Questioning Theistic Evolution

It isn’t a matter of what God could have done but rather a matter of what God said He did.

Theistic evolution made a guest appearance in the People of Praise section of Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Journal Gazette last weekend. High school biology teacher David Butler summed up his arguments favoring theistic evolution. Many Christians fail to see the subtle problems with this particular point of view.

Saying that he tells students he believes in evolution “with divine guidance,” Mr. Butler connects his growing “understanding of what evolution truly means” with his growth as a Christian. He says he believes “God started it all and that he is still watching over his creation.” This statement sums up the essence of theistic evolution.

While we agree with Mr. Butler that “God gave us the gift of reason,” we would hasten to point out that man’s reasoning ability is neither infallible nor all-knowing. Those attributes belong only to God. And man’s reasoning ability is further distorted by a rebellious sinful nature, which causes us to be darkened in our reasoning (Ephesians 4:17–18), a condition that is by no means completely healed when we become Christians. Our first parents yielded to the serpent’s challenge, questioning whether God was really telling them the truth with those awful words, “Yea, hath God said?” (Genesis 3:1). Since that time man has continued to rebel against God’s Word. And refusing to believe what God has plainly revealed in His written Word about our origins is not a godly use of God’s gift of reason but a rebellious perversion of God’s gift with a 6,000-year precedent.

In the course of his essay, Mr. Butler emphasizes the scientific importance of the law of biogenesis—that living things only come from living things.

In the course of his essay, Mr. Butler emphasizes the scientific importance of the law of biogenesis—that living things only come from living things. Yet the evolutionary theory he supports trumpets the belief that the first living cell came from non-living matter by chance, in clear violation of this well-established law of biology! He goes on to offer observable phenomena such as natural selection and speciation as evidence for the evolution of new kinds of organisms—a process that would require the acquisition of new genetic material—and he indicates “beneficial mutations” would supply this information. Yet mutations—even those offering limited benefit in certain situations—do not create new genetic information but instead destroy existing information. And he assumes that so-called vestigial organs and anatomical similarities between animals and humans must be evidence of evolution, seemingly unaware that they are well-explained by our Common Designer.

Remarkably, Mr. Butler indicates that embryogenesis from a one-celled zygote—already equipped with a complete genetic blueprint containing all the information needed to develop a complex human being—serves as proof that all living things evolved from a single organism “that developed billions of years ago.” From an evolutionary point of view, such a hypothetical progression would have had to produce or acquire genetic information countless times over billions of years in its “upward” evolutionary course. Thus, Mr. Butler’s statement fails miserably even as an analogy, much less as a proof!

Writing “it’s not a crime to use our minds to explore and theorize the wonders of the universe and nature,” Mr. Butler implies that creation scientists do not care about scientific information relevant to our origins. He presumes “extremists” (like those associated with the “Creation Museum, Petersburg, Ky.”) are mired in “ambiguity or fear about how we evolved.” Those notions are simply not true. Creation scientists are as interested in understanding genetics, astronomy, geology, biology, and the fossil record as any other scientists. But when addressing past events that cannot be tested by repeatable experiments or observed to be happening in the present, creation scientists allow their thinking and their scientific models to be guided by the only reliable eyewitness account available—the one provided by God in the Bible. Our refusal to accept evolution is not the result of fear but the result of a decision to accept the authoritative Word of the eternal Creator over the untestable opinions of fallible people, most of whom deny the Creator and His Word.

What Mr. Butler fails to realize is that historical science—the kind of science concerned with origins—cannot verify the truth of its claims about the past by the same methods used in the experimental sciences to find cures for diseases or develop new technology. He makes much of the definition of a theory as “an extremely well-substantiated explanation of some aspects of the natural world that incorporates facts, predictions and tested hypotheses.” However, the events that occurred “in the beginning” are over; they cannot be replicated and tested and observed. Experimental science reveals information about the present and makes predictions about the present. Conclusions about the distant past, however, are guided by presuppositions and biases.

Without the option of experimental testing of unrepeatable unobservable events long past, the conclusions of origins science demand certain starting assumptions.

Without the option of experimental testing of unrepeatable unobservable events long past, the conclusions of origins science demand certain starting assumptions. If our starting assumption accepts the validity of the only eyewitness account available—the one in the Bible—then that eyewitness account will guide our scientific interpretations. Such an approach has produced an understanding that God created all kinds of living things to reproduce after their kinds (only varying within their kinds), that humans and animals have certain design similarities but that humans are also distinct from animals in many ways, and that geological phenomena can be explained by models based on the events recorded in Genesis including the global Flood.

On the other hand, rejection of God’s eyewitness account substitutes the authority of fallible human opinions for God’s infallible Word and in essence calls God a liar. That attitude is not so unexpected in non-Christians, but it is a particularly sad way for Christ’s blood-bought people to behave.

Jesus Christ spoke of literal events in Genesis, such as the creation and marriage of the first man and woman (in Matthew 19:4–5) and the global Flood in Noah’s day (in Matthew 24:38–39). Christ also connected the importance of accepting the accounts of Moses with a good understanding of who He is and why He came. He said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46–47). Moses’ writings in Genesis explain how God created a perfectly good world, how that good world was corrupted after man sinned, and how God planned to send Christ into the world to suffer the awful penalty for mankind’s sins.

So who should Christians believe? People who were not present to see our origins, or the Son of God who bought us with His precious blood (1 Peter 1:18–19)? We should believe the Son of God by whom, through whom, and for whom all things were created (Colossians 1:16–17). John 1:3 informs us, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Accepting theistic evolution is a compromise position that distorts the true meaning of evolution and thereby claims support from evidence that actually stands against it. Regardless of any good intentions, theistic evolutionists also twist Scripture and weaken the fabric of biblical doctrine. How can ignoring the very words of Jesus Christ promote genuine Christian growth?

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