do the world and the false churches do? The
world takes evolution as its spectacles and puts them on in order to
interpret the cosmos and create its own naturalistic worldview. The
false churches throw away the glasses God gave them as worthless and put
on evolutionary spectacles to view the created order. Then, still
wearing evolutionary glasses, they seek to reinterpret God’s Word! More
"cognitive dissonance" ensues, for the Bible and evolutionism do not fit
and are antithetical. So evolutionary theologians dream up, and members
of liberal churches embrace, the various contradictory compromise
theories. It is time for confessing Christians to cast all the
evolutionary spectacles into the bin and put on the glasses God Himself
Scripture alone is the spectacles through which we and our children must
interpret all things, it is no surprise that John Calvin is especially
strong not only on the faithful teaching ministry of the church but also
on the education of Christian youth, both boys and girls, in primary
schools, high schools and universities.
The church and the home and the school must all teach the one truth of
God in Jesus Christ. Christian children must not be given different
glasses at school from the one they are given in church and at home.
This would confuse them and damage their eyes, giving them double
vision. Calvin is an advocate of the biblical and Reformed worldview,
and this worldview must be consistent and it must be passed on. This is
the way in which God realises His covenant with us and our seed (Gen.
18:19; Deut. 4:9-10; 6:6-7).
things through God’s Word, our only spectacles, and rejecting the
dominant anti-Christian philosophy in the Western world will necessarily
bring suffering. Leading evolutionists advocate a one-world government,
a government whose whole philosophy is evolutionary and anti-Christian.
In so doing, they are preparing the way for Antichrist and his kingdom,
which, in turn, will intensify the persecution and suffering of Christ’s
church. Calvin speaks often and powerfully of suffering, more so than
any of the Reformers, except perhaps Luther.
What must we do? Witness, spread the truth and
suffer. Lay down your life; die for the truth of Jesus Christ, if needs
be. "In your patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19). Calvin is not
teaching evolution’s "survival of the fittest," but the Reformed faith’s
"perseverance of the saints," pressing on, despite oppression and
suffering, in holiness and submission to Christ’s truth.
Calvin Versus Darwin in Society and Church
The relative influence of Darwin and evolutionism on
the one hand and Calvin and Reformed Christianity on the other explains
much that is going on in the Western world today. Evolutionism stands
behind and supports humanism. This influences education, civil
government, popular culture and society. Political correctness is
promoted (and increasingly enforced). Christianity is being forced out
of the public sphere (and increasingly criminalized).
You can see this
happening among the nations. In the Western world, America is the most
Christian and conservative, but this is being eroded, especially under
the administration of President Barack Obama. The Republic of Ireland
and the UK are further to the left. Canada, Germany, France and Sweden
are even more evolutionary and secular. No wonder "meaninglessness" has
been identified as the malaise of modern, liberal Europe, for its
dominant worldview, evolutionism, has no purpose, being all about time
What about the
churches—their seminaries, their preaching and their day schools? The
Church of England in 2009, this anniversary year, apologised to Darwin.
Roman Catholicism marked the 150th anniversary of the publication
of the Origin of Species, by staging a five-day conference held
in Rome (3-7 March, 2009), at which theistic
evolutionism was advocated and
"Intelligent Design" (never mind biblical creation in six days!) was
The various compromises mentioned earlier—theistic
evolution, progressive creation, the gap theory, the framework
hypothesis, etc.—infect liberal and nominally evangelical churches. None
of them are, of course, satisfactory, and none of them are stable.
Evolutionism, the Universal Theological Solvent
The theory and worldview of evolutionism, promoted
by state and school and in society and church, dissolves Christian
doctrine. This is the invariable result, especially given time, for
principles work through.
Especially, but by no means exclusively, Genesis 1-3
must be "reinterpreted." Evolutionism tells us that the creation of the
universe and life and man in six days is wrong. There is no devil and
there are no fallen angels. There was no serpent at the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil. There is no fall, no original sin, no total
depravity. Death is not God’s punishment for sin.
Since there is no first Adam, there is no second or
"last Adam," Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:45). Given that there was no tree
in the Garden of Eden, then there is no tree at Calvary and no
redemption in the cross. If there is no first coming of Christ 2,000
years ago, there will be no second coming of Christ at the end of the
All this, of course,
is a sign of divine judgment, for, as Calvin points out, "the first
proof of [God’s] condemnation" is rejection of His revelation of Himself
in creation and refusal to worship Him. This reveals man’s "sacrilege"
and "wicked and abominable ingratitude."
theory dissolves Christian doctrine, Christian ethics also corrode. We
shall consider just two examples. According to God’s Word and its
teaching on creation, marriage is between one man and one woman for life
Attacking creation, evolutionism necessarily undermines the biblical
truth of marriage, and thus facilitates or paves the way for or serves
to justify fornication, adultery, divorce, remarriage while one’s spouse
is living and even homosexuality. Romans 1:26-27 presents the last
abomination as divine judgment upon the denial of God as creator.
dissolves Christian teaching on the Lord’s Day; it attacks not just the
seventh commandment but also the fourth commandment.
If there was no creation week, there is no Sabbath day’s rest, one day
in seven for the private and public worship of God. Then there is no
need to go to church to praise the Lord, hear His Word and use the
sacraments. All this and much more is the necessary result of
evolutionism and, for the consistent secularists, it is their stated
Evolutionism, the universal theological solvent, has
been dissolving biblical doctrine and ethics for the last 150 years.
That is the history, all around the world, and it is going on today
before our eyes.
These are the two poles: Calvin and Darwin, biblical
creationism and atheistic evolutionism. Where do you stand?
The first line of the
Apostles’ Creed states, "I believe in God the Father, Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth"—as set forth in the Bible. Receiving this
truth, then and only then can you believe the rest of the Apostles’
and the whole of biblical and Reformed Christianity. We, our children
and our churches must treasure, develop, promote and suffer for all the
glorious truth of God’s Word. God uses this testimony for the gathering
and edification of the elect church of Christ, who is returning to make
all things new!
This article is an expansion of a speech given in N. Ireland, the
Republic of Ireland, Wales and the United States in 2009. An
(taped in Portadown, N. Ireland) and a
video of the speech (recorded in Grand Rapids, USA) are available
on-line. The CD or DVD can be ordered from the CPRC.
For example, in the New York Times (12 February, 2009),
evolutionist Olivia Judson issued a plea: "My fellow primates, 200
years ago today, Charles Darwin was born. Please join me in wishing
him happy birthday!"
John Calvin, Comm. on Ps., p. xl. All citations of Calvin’s
commentaries are from the 22-volume Baker edition (repr. 1993).
Charles Darwin’s son, Leonard, delivered the presidential address at
the first international conference on eugenics held in London (1912).
It was Charles Darwin’s geneticist cousin, Francis
Galton, who "coined the word eugenics for the policy of
encouraging ‘good’ human specimens to breed at the expense of the less
‘good.’ He suggested cash grants to encourage marriage and child
production among the ‘fit’ and the sterilization of the ‘unfit’"
(Brian L. Silver, The Ascent of Science [Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1998], p. 291; italics Silver’s).
A. N. Wilson, The Victorians (London: Hutchinson, 2002), p.
The edition cited in this article is John Calvin,
Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans.
Ford Lewis Battles, 2 vols. (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press,
J. M. Roberts identifies Darwin’s Origin of Species as "one of
the seminal books of modern civilization" (The Penguin History of
the World [England: Penguin Books, 1990], p. 802). Brian
Silver observes that it "remains the most widely talked about and
controversial book in scientific history" (The Ascent of Science,
Darwin’s Origin of Species "was published by John Murray,
himself an amateur geologist. Murray was in fact unconvinced by the
theory, but when the whole edition of 1,250 copies sold out in one day
he saw its commercial potential. It was to be one of the bestsellers
of the age. The number of pamphlets, debates, books, speeches,
sermons, quarrels it generated is numberless" (Wilson, The
Victorians, p. 226).
Calvin produced five Latin editions (1536, 1539, 1543 [reprinted in
1545], 1550, 1559) and four French editions (1541, 1545, 1551, 1560)
of his Institutes; Darwin saw printed six English editions of
his Origin from 1859 to 1872.
Daniel J. Boorstin describes Wallace as a
socialist, secularist and skeptic who "became a passionate convert to
Spiritualism" (The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know
His World and Himself [New York: Random House, 1983], pp.
470-471). However, Wallace’s study of the world "led him more and more
toward a belief in a ‘Higher Intelligence.’ Increasingly, he needed a
God to explain what he saw in nature" (p. 472).
Calvin is averse to all "idle speculations" (Institutes
1.2.2, p. 41) or "empty speculations" (1.4.1, p. 47) on God’s being
Calvin, Comm. on I Cor. 3:19. "Natural scientific research is only
valuable" for Calvin, states Herman J. Selderhuis, "when the
examination or the analysis leads to the maker of nature" (Calvin’s
Theology of the Psalms [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007], p. 69).
For example, Marr discusses the evolutionary justification for racism,
the enslavement of aboriginal peoples, ethnic cleansing, genocide and
eugenics, as well as the Aryan "master race" and the Jewish "Final
Solution," beloved ideas of Hitler and the Nazis. The "survival of the
fittest" came to mean the "murder of the weakest." Evolutionist
Stephen Jay Gould states, "Biological arguments for racism may have
been common before 1850, but they increased by orders of magnitude
following the acceptance of evolutionary theory" (Ontogeny and
Phylogeny [Belknap-Harvard Press, 1977], pp. 127-128).
Whereas Hitler used Darwin’s notion of survival of the fittest in the
Nazi racial struggle, for Karl Marx (1818-1883), another avid adherent
of Darwin, evolution is foundational in the class struggle. For
Stalin, Chairman Mao and Pol Pot, who
followed Marx’s atheistic communist ideology, evolutionism served to
justify their mass murders, for it denied any accountability to God
and provided a "scientific" framework in which their actions could be
claimed to be for the "benefit" of mankind.
Calvin’s indignance against Vergil’s
pantheistic notion of a universal mind pervading its members and
animating men, animals, birds, etc. with "life-seeds" would apply to
evolutionism: "As if the universe, which was founded as a spectacle of
God’s glory, were its own creator!" (Institutes
1.5.5, p. 58).
The complete title of Darwin’s 1859 edition is On the Origin of
Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of
Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
Roberts, The Penguin History of the World, p. 803. This
carefully crafted piece of propaganda portrays post-Darwin
creationists as people of dubious honesty and limited intellect.
Thus there is no need for catastrophes, like the biblical flood, to
explain the shape of the earth's surface.
Believing God’s Word concerning creation, the fall and the flood,
Calvin’s theology is diametrically opposed to
In response to the "old earth" ideas of uniformitarian geologists,
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), leader and moderator of the Free Church
of Scotland (formed in 1843), formulated the "gap theory," claiming
that there was a lengthy period of time between Genesis 1:1 and
Genesis 1:2. Chalmers attributed this view to the Dutch Arminian
theologian Simon Episcopius (1583-1643). The gap theory was
popularised among fundamentalists by C. I.
Scofield (1843-1921) in the notes to his
dispensationalist reference Bible (1917). As well as Cyrus
Ingerson Scofield, other proponents of the gap theory have
included Donald Grey Barnhouse, Jimmy Swaggart and Ian Paisley. Like
the Scofield Reference Bible, the
Newberry Reference Bible and the Dake
Annotated Reference Bible also include notes teaching the gap
Boorstin explains more fully the influence of Lyell upon Darwin (The
Discoverers, pp. 465-472). Darwin took volume 1 of Lyell’s
Principles of Geology with him when he boarded the
Beagle for his five-year sea voyage on 27 December, 1831 (pp.
465-466). Volume 2 was waiting for Darwin when he arrived in
Montevideo, Uruguay, and he received volume 3 when the Beagle
docked in Valparaiso, Chile (p. 467). "When the Beagle returned
in 1836," Lyell was very prominent "in securing for Darwin a grant of
£1,000 to help him compile his five-volume report, and then [Lyell]
managed his election as Secretary of the Geological Society of
London." Moreover, "during the next few years Darwin, by his own
account, saw more of Lyell than of any other man." Later, Lyell
"remained Darwin’s mentor," and after the Darwins moved to Down
Cottage in Kent "the Lyells would come to visit for days at a time"
Calvin mocks "the folly of those … who imagine that unformed matter
existed from eternity" (Comm. on Gen. 1:1). The
"cleverest Satan-possessed philosophers" have imagined "such
fantasies," the French Reformer avers, "in an effort to abolish God’s
glory" (John Calvin, Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, trans. Rob Roy McGregor
[Edinburgh: Banner, 2009], p. 137).
The Genevan Reformer observes that "all profane people have always
tried, at the devil’s leading, to erase the certainty we have to have
concerning the creation of the world." After mentioning the
sceptic’s "jest"—which came first, the chicken or the
egg?—Calvin ridicules an early form of big bang
cosmogony: "They have conjured up the most obtuse and absurd
things a human could utter to resist God’s majesty, and they are
unable to contemplate his glory, which ought to be evident as it
displays itself so plainly before us. That is why they prefer—I am not
joking—to say that the world came together by chance and that there
were tiny objects tumbling around that the sun used for building the
moon and the stars, the earth, the trees, and even men. Could anyone
think up a scenario more stupid than that?" (Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, pp. 11-12).
Calvin abhors the "madness" of those who believe in "chance" and make
"nature" to be "the artificer of all things" (Institutes
1.5.4, pp. 55, 56). Such a thing is
"detestable" (1.4.2, p. 48).
John Blanchard, "Evolution: Fact or Fiction?" (Great Britain:
Evangelical Press, 2002), p. 4.
Appealing to Institutes 1.5.2 and 1.5.5, Philip Schaff
summarises Calvin’s view of astronomy (within
its own limits and entirely subject to the Word of God): "It is
right and proper, he maintains, to study the laws and motions of the
heavenly bodies. True astronomy leads to the praise of God’s wisdom
and majesty; but astrology upsets the moral order. God is sovereign in
his gifts and not bound to any necessity of nature" (History of the
Christian Church, vol. 8 [USA: Hendrickson, 1996], p. 677).
Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave
(Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), p. 24.
Silver, The Ascent of Science, p. 132; italics Silver’s.
Henry Van Til summarises the opposite
position of the Genevan Reformer: "Calvin thinks of the history of man
as a cosmic drama … There are three acts in this drama: before the
fall, in the perfect harmony of heaven and paradise; between the fall
and redemption … finally, in the third period, the glory of the Lord
becomes flesh in the Son … At the center of this cosmic drama stands
the church, which operates against the background of worldly activity
and world history" (The Calvinistic Concept of Culture
[Grand Rapids: Baker, 1959], p. 108).
For Calvin, "language is the impress of the mind" so that, unlike
animals, "men, who are partakers of the same reason" and are "born for
social intercourse," may "communicate with each other" (Comm. on Gen.
11:1). Preaching on the ninth commandment, the Genevan Reformer
proclaims that "God created our tongues" and "gave us speech" "that we
might be able to communicate with each other," with "the purpose of
human communication" being "our mutual support in charity" for
"nurturing tender love and fraternity" (John Calvin, John Calvin’s
Sermons on the Ten Commandments, ed. and trans. Benjamin Wirt
Farley [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980], p. 216).
Paul Johnson evaluates, "After eighty years’ experience, [Freud’s]
methods of therapy have proved, on the whole, costly failures, more
suited to cosset the unhappy than cure the sick. We now know that many
of the central ideas of psychoanalysis have no basis in biology" (Modern
Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties [New York:
Harper & Row, 1985], p. 6).
J. M. Roberts notes Freud’s affect on culture. "[L]ike Darwin,"
Roberts states, "Freud’s importance beyond science—where his influence
was more complex—lay in promoting a new mythology. It was to prove
highly corrosive. The message men took from Freud suggested that the
unconscious was the real source of most significant
behaviour, that moral values and attitudes were projections of
the influences which had moulded this
unconscious, that, therefore, the idea of responsibility was itself a
myth and probably a dangerous one, and that perhaps rationality itself
was an illusion … Such a bundle of ideas called in question the very
foundation of liberal civilization itself, the idea of the rational,
responsible, consciously motivated individual, and this was its
general importance" (The Penguin History of the World, p. 864).
Calvin would see these as "gross" errors and "delusions of Satan,"
manifesting spiritual "blindness" inflicted on evolutionists by a
"just judgment from God," even worse than "the Sadducees [who] had the
audacity to declare openly that man differs nothing from a brute, in
so far as concerns the essence of the soul, and has no enjoyment but
what is common to him with the beasts" (Comm. on I Cor. 15:1).
Calvin asks rhetorically, "Shall we, indeed, distinguish between right
and wrong by that judgment which has been imparted to us, yet there be
no judge in heaven?" (Institutes 1.5.5, p.
Calvin rightly identifies the feeling of guilt in man’s conscience as
God’s witness to us, arraigning us before His judgment seat (Institutes
4.10.3, pp. 1181-1182).
John Calvin called abortion "atrocious," because "the
foetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human
being (homo), and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of
the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more
horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a
man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be
deemed more atrocious to destroy a foetus in the womb before it has
come to light" (Comm. on Ex. 21:22).
Calvin and Christians justly view abortion as
murder at one end of human life and euthanasia as murder at other end.
Interview with Stone Phillips, broadcast on Dateline NBC (29 November,
Calvin rightly castigates the "villainous
behaviour" of public nudity, people desiring to become "like
animals" and "casting aside all shame and displaying themselves as if
they were on stage" (Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 209). The Genevan
Reformer’s preaching on nakedness and clothes from Genesis 2:25 (pp.
208-211) and Genesis 3:21 (pp. 329-333) is insightful and humbling.
Calvin rightly states, "every one of us is, even from his mother’s
womb, a master craftsman of idols" (quoted in Carlos M. N. Eire,
War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to
[Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986], p. 208).
Moreover, "each one of us privately forges his own particular error" (Institutes
1.5.11, p. 64).
Instead of the evolutionary belief that when a man realizes he is a
beast he becomes an atheist, Calvin teaches that when a man becomes an
atheist he is "in no wise superior to brute beasts, but [is] in many
respects far more miserable" (Institutes 1.3.3, p. 47).
Similarly, Calvin reckons that denying creation makes one as ignorant
as the creatures without reason: "we differ nothing from the brute
creation, if we understand not that the world has been created by God"
(Comm. on Heb. 11:3).
Carlos Eire summarises the Genevan
Reformer’s very different analysis of the history of man’s idolatry
and the history of Israel’s idolatry (War Against the Idols,
pp. 209-210). Calvin has a fine treatment of idolatry in his
(1.10-12, pp. 96-120).
Evolutionism’s attack on the Bible is also an attack on faith, since
faith holds "for truth all that God has revealed in his word" (Heidelberg
Catechism, A. 21).
Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave, p. 50.
Richard Dawkins, River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
(London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1995), p.
Dawkins declares, "An atheist before Darwin could have said, following
Hume: ‘I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know
is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that
somebody comes up with a better one.’ I can’t help feeling that such a
position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty
unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically
tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually
fulfilled atheist" (The Blind Watchmaker [London: Penguin,
2006], p. 6; italics Dawkins’). Peter Watson describes the century and
a half in the West before 1859 as "a time when a purely religious
purpose to life ([including] salvation in a future state) was called
into question while there was as yet no other model to replace it,
when Darwin's biological understanding of man had yet to appear" (The
German Genius: Europe's Third Renaissance, the Second Scientific
Revolution and the Twentieth Century [London: Simon and Schuster,
2010], p. 65; italics Watson's). With the advent of Darwin's Origin,
"the theological concept of mankind [began to be replaced] with a
biological understanding" (p. 86).
Henry Morris, The Long War Against God (USA: Master Books,
2000), pp. 18-19.
Quoted in Morris, The Long War Against God, p. 19.
Quoted in Morris, The Long War Against God, p. 19.
Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World From the Grave, p. 25.
Andrew Marr, "The Most Natural Selection of All," The Daily
2002), pp. 1, 19.
In the 1990s, people were scared by reports of ozone depletion.
Scientists were also predicting that we would have run out of various
metals by now.
Remember the near hysteria concerning AIDS in the
There was also a large and idolatrous hue and cry over that other rock
which fell from heaven near Ephesus (Acts 19:35).
Wells was also an advocate and practitioner
of "free love." Among his many paramours was fellow atheist and
eugenicist Margaret Sanger, who founded the leading abortion and
population-control organization, Planned Parenthood, and spent much of
her life campaigning for "sexual liberation" and advocating
unrestricted sales of contraceptives.
In later life, Wells moved from the "hard eugenicist" approach of
simply killing off the "unfit" to the "soft eugenicist approach" of
Van Til, The Calvinistic Concept of Culture, p. 93.
Calvin, Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 142.
E.g., Calvin, Institutes 1.14.1, pp. 160,
161. Calvin roots the denial of the young universe in wicked
unbelief: "Profane men … will not refrain from guffaws when they are
informed that but little more than 5,000 years have passed since the
creation of the universe" (3.21.4, p. 925).
David J. Engelsma notes that for Calvin the young
earth confronts us with the contrasting eternity of God (The
Reformed Faith of John Calvin [Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2009], pp.
88-89; cf. Institutes 1.14.1, p. 160).
E.g., Calvin, Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, pp. 14, 116, 123, 125, 127,
etc.; cf. Westminster Confession 4:1.
Calvin, Institutes 1.14.2, p. 161. W.
Gary Crampton is correct: Calvin "would have
nothing to do with a day-age or a literary framework theory" (What
Calvin Says [Jefferson, MD: Trinity Foundation, 1992], p. 40).
Calvin, Institutes 1.14.1, p. 160.
Calvin, Comm. on Gen., pp. 57, 58, 59, 64, 65.
Calvin, Comm. on Gen., p. 57.
Calvin, Institutes 1.14.20, p. 180.
Calvin, Institutes 1.14.20, p. 179.
In language echoed in the first paragraph of Belgic Confession
12, Calvin states that God "endowed each kind [of living creature]
with its own nature, assigned functions, appointed places and stations
… and provided for the preservation of each species" (Institutes
1.14.20, p. 180; cf. Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, pp. 48-50, 80-81, 84-85).
Calvin, Institutes 1.14.3-19, pp. 162-179.
Calvin, Institutes 1.1.1, p. 35.
Calvin continues, "our very being is nothing but
subsistence in the one God" (Institutes 1.1.1, p. 35).
Calvin, Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 6. For other references
to this "theatre" in Calvin’s works, see, e.g., Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, pp. 12, 122, 124, 127;
1.5.8, p. 61; 1.6.2, p. 72; 1.14.20, p. 179; 2.6.1, p. 341; Comms. on
Gen. p. 64; 1:6; Ps. 19:7; Heb. 11:3. Hence the title of Susan
E. Schreiner’s work on Calvin’s teaching on the created order: The
Theater of His Glory: Nature and the Natural Order in the Thought of
John Calvin (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1991).
Calvin, Institutes 1.5.1, p. 52. Henry
Van Til remarks, "For Calvin beauty is nothing more than the shining
forth of the majesty and glory of this God. Therefore, to divorce
beauty from God is idolatry" (The Calvinistic Concept of Culture,
T. H. L. Parker, Calvin’s Doctrine of the
Knowledge of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959), p. 14.
Parker, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of
God, pp. 14-15.
Parker, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of
God, p. 16.
Calvin, Institutes 1.5.3, p. 54. For more on
man as a "microcosm," see Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 90.
Contrast Darwin, as he thought more and more within his evolutionary
worldview: "Near the end of his life, Darwin acknowledged several
times in his writings that two things had become dull to him as he got
older. The first was his joy in the arts; and the second, his joy in
nature. This is very intriguing. Darwin offered his proposition that
nature, including man, is based only on the impersonal plus time plus
chance, and he had to acknowledge at the end of life that it had these
adverse effects on him" (Francis A. Schaeffer, Pollution and the
Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology [Wheaton, IL: Tyndale
House, 1970], p. 11; cf. Boorstin, The Discoverers, pp.
Engelsma, The Reformed Faith of John Calvin,
Three times in the very first sentence of his first sermon on the
first book of the Bible, dealing with Genesis 1:1-2, Calvin speaks of
the ungodly suppressing God’s revelation of Himself through His
creation: "Even though  men maliciously try to obscure God’s glory,
it is certain they cannot open their eyes and look in any direction
without seeing evidence that leads to knowledge of him,  knowledge
which they would flee and  would like to bury completely if they
could" (Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 1). In the same sermon,
Calvin adds, "And it is with the knowledge of God we needed to begin.
But we would prefer never to have heard of him" (p. 2). "Paul condemns
men for closing their eyes and shutting down all their senses so as
not to look upon the things that are designed to show God’s majesty
and give a definite witness to his being the Creator" (p. 4).
Elsewhere, Calvin writes, "the world … tries as far as it is able to
cast away all knowledge of God" (Institutes
1.3.3, p. 46).
Calvin states, "a sense of divinity is by nature engraved on human
hearts" (Institutes 1.4.4, p. 51).
Edward A. Dowey Jr. lists the "empirical
effects of the sensus divinitatus" for Calvin: "(1) the
universality of religion, which because of sin means the universality
of idolatry, accompanied by (2) the servile fear of God and (3) the
troubled conscience. These three together are implicated in the
inexcusability of all men" (The Knowledge of God in Calvin’s
Theology [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994], pp. 52-53).
Calvin, Institutes 1.5.1, p. 52. At the
beginning of his "Argument" introducing the book of Genesis, Calvin
writes movingly, "We see, indeed, the world with our eyes, we
tread the earth with our feet, we touch innumerable kinds of God’s
works with our hands, we inhale a sweet and pleasant fragrance from
herbs and flowers, we enjoy boundless benefits; but in those very
things of which we attain some knowledge, there dwells such an
immensity of divine power, goodness, and wisdom, as absorbs all our
senses" (Comm. on Gen., p. 57).
The Reformer’s treatment of providence is found at the end of
book 1, dealing with "The Knowledge of God the Creator" (1.16-18, pp.
197-237). Calvin’s stress on the inseparable union between creation
and providence (e.g., 1.16.1, pp. 197-198) is
echoed in the Heidelberg Catechism’s exposition of the first
article of the Apostles’ Creed (Lord’s Days 9-10).
Cf. Engelsma: "Although Calvin does not, as far as
I know, use the term, providence affirms God’s immanence, that
is, God’s presence in the creation, God’s nearness to the creation and
to every creature in the creation" (The Reformed Faith of John
Calvin, p. 104; italics mine).
Calvin, Institutes 1.16.3-4, pp. 200-203.
Calvin, Comm. on Ps. 8:7.
Calvin, Institutes 1.16.2, p. 199.
E.g., Calvin, Institutes 1.18.1-5, pp.
228-237; 3.23.7-8, pp. 955-957; John Calvin, Calvin’s
Calvinism, trans. Henry Cole (Jenison, MI: RFPA, 2009), pp.
191-196, 224-228; cf. Westminster Confession
Calvin, Institutes 1.16.4, p. 203; cf.,
e.g., 1.16.2, pp. 198-199; 1.16.8-9, pp. 207-210. In this connection,
Calvin quotes an eastern church father with approval: "Basil the Great
has truly said that ‘fortune’ and ‘chance’ are pagan terms, with whose
significance the minds of the godly ought not to be occupied" (1.16.8,
Cf. Schreiner: "While he presupposed and used traditional Christian
doctrines, Calvin’s thought is characterized by his own particular
emphases. Central to all his discussions about creation is the concept
of order" (The Theater of His Glory, p. 3). By "creation" here,
Schreiner is referring to the whole created order, including
providence, as the context makes clear.
1.16.1, p. 198; 1.16.8-9, pp. 207-210.
For more on creation and providence, see this on-line
Creation Resources page.
Calvin, Institutes 2.12.1, pp. 464-465.
Calvin, Institutes 3.1.1, p. 538.
John Calvin, "Catechism of the Church of Geneva," in John Calvin,
Treatises on the Sacraments: Catechism of the Church of Geneva, Forms
of Prayer, and Confessions of Faith, trans. Henry Beveridge
(Scotland: Christian Heritage, 2002), p. 53; cf. Heidelberg
Catechism, Q. & A. 21.
For a fine treatment of Calvin on assurance in his
Institutes, see Engelsma, The Reformed Faith of John Calvin,
Calvin, Institutes 3.2.35, p. 583.
Peter A. Lillback, The Binding of God: Calvin’s Role in the
Development of Covenant Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2001).
Cf. Angus Stewart, "John Calvin’s Integrated Covenant Theology (2):
The Nature of the Covenant," Protestant Reformed Theological
Journal, vol. 41, no. 1 (November, 2007), pp. 29-42, esp. pp.
A longer, more developed version of this article may be found on-line.
Calvin, Institutes 4.1.1, p. 1012.
Calvin, Institutes 4.1.4, p. 1016.
Cf. Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1957), pp. 82-95.
Calvin, Comm. on Isa. 11:4.
Cf. Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament, pp.
197-233; cf. Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Days 28-30; Belgic
Calvin, Institutes 3.25.10, p. 1005.
This is very different from the evolutionist’s fear
of global warming or heat death!
Cf. Calvin, Institutes 3.21-24, pp. 920-987.
Belgic Confession 2 states that God’s Word "more clearly and
fully" makes known God’s truth than that "most elegant book" of God’s
"creation, preservation and government of the universe."
Calvin, Institutes 1.7.4, p. 79; 1.7.5, p.
Calvin, Institutes 1.7.1-3, pp. 74-78.
Calvin, Institutes 1.7.4, p. 78; cf.
Belgic Confession 5; Westminster Confession 1:4-5.
Engelsma observes, "As much as any doctrine can be, the doctrine of
the testimony of the Holy Spirit is original with Calvin. It is a
marvellous contribution by Calvin to Christian theology" (The
Reformed Faith of John Calvin, p. 71). This elevation of Scripture
and the Holy Spirit is a mighty bulwark against false views of the
relationship between God’s Word and man’s scientific theories,
Calvin, Comm. on Gen., p. lii.
Calvin uses this image, e.g., near the start of his first sermon on
Genesis, dealing with Genesis 1:1-2: "God extends to us a wonderful
kindness, greatly pleased to help us in our ignorance, in our
reluctance, indeed in our wickedness, by adding his word to what we
can see and perceive by experience. Consequently, we can call God’s
word our eyeglasses. Those who are near-sighted or whose eyesight is
dim see some light, but if they wish to see at a distance, everything
will be blurred and they will not be able to tell the difference
between one letter and another. But if they have glasses, their
eyesight is so strengthened as to be restored, whereas it was
previously useless to them. The same is true when we try to judge the
works of God with our own senses. We move toward irrationality. We
will lack circumspection and discrimination, but when our Lord
provides his word, we are able to see distinctly and to be instructed
in what is necessary for worshipping and serving him and attributing
to him the glory which is his" (Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, pp. 4-5; cf. Comm. on Gen.,
pp. 62-63; Institutes 1.6.1, p. 70; 1.14.1,
Institutes, p. 70, n. 1. Robert L. Reymond
notes that near the beginning of Institutes 1.6, Calvin’s first
chapter on God’s Word, he "employs three metaphors" for Scripture as
necessary to bring us to a true knowledge of God. As well as (1)
"spectacles," God’s word is also (2) a "thread" to bring us out of the
"inexplicable labyrinth" of idolatrous thoughts (1.6.3, p. 73) and (3)
a "teacher" (cf. 1.6.2, p. 72; 1.6.4, p. 73) ("Calvin’s
Doctrine of Holy Scripture (1.6-10)," in David W. Hall and Peter A.
Lillback (eds.), A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes [Phillipsburg,
NJ: P & R, 2008], pp. 46-47).
Parker, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Knowledge of
God, p. 39
Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., "Creation and
Providence (1.14, 16-18)," in Hall and Lillback (eds.), A
Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes, p. 137.
Calvin frequently cites Hebrews 11:3 to prove the essential role of
faith in knowing the truth of creation and the creator (e.g.,
1.5.14, p. 68; 1.16.1, p. 197; Comms. on Gen., p. 63; Heb. 11:3;
Sermons on Genesis
Chapters 1-11, p. 7).
Georgia Harkness, not the most trustworthy
of Calvin authors, is, at least, correct in this: John Calvin "was a
keen thinker, a highly educated man, a scholar of towering
intellectual capacity. He believed in education, and he set before his
followers the requirement of both an educated ministry and an educated
laity. He founded a university for the better education of the people
and the training of young men for the ministry. He insisted that
children be given free, compulsory education. He set the example for
the high regard for education which led the Puritans to establish
Harvard College in 1636, almost as soon as their feet had touched New
England soil" (John Calvin: The Man and His Ethics
[Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1931], p. 87). Calvin’s sterling
promotion of education has been inspirational for almost five
centuries in the founding and continuing of Christian schools,
colleges and universities around the world and not only in New
Setting forth the teaching of the Genevan Reformer, Ronald S. Wallace
states, "The members of the body of Christ who are sanctified through
union with Christ are subjected to a special providence which shapes
their historical career into a pattern similar to the pattern of death
and resurrection worked out in the sanctification of Jesus Christ
Himself. The afflictions which are ordered by God for this purpose
Calvin calls the Cross" (Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life
[Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1959], p. 68).
Cf. Dawkins: "The universe we observe has precisely
the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no
purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference"
(River Out of Eden, p. 133).
Roman Catholic theology can embrace theistic evolution because of
Rome’s denial of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture; its
incorporation of Aristotle’s impersonal, "unmoved-mover" god into its
Thomist philosophy; and its pitifully weak doctrine of
providence. Rome compromises with the world on this issue, as on many
others, because it courts the world’s esteem and power.
Calvin, Comm. on Rom. 1:18.