Conservate Theistic Evolutionists

Source: Apologia Pro Ortho Doxa

April 7, 2016


Theistic evolution is a path to apostasy.

By no means am I claiming that all or most theistic evolutionists are apostates. Nor am I claiming that all will become apostates. On the contrary, I know many who know and love Jesus Christ. What I am saying, however, is that theistic evolution is inherently unstable, that it contains within itself the seeds of theological liberalism, and that for those who are willing to think seriously through its implications, it will ultimately destroy the Christian faith. The most prominent model of such a person is likely Peter Enns. Peter Enns started out as a professor of biblical studies at Westminster Theological Seminary. He strongly affirmed theistic evolution, and even worked for BioLogos. Yet, Enns perceived that if evolution was true, then it demanded a thorough rethinking of Christian faith and life. If there is one true world, and evolution is part of that world, then:

1. Death is not contingent. Death is part of the universe. It has always been part of the universe. Man did not bring death into the world because death was always in the world.

2. Sin is part of what it means to be human. What it means to be human gradually developed over millions of years as successive generations became more adapted to their environments. Part of that adaptation was sexual promiscuity, since it ensures that your genes are spread more widely. Another part is violence against other communities, since that ensures a higher probability that your own community (and thus, genes) will survive.

Another route one could take towards #2 is to assert that such tendencies are limited to our bodies, but not our souls. But this leads inevitably towards Gnosticism, since Christianity asserts that God is the creator of soul and body in His image and likeness. If one’s Christianity is reshaped around the above two propositions, then I’m afraid there’s very little left, as there is for Enns, who is a sad, dejected man. But let’s take this a little further:

What does theistic evolution imply about the Bible?

Conservative theistic evolutionists desire to section Genesis 1-11 neatly away from the rest of Scripture and to assert specious differences in genre between Genesis 1-11 and Genesis 12-50. We are then informed that we are very poor readers of Genesis if we do not recognize such a difference in genre. Yet, ancients such as Josephus recognized no such difference. Jesus and the apostles apparently believed that Adam and Noah were real people. Both Jews and Christians have a long tradition of building a chronology out of, in part, the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. Moreover, Abraham’s descent is traced right back to Noah, the same Noah who experienced a global flood.

Others try to reinterpret Genesis 1-3 and Genesis 6-9. Frankly, such attempts barely deserve discussion. Every interpreter that lived before the 19th century recognized that the Flood of Genesis 6-9 is a global flood. The text is designed to recapitulate the seven days of creation so as to present the same world that was made in Genesis 1 to be torn apart. All the high mountains were covered. Noah builds the ark as a miniature world and gathers all the animals in the big world into the little world. Is it true? Or is this false?

What about Genesis 1? Though some evangelicals have attempted to assert that it was never intended as historical because of its literary design, everything in the Bible is designed as literature. Symbolism communicates truth about the real world. The creation is a living allegory of Jesus Christ. The text of Scripture expresses the truth about Christ precisely in that it expresses the truth about the world in which He is symbolized. If Genesis 1-11 are intended as history, and Genesis 1-11 are false, then the whole history of salvation begins to fall. The chronology of the ancient world, based on the idea of an “agricultural revolution” in 8000 BC, presses away the Bible. Attempts to find room for the exodus (read the account of the plagues: Egypt was destroyed) in the conventional chronology are sad and doomed.

The accounts of the patriarchs are intimately woven into the details of Genesis 1-11, and the exodus is dated with respect to the patriarchs. Even David and Solomon are dated with respect to the exodus, and the kings are dated with respect to David and Solomon. It is here, with the kings, that conventional biblical scholars see Israel’s history as emerging from the dark mists of myth. But the meaning of the Davidic kingship only makes sense in light of what came before. Jesus’ story only makes sense with respect to the story of Israel.

To use a rather morbid analogy, theistic evolution reminds me of Jackie Kennedy trying to stuff the brains back into John after he was sniped in the head. There’s no way to reconstruct the pieces. A less morbid analogy would be Doc. Ock’ from Spiderman: the artificial sun he created was inherently unstable. He could use his arms to maintain control of the instabilities for a short period of time, but soon enough, the instability was going to break out of the containment chamber and bring the city down.

Darwinism is antithetical to everything the gospel is about. Don’t go down that road.

See also
St. Basil, the Great Visionary of Creation St. Basil, the Great Visionary of Creation
Jesse Dominick
St. Basil, the Great Visionary of Creation St. Basil, the Great Visionary of Creation
Jesse Dominick
As a theologian St. Basil is distinguished as a luminous visionary of the dogma of creation. His Hexaemeron, or commentary on the six days of creation, delivered as a series of nine sermons during Lent sometime around 370 AD, has stood the test of time to become the Church’s most authoritative text on the matter.
Clash of Paradigms: The Doctrine of Evolution in the Light of the Cosmological Vision of St. Maximos the Confessor Clash of Paradigms: The Doctrine of Evolution in the Light of the Cosmological Vision of St. Maximos the Confessor
Vincent Rossi
Clash of Paradigms: The Doctrine of Evolution in the Light of the Cosmological Vision of St. Maximos the Confessor Clash of Paradigms: The Doctrine of Evolution in the Light of the Cosmological Vision of St. Maximos the Confessor
Vincent Rossi
Going beyond the typical surface-level considerations of the degree of compatibility between evolution and Orthodox theology, Vincent Rossi offers an indepth explanation and examination of the shining cosmological vision of the great St. Maximus the Confessor, considering the implications of the theory of evolution in light of the seventh century saint's system.
Interview with Fr. Damascene (Christensen), from the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina, California Interview with Fr. Damascene (Christensen), from the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina, California
Hieromonk Damascene (Christensen), Nun Kornilia (Rees)
Interview with Fr. Damascene (Christensen), from the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina, California Interview with Fr. Damascene (Christensen), from the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina, California
Nun Cornelia (Rees)
On Wednesday, the fourth day of the annual Nativity readings began the conference section dedicated to the «Orthodox understanding of creation of the world». One of the speakers was an Orthodox hieromonk, Fr. Damascene (Christensen), an American from the Monastery of St. Herman of Alaska in Platina, California, which belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Western America. This monastery is well known in Russia as the home of Fr. Seraphim Rose, its founder, and Fr. Damascene is a member of the Brotherhood from the time of Fr. Seraphim’s repose. He is the author Fr. Seraphim’s biography (due to appear in a new Russian version this year under the title Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works), and is something of an expert on Fr. Seraphim’s Life and writings in general.
C.S Hayward4/18/2022 6:16 pm
I thought you might like “The Post-Scientific Theory of Post-Darwinian Post-Evolution” at
Theophan2/21/2022 2:49 pm
For Richard : you are confusing "observable facts" with scientific theory or attempt to rationally explain those "observable facts". For instance, you say "We can observe directly, even with our naked eyes, objects" (= "observable facts"), but then you continue "that must be at least 2 million years old - because that is how long it takes light to get here" (= scientific theory or attempt to rationally explain the facts). Did you actually observe that the light of those objects take at least 2 million years to get here? I think not. What you actually observed with your naked eyes are those objects themselves, not light-speed and its proper measurement and scientific explanation. This distinction is important and must always be applied when approaching debates on evolutionism, because what "evolutionism" claims is not "observed", but a scientific theory or attempt to explain (more or less rationally I should say, and with specific metaphysical presuppositions that can constitue a bias, just as for creationists) what we can observe. We do not "observe" natural selection (which is a kind of "telos" replacement for God in an Atheist paradigm), we do not "observe" billions of years, we do not "observe" inorganic matter turning into biological organisms, nor reptiles turning into birds, nor apes turning into humans, nor anything of the sort. Those are theoretical scientific claims, and we must treat them as such and try to propose alternative scientific theories that do not contradict Holy Tradition. For you say : "Our interpretation of Scripture has to be consistent with obviously observable physical facts", which is true, but it does not have to be consistent with any new-fangled and fancy "scientific theory" of the day which obviously contradicts Holy Tradition, that is the consensus of how the Fathers interpreted Holy Scripture. The Orthodox stance is : "Our interpretation of Scripture HAS to be consistent with the consensus of the Holy Fathers", or we are no longer Orthodox Christians.
Thomas Hamilton8/31/2017 6:31 am
I should also add that the problem of the speed of light is not just a problem in creationist cosmology- it is a problem in all cosmological models. This is what is called the "Horizon Problem." Essentially, we see light that comes from objects about 20 billion lightyears away- whereas the conventional cosmology has the universe 13.7 billion years old. Moreover, the light seen from such distant objects reflect an essentially modern universe, not the state of the early universe predicted by standard cosmology. Since the same problem is had by both creationist and secular cosmologies, it cannot be used as an argument to take one over the other.

Thomas Hamilton5/11/2016 2:56 am

I agree with you that physics and cosmology provide the most serious challenge. But I think that enough fruit has been generated in other fields, especially given the relative lack of funding and small cadre of serious creationist scientists, to be promising as to the fruitfulness of the entire paradigm. Some creationists have developed cosmologies based on relativity which reconcile the data you mentioned to a young earth, but with the clocks in the rest of the universe having been faster with respect to our own clock in the creation week, so that other stars are genuinely billions of years old. The two models are Humphreys' model (his newer model is different than his older one) and the lesser known Hartnett "5D cosmology" model.

Personally, I don't think either of these are likely correct. I still think the real solution is to come. My claim is that there is precedent of progress and that, given other reasons for creationism, there is reason to think this problem will eventually be solved. See here:
ben marston5/6/2016 3:56 am
Richard- There is good evidence that the speed of light and also the atomic constants have slowed down, possibly from an almost infinitely fast state. The mechanism has to do with Planck's paired particles in a cosmological model involving an Electro-magnetically shaped Universe If that is so, a solar age of 7000 years would correlate with an atomic constant age of billions of years. The Christian astrophysicist from Austrialia has posited this and published a paper at Stanford called Atomic Constants and Time.
We have not observed billions of years, only the evidence, IF, the atomic clocks have been constant, and there is good evidence that they have not.
Richard 4/9/2016 11:34 pm
I'm sorry - but there are certain facts with which we have to live. Physics is the issue not biology.

1. A universe that is only 7-8000 years old is not physically possible and could not be stable.

2. We can observe directly, even with the naked eye, objects that must be at least 2 million years old - because that is how long it takes light to get here.

Our interpretation of scripture HAS to be consistent with obviously observable physical facts.

I would like to add a lot more here - but the comment space is limited.
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