Could God Use Darwinian Evolution to Create and Sustain Life?
The Creation Studies Institute often receives letters that claim that we are incorrectly interpreting the Word of God. Many of them take us to task for not seeing that God uses evolutionary processes to create and sustain life on planet earth. Here is a sample of one such letter we received.
"If evolution is wrong and Genesis 1-11 is literal, rather than poetry to convey spiritual truths, then why did God create birds and animals before humans in Gen 1, and birds and animals after humans in Gen 2? If you study both sides of the matter and then you will understand that God created by way of His own evolutionary process. Think about how he creates a baby in the womb. He doesn't reach down from and place on an ear, etc... Evolution and Creation go together. They are not mutually exclusive. What you are doing is creating a dichotomy that forces people to choose between Evolution and creation because people associate evolution with atheism. That is wrong. God is an evolutionary Creator. Sure I believe that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 days. I also believe that the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing (PSalm 98:8). I find it interesting that the sun and moon were created on the fourth day. I wonder how could the first three days be 24-hour solar days? We must respect the ancient poetic framework in the opening chapters of Scripture (and modern science). You are denying both."
Many people who have embraced the “molecules to men” Theory of Evolution via natural selection, beneficial mutation and the magic ingredient of billions of years want to be able to say God used the processes of Darwinian evolution to create the universe. They believe that you can spiritualize passages of the Bible like the opening chapters of the Genesis account and see them as allegorical rather than literal. They attempt to equate the account of biblical creation attributed to the pen of Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the realm of symbolic metaphor.
While it may be a good place to establish a foundation of sound hermeneutical principles, I will simply refer to a hermeneutical rule that has helped many Bible believing men and women rightly divide the Word of truth. It's called the Golden Rule of Biblical Interpretation. It goes like this:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, clearly indicate otherwise.’ (The Golden Rule of Interpretation by Dr. David Cooper of the Biblical Research Society.)
It does not violate any sound hermeneutical rule to evaluate passages of the Bible using Dr. Cooper’s guidelines. What is problematic is the attempt to take a theory based upon naturalism, e.g. a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically: the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena, the Darwinian Theory of Evolution, and say that God would use such a process to create and sustain life.
One of the first errors in this person’s letter has to do with an incorrect assumption that Genesis chapter two is a chronological re-telling of the Genesis account. This is an incorrect view that leads someone to compare the two chapters, word for word, event for event, and in doing so, they believe there is a discrepancy concerning the timing of the creation of man the other living organisms. Genesis Chapter two contains a summary of the creation week; it is not a repetition but a synopsis that focuses more attention on the creation of Adam, the instructions concerning Adam’s responsibilities and the creation of Eve. The statement in Gen. 2:8 was never meant to be a chronological restatement of the original account in Genesis chapter one, but rather a summary statement to include all of the other creative activities God did in the Garden of Eden. This summary included the creation of the numerous fruit-bearing trees and the location of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Gen. 2:9. This summary also included some geographical details, e.g. the four rivers that ran through the Garden of Eden, Gen. 2:10-14, as well as some indications as to the location of the Garden itself, Gen. 2:8-14.
Aside from this obvious error, there are several serious problems with this attempt to marry Darwinian Evolution and the Creation account of Genesis. First and foremost is the attempt to legitimize Darwin’s Theory. The concept Darwin and his proponents are promoting is really natural selection or the process by which living organisms adapt to their particular environments. They then elevate this concept of adaptability to encompass changes that are not demonstrated as having taken place in the fossil record, e.g. in the past, and cannot be observed as happening today in the world we live in, e.g. in the present.
So why would we as Bible believers desire to harmonize what is clearly a naturalistic worldview based on faulty evidence? Darwin’s Theory is about death, e.g. survival of the fittest. Only those who fail to understand the implications promoted by Darwinian Theory would even attempt to take Darwin’s proposed mechanisms for change, e.g. natural selection and the rare allegedly beneficial mutation and assert that God would use such ridiculously wasteful and inefficient mechanisms to create the universe and all the life contained therein.
We can only reject the oversimplification that Darwin’s Theory presents and we do not accept that figurative expressions of the literary mechanisms of personification, e.g. the trees clapping or the rock’s crying out, are in any way similar to, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
A baby in the womb is clearly an example of the genetic pre-programming of the Creator who has inscribed into our genetic code all the information needed to “reproduce after their own kind” and to “be fruitful and multiply.” Mutations are a result of the Fall. Mankind is not the result of “slime plus time” and the reason that man is created at the end of the Creation process is due to the fact that man is distinct from all other living organisms. Man is created in the image of the Creator. He is a living soul and he has been given a special place in God’s Kingdom.
Why would evening and morning in the first day, referring to the Hebrew word, yom, quantitatively different than the evening and morning on the second day, third day, etc. This word yom always refers to a limited sequence of time. Even when it is used of the “day of the Lord,” a reference to the time of final judgment prophesied by the Hebrew prophets as “the time of Jacob’s Trouble,” Jer. 30:7, and spoken of in the book of Revelation as “the Great Tribulation,” Rev. 7:15, it always has a limit of time associated with it, e.g. in this instance a week of years or seven years. The word yom never means an unlimited timeframe, so why would we try to remove it from its clear context in the Genesis account?
I cannot make anyone believe God. There is an enormous difference between believing in God and believing God, e.g. taking Him at His Word. It is not acceptable to believe in the naturalistic worldview proposed by Darwin other agnostics and atheists the world over and do violence to the Scriptures in an attempt to harmonize them in with worldly wisdom. All attempts to spiritualize away the true history of man and the universe we inhabit can only end in destruction. We will continue to promote sound hermeneutical principles in our efforts to promote God’s truth according to His Word. I would rather believe what God says and place my faith in the Living Word, Jesus of Nazareth, and the revelation He has given to mankind in the written Word of God.
Steve Rowitt, Th.M., Ph.D.(c)
Chief Technical Advisor