Theistic evolution: future shock?
If you’re a theistic evolutionist, here’s a problem for you to consider. It’s called the future.
As a theistic evolutionist, you believe that God used evolution to bring about the world as we know it. You believe that He began with the big bang, then gradually formed galaxies, stars, and planets like our own, the earth. Then He created life, (or allowed it to evolve from chemicals) and endowed that life with the capacity to progress upwards from amoeba to man. You believe that the ‘days’ of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20:11 were long periods of time—millions or even billions of years (or that they don’t represent timespans at all), because that seems to fit the geological and radiometric dating evidence best. So, you interpret the Scriptures according to the current scientific paradigm, or framework, of origins.
Perhaps you are familiar with some of the numerous arguments against interpreting the past through a theistic evolutionary framework. For example, there would have been death and bloodshed long before Adam (if he existed at all), which contradicts Romans 5:12–14, among other Scriptures. Or that the sequence of creation in Genesis 1 differs from that proposed by conventional long-age geological interpretations.
But, what about the future? This is an area that is not often addressed in the creation/evolution dialogue, but it poses some pretty sticky problems for the theistic evolutionist who wishes to be consistent in his interpretation of Scripture. Following are a few passages and ideas which need to be addressed:
1 Corinthians 15:51–53. If God needed millions of years to ‘create’ our first human bodies, which were already ravaged by disease and death, how will He be able to give us new, incorruptible bodies ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ when Christ returns?
Acts 3:21 refers to a future time when everything will be restored. For the theistic evolutionist (or the closely related ‘long-age creationist’) this should logically mean a restoration back to billions of years of death and suffering. The Bible in fact indicates that all things will be restored to a situation in which death (the ‘last enemy’—1 Corinthians 15:26) shall be no more. Why? Because there will be ‘no more curse’ (Revelation 22:3).
Isaiah 34:4 and Revelation 6:13–14. These passages refer to a future time of cataclysmic changes in the heavens. Stars falling from the sky, and the heavens rolling up, do not sound like slow processes needing millions of years. Long-agers insist that it had to take 15 billion years for the light from the most distant objects to reach us here on earth. Obviously, it will not take 15 billion years for the heavens to ‘roll together as a scroll.’ So perhaps we’ve not yet fully understood the mechanics of starlight and time, and that 15 billion year figure needs several zeros lopped off.
2 Peter 3:6–12 also poses a number of ‘future’ problems for theistic evolutionists. We know that the waters of the biblical Flood increased for at least 150 days (Genesis 7:24). Clearly, these Flood days must have been literal, 24-hour periods (though undoubtedly they seemed longer to Noah et al!)
So, the first problem is this: How long will the future destruction of the heavens and earth by fire last? Millions of years? Do you believe that this refers to the theory that the universe will slowly contract under its own gravity (the ‘big crunch’) until a new big bang occurs? Verse 10 says ‘the heavens shall pass away with a great noise.’ Once again, that sounds rather sudden and final. The ‘heavens’ here means the visible universe.
Then there’s verse eight, ‘One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.’ If each ‘day’ of Genesis chapter one lasted millions of years, and the ‘day’ here is literally a thousand years long, all language loses its meaning! Obviously, the best way to understand this verse is in the context of God’s patience. It has nothing to do with the actual length of biblical days, but stresses that God is outside of time. A day is not equal to a thousand years—it is (to God) like a thousand years—and vice versa, a thousand years is like one day to God.
2 Peter 3:13. Now we turn to the ‘new heavens and a new earth.’ If God needed billions of years to create the first heavens and earth, how long will it take to make new ones? What will believers who have been saved and have received new bodies be doing all that time? Hopefully not listening to harp music! Are you impressed by a God who needs zillions of years to get the job done?
Finally, there is at least one more problem. If God used evolution in the past, will He still use it in the future? When he re-creates the bodies of the redeemed through evolutionary processes, will we look like those almond-eyed, spindly-legged creatures of the movies and TV? Let’s hope not!
We must be consistent when we ‘interpret’ the Scriptures. If God created everything in six days in the past, as a plain reading of the Genesis account would demand, He’ll have no problem re-creating it all quickly in the future, as a plain reading of the passages cited above would imply. If He created Adam in a fraction of a day, and Eve out of Adam, He’ll have no problem granting new bodies ‘in the twinkling of an eye’ in the future. If death entered the world on a specific day in the past, it can be abolished within a day in the future.
When it comes to origins, ‘Father God plus Mother Nature’ equals an illegitimate child—theistic evolution. There are many aspects of God’s Word which make it clear that you can’t have it both ways.
John Verderame, B.S. (Biol.), Th.M., and his family were involved in church planting and evangelism for several years. He is now working for a professional optics firm and he occasionally speaks on creation topics. Return to top.
See also the later article The future—some issues for ‘long-age’ Christians.