nature

Can you be a Christian and an evolutionist?  There are some professing Christians who believe one can believe in Jesus Christ and still hold to the theory of evolution.  Those who hold to such views are often called “Theistic Evolutionists.”  There are many reasons for them holding to such views.  Some have been persuaded that evolution is true, but do not want to completely abandon Christianity.  They may like the moral teachings of Christianity, they may also have accepted the idea that one can separate faith from science.  The problem is that one cannot reconcile evolution with Christianity.

Christianity teaches God created the universe in six literal days.  In order to be an evolutionist and believe the Bible you have to take the account in Genesis 1 figuratively, but that leads to taking other passages in the Bible figuratively, because the Bible repeatedly refers to the creation event in a similar manner.

When does the figurative reading stop?  If humans were merely animals that arose through naturalistic processes, when did the human soul evolve?  How do you account for a human soul? Did God suddenly imbue the first two Neanderthals with a soul?

The concept of fall and redemption are core teachings in Christianity.  Does one take three figuratively about the fall figuratively?  Do you ignore or stylize the store of Adam and Eve and the snake in the Garden of Eden figuratively, but how do you account for the existence of evil?  Where do you stop?

It is fine to be a Christian and be an evolutionist, but the two systems are inconsistent with each other.  You can be one or the other, but you cannot honestly be both.

Photo Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr (CC-By-2.0)

9 comments
  1. I agree with the main point of this article–that evolutionism and creationism do not mix. But when I say evolutionism, I mean specifically macroevolution. Microevolution, however, which is defined as “evolutionary change within a species or small group of organisms, esp. over a short period,” is something that is demonstrable in a laboratory. IOW, you can breed animals, plants, microorganisms, etc., and come up with certain admirable traits and even new species. But only God Himself can create life, and one life form cannot evolve to a “higher” life form, etc.

    However, I disagree with the assertion that “Christianity teaches God created the universe in six literal days.” Nowhere in the Bible does it state explicitly that these creation days had to be 24 hours. I personally believe that each day represented eons. I’ve read a couple of Hugh Ross’s books that give excellent reasons for believing that the Hebrew word for “day” should not be interpreted as a literal 24-hour day here. And there is a big difference between taking the meaning of “day” as “long time period” and claiming that man evolved from natural processes. It’s dangerous to say that one view automatically implies the other.

    I don’t have a problem when people state that, in their opinion, the creation days lasted only 24 hours. But when they become dogmatic about the issue, stating that the Bible unequivocally requires such an interpretation, then I do have a problem with that stance. The Early Church, who understood the Scriptures far better than we do today, had a list of dozens of things that it considered heresies. However, I don’t believe that the issue of long creation days was among them.

    There are many minor issues, such as those that the Early Church did not consider heretical, that we as Christians can disagree on without feeling guilty about it. It only becomes a problem when certain folks become adamant that their view is the right one, when the Bible doesn’t give sufficient information to warrant such a conclusion.

    1. The author of the article offers a “fundamentalist” perspective, one that is a minority view in Evangelicalism. Variations of “old earth” creationism, including the traditional old earth view, progressive creationism, and theistic evolution are accepted under the big tent of Evangelicalism. To call each other’s faith into question just because we differ on these issues is uncharitable.

      I highly recommend a pastoral paper by Tim Keller to those who believe God gave us science to reveal His creation, not to obscure it. Fundamentalists set up a false dichotomy between faith and reason (oddly, some atheists do, too). If you believe God is the author of all, then it’s up to us to try to reconcile scientific evidence with our theology, even if at times it’s messy and some mysteries remain elusive to us.

      http://biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf

  2. I’m a young earther, but there are those who believe in an old earth and hold to a creationist position. You didn’t even recognize that position. I’m also concerned with tying your belief about evolution with salvation. I don’t see how that is a biblical position. We can talk about maturity and discipleship, but salvation is based upon the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and whether or not we have received that free gift of grace. Repent and believe is what we are told. Not whether or not we believe in a literal six days, etc. While I disagree with theistic evolution those who believe in it say they also believe that God created. It’s nuanced, but it isn’t the same position as a secular evolutionist perspective. One person who holds this position would be Alister McGrath. He’s a well known apologist. I don’t agree with him on this issue, but I wouldn’t question his salvation or the fact he is a Christian.

    1. Yes, one has to be very careful about tying salvation to criteria other than what the Bible specifies. It’s certainly possible to be a Christian and have all sorts of warped thinking. Even if a Christian started out on the right track and stayed there for a while, he can easily fall into sin and decide he likes it. For instance, what if a Christian eventually decides, “I used to be against abortion, but I’m OK with it now.” Does that mean he is no longer saved? Well, it’s fair to say that the person is not abiding in Christ, but to say that he isn’t saved is a completely different matter. The Bible does seem to indicate that it is possible to lose one’s salvation, but it appears to be very difficult to do.

      So, back to the discussion, I think the initial question would be better phrased something like: “Is evolutionism compatible with the teachings of the Bible?”

  3. *Derp!* Criminey, so the Vatican is not “christian” because it has accepted Darwinian evolution? Aren’t there really two versions of the creation myth, one where Adam and Eve were co-created, the other where Jahweh extracted Adam’s “rib” (I prefer the theory that the bone in question was Adam’s baculum) to create Eve?
    Whatever you do, PLEASE don’t demand in the political arena that creationism be taught as science in public school science classes. It’s not.

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