Theistic Evolution

Most readers of YPS understand clearly how and why the theory of Evolution is atheistic. But some people apparently believe in Theistic Evolution, wishing to include God in evolution somewhere. Many eminent figures in the religious world firmly believe and promote this strange mix of ideas.1 This article will consider the tenets of Theistic Evolution and then look at the reasons why we reject it, notwithstanding its popularity in some circles.

Theistic Evolution Described

Theistic Evolution is an attempt to insert a religious concept into a scientific theory. Broadly speaking, it will be accepted that there is a ‘Creator God’ who may have instigated or created the material universe. Then, it is proposed that this God employed evolution over millions of years eventually to produce life and all we see around us. He did little else than allow it to occur. Thus, it is said that teachings about creation and theories of evolution need not be in conflict. This is not a new idea. Earlier it was called Christian Darwinism – another pair of strangely incompatible words!

According to Theistic Evolution, parts of the Bible also require some reinterpretation to fit modern thinking. Thus, Genesis chapter 1 is not to be taken literally but rather as a literary framework to introduce the book – written in a pre-scientific age it is intended for religious instruction only. The processes described are not physical and actual happenings but are rather of moral and spiritual value. Creation was not literally a week long process but continues through all time by an evolutionary mechanism.

The Basis of the Theory

The starting point is that the grand theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin and developed in academia and science today is indisputable. It is difficult, they say, indeed impossible to deny it, so let’s take it as fact. Even though it is recognized that much of it is conjecture and many parts of it do not make proper sense, accept it anyway because ‘it’s the best we’ve got’!

Next, try to fit religious ideas, even Bible-based ideas around it. So take on board the concept of a powerful Creator who can and does act in a supernatural way sometimes – if He did, that could resolve some of the questions which evolution finds problematic. For example:

Did He create the matter, the atoms, of the universe from nothing (maybe by the ‘Big Bang’)?

Did He specially intervene to introduce life into dead matter and its molecules (a critical problem for evolutionists!)?

Did He at some point give to ‘homo sapiens’ a human soul in contrast to animal species(because most religions require this)?

If God does the ‘impossible’ things evolution can do the rest. If a creator starts it off, evolution can provide the gradual development of everything from simple to complex, from inorganic to organic, from invertebrates to vertebrates, from primates to man. Evolution is a process within creation (or creation is part of evolution), over millions of years developing everything from molecules to man.

These have been put forward as realistic proposals. But such ideas make God a convenience, a ‘God of the gaps’, with science making God less and less important or necessary; the gaps getting ever smaller as newer ideas about the natural world develop and become accepted. This is certainly not the God described in the Bible. For example, read again Isaiah chapter 40 verses 12-31 – worship before the transcendent splendour and greatness of His majesty, power and wisdom. However, theistic evolution is seriously proposed as a good theory which keeps everyone happy!

Difficulties in the Detail

Already you must be very unhappy about this theory. You will have noticed great difficulties, insuperable difficulties, because you take the Bible as the clear, reliable revelation of God. Let us take just a few points and see how these totally disagree with the word of God.

The Bible speaks of creation as a finished, completed work (Gen. 2. 1-2; Ps. 33. 9; Heb. 4. 3,10) - evolution we are told is still occurring2. Scripture describes acts of immediate creation, including creatures separately in the sea and in the air, man from the dust, woman from the man – evolution describes a gradual, long-term transition and development of everything, including man.

In Genesis chapter 1 God describes the original creation as ‘very good’ – evolution requires a continuous savage struggle for survival. God takes no pleasure in death and destruction. That is not ‘very good’. Man is the cause of struggle and death, not a result of it, Gen. 3; cf. Rom. 5. 12,15; 8. 19ff.

Genesis chapter 1, cf. 1 Cor. 15. 39, repeatedly emphasizes distinctions between living things, their kinds (or species) – evolution is based upon a common relationship between all living things. Scripture states clearly that man is uniquely created ‘in God’s image’ – evolution focuses on man’s development from, and relationship to, animals and to all of nature.

Scripture emphasizes that man was created perfect and that he subsequently fell to his present condition – evolution teaches that man arrived through a continual progression upwards. In Genesis chapter 1 the order in which different things were created disagrees strongly with the proposals of evolution, e.g., life first appears on dry land whereas evolution says it began in primeval oceans; birds and fishes were created on the same day whereas evolution says birds evolved from fish millions of years later.

The Impossibilities of the Merger

Apart from these and many other detailed points at which there is obvious and clear disagreement,fundamentally the two systems cannot match. This is because they start from completely opposite viewpoints. There is really no middle ground or sensible compromise.

Evolution operates on the basis of random chance. Creation is by deliberate design.

Logically and absolutely, Evolution does not need or want God – that is the main reason why it is so popular.

Creation does not need or want Evolution, a lengthy, wasteful process to produce species: ‘God spoke, and it was done’ – at once! Ps. 39. 9.

If Evolution is true, the Bible is misleading and dangerous. If the Bible is true, Evolution is misleading and dangerous.

And this is what we are really contending for –the dependability and truth of the Holy Scriptures, as a whole and in detail. We know that, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’, Gen. 1. 1, that ‘all things were created by him, and for him’, Col. 1. 16. There was no ‘big bang’, just an orderly, step wise creation of a world for man to inhabit. Our Lord Jesus said, ‘From the beginning of creation he made them male and female’, Mark 10. 6. Male and female did not evolve from a sexless ancestor (how could they and maintain reproduction?) and there was no evolving of different species either.We do not know all that we might wish to know about how it all happened (we might not understand it all anyway!), but ‘through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God’, Heb. 11. 3.

The theory of evolution and the Bible’s account of creation are mutually exclusive and mutually contradictory. To profess to believe in both is an untenable position. Those who try to do this travel along a road which involves at best overlooking or at worst disbelieving and rejecting the plain teaching found in many parts of the Bible, including the words of Christ Himself. And along that road more and more of the Bible will be rejected. In areas of debate, the pronouncements of Evolution will be preferred above the statements of the scriptures. Less and less confidence will remain in the word of God and all its promises and precepts which are valid for all time and for eternity. Christians cannot really go there.

So did God use evolutionary processes at some point or points to create the universe and all that is in it? No. He did it His way – perfectly by design!



Churches urged to challenge Intelligent Design EKKLESIA 20 Feb 2006; see also


Note that the ‘evolution’ here referred to is the overall, long-term production of new species, as is normally understood when the term is used. But changes do occur within species in the shorter term, for example due to environmental factors, selective breeding or geographical isolation. These are also called evolution, but more accurately should be called adaptation. This is an observed fact which cannot be disputed whilst classical evolution is an extrapolated theory based on huge inferences. Confusing the two ideas is common, even intended by the proponents of evolution theory, but adaptation is not evolution, and the two must be distinguished.