Theistic evolution seems to be the ‘safe’ middle ground between full blown Darwinism (we are all just rearranged pond scum) and the Genesis account of creation. The debates about creation/evolution are everywhere and almost all rather ‘animated’. The bottom line for Christians, should be whether or not any concept of the origins of man is supported by our inerrant source document, the Bible. Although I rarely enter the discussion arena that argues about transitional fossils, sedimentary rock, etc., There are some significant issues to consider regarding the concept of ‘theistic evolution. What follows is a rather well written discussion of these issues. It is profitable reading for Christians who are already theistic evolutionists, those who are not settled on the matter, and for creationists interested in defending their beliefs. Enjoy
10 Dangers of Theistic Evolution
by Werner Gitt
The atheistic formula for evolution is:
Evolution = matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods.
In the theistic evolutionary view, God is added:
Theistic evolution = matter + evolutionary factors (chance and necessity + mutation + selection + isolation + death) + very long time periods + God.
In this system God is not the omnipotent Lord of all things, whose Word has to be taken seriously by all men, but He is integrated into the evolutionary philosophy. This leads to 10 dangers for Christians.1
Danger no. 1: Misrepresentation of the Nature of God
The Bible reveals God to us as our Father in Heaven, who is absolutely perfect (Matthew 5:48), holy (Isaiah 6:3), and omnipotent (Jeremiah 32:17). The Apostle John tells us that ‘God is love’, ‘light’, and ‘life’ (1 John 4:16; 1:5; 1:1-2). When this God creates something, His work is described as ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31) and ‘perfect’ (Deuteronomy 32:4).
Theistic evolution gives a false representation of the nature of God because death and ghastliness are ascribed to the Creator as principles of creation. (Progressive creationism, likewise, allows for millions of years of death and horror before sin.)
Danger no. 2: God becomes a God of the Gaps
The Bible states that God is the Prime Cause of all things. ‘But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things … and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him’ (1 Corinthians 8:6).
However, in theistic evolution the only workspace allotted to God is that part of nature which evolution cannot ‘explain’ with the means presently at its disposal. In this way He is reduced to being a ‘god of the gaps’ for those phenomena about which there are doubts. This leads to the view that ‘God is therefore not absolute, but He Himself has evolved—He is evolution’.2
Danger no. 3: Denial of Central Biblical Teachings
The entire Bible bears witness that we are dealing with a source of truth authored by God (2 Timothy 3:16), with the Old Testament as the indispensable ‘ramp’ leading to the New Testament, like an access road leads to a motor freeway (John 5:39). The biblical creation account should not be regarded as a myth, a parable, or an allegory, but as a historical report, because:
- Biological, astronomical and anthropological facts are given in didactic [teaching] form.
- In the Ten Commandments God bases the six working days and one day of rest on the same time-span as that described in the creation account (Exodus 20:8-11).
- In the New Testament Jesus referred to facts of the creation (e.g. Matthew 19:4-5).
- Nowhere in the Bible are there any indications that the creation account should be understood in any other way than as a factual report.
The doctrine of theistic evolution undermines this basic way of reading the Bible, as vouched for by Jesus, the prophets and the Apostles. Events reported in the Bible are reduced to mythical imagery, and an understanding of the message of the Bible as being true in word and meaning is lost.
Danger no. 4: Loss of the Way for Finding God
The Bible describes man as being completely ensnared by sin after Adam’s fall (Romans 7:18-19). Only those persons who realize that they are sinful and lost will seek the Saviour who ‘came to save that which was lost’ (Luke 19:10).
However, evolution knows no sin in the biblical sense of missing one’s purpose (in relation to God). Sin is made meaningless, and that is exactly the opposite of what the Holy Spirit does—He declares sin to be sinful. If sin is seen as a harmless evolutionary factor, then one has lost the key for finding God, which is not resolved by adding ‘God’ to the evolutionary scenario.
Danger no. 5: The Doctrine of God’s Incarnation is Undermined
The incarnation of God through His Son Jesus Christ is one of the basic teachings of the Bible. The Bible states that ‘The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’ (John 1:14), ‘Christ Jesus … was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:5-7).
Danger no. 6: The Biblical Basis of Jesus’ Work of Redemption Is Mythologized
The Bible teaches that the first man’s fall into sin was a real event and that this was the direct cause of sin in the world. ‘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’ (Romans 5:12).
Theistic evolution does not acknowledge Adam as the first man, nor that he was created directly from ‘the dust of the ground’ by God (Genesis 2:17). Most theistic evolutionists regard the creation account as being merely a mythical tale, albeit with some spiritual significance. However, the sinner Adam and the Saviour Jesus are linked together in the Bible—Romans 5:16-18. Thus any theological view which mythologizes Adam undermines the biblical basis of Jesus’ work of redemption.
Danger no. 7: Loss of Biblical Chronology
The Bible provides us with a time-scale for history and this underlies a proper understanding of the Bible. This time-scale includes:
- The time-scale cannot be extended indefinitely into the past, nor into the future. There is a well-defined beginning in Genesis 1:1, as well as a moment when physical time will end (Matthew 24:14).
- The total duration of creation was six days (Exodus 20:11).
- The age of the universe may be estimated in terms of the genealogies recorded in the Bible (but note that it cannot be calculated exactly). It is of the order of several thousand years, not billions.
- Galatians 4:4 points out the most outstanding event in the world’s history: ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son.’ This happened nearly 2,000 years ago.
- The return of Christ in power and glory is the greatest expected future event.
Supporters of theistic evolution (and progressive creation) disregard the biblically given measures of time in favour of evolutionist time-scales involving billions of years both past and future (for which there are no convincing physical grounds). This can lead to two errors:
- Not all statements of the Bible are to be taken seriously.
- Vigilance concerning the second coming of Jesus may be lost.
Danger no. 8: Loss of Creation Concepts
Certain essential creation concepts are taught in the Bible. These include:
- God created matter without using any available material.
- God created the earth first, and on the fourth day He added the moon, the solar system, our local galaxy, and all other star systems. This sequence conflicts with all ideas of ‘cosmic evolution’, such as the ‘big bang’ cosmology.
Theistic evolution ignores all such biblical creation principles and replaces them with evolutionary notions, thereby contradicting and opposing God’s omnipotent acts of creation.
Danger no. 9: Misrepresentation of Reality
The Bible carries the seal of truth, and all its pronouncements are authoritative—whether they deal with questions of faith and salvation, daily living, or matters of scientific importance.
Evolutionists brush all this aside, e.g. Richard Dawkins says, ‘Nearly all peoples have developed their own creation myth, and the Genesis story is just the one that happened to have been adopted by one particular tribe of Middle Eastern herders. It has no more special status than the belief of a particular West African tribe that the world was created from the excrement of ants’.4
If evolution is false, then numerous sciences have embraced false testimony. Whenever these sciences conform to evolutionary views, they misrepresent reality. How much more then a theology which departs from what the Bible says and embraces evolution!
Danger no. 10: Missing the Purpose
In no other historical book do we find so many and such valuable statements of purpose for man, as in the Bible. For example:
- Man is God’s purpose in creation (Genesis 1:27-28).
- Man is the purpose of God’s plan of redemption (Isaiah 53:5).
- Man is the purpose of the mission of God’s Son (1 John 4:9).
- We are the purpose of God’s inheritance (Titus 3:7).
- Heaven is our destination (1 Peter 1:4).
However, the very thought of purposefulness is anathema to evolutionists. ‘Evolutionary adaptations never follow a purposeful program, they thus cannot be regarded as teleonomical.’5 Thus a belief system such as theistic evolution that marries purposefulness with non-purposefulness is a contradiction in terms.
The doctrines of creation and evolution are so strongly divergent that reconciliation is totally impossible. Theistic evolutionists attempt to integrate the two doctrines, however such syncretism reduces the message of the Bible to insignificance. The conclusion is inevitable: There is no support for theistic evolution in the Bible.
- This article has been adapted from chapter 8 ‘The Consequences of Theistic Evolution’, from Prof. Dr Werner Gitt’s book, Did God use Evolution?, Christliche Literatur-Verbreitung e.V., Postfach 11 01 35 . 33661, Bielefeld, Germany.
- E. Jantsch, Die Selbstorganisation des Universums, München, 1979, p. 412.
- Hoimar von Ditfurth, Wir sind nicht nur von dieser Welt, München, 1984, pp. 21-22.
- Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, Penguin Books, London, 1986, p. 316.
- H. Penzlin, Das Teleologie-Problem in der Biologie, Biologische Rundschau, 25 (1987), S.7-26, p. 19.
What Does Theistic Evolution Involve?
The following evolutionary assumptions are generally applicable to theistic evolution:
- The basic principle, evolution, is taken for granted.
- It is believed that evolution is a universal principle.
- As far as scientific laws are concerned, there is no difference between the origin of the earth and all life and their subsequent development (the principle of uniformity).
- Evolution relies on processes that allow increases in organization from the simple to the complex, from non-life to life, and from lower to higher forms of life.
- The driving forces of evolution are mutation, selection, isolation, and mixing. Chance and necessity, long time epochs, ecological changes, and death are additional indispensable factors.
- The time line is so prolonged that anyone can have as much time as he/she likes for the process of evolution.
- The present is the key to the past.
- There was a smooth transition from non-life to life.
- Evolution will persist into the distant future.
In addition to these evolutionary assumptions, three additional beliefs apply to theistic evolution:
- God used evolution as a means of creating.
- The Bible contains no usable or relevant ideas which can be applied in present-day origins science.
- Evolutionistic pronouncements have priority over biblical statements. The Bible must be reinterpreted when and wherever it contradicts the present evolutionary worldview.
* This section is adapted from Werner Gitt’s, Did God Use Evolution?, pp. 13-16, 24.
The retired Dr Gitt was a director and professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig), the Head of the Department of Information Technology. Three prerequisites must be fulfilled in order for the German Ministerium to award the title ‘Director and Professor’ at a German research institute, on the recommendation of the Praesidium. The person concerned must be:
A scientist. I.e. it is most definitely an academic title.
One who has published a significant number of original research papers in the technical literature.
Must head a department in his area of expertise, in which several working scientists are employed.