Theistic Evolution

Theistic evolution attempts to reconcile the Biblical creation story with secular beliefs about human origins. Theological evolution denies the biblical concept of God being immutable, and the sufficiency of scripture. Naturalists use the concept of macro-evolution to obviate God, so including God is to them, both unnecessary and contradictive to their beliefs. Naturalism says that the Bible’s limited age for the earth is incorrect and that it took millions of years for everything to form from nothing. No naturalist would agree that the Bible is true but saying that the days of creation are allegories for millions of years would be seen as a cop-out for Christians from believing what the Bible teaches.

Naturalists need dinosaurs to evolve into birds and humans to evolve from ape-like ancestors. Neither of which line up with the Genesis account of humans having a special creation set apart from animals, or the disruption of life that was the great deluge of Noah’s time. Genesis 1 says that each animal was created after its own kind and it lists their categories based on domain (land, sea, and air). The bible does not imply that all creatures evolved from a common ancestor. Furthermore, species can only crossbreed in the same genera, like coyotes, wolfs, dingos and dogs can all breed together because they are all canines in the same genera. Likewise, lions tigers, jaguars, and other felines all are part of the same kind. So the idea that humans and animals once shared a genome seems contradictory to what we see today, shouldn’t a dog be able to breed with a cat if we are all related? No amount of time is going to allow a cow to give birth to a chicken because those lines aren’t biologically compatible, yet macro-evolution teaches that this must be possible since all creatures came from a common ancestor that had a genome compatible with everything living today.

On a scriptural basis:
It seems hypocritical to believe in the virgin birth, or that Jesus could raise the dead (and was himself raised from the dead), but not that God made Adam from dust on day six of creation like the Bible says. Jesus says that there are two final resurrections yet to come, one for the righteous and one for the wicked in John 5:28-29, and this is repeated in Paul’s letters and in Revelation (1 Cor 15:12-58, 1 Thess 4:13-18, Heb 11:32-35, Rev 20:4-6, & Rev 20:11-15). Resurrection in the Bible is defined as a restoration of life on earth. This is presented as either revival of your old dead body in the grave or reassembly of it from the dust of the earth (for those whose bodies are destroyed or devoured). Since everyone gets resurrected for Judgment Day, then that means God has to reassemble all of the human bodies, including the people whose bones weren’t even preserved, from the dust of the earth. It’s not that difficult for a God that formed the first man Adam from the dust (Gen 2:7), and this is clearly a supernatural act. Likewise, the forming of a baby in the womb of a virgin would be a similar supernatural act. Judgment Day is only a day long, so if you can believe God remake all humans from the beginning in one day in order to judge them it shouldn’t be a stretch to believe that he did it the first time.

These supernatural actions are not bound to the laws of physics. Hebrews 11:3 says nothing existed as it is until God spoke it into existence, so none of the laws existed until the lawgiver gave them. That means supernatural acts are allowed by God for the formation of the universe and anything he wants to do like virgin birth and resurrections. He is not bound by natural laws, but he does limit himself by his words. The limits he places on himself are on purpose so that he can justly refer to himself as righteous because he meets his own standards. This means God won’t do something that goes against his moral standards and character, like breaking his own covenant. So if he makes a promise he will keep it. He is faithful even when we are unfaithful (2 Tim 2:13). So there is no point in trying to explain the forming of mankind or anything else through natural means alone because it would violate the laws of physics for the matter to just randomly pop into existence, yet the Big Bang model itself implies that this happened to start the whole thing. The universe itself can’t create a new reality because it is limited by natural laws, however, the maker of all reality is above the limitations of nature and can commit supernatural actions.

To say that the resurrection of the dead is impossible is expected from an unbeliever but not someone claiming to be a believer since the whole faith is based on the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was literally raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-20; Mark 16:1-20; Luke 24:1-49; John 20:1-21:25). Jesus raised others like Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56), a widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17), and Lazarus (John 11:1-44). Also, Elijah literally raised a child from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24) as did Elisha (2 Kings 4:18-27). A dead man was raised after coming in contact with Elisha’s dead body in his tomb. (2 Kings13:20-21) Even after Jesus, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-42), Paul did the same with Eutychus (Acts 20:7-12).

The Bible teaches that humans are set apart as special creations by God and that we were put in charge of the animals on the Earth in Genesis (Gen 1:26-28). Naturalism teaches that all life came from a bunch of chemical processes that turn into simple animals that evolved into more complex animals. In other words, humans are not special set apart creations but rather are just advanced animals. So if someone believes that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus died for the sins of all humanity, they can’t accept the naturalism framework, because naturalism blurs the lines between human and animal by saying we evolved from animals. Did Jesus die for donkeys, pigs, sheep, and birds too? What sins did they commit? Jesus says he came to set us free from slavery to sin (John 8:31-36), and that definition of sin is failure to keep God’s commands. The failure to keep God’s commands started with Adam’s failure in the garden (Rom 5:12-17).

Jesus taught from and believed in the Torah which says that humans are made in God’s image (Gen 1:26-27). The animals were not made in God’s image and are not equal to humans. Only murder of a human is punishable by death, not an animal (Gen 9:5-6, Ex 20:13, Lev 24:21). That’s why the greatest commandments are to love God and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:25-27, Matt 22:34-40). The word neighbor is limited to other humans. After Jesus said this one of the lawyer’s questions was “who was defined as a neighbor” (Luke 10:29)? He was trying to identify fellow Jews’ as neighbors and exclude Samaritans and Gentiles as non-neighbors. Jesus came back at that by giving him the parable of the Good Samaritan which shows that all people even Samaritans are neighbors (Luke 10:30-37) and only the Samaritan in the parable was following God’s instructions by helping the robbery victim, not the Jewish leaders.

Lastly, Jesus believed and taught that he was the son of God here to rescue humanity, and humanity has a unique place in creation according to the bible, so again Jesus would not accept a naturalist worldview since it contradicts his theology. Therefore, anyone who is a follower of Christ must follow his lead, otherwise, they are saying Jesus himself is in error, and they are not submitted to him as the Christ. If one doesn’t take Genesis as literal but rather as an allegory that can be fine, as long they acknowledge that naturalism doesn’t solve the origin of life question either. For those with that view, they must view naturalism as a pagan creation story and simply trust that God made all life with his limitless creative power and that we only exist because he wanted us to be here. Anything that conflicts with what Jesus taught and restricts God’s abilities is a rejection of Jesus’ teachings and God’s truth.

Pondering the science:
There is a difference between operation science which is based on testable observable laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, and historical science which requires assumptions to be made about variables that are presumed to be constant enough to be the same value now as they were in the early age of the universe. Without any specific proof that these things are absolutely constant, our measurements can be way off. There are limitations to things like radiometric dating because we can’t time travel to the past to get all of the control variables. Therefore, unobserved long-age assumptions about how the earth operated pre-historically and assuming things work exactly the same as they do today, without disproving the opposite is antithetical to science. This issue isn’t creationism vs observable science, it’s creationism vs naturalistic assumptions about the past that conflict with observable science. There are some people that deny things in reality like the existence of dinosaurs and the roundness of the planet. The world tends to view creationists as all on the same level of extreme anti-science foolishness. Unfortunately, many Christians respond to that by accepting that if they don’t believe the world’s theories they are denying reality. Both denying observations of the laws of reality, and trying to retrofit naturalistic assumptions into the Bible’s theology, are two extremes on either side of God’s word. Dinosaurs don’t have to be fake for the Bible to be true, they are just animals that have died out, and the earth’s shape is not even relevant to the purpose of scripture, nor is it specified in scripture. More on flat earth here.

The main conflict that creationism has with evolution is the blurring of the definitions when it comes to what evolution means. Sometimes micro and macro evolution are lumped together as evolution. There is no theological conflict between microbes with mutating genes and viruses committing horizontal transduction. The issue is when there is a claim that a whale evolved into a wolf because that goes against the mechanics of biology. Does the wolf genome contain anything that resembles fins? Do pigs have wings in their genome? The traits in our genes are fixed and limited to a certain set of features in each kind of creature. Furthermore, random mutations don’t produce new information because there are only four nitrogen bases and only 4 legitimate combinations of pairs, A to T (or U for RNA), T(U) to A, G to C, C to G. Any mutations would produce errors like C to A, C to C, A to G, T(U) to C, or G to T(U), etc, you get the point. None of those are proper pairs and therefore all mutations are mistakes, not enhancements. Losing a limb from a birth defect caused by a random mutation does not improve a creature’s chances of survival. That doesn’t mean creatures don’t survive and adapt after losing information through mutations, but adding new info does not occur from this process. Epigenetics on the other hand works within the limitations of the genome. It simply relies on info already given in the genome and allows for variations within a genus. This explains why there are so many dog breeds, yet dogs will never naturally give birth to fish.

The mechanism for macro-evolution were thought to be hidden in Junk DNA, but now we know it was never junk at all. Cells can respond to outside influences to change their genetic makeup (epigenetics), it is not only mutations that showcase different features. With epigenetics, some genes are switched off, and other parts that may have never been used before are turned on. In the case of Darwin’s finches, the different kinds of beaks all existed in the Finch’s genome. In some those attributes are switched on and in others, they are off and the default attribute prevails. If the conditions change again, then the epigenetics can turn off the new section of DNA, and turn back on the old section. Every cell in our bodies no matter what kind have the same DNA. However, different types of cells (like eye vs liver cells) are different because different coding tags are switched off. Through epigenetics, we can see that natural selection happens through a mechanism that uses genes that were already in the genome, and the expression of certain genes is switched on or off via epigenetic tags. However, the genes themselves are still available in all of the cells and all specifies of a certain genus of the creature. Therefore, as said previously, epigenetics shows how variations within a genome can occur based on environmental stimulus, without the need for random mutations, or new information. It happens in our own bodies between cells. The genome is the hardware and epigenetics is the software. If a bunch of people bought the latest iPhone, and they bought models with the exact same specs, eventually each of those phones will be unique because the individual owners will each download specific apps and store personal files unique to each user. Just like the variation of expression of organisms with the same genome, or variation of cells in the same body.

Another problem with macro-evolution is how does it start? There has to be life forming from non-life. This is a scientific impossibility, because of the law of biogenesis. Abiogenesis (spontaneous generation, life from non-life) hasn’t been proven. The Miller-Urey Experiment is an abiogenesis experiment where some chemists put some random elements and carbon into a closed container with water, and electrify it to prove abiogenesis, and the results did not lead to life. The chemicals chosen are best on assumptions about early pre-biotic earth. In addition, the concept of the experiment itself is flawed since humans (intelligent beings) had designed it by choosing the chemicals, procedures, and control mechanisms. Therefore any life that resulted would have proven intelligent design. Since evolution depends on this abiogenesis as a first step, then one must believe in an impossibility. In Luke 1:37 Jesus said, “with God nothing is impossible”. It wouldn’t be a problem for an all-powerful being that can speak things into existence (Hebrews 11:3). How does it happen on its own randomly without violating the laws of physics and chemistry?

Some will argue the fossil record and layers of sediment show rapid burial over a long time, however, sedimentary layers can be laid down by a cataclysmic event, like let’s say a global flood (like the one in Genesis 6-9), which can result in what we observe today. A scientific view of a global flood would be that such an event would have terraformed the earth and added multiple layers of sediments causing it appears to be older based on geology. Catastrophism seems like a more consistent cause of geological changes we observe than the slow gradual changes of uniformitarianism alone. When Mt. St. Helens erupted in the 1980s it became a modern example of how catastrophism can rapidly change a landscape. An event like an eruption can put down 600 ft of deposits in a day, just imagine what multiple volcanic eruptions and a worldwide deluge can do in a year and 10 days (the duration of the flood in Genesis). Fossilization occurs when some natural disaster rapidly buries things and perseveres them, that doesn’t mean all the creatures of that species were buried, some escaped or were nowhere near the area and lived on to reproduce. The Cambrian explosion was an explosion of death, not life, and something big enough to affect ocean creatures left a trail of fossils. Extinction and fossilization are separate. A group of animals can go extinct from disease or lack of food, without leaving a single fossil behind, because fossils have to be preserved. Otherwise, carcasses simply decompose or get eaten. On the other hand, fossilization can happen without causing extinction. We find human fossils all the time, yet were are still here.

Moreover, the idea that life can emerge from a primordial soup contradicts the fact that neither RNA nor DNA can survive or form in water because water dissolves sugar, and the ribose/deoxyribose parts of RNA/DNA are sugars. Not only that but hydrolysis breaks polypeptides and amino acids. Natural laws prevent abiogenesis from happening. A lot of this is based on the idea of true randomness which goes against the laws of physics since every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If things cannot go from chaos to order, then how does randomness driving these ideologies even get executed? If things were random things would randomly pop in and out of existence or change states for no reason. The sun would turn green ad the moon purple, grass would run into cows and fish would turn into dogs. Random creation and mutation alone and the anti-biblical philosophies that go with them, contradict the actual observable laws of physics.

Energy in the universe is being lost over time according to the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. There is a hypothesis that eventually all energy will be gone and the universe will experience a universal “heat death”. This means all the energy in the universe will be used up and go cold and dark. If the universe had always existed in the infinite past, then the amount of usable energy would have been used up long ago. This is in direct contrast to the new creation proposed in scripture (Isa 66:22, Isa 60:19, Rev 21:1 & 23-25), so this concept can only exist in a non-biblical worldview. In addition, 2nd law of thermodynamics suggests things gradually go towards a more disordered state rather than the opposite, so how can a chaotic cosmic origin story lead to an ordered universe? Who or what turned off the random? Naturalism requires that life came about randomly through a natural process governed by natural laws and that there is no God or outside force necessary. Yet something or someone turned off the random.

For believers, it should be obvious that these ideas are in opposition to what Jesus believed since he believed in the Torah and the Torah does not teach these things. Just adding millions of years to the Genesis timeline does not make the bible compatible with naturalism. Believers must choose between believing in God’s supernatural abilities or rejecting his capabilities outright, because the same “absurd faith” that is required to believe God made a man from dirt in a day, is the same faith that believes we will all be resurrected and judged when the messiah returns. Again, scripture doesn’t teach that it takes millions of years for God to reassemble the bodies of the dead for Judgment (Rev 20:4-6;11-15), so why does he need to take that long to create humans for the first time from dust (Gen 2:7)?

Some Resources:

A video series by synthetic chemist, Dr. James Tour on Abiogenesis

Dr. Tour has a video on the science of the resurrection as well

Natural Processes and the Origin of Life

On the biblical view of human origins

Bible’s Author’s View on Genesis

Genesis references in the New Testament

Mt St. Helens eruption support for Catastrophism

A Look at Creationism and Macro vs Micro-evolution

The End of the World: Scripture vs Naturalism

Question for Theistic evolutionist by Answers in Genesis

The problems with Theistic Evolution

About Epigenetics:
What is Epigenetics