Tag Archives: intelligent design

“Theistic Evolution:” Was Everything Perfectly Good Before the Fall?

Micheangelo’s depiction of the Fall of Humanity, in the Sistine Chapel. Did evil enter the world, when Adam and Eve sinned, or did evil sneak its way into the world prior to the Fall?

A new 2017 book released by Crossway publishers, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, is an array of essays meant to discourage Christians from embracing so-called “theistic evolution.” But what exactly is “theistic evolution?”

I have never been happy with the term, as it leaves the question of, “who is this particular God?,” up in the air. Is the theos in “theistic” referring to the God of the Bible, or some other divine concept? A lot of people believe in “God,” but that does not mean that they embrace the God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

Instead of “theistic evolution,” the name “evolutionary creationism,” embraced by the folks at Biologos.org, an organization started by Francis Collins, one of the scientists behind the Human Genome Project, is a specifically Christian description, as it grounds the concept of evolution within a biblical concept of creation. But is evolution really compatible with the Bible’s teaching on creation? Do the authors of this new book succeed in promoting its thesis, in dismantling “theistic evolution“? Or to put it another way, in the authors’ efforts to take down materialistic evolutionary philosophy, and its influence on evangelical Christianity, have they set up a straw man?

Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique contends that the prevailing biological theory of evolution should not be accepted whole-heartedly by Christians, as it works to undermine certain traditional biblical ideas about creation. It is a challenging argument, that the thoughtful Christian, engaging with scientifically-informed skeptics, must wrestle with.

Presumably the authors all hold to an Old-Earth Creationist viewpoint, one that accepts the well-attested antiquity of the earth, while denying macro-evolution. Young Earth Creationists, to the contrary, believe the earth to be less than 10,000 years old. But according to reviews I have surveyed, nowhere does the 1,000-plus page book actually take a stand on the age of the earth.

ReasonsToBelieve president, Hugh Ross, has written a thoughtful (partial) review of the book. Ross, an Old Earth Creationist himself, broadly accepts the book’s thesis, but he also points out some weaknesses. For example, at least one essay proposes that the natural order of the world only became corrupted after the Fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. It is true that God was originally pleased with what he created, declaring it to be all “good.” But does that tell the whole story of what we read in Genesis 1-3? The text also gives some indication that all was not completely hunky-dory by the time Adam and Eve first arrive on the scene.

What does one make of the presence of a crafty serpent in the garden? (Genesis 3:1) If all was created “good,” how did such a deceptive creature make its way into God’s “good” world? Furthermore, did not God command the first humans to “fill the earth and subdue it?” (Genesis 1:28) Why would God insist that the earth be subdued, or domesticated, if there was not some form of elusive chaos permeating God’s good world, that needed to brought under the Creator’s control?

These observations within the biblical text do not necessarily take away from the goodness of creation. Nevertheless, they are there in the text. If we take biblical inspiration seriously, we must still account for all of what the text says. As I understand the term “Evolutionary Creationism,” those who advocate for it are trying to grapple with these biblical observations.

C. S. Lewis put it this way, in The Problem of Pain (p. 134-135)

“It seems to me, therefore, a reasonable supposition, that some mighty created power had already been at work for ill on the material universe, or the solar system, or at least, planet Earth, before ever man came on the scene; and that when man fell, someone had, indeed, tempted him.”

The authors of Theistic Evolution go to great lengths to say that “Neo-Darwinism” subverts the Scriptural witness, and there is much to commend this view. But do these criticisms fairly apply to “Evolutionary Creationism?” If I understand Lewis correctly, then it would appear that at least some of the authors of Theistic Evolution may have chosen to ignore the above uncomfortable, Scriptural observations.

As evidenced by the recent furor over Pope Francis’ critique of the traditional translation of the Lord’s Prayer, God’s role in temptation, is indeed a difficult biblical topic. However,the Book of James teaches that God could not have tempted Adam and Eve to sin, so it must have been some force of evil, present in the world prior to the Fall:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13 ESV)

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans tells us:

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19 ESV)

But when did this agonizing wait from creation start? Was it after humanity’s fall or prior to the fall?

I do not necessarily agree with all of Hugh Ross’ critique, but I think his review is very much worth reading. If someone has read Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below, as I would like to know what you think.  Here is the trailer for the book.


C.S. Lewis, Myth, and the “E” Word

C.S. Lewis on the cover of Time magazine, 1947.  Did he ultimately find "Evolution" to be compatible or in conflict with Biblical faith?

C.S. Lewis on the cover of Time magazine, 1947, perhaps the most popular Christian apologist of the 20th century. Did he ultimately find “Evolution” to be compatible or in conflict with Biblical faith?

A few years ago, a series of letters written by C. S. Lewis back some seventy years ago came to light that has given scholars some questions as to the Narnian’s changing views regarding the “E” word. By the “E” word, I mean … “evolution”.

The “E” word is generally something you do not say in polite company around many evangelical Christians, unless you want to say something negative. Here at Veracity, we have no qualms over discussing topics related to the “E” word. Yet the stakes are high, as many students of Scripture have noted. Some say that evolution is the greatest threat to the truthfulness of the Christian message. Others, to varying degrees, say that evolution is at least partly, if not fully, compatible with Christian belief.

How do  you sort this all out?  It sure would be helpful to know what one of the most popular Christian apologists of the last one hundred years, Oxford’s C. S. Lewis, might have thought about the matter.
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Dover Design Debate Debacle

Dover, Pennsylvania.  Symbol of the defeat of Intelligence Design as scientific theory..... or a tragic setback for the advancement of scientific discourse?

Dover, Pennsylvania. Symbol of the defeat of Intelligent Design as scientific theory….. or a tragic setback for the advancement of scientific discourse? (photo credit: msnbc)

Should Intelligent Design be taught as science in the classroom?

It has been almost ten years since the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case in Dover, Pennsylvania. There a group of elected school board officials, spearheaded by some Christians favoring Young Earth Creationism, sought to have a particular biology textbook removed from the classroom. The biology textbook was co-authored by Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University, a practicing Catholic, and an outspoken advocate of what some call “theistic evolution.” Instead, a different textbook developed by the Discovery Institute, Of Pandas and People, would be used. The Discovery Institute is a think-tank that advocates Intelligent Design as opposed to Darwinian Evolution, among other important cultural and intellectual interests. A lawsuit ensued, and while it was not as big and spectacular as the famous 20th century Scopes Monkey Trial, the Dover case still became a media sensation. In the end, the court ruled that teaching Intelligent Design in a public school science class is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The court reasoned that Intelligent Design (ID) is not science and therefore cannot be uncoupled from its Creationist, and therefore religious, antecedents.

It was a devastating blow to the movers and shakers behind Intelligent Design. I pretty much thought that the ID movement was dead in the water after that. However, the issues behind the controversy are still with us.
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