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Why Christians Should Concede Theistic Evolution

When debating evolutionists, the average Christian must concede a lot — mainly, reams of scientific info and terms. I can navigate my way through the Bible, but when it comes to Horizontal Gene Transfer, Epigenetic Inheritance or the Cambrian Explosion, I am relatively clueless.

This doesn’t mean we should sacrifice all scientific spin to the academics, but that we should at least admit, at some point, the average Christian is way out of their league handling evolutionary data. Yes, we should possess a rudimentary understanding of arguments against evolution, namely that it is unproven and untestable. Still, I am dependent on somebody else (i.e., Christian scientists) to “technically” bolster my argument. The Christian, then, must rely on the Bible and common sense — and someone with a degree in the biological sciences — to wage war against the barbarians.

However, more and more of our brainiac “brethren” are embracing theistic evolution. It’s caused not a few rifts among Christians (see my post: Saving Science From the Church). But I personally believe that conceding theistic evolution is a reasonable middle ground, if not a move that makes tactical sense.

You see, most non-theists embrace the concept of biological evolution not for its wealth of evidence, but because it’s (currently) their best argument against God.  In other words, many people believe in evolution simply because it supports an atheistic presupposition. In this way, evolution has become the default “proof” that the Christian God does not exist. Of course, uncovering actual “proof” that men came from monkeys is another story.

So why concede theistic evolution?

For one, as I mentioned above, it frees us the embarrassment of defending scientific data, biological processes, and genetic research that we know little or nothing about. This is not meant to say that there isn’t any data or research to support biblical creationism, but that wielding technical arguments without technical background or accompanying savvy is a double-edged sword. It is far better, in my opinion, to cite sources and references that support one’s position, rather than throw around terminology and statistics willy-nilly.

Secondly, biological evolution is not clearly ruled out in Scripture. Of course, many Christians would dispute this. The Bible’s aim, however, is to show us the origin of the Universe and the Beings who inhabit it, not provide a detailed description of the organic processes God may have used along the way. Man is created in the image of God. This is central to the Genesis creation account and distinct to historic Christianity. As long as a theistic evolutionist affirms that biblical doctrine (i.e., that Man is much more than an advanced animal; he is Divinely imprinted), how that Man was “assembled” should be peripheral.

Third, conceding theistic evolution frees us to focus on the essential issue: How everything got here. Think about it: The core distinction between Creationists and Evolutionists is not evolution, per se, but the belief that a Superior Being is behind the Cosmos. That’s it. Conceding theistic evolution allows us to (1) Completely remove the “evolution” argument and complex scientific narratives and linguistics, and (2) Focus on the larger issue of who we are and how we got here.

Admittedly, conceding theistic evolution is more a strategic turn than a biblical imperative. I mean, the Scripture could easily be interpreted to say that God instantaneously brought a human from the soil. But is that a hill we need to die on? By conceding an “evolutionary process” we remove a central plank of the non-theist’s apologetic and expose their underlying presupposition that the Universe is just a godless, unguided tangle of particles that arose from, well, Nothing. As long as we do not deny the essence of the biblical account, conceding the process (i.e., an evoltuionary mechanism) can help us get more quickly to the real issue, which is usually hostility toward the Creator.

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{ 22 comments… add one }
  • bobxxxxxxx June 16, 2009, 12:25 PM

    Evolution is science and there's nothing theistic about science. So "theistic evolution" is bullshit.

    "In other words, many people believe in evolution simply because it supports an atheistic presupposition."

    People who understand science don't "believe" in scientific facts like evolution. They accept scientific facts because of the massive evidence for those facts. What is obviously true (for example, evolution) is not a belief.

    Your "many people believe in evolution simply because it supports an atheistic presupposition" is bullshit. People accept evolution for the same reason they accept gravity. It's a fact of nature.

    Atheistic presupposition? Is that what you call reality?

    • Mike Duran June 16, 2009, 1:15 PM

      Bob, I would suggest that your assertion that "there's nothing theistic about science" is forced by people who don't want there to be. But if the goal of science is to follow facts, then if those facts happen to trace toward an "intelligent designer" or at least a transcendent being, an honest scientist must concede the evidence. Some have. Sadly, they are ostracized and ridiculed by their brethren.

      A commitment to science does not ensure the purity of one's motives. Wouldn't you agree? Academics can be just as stubborn, egocentric, and misguided as their unenlightened counterparts. As such, evolutionists can be biased. This much was admitted by anti-creationist science writer Boyce Rensberger in his book, "How the World Works" (William Morrow, NY, 1986). He wrote:

      "At this point, it is necessary to reveal a little inside information about how scientists work, something the textbooks don't usually tell you. The fact is that scientists are not really as objective and dispassionate in their work as they would like you to think. Most scientists first get their ideas about how the world works not through rigorously logical processes but through hunches and wild guesses. As individuals, they often come to believe something to be true long before they assemble the hard evidence that will convince somebody else that it is. Motivated by faith in his own ideas and a desire for acceptance by his peers, a scientist will labor for years knowing in his heart that his theory is correct but devising experiment after experiment whose results he hopes will support his position." (pp. 17-18)

      It's refreshing to hear an evolutionist make such admissions. Fact is, many people approach evolutionary "evidence" predisposed to reject God. Rather than follow the evidence to a conclusion, they begin with a conclusion and force the evidence to gel. The result is an assumption, which at its heart, is highly unscientific, i.e., that Something came from Nothing.

      Thanks for your comments, Bob!

  • bobxxxx June 16, 2009, 12:34 PM

    "In this way, evolution has become the default “proof” that the Christian God does not exist. Of course, uncovering actual “proof” that men came from monkeys is another story."

    It's not just evolutionary biology that makes your magic fairy look like the childish invention that it is. All of science is a threat to your idiotic Christian death cult.

    Men came from monkeys? You sound like the ignorant creationist that you are. People share an ancestor with monkeys but we are more closely related to apes. And in fact we are still an ape species. We didn't develop from modern apes (or monkeys). We developed from the same ancient apes that the other modern ape species developed from.

    Has our evolutionary relationship with the other ape species (and our more distant relationship with monkeys) been proven? Hell yes. This is probably the strongest fact of science. The evidence from molecular biology and genetics (and many other branches of science) is overwhelming. Every time molecular biologists compare DNA sequences of people and chimps they see more evidence for the extremely obvious fact these two species are distant cousins. If you don't know that, why don't you study science, instead of spreading lies about it.

    • Mike Duran June 16, 2009, 1:31 PM

      re: "All of science is a threat to your idiotic Christian death cult."

      Wikipedia has a fascinating List of Christian Thinkers in Science, which includes chemists, geneticists, mathematicians and Pentecostal preachers. ChristiansAnwers.Net and Answers in Genesis both have detailed lists of Creation Scientists. There are even groups like Christians in Science. Perhaps the notion of a vast rift between science and religion is exaggerated by those who want there to be one.

      Furthermore, early scientific method was often propelled by a biblical worldview. Copernicus, Kepler, Bacon and Galileo, all had Faith in common. Einstein initially hesitated to unveil his Theory of General Relativity because he believed it validated what Creationists had been saying all along — that matter and time had a beginning. Of course, some would suggest that miracles contradict scientific method. But in an age where subatomic particles can "react" to being viewed, who's to say what laws are really "established."

      Now you'll excuse me, Bob, as I assemble the followers of my "death cult."

    • Ryan February 15, 2012, 7:34 AM

      It’s no surprise that animals all over the world share DNA. This lends no support to either creation or evolution because in both situations shared DNA would be the case. Does software that shares similar features not have shared code? All life on earth is made with the same code. The only code. Not only that but animals have shared features because we all live in the same world and have similar needs to live in this world. Those similar features and makeup require the code to be similar. For this not to be true God would have made a different code for each species. Something out of Star Trek maybe? Creatures made of pure energy, gases, and so on. Shared DNA is a dead end for arguing against creation.

    • simon September 16, 2012, 6:53 PM

      4 z record lots of speceis have very close dna like either crocidiles and chikens or alligators and chikens oh and christianity is more of a life cult.

  • XDPaul June 16, 2009, 2:50 PM

    Sweet! I've got a new moniker.

    "Idiotic Death Cultist." I suppose I shoud thank Godless Reason for such a sensible, accurate and thoughtful descriptor.

    I never realized how unscientific I was behaving until someone called me a name.

  • Jason June 16, 2009, 6:35 PM

    Bob, what a way to make a splash. Launch into a blog post, speak confidently, even arrogantly, making sweeping statements without explanation or justification, and insulting the author. Obviously, you are not interested in debate. Perhaps you actually think your bravado will convince us "Idiotic Death Cultists" to finally see the error of our ways. Or perhaps you have issues you don't realize that drive you to comment on something you consider drivel anyway. You could just leave us IDCers alone, happy in our little delusions. Or you could choose to engage in proper reasoning, as Mike has been very willing to do so in a civil manner.

  • Jason June 16, 2009, 6:35 PM

    BTW, science is not necessarily exclusive to theism. Science is studying the known world with observation and testable hypotheses. Granted, not many angels subject themselves to DNA testing, but just because we haven't done it yet doesn't mean it can't be done. You're painting with an awfully wide brush stroke there.

    I grant that many Christians arguing on evolution misapply the term "theory", taking it to be less than it is. Yet science only goes up to the level of theory, not establishing "facts". We all thought Newtonian physics were facts until Einstein came along.

    There's plenty to debate in this issue, but if you're going to be superior to us, you shouldn't make wide, unsupported claims. But if you're willing to make reasoned arguments and engage in a back and forth dialogue, great! Otherwise you're resembling a certain Monty Python sketch.

    As for me, Idiotic Death Cultists would be a great name for a rock band!

  • Nicole June 16, 2009, 6:57 PM

    Bob4x typifies why there is no reason to concede anything to evolutionists. I agree that most of us are over our heads in the scientific debate arena, Mike, but I'd say that the majority of average evolutionists are as well as Bob4x so aptly demonstrated.

  • Dayle June 16, 2009, 9:04 PM

    Mike, I happen to be an expert on all things related to these matters. I'd be happy to field any questions. : )

    The only thing that has been proven is the alteration of physical traits of given species through natural selection. ie hieght or color.

    However, there is no proof of the creation of species through the same processes. It is only considered inferrable.

    As to the kinship of primates. This has been incredibly exaggerated. 94% of a trillion leaves a big gap. Especially considering how powerful one gene is.

    As to your overall point, Mike. I believe more and more everyday that it is the love of Jesus that courts men's hearts. To get bogged down in these peripherals sometimes gives the opposition, or the reluctant, a hill to die on.

    However, evolution ( or more accurately, the purposeful fusion and therefore confusion of micro vs. macro evolution) has caused many to turn from God. Education on this subject is important.

  • P Lukens May 4, 2010, 10:56 AM

    “Secondly, biological evolution is not clearly ruled out in Scripture.”

    Really? I think there is some pretty compelling evidence that it is:

    1 Timothy 2:13 – “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.”

    Romans 5:12 – “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

    If theistic evolution occured, how is Adam the first man according to Paul’s first letter to Timothy? If theistic evolution occured, he would have been born of parents, and would NOT have been “created first.” Second, if death entered the human race from Adam and Eve’s sin, then their ancestors (from millions of years) must have still been alive, no?

    Further, as your comments from bobxxx show, too many evolutionists aren’t even willing to debate. My, my, what foul language you use, bob. Is it not possible for you to debate politely? Probably not. I’m sure your foul mouth is the result of the evolution of Tourettes.

  • Michael Hawley March 1, 2011, 1:18 PM

    Mike has hit the nail on the head. My Master’s research in on fossil stratigraphy, and while I was collecting data I was simultaneously investigating anti-evolution and young earth creationist claims. Not only does the evidence conflict with their claims it actually conforms to common ancestry. Instead of merely accepting what others claimed, I purposely searched for the answers. I am the author of Searching for Truth with a Broken Flashlight and my website, http://www.searchingfortruthwithabrokenflashlight.com goes into detail much of what Mike is discussing.


  • E. Stephen Burnett March 1, 2011, 3:14 PM

    Sounds like we’ll have to disagree on this one, Mike. Here are some short reasons why, before I head to a work-related meeting (and then birthday enjoyments at home).

    Getting past all the arguments over “day”‘s definition on the theology side, and all the evolutionary jargon you mentioned on the secular-science side — accepting or even conceding theistic evolution still leaves God responsible for allowing or guiding a process over however-long-it-was of death, destruction and disease, all before He pronounced everything “very good.” Why then did He act as though Adam and Eve brought suffering and disease into the world? Thus many Christians’ primary opposition to this worldview — the real “death cult” which says that death and suffering are fine and natural things to expect in this universe — is based on theology.

    Also, there are plenty of “brainy” Christian scientists out there who find plenty to object about evolution as an origins worldview and its inconsistent and flawed interpretations of evidence anyway.

    Regardless, the main argument is not “my scientists versus your scientists” or some appeal to supposed majority opinion, but an appeal to the authority of the Bible on such matters. Millions of years or six days, whichever — but whatever a Christian’s origins belief, it must not allow for God to give implicit approval to hordes of dying, diseased, suffering creatures before the Fall got all those started.

  • Michael Hawley March 2, 2011, 10:53 AM

    Thank you for your kind response and I certainly respect your opinion. For me, the issue is really not a decision to “appeal to the authority of the Bible” or not, it is actually an “appeal to the authority of a particular interpretation of the Bible” or not. There are currently over 30,000 different Christian denominations, specifically because of differing interpretations of the Bible. There is a difference between God’s Revelation and Theology. The problem with following biblical evidence over physical evidence is there is no way of verifying its veracity (as evidence by the multitudes of denominations). Physical evidence on the other hand is verifiable. In other words, theology cannot truly be verified, while observational evidence can. Proof is in the pudding. Notice the tremendous advances in science and technology in the last 100 years. It works.

    The argument against theistic evolution because it leaves God responsible for allowing death, destruction, and disease actually infers a God less than omniscient/omnipotent. A truly all-knowing and all-powerful God would have certainly known of Satan’s deception against Eve and Adam’s gullibility to Eve and He could have easily stopped it. To solely blame Adam and Eve for pain and suffering is to reject God’s Providence.

    Remember, the primary goal of God is to commune with fallible human beings in Heaven ON THEIR OWN VOLITION. An all-powerful God could have easily made beings forced to love him. The only way for this to occur is through free will. Note what I wrote on the last page of my book about creating man naturalistically and free will:

    “Why Did God Hardwire Our Minds so Prone to Internal Conflict?

    A perfectly appropriate question for a Christian to ask is why would God create our human minds with an emotional pathway that tends to hijack the intellectual pathway? One particular creationist response to this is that God did not create this imperfection. It was the result of original sin. Prior to the original sin, Adam and Eve possessed brains that were super-intelligent and incapable of cognitive dissonance. This argument can be extrapolated from their argument as to why Adam could name thousands of animals in just one day. Young earth creationist Russell Grigg, writes in his answersingenesis.org article, Naming the Animals: All in a Day’s Work for Adam,

    “…man’s mental powers, reason, and capacity for articulate, grammatical, symbolic speech. In Adam, before sin, these capacities may have dwarfed anything we know today.”

    I have always had a difficult time with this kind of argument. First, nowhere in the Bible does it say that original sin caused man to become less intelligent than Adam and Eve. Second, this explanation conflicts with even a restrictive literal interpretation of Genesis. The serpent easily bamboozled Eve into eating the fruit and Eve easily convinced Adam to betray God’s commandment. Would super-humans make these mistakes? They certainly seem awfully human to me.
    I am not going to claim to understand why God created our minds this way, but if we look at it from an evolutionary perspective and with physical evidence, we may get closer to the truth. Recall Dr. Simón explained that the use of the emotional pathway is the more primitive cognitive process as compared to the intellectual pathway. As human beings evolved, the cerebral cortex became more involved with decision-making. Our brains are a result of biological evolution and common ancestry. From a Christian perspective, this is how God created us, and we have inherited our ancestral past. Original sin had nothing to do with why we are prone to internal conflict, nature did.
    I suspect the reason why God created us through a natural process has something to do with free will. Free will is the ability to make a decision, regardless if it is right or wrong, or good or bad. Having a limbic system for emotions and a cerebral cortex for reason gives us a wide variety of decisions to freely choose from, not just the correct one. God could have created us perfect and incapable of sin. If this had occurred, then we would not have had the ability to choose anything but the correct decision, specifically, to choose to love God. We would not have had free will. Is it not better to have someone love you on their own volition as opposed to forcing them to love you? Once God introduced the randomness factor into nature, free will became a reality. Free will is not only a gift to us; it is a gift to God. God can now be loved just as we are.”



  • SickRick May 23, 2011, 1:45 AM

    I agree with you to a certain point. We shouldnt accept the theistic evolution theory just because we dont wanna b embarrassed but because there is actual prof that evolution did happen…. some how. the bible does say that God created all things but it does not specify how or what method God used to create us

  • Aaron July 29, 2011, 5:51 PM

    Hey Mike,

    I wouldn’t call myself a theistic evolutionist. I prefer the term coined by Dr. Denis Lameroux, D.D.S.,D.D.,Ph.D., which is evolutionary creationist. The first problem Christians run into when tackling with science with an atheist is that science has been presented in a very philosophically corrupt way the was around before Charles Darwin was ever born. It is the basic notion that God starts a process and then leaves things to their own doing (almost a deistic view of God). This is how Charles Darwin viewed God while developing his scientific theory (he later lost his faith because he thought the nature was so cruel that no good God could have authored it). So, what did this philosophy do to the understanding of evolution? It basically started that nature went in no particular or real direction and was left to natural laws to guide it.

    As Christians, we both should be in unity in rejecting such a ridiculous and secular philosophy. God very much did will all species into existence and the process of evolution was very much guided with God’s blueprint and intention in mind. A theistic evolutionist quickly knows when an atheist is applying his own personal philosophy into scientific evidence and can call him out on it (Dr. Ken Miller, Ph.D. showed several examples of this in Richard Dawkins’ writings during a lecture). We are better capable of pointing out when an atheist scientist, or atleast an atheist that is well educated in scientific theories, is speaking outside the confines of science and inserting their own personal philosophy.

    Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists need us because we are literate in the science and can differentiate more accurately between science and philosophy. We also understand that science isn’t the ultimate source of truth, only a tool for understanding the natural world around us (Sigmund Freud argued that science was the only means of discovering truth…. yeah, right!). However, our world is a lonely one. We do walk the fine line between our fellow Christians calling us atheists and heretics and the atheists who call us delusional and living a double standard. However, as I heard it best said, “We do need both reason and faith. Man cannot live on cold hard facts alone.”

  • coolgirl November 30, 2011, 10:53 PM

    im only 15 and know that all what you said up there is stupid. if you beleive in God then why not beleive in him completly to what he has said? making dumb facts that went into someones head randomly one day is dumb. get to know the Lord like i do, experience the burning fire of God and then say something smart or make up more lies. nuff said.

  • Michael Hawley December 13, 2011, 6:16 PM

    Hi coogirl,

    Of the 30,000 different Christian denominations, all having a burning fire of God, which one does not believe in him completely? Which one is not stupid? Every group is looking at God’s Word, yet are coming up with something different. Which interpretation of God’s Word is correct? “The Heavens Declare the Glory of God”. Once you realize that God’s revelation does not begin and end within the covers of the Bible -just as the Bible says- you may experience a fuller fire of God, and not get sucked into just one interpretation. Watch out for bubblegum Christianity.

  • simon September 16, 2012, 7:05 PM

    i dont appreciate the fact that u wanna hide behind the creator like som kind of wall because your afraid to stand up for him. further more it sounds like u did hav a relationship wiz christ at one time and id luv it if u would either go bak or becum one for the first time. also christianity is more than a sientific beleif its a full blown relationship with the creator who your scared to proclaim. its about love and it might not be a sientific fact but giving your life to him could change your life! love u man!

  • Chelsea Sherman February 26, 2013, 1:07 PM

    I’m so glad I found this blog. I really appreciate your perspective and I think you have done a great job explaining this topic. It’s something every Christian struggles with trying to understand and explain so having it broken down clearly like this is extremely helpful. Keep up the good work!


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