A Popular Level Refutation of Theistic Evolution

I’m something of a digital book hoarder and can rarely resist a free book/heavily discounted book. As such, I recently picked up a free copy of The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner. (Harvest House Publishers, 2008).

As I was scanning the contents page I saw an entry marked ‘Creation, theories of’ where I found a suggested refutation TE/EC (no doubt the authors would lump them in together).

Given how the authors seek to address the philosophical, scientific, and theological issues with TE as they see them, I thought it might make for an interesting discussion starter. As such I have reproduced their refutation in full below.

You may also be interested to note that the authors do not include YEC under the ‘theories’ section but are rather dealt with under its own entry called ‘apologetics, creation’.

Looking forward to reading people’s thoughts.

THEISTIC EVOLUTION
The Basic Thesis of This Theory
Theistic evolution teaches that God initiated the original creation process and then used the life-and-death struggle of natural selection’s proverbial survival of the fittest to complete the job. The term theistic evolution is an oxymoron. Theistic is another term for God. Evolution is another term for gradualism and materialistic naturalism.

Scientific Problems with This Theory
Theistic evolution avoids materialistic naturalism’s position that nothing is the ultimate source for everything. But it ultimately still embraces and promotes the belief that molecules eventually evolved into man through a mindless process involving chance, matter, time, and mutation. The theistic evolutionist believes that God started the process and then left it alone.

Evolution, whether the argument is for Dawkins’s neo-Darwinian gradualism or Gould’s punctuated equilibrium, is atheistic at its core. Both proposed variations of evolutionary theory were conceived as a justification for the rejection of supernatural revelation and accountability to a supreme Creator. If the process of evolution fails to actually work anywhere other than in theories of men, then it does not matter who or what initiated the process. Nothing from nothing still leaves nothing.

Scriptural Problems with This Theory

  1. The Bible states that sin and death entered the world through Adam.
    Genesis 2:17, Romans 5:12-21, and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 indicate that death came as the result of one man’s sin. That man is identified as Adam, the first man. According to the Bible, before Adam’s sin, there was no death. Genesis 1:31 clearly states that everything God created was very good. Theistic evolution teaches that the struggle of the survival of the fittest was a necessary component of man’s evolution, and that, as such, death occurred millions and billions of times before man ever arrived on the scene.

    If the life-and-death struggle of evolution were present on Earth before man had even evolved, then death did not come as the result of Adam’s sin. If the Bible is incorrect concerning how and when sin and death entered the world, why should anyone believe what it says about how sin and death can be remedied through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

  2. Jesus said that man was present at the beginning of creation.
    In Mark 10:6 Jesus said, “At the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” If theistic evolution is true, then man arrived only after millions of years of ongoing life-and-death struggle. John 1:1-3 clearly states that Jesus is God and the Creator of everything that exists, including humans. Because Jesus did not accommodate His language in speaking of creation, neither should we.

  3. A perfect God would not create imperfectly.
    Why would a God who is perfect and who does everything perfectly use millions of years of evolutionary death, disease, and destruction as the means to complete His work? Christians who promote theistic evolution reject the plain literal meaning of the first 11 chapters of Genesis. If the book of Genesis is to be interpreted as allegory or myth, how are other books of the Bible to be understood? If Genesis does not mean what it says, how do we explain the fact that Jesus quoted from it repeatedly, presuming and affirming both its authenticity and reliability? Was Jesus speaking in allegory or myth when He predicted His own death and resurrection? If the theistic evolutionist chooses to reject Genesis 1–11 as allegory or myth, what can be said to someone else who chooses to reject John 1–11 or Romans 1–11 as allegory or myth?

“Creation, Theories of” in Hindson, Ed and Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity. (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2008). np.

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If you read the entire bible, you find that Death has three separate meanings:

  1. Death is another name for Satan, the god of the dead. (Mark 12:27)
  2. Death is the spiritual separation from God. (“let the dead bury their dead” Matt 8:22)
  3. Death is the end of physical life. A purely natural process.

Adam and Eve fell from God’s Grace and therefore died (2).

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Good post. reminds me a bit of Grudem’s objections as well.Grudem's 12 Objections to Theistic Evolution

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That’s the deistic view that EC rejects.

Evolution, like all scientific theories, makes no reference to supernatural explanations or activity. Neither does plate tectonics or the theory of relativity. That is different than being “atheistic at its core.” There is nothing about evolution, plate tectonics, or the theory of relativity that requires belief that there is no God. EC is not proposing a different scientific theory that works in some way that includes God in the scientific mechanism. That’s ID. EC makes theological statements about how the scientific theory aligns with Christian doctrines.

EC accepts that the scientific evidence of physical death before humanity is accurate. The Bible teaches about spiritual death and humanity’s separation from relationship with God through the Adam and Eve narrative, things science cannot address.

Gag me. I really am amazed that educated people think this is compelling. Did they get all their “theological objections” from Creationist websites instead of from actual theologians? There are theological problems, these just aren’t them.

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It sounds like they are all quoting like a parrot from AiG and the bunch, that was the main punching line they use and I also used along when I use to do YEC apologetics before my return to EC. In my opinion the whole “If Genesis 1 isn’t true, then non of the Bible is” is a weak strawmen that needs to be burned up at this point.

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I had to stop laughing before I could reply to this lol XD. According to the account of Genesis 1 man didn’t come until the 6th day, now if Jesus was referring to the creation account of Genesis 2 then that would make more sense but YEC denies that there are two different creation accounts.

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Liam, you are just trying to raise my blood pressure aren’t you? I could feel it rising as I started counting misrepresentations and false statements and ran out of fingers.

Why I let it bother me is a mystery. And why I go out of the way to find such things on Facebook and such must be a masochistic streak. At least I have lots of company!

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As fun as all this “pile-up” (figurative language, that!) would be to join in with, I work and worship with people who see all this in dead-serious terms. They don’t hang out here where all this is so humorously obvious. They hang out at other web sites where there is the same kind of mockery, to be sure, but it runs entirely in another direction. So we’re happily climbing this mountain here, and there they are all the way over there climbing theirs! How lonely and nearly forsaken the vast wasteland in between us that sees only the rogue wanderers (like Gbob) who stubbornly refuse to come in and see the light (on either mountain).

Not saying that one of those parties isn’t vastly more correct than the other. I certainly have my opinion … and here I am, after all. And there are good reasons why the gulf in between isn’t highly populated too. All the same, how are those distant kin encouraged to try that long and potentially lonely-feeling trek?

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Keep in mind too that this was written in 2008! Francis Collins had just released Language of God (2007), BioLogos was a year away from being set up, and we’ve since had over a decade of excellent debate and resources on the topic…EC had hardly been articulated when this was written, which may explain a few things.

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No, Theistic Evolution says that God Is the Creator and Evolution is part of His creative process, but not the be all and end all. Theistic Evolution does not assume all the non theistic parts of TOE, that is the random and chaotic parts. Theistic means that God is in control. It does not say that God lit the blue touch paper and then retired immediately.

And from what I have seen here, there are several “flavours” of Theistic Evolution promoted, even on this forum alone let alone worldwide.

Richard

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Then, again, Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique came out in 2017 and had many of the same misrepresentations.

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I have often thought that Paul referred to death as being spiritual–though I know that it doesn’t really matter too much. However, in Romans 5:14, he alludes to death reigning over those from Adam to Moses, even though they didn’t have the law to break–and in that case, he’s apparently referring to physical death. Does that have bearing in this case–that his idea of death was physical at Adam’s sin, and not spiritual–and how does that affect Grudem’s and Caner/Hindson’s impression? I do think that I may be applying the passage incorrectly; but it was taught this way at my (very nice) YEC church, so I’m trying to figure this out better.

I’m EC by the way, so do of course believe physical death have been present since the beginning. Thanks.

Great reading everyone’s thoughts on the excerpt. I must say it was very hard to post it without any personal comments to sway responses.

I think there are a couple of things about the entry that cause me a great deal of sadness. Several, such as misrepresentations, straw men arguments, and general logic errors have been covered by many already.

However, I think what causes me the most sadness is the apparent unwillingness to either A. engage with primary sources, B. do so in an honest way, or C. to fact check what they are writing. Even in 2008, it would not have been hard to contact some well known TE bloggers and ask ‘Hey, we’re writing a book where we engage with some of your views, would you say we’ve done so accurately?’ Crumbs, if their publisher was half decent they probably could have hooked them up with some bona fide TE writers to talk to. I mean, if evolutionary theories of creation are so pitifully unbiblical what do they have to lose in providing an accurate representation of the facts?

As much as I might agree with your warning @Mervin_Bitikofer, I do think that this kind of writing doesn’t help either. By perpetuating incorrect information it reinforces the divide and makes open dialogue harder. This is because we inevitably end up first having to deconstruct misinformation and unfounded accusations before we can begin to articulate what we actually believe. What do you think?

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I am sorry, but Romans 5 is a complete argument that many try and break down and in doing so lose the whole point. Paul compares Jesus to Adam but in a Global like for like manner. He uses the imagery of Death and consequences freely rather than holding to one meaning throughout. What matters is the meaning of Christ’s death, rather than the meaning of Adam’s sin.
Paul would turn in his grave if he realised how his carefully worded argument has been misconstrued and perverted.

Richard

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Yes, that’s true…!

Hi Liam,
What did you think of the article I posted in the Adam and Eve thread?

@LM77,

I’m sure I should have spent more time trying to assess how much of the author’s words you agree with. But I thought I could save a little time for other readers if I started with the problem in the very first paragraph:

The phrase Theistic Evolution is NOT an oxymoron. I suppose we can set up a definitional framework where it becomes one, but this simple PEW Survey exhibit, below, goes right to the heart of the matter!:

[Be sure to click on image to maximize font size!]

When the survey question is combined to include God’s possible use of Evolution for His work of creation, we find there is an actual majority of the Christian population who favor that concept.

The bible mentions rain and storms. Do we insist that these weather conditions can only be produced by a supernatural miraculous effort? Or do we admit that God could make it rain by either means?

Since when do we attempt to make Evaporation and Condensation beyond the tool set of God? In the same manner, it should be far from shocking that God would actually manipulate mutations and changes in ecological niches in order to produce constantly evolving populations of plants and animals - - all according to God’s mysterious plans.

It would actually help explains to all of us who see the Cosmos and Earth as extremely old, why did God wait so long before bringing the Messiah to the universe!

Conclusion: When posed as a single question in a Pew survey, 48% of the average US adult agrees that humans “Evolved: guided by God or higher power” (vs. 18% who think humans were created in their present form)! This is truth speaking to adults right to their hearts.

@christy, glad to be back for a visit!

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makes no sense

Theistic Evolution posits that God in heaven has had a “hand” in evolution on earth, “guiding” the same to promote the emergence of the human species

If so, then humans are not the product of purely 100% terrestrial natural selection, but are the result of some sort of “cultivation” and “artificial” selection process

The most obvious comparison would be to domesticated animals, in whose cultivated artificially selected evolution, humans have played a direct & prominent role

The evidence for cultivation & artificial selection is a suite of traits that would not arise naturally because they only serve some “ulterior” human purpose – like greyhounds that can run really fast… for human race tracks

If TE is true, humans possess a suite of traits which would not plausibly arise naturally, and only did so because God in heaven “reached into” our terrestrial evolution, promoting some (like Abraham) and demoting others (like Nimrod) so as to gradually “steer” human evolution towards some Divine Heavenly Purpose

The general perception that Godlike Heavenly Powers promote those who most sincerely follow them, and demote those who do not honor Them, is completely 100% consistent with TE

It appears that EC conveniently believes death is limited to spiritual separation from God when speaking of Genesis and Adam and Eve. EC ignores Romans 5:12, Romans 8:2, 1 Corinthians 15:20-26 and then punts such arguments off to a creationist website?

It’s not a “convenient” belief. You can have a more nuanced view than “all death is a result of sin” from studying Scripture:

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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