If evolutionists inspired Scripture
A review of: Seven Glorious Days: A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation
Story by Karl W. Giberson
Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA, 2012
What if we could rewrite Scripture, taking out the things that we think are outdated, disproved, contradictory, or offensive? Karl Giberson lets us see a glimpse of his attempt to rewrite and reinterpret Genesis 1 in his book Seven Glorious Days.1
Giberson is well known as a theistic evolutionist, but he claims this was not always the case. He used to be a young-earth creationist, based on a literal reading of the first chapters of Genesis. However, he says,
“While studying science at Eastern Nazarene College near Boston I became convinced that the scientific explanations for our origins were true. The biblical account, read literally, simply could not be reconciled with the facts that science was discovering” (p. 1).
This did not cause him to lose his faith entirely, but launched a quest to attempt to understand Genesis in light of evolution and billions of years.
An evolutionary retelling of Genesis
The very beginning of Giberson’s book is a reinterpreted ‘Genesis 1’, which attempts to fit the evolutionary story of origins into seven ‘epochs’. The writing is stilted; Giberson was trying to find a balance between retaining features of the creation narrative in Genesis 1 and trying to convey an evolutionary understanding of the universe in simplified language. Even a gifted writer might find such a task daunting, but he falls decidedly short of what one imagines his aspirations were for the passage. At least he is honest from the outset, though—he is out to reinterpret Genesis, so much so that by the time he is finished, there is not much of the original left. God is there, and He’s doing something that results in the universe, but that is as far as the similarities go.
The rest of the book is an expansion of these initial few pages. Giberson, more than anything else, is attempting to tell a narrative of theistic evolution, weaving evolutionary science and a (small) bit of theology together to try to come up with as compelling a story as the one inspired in Scripture.
One advantage to narrative is that of the demands on giving evidence, discussing the mechanisms for the things that are said to have happened, and dealing with the problems of the theories. So when he claims, for example, that “our solar system, including the sun, originated about five billion years ago from a large cloud of atoms and molecules that were gathered into huge balls by gravity” (p.22), he can do so free from any expectation that he explain how bits of dust and chunks of rock exerted enough force on each other to stick together until they became planet-size. In reality, the particles are more likely to bounce off each other.2,3 And he can feel free to personify impersonal, random processes, as when he says, “Nature is constantly upgrading species with the latest technology, whether it is longer legs or bigger brains” (p. 114). Because his audience is not primarily made up of scientists, few people are likely to challenge him in any case.
The Logos of creation
Logos is the Greek for ‘Word’, and it is most famously the term John used when He proclaimed in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the first instance in the New Testament of a theme that is often repeated—Jesus is the agent of creation (John 1:3), who continues to uphold it continually (Colossians 1:15–17).
The term “the Logos of Creation” is introduced in Giberson’s creation narrative, and recurs throughout the book, but this ‘Logos’ is nothing like the Logos of the Bible. He defines this Logos as “the pattern of God’s purpose from which everything would emerge and towards which everything would evolve” (p. x). He uses the word ‘it’ to describe the Logos (p. xiii), which is theologically ignorant at best, and blasphemous at worst.
The creator in Giberson’s Seven Glorious Days does not work miracles, or if he does, he does not do so in a way that would be detectable as such. This God is behind the scenes, watching, setting the wheels in motion, but never interfering with the process of evolution, either cosmic or biological. In fact, much of the book could have been written by an atheist with very few changes.
This is in contrast to the Creator in Scripture. The Bible is a book of God supernaturally creating, and then stepping down into His creation, active in history, raising up or destroying nations, all to bring about the circumstances in which the Messiah would be born. If Giberson’s creator does any of this, he does not discuss it in this book.
Death and the ‘problem of evil’
The problem of death has troubled philosophers and is a major subject in theodicy. “But the extinction of species need not trouble us any more than the finite lives of people … . A species can be part of the grand narrative of life without having to live forever” (p. 113). He tries to answer the ‘nature, red in tooth and claw’ argument by retorting that nature rewards cooperation and altruism, and that for most of history. And in any case, he says, “During the first few billion years, life was dominated by rather boring, single-celled life forms incapable of anything so interesting as ripping up their fellow organisms” (p. 117).
But his argument has at least a couple of errors worth pointing out. He only looks at death caused by organisms killing each other, as if cancer, sickness, and old age were any better. And he assumes that since organisms haven’t been killing each other for all that long on the evolutionary scale, and since cooperation is rewarded by nature (which at times seems more personal than God in Giberson’s writing), the atrocity is lessened somewhat. But the Bible depicts the fact that people die at all as an atrocity (e.g. “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26; “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23)), not part of the design God set up for the universe. A key part of the restoration of the new heavens and earth in Revelation and Isaiah is that there is no death or suffering, of humans or animals.
The authority of Scripture?
What is most unsettling about Giberson’s writing for a Christian reviewer is that Giberson, who is also a professing Christian, can weave a wonderful branching tale about the history of the cosmos and the human race without even once referring to Scripture, except to rewrite it or rephrase it to suit his evolutionary story. There’s no Adam; there’s no original sin. He does say that “The Creator of the universe, as revealed in Jesus, is a God of love” (p. 178), but there’s no mention of salvation, nor indeed anything that we need to be saved from. None of the critical threads of the Bible’s history are covered—Jesus simply came to teach us to love. Certainly, love is one thing that Jesus came to teach, but it’s hardly the only thing, and that love is certainly not disconnected from His teaching about ethics, the nature of God, and the need for us all to be saved.
Giberson draws on the evolutionary narrative to weave his story, but it’s unclear how his professed Christianity makes his story of human history any different from, say, Dawkins’ view. What does Scripture tell us about our history that science can’t? And at what point does he say, “Scripture teaches this, uncompromisingly, even if a certain interpretation of science seems to tell us otherwise?” Where he draws the line, if at all, is really very unclear.
The Bible’s narrative starts with a supernatural, ‘very good’ creation, marred by the Fall. Central to the Gospel is the fact that human beings are born with a severed, hostile relationship to God, which must be corrected by God, because we’re helpless to change ourselves. But Giberson has removed the ‘very good’ creation revealed in Genesis 1:31, the first man, and the Fall, which brought death to mankind and the rest of creation. So it should not be surprising that his gospel is similarly distorted. Ironically, precisely where his book is the most recognizably theist is where it falls critically short of being truly Christian:
“We believe that God’s incarnation in a humble member of our species was motivated by his love for the world. The Creator of the universe, as revealed in Jesus, is a God of love—not political power or economic power as many would have preferred and some still do. Jesus, the most provocative and influential teacher of all time, had a singular message for his followers—to love” (p. 178).
Of course, Jesus revealed a God of love, and taught His followers to love. But His primary message was one of salvation and the coming Kingdom of God.
A successful, but deeply flawed, narrative
Giberson weaves a narrative about a god who created through evolution, and he does so in an attractive, readable style. That god, however, falls far short of the God revealed in the Bible. Christians have preached Jesus and died for His name for 2,000 years; one wonders why anyone would bother doing something like that for Giberson’s god, who is portrayed as a God of love. But how can we see God’s love until Jesus comes on the scene (which is after the vast majority of history in evolutionary terms4)?
Giberson ultimately does the creation movement a favour in his book—he shows just how much of the Gospel and essential Christian theology one must give up to be an informed, consistent theistic evolutionist. Some sort of god is left over, but he is hardly worthy of our worship.
- Mortenson, T., Genesis according to evolution: If evolution over millions of years was the way God created, He could easily have said so in simple words, Creation 26(4):50–51, 2004; creation.com/gen-ev. Return to text.
- Earth was a freak, New Scientist 177(2388):24, 29 March 2003. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Earth is ‘too special’? Creation 28(3):42–44, 2006; creation.com/earthspecial. Return to text.
- See Wieland, C., Jesus on the age of the earth: Jesus believed in a young world, but leading theistic evolutionists say He is wrong, Creation 34 (2):51–54, 2012; creation.com/jesus_age. Return to text.
Truely 'another Gospel' from which we must withdraw....
What a scary book! What do people like Mr Giberson intend to say to Jesus when they meet him on judgement day? And what do they make of the passages in Revelation that refer to those who remove bits of the holy book?
The other thing about this God who uses evolution is that he would have to change as the science of evolution 'evolves' and new facts and theories come to 'light'. This god of evolution would also need Nelson's eye and use the telescope the wrong way round to enable him ignore the major objections to Darwin's theory such as:- where are the missing links? I like the real God of the bible, he laughs at what man thinks or his theories when they contravene His Word. "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate" His words not mine.
Giberson, like many other theologian defenders of evolution, downplays, or misunderstands death. He, in fact, demonstrates a prior evolutionary/materialst view of death, and not a biblical/christian one at all. Death is the antithesis of God: it is the disrupting of relationship and is discontinuous with God's nature. To think that death in any terms could be part of the creation before there was any rejection of God from the creation by the creature turning from him is a failure of basic theological understanding.
Did Giberson at any point make a clear statement about whether or not he personally has accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord? In other words, is there any possibility that he might be genuinely saved despite his garbled concepts of the Bible and, apparently, the gospel? If not, he supports my suspicion that many theistic evolutionists do not have eternal life and the Spirit of God does not indwell them. That would explain their willingness to change the meaning of Scripture, with no apparent sense of the sin they are committing. Do you think that Giberson is typical of theistic evolutionists, except for his candor?
I could not find any place where Giberson claimed saving faith in Jesus Christ in Seven Glorious Days. That of course does not mean that he has not made such a claim elsewhere.
Graham P: "What do people like Mr Giberson intend to say to Jesus when they meet him on judgement day?"
GIlberson says, "“While studying science at Eastern Nazarene College near Boston I became convinced that the scientific explanations for our origins were true."
Wow. I thought science worked on an observational basis. I wonder what scientist was around to use observational science to record our origins.
This is why science should be ministerial, not magisterial.
I remember when i use to believe in TE.I was never really comfortable about evolution when i first herd about it.My first thought was that if Jesus is the son of God then he would know how the world started.I guess my argument to Christians who believe in TE is that why did Jesus tell our orgins wrong if he believe Adam and Eve and the 6 day creation.
People place way too much emphasis on origins and concentrate too little on finality. Most learned Bible scholars and believers in the infallible Word of God, our Holy Bible, DO give some credence to gap theory. God did not inform us of gaps, neither did He say there were any. I do know God doesn't need gaps, nor time, and is not limited by anything.
However, what is next is far more important than origins, though God explained creation eloquently.
Thankfully, our loving Father God, who knows the end from the beginning, eloquently divulges end-time information which began being recorded shortly after creation. "He who has wisdom will understand."
So here is what we need to know about origins:
Q. Was there a big bang?
A. Maybe, maybe not. Yes, if God said "Let there be great noise when I create something." No, if He preferred total silence.
Q. Did any life forms evolve by chance? Yes, if God said "Let things evolve." No, if He didn't decree it.
The rest of our time is better spent preparing for where we're going. The evidence is clear where we came from. And the manual is complete with the rest of the story.
Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life. "No one comes to the Father but by Me."
Wayne, thanks for these thoughts. If there was a gap in Genesis, or a place where there could be a gap, I guess I'd agree that man-made theories could step in as long as they didn't contradict what the Bible does say. For instance, the Bible says just about nothing about the particulars of the geological activity surrounding the global Flood, and there are different creationist models addressing that, none of them infallible, and all of them working with some of the same assumptions, etc.
But it seems to me that God went to an extraordinary amount of detail regarding the chronology of the earliest history of the word. See How do we get 6000 years?. And any theory that tries to make the earth billions of years old has to have death before the Fall of Adam. This is because the billions of years are a conclusion from a uniformitarian interpretation of geology. But the rock layers supposedly preserving a history of billions of years also preserve fossils of dead animals, animals eating other animals, animals with diseases. If things were dying and killing each other long before Adam, then how could death be the result of the Curse? See Did God create over billions of years?
I agree that as Christians we should be looking towards eternity. But the sort of Heaven we look forward to should be informed by the sort of perfect creation God originally created, which mankind corrupted by sin, and which God will restore in the New Heavens and Earth at the Second Coming of Christ.
Too bad this person who claims the "know" and practice being a Christian forgot the passage about anyone who tries to change the word of God is condemned by that (at least till they repent).
I was taught trying to rewrite the Word Of God was bad. And I even had similar views till the overwhelming experience of learning of/about God and his word led me to a much simpler and more concise view AND the fact that I was taught critical thinking lets me take ALL creation facts and see how they stack up to evolutionary theory.
That and all the math does not add up for old earth. Plenty of research proves more about young Earth over old Earth.
This person is trying to reconcile the unreconcilable. God is spiritual Evolution is material.
In doing so he agrees with Satan and his lie to Adam and Eve. "You shall not surely die". Essentially this lie states that death is not a result of sin but a result of natural causes (that is a material cause not a spirutual cause). Evolution tells this same lie.
You cannot put light and dark together as he is trying to do. This person has become dilusional in his attempt to reconcile the material philosophy of evolution with the spiritual truth of God. The better choice is to reject one or the other. The far better choice is to reject the materialistic philosophy of evolution and believe in God.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.