Author: Paul A. Bartz
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
Theistic evolution is more than just adding God to the theory of evolution. The picture of God presented by theistic evolution turns out to be very different than the God presented by the creationist view of creation. In fact, at many crucial points the picture of God presented by theistic evolution is quite the opposite of the God understood by creationism. How well each picture fits with the rest of the Biblical self-portrait of God will help us to see which is the true Biblical picture of God.
In general (there is some diversity of belief), theistic evolution accepts the evolutionary timetable for the universe and earth. God’s creative activity is restricted to making use of the laws which He placed into matter at the beginning. Various theistic evolutionists accept the possibility that at crucial limited points in the process God became personally involved in injecting Himself into the process—the creation of the first living cell being one of these points. But once the hurdle of originating life was jumped, God allowed genetics, mutations, environment and survival to provide the pattern for future development. Many theistic evolutionists also theorize an additional invasion of God into the creation at the point, perhaps 3 or 5 million years ago, when some apelike creatures were given a soul and thus made into man. Theistic evolution sees uncompleted creatures forming according to assumed evolutionary principles over billions of years, the business of life and death going on long before man, all within a very limited personal intervention by God. Obviously theistic evolutionists understand Genesis 1 in an allegorical way.
Now contrast this with the creationist view. If we understand Genesis 1 to be a historical narrative of actual events reported in real time, we see the picture of a God Who carefully and deliberately created matter and energy and then, according to careful plan, formed that matter and energy into the completed creation over a period of five additional days. Each creature was finished in completed and perfect form (“God saw all that He had made and, behold, it was very good.”) There was no creature, no matter how small and seemingly unimportant, which was left unfinished or deemed worthy of anything less than the perfection which God could provide.
More detail on the personal care that God invested in His creation is offered in Job 38 and the following chapters. Here God, in speaking of Job’s limited wisdom, impresses Job with His wisdom that is so evident in all the details of the creation. God speaks of the details He designed into the earth to set land and sea apart. He describes His creation of the human mind in such a way that it can have wisdom (38:36-37). He describes in detail how He specially designed each creature with the special physical features that it needs, as well as with its special temperament (chapter 39), and how He sees to it that each creature is fed (38:39-41). The picture of God here is one of God Whose detailed care and intimacy with His creation is without limitation—because God is without limitation. And the personal and intimate nature of His involvement is very clearly stated.
In Matthew 10:29-30, Jesus informs us that God is even aware of the personal tragedies of each of the billions of sparrows in the world. In Psalm 148:8 we see that even the breeze is given instruction by God as to speed and direction. The level of God’s intimacy with His creation, which is portrayed in Scripture, contrasts sharply with the limited involvement portrayed by theistic evolution.
But most telling between the two views is the Biblical nature of God’s involvement with man. While theistic evolution offers man as the product of only limited intrusion of God into the creation (as when the apelike creatures were given a soul), the Bible reveals a much more personal origin for man. Man was handmade by God’s personal action—not from another creature but uniquely formed. Luther maintained that all of us were personally made by God at that point: “…in God’s sight I was begotten and multiplied immediately when the world began, because this Word, and God, said ‘Let us make man,’ created me too. Whatever God wanted to create, that He made when He spoke. Not everything has come into view at once.” (Luther’s Works, American Edition, Volume 1, p 76).
While one might, at first, be tempted to dismiss this language as over-enthusiastic, it does have Scriptural warrant. Ephesians 1:3-12 goes into detail on the nature and extent of God’s personal knowledge of us as individuals even before the creation of the world itself!
Most importantly, the Gospel does not portray God as limited in His intimacy toward us today. Though a billion people may pray to Him at once, He hears each prayer, even the prayer of the smallest child, as though that prayer were the only prayer being prayed. The God of the Bible is so big that He can give His undivided attention to countless details all at once. In this respect the viewpoint of theistic evolution limits God in the creation by attributing the same limitations we humans have to our great and loving God. And in practice the Gospel offered by many theistic evolutionists is one in which God is not as intimately involved with us as the Bible would lead us to believe.
Can a theistic evolutionist be a Christian? If he is, this may be due to human inconsistency or that he hasn’t applied himself to see the incompatibility of evolution and biblical truth. The view of God offered by theistic evolution is one of spiritual poverty compared to the personal and intimate involvement of God in His creation, the lives of His creatures, and most especially, by His grace, in our lives making us new creations in Christ Jesus! God has never limited the intimacy of His involvement with the creation because He is love.
Image: The BioLogos Foundation is a leading proponent of theistic evolution.
1984 Bible Science Newsletter.
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