Can a Person Believe in Both God and Evolution?

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Excerpt In order to do so, one must circumvent the traditional definition of the term ‘God’ or ‘evolution’ or both. Which makes taking this position a mistake... Continue reading

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Yes, certainly it’s possible for someone to affirm faith in God and evolution. I know many who do. But in order to do so, one must circumvent the traditional definition of the term ‘God’ or ‘evolution’ or both. Which makes taking this position a mistake.

Now I’m assuming for the purposes of this article that ‘God’ means the God of the Bible and that ‘evolution’ means macroevolution—the system or process that involves the descent of increasingly complex and developed organisms (and even kinds) from ancestor organisms over long periods of time by natural selection.

But the God of the Bible is referred to in the Bible (Genesis 1:1, Isaiah 43:1, Romans 1:25, etc.) as Creator of all that is, not developer of some system that eventually produces all that is. To create by fiat (Genesis 1) implies the act of bringing something into existence directly and purposefully, not eventually and by chance.

Evolutionary theory (i.e. Darwinianism), on the other hand, has always been based on naturalism and has never postulated a role of any sort for the Creator God of the Bible. So believing in both the God of the Bible and macroevolutionary theory necessarily involves a very awkward redefining of terms, and an anomalous merging of concepts. The resulting hybrid views are variously referred to today as Deistic evolution, theistic evolution, progressive creationism, BioLogos, Framework interpretation, Day-Age and Gap theories. All such views are rejected by proponents of literal Biblical creationism and naturalistic evolution—with good reason.

Intellectually sharp scientific minds (past and present) such as Assimov, Sagan, Dawkins, and Provine have all been absolutely consistent in saying that if an impersonal, inanimate  evolutionary system can rearrange molecules and chemicals in such a way as to have produced all that is, then there is certainly no need or place for God and religious myth in this world.

The National Academy of Sciences is strongly committed to Darwinian evolutionary theory — and only 7% of its members claim to believe in a personal God. So they are also logically consistent within their worldview and in regard to the historic definition of terms. I admire that, although I certainly do not share their worldview.

Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says it this way: “I...couldn't disagree more with their premise [but] I think their self-analysis is correct. You cannot coherently affirm the Christian truth claim and the dominant model of evolutionary theory at the same time.”

Respected Christian apologist Greg Koukl (STR.org) says: "If you are an evolutionist, you are not a theist in the sense that your theism has anything to do with the real world. If you want to believe in God and believe in evolution, fine, go ahead and do that, but don't act like your belief in God has anything to do with the real world. It doesn't. Your belief about the real world is evolution, and that means time and chance. If you believe that God has something to do with the real world, then you can't be an evolutionist because evolution is run by chance, not by God, by definition."

But if all of this is true, how do we explain why sincere Christian scholars, scientists, and theologians from St. Augustine to Hugh Ross to Francis Collins have opted for some form of theistic evolutionary doctrine?

Author Nancy Pearcey explains: “Theistic evolution has enormous appeal. It seems to offer the best of both worlds. It offers the comfort and fulfillment of believing in God, and at the same time the security of fitting in with the m ajor scientific consensus.” But the “concept of creation is fundamental to the Christian worldview," she insists. “In accepting evolution...theologians reject a number of key Christian beliefs.” It’s an unfortunate compromise.

And an unnecessarily one. Because good and sufficient evidence abounds for a strictly creationist view of origins. And the evidence is both scientific and Biblical.

AIIA Resource Associate Wayne Frair, Ph.D., is a credentialed scientist and book author. He says, “Yes, you can [believe in both God and evolution], but when you study the evidence carefully, you discover that God did not do it that way.”

John MacArthur, in The Battle for the Beginning: “Absolutely nothing in the text of Genesis 1:1-2:3 speaks of evolution or long geologic ages in creation process. The text itself is in fact a straightforward refutation of all evolutionary principles. Theistic evolution, billion-year-old-earth theories, and ‘progressive creationism’ are all refuted if we simply take the statements of Gene sis at face value.”

The foundational concepts of macro-evolutionary theory and the Biblical Creator God are mutually exclusive.

This article has been reproduced with permission. Daryl Witmer is the founder and director of the AIIA Institute, found online at: http://aiia.christiananswers.net/home.html

Recommended Resources for Further Study

     
The Myth of
Natural Origins
Paradise to Prison The Genesis Record

References: 

www.bible.edu/index.cfm?PAGE_ID=1672&EXPAND=

Comments Comment RSS

8/30/2008 9:39 AM #

Good article, however, the Day-Age theory and especially the Gap Theory have anything to do with evolution. They are debates about linguistic interpretation.
Day-Age simply interprets yom as referring to an unspecified period of time, so that God created things, waited an unspecified period of time, presumably a long period of time, and then created the next day of things, and so on. Evolution is not necessary in this position.
The Gap Theory is concerned with a possible gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, postulating that there was an original creation in 1:1, it was corrupted, presumably by Satan's fall, and then God recreated the earth and proceeded to do so in 7 literal days. This is primarily based upon the earth being referred to as tohu and bohu, because Jeremiah says God did not create the earth tohu and bohu.

TRN - 8/30/2008 9:39:37 AM

9/8/2008 6:36 PM #

I know I am not the best person to comment on this because my own lack of knowledge on some of the theories relating but I more had a question for those who may understand. Darwin in his theory discusses micro-evolution; the finches he uses as one of his main examples are not vastly changing over long periods of time but adapting over relatively small periods of time are they not? It didn't take eons for the birds beak to change shape. So why does evolution have to only apply to macro-evolution and totally leave God out of the plan?
Also, are we as humans so vain to pretend we are so intelligent that we can understand all God can do? As humans we have a finite mind. whereas God is infinite. How can the finite begin to comprehend the infinite? As a Christian I believe in God and all he said, but was all he said in the Bible, especially in the creation story meant to be taken literally? God created us, I didn't randomly happen from primeval sludge, that I do believe. In that belief though must i ignore all science? God made humanity and knew we would want to understand how life began, so is it not possible that he explained it to humans in a way we COULD comprehend? Humans understand what days and nights are. The creation story makes sense to people, it is put in terms that we can fathom. God didn't necessarily do it all exactly like he says there. Could it not be possible he did something beyond our understanding? He after all, is God. I'm not trying to say by any means that God didn't just speak words and life came; he's God he can do what he wants. That means he could have made the processes we now understand as science. It just has never made sense to me why both can't be true.  I don't have the theories or knowledge to get this all but I would appreciate those who have extensively studied this to help me understand.

Sarah - 9/8/2008 6:36:09 PM

9/10/2008 5:44 AM #

Dear Sarah,

We would like to thank you for your questions about this article, and about the revelation of God. I am hoping my answer helps you with the questions that you have.

1. We reject macro-evolution, the philosophical belief that non-life arose to life, and that all life we see today comes from one common ancestor.

2. Micro-evolution, or speciation, cannot be extrapolated to justify macro-evolution. The finches you describe are examples of speciation, we observe speciation throughout all levels of life on earth, and speciation is taught in the early chapters of Genesis. Here is an article about the Genesis One reference to "their own kind", or Hebrew, miyn: www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...fore-Our-Eyes.aspx

3. You are correct in saying that we should not be so vain to think we can understand all that God CAN do. However, we should also not be so vain to NOT believe what God said He DID DO! And what He did in creating the universe is explicit and plainly stated in the first chapter of Genesis. How God called the universe from nothing into existence is beyond us, how God created the universe in 6 days is beyond us as well. But the FACT of those acts are plainly stated in his Holy Word, and we ought to believe what He has said, just as we have no idea how God raised Christ from the dead. Just because the work required in resurrecting Jesus is beyond our knowledge does not negate the fact that it happened, nor does it negate our responsibility to believe that fact, as recorded in the Scriptures.

4. Genesis is written in the form of historical narrative, and like the rest of Scripture, its meaning can be ascertained through grammatical-historical exegesis. There is no reason to understand it in any other way except the way the church predominantly understood it for the better part of 19 centuries: God created the universe in 6 days.

If God created the universe, and He has revealed to us in Scripture information about that series of events, then we can say with certainty that it is so because GOD HAS SAID IT IS SO. God is an adequate witness to Himself and His acts of creation. Here, we should be reminded that many things are a mystery to us, but nothing is a mystery to God. But He does in fact reveal things to us, re: Deuteronomy 29:29: "The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever..."

5. There are many valid Biblical, linguistic, theological, and YES, scientific reasons to take Genesis One as straightforward. ABR has held this view since its inception in 1969, and each of our scholars and staff believe this view is the correct understanding of Genesis One, and the only view that remains true to all Scriptural considerations. See ABR statement of faith, # 10, here: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/about/

Biblical-- Confirmed by Jesus in Mark 10:6; in Exodus 31:17, and other places.

Linguistic and Scientific-- Other ministries, such as CMI, have done exhaustive work on this subject:
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/3003
http://creationontheweb.com/content/view/21/65/

See also AIG: http://www.answersingenesis.org/
And ICR: http://www.icr.org/

Theological-- I refer you to my own research on this subject: www.biblearchaeology.org/.../...om-Adams-Fall.aspx

Lastly, we believe that God has reveal Himself in two ways:
1. General Revelation: He reveals Himself throught the human conscience, the creation, and through man's own identity being made in the image of God. Romans 1-2
2. Special Revelation: The revelation of the Holy Scriptures are God's Word, given to human beings. The central mesasge of the Bible is the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God.

I hope this helps you in your pursuit of the Lord of Glory, Jesus!

Blessings,

Henry Smith

hsmith - 9/10/2008 5:44:49 AM

5/6/2009 2:26 AM #

Mr. Witmer - I thought the first half of your article was very clear and well written, and admire that you recognize the obvious fact that "believing in both the God of the Bible and macroevolutionary theory necessarily involves a very awkward redefining of terms, and an anomalous merging of concepts."

I wasn't as impressed with the second half of your article, as I still don't understand your reason/s for dismissing the now overwhelming scientific evidence in support of natural evolution.

I agree that evolution contradicts a number of key Christian beliefs; however your assertion that "good and sufficient evidence abounds for a strictly creationist view of origins" and that "the evidence is both scientific and Biblical" is left wholly unsupported.

I'm not aware of a shred of scientific evidence that points away from nature and towards the existence of a "Biblical Creator God." To what scientific evidence are you referring?

Lastly, I found the quote you included from author Nancy Pearcey about "theistic evolution" offering the "best of both worlds" in that it "offers the comfort and fulfillment of believing in God, and at the same time the security of fitting in with the major scientific consensus” revealing.

Ms. Pearcey plainly states her desire for "comfort" and "fulfillment" and the "security of fitting in." Such desires are perfectly human and easily understandable - though they are also clearly babyish. I'm sure it's unsettling to be faced with overwhelming scientific evidence that flatly contradicts deeply held personal beliefs; however I can't see how twisting the words of the Bible over and over again to maintain some tie with science can offer anything but the most hollow and false sense of consolation.

Nobody should feel such intense pressure to accept tales such as Genesis on insufficient evidence. The natural world around us and the cosmos that we see through increasingly clear images from NASA telescopes is beautiful and awe inspiring enough without having to insert a Creator. In light of the number of natural and man-made disasters that have befallen our species in the brief moment that we have existed on this earth, I fail to see how the notion that a Creator is responsible could be a comfort to anyone.

Johnny - 5/6/2009 2:26:30 AM

3/26/2010 8:56 PM #

I think you are straw manning Dr Hugh Ross and progressive creationism. It does not entail Darwinism. They advocate intelligent design and divine creation. In fact because they are credentialed and respected scientists, Dr Ross' ministry Reasons to Believe is one of the few that can offer a serious challenge to the Darwinian consensus.

Cris Putnam - 3/26/2010 8:56:49 PM

3/26/2010 9:11 PM #

On Hugh Ross, his theology and exegesis are seriously flawed:
http://creation.com/creation-compromises

Academic credentials are held by many Young Earth scientists, so your argument is a straw man. Besides, do you really think the Darwinists see Hugh Ross as credible just because he has academic credentials? They do not...because he believes God created the universe. Darwinists are committed to the religion of philosophical naturalism...they scoff at Ross as much as anyone else.
http://creation.com/qa#creation_scientists

Progressive creation is Biblically untenable and should be rejected.


ABR - 3/26/2010 9:11:02 PM

12/20/2012 4:58 PM #

No you can't believe in both creation and evolution.  They are diametrically opposite religions and beliefs.  One says God created everything the other says everything was random chance.  One says the world is billions of years old and one says only 10,000.  Evolution denies God in everything it says happens.  To believe in both is like believing that something is red and blue at the same time.  It is impossible.  Those who say they believe in both are either ignorant of both teachings or are lying to fit in with both groups.

bob - 12/20/2012 4:58:14 PM

12/30/2013 6:58 PM #

bob  has  it  right.   GOD  and evolution  are  a  contridition.  Remember  Darwin  was  a  man  who  was  out  to  disprove  there  was  a  God  because  he  did  not  like  his  father  who  was  a  man  of  God.  Also  remember  it is  called  Darwin"s  Theory  not  Darwin"s  Fact.  If someone  believes  that  there  was  this  big  mass  that  exploded  and  formed   perfectly  round  planets  with  suns  at  there  centers  holding  it  all  together with  this  force  called  gravity ,however  that  came  about,and  on  this  goldilocks  planet  ,EARTH,  at  the  perfect  distant  from  the  sun  rotating  24  hours  a day  ,traveling  on  a oblong path  around  the  sun  365.25  days  a year  on  a  imaginary  axis  at  a  certain  angle,to  give  us  seasons.  Then water  forming, oceans of it, and  nobody  can  explain  how  water got here  ,only  theory s  that  make  no  sense at all.  Then  micro's  came  alive , how  did those  sleeping  dead  come  to  be there?  If  there  was  no  water  on  an  exploded  object  traveling  through  space,  and if  there  were  micbros, then  they  were  dead.  And  once  something  is dead  it  can not  come  alive again, and if  you  believe  they  came  alive  with  oceans  of  water,however  that's  possible, and  then  formed  into  fish that  eventually  walked  on  land and  now  needed  air  to  breathe  and  survived  the  heat and  didnt  die  right away , and  became  a  flower,a  peanut, a watermelon,  a  bug,  a  horse,an oak  tree,you  get  the  point  .If  you  think  it's  possible  for  a  fish  to  evolve  into  an  insect  or  animal  then  explain  how  a  fish  becomes  grass,a  tree,a  fruit ,a vegetable.  This  planet  ,this  universe  work  on  a  perfect  order  based  on   math  that  to  believe that  all  of  this  is  because  of   some  randomed  billions  of  coincidents  is  not  beliveable  to  me.

gino - 12/30/2013 6:58:40 PM

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