Biblical Problems with Theistic Evolution, Part I

26 04 2010

In our day and age there is an ever increasing gulf fixed between those who believe in the Biblical account of Creation and those who believe in the theory of Evolution. As is the case in most debates of this nature there is an attempt by some to bridge that gap by bringing the two sides closer together by meshing belief systems. In the Creation versus Evolution debate the position that seeks to bridge the gap and blend the two systems together is known as Theistic Evolution. The Evolutionary theory is summarized by the following formula: “Evolution = matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods.”[1] On the other hand Creation can be summarized something like this: Creation = God + the power of God’s spoken Word + 6 literal 24-hour days. Gitt presents the Theistic Evolutionary equation as follows: “Theistic evolution = matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods + God.”[2] Thus proponents of theistic evolution seek to keep the scientific model of the evolutionary theory intact while adding the key component of the Creationist formula, which is God. As Charles Ryrie puts it, “Theistic evolution tries to ride two horses (evolution and Creation) which are going in opposite directions.”[3] It is the purpose of this paper to examine the means by which the theistic evolutionist seeks to bridge the gulf between these two opposing systems and within that examination to see if their position will stand up underneath the light and scrutiny of a literal, historical-grammatical interpretation of Scripture.

BEGINNING PRESUPPOSITIONS

            It should be stated at the outset that any position taken in the debate over origins of the Universe and of mankind requires certain presuppositions. For instance, a presupposition of the evolutionist is that science is authoritative and in particular man’s interpretation of science is authoritative. For the Creationist, God’s Word, the Bible, is the final authority. The theistic evolutionist must walk a tightrope between these presuppositions. For him to completely deny one or the other would mean philosophical death to his system. So how does he attempt to do this? In his book “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?” Denis Alexander, a proponent of theistic evolution, attempts to ride the rail between the presuppositions of both Creationism and evolution. He writes,

Still it is certainly the case that the Word of God is written for the understanding and salvation of all humankind in all epochs, written in timeless narratives which are not tied to the latest scientific advance or insight. It is important in what follows that we seek to remain faithful to authorial intent, understanding Scripture within its culture and context, and not trying to force upon it a modernist secular agenda in which scientific knowledge is given a privileged status.[4] (italics mine)

Thus, Alexander in his own right states his belief in the authority of Scripture while at the same time alleging that our modern scientific theories have a “privileged status.” As one reads Alexander’s book, one recognizes that he is consistently trying to walk this tightrope between the authority of the Bible and the “privileged status” of modern science. Though he would almost certainly deny that he allows his science to color his interpretation of the Bible’s account of Creation it is clear that this is exactly what happens.

In part II we will deal with the problems the theistic evolutionist encounters in their interpretive approach to the Bible.


[1] Gitt, Werner, “10 Dangers of Theistic Evolution.” http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v17/i4/theistic_evolution.asp?vPrint=1, [last accessed 4/6/2010].

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ryrie, Charles C. “Basic Theology.” Colorado Spring: Victor Books, 1996, 172.

[4] Alexander, Denis. “Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?” Grand Rapids: Monarch Books, 2008, 46.


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