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Is theistic evolution biblical? What is theistic evolution?

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Theistic evolution is an attempt to accommodate both the existence of a Creator-God Who made the universe and the interpretation of scientific evidence that claims the universe is billions of years old. It states that God used evolution in His process of creation, the basic framework of evolution is true, and the first two chapters of Genesis—the creation account—are allegorical.

There are two basic schools of theistic evolution. The minimalist view differs from atheistic evolution only on one point—the beginning of creation. It teaches that God first determined and established the physical laws of the universe with a mind to eventually develop human life. Then He initiated the Big Bang (or whatever phenomenon marked the first moment of our cosmos). After that point, when it came to the development and care of life on Earth, God stepped back and let His laws dictate what would happen. About half of all Catholics, Orthodox, and mainline Protestants hold this view, as well as most Buddhists, Hindus, and Jews.

Evolutionary creationism is less minimalistic. It says that God did use evolution, but He still remained somewhat involved, occasionally nudging the universe in the direction it should go. In particular, as species went extinct, God spontaneously created new species to take their place. This theory is held more by conservative Christians who wish to keep God involved.

Because the evolutionary timeline of the Earth conflicts so thoroughly with the Genesis creation account, theistic evolutionists reinterpret the first two chapters of Genesis. Some use the "day/age" theory which states that each "day" of creation actually means an unspecified duration of time—an age. Others use the framework theory, which is similar but identifies the first age with the fourth, the second with the fifth, and the third with the sixth.

Theistic evolution is valued by two particular people-groups. The first is believers who wish to be able to engage intelligently with the secular scientific community. Perhaps as an overreaction to the church's history of condemning any science that appeared to contradict the Bible or other church teaching, many theologians flock to theistic evolution in an attempt to show their support for science. In doing so, they hope to relate to atheistic evolutionists and show how science and God can coexist. Theistic evolution is also adopted by younger Christians who are faced with the seemingly insurmountable evidence of evolution. Not wishing to abandon their faith, they change their view of creation instead.

The second group who welcomes theistic evolution is scientists who become Christians. Young-earth creationism is in no way accepted or respected within the scientific community, and even if a scientist could accept a young earth after a lifetime of believing in evolution, the scientist's profession would not allow it. Many Christian scientists see theistic evolution as a way to combine their newfound love of God with their long-established belief in evolution.

As creative as theistic evolution theories can be, however, there is no way to mesh them with the Genesis 1-2 account of creation without such twisting and warping as to make the text unrecognizable. No matter how the scholars try to insist otherwise, the "day" used in Genesis 1 means "one literal day." It does not mean age or epoch or any other kind of unspecified amount of time. God created the world in six days. Noah's Flood explains most of the fossil record. Much of the rest we just don't know yet.

One of the most cherished, although least-publicized, assumptions in the scientific world is that of fallibilism. Fallibilism says that since humans have limited intellects, we cannot know the truth about anything. Any scientific theory could be proved wrong at any moment. In response, scientists do not work with "truth," but with models—approximations that appear to express the truth about a situation as well as we can determine at this point. In the case of the development of the universe, no human now living was there to see what really happened. As a result, we have our choice of two models: what the Creator (Who was there) says in the Bible, or what limited human intellect has inferred from the evidence so far. Both models seem to explain the physical evidence, but only one is the eye-witness testimony of the One Who did the work. What one believes about creation, evolution, or theistic evolution is not a salvation issue; it will not determine our salvation. But it will indicate what we value more—the Word of the Creator, or the interpretations of man.

Related Truth:

Did God create the universe?

Intelligent Design Theory - What is it?

Deism - What is it? What do deists believe?

Creation vs. evolution - What does the Bible say?

Faith vs. science. Is there a contradiction between faith in God and science?

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Truth about Creation

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