Epistemology and Theistic Evolution

I read a post earlier today where TE’s do not use science to answer the questions of why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going.

  1. What answers do Theistic Evolutionists provide to Epistemological questions surrounding our existence?
  2. What reference do TE’s use to answer the questions posed by Epistemology?
    In Christian terms, if TE’s claim Genesis Chapters 1-3 are not literal, outside of Genesis Ch1-3, what evidence then do TE’s provide in support of their answers to Expistemological questions about our existence?

I have a reference that im hoping provides an insight into how non christians view this topic…and i would be interested in seeing whether or not theistic evolutionists would agree with this publication?

That’s a fine Christian view. The book that is.

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I beg to differ from Klax’s opinion above - just based on the review that you linked above. In the last paragraphs, the reviewer writes that Stamos’ view of evolutionary psychology as a competition with religious epistemology is the weakest part of the work. And while I can’t speak to the rest of Stamos’ book, I would have to agree with the reviewer about that. Stamos apparently (according to linked reviewer) sees evolutionary psychology as being in competition with religion. On the small stage of modern reactionaries who make it so, it may be exactly that of course, but not for any of the rest of us. So while that probably plays well with you, Adam, people here have already idenified the intellectual poverty of that view - the complete inability of any of its adherents to wrest that conviction away from its modern ideological origins / mooring, and into the world of actual scripture or evidence.

Stamos also seems to repeat the misunderstanding (that you and @KevinRuiters) continue to repeat, that evolution has much to say about abiotic origins - something which evolution has nothing to say, other than being coupled with that as a necessary sibling science. And in any case, that distinction fails to separate it from any form of creationism, since all creationists by necessity also believe in abiotic origins. The only way you don’t is if you believe biotic life has eternally existed, or that God created life - not from existing matter - but “ex-nihilo” somehow out of some mysterious entirely different kind of matter. I’m pretty sure you don’t go there.

As to the rest of Stamos’ work - perhaps it has useful insights; I don’t know. But if you’re curious to learn more about evolutionary psychology, you might be intrigued by Jonathan Haidt who writes quite compellingly about morality from an evolutionary perspective in his book “Righteous Mind”. And have you ever listened to Jordan Peterson? He’s quite the lightning rod right now for his ability to rattle the left (and maybe that might endear you to him somewhat?). But as somebody who stops short of self-identifying as a Christian believer, he nonetheless has rooted much of his research and subsequent online lectures deeply into Scriptural narrative and evolutionary psychology.

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Och Mervin, I meant that the book could have been written by a Christian, from the review. Like you I see no conflict whatsoever with the fact of completely evolved psychology and the proposition that the ground of being is God as revealed through Christ.

Haidt is first class, despite wanting to believe in group selection, his only evolutionary flaw.

All different ones because Theistic Evolutionist is just a label for the overlapping space in a Venn diagram with the Circles “believes in a Creator” and “accepts evolution.” You might find Muslims and Jews and Deists in that space and their answers to metaphysical questions might be very different from a Christian. And Christianity itself is a pretty big tent when it comes to preference for philosophical answers. You’d be better off just asking people personal questions and letting them speak for themselves instead of trying to generalize about what all “TEs” think and believe.

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Which post is that?

I get a lot of those from the Bible.

Genesis 1-3 is perfectly fine. You certainly don’t need to read it “literally” which to be fair, nobody truly does. A literal ocean above the solid firmament which many Christians argued for over the past few thousand years? No, says a relatively recent AiG article, that heavenly ocean is actually a giant ice wall 13 billion light-years away. Martin Luther would have had some choice words for them, not believe the text literally (see paragraph beginning “but what is most remarkable is that Moses clearly makes three divisions”… on p. 26)! The theological messages of Genesis 1-3 aren’t really changed if you don’t read it like a modern young-earth creationist (who again, don’t really read those texts literally).

I think it’s fine for people to propose evolutionary origins of anything really… because the mechanisms which produce them I believe were made by God. I don’t see the major difference between:

  • God supernaturally made something
  • God supernaturally made physical laws that he continues to uphold which led to the formation of something

Either way, all things have their source in God, but the latter seems to be a source of contention for some Christians when it comes to certain topics.


As a evolutionary creationist this is my belief.

Why am I here? My parents conceived me and I was born and I’ve not yet died.
Why are we here collectively as human beings? Abiogenesis, natural selection, luck and free will.

What is my purpose? Whatever I want it to be. As a Christian I choose to mostly line up purposes through expectations, legal requirements and choices that don’t undermine my values which includes the values taught by Christ. So one of the biblical values I’m really guided by is stewardship. I don’t fund orphans, or go to the border and provide water and food. I don’t go out of my way to track down homeless people and taken them out to eat. Most of my free time and charity work , and volunteering goes into environmentalism. I’m not opposed to none of those other things and sometimes I am involved in something directly or indirectly linked to them. I use to spend a good portion of my Christmas Day at soup kitchens. I use to spend 25% of my December paychecks buying thick wooly socks , gloves and beanie caps for homeless people. Now on Christmas Day I’m usually hiking with others and we spend a few hours removing invasive species from the local nature preserves. I spend extra money in December on buying hand tools and chemicals and brushes to run them into wounds of invasive plants so that I can hand it out to the various volunteers I convince to help. I don’t think my focus is any less important than others. I think environmentalists are just as important as doctors. They are simply focused on different issues.

As for where we are going I have no idea. We will go as far as technology allows us to go. Maybe our species will have diverged into a thousand different species in the next billion years. Maybe every single primate species will be extinct in a million years. No idea. How does the after life play into all of this? No idea. I don’t even care. I’ll still be a Christian even if when I die it means I’m dead forever and resurrection is just symbolism of living in through the body of Christ as we make disciples. I’ll still be a Christian if I believe in a purely spiritual resurrection or a bodily resurrection. If the new life offered by Christ is a happier, softer more loving heart or if it’s literal eternal life as a conscious being of some sort in this dimension or another I’ll still be a Christian and grateful.

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he reference I provided was not pre determined…I simply googled and posted the first publication that appeared to even address the topic…so I had no idea what it contained.
It now appears to me that epistemology in evolutionary science is not commonly addressed here…and from most of the answers thus far I can see why…no one actually really deeply thinks about it. I had expected to read about sin, salvation…but crickets on these two vital components of Christianity. Rather surprising.

I’ve read and listened to the sources I’ve mentioned to you on this very topic, and will be happy to discuss it with you. Epistemology - evolutionary psychology - how we know things, and how that all resides in a Christian faith context; that’s practically what we ‘major’ in around here. What are you curious about?

[And we’ve discussed them repeatedly around here too - but probably in threads that were active before you came on the scene. I could probably find and link back to some if you’re interested.]

If they have been discussed before, I would have expected a more generic response founded on Christian principles.
I am really surprised that the issues of sin and salvation are completely absent. For Christians these are vital to our existence. It appears from the answers above that TE’s spend so much time supporting evolution that they don’t actually deeply seek to understand the biblical model of sin and salvation.
If this turns out to be largely the case, I would immediately argue TE’s are armchair Christians. The bias toward evolution would then be obviously very worrying as God clearly takes second place to it
I really had expected to see some decent answers here…I expected too much.

Edit…I should add the following thought…

One of the problems I see in Catholicism is that its members appear to believe that attending mass once a year or on special occasions satisfies “the requirements”. I do not think that is the right way.

Well, ya sure picked a doozy of a reference to start with, IMO.

I’d have thought “the problem of Catholicism’s non-exclusive reliance on Sola Scriptura” would kave been more troubling to you. They ascribe as much value to tradition and papal authority as they do, if not more than, to the authority of the Scriptures, i.e. including the Apocrypha.

I don’t care much for Catholicism, however part of the problem I think is that members appear to think they are saved because they call themselves Catholic.
Surely those here on this forum recognise the futility of the Catholic habit and delve more deeply into the questions that epistemology asks. I do not see that it could be reconciled that Gen chapters 1-3 can be used. Therefore, what reference is used by TE’s to answer the questions?

Is it simply that all TE’s universally only claim that God created the science and let things be?
If this is true, what is his purpose in the following:

  1. Creating the science
  2. Jesus his son dying on the cross
  3. The biblical prophecy concerning the second coming
  4. The new heavens and the new earth at some point not long after the second coming?

I got a statement from another topic about Mormonism…is that really where TE’s are aligning themselves without even realising it?

You got like, five responses, and are surprised because none of them contained a couple of specific key words that you were anticipating?

How do you know from a handful of posts what “TEs” deeply seek to understand? One of your responses came from a missionary and two from teachers at Christian schools – I can guarantee you they’ve spent a fair amount of time reading, thinking, and also writing about plenty of biblical doctrines and have no need to defend the legitimacy of their understanding to you.

I’m glad you’re here, Adam, and I hope you’ll keep in mind that most people here do not see “supporting evolution” and understanding biblical doctrine as some kind of zero sum game where only one can be legitimate, and therefore probably don’t appreciate being written off as “armchair Christians” because they didn’t answer your question the right way. As Merv mentioned above, we discuss all kinds of things here – I hope you’ll take the time to genuinely ask questions and listen to what people are saying rather than making assumptions about others’ faith or trying to sort them into predetermined boxes.


Personally, I suspect they would … if any of them were to arm-wrestle a Catholic here. But I’d be surprised if there are any Catholics here–someone can correct me if I;m wrong.
In any case, I doubt that the apples here will holler if you want to throw oranges in the trash, but the apples will holler if you say apples are oranges, but just a different color and want to throw them in the trash too.

All the answers of both Christianity and science. They do not ignore either what God has said in scripture nor what God shows us in the universe He has created.

We are free to use any reference which we find useful and don’t have to restrict ourselves to things which agree with some made up fantasy world in place of the reality we all live in.

There is evidence from the Bible, which doesn’t treat the things in Genesis chapters 1-3 as literal. And there is the evidence of everything God shows us in the universe He has created.

Science certainly offers insight into epistemology, consciousness, sex,… The scientific theory of evolution gives us insight in the origin of the species. Evolution is NOT a theory of everything.


This site is a pro-science place. We aren’t trying to take the place of church. So in a place that says it will focus on science with a special focus on evolutionary biology, you are surprised that we spend a lot of time talking about … evolutionary biology?

All manner of subjects of more explicitly religious nature come up too. That this forum isn’t just repeating what is in Sunday school every week is a feature, not a bug. This is where people can come and ask the questions they likely don’t feel welcomed to ask in Sunday school. Or if they do - they too often only get a YEC talking-point answer instead of a robust conversation that actually engages with scriptures and reality. We are trying to fill a needed gap here, not duplicate the work of being a church community or gospel missionary outreach. (Though - make no mistake - we believers are interested in and support all those things, and even try to do it here to the extent that online communities can at least partly be as such to each other.)


Do you know what the word epistemology means? It is the study of knowing and knowledge and how one establishes things like certainty and belief. It’s not a synonym for Christian doctrines or “things vital to our existence,” so if you ask about epistemology, why would you be surprised people are talking about epistemology and not about about sin and salvation?


Nope, that is Deism. Christian TEs believe in the Christian God, who is intimately involved with his creation, united himself with it in the Incarnation, defeated sin and death, and rules the world as a resurrected human, Jesus the Christ.

There are obviously many metaphors and models that help Christians understand the atonement and different streams of Christianity prefer some over others. All streams of Christianity believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection atone for sin and make possible a right relationship with God.

All streams of orthodox Christianity affirm some basic creed that claims Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

What is God’s purpose in creating the New Creation? I would say completing the work he began at Creation and reconciling all things to himself under the just, righteous, and peaceful rule of his Son, Jesus.

Why would you say something like this?

Just because most people are some flavor of Protestants doesn’t mean we all reject the brotherhood and sisterhood of Roman Catholics in the Christian faith. Or Orthodox or Pentecostals. There are some Catholics and Orthodox around, don’t lump entire Christian faith traditions together under some pejorative label, please.


With all due respect, a little walk down memory lane may help you refresh your memory:

  • Adam said, among other things,
  • Responding specifically and only to what I quoted from Adam’s post, I wrote:

Your response neither corrects nor amends anything in my post in any clear and unquestionable manner. Ergo, chastising me for something I didn’t do seems ungracious to me. If you insist that I offended you or violated this forum’s rules, I call for a translator, because given our mutual inability to understand each other, I think you and I need one.

If you want to object to my anti-ecumenical bias, knock yourself out. I am certainly–and cautiously–biased. I confess.

“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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