Why "evolutionary creationism" instead of "theistic evolution"?

(Brady Hornstra) #1

I saw in the article that Christians who accept evolution prefer to be called “evolutionary creationists” rather than “theistic evolutionists.” I don’t understand why Christians who accept evolution are insistent upon being called “evolutionary creationists.” Can someone explain why that is?

A Former Young-Earth Creationist Responds to “Is Genesis History?”
(Lynn Munter) #2

In each pair of words, one is an adjective and one is a noun. Nouns are often assigned greater importance or priority; it’s a distinction based on which word is considered more important.

As far as I understand it, anyway!


“Theistic evolutionist” treats God as a “detail” modifying the more important concept of being one who affirms evolution. “Evolutionary creationist” focuses on the idea that the Creator created everything—and within that Biblical creationism we happen to also affirm the evolutionary processes which God created.

I’m not just yet another evolutionist who happens to also believe in God. I am a worshiper of the Creator, the one who created everything, including the wonders of an ever-evolving biosphere.

(James McKay) #4

It’s because Literal Six Day Young Earth Creationists use words such as “evolutionist” or “uniformitarian” as ad-hominem name-calling to try and portray evolution (or even merely an ancient earth) as being fundamentally atheistic, and Christians who accept it as “compromisers.”

The purpose of the term “evolutionary creationist” is to push back on that, to establish a clear separation between evolution and atheism, to make it clear that we firmly reject atheism, and to acknowledge God as Creator first and foremost, no matter how much evolution He used to do it.

(Christy Hemphill) #5

Some people object to adding “theistic” to evolution if they believe there is nothing scientifically detectable about God’s action in evolution. They find it as absurd as theistic meteorology. Theistic evolution is essentially the same as plain old evolution evolution when it comes to the science, and evolution is a scientific model.

When we talk about evolutionary creationism, the “creationism” situates what we are talking about in the realm of theology and faith. In the discussion of evolutionary creationism, the scientific model of evolution is incorporated into a theological belief system, but it is the theology of it all that is of primary focus, as opposed to simply tacking on a faith claim to a scientific model.

(Brady Hornstra) #6

Thanks to everyone for helping me understand why the term “evolutionary creationism” is preferred, rather than “theistic evolution”.


Not all of Christians who accept evolution prefer to be called “evolutionary creationists.” I’m fine with being called a “Christian who accepts evolution.” Ditto with gravity, etc.

(Phil) #8

It is sort of silly the games that are played. Some like to refer to “theory of evolution” as TOE, sort to associate it with a little appendage on the foot. Does not really bother me, but is sort of amusing. In reflecting, YEC has sort of negative sound too, so I am sure we are not totally innocent.

(Brady Hornstra) #9

Does that mean that Christians who accept evolution and drink coffee prefer not to be called a “theistic evolutionist”?


I’ve been called a deist here (since I don’t accept Intelligent Design). I’ve been told that I’m leading the faithful astray. And so on. So if “theistic evolutionist” is what you wish to call me, that works.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #11

What does the coffee have to do with it? And are we talking decaf or regular? Fair trade coffee? And if you don’t get both those answers right, I’m afraid we may need to part company. (Actually I’m not a coffee drinker at all – which I understand makes me part of a very small cult.)


Indeed. The cult of the Gastric Ulcer

(Stephen Matheson) #13

From an overly simple yet logical viewpoint, the only reason this conversation exists at all is that large sectors of Christendom have gotten themselves convinced that evolution is of supreme relevance to their religious belief. Anti-evolution is a mini-cottage industry. And more notably, evolution is a word and topic that constitutes one of just a handful of cultural touchstones for conservative Christians. So from this viewpoint, that explains the conversation, and it explains why people who know better are nevertheless trying to decide on a moniker for a state of mind that is best described as “I’m a Christian who accepts basic scientific theories.” From this viewpoint, “theistic evolution” is silly, the same way “theistic geology” and “theistic meteorology” are silly. An evolutionary creationist is probably also a believer in modern theories of developmental biology, but only a loon would call themselves an embryological creationist.

But I think that’s probably too simple. The reason why one might need a label for “Christian who accepts basic scientific theories” is because there is a label for people who don’t: creationist. That label is frequently pushed as essentially equivalent to “orthodox” or “faithful” or whatever. So in a conversation among Christians, in particular any conversation that includes evangelicals or other conservatives, it probably seems necessary to have a label that indicates support for science. Tragic, even disturbing? Yep. But probably necessary.

(Brady Hornstra) #14

I was continuing the puns based on abbreviations. “Theistic evolution” is abbreviated as TE.

(Phil) #15

The strength of your coffee was found by a recent article to be directly proportional to the strength of your faith. ( but consider the source, I think it was the Babylon Bee)

(Phil) #16

Alas, in that case our British brothers and sisters may wish to be considered TE sippers. Speaking of Texas (sort of an inside college joke) , I am excited about hearing N. T. Wright at the upcoming conference, along with a host of other great speakers. Should be fun.

(Larry Bunce) #17

It took me a while to find the explanation of TE vs. coffee. Would that make a theistic evolutionist who consumes alcohol a TE drinker?

(Stephen Matheson) #18

I guess a theistic evolutionist who brooks no opposition is a TE totaler.

(Larry Bunce) #19

I would think a TE totaler would be someone who takes a census of TE adherents.