I would argue that no two books have sparked more debate in science, religion and philosophy than the Bible and Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species. One book gives the credit for the creation of life to God while the other book gives the credit to chance and nature.
Charles Darwin was one of six children born into a wealthy family in Shrewsbury, England in 1809. Charles’ mother, Susannah Darwin, died when he was only eight years old. Despite his father’s attempts to convince Charles follow in his shoes and become a medical doctor, Charles eventually left medical school to follow his love of naturalism and geology. This interest led to Charles’ to spend five years exploring the world on the HMS Beagle charting the coastline of South America, including the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador, Australia and New Zealand.
In these travels Darwin observed that the animals in different parts of the world seemed to be perfectly suited to their environments, which led him to propose that the diversity of life is the result of natural selection, or survival of the fittest. Darwin believed that life was not guided by any intelligence or purpose, but was guided by randomly arising variations and the adaptation of life to the harsh and constantly changing natural world. Darwin went a step further and argued in his landmark book, On The Origin of Species, that, “all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form.” This bold assertion has become known as Darwin’s tree of life. He proposed that all of life is related and can be traced back from branches to limbs to a common trunk.
I have been reading new book by Stephen C. Meyer entitled Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. Dr. Meyer obtained his undergraduate degree in physics and earth sciences from Whitworth College and then obtained his Ph.D. in history and philosophy of science at the University of Cambridge. Stephen helped to found the non-profit public think tank, the Discovery Institute, which is a strong advocate of the intelligent design movement.
In this book, Meyer explains that one of the most fundamental problems facing Darwin’s theory of common decent is the sudden appearance of complex life form in the Cambrian period, known as the Cambrian explosion. This explosion of diversity occurred within a very narrow period of geological time which would turn Darwin’s tree of life upside down. The fossil record reveals that Darwin’s tree of life does not have a trunk. Darwin was aware of this problem. He hoped that the fossil evidence would eventually support his theory, which just hasn’t happened. According to Meyer, “an increasing number of evolutionary biologists have noted, natural selection explains “only the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest.”
Darwin’s belief that life could be explained without the need for a Creator, coupled with the fact that he experienced a lot of pain in his life through the death of his mother and his 10 year-old daughter Annie, caused him to doubt the existence God and he died apart from God. He understood that theism and evolution were not compatible.
The Bible says that there is another tree of life that does have a trunk. Genesis 2:8-17 says that God created man and woman and placed them in a perfect garden called Eden to care for it. God dwelt with Adam and Eve in the perfect garden that He had created. The Bible says that there were two trees in the center of the garden, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam and Eve that they could eat from ANY tree in the garden, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because “when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
Adam and Eve could have eaten from the tree of life, but they chose to disobey God and eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil instead because they wanted to be like God. Because of their disobedience, God had to banish them from His presence in the garden so that they would not eat from the tree of life.
And the Lord said, “The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24)
The death and suffering that man experiences in this life can all be traced back to this single extremely bad decision according to the Bible. Death is the result of sin and is the enemy of God. The Good News is that God did not leave us in this predicament. He sent his only son Jesus to die on the cross so that we can have access to the tree of life again. Jesus came to kick death’s butt.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:22-26
Because of what Jesus did on the cross for you and me, those of us who place our trust and faith in Jesus, will see the tree of life again. The Bible says that at the end of time as we know it we will live in God’s perfection again. There will be no more death, ego, jealousy, and pain for those who chose to accept God’s unmerited gift of salvation.
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Revelations 22:1-2
Darwin chose to put his faith in a tree of life of his own making. God is calling every man and woman to eat from His tree of life. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). So which tree are you going to place your faith in? I have placed my faith in Jesus and God’s tree of life. My prayer is that you will too.
1) Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 484.
Image from: http://www.fireonyourhead.org/2012/05/05/the-tree-of-the-knowledge-of-good-evil/