It is a long time since I have discussed here issues of creation and evolution. Indeed I think my post from two years ago Most British people still believe in God the Creator, but why? is the most recent to touch on this matter, and even there I don’t really discuss my own position.
However, in recent weeks I have become involved in some Facebook discussions on this matter, and have made some comments which are really too long for such threads. Here is the latest of those. The discussion had been about whether animals could have died before the fall of Adam and Eve. I was recommended an article by David Shackelford, published by Creation Ministries International, with the provocative title The relationship between the Fall, the Curse, and the Gospel, and its incompatibility with theistic evolution. In response I wrote (slightly edited):
Therefore, the ontological foundations of the pre-fallen world require that there be nothing below that standard. Such an environment requires the absence of violence, death, or bloodshed.
This is a non sequitur, at least if talking about animals. It needs to be argued, not assumed, that violence and death among animals falls below God’s standard of perfection. I take the point about initial vegetarianism in Genesis 1:29-30, but this cannot imply that animal death is objectively evil because then the revocation of vegetarianism in 9:3 is God commanding sin. An argument can perhaps be built from 9:4-6, but it needs to be built, not assumed.
If any one of these three elements in Genesis is reduced to something other than a historical event, the whole of Scripture is called into question and the Gospel of Christ begins to crumble. It is likewise axiomatic that if theistic evolution is true, then not just one, but all three of the aforementioned criteria are false and must be jettisoned.
Another complete non sequitur. Theistic evolution does not imply that Garden of Eden story is untrue or “unhistorical”. I do not deny that there was a first couple set apart in a “garden”, who really lived and really died. The only issue is exactly how they were created and came to be in the garden.
While some theistic evolutionists would say that Adam and Eve were real people but not directly created by God, they still face insurmountable problems with the plain teachings of Scripture; for example, the inherent sinful nature, the continual upward progress demanded by most versions of evolution, and so forth.
Please tell me what problem I am supposed to have with “the inherent sinful nature”. I would love to know! I don’t hold to Augustine’s view of it, see my post Augustine’s mistake about original sin. But I really don’t know what version is supposed to cause me “insurmountable problems”. As for “continual upward progress”, this is not real evolutionary science but the half-baked philosophy that some atheists have tried to bolt on to it.
Most evolutionary theories (particularly theistic evolution) assume an upward spiral of progress, including the development of man.
That is complete nonsense, concerning theistic evolution. OK, some pseudo-Christians who actually believe that in the continuing progress of mankind may hold to some kind of theistic evolution. But evangelical theistic evolutionists are clear that progress is possible only as God makes it possible, and that it stopped, at least in spiritual and moral areas, when mankind turned away from God into sin.
I will leave to scientists the task of demonstrating the scientific weaknesses of evolution.
I will leave it to Dr Shackelford to demonstrate the theological weaknesses of his position – or at least the logical weakness of this sentence.