Theistic evolution is the idea that God used a random process of chance to create the world. This article shows that such a view is inconsistent with the biblical message of creation, fall, and redemption.

Source: Australian Presbyterian, 1999. 3 pages.

Is Theistic Evolution Credible?

There is a large number of evangeli­cal Christians today who believe in both God and evolution. They are theistic evolutionists. Theistic evolution is the idea that God used a random process of chance to create the world. For many people this is an attractive idea because it seems to offer the best of both worlds, the comfort of believ­ing in God as well as the security of fitting in to some extent with the ideas of modern science.

What effect, if any, does the compro­mise of believing in God and evolution have for the doctrine of the Christian faith? Is it possible to accommodate the early chapters of Genesis with the theory of evo­lution without undermining the teaching of the New Testament?

Some years ago I came across an obser­vation by Martin Luther concerning the interconnectedness of the doctrines of the Bible: “In philosophy a small error in the beginning is a very serious error in the end. So also in theology a slight error will destroy the whole doctrine ... For the doc­trine is like a mathematical point; it cannot be divided, that is, it cannot brook either subtraction or addition ... Hence the doc­trine must be one continuous and round golden ring, in which there is no break. If even the least break occurs, the ring is no longer perfect.”

These observations help to explain some of the wider meaning and scope of Galatians 5:9: “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” Paul gave this warning in the context of the gospel being denied by the false teaching of the Judaisers in the church. His point is that if an error is unchecked, it will corrupt our entire system of belief.

This is especially relevant to God’s reve­lation in Genesis concerning the creation of the world. The teaching of evolution, like the teaching of the Judaisers in Galatia, acts as yeast on the whole body of Christian doctrine, gradually eroding it. One of Darwin’s contemporaries shows very well how the yeast works:

The evolution of man from lower forms of life was in itself a new and startling fact, and one that broke up the old theology. I and my contempo­raries, however, accepted it as fact. The first and obvious result of this experience was that we were compelled to regard the Biblical story of the Fall as not historic ... If there is no historic Fall, what becomes of the redemption, the salvation through Christ?

Fortunately for their Christian faith, most theistic evolutionists are not as con­sistent in their beliefs as that person. They do not follow them through to their logical conclusion, as he did. It is possible to be inconsistent and embrace very contradic­tory doctrines. However, the history of the Christian Church shows that “felicitous inconsistency” is often superseded by an infelicitous consistency, with the gospel being badly corrupted, lost or abandoned.

Historic Christianity says that in the Bible we have a revelation from God, which gives the truth about the origins and pur­pose of life. It provides the Christian worldview, a “golden ring” with three high points of historical truth, all indissolubly connected: Creation, Fall and Redemption. Theistic evolution undermines all three.

Creation🔗

Genesis 1 and 2 declare that in a period of six days God supernaturally created a world of such beauty and perfection, that God himself pronounced it to be “very good” (1:31). Moses gives us a considerable amount of detail in those chapters which clearly reveal the character and nature of God. God is seen to be a God of great goodness, wisdom and power. There is no hint of evil, suffering or death in the world that God made.

Theistic evolution presents a different picture. It says that God was responsible for creating the world through the cruel and painful process of evolution, a theory that, if true, required billions of years of death, suffering, bloodshed, disease, etc to produce the world in its present state. If God, who all Christians agree has the power to create instantly, opted for a sadis­tic method like evolution in lieu of instant creation, are we not left with the extraordi­nary inference that suffering and death are “very good” (1:31) and consistent with the character and nature of God?

However, Christ reveals the Father and shows that God certainly does not regard suffering and death as “good”. They are quite contrary to God’s character and nature. So over against the knowledge of God we have in Jesus, I find it very disturb­ing to see Christians taking a position which, in effect, accuses God of using cru­elty over millions of years.

Fall🔗

According to Genesis 3, when Adam, the first man (and father and representative of the whole human race) disobeyed God, the human family in its entirety fell with Adam into sin, sickness and death. This was the result of God’s judgment on Adam’s sin. The Apostle Paul in the New Testament treats Genesis 2 and 3 concern­ing Adam and his fall as an historical event which is pivotal to understanding why Jesus went to his death on the Cross. Two examples: “just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12); and, “For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abun­dant provision of grace and of the gifts of righteousness reign in life through one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

Therefore, both Moses and Paul provide a logical, reasonable and spiritually satisfy­ing explanation for the presence of evil and suffering in the world. They were not part of Creation at the beginning. They appear as intruders in God’s “good” world, brought about by God’s judgment on Adam’s fall into sin. Part of the good news of the New Testament is the promise that they will be removed upon Christ’s return when God “restores” everything (Acts 3:17).

Theistic evolution, however, portrays God as using suffering and death to create the world, not as a judgment on Adam’s sin. The New Testament calls death “the last enemy” and treats it accordingly, but theistic evolution regards death as the essential means whereby God created the world. Moses’ account and evolution are mutually exclusive.

Redemption🔗

The Bible tells us that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to become “the last Adam” (Rom. 5:12ff). The last Adam came and paid the debt to God’s justice, redeeming mankind through his death on our behalf, so that redemption became freely available to all who put their trust in him.

It is not possible to “spiritually discern” the message of God’s redemption through Christ in the absence of God’s revelation of the two Adams. The role and work of the last Adam, Jesus Christ, is meaningless if the first Adam and his disobedience are not historical. The “yeast” of theistic evolution, with its inherent anti-supernaturalism, eats away at the Biblical doctrine of redemption because, in compromising with evolution, it often leads to a denial of both the his­toricity of the first Adam and his fall into sin as described in Genesis 3. Obviously, this removes the need for the second Adam, Jesus Christ. In its extreme form, theistic evolution turns the Christian away from the Cross and the second coming of Christ, and points him to faith in the alleged ongoing evolutionary process which, it is said, will ultimately bring mankind into union with God.

If we wish to remain true to the New Testament, it is simply not possible to accommodate theistic evolution with Genesis. Opponents of Christianity have always been aware of this. They mock theistic evolutionists for their lack of consis­tency. For example, Thomas Huxley (1825-­95), the greatest populariser of Darwin, gleefully ridiculed Christians in his day who tried to hold to New Testament doc­trines which Christ and Paul teach, but at the same time abandoned Genesis as literal history. He took every opportunity to show “the melancholy fact that the posi­tion they have taken up is hopelessly unten­able”.

Huxley insisted that “science” had proved that one cannot intelligently accept the Genesis account of creation to be true. He believed that theologians had to accept evolution over millions of years, but to be consistent, they also had to give up the teaching of the Bible totally. Compromise does not work. According to Huxley, “a child may see the folly of it”.

It is time for all Christians to heed the call of Hank Hanegraaf. In his 1998 book The FACE that Demonstrates the Farce of Evolution, he reviews scientific develop­ments and concludes:

Evolution is fight­ing for its life. Rather than prop it up with theories like theistic evolution, Christians must be in the vanguard of demonstrating its demise. While insiders in the evolution­ary community are aware of their theory’s desperate condition, the general public is as yet in the dark. That’s precisely where you and I come in. We have the inestimable privilege to share the news that nothing could be more compelling in the age of sci­entific enlightenment than ‘In the begin­ning God created the heavens and the earth’.

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