Theistic Evolution is a view held by Christians who believe that Darwinian evolution is true. Some theistic evolutionists believe that God guided the evolutionary process and that Adam and Eve were animals “ensouled” by God, but a vocal group of theistic evolutionists today takes a more radical view, insisting that the conservative evangelical interpretation of Genesis as history needs to change. These theistic evolutionists insist that God did not even guide the evolutionary process, that the Fall never occurred, and that Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden are only myth or metaphors. Proponents of this view, who sometimes call themselves “evolutionary creationists,” often appear on the BioLogos Foundation website and were sympathetically presented in a recent Christianity Today cover story.
The key issue here is this: “Is Darwinism true?” Darwinian evolution appears to occur at a trivial level, like drug resistance in bacteria, but Darwinism is certainly not true on larger scales or helpful in answering crucial questions such as how the major animal groups originated during the Cambrian Explosion (a period of sudden diversification in the fossil record) or where humans came from. (Do we really share a common ancestor with chimps?)
For starters, Darwinists do not have a clue how life first got started “by itself,” as was well documented in the recent movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The genetic code, “the language of life,” turns out not to be a “frozen accident” in DNA, as Francis Crick proposed, but is designed to minimize the mutational change in proteins. We recently discovered that the male Y chromosome between humans and chimps is only about 50 percent similar, and that overall, human and chimp DNA are only about 75 percent similar, not the 98 percent value which we have heard for decades. An explosion of biochemical data over the past 10 years showing the unimaginable complexity of living things has overwhelmed the Darwinian story that somehow everything gradually mutated and was somehow selected, so that here we are. For example, Darwinists did not predict that “junk DNA” and “pseudogenes” — long held to be useless leftovers from the evolutionary process — play critical roles in cell regulation, nor did they anticipate the sheer genius of alternative gene splicing.
A second issue is whether this new, radical theistic evolution view makes theological sense. If God did not even guide the evolutionary process, how is God sovereign over his creation? Did God intentionally make us in his image? If humans gradually evolved, and our sinfulness is merely the inherent selfishness resulting from a Darwinian process, then human history is progress, not corruption, so shouldn’t humans ultimately be good enough not to need a savior? Given Psalm 19:1–3 and Romans 1:20, why must we assume that God’s actions and attributes are absolutely undetectable by science? And if we think that Adam and Eve are mythical, who else is? Noah? Abraham? Moses? Samuel? David? Such skepticism towards the historical accounts in early Genesis (and elsewhere by extension of the same methods) is typical of liberal theology, which historically evangelicals opposed. In fact, many of these same issues began poisoning mainline seminaries a century ago, and led to Biola’s founding.
This is not the time to be deciding what beliefs we should give up in order to help prop up a failing vision in science. In fact, I find it striking that just when the biochemical evidence for Creation is becoming dramatically clearer, some Christians who accept Darwinism as true feel that they must attack Creationists and mythologize important Scriptures. A sober look at what Darwin cannot explain should give them pause and perhaps more respect for their brothers and sisters who have solid scientific and biblical reasons for questioning this prevailing naturalistic paradigm.
Looking for more resources on intelligent design and theistic evolution? John Bloom recommends the following books and DVDs for further study and reading, several of which contain detailed information on the studies referenced in this column.
God & Evolution (book and DVD), Jay W. Richards
Science’s Blind Spot, Cornelius G. Hunter
Signature in the Cell, Stephen C. Meyer.
Who was Adam? Fazale Rana (Old Earth Creationist)
Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of Human Fossils, Marvin L. Lubenow, (Young Earth Creationist)
Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? C. John Collins
Darwin’s Dilemma (DVD), Illustra Media
Privileged Planet (book and DVD), Illustra Media
John A. Bloom is a professor of physics and academic director of the M.A. in science and religion program at Biola University. He holds a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Ancient Near Eastern studies from the Annenberg Research Institute.