The media assumes that evolution is true. Schools are required to teach it. Our society as a whole accepts it as fact ignoring its designation as 'theory'. Because evolution dominates our lives in this all-embracing way many within the church also thoughtlessly assume that it is true, and those coming into the church through conversion usually bring an evolutionary mindset with them.

Two conflicting conclusions confront the average citizen when the theory of evolution is pondered:

On the one hand, if evolution is true, then I am released from responsibility to obey God, because he is not there, and therefore the laws supposed to be his, are not. When I die that is the end, so I don’t have to worry about heaven or hell.

On the other hand, if evolution is true, then I lose my significance as a human being. I am just a glorified ape. I have no particular purpose or role or meaning. Human life loses its sanctity.

These two conclusions are behind much of the lawlessness and lostness which we see in our world today.

Within the church there are many who endeavour to embrace what is known as theistic evolution, in which God is added as the prime mover and designer of the process of evolution. Yes, they say, we took billions of years to evolve from single celled life forms into human beings; yes, each species has developed gradually into another; but this was done by the creative power of God. He is the creator, as the Bible teaches, but the way he did it was by the evolutionary process.

On the surface this theistic concept of evolution seems to solve the problem faced by the Christian in evolution. It appears to enable the Christian to accept the evolutionary theory, which is assumed to be true, and to continue to hold to the Scripture at the same time.

There are, however, significant problems with theistic evolution. Among these are:

[1] The theory of evolution necessitates and assumes the existence of incredibly long ages of suffering, death and destruction before fully human beings evolved. Yet Genesis 1:25 and 31 teach us that God looked at what he had made and saw that it was ‘good’ and ‘very good’.  Only the most perverted of human beings would call such tooth-and-claw, survival-of-the-fittest struggles ‘very good’. The question is raised then of the validity of the Genesis account of creation and it is dismissed as myth.

[2] Genesis teaches that God made man in his own image, which assumes an immediate creation of a fully human person. The developmental process of supposed evolution makes it impossible to define at which point ‘man’ became the bearer of the image of God, and at which point ‘man’ became responsible and answerable to God. Again the factuality of the Genesis account is called into question.

[3] The evolutionary assumption of long millennia of death and destruction is also in direct conflict with the teaching in Genesis 2:17, 3:1-24, and Romans 5:12-21. According to these passages suffering and death entered the world because of human sin. God created the first human beings as responsible creatures, accountable and answerable to him. The origin of suffering and death is the direct consequence of their choice to live independently of God and his command. Theistic evolution, assuming the existence of suffering and death before sin, undermines this basic teaching of Genesis 3, again regarding it as mere myth, and not a factual account of what actually happened.

[4] If the factuality of the Genesis 3 account of the origin of sin, death and suffering is denied, a significant flow-on occurs: our understanding of sin, our  understanding of our relationship with God before and after conversion, our understanding of the significance of the death of Jesus Christ, our understanding of the concepts of salvation, redemption, justification and reconciliation, our understanding of the concepts of judgement, condemnation, heaven and hell, all are undermined and re-interpreted by the non-factuality of Genesis 3. If Genesis 3 is not fact, the death of Christ is robbed of the meaning given to it in the rest of the Bible.

All of the above constitute a serious departure from the traditional Christian belief in the infallibility and authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God. Jesus Christ and Paul both grounded aspects of their teaching on the facts of Genesis 1 to 3. They viewed these chapters as facts not as myth. If we allow the theories of fallible human scientists to determine and dictate the validity of the Scriptures which up to this present era of the evangelical church have been regarded as the infallible word of a trustworthy God, then there has indeed been a major shift in our attitude to both God and his Word.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2011