Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | March 7, 2018

23. Famous Thinkers – Statesman Is a Creationist 3

(7 Minute Read)

Nebraska’s Statue of
William Jennings Bryan
in the U.S. Capitol

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was a two-term Congressman from Nebraska, a three-time American presidential candidate, and a United States Secretary of State.

But Bryan is even more well known for his involvement in one of history’s most famous courtroom trials. This was the Scopes Trial in Dayton, Tennessee, in July 1925. This “Trial of the Century” is popularly referred to as the Monkey Trial.

Bryan died during an afternoon nap in Dayton, a mere five days after the close of the trial. The Scopes Trial had not been not Bryan’s best hour. Bryan looked foolish when he could not answer defense counsel Darrow’s Bible questions.

In the popular view, Biblical credibility was damaged and Christianity was impugned when evolutionist Darrow confounded Bible-champion Bryan. Bryan won the court case, but Darrow won the battle over the nation’s worldview.

Despite dropping the ball when Darrow questioned Bryan during the Scopes Trial, Bryan spent many effective years upholding Scripture and attacking evolution. He averaged 200 speeches yearly as the nation’s premier anti-evolution crusader in the 1920s.

Bryan’s Legacy

Bryan was highly respected nationwide throughout his life. The esteem for Bryan was so high that $5 million poured in after his unexpected death, to build a college in Dayton in his memory. Bryan College opened in 1930 to “educate students to become servants of Christ to make a difference in today’s world.”

In a 1934 dedication for a Bryan memorial in Washington DC, authorized by a joint resolution of Congress, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said of Bryan,

“I think that we would choose the word ‘sincerity’ as fitting him most of all. It was that sincerity which brought to him the millions of devoted followers; it was that sincerity that served him so well in his life-long fight against sham and privilege and wrong. It was that sincerity which made him a force for good in his own generation and kept alive many of the ancient faiths on which we are building today. … We who are assembled here today to accept this memorial in the capital of the Republic can well agree that he fought the good fight; that he finished the course; and that he kept the faith.”
(Roosevelt, Franklin D., Address at a Memorial to William Jennings Bryan, May 3, 1934.)

William Jennings Bryan Statue in Salem, Illinois
The statue was created by Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum.
It was dedicated in Washington DC by President Franklin Roosevelt on May 3, 1934.
In 1961, it was moved to Salem, Bryan’s birthplace.

Wisdom of William Jennings Bryan

Here are some excerpts from the speeches and writings of William Jennings Bryan that reflect his thought.

“I have a right to assume, and I prefer to assume, a Designer back of the design — a Creator back of the creation.”
(Bryan, The Prince of Peace, Fleming H. Revell Company, Chautauqua lecture, 1914, p.12)

Bryan’s lectures in the 1920s vigorously attacked evolutionism. In his widely-distributed 1920 pamphlet, The Menace of Darwinism, he showed how evolutionism threatened the Christian foundation of American society and education. In lectures at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia he said,

“It is better to trust in the Rock of Ages than to learn the ages of rocks.”

Why should an hypothesis, suggested by a scientist, be accepted as true until its truth is established? Science should be the last to make such a demand because science to be truly science is classified knowledge; it is the explanation of facts. Tested by this definition, Darwinism is not science at all; it is guesses strung together. There is more science in the twenty-fourth verse of the first chapter of Genesis (And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beast of the earth after his kind; and it was so.) than in all that Darwin wrote.
(William Jennings Bryan, In His Image lecture series, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1922, pp 93, 94.)

In a New York Times article Bryan emphasized that the theory of evolution was speculation without evidence:

The first objection to Darwinism is that it is only a guess and was never anything more. It is called a “hypothesis,” but the word “hypothesis,” though euphonious, dignified and high-sounding, is merely a scientific synonym for the old-fashioned word “guess.” If Darwin had advanced his views as a guess, they would not have survived for a year, but they have floated for half a century, buoyed up by the inflated word “hypothesis.” When it is understood that “hypothesis” means “guess,” people will inspect it more carefully before accepting it.
(William Jennings Bryan, “God and Evolution”, New York Times, 26 Feb 1922.)

William Jennings sBryan

William Jennings Bryan

At the end of the Scopes Trial, defense attorney Darrow declined to make a closing statement. Under Tennessee law, this meant prosecutor Bryan could not make a closing statement either. Here are excerpts from Bryan’s 41-page Scopes Closing Statement which was not delivered at the trial but which was published posthumously:

Christianity welcomes truth from whatever source it comes and is not afraid that any real truth from any source can interfere with the divine truth that comes by inspiration from God Himself. It is not scientific truth to which Christians object, for true science is classified knowledge, and nothing therefore can be scientific unless it is true.

Evolution is not truth; it is merely a hypothesis – it is millions of guesses strung together. It had not been proven in the days of Darwin – he expressed astonishment that with two or three million species it had been impossible to trace any species to any other species – it had not been proven in the days of Huxley, and it has not been proven up to today. It is less than four years ago that Professor Bateson came all the way from London to Canada to tell the American scientists that every effort to trace one species to another had failed – every one. He said he still had faith in evolution but had doubts about the origin of species.

There is no more reason to believe that man descended from some inferior animal than there is to believe that a stately mansion has descended from a small cottage.

If the results of evolution were unimportant, one might require less proof in support of the hypothesis; but, before accepting a new philosophy of life built upon a materialistic foundation, we have reason to demand something more than guesses: “we may well, suppose” is not a sufficient substitute for “thus saith the Lord.”

Professor J. Arthur Thomson says that the “idea of evolution is the most potent thought-economizing formula the world has yet known.” It is more than that; it dispenses with thinking entirely and relies on the imagination.

Our first indictment against evolution is that it disputes the truth of the Bible account of man’s creation and shakes faith in the Bible as the word of God. This indictment we prove by comparing the processes described as evolutionary with the text of Genesis. It not only contradicts the Mosaic record as to the beginning of human life, but it disputes the Bible doctrine of reproduction according to kind – the greatest scientific principle known.

The world needs a savior more than it ever did before and there is only one “Name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” It is this Name that evolution degrades, for, carried to its logical conclusion, it robs Christ of the glory of a virgin birth, of the majesty of His deity and mission, and of the triumph of His resurrection. It also disputes the doctrine of the atonement.
(Bryan, Closing Statement at the Scopes Trial, July 1925)

Bryan discussed the theory of evolution at length in the chapter titled “The Origin of Man” in his 1924 book Seven Questions In Dispute:

Seven Questions In Dispute
by William Jennings Bryan
Frontpiece

. . . physicians, when they find certain diseases, arthritis, for instance, institute a search for the source of the poison that brings disorder into the body — the teeth, the tonsils, and the sinus being examined first. The evolutionary hypothesis is the source of the poison which is bringing disorder into the Church. Scratch a critic of the Bible and you are sure to find an evolutionist.

At present the theistic evolutionists are doing more harm than the atheists; they loudly proclaim their belief in God while they discredit the Bible, our only infallible standard of faith and conduct — the Book that gives us our conception of God and our only knowledge of the Saviour.

And what is offered as proof that the evolutionary hypothesis, or guess, furnishes an explanation of the origin of the more than a million species to be found in the animal and vegetable world? (Darwin estimated the number of species at from two to three millions.) Nothing but resemblances, and these resemblances are insignificant when compared with admitted differences. There is enough similarity between man and the mammals to have raised the question of kinship thousands of years ago, but the proof furnished by resemblances is completely overthrown by one fact, namely, that it has been impossible to trace any species to any other, notwithstanding the number of species and the resemblances between them. . . . Of what weight, we may likewise inquire, are resemblances when Darwin admitted that he had never been able to connect any species with any other? Huxley declared that no connecting link had ever been found; and only two years ago the same statement was made by Professor Bateson, of Great Britain, who came all the way across the Atlantic to give that information to the scientists of America. Similarity puts us on inquiry, but it does not reveal origins. If we see houses of different sizes, built of exactly the same material, we do not say that the larger grew out of the smaller; we say that the same architect planned them all. Why deny to God the credit for originating species — at least, until one species can be traced to another?

After locating our first parents in Central Africa, Darwin asks, “But why speculate?” If he had thought of that in the beginning, he would have been saved the trouble of writing The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, both of which are made up of speculations. He used the phrase, “We may well suppose,” over and over again, and employed every word in the dictionary that means uncertainty.

But the case against the evolutionary hypothesis is even stronger. There is not only an entire absence of evidence sufficient to support the hypothesis, but there is positive evidence that overthrows all the presumptions that have been built upon similarity.

Anatomy presents convincing evidence that man’s body was designed by an Infinite Intelligence and carefully adapted to the work required of him. His eyes, his ears, his heart, his lungs, his stomach, his arteries, his veins, his ducts, his nerves, his muscles — all his parts show that man is not a haphazard development of chance, but a creation, constructed for a purpose.

Christianity does not fear any truth that science has discovered or may discover. All truth is of God, whether it is revealed in the Bible or by nature; therefore, truths cannot conflict. It is not truth that Christians object to; they object to guesses put forward without verification and substituted for “Thus saith the Lord.”

The objection to evolution, however, as an explanation of life is not, primarily, that it is not true — many things that are false are scarcely deserving of attention. Neither is the ridiculousness of the explanations of evolutionists the chief reason for rejecting it, although there is more unintentional humor in these explanations than in any intended fun. The principal objection to evolution is that it is highly harmful to those who accept it and attempt to conform their thought to it.

Evolution, theistic as well as atheistic, when carried to its logical conclusion, robs Christ of the glory of the Virgin Birth, of the majesty of His deity, and of the triumph of His resurrection. Such a Christ cannot meet the world’s needs. Society, brought to the verge of ruin by a godless philosophy — by mind-worship — by learning unsanctified by love — can be revived and reconstructed only by the salvation and leadership of a full-statured Christ, whose code of morality is to endure for all ages, whose Gospel is for all mankind, and whose teachings will establish a universal brotherhood and usher in the day when swords shall be beaten into ploughshares and nations learn war no more.

(William Jennings Bryan, Seven Questions In Dispute, Fleming H. Revell Company, 1924, pp 125, 128, 129-130, 132-133, 137, 139, 143, 144, 158.)

Here are links to other works by Bryan defending Creation and the Bible and opposing Evolution:
The Bible or Evolution
Mr. Bryan on Evolution, Reader’s Digest, August 1925.

Therefore…

We could use a man like William Jennings Bryan again — a man with active faith in the Creator and one with selfless concern for his fellow man. Bryan believed in the Creator, the God of the Bible, and he lived his life by the dictates of that Book. Bryan was not duped by the evolutionism that deludes so many intellectuals today. How foolish is the arrogance and hubris of today — where man thinks he is so advanced and despises the wisdom of previous generations regarding the existence of a Creator!

Belief in a Creator is common sense based on looking at what has been created, just as
Paul the Apostle (Romans 1:18-23),
President Thomas Jefferson,
Benjamin Franklin,
Sir Isaac Newton,
John Calvin,
Dr. Werner von Braun,
George Washington Carver,
Johann Kepler,
Blaise Pascal,
Robert Boyle,
Dr. Raymond Damadian,
President Herbert Hoover,
Billy Sunday,
William Jennings Bryan,
and innumerable other leading thinkers have argued. These men believed in a Creator and Intelligent Designer. None would have been fooled by the evolutionism that hoodwinks so many today. Throughout history the vast majority of mankind has known that there must be a Creator.

Bryan believed in the Creator and lived his life in honorable service to mankind. Today’s intellectuals would do well to pay heed to this congressman, presidential candidate, statesman, and Bible teacher — one whose achievements far exceed those of most today.

Questions to Ponder

1. Bryan described evolution as “millions of guesses strung together.” Can you identify recent statements in media or in government education as one of these guesses?
2. What was William Jennings Bryan’s most significant character quality?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the 23rd installment in the Famous Thinkers series highlighting great men who believed in the Creator.
Read the prequels:
1. Famous Thinkers – Former U.S. President Supports Intelligent Design
2. Famous Thinkers – Scientist Supports Intelligent Design
3. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Supports Intelligent Design
4. Famous Thinkers – Theologian Testifies for Creation
5. Famous Thinkers – Rocket Scientist Supports Intelligent Design
6. Famous Thinkers – Botanist Supports Creation
7. Famous Thinkers – Botanist Supports Creation 2
8. Famous Thinkers – Astronomer Is a Creationist
9. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Is a Creationist
10. Famous Thinkers – Mathematician Is a Creationist 2
11. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 1
12. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 2
13. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 3
14. Famous Thinkers – Chemist Is a Creationist 4
15. Famous Thinkers – Physician Is a Creationist
16. Famous Thinkers – President Is a Creationist
17. Famous Thinkers – Evangelist Is a Creationist 1
18. Famous Thinkers – Evangelist Is a Creationist 2
19. Famous Thinkers – Evangelist Is a Creationist 3
20. Famous Thinkers – Evangelist Is a Creationist 4
21. Famous Thinkers – Statesman Is a Creationist 1
22. Famous Thinkers – Statesman Is a Creationist 2

Read the sequel:
24. Famous Thinkers – ??? Is a Creationist coming soon…

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday March 7, 2018 A.D.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:18-23)

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Responses

  1. It’s nice to hear some positives about William Jennings Bryan. I’ve always been disappointed by his work at the Scopes Trial, but didn’t know much else about him.

    Like


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