Darwinian evolution seems to transcend categories. After Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, Western thinkers (taken with his theory in the scientific arena) began to apply it in other academic disciplines. Even today, neo-Darwinian evolution refuses to stay within the domains of scientific study; it arises in conversations about ethics, politics, religion, and even economics.
For some modern people, Darwinism has become almost a way of viewing the entirety of the world. The way in which people speak of Darwinism, you’d think it was less of a scientific view and more of a philosophical one. They identify themselves simply at “Darwinists.” That’s odd, isn’t it? We don’t have “Keplerists” or “Newtonists” walking around in Western culture, but we do have “Darwinists.” We would be naïve to think that Darwinism is simply a scientific view. It has become a way to identify oneself to many people today.
To make matters more complicated, some people hold that Darwinism is antithetical to faith in God. Richard Dawkins claims that Darwin “made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” Elsewhere, he writes, “It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” Ironically, Dawkins later went on to write about how intolerant Christians are! As a result, it becomes difficult to even begin a conversation about the integration of Science and Scripture with emotions this heated.
People also find it difficult to dialogue on the subject of evolution due to the complexity of this topic. Various disciplines fit underneath the larger umbrella of evolution: paleontology, genetics, anthropology, zoology, environmental science, and surely many more. Unlike other topics germane to the subject of science and religion (e.g. cosmology, physics, etc.), evolution becomes exponentially complicated when we need to consider multiple scientific disciplines in concert with one another. We can’t just talk fossils or genes or environmental conditions. We need to be able to integrate all of these subjects together to understand this complicated subject.
For this reason, many Christians today feel hopelessly inadequate in addressing this subject. Many hope to simply ignore it, or hope that it will ignore them. How should Christians integrate the subject of evolution in their thinking on God’s creation of life?
How does evolution relate to the Bible? Are these two subjects mutually exclusive, or is it possible that God created through a process like evolution? Christians disagree on answering these questions, tending to adopt one of three views:
Evolution completely accounts for God’s creation. This view is referred to as theistic evolution, because it holds that God created completely through Darwinian evolution.
Evolution partially accounts for God’s creation. This view is referred to as progressive creationism. It holds that God created partially through intervention and partially through a process.
Evolution does not account for God’s creation. This view is referred to as young earth creationism (sometimes called mature creationism). It holds that God created all species 10,000 years ago, and this would not leave any time for evolution whatsoever. However, even under this view, microevolution is allowed.
Which view best accounts for the scientific and biblical data? We hold to the middle position called progressive creationism, but you can decide for yourself which position best explains the data. While many think that even questioning neo-Darwinism is inappropriate, we would disagree. As Chinese paleontologist J.Y. Chen once quipped, “In China, we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.” It’s important to hold any and all views up to the light of rational inquiry.
Behe, Michael J. The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism. New York: Free, 2007.
Douglas, Erwin, and James W. Valentine. The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity. Greenwood Village, CO: Roberts. 2013.
Gauger, Ann, Douglas Axe, and Casey Luskin. Science and Human Origins. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute, 2012.
Groothuis, Douglas R. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2011. See chapter 13: “Origins, Design and Darwinism.” 266-297.
Fodor, Jerry A., and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini. What Darwin Got Wrong. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.
Jerry Fodor is professor of philosophy and cognitive science at Rutgers University. Massimo Piatteli-Palmarini was a biophysicist and molecular biologist, who is currently a professor of cognitive science at the University of Arizona. By their own admission, they are both “secular humanists” and “out-right, card-carrying, signed-up, dyed-in-the-wool, no-holds-barred atheists” (xv).
Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993.
Meyer, Stephen C. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2014.
Stephen Meyer responds to a scholarly critique of his book in a series of articles found here (“Stephen Meyer Answers Charles Marshall on Darwin’s Doubt”).
Rana, Fazale, and Hugh Ross. Who Was Adam?: A Creation Model Approach to the Origin of Man. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005.
Ross, Hugh. The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998.
Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.
Wells, Jonathan. Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach about Evolution Is Wrong. Washington, DC: Regnery Pub., 2000.
 Neo-Darwinism technically began in the 1930s and 40s when Darwin’s theory of evolution was combined with Mendel’s theory of genetics.
 Dawkins, Richard. The Blind Watchmaker. New York, NY: Norton. 1986. 6.
 Dawkins, Richard. “Put Your Money on Evolution” The New York Times (April 9, 1989) Section VII. 35. Cited in Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial. 2nd ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993. 9.
 Cited in Meyer, Stephen C. Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design. New York, NY: HarperOne, 2014. 52.