The Incompatibility of Evolution and the Bible
15 Sunday Jan 2017
I have been wondering for some time whether the biblical account and the naturalistic explanation of the origin of mankind are incompatible. I recently read a good article that addresses this topic, “Who Was Adam? An Old-Earth Creation Model for the Origin of Humanity,” by Dr. Fazale (Fuz) Rana of Reasons to Believe.
In the article, Fuz lists the “Key Human Origins Passages” from the Bible. In this post, I will quote each of those references and offer comments from the perspective of whether they seem to offer room for evolution as the explanation for the origin of humanity. In addition, I will offer comments in an effort to refute the “Other Options for Understanding Adam and Eve” as stated in a post on the BioLogos website, “Were Adam and Eve historical figures?” Note that when I read the Bible, I tend to read it literally unless there is some indication that it should be taken otherwise.
First, though, a couple of definitions are in order. When I speak of evolution in this article, what I mean is macro-evolution as applied to the origin of humanity. In other words, did humans evolve from a lower life form, presumably some hominid species? Note, too, that “evolve” implies change over time, so in this context I mean that some life form changed over time (mutated), resulting in modern humans.
What do I mean by “humans,” “humanity,” or “modern humans”? I mean humans like you and me, sometimes spoken of as homo sapiens sapiens, separate and distinct from the hominids.
Fuz Rana’s Key Human Origins Passages
Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
So far, so good for the theistic evolution model. These verses don’t tell us how God created man and woman, just that He created them. I think the naturalists are in trouble here, though.
Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
This verse shows direct action by God, forming man from the dust. I think it still leaves a bit of wiggle room for the possibility that God somehow created man from the dust in the form of chemicals, as evolutionists may claim, rather than by essentially scooping up some dirt from the ground and fashioning a man.
I don’t see much room here for the “Other Options for Understanding Adam and Eve” as set forth by BioLogos. In other words, I see no reason to interpret the verse in any way other than literally.
So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
These verses get more specific. God put the man to sleep as we would today for surgery, removed a rib then closed the flesh. He then made a woman from the rib. That’s all very specific, leading me to believe that evolution (change over time) had nothing to do with this. It also seems to rule out all three of BioLogos’ “other options.” Surely this man and woman were historical. They were not chosen from a large population of other humans; they were the first man and first woman.
Note that Dr. Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe has also stressed the fact that the Bible offers specifics where other religions’ holy books offer only vague generalities. This specificity is given, where needed, to help us understand major points of the Bible story, like the fact that God directly created the first man and woman. God knew that we would want to know how we originated, so He told us. There is no need to go looking for alternative explanations.
Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.
Eve was the mother of all the living (humanity). This doesn’t rule out the possibility that she was somehow a product of evolution but evolutionists believe that the original population of humans numbered in the hundreds or thousands, not one man and one woman, so it appears that evolution isn’t a good explanation here.
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He 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,…
The Bible tells us that God “…made from one man every nation of mankind…” This leaves little room for evolution or BioLogos’ non-historical model.
This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.
When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth. Then the days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died.
[Note that Fuz’s bible reference actually indicated Genesis 5:13 but that verse isn’t relevant to the topic so I take it that he meant Genesis 5:1-3 or possibly 1-5 as quoted above.]
These verses tell a story in some detail. This doesn’t sound at all like evolution was responsible for creating man, or that this is a non-historical story, or that Adam was a representative of a larger population.
When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Hesli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Heber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Luke was a person who strived to document the facts clearly and completely. Here, he documents the genealogy of Jesus, stating the names of many real, historical people. What makes us think, then, that when he gets to Adam near the last of the list, he’s talking about anything other than a real, historical person? These verses do not, however, seem to rule out evolution as the means whereby Adam came into existence.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
Not a lot of detail here. The door is open to evolution if we take only this one verse without context. BioLogos’ representative views could still work here.
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— for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
One man, Adam, took some actions which resulted in dire consequences. Later, one man, Jesus, took some actions which resulted in much more favorable consequences. These were real, historical people, doing real, historical things.
The “ancient representatives” and “recent representatives” views set forth by BioLogos fall down completely at this point. If Adam was a mere representative of mankind, how did the consequences of his sin impact the other hundreds or thousands of humans which had ostensibly appeared on Earth at the same time, according to evolutionary theory? Did Adam sin but none of the rest of the human population sinned until Adam had produced offspring? No, the sin was passed down from one man, Adam, through the generations.
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:21–22
“…by a man…” indicates one man, Adam. Evolution is in trouble here, given that we’re talking about one man, but these verses do not seem to rule out the “representative” views.
BioLogos’ post asserts that “…the de novo creation of Adam and Eve is not compatible with what scientists have found in God’s creation…” but that issue is not at all settled, as Fuz explained in his post. BioLogos here errs by assuming that the science is a settled issue, which then compels them to find alternatives to what the Bible has clearly stated as we explored above.
Why are they so quick to jump to the task of getting around scripture, when the focus here needs to be on better understanding science? This seems to be a foundational problem at BioLogos.
Both BioLogos and Reasons to Believe assert that the Bible and science will not be in conflict if we have a proper understanding of each. It seems to me, though, that if our best understanding of the Bible on some topic conflicts with our best understanding of science, the Bible wins.
Having looked into the issue, is evolution compatible with biblical teaching? My answer is a resounding “No.” In my view, the Bible is clear. God directly created Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from Adam’s rib. The Bible’s authors are in agreement that Adam was a real, historical person who performed real, historical actions which had real, historical consequences. He was not a mere “representative” of a larger population of the first humans, nor is the Genesis creation account a non-historical, symbolic story.
- Who Was Adam? An Old-Earth Creation Model for the Origin of Humanity – Dr. Fazale Rana
Were Adam and Eve historical figures? – BioLogos
- Historical Adam – Reasons to Believe
- RTB Scholars’ Thoughts on Pope Francis and Evolution – Reasons to Believe
- Did They Really Exist? A Biblical and Scientific Defence of Adam and Eve – Jonathan McLatchie
- The Historical Adam and Eve – Dr. William Lane Craig
- Who Was Adam? – Book by Dr. Fazale Rana and Dr. Hugh Ross
- Book Review: Who Was Adam – Luke Nix
- Book Review: “Who Was Adam?” – 10-Year Update by Fazale Rana with Hugh Ross – J.W. Wartick