Is evolution a ‘salvation issue’? The Bible is clear, despite YECs’ attempts to muddy its message

Which does the Bible say is more important for the Christian to believe in: this, or the literal interpretation of Genesis? Which does the Bible say is more important for the Christian to believe in: this, or the literal interpretation of Genesis?

Spend enough time in evangelical culture, and you will hear a conversation about “salvation issues.” The term — which may be unfamiliar to those of who you are not fluent in Christianese — refers to the tenets that are generally understood as necessary for a person to accept in order to “be saved” (i.e., find forgiveness, redemption and eternal life in Christ), according to the Bible and Christian theology (the study of salvation, specifically, is called soteriology). The beliefs commonly held up as “salvation issues” might also be thought of as the “non-negotiable” tenets of biblical Christianity.

Not surprisingly, what does or doesn’t count as a “salvation issue” is also a popular topic of discussion for young-earth creationism proponents like Ken Ham, of Answers in Genesis, and Jason Lisle, of the Institute for Creation Research. Of course, they both believe that the denial of evolution and rejection of an ancient earth are of the utmost importance for all Christians — and it is in the best interests of the continued longevity of their respective organizations that they get as many people as possible to agree with this perspective.

However, since such a view is utterly and demonstrably unbiblical (as will be illustrated below) they have to be careful in how they present their arguments. So, Ham, for example, must pretend like he doesn’t think one’s opinion of evolution is more important than one’s opinion of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In a blog post earlier this year discussing the importance of a historical Adam and Eve, he writes, “Now, I want to make very clear that belief in a historical Adam and Eve is not a salvation issue per se, but it is a biblical authority issue and a gospel issue.”

And Lisle is just as clever. He told a reporter last month that the big problem with “evilution” is not that it causes them to lose their salvation, merely that it puts them on a “slippery slope.”

“You’ve opened a very dangerous door,” he was quoted as saying. “Basically, you’ve decided to say that ‘I’m going to make the secular scientist my ultimate standard by which I interpret the scriptures’ and if you are consistent with that, and most people are not, thank goodness, but if you are well, hey, most scientists don’t believe the resurrection of the dead is possible.”

“Slippery” slopes. “Dangerous” doors. “Authority issue.” “Gospel issue.” These guys have to adopt such vague and shadowy terms because, the fact is that the Bible is blessedly clear about God’s list of “non-negotiables” when it comes to the message of salvation:

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” — Acts 16:30-31

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. — Romans 10:9

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. — 1 Corinthians 15:1-5

In other words, the core message of Christianity is this: Jesus, the Lord of all, died for your sins and rose again. Through believing in him — placing your faith and trust in his sacrifice — your salvation is assured. A powerful message, yet also a gloriously simple one — which is in no way dependent on or otherwise affected by your particular take on the biological origins of the human race.

You’ll also notice that nowhere in the verses above — or, indeed, anywhere else in scripture — is one’s salvation tied to his or her view of evolution, common descent, billions of years of earth history or any of the propositions that keep Ken Ham awake at night.

Critics may say, “Well, of course, evolution isn’t mentioned in the Bible, because they didn’t know what it was back then.” Right you are, imaginary person. I’m sure that if Darwin had shared First Century Palestine with Jesus Christ, the gospels would have read just like the polemics that come out of AiG and the like.

Except that, the Bible also never says a certain view of the book of Genesis is required in order to be saved. They may not have had scientific theories of evolution back then, but they did have Genesis, and I don’t remember Jesus telling any of the illiterate people with whom he shared his life that they had to learn to read it before he would consider dying for them.

Indeed, Jesus’ only recorded mention of the book at all is the time he quoted from it in response to a question about divorce. That’s right: Not creation. Not human origins. And certainly not salvation. He was talking about divorce. He spent more time discussing local news items and Jewish sects long since extinct than he spent jawing about Genesis. So, if anything, it appears he didn’t think the book was very important at all, let alone a prerequisite for being saved.

Like so much of what proceeds from the blogs of the young-earth creationists, their “evolution’s-not-a-salvation-issue-but-it’s-still-super-important” arguments collapse under the even the slightest bit of reasoned scrutiny. If you were “consistent” with Lisle’s “secular scientist” crock, (“most people are not, thank goodness,” but if you were) it would lead you to reject not only evolution, but also the water cycle (Matt. 5:45Deut. 28:12, Job 38:22-30 and Psalm 147:8), heliocentric solar system (1 Chron. 16:30, Psalm 96:10, Josh. 10:12-13 and Ecc. 1:5) and spherical earth (see the dozens of passages that reference the “ends” or “corners” of the earth, like Rev. 7:1, or verses like Dan. 4:11 and Matt. 4:8, which describe tall objects visible anywhere on earth — only possible if the planet is flat).

And Ham shows that he doesn’t seem to understand the gospel at all, as he goes on to say, “When we deny the existence of Adam and Eve, then how do we explain the origin of sin and death in the world? And if we cannot explain how sin and death came into the world, or if we believe that it was always here, then what was the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection? Why was the atonement even necessary?”

Good question, K-Ham. Allow me to lay it out for you. Completely separate from the questions of who our first parents were and how sin entered the world, the atonement was and is necessary because you are dead in your sins, for which you alone are responsible. Scripture says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” I don’t need Jesus because of the sin my supposed ancestors committed thousands of years ago; I need Jesus because of the sin I myself committed this morning.

But it doesn’t matter that their arguments make no sense. It is emotion that they are appealing to. Like a dad telling his son, “We’re not mad; we’re just disappointed,” they sidestep any reasonable discussion of the issue at hand and, instead, invent terms designed to burden their good Christian readers with guilt and shame.

And, although I find reprehensible these and other attempts to muck up the most important message scripture has to share, I do see why Ham and Lisle feel motivated to do so. You see, not only are their groups financially dependent on their ability to convince backers that their mission is one of vital importance, they must justify their very existence, as it is becoming increasingly and painfully clear that the antagonism toward modern science that they promote is, at least, partially responsible for the mass exodus of young people from the evangelical church.

In the end, it is this unwavering devotion to young-earthism, a premise about which the Bible is — at best — ambiguous, that should give any faithful person strong reason for pause before lending them his or her support. If it is even possible that what the above study indicated (that the views of young-earthers are causing millennials to flee the church in droves), and if those like Ham and Lisle really believed the gospel is more important than people’s opinion of evolution and the proper interpretation of Genesis, you would think they would cheerfully give up their fight.

The fact that they have — if anything — intensified their efforts demonstrates pretty clearly where their hearts actually lie.

Tyler Francke

  • Michael Brooks

    Well stated, Tyler. I don’t disagree with your comments here, and I understand your focus here is concerning creationism, but the same could be said for a number of other issues that some Christians try to raise to the “almost non-negotiable” level. The prevalence of the “True Scotsman” mentality has been quite a turn off for me personally, on a number of cultural and political positions.

    • Hey, Michael! Thanks for your thoughts! In my experience, I would definitely agree that this same type of unreasoned and closed-minded devotion to an idea can be seen in reference to a lot of different things — not all of them related to creationism, and not all of them occurring solely within Christian or other religious circles. It is probably more an inherent part of human nature rather than something peculiar to fundamentalist sects. I’ve had my fair share of experience with the “no true Scotsman” mentality myself.

  • Leo O’Bannon

    Just discovered your site from a link put out by the Faraday Institute. You are a compromiser, sir! (Just kidding!) Calling someone a compromiser the way Ken Ham does is the 21st century way of calling someone a heretic. And I have felt the same way about AiG and ICR- that they are in too deep with their odd-ball brand of apologetics to turn back and they money is too good. Perhaps this is a bit harsh, but Ham loves to be greeted in the marketplaces and called “teacher.” Thoroughly enjoy your articles.

    • Hey, that’s cool! I like the Faraday Institute! And I agree with your assessment of K-Ham and his tactics. Thanks for reading!

    • Christian Schmemann

      I don’t know exactly what it is about Evangelical Protestantism (and its political arm called the Tea Party) and their disdain for any kind of compromise. I remember growing up in my Evangelical Church that the past frequently spoke of how small victories eventually lead to large victories and small compromises eventually lead to large defeats.

      Even as a kid, this never made sense especially on the compromise part, because it was never clear which compromising side would suffer the large defeat. Anyway, I can think of one example of a contradictory example, where a “small” victory actually led to a catastrophic defeat; this would the be Arian heresy of the 4th century (no relation to Hitler’s Aryan), which enjoyed a “small” victory of being the State religion in the Roman Empire for much of the 4th century, but were so extreme and heavy-handed and greedy that eventually the entire Roman population turned against the Arians, and they were eventually disowned by the Emperor as the State religion in favor of the Nicene Christianity of the Catholic/Orthodox Church.

      • Poosh

        Sorry to see that you think the Tea Party is a political arm of “Evangelical Protestantism” – in reality, yes there may be some of ‘that’, but it is perfectly filled with atheists and south-park conservatives, it’s quite a collection.

  • pauld

    ““You’ve opened a very dangerous door,” he was quoted as saying. “Basically, you’ve decided to say that ‘I’m going to make the secular scientist my ultimate standard by which I interpret the scriptures’ and if you are consistent with that, and most people are not, thank goodness, but if you are well, hey, most scientists don’t believe the resurrection of the dead is possible.”

    “Slippery” slopes. “Dangerous” doors. “Authority issue.” “Gospel issue.” These guys have to adopt such vague and shadowy terms because, the fact is that the Bible is blessedly clear about God’s list of “non-negotiables” when it comes to the message of salvation”

    A much larger problem then the slippery slope described above is that many people will not even consider the possibility of being a Christian if they believe it requires that they believe in young earth creationism. Moreover, many Christians will reject their faith unnecessarily if the become convinced that they must accept young earth creationism as part of what it means to be a Christian.

    • I totally agree with you. It is one of my biggest concerns — and one of the primary motivations for the existence of this website.

  • Stephen Hayes

    Your misprepresentation of Ken Ham’s position is disgraceful.

    • Oh, yeah? Interesting, since my “representation” comes directly out of things that he said and reasonable inferences based on what he and his organization do and how they do it.

  • Christian Schmemann

    I have a couple, somewhat disjointed thoughts about Jason Lisle and Ken Ham and their making acceptance of young earth creationism (YEC) an issue of biblical authority, and their veiled threats of eternal damnation for accepting theistic evolution. Before I start, I need to clarify that I grew up as an Evangelical that eventually found his way more or less to Orthodox Christianity.

    1. To claim that acceptance of theistic evolution entrusts interpretation of the Bible to secular scientists ultimately implies the Protestant doctrine of “sola scriptura” or “Bible alone.” If this doctrine were correct, then why does the Bible even states that God reveals Himself outside the direct revelation of the Bible? Read Romans 1:19-20 if you doubt me. The Protestant claims of sola scriptura (Bible alone) are also historically absurd. The Bible was assembled over the course of many centuries; the New Testament was promulgated in its final form shortly after the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea- under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of course. If the Bible was promulgated by the Church, then why do Lisle and Ham assert that the Bible could interpret itself? Would the Bible not need interpretation- by the Church?

    2. Ken Ham’s claims that YEC is theologically necessary because sin is passed down (almost genetically) from parents to child is a heresy, and Ken Ham is a heretic for daring to claim any such notion. There is no case to be made from the Bible that sin is passed down from generation to generation, or that one is held guilty of an ancestor’s sins. Evangelical Protestants like Ken Ham are so obsessed with sin as a hereditary debt (itself a pagan corruption in Western Christianity) that they completely miss (or sometimes refuse to see) that sin is really understood in the New Testament to be a tyranny that enslaves humanity and a spiritual disease that afflicts humanity.

    I will not say that all Protestantism is incompatible and irreconcilable with Evolution; I certainly think that liberal Protestants have honestly grappled with Evolution and the place of science generally in Evolution. Liberal Protestants have tried to be relaxed and flexible with Sola Scriptura (Bible alone), but at some point I do have to wonder how well Sola Scriptura can hold up. Evangelical Protestants recognize Evolution specifically (and Science generally) as a threat to Sola Scriptura, and I think that this is why they are fighting so hard and so irrationally against Evolution. To me, it seems that Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christianity are infinitely more well-suited to cope with modern science.

    • Hey Christian, thanks for your excellent thoughts. I agree that Eastern Orthodox and Catholic sects are generally far more inclined toward accepting, or at the very least, entertaining the idea of evolution. My theory of why evangelicals are so opposed to evolution has less to do with traditional theology and more to do with the religious right’s near obsession with morality. I think it’s more than a coincidence that the rise of the modern young-earth creationist movement coincided almost exactly with the “sexual revolution,” hippy movement and drug culture of the 1960s.

      • Christian Schmemann

        I can partly understand your thesis about tying Evolution to the hippie movement and drug culture of the 1960s and 1970s, given that Evolution has been used (abused?) by certain atheist scientists in an attempt to disprove Christianity. On another level, the hippie movement and drug culture of the 1960s and 1970s were also a revolutionary time. In many ways evolution is the opposite of revolution. And it doesn’t exactly make sense how attacking Evolution and Science generally would prop up one’s moral authority. Also, if Evangelical Protestants didn’t mandate literal interpretation of the Bible, then it would almost difficult to logically mandate that Genesis 1 be understood as teaching science and natural history to the extent that they do. This is why I maintain that much of young earth creationism is driven by the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura (Bible alone).

        One can find a few elements in Eastern Orthodoxy that are hostile to Evolution, but this hostility is driven by completely different motivations than what drives Protestant hostility to Evolution- and is for the most part a product of Soviet/Cold War history. You see, in many areas in Eastern Europe, the initial introduction that people received to to Evolution came under the form of Communist propaganda, which had a militantly anti-religious tone. Now days, most Orthodox Christians recognize that Evolution was abused by the Communists, and the few who still are hostile to Evolution are in their late 70s, 80s and even older. About 10 years ago, the Serbian Orthodox Church mercilessly crushed a Southern Baptist Convention led effort to impose the teaching of young earth creationism in Serbian public schools- and put so much pressure on the Serbian government that the then Education Minister had to resign.

        The status of Evolution in the Catholic Church has a fascinating history. There was an initial opposition, that was driven not by the theory itself, but more by Darwin’s use of Evolution to promote racist causes. Ironically, as evidence for Evolution started mounting, the scientific case for racism started crumbling, and by the 1950s, Pope Pius XII laid out conditions in which it is acceptable for Catholics to accept Evolution- one of which is believing that there were a first man and woman (reasonable enough). Later, Saint John Paul II publicly expressed his sentiments that Evolution is a generally correct scientific theory, and then Cardinal Ratzinger (later Benedict XVI) expressed similar sentiments- calling it more than a theory, and also explained how Evolution draws support from biology, psychology, anthropology and geology.

  • Eric

    I personally strive to walk on through the narrow gate, so if there is any part of God’s word that you don’t believe or have complete faith in, would that not show a lack of faith and therefore constitute itself as a “salvation issue” 2 Timothy 3:16, we must come to have an accurate knowledge of God (2 Peter 2-4)

    • No. A “salvation issue” is that which must be understood and believed to attain salvation. Coming to a “full knowledge of the truth” is a separate matter, which is why 2 Timothy 3:16 makes a distinction between the two.

  • There is no doctrine of Original Sin, that I know of, prior to the fifth century. Yea, there is biblical text that can support the idea of original sin, however, I would argue that it is speaking to our nature as humans. People always talk about the fact that the bible says “wages of sin is death” but never stop to think what it means by death. If it was a physical death, then there should still be Christians walking around today who died years ago, people like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dietrich Bonhoffer, and the apostles, should be walking around hanging out at StarBucks or Gamestop or the bowling alley or whatever. The reason being that if the price for sin is physical death, and if Jesus paid that price on the cross, then it follows that anyone who accepts him should never die as it says in John 3:16. However, if the actual price for sin is SPIRITUAL death, then death in and of itself is just a natural process of the universe’s self-regulation designed by God as part of nature.

    And I don’t distinctly remember death being part of the curse on Adam and Eve when they ate of the tree. Hang on a second. Hmm… Childbearing pains, desire for husband… hmm, no, nothing there… Painful toil, thorns and thistles, sweat… until you return to the ground… Hey, look at that. Wait, hang on a second:

    Cursed is the ground, only through painful toil will you EAT FROM IT, IT WILL PRODUCE thorns and thistles, UNTIL you return to the ground for dust you are and to dust you shall return.

    Is it just me, or is that until under appreciated? The bible then later says “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

    So… I may be reading this incorrectly, but it sounds like the curse of sin depicted in Genesis 1 has to do with suffering here on earth until we die. Physical death is mentioned in it, however not in context as part of the curse, but in context as the end of that suffering. Then there is the tree of life from which Adam and Eve were separated which has no mention of returning to dust, could it be that that tree represents the source of our spiritual life? That is the only point that the bible EVER mentions Adam and Eve having eternal life, and oddly enough it is separated from the part speaking about their physical deaths.

    • Hey Alex, this is all correct. And I have long said the consequence of sin is spiritual death, for the reasons you list here and many others, drawn from the same text and throughout scripture. As far as “death” being the punishment for Adam and Eve’s sin, this is drawn more from Gen. 2:17 (“but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”), not the curse of Gen. 3. However, even this implies spiritual death — a separation from God — because neither Adam nor Eve died physically the day they ate of the fruit. However, they certainly were immediately separated from God.

      • You could even argue that their spiritual separation from God is referenced when God called out to Adam, asking where he is. The idea that God wouldn’t know where Adam was physically is absurd given the context of God in the rest of the Bible, however if their spiritual connection was broken once Adam ate the fruit, then God calling out to him would be a reference to that disconnect.

        • Yep, that’s exactly how I interpret that otherwise very strange remark.

  • Lucas Hattenberger

    So Jesus referenced Adam and Eve’s marriage from Genesis 2 in Mark 10. In fact, I believe he references Adam in all the gospels. Does this not seem to indicate that Jesus believed in a literal Adam and Eve?

    Also, you say that there is a need for atonement because of our own sin. That’s true. But this is a half truth. There is also a need for atonement because of Adam’s sin, which Paul references in Romans 5. Through one man, sin entered the world. In other words, we are born into sin because of Adam’s sin. Romans 5 pictures Adam contrasted with Jesus, as two covenant heads. One head, Adam, sinned and spiraled humanity into sin. The other, Jesus, brought humanity back through his atonement. Sin is a condition we inherit from Adam, and a condition from which we can be redeemed by Jesus

    How do you reconcile these passages without a belief in a literal Adam?

    I understand Ham’s insistence, that although is may not be a salvation issue, according Romans 5, it is clearly a gospel issue, which must be addressed

    • Hey Lucas, thanks for the questions. I’ll do my best to answer and look forward to discussing this with you.

      So Jesus referenced Adam and Eve’s marriage from Genesis 2 in Mark 10.

      If you read the full context of the passage, Jesus is obviously making a theological argument here, in answer to a question about divorce. Not creation, not human origins, but divorce. He’s describing God’s intentions for marriage, based on the theological teachings of Genesis 1 and 2. Even if you interpret Genesis 1 and 2 as literal history, as well as theology, this vague allusion is pretty tenuous ground to set forth an argument about how Jesus viewed Adam. The bottom line is we don’t know, because he never said, probably because he didn’t think it was important, and certainly not necessary to the gospel he came to preach.

      In fact, I believe he references Adam in all the gospels.

      He does not. Matthew 19:1-12 is a parallel of the same passage from Mark 10; beyond that, nada.

      There is also a need for atonement because of Adam’s sin, which Paul references in Romans 5. Through one man, sin entered the world.

      Let’s finish the passage, shall we? “[S]in entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” I believe there was a first sinner, because someone had to be the first sinner, and I believe Paul sometimes used Adam as a stand-in for this theological concept, and sometimes he did not (like in Romans 5, Adam is not named). But even Romans 5 underscores the concept that we are ultimately responsible for our own sin.

      • Lucas Hattenberger

        I’ll concede that Jesus was making theological statements. I still think he was leaning on a literal Adam for it. However, in Romans 5, you bolstered my point. Sin spread to all men because, in Adam, all sinned. Meaning, Adam’s covenantal failure spread to all men, thus making all men sinners. Paul is making a case for federal headship in this passage. What he is meaning to convey is that Adam’s guilt, because of his responsibility over all men, was passed to all men. Likewise, Jesus’ righteousness, as a second Adam (1 Cor 15), is passed to those in Him. This is the entire thrust of the passage. I’m concerned you’re missing the point of the theology in the passage, and are therefore missing Ham’s point in Adam being a gospel issue. He’s not attacking you. He’s merely saying that New Testament theology makes it a gospel issue. Adam was a federal head. Jesus is the new federal head. This is what the passage says.

        I will agree that theistic evolution is possible under the supervision of God. But this doesnt mean that a literal Adam is impossible. In fact, New Testament theology leans on a literal Adam, making Jesus a new Adam, head of a new humanity.

        • I agree that evolution does not necessarily mean a literal Adam is impossible, and some theistic evolutionists do hold to such a view, but I don’t agree with your view of inherited guilt or your interpretation of Romans 5. I think Paul was pretty clear when he wrote that death spread “because all sinned.” Not because Adam sinned, not because Eve sinned, not because of Adam’s headship or anything else. The reason death spread to everyone was because everyone chose to sin.

          There’s also choice and individual responsibility under Christ (I’m guessing you’re not a universalist). In Adam, there is the possibility for death and separation from God, but it does not become efficacious until someone chooses to sin (as James 1:13-15 says as well). In Christ, there is the possibility for salvation and eternal life, but it does not become efficacious until someone chooses to put his or her faith in Jesus and his work on the cross.

          What I’ve never understood is how someone can take a passage like Roman 5:18-19, read the parts about death and condemnation entirely literally — that all people died through the one trespass without any action on their part, while reading the counterparts about life in Christ non-literally — that justification and life doesn’t apply without a free-will choice on the part of the individual.

          • Lucas Hattenberger

            Yea I think we may depart on this point. I’m not a universalist. I’m a Calvinist, which does inform my interpretation of Romans 5. I hold that just as Adam’s sin affect all those he was head over, so Jesus’ death/resurrection benefitted those for whom he came to save (the elect)

            Either way, even if you dont agree or see inherited guilt in this passage, other passages inform us that Adam’s sin at least affected us by making us sinful. Ephesians 2, Romans 3, et al. Meaning, humans are not born neutral in relation to God and then choose to do individual sinful actions — they are born as sinners and sin is a fruit of their nature. Would you agree?

          • I’m not a universalist either, but I’m also no Calvinist. I don’t see how Ephesians 2 or Romans 3 “inform us that Adam’s sin at least affected us by making us sinful.” These passages certainly describe our dire condition in our sinful state, before being made new in Christ, but they do not say how we got there. That appears to be the main departure here. I do not believe we are born with inherited guilt before God.

            Without a doubt, we are quick studies in the ways of sin, and there has never been a person who did not, ultimately, succumb to sin in many ways (except Christ, of course). I’m even open to the possibility that we are born predisposed toward sin and rebellion and temptation, and that this is inherited (though I tend to believe we inherited such a predisposition through our evolutionarily derived instincts rather than the actions of our ancient ancestors).

            But even if we are predisposed toward sin, that does not mean we are guilty of sin until we actually sin, just as Christ was tempted in every way, yet was without sin.

          • Lucas Hattenberger

            Well thats what I mean. I’m fine with people disagreeing on inherited guilt. I understand that arminians are very opposed to it, and they can be believers and disagree (though i do certainly think Romans 5 says it!) Either way though, arminians and calvinists alike agree that man is certainly not born neutral. Beyond that would be pelagianism or semi-pelagianism. This is another topic altogether, and I dont see us coming to a common theological point on this.

            If you havent read Timothy Keller or Derek Kidner on their views on theistic evolution, I’d encourage you to. You can find Keller’s stuff on it at Biologos. Thanks Tyler

          • The guilt is the main issue for me, and yes, I do tend to lean pretty strongly Arminian, at least in this regard. I have enjoyed Timothy Keller’s writings on theistic evolution (and many other subjects as well!); not familiar with Derek Kidner, though. I’ll have to check him out. Thanks for the tip!

  • Maria Trujillo

    Whether you believe in young earth or not this is a distasteful disrespectful article not giving any glory the the Lord. Sad how this attack on others is so praised. Makes my heart sad, this in fact, is what turns others away from Christianity Sir.

    • Matthew Funke

      Whether you believe in young earth or not this is a distasteful disrespectful article not giving any glory the the Lord.

      Here’s a quote from the article:

      In other words, the core message of Christianity is this: Jesus, the Lord of all, died for your sins and rose again.

      Calling Jesus “the Lord of all” gives no glory to the Lord? That seems counterintuitive to me. What, in your opinion, should the article have done to give glory to the Lord?

      Sad how this attack on others is so praised. Makes my heart sad, this in fact, is what turns others away from Christianity Sir.

      Actually, a general lack of criticism of one’s teachers among Christians is almost what turned me away from Christianity. And I know I’m not alone; when asked, a full quarter of young people leaving the church replied that it was the church’s lack of coherence with respect to science.

      https://www.barna.com/research/six-reasons-young-christians-leave-church/#.V9F3l_krJmM

      I’m gratified that people like the author exist and offer criticism of nonsensical teaching, personally.

      1 Thessalonians 5:21 orders Christians to “… examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (NASB), implying that things that are good can withstand testing. Insisting that some things should be exempt from examination betrays a lack of faith that they are good.

      • Maria Trujillo

        Just because one claims to give glory to the Lord with their mouth does not mean anything if they have not shown it with their words or actions

        Not every one that saith unto me,
        Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will
        of my Father which is in heaven. Mathew 7:21

        But what
        comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.
        Mathew 15:8

        When we glorify the Lord, should we not also do it in love, not tearing down other to get a point across. I understand when you have a passion for something you desire to learn more but, the only place to start is the bible, bringing others opinions into an article only to tear them down is proof of the heart. A difference of opinion should be respected.

        If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

        Being a Christian is so much more than love, I understand this and I agree the core message is to truly believe Jesus is Lord of all. How can we say this and disregard the Lord’s teachings in the bible as “nonsensical”?

        Life is so much more than SCIENCE as many today know it, it is can you trust and believe what the Lord tells us and focus on bringing glory to Him?

        As far as “the lack of coherence with respect to science”, science is not our God if we cannot believe what the creator says as truth then our whole foundation crumbles.
        Science first started with the foundation of the belief in Genesis. Most of our great scientists believed in young earth, should we disregard Robert Boyles or Louis Pasteur’s contributions to science because of their biblical beliefs.
        Science and creation were made to go together not against each other.

        Ultimately, if we cannot believe Gods word it simply makes him a liar! How can we pick and choose what is fact and fiction? It
        is just a problem of faith, faith to believe that the God, an awesome Creator of every wonderful thing we see, the TRUE creator of science; He is whom we must be most concerned about respecting. Have you ever read creation science
        books? Have you studied biblical Hebrew? It is not for us to question the creator or simply put science above Him, it is our job, our destiny to bring glory to HIM? Not question His works?

        Creation science is a beautiful thing that lines up with the bible! It does answer our questions rationally but again it is not about whom is correct, it is do you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ is Lord. Then, you will understand it is not who is correct or the smarted or if it is nonsensical it
        is about believing our God and trusting in Him.

        Remember Christ created Science not the other way around and our respect should be focused on Him, and Him alone.

        Thank you for your comment, I do enjoy discussing biblical science. May the Lord bless you and keep you brother.

        • Matthew Funke

          When we glorify the Lord, should we not also do it in love, not tearing down other to get a point across.

          Of course. But it’s also the case that showing how and why someone is wrong is loving — especially if that person has a wide audience. Consider how Paul rebuked Cephas in public (Galatians 2).

          I understand when you have a passion for something you desire to learn more but, the only place to start is the bible,

          Well, that’s a little one-sided. I mean, what if your passion is for learning about Neptune, or the Andromeda Galaxy, or bacteria, or the geology of the Americas, or political science with respect to democratic republics? The Bible doesn’t have much to say about any of those.

          Plus, assuming that your understanding of the Bible is correct and must inform everything else you encounter strikes me as prideful. If Catholics who defended the idea from the Bible that the Earth does not move had been willing to allow experiment, discovery, and reason to alter their understanding of the text, they would not have erred so terribly in centuries past.

          A difference of opinion should be respected.

          If it is, indeed, merely opinion, then sure. But this isn’t. This is about matters where we can test our understanding by experiment.

          Being a Christian is so much more than love,

          There, I disagree, based on an understanding of 1 John that seems to indicate that love is the beginning, the understanding in the middle, and the end of everything in the Christian walk.

          How can we say this and disregard the Lord’s teachings in the bible as “nonsensical”?

          To the best of my knowledge, no one has done this. People have insisted that various teachings based on the Bible, or various interpretations of the text, are nonsensical. But the Lord’s teachings in the Bible are not the same as people’s interpretation of them.

          Life is so much more than SCIENCE as many today know it,

          No one is saying that life only consists of science. However, if a matter is testable, then science gives us the tools we need to ensure as much as possible that we are not fooling ourselves.

          As far as “the lack of coherence with respect to science”, science is not our God if we cannot believe what the creator says as truth then our whole foundation crumbles.

          We had better take care, then, to ensure that we do not enshrine an interpretation of the Bible to the same level as what God says!

          About this, we need to be clear. I don’t think Mr. Francke has ever disagreed with the Bible, or sought to declare the Bible invalid. He disagrees with certain teachers, like Ham and Lisle, but that’s not the same thing.

          Science first started with the foundation of the belief in Genesis.

          Even those with a belief in Genesis need not agree with Ham’s or Lisle’s teaching. Augustine of Hippo, for example, soaked himself in Genesis for decades, and came away with a very different understanding of Genesis from Ham’s and Lisle’s, which you can read about in The Literal Interpretation of Genesis (note the title!), written in 408 CE (he’d been studying at least since he wrote A Commentary on Genesis: Two Books Against the Manichees in 388/389 CE). For instance, he thought that God’s “Let there be light” referred to spiritual light, not physical light — but that spiritual light was every bit as literal and noteworthy an event as physical light. He also didn’t think it took place in six twenty-four hour days, but that that framework was used to make it easier for us humans to understand.

          Most of our great scientists believed in young earth, should we disregard Robert Boyles or Louis Pasteur’s contributions to science because of their biblical beliefs.

          No one is claiming that we should. The question, though, is whether we should accept a given age of the Earth based on the available evidence, not based on who believed what.

          (And it’s a little unfair to cite Pasteur and Boyle as examples, given when they lived and when we started to figure out the age of the Earth.)

          Science and creation were made to go together not against each other.

          Agreed. But one need not look at history very deeply to see that there were times that Bible-belivers had very, very wrong ideas about things because their interpretation was askew.

          Ultimately, if we cannot believe Gods word it simply makes him a liar!

          (Should I accuse you of being unloving towards a fellow believer because you’re not allowing him his “opinion”?)

          Again, I’d caution you to discern carefully between believing God’s word and believing a particular teacher’s interpretation of God’s word.

          How can we pick and choose what is fact and fiction?

          If it’s a matter we can test — like whether or not the Earth moves (and the Bible says quite clearly that it doesn’t) — then we can determine the accuracy of the interpretation we’re using based on how well it lines up with available facts.

          Have you ever read creation science books?

          Oh, good gravy, yes. I was quite the ardent young-Earth creationist for decades. I have a library of those books that would put a lot of creationists to shame.

          Have you studied biblical Hebrew?

          Yes. It’s another reason I think young-Earth creationists are wrong — partially because young-Earth creationist teachers lie about what Biblical Hebrew says, but for other reasons, too.

          It is not for us to question the creator or simply put science above Him, it is our job, our destiny to bring glory to HIM? Not question His works?

          Science is a matter of investigating His works. If anything, the only thing we question is our understanding of them. Science is incapable of questioning God or His works, never mind place itself above them.

          Creation science is a beautiful thing that lines up with the bible and it is science!

          It lines up with a particular interpretation of the Bible, and a problematic one at that (even taken merely on its own, before we start experiments in the natural world). And it is rather starkly not science. Creationism, for example, assumes that it knows what the answers will be before it experiments and investigates. Science does not, and cannot; if you think you know the answer before you look, you may be doing a lot of things, but none of them are science.

          It does answer our questions rationally

          Please don’t confuse making rational-sounding ad hoc arguments with rational answers.

          but again it is not about whom is correct, it is do you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ is Lord.

          And that’s something you can believe no matter what your take on Genesis happens to be.

          After all He was the only one there when the earth was created and He give us an actual eye account because He loves us, no scientist can say that.

          No scientist would, you’re right. But a good scientist and a wise man would advise caution before believing someone who says he knows exactly what that eyewitness account is supposed to mean, and how it is supposed to be understood.

          Remember Christ created Science not the other way around and our respect should be focused on Him, and Him alone.

          Right. And that’s all the more reason we should be willing to adjust our finite understading if the facts show us to be wrong. He is infinite; we are not.

          • Maria Trujillo

            Well, that’s a little one-sided. I
            mean, what if your passion is for learning about Neptune, or the Andromeda
            Galaxy, or bacteria, or the geology of the Americas, or political science with
            respect to democratic republics? The Bible doesn’t have much to say about any
            of those.

            Yes, I agree the bible does not say much about specific
            topics but, if our eyes are not calibrated on Christ we may be led astray by
            what us humans love to say is fact.

            Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from
            evil. Proverbs 4:27

            I am not taking anyone’s side but, Christ. It’s simple if it
            is in the bible, I believe and nothing will change that. I also believe that God is sovereign and He
            will reveal Himself in His time. No human can change what Christ says is
            correct. We can have our opinions but, really it is only our Creator’s that
            counts. Everything else is meaningless.

            My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow
            me. John 10:27

            If it is, indeed,
            merely opinion, then sure. But this isn’t. This is about matters where we can
            test our understanding by experiment.

            Yes, we can test current things but, as far as the past our
            tests can be unreliable. We are fallen
            how can we even compare our minds to Christ’s. We know nothing about creation
            except what is written in God’s word. That is the starting fact.

            There, I disagree,
            based on an understanding of 1 John that seems to indicate that love is the
            beginning, the understanding in the middle, and the end of everything in the
            Christian walk.

            Yes, we are saved because of God’s love so ultimately it is
            love. What I was trying to say was we are responsible for so much more than
            love.

            If you, then, though
            you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will
            your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

            Even those who do not know Christ are capable of worldy love
            but, is it true spiritual love? A love from and for Christ that questions
            nothing that Christ says?

            We are responsible to bring GLORY to God. True love does
            that and through our works, words and actions.

            To the best of my knowledge, no one
            has done this. People have insisted that various teachings based on the Bible,
            or various interpretations of the text, are nonsensical. But the Lord’s
            teachings in the Bible are not the same as people’s interpretation of them.

            How can you say that people are not disregarding God’s teachings? The very
            fact that people are trying to match up “secular science” and biblical science
            is disregarding what GOD has said in the scriptures. We know nothing, we did
            not create time, physics and life. Yet, we claim to say as a fact that the
            earth is this old or that old, when in scripture we are told a day. Why sould
            we even question that? Why does it matter? W are commanded, created, and made
            to glorify and saying wait I think it doesn’t mean this. Then fact that human
            who are nothing say we know more than Christ is what is so wrong. God is
            soverign he created everything don’t you think if He was not happy with
            scripture, it simply would not be here?

            In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
            God.John 1:1

            If God is the word then why should we question him?

            No one is saying that life only
            consists of science. However, if a matter is testable, then science gives us
            the tools we need to ensure as much as possible that we are not fooling
            ourselves.

            Fooling ourselves how, by believing God over human? Our tests are flawed,
            not only the interpretations riddled with opinions but full of fleshly sin. God
            is not, he is perfect and who are we to say his teachings are flawed?

            He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful
            God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. Deut 32:4

            We had better take care, then, to ensure that we do not enshrine an
            interpretation of the Bible to the same level as what God says!

            “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge
            in him. Proverbs 30:5

            God is sovereign, that is enough said.

            In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
            God.John 1:1

            We are to worship the creator and if they are His words are we not commanded
            to live them?

            18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them
            as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach
            them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you
            walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write
            them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates,

            Deuteronomy 11:18-20

            Mr. Francke has taken SCIENCE and the
            bible and put what HE believes is true when scripture clearly says something
            else. That is disagreeing with the bible.

            Even
            those with a belief in Genesis need not agree with Ham’s or Lisle’s teaching.
            Augustine of Hippo, for example, soaked himself in Genesis for decades, and came away with a very different understanding of
            Genesis from Ham’s and Lisle’s, which you can read about in The Literal Interpretation of Genesis
            (note the title!), written in 408 CE (he’d been studying at least since he wrote
            A Commentary on Genesis: Two Books Against the
            Manichees in 388/389 CE). For instance, he thought that God’s
            “Let there be light” referred to spiritual light,
            not physical light — but that spiritual light was every bit as literal and
            noteworthy an event as physical light. He also didn’t think it took place in
            six twenty-four hour days, but that that framework was used to make it easier
            for us humans to understand.

            An interpretation of Greek to English
            ,example, is not the same as an interpretation of scripture to opinion. It is
            our job to believe scripture not understand everything. For us to boldly say it
            means this when the bible says this or ‘I think it is just a metaphor” is NOT
            UP TO US and pretty prideful. WE are not meant to understand everything and
            must be patient.

            Jesus replied, “You do not realize
            now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” John 13:7

            No one is claiming that we should. The question, though, is whether we
            should accept a given age of the Earth based on the available evidence,
            not based on who believed what.

            (And it’s a little unfair to cite Pasteur and Boyle as examples, given when
            they lived and when we started to figure out the age of the Earth.)

            They simply believed
            scripture over science, the old earth theory has been around since the
            beginning of time and just something to distract us from what scripture says.
            Fact is everything we read is in some form a opinion, except scripture, not
            interpretations of what we think it says but, true scripture. Creationists and Old Worlders are all sinners
            and lie to get their point across. God does not!

            Agreed.
            But one need not look at history very deeply to see that there were times that
            Bible-belivers had very, very wrong ideas about things because their
            interpretation was askew.

            I also agree but, again everything that
            is said to be done in Christ is not always done in Christ. That should not even
            be a point because you know true Christians who understood and had bibles would
            not have ever done that horrible stuff. Which is why martyrs fought so hard to
            get bibles into our hands, so we could see for ourselves God’s perfect word.

            (Should I accuse you of being unloving towards a fellow believer because
            you’re not allowing him his “opinion”?)

            Again, I’d caution you to discern carefully between believing God’s word and
            believing a particular teacher’s interpretation of God’s word.

            I have picked God’s side and yes, if I did it in an unloving way, tell me. I
            love Christ and His word, I want nothing else but, to put him first. If we are
            saying what scripture says is not true, yes we are saying God lied to us.

            I want answers too, and I feel the bible gives us clear accounts about
            creation and I find it simple.

            See, this alone I found, that God made
            man upright, but they have sought out many schemes. Ecclesiastes 7:9

            Plus, it is not Mr. Francke’s opinion I find offensive, it is his words and
            dislike of other Christians. I respect his passion just not his attitude. It is
            unloving and hateful at times.

            If it’s a matter we can test — like whether or not the Earth moves (and the
            Bible says quite clearly that it doesn’t) — then we can determine the accuracy
            of the interpretation we’re using based on how well it lines up with available
            facts.

            Where? There are multiple places scripture talks about this!

            Job
            9:7

            Who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars; Job 9:7

            Joshua
            10:13

            And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took
            vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun
            stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day.

            The mere fact that He states in Genesis the words morning and night show
            this! In Joshua how could the sun stand still if it is not moving? I disagree,
            I feel scripture is clear on this one.

            Yes. It’s another reason I think young-Earth creationists are wrong —
            partially because young-Earth creationist teachers lie about what Biblical
            Hebrew says, but for other reasons, too.

            We should not be looking to Creationists to interpret this for us. They are
            humans of course they will disappoint. That is why scripture is so important to
            help us discern.

            Science is a matter of investigating His works. If anything, the
            only thing we question is our understanding of them. Science is incapable
            of questioning God or His works, never mind place itself above them.

            Yes, but if it disagrees with scripture SCIENCE has interpreted it wrong.
            You could give me reasons why PEOPLE say millions, I could give you reasons why
            is says thousands. What does the bible say, can you believe God, not man?

            It lines up with a particular interpretation of the Bible, and a
            problematic one at that (even taken merely on its own, before we start
            experiments in the natural world). And it is rather starkly not
            science. Creationism, for example, assumes that it knows what the answers will
            be before it experiments and investigates. Science does not, and cannot; if you
            think you know the answer before you look, you may be doing a lot of things,
            but none of them are science.

            The bible give us many facts such dates, events and numbers, why should we
            doubt those, they are all the same in every bible.

            Creations science as we know it is of course flawed in ways as well because
            it is in taught by humans.

            I begg to differ, I was a millions of
            years gal and felt other sciences went out of their way to prove things and it
            did not line up with scripture. Fact is every historical science theory we have
            is a hypothesis except the bible. Science, any type, is flawed, God is not!

            No scientist would, you’re right. But a good scientist and a wise man would
            advise caution before believing someone who says he knows exactly what that
            eyewitness account is supposed to mean, and how it is supposed to be
            understood.

            Again, I am taking no side except God. I take the bible to mean what it
            says.

            Right. And that’s all the more reason we should be willing to adjust our
            finite understanding if the facts show us to be wrong. He is infinite; we are
            not.

            Whose facts, because God’s are the only ones that matter. Again human
            understandings are flawed, we are incapable of a true understanding of
            creation. That is why God wrote it out for us!

            I really enjoyed our discussion and
            just want to say nothing is meant directly at you in disrespect. I Feel you are very intelligent
            and can learn lots from you!

            Lastly, I had an issue with Mr. Francke’s disdain and lack of disrespect for
            others not his opinion. Opinion, is just that opinion and when believers are fewer
            and fewer we must love each other. Blessing Brother

          • Matthew Funke

            Yes, I agree the bible does not say much about specific topics but, if our eyes are not calibrated on Christ we may be led astray by what us humans love to say is fact.

            True. We can also be led astray by ourselves and what we’d prefer to think is true, or an appropriate way to interpret Scripture, rather than paying attention to the straightforward observations right in front of us.

            It’s simple if it is in the bible, I believe and nothing will change that.

            Fair enough. How do you know your interpretation of the Bible is the correct one? How should the Catholics who defended the idea of a stationary Earth with Bible passages have known?

            Do you think that the Earth moves? If so, on what do you base that knowledge?

            Yes, we can test current things but, as far as the past our tests can be unreliable.

            They can be. They can also be extremely reliable, to the extent that we can find a murder victim and ascertain for certain whether he was shot or drowned or asphyxiated.

            We’re talking about things that are unambiguous, and can be known to a really good level of precision.

            What I was trying to say was we are responsible for so much more than love.

            I understand. Again, I disagree. If there is anything that is done without love, it is futile.

            How can you say that people are not disregarding God’s teachings?

            Because I am not so proud as to say that my understanding perfectly parallels God’s intended message.

            Fooling ourselves how, by believing God over human?

            No. By believing that God’s creation really does reveal Him, and acknowledging that our understanding — even our understanding of God’s word — is not to be elevated to the level of God Himself. By being humble enough to allow our understanding to be corrected if it fails to match reality.

            Our tests are flawed, not only the interpretations riddled with opinions but full of fleshly sin.

            No one is contesting that.

            Should the Catholics of centuries past have been willing to re-evaluate their understanding of Scripture in their insistence that it clearly indicates that the Earth does not move? Why or why not?

            Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5

            No one is contesting that. You’re arguing against an imaginary opponent. What we’re talking about here is the fallibility of man’s understanding.

            Mr. Francke has taken SCIENCE and the bible and put what HE believes is true when scripture clearly says something else. That is disagreeing with the bible.

            He has a different interpretation of the Bible, because observations indicate that certain interpretations do not match the facts. He doesn’t disagree with the Bible; he disagrees with a particular interpretation of it.

            An interpretation of Greek to English

            Actually, he didn’t base that understanding on an interpretation from Greek into English. He based it on a high view of God (that His understanding is deeper than ours) and the facts at his disposal, being careful to delineate what he could determine and what he could not and on what basis. You should read his manuscript.

          • Maria Trujillo

            All very good points. We can agree to disagree. God is so good to give us that option And I do agree love is important but without faith it is void they go hand in hand. 1 Corinthians 13:2
            I agree we must be careful how we interpret it because we are all flawed.
            Thank you for taking time. Again I did not take offense to the Mr. Francke’s interpretation as much as his lack of love.

        • Hans

          “Creation science is a beautiful thing that lines up with the bible and it is science!”
          No, it is not science. It might be beautiful to you but it is not science. If you don’t like the word science, then substitute the word “nature” for it. God created nature and it doesn’t correspond to creation science.

          • It also doesn’t line up with the Bible very well.

        • Just because one claims to give glory to the Lord with their mouth does not mean anything if they have not shown it with their words or actions

          What complete nonsense. You literally just said, “It doesn’t matter what you say with your words if you haven’t shown it with your words.”

          Oh, sorry, was that not “respectful” enough for you?

      • Calling Jesus “the Lord of all” gives no glory to the Lord? That seems counterintuitive to me. What, in your opinion, should the article have done to give glory to the Lord?

        Obviously, I should have said the exact same thing, but held different opinions about the interpretation of Genesis and the history of the universe and biological life while doing so.

        • Matthew Funke

          Clearly, yes. [shakes head] It doesn’t matter what you say, what words you use and the context in which you use them; what matters is whether or not you agree with things that identify you as a member in good standing of the club. (Do I really need to put sarcasm tags around that?)

          • Which is kind of, you know, exactly the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees, judging from appearances and whether or not someone was part of a particular “group” rather than judging by what a person actually said and did.