Theistic Evolution and Its Problems
If you have spent time around small children, it’s likely that you are familiar with the shape-sorting toys that consist of a container, a lid with different shaped holes, and an assortment of blocks in the various shapes. Perhaps you’ve also witnessed the frustration of a toddler trying fruitlessly to shove the round block through the hole meant for the square blocks, or a star-shaped block through the triangular hole. Try as he might, it just won’t fit. This is an appropriate analogy for attempts to reconcile the belief of the Creator revealed in the Bible with Darwinian evolution. There are fundamental incongruities between them, and the only way to make them fit together is to compromise one or the other to the point that integrity is lost.I am reminded of the analogy of the monkey and the peanut (ironic, since we're talking about evolution which believes that man evolved from the apes). It is said that, in order to catch monkeys, a peanut is placed in a jar with a very narrow opening. The monkey comes along and sticks his hand in the jar, hoping for a treat; but when he tries to remove his fist-tight hand, he finds that he is stuck. You would think that he would just let go of the peanut and free his hand; yet he will not do so because he wants that peanut! He compromises his safety; for, although he does not know it, there are people waiting to reel in their prized catch! This is a lot like Melissa's analogy (though I like hers better); if a Christian wants to believe in evolution, he will not release it from his grasp. He then finds that he is stuck, because he has compromised his faith for that "theory." The only way to be free is to let go of the peanut! Anything else is pure compromise, an attempt to get the theory of evolution to fit neatly into the mold of the truth of the Gospel. Melissa explains this point quite well...
If you file down the corners of the triangular block so that it will pass through the round hole, you will be successful in accomplishing your end-goal, but the block is no longer a triangle. Similarly, proponents of theistic evolution (TE) consider the theory a diplomatic solution to the debate between naturalistic, neo-Darwinian evolution and the existence of a Divine Creator. However, this involves theological compromises that contradict essential tenets of Christianity. “Christians who are theistic evolutionists are in a cruel bind,” says Dr. Paul Nelson, philosopher of science. These TE proponents adhere to current consensus science, but with great detriment to the legitimacy of their faith.She continues,
Interestingly, some old-earth creationists believe the exact opposite; that is, some believe that the whole creation account is symbolic, while they still treat Adam and Eve like literal figures of history. To quote John MacArthur, "... the old-earth creationists' method of interpreting the Genesis text actually undermines the historicity of Adam. Having already decided to treat the creation account itself as myth or allegory, they have no grounds to insist (suddenly and arbitrarily, it seems) that the creation of Adam is literal history." Still, MacArthur's point here is that if you are going to believe in evolution (whether in whole or in part) and therefore treat the creation account as fictitious, you should apply the same standards to the rest of Scripture. So, if you believe that Adam and Eve were not real people, then neither were the rest of the people and accounts spoken of in the Bible; and if you believe that they were real people, then why don't you trust the rest of the Creation account? Melissa states,
How do theistic evolutionists handle scriptures like these? They relegate them to the genre of myth or allegory. In other words, they do not consider Adam and Eve to be, literally, the first man and first woman directly created by God. They are simply mythological figures conceived in the minds of ancient Jews.
In other words, the purported legends were conceived by an uneducated, unenlightened people to explain man’s origin, his mortality, and the circumstances under which he lives.I actually had an atheist say that very thing to me! He proposed that God would lie to the people in Biblical times in order to "help" them understand something that was more complicated (i.e. the Creation story) -- because they didn't have all the modern science back then. I told him that to claim that the people could believe a lie -- when it was God Himself who instructed the people -- is to say that they were dumb! It is also to call God a liar; He said that He created everything, and He has made it perfectly clear that He does not lie! Additionally, if God wanted us to know that He did it a certain way, we would expect Him to tell us -- not leave us in the dark concerning it. If God used slow, random processes and all that other "jazz" that evolutionists cook up, wouldn't He have said so? But the interesting thing is that "science" can't even explain everything in regards to the Creation. Grant it, so much has come out over the years that proves that there is a Designer, but science still can't explain exactly HOW it all happened! So just because we now have "science," that does not mean that we understand everything. I told this athiest that just because the people of the Bible didn't have our MODERN science (which if we are speaking of evolution, then it's a good thing they didn't), this does not make them any less educated in that field.
Here is what MacArthur has to say about this: "In every New Testament reference to Genesis, the events recorded by Moses are treated as historical events. And in particular, the first three chapters of Genesis are consistently treated as a literal record of historical events...."
This allegorical approach to the Genesis creation account sharply contradicts the principle of authority and divine inspiration of scripture. There are ramifications that reach well beyond Genesis and into the New Testament. In Matthew 19:4, Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 when he said: “He who created them in the beginning made them male and female.” Obviously, Jesus did not consider the special creation of man to be a myth. Thus, when TE supporters dismiss the Genesis creation account as allegory, subsequent passages are discounted and doubt is cast on the reliability of the NT teachings and the text as a whole.
I stated this point in my article (as quoted by MacArthur), "Everything Scripture says about our salvation through Jesus Christ hinges on the literal truth of what Genesis 1-3 teaches about Adam's creation and fall," because if Adam is not a historical figure, then he didn't exist so as to cause the fall; and if the fall didn't happen, there would have been no reason for Christ to come and redeem us.
This brings us to perhaps the most serious theological problem for TE: the doctrine of original sin and the necessity of the redemptive work of Christ. If man evolved gradually from primate ancestors, where does sin enter the picture? Theistic evolutionists again attempt to utilize the scapegoat of allegory to explain away this predicament and seriously downplay the relationship between original sin and the Atonement.
According to TE theory, the genetic mutations that made those individuals “fitter” for survival and allowed them to procreate more are the very source of the gradual genetic change that brings about biological diversity of species from common ancestry. In contrast, 1 John lists the following fundamental aspects of God’s nature: God is love (1 John 4:16) God is light (1 John 1:5) [and] God is life (1 John 1:1-2). Would the God of the Bible, the one described as love, light, and life, use such a horrific method of creation? In addition, the Genesis account certainly doesn’t allow for this idea: “So God made the wildlife of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kind. And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25).I love Melissa's implied point about Genesis 1:25 -- that is, if God saw that everything was good, why then would He create a world in which the bloody struggle of "survival of the fittest" rules? God is life, as Melissa pointed out; if He is life, He cannot be death -- yet this is exactly what the evolutionists are proposing! Additionally, if we are real Christians, we truly believe that God is life as He stated in His Word; therefore, we CANNOT believe in evolution, for its teachings are opposed to the Scriptures (and this is only ONE of the points at which evolution clashes with the Scriptures; there are so many more!).
An indispensable element of the theory of evolution is the frequent occurrence of genetic mutations (mistakes) in the duplication of DNA during reproduction. These mistakes are considered to be responsible for the theoretical progression of life from simple to highly complex. Beneficial mutations are preserved through natural selection, while harmful or benign ones are not. It is a process filled with dead-end, extinct species and wastefulness of life. It is impossible to reconcile this cruel, inefficient trial and error scenario with God’s character, which is so eloquently described in Psalms 145:17: "The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all his works.”In the lab, scientists try to create benefical mutations. One such example is the fruitfly; fruitflies with curly wings, four wings, no wings, etc. were successfully created. But how is that benefical to the fly (especially those with no wings; they can't fly now!)? The point is that all mutations are harmful to animals; they may not be deadly per se, but they limit the productivity of the animals. To use another example, if a cow has one less leg due to a genetic mutation, that is not benefical; the cow will have difficulty walking. And if a mutation produces an extra leg, the only thing this proves is that the genetic information was already present. It does not prove that genetic mutations are benefical and that they prove evolution to be true! The truth is, no scientist has ever been able to show us a "good" mutation; if you ask them to, they will point to a bad one as an example! Furthermore, to think that God would use such a process in creating the world is balogna! Melissa quoted an excellent Scripture in support of that; but I also heard someone put it like this: Can't God decide what He wants? Why can't He get it right the first time? This whole idea suggests that God is not too bright! Melissa concludes,
It [TE] conflicts with the biblical perspectives on the nature of man, original sin, and the necessity of Christ’s redemptive action in salvation history. If one but listens with a practiced ear, it is not harmony produced by the theory of theistic evolution, but a piercingly sour note.In summary, I loved Melissa's take on this subject, and I whole-heartedly agree! In the words of MacArthur, "The starting point for Christianity is not Matthew 1:1, but Genesis 1:1. Tamper with the Book of Genesis and you undermine the very foundation of Christianity. You cannot treat Genesis 1 as a fable or a mere poetic saga without sever implications to the rest of Scripture. The creation account is where God starts His account of history. It is impossible to alter the beginning without impacting the rest of the story -- not to mention the ending."