Jan 17, 2011

Can Christians believe in evolution?

There are a growing number of evangelical Christians including eminent theologians and scientists who are ready to embrace evolution as the divine mechanism through which God created the world and human beings. See Creation & Evolution: Do we have to choose by Denis Alexander the director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion at St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, a molecular biologist and an author on science and religion for one example.

In his foreward to the book Should Christians Embrace Evolution Wayne Grudem summarises at least eight reasons for rejecting theistic evolution.

If evolution was the mechanism through which God created then;

1) Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were just two Neolithic farmers among about ten million other human beings on earth at that time, and God just chose to reveal himself to them in a personal way.

2) Those other human beings had already been seeking to worship and serve God or gods in their own ways

3) Adam was not specially formed by God or ‘dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7) but had two human parents.

4) Eve was not directly made by God out of a ‘rib that the Lord God had taken from the man’ (Gen. 2:22), but she also had two human parents.

5) Many human beings both  then and now are not descended from Adam and Eve.

6) Adam and Eve’s sin was not the first sin.

7) Human physical death had occurred for thousands of years before Adam and Eve’s sin – it was part of the way living things had always existed.

8) God did not impose any alteration in the natural world when he cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin.

I’m meeting with a number of ministers today and tomorrow to assess these eight claims that evolution and biblical account of creation are irreconcilable.

If you’re interested in a summary of some of Denis Alexander’s views you might be interested in the following.

Dr. Denis Alexander – Evolution & the Church from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.


  • Will be interested in the result. I grew up rather tired of the debate, as my Belfast minister organised Ireland tours for Ken Ham, and was black & white on everything. However, I heard the good folk from Biblical Creation Ministries on my latest visit to Emmanuel, Leamington, and it was very helpful indeed. The eye-opener for me was seeing that all that Christ redeemed, Adam lost (which is backwards to how I’d usually put it!). So, 1 Cor 15, if Adam’s sin had only brought spiritual death & not brought in physical death, then Christ would not have needed to rise physically and destroy ‘the last enemy’, death (including physical). I also appreciated the guys’ emphasis pedogogically: macro-evolution is a powerful theory for explaining the diversity of species – let’s support Christian students in science to go into the field and spend brain power on coming up with more powerful scientific theories.

    It got me thinking about the cultural power of creation myth, too: most of my friends don’t ‘get’ the gospel in part because the cross doesn’t make any sense in the context of a gradually evolving world/society. If world was created bad, and gradually evolves (even overseen by God) to good, then God is in the dock, and the cross is a poor excuse for redemption. If the world was created good by a good Creator, then we are in the dock, and the cross of Christ is amazingly gracious good news.

    • Thanks for the comment. We had a great couple of days away and it certainly clarified a few issues in my own mind – although I still don’t think I’ve settled on a position personally. I think it helped me see that there is a need to differentiate between weaknesses in a position and fatal flaws in a position held by Bible-believing Christians.

      Your comments are all very well made and I do think our doctrine of creation shapes our doctrine of redemption as you suggest. To my mind working back from redemption to creation helps identify positions that are flawed and ought to be rejected. More to follow in the blog.

      • Thanks, Neil – your suggested method makes sense to me – if ‘for us and for our salvation’ was the test applied when working out / assessing christology, and if everything was made in, through and for Christ, then why not make redemption in Christ it the test of creation, too?

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