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Did God create an ‘open’ universe?

Theistic evolutionists take God out of the driver’s seat

by and 

Published: 2 June 2015 (GMT+10)
iStockphoto world-in-hands

Christians, especially those facing difficult circumstances, take comfort in the fact that God knows everything that will happen in advance and that He sovereignly directs all things. But theistic evolutionists are compelled by the logic of their own arguments to deny these biblical teachings and embrace something akin to open theism.

Open theism is the unbiblical idea that God does not completely know or control the future, because He endowed human beings with free will and cannot predict for certain what choices they will make.1 Theistic evolution takes this to a cosmic level. Although theistic evolution is sometimes described as “God used evolution” or “God directed the evolutionary process”, many theistic evolutionists deny that God guided the evolutionary process in such a way as to guarantee its specific outcomes. Rather, they believe nature was given a measure of ‘freedom’ to set its own course. As Brown University professor, textbook author, and vociferous anti-creationist Kenneth Miller puts it:

Evolution is not rigged, and religious belief does not require one to postulate a God who fixes the game, bribes the referees, or tricks natural selection. The reality of natural history, like the reality of human history, is more interesting and more exciting.
The freedom to act and choose enjoyed by each individual in the Western religious tradition requires that God allow the future of His creation to be left open. … If events in the material world were strictly determined, then evolution would indeed move towards the predictable outcomes that so many people seem to want; but if this is the case, how could the future truly be open?2,3 

Likewise, Anglican theologian/physicist John Polkinghorne argues: “an evolutionary universe is theologically understood as a creation allowed to make itself.”4 And Roman Catholic theologian John Haught maintains that the world must “participate in the adventure of its own creation”, while God takes a back seat.5

Karl Giberson, who was the Executive Vice President of BioLogos until 2011, even helped to direct a 2007 seminar about “interconnections between open theism and the natural sciences”.6 He claims, “the gift of creativity that God bestowed on the creation is theologically analogous to the gift of freedom God bestowed on us.”7

And Francis Collins, founder of BioLogos and Director of the National Institutes of Health, has also been associated with open theism, giving a keynote presentation at The Open Theology and Science Conference in 2008.8 

Destination unknown

There are significant problems with this view for biblical Christian theology. For instance, if all God did was ‘light the fuse’ and then allowed nature to write its own script, how could He have guaranteed that the world in general, and human beings in particular (made in His image), would turn out like He wanted? According to Miller, He couldn’t.

“Surely this means that mankind’s appearance on this planet was not preordained, that we are here … as an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out.”9

However, the Bible is clear that God not only knows the future exhaustively but also directs it as He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). God knows the words we will speak before we say them (Psalm 139:4) and the days of our lives before we live them (Psalm 139:16). He distinguishes Himself from false gods by declaring (Isaiah 46:9–10):

“I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’”

Also, it’s obvious that God’s specific plan of salvation existed prior to creation since the Bible says that God predestined and foreknew Jesus’ death on the cross (Acts 2:23), including details given in Messianic prophecies.10 Even more explicitly, the Bible says that God chose His elect people “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:1–2; Revelation 13:8). So even the nails in Jesus’ hands and the thorns on his brow were no fluke of history—these events all played out according to God’s sovereign agenda.

Who gets credit for creation?

It makes little sense to call God the Creator of living things if they came about, not by God’s direct involvement or even by a deterministic process, but through a series of utterly random events beyond His influence. Sure, on this view, God may have set up the conditions for evolution, but the process itself would proceed in directions that He did not specify.

Yet the Bible frequently identifies God as the Creator of all things (Psalm 104:24; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). It says His existence is obvious from the things He made (Romans 1:20). God was intimately involved in the process of forming man (Genesis 2:7), and He claims responsibility even for nature’s minutiae, like the design of our individual body parts: ears, eyes, and mouths (Proverbs 20:12; Exodus 4:11).

Furthermore, His involvement in nature is both ongoing and detailed. He claims credit for providing animals with their food (Job 38:41; Matthew 6:26), and control over what happens to even the smallest animals (Matthew 10:29).

Fate and fortune combined

Miller has tried to blunt the force of the above problems by claiming that certain law-like physical parameters constrain the scope of what blind chance can accomplish, leading to predictable outcomes. For example, he claims that, for large organisms which evolved to live in the water, natural selection will tend to favor streamlined shapes since this is most conducive to survival.11,12 Perhaps streamlined (roughly fish-shaped) water-dwellers would be virtually inevitable after enough rolls of the evolutionary dice.

Similarly, he maintains, God could have ensured that something like intelligent human beings would come along eventually. But regardless of the merits of this proposal, it misses the point that Miller still thinks randomness plays enough of a role that, instead of human beings, God might have ended up with “a big-brained dinosaur” or perhaps “a mollusk with exceptional mental capabilities”.13 Again, however, the Bible’s claim is not that God merely foreordained the existence of some undefined intelligent creature—it says He explicitly intended to make humans (c.f., Genesis 1:26; 2:18; Jeremiah 1:5), and to become incarnate as a human.

Must evolution be undirected?

Now, if these theistic evolutionists were to change course and argue that God actually did steer evolution in such a way that He intentionally produced human beings, they would run into a big problem—they’d have to abandon many of their favorite arguments for evolution! That is because so many pro-evolution arguments claim God is not responsible for various features of nature.

Take their argument from poor design. Evolutionists often point to a perceived clumsiness in the engineering of living things, which they say is better explained by evolution than a wise and powerful Engineer with foresight. The list of allegedly crummy designs in human beings has included eyesknees, the spine, the pharynx, the recurrent laryngeal nerve, the jaw, the prostate, the human birth canal, and huge portions of our genome which were once dismissed as ‘junk DNA’.14

These claims have all proved spurious, yet theistic evolutionists keep trotting them out again and again. And every time they do, they demonstrate their commitment to the idea that God delegated the work of creation to nature, despite the Bible’s claims that “without [the Word] was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3) and that God exercised wisdom as He created (Proverbs 3:19; Jeremiah 10:12).

Furthermore, there is the issue of natural evil. Darwin himself, in a letter to one of the leading theistic evolutionist scientists of his day, complained about “too much misery in the world”. He continued, wondering why “a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae [wasps] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars.”15

Of course, creationists do not attribute the barbarity and cruelty in nature to God’s original design, but to the aftermath of the Fall, when God pronounced a curse on creation (Genesis 3:17–19, Romans 8:19–23a). However, this option is not open to theistic evolutionists since, for them, such harsh realities were present for millions of years before human beings—before the Fall could take place. So they are left with the explanation that natural evil is a byproduct of God bestowing ‘freedom’ on nature. God handed the keys to nature and then, whoops, nature drove into a ditch. But don’t blame God—nature did the steering!

If you don’t find this a satisfactory solution to the problem of evil, congratulations, you’re thinking clearly. But note, again, what theistic evolutionists are claiming. Wherever the balance lies in the evolutionary process between contingency and necessity, between pure chance and predictable law, theistic evolutionists maintain that God is not fully responsible for the finished product. To a large extent, He got stuck with whatever nature churned out, including you, me, and all of nature’s horrors.

Senseless death and suffering for hundreds of millions of years

The idea that God let nature do the steering not only contradicts the explicit teaching of Scripture, but is inconsistent with God’s wisdom and goodness. In the theistic evolutionary scenario, God would have set up a world in which life would only have progressed via the death and suffering of billions of animals. Every living creature, no matter how beautiful or innovative, would ultimately be only temporary, as it would be snuffed out in the ever-accelerating arms race of evolution. The survival of the fittest means the death of the unfit.

But why would God choose a method of creation which resulted in such casualties? God would not avoid responsibility for all the death and suffering simply because He granted autonomy to nature. If He foresaw the consequences, then He would lack goodness, since the value of nature’s freedom hardly outweighs all the carnage unleashed by that freedom. But if God did not foresee the consequences and was blindsided by natural evil, then He would be guilty of poor judgment.

Practical Problems

Theistic evolution, then, has enormous implications for one’s spiritual walk. If it were true that God kick-started evolution but relinquished control over the outcomes, then we should not trust the Bible since it speaks of God’s pre-creation intention to bring about mankind, to carry out the plan of salvation, and to call out the Church. Nor should we worship God as Creator, since living things were largely ‘designed’ by causes independent of Him. We would also have to wonder whether humans were really created in God’s image since we were not specifically intended by God, but just the unplanned result of God’s cosmic experiment. And we would doubt God’s perfect wisdom and goodness, because the independence He granted to nature resulted in eons of unnecessary pain and bloodshed.

Our prayer lives would be impacted, since it would be hard to trust a god who doesn’t fully control the future. And how could we be confident, going forward, that all things will work out in the end? Revelation teaches that the end of the world is already pre-determined. But if history unfolds in a manner beyond God’s control, how can He work all things together for good? An evolutionary eschatology leads to a lack of trust in God and ends in despair.

Fortunately, the true God did not step aside and trust the universe to create itself. He was, is, and will always be the Sovereign Lord of all creation.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Note, this is a different doctrine from Arminianism, which states that humans make meaningful choices, but God is still sovereign and has exhaustive foreknowledge of future contingencies. Return to text.
  2. Miller, K., Finding Darwin’s God: A scientist’s search for common ground between God and evolution, p. 238, Harper Perennial, New York, 1999. Return to text.
  3. See thorough refutation of Miller, Ref. 2: Woodmorappe, J. and Sarfati, J., Mutilating Miller, Journal of Creation 15(3):29–35, 2001; Return to text.
  4. Polkinghorne J., Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, p. 113, Crossroad Publishing, New York, 2005. Return to text.
  5. Haught, J.F., Darwin, Design, and Divine Providence, in Dembski, W.A., and Ruse, M. (eds.), Debating Design: From Darwin to DNA, p. 243, Cambridge University Press, 2004. Return to text.
  6. Hasker, W. et al., God in an Open Universe: Science, metaphysics, and Open Theism, p. 3, Wipf and Stock, Eugene, OR, 2011. Return to text.
  7. Giberson, K., Evolution and the problem of evil, beliefnet.com. Return to text.
  8. Open Theologians and Scientists Converge on Azusa Pacific University, Christian News Wire, April 3, 2008. Return to text.
  9. Ref. 2, p. 272 (emphasis in original). Return to text.
  10. See also Acts 4:27–28; Luke 18:31; 22:22; 24:25–27, 44–47; 1 Peter 1:10–11, 19–20. Return to text.
  11. Miller, K.R., Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul, p. 148, Viking, New York, 2008. Return to text.
  12. See refutation of Miller, Ref. 11: Woodmorappe J., Miller’s meanderings: only the same bogus contentions, Journal of Creation 23(1):19–23, 2009. Return to text.
  13. Miller, K.R., comments during “Evolution and Intelligent Design: An Exchange”, 24 March 2007, at the “Shifting Ground: Religion and Civic Life in America” conference, Bedford, New Hampshire, sponsored by New Hampshire Humanities Council. Quoted in West, J.G., Nothing New Under the Sun, in Richards, J. (ed.), God and Evolution, p. 41, Discovery Institute Press, Seattle, WA, 2010. Return to text.
  14. Sarfati, J., Refuting Evolution 2, chapter 7, Creation Book Publishers. Return to text.
  15. Darwin, C., letter to Asa Gray, 22 May 1860, in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Vol. 8, p. 223, Cambridge University Press, 1993. Return to text.

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Readers’ comments
Dave D., United States, 12 June 2015

Like Jeff H., I thought at first that at first that you might be allowing that God is morally responsible for evil, since He knew that it would come about. The key, however, is in your statement "If He foresaw the consequences, then He would lack goodness, since the value of nature’s freedom hardly outweighs all the carnage unleashed by that freedom." The value of giving man the freedom to choose clearly does outweigh the carnage unleashed by that freedom. In the end, God will have a kingdom of people made in His image that love Him freely from the heart. To get there people had to be given free will, but there is no logical requirement that nature be left to run wild.

Richard L., United Arab Emirates, 12 June 2015

(TE = theistic evolution; OTTE = open-theology TE)

Self-evident is OTTE’s hostility to the Biblical text, with multiple points of conflict. In addition to those shown in the article and by feedback-ers, here are others (with some overlap): (1) Supernatural miracles: done only by an intervening, providence-controlling God. Logically, OTTEers should end up doubting biblically recorded miracles. (2) All supernatural-knowledge prophecies, with fulfillment requiring a providence-sovereign God. (3) Precious promises (e.g., Rom. 8:35-39), ones that require a creator God totally sovereign over created things. Since Jesus is partially authenticated by miraculous “signs", since his resurrection is a miracle, and since belief in God’s miraculous promises is essential to true saving faith (Gen. 15:6 & Rom. 4:17-22), the logical end to OTTE commitment is a bible-rejecting loss of faith. Within its mandate, CMI MUST critically examine OTTE.

All TEers have committed not to notice the presence of corrective science-level bible-text signal, thus allowing autonomous scientists “free of biblical constraints”. OTTE is more consistent (than other versions of TE) in adhering to details required by evolution-needed atheism— specifically: only random-chance, unguided interactions within nature. And OTTE--filled with misinformed-conscience desire for integrity (in conformance to evolutionary thought)--sooner arrives at the bitter fruit. This will include nihilism (since a bumbling, hands-off ‘god’ surprised by an individual’s appearance can’t provide significance for that individual).

If only OTTEers would be pro-science and biblically obedient (Col. 2:8; 1 Th. 5:21; 2 Cor. 10:5) and critically test the evolutionary notion—and be freed from that mess-of-pottage fraud!

I. F., United Kingdom, 11 June 2015

In reference to Tommy S. "Those men tell fascinating stories born of their imaginations and rejection of God the creator, but they pale in comparison to the reality of God's awesome creation." Wrong. They tell fascinating narratives explaining the wonder of creation based on the the truths that have been discerned by people like Sir Isaac Newton, Sir William Herschel, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein, Edmond Halley, Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke, Charles Darwin, Joseph von Fraunhofer, Thales, Ernest Rutherford, Anne Cannon, Humphry Davy, James Clerk, Maxwell, Euclid, Eratosthenes, Fritz Zwicky. I could list more. They are giants on whose shoulders the scientific endeavour carries on into the future.

Tommy S., United States, 8 June 2015

In regards to I.F.'s statement "What breathtaking arrogance you display."

It is arrogance to think that man 's opinion supersedes that of God almighty. It takes humility to take God at His Word even if one does not understand it.

"And yes I have read enough of your website, and it smothers the wonder and awe I feel when reflecting on the actual processes of creation as described by Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson."

Those men tell fascinating stories born of their imaginations and rejection of God the creator, but they pale in comparison to the reality of God's awesome creation.

I. F., United Kingdom, 5 June 2015

"So, yes, that's incorrect as we've shown. Have you read anything on our website? We take Jesus and the NT authors as our authority, and they disagree with the contemporary church leaders who embrace molecules-to-man evolution"

What breathtaking arrogance you display.

And yes I have read enough of your website, and it smothers the wonder and awe I feel when reflecting on the actual processes of creation as described by Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Keaton Halley responds

I'm not sure how you derive the charge of arrogance from those statements, but in any case you're playing the man rather than the ball. And your criticism of our website contains nothing of substance but does give us insight into your personal psychology, so thanks for that.

Jeff H., United States, 5 June 2015

Hi Keaton,

Thanks for your response. I hope you will allow me to reiterate the problem I saw--your article seemed to be giving a guilt-by-association rebuke to a non-biblical theory (theistic evolution) by coupling it with a particular theology that has been accepted by a number of Christians. I thought that part of your mission is to provide informational material to help Christians see and believe the truth of the bible in terms of the creation as revealed in scripture. The rejection of a bunch of Christians because they believe differently from you theologically (though not necessarily about creation) is the opposite of what CMI is trying to do--and it would seem to be counterproductive.

I also am concerned that you think with a few verses of specific foreknowledge examples, that you think you have completely destroyed the notion that God's foreknowledge may be contingent in some areas. I think that's called the "part-to-whole" fallacy. If, from your Is 46 reference, God's foreknowledge is based on His accomplishing all His purposes (end of vs 10), then God must only foreknow what is according to His purposes. If God foreknows everything that will happen, then everything that happens must be part of God's purposes. If everything that happens includes Sin, then you've just made God the author of Sin.

Instead of going down the route of declaring openness unbiblical without due justification, I recommend you concentrate on the things that some Open Theists seem to be believing wrongly about evolution that can be shown through scripture to be false--that God, who lives forever and wants man to live forever with Him, wouldn't make man in His image through death a million or billion times over.

Don't divide the body of Christ any more than you have to.

Blessings.

Keaton Halley responds

Our argument is more than mere guilt-by-association since we showed how traditional open theism and the theistic evolution variation which we are primarily addressing have certain things in common, which we then offered specific biblical arguments against.

Also, we have not committed the part-to-whole fallacy since we showed that theistic evolutionists deny the very specifics which the Bible claims God planned in advance and directed, like the design of human eyes.

Next, I think it's a leap to say that if God has a purpose for sin then He must be the Author of sin. What we intend for evil, God can intend for good (Genesis 50:20; Acts 2:23).

Now, I do appreciate that you've been respectful in this exchange, and I'm glad we see eye-to-eye on the fact that evolution is inconsistent with Scripture. But I'm afraid we at CMI regard the differences between us and open theists as fairly serious, not trivial, so while we have a desire not to alienate potential allies, we believe we must take a biblical stand on this issue.

James L., United States, 5 June 2015

Hi. First, thanks for the tremendous work this ministry does.

I am seeking clarification. when you said," But why would God choose a method of creation which resulted in such casualties? God would not avoid responsibility for all the death and suffering simply because He granted autonomy to nature. If He foresaw the consequences, then He would lack goodness, since the value of nature’s freedom hardly outweighs all the carnage unleashed by that freedom. But if God did not foresee the consequences and was blindsided by natural evil, then He would be guilty of poor judgment."

Doesn't God's world today have many casualties? I have always thought that the death and suffering we see today are not God's fault, but is man's as a result of the fall, and the curse. Is this not correct? If you are saying that autonomy did not remove responsibility from God in a theistic evolutionary paradigm, then how does man's autonomy remove fault from God, since God gave us our free will?

It just seems that the paragraph I quoted would apply to us young earth creationist as well as theistic evolutionist, so I am trying to see what I am missing there.

Again, thank you and God bless you.

Keaton Halley responds

We agree with you that a key part of biblical theodicy is that all suffering in the world can be traced back to Adam's sin. That's what old-earth views lack. We say that the world groans (Romans 8:20–22) because of God's judgment on sin, whereas in their view nature groaned apart from any rebellion. So the two types of 'freedom' are very different. One involves a conscious moral agent and the other involves nature, which is unconscious and amoral. In the theistic evolutionary scenario, nature did not rebel, it just wreaked havoc because God didn't want to specify the end results. And, remember, on their view the amount of suffering that has taken place is greatly multiplied, since they believe in death and disease over millions of years, not just thousands.

Also, see Why would a loving God allow death and suffering?

I. F., United Kingdom, 5 June 2015

Flaccid answers from Keaton Halley to good questions from Jeff H. So are we understand that CMI thinks that the Episcopal Church of America has got it all wrong with regard to creation and science? And the Church of England? And the Anglican Communion? And the Roman Catholic Church? [link deleted as per comment rules]

Keaton Halley responds

How about addressing our argument rather than relying on argumentum ad populum?

Those groups and the individuals within them are not unified with respect to creation and science. Some of them even share our perspective, but the link you provided is solidly pro-evolution. So, yes, that's incorrect as we've shown. Have you read anything on our website? We take Jesus and the NT authors as our authority, and they disagree with the contemporary church leaders who embrace molecules-to-man evolution. Why should we be embarrassed when we stand with Jesus? Instead, let me sincerely and humbly ask you to consider whether you have elevated the words of men above the Word of God.

Jon H., United States, 5 June 2015

I enjoyed reading this article. Theist evolution was one which I believed in due to my education as a geologist at secular university and my upbringing before that, where evolution was considered by my parents to be a scientific fact. I used to say regarding the creation of the earth and all things that God wound up the clock and then let it run. I was dogmatic about it even and scoffed at young earth creation - it didn't help that the one (I can recall) that I ever met said that Satan had made dinosaur bones to fool peopple into believing evolution. I remember telling a friend that everyone knew that Satan couldn't make anything at all!! I had been raised in church and knew most Bible stories so I guess I had the basics down. It's been around five years or so that I have completely accepted that the earth/universe is young and read the Genesis creation record and other historical bible accounts as literal. It seems, when I look back, that more than anything I was unwilling to drill down on the foundation of my beliefs for some reason. Maybe it was fear of what I would find, laziness, or even pride. I do know that the Lord opened my eyes to see the truth. Creation is now another piece of evidence that strengthens my foundation in my trust in Christ, above all else.

Robert W., United States, 5 June 2015

Our great God, YHWH, Jehovah if you wish, indeed knows everything, is in everything good and knows all the sins of each of us from Adam to the last man standing in Tribulation. Romans 1 clears a lot of the question up. Christians in the true sense, should not fail to completely study about the omniscience of our God. He has written it all down, beginning to end, and unlike mere men, does not color His written Word with rose colored daydreams, but with truth. And it is ugly sometimes. Why mankind should think God is responsible for the things that come on the earth in a negative way goes beyond the absurd when we study historic actions and evil deeds of we ourselves. Many now say there is no truth in an absolute way. Another slap at our creator who most definitely says there is absolute truth. Christ promised that The blessed Holy Spirit would guide us into ALL truth. (John 16:13).

And note that it is what The Holy Spirit "hears" that He "speaks", and the last line of the verse: "He will show you things to come".

That would be impossible if God did not know all things. If we doubt this, let Romans 1:28 sink in.

God would never give anyone over to a reprobate mind unless He knew they would die in their sins in that dreadful condition. The arms of Jesus Christ are open to us all while we live, no matter our sin.

But He knows some will deny His truth into death.

Jeremiah 1:5 assures us God knows us before we are even conceived, that He knows before we are born the direction we will take in life, and best of all that He loves us so much that He has the best plan for our lives. In Jeremiahas case, he became what God planned for him. A plan is available for us all.

But how could someone follow the plan of a God whose power and might they deny in part?

Listen to Jesus Christ.

Jeff H., United States, 4 June 2015

I'm a little confused about the point of your article--Are you trying to refute Theistic Evolution or Open Theism? If the first, then it seems strange that you need to first declare Open Theism as "unbiblical" before connecting the two. As long as YOU get to declare something unbiblical, why not just declare Theistic Evolution as unbiblical--it would save you a lot of hassle.

If your intention is to refute Open Theism, I don't understand what that has to do with your charter, or "CMI's core mandate" (wording from the comment publishing standards). From what I can find, attacking a particular theology is forbidden to us commenters, and goes against CMI's own principle, stated thusly from the "What We Are" section of your "About Us" link:

"We are apolitical and non-denominational (as an organisation, not as individuals within it). We try to confine ourselves to matters as defined broadly by our Statement of Faith, and try to not get involved as a ministry in other controversies or issues within Christendom, no matter how important we, as individuals, might regard these."

Declaring Open Theism (which is certainly a "controversy" within Christendom) "unbiblical" is a funny way to "try not to get involved".

I'm fully behind your intention to show that creation did not make itself (randomly or otherwise) after God gave it the raw materials, which is in direct violation of Ps 100:3 (KJV and some other translations), but the association with and dismissal of Open Theism is a discredit to your organization. Many Open Theists would affirm every aspect of your Statement of Faith without compromising their theology or integrity.

Keaton Halley responds

The article critiques theistic evolutionists by showing how they have embraced and, given their standard dysteleological arguments, must embrace a view that is very much like (or even a variant of) open theism. We are not focused on the more traditional form of open theism which is primarily about God's inability to predict the choices of his free creatures, but on this theistic evolutionary variation that says the Creator didn't actually do a significant portion of the creating or ensure that the process would result in human beings. We offered specific biblical reasons to reject this position.

This subject, then, is clearly relevant to our mission, which is to further the Gospel by defending the Bible's teaching about origins. We're not going out of our way to attack open theism, but we do regard it as sub-biblical and, thus, insofar as our evolutionist opponents have yoked themselves with this heterodox view, it is a proper subject to address.

Plus, these are not peripheral matters, but have enormous ramifications for our knowledge of and relationship to God, as our conclusion points out.

Many of our readers will also regard open theism (in either form) as a clear departure from biblical truth, so our argument gives them an additional reason to reject theistic evolution. That's why it wouldn't be just as profitable to simply assert that theistic evolution is unbiblical. We're explaining why it is unbiblical.

Guy G., United States, 4 June 2015

I agree with R.D. above....I think we have to start facing the fact that when you start redefining the attributes of God, then choose to believe in your "new god", you're preaching a different gospel, not to mention a different redeemer (most of these newer gospels don't need a redeemer because they've also redefined the sin problem, too). I know CMI has been adamant about not making Biblical Creation a test of salvation, but, in reality, if these folks are redefining God and sin enough...they miss the real Jesus of the Bible, and believe in some other god that's really just a creation of their own imagination.

R. D., United Kingdom, 3 June 2015

Let's get real here - open theism is simply not Christianity. Whoever the god of open theism is, it's not YHVH.

It's good to see that these theistic evolutionists have been forced to admit that they require open theism in order for their beliefs to be logically tenable - and I'm sure that the four who are mentioned here (Haught, Giberson, Miller and Polkinghorne) are far from the only ones. Now let us call these beliefs out as what they are - non-Christian. These people worship (if they even worship at all) a counterfeit god of their own creation, even as they might believe that they honour YHVH. They are no different from the Muslims and Mormons - in fact they are worse, because at least Muslims don't pretend to be something they are not, and nor do many Mormons. The secular press might prefer to label these men as Christians - it is our responsibility to show that they are not.

Tommy S., United States, 2 June 2015

I believe the arguments made here in regards to how God created the universe and humans and animals is all valid. God did not say he left it to nature to evolve over time. However, I don't think this article addresses the point of adaptation/speciation. I think it's plausible to conclude that God probably didn't preordain the outcomes of adaptation/speciation, but rather simply provided the mechanisms for organisms to adapt to their environment based on environmental stimuli. But since he built in limits to adaptation, all would still fit neatly within the constraints He provided.

On another point, I think it is helpful to think of God's creation as an analogy to a virtual computer simulation. Man can create a computer and write software to simulate a virtual world with artificial intelligence, planets, gravity, weather, etc. And the man can interface to the computer and see the world in motion and even pause the world, change gravity, make it storm, make it day or night, etc. He could even use a microphone and make his voice heard in the virtual world. Even if he programmed the characters with a kind of free will, he could play the simulation and see its outcome. He could even play it over and over, modifying it and adding things at certain points in order to modify the results. And then when he has it the way he wants, he could start the simulation from the beginning and let it play out. God could do this with near infinite analysis all within the blink of an eye. Thus God could author His creation the way he desires, provide free will to all within, and still know the outcome of all events.

john P., Australia, 2 June 2015

These theistic evolutionists will be forced to acknowledge God one day for being omnipotent, omniscient when they meet Him face to face. Evolutionists have no idea in their own fairy story what their first life looked like or anything else, they don't know. There was an article in last year's November issue of New Scientist where in their beginners guide to origins they knew nothing. This is obvious

The bible tells us straight right from Genesis1:1 how this universe came about. God not only created the universe and earth, us etc but He remains in sovereign control and it is Adam and Eve's rebellion at the Fall which is to blame for the state of the world

Adam and Eve ran and hid then and these theistic evolutionists are still running, futilely.

It is so sad when people believe a fairy story that never happened nor could happen, instead of the truth. Still, they fulfill Bible prophesy, just the wrong side of it

Steven T., United States, 2 June 2015

First, I wish to apologize for suspecting that you'd deliberately quoted Ken Miller out of context. You did not. I still think, though, that his point was subtly different from what you inferred: "living things in the image of God" is a larger category than "human beings" (since God is spirit and the imago Dei is not anatomical or hormonal). I think Miller would argue that beings in God's image could be very different from humans in body and even, to some extent, in mind, as long as they were capable of moral reasoning and relationships. Miller compares the contingency, under evolution, of the human species to the contingency of the exact human beings who will be born each year: does a new parent mourn for all the myriads of possible children who were never conceived or rejoice in the one who was?

Which raises a question: does God's complete control over the future extend to determining, e.g. who every person marries and exactly which children they have? Does it extend to every decision they make (did God foreordain that, e.g. Miller would write the exact books he did?)?

Many Christians distinguish between foreknowledge and foreordination, between knowing future events and dictating that they will happen. On such a view, God could know in advance every outcome of an evolutionary process without dictating those outcomes in advance, just as, on the same view, God could use the Babylonian Empire to punish Judah without dictating every decision made by Nebuchadnezzer and all his councilors and generals. But perhaps you take an ultra-Calvinist view in which God's foreknowledge is foreordination, in which case I think your conclusions follow from your premises.

Keaton Halley responds

Not sure what you mean by "living things in the image of God". That's not a quote from us, or Miller, as far as I can tell. The Bible does not say that anything other than humans are made in the image of God.

We're not saying that the image of God has only to do with our physical makeup, but our physical makeup is part of what makes us human and God claims responsibility for it, yet this is what Miller says might have turned out radically different because God supposedly relinquished control.

Also, Miller's analogy with conception fails because he actually presumes rather than demonstrates that God lacks control over those outcomes as well. It's question-begging.

Finally, our argument does not depend on a specifically Calvinist perspective. Arminians also reject open theism. Nor does it depend on conflating foreknowledge and foreordination, although some of the theistic evolutionists we quoted were not careful to distinguish between those two. That's why we dealt with both aspects.

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