The theological case against evolution
We all like science. In fact, we couldn’t live without it. Science has helped us put man on the moon, put the Internet in our pockets, see 14 billion light-years into space, and unveil a universe of microbiological machines within each living cell. Science has given us life-saving vaccines against polio, smallpox and measles. Yet science owes an incredible debt to theology.1 History repeatedly demonstrates that where men have built their epistemic foundations upon Scripture, their science has flourished.2 But subsequent to the “Age of Enlightenment” (c. 1650–1800), science has ascended to the throne, happily usurping the Scriptures in every place she can. As Michael Bauman puts it, “Theology, the Queen of the Sciences, has been banished to the back of the bus by her own bigoted descendants.”3 We need to remember that man is fallible, and as the history of science has repeatedly shown, so is science. One of the most audacious and specious theories to fall under the broad umbrella of ‘science’ in the last 200 years is the notion that everything evolved over billions of years. The theory suffers from innumerable theological, philosophical and scientific problems. But in this article I would ask you to consider the following theological problems created by maintaining an evolutionary account of origins.
- It makes death our friend instead of our enemy. Theistic evolutionists, in an endeavour to embrace both Darwin and Moses, claim that God created all the original kinds of animals and plants through a process of natural selection (contra Genesis 1–2). Natural selection is indeed a recognised phenomenon at work on our planet, empowered by the reality of death. But according to Genesis 3, death came as a result of Adam’s disobedience and God’s curse upon this earth.4 When we reject this history, we are compelled instead to view death, bloodshed, violence, disease and the general struggle for survival as the God-given blessings of a perfect world. Yet this makes little sense of 1 Corinthians 15:26, and construes the God of creation to be a moral monster.
- It calls into question the meaning of ‘good’ because God called a world typified by death, disease, pain and strife, “good”. This has a direct bearing on how we think about God who is, in himself, the ultimate standard of goodness (Mark 10:18) and how we construct our theodicy5—one of the greatest challenges in apologetics. Without the historicity of the fall of man and its ramifications on creation, the distinction between good and evil is lost.
- It calls into question the authority of Scripture. An obvious contradiction exists between the record of our origins in Genesis and the popular story of evolution:
- The source of Creation.
- God created the world (Genesis 1:1). This is in contradiction to atheism and philosophical naturalism, one of the major premises inspiring the idea of evolution. Thus Dawkins writes, “although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.6” Similarly, Peter Lawrence writes, “In this vital mission to discredit the supernatural, nothing has proved more important than The Origin of Species.”7
- The order of Creation.
- God created the earth before the creation of the solar system (Genesis 1:1 & 1:14–18).
- God created light before He created the sun (Genesis 1:3, 16).
- God created the plants before the creation of stars, moon and sun (Genesis 1:11).
- God created the birds before the creation of land-dwelling animals (Genesis 1:20).
- The mechanism of Creation.
- God created all things out of nothing—not using pre-existing material (Hebrews 11:3).
- God created all the plants and animals according to their kinds, instead of a single organism which evolved from one kind into another, and then into everything else (Genesis 1:12, 21, 24).
- God created man directly from the dust of the earth, not from another animal (Genesis 2:7).
- God created man in his image and gave him dominion over the animals, thereby making him distinct from the animals (Genesis 1:26).
- The time of Creation.
- God created the world in six days8 as opposed to vast ages/epochs of time (cf. Genesis 1, Exodus 20:11)
- God created man at the beginning of time, not the end of time. Jesus claimed in Mark 10:6, “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’” … as opposed to at the end of creation. According to the evolutionary timescale, mankind appears only as an appendix at the end of billions or years of evolutionary struggle. So the real question is “Was Jesus wrong?” (Other NT references to mankind being created at the beginning not the end of creation include Luke 11:50–51 and Romans 1:20). This has led some, like the prominent theistic evolutionist, Francis Collins, to write: “If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, 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.”9 If true, this would bring into question everything else spoken by Jesus and would undermine the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture10.
- The completion of Creation.
- The goodness of Creation.
- As already mentioned, death, disease, cancer, pain and suffering came after the fall of man, not before. Evolution, via the uniformitarian interpretation of the fossil record, places all these fallen elements before man even appears on the scene. If God intended animals to kill each other in a perfect world, why does he describe the new heavens and new earth using language like: “The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 65:25). It also makes no sense of Romans 8:20–22 and Revelation 21:4.
- The source of Creation.
- It sets a hermeneutical precedent. Two millennia worth of commentaries on the book of Genesis bear witness to the fact that the orthodox interpretation has been the straightforward, literal approach to the text, taking the creation narrative as history.11 But today there are many competing interpretations of Genesis. It is worth noting, therefore, that the framework hypothesis, day-age theory, gap-theory, analogical days theory, Genesis-as-myth, progressive creation and theistic evolutionary theories all find their origin in the 19th and 20th centuries. As Hall has observed, “it is a very difficult task to reproduce pre-1800 Christian literature that both employs rigorous exegetical methodology and that defends something other than a literal interpretation of Genesis 1–11.”12 If we allow popular opinion to preside over the interpretation of the first book of the Bible, what stops us from butchering the other 65? If we’re going to put on naturalistic glasses to resolve the question of origins—is there anything to stop us taking that framework of interpretation elsewhere? Floating axe heads, the virgin birth, water turning into wine, the multiplication of loaves and fishes, Jesus walking on water and the resurrection of the dead are not even remotely feasible according to ‘science’. So should we let ‘science’ dictate here also? One compromise leads to another.
- It makes a mockery of Christ and Christianity. Genesis is effectively relegated to the status of a ‘just-so’ story. When Christians capitulate to canonising popular opinion over the Word of God, non-Christians sit back and laugh because their suspicions are once again confirmed, i.e. science holds all the cards, not Scripture. Consider the claims of the 19th century sceptic, George Foote, who wrote, “And if man himself has descended, or ascended, from lower forms of life; if he has been developed through thousands of generations from a branch of the Simian family; it necessarily follows that the Garden of Eden is a fairy tale, that Adam and Eve were not the parents of the human race, that the Fall is an oriental legend, that Original Sin is a theological libel on humanity, that the Atonement is an unintelligible dogma, and the Incarnation a relic of ancient mythology.”13
- It deprives us of real answers concerning origins, and leaves the biggest argument for naturalism, atheism or agnosticism unchallenged. Without evolution, these worldviews are entirely bankrupt. When we decide not to discuss or debate on matters of origin, we effectively leave the pagan world unchallenged. It becomes the Achilles’ heel of our apologetics. To leave the origins discussion merely at the “something or someone did it” level is entirely unhelpful because most of the world believes that a thing or a being made this universe. This is not where the debate is at. Even Dawkins14 and Hawking15 have recently conceded that aliens could have done it. The real problem here is the authority of God’s word versus the evolutionary story of origins. It’s only when people submit to Scripture that they will find Christ. They won’t find Christ in science, although a careful reflection upon the magnificence of God’s creation might lead them to Scripture. Therefore, in order to effectively address the question of origins in a way that is relevant and helpful to people, we need to let the Bible speak (Romans 10:17)! If we are not prepared to accept the inspired eye-witness testimony of someone who was there at the beginning, who actually made it all and told us how he did it, we lose the only answers we have in this world to help the millions of people today who are asking those kinds of questions. For example, Marcus Dods (1834–1909), writing only a decade after Darwin, exhorted his readers, in the opening paragraph of his commentary on Genesis with: “If any one is in search of accurate information regarding the age of this earth, or its relation to the sun, moon, and stars, or regarding the order in which plants and animals have appeared upon it, he is referred to recent text-books in astronomy, geology, and palaeontology. No one for a moment dreams of referring a serious student of these subjects to the Bible as a source of information.”16 Why do we so readily defer to the speculations of men on our origins when they were never there in the beginning to observe it? The only authority we have on the subject of creation is God—not man. Questions about origins are primarily theological (and historical), not scientific. If we disregard the Bible in our investigation we lose the only authoritative data we have!
- It robs God of his glory. Evolutionists claim that this world is not the product of creative intelligence but instead the result of a fantastic fortuitous fluke. Any theistic synthesis with evolution does little to improve upon this robbery. The claim that God made this world using a brutally wasteful, mindless, random process over billions of years undermines the infinite wisdom and creative brilliance employed in the careful construction of our universe. We give credit to artists, inventors, architects and engineers for their intelligent designs. Why do we rob God of the credit He deserves? Consider Psalm 19.
To conclude with the words of Robert Jastrow, “For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries…”17
Will you be with those at the top of the mountain?
- Stark, R., For the Glory of God: how monotheism led to reformations, science, witch-hunts, and the end of slavery, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 2003, p. 123. Return to text.
- Most notably during the period of the Protestant Reformation which sparked the Scientific Revolution. For more on this subject see Modern science owes much to straightforward understanding of Scripture. Return to text.
- Bauman, M., Between Jerusalem and the Laboratory: a theologian looks at science, 1997, p.21. Return to text.
- Cf. Romans 5:12. Prior to the fall, animals did not kill and eat each other, they ate plants (Genesis 1:30). Return to text.
- Theodicy: justifying the goodness of God in the presence of evil. Return to text.
- Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, 1996, p.6 Return to text.
- Berry, A., Cobb, M., Morris, S.C., Coyne, J., Hoekstra, H., Lawrence, P., May, R., Nüsslein-Volhard, C., Ptashne, M., Ridley, M. & Zuk, M., (Re)Reading The Origin. Current Biology 19(3):96–104, 2009, p. 98; http://download.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/PIIS0960982208016898.pdf. Return to text.
- For further discussion on the days of Genesis see How long were the days of Genesis 1? Return to text.
- Collins, F., After Inerrancy: Evangelicals and the Bible in a Postmodern Age., 2010; http://biologos.org/blog/after-inerrancy-evangelicals-and-the-bible-in-a-postmodern-age-part-4 Return to text.
- Wieland, C., Jesus on the Age of the Earth, 2010. Return to text.
- Berkhof, L., Systematic Theology, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh,1976, p. 153. Return to text.
- Hall, D.W., A Brief Overview of the Exegesis of Genesis 1–11: Luther to Lyell, (In Mortenson, T. and Ury, T.H., (eds.) Coming to Grips with Genesis: biblical authority and the age of the earth, Master Books, pp. 53–78.), 2008, p. 54. Return to text.
- Foote, G., Darwin on God, Progressive Publishing Company, London, 1889, p. 5. Return to text.
- Expelled DVD, An interview between Ben Stein and Richard Dawkins, 2008, transcript: http://www.conservapedia.com/Ben_Stein_Interview_with_Richard_Dawkins Return to text.
- Stephen Hawking, S., Humans should Fear Aliens, 2010; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/25/stephen-hawking-aliens_n_551035.html Return to text.
- Dods, M., The Book of Genesis, A.C. Armstrong and Son, New York, 1890, p.1. Return to text.
- Jastrow, R., God and the Astronomers, W.W. Norton and Co., New York, 1978, p. 116. Return to text.