April 30, 2017

Theistic Evolution: Tolerable or Treacherous? (2)

Joseph L. Henson

This article first appeared as the lead article in the first issue of the magazine, Faith for the Family, published March/April, 1973. It is reproduced here by permission.

This is part two. Part one is here.

Through the thirties and forties there was a dearth of intelligent fundamental apologetics dealing with creation and the flood. By the end of the 1950’s there was faith-for-the-familysome material available, and in the 1960’s we began to see some sound work dealing with these subjects which has continued to the present. The American Scientific Affiliation began with the purpose of presenting material affirming creation but was taken over by men enchanted with the idea of theistic evolution. Today the Creation Research Society is the largest group of born again scientists defending the accuracy of the Scriptures. We have seen a number of excellent books and other publications in recent years. The lines of controversy are being redrawn between those who accept the account of creation and the flood in Genesis and those who accept various shades of evolution.

Now that we have seen what theistic evolution is and at least part of the reason for its being accepted by people who ought to know better, let us examine some of the problems that would be entailed in accepting theistic evolution. The Scriptures seem to make plain that one of the major reasons for God’s creative activity in the first place was in order to have fellowship with man. After the fall of man, God’s concern turned to the redemption of man. If evolution was God’s method of creation, then God was as concerned with the reproduction of animals as He was with the redemption of mankind. If God used this method, then the long periods of trial and error were necessary to arrive at the point where man could be redeemed. This does not seem consistent either with God’s nature as revealed in Scripture or with the order and pattern revealed in nature.

There is a difficulty in harmonizing theistic evolution with the immediate arid necessarily literal creation of Adam. In Genesis 2:7 we read, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The consistent theistic evolutionist has to defend the idea that Adam had animal ancestors. There is no point in getting involved in the quibble over whether man descended from an ape or whether man and the ape descended from some, at this point unknown, common ancestor. If the idea of evolution is true, then it is a foregone conclusion that man has descended from some subhuman ancestor. It matters little whether it be an ape or an ancestor of the ape. The theistic evolutionist has to accept the idea that at some magic moment, God dropped into an animal the characteristics embodied in the “image of God” and in that instant the animal became a man. Does this agree with the Genesis account? Clearly, it does not.

If you can avoid the problem of Adam’s creation, you are abruptly faced with the immediate and necessarily obvious literal creation of Eve from Adam’s side. In Genesis 2:21-22 we read, “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” This is one of those instances in the Scriptures where the meaning cannot possibly be misunderstood. The Bible is teaching very plainly that God immediately created Eve. Whether you choose to believe it or not is another matter entirely.

One writer has observed that the statistical probability that man’s body was formed as a result of the process of evolution is approximately the same as the statistical probability that Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary was formed by an explosion in a print factory. I am inclined to agree with this analogy, but whatever the real probability is, it has to be doubled in order to account for Eve, unless, of course, you want to defend the idea that Adam was in reality a self-fertilizing hermaphrodite.

There is a very serious problem in reconciling the position of theistic evolution with the Biblical account of the willful moral fall of Adam from an original state of innocence and perfection. We will pursue this point a little later under the doctrinal objections but it bears mentioning now. If you make a mistake about the fall and its consequences, you are inevitably going to make some disastrous doctrinal mistakes elsewhere. There are few if any of the historical doctrines of Christianity which are not affected by the doctrine of man’s fall.

Dr. Joseph L. Henson is the chairman of the division of Pure and Applied Science and head of the Biology department at Bob Jones University. He holds a bachelor of science degree from BJU and a master of science degree from Clemson University. His doctor of philosophy degree is also from Clemson. He has gathered one of the largest personal collections of insects in the southeastern United States. Currently over 10,000 specimens make up the collection, which is used regularly for study and demonstration in his entomology classes.

The preceding biography is as it appeared in the original publication of this article. Dr. Henson is now retired.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.