Fred Zaspel's
HOME         LIBRARY         SERMONS         WARFIELD         REVIEWS         HYMNS         POSTS         ABOUT FGZ           
All content authored by Fred Zaspel > Copyright Fred Zaspel 

Theistic Evolution?
Published by Word of Life Baptist Church
copyright © 1994, Fred G. Zaspel

Theories concerning origins have for centuries competed with the Biblical account of creation, but since the appearance of Darwin's Origin of the Species in 1859 the competition has become more fierce. Evolution, on the one hand, posits that the world began somehow of and by itself by chance. As the word implies, evolution speaks of a gradual development of all things from simple to complex and from inorganic to organic and so on. According to evolutionists this process is still in operation today, although too slowly for human observation.

Over against this theory is the Biblical account of Creation which declares that all that is came into existence immediately and ex nihilo ("out of nothing") by the spoken Word of God. It further teaches that God created all things much in the way we see them today (cf. Genesis 1; 2:1-3; Psalm 33:9; 1 Corinthians 15:39-41; Hebrews 4:3, 10; 11:3).

It would seem that between these two there is no middle ground. Evolution neither needs nor wants a God, and creation neither needs nor wants a process of development. However, the theory of "theistic evolution" attempts to do just this. It suggests that both sides of the debate may be true -- that God indeed created the world, but He did it by means of an evolutionary process.

It is the simple purpose of this study to analyze this possibility. Can both be true? It has invariably been the case that those who seek to hold this mediating view end up denying some parts of Scripture, and it would appear that this conflict is inevitable. It is the conclusion here that the evidence of Scripture demonstrates these two ideas to be mutually exclusive. Let us briefly survey that evidence.

A Review of Creation Week

Genesis chapter one reviews the events of creation "week," while chapter two goes back and fills in more detail. The following chart summarizes these events.

Creation Week

Day 1 (Gen.1:3-5)

light

day/night cycle

Day 2 (Gen.1:6-8)

firmament (atmospheric heaven)

separation of the waters above and below the earth

Day 3 (Gen.1:9-13)

dry land

plants

Day 4 (Gen.1:14-19)

sun, moon, stars (the heavenly luminaries)

Day 5 (Gen.1:20-23)

fish

sea mammals

birds

Day 6 (Gen.1:24-31)

land animals

insects

man & woman

Day 7 (Gen.2:1-3)

God rests

This chart and the following Scripture passages will serve as a basic point of reference in the following analysis. Further Scripture passages will be brought into the discussion as needed.

Other Scriptural Data

Gen.1:26. "And God said, let us make man in our image, according to our likeness. And let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the skies and over the beasts and over all the earth and over all that moves on the ground."

Psa.33:6. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their hosts by the breath of His mouth."

Psa.33:9. "He spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood fast."

Mark 10:6. "But from the beginning of creation He made them male and female."

Heb.4:3. "...(His) works were finished since the foundation of the world."

Heb.11:3. "By faith we understand that the worlds were created by the word of God, so that the things we see have not come from things which appear."(1)

The next step is to compare the various ideas of each system (evolution and creation) to see what conflict they may have. The main ideas of evolution are well known and may be found in any number of evolutionary-oriented textbooks. Our purpose here is simply to compare the ideas of evolution to the statements of Scripture.

Which Came First?

To those familiar with the evolutionary time-table, perhaps the most striking conflict between the creation and evolution models is the order of events presented in each. At many points, the two models find themselves in direct opposition. The following is a sample listing of these discrepancies.

1. Gen.1 presents plants and trees as mature before any seed of life had grown. Originally mature vegetation, "whose seed was in itself" (Gen.1:12), precludes any evolutionary process.

2. Similarly, according to Gen.1-2, man first appeared as a mature adult. This not only rules out a previous evolutionary development but even growth from infancy!

3. Gen.1 presents whales (day 5) before land mammals (day 6). An embarrassing problem for the theory, evolution asserts that whales and other sea mammals must have evolved from some land mammal and not from a fish.

4. Evolution teaches that birds evolved from fish, hundreds of millions of years later. Gen.1:20-21 presents them on the same "day." Moreover, even if "day" is taken here to refer to an extended period of time, the idea that fish eventually gave rise to fowls is still clearly denied. These two classes of creatures are said to have appeared separate yet together in time.

5. For evolution, life originates in primeval oceans. Gen.1 presents life as first appearing on dry land.

6. Scripture presents man as living long before rain ever fell on the earth (Gen.2:5). Evolution clearly requires the opposite.

7. Gen.2:7 declares that upon God's creative activity "man became a living creature." For evolution, the living creature becomes man.

8. Gen.1-2 clearly declares that woman came after and from man (cf. 1Cor.11:8, 12; 1Tim.2:13). In an evolutionary scheme there is no first man or woman but a gradual transition as humans slowly develop from apes.

9. Evolution requires that struggle and death are necessary antecedents of man. Scripture emphasizes that man is instead the cause of struggle and death (Gen.3; cf. Rom.5:12, 15; 8:19ff).

Incompatible Ideas

1. Evolution speaks of the gradual development of man. Scripture speaks of acts of immediate creation: man from the dust, woman from the man. Within an evolutionary scheme Gen.2:21-23 is rendered meaningless.

2. Gen.2:7 speaks of God "forming" ( yatsar) man from dust. Whatever else is conveyed by this term, it clearly excludes the evolutionary idea of God setting in motion a long process of self-development.

3. Evolution teaches that man is progressing and has been since the first man. Scripture emphasizes that man was created perfect and that he subsequently fell to his present condition.

4. Evolution speaks of progression. Beginning with Gen.3 the Bible speaks of retrogression. At first there was perfection; from there things have digressed.

5. Evolutionists speak of evolution as still occurring. Gen.2:1-3 speaks of creation as a finished, completed work (cf. Psa.33:9; Heb.4:3, 10).

6. Evolution requires both micro- and macro-mutations, life evolving from an original cell to fish, to reptiles, and finally on to man. Gen.1 speaks of plants and animals reproducing only "after their kind" -- a point emphasized some ten times over.(2)

7. Evolution posits savage struggle for survival. In Gen.1 God describes the original creation as "very good."

8. Evolution emphasizes the common relation of all living things. 1Cor.15:39, however, emphasizes the differentness of God's creatures (cf. "after its kind" in Gen.1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25).

9. Man's supposed development from and relationship to the animals and all of nature is plainly incompatible with Scripture's emphatic assertion that man is uniquely created "in God's image." The two ideas simply cannot stand together.

10. Likewise, the evolutionary idea of man rising out of nature is exactly contrary to Gen.1:26, which has man as originally "ruling over" creation.

Summary & Conclusion

It would be difficult to imagine two more contrary ideas. Indeed, it is as though at least one side had chosen beforehand to contradict the other at every point possible!

As stated at the outset, it is the purpose of this paper simply to show the mutual exclusiveness of evolution and the Biblical account of creation. At so many points it is clear that the two systems cannot stand together. The theistic evolutionist's desire to hold on to evolution and to the Bible is a groundless dream. Inconsistent as it is, a man may choose to believe in a "Creator" as well as in evolution; but he cannot intelligently claim to believe both evolution and the Bible. If evolution is true, the Bible is not. If the Bible is true, evolution is not. Neither side allows the other. One still must choose.

Endnotes

(1) The sense of the Greek me ek phainomenon is, in this sentence, difficult to convey in readable English. At any rate, "what is not apparent/ does not appear" is here stated to be the source of God's creative material. What exists and what can be seen came from what cannot be seen. This plainly rules out any idea of the eternity of matter and is tantamount to an affirmation of creation ex hihilo ("out of nothing"). Ultimately, God did not create the worlds from any kind of "stuff." He created by decree (cf. Gen.1, "And God said.").

(2) cf. Gen.1:11, 12a, 12b, 21a, 21b, 24a, 24b, 25a, 25b, 25c. Note also "whose seed was in itself," Gen.1:11, 12.