Tag Archives: Theistic Evolution

A simple reponse to theistic evolutionists, by Andrew

This is an e-mail I received from a reader.

I was having dinner the other day with Greg Koukl and friends, when the topic of THEISTIC EVOLUTION came up. Greg Koukl shared the following insight on this view in his usual clear-thinking manner…

Many people like to invoke theistic evolution as an explanation of the origin of life. Theistic evolution refers to the belief that God used evolution as a method of creation; God created life and then stood back and left things to run on their own though the laws of nature. If God intervened at all, it was only when absolutely necessary. While this explanation sounds really nice on the surface, the devil is in the details.

Simply put, theistic evolution is a self-refuting idea. An idea that commits suicide, so to speak. The ‘evolution’ part of theistic evolution is by definition a process that is blind, undirected and left to chance (natural selection). The ‘theistic’ part of theistic evolution, on the other hand, is by definition directed and personal (design). How do you reconcile these two opposing ideas? Clearly you can’t, since they are mutually exclusive. You simply cannot have something that is both undirected and directed.

It’s like asking the question: “How do you boil water?”. Someone could give the response: “Well, you take a pot, fill it with water, put the lid on, put the pot on the stove, turn on the stove, and add a leprechaun”. The question could then be asked: “What happens if I don’t add the leprechaun?”, to which the response would be “well…the water still boils”. The objective can be achieved without adding the leprechaun, which is therefore unnecessary. In the same way, both components of theistic evolution can, in theory at least, provide for the origin of life. In my opinion theistic evolution is a view held by those who have bought into Darwinism but don’t want to let go of God. Therefore, they proclaim both to be true. Unfortunately for them, the manner in which these two processes work (undirected versus directed) are contradictory and cannot both be true. The resulting mixture, theistic evolution, is not even an option, and proponents of this view should be called on this flaw in their thinking.

Below I’ll give my thoughts on theistic evolution.

My thoughts

Theistic evolution is basically atheistic evolution, with an unnecessary fairy tale riding on top. It’s like Santa Claus and Christmas. A child’s parents put the presents under the tree. If you film the tree, you see parents putting presents under the tree – that’s what actually happens, and who actually does the work. Santa Claus is a myth that makes children feel good – the concept of Santa Claus does no work putting presents under the tree in reality. And that’s the same role God plays in theistic evolution – he does no work in reality.

The dividing line between theists and atheists is whether the natural world shows any OBJECTIVE evidence of an intelligent agent at work. If a person claims to be theistic, but states that there is no OBJECTIVE evidence of intelligent causes acting in nature, then that person is actually an atheist. Theism is either real or it is nothing. I am not interested in personal preferences and personal delusions – I only care what is scientifically demonstrable.

The scientific evidence for intelligent design (fine-tuning, origin of DNA, Cambrian explosion, habitability, irreducible complexity, molecular machines, etc.) shows evidence of an intelligent agent causing effects in nature. It’s not up to our opinions to decide if an intelligent agent has acted  – it’s the way the world is, regardless of what we want – or need – to believe.

MUST-HEAR: Jason Lisle and Hugh Ross debate the age of the Earth

I found this radio debate from the radio station KKLA on the Apologetics 315 Twitter feed. This is my FAVORITE Twitter feed.

Speakers:

Jason Lisle

Dr. Lisle graduated summa cum laude from Ohio Wesleyan University where he double-majored in physics and astronomy, and minored in mathematics. He did graduate work at the University of Colorado where he earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. While there, Dr Lisle used the SOHO spacecraft to investigate motions on the surface of the sun as well as solar magnetism and subsurface weather. His thesis was entitled “Probing the Dynamics of Solar Supergranulation and its Interaction with Magnetism.” Among other things, he discovered a previously unknown polar alignment of supergranules (solar convection cells), and discovered evidence of solar giant cells. He has also authored a number of papers in both secular and creation literature.

Hugh Ross

At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver’s Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or “quasars,” some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe.

So both have impeccable scientific credentials. But just wait until you hear what one of them does at about 40 minutes into the debate. Oh my God. You will not believe the bombshell that gets dropped during this debate.

The MP3 file is here. (This is the updated version that Brian Auten fixed to remove the commercials!)

I don’t always agree with Frank Pastore, (only 95%), but he knows the topic of the debate back to front, and guides the discussion in an incredibly useful, accurate way. This is a fine debate to listen to! You will learn a lot.

The Bible and the early church fathers

Jason Lisle

  • we take Genesis literally
  • the starting point of YEC is Scripture
  • the plain meaning of Scripture is that the earth was made in 6 24-hour days
  • science has to be interpreted in a way that fits a plain reading of Genesis 1
  • the evidence for an old universe and old Earth must be rejected a priori

Hugh Ross

  • we take Genesis literally
  • the Hebrew word for day (yom) can mean 24 hours or a long period of time
  • there are multiple creation accounts in the Bible
  • interpreting yom as long periods of time harmonizes all the accounts
  • the Bible says that the seventh day is not even ended
  • we believe in a literal Adam and Eve living thousands of years ago

Jason Lisle

  • there’s only 1 account of creation in the Bible: Genesis
  • the normal view in church history is 6 24-hour days
  • there are some early church fathers who that the days are long
  • the other places where creation is discussed are not real accounts

Hugh Ross

  • the early church did not spend a lot of time talking about the age of the Earth
  • there is not unanimous agreement about the age of the Earth
  • there is no definitive statement on the age of the Earth until Isaac Newton
  • Newton strongly favored an old earth, hundreds of years before Darwin
  • there are other creation accounts, Job 38-39
  • Pslam 104 is a creation account

Jason Lisle

  • a Psalm is not written in the genre of historical narrative
  • Psalm 104 is not a creation account – it talks about ships, etc
  • it’s talking about the modern era, not a creation account

The evidence from science

Hugh Ross

  • both of us believe in an absolute beginning of time, space and matter
  • both of us believe that space is expanding now
  • stars form as matter coalesces during the expansion of the universe
  • star formation requires a universe aged on the order of billions of years

Jason Lisle

  • if you pre-suppose my interpretation of Genesis, then the universe is young

Hugh Ross

  • the speed of the expansion of the universe proves an old universe
  • the light emitted from the oldest stars also proves an old universe

Jason Lisle

  • if you pre-suppose my interpretation of Genesis, then the universe is young

Was the universe made with the appearance of age

Jason Lisle

  • any evidence for an old universe is wrong
  • stars didn’t form gradually, they were created by God instantly
  • stars have the appearance of age, but they’re actually young

Hugh Ross

  • God doesn’t lie in the Bible or in the book of nature
  • Scientists can look back in time by looking further out into the universe
  • Because light takes a long time to travel to the Earth, we can see the past
  • we can see a time when there were no stars yet
  • stars formed slowly over time, not instantaneously
  • we have photos of the universe before stars and after stars
  • we can see a history of the universe by looking closer and further away

Does nature provide us with knowledge about creation?

They discuss Psalm 19 now, so here’s Psalm 19:1-5:

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,  their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

Jason Lisle

  • nature isn’t a book
  • nature doesn’t  provide knowledge about God
  • Psalm 19 doesn’t say that nature communicates to us
  • verse 3 says “There is no speech nor language”

Hugh Ross

  • If you read all of verse 3, it says the exact opposite of what you just said it says
  • Verse 1: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”
  • Verse 2: “Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.”
  • Verse 3: “There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
  • Verse 4: “Their voice goes out into all the earth,  their words to the ends of the world.”

Jason Lisle

  • You can’t take the Bible literally all the time

How important is the age of the Earth?

Hugh Ross

  • it’s a non-essential because it has nothing to do with salvation or inerrancy
  • both sides of the debate affirm the same views of salvation and inerrancy
  • professional scientists have multiple lines of evidence saying the universe is old
  • the only reason it matters is that young earth creationism is a barrier to faith
  • if you have to deny science to be a Christian, then it stops people from being saved
  • young earth opposition to science has been used by secularists to marginalize Christianity

Jason Lisle

  • there was no death in the Garden of Eden, animal or human, before the Fall
  • the Bible says that death was a consequence of Adam’s sin
  • so there was no death before the Fall, according to the Bible
  • old earth people believe in death before the Fall

Consider Romans 5:12:

12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—

Hugh Ross

  • Romans 5:12 says that Adam’s sin caused death to come to all men
  • old earth people believe that only animal death existed before the Fall, not human death
  • plant and animal death existed before the Fall – Adam and Eve were eating!

Jason Lisle

  • I interpret the Bible to say that plants aren’t living creatures

What about dinosaurs, the Flood, and Noah’s ark?

Jason Lisle

  • dinosaurs were created on the 6th day
  • dinosaurs lived alongside humans and were vegetarians before the Fall
  • dinosaurs were on the Ark – they’re not that big – just take baby dinosaurs
  • it’s a global flood

Hugh Ross

  • dinosaurs were created on the 5th day
  • they were extinct before before humans ever appeared
  • nobody in history ever wrote about dinosaurs until 200 years ago
  • it’s a local flood

Related posts

UPDATE: Wes Widner from Reason to Stand mentions another debate in the comments: “Here is another excellent debate given a while back between Hugh Ross/Walter Kaiser and Ken Ham/Jason Lisle”

Different perspectives on the days of Genesis

Over at Tough Questions Answered, they survey different views on the days of creation described in Genesis. Basically, there are two views: the young-earth creationist view, the old-earth creationist view. (Theistic evolution is nothing but atheism).

As my bio describes, I favor the old-earth view. I believe in micro-evolution (adaption to environment within different body plans), but I don’t believe that macro-evolution has been demonstrated in the fossil record or in the lab or in mathematical models of likely mutations and development parthways.

Christians are delighted to that the Bible is in agreement with what scientists have discovered about the origin of the universe, and it’s careful design to support the minimal requirements for complex life of any conceivable kind (given our physical laws and chemical diversity). But there is still one apparent disagreement between the Bible and science.

The apparent disagreement is that the book of Genesis describes the creation (asah, bara) of the earth as taking place in a series of days (yom). But there seems to be a tension between 6 24-hour days and a 4 billion year old earth. Are we stuck with a contradiction between science and Scripture here?

Here’s what TQA says:

The word yom can mean several things in Hebrew.  It can refer to a 24-hour period or it can refer to longer periods of time.  Which is the correct interpretation in Genesis 1?

In fact, Genesis 2:4 uses the word yom to describe the entire week of creation. And, St. Augustine, writing in the 5th century, interpreted the yoms of Genesis to be long periods of time, not 24-hour days. (And he also predicted the beginning of time at the creation).

For a solid scientific treatment that explains the possible meanings of yom and tries to reconcile it with what science tells us about the age of the earth, take a look at this paper by Dr. Walter Bradley of Baylor University.

Here is an excerpt that explains what the paper is about:

In this paper we would like to focus on the interpretation of the Hebrew words “yom” and “bara/asah” as they are used in the early chapters of Genesis to describe the time frame and mechanism of creation. A careful examination of both biblical and scientific data will be summarized. A critique of the current models based on this data will be made leading to our summary of how at present we think one may best harmonize all of the available information.

I think there are solid young-earth creationists out there, like Paul Nelson and Marcus Ross, but I agree with Bradley and Augustine on this question.

One last thing – the dividing line between Christian and non-Christian views on this issue depends on how you answer this question: “Does nature, including the realm of biology, show signs of having being created and designed by an intelligent agent – signs that are independent of the religious beliefs of observers”.

Both young earth and old earth creationists answer “yes”. Yes, the universe shows signs of being programmed by an Engineer. Atheists and “theistic evolutionists” answer no, there universe was not programmed by an Engineer. Intelligent design people also answer “yes”, but their theory is strictly mathematics (probability theory). What Genesis says is not relevant to intelligent design.