I’ve read plenty of scientific arguments for theistic evolution, the belief that God used evolutionary processes for the creation of the world. However, the textual arguments for evolution are scant at best. In other words, the Christian desiring to cling to evolutionary theory is forced to cling to science and loosen his or her grip on Scripture. Which probably explains why those who argue for theistic evolution tend to devote ample time towards exegeting scientific data and little time towards exegeting Scripture.
As I understand the debate, the crucial point is whether death existed before the fall. If evolutionary theory is correct, death did not arrive with the advent of sin, but existed for eons prior to the fall of man. But can such a view coincide with Scripture? Here’s a list of exegetical questions that (as far as I can tell) have not been satisfactorily answered by those proposing theistic evolution.
Genesis 1:27 — What does it mean that “created man in His own image”? Did He simply breath a soul into the evolved form of what we call “man”? If so, what were all of Adam’s pre-human ancestors? Less than human? Were they then not worthy of dignity, respect, and protection like humans are?
Genesis 1:31 — When God declares His creation “very good” does that include death?
Genesis 2:19-20 — How could Adam name “every” land animal and “every” bird if many of them were already extinct?
Genesis 6:19-22 — Why would God take such an interest in preserving all species if He had already allowed so many species to die to extinction? Why not just preserve the “essential” species?
Exodus 20:11 — if the creation days are meant to be poetic devices referring to ages, why does Moses go back and forth between day-ages and literal days in the same text?
Leviticus 16:1-34 — If animal death can be considered “very good,” why would God use animal sacrifice to illustrate the seriousness of sin?
Proverbs 12:10 — Is God unrighteous for tolerating millions of years of animal death and calling it very good?
Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 62:25-26 — why does the eternal state have no animal death if animal death can be described as “very good”?
Romans 8:20 — How was creation subjected to futility if not through the introduction of death and suffering because of the fall?
Romans 8:21 — What will creation be set free from if not the pain of death as the result of sin?
Romans 8:22 — what is creation groaning about? Was it groaning before the fall? If not, why not?
1 Corinthians 15:21 — What does it mean that by man came death? Was this only true for humans and not their pre-human ancestors or other creatures in the animal kingdom?
1 Corinthians 15:25 — Death is Christ’s enemy! How can their be a “very good” world where one of Christ’s enemies is wreaking havoc on His creatures? And how is it that such an enemy exists apart from sin?
1 Corinthians 15:26 — Death is mentioned as man’s enemy. Is it not the enemy of the animal kingdom too? If death in the animal kingdom is “natural,” why is it an enemy for the human race? If this enemy called “death” is not the same “death” that overcame the animal kingdom for millions/billions of years, has the latter “death” not been defeated? If it has been defeated, on what basis? In other words, will a similar death befall the animal kingdom in the eternal state? If so, how are the above passages in Isaiah to be understood?
These texts and more present (in my mind at least) a damning argument against theistic evolution. The theory has apparently insurmountable difficulty reconciling the existence of death prior to the Fall of Man.
PostScript: I am aware of the arguments from theistic evolutionists that “plant death” surely existed prior to the fall. But it must be said that Scripture has no category for “plant death.” Plants are living to be sure, but they are not sentient creatures. The Scriptures are clear that the life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11).
© M. Hopson Boutot, 2018
Image Credit: https://pointofview.net/viewpoints/theistic-evolution/