Could God Have Used Evolution? (Part 2)
Last month we began a mini-series of articles related to possibility of God having used evolution as His creative process. (Click here to view Part 1 of this series.) The above quote was just one of many that I have received over the years from people who believe it is very reasonable to believe that God simply used evolution as His means of "creation". Therefore, they conclude that there's no reason to doubt evolution and we can be quite content in believing in both the Bible and evolution. As we mentioned last month, this view (often referred to as "Theistic Evolution") admittedly seems on the surface to be a great solution to the apparent tension that exists between the Bible and what the majority of scientists believe regarding the origin and development of life. However, as we've pointed out in previous articles, things that seem plausible on the surface often turn out to be riddled with insurmountable difficulty upon further investigation.
We started the series with an introduction to this issue and mentioned that we would subsequently be delving into two sub-topics: (a) Biblical problems with Theistic Evolution, and (b) Scientific problems with Theistic Evolution. This month's article focuses on a few of the biblical challenges.
One of the most obvious biblical issues would be the fact that the creation account is very straightforward and does not describe evolutionary processes. Most people readily recognize that Genesis chapters 1-2 recount a simple progression of miraculously creative acts during a period of six solar days. Therefore, if they wish to adhere to modern evolutionary biology, they simply relegate the first few chapters of Genesis as allegory, poetry or some other non-literal interpretation. The Bible unmistakably contains passages that are poetic and allegorical in nature and each time it is greatly evidenced by the context. However, Genesis 1-2 was not written in this fashion, but rather, as "historical narrative". Space prohibits listing all of the evidence for this, but volumes have been written along these lines. Realizing that the text itself does not support evolutionary theories, some religious leaders have gone as far as to dismiss Genesis altogether in favor of current secular views. The inherent danger with this is "Why stop at Genesis? Why not take it to its logical conclusion and start questioning other portions of Scripture?" One such example comes from Bishop Hugh Montefiore writing in the Confirmation Notebook (fifth edition - 1984 SPCK, London):
"The Garden of Eden is a 'myth'... From the viewpoint of anthropology it is exceedingly unlikely that there was a First Man and Woman...
Human beings are the result of evolution, and shaped by natural selection. Self-centeredness and aggression were essential at every stage of evolution...
What the Cross is Not... The Son standing in my place to take the punishment that I ought to have. Such a view is immoral. In any case no one person could suffer the whole world's punishments."
Arguably, the most significant difficulty with theistic evolution is that it introduces death before sin. The Bible makes it clear that God's original creation was free from evil and that it was Adam's sin that brought death into His creation (Romans 5:12). If God used evolution, then we have millions of years of death, disease, mutations, suffering, etc. all long before Adam even appeared on the planet. So when he arrived, his sin did not bring about death... it had been around for eons of time. If mankind is not responsible for brining death in to God's world, then Jesus Christ wasted his time dying on the cross!
Commenting on the idea of God using evolution, atheist Carl Sagan logically stated:
"If God is omnipotent and omniscient, why didn't he start the universe out in the first place so it would come out the way he wants? Why is he constantly repairing and complaining? No, there's one thing the Bible makes clear: The biblical God is a sloppy manufacturer. He's not good at design, he's not good at execution. He'd be out of business if there was any competition."
Evolution represents a very random, inefficient process with lots of death and disease. This hardly seems to be the work of an omniscient, omnipotent, loving Creator. God is not the author of confusion (I Cor 14:33), but of wonder, power and majesty. I think Carl Sagan noted saw the illogic of God using evolution better than some Christians.
One other person who seems to understand the fallacy of compromising Scripture with modern evolutionary views is Richard Dawkins who is one of the world's leading evolutionists and a very outspoken atheist. He commented regarding Christians who try to take Genesis as just an allegory and not literal:
"Oh, but of course, the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn't it? Symbolic? So, in order to impress himself, Jesus had himself tortured and executed, in vicarious punishment for a symbolic sin committed by a non-existent individual? As I said, barking mad, as well as viciously unpleasant." [Dawkins, The God Delusion, p. 25]
Pointing out a further problem (to Biologos, a group of theistic evolutionists) one blogger noted that they have...
"no actual principle to stand on when they oppose a literal reading of Genesis but support a literal reading of a story of a virgin birth." ["BioLogos gets in bed with the fundies," Why Evolution Is True, 22 July 2010.]
Another author responded to Biologos with the following comments:
"If your intention in 'Saving Darwin' is to show 'how to be a Christian and believe in evolution,' what you have actually succeeded in doing is to show how much doctrine Christianity has to surrender in order to accommodate itself to evolution. In doing this, you and your colleagues at Biologos are actually doing us all a great service. You are showing us what the acceptance of evolution actually costs, in terms of theological concessions." [Al Mohler, "On Darwin and Darwinism: An Open Letter to Professor Giberson," AlbertMohler.com, 26 August 2010.]
A final biblical issue of contention with evolution is found in a statement from Jesus himself. In Mark 10:6 (and Matthew 19:4) Jesus was responding to the Pharisees regarding marriage and divorce. In doing so, he stated "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female." According to Jesus, Adam and Eve were here right at the beginning. According to evolution, however, modern man (which would have included Adam and Eve) did not appear on the planet until perhaps 100,000 years ago. If evolution is true and the universe came into existence approximately 13.7 billion years ago, then the appearance of man (100,000 years ago) is nowhere near the beginning. In fact it would be 0.0007% away from the END!
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