Theistic Evolution is the idea that God used macro-evolution (the common descent of every species from a single ancestor; i.e. whale, oak tree, buzzard, and Dr. Phil are all related) as His means of creating life on Earth. It is an attempt to reconcile the Christian belief of a divine Creator and what seems to be "irrefutable" scientific evidence of evolution. Many Christian leaders such as Tim Keller, Francis Collins, and N.T. Wright hold to Theistic Evolution.
I do not doubt the hearts or motives of those men (they are far more brilliant than I will ever be and I greatly appreciate Keller's The Reason for God) but the problem is that no matter how long I look at this, the idea of a Creator as the Bible presents it and the idea of evolution cannot be reconciled.
Here are the 7 biggest problems I see with Theistic Evolution (though there are more):
1. TE inherits all the impossibilities of naturalistic evolution as a theory of origins. No matter how many times scientists or your college professors say it, it is not a scientific fact that a species (given time and chance) can evolve into another species. It is not a scientific fact because no one has ever seen it happen; and science is all about observable and repeatable processes.
Many TE'ers try to skirt around this and say, God did the impossible, which sounds a lot like the literalists (those who hold to Genesis 1-11 as literal) the TE'ers criticize.
2. TE brings about a low view of Scripture. I have to tread lightly on this because many TE'ers love the Lord and are far more godly than I. The problem is that when you look at the Bible and begin to pick and choose what is right or wrong, literal or myth, fact or fiction, it inevitably (even if inadvertently) leads to a lower view of Scripture.
What criteria do you use? How do you know that only the creation story is myth? What about the resurrection or the virgin birth?
The rest of my points show how TE contradicts much of what the Bible presents and how TE'ers must explain that away to make it work.
3. TE teaches that one species evolved from another species. Genesis 1 continually teaches that each species multiplied "according to its kind" (1:11, 12, 21, 25). It means exactly what is says. Bird to bird. Lion to lion. Human to human.
4. TE implies that God is not actively involved in His Creation, but created a self-sustaining system and let it run. Instead, the rest of Scripture portrays God as actively involved in and sovereign over His Creation.
Here are just a few verses: He causes every blade of grass to grow (Psalm 104:14); He brings to lions their food (104:21); He feeds the fish and chooses the time when each one will die (104:27-29); He feeds every bird (Matthew 6:26); He opens the flower petals of every flower (6:29-30). God is an artist constantly at work in His personal masterpiece.
5. TE confuses the imago Dei (the image of God). If humans slowly evolved from apes, when did the image of God get imparted to mankind? Some TE'ers think God chose two humans (Adam and Eve) from among a group of ancient humans and placed His image on them. Others think God imparted His likeness the moment apes evolved into biological humans. Still, these prove insufficient answers. Also, if we are all evolved from animals, what separates us from the animals?
We were called to have dominion over all creation (Genesis 1:26) and that is all wrapped up in being created in the image of God.
6. TE confuses the Fall and its consequences. If humans slowly evolved from apes, when did the Fall occur? When the first man was born? Was there a garden of Eden and was there really a divine command to obey? When did sin nature take over mankind?
TE'ers differ on this view. One of the more common views that I have heard is that it was more of a gradual Fall, not an outright rebellion. But such a view lessens the weight of sin and the treason of placing ourselves above God. Genesis 3 is extremely clear until you begin to allegorize and mythologize it.
7. TE sees death and sickness as a means of progress, not as a result of the Fall. This might be one of the biggest reasons why I do no think TE is biblical.
For evolution to occur, death needs to happen. Evolution and death go hand-in-hand, like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
The weak, the sickly, and the lame need to die off so the stronger can survive, pass on their genes, and hopefully down the road create a newer and stronger species. Since the moment of God's impartation of the imago Dei and the moment of the Fall are arbitrary to the TE'ers, it is not too hard to assume that humans were dying before the Fall.
Imagine explaining that in your next counseling session with a grieving wife who just lost her husband. Even though a TE'er may want to, they cannot tell that woman that her husband's death is a result of the Fall. But the Bible states that death and sickness are a result of the Fall, specifically the sins committed by Adam (Romans 5:12-14; 1 Corinthians 15:22). We live in a broken world, marred by sin. Death is not a cog in the machine of progress but a symptom of a disease.
For further reading:
- Should Christians Embrace Evolution: Biblical & Scientific Responses edited by Norman C. Nevin (best book on this subject).
- The Battle for the Beginning by John MacArthur (it's Johnny Mac...nuff said).
- "No Pass from Theological Responsibility—The Biologos Conundrum" article by Al Mohler
- "What's Wrong with Theistic Evolution?" article by Kevin DeYoung
- "10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam" article by Kevin DeYoung