Dissension Within Evangelical Ranks Over Evolution


To USA Today, at least, it’s hot news: dissension within evangelical ranks over evolution. To us, it’s just one sad result of compromise.

Prof. Bruce K. Waltke may not seem like the most likely person to be at the center of controversy. Educated at Dallas Theological Seminary and Harvard, the Reformed Theological Seminary professor (until earlier this week, that is) is considered “a preeminent Old Testament scholar . . . [and] a master teacher with a pastoral heart.” Waltke’s error (or, at least, the cause of the controversy) was appearing in a BioLogos Foundation video discussing science and religion. (The BioLogos Foundation, which we covered last May and August, promotes the view that evolution and Christianity can go hand-in-hand.) In the video, Waltke reportedly stated:

If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult . . . some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God’s Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness.

"If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult..."

USA Today implies that Reformed Theological Seminary immediately (and angrily) demanded Waltke’s resignation, although other sources paint quite the opposite picture (specifically disputing media caricatures). Nevertheless, Waltke has left the seminary, which, according to USA Today, “[is] a sign of just how difficult it may be for scholars at some institutions to raise issues involving science that are not 100% consistent with a literal interpretation of the Bible.” (As we’ve noted, even young-earth creationists do not interpret all of the Bible “literally,” but rather we read according to accepted grammatical and historical cues.)

Another source cried that it was “incomprehensible that in 2010, any American scholar, particularly one of his academic distinction, could be so harshly bullied for stating an opinion consonant with current scientific orthodoxy[.]” (Of course, there is ample record of scientists who have been “harshly bullied,” denied tenure, etc., even for simply allowing open discussion with intelligent design advocates; evolutionists can’t play the “censorship card” only half the time.)

Reformed Seminary official Michael Milton countered, “We are a confessional seminary. I’m a professor myself, but I do not have a freedom that would go past the boundaries of the confession.” He added that there is a “diversity” of views on Genesis at the seminary, from those holding to young-earth creation to others accepting the framework hypothesis, but that Darwinian views are not permitted.

We speculate that Waltke’s defection (whenever it happened) from more conservative (yet compromising) views to what appears to be an acceptance of full-blown theistic evolution is a result of a “domino effect” of compromise. A theologian begins with a plain reading of Genesis and other biblical texts, concluding that creation was recent and supernatural. But certain outspoken scientists, atheistic though many may be, convince the theologian that all real scientists have unanimously proven the earth is billions of years old (a proposition that itself contains multiple fallacies). The theologian decides to deviate from the plain reading of Genesis, reinterpreting the creation account not based on textual cues but rather on his perception of what science has “proven.” But as the topic moves from geology to paleontology to biology, the compromising theologian has no rational reason to dismiss the claim that “all real scientists have unanimously proven all life evolved from a common ancestor.” The theologian is now in full agreement with the atheist on the origin of the universe, the earth, and all life (including humans), with “God” merely a superfluous deity with little work left to do.

Why do compromising theologians, pastors, and other Christians who accept theistic evolution stop at Genesis?

But the question we have posed many times before is, why do compromising theologians, pastors, and other Christians who accept theistic evolution stop at Genesis? Science has also “proven” that humans cannot rise from the dead, that water cannot turn into wine, and so forth. Why, then, read the Gospels plainly when many have reinterpreted Jesus as just a “good man” and a “wise teacher” whose followers inserted into pagan myths?

BioLogos president Darrel Falk, who is also a Point Loma Nazarene University biology professor, warned provocatively of working for religious groups that “just don’t understand science.” Apparently he finds wanting the many highly educated scientists who accept a recent creation.

For more on the Waltke controversy, see Seminary Prof. Resigns Over Pro-Evolution Comments. Also, see Answers in Genesis President Ken Ham’s blog in which he comments on a news story that appeared Friday evening on ABC-TV’s World News with Diane Sawyer program. ABC aired a segment on Dr. Waltke’s resignation, with Ken offering brief comment. Ken in his blog has noted that in an awkward segue, he is shown right after the news correspondent states that “Waltke was labeled a heretic, and called ‘anti-Christian’.” Of course, Ken never stated or implied to ABC that Dr. Waltke was not a Christian. Furthermore, in a web article on Thursday, Answers in Genesis wrote that we found it “sad to see a brother in the Lord lose his job.”

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