Can evangelicals agree on ten theses about creation and evolution?
Answering Christianity Today’s claim that Evangelicals can agree to differ
Christianity Today recently published a piece trying to pretend that one can consistently believe both evolution and the Bible, called Ten theses on creation and evolution that (most) Evangelicals can support.1 This is disappointing to us, since we have been dealing with this issue, in a much more concrete way, for a very long time.
We should not be surprised that CT would publish this. They are commonly known as ‘neo-evangelical’, but for some years now, they have become more and more ‘neo’, while less and less ‘evangelical’. In 2015, they published an almost hagiographic article praising the racist eugenicist Margaret Sanger; in 2011 they undermined a historical Adam; in 2004 they even called on the leaders of the Intelligent Design movement to attack biblical (‘young-earth’) creation, and published another puff piece on theistic evolutionist Kenneth Miller while at the same time censoring replies that supported biblical creation (such as this one).
The author of this latest piece is pastor Todd Wilson, president and cofounder of the Center for Pastor Theologians. By his own account, he holds to “to a version of evolutionary creation”, which should surprise no one since he is a graduate of Wheaton College, long a hotbed of theistic evolution (TE).
Wilson’s 10 theses remind me of a piece back around the turn of the millennium by old-earth creationist Hugh Ross, called Ten Major Differences and Similarities Between Calendar-Day, such as CMI, and Day-Age Creationists, such as Ross. In my response to Ross, I agreed with all 10 of his claimed similarities: however, as can be seen, there are some differences in what we mean by them.
With this new list of theses by Wilson, there are only some I would agree with at face value. Others I would not only disagree with, but argue that they are mutually incompatible with some of the other theses. Thus, his system is self-refuting. His words are in red, and all the theses are quoted verbatim, as are many, but not all, of his explanations.
1. The doctrine of creation is central to the Christian faith
This is a very good start. Too many have claimed that creation is a side issue, on the lines of ‘Just preach the Gospel’. Wilson also acknowledges, “We’ve categorized the doctrine as a ’secondary’ or ‘tertiary’ issue in an attempt to preserve church unity.” But Wilson to his credit rejects this:
Of course, some doctrines are nearer to the core or closer to the periphery than others. Angelology isn’t central. Nor are certain aspects of eschatology. But the doctrine of salvation is; so too the doctrine of God, the doctrine of the Spirit, and the doctrine of Christ.
We should add to this list the doctrine of creation for the simple reason that it addresses some of the fundamentals of our faith—the reason for and nature of the world God has made, as well as the reason for and nature of the creatures God has made, not least those creatures made in God’s image.
But what does this mean? When the great preacher Martyn Lloyd Jones explained the essential beliefs that evangelicals must hold, or else they cannot be called evangelicals, he insisted more specifically:
We accept the biblical teaching with regard to creation and do not base our position upon theories of evolution, whichever particular theory people may choose to advocate.
2. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God, inspired, authoritative, and without error. Therefore whatever Scripture teaches is to be believed as God’s instruction, without denying that the human authors of Scripture communicated using the cultural conventions of their time.
Again, this is very good. Wilson first explains, “I have found it helpful in origin discussions to begin with a full-throated affirmation of the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of the Bible.” We totally agree! But Wilson continues, “This is especially true for those who are sympathetic to evolutionary creation since they are sometimes unfairly portrayed as sitting loosely to Scripture.”
But the real problem is that this is a fair portrayal of many TE leaders. Some years ago, the head of Australia’s leading TE organization ISCAST explicitly said: “[Y]es, Jesus believed in Genesis, but He was mistaken during the Incarnation [i.e. the kenotic heresy], but we know better because of the ‘light of science’.” And on the American TE site BioLogos, where Wilson has published virtually the same article, there appeared the following (although it has since disappeared):
If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, or John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.2
Anyway, Wilson continues:
It’s not a viable option for those committed to the authority of Scripture to say, “I know the Bible teaches this, but I don’t believe it.”
At root, we want to know what this particular author meant to say, at this particular time, with these particular cultural conventions.
CMI also teaches this, sometimes refining the statement to include wanting to know how the original readers would have understood it. This is called ‘original public meaning originalism’, or the ‘grammatical historical approach’. Actually, both Augustine and Tyndale called this the ‘literal’ meaning of the text—as opposed to a ‘woodenly literalistic’ understanding, which CMI has always rejected. So, despite accusations to the contrary by mendacious critics, CMI has always taught the accepted meaning of the word ‘literal’, which has a nuanced and scholarly history of usage handed down to us by some of great Christian scholars of the past.
A serious omission from the statement is the sufficiency of Scripture. During the Reformation, all sides agreed with inerrancy and authority of Scripture; but only the Reformers insisted on Sola Scriptura. This omission should not be surprising, because if we derived our understanding of the history of the universe directly from the biblical text, we would never find billions of year or evolution. This is why deep time was not taught by the Church Fathers or Reformers. Invariably, belief in long ages or evolution is imposed from outside ideas. It does not derive from the Scriptures themselves and no Christian scholar of any merit taught deep time until very late in history. This also means, in practice, that uniformitarian ‘science’ becomes the final authority, and the Scriptural texts must be re-interpreted to fit, i.e. Scriptura sub scientiā.
This is why different opinions about creation are different in kind, not merely degree, from many of the other doctrinal disputes within Protestant churches. E.g. when it comes to mode and subject of baptism, the nature of the Millennium, or forms of church governance, all sides agree that Scripture is the authority; they just disagree about its interpretation. But the creation debate is about whether Scripture is the authority—see End-times and Early-times.
3. Genesis 1–2 is historical in nature, rich in literary artistry, and theological in purpose. These chapters should be read with the intent of discerning what God says through what the human author has said.
We can agree with this, mostly, when it is understood properly. But Genesis is not just ‘historical in nature’, as if it contains some history. It is historical in essence. That is, it is written as a matter-of-fact historical account and was interpreted as such by the great majority of scholars throughout the great majority of the Christian era. The phrase ‘in nature’ opens an interpretive gap wide enough to drive a truck through, and so we must reject it. Wilson’s attempt at bringing both sides together fails badly at this point. And we can see the results of such phraseology. Many TE supporters clearly deny that Genesis is real history, and many even reject ‘concordist’ approaches to Genesis that claim to find long ages in the text. Some even mendaciously claim that the Bible is a flat-earth book (although almost no Christian throughout church history ever took it that way), and so it can’t be taken as a reliable source when it touches on science or history.
Clearly, the text is intended to be read as a historical account, at least at some level. This isn’t ancient mythology or folklore. More is going on. And yet a close reading of these texts reveals rich literary artistry. This isn’t the kind of “just the facts” reporting you find in a newspaper.
Genesis is definitely historical, and at more than ‘some level’. The literary genre is Hebrew historical narrative, and this is how the NT authors and Jesus Himself understood it—see Genesis is history!
Yet it seems clear that the author’s aim is ultimately theological—to say something about God, the nature of the world, and the identity and destiny of human beings who are created in his image (Gen. 1:27). The point is not ultimately about supernovas or greenhouse gases or horticulture but about “God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth,” as the Apostle’s Creed puts it.
However, this is akin to a common objection to our ministry, ‘The important thing is that God created, isn’t it?’, which I have previously addressed:
Ever had someone tell you, ‘You’re missing the whole point! The purpose of Genesis is to teach that God is our Creator. We should not be divisive over the small details. Genesis teaches the theological truth of “Who?” and “Why?” not about the “How?” and “When?”’ Or else they say that the Bible is a book for faith and morality, not history.
An obvious answer is, why should we trust Genesis when it says God created if we can’t trust it on the details? After all, Jesus told Nicodemus, “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? ” (John 3:12). So if Genesis can’t be trusted on an earthly thing, such as Earth’s age, the sequence of creative acts upon it, or the Flood that covered it, then why trust it on a heavenly thing such as who the Creator was? Also, if Genesis 1 were merely meant to tell us that God is creator, then why simply not stop at verse 1, all that’s necessary to state this?
4. God created and sustains everything. This means that he is as much involved in natural processes as he is in supernatural events. Creation itself provides unmistakable evidence of God’s handiwork.
In our secular age, even Christians are accustomed to viewing the world in mechanistic or materialistic ways—we find it quite easy to affirm that God is involved in raising someone from the dead, but we also slip into patterns of thinking that exclude God from the routine workings of nature, like the rotation of the stars, the formation of clouds, or the grass as it grows. That’s just nature doing its thing.
Many people confuse miracles and straight-up operational science, and Wilson here seems to be stumbling. As we have stated before, in how to understand miracles:
The founders of modern science, like modern creationists, regarded ‘natural laws’ as descriptions of the way God upholds His creation in a regular and repeatable way (Col. 1:15–17). Miracles are God’s way of upholding His creation in a special way for special reasons. Because creation finished at the end of day 6 (Gen. 2:1–3), creationists following the Bible would expect that God has mostly worked through ‘natural laws’ since then, except for the occasional miracle. And since ‘natural laws’ are descriptive, they cannot prescribe what cannot happen, so they cannot rule out miracles. Scientific laws do not cause or forbid anything. Similarly, the outline of a map does not cause the shape of the coastline.
Because creation finished at the end of day 6, biblical creationists would try to find natural laws for every aspect of operational science, and would not invoke a miracle to explain any repeating event in nature in the present.
An upshot of this is that creation itself provides unmistakable evidence of God’s handiwork. As the psalmist declares, “The heavens are telling the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1, NRSV). Or as the apostle Paul puts it, God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20, ESV).
We often point out these passages too. But these are fatal for evolutionists, as we have explained:
This passage clearly teaches that unbelievers won't have the slightest excuse for unbelief, because God’s power and deity can be “clearly seen” from nature. This seems to be a strong support for the argument from design. However, according to Stephen Jay Gould, one of Darwin’s main motivations was to counteract the argument from design.3 So if evolution were true, or if there was “gobs of evidence”,4 then where is the clear evidence for God's power from what has been made? Far from being evidence for a divine hand, evolution, according to Gould, gives ‘evidence’ that “there’s nothing else going on out there—just organisms struggling to pass their genes on to the next generation. That’s it.” So once again, if evolution were true, there is no evidence for a God from what has been made, but evidence only for ruthless struggle for existence. So why would unbelievers be “without excuse” if evolution were true?
And one glaring omission in this statement is the role of the global Flood in Genesis 6–8. The same type of argument can be made from “Scoffers will … deliberately ignore this fact, … the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” (2 Peter 3:3–6). This strongly implies that the Flood must have left some dramatic evidence, otherwise why would scoffers be held culpable for “deliberately ignoring” the fact of the Flood if there is no evidence? Yet supporters of TE and old-earth creation generally dismiss the Flood as local, legendary, or tranquil—none of which would leave a trace.
But what we believe about the Flood should affect what we believe about earth’s history. If there really was a global Flood, we don’t need to postulate billions of years to explain the rocks and fossils, because of the scientific principle that we can often trade intensity for time. Conversely, those who wanted to ‘free science from Moses’ first attacked the Flood and replaced it with slow and gradual processes.
5. Adam and Eve were real persons in a real past, and the fall was a real event with real and devastating consequences for the entire human race.
This is likely to be a sticking point for some. An increasing number of evangelical ‘evolutionary creationists’ are giving up belief in Adam and Eve as real persons in a real past.
It should be a sticking point. If we doubt ‘the first man, Adam’, then why should we believe in Jesus, “the last Adam”, since the Apostle Paul links them so strongly in his Gospel/Resurrection presentation in 1 Corinthians 15.5 But then Wilson wavers badly:
The genetic evidence, at least as we now understand it, makes belief in an original human pair doubtful if not impossible.
You mean, how you misunderstand it, because of the BioLogos agitprop by the likes of Francis Collins and Dennis Venema, and remaining willfully ignorant of the counters by equally qualified creationist geneticists (see links above). It’s even worse, because Venema has been directly contradicted by evolutionary geneticist Richard Buggs, Professor of Evolutionary Genomics at Queen Mary, University of London. He pointed out a fact that creationist geneticists proved independently, albeit concentrating on post-Flood diversification: that in a diverse population, a tiny number of individuals could retain most of their diversity, and a bottleneck need not destroy most diversity as long as the population recovers quickly. A fortiori, this would apply to a human couple with created diversity, even if Eve were a haploid clone of Adam. Buggs writes:
… population geneticists [ref.] showed that even a bottleneck of a single pair would not lead to massive decreases in genetic diversity, if followed by rapid population growth. When two individuals are taken at random from an existing large population, they will on average carry 75% of its heterozygosity [ref.]. From a bottleneck of a single fertilised female, if population size doubles every generation, after many generations the population will have over half of the heterozygosity of the population before the bottleneck [ref.]. If population growth is faster than this, the proportion of heterozygosity maintained will be higher.
In general, I am concerned that the studies you [Venema] cite did not set out to test the hypothesis that humans have passed through a single-couple bottleneck. They are simply trying to reconstruct the most probable past effective population sizes of humans given the standard assumptions of population genetic models. I personally would feel ill at ease claiming that they prove that a short sudden bottleneck is impossible.6
I suspect in 20 years’ time, support for Adam and Eve as real persons in a real past will be a minority view even within evangelicalism.
More accurately, if evangelicalism has any real meaning, the majority will have departed from it. Rather, they will have become part of theological liberalism.
Should this come to pass, I remain confident that the Christian faith will survive, even though this will require some reconfiguration of our deepest convictions.
This ‘reconfiguration’ will just be a rehash of the older justifications for theological liberalism: modern science has made traditional understandings of Christianity unsupportable, so we must reconfigure them in the light of the modern world. What’s to stop them moving further in denying every doctrine of Christianity, e.g. the former Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong. In fact, almost a century ago, the great theologian and apologist Gresham Machen showed that this is not a reconfiguration of Christianity at all, but the invention of another religion totally different from it:
In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called ‘modernism’ or ‘liberalism’…. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism, that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God.
[W]hat the liberal theologian has retained after abandoning to the enemy one Christian doctrine after another is not Christianity at all, but a religion which is so entirely different from Christianity as to belong in a distinct category.7
Also, this compromise doesn’t impress atheopaths in the slightest, because they know well that Paul’s Gospel message related to a real Adam. E.g. Dawkins was scathing:
Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!
Hence a warning to BioLogos from a creationist blogger:
By your compromise, (A) you are not winning them over, but (B) are signaling to them that they are winning you over. They will simply wait you out, until you continue in your process of jettisoning everything the world hates about you as a Christian. After all, if they can get you to toss such a straightforward chapter, the rest should be child’s play.8
However, Wilson backtracks, and in a good way:
That being said, I personally don’t find the genetic evidence compelling enough to jettison belief in a real Adam and Eve in a real past.
It certainly is not!
I admit that the evidence is mounting and at this stage looks (to my untrained eye) impressive.
It would be far better to train his eye on contrary evidence, as above!
But two scriptural convictions keep me tethered to the historic Christian conviction about the original human pair. The first is the testimony of Scripture, especially Adam’s presence in genealogies (Gen. 5; Luke 1 [sic; Luke 3]) and in Paul’s Adam-Christ typology in Romans 5. Even more compelling is the idea that the Christian view of salvation appears to hinge on the doctrine of original sin and the fall as an event, which in turn requires a real person to have transgressed and thus plunged humanity into a state of sin from which it needs redemption.
This is exactly what we have been saying for over 40 years! Surely this should be enough to dismiss the attacks on a historical Adam by many leading TEs? And note that these passages make it clear that Adam was a real first man. It thus contradicts the claim that God selected him out of many hominids evolving from a population of ape-like creatures.
His Thesis 5, if true, is enough to dismiss all forms of evolution of man from non-human ancestors. Ergo, this point is mutually incompatible with many of his other theses. See also Debating an historical Adam and the destruction of the Gospel.
6. Human beings are created in the image of God and are thus unique among God’s creatures. They possess special dignity within creation.
We agree so far—humans, both male and female, still bear God’s image, albeit a broken image after the Fall. But we must ask a critical question: what does it really mean for him?
Modern science has demonstrated that there is strong biological continuity between human beings and all other animals. Human beings, for example, share 98.5 percent of their DNA with chimpanzees. It is increasingly difficult, then, to claim that human beings are qualitatively distinct from the animal kingdom.
In reality, there is no continuity in the sense of descent, so it would be better to use the word commonality, i.e. there are many things we have in common with animals. If we didn’t, then what would we eat? In any case, this is the argument from homology which we have amply covered.
We also note that like many who reject biblical authority, he has no alternative to chasing after secular bandwagons, huffing and puffing to try to keep up, but failing. The 98.5% is one of those outdated claims. Such figures were first proposed by geneticists Charles Sibley and Jon Ahlquist, but the latter has now become a biblical creationist! Dr Ahlquist explains why even this (wrong) figure would not prove common ancestry:
The fact that our bodies have a Bauplan [body plan] like that of primates is not coincidental, nor does it have anything to do with evolution. To achieve our function we need to be bipedal, have a large cranial capacity, be omnivorous and have opposable thumbs. This produces certain constraints on our DNA, in the same way that the need to fly in certain ways restricts the design of birds, and thus constrains their DNA.
One reason for the desire for a small difference between chimps and humans is that they believe that the human-chimp lineages split only 5 million years ago. So by their own reasoning, they shouldn’t be too different. But does even this claimed small difference help their cause?
Since the human genome has 3 billion ‘letters’, every 1% difference amounts to 30 million letters. How could the mutations have been substituted so fast? After all, they only have 5 or so million years to create millions and millions of fixed differences between the two species. Worse, they only have a few hundred thousand generations. There simply is not enough time. This well-known problem is known as Haldane’s Dilemma. It dates to the 1950s, and has NOT been solved. In fact, it has only gotten worse.9
And that brings us to a discussion of the real percent difference between humans and chimps. One evolutionary video points out:
Yes, we share 99% of our DNA with chimps—if we ignore 18% of their genome and 25% of ours.10
Even Venema rejects such a high similarity, saying, “our entire genomes are either around 95 per cent or 98 per cent identical depending on how one counts the effects of deletions of small blocks of DNA,”11 or later on a blog, “95% is the best estimate we have for the genome-wide identity of chimps and humans if you count indels on a per-nucleotide basis.”12 Buggs disagrees with even this 95% estimate—this should be regarded “not as a statement of established fact,”13 and better analysis suggests that the similarity is <85%. He explains:
To come up with the most accurate current assessment that I could of the similarity of the human and chimpanzee genome, I downloaded from the UCSC genomics website the latest alignments (made using the LASTZ software) between the human and chimpanzee genome assemblies, hg38 and pantro6. … This gave the following for the human genome:
4.06% had no alignment to the chimp assembly
5.18% was in CNVs relative to chimp
1.12% differed due to SNPs in the one-to-one best aligned regions
0.28% differed due to indels within the one-to-one best aligned regions
The percentage of nucleotides in the human genome that had one-to-one exact matches in the chimpanzee genome was 84.38%.12
Creationist scientists have also tackled this subject in detail.
After this, Wilson makes some of the same points we have been making for decades. They are not compatible with evolution no matter how he pretends:
And yet Scripture clearly intends to say that something special took place on the sixth day of creation when God created human beings. The change of language is indication enough: from “Let the waters teem” (Gen. 1:20) and “Let the land produce” (Gen. 1:24) to “Let us make” (Gen. 1:26). Here the creation reaches a new stage, a high point, and God leans into the creation of humanity in a way that is distinct from what has gone before.
The Christian tradition has tended to locate this uniqueness in the doctrine of the imago Dei, or image of God. Defining precisely what this image of God entails has been vexing for theologians. But the basic point is straightforward enough—humanity is endowed by God with a special dignity. While there is continuity between humans and the rest of animal-kind, this sixth-day creation called “humankind” is unique.
But this uniqueness is precisely what evolutionists are at great pains to deny. If humans evolved from apes, there is no special time when we became humans, there is no real qualitative difference between us and other animals, and there is nothing that makes us special compared to anything else in the universe. You can’t have TE and human exceptionalism at the same time.
7. There is no final conflict between the Bible rightly understood and the facts of science rightly understood. God’s “two books,” Scripture and nature, ultimately agree. Therefore Christians should approach the claims of contemporary science with both interest and discernment, confident that all truth is God’s truth.
Some take issue with the notion of God’s “two books,” the book of Scripture and the book of nature. But metaphor goes back at least to Augustine and can be found in esteemed places like the Belgic Confession.>
However well meaning, this comparison can be taken too far. The Bible is literally a book (or a collection of books), but nature at best is only metaphorically a book, as I explained in Refuting Compromise:
The Bible is propositional revelation, i.e. it uses words to reveal true propositions, or facts about things. Therefore it can be interpreted according to the rules of grammar and historical context. And because God wrote the Bible to instruct man, starting with the original readers, its propositions would be understandable. … However, nature does not contain propositional revelation, but instead the data must be interpreted according to a framework.
Another problem is that everything in nature has been affected by the Fall, and so have we, so we need guidance from an unfallen source, as explained in the same book.
[B]because of Adam’s sin, the creation is cursed (Genesis 3:17–19, Romans 8:20–22), man’s heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and the thinking of a godless man is ‘futile’ (Romans 1:21). But although Scripture was penned by fallen humans, these humans were moved by the Holy Spirit, so Scripture itself is ‘God-breathed’ (2 Timothy 3:15–17). Therefore, Scripture is the only source of revelation not tainted by the Fall.
So a Biblical Christian should not reinterpret the perfect, unfallen Word of God according to fallible theories of sinful humans about a world we know to be cursed. As the systematic theologian Louis Berkhof approvingly explained about the views of some leading Reformed theologians:
… Since the entrance of sin into the world, man can gather true knowledge about God from His general revelation only if he studies it in the light of Scripture, in which the elements of God’s original self-revelation, which were obscured and perverted by the blight of sin, are republished, corrected, and interpreted.15
Berkhof’s own view was:
Some are inclined to speak of God’s general revelation as a second source; but this is hardly correct in view of the fact that nature can come into consideration here only as interpreted in the light of Scripture.16
Hence, we can only use science ministerially, to elaborate and elucidate where Scripture is silent, and to defend it. In practice, all old-earth views, whether old-earth creationist or TE, use science magisterially, to overrule the propositions of Scripture—see Biblical history and the role of science. (Some have argued that this approach would make us geocentrists, but this betrays a serious misunderstanding of the matter—our detailed paper on this.)
8. The Christian faith is compatible with different scientific theories of origins, from young-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, but it is incompatible with any view that rejects God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Christians can (and do) differ on their assessment of the merits of various scientific theories of origins.
The Christian faith is not logically compatible with ‘evolutionary creation’ aka TE. The breakdown occurs not when God is questioned as the Creator, but when the Scripture is questioned as an authoritative source of history. God can be a distant creator, a primary creator (e.g., maybe He ‘lit the fuse’ of the big bang then took his hands off), or an absent minded creator (hence philosophers have struggled with the question of theodicy [the source of evil] for millennia). But none of these are compatible with the clear historicity of Genesis. Some of the other theses, understood by the normal meaning of the sentences, show this. This is especially true of the clear teaching of a literal Adam and Eve, which is foundational to the Gospel.
Now I am not saying that theistic evolutionists are unsaved; I am merely making a statement about the logical incompatibility of their views and the Bible. Since Jesus is called the logos (John 1), being Christ-like should include being logical, but being illogical is not the unforgivable sin—see also Can Christians believe evolution?
But Wilson insists:
Yet we must understand that the supposed conflict between Christianity and evolution is more apparent than real. The Christian faith, in principle, is not at odds with evolution as a science but with evolution as a worldview. Christians can and do assess the merits of the science of evolution differently. That’s all good and well. But the claim that evolution is by its very nature opposed to Christianity is simply overreaching—it’s not defensible philosophically or theologically.
Wilson can assert this all he likes, but as shown above, atheopaths are not impressed, and it’s no accident that they use evolution to bludgeon even more people into atheopathy. Any billions-of-years view is most definitely incompatible with Scripture: the time frame, details, and even the order of events; and all impose both human and animal death before human sin.
Even worse, if that were possible, TE proposes that God used death, “the last enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26), as his means of bringing about a creation that He declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Instead of the above TE romanticisation of the evolutionary process, the French biochemist and atheistic evolutionist Jacques Monod (1910–1976) pointed out that evolution is:
The more cruel because it is a process of elimination, of destruction. The struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against which our whole modern ethics revolts. An ideal society is a non-selective society, is one where the weak is protected; which is exactly the reverse of the so-called natural law. I am surprised that a Christian would defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order to have evolution (emphasis added).17
See also Response to the evolution appeasers.
Some Christians believe that God created the world several thousand years ago. They see this as the plain reading of Scripture and what Christians have believed for centuries. There are others who take the Bible just as seriously but see the scientific evidence a little differently and think the world is very old—several billion years.
But here we see the difference: Wilson can’t help revealing that the old-earth position is not text-driven but science-driven. And by ‘science’, read evolutionary uniformitarianism, a faulty religio-philosophical view of history masquerading as science, not the real operational/observational science of the type that put men on the moon, builds technology, or cures diseases.
9. Christians should be well grounded in the Bible’s teaching on creation but always hold their views with humility, respecting the convictions of others and not aggressively advocating for positions on which evangelicals disagree.
This is good material, at face value, but one wonders whether Wilson intends to direct this at organizations that are openly hostile to YEC, such as Reasons to Believe and BioLogos. And as I’ve said before, “Humility and grace is an admirable goal, but not when it is a feigned humility used as an excuse for disbelieving what the Bible clearly teaches.” See also True versus false humility: The Incarnation, Creation and evolution.
10. Everything in creation finds its source, goal, and meaning in Jesus Christ, in whom the whole of creation will one day achieve eschatological redemption and renewal. All things will be united in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
All true. So why not have the same view of Genesis as Jesus had? All the NT writers likewise affirmed the people, events, and even the order of events as written in Genesis.
More than that, we confess that Christ is also the telos of this creation. Not only its meaning but its goal—its redeemer and the source of creation’s climatic resolution. Or as Scripture so pointedly says, God’s will has been “set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph. 1:9–10, ESV).
This is yet another problem with his view: what one believes about the past must affect how one views the future. Randy Alcorn points out:
Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew. Resurrect. Each of these biblical words begins with the re- prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost. God always sees us in light of what He intended us to be, and He always seeks to restore us to that design.
But if our past is billions of years of death and suffering, then a ‘restoration’ to a condition in the past logically means our future is also billions of years of death and suffering. But the closing chapters of the Bible say that all suffering will be ended, because this is the result of the curse, and this will be abolished, while the Tree of Life once again flourishes. (Revelation 21:4, 22:1–3).
Thus the Bible comes around full circle—the last chapters point back to the first, but to something even better: there will no longer be even the possibility of redeemed people sinning, as the first person, Adam, did in the biblical Garden of Eden.
Re-featured on homepage: 23 March 2023
References and notes
- Wilson, T., Ten theses on creation and evolution that (most) Evangelicals can support: We won’t achieve perfect unanimity on every contested topic, christianitytoday.com, 4 January 2019. Return to text.
- Sparks, K., “After Inerrancy, Evangelicals and the Bible in the Postmodern Age, part 4” Biologos Forum, 26 June 2010. Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Darwin’s real message: Have you missed it? Creation 14(4)16–19, September—November 1992; creation.com/realmessage. Return to text.
- Wood, T.C., The truth about evolution, toddcwood.blogspot.com/2009/09/truth-about-evolution.html, 30 September; a confused fideistic tirade that a number of atheopathic evolutionists adored. Return to text.
- Cosner, L., Christ as the Last Adam: Paul’s use of the Creation narrative in 1 Corinthians 15, J. Creation 23(3):70–75, 2009; creation.com/1-corinthians-15. Return to text.
- Buggs, R., Email to Dennis Venema about human population bottlenecks, richardbuggs.com,29 September 2017; see also Gauger, A., Does science rule out a first human pair? Geneticist Richard Buggs says no, evolutionnews.org, 3 October 2017. Return to text.
- Machen, J.G., Christianity and Liberalism, 1923. Return to text.
- Phillips, D., “A Coda on the Week’s Discussion” Pyromaniacs 26 June 2010. Return to text.
- Rupe, C.L. and Sanford, J.C., Using numerical simulation to better understand fixation rates, and establishment of a new principle: Haldane’s Ratchet, in Horstemeyer, M. (ed.) Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Creationism, Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship, 2013. Return to text.
- MinuteEarth, Are we really 99% chimp? at 1:47, youtube.com, 11 June 2015. Return to text.
- Venema, D.R. and McKnight, S., Adam and the Genome: Reading scripture after genetic science, p. 32, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, MI, 2017. Return to text.
- Venema, D.R. Human Ape Genome Similarity, discourse.biologos.org, 24 June 2018. Return to text.
- Buggs, R., How similar are human and chimpanzee genomes? richardbuggs.com, 14 July 2018. Return to text.
- hgdownload.cse.ucsc.edu/goldenpath/hg38/vsPanTro6/. Return to text.
- Berkhof, L., Introductory volume to Systematic Theology, p. 60, Banner of Truth, 1958. Return to text.
- Berkhof, Ref. 15, p. 96. Return to text.
- Monod, Jacques, The Secret of Life, ABC interview, Australia, 1976. Return to text.
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