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Theistic Evolution or Evolutionary Creationists

The evidence for evolution, including what some term macroevolution, is overwhelming.  For many believers, that produces a problem of acceptance if they hold to a conservative interpretation of their scriptures.  Certainly, for many liberal theists or even deists and agnostics it seemingly does not present any major difficulties that they recognize. Many theists of the Abrahamic religions seemingly rest their intellectual curosity at the door of "God used evolution to create the world and its life".


It is also well studied that large numbers of scientists, at least in America, believe in a personal god. Many of these would hold to a type of theistic evolution, or evolutionary creationism as it is being labeled now. They agree with the evidence for evolution but rest in believing that God created using evolution with the hope that in some way their faith can be reconciled or harmonized with science.  Examples would include the evangelical Christian Francis Collins and the Catholic Kenneth Miller.  There are many more, notwithstanding the Catholic Church - at least officially; there are many Catholics who do not accept evolution just as there are many American Catholics who use birth control (98%?).


However, a close examination of the problems in theistic evolution will show that their seemingly merging of scriptures and science is really a non workable compartmentalization and not a harmonization or reconcilliation at all.


Creationists can broadly be divided into three major types:


A. Young Earth Creationists who hold that the universe, earth, and life were created recently, on the order of 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.  There was no evolution except for speciation from "kinds" coming off the ark. The ark narrative, a global Flood, Adam & Eve, The Fall, original sin, etc. were all real events.


B. Old Earth Creationists.  The universe, solar system, and the earth are all very old. But there is no evolution, except again for speciation from "kinds".  The Flood was probably local.  There tends to be four types of OECs, depending on how they want to attempt to fit Genesis to modern science. These four subtypes are Day-age, Gap,  Progressive Creationism and Theistic Evolution. Progrssive Creationism is championed by RTB (Reasons To Believe and Hugh Ross and his staff). They posit a successive series of extinctions and recreations as God prepared the earth for mankind (such as oil being put in the ground at the right time just for us).


C. Theistic Evolution/Evolutionary Creationists (a type of OEC).  These creationists generally accept nearly all of modern science but posit that God used evolution to create life. Creationist theist scientists at Biologos for example, accept mutation and natural selection as driving evolution.


However, I submit that a close examination of theistic evolution demonstates that it does not maintain credibility when examined closely.


1. It doesn't follow the text. Genesis is very specific about how the earth and life came to be on our planet. Adam was made from the dust; Eve from his rib. They did not have parents. Saying now that God reached down and picked out two to found the human race from a population does not rescue the text, and seems strangely timely now that DNA evidence has emerged showing that there could not have been a founding pair for the human race. That's taking the original out of context. Evolution can't really be adequately supported by the scriptures, no matter how creative TE supporters are. The Fall, Noah's Flood, and other foundational narratives have been disproven by science and the Abrahamic religions rest their foundations on these origin stories.


2. So much compromise is necessary that the scriptures fade into a fog of literature and analogies.  It joins Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology; great for casual reading but respect is lost for any appeal to reality.  How much of scripture must be read as metaphor before we must admit that it's mostly literature and mythology, and certainly not "the Word of God"?


3. If God chose to create life this way, He/She/They are cruel. Multiple whole scale mass extinctions are clearly recorded in earth's distant past (Wikipedia), 99% of all life that has lived has now perished. The brute crucible of natural selection as life fights for a living foothold would hardly be the product of a loving designer.  Cooperation and beauty is present also, but so is incredible waste and suffering. Disease, parasites, congenital birth defects, prey being eaten by predators while still alive, etc. Why would a loving and all powerful God design a process like this, let alone allow it or endorse it as 'good'?


4. Modern humans evolved 200,000 years ago (fossils and DNA agree). Yet God waits 198,000 years  and THEN sends Jesus to intervene in human history, and makes a covenant with a small tribe of desert dwellers that have no immediate contact with all the other humans around the world? What about all the humans who are suffering and dying in the centuries before?  What about the Neandertahls and Denisovans or the other Homo species that also must have had a high level of consciousness?  When God reached down to impart a 'soul' into humans or a couple, what about the individuals in the generation before or the population around the "couple"? If He did this soul impregnation in a population, what about the other contemporaneous individuals who were left on the sidelines and all their children? Does this sound rational? Reasonable?


5.Nature is amoral in evolution. "Evil" outside of humans in nature just becomes 'the way it is' and becomes a non-topic. The cruelty and suffering in nature is part of nature's "design", 'God's design'. Humans evolve from this world of struggle, and evil is best explained through evolutionary psychology, not theology.  The theodicy problem in theistic evolution becomes even worse than in traditional Abrahamic belief systems. There was no suffering before the Fall?


6. We do not live in a fallen world due to free will. Free will fails as an escape hatch cost neutralizer for thesitic evolution to explain the the waste and carnage of evolution and natural selection. Rather, the universe is built on death from the very beginning. We are startdust because all the heavier elements had to be made through the death of stars. Without death and cullling, all the individuals which natural seletion deems less fit and lessens gene pool contribution there would be no progress, no new species, no evolution. The very heart of the Abrahamic religions is against what we seen in nature. The variation for natural selection to work on often produces diseases, congenitial defects and hideous mutations. Evolution does not care about the collateral suffering. A God worth worshipping would.  And we know that many non-human species show moral behavior and yet we would not attribute  free will to them as Christianity does.  Lastly, recent and past repeated experiments show we probably don't have free will. Scientists can measure thoughts many seconds before the person becomes aware of them. We think we are making conscious decisions but all we are doing is becoming aware of them. And by applying magnetic fields to our parietal lobes, scientists can even influence our decisions before we know it.


7. Evolution is undirected. There is no planning. The mutations and other changes are by far random and evolution cannot predict nor prepare fo the future. Hence, all the extinctions in the past. TE contradicts a core observation of evolution.


8. There is no evidence for the supernatural. If God is a deist designer and then just left after he/she/it got things started then he is indifferent to our concerns and forget about prayer and help in your life. If he is there and needs to constantly tinker and intervene with his creation then he's incompetent. If he is there and has decided to not intervene as his creation groans under the cruely and wastage of evolution, then he is malevolent.


For these reasons and probably more, although an evaluation of science should lead a theist to theistic evolution, with a closer examination their supposedly adequate solution to the falsification of their scriptures by science soon becomes a stopping way point on the way to being stuck again. There is really only one way out of the predicament theists find themselves in if they are honest about what science says about religious beliefs.  


~  Biomed


Kenneth Miller is interviewed about his theisitic evolution views as a scientist. Link

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Catholicism and theistic evolution (Coyne)  Link


Why you can't reconcile God and Evolution (Christina) Link   Link


Hitchens on Theisitic Evolution:  Link


Incompatibility of God and evolution (Finkle)  Link