Should We Trust the Authority of Milton’s, Paley’s, and Darwin’s Words?

Well, Christianity Today has published another article calling into question the authority of God’s Word in Genesis—lifting up man’s word as the authority instead. Andrew Wilson wrote an article titled “Where Did We Come From? How Milton, Paley, and Darwin Help Us Answer the Question.” Specifically, Wilson focuses on the works of William Paley, John Milton, and Charles Darwin.

Now, Wilson explains that there is a conflict going on in our world over evolution, creation, and other compromise positions about Genesis. He makes his own position no secret:

Today [Darwin’s] theory of evolution by natural selection is almost universally accepted in the academy, and has been broadly confirmed by studies in several fields.

At this point, it’s apparent that whatever Wilson has to tell Christianity Today readers won’t line up with God’s Word—the Bible clearly doesn’t allow for evolution. In fact, he takes the position that evolution and Scripture can be mixed without a problem, while still claiming that God’s Word is true:

First, I believe the Scriptures, when interpreted properly with respect to their context, purpose, and genre, do not contain any mistakes. . . . Second, I believe in the general integrity and credibility of peer-reviewed journals, and the importance and value of experimental science.

But what’s significant is that Wilson—a professing Christian—does not ultimately look to God’s Word in this article for answers! No, he looks to John Milton, the author of Paradise Lost, and he looks to Charles Darwin. What’s more, he seems to be confusing operational (observational) science with historical science. Of course Christians see the value of operational science—it’s how we advance in technology, medicine, and so on—but it has nothing to do with evolution!

Wilson focuses on Charles Darwin, William Paley, and John Milton, saying that if he could talk to the three of them today, “They could resolve most of their differences.” He focuses on the issue of death before the Fall, claiming that Darwin and Milton didn’t actually disagree:

Well, it depends on what you mean by death. Darwin was talking about the physical death of plants and animals, and insisting that this had happened for a very long time. (From Genesis, by the way, we know that plants were eaten before the Fall, and there’s no indication that animals were originally immortal either.) Milton, following Paul in Romans 5, was talking about the both physical and spiritual death of human beings, which, if you think about it, is also the focus of what God says in the story (Gen. 2:1; 3:19). So although it might look like Darwin and Milton were saying contradictory things about death, they weren’t. They just thought about death differently.

Now, I think it’s apparent based on his evolutionary ideas that Darwin wouldn’t have accepted that human death only entered the world after a literal Fall. But the bigger question is, since when is John Milton the authority Christians should turn to about our origins?

Milton held some very controversial beliefs in his day. For example, he rejected the doctrine of the Trinity (a doctrine that is evident from Scripture and consistent with Genesis 1:26.) and believed in a heresy known as Arianism—the idea that Christ was created by God and was not God Himself. Now, if I were given the choice between getting my theology from a man who denied the full deity of Christ or from the Word of the One who created the universe, I’m going to choose the Creator’s Word.

But Wilson presses this idea of reconciling the differences that Milton, Darwin, and Paley had with each other to the very end of his article, claiming, “I can’t think of anything Milton (or Genesis) says about Adam and Eve that is contradicted by Darwinian evolution.” Even in that statement, the Bible takes second place to the writings of a man.

At Answers in Genesis, we unashamedly believe that the Word of God is our authority in every area—not the word of John Milton or Charles Darwin. What difference would it make if Milton, Darwin, and Paley reconciled their differences? None, if their conclusion contradicts what the Lord teaches in His Word.

I encourage you to visit our website at AnswersInGenesis.org to learn what Scripture teaches about creation. And I urge you to pray for those who wish to lift man’s ideas in authority over the Bible, that they would repent and return to the authority of God’s Word from the very first verse.

And I also urge you to subscribe to a magazine that does stand on God’s Word from the very beginning without compromise—Answers magazine.

By the way, one of our staff members was a close friend of one of the former editors of Christianity Today (in the 1960s). That editor believed God’s Word in full, and he would have been shocked to see such a pro-evolution article in his magazine like the one from Andrew Wilson.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken

Steve Golden assisted in the writing of this blog post.