A friend of mine was gracious enough to ask me what I thought of Theistic Evolution–the idea that tries to fuse modern science’s theories of the origins of the universe with some form of the Creation account. Is it a legitimate belief system, he asked, or is it “cheating” (for both sides) of the debate? An interesting way to phrase the question, for sure.
I was thankful that my Christian witness in the past provided for a chance to engage on his latest discussion. As believers that is what we should hope for in our conduct before a watching world (Col 4:5,6). I prayerfully sat at the keyboard. Below is gently edited version of both my reply and my follow-up to his reply. (Special thanks to the folks at Answers In Genesis for some of the concepts I present here.)
First of all, great question! I commend you for asking it! I don’t know why an evolutionist would want to “cheat” and give credence to the theistic evolution (TE) idea. By definition it concedes the possibility of a supreme being, which defeats the whole purpose of the theory of evolution. Any time we concede there must be a supreme being, we ought naturally to ask next, “What responsibilities are impinging on me as a result?” In other words, “If God exists, what does He require of me in this life and when I die?”
Speaking as a Christian, let me briefly give four reasons why it is not simply “cheaing” for someone who claims to be a Christian to believe in TE, but is, in fact, worse than cheating. The reasons will also show why TE (and DE–Darwinian Evolution) can be disproven theologically:
1. Death. Macro evolution is dependent on changes over time–generations. This obviously requires life…and death. In Genesis 1 & 2 the Bible says God created everything, right down to seed already in the fruit. Death did not exist until it came about through the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden. So, before the Fall there was no death. We already know you can’t have macro evolution without death, so it simply could not have happened. Genesis 1 & 2 stand.
2.The Omnipotence of God. I often am amazed at the silliness of arguing about TE. The question is not whether God created the universe and everything in it in 6 days, but Why did He take so long?? God is all-powerful–He could have taken 6 days or 6 milli-seconds, or none at all! In His wisdom He took 6 days. TE is a fruitless squabble over a duration and means we simply aren’t comfortable with.
3. The Personality of God. TE, tersely speaking, says God arranged for all the goo and then just sat back and watched it all ooze and evolve–like some cosmic science fair project. The Bible always describes God as being One who is engaged, involved, and personally aware of all that is happening in His creation. He loves what He made and is actively involved in it. Christians who claim to believe in TE are actually misrepresenting and besmerching the character and kindness of the One they claim to believe in!
4. Jesus affirmed Creation. Realistically, this could be the only reason and it is more than enough. Jesus Christ–God Himself–affirmed when He was incarnate on the earth that the creation account was true. (Incidentally, God entered into his own creation–think of that!) Here are three verses where He does so:
Matthew 19:4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female”
Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’
Mark 13:19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be.
There is a lot more that can be said about this, but for anyone–especially someone who claims allegiance to Jesus Christ–to say that TE is anything other than error (at best) or blasphemy (at worst) they really must get off the fence and choose one or the other, but they can’t have the ‘both’ that TE purports to offer.
(Below are some follow-up comments based on his reply.)
Regarding the idea that mutations or changes can be observed, what you refer to happens, but not in a “from this kind to that kind” sort of way. Drug-resistant strains of viruses, etc. change to become just that but they remain a form of the same virus; they don’t become something else or even begin to take a side-step there.
Good question about death in the Garden too. We don’t really have any idea how long Adam & Eve were in the Garden before the Fall. So it may not have been long enough for fruit to rot or animals to die. But, that would not and could not have happened before the Fall anyway. Here’s why:
Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote in Romans 5:14-21 that death came through Adam’s sin. He says this several times in those few verses. Also, in his first letter to the believers in Corinth he wrote “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22). Death upon the earth was part of the penalty of the Fall.
Theologically, the Christian faith teaches that death was defeated when Jesus Christ died on the cross and defeated death by rising from the dead. Since then the curse is now being worked backwards. Death still reigns on the earth, but we can (somewhat ironically) say that it is “mortally wounded”. When Christ returns he will ultimately do away with death completely.
There isn’t as much difficulty reconciling Genesis 1 as you might think. Let me give you some encouragement. It is actually much easier to reconcile the whole Bible, together as one cohesive whole, than simply Genesis 1. Genesis 1-3 is true and reliable because we can be amazed when we discover how the rest of the Bible supports it, and the reverse is true, we begin to see that the rest of the Bible is true and reliable because so much of it is rooted in Genesis 1-3.
Matthew Maury is known as “The Father of Oceanography”. He discovered the undersea ocean currents because he read in Psalm 8:8 about “the paths of the sea” and assumed it was true because it was in the Bible–and it was! Maury later said,
“I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore of no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches…The Bible is true and science is true, and therefore each, if truly read, but proves the truth of the other.”
Hope those help the discussion. Have a great day!