Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?

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Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?

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Are we the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve or did God guide our journey into existence by the forces of evolution? The wisdom of this world, particularly in Europe, is increasingly embracing the idea that we can accept both the teachings of the Bible and the theory of evolution. But are they really compatible?

Wrote Clive Cookson in the Financial Times, "The Vatican, which often appeared ambivalent in the past, has recently gone out of its way to affirm the compatibility of evolutionary science with the Bible" (Dec. 23, 2005, emphasis added throughout).

Many clergymen believe in evolution

A movement known as the Clergy Letter Project, signed by 10,000 ordained ministers and priests in America, stated: "We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth, one that has stood up to rigorous scrutiny and upon which much of human knowledge and achievement rests. To reject this truth or to treat it as 'one theory among others' is to deliberately embrace scientific ignorance and transmit such ignorance to our children" (ibid.).

It is astonishing to fully realize the grip that the concept of evolution has on increasing numbers who also profess to believe in God and presumably His Word. And yet at the same time growing numbers of competent scientists are becoming outspoken critics of Darwinism.

As the Australian molecular biologist and medical doctor Michael Denton, himself an agnostic, has written, evolutionary theory "is still, as it was in Darwin's time, a highly speculative hypothesis entirely without direct factual support and very far from that self-evident axiom some of its more aggressive advocates would have us believe" ( Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, 1986, p. 77).

Even some who support intelligent design (ID) somehow conceive of it as also compatible with Darwinism. The Economist put it this way: "But if God has a plan for the world and everyone in it . . . then it is much easier to imagine evolution occurring under divine guidance than as a result of random mutation and the survival of the fittest."

Many believe that God has used the evolutionary process of natural selection to accomplish His ultimate purpose for the human family.

Even the noted paleontologist and agnostic Stephen Jay Gould saw fit to state, "Either half of my colleagues are enormously stupid or else the science of Darwinism is fully compatible with religious beliefs —and equally compatible with atheism" ("Impeaching a Self-Appointed Judge," quoted in Dawkins' God, 2005, p. 80).

This approach—believing that a divine being guided the evolutionary process—is called theistic evolution. But according to what we find in the Bible, has God ever worked that way? The title of this article is: "Can You Believe Both the Bible and Evolution?" It could just as well have been titled "Can You Believe Both God and Evolution?"

Who made a man from dust?

Since there is so little understanding about what Scripture actually says on this subject, let's make the consistent biblical position very plain and clear. The human creation account begins in the first chapter of the very first book of the Bible.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth'" (Genesis 1:26).

Here Scripture draws a clear distinction between man and the animal world. Previous passages plainly show that mammals, birds and fish were definitely not created in the image of God (verses 20-25). Only man shares that awesome distinction and for a grand purpose. (To understand further, please request or download our free booklet Who Is God? )

God first states His intention to create human beings and then He does it. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (verse 27).

More details are revealed in the second chapter. "And the Lord God formed man [Adam] of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of
life; and man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).

The biblical narrative is in sharp contrast to those who believe that evolution has shaped dust into humanity. In essence this belief amounts to idolatry since evolution has been put in the place of God.

The narrative continues with the creation of Eve. "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'" (Genesis 2:21-23).

The account shows that sex was created by God, not by evolution as so many scientists seem to claim. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (verse 24).

The Psalms confirm creation

Other books in the Bible, like the Psalms, confirm the Genesis account of the human creation. Consider the human eye. We may ask, who designed the first eye? How could the eye possibly be the product of an accidental mutation? How could aeons of gradual change produce an eye—an astoundingly complex organ that needs all of its highly integrated parts to function?

The psalmist gives the credit to God. "He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see?" (Psalm 94:9).

What did King David say about his own origins? "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). He attributed his existence directly to God and went on to describe how the Creator knew all of his parts even while he was in his mother's womb (verses 15-16).

David asked the crucial question: "What is man that You are mindful of Him . . . ? You made him a little lower than the angels . . ." (Psalm 8:4-5). He goes on to tell us how man has been given rule over the earth, including the flora and the fauna (verses 6-8).

Columnist Mark Steyn, writing in the British Spectator, said this pivotal passage "accurately conveys the central feature of our world—our dominion over pretty much everything else out there." He adds that the writer of this psalm "captured the essence of our reality better than your average geneticist" ("O Come, All Ye Faithless," Dec. 17, 2005).

Jesus Christ and Paul believed in man's creation

Notice what Jesus Christ Himself said: "But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female'" (Mark 10:6). Then in Matthew's parallel account Christ asks the question: "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female' . . . ?" (Matthew 19:4).

Christ's question underscores the importance of reading and believing the Bible—and in this case especially the creation accounts in the early chapters of Genesis.

When the apostle Paul confronted the blatant idolatry of the philosophers of Athens on the Areopagus, adjoining the Athenian Acropolis, he told them that "the God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth . . . From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth" (Acts 17:24, 26, New International Version).

All generations of human beings came from one man—and that man was named Adam. Paul adds, "And so it is written [in Genesis]: ' The first man Adam became a living being'" (1 Corinthians 15:45).

Paul also understood the order in which the first man and first woman were created. "For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:13). And as surprising as it may seem, He also wrote: "For man [Adam] did not come from woman, but woman [Eve] from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man" (1 Corinthians 11:8-9, NIV).

Since all of their descendants were born of a woman (verse 12), Paul could not have written this passage unless he implicitly believed in the Genesis account.

Drawing the obvious conclusions

There is simply no way of reshaping the Bible into a book that also somehow supports the theory of evolution. If we are brave enough to accept the creation account at face value, then theistic evolution becomes impossible to believe. We cannot believe both the Bible and evolution. Both Old and New Testaments consistently support the account of the divine creation of Adam and Eve.

Logically, what we are obliged to do now is to examine the evidence for the authority and authenticity of the Bible, along with God's existence, and compare them with the viability of the theory of evolution. If you would like to seriously pursue these lines of thought, we invite you to request or download our free booklets Is the Bible True?, Life's Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? GN