What is Theistic Evolution?

Question
What is Theistic Evolution?
Answer

Theistic Evolution, (or Theistic Evolutionism, Evolutionary Creationism), is an Old Earth Creationism (OEC) view of Creation (see below). Theistic evolutionists consider that modern science has proven evolution to be an absolute fact, therefore they feel they must make Scripture teach it. Following Science, they feel as if the universe is millions of years old. So, they place the ever-changing facts of Science, over the unchanging facts of Scripture.

They assert that God merely started an evolutionary process and that over millions of years "it" gave us Creation. So, unlike Atheistic Evolution, it somewhat leaves room for God as the Creator. However, views vary concerning God within this theory. Some assert that God merely set in motion the laws of nature that led to an evolutionary process. In other words, all God did is wind up a big clock and let time take care of Creation; God himself was not intimately involved in the continuing process. Others assert that God actually somewhat guided the evolutionary processes; that he not only created "matter," but then guided it and certain processes by which all life evolved (Evolutionary Creationism).

Though their arguments vary, they argue from Genesis 1:11-13 that God began a long period of evolutionary process(es):

Text
Evolutionary
Command
Evolutionary
Process
Text
Evolutionary
Result
Gen 1:11a And God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth." millions of years Gen. 1:11-12 And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind.

They make a similar argument from Genesis 1:20, 24:

Text
Evolutionary
Command
Evolutionary
Process
Text
Evolutionary
Result
Gen 1:20 And God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens millions of years Gen. 1:24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds - livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." And it was so.

So, according to those whom embrace Theistic Evolution, God sits back and lets the earth and its many processes do at least most of the work. However, Creation is complex. It is made up multiple processes within other multiple processes. Existence requires that each process be dependent upon numerous other processes. Are we suppose to think even for a moment that evolution - theistic or otherwise - is the explanation for such life-creating/sustaining complexity? For instance consider:

By studying the creation, one can gain a glimpse of the power, knowledge, and wisdom of the Creator. The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, has a diameter of 864,000 miles (One hundred times that of earth's) and could hold 1.3 million planets the size of earth inside it. The star Betelgeuse, however, has a diameter of 100 million miles, which is larger than the earth's orbit around the sun. It takes sunlight, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, about 8.5 minutes to reach earth. Yet that same light would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, some 24 trillion miles from earth. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions of galaxies. What they can see leads them to estimate the number of stars in the universe at 10^25; that is, ten to the twenty-fifth power! That is roughly the number of all the grains of sand on all the world's beaches.

The universe also bears witness to the tremendous wisdom and knowledge of its Creator. Scientists now speak of the Anthropic Principle, "which states that the universe appears to be carefully designed for the well-being of mankind." [1] A change in the rate of Earth's rotation around the sun or on its axis would be catastrophic. The Earth would become either too hot or too cold to support life. If the moon were much nearer to the Earth, huge tides would inundate the continents. A change in the composition of the gases that make up our atmosphere would also be fatal to life. A slight change in the mass of the proton would result in the dissolution of hydrogen atoms. That would result in the destruction of the universe, because hydrogen is its dominant element.

The creation gives testimony to the intelligence of its Creator. Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize and one of the founders of modern physics, wrote, "According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails - one independent of the human mind this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient." [2] It is no wonder that the psalmist wrote, "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world" (Psa. 19:1-4). [3]

In addition, Theistic Evolution teaches that Adam was not the first member of the human race. They assert that a race of subhuman men (fossil men, cave men, ape-men, etc.) lived well-before Adam's time. Out of this subhuman species, God then selected Adam "and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature" (Gen. 2:7). Therefore, Adam was no longer an animal, but a man. Thus, Adam is to be considered spiritually, but not physically, the first member of the human race. [4]

However, the Biblical account of Creation specifically states that God created all living creatures according to their own "kind" (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25). All humanity came forth from "one man," not ape (Acts 17:26). As confirmed by science, the DNA of an ape, is not the same as the DNA from a human. For instance, there are single base pair substitution differences:

... the difference between humans and chimpanzees includes about 35 million DNA bases that are different, about 45 million in the human that are absent from the chimp, and about 45 million in the chimp that are absent from the human. [5]

Moreover, evidence abounds that:

... at the end of each chromosome is a string of repeating DNA sequences called telomeres. Chimpanzees and other apes have about 23,000 base pairs of DNA at their telomeres. Humans are unique among primates with much shorter telomeres only 10,000 long. [6]

So, the fact that science has gone ape over apes, is no reason to leave the Bible behind. Mankind is a unique Creation of God (Gen. 1:26-30). It was only after man was created that God announced that Creation was "very good," (Gen. 1:31), as compared to "good" (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). Adam looked at all of God's created animals (including apes) and from them all he could not find a suitable helpmate (Gen. 2:18, 20). To believe that man was ever an ape denies the absolute authority of God's Word - a denial of God himself!

Needless to say, there are numerous problems with Theistic Evolution:

(1) It reads Genesis 1-2 as allegory instead of literal history.

(2) It places Science, which changes daily, over the never-changing Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-20; cf. Heb. 13:8).

(3) It distorts the meaning of the word "Day" (Hebrew, yom) in Genesis 1, to mean millions of years, seeing it as mere allegory. Please see "What is Young Earth Creationism (YEC)?" and "What About Hebrews 11:3?" below.

(4) Some variants of it view God as merely transcendent (far off from his Creation), but not immanent (intimately involved with his Creation, Matt. 10:29).

(5) It distorts God's very sovereign nature, making him subservient to his own evolutionary processes.

(6) It teaches a false view of the Creation of man.

(7) If Adam was not the first man physically - as plainly taught in Genesis 1-2 (cf. Acts 17:26), then Christ can't be the substitute for his elect (Rom. 5:12-19). Therefore, it mythicizes redemption!

(8) If Adam was not the first man physically - as plainly taught in Genesis 1-2 (cf. Acts 17:26), then one could not ethically compare the first Adam in the Garden, to the second and last Adam, Christ (1 Cor. 15:22, 45, 47).

(9) If the first Adam descended from an ape [7] or subhuman species, then Christ, whom is a descendent of Adam in the flesh (Luke 3:38), must have descended from such too (cf. Gal. 4:4). This is utter blasphemy!

(10) It removes God's consecutive Hebrew waw pattern from Genesis 1, substituting it's own evolutionary theories from outside of Scripture. Please see,"What is the Gap Theory?," below.

(11) How could everything in Creation be "very good" (Gen. 1:31) if man's subhuman ancestors were already dying?

This is just a brief list of problems with Theistic Evolution; many more 'concerns' could be stated. Though this view is accepted by some denominations, this is not a Biblical position concerning Creation. It is an outright lie from Hell. Elijah once chastised the people of God for not taking a stand for their God. He asked, "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." It is time to leave the Theistic Evolution of Baalism behind. My prayer is that God's people will be able to discern that Theistic Evolution is a completely false worldview!

Footnotes

[1] Donald B. DeYoung, "Design in Nature: The Anthropic Principle," (Impact, no. 149, November 1985), p. ii.

[2] DeYoung, "Design in Nature," p. ii.

[3] John MacArthur, Colossians, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), pp. 46-47.

[4] A Christian need have no problem with fossil man and his discussions of the relationship of modern man with other hominoids, because he is told God created . . . man in existing material. There is certainly no difficulty in believing God could have carried out this special creation in a hominoid ape. There is no reason to believe the hominoid would change morphologically or genetically in any way that would be detectable to an anthropologist. R. J. Berry, Creation and Evolution, ed. by Derek Burke, Leicester, England, Inter-Varsity Press: 1985, p. 80).

[5] Dr. David DeWitt, "What About the Similarity Between Human and Chimp DNA?," (https://answersingenesis.org/genetics/dna-similarities/what-about-the-similarity-between-human-and-chimp-dna/). Last Accessed 2 December 2017.

[6] S. Kakuo, K. Asaoka, and T. Ide, "Human Is a Unique Species Among Primates in Terms of Telomere Length," Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 263 (1999): 308-314.

[7] In the television premiere of Ape Man: The Story of Human Evolution, Walter Cronkite declared that monkeys were his "newfound cousins." He went on to say, "If you go back far enough, we and the chimps share a common ancestor. My father's father's father's father, going back maybe a half million generations - about five million years - was an ape." Ape Man: The Story of Human Evolution, hosted by Walter Cronkite, Arts and Entertainment network, September 4, 1994.

Various Creation Positions

What is the Big Bang Theory?
What is the Day Age Theory?
What is Ex-Nihilo?
What is the Framework Hypothesis?
What is the Gap Theory?
What About Hebrews 11:3?
What is the Intelligent Design Theory?
What is the Mature Universe Theory?
What is Old Earth Creationism (OEC)?
What is Progressive Creationism?
What is Young Earth Creationism (YEC)?

Related Topics

What is the meaning of Day in Genesis 1?
Are there two different accounts of Creation?
What is BioLogos?
Did man eat meat before the Fall and the Flood?
A Universal or Regional Flood?
What about the evidence of Carbon-14 dating?
What About Dinosaurs?
Scientific Evidence for YEC?
How could there be evening and morning the first three days of Creation?
Extraterrestrials and the Bible?
Can a person be born an atheist?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).