Theistic evolution (or “evolutionary creationism”) is the view that God created everything—from molecules to modern people—through completely natural processes. Theistic evolutionist Francisco Ayala writes, “Living beings can be explained as the result of a natural process—natural selection—without any need to resort to a Creator or other external agent.” Likewise, Francis Collins writes, “Once evolution got under way no special supernatural intervention was required.”
According to theistic evolution, the Bible uses language that allows for God to create humans through a natural process. For instance, Genesis 1 states that God “made” (ʿasah) the first humans (Gen. 1:25-26), and that God “formed” (yāṣar) Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7; cf. Gen. 1:24 other species).
Does this refer to a de novo creation of humans? Maybe, and maybe not.
The Bible uses these same terms to describe how God “made” (ʿasah) Job in his mother’s womb (Job 10:8; Job 31:15) and how God “formed” (yāṣar) the nation of Israel from the womb (Isa. 44:24). While we commonly refer to the “miracle of birth,” Christians don’t consider human fetal development to be a divine intervention. The study of embryology shows that natural processes are at work.
Furthermore, Genesis uses this same term to describe how God “made” (ʿasah) the stars (Gen. 1:16). Are we really to believe that star formation is a direct intervention of God? Modern astronomy teaches that stars form when gravity pulls matter and gas together, forming a heated core. This is a natural process—not a supernatural one.
Theistic evolutionists also argue that the Bible depicts God as the ultimate cause behind natural events—not distinguishing between primary and secondary causes. According to the Bible, God causes or creates:
- the rain and the mist (Job 5:10; 36:27; 1 Kings 8:35-36)
- the snow (Job 37:6)
- the growth of grass (Deut. 11:15; Ps. 104:14)
- the lightning during a rainstorm (Ps. 135:7)
- the clouds and wind (Jer. 10:13).
Surely we don’t believe that God supernaturally intervenes every time we see snow or watch the grass to grow. From this, theistic evolution contends that God also used natural processes to create life on Earth—even the first humans. From this perspective, we are not depreciating God’s creation, but merely describing it.
Many hold to this perspective including Francis Collins, Kenneth Miller, N.T. Wright, Tremper Longman, John Polkinghorne, Francisco Ayala, Denis Alexander, Denis Lamoureux, and Karl Giberson. Even OT scholar Derek Kidner was open to the possibility of the evolutionary creation of humans—though with many caveats. While we are grateful for many of these contributors to the natural sciences, we find this theological perspective to be untenable for a number of reasons.
Upon reflection, this is truly a spectacular claim. Theistic evolution doesn’t merely claim that God installed natural processes to create differing forms of life. (A view that every Christian should affirm.) Instead, theistic evolution claims to know that God never intervened to create any form of life on Earth. How could they possibly know this?
We agree that Christians have (over)zealously claimed miraculous interventions in the past, discovering only later that natural processes could just as easily account for the phenomenon. And as Christians, we should remain cautious in claiming to know how, when, and where God specially intervened to create life.
However, theistic evolution rejects such a moderate view. It claims to know that God never intervened in the creation of life on Earth—over a period of ~3.8 billion years. Again, how could they possibly know this? This would essentially require omniscience to support such a remarkable and exhaustive claim! The God of the Bible isn’t confined to a naturalistic cage. Nothing handcuffs him from entering his own universe. From what we know about the God of the Bible, we should never make such a dogmatic claim. After all, theistic evolution would affirm the resurrection of Jesus, as well as the many miracles he performed. Francis Collins writes,
If Christ really was the Son of God, as He explicitly claimed, then surely of all those who had ever walked the earth, He could suspend the laws of nature if He needed to do so to achieve a more important purpose.
But does this statement bother anyone else? Why do they allow God the Son to perform miracles, while not allowing God the Father to perform them? To put this another way, how long would it take for us to discover the natural explanation for Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? To a biblically trained mind, this question is nothing short of absurd: there simply is no natural explanation!
Of course, deists, naturalists, or atheists would have no problem denying the resurrection of Jesus, or any other miracle for that matter. Fair enough. But how absurd is it for a Christian theist to hold such a view?
It’s one thing to say that God used natural laws to create stars, but quite another to say that he used natural selection acting on random mutations to create humans. After all, according to Kenneth Miller, there “has never been any kind of plan to evolution, because evolution works without either plan or purpose… Evolution is random and undirected.” How can we say that God purposefully planned to create humans through a process that contains neither a plan nor a purpose?
Some theistic evolutionists argue that God may have manipulated the mutations to create humans. Fair enough. But then, this no longer fits with any known definition of evolution. We cannot continue to call this natural selection acting upon random mutation. Instead, we would need to call this supernatural guidance of designed mutations.
If a theistic evolutionist doubles down and claims that God designed humans purely through random mutations, then this is pure nonsense—like saying that a person cheated in a game of poker by stacking the deck of cards when he randomly shuffled them. Either, he stacked the deck (i.e. intelligent design), or he randomly shuffled them (i.e. random mutation). It can be one or the other, but it cannot be both.
Giberson and Collins appear to see the ramifications of this, when they write, “The process of evolution is driven in large part by random mutations, so it certainly seems possible that earth could have been home to an entirely different assortment of creatures.” Without a Creator, we would have to agree with them.
Another example comes from Kenneth Miller—a Roman Catholic biologist from Brown University. In one book, he writes, “Mankind’s appearance on this planet was not pre-ordained…. [We are] an afterthought, a minor detail, a happenstance in a history that might just as well have left us out.” Yet, in another book, he writes the complete opposite: “People of faith… know that ours is a universe willed by God, and that our presence within it is part of his plan and purpose.” Is he himself confused, or is his position itself confused? Or perhaps both?
When we look at an oil painting, we can recognize certain necessary characteristics of the artist. We cannot know everything about the artist: We don’t know the artist’s age or gender or favorite flavor of ice cream. Yet we do know some things: The artist is personal, intentional, and creative.
Similarly, the Bible teaches that God has revealed some of his characteristics through the created world. In other words, we can learn about the Creator by looking at his creation. Paul writes, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Rom. 1:20). He states that this is so “evident” (Rom. 1:19) that people are “without excuse” (anapologetos). Paul asserts that “people actually come to ‘understand’ something about God’s existence and nature” through the physical universe (“the creation of the world… through what has been made”). Paul even draws his choice of words from Genesis 1, where we read of “all that [God] had made” (Gen. 1:31 LXX), or as Paul puts it, “what has been made” (poiēmasin).
To state this succinctly, God’s invisible nature can be seen through his visible creation. However, theistic evolution has major problems at this point, because it contends that God worked invisibly in his creation of the world—through unguided, natural processes. How then can God’s nature be “evident” to the point that all people are “without excuse”?
Some theistic evolutionists are so brazen that they outright deny the historicity of Adam and Eve. For instance, Denis Lamoureux writes, “Did the apostle Paul believe that Adam was a real person? Yes, well of course he did. Paul was a first-century-AD Jew and like every Jewish person around him, he accepted the historicity of Adam.… It is understandable why most Christians believe that Adam was a real historical person. This is exactly what Scripture states in both the Old and New Testaments.” And yet, he simply thinks that this was false. Elsewhere, he writes, “Holy Scripture makes statements about how God created living organisms that in fact never happened… Adam never existed.”
Others are not so bold. They claim that God breathed a spiritual component into two evolved, humanoid primates, thus making the first human image-bearers by giving them souls (Gen. 2:7).
This is an interesting theoretical speculation, but it doesn’t fit with divine revelation. Genesis simply doesn’t use this language.
Genesis does use the language of God appearing to individual people. For instance, we read that “the Lord appeared to Abram,” selecting him from among the many other humans alive at the time (Gen. 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; cf. Gen. 26:2, 24; 35:9; 48:3). God also “appeared” to Moses, selecting him from the other Hebrews (Ex. 3:2). However, this is not the language of Genesis 1-2. The early humans weren’t separated from God and then called into a relationship with him. Instead, humans were created into a relationship with God, and freely separated from him. This misreads the text so drastically that this is the message of Genesis 3—not Genesis 1 and 2!
Theistic evolutionists have enough problems with interpreting Genesis, but they have insuperable problems once they get to the NT. As you read through these various passages, notice that these authors never offer an apologetic for Adam and Eve. Why not? Because both they and their audiences assumed they were historical people.
(Mt. 19:4-6) [Jesus] answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
In this short section, Jesus ties Genesis 1:27 together with Genesis 2:24. The language of “for this reason…” (NASB) or “therefore…” (ESV) harkens back to how Eve was created from Adam’s side. Grudem writes, “This ‘therefore’ statement cannot work unless the reader believes that Eve was created from the rib taken from Adam’s side as reported in Genesis 2:21-23.”
Jesus also bases his ethical view of marriage on God’s historical design. We may draw wisdom from parables and fables, but not ethics. We would never have moral authority to counsel a person against divorce by citing the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare.”
Furthermore, Jesus later states, “From the beginning it has not been this way” (Mt. 19:8). We are currently in a post-Fall environment, where divorce rips relationships to ribbons. However, Jesus states that God created marriage in a pre-Fall environment, where it was not “this way.”
In response to this, Denis Lamoureux writes, “[Jesus] was accommodating to the Jewish belief of the day that Adam was a real person.” Here we need to pause and ask a very simple question: Was Jesus accommodating to ancient people, or is Denis Lamoureux accommodating to modern people? For those who are acquainted with the character of Jesus, we simply cannot take this claim seriously. Even in this very passage, Jesus fiercely opposes the “accommodating” religious consensus regarding “any matter” divorce, which incidentally is the exact opposite of what Lamoureux accuses him of doing.
Jesus never accommodated false beliefs. He chased the religious swindlers out of the Temple (Jn. 2:15); he called his interlocutors “blind guides” (Mt. 23:16); he rejected the Sadducean denial of the resurrection (Mt. 22:23ff). Over and over again, Jesus corrected the leading teachers for their understanding of Scripture—but never the inspiration of Scripture (Jn. 3:10; Mt. 22:29).
Moreover, this perspective raises a theological problem. If Jesus accommodated false beliefs, then does this authorize us to accommodate falsehood as well? If we are supposed to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1; 1 Pet. 1:16), should we imitate him by accommodating falsehood?
(Luke 3:38) “The son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”
Luke traces Jesus’ human ancestry back to Adam. And in this genealogy, everyone on the list has a human father—except Adam! He is called “the son of God” (Lk. 3:38). Waters writes, “Luke recognizes no progenitor of Adam and thereby exempts him from the normal sequence of biological parentage that follows Adam. The reason for this unique circumstance is that Adam is descended from no man.” We see this same approach in OT genealogies, which also begin with Adam as the first human (1 Chron. 1:1).
Much like Denis Lamoureux, John Walton thinks that God was accommodating the ancient view. He asks if “God [was] simply using their contemporary concepts as a framework for communication.” However, surely you can see that this is mistaken. God wasn’t using their first-century religious concepts, but his own words revealed in the early chapters of Genesis. Furthermore, this argument doesn’t work for Luke, because he was a Gentile Christian writing primarily to other Gentiles. If anyone would be likely to break from the historical contents of the OT, it would be Luke the Gentile.
(Acts 17:26) “[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”
John Walton understands the “one man” to refer to Noah and nations. This is mistaken if we simply stop to count the number of people on the Ark. “One man” did not populate the Earth; eight people did (2 Pet. 2:5). Paul is surely referring to Adam for a number of reasons.
Grammatically, the Greek literally states “from one” (ex henos), which is masculine singular. This fits with Paul’s language in Romans 5, where he refers to Adam as the “one man” (Rom. 5:12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19).
Linguistically, the expression “on all the face of the earth” reflects God’s commission to be fruitful and fill the Earth (Gen. 1:28-29).
Contextually, the previous verse refers to how God “himself gives to all people life and breath and all things,” which parallels Genesis 2:7.
Theologically, Paul parallels the “one man” with the “Man” who rose from the dead (Acts 17:31).
F.F. Bruce writes, “The Athenians prided themselves in being autochthones, sprung from the soil of their native Attica… The Greeks in general considered themselves superior to non-Greeks, whom they called barbarians. Against such claims of racial superiority Paul asserts the unity of all men.” This makes sense of Acts 17:30-31 which refers to universal judgment or universal salvation for the universal human race.
(Rom. 5:12-21) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight believe that Paul is not referring to a literal Adam, but a literary Adam. They claim that “the Adam and Eve of the Bible are a literary Adam and Eve.” Later they write, “Each person is Adamic in that each person sins in the way Adam sinned.” Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15 refer to Adam as a literary archetype for everyone’s sin. Thus they write, “[Adam and Eve] are paradigms of the condition of each and every one human being: faced with the demand of God, each human in history chooses to disobey and therefore dies.” Yet this simply doesn’t fit with this passage.
Paul states that sin entered the world through Adam. He writes that “through one man sin entered into the world” (v.12). Myths do not create sin, suffering, and death—only men do. Since the focus of Romans 5 is on humans, this means that human sin did not exist until Adam brought it into the world.
Paul places Adam on the same historical ground as Jesus and Moses. Adam (v.14) is called the “one man” throughout this section (vv. 12, 15, 16, 17, 19), just as Jesus is called the “one man” (vv. 15, 17, 19). Paul also states that “death reigned from Adam until Moses” (v.14), seeing no historical difference between the two persons.
Paul calls Adam a “type” of Christ (v.14). This means that Adam prefigured Jesus in some way. It is impossible for Adam to prefigure or foreshadow Jesus if he never existed. For a more robust interpretation on these passages, see our earlier article “Original Sin.”
(1 Cor. 11:8-9) For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.
“Woman from man” refers back to Genesis 2:21-23, and “woman for the man’s sake” refers back to Genesis 2:18, where Eve corresponds to Adam. Nothing in this text hints at the thought that Paul is merely making a literary allusion. He seems to assume that his audience already accepts the historical reality of Adam and Eve—not even feeling the need to name them or elaborate extensively.
(1 Cor. 15:21-22) For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
This text doesn’t refer to spiritual death. The context of 1 Corinthians 15 revolves around our physical resurrection. In this passage, “death” is parallel to “the resurrection of the dead.” This means that the physical death of Adam will be solved by the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. The past spread of physical death is historically equivalent to the future resurrection of physical life.
(1 Cor. 15:44-49) “It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.”
Paul cites Genesis 2:7 (“The first man, Adam, became a living soul”) and makes an allusion to Genesis 1:27 (“the image of the earthy”). According to this passage, Adam was the “first man.” There were not thousands of humans before him. Humans receive the “image” of God from Adam (v.49), not from any other pre-Adamic human.
Jesus is “second” (v.47) and “last” (v.45). This doesn’t mean that Jesus was the last human being to be born, any more than it means that he was the second human being to be born. This refers to our identification with Adam or with Christ—what theologians call “Federal Headship” or “Corporate Personality.” There will be no universal representative for salvation after Jesus—just as there was no universal representative for sin before Adam.
(2 Cor. 11:3, 13-15) “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds [noēmata] will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ… 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”
Let’s start with the clear before moving to the less clear. Paul clearly understands “Satan” to be real. Earlier, he wrote that Satan targets the “minds” (noēmata) of people (2 Cor. 4:4; cf. 2:11; 10:5), just as he worries that these false teachers will deceive the “minds” (noēmata) of the Corinthians. Later in the same chapter, Paul connects Satan with these very real false teachers (vv.13-14).
But does Paul understand “the serpent” to be the same being as “Satan”? Yes! Notice the parallels between how “the serpent deceived Eve” and how the false teachers are “deceitful workers” (v.13). So too, notice how Eve fell from innocence, and how Paul was worried that the Corinthians would fall away from “simplicity and purity.” Later, Paul explicitly connects the “serpent” and the “deceitful workers” with “Satan” (2 Cor. 11:14; cf. Rev. 12:9; 20:2). Is it just a coincidence that Paul mentions “the serpent” and “Satan” in the same context of false teachers, as though one were merely a literary allusion, while the other was a literal reality? These stretches our credulity.
(Heb. 11:3-8) “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance…”
Why does the author of Hebrews list an assortment of OT figures? His main thrust is to show that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (v.6). He lists these people because they “gained approval” by their faith (Heb. 11:2). He lists creation (v.3), Abel (v.3), Cain (v.3), Enoch (v.5), and Noah (v.7). Notice that the author sees no discontinuity between the people of Genesis 1-11 and those which follow. The author moves seamlessly into the life of Abraham and beyond. He concludes by writing, “These were all commended for their faith” (Heb. 11:39 NIV), and he expects them to be “made perfect” (Heb. 11:40). That is, we will see these people in heaven.
(1 Tim. 2:13-14) “It was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Traditional interpreters understand that Paul is citing Genesis to make a theological case against women Bible teachers. Our view is that Paul is banning female false teachers in the church of Ephesus, who were likely spreading proto-Gnosticism (see 1 Timothy 2:12-15). Regardless, Paul contradicts the Gnostic false teaching at the time that taught how Eve was created first, and which also taught that Eve was not deceived. Paul corrects this view by citing both Genesis 2 (“It was Adam who was first created…”) and Genesis 3 (“the woman being deceived, fell into transgression…”). If Paul viewed these texts as myths or fables, then why did he go through the trouble of correcting this false Gnostic assertion?
Evolution obviously doesn’t just produce a pair of organisms; it produces an entire species. Therefore, theistic evolutionists currently assert that the human population reached a bottleneck of ~10,000 people—not two. Adam (if he existed at all) was the federal head of “the whole of humanity alive at that time.” However, this has major discord with the text of Genesis.
For one, it is only after God created humans that he tells them to “be fruitful and multiply” and to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). If humans existed in a large population, this command would make no sense—for they already would have been procreating and spreading out across the earth.
Second, Genesis states, “There was no man to cultivate the ground” (Gen. 2:5). The Hebrew uses the “negative particle ‘eyn,” which is “a particle of nonexistence.” Of course, it’s possible that this could simply refer to the Garden, and “no man” existed in this particular location. In fact, in our view, this is likely. However, God doesn’t plant the Garden until Genesis 2:8—after he creates the first humans.
Third, Genesis states, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7). The text doesn’t state that the first human came from hominin parents, but from the dust of the ground. Is this metaphorical? That’s hard to believe. Later, God tells the first humans, “You [will] return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen. 3:19). If the “dust of the ground” is metaphorical for antecedent primates, then what does it mean that these first humans would return to the “dust of the ground”?
Fourth, Adam was “alone” (Gen. 2:18), and he could find no “suitable helper” (Gen. 2:20). How does this fit with the theory that there were thousands of other Homo sapiens alive at this time? Why didn’t God imbue a soul into one of the other 5,000 women with a soul—just like he supposedly did with Adam?
Fifth, Eve is called the “mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). Surely this refers to being the progenitor of all human beings, because plants and animals preexisted humans.
Sixth, we see no mention of any human parents for Adam. Instead, we read, “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness…” (Gen. 5:1-3). Notice the literary connection made the humans in Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2. They were made “male and female” and in the “likeness” of God. Later genealogies understand Adam as the first human (1 Chron. 1:1), and Luke’s genealogy gives everyone a human father—except Adam! He is called “the son of God” (Lk. 3:38).
Seventh, other ANE texts state that humans came from a group—not a single pair. The Atrahasis Epic has “humanity originate with seven human pairs.” The Hymn of E’engura has “human beings break through the earth like plants springing up.” Yet Genesis describes a single human pair—quite different from the surrounding ANE literature.
Eighth, other OT passages support the historicity of Adam and Eve. Hosea mentions Adam (Hos. 6:7), as does Job (Job 31:33). God’s relationship with Noah harkens back to the first humans (Gen. 9:1; 1:28), just as his relationship with Abraham harkens back to the first humans (Gen. 17:20; 1:28). The “seed” is mentioned throughout the text of Genesis also ties the entire narrative together (Gen. 3:15; 4:25; 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:3, 5; 17:7-9, 19; 22:17-18; 26:3-4; 48:4).
Theistic evolutionists need to perform nothing short of Olympic-level interpretive gymnastics to explain these texts. But at a certain point, we need to ask if they are reading Scripture through the lens of theistic evolution, or reading theistic evolution through the lens of Scripture.
Theistic evolution doesn’t account for the language of “create” (bara’) regarding the origin of humans
Theistic evolution goes to great lengths to show the elastic range of the words “make” (ʿasah) and “formed” (yāṣar) to describe the creation of the first humans, and this is a fair point. However, they fail to explain the use of the Hebrew word “create” (bara’) with regard to the origin of the first humans (Gen. 1:27). In this verbal form, only God himself is the subject; that is, only God can “create” (baraʾ). The use of this word is “especially appropriate to the concept of creation by divine fiat.” While the word “formed” (yāṣar) primarily “emphasizes the shaping of an object,” the term “create” (baraʾ) emphasizes “the initiation of the object.” Consider the use of this Hebrew word throughout the Bible:
“In the beginning God created (baraʾ) the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).
“I will perform miracles which have not been produced (baraʾ) in all the Earth” (Ex. 34:10).
“The Lord brings about (baraʾ) an entirely new thing” (Num. 16:30).
“Create (baraʾ) in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10).
“You send forth your Spirit, they are created (baraʾ)” (Ps. 104:30).
This form of creation is always supernatural—not natural. The semantic range of “make” (ʿasah) and “formed” (yāṣar) might allow for a natural process, but the use of “create” (baraʾ) seems to preclude this understanding.
Theistic evolution soft-pedals the idea that God intervened into the world to create life. However, as Christians, we affirm a theistic universe—not a deistic one. We simply cannot shirk the supernatural—no matter how we interpret the early chapters of Genesis. Pandering to naturalistic scientism is a failed project, because the supernatural is unavoidable in a Christian worldview. Two concrete examples will suffice.
First, the origination of the soul. Even if we grant the full neo-Darwinian paradigm of creation from molecules to modern humans, we still have a pesky problem: the Christian belief in an immaterial soul. Did the soul evolve? Of course not. Souls contain immaterial properties—not material ones. Theistic evolution does not (and, in fact, it cannot) account for the spiritual component of humans without resorting to special, divine intervention.
Second, the origin of Eve. For the sake of argument, let’s grant that God created the first man through an evolutionary process. But even if that is the case, what do we do with Eve? However we understand God creating Eve from Adam’s rib, we surely need to affirm that the text is teaching a supernatural and special creation of God (Gen. 2:21-22).
By holding to theistic evolution, we might gain ground with naturalistic scientists, but we will lose that ground as soon as we say that Eve was a special creation. Divine intervention and creation is unavoidable no matter how we look at these texts. Therefore, whatever theistic evolution gives with the right hand it takes away with the left. Sooner or later, any naturalistic thinker will need to face the reality of a supernatural Creator.
Theistic evolution hopes to aid evangelism by harmonizing modern science and inspired scripture. However, the medicine is worse than the disease. After all, the most persistent and perennial objection that skeptics raise against God is not science, but suffering. And by eliminating Adam and Eve, this theology indicts God for the existence of human evil in the world.
God created the world without human sin and evil, calling his creation “very good” (Gen. 1:31), and the first humans were “not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). Humans freely chose to violate God’s loving relationship with them by deliberately and freely choosing against him.
Yet theistic evolution effectively denies all of this. Thousands of generations of Homo sapiens existed before Adam and Eve, fighting with one another in a world “red in tooth and claw.” As Denis Lamoureux has written, “There is no sin-death problem. Adam never existed, and consequently, sin did not enter the world through him. Nor then did physical death arise as a divine judgment for his transgressions.” Likewise, Giberson writes, “After many generations selfishness was so fully programmed in our genomes that it was a significant part of what we now call human nature.” He also writes, “There is no original sin and there was no original sinner.”
Therefore, instead of humans creating the first sin against God, God first created the first humans to be sinful. If God created a world of sinful creatures, then who is to blame? While a skeptic might find theistic evolution more palatable than other understandings of Genesis, it won’t take long for them to connect the dots, seeing that this would truly blame God as the originator of evil. (By contrast, historic Christianity has held to the key doctrine of “original sin”).
By denying key biblical teachings, theistic evolution leads us down a very slippery slope. After all, if we deny one part of Scripture, by the same logic, why not other parts as well?
Here we are not referring to a slippery slope fallacy. This is committed when the first action is morally neutral, but it could lead to later immoral behavior. For example, Christians have made this fallacy with regard to drinking alcohol or dancing with the opposite sex. It is fallacious to make this argument because the Bible never prohibits drinking or dancing.
Here we are speaking about something entirely different: Theistic evolution creates a true slippery slope, because they are denying God’s word on many levels. This is not an innocuous or morally neutral act. It is a sin. In fact, it is the very sin behind the Serpent’s question, “Did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1)
Don’t believe me? Consider these quotations below. Some are from theistic evolutionists, and others are from atheistic evolutionists. Can you tell which are which? (You can check the footnotes for yourself to discover which is which, but read through them for yourself first)
(1) “Science calls the tune, and religion dances to its music.”
(2) “Darwinism set aside God as the author of creation. And finally, the rise of biochemistry and molecular biology removed any doubt as to whether or not the properties of living things, humanity included, could be explained in terms of physics and chemistry of ordinary matter. The word is out—we are mere molecules.”
(3) “The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.”
(4) “The world has many religions but just one science, and that tells us something about both.”
(5) “Why would an all-powerful creator decide to plant his carefully crafted species on islands and continents in exactly the appropriate pattern to suggest, irresistibly, that they had evolved and dispersed from the site of their evolution?”
(6) “We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment.”
(7) “Every event, from a thought in your head, to the chirp of a bird, to the explosion of a distant star, results from… four kind of interactions that occur in nature: gravitational, electromagnetic, strong nuclear and weak nuclear.”
(8) “Evolution says some interesting things about selfishness. Selfishness, in fact, drives the evolutionary process…. After many generations selfishness was so fully programmed in our genomes that it was a significant part of what we now call human nature.”
Only three out of the eight citations came from atheistic evolutionists (quotes 3, 5, and 6), while the rest came from theistic evolutionists. If we were being graded on a test, how many of us would be able to pass?
B.B. Warfield included theistic evolution as a possibility, but he did not endorse any form of theistic evolution advanced today. Throughout his life, Warfield continued to keep up-to-date with the scientific literature regarding evolution. He was not only skeptical of the theory of evolution on scientific grounds, but even if true, his way of harmonizing this with Scripture is far different from theistic evolutionists today. Consider a couple citations from Warfield:
(Lecture titled “Evolution or Development” in 1888) The upshot of the whole matter is that there is no necessary antagonism of Christianity to evolution, provided that we do not hold to too extreme a form of evolution. To adopt any form that does not permit God freely to work apart from law and that does not allow miraculous intervention (in the giving of the soul, in creating Eve, etc.) will entail a great reconstruction of Christian doctrine, and a very great lowering of the detailed authority of the Bible. But if we condition the theory by allowing the constant oversight of God in the whole process, and his occasional supernatural interference for the production of new beginnings by an actual output of creative force, producing something new, i.e., something not included even in posse [potentially] in preceding conditions, we may hold to the modified theory of evolution and be Christians in the ordinary orthodox sense. I say we may do this. Whether we ought to accept evolution, even in this modified sense, is another matter, and I leave it purposely an open question.
(1901) What he [the Christian] needs to insist on is that providence cannot do the work of creation and is not to be permitted to intrude itself into the sphere of creation, much less to crowd creation out of the recognition of man, merely because it puts itself forward under the new name of evolution.
At the end of his life, Warfield stated that he was a theistic evolutionist in his teenage years, and that he was even taught this by his professor (James McCosh) at Princeton. However, he concludes that he himself rejected the view by the age of 30 (1881). For a full treatment of this subject, see Fred G. Zaspel in Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Chapter 31 (pp.953-972).
J.P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017)
Wayne D. Rossiter, Shadow of Oz: Theistic Evolution and the Absent God (Pickwick Publications, Eugene: OR, 2015).
 Francisco Ayala, “Darwin’s Greatest Discovery: Design without Designer” PNAS 104 (2007), 8573.
 Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 200.
 This is Latin which means “from the new.”
 Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006).
 Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search For Common Ground Between God And Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 2007).
 “Excursus on Paul’s Use of Adam,” in John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), pp.170-180.
 Tremper Longman, Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015).
 John Polkinghorne, Science and Theology: An Introduction (Fortress Press: MN: Minneapolis, 1998).
 Francisco Ayala, Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion (Joseph Henry Press: Washington, DC, 2007).
 Denis Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?, 2nd. ed. (Oxford and Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch, 2014).
 Denis Lamoureux, “No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View,” in Four Views on the Historical Adam (HarperCollins, 2013).
 Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011).
 Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p.31.
 Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), p.221.
 Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine, Biology (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995), p.658.
 Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011), pp.199-200.
 Greg Koukl, Tactics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), p.117.
 Karl Giberson and Francis Collins, The Language of Science and Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2011), p.198.
 Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), p.272.
 Kenneth Miller, Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul (New York: Viking, 2009), pp.154-155.
 Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), p.105.
 Denis Lamoureux, “Was Adam a Real Person? Part 3,” BioLogos, September 17, 2010, http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/was-adam-a-real-person-part-3.
 Denis Lamoureux, “No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View,” in Four Views on the Historical Adam, Barrett and Caneday, 56, 58.
 John C. Lennox, Seven Days that Divide the World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), p.72.
 Guy Waters. J.D. Currid, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.903.
 Wayne Grudem, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.804.
 Denis O. Lamoureux, “No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation View,” in Barrett and Caneday, Four Views on the Historical Adam, p.60.
 Guy Waters, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.883.
 John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 188.
 John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 186-187.
 F.F. Bruce, Acts: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (London: Tyndale Press, 1970), p.337.
 These citations come from Dr. Venema’s four chapters of the book. Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2017), 118.
 Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2017), 184.
 Dennis R. Venema and Scot McKnight, Adam and the Genome: Reading Scripture after Genetic Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2017), 189.
 Francis Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006), 126.
Denis Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose?, 2nd. ed. (Oxford and Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch, 2014), 265.
 Denis Alexander, Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? (Oxford and Grand Rapids, MI: Monarch, 2014), 290-291.
See also N. T. Wright, “Excursus on Paul’s Use of Adam,” in Walton, Lost World of Adam and Eve, 177. Walton, “A Historical Adam: Archetypal Creation View,” in Four Views on the Historical Adam, 109.
 Wayne Grudem, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.810.
 J.D. Currid, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), p.868.
 John H. Walton, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2-3 and the Human Origins Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 109.
 J.D. Currid, In J. P. Moreland, S. C. Meyer, C. Shaw, A. K. Gauger, & W. Grudem (Eds.), Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), pp.868-869.
 Vern Poythress, Interpreting Eden (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), p.193.
 Vern Poythress, Interpreting Eden (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019), p.193.
 Umberto Cassuto, From Adam to Noah: Genesis 1-6:8 (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961), pp.71-83.
 C. John Collins, Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011), p.71.
 Mccomiskey, T. E. (1999). 278 בָּרָא. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 127). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Mccomiskey, T. E. (1999). 278 בָּרָא. R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke (Eds.), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 127). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Denis Lamoureux, I Love Jesus & I Accept Evolution (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2009), p.148.
 Karl Giberson, Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York: HarperOne, 2008), p.12.
 Karl Giberson, Saving the Original Sinner (Boston: Beacon Press, 2015), p.176.
 Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), p.288.
 Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), p.16.
 Carl Sagan, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1990), Episode 1.
 Kenneth Miller, Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999), p.221.
 Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (2009), p.270.
 Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (1989), vii.
 Karl Giberson, Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York: HarperOne, 2008), p.217.
 Karl Giberson, Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution (New York: HarperOne, 2008), p.12.
 B. B. Warfield, Evolution, Science, and Scripture: Selected Writings, ed. Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000), pp.130-131.
 B. B. Warfield, Evolution, Science, and Scripture: Selected Writings, ed. Mark A. Noll and David N. Livingstone (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000), p.210.
 “Personal Recollections of Princeton Undergraduate Life IV—The Coming of Dr. McCosh,” Princeton Alumni Weekly 16:28 (April 19, 1916): 652.