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Theistic evolution is a serious departure from the historic Christian faith, representing a grave threat to the spiritual well-being of God’s people and the effectiveness of their mission.
Pope John Paul II, in a recent statement,1 supported ‘theistic evolution’, the idea that God, over immense periods of time, used evolutionary processes to create all physical life-forms from a single organism.
Theistic evolution is a serious departure from the historic Christian faith; it represents a grave threat to the spiritual well-being of God’s people and the effectiveness of their mission in the world.
Many would ask, ‘What difference does it make how God created?’
We need to understand that human beings are ‘wired for a worldview’—God has implanted within us a deep yearning to find satisfying answers to the fundamental questions of human existence. ‘Where did I come from? Why am I here? How should I live? Why is there evil and suffering? Where is history going? What will happen when I die?’
Many would ask, ‘What difference does it make how God created?’Historic Christianity passionately argues that in the Bible we have a revelation from God that supplies not just a worldview, but the worldview: the truth about the ultimate questions of life. I would submit that second to the Lord Himself, this worldview is the Church’s greatest treasure. In attempting to adjust it to modern theories of cosmic and biological evolution, we are in danger of destroying it altogether.
The Bible’s message may be likened to a life-line which God throws out to a spiritually drowning humanity. This life-line is comprised of three strands of truth, indissolubly braided together: Creation, Fall, and Redemption. Theistic evolution undermines all three.
The Bible proclaims that God supernaturally created ‘out
of nothing’ a beautiful, harmonious world in six days. The brief
Creation Week perfectly suited His purpose, which was to provide a home
and a stage for the chief actor in the forthcoming drama of history—man,
the creature uniquely made in His own image and likeness. Indeed, so special
was man that God gave him prince-like authority over all nature, commissioning
him lovingly to ‘subdue’ it responsibly for his own enjoyment
and the greater glory of the Creator (
Here we first see the wisdom, goodness, and power of God,
as well as the dignity and uniqueness of man in the Creation. But theistic
evolution (and so-called ‘progressive creationism’ as well)
undermines all this. It denies the plain biblical chronology and sequence
of God’s creative acts (
According to Scripture, when the first man, Adam, (the father
and representative of the human family) failed God’s simple test
of love and obedience, the entire race fell with him into guilt, indwelling
sin, sickness, suffering, and death (
This biblical teaching supplies a reasonable and spiritually satisfying explanation for the presence of evil and suffering in the world.This biblical teaching supplies a reasonable and spiritually satisfying explanation for the presence of evil and suffering in the world—an absolutely crucial component of any satisfactory worldview. Furthermore, because it pictures sinful passions as alien to original human nature, it motivates us to resist them with help from Him who is opposed to them.
Theistic evolution, however, again throws all into confusion.
It portrays God as using suffering and death to create, even though the
Bible calls death ‘the last enemy’
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world to become
‘the last Adam’, (Romans 5:12
Thus, the backbone of the message of redemption is the stupendous revelation of the two Adams. But again, theistic evolution strikes at its very heart. This is because the compromise with evolution almost inevitably leads to a denial both of the historicity of Adam and his ruinous fall. Evolutionism clearly undermines the first Adam. But what is the effect of this on the Last Adam (Jesus Christ), whose very mission, according to Scripture, was to undo what the first Adam had so disastrously done?!
Insightful critics of theistic evolution have often commented on its inherent anti-supernaturalism. An aversion to the supernatural in Creation and Fall will sooner or later infect our understanding of redemption as well. The tendency, of course, will be to direct the eye of faith away from the Cross and second coming of Christ towards an ongoing evolutionary process.
We already have an example of this in the theology of Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin, who rejected the orthodox doctrines of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Heaven, and Hell, in favour of the view that all humanity is gradually evolving towards a mystical, pantheistic union with God.5 Similarly, New Age theorist John White affirms, ‘The final appearance of the Christ will not be a man in the air before whom all must kneel. The final appearance of Christ will be an evolutionary event.’6
Theistic evolution, which at first glance seems a reasonable compromise with ‘science’, undermines the entire biblical worldview.
Let us not, then, distort or discard any part of this great treasure in favour of the ever-changing opinions of science or philosophy. Evolutionism is the foundation from which the modern world system launches nearly every ideological attack against the faith of Christ. Here, then, where the battle is raging in our time, is where we are called to stand and fight.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.