Early on this campaign season, several presidential candidates put the creation-evolution debate “front and center” in national politics—and it’s about time. Whether we were created by “Something” or evolved from “Nothing” dictates “Everything” about how we view the world and, specifically, the role of government in the world. If we evolved from nothing, then we are responsible to nothing, except perhaps for some nebulous “responsibility” to each other fastened by an imaginary chain into a bottomless ocean with no anchor at the end and no end into which to anchor. But if we were created by Something, then we are likely responsible to that Something, which, I submit, provides the only real foundation for our responsibility to each other. Jesus, for example, said that the greatest commandment was to love my God with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my mind; and that the second greatest commandment was to love my neighbor as myself.2
Many a politician will seize on that second maxim, explicitly or not, to justify government programs to feed the hungry and house the homeless, to care for the widow and the orphan, to fund and finance a host of other purported government objectives that sound less noble but are cloaked with the same air of nobility. Our current President, for example, who is himself an avowed evolutionist, has invoked the Bible recently to justify proposed tax increases (for some) to fund more and more of his social programs (for others).3 There is a difference, however, between “loving thy neighbor as thyself” and forcibly paying thy neighbor’s bills at the point of a gun or, in our case, upon threat of imprisonment for not paying taxes. Both are acts of obedience; the former (voluntary giving), obedience to an eternal Creator, the latter (involuntary giving), obedience to a temporal governor. But even the Bible tells us that God ordains him who is put in temporal governance over us, and it commands us to give our governors their due, to “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” So, isn’t it a Godly thing, a goodly thing, to exact from the “richer” and give to the “poorer?” Well, in a word, “no.” After all, Robin Hood was still a thief. The fact that the Bible condones private charity does not translate into a mandate for public thievery, any more so than a command that children honor their parents translates into an invitation to parents to abuse their children, or that a directive to workers to profit their employers validates an employer’s theft from his employees.
The transcendent difference between charity and welfare is rooted primarily in the heart and mind of the recipient. One who receives a gift voluntarily given, one who receives charity from another, is inclined to a heart of gratefulness and gratitude for something he is not owed and knows that he is not owed. One who receives government handouts of monies and materials, however, is often given to a mind of right and entitlement, (i.e., the idea that he has some natural “right” to have property taken from others and given to him) particularly when the taking and redistribution are stamped with a democratic imprimatur. Welfare recipients are invited to conclude they are owed something from an impersonal “society” with no one in particular to thank, no face to associate with the gift—not even a picture to personalize the “donor” handing over his cash at the point of a government gun. Some don’t even think far enough to realize that their handouts come at the expense of someone else. They just seem to think their “benefits” magically materialize in the government’s coffers.
Recipients of charity, on the other hand, realize their charity, their “gifts,” come from others. Therefore, recipients of charity are more likely to appreciate that they owe something, if no more than gratitude and thanks, to their benefactors who are specific and identifiable human beings or charitable organizations, like Christian churches or the Red Cross. The contrast between the heart of the one who gets charity (who feels grateful) and the heart of the one gets welfare (who feels entitled) is rooted in a simple fact. Benefactors have things that are theirs to give. Government has nothing to give except what it takes from its subjects, filters through its bureaucrats, then redistributes (what’s left) to an ungrateful populace with no one to thank for their handouts except perhaps for the politicians who got elected by telling them “vote for me and I’ll steal for you,” or words to that effect.4 But not even the politicians are due any thanks. They received the benefit of their bargain—they got a vote in return for a handout. Welfare invites its recipients to feel entitled to the proceeds of theft: “I gave you my vote, now give me my handout.” Charity invites its beneficiaries to feel thankful for the gift of the giver, and to wonder at the motivation(s) behind the gifts.
This is the point at which evolution and creation are rightly injected into the national political debate.5 If we are merely the product of evolution, if our “responsibility” to each other arises from Nothing, from a bottomless ocean with no end in which to anchor, then that responsibility, if it exists at all, is necessarily temporal, meaning that its invocation is warranted by nothing more than one man’s desire to be (re)elected or to feel good about himself. But if our responsibility to each other arises from Something, from a Creator-God, if you will, then it is a responsibility greater than the political aspirations of any one man. Evolution suggests that this life is all there is and ever will be. We might as well do everything we can to benefit ourselves, regardless if that means stealing to get elected. Creation teaches that there is something else; that there is Some Thing beyond this world, after this life, worth telling people about. The best way to get someone’s attention is to meet his or her immediate needs. It is by meeting their needs freely and voluntarily that they will ask, or wonder, “why me? Why would you do this for me?” I can think of only three answers: (1) I’m a politician and I want to count on (i.e., buy or repay you for) your vote; (2) I live for a Creator-God who wants you to know Him and the place He has waiting for His people after this life; or (3) I don’t know, it just makes me feel good about myself to give you something I think you want or need or, maybe, because I want something back from you other than a vote.
Answers (1) and (3) are self-centered and do nothing to validate the worth of the individual recipient. They serve only to benefit the politician who wants your vote, or to stroke the ego or conscience of someone who’s not really doing anything for the benefit of another, but only to make himself feel good about himself or to get something else in return. Only answer (2) tells the recipient that he or she is worthy, worthwhile, of value in an absolute sense; that he or she is loved by a loving God who specially placed a benefactor in between the needed and the needy. Government welfare is non-biblical, if not unbiblical, for several reasons, one of which is because it removes from the equation the factors of appreciation and wonder. “I wonder what it was that caused her to do that for me. What is it about her, or him, that brought them to meet my needs when no one else would bother? What makes them different? What makes them special? What sets them apart? To whom, and how, do I express my appreciation?”
Well, it all goes back to whether my responsibility, my duty, to my fellow man is anchored in a real and tangible “Something,” or in an imaginary, intangible “Nothing.” If I evolved from nothing then I will eventually fade away and evaporate into nothing. All that I have in this world is all that I will ever have, and therefore my highest and best use, the only possible point of my existence, is and should be to acquire for myself as much as I can for myself in terms of wealth, power, prestige and everything else this world has to offer. Public donations for the return of public prestige honors the man and brings glory to himself. But private sharing from what one has, of what one has been given, is indicative of something else, of a “Some Thing,” beyond himself—a Creator-God; for me, a God who loves me, who sent His Son to die for me, and who tells me to love my neighbor as myself so that my neighbor can see in me a little bit of that Creator-God who loves him too and gave His Son freely and voluntarily, not because Caesar presumed himself to have the power over God, but because God in His mercy gave me what Caesar did not rightly own and therefore could not rightly give. The appreciation is owed to God who gave His Son, not to Caesar who killed him.
The more the government takes, the more it steals, the less we have to meet the needs of the needy with the message of the Word and the love of God. This is not to exonerate the Church for not fulfilling its obligations to the poor and the needy; only to say that the Church’s ability to do so is decreased in direct proportion to the extent by which the State takes from church parishioners monies that otherwise could be, should be, and would be given to the Church. Welfare, our “creeping socialism” as it is,6 does to the Church and evangelism what a slow death does to a pulse. It renders it less and less measurable until it finally disappears. Welfare is an impulsive imposition; charity, a constant command; welfare is temporal; evangelism, eternal. The eternal is infinitely and forever more important than the temporal. Elevation of the temporal at the expense of the eternal is nothing less than an outright assault on the Church and its people.
It is blasphemy for a political leader today to invoke Scripture to justify a Socialist agenda. Socialism, it has been said, is nothing more than shared poverty. Jesus said there will always be “poor” among us.7 By contrast then, there will always be the “rich” among us too. Dragging the so-called “rich” down to the financial level of the so-called “poor,” or trying to have them meet somewhere in the middle simply by taking from the rich and “redistributing” to the poor, may promote some sort of temporal “equality” in the mind of the shallow thinker, but it is both bad economics and bad theology to discard the eighth Commandment (“Thou shalt not steal”) to promote this sort of temporal “equality” at the expense of freedom, particularly in a country theoretically and theologically founded on an equality of opportunity, not an equality of ends. Scripture, which clearly teaches creation, is rarely more twisted than when invoked by an evolutionist to undermine the fundamental significance of creationism, which is that the individual trumps the State; not the State the individual; that the eternal trumps the temporal, not the temporal the eternal. When the State trumps the individual, it tromps the individual, running each like a grape through the winepress of the wine presser and his voters for the temporal bacchanalian orgy they will all enjoy until the hangover hits—usually just after they’ve left office.
Secondly, the difference between charity and welfare changes the heart and mind of the giver, the one who gives freely as opposed to the one being taxed. The one who gives freely makes an affirmative commitment to an individual, a person, or to an identifiable charity of his choice. The one who gives involuntarily, who is taxed, submits to a mandatory obligation forcefully imposed upon him for the benefit of someone he doesn’t even know and who doesn’t know him. Moreover, the one who gives freely has his ability to share stolen by a government that takes by taxing, decreasing the amount he has to give in direct proportion to the amount the government steals through taxes for the purposes of redistribution. I give joyfully. I pay taxes reluctantly. It’s one thing to bring my neighbor a bag of groceries for his family, even to give him the family car when it’s time to replace my own. It’s another to see him driving his family down the road to the grocery store in a car that I paid for, but never drove, especially when my neighbor and I never met. Can I still flag him down and share the Gospel with him and his family? Well, sure, [for now] but he’s less likely to slow down for me, let alone to stop, look and listen. He has no gratitude; I have no grace. We have nothing in common, except for the same, Something, Creator-God, who I know, but am often forbidden to speak of in the public square, even though my tax dollars pay for the square. My neighbor may never know who really gave him those groceries or that car—not the government (after all, it has nothing to give but what it takes), not even me, but God through me as His conduit. Government redistribution of wealth is not a conduit for grace, but a conduit for theft, leaving in its wake the odium of its victims and the self-righteousness of its beneficiaries—the seeds for class warfare being sown so recklessly across our country this campaign season.
Does it matter politically whether we evolved from a Nothing or were created by a Something? Absolutely, and to an immeasurable extent. The Bible says it is better to give than to receive,8 but who among us would rather be robbed than receive? If my only choices are to be on the receiving end of that transaction or to be robbed, who’s to blame me if I vote for the one who promises to rob from another so that I might receive the proceeds of his theft? Well, I think God is. God is to blame me for what would become, in effect, my theft by proxy. But if there is no God, there is no blame. God visits his “blame” upon us simply by giving us over to exactly what we deserve by putting into office the politicians we voted into office. In our case, in our recent history, at least, that means an economy in shambles and a country that is morally bankrupt. In his classic work, Democracy in America, (published in 1835 and 1840) Alex de Tocqueville wrote that “America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”9 Look around you; we have ceased to be good. Then look at what lies ahead. It does not look great. We need to change, to change now, and to change drastically. We need to reverse course and resort to the values that made this country strong, not to continue on with the rejection of those values lying at the core of the last clarion call for “change” solely for change’s sake. That hollow, empty call left us without any direction in which to turn, then led to our turning a collective back on that which made this country good and thereby allowed it to be great. We don’t need merely to “change,” but to change back to the Biblical principles upon which this Nation was founded.
Creationism is not a philosophy, it is a science. But it’s often our conclusions about science that dictate our philosophy, including our political philosophy. That’s why Creationism belongs “front and center” on the campaign trail.