The debate about creation vs. evolution is on my mind today. Yesterday, as I was putting some finishing touches on my sermon (which I have preached somewhere before) about “Mount Eden,” I happened to see a related item.
Bruce Waltke, a highly-respected well-loved Old Testament scholar, resigned from his chair at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida after making statements favorable to theistic evolution. This theory is a conflation of the Biblical creation account and Darwinian evolution, saying that God used the process of evolution to create human beings.
The Bible says that God created the universe out of nothing, and man and woman out of the dust of the earth. All of these in six days of creation. Evolution says that after a “Big Bang” which happened on its own, life came into being, and this life evolved into fish, birds, horses, apes, and finally human beings.
How do we harmonize these two views? We don’t and we can’t! It’s absolutely, totally impossible, even if this world continues into the next 14 billion years, nay, into eternity. Someone please tell me how we could reconcile God forming Adam out of the dust of the ground and Adam evolving from the Big Bang. These two views are mutually exclusive of each other; one cannot believe the Scriptures as the inspired, inerrant and infallible word of God and at the same time believe in the evolutionary process.
According to the 2003 Cornell Evolution Project Survey of leading evolutionary scientists, 87 percent deny God’s existence and 88 percent reject life after death. This is why many theistic evolutionists are mere deists, believing in a god who created the world but is not sovereignly and actively involved in the evolutionary process, not even knowing how the process will turn out. Many of them also do not believe in a “good” creation, so that man was not perfect from the very start. Although well-known evangelicals such as James Dobson, Hugh Ross, John Ankerberg and Gleason Archer, support theistic evolution, it is not surprising when some of these advocates later abandon the Christian faith altogether, just as Calvin College Professor Emeritus Howard Van Till and (once-fundamentalist) paleontologist Stephen Godfrey did. Fence-sitting in the creation-evolution issue can be dangerous to one’s soul.
Among Reformed theologians, respected names such as B. B. Warfield, W.G.T. Shedd and A. H. Strong are mentioned to support this view. In recent years, the tide seems to be slowly turning in favor of evolution, as a few eminent professors such as Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns have questioned the historicity of the creation account, including that of Adam and Eve. Why would God need a historical Second Adam when the First Adam was just a myth? (Rom 5:12-19; 1 Cor 15:22, 45) And if the First Adam was a myth, then original sin is a myth, and Christ’s substitutionary atonement for his people is pointless.
Who will be next to be swept by the tide is a dreadful thought.
Some Christians want to harmonize these two diametrically opposite views of origins solely because they had surrendered to the pressure of atheistic science, ashamed of being ridiculed. They want to have their cake and eat it too. Dr. Waltke himself succumbed to this pressure, saying, “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.” But the problem is that evolution, for many, is the launching pad into unbelief, precisely because it is man’s rebellion against God – no Creator, no accountability, no conscience. It is the answer of the godless atheist to the question of origins. Even pagans create stories about how life began from some Supreme Being, but not the atheist.
This is why there is nothing “theistic” about theistic evolution. Various theories about creation have been proposed, but they all boil down into two opposing views: creation and evolution. Creation views include the literal, 6-day/24-hour-a-day view, the framework hypothesis, the analogical view, and Augustine’s instantaneous creation theory. Evolutionary views include “theistic” evolution, the gap theory, and the day-age view, all of which allow for a mix of creation and evolution. A view of Christianity that accommodates science that contradicts Scriptures, no matter how convincing it may sound, must be rejected, because the Scriptures is our only ultimate source of authority and salvation. As Dr. W. Robert Godfrey, in his book God’s Pattern for Creation: A Covenantal Reading of Genesis 1, affirms,
Scripture alone authoritatively interprets the biblical account of creation. The claims of modern science cannot determine the interpretation of the Bible… God created man immediately from the dust of the earth. Man did not evolve from lower animals (96).
This is why I am committed to the following points my denomination, the United Reformed Churches in North America (URCNA), affirms concerning creation in its 2001 Synod:
• God the Father almighty created the heavens and the earth and all things visible and invisible.
• The Father created the heavens and the earth out of nothing.
• God gave every creature its shape and being.
• The creation and fall of man.
• The historicity of Adam.
• Man was created good, in a garden, and tempted by the devil, committed reckless disobedience.
• God’s words to the serpent in Paradise are noted as the first revelation of the Gospel.
• Adam plunged himself and his offspring by his first transgression into perdition.
• Adam’s fall into sin and our connection to it.
• God came seeking man when he, trembling, fled from Him.
• God created all things good in six days defined as evenings and mornings. This means that we reject any evolutionary teaching, including theistic evolution, concerning the origin of the earth and of all creatures (italics mine).
“Theistic evolution,” therefore, is a very dangerous path to take, because it may just be a temporary stop in the migration from faith to unbelief. Or worse, a theistic evolutionist may be assuming he is a Christian, when in fact, his faith is merely what sociologist Christian Smith has identified as “moralistic, therapeutic deism.”
Here are some other blogtalk about this issue:
“Why Waltke Subscribes to Theistic Evolution” by the Triablogue
“Bruce Waltke Headed to Knox Theological Seminary?” by Christianity Today blog
“Waltke Situation Letters” by JRDKirk
“Bruce Waltke Staying in the Discussion” by the InternetMonk
“Bruce Waltke and the Scientific Orthodoxy” by Uncommon Descent