By Mark W. Swarbrick
Can you believe the Bible and also believe in evolution? Some people say yes. They are called theistic evolutionists. I used to be one of them. In course of time I discovered that my attempt to reconcile the two presented a conundrum that had me confused and troubled. I now submit to you that it is impossible to believe both. Once it is fully understood what each declares, one is forced to choose; you can believe one or the other but not both. Their statements and teachings are diametrically opposed and irreconcilable. I shall now demonstrate that this is so.
The Christian who also believes in evolution has a spiritual handicap, because adherence to evolution forces a low view of scripture. Such a view forces people to literally hack apart the Bible, choosing which parts to believe, which parts to reject, which parts to reinterpret or ignore in order to try to force their theology to agree with evolution.
Millions of Years or Six Thousand Years?
According to Genesis, God supernaturally created man approximately six thousand years ago. The evolutionist cannot take the creation story in Genesis literally. Evolutionary doctrine will not allow it. According to evolution, mankind has been evolving from ape-like ancestry over the last seven million years. Thus the theistic evolutionist must interpret the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis in a symbolic fashion. It cannot be taken literally. That sounds simple enough on the surface, but it really isn’t, for it creates numerous difficulties. Follow me while we track what happens if we interpret the Adam and Eve story symbolically.
First of all, if the story is symbolic, what does it mean? What is its point? If it isn’t really true, if it is some sort of religious parable, what does it teach? I have often heard theistic evolutionists tell me that the Adam and Eve story is symbolic, but I have never had them tell me what it means, only that it doesn’t mean what it says!
That is only the beginning of confusion. Adam and Eve had sons, two of which were Cain and Abel. Are they real people, or are they mythical characters also? Did Cain really kill Abel? It doesn’t seem likely the murder ever happened, if their parents, Adam and Eve, weren’t real. The problem is that Jesus reveals that he accepted Abel as a real person who lived at the beginning of the world, when he said “…since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, (Luke 11:50-51).
This shows that Jesus believed that Abel was a real person, thus Jesus confirms the historicity of the creation story in Genesis. If the creation story is literal, as Jesus believed, then we know from the genealogies recorded in scripture that the world is only about six thousand years old, not millions of years, as evolutionary theory demands. What is the Christian evolutionist to do with this dichotomy? To hold onto evolution, he is forced to ignore this statement by Jesus wherein our Lord declares that Abel lived at the beginning of the world.
Man Brought Death or Death Brought Man?
Romans 5:14 tells us “…death reigned from the time of Adam…” and Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned…” It is basic Christian theology that the sin of Adam brought death and suffering into the world. Christianity records God as saying that he “saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Scripture declares that death was never in God’s mind as His perfect will for creation. 1 Cor 15:26 declares that God considers death an enemy: “The last enemy to be destroyed is death…” To sum up, man brought death into the world, specifically, Adam did this approximately 6,000 years ago. God created the world originally with no death and suffering in it. He called it good and He declares death an enemy.
Evolution, on the other hand, says the converse: That death is what brought man into the world, that from the beginning of the world, millions or billions of years ago, death and suffering reigned as the mechanism for life. Evolution says that animals have been brutally hunting and eating each other in a struggle for the “survival of the fittest” for millions of years before man even evolved! Whereas Christianity calls death an enemy, evolution embraces death and calls it friend and creator.
Evolution declares that from the beginning the world was bad, not good, for it says that God chose the cruel method of random accidental mutations (imagine billions of birth defects to the tenth power) to create all manner of crippled malformed creatures over millions of years so that every now and then a good mutation could occur, not get eaten, and successfully breed descendants.
On and on, this cruel scenario replays with the suffering and death of billions upon billions of creatures, all before man came on the scene. Who can say that is good? Does this sound good – ape-men and other animals brutally killing each other for millions of years? How can death, an enemy of God’s purposes, be the very method by which He created?
The theistic evolutionist is forced to accept that God saw all the suffering and death over millions of years and saw it as good, which makes the Creator a sadist. Evolution steals away from the believer the Christian doctrines that make sense out of this dark world. It takes away the goodness of God. It robs the Christian of his explanation to unbelievers of the reason for suffering and death. It leaves the Christian at a total loss to explain numerous passages of scripture where God clearly proclaims that death is an enemy and a curse and something that came contrary to his perfect will.
The First & Last Adam
“So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” (1 Cor 15:45)
“The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” (1 Cor 15:47)
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Cor 15:21-22)”
Notice how that Adam is called “the first man” and “the first Adam” and that Jesus is “the last Adam.” Paul’s point is that the first man that God created (Adam) brought death to the world by his one act of sin, and that Jesus did just the opposite – he brought life to the world by his one act of righteousness — dying on the cross for us.
Theistic evolutionists typically say that Adam was not a real person. But they have a real problem when they read the genealogy of Jesus in Luke chapter three, which concludes, “the son of Adam, the son of God.” (Luke 3:38). That passage plainly says that Adam is an ancestor of Jesus. If Adam was not real, then to be consistent it must be maintained that Jesus was not real either, at which point you totally abandon all Christian theology. The theistic evolutionist must hack this New Testament passage out of the Bible. It is one of many passages that conflict with evolution. There are more.
The Apostle Paul called Adam “the first man” (1Co 15:45-47), not once, but twice. Luke quotes the Apostle Paul saying, “From one man he made every nation of men…” (Acts 17:26). Were Paul and Luke both wrong? To reconcile evolution with scripture we have to disbelieve these parts of the New Testament. Either all nations descended from Adam or they did not. The Bible says they did. Either Adam was the first man or he was not. The Bible says he was. Evolution denies both of these Christian doctrines. The theistic evolutionist cannot believe the apostles on this point, if they are to continue believing in evolution. He is forced to conclude that sometimes the apostles simply did not know what they were talking about. So why believe the apostles when they tell us Jesus walked on water?
Interpreting the first chapters of Genesis symbolically confuses the doctrine of original sin and the fall. It spawns endless unanswerable questions. Did Adam really exist at all? If not, was his descendant Jesus, a fiction also? If Adam ever existed, was he man or animal? Was he created in the image of God, or was he an extra smart ape-like creature? Was there more than one Adam & Eve? Did they really sin? Is there such a thing as sin? Endless faith-killing questions spawned by Satan who fostered doubt upon Eve by asking, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Questions that create doubt in what God has said are the devil’s tool. Charles Darwin, father of evolutionary theory spoke of his apostasy from the Christian faith, saying that as his faith in evolution grew, “Thus disbelief crept over me…”. According to Darwin’s own words, evolutionary theory became the father of his doubt. Faith is the shield of the Christian and faith comes by hearing (Ro 10:17). But if confidence in the Bible is undermined, why read it? And if the Bible is not read, from whence shall come faith?
Denying a literal interpretation of the creation story in Genesis opens a Pandora’s Box of endless questions and doubts. Jesus and the apostles clearly believed in a literal Adam and Eve and their sons Cain and Abel but evolution says none of that is true.
The apostles, who wrote the New Testament, declare that its words are true and come from God himself. They wrote:
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:20-21)
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:16-19)
The theistic evolutionist must decide whether to heed the teaching of the apostles and pay attention to it “as to a light shining in a dark place” and understand it came to us as “men spoke from God” or they must choose to disbelieve it for the sake of evolutionary theory.
Is it any more far-fetched to believe that God created Adam supernaturally six thousand years ago, than it is to believe Christ was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit two thousand years ago; that the voice of the Almighty boomed from heaven, saying that Jesus was his son; that Jesus turned the water into wine; that Jesus came back to life after being dead for three days and then visibly ascended into the sky?
Which is harder to believe: That God spoke and said “Let there be light,” or that Jesus healed the blind and lame, restored limbs that weren’t there, raised the dead, restored a new ear that had been totally severed by a sword, created bread and fish for thousands from a handful of food, commanded the storm to cease and transported their boat instantly to shore? This is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter says that he did not tell us “cleverly invented stories” when he tells of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world and worked miracles just as surely as Adam existed as the first man at the beginning of the world.
These wonderful, powerful and amazing things that Jesus and the apostles did – they are not more amazing or harder to believe than the creation story, are they? No, not at all. The things Jesus did are as amazing as anything you can read in the Bible.
But if the men who tell us these wonderful things, were themselves misled about the creation story, and if they mislead us about the same, then how are we to believe them about anything, especially about even more amazing things? If evolution forces us to doubt that God created miraculously as described in Genesis, how difficult it becomes to trust their words concerning Christ!
Is it so hard to believe that God could supernaturally create man in a moment of time? Jesus thought not, for he said, “For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.” (Luke 3:8). So we see that Jesus had no doubts about God’s ability to create instantly, unless of course, we throw that scripture away too.
To summarize what I have said, Christianity relies upon written authority and that authority is the Bible. Jesus and the apostles believed the entire Bible, taught from it, and encouraged faith in its words. They took the creation story and the flood of Noah literally. Evolution, on the other hand, disallows a literal creation story. A non-literal interpretation of Genesis creates numerous theological and scriptural difficulties, causing Jesus and the apostles to be found espousing historical and theological errors. It makes the Lord Jesus the descendant of a mythical and fictional character. Evolution therefore creates doubt concerning the reliability and integrity of the teaching of Jesus and the apostles.
The Bible tells stories as amazing, if not more so, than the creation story. Evolution casts doubt upon these stories as well, since there is no reason to believe them any more than there is to believe the creation story. And finally, Jesus repeatedly taught that disbelieving the scripture was foolishness, spiritual blindness and would result in theological error. (Matthew 22:29)
Evolution pulls the rug out from under the Christian and leaves him without a solid foundation for belief. It forces the Christian to conclude that the Bible is, at best, a conglomeration of amazing stories, some true and some not, from which it is difficult to sort fact from fiction, or at worst, a collage of myths and superstitions passed down from an ignorant and unenlightened people.
Of all the problems that evolution causes the Christian, this is the most damaging. It leaves the Christian trying to sort out the dilemma, that if one can’t believe all of the Bible, then why believe any of it, or if only parts of it, which parts? And if only parts can be believed, can the heart of sinful fallen man be trusted to choose which parts?
Finally it must be admitted, that without a reliable Bible, man is left alone in the world, without a guiding light to point us to God. That is where evolution takes us, into the shadows of uncertainty. The Apostle Peter speaks concerning the Bible and tells us to pay “attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place…” (2 Peter 1:19). One must choose between either the hopeful teaching of Peter that leads to light, or the unsettling teaching of evolution, which leads to the darkness of doubt.
In the Garden of Eden Satan tempted Eve by causing her to doubt God’s word. God had said that if she ate the forbidden fruit she would die. Satan asked her, “Did God really say…” He got her to question: Did God really mean what he said literally? This is the devil’s tactic, to cause us to question if God really did speak to us, and did he really mean what he said? Evolutionary doctrine carries the trademark of Satan, who is now, as in the garden, saying the same thing about God’s word, the Bible, “Did God really say…?”