Theistic Evolution

by Brian E. Coombs Pastor of Messiah’s Church

We live in an age when the theory of evolution is regarded as truth. It certainly is taken for granted by a good many people. Such was not always the case. Of course, throughout the history of civilizations there have always been certain persons who articulated something of its sort, here and there. But it always was overturned by man’s convictions of ‘the gods’ or the true God. Finally, it grabbed the attention of scientists and theorists in the mid-19th century through the work of Charles Darwin. Then it grabbed the attention of cultures en masse. Now it is getting a grip on the Church of Jesus Christ. ‘Naaah,’ you say.

Yes. You’d be surprised!

“Theistic evolution” is simply evolution with God getting it all started. The sort of evolution taught in secular schools today is atheistic evolution. It rests on the conviction that there is no God. Thus, it is “a-” (no) “theistic” (God). This form of evolution teaches that matter is either eternal (always has been), or that it was generated spontaneously (suddenly came out of nothing). It gradually became more complex over billions of years of development. But theistic evolution, on the other hand, acknowledges a God – the God of Christianity even – but states that He used the process of evolution to bring things to the way they are. Having created matter, He then used the evolutionary process to run its course. Or at the very least, the Christian God is the answer to all the inexplicable points of atheistic evolution. Or as even Reformed theologian Benjamin Warfield unwisely pondered of evolution as it was newly being contemplated in the 19th century, “a theory of the method of the divine providence.” In other words, how God directed and continues to direct His creation.

Now you may wonder how someone could embrace such a view and still consider himself Christian. “Aren’t Christians those who oppose evolution?!” Usually. It is difficult to state how and why this is so. Perhaps it is simply a matter of ignorance or lack of instruction. Perhaps it is out of a desire not to look naïve or out-of-touch before the scientific community. Perhaps it is a concession to work with non-Christian scientists or a desire to embrace the findings of scientific discovery. Certainly for others it is deemed compatible with biblical Christianity.  But whatever the reason, this tract demonstrates that the Bible in no way teaches theistic evolution or permits it as a valid belief. As such, it should be rejected.

Most theistic evolutionists, at least all who look to the Scripture for support, posit that Genesis One allows for their view. They point to when God says, “Let there be light” (v.3), or “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear” (v.9), or the other occasions such as this in the chapter (cf. vv.11-12 regarding the vegetation). They believe these statements, followed by fulfillment, do not specify a particular method of formation and that they are thus permitted to see evolution as the fulfillment of God’s desire, as if God said, “Let there be” and evolution answered, ‘it was so.’

By themselves, these statements could allow for such an interpretation. But the Bible qualifies many such statements with reference to God’s fulfillment of His desire or intention. For example on day two, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters” (v.6) is immediately followed by “God made the expanse and separated the waters” (v.7). He Himself accomplished what He wanted. He did not allow evolution to do it. He did it by Himself. Again on day four, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens” (v.14) is followed by “God made the two great lights” (v.16). Again on day five, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures” (v.20) is immediately followed by “God created the great sea monsters” (v.21). God Himself created according to His own intended design. This pattern occurred again with the creation of man on day six, “Let Us make man in our image…God created man in His own image…He created him…He created them” (vv.26-27; cf. 2:7,22).

Genesis One, including the passages the theistic evolutionist offers in support of his view, is to be read according to the pattern of prophecy- then-fulfillment. God first stated His intention and then accomplished His intention – all by Himself. And though the account does not mention God Himself directly fulfilling His stated intention on days one and three (as theistic evolutionists note), the sense of the passage is otherwise. It is to be inferred.  In this light, the account credits God’s creative power as the source of all that is and was (1:1,31; 2:1-3). So the ground of support the theistic evolutionist thinks he sees is, in reality, a theological illusion. God Himself directly fulfilled what He desired and intended, not an impersonal process of evolution.

Theistic evolution is also refuted by the manner in which God designed and created the vegetation – various grasses, herbs, and fruit trees. Every living plant had within itself the capacity to reproduce again (and again and again). But each bore fruit “after its kind in which is its seed” (vv.11-12). Fruit could only generate according to its kind, and not across genetic species. And, future generations would remain according to the basic kind as the original creation. Pampas grass could not become an apple tree, nor could dill become a pickle.

Of course, there could be change and diversity within kind. Pampas grass could change to various colors and sizes. Apple trees could eventually become Red Delicious, Empire, or MacIntosh. Cats could develop into panthers, tigers, and cheetahs. Man could be light-haired or dark-haired, tall or short. But they would all remain in the same species or category. Man, notwithstanding his dark or light hair, is still a man. This change within species or kind is sometimes called “micro-evolution,” and is entirely different from the evolutionary thought of the theistic evolutionist. He believes “macro-evolution,” i.e., change across species and kind. Plasma became land globule, which became monkey, which became an evolutionist. But in the wisdom of God, thankfully, such things are not true.

So, the text of Genesis One refutes the arguments the theistic evolutionist presents to justify his view. Rather, God Himself created what He designed, and, when He created, it was done in such a way that the creation would remain essentially according to His original design. After all, the way He made it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31).  But is there really any adverse effect by embracing theistic evolution?  Yes. By embracing theistic evolution one basically overturns the Christian message.

  • First, an embrace of evolution as a valid concept, even in part, reveals a departure from the historical, biblical Christian worldview.
  • Second, a theistic evolutionist cannot reconcile his naturalistic presuppositions to the supernatural character of the Christian message.
  • Third, he believes that man is the product of a process of development from the animal kingdom, not a special creation of God bearing His image. And then there is Eve, whom the Bible teaches came from Adam, not an animal as evolutionary theory holds.
  • Fourth, the theistic evolutionist believes death existed before and apart from Adam’s fall into sin. The evolutionary notion of survival of the fittest means that from the beginning, animals would have killed each other for food and continuance. This is contrary to God’s word (Genesis 1:29-30).

The theistic evolutionist is then caught in the dilemma of calling death “very good” as well as accounting for a different source of death other than sin. But the Bible says “through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men” (Romans 5:12). So if he minimizes death, he minimizes (perhaps unwittingly) a basic component of the Gospel – one’s accountability to God as a sinner who has in Adam fallen under the curse of death. If death is merely “the way things are” than it does not signal the reality of divine judgment on account of sin. If judgment, death, sin, and Adam are rendered irrelevant, of what relevance is Jesus Christ, the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:21-22,45), Savior of sinners (Matthew 1:21), Conqueror of death (Romans 6:9), and Judge of all (John 5:22)?

So, theistic evolution is a distortion of God’s truth and an obstacle to salvation.

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