Bishop Peter F. Hansen
As a Fool
St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church
Sermon for Sexagesima – Bishop Peter F. Hansen
February 20, 2022
“I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrew? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more.”
ON FEBRUARY 12, 1809, over 200 years ago, two men were born: Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln. They were born on the exact same day. Both men affected the world in unexpected ways, though they were both clear failures in early life. When taking the stands they’re famous for, both were thought to be fools, and are today considered wise. Which were they? Abe Lincoln was not a Christian when he was elected our 16th President. Only while in office did his faith emerge: a necessary and profound anchor in a stormy time. Darwin, on the other hand, began as a man of faith, resolved to be trained an Anglican priest. It was only after he established his theory of evolution that his faith slipped away from him.
The Psalmist said, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that is good.” Psalm 14:1 Solomon wrote: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov. 1:7 Using a scientific theory to get rid of a troublesome God is like holding your hand up in the sky to destroy the sun. It does effectively remove the sun from view, but your arm will tire, and the sun is still there. Some say Darwin returned to faith by his death and repented of having started all this trouble about godless evolution.
Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and fought a hard, bitter battle to save the union. He led the United States through its darkest hours, seeing 620,000 men die on our own fields. By his second inaugural address, the man stood as a tower of faith. He spoke of North and South. “Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other... The prayers of both could not be answered—that of neither has been answered fully... Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword… ‘The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’”
This is a man whose heart has been broken by the terrible things he’s had to perform in office. But no such task was thrust on Charles Darwin. I won’t vilify him. He was a man of his age, an Age of Reason, when science would resolve every mystery and solve all unknowns, freeing mankind from superstition, religion and mythology with hard truth. He saw some animals on South Sea islands and began spinning his theory of origins. A purely naturalistic explanation of all we see in life-forms was the result and our schools teach it as fact, though it’s never been proved. His theory: life began as a single cell and through eons of time, under environmental pressures, simple life became more complex and diversified, resulting in plants, animals, squids and people. No divine hand formed these living beings, but the blind process of Natural Selection. Millions of random selective moments later, human beings stood upright and became dominant over their ape ancestors.
The theory of evolution supported racial supremacy ideas that kept blacks in slavery, at the same hour Lincoln drew up the Emancipation Proclamation. One man found God at a time of trouble. The other lost God to his theory. Evolution’s fans proudly denounce faith in God. Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, mocks Christians who still hold faith in a Creator of this world. In the brilliant documentary, Expelled, Ben Stein interviews Dawkins twice. In the first interview his scorn is full-fledged. Then, after Stein has found that statistically, evolution from non-life to a single cell never could happening on this planet, he questions Dawkins, who finally gives his honest belief: we were planted here by aliens who evolved somewhere else.
St. Paul wrote 2,000 years ago, “The invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings… Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” Romans 1:20-22
Paul also wrote the Corinthians, who while his back was turned, took new teachers who had never suffered for Christ and had spun new theories perverting the faith. Paul cited his sufferings, “I speak foolishly” mocking himself, because he doesn’t like to boast in his scars and harrowing experiences. But these are his proofs against the liars who haven’t paid any dues to claim the church’s attention.
It’s hard to speak against the prevailing wisdom of your own day: it may cost you dearly. Science instructors across the country have lost their teaching positions, been black-balled from posts for even mentioning any theory other than Darwin’s. In a country where 2/3 of our population believe God made us, political correctness attempts to crush us into submission and admit that a monkey is our uncle.
We needn’t go fundamentalist to have something to say to the evolutionists. There is good science behind Intelligent Design. We can’t insist that people take Genesis as a literal account of our beginnings. That would be enforced religion. But there are facts that shout the existence of conscious intelligence behind the placing of the spheres in space, and the intricate molecular patterns inside of us.
Irreducible complexity is a study that shows how our design delicately balances many complex functions and structures that, were even one of them different, nothing would work or make any sense. The explanation of the human eye in evolutionary terms causes dread silence—for there could be no intermediate steps finally resulting in a gelatin ball, with a lens and billions of nerve cells gathering light, sending billions of information impulses to the brain that unscrambles the signals and creates a mental image that moves, in stereoscopic color. The eye evolved in steps toward that? From what? How? C’mon.
Specific complexity studies the genius behind DNA, the blueprint of genetic order, mapped by the Human Genome Project. Random chance cannot result in 3.5 billion pairs of chemical codes that, missing just one piece at a certain point, will not result in life at all.
The Fine-Tuned Universe study says that every physical system from gravity, to atomic structure, the freezing attributes of water, and electromagnetism, all make life possible, when only the very slightest variation to any of these would make it all impossible. It is nearly impossible, yet because of intelligence in its design, it exists.
We can and we must speak of things that trouble our world. We can read and learn and comment. We’re not stupid to think that God made our universe. But we don’t have to say the world is only 5,000 years old. It would still be consistent with our faith to believe it’s older. But we also don’t need to agree to trillions of years just to force the Darwinian theory of origins into the realm of dim possibility. Some clocks in the earth’s systems tell of a younger world. There is evidence that carbon dating is flawed when it looks back any real distance in time. Many scientific disciplines are coming to the conclusion: all is made of light. Like the Genesis account. Don’t be ashamed of your faith. It’s the greatest science of all. Classically, the Queen of Sciences was Theology, the study of God.
A sower went out to sow his seeds. Jesus is so simple in His teaching, so straightforward and true: every word has weight. Throw the seeds, see the crops grow, learn the lessons. What kind of ground is it? Look at the fruits borne out of our current fad of a godless science. A world without God, without a creator, is a world with no purpose, no past and no future, in which we are no more than biological freaks, accidentally able to look at ourselves and ask why? Our lives count for nothing more than we attribute to them, and no one survives. It’s a godless, meaningless world that produces slavery, random violence, drug addiction, corruption, prejudice, empty promises of safety, and endless war.
T. S. Eliot, an Anglican poet, and philosopher once wrote: “The Universal Church is today, it seems to me, more definitely set against the World than at any time since pagan Rome. I do not mean that our times are particularly corrupt; all times are corrupt… The World is trying the experiment of attempting to form a civilized but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail; but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time; so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the World from suicide.”
Saving the world, one child at a time, from suicide is reason enough for us to speak as fools, braving the consequences, facing the fire, but telling the truth, for truly we are living in those dark ages Eliot speaks of, and we must eventually renew and rebuild our civilization and save the world from suicide.
It has to be us.
There’s no one else here.