Contradiction between Evolution and the Idea of Inevitability of Progress

Given Darwin’s mantra of “survival of the fittest,” it is clear that Darwinian evolution is a worldview that intrinsically requires a “conflict of interest.” In point of fact the whole notion of a “harmony of interests,” would be bad news in a climate that insisted that advance is only achieved by the survival of the fittest. When one combines this with the reality that there is no mind behind the unwinding of evolution one must add that the survival of the fittest is a survival that happens completely by chance in a random universe.

Further, because of the randomness necessary in a mindless universe all “facts,” are uninterpreted facts and therefore are brute meaningless facts with no stable meaning. These brute facts, like the survival of the fittest, are facts without relation to any other facts as they likewise struggle to exist. Facts can be wiped out just as species can be wiped out.

Conflict is thus inherent and is the substance of worldview Darwinian evolution. Whether the conflict for survival among the fittest or the conflict among various facticities conflict of interest is the mother’s milk of Darwinian evolution.

But here we come face to face with another key doctrine of humanism and that is the idea of the inevitability of progress. If “conflict of interest” is characteristic of worldview Darwinism then how can progress be inevitable? Indeed, in a mindless world governed by time + chance + circumstance how can progress even be measured or determined? In a mindless world where fact itself is in a contest of survival, how can humanists even be sure that the inevitability of progress is a warranted good to be desired?

If evolution is mindless and governed only by time + chance + circumstance then any notion of progress is itself subject to evolution. Progress at one point of the march of evolution might be Stalin’s Holodomor while progress at another point of the march of evolution might be Huxley’s “Brave New World.” Because of this to speak of the inevitability of progress is an automatic non-sequitur in Evolution’s own world and life view.

Only Christianity posits a sovereign creator God who orders all things to the end and purpose of a harmony of interest found in glorifying God in all things (Romans 11:33-36). Only Christianity holds to all of the creation longing to glorify God (Romans 8:19f). Only Christianity envisions all things enjoying the service of the interests of God anticipating that day when Christ so reigns so that all things are put under His feet so that all things serve His interests. This is the inevitability of progress that Christianity presupposes.

So, advance by the conflict of interests is contrary to Christianity except as that advance is characterized by defeating those interests which are in conflict with God’s harmony of interests. Since those things that make for conflict of interests in God’s cosmos are doomed for failure we can anticipate the one-day dawning of the postmillennial vision where the harmony of interests that is a metaphysical reality by nature of God’s rule will overcome the conflict of interests introduced into God’s reality by man’s ethical attempt to overthrow Christ’s Kingship. This is the Christian reason for embracing the inevitability of progress.

A Postmillennial Thought

27 No one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. And then he will plunder his house.

With the arrival of Christ, the Kingdom of God has come. This is the truth that is the cornerstone of Postmillennialism. Christ brought the Kingdom. Now that Kingdom has not yet been consummated but it has been inaugurated and so it is now present among us and the anticipation is that the intensity of the present Kingdom goes from break out to break out so that it is seen that we are getting closer and closer to the not yet but coming consummation of that already present Kingdom. The strong man has been bound. He has been and is being plundered of his goods. The yeast of victory is working itself through the whole cosmos. The Kingdom is present.

We must not make the error of the Amillennialist who admit there is a nowness to the Kingdom but who for all practical purposes live as if the Kingdom is now and always will be completely not yet since they have reduced the reality of the Kingdom to a “spiritual” reality. The Amillennialist has no swagger … no moxie since they don’t really believe on a practical everyday level that the Kingdom has come and is now in more than a spiritual manner.

The Postmillennialist on the other hand is confident in the presence of the Kingdom and he lives and walks in terms of the anticipation of the ever-expanding reality of the Kingdom. As such he carries himself with a humble swagger and he knows the moxie of being on the side that is victorious.

We need a return to this kind of Postmillennialism because the terminal expectations of pessimillennialism yields up the defeat that pessimillennialist’s eschatology expect.







Fighting in the Shadow of Short Term Loss

“The ceaseless body blows delivered with increasing power by the allied forces left the German Army breathless and helpless but it is fair to acknowledge that they retreated fighting for every kilometer that they ultimately had to concede. It was not a chase and hardly a pursuit. Chased, decimated, despairing, the German soldiers fought on making us pay a heavy price for every mile we wrestled from them. Throughout the whole war, the Germans had shown themselves doughty fighters but there was nothing finer in their record than the pluck with which they continued to withstand us in the hour of their defeat. They could not but know that they were beaten. At home, their families were starving. Yet in the month of October — the last whole month of the war — The British forces in France suffered 120,000 battle casualties as evidence of the resistance they encountered. Between July 1 and the cessation of hostilities (11-11-18) the British battle casualties from fighting a beaten foe, and a foe who knew he was beaten was on every front totaled 430,000 in killed, wounded, prisoners, and missing. During practically the same period the French lost 531,000 men and the Americans over 200,000. Let us give due honor to a brave people with whom we have had but one deadly quarrel. They fought to the end with desperate valor.”

Llyod George 
Memoirs

The reason I post this here is that, by way of metaphor, the Church known by Christ is now in the same place as the German Army was in July of 1918. Short term we are a beaten foe and we would wage war better if we just came to terms as being, in the short term, a beaten foe. Acknowledging such would go a long way towards eliminating disappointment and give us reasonable expectations. Acknowledging such would deliver us from such a thirst for visible victory that we inch towards calling defeat “victory” because we are so desperate for a visible victory. Acknowledging such would cause us to place our hope in God as opposed to voting patterns, political promises, or social activism.

This is not a call for pessimism, though doubtless, that is what it will be cast as by those who have no ability to fight on when short-term victory is not on the horizon. Instead, this is a call for optimistic post-millennial realism. We work towards the future regardless of what God’s good providence has given us in the present. We work with the expectation that our current labors will, while not bringing instant victory, put us and our seed on a trajectory of future victory.

We still soldier on and fight back and resist with all our might for our great Liege-Lord Jesus Christ. We can still, sticking with the metaphor, inflict casualties and we should pray we are given opportunities to do so. If the Germans of WW I could be brave and fight on in the knowledge of a certain defeat we few — we happy few — can continue to be brave and fight on in the knowledge that we are preparing the ground for future victory. That is victory enough.

Always faithful.

Advent Snippets Over The Years

“There is quite a postmillennial flavor that comes through in Mary’s Magnificat. The Eschatological “NOW” age is dawning and with that “NOW” age comes the King and the Kingdom and the consequence of the arrival of the King will be the real end of the wicked who are characterized as proud, rich, and mighty oppressors of God’s lowly people. There is then a corresponding lifting up of God’s people who have been oppressed and are lowly and hungry.

The age to come in Christ has come and is now rolling back this present wicked age. The expectation is that this rolling back, while Spiritual in its most fundamental Kingdom expression, is a rolling back that is corporeal and tangible and so postmillennial at the same time. Real wicked men who are of their Father the devil and who are chiefs in synagogues of Satan are brought down and God’s persecuted oppressed righteous are raised up.

To deny postmillennial eschatology is to deny the heart of Mary’s expectations in her Magnificat.”

___________

The celebration of Christmas means the King has come and with the coming of the King there is the Kingdom He brings. When Christmas rolls around each year it is a celebration not only of Salvation won but also of Triumph guaranteed. The King has come and now all lesser Kings must make obeisance. With the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ the age to come has come face to face with this present evil age and is rolling the present evil age back as the epochs of time pass by.

Christmas is a time to renew our confidence that though the wrong seems yet so strong God is the ruler yet and has set His resurrected Regent on Mt. Zion to rule over the affairs of men.

Merry Christmas and let’s do Battle for the already victorious King of Kings.

________________

It’s Christmas Eve day!

Mary is 9 Months pregnant and w/ Joseph is looking for quarters.
The Shepherds are getting ready for “just another day at the office.”
The Kings of the East are plodding along day after day

Herod is a minor league Middle East Despot not a great deal different from your current average, Barack, Hussein or Mohammed.

And yet despite all this “normalcy,” it is just hours until the birth of he who taketh away the sins of the world.

__________________ 

In the Genesis record, God said, “Let their be light” (Gen 1:3) and that light appears overcoming the darkness, saturating the creation realm with God’s authority.  In Isaiah the Servant of the Lord was promised to be a light both to Israel and to the Nations who were not yet covenanted with God as Israel was,

“I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness,
I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You,
And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people,
As a light to the nations.” Isaiah 42:6

He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6

In the Gospel accounts, that Servant of the Lord promised … the Lord Christ is the Redemptive light come to inaugurate a new age, a new realm, and a glorious new day as from the Father of lights (James 1:17). He is the light who enlightens every man (John 1:19) Christ is the new covenant age light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5). The Apostles saw He who was the radiance of the glory of God (Hebrews 1:1) as the glory of the One and only who came from the Father (John 1:1-4). As the age to come Light, the followers of the Lord Christ never walk in darkness (John 8:12). Christ as the Redemptive light of the age to come demonstrated and revealed itself with a white-hot intensity at the transfiguration wherein even His clothing became dazzling white (Mark 9:1-4).  In the crucifixion He who is “the Light of the World” is snuffed out and as on cue, the light goes out for three hours Christ (Matthew 27:45). Light is picked up again in John’s Revelation wherein John the Revelator falls as dead as before a supernova God-man (Rev. 1:14-17). Finally, as the Scripture started with light, it forms an inclusio by ending with He who is the light, as it closes with the motif of Christ as the light which illuminates the new Jerusalem.  He who ever was very light of very light remains the light of the world (Rev. 22:4).

 

Ask the Pastor; “Can postmillennialists be pessimists — even in the short run?”

Dear Pastor,

Can postmillennialists be pessimists? To be more precise can we expect positive change in our time, or is all the “good stuff” still future?

John Hogue

 Dear John,

Thanks for writing.

I guess I would start answering by saying it depends on how you are defining pessimistic.


I think some postmillennialists get accused of being pessimistic when in point of fact they are merely connecting the dots on the cultural landscape. If a Postmillennialist sees that one of the sovereign spheres in a culture is operating on a foundation of paganism/humanism then they are obliged to insist that no good is going to come in operating according to idols set apart for destruction. And by doing so they are operating according to a postmillennial motif in that they see that before godly altars can be constructed that will be Christ honoring the previous idols must be destroyed.
Also, postmillennialists must be honest with the times they are given. They must not become pollyanna and thus condone wickedness by transmogrifying wickedness into something that is a harbinger that portends blessings. For example, I have seen certain postmillennialists encourage Christian to vote for wicked Republicans and then turn around and call other postmillennialists pessimists because they drew attention to the reality that the Kingdom isn’t advanced by supporting wickedness.

Keith Mathison (author of a couple books on Postmillennialism) once wrote that he was the most pessimistic postmillennialist that anyone would ever meet. By that, I think he meant that while he believed God’s Kingdom would conquer all he wasn’t going to excuse sin by being wrongly optimistic.

As far as your second question goes, I would say  I / we can expect positive change in our time as God sovereignly awakens men to their rebellion against Him and grants them repentance and a fleeing to Christ. We must work in terms of that hope and live in the expectation that it will come to pass.

We should be careful though that in our postmillennial that we don’t allow the hope to give birth to a false expectation. I have listened to many postmillennial sermons/lecture from the 70’s and 8o’s that were predicting, for example, the end of public schools by the year 2000, or vast revival among the minority community just around the corner. Today, I’ve heard young millennials forecast the change of everything in their lifetime by means of pursuing just the right political activism. One can only crack up laughing when listening to these postmillennialists of 30 and 40 years ago and of today. You see, John, what happened is that they allowed their high millennial expectations to impinge upon their ability to be realistic about the cultural landscape.
We can be optimistic about the future but it is optimism within God’s providence and God’s providence is operative not only in the future but is operative right now. God’s providence right now informs us that any imagined flowering of the already present postmillennial kingdom will require many uphill challenges that will require work.

We would do well, on this subject to remember the words of Gen. Robert E. Lee,

“The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.”

The other side of this equation is that if we are unrealistically optimistic (Pollyanna) then the result will be vast discouragement when that which we so hoped for doesn’t come to pass.

So, what we have noted here is an unrealistic optimism for the future can lead to one of two mistaken reactions,

1.) Because we so desperately hope for the flowering of the already present postmillennial kingdom we begin to interpret that which is opposed to God’s work as part of God’s work in order to sustain our misplaced expectations and hope.

2.) Because we so desperately hope for the flowering of the already present postmillennial kingdom we begin to despair when we begin to realize that our expectations are not going to come to pass in our lifetimes.

As postmillennialists, we must continue to be hopeful in light of God’s sovereignty but we must also continue to accept the fact that God’s timing is His own.

As returning to your original question, I would say that it is not possible for a postmillennialist to be pessimistic, even in the short run. Our God is a great God and with God all things are possible. However, neither is it proper for a postmillennialist to be naive or Pollyanna.

To be honest, I have an easier time with C. S. Lewis’ Puddleglums, then I do with Susie Sunshines.