I began battling arguments about evolutionary creation when I was in fourth grade. My grandmother believed in evolutionary creationism or theistic evolution. She always told us – her grandkids – that monkeys and baboons were our ancestors. And the All-Powerful One created a small bug that lived in water and over the years as the conditions on earth changed the bug changed until humans were formed.
The forests around my rural home were infested with different congresses of baboons and monkeys. During the planting and the harvesting season, baboons and monkeys stole our crops. I remember chasing and throwing rocks at them. Grandma didn’t like it when we hit the baboons with the stones.
“Don’t you know baboons are your immediate ancestor?” She would cry out angrily like a summer thunder in a tropical rainforest. Grandma spoke like someone who read Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Or should I say like the vocal and educated Christians at BioLogos?
It didn’t make sense to me and it still doesn’t.
I am sure my grandmother hated me. I was the only grandchild who didn’t agree with her theory of the origin of species. I had a reputation of being the quietest child in the village, but whenever she peddled her evolutionary creationist doctrine, I transformed immediately into a loud mouth.
Although I wasn’t a Christian then, the idea of a God who creates a bug and watches it become a human appeared sick and shallow. I didn’t get it then and I still don’t. Imagine my horror 22 years later sitting at a Christian conference and speaker after speaker offering their ‘scientific evidence’ and ‘biblical evidence’ in support of my grandmother!
For the first time, I began questioning my belief in Genesis 1 and 2? Did God really create the world and everything in it or he just made noise, Big Bang Theory and the high energy collision of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and hydrogen formed proteins and DNA that nearly folded into a single cell animal?
What is evolutionary creation or theistic evolution?
Evolutionary creationism is a belief that all organism share a common single cell ancestor that later evolved and differentiated through God’s guidance and initiation.
There’s no agreement among theistic evolutionist on how God guided or initiated evolution. The only consensus is a God was involved. Which God? No one knows. The theistic evolutionists who are Christians say the God of the Bible.
Theistic evolution attempts to reconcile the Biblical account of creation with the theories of Darwinism. To achieve that the key creation passages are considered poetic or metaphorical. Hence, Genesis 1 and 2, and all other accounts of creation are considered to be non-historical and open for divergent interpretations.
What does reconciling the Bible with science really mean? Reconciliation involves holding equal two seemingly divergent parties. Therefore, an attempt to reconcile science and the Bible means you’re holding them both on equal footing. To achieve this those who believe in evolutionary creationism believe in two inerrant texts – the Bible and the book of nature.
I first heard about the book of nature at the Science and Christianity conference at Fuller Theological Seminary.
A famous scientist and theologian with two Ph.D. in theology and science gave a talk on evolutionary creationism. Having worked on the human genome project, his qualifications were outstanding and his talk excellent but his argument left many holes.
In short, he said the book of nature teaches us that all creation came through evolution and the Bible tells us that God was the Creator. Thus, all we see was created by God as claimed by the Bible using natural selection and survival of the fittest processes as demonstrated by nature.
Why I don’t believe in evolutionary creation
Most prominent Reformed theologians believe in evolutionary creationism. These proponents of evolutionary creationism such as N.T. Wright, Timothy Keller, Don Carson, and J.I. Parker, teach that God ordained evolution as the mechanism of creation. In an interview with First Things, Timothy Keller said, “I also think that there also was a very long process probably, you know, that the earth probably is very old, and there was some kind of process of natural selection that God guided and used, and maybe intervened in.”
To support this view of theistic evolution, evolutionary creationists teach that Genesis 1 and 2 should be read as a metaphor. In a paper submitted to BioLogos, Timothy Keller argued:
—we may read the order of events as literal in Genesis 2 but not in Genesis 1, or (much, much more unlikely) we may read them as literal in Genesis 1 but not in Genesis 2. But in any case, you can’t read them both as straightforward accounts of historical events.
I do not have a degree in theology but I studied chemistry and biological sciences. I don’t believe in evolution or it’s compatriot evolutionary creationism. I took numerous classes in biology both undergraduate and graduate. And in the past 8 years, I have taught Chemical Engineering, Analytical Chemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, and Organismal Biology classes. And I know I am not an expert on creation, I just believe God created the world and it was beautiful.
During my graduate studies, the book of nature failed to convince me that evolution was true, instead, it showed me that God was meticulous in his creation and compassionate to all his creatures. A class in mechanisms of toxicology and a seminar on the molecular basis of cancer convinced me the Genesis 1 and 2 account were historical.
I remember sitting in seminar one day, and I found myself wondering, “If it is this easy to get cancer: why is it only a few people in the world have cancer; why does the cancerous growth create new functional organs the patient can benefit from?” Anyone who has set in a genetics class knows a single DNA damage does not create new functional organs, it causes diseases such as cancer. Imagine the probability of a million DNA damages that result in a new species. It sounded absurd to me.
The book of nature taught me the majesty of God. When I see the mountains the moons and stars, I see God’s glory. I see the wonders of God. I see the power and wisdom of God. Above all, I see how much God really loves me. As I watch the beauty of the world around me, I can’t help it but join David in wonder.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
I don’t believe in theistic evolution because I fail to see how it agrees with the basic notion of the God whose glory is above all created things. I believe in the God who created everything with his fingers, who set the galaxies and the seasons, who above all, cares about a speck of dust in a Saharan sandstorm. I am that speck of dust.
Can you believe in both theistic evolution and the Bible?
People who believe in evolutionary creation like Francis Collins, Scott McKnight, and John Ortberg all say yes in How I Changed My Mind About Evolution. But this position bears a lot of challenges and inconsistencies. Theistic evolutionists seek to marry Darwin’s theory of evolution with the Bible’s account of creation. To do that they first suggest that the general consensus in the scientific community on evolution is correct. But they do not end there, the all agree that God directed the evolutionary process.
This is where problems begin. The general consensus in the scientific community also says evolution is undirected. This means evolution is merely a string of genetic mistakes that coincidentally creates a new species that is well adapted to the prevailing environment. But evolutionary creationists argue that God directs evolution.
I know God is omnipotent, but how can he direct a process that is undirected?
Not only is the theistic evolution in disagreement with the prevailing state of science it might also be disagreeable to the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Listen to what Pope Francis said in agreement with evolutionary creation.
Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.
I agree with Pope Francis on one thing: evolution demands that every new creature evolves from another creature. What does this mean? Evolutionary creation requires God to create every living thing from things that are already present. The theory of evolution demands that there is a common ancestor between all species. But is this consistent with what the Bible teaches?
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
The first part of this verse rebuff the claim made by Pope Francis that, “When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.” Yes, God actually created everything we see from nothing. He did not need a common ancestor as demanded by evolution or evolutionary creationism. Everything we see was made out of things that are invisible. God spoke and they became.
Does evolutionary creation justify racism and white supremacy?
If you believe in evolution, I have a question for you. How far are you willing to go in constructing your theology based on evolutionary creation?
Here are some findings from the Human Genome Project as summarized by Nicholas Wade in What Science Says About Race and Genetics:
- Observation: tribalism is a common human organizational model and can only be abandoned through an evolutionary change.
- Inference: tribalism is rampant in African nations and other underdeveloped countries. This means these communities are less evolutionarily developed compared to some of their European and North American counterparts.
- Observation: productivity during Industrial Revolution increased because people evolved.
- Inference: Industrial Revolution was a result of evolutionary change primarily among Europeans and North Americans. Sadly, this change that favored productivity did not happen among people of color.
If you believe in evolutionary creation, how far are you willing to go in accepting the general scientific consensuses on evolution? Am an African. Do you think I am an under-developed human? Can I call you a brother or a sister?