Theistic Evolution - Part 1 - What is the Issue?
Contributed by Stephen J. Huxley
Christians today are bombarded with information and ideas that must be evaluated through scripture. Some ideas tend to be easy to evaluate, while others prove more challenging. One such challenging issue is theistic evolution. Because it contains the word theistic it could be assumed that God takes a central role. However, the majority view of theistic evolution sees God involved only at the beginning of a cosmic experiment that has little to no alignment with scripture. Read on to learn more about this important issue.
Theistic evolution is essentially the view that God used purely unguided mechanistic evolutionary processes to create the material universe and life. While on the surface it sounds benign, this view has many serious implications for the integrity of scripture, theology, and apologetics.
First, theistic evolution adopts a full-throated evolutionary viewpoint about the history of life. Therefore, it denies that God specially created Adam and Eve as the progenitors of humankind. But this viewpoint is clearly taught in the scriptures. For example:
• The Bible presents Adam as a real person. This is true not just in the Old Testament, but Adam and his sin are integral to Paul’s theology in Romans 5 and I Corinthians 15 regarding why Christ had to become the “last Adam” and redeem humanity. He may have lived in a cave, but Adam was conscious, he could reason, and he could speak. It is central to Paul’s arguments that Adam was a real person and the sole progenitor of humanity.
• Acts 17:26 states “From one man he made all the nations,” showing that all humanity is descended from Adam, our sole progenitor.
• Genesis states that Eve is "the mother of all the living," directly requiring that any living humans are descended from Eve (Genesis 3:20).
• The Apostle Paul expressly endorses the special creation of Eve in language that absolutely precludes an evolutionary origin of Eve. I Corinthians 11:8-9 states "For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." I Timothy 2:13 states "For Adam was formed first, then Eve."
For thousands of years, orthodox Christians have believed that Adam and Eve were the sole progenitors of humankind, specially created by God. Theistic evolution denies what is clearly taught in scripture.
Theologically, theistic evolution turns God into a deistic God who is far removed from His creation. Like the gnostics who believed that God did not directly create but created through the “demiurge,” theistic evolutionists believe God created through apparently unguided evolutionary mechanisms. He didn’t directly create life. Rather, under a theistic evolutionary view, God set these blind evolutionary mechanisms into motion and let them do the job. It is not a coincidence that this sounds a lot like deism.
Theistic evolution claims that God used apparently unguided mechanisms to create life. Thus, everything appears to be unguided and God cannot be seen in His creation. Theistic evolution thus stands in direct contrast to Paul’s teaching in Romans 1:20 which says that God is “clearly seen” in His creation.
Theistic evolution’s pitfalls and the challenges it poses to orthodox Christianity are broader and deeper than these simple considerations. Anyone who wants to know more and is willing to invest the time should read the new book from Crossway, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. This book contains chapters from top experts in the intelligent design movement like Stephen Meyer, JP Moreland, and Wayne Grudem, discussing the scientific, philosophical, and theological problems with theistic evolution. It’s a thick book but a must-buy resource for anyone who wants to converse with the current debate over theistic evolution. In an upcoming blog post I will provide a succinct overview of the book.
Stephen J. Huxley is professor in the School of Management at the University of San Francisco. Dr. Huxley's areas of focus help prepare individuals to employ deep and critical examination skills in order to reach informed conclusions and decisions.
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