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1999 Letter to the Editor of the Bryan Times by Bruce Gerencser: Evolution Incompatible with Christianity

adam or ape creationism

Published on March 18, 1999. At the time, I was pastor of Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. This is a good example of how I used to think about life, God, the Bible, sin,  and culture. I encourage readers to read a letter to the editor I wrote on January 19, 2016, about the same the subject. You will quickly see that my viewpoint has changed a wee bit over the past 17 years.

Bryan Times:

I am writing in response to the recent editorial that suggested evolution is not being taught in public schools because teachers fear right-wing religious zealots. The zealots are portrayed as being anti-science and intellectually stunted. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Evolution is a theory. Even the writer of the editorial admits such. Yet, just a few paragraphs later, he advocates teaching the theory as fact. He then states that man cannot understand biology without evolution.

What arrogant presumption and distortion of truth. Evolution is a theory of “how” things came into existence. It is, at its root, a faith religion that suggests a random existence apart from a divine being. Evolution demands that there is no God, no creator, and that man is nothing more than the most evolved of creatures. Man becomes nothing more than an animal that has evolved to a more mature state than that of other animals.

Evolution is incompatible with Christianity. Christianity begins with the premise that God is, and whatever God says is true. The Bible is God’s revelation to man, and he reveals in the first three chapters of Genesis how this world came into existence. To deny the biblical record is to deny God and his revelation, and the result is eternal damnation. Christians fear being viewed as ignorant if they deny the teachings of evolution. They become just like the schoolteachers who fear the religious zealots. If God is who he says he is, and he meant what he said in the Scriptures, then let us not fear, but instead declare boldly “Thus saith the Lord.”

Bruce Gerencser, Pastor
West Unity, Ohio

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    August Rode

    “The zealots are portrayed as being anti-science and intellectually stunted. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    How do you feel about the second sentence now, Bruce? For my part, having been in discussions with creationists for at least a decade now, my feelings that they may not be entirely anti-science but they are certainly anti-science where science tends to arrive at conclusions that don’t validate their beliefs. ‘Intellectually stunted’ is strong language but when one is dealing with someone who doesn’t have a basic grasp of logic or critical thinking and denies inconventient facts, I don’t know what else to call it.

    “Evolution is a theory.”

    This depends entirely on what one means by ‘evolution.’ If one is referring to the Theory of Evolution, then this is trivially true. If on the other hand, one is referring to the processes by which populations of organisms adapt to changing environmental conditions, the evolution is most definitely a fact. And yes, biology without evolution has been compared to stamp collecting and rightly so, I think. With evolution, biology makes *sense.*

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    Takes guts to post something like this when you now now how seriously (read: fatally) flawed it is. I know when I now think back on moments where I held sincere conviction in something totally wrong – but thought they were absolute truths at the time, I get flushed with embarrassment to the point I want to reach back in time and kick myself. Then rational thought sinks in and I take solace that I properly course corrected and am now walking forward on a bedrock foundation of truth.

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    Karen the rock whisperer

    Um. You were sort of right then, though perhaps not the way you thought of it. Evolution doesn’t leave much room for biblical literalism, not if you truly understand the basics of it (and I am a geologist who never got past the basics). There’s no evidence, not a smidgen, for some deity-guided evolutionary process. DNA analysis demonstrates that our species never was reduced to more than about 10,000 individuals; therefore no Adam and Eve as parents of all humanity, nor Noah and his family.

    There are certainly Christians who have come to some understanding about how to deal with this reality, but the biblical literalists would undoubtedly say they’re not True Christians. Even those Christians who insist on a deity-guided evolutionary path are probably not, to some, True Christians. Such is life among the Brethren…

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    Thank-you, my brother… this is the published truth we told and believed with all our hearts. And the fact that we came out the other side is, to me, glory and mystery. I have been admiring coniferous trees today, how brilliant they are in knowing the air. There are certain things, it is said, that a man should try to do before he dies. Today, looking at a fir tree towering for over a hundred years in one small spot on earth, I wept. It was a bit overwhelming, I admit…. mostly joy but so full of much of my life as I know it now. Thank-you, dear friend, for your honest heart. You are a rare one.

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    There is still, in the world of the creationist, a misunderstanding of the word theory in the context of evolution. As Richard Dawkins explains, however, evolution is both a fact and a theory, rather akin to gravity and hundreds of other areas of science. We know for certain (technically I should qualify the word ‘certain’, but that’s nit picking) that evolution is the underlying process that drives life. Evolution simply refers to genetic change as reproduction takes place, in the sense that there is never exact replication of cells. That is the fact. The complex nature of evolution, however, and the manner in which it works, the predictions it makes as to the location of fossils, all are part of the ‘theory’. Underpinning it all, though, is the explanatory power of evolution, which has an intuitive beauty that is patently obvious the moment it is explained, even to a child. Denial requires a delusional curtain of resistance that throws all reasoning under the proverbial bus, and results in all sorts of muddled thinking.

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    As a hard core Christian attending public high school many years ago I found it necessary to challenge my biology teacher when evolution was taught. I did this in the typical trolling and sarcastic manner that so many Christians use when their beliefs are challenged. He rightly put me in my place at the time, although I’m sure I saw myself as a persecuted martyr. Now I continue to feel embarrassed when I remember my behavior and my disrespect towards this teacher

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    MJ Lisbeth

    I don’t think i ever doubted evolution even when I was an Evangelical Christian–which means, of course, that some would say I never was a Christian, not really.

    Geoff T makes a very good observation: Evolution makes sense even to a child who knows nothing else about science. The Genesis creation story, and much else in the Bible and Christianity, strains the credulity even of such children.

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Bruce Gerencser