This is a sermon by A.T. Jones. Although he presented it all at once, he published it in three parts. I thus split the sermon the same way, so as to maintain the correct publishing dates in the citations.
I am going to speak this afternoon on the subject of Evolution. I want you to pay close attention, and find out for yourselves whether or not you are evolutionists. First of all, I will read to you what evolution is; then as we follow along, you can see whether or not you are an evolutionist. These statements are all copied from a treatise on evolution, written by one of the chief evolutionists; therefore they are all correct, so far as they go, as definitions:—
“Evolution is the theory that represents the course of the world as a gradual transition from the indeterminate to the determinate, from the uniform to the varied, and which assumes the cause of these processes to be immanent in the world itself that is to be thus transformed.”
“Evolution is thus almost synonymous with progress. It is a transition from the lower to the higher, from the worse to the better. Thus progress points to an increased value in existence, as judged by our feelings.”
Now notice the particular points in these three sentences: evolution represents the course of the world as a gradual transition from the lower to the higher, from the worse to the better; and assumes that this process is immanent in the world itself thus to be transformed. That is to say, the thing gets better of itself; and that which causes it to get better is itself. And this progress marks “an increased value in existence, as judged by our feelings.” That is to say, you know you are better, because you feel better. You know there has been progress, because you feet it. Your feelings regulate your standing. Your knowledge of your feelings regulates your progress from worse to better.
Now in this matter of progress from worse to better, have your feelings anything to do with it? If they have, what are you? Every one here this afternoon who measures his progress, the value of his experience, by his feelings, is an evolutionist: I care not if he has been a Seventh-day Adventist for forty years, he is an evolutionist just the same. And all his Christianity, all his religion, is a mere profession without the fact, simply a form without the power.
Now I read what evolution is, in another way; so that you can see that it is infidelity. Then, if you find yourself an evolutionist, you know at once that you are an infidel: “The hypothesis of evolution aims at answering a number of questions respecting the beginning, or genesis, of things.” It “helps to restore the ancient sentiment toward nature as our parent, and the source of our life.”
One of the branches of this sort of science, that has done most toward the establishment of the doctrine of evolution, is the new science of geology, which has instituted the conception of vast and unimaginable periods of time in the past history of our globe. These vast and unimaginable periods, as another one of the chief writers on this subject—the author of it indeed—says, “is the indispensable basis for understanding man’s origin” in the process of evolution. So that the progress that has been made, has been through countless ages. Yet this progress has not been steady and straight forward from its inception until its present condition. It has been through many ups and downs. There have been many times of great beauty and symmetry; then there would come a cataclysm, or an eruption, and all would go to pieces, as it were. Again the process would start from that condition of things, and build up again. Many, many times this process has been gone through; and that is the process of evolution,—the transition from the lower to a higher, from the worse to the better.
Now, what has been the process of your progress from the worse to the better? Has it been through “many ups and downs”? Has your acquiring of the power to do the good—the good works which are of God—been through a long process of ups and downs from the time of your first profession of Christianity until now? Has it appeared sometimes that you had apparently made great progress, that you were doing well, and that everything was nice and pleasant; and then, without a moment’s warning there would come a cataclysm, or an eruption, and all be spoiled? Nevertheless, in spite of all the ups and downs, you start in for another effort: and so through this process, long-continued, you have come to where you are to-day; and in “looking back” over it all, you can mark some progress, you think, as judged by your feelings,—is that your experience? Is that the way you have made progress?
In other words, are you an evolutionist? Don’t dodge; confess the honest truth; for I want to get you out of evolutionism this afternoon. There is a way to get out of it: and every one who came into this house an evolutionist can go out a Christian. So if, when I am describing an evolutionist, so plainly that you see yourself, just say so,—admit that it is yourself,—and then follow along the steps that God will give you, and that will bring you out of it all. But I say plainly to you that, if that which I have described has been your experience, if that has been the kind of progress that you have made in your Christian life, then you are an evolutionist, whether you admit it or not. The best way, however, is to admit it, then quit it, and be a Christian.
Another phase of it: “Evolution, so far as it goes, looks upon matter as eternal.” And “by assuming” this, “the notion of creation is eliminated from those regions of existence to which it is applied.” Now if you look to yourself for the principle which would assure that progress that must be made in you as certainly as ever you reach the kingdom of God; if you suppose that that is immanent in yourself, and that if you could get it rightly to work, and superintend it properly when it had been thus got to work, it would come out all right;—if thus you have been expecting, watching, and marking your progress, you are an evolutionist. For I read further what evolution is: “It is clear that the doctrine of evolution is directly antagonistic to that of creation. . . . The idea of evolution, as applied to the formation of the world as a whole, is opposed to that of a direct creative volition.”
That is evolution, as defined by those who made it,—that the world came, and all there is of it, of itself; and that the principle that has brought it to the condition in which it is, is immanent in itself, and is adequate to produce all that is. This being so, in the nature of things “evolution is directly antagonistic to creation.”
Now as to the world and all there is of it, you do not believe that it all came of itself. You know that you are not an evolutionist as to that; because you believe that God created all things. Every one of you here this afternoon would say that you believe that God created all things,—the world and all there is in it. Evolution does not admit that: it has no place for creation.
There is, however, another phase of evolution that professedly is not absolutely antagonistic to creation. Those who made this evolution that I have read to you did not pretend to be anything but infidels,—men without faith,—for an infidel simply is a man without faith. Even though a person pretends to have faith, and does not actually have it, he is an infidel. Of course the word “infidel” is more narrowly confined than that nowadays. The men who made this evolution that I have read to you were that kind of men; but when they spread that kind of doctrine abroad, there were a great number of people who professed to be Christians, who professed to be men of faith, who professed to believe the word of God, which teaches creation. These men, not knowing the word of God for themselves, not knowing it to be the word of God, but their faith being a mere form of faith without the power—these men, I say, being charmed with this new thing that had sprung up, and wanting to be popular along with the new science, and really not wanting to forsake altogether the word of God and the ways of faith, were not ready to say that they could get along without God, without creation somewhere, so they formed a sort of evolution with the Creator in it. That phase of it is called theistic evolution; that is, God started the thing, whenever that was; but since that, it has been going on of itself. He started it, and after that it was able to itself to accomplish all that has been done. This, however, is but a makeshift,—a contrivance to save appearances,—and is plainly declared by the true evolutionists to be but “a phase of transition from the creational to the evolutional hypothesis.” It is evolution only; because there is no half-way ground between creation and evolution.
Whether you are one of this kind or not, there are many of them, even among Seventh-day Adventists,—not so many as there used to be, thank the Lord!—who believe that we must have God forgive our sins, and so start us on the way all right; but after that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. Accordingly, they do fear, and they do tremble, all the time; but they do not work out any salvation, because they do not have God constantly working in them, “both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Phil. 2:12, 13.
Now in Heb. 11:3 it is recorded that it is through faith that we understand that the worlds were framed—put together, arranged, built—”by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” The earth which we have was not make of rocks; men were not made of monkeys, apes, and “the missing link;” and apes and monkeys and “the missing link;” were not made of tadpoles; and tadpoles were not made of protoplasm originally away back at the beginning. No! “the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
Now why is it that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear?—Simply because the things of which these are made did not appear. And the reason those things did not appear is because they were not at all. They did not exist. The worlds were framed by the word of God; and the word of God is of that quality, it has that property about it, which, when the word is spoken, not only causes the thing to be, but causes to exist the material out of which the thing is made, and of which the thing consists.
You know also the other scripture, that “by the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth; . . . for he spake, and it was.” Ps. 33:6-9. Upon this I will ask you a question: How long after he spoke, before the things were? How much time passed, after he spoke, before the thing was? [Voice: “No time.”] Not a week?—No. Not six long periods of time?—No. Evolution, even that which recognizes a Creator, holds that indefinite countless ages, or “six long, indefinite periods of time,” passed in the formation of the things which are seen, after he spoke. But that is evolution, not creation: evolution is by long processes. Creation is by the word spoken.
When God, by speaking the word, had created the worlds, for this one he said, “Let there be light.” Now how much time passed between the words, “Let there be light,” and the time when the light came? I want you to understand this matter aright, so that you can find out whether you are an evolutionist or a creationist. Let me ask this again. Were there not six long periods of time between the time when the word was spoken and the accomplishment of the fact? You say No. Was it not a week?—No. Not a day?—No. Not an hour?—No. Not a minute?—No. Nor even a second?—No, indeed. There was not a second between the time when God said, “Let there be light,” and the existence of the light. [Voice: “Just as soon as the word was spoken, the light was.”] Yes, that is the way it was. I go over it thus minutely, so as to get it firmly fixed in your mind, for fear you will let it go presently, when I ask you something further. Now is it settled that when God said, “Let there be light,” there was not a second of time between that and the shining of the light? [Voice: “Yes.”] All right. Then the man who allows that any time at all passed between God’s speaking and the appearing of the thing, is an evolutionist. If he makes it countless ages upon countless ages, he is simply more of an evolutionist than the one who thinks it took a day; he is the same thing, but more of it.
Next, God said, “Let there be a firmament.” And what then?—It was so. Then from the time that God spoke, “Let there be a firmament, . . . and let it divide the waters from the waters,” how long before a firmament was there? Was that done instantly:–Yes. Then the man who holds that there was an indefinite, a very long, period of time between the speaking of the word and the existence of the fact,—what is he?—An evolutionist. If he allows that there was a day, or an hour, or a minute, between the speaking of the word, and the existence of the thing itself, that man does not recognize creation.
— Review and Herald, February 21, 1899