How the Bible and Evolution Conflict
An Analysis of the Tension Between Two Worldviews
Let's first make the point that the tension between the Bible and evolution is not at all about the age of the earth! Authors Timothy Martin and Jeffrey Vaughn, in their book Beyond Creation Science, argue that the majority view of Christians throughout the ages has been that the Bible teaches an old earth. They quote, for example, St. Augustine, considered the top theologian in the early Christian age, as saying in his ancient book titled The Literal Meaning of Genesis: "But at least we know that it [the creation day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar." While some Christians hold to a literal 6-day creation, even these do not necessarily hold to a young earth view, believing that the creation week happened billions of years ago.
The tension between evolution and creation is philosophical not scientific. Here are some points:
- Creationism and evolutionism begin from two radically different points. Creation: In the beginning there was God. Evolution: In the beginning there was random chance.
- Darwinian doctrine insists that the evolution of life is a random process—that we are here by a series of pure accidents (e.g., mutations, and molecules in motion, gene recombinations and duplications). This is in direct conflict with the biblical doctrine of election—that life is not merely a series of accidents. According to the Bible, each believer is in some sense individually foreknown and chosen by God from before the foundations of the world. (1 Samuel 16:7-12; Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 24:31, 25:34; Romans 8:29-30; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:4-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:1-2, 2:9)
- The God of the Bible is more than Creator and Savior. He is also Sustainer. With evolution, life is a self-sustaining process ruled by fate, and God plays no role in the universe or in the ongoing lives of men. This contradicts the biblical doctrine of providence—that all things happen under the authority of God, and that God is still at work sustaining (though not re-creating) His creation. (Genesis 45:7-8, Nehemiah 9:6; Esther 4:14; Psalm 104:30, 145:16, 147:9; Proverbs 16:9,33, Isaiah 45:1,7, 46:10; Matthew 6:26, 10:29-31; John 5:17, 14:16-17, 15:26, 16:13-15; Acts 17:26, 18:9-11; Romans 8:9-11; Colossians 1:17, Hebrews 1:3)
- Still another aspect of the God of the Bible is that He is Judge. The Bible makes a major point of an afterlife in heaven or hell. Indeed, Jesus discusses this concept more than any other biblical figure. As part of the process of ultimate judgment by God, a new type of resurrection body will emerge to another life—to either be glorified in heaven or condemned to hell for eternity. Evolution is in great conflict with this view, including the fact that the physical cannot evolve into an afterlife. (Matthew 5:22,29,30, 23:33, 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:42-53; 2 Peter 2:4-10)
- The Bible says that man was created as a special being—in the image of God, as opposed to the evolutionary view that has man is just another animal in the evolutionary process. (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7)
- The Bible indicates that creation was a completed event in the past, and is not continuing as evolution suggests. (Genesis 2:1-3; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Hebrews 4:3-11) As put by the Concordia Study Bible (annotations page 8), "His creative work was completed—and it was totally effective, absolutely perfect, 'very good.' It did not have to be repeated, repaired or revised, and the Creator rested to commemorate it."
- Given the above, the creation by God of distinct "kinds" as described in Genesis 1 and 1 Corinthians 15:38-39 implies that transmutations between kinds is precluded, or at least superfluous.
- The Bible indicates that there is clear physical evidence of creation. (Psalm 19:1-6; Acts 17:24-29) Evolution denies the evidence for creation. If Darwinism were a reasonable hypothesis, atheists would have a perfectly good excuse, in contradiction to Romans 1:20. On the other hand, creation is a consistent theme throughout the Bible.
- There is no hint of evolution in the Bible. While this is an argument from silence and thus does not necessarily preclude evolution, such an important concept as to origins would surely have been suggested in the Bible due to its theological implications. On the other hand, creation is a consistent theme throughout the Bible. It is mentioned approximately 64 times in 18 books of the Bible.
- Evolution is a philosophy based on naturalism and materialism. Naturalism holds that nature is all there is and that the universe is self-sufficient without a supernatural cause or control of the world. Materialism regards matter as the original cause of all—that matter did its own creating. Materialism denies the existence of the soul. The philosophical assumption of evolution is therefore essentially atheistic or agnostic, thus clearly incompatible with special creation and the other miracles of the Bible. With evolution, if God exists, He is so distant as to be irrelevant.
- The Bible teaches that God created man by fiat, that is, by supernatural power, not by natural processes. (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 33:6,9; Psalm 148:5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Hebrews 11:3)
- Some 75 passages of Scripture including those by Jesus, refer to the creation narrative of Genesis 1-2, confirming it as actual history. (Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6; Luke 3:38, Revelation 2:7) See In the Beginning elsewhere on our site.
- There is an important reason to interpret from the Bible that Adam was a real person. Unless the concept of original sin through Adam is true, Jesus' coming makes no sense. That is, Christians believe that Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins was necessary because of man's sin nature inherited in some sense from Adam. The Bible teaches that Jesus was the "second Adam." So if Adam was not real, thus did not bring sin into the world, Christ's redemptive sacrifice was not necessary. (Genesis 3:15-19; Romans 4:22-25, 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23,45-57; 1 Timothy 2:13-14).
- The overarching theme of the Bible is Creation/Fall/Redemption. (God created the universe "very good." Then man spoiled it by his rebellion—the "Fall", necessitating God's redemption of mankind through Christ.) This sequence is crucial to Christian theology. Did God really create things bad, not "very good" as the Bible says (Genesis 1:31)? If things were bad to start with, the Fall becomes a superfluous concept. (The Fall presupposes that there was something good from which to fall.) Thus, a major point of tension exists between the Bible and evolution at the heart of the biblical doctrine of the Fall. Note the following quote from G. R. Bozarth, The American Atheist magazine, September 1978, 30:
"Christianity has fought, still fights, and will fight science to the desperate end over evolution, because evolution destroys utterly and finally the very reason Jesus' earthly life was supposedly made necessary. Destroy Adam and Eve and the original sin, and in the rubble you will find the sorry remains of the son of God. If Jesus was not the redeemer who died for our sins, and this is what evolution means, then Christianity is nothing."
- Evolutionism, indeed, denies that man even has a sinful nature or else suggests that we should not be faulted for our human nature because "that is just our nature." Thus evolution is inconsistent with the Christian belief that man is indeed fallen and in need of a savior.
- The theory of evolution itself has continually changed over time. This is in contrast to the Bible, which has not changed over time.
- Morality in evolutionary thought is a function of natural selection, survival of the fittest, or situation ethics. The Bible teaches transcending moral truth, given by God. (Exodus 20:1-17; Isaiah 5:20-21)
- Evolution is closely associated with the philosophy of secular humanism, which accepts human beings as the ultimate source of meaning and value. The Bible, of course, places God as the ultimate source of meaning and value.
- The Bible teaches that man was created for a special purpose. Evolution denies that man has a divine purpose, or at least implies that man's purpose in life is whatever one wants to make of it (secular humanism). (Isaiah 43:7; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 6:10; Romans 8:28, 14:12; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 2:10, 3:21; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 4:10)
- Since evolution offers no real purpose for life, it results in an absence of meaning, and therefore an absence of objective moral values. This is clearly in conflict with the Bible. Evolution results in a philosophy of nihilism (the denial of any basis for truth), which ultimately ends in despair. The Bible claims to have the Truth, which gives ultimate hope. (John 14:6; Colossians 1:27)
- The Bible not only fits the evidence of scientific investigation, it provides an answer for why the world was created. Evolution does neither.
Here is a helpful article about whether Adam and Eve were literal people: Keller on Adam.