Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 1, No. 10 Page 5 October 1999

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

The Compromise of 
Theistic Evolution 
Part 1

By Bert Thompson

“There is nothing unscriptural about the concept you would label ‘theistic evolution,’” said the young man in his letter.  “Evolution appears to be the mechanism of creation in an ancient world.  Man appeared only very recently on the scene.  I feel that God imparted souls to primates that had reached a stage of development sufficient for God’s plan for man – Adam and Eve included,” he went on to say.  And so one more stands forth to try to defend the corrupt and utterly false doctrine of “theistic evolution.”  Unfortunately, this is not just an isolated incident.  Amidst all the discussion of whether atheistic evolution or special creation is true, a group of people has arisen which claims that both are true. These people hold to “theistic evolution” (also known by the synonyms of “religious evolution,” “mitigated evolution,” “progressive creation” or “threshold evolution”).  Their name is Legion; their tribe is increasing!  And many (such as the young man who wrote the above-mentioned letter) are militant in their belief and anxious to recruit others to it.

What Is Theistic Evolution?

The word “theistic” comes from the Greek word theos, meaning God.  Therefore, when one claims to be a “theistic” evolutionist, he is claiming to believe in both God and evolution at the same time.  As Dr. J.D. Bales has remarked:
There are many in the religious world, and a few in the New Testament church, who think that Genesis can and must be harmonized with evolution.  They are theistic evolutionists who maintain that evolution was God’s method of creation (“Theistic Evolution & Genesis.” IN: Gospel Advocate. January 24, 1974, p. 52.).
Dr. R.L. Wysong, in his book, The Creation-Evolution Controversy, has stated:
Basically, theistic evolution contends that abiogenesis (the spontaneous formation of life from chemicals) and evolution (ameba to man through eons) have occurred, but a creator was instrumental in forming the initial matter and laws, and more or less guided the whole process (Inquiry Press, East Lansing, Michigan, 1976, p. 63.).
The point is clear.  The theistic evolutionist believes organic evolution was simply “the way God did it” as he brought the universe and its contents into existence.  And although there are almost as many “varieties” of theistic evolution as there are people who espouse it, a few characteristics are common to all.  For example, the theistic evolutionist believes in:  (a) an ancient universe/earth (multi-billion years old), (b) wholly natural processes responsible for life as we see it once initial matter was “struck” into existence by God, (c) figurative (non-literal) interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

Is Theistic Evolution Popular?

Is theistic evolution popular?  Indeed it is!  Many people today take it as a “way out” of having to make a decision in favor of either evolution or creation.  It has become the “middle of the road” position which so many Christians have already taken on other issues (e.g., verbal, plenary inspiration; the virgin birth; miracles; etc.).  As Dr. Wysong has pointed out:

Theistic evolution has been advocated in the past by men like Augustine and Aquinas.  Today it is vogue.  It is downright hard to find anyone who does not believe in evolution in one form or another, and it is also difficult to find anyone who does not believe in a creator in one form or another.  This hybrid belief has given reprieve to those not wishing to make a total commitment to either side” (op. cit., p. 63).
People have accepted theistic evolution for a number of reasons.  One of the reasons often given by theistic evolutionists for their acceptance of this position is that they believe it is not only not contradictory to the Bible, but is, in fact, compatible with the Divine Record.  Dr. Neal Buffaloe, for example, has plainly stated:  “the concept of evolution is neither degrading to man, detrimental to human dignity, nor in conflict with the Bible” (“God or Evolution?” IN: Mission. April, 1969, pp. 17, 20, 21.).  John Clayton, in his book, The Source, has commented: “If we look carefully at the issue about which we are talking, however, we can find that evolution and the Bible show amazing agreement on almost all issues and that one is not mutually exclusive of the other” (privately published by author, South Bend, IN, 1976, p. 130.).

Still others believe in theistic evolution because they feel it simply doesn’t matter all that much.  As Dr. Buffaloe remarked:  “What do we care that the animal is a product of evolution as long as man the spirit is begotten of God?” (loc. cit.).  No doubt there are many who possess such an attitude.  And if space permitted, there are many other reasons that could be given as to why people believe in theistic evolution.

One important reason, however, for the current popularity of this false doctrine is that Christians have become intimidated.  They have been intimidated by fancy “facts” and impressive credentials and flowery words and phrases set forth by some in the scientific community, and they have become victims of propaganda campaigns which teach that “anyone entitled to a judgment” accept evolution, that “belief in evolution is a part of the learning process in all thinking persons,” and so on.  The intimidation of pseudoscience has convinced them that somehow evolution must be “worked into” the Bible.  How wrong they are!

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