Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is theistic evolution consistent with a Biblical worldview?

Is theistic evolution consistent with a Biblical worldview?

There have been many books written in answer to this question and I am only going to give you the couple of arguments that I think are the strongest. Check out the Institute for Creation Research or Answers in Genesis for a more thorough treatment of this topic. My purpose is to give my personal journey and convictions about what the Bible has to say about our origins.

1. What is a day? Catherine already commented on this argument, and it’s a very powerful one. For a Christian to believe that God used evolution to create life as we know it, he must accept that a day does not mean a literal 24 hour period. If a day means a day, as we know it, then the honest Christian must choose whom to believe, the Bible or the culture at large.

Why would anyone think a day could be defined as anything other than a day? This argument comes from 2 Peter 3:8 and is known as the day-age theory.

“But beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” 2 Peter 3:8

Let’s deal with this first then I’ll move on to why I think the Bible defines a day as a 24 hr period. In the verse above, Peter is talking about the faithfulness of God to keep His word and specifically that Jesus would return. I’ve often thought it interesting that Christ’s return is taught in Scripture as imminent, like it’s just around the corner, when in reality it’s been almost 2,000 years since He promised it. Peter is saying, don’t lose heart, Jesus will return, He will make new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell (v. 13). This may be hard for us to relate to, but Peter’s audience was suffering persecution and discouraged that Christ had not yet returned. So, that’s the context. Peter is not saying according to God one day equals one thousand years. He’s simply saying that your time is not God’s time and Jesus will return in His time. It may seem like you’re waiting forever, but according to His eternal perspective, the return of Christ is right around the corner.

Notice Peter says that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years”. I remember learning about simile and metaphor when I was in school. These literature devices are used to help us better understanding something unknown through comparison to something we already know. In this case, the thing Peter wants them to understand is that God’s timing is not the same as ours.

Even if Peter had said that one day was equal to 1,000 years, which he didn’t, is it enough? NO!!!!! Six thousand years is peanuts. Evolutionists tell us that we’re talking billions of years, not millions, for there to have been enough time possibly for life to have evolved. There is not one evolutionary scientist who will pretend that evolution could have happened over thousands of years, not even millions of years. So, where does that leave us? Back to the drawing board.

The reason I believe in a literal six day creation is because the Bible teaches it in Genesis 1.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.” Genesis 1:3-5

This same phrase, “so the evening and the morning were the _______ day” is repeated after the explanation of each day’s creation.

It is true that the Hebrew word yom can mean something other than a 24 hr period (like when I say I did such and such the other day and it may have been much longer ago than just a few days), though that is its first and most widely used definition. People have argued long and hard about the different meanings for the Hebrew word yom, but you cannot get around God’s qualifying definition. So that there would be no mistake about it, He tells us outright, “God called the light day”. Then just in case we weren’t paying attention, He tells us again, “so the evening and the morning were the first day.” Then He reminds us of what kind of day He’s talking about at the end of each day’s description by tacking that phrase, “so the evening and the morning were the ________ day” onto the end of it. In all, I count 7 times in Genesis 1 that day is defined as just a day.

Exodus 20:11 reaffirms this definition of day in the context of commanding Sabbath rest. “For in six days the Lord made heavens and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Equal terms are being discussed here. Since God made the world in six days and then rested one day, so you shall work six days and then rest one day. The context and the use of the same vocabulary both testify that God created the world and everything in it in 6 literal days.

2. Did God leave any gaps in His description of creation?

The Gap theory has become very complicated, too much so for me to try to explain all the different gap theories out there. But, basically, the argument is that there is a gap between the first two verses of Genesis 1. And that gap could have been millions or even billions of years, or however much time contemporary evolutionary scientists feel could have been enough time for evolution to work (it keeps getting longer). I will direct you to a more thorough refutation of the gap theory, if this is something you’re into. I never found this argument attractive, because it makes no sense to me. If everything is “formless and void” at the beginning of verse 2, how could evolution have accounted for life in the gap after verse 1? This is where it gets complicated. To answer this question, gap theorists have invented a theory called ruin-and-reconstruction. (Does this sound familiar? Kind of like the whole flood thing, right? Just wait.) They theorize, and I emphasize theorize, that life evolved after God created the heavens and the earth (the Big Bang, no doubt) described in verse 1. The reason they do this is to try to explain the geological “evidence” for evolution. They believe the only way the geological strata of fossils can be explained is evolution, but they also want to believe in a literal 6 day creation. I commend them for wanting to accept God’s definition of a day, but their theory has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

If life evolved in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 2, then how did the earth become formless and void by verse 2? To answer this they theorize that Lucifer’s fall must have occurred at this time and that this event must have been the cause of the ruin of the world.

If life evolved in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 2, then Adam wasn’t the first man. Besides the obvious, why didn’t God record the creation of the first man and start there instead of waiting to start with Adam? (If this is the argument, why didn’t He just start the Bible with Noah?) 1 Corinthians 15:45 specifically states, “and so it is written, ‘The first man, Adam became a living being.’”

If life evolved in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 2, and if this fits with the geological strata, then what evidence did the flood of the Bible leave behind? It didn’t leave one. Oh, so it must not have been a world-wide flood, or at least not a really big flood. So they support their “flood” at the expense of the Biblical flood.

If life evolved in the gap between Genesis 1:1 and 2, and if this fits with the geological record, then how is it that animals and humans were dying and killing before the fall? Oops. Now they’ve really done it. There’s no way around this one in my opinion. You have to really mess with theology at this point and either allow for a fall before the fall in Scripture, or argue that there was in fact, physical death prior to the fall.

Believing the gap theory involves WAY too much theorizing for my taste. I’m a simple person and like the obvious answer. The more theorizing that goes on, the more room for the introduction of errors into your theory that is built upon theory that is built on yet another theory. And what really gets me, is for Christians to buy the gap theory, they have to end up compromising so much Biblical doctrine to do it.

3. Is theistic evolution consistent with God speaking the world and life into existence? I’ve never heard anyone use this point before, but it’s something that I’ve enjoyed thinking about and wanted to share it with you. The language in Genesis is that of “God said” such and such. God spoke, “Let there be light” and there was light. It’s hard for us to imagine the power and authority of God, but we can try. At my house I’m prone to repeat to my children often that “delayed obedience is disobedience.” Oh, that my wish were their command, but alas, I’m not God. But God is God. Is it possible that God could have spoken and billions of years passed before “nature” answered? (This doesn’t even make sense since there was nothing, ex nihilo, but work with me.) The part I really love to think about is the power in that voice.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:1-3

God is doing the speaking, but the pre-incarnate Christ is the very Word and means by which everything is made. Isn’t that a cool thought? The second member of the Trinity is always the one reaching down to us, to make us, to live among us and die for us, and even now to encourage us and mature us as we study the Word. And lest the third person of the Trinity be left out of creation, it’s specifically mentioned as being there amid it all, hovering.

It seems to me that when God speaks, the universe obeys. We see this in the account of the flood, and when He sends plagues on Egypt, when He parts the Red Sea, and in about a thousand other miracles in the Bible. Why is it Christians have no problem believing God raised Jesus from the dead, but that He needed a little help in creating the world? Surely, He couldn’t have just spoken it into existence! It must have taken time, or there must have been a gap. I do not follow this line of thinking. My 3 yr old son's favorite Bible verse is, "Nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37

4. Theistic evolution steals God’s thunder.

Psalm 19:1-2 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Even when you acknowledge that God did create the world, when you qualify that by saying He did so using evolution, you give partial credit to evolution, or time, or chance, or whatever, something besides God.

Psalm 8:3 “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained…”

Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us and not we ourselves…”

The result of pondering creation should lead the believer to praise God and marvel at His might and ingenuity. Somehow, I can’t see the following verses from Job making sense if God had started the process like a divine watchmaker, and then let it go to run its course via evolution.

Job 31:4-11 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed my limit for it, and set bars and doors; When I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’”

These verses show God’s intimate ordination over every detail of creation. He was not disinterested, He did not step back. When God commanded the ocean, it obeyed immediately.

One of my favorite Psalms is 139. I won’t reprint all of it, but just a few of my favorite verses. “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (vs 13-14)

Any evolutionary scientist will tell you that first and foremost evolution depends on chance. Do the above verses sound like we came about by chance? I understand why people who do not know the Lord believe in evolution. What I do not and cannot understand is how someone who believes in God and His Word can also believe in evolution. There is no middle ground. Either we are here because God made us and put us here in the manner in which He describes in His Word, or the evolutionists are right and we are here by chance. Chance upon chance upon chance upon chance. Take your pick, but there is no Biblical grounds for evolution. The random nature of evolution defies everything in Scripture from beginning to end. God has carefully been at work on His masterpiece since the beginning of time. He deserves all the credit, all the praise, and all the glory.
At least, this is my opinion. What do you think?


  1. I like all your points. I, too, believe there is no middle ground.

    I once went to a church where the pastor declared from the pulpit "Who knows if God created the earth in 6 literal days or not, although I personally think if you believe that you are very naive as there is no way it could be true."

    I immediately went and removed my children from the Sunday school room and went home, never to return. My children get enough "Evolution is a FACT" brain washing at school - I was horrified that they may get it from church too.

  2. Hey!
    Let me just say that I am always so impressed by your intelligence and eloquence, no matter what subject you are writing about. I don't have that many coherent thoughts in my head these days! Ha!
    My oldest daughter is studying these same arguments in her Apologia Biology. She is dumbfounded about how anyone can NOT believe in creation science. She could have a conversation about this with you much better than I could! :)
    Thanks for always making me think!

  3. Personally, the strongest evidence for Creation for a Christian is the statement about how there was no death before sin.

    Romans 5
    "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

    "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression,"

    And Death was the penalty decreed in Genesis 2.
    "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." -- what kind of death was this if the world already had death?



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.