Is theistic evolution incoherent?

Can God be sovereign over random processes? (Photo by Gaz, via Wikimedia Commons)

In the past six months that I’ve been running GOE, I’ve yet to encounter a reader whose moniker is more awesome — or more perfectly suited to a fan of a website about biological evolution — than the one who contacted me last week.

His name is Darwin Bloise. Here’s what he had to say:

Hello Mr. Tyler, I enjoy your site a lot. It has helped me see the truth of how evolution and the Bible can coexist. However, every so often, I see things like this. The first two links on it are apparently reasons as to why evolution can’t coexist with Christianity, and stuff like that always scares me, because if it can’t, and evolution is true, then we’re out of luck. Please see if the arguments have any actual merit. Thank you.

P.S.: Yes, you can use my name. But only because I find it hilariously coincidental to my dilemma.

The two links he referenced can be found here and here. They’ll direct you to articles on the pro-intelligent design blog Uncommon Descent by “philosopher/photographer” Laszlo Bencze.

Bencze thinks theistic evolution — the idea that a sovereign, personal creator-God is compatible with evolution by natural selection — is “incoherent,” and he explains why:

But there’s a big problem in loving both God and evolution. The premise of theistic evolution is incoherent. The “theistic” part connotes a creator God who knows what he wants to do and does it. The “evolution” part connotes a process that is random and in no need of supervision by any conscious agent because it is sufficient unto itself. So theistic evolution might be rephrased as “a system whereby God creates using a process that he cannot influence in any way and which has no need of him.” Huh?

Bencze goes on and on along this same line of thought, trotting out the tired old trope of the stupid, sniveling theistic evolutionist who wants nothing more than to be accepted by the “cool kids” clique of legitimate scientists (which comes straight out of the Disco Tute’s playbook, by the way). This is, essentially, the ID version of K-Ham’s patented COMPROMISER™ argument.

I’m not much interested in responding to Bencze’s or the Disco Tute’s caricature of theistic evolutionists (after all, as a theistic evolutionist myself, my primary goal in everything I do is to try and be accepted by everyone and avoid offending people). But I think the content of his actual argument does merit some further examination. And, indeed, this is a question that comes up pretty frequently from those who would like to see people like me stop “riding the fence” and pick a side (they tend to get confused when a given conflict can’t be broken down along the simple lines of “atheists vs. Christians”), so it’s a perfectly appropriate topic for discussion on this site.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid I might disappoint my new friend Darwin — at least a little bit. You see, I imagine he was hoping I would really tear into Bencze’s argument, going into grisly detail about every point on which I think he goes wrong.

But that’s not what I plan on doing, because I actually don’t think the philosopher/photographer’s argument is very far off. Evolution as a self-contained process relying on nothing more than a few natural mechanisms and God as an omnipotent, creative, sovereign Being does seem like a contradiction in terms. The idea that these two premises could coexist does appear completely impossible.

And yet, not only do I personally affirm these two seemingly incompatible truth claims, I believe they are completely in line with the portrait of God revealed in scripture. Allow me to explain.

One of the main difficulties with the theistic evolutionary viewpoint — which Bencze correctly identifies — is that evolution relies on random mechanisms, like mutation and genetic recombination, as the drivers of the variation upon which natural selection operates, and if the outcomes are predetermined (a necessary consequence of a creator-God being “in charge” of the process), then the mechanisms are, by definition, not random.

This is a perfectly valid and straightforward argument: Random things can’t be predetermined or directed, and predetermined or directed things can’t be random. But, of course, the darned Bible goes and throws a wrench into our nice, neat human logic, by explicitly declaring that God does direct, determine and oversee random occurrences, like the casting of lots: “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”

A practical example of this can be seen every time a child is conceived. Even the most ardently anti-science creationists wouldn’t deny what modern science has shown us about the meiotic process that constructs our unique DNA sequences at the moment of fertilization. These processes are completely random. Were the universe restarted the day before you were conceived, there is no logical reason to think your genotype would turn out the same way.

And yet, no Christian really believes people are nothing more than unguided, roulette-wheel constructions of a sampling of genes from our parents; instead, we affirm that we are the intentional creations of a God who said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Most Christians believe that God is both entirely sovereign over human affairs, and that we have free will. These beliefs are derived from scripture, which at various times, clearly conveys that God “works all things according to the counsel of his will,” and, at other times, clearly conveys that our salvation is predicated on some sort of personal and willful response.

God’s sovereignty connotes a God who knows what he wants to do and does it. “Free will” connotes that humans have the ability to choose between right and wrong, without the undue influence of a supernatural being. Obviously, if God is stacking the decks one way or the other, pulling the strings so everything turns out the way he wants it, then we don’t really have free will after all, do we? Therefore, the existence of both God’s sovereignty and our free will — again, a premise I believe most Christians accept and which has overwhelming biblical support — might be rephrased as “a system whereby God works all things according to his divine will using beings and processes that he cannot influence in any way.”

To quote Laszlo Bencze, “Huh?”

The point is that, if God can be sovereign and, somehow, also allow people to have free will, then he can also be sovereign and allow nature to take its course.

And the larger point is this: The Bible contains many mysterious truths, and the idea that a spiritual God could be sovereign over a natural, seemingly random process is far from the most perplexing of them. I mean, let’s be honest here: Anyone who believes that God is, at all times, both one being and three separate and distinct beings doesn’t really have the right to tell me theistic evolution is incoherent. Any first-grader can tell you that 1+1+1=1 is bad math. So is 1+1=1, which is the mathematical equivalent of the doctrine of the Incarnation, the idea that Christ was, at once, both fully man and fully God.

These are paradoxes, scenarios that seem impossible and yet, may nevertheless be true. The fact that I don’t fully understand them does not cause me to reject my faith, because I don’t presume to think I should be capable of fully understanding God. And indeed, these paradoxes have not caused undue trouble to many of the millions of Christians who have accepted them through the ages.

So, is theistic evolution incoherent? My answer is yes, but not any more incoherent than anything else God’s word and God’s work have revealed to be true.

Tyler Francke

  • Corbin Brosneck

    This post is very encouraging for the theistic evolutionist, Tyler, thank you. I feel like there must be a large amount of cognitive dissonance at play for any YEC who wants to complain about the irrationality of theistic evolution. As far as I know, very little, if any, parts of scripture are rational at all.

  • Dr John

    See John Polkinghorne on what random really means – and also Simon Conway Morris on non-randomness in evolution (see eg clips of Simon on the Test of Faith dvds: http://www.testoffaith.com)

  • Darwin Bloise

    Sweeeet. It’s me, Darwin B. Heh, thanks Tyler. While you were right, that wasn’t the answer I was expecting at all, It did help me in a way I didn’t really expect. Kind of like how God works. Again, thank you Tyler, and Godspeed on the rest of your website.

    P.s: I have always wanted to say ‘Godspeed’ in a sentence.

    • Hey Darwin! Thanks for your thoughts, and for saying, “Godspeed” 🙂

      • Darwin Bloise

        Yeah. You know whats funny though? No one in my family truly knows why my name is Darwin. I always assumed it was cause of good old Charlie D, but neither my parents nor their siblings know who that is (my parents are Hispanic, which also makes my name choice even stranger. One would expect a religous name. All my cousins have one.)

  • Christian Schmemann

    I think that quantum physics can offer a partial resolution to this problem that Bencze raises about theistic evolution- and a partial resolution to how God’s Sovereignty and Free Will can coexist at the same time. I have to do a little explaining of quantum mechanics first.

    In quantum physics, there is something called Ehrenfest’s Theorem, that essentially claims that “expectation values” follow laws of classical physics. Those who never studied quantum physics have no idea what “expectation values” means. One of the most important points of quantum physics is that interactions of particles on an molecular, atomic and nuclear scale are fundamentally indeterminate, but a statistical average of those large number of fundamentally indeterminate interactions are entirely predictable and even follow laws of classical physics. For example, if a semiconductor engineer is using an electron microscope to take a surface image of a semiconductor wafer (for quality assurance purposes), the individual interactions of the electrons in the semiconductor material are indeterminate, but the average of that very large number of electron interactions with the semiconductor wafer are predictable to the extent that one is able to construct a useful image from the electron beam.

    Likewise, the individual mutations and genetic recombinations are fundamentally indeterminate (or random, if you prefer), but the sum average of a large number of (beneficial) mutations and genetic recombinations could in a larger-scale (or longer-time view) follow some “predetermined” design. This, in a way would be what theistic evolution is asserting. On the level of quantum physics, there is no contradiction between design and randomness.

    The notion of design that Bencze is claiming is necessary for a Divine Design is an absolute determinism (the differs little from Calvinistic predestination) that ultimately views Divine Sovereignty as a Soviet-style socialist command and control economy than with the view of Divine Sovereignty depicted in the Bible. And it has not gone unnoticed to me (anyway) that the majority of people who peddle this young earth creationism are Evangelical Protestants, who overwhelmingly tend to be Calvinistic. The idea of Evolution ultimately is a threat both to the Protestant dogma of sola scriptura and to the uniquely Calvinistic notion of divine Sovereignty that is absolute to the point that no thing and nobody can have any Free Will whatsoever. I am surprised that Calvinists do not oppose quantum physics to the same extent that they oppose Evolution; then again, maybe it’s the case that quantum physics is mathematically abstract to the point that it becomes too esoteric for most of them to understand.

    Free Will and what individual humans do with their Free Will, in this context is a fundamentally indeterminate quantity (indeterminate from a human perspective, but not necessarily God’s perspective), but God’s Will can and is accomplished irrespective of what humans decide to do.

    • Likewise, the individual mutations and genetic recombinations are fundamentally indeterminate (or random, if you prefer), but the sum average of a large number of (beneficial) mutations and genetic recombinations could in a larger-scale (or longer-time view) follow some “predetermined” design. This, in a way would be what theistic evolution is asserting. On the level of quantum physics, there is no contradiction between design and randomness.

      Very cool. Thanks for sharing, man!

  • Will

    I would argue that all these concepts (the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Theistic Evolution) are actually perfectly coherent, but the conventional ways of describing them are poor phrasing and thus sound incoherent. (This still doesn’t mean we can understand God perfectly. Don’t read that in here.)

    As far as Theistic Evolution goes, try this: God caused the Big Bang (the one directly caused by God isn’t necessarily our own Big Bang, as it might well be an even older Multiverse Big Bang), and then everything else proceeded just as natural science describes (physical cosmology, abiogenesis, and evolution). A Multiverse that produces enough Universes to have even 1 inhabitable Universe would have to meet all the special conditions to continue making new Universes forever, rather than fizzling out after just a few. So, those initial conditions are worth discussing from a TE standpoint, although granted, God can create as many Multiverses even as he pleases.

    The other things (the Trinity and Incarnation) are much more complicated than TE. Basically, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are the 3 roles God plays, but although he is 1 Being he is a distinct Person in each role. (Note the difference between Being and Person. Personhood is a legal construct, albeit in this case a legal construct by divine fiat.) As for the Incarnation, the human body of Jesus was in some sense a costume God wore, but in that costume dwelt the fullness of Godhead, an elevated presence of God even though God is present everywhere. (That very same fullness, elevated presence, of God dwells in the consecrated bread and wine at Mass, hence the doctrine of the Real Presence/Transubstantiation.) These are just rough ideas, but hopefully they help.

    • Im not sure how I feel about that multiverse idea. Because that just sounds like Got just kept trying randomly until he got it right, unaware of the outcome of each individual universe. By that logic, we could be one of the failed universes because Hitler happened, or something like that.

      • I definitely understand the feeling. On principle, I don’t think we as Christians need to be afraid of any scientific idea. If God really is the creator of everything, as we believe him to be, then no truth science ever finds could contradict his existence. It would be like finding something in a study of Romeo and Juliet that disproves Shakespeare — simply isn’t going to happen.

        But if we can accept that the universe is billions of years old, and contains countless billions of stars and other worlds, and still find ways to understand that God is personally invested with and deeply cares for those of us who live and die on little old Planet Earth, does the idea of the multiverse really add that much more of a kink to the equation? I mean, I think once we’re talking about the difference between billions and billions of other worlds or trillions and trillions in some kind of multiverse system, then I think we’ve pretty much left the realm that we’d be capable of grasping anyway.

        The bottom line for me is that the universe is incomprehensibly vast no matter how you slice it or imagine it, and God still cares about what happens to you and me.

  • Preston Garrison

    If you have followed the commenters’ discussions on Biologos over the last couple of years, you would see that several people have repeatedly tried to point out that many prominent TEs have been promoting the unorthodox view that God didn’t actually direct evolution (creation,) but allowed nature to have its “freedom” and waited to see what would come out. This view really does suffer from the incoherence you describe. It may originate from Howard Van Till (that’s who I first heard it from) who later left Christianity behind. This view is adopted by people like Ayala as a way of distancing God from unpleasant things like pathogens, parasitism, predation, competition and what they see as “bad design.” It is of course completely incompatible with the historically Christian view of God’s omnipotence and providence. As someone pointed out below, the Biblical perspective is that God is just as fully in charge of things that appear random as everything else. Personally, I think it is naive to think that we can use a scientific approaches to figure out how God controls events. We can form hypotheses, but there is no way to test them.

    • Christian Schmemann

      Do you also think that God guides every sin, every bad decision, every act of aggression and crime that people are victims of? If not, then do you think that God’s Will will be accomplished irrespective of what people choose to do or not? If God’s Will is accomplished irrespective of what people choose to do or not to do, then why could God’s Will not be accomplished in Creation irrespective of what “freedom” He gave or declined to give to Nature? There isn’t a contradiction here, when one looks at the issue from a perspective of quantum physics.

      What is it with you Protestants that you are so against the inherent moral freedom that God gives?

      Also, Protestants have no natural right to speak of what is orthodox and what is unorthodox, because Protestants are not the original Church. As far as I can tell, the original Churches (both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) have not clarified anything about this question; therefore, your objection is invalid.

      • Preston Garrison

        I thought I was pretty clear that I was rejecting the alleged “freedom” of the non-human parts of nature. Actually, I believe that as moral and spiritual agents, we are free. It’s just silly to say that someone has no “natural right” to talk about something based on what church they belong to. Anyone can read the history of theology and church documents and find out what have been the common doctrines of Christianity. I’m not an expert on the history of theology, but I’m pretty sure all the major branches of Christianity have held that God is the sole Creator and He hasn’t ceded any of that role to any other entity. If you have some reference to the contrary, I’d like to see it.

        • Christian Schmemann

          You are at best partly correct in that humans have a moral freedom that lacks in non-human parts of nature, but this statement is limited to moral freedom. You see, there is a fundamental indeterminacy that exists in nature, and its basis is in both the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and in the standard Born interpretation of quantum mechanics, which is inherently probabilistic. Quantum physics has frequently been described as the “mother of weird science,” but quantum physics is much more intelligible if one assumes that there exists a freedom to interact that even subatomic particles posses. Of course, this is a freedom that God grants. , because Protestants do not have a priesthood that can be traced back
          to the Apostles. Only the Apostles and those who have been ordained by
          the Apostles and those ordain by the Apostles have a right to speak for
          what is Christian dogma and what is not Christian dogma.

          You never answered my question about why the abundant presence of freedom- even by non-human entities would conflict with God’s Sovereignty.

          You may regard it is silly that I claim Protestants have no “natural” right to speak about matters of theology. I say this because Protestantism ultimately is not a “natural” Christianity. Protestantism has no connection to the Church that the Lord Jesus established.

          • Preston Garrison

            This a blog about the relation of evolution and Christianity. If you think people who are not members of the Roman magisterium (which, by the way, includes you I’m guessing,) should be banned from discussing the theological side of the question, you should take that up with Tyler. I don’t think he will be very sympathetic. Maybe you should start your own blog so you can avoid associating with people you despise.

          • Yeah, I appreciate your thoughts, Christian, but I must admit I’m with Preston on this one. Jesus himself and the writers of the New Testament seem to testify pretty clearly that a Christian is anyone who is called by Christ’s name, confess their faith and trust in him and his work on the cross, and are obedient to his will and teachings. That’s really all that matters, as far as I’m concerned — not the name of the church one does or doesn’t go to, or whether or not that church can trace its lineage back to the “proper channels.”

            The Roman Catholic Church is old, I’ll give it that, but I can’t say I see too many similarities between the modern-day institution and the church of Acts 2:42-47. Jesus’ words in the opening chapters of Revelation seem to indicate quite clearly that even churches formed by the earliest and “purest” disciples could go astray. I ultimately would wish to have my trust in Christ primarily as the Holy Spirit and scripture have revealed him to me, rather than primarily in the traditions of men — godly men, but men nonetheless.

          • Christian Schmemann

            Preston, I regard the Eastern Orthodox “magisterium” (for lack of a better word in this context) to have a perfectly legitimate teaching authority as well, and there are some instances in which I find myself agreeing the Orthodox over and above the Roman magisterium, such as the filioque.

            I didn’t say that Protestants aren’t Christians; for the record, I indeed do count the vast majority Protestants as Christians (the Pentecostals who do Jesus-only “baptisms” are a notable exception here).

            My deep and abiding frustration with Protestantism stems from how it turns into “salvation issues” (or near “salvation issues”) things that have no relation to the Gospel.

            Take the issue of “sola scriptura” for example- there is no place in the Bible that teaches such a thing that Scripture is God’s only revelation, and indeed Romans 1:19-20 teaches something contradictory to “sola scriptura.” This entire idea that we would have a debate about the validity of the scientific method, just because science produced a model of the origins of life (that ironically doesn’t even clash that badly with Genesis 1- though certainly not a perfect match either) is an intellectual catastrophe for Western Christianity- if it is not an intellectual suicide! When confronted with scientific evidence, all too many Protestants will raise some theological objection to the validity of science that isn’t even a logically sound.

            When Protestantism can’t even get the most basic of things like this correct, then it’s not clear to me what Protestantism has to contribute to any debate.

          • My deep and abiding frustration with Protestantism stems from how it turns into “salvation isues” (or near “salvation issues”) things that have no relation to the Gospel.

            I share this frustration, but in my view and experience, it stems largely from the evangelical subset, not Protestantism in general. My understanding of “sola scriptura,” for example, is not that scripture is God’s only revelation, but rather that scripture is all that is necessary to understand salvation. I am also quite partial to the Wesleyan quadrilateral, a decidedly Protestant construction of a proposed method of theological development, which includes not just scripture, but also reason, experience and tradition.

          • Christian Schmemann

            I suppose that you are right Tyler.

          • It’s not about being right. I appreciate these discussions, regardless of whether people ultimately agree or disagree with me. Thanks for being part of it! I have appreciated your thoughts 🙂

          • Danny Klopovic

            Seems all rather off-topic to the blog ….

          • Sure, I mean, I probably wouldn’t do a post about it, but I think a discussion of Christian denominational history and the appropriate view of scripture is “on topic” enough to at least persist in a comment thread.

          • Danny Klopovic

            Then I’ll freely add that I think the COPs (Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants) are wrong 😛

          • LOL. Very funny 😛

  • Danny Klopovic

    I think there is a significant problem with the description “theistic evolution” – as a Christian I see no problem with evolution so I’ll get that one out of the way. The problem I have is that for no other scientific theory does one speak of say “theistic germ theory” or the “theistic theory of gravity” and so on. I don’t see a compelling reason to qualify this theory with “theistic”.

    • Christian Schmemann

      I agree with you to a large extent Danny, and yes I think that it should be unnecessary to have to speak of “theistic evolution” or “atheistic evolution” or “agnostic evolution.” I think though the reason we must is a product of history. Besides Darwin and some other prominent atheist intellectuals who used Evolution to argue against religion, there were also the Evangelical Protestants who maintained (and still do) that Genesis had be read as scientific fact.

      Evolution has been abused by militant atheists to attack religion, and claim falsely that religions offered a variety of scientific accounts for the origins of life on Earth, and now that science had worked out the rudimentary sketches of how life really came about, religion was no longer necessary. And Evangelical Protestants, who (unconsciously?) feed into the atheist line, have dismissed Evolution.

      • I agree with both of you. I didn’t get into it in this article — I didn’t think it really fit — but I actually detest the term “theistic evolution.” Honestly, I don’t think the term actually describes my view very accurately at all, but I feel forced to use it, especially for an article like this, because it is, by far, the most commonly used term that comes closest to my view. And, it at least distinguishes me from the creation science and intelligent design folks — with whom I most certainly do disagree.

        Rather than using “theistic evolutionist,” whenever possible, I prefer to simply specify that I’m a Christian and I accept the mainstream scientific view of evolution. I don’t think we really need a special word for that.

        • Darwin Bloise

          I like Francis Collins’ word; Biologos. It fits it well.

        • Danny Klopovic

          The problem though is that “theistic evolution” is not that far removed from “intelligent design” and in fact, not all intelligent design people reject evolution in toto. There does not appear to be much difference in saying that God guided / directed evolution (which I take to be the common understanding of “theistic evolution”) and that God “designed” creation and the evidence for this is “irreducible complexity”.

          It just seems to me that it is a mistake to qualify evolution in that fashion as it continues to underwrite the conviction of both “militant” atheists and creationist Christians that there is indeed a metaphysic to be derived from the theory.

          • It just seems to me that it is a mistake to qualify evolution in that fashion as it continues to underwrite the conviction of both “militant” atheists and creationist Christians that there is indeed a metaphysic to be derived from the theory.

            I agree.

      • Danny Klopovic

        Then the remedy is to remind people that evolution does not entail a certain metaphysic, not persist in using the term “theistic evolution” which does underwrite the notion that there is a metaphysic implied.

  • micahnewman

    Unfortunately, this article trades on a very “loaded” concept of “random,” a word which in itself is equivocal. There is an epistemic meaning of “random” which just means “ignorance of prior causes.” And there is a metaphysical meaning which means indeterminism. When you say “when you turn back the clock and run the universe again there i is no reason to believe you would exist” based on meiotic crossing-over being “random,” you are presupposing the metaphysical meaning of “random.” But to say meiotic crossing-over is “random” by itself in no way entails indeterminism or determinism. In my view, the only way to meaningfully use the word “random” without importing all kinds of unwarranted presuppositions is to stick with the above-described epistemic meaning of the word. And as it happens, when we do this, evolution can be seen as perfectly compatible with theism: all it means is that we do not (perhaps cannot, in principle) have enough information to predict outcomes of complex processes like those that occur in molecular genetics.

  • aileron220

    I guess I can see how theistic evolution could be coherent, but I don’t see how believing in Christianity and evolution are coherent. If there was no fall, what was there to redeem? If Jesus is omniscient, why does he seem to believe in a recent literal creation and literal fall from grace?

    • Hey, thanks for your questions. I hope I can help. First of all, the Bible is very clear that our need for redemption is NOT based on the fall alone. In fact, it clearly teaches that our need for salvation stems from our own personal sin. Romans 3:23-25: “For 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, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

      So, completely separate from the question of what original sin is, and whether or not it exists, the bottom line is that we need salvation because of what each of us has done in disobedience to God. IF original sin exists, then it only serves to compound the problem; if it does not exist, then we’re all still screwed. Biblically speaking, of course.

      As far as your question about Jesus’ omniscience, I’m not sure what part of the gospels you might be referring to. Where exactly does Jesus seem to express belief in a “a recent literal creation and literal fall from grace”?

      • aileron220

        While it’s true redemption isn’t all about original sin, Romans also states in 5:12-21 the reason death exists in the first place and the reason Jesus’ sacrifice is needed to overcome death – the sin of Adam. Evolution means death existed for millions of years before humans existed. The math of evolution requires death for it to work. To claim that a benevolent creator tells his people death is a result of their disobedience when in fact he created them through a method that required death is incoherent.

        There’s also evidence to support the claim that Jesus believed in the literal meaning of Genesis. He refers to the creation of male and female in the beginning in Mark 10:6-9 and Matthew 19:4-6. He also refers to Abel, implying his belief in Adam and Eve in Luke 11:50-51. He also references the Noachian Deluge.

        It’s also important to place all of this into historical context. From the time of the Doctors of the Church the natural reading of the scriptures led Christian scholars to accept a literal creation, fall, and redemption for the sin of Adam. (One Doctor of the Church did question the meaning of days before creation of the sun, but never doubted the special creation of people.) It was only after evolution started winning the debate that people began reinterpreting the scriptures selectively claiming parts were allegorical where no such indication exists in the natural reading. The natural reading of the scriptures is that the people who wrote about creation and the people who referred to it, including Jesus, actually believed in it.

        • While it’s true redemption isn’t all about original sin, Romans also states in 5:12-21 the reason death exists in the first place and the reason Jesus’ sacrifice is needed to overcome death – the sin of Adam.

          But is Romans 5 talking about physical death or a different kind of death? Read it carefully: “so death spread to all men because all sinned.” The ability to die physically (mortality) is not conferred onto an individual after his or her first sin; if that were the case, then as-yet sinless newborn babies should be effectively immortal.

          No, I submit to you that Paul here is speaking of a different kind of death — spiritual death — which is a frequent theme in his writings, particularly Romans. Just to give one example, a couple chapters later, in Romans 7:9, Paul writes, “Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” It goes without saying that Paul had not physically died prior to his writing the book of Romans, and it must be noted that this passage is in the EXACT SAME CONTEXT as Romans 5 (the effects and consequences of sin). Just as his frequent exhortations that we “die to ourselves” is not a call to practice suicide, so it is — I think — rather obvious that his references to “death” in both Romans 5 and 7 are spiritual death, not physical death.

          And if the consequences of sin is spiritual death, and not physical death, then the conflict with the evolutionary history of life which you claim evaporates rather quickly.

          He refers to the creation of male and female in the beginning in Mark 10:6-9 and Matthew 19:4-6.

          He references theological teachings of Genesis in answer to a question about divorce. Not creation. Divorce. He describes the male and female genders as having been designed for God and intended for each other from the beginning of mankind, which I do not dispute or disbelieve.

          He also refers to Abel, implying his belief in Adam and Eve in Luke 11:50-51.

          If I describe one of my job duties as a “Herculean task,” does that imply my belief in Zeus, the father of Hercules, or in Hercules himself? Or does it simply imply that I am using a literary figure with which I expect my audience to be familiar, in order to make a point?

          Jesus’ point is that the disbelieving generation would be punished for its rejection of God’s prophets — all of them, from the very first to the very last. Abel’s name being mentioned doesn’t necessarily mean he was literally the first, any more than Zecheriah’s means he was literally the last.

          He also references the Noachian Deluge.

          See above, although I am open to the possibility that the account of Noah contains some historical information about a catastrophic localized flood.

          It’s also important to place all of this into historical context. From the time of the Doctors of the Church the natural reading of the scriptures led Christian scholars to accept a literal creation, fall, and redemption for the sin of Adam.

          I find this highly questionable. Though I don’t know exactly what you mean by “the Doctors of the Church,” I do know that influential and important Church fathers, leaders and theologians have offered non-literal interpretations of the Genesis creation accounts at least as early as Origen in the third century. Augustine offered allegorical views of Genesis well before Darwin, as did Thomas Aquinas.

          The natural reading of the scriptures is that the people who wrote about creation and the people who referred to it, including Jesus, actually believed in it.

          Now you’re equivocating “believing in” the Genesis creation accounts with “interpreting them literally.” I do not in any way assert that Genesis 1-3 is “untrue” or not divinely inspired. I, in fact, think it is enirely true, inspired by God and rich with theological and moral teachings that remain of the untmost importance today. I just don’t think it was meant to be taken as literal history.

          • aileron220

            I think you’ve hit on my central question about the coherence of Christianity and evolution right here:

            “I just don’t think it was meant to be taken as literal history.”

            All the other points are details that we could go around in circles about, but this is the crux. I agree Christianity and evolution can be coherent if we accept that parts of the Bible are not meant to be taken as literal history.

            My question in this case is: What parts are not to be taken literally, and who gets to decide? What if someone decides that the resurrection isn’t meant to be taken literally, or the virgin birth, or the divinity of Jesus?

            At what point does it stop being Christianity and start being cultural Christianity?

          • I agree Christianity and evolution can be coherent if we accept that parts of the Bible are not meant to be taken as literal history.

            It is self-evident that some parts of the Bible are not meant to be taken as literal history; significant parts. Speaking broadly and generally, Psalms, Proverbs, most of the books of the prophets, Revelations and the parables of Christ are — just to name a few — examples of biblical texts that are theologically and morally true without being literally or historically true. Just by way of examples, if you read “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” as history, or Psalm 18 (“The LORD is my rock”) literally, you will come out with some very wrong ideas.

            My question in this case is: What parts are not to be taken literally, and who gets to decide? What if someone decides that the resurrection isn’t meant to be taken literally, or the virgin birth, or the divinity of Jesus?

            This is indeed an important question. I believe that, in many cases, the proper interpretation is clear from a simple examination of the text. In cases when it is less clear, we as believers should seek the interpretation we believe to be the most reasonable and faithful to the text, without simply disqualifying alternate reasonable interpretations favored by other honest believers.

            In the case of the gospels, there is — again, broadly speaking — not much of an option in how they can be classified. In his chapter 1 intro, the author of Luke explicitly describes the purpose and nature of his writing and those of the other gospels. And he describes these writings as “orderly accounts” of “the things that have been fulfilled among us,” passed down by “eyewitnesses.” In other words, the gospels are self-described as historical accounts. And the Gospel of John, in verse 20:30-31, explains the deeper purpose: that we might believe Jesus is the Messiah and have life in his name.

            Genesis 1-3, on the other hand, contains no disclaimer in which the purpose or nature of the text is clearly described, and it certainly is nowhere in scripture purported to be an “eyewitness account” (contrary to the claims of Ken Ham and the like). Therefore, I believe it is and should be open to reasonable interpretation, and I think that many of its elements — such as its indeterminate place and time, the contradictory nature of Genesis 1 and 2, and clear metaphors like talking snakes and trees with magical properties — point to it being a symbolic text.

          • aileron220

            If we accept the Gospels as historical accounts, even if we accept inaccuracies, that presents an obvious difficulty with the lineage from Jesus to Adam in the Gospel According to Luke.

            People in Christ’s time believed in the historicity of Genesis. There’s nothing in Luke to suggest the lineage is symbolic (indeed what would that even mean for a genealogy), and quite a bit in Luke as you pointed out that the text is meant to be historical.

          • There’s nothing in Luke to suggest the lineage is symbolic (indeed what would that even mean for a genealogy)

            Obviously, there is more going on with the genealogies of Christ in Matthew and Luke then simply a straightforward rendition of Jesus’ ancestors. If that’s all they were meant to be, then there would be no discrepancies between them, and there are, very significant ones (including over such trivial matters as the name of Jesus’ paternal grandfather).

            There are several well-known theological answers to these discrepancies, but one of the prevailing ones is that the two genealogies are different because they have different purposes. Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience, wanted to hammer home the fact that Christ is the promise Messiah from the line of David, and he groups his genealogy into three groups of 14 (both three and 14 being important numbers in Hebrews numerology — i.e., yes genealogies can and do have symbolic function).

            Luke’s, on the other hand, was intended to show Jesus’ humanity, and that, though he is the Son of God, he is also fully man, and shares brotherhood with all other men and women. Hence, he traced Jesus’s lineage back to the person whom he had every reason to believe (in his limited human understanding) was the first person. Luke did not then know of the evolutionary history of life on our planet (just as the author of Genesis 1 displays no knowledge of other planets, other galaxies, quasars, black holes, micorbial life or the subatomic world) and the Holy Spirit obviously chose not to correct him, because it didn’t matter. The point that is being made is a theological one — Jesus is not just God, but fully man — not a scientific one, and the theological point is not changed by what we now know of evolution.

          • Roev Ghats

            If the First Adam was a myth, need the Last Adam be real? If Adam never existed, would we need to be saved in the first place? 1st Cor 15: says that our faith as Christians would be in vain if Christ didn’t rise from the dead. “Science” tells us that the world is very old, and that living things evolved and that Adam didn’t exist and many Christians believe these things because it came from the voice of “science.” Yet “science” tells us that dead men don’t rise. Why then, if we are to be consistent, do we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead? Yeah, the scriptures say that he was literally raised after the third day, but after all, science tells us that dead men don’t rise after three days. Maybe Jesus never literally rose from the dead; maybe the three days and nights are something metaphorical like after three more golden ages and three dark ages humanity will evolve immortality or something as if humanity is, as of the present age, only “two-thirds baked” and another three ages (days) and humanity will be whole. Or maybe it meant that Christianity will take off, three days and three nights, after His death. Anything but the historical-grammatical interpretation (that is interpreting the scriptures via the grammar that it was originally written in, plus how the original hearers would have understood it) that Jesus would literally rise from the dead in three literal days and nights just as He said He would. Just like we must deny the historical-grammatical interpretation that God created the universe in six literal days, six thousand literal years ago just as He said He did in His Infallible Word. Maybe 1st Cor 15: was just saying that we will regret wasting our time striving for piety if Christianity ever takes a nose dive. Maybe Paul was just saying that if and when that happens to “get out of the game quick.”

          • You are wrong in multiple ways. First of all, the Resurrection is in a different category than creation, being that it is a singular event that is said to have occurred in the remote past. We do not possess any physical evidence of the event which would be subject to a scientific analysis. You and I find evidence for the Resurrection in the testimony of scripture, in our experiences in communion with the living Christ, but ultimately, it is a matter of faith.

            The creation of the universe is a different matter. Though it, too, is an event that lies in the distant past, beyond any of our earthly experience, the evidence of what transpired in that past does endure to this day. It is available to us, all around us, and is subject to reason and the tools of science.

            Science cannot prove or disprove the Resurrection, because we possess no relevant evidence with which it can examine. However, it can indeed prove or disprove the idea that the universe was created 6,000 years ago, because the evidence is all around us.

            Secondly, there is a very important distinction between the gospels and Genesis. In his chapter 1 intro, the author of Luke explicitly describes the purpose and nature of his writing and those of the other gospels. And he describes these writings as “orderly accounts” of “the things that have been fulfilled among us,” passed down by “eyewitnesses.” In other words, the gospels are SELF-DESCRIBED as historical accounts, to be accepted or rejected on the basis of their accurate description of real events.

            Genesis 1-3, on the other hand, contains no disclaimer in which the purpose or nature of the text is clearly described, and it certainly is nowhere in scripture purported to be an “eyewitness account” (contrary to the claims of Ken Ham and the like). Therefore, I believe it is and should be open to reasonable interpretation, and I think that many of its elements — such as its indeterminate place and time, the contradictory nature of Genesis 1 and 2, and clear metaphors like talking snakes and trees with magical properties — point to it being a symbolic text.

          • Roev Ghats

            Concerning Origen and Augustine’s non-literal interpretations:

            Text from their own writtings proves that they believed in a world younger than 10,000 years.

            Origen: ‘After these statements, Celsus, from
            a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which
            teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that,
            while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the
            world is uncreated. For, maintaining that there have been, from all eternity, many
            conflagrations and many deluges, and that the flood which lately took place in the
            time of Deucalion is comparatively modern, he clearly demonstrates to those who
            are able to understand him, that, in his opinion, the world was uncreated. But let
            this assailant of the Christian faith tell us by what arguments he was compelled
            to accept the statement that there have been many conflagrations and many cataclysms,
            and that the flood which occurred in the time of Deucalion, and the conflagration
            in that of Phaethon, were more recent than any others.’ Contra Celsum
            (Against Celsus) 1.19, Ante-Nicene Fathers4:404.

            Augustine: ‘Let us, then, omit the conjectures
            of men who know not what they say, when they speak of the nature and origin of the
            human race. … They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents
            which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the
            sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed.’ Augustine,
            Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s
            Past, De Civitate Dei (The City of God), 12(10).

            Further, you have confused their uncertainty about the length of the creation
            days with rejection of a young earth, which they unambiguously affirmed. And their
            rejection of literal days was not based on the text, but on outside influences—just
            like long-age compromise today, which is based on imposing long-age ‘science’
            upon Scripture. Origen and Augustine belonged to the Alexandrian school, which was
            prone to allegorization, largely because of their neo-Platonic philosophy. They
            apparently couldn’t bear to have God’s creative acts in time, so they
            allegorized the days to an instant. Of course, this is diametrically
            opposite to what long-agers claim! But there was a perfectly good Hebrew
            word available for ‘moment’ or ‘instant’ (rega‘),
            if that’s what God had intended to communicate in Genesis 1.

            (Excerpts taken with miniscule adaptation from “ID theorist blunders on Bible: Reply to Dr William Dembski” by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D., CMI–Australia)

          • The question is not how old they thought the earth is. They had no scientific or biblical reason to suppose the universe was billions of years old. I’m sure they also believed the sun revolves around the earth and there is no such thing as germs or bacteria, but I doubt you think we should agree with them on those points.

            The question is whether they believed the Genesis creation accounts were meant to be read literally, and whether their beliefs were influenced by modern science. And the answer is, obviously, no, on both counts.

      • Roev Ghats

        “Have ye not read” Matthew 19:4, which says, “And he (Jesus) answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?”

        According to the evolution timeline, after 13.7 billion years of stellar evolution, and an overlapping 1 billion years of biological evolution, Homo finally evolved 2-3 million years ago. Picture for a moment a 100 meter race track. If you were to “plot” this evolutionary timeline on this track, the “beginning, when God made man male and female” would be only 1.82 cm away from the finish line! No matter how you look at it, 2 cm from the finish line isn’t anywhere close to the “beginning.”

        However, the Bible says that man was created on the sixth day, and that the world was about 4000 years old when Jesus spoke this line. If you were to plot this timeline on the 100 m race track, the “beginning, when God made man male and female” would be 0.411 mm from the start line.

        There other examples but I will leave you with a dilemma
        Either Jesus lied, and even the Son of God is fallible and ignorant; or Jesus told the truth and the world is 6000 years old and evolution becomes impossible.

        John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. ” Which if evolution is true, would really mean that Jesus is the way, something vaguely truth-ish and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through an ignoramus and/or liar. John 3:12, says “If I (Jesus) have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” ‘Exactly Jesus! If you can’t get the facts straight about earthly things, why should we, or how could we ever, believe that you know any more about heavenly things?’

        • Jesus’ intended meaning in Matthew 19:4 is clearly referencing “the beginning of mankind,” not the “the beginning of time.” Even under your view, Jesus could not mean “the beginning of time,” because the creation of mankind would have occurred not at the beginning, but six days later. So, to borrow your analogy of the track, the creation of mankind would have occurred right at the end of the sixth lap of the creative period.

          So, since Jesus means “the beginning of mankind,” then there is no trouble with the amount of time that elapsed before that. It could have been six days, or it could have been six trillion years, and it does not change Christ’s words or his meaning the slightest bit.

  • Roev Ghats

    Some people wrongly think that Elohim (Hebrew word for God) can do absolutely anything.
    Elohim cannot do absolutely anything; rather He can do only that which does
    not conflict with His own nature. The concept is simple. Elohim’s nature is
    good, therefore, His own nature precludes Him from doing or being evil;
    Elohim’s nature is just, therefore, His own nature precludes Him from doing or
    being unjust. The obvious implication, therefore, is that Elohim cannot do a
    great many things. (Elohim is by no means not Almighty, for only He Himself can
    restrict His own actions). I believe that Elohim’s very own nature disallows
    him from employing the process of evolution as a creative process. This is to
    say that I believe there are theological reasons, several of them, (as well as
    many scientific reasons) as to why Elohim is not an evolutionist, so to speak,
    and that one of these theological reasons is that such would conflict with His
    own nature. The Bible says that Elohim’s creation was perfect. Evolution says
    “death and suffering are as old as life itself by all but a split second.” If Elohim
    used evolution, and by implication death and suffering, as a creative process
    then His “perfect” world is one of death and suffering. If Elohim’s idea of “perfection”
    is that things are dying and suffering for millions and millions of years then
    Elohim is evil and sadistic. We know from the Bible, however, that Elohim is
    far from being evil or sadistic; rather He is infinitely Good and Loving.
    Therefore, God could not have used evolution.

    In Genesis 1:31, we read, “And Elohim saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it
    was very good.” Elsewhere in the Genesis account Elohim calls various
    parts of His incomplete creation good, or tov, but here at the end of
    His creation, He calls the whole very good, or in Hebrew, tov me’od.
    These two words have been translated as exceedingly good. Together,
    these two words express the perfection of the place, and of the world. The
    entire universe was perfect. There was no death or suffering; animals
    ate plants and not each other. (Gen 1:30) This was a world where the lion and
    the lamb dwelt together in peace; where the wolf and the lamb ate together, and
    the lion ate straw like the ox, where none hurt nor destroy. The original
    perfect world was paradise; it was tov me’od. In almost every
    respect, what Heaven is to be, Eden was. Elohim’s original creation was
    flawless, it was perfect in every way, it was tov me’od.

    The Bible says that Adam’s sin tainted, corrupted and destroyed this perfection. (Romans
    5:12-19) Evolution, however, says that
    death and suffering existed long before Adam evolved (if he even existed) three
    million years ago; that life began almost a billion years ago and that “death
    is as old as life by all but a split second.” Evolution says that from the
    beginning, nature has been “red in tooth and claw,” dancing to the screams and
    the shrieks of creatures torn into thousands of pieces while yet still alive,
    and swaying to the moans and the groans of every miserable, diseased, deformed,
    dying animal. Evolution is bloody process of death and aggression.

    The Bible says that the creation of man (Adam) was unique. It was not like the creation of
    plants and animals, where Elohim said, “Let the earth bring forth grass… Let
    the waters bring forth abundantly [fish and fowl]… Let the earth bring forth the living [land] creature(s)…” No, the Bible says that God said, “Let Us (Elohim the Father, Elohim the Son
    and Elohim the Holy Spirit) make man…” Later Genesis says, “YHWH Elohim formed
    man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
    life…” Elohim made Adam like a potter makes earthen vessels. Elohim was
    intimately involved in the creation of Adam (and Eve). Theistic evolution (totally
    oxymoron), however, says that the creative hand with which Elohim formed man
    was the process of death, suffering, and disease; that Elohim’s tender hand did
    not mold man out of mud, per say, but from soil blood-soaked from aeons of
    gratuitous carnage. Evolutionists would have you believe that the geological
    record demands millions of years. They will tell you that there exist fossils depicting
    cannibalism of beasts, disease, and cancer, and that these have been dated from
    tens to hundreds of million years in the past, and by implication, millions of
    years before any mythical “fall.” God created a perfect world. Evolution
    says that this perfect world was blood-soaked, cancer ridden and replete
    with suffering of all varieties. Need I go on? If the Bible as the Infallible
    Word of God is true, and evolution is also true, then Elohim’s perfect
    world Eden, and arguably Heaven also, is a world of gratuitous evils, a world
    He deemed to be tov me’od.

    Think about it for a moment, if Elohim considers a world of gratuitous evils perfect,
    what does that say about Elohim? Elohim is a perfect being. What is perfection?
    Perfection is, as theistic evolution would philosophically force you to
    believe, the same as gratuitous evils. Elohim would then necessarily love
    gratuitous evils. Elohim, as a perfect being would necessarily be
    gratuitously evil. Elohim would neither be Good nor Love, Elohim
    would instead be Evil and Hate. Judeo-Christianity would then burn and crash to
    the ground. If Elohim were to consider gratuitous evils as good and perfect
    then Elohim would Himself be gratuitously evil.

    We know from the Bible, however, that Elohim is Good, and Good to the highest degree; Elohim
    is loving and indeed is Love for it is written (1st John 4:8), “God
    is love” and (Mark 10:18), there is none good but one, that is, Elohim. Elohim’s
    goodness and love are reflected in his idea of a perfect world. As recorded in
    Genesis, Elohim’s notion of a perfect world is a world with no death, no
    suffering, no evils, where all the animals eat plants and not each other; such
    as what will be in the Everlasting Kingdom was in the Garden of Eden. Therefore,
    Death and suffering, and by implication, could not exist have existed in
    paradise because Elohim’s own goodness and loving kindness disallows it. Hence,
    theistic evolution is a contradiction in terms. Elohim’s own nature disallows
    him from employing the process of evolution as a creative process. I will leave
    you with three quotes:

    “[Natural] selection is the blindest, and most cruel way of evolving a new species…The
    struggle for life and elimination of the weakest is a horrible process, against
    which our whole modern ethic revolts…I am surprised that a Christian would
    defend the idea that this is the process which God more or less set up in order
    to have evolution.” – Jacques Monod

    “If all the animals and man had been evolved in this ascendant manner, then there had been
    no first parents, no Eden, and no Fall. And if there had been no fall, then the
    entire historical fabric of Christianity, the story of the first sin and the
    reason for an atonement, upon which the current teaching based Christian
    emotion and morality, collapsed like a house of cards.” -H.G. Wells

    “Christianity has fought, still fights, and will continue to fight science to the desperate
    end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very
    reason Jesus’ earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve
    and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the
    Son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is
    what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing.” – G. Richard Bozarth

    Always, and in all things, let God be glorified.

    • The Bible says that Elohim’s creation was perfect.

      No it doesn’t. Hebrew has a word for “perfect”; the Old Testament uses it frequently to describe God, his word, his law and even his works, but never once does it describe creation, at any point in history.

      If Elohim used evolution, and by implication death and suffering, as a creative process then His “perfect” world is one of death and suffering.

      You don’t know what you’re talking about. Evolution works through life, through new forms being born and going on to reproduce and propagate their species. In such a world, death is a mercy, for if there were no death, the world would quickly fill up and life would be extremely unpleasant. And suffering has nothing to do with any of it.

      There was no death or suffering; animals ate plants and not each other. (Gen 1:30)

      Genesis 1:30 says neither of those things.

      If Elohim’s idea of “perfection” is that things are dying and suffering for millions and millions of years then Elohim is evil and sadistic.

      Again, God never said his creation was “perfect,” and he certainly never called suffering and death “perfect.” He called his creation “very good,” but he did not call suffering and death “very good.” In the same way, he did not call darkness “good” when it was created on the first day. Darkness is simply an intrinsic part of the light existing, just as death is simply an intrinsic part of life.

      Together, these two words express the perfection of the place, and of the world.

      No, they express the goodness of the place and of the world. Good, even very good, does not by any stretch of the imagination mean “perfect and flawless in every way.” And, again, if the author meant to convey that the creation was “perfect,” he could have and would have used the Hebrew word for “perfect.”

      The Bible says that Adam’s sin tainted, corrupted and destroyed this perfection. (Romans 5:12-19)

      Romans 5 explicitly limits the effects of sin to humanity. In fact, there is not a verse in the entire Bible that says Adam’s sin corrupted the universe. Again, you have no idea what you’re talking about.

      Evolution says that from the beginning, nature has been “red in tooth and claw,” dancing to the screams and the shrieks of creatures torn into thousands of pieces while yet still alive, and swaying to the moans and the groans of every miserable, diseased, deformed, dying animal.

      What an uplifting view of creation you have! Do me a favor, would you: Read Psalm 104 and Job 38-39, and tell me if God’s own views of his “post-fall” creation are even remotely similar to yours?

      I’ll leave you with three quotes:

      “Does the evolutionary doctrine clash with religious faith? It does not. It is a blunder to mistake the Holy Scriptures for elementary textbooks of astronomy, geology, biology, and anthropology. Only if symbols are construed to mean what they are not intended to mean can there arise imaginary, insoluble conflicts…. the blunder leads to blasphemy: the Creator is accused of systematic deceitfulness.” — Theodosius Dobzhansky

      “As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and infinitely marvellous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out, in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first proposed. Mr. Darwin’s theory need not then to be atheistical, be it true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see] that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.” — John Henry Newman

      “Those who yield to the temptation to reserve a point here and there for special divine interposition are apt to forget that this virtually excludes God from the rest of the process. If God appears periodically, He disappears periodically. If He comes upon the scene at special crises, He is absent from the scene in the intervals. Whether is all-God or occasional-God the nobler theory? Positively, the idea of an immanent God, which is the God of Evolution, is infinitely grander than the occasional wonder-worker, who is the God of an old theology.” — Henry Drummond

      Always, and in all things, let God be glorified.

  • Joshua Steiner

    Good argument!

    However, I feel as if the entire argument could be circumvented when we realize that the idea that “evolution” is random is not scientific in anyway. That is not a conclusion that one actually based upon the evidence, precisely because such a conclusion is outside of the scientific paradigm. Science is about analyzing and breaking down processes to fully understand them. The opposite would be when a human analyzes the data and draws conclusions about patterns. Not only this, but a human would go further than this by making philosophical conclusions about the matter. Scientific experimentation, deduction, hypotheses, etc. only contribute to the general understanding of the processes involved. For instance, understanding how natural selection and mutations in the genome work in tandem to cause species to vary and eventually allowing for the development of separate populations [and new species]. That is what the evidence will allow. Extending the conclusion by looking at fossil evidence, genetic evidence, etc. allows us to warrant the conclusion that the taxonomy of life has changed significantly over the course of the past 4.6 billion years. What we cannot conclude is whether this process is indeed “random” or whether it was “purposeful”. That is something that a human, such as myself, might conclude from what we can know from the scientific data but it is not something that falls in the realm of science. It is something that is primarily determined by the narrative and worldview that each individual human and community holds to.

    • Hey Joshua, thanks for the reply! I appreciate the argument, and I agree with you. I think you responded to the “incoherent” claim in the logical and scientific way, whereas I tried to look at it more from a theological perspective. In my opinion, the argument still falls apart either way, and that’s the bottom line.

  • farah

    you people are deluuuudeeed

  • Sargon Surit

    I disagree about the assertion that man has a free will.

    The will is not struggling in the sea in need of a lifesaver to grab on to. It is a dead corpse, floating face down in the water, in need of divine resuscitation back from death to life.

    Some people say that we have the choice of believing. The Bible is very clear that the gift of the Holy Spirit is just that, a gift, from God. Left to our own devices, we would never choose God. In our natural state, we are at enmity with God. Regeneration is monogistic, not synergistic. Only when He provides the gift, does regeneration happen and the process of sanctification begins and it’s a lifelong pursuit towards glorification in Heaven.

    Men don’t have a free will by which they can choose to come to Christ. They have a God who frees them to come to Christ, and once freed, they will. There is no “free will,” only a “freed will.”