Forum Comments

Answers In Genesis: Can An Evolutionist Be A Creationist?
In Article Discussion
joshedlund
Commentator
Commentator
Jan 23, 2018
I’ve been intrigued by the term “evolutionary creationism” in recent years. I like it, but I’ve also always felt it was a bit cheeky, and I’m not surprised to see AIG push back on it. All terms have weaknesses. I think the biggest problem with “theistic evolution” is that there’s nothing inherently Christian about it – it suggests merely a vague theism. In fact, this article essentially seems to assume that Christian evolutionists believe exactly what the term implies, and thus is criticizing their attempt to distance themselves from it. But what if they want to distance themselves for the very reason that the term does not reflect their beliefs? There is much variety among Christian evolutionists (as there is among young-earth creationists). While many do seem to hold to little more than a naturalistic evolution with God kickstarting it all, as the article says, many – especially the BioLogos folks – seem to believe in a God who was and is much more active in creation, referring not just to Genesis 1 but also John 1 and Colossians 1 and the role of Jesus in creation. That is at least a little more “creationist” than your vague “theistic evolutionists.” Some Christian evolutionists go even further. Michael Behe, the famous “intelligent design” guy, would under the old labels definitely be called a “theistic evolutionist,” believing in universal common ancestry. But his book The Edge of Evolution makes it clear that he believes “random mutations” have explicit limits and that much of evolutionary history had to involve mutations that were “non-random,” i.e. intelligently designed in some sense. Perry Marshall goes further still, asserting that “random mutations” only produce noise, but that cells were designed with advanced tools to intelligently rearrange their DNA in response to new challenges. Many of these folks have disagreements with each other about the specifics, but they are all a far cry from merely slapping God at the head of a long process of “random mutation and natural selection,” as the article says. Perhaps the author is simply not that familiar with what many Christian evolutionists actually believe? I also was amused by the somewhat facetious question of whether or not Ken Ham should be considered an “evolutionary creationist” since he believes in limited diversification of species within “kinds.” I actually think this is a fantastic question, because the “baraminologists” at AIG and elsewhere allow for a lot more potential “evolution” within “kinds” than I think a lot of people realize. (Joel Duff at the Natural Historian blog has written many posts about what he calls this “hyperspeciation”.) Indeed, we all may be “evolutionary creationists” to some degree or another. But that doesn’t make that term the right term, either. Maybe “Christian evolutionists” would be better, after all. Regardless, I emphatically disagree with the article’s assertion that such men and women are following syncretism. To me those claims make no more sense applied to Christian evolutionists than they would from a Christian geocentrist to the heliocentric folks at AIG. It is that sort of lack of charity that grieves me the most to still see coming from AIG, and that is why I much appreciate and prefer to read YEC folks like Jay Wile and Todd Wood.
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Is Evolution Truly A Threat To Christianity?
In Discussion Questions
joshedlund
Commentator
Commentator
Dec 08, 2017
Thanks, Jacob. A couple of thoughts in response... > Do you think that the sight of an animal bleeding, dying and being eaten by another would have seemed "very good" to a pre-fall Adam and Eve? First, I would say that it's possible Adam and Eve wouldn't have seen predator-prey relationships if they were confined outside the protective garden. Second, even if they did, I think it's hard to say what that would have seemed like. Some people are very squeamish and faint at even the sight of a little blood; other people, especially those more hardened to an outdoor lifestyle (unlike many of us modern urban softies, myself included), are not at all troubled by it, especially if it's connected to something more important. So I think we should not rely on highly subjective human reactions to the moral value of animal predation, but rather the objective declaration of God. One example of that is Psalm 104, which says the lions receive their food from God and are filled with "good things." I would be happy to consider other passages if you have any. > Furthermore, very good, when spoken by God means "perfect." I agree that this is sometimes the case, but I think we would want to examine more passages before asserting that it is always the case. For instance, even in the Genesis story, God said, "It is not good for man to be alone." Does that mean there was something imperfect about the world, though it was sinless? Deuteromony 8:7 says "the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land" - does this mean it was a perfect land? Perhaps there is a moral distinction in the Bible between calling humans "good" / "not good", and calling the rest of creation "good". Even with humans, it is complicated; we know "there are none who are righteous, no, not one," and yet the Bible also refers to many men as righteous, though they were certainly not "perfect." At the very least, I think we should hesitate to enforce a dogmatic connection between the words "good" and "perfect" when the Hebrew uses them differently in different situations. You are claiming that "very good" in Genesis must be perfect; I am not claiming that it must not mean "perfect," rather I am claiming that it may or may not, in which case either interpretation would be a valid possibility, neither of them a threat to Christianity.
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Is Evolution Truly A Threat To Christianity?
In Discussion Questions
joshedlund
Commentator
Commentator
Dec 08, 2017
(In my opinion, discussions about evidence for /against evolution should be a separate tangent from whether or not evolution is a threat to Christianity.) I just wanted to add a couple points to the earlier conversation about death before the fall. - I believe Romans 5 may only be talking about the introduction of human death, as other living creations are not mentioned in the passage and it is not clear, if they are included, where we would draw the line at including mammals / insects / plants / bacteria / cells in the idea of "death". - If predatory behavior can be considered part of a "good" creation (Ps 104), though perhaps not a "perfect" one, I believe this allows us to fully see the glory in God's magnificent design of defense and offenses in the animal kingdom. There are so many impressive intricate characteristics, from bodies designed to hunt, to camouflage and mimicry and spikes and the bombadier beetle's explosion-factory to defend, from predator eyes in the front of the head to focus on prey, to prey eyes on the side of the head to watch out for predators, that all seem better explained as an intentional design for a world where no creature was "perfect" enough to wipe out the others, but enough for a "very good" equilibrium, rather than to explain it all (as many YEC do) as either existing pre-Fall but not being used, or as springing to life like a new creation at the curse. Note that this view of animal death before the Fall does not require evolution. In fact, it was discussed in detail by old-earth creationists who opposed evolutionary ideas in the 1800's. However, if the idea of animal death before the Fall is not a threat to Christianity outside of evolution, then it would not be part of any threat to Christianity within evolution, either (although there are arguably other challenges), and the question of how those animals acquired their wonderful offenses/defenses would be a separate issue independent of theology.
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joshedlund

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