He has participated in over 21 foreign mission trips, teaching medicine, standard evangelism and creation science evangelism in India, Zambia, Mexico, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Armenia. Last year, he returned to the Ukraine for three intense weeks of teaching Creation Science Apologetics and Evangelism as part of the activities prompted by the proclamation of the President of the Ukraine recognizing the th anniversary of Martin Luther's sparking the Reformation in Germany.
When he spoke to us August 3, Dr. Heinz Lycklama , Ph. The failure of the origin of first life from non-life by natural processes is actually a show stopper for evolution. He is a certified engineering manager, and in was elected to the board of trustees of IIE — an international society serving the Industrial and Systems Engineering profession. Founded in , they are dedicated to telling the truth in science education.
In recent years Helmut has become a popular speaker on Creation Science topics as well as Atheism and Intelligent Design. It boggled Porter's mind that such globs had "blindly developed themselves, in the struggle for life, into the poets who have sung important songs, into the heroes who bravely fought for Fatherland and freedom, into the martyrs who nobly died for truth and justice". He did not attempt in his Address to refute Haeckel's theory that there had been twenty-two stages between the most primitive forms of life and homo sapiens but did not doubt that the cost of accepting them was one's belief in God.
Referring to his own Christian intellectual formation, Porter noted what he believed were the consequences if one accepted evolution as an adequate explanation for the state of mankind. Without mentioning its most prominent proponent, Arthur Schopenhauer, by name, he regretted that a "Philosophy of Pessimism" had lately arisen and was offering a contradictory view, one in which "the world instead of being viewed as a chequered scene of happiness and misery in which, however, happiness is the rule and misery the exception, is simply evil altogether".
The moral repercussions of accepting Haeckel's Weltanschauung also seemed potentially enormous and frightening.
He found "indications" in The history of creation that the German biologist's "scientific creed" was, at least on the theoretical level, perverting his "moral sentiments". It disturbed Porter that Haeckel seemed to have written approvingly of the ancient Spartan and more recent Native American willingness "to kill all sickly, weak and crippled children" in order to promote what in the language of Herbert Spencer and Darwin was called the "survival of the fittest" and that Haeckel had accordingly ridiculed against "so-called humane Civilization" which protested against such culling.
Faure's Darwinist "Discourse" of 30 July Although David Pieter Faure was not the first South African clergyman to defend Darwinism, he was possibly the most notorious and persistent one to do so in the s and early s. Standing at the liberal pole of the theological spectrum, he approached the topic from a perspective quite different from those of more orthodox counterparts in English-speaking, Afrikaans-speaking, and other circles on the national religious landscape. A basic awareness of Faure's theological formation and his relationship to the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape is essential for understanding the significance of his arguments in favour of Darwinian evolutionary theory.
Born in Stellenbosch in , he felt called to the pastoral ministry of the Dutch Reformed Church and followed a well-trodden path by sailing in to the Netherlands for his theological education, in his case the University of Leiden. There he drank deeply at the well of liberal theology and came under the strong influence of Professor Johannes Henricus Scholten, an increasingly prominent Biblical scholar who had accepted what would become known as "higher criticism". When Faure returned to Cape Town in , he had shed the orthodox theological skin of his youth and become an exponent of liberalism.
In the meantime, theological strife had shaken the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape. Thomas Francois Burgers, a young minister in Hanover, and his counterpart in Darling, Johannes Jacobus Kotze, had been suspended for heterodoxy by the Cape Synod in and , respectively. Weary of strife, the Dutch Reformed leadership had implemented a mandatory colloquium doctum for all prospective ordinands as a means of weeding out those who, from a conservative doctrinal perspective, were theologically questionable.
Thus examined, Faure did not pass muster and was denied ordination. Instead of becoming a conventional parish dominee, therefore, he began to hold independent services in the Mutual Hall and soon attracted audiences comprising hundreds of people. In he and the nascent flock constituted the Free Protestant Church. At its services chiefly on Sunday evenings, Faure often delivered a series of "discourses" rather than preaching about specific Biblical texts. He used these opportunities to advocate theological liberalism and discuss contemporary religious thought.
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The fact that Faure devoted a service to defending Darwinian evolutionary theory as compatible with belief in God was thus not entirely novel; indeed, it dovetailed quite neatly with his overall rhetorical scheme. It was printed in The Standard and Mail four days later. The Free Protestant Church paid to have it inserted in that thrice-weekly newspaper, as it did for many other sermons by its maverick minister. As Faure explained in his memoirs in , his discourses had to be printed as advertisements, because if the local editors granted him free publication of his sermons, they would feel pressured to grant equal privileges to the clergymen of the city's other churches, thereby converting their "political broadsheets" into "religious papers".
Despite the necessary fees, Faure believed that such publication was strategically prudent as "the most effectual means of spreading the new doctrine". In his opening section, Faure employed a classical rhetorical device by saluting his opponent. He hailed Porter as "that great and good man who has proved such a true friend to the colony" and as one "whose memory is revered throughout all South Africa" and acknowledged that the "style, tone, and literary excellence" of the Address had been praised.
But the very eminence and influence of its author provided the raison d'etre for his response to it. He declared that he felt called to reply and, after stating why he differed, "try to remove any bad effects his words may have produced and to contest any false views which they may have instilled or confirmed". Was his response to Porter a suitable topic for the pulpit? Apparently Faure believed that some members of his flock might disagree. He devoted a lengthy paragraph to justifying his speech about the matter in what he identified as his "discourse".
No one should reject his choice of theme for the evening on the grounds that he has come to church "for religious purposes and not to hear such questions discussed". Religion as such was at stake: "For if the Development theory renders the existence of God unnecessary and impossible, then religion has no longer the right to exist; if it is true - as true it is - that Darwin's theory of the origin of the human species finds more favour and acceptance day by day, and if it be true also that Atheism is the legitimate outcome of that, then the 'to be or not to be' of religion itself is the question.
Consequently, he stated that he would devote his discourse to stating his reasons "for believing Darwin's Theory" and attempting to convince his hearers that Darwinism "is in no way subversive of believe in God, in a God who is the Father of all, in a God 'in whom we live and move, and have our being'". Faure obviously did not discount the magnitude of the present challenge to religious belief, but he did not share Porter's pessimism. The Unitarian informed his audience that the current perceived threat by natural science was not without precedent and in fact stood in a long series of supposed attacks.
Far too often, he lamented, theology had cried "Wolf! Marshalling a well-worn example, Faure cited the case of Galileo Galilei in the seventeenth century.
That Italian astronomer's advocacy of heliocentric cosmology had led to a trial before the Inquisition, torture, and an insincere recanting of his views. Eventually, of course, as Faure noted Galileo's position prevailed, and "even the most orthodox have sacrificed their Bible which they call infallible to Science which they call atheistical". As in the seventeenth century, so also in the nineteenth, when the strife had shifted from astronomy to geology. When the Biblically inspired notion that the world was approximately 6 years old had come under fire and geologists had dated its origins to a vastly earlier time, a similar hue and cry had gone up from defenders of literal hermeneutics: "Nothing now-a-days is sacred, said they; God's revelation is cast aside, corrupt human reason is placed on the throne, the whole fabric of theology is attacked, Religion is in danger, Atheism rides roughshod o'er the land!
By the s geology had emerged victorious over the "worshippers of the Bible", and "every educated man, orthodox or not", accepted the findings of geology. When it conflicted with statements in the Scriptures, "they get over the difficulty by saying that is not and was not intended to be a hand-book of Science. To Faure, the dispute over Darwinism echoed a familiar theme.
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Science was demonstrating that mankind had not originated in the way described in Genesis, and consequently "the believers in the old Theology go in sackcloth and ashes, mourning over the infidelity of the times, the approaching downfall of Religion, the inroads of Atheism". Alluding to Porter's prediction, he denied explicitly that acceptance of Darwinism would ultimately lead mankind to a despairing cry in the darkness. On the contrary, Faure forecast that far from having such dire consequences, the evolutionary view of mankind will "serve only to give men a deeper insight in the admirable and wise laws of nature, which are the thoughts of God, and will inspire them with greater veneration for the Omnipotent Cause for all".
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That the Darwinian theory of human origins squarely contradicted at least a literal interpretation of Genesis, Faure of course could not deny. Rather, his rhetorical strategy was to address directly the underlying presupposition that the Bible was the infallible word of God. Nonsense, he retorted; "we know that the bible is not infallible; we know that it is not the word of God".
Faure did not delve into the meanings of the polysemous phrase "word of God". Instead, he explained, in full accordance with the nineteenth-century theology he had imbibed in Utrecht and from Anglophone sources, that the Bible is "a collection of writings, in which are contained the ideas entertained by certain Jews and Christians, ideas sometimes mistaken, sometimes correct, sometimes low, sometimes exalted, sometimes immoral, sometimes pure".
Faure did not mince words in stating his relationship to those notions: "They have no binding authority for us. Genesis was essentially nonsense, he judged. Among its debilitating flaws, its account of Creation has the earth existing before the sun, and light, day, and night exist before the sources of light come into being. Having dethroned the Bible from its throne as the judge of science, Faure nailed his rationalistic colours to the mast and stated unambiguously what believers' lodestar should be when orthodox religious notions conflicted with the scientific discoveries or theories.
Quite simply, the former should yield. Rather than accepting or rejecting statements by scientists on the basis of their relationship to theology, Christians should weigh them on the balance of "examination and reflection". If a scientific theory thus passed muster, one's theology should be modified, "even if that frightful catastrophy, the downfall of Paley and the Bridgewater Treaties should be the result".
After all, Faure reasoned, "what is true in the field of Science cannot be false in that of theology. Truth is one. With regard to human development, Faure rejected anti-Darwinist arguments based on the gap between "the civilised European" and higher apes. He conceded that such a cleft existed but found it unconvincing.
The fallacy, Faure believed, lay in concentrating on "civilised man", because that accentuated the magnitude of the "missing link" between the species. Humanity itself was varied. Evolution should be welcomed as a phenomenon that will continue: "Tell men that perfection is before them and that there is no golden age behind them," he urged his audience; "tell them that the human race has not retrogressed and fallen, but that it is ever advancing and rising, strengthened, they will rise no longer fear that man ever will sink in the mire of Materialism, they will not fear that glory of faith and aspiration will ever pass away from the earth, and that the Humanity of the Future will only send into the darkness its despairing cry.
Apparently Faure never shifted course. The debate over Darwinism's compatibility with Christianity continued to occupy him from time to time. Much of that lies outside the scope of the present study. We can note, however, that in he delivered a series of four "discourses" in which he continued to implore his audience in Mutual Hall to be open to the claims of natural science and not fear that they were necessarily incompatible with liberal religious faith.
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These were initially published in De Onderzoeker , a periodical which liberals who were or had been in the Dutch Reformed Church but were at odds with confessional Calvinist theology had established in I In these speeches delivered to the Free Protestant Church, Faure did not broach Darwinism directly but shed further light on some of the presuppositions of his pro-Darwinian position he had taken in He revealed that he had taken his cue from a recently published book by an "advanced Unitarian", the American minister James Thompson Bixby, Similarities of physical and religious knowledge, which had sought to establish a "scientific theology" in harmony with the faith increasing numbers of people were placing in natural science.
Faure's aim was to "preach that book to you", because "the relation between Science and religion is one which intimately concerns us, and which is increasing in importance day by day". However, this series of discourses, which were soon published in both Dutch and English, illuminates how one very liberal minister placed his faith unflinchingly in the modern scientific spirit of the times. It must be emphasised that studies of the impact of Darwinism on Christianity in South Africa are still in their infancy. The present one has extended the previously very limited frontier of scholarly knowledge about this topic by demonstrating that explicitly Christian responses to Darwin's controversial theory of human origins differed markedly in the wake of the publication of The descent of mart in Within a few years, comments by churchmen varied across a broad spectrum from categorical rejection to fervent endorsement.
The fact that in this article the arrangement of those responses suggests a crescendo of acceptance should be taken cum grano salis.
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There is no reason to believe, for example, that Faure was any less favourable to Darwinism in the early s than he was in Conversely, unqualified opposition to the shocking theory remained strong for many decades, and it is still found among many churchmen in the twenty-first century. Although the present study has found a variety of attitudes expressed in several Protestant denominations within a period of approximately five years after the advent of The descent of man, exploration of the topic remains a fertile field crying out to be worked.
Many corners of it are virgin soil.
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