Does Genesis Support Theistic Evolution?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, September 1, 2022 2 comments

by Steve Risner

“Fiction can be fun, but I find the reference section a little more enlightening.” —Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

For months, I had been asking a theistic evolutionist I run into online for a list of Biblical references he had that he claimed not only supported what he believed (deep time, universal common descent, a local flood, etc.) but also were major problems for the Biblical creationist view (one that believes God created as He said in 6 days, that Adam and Eve were the first humans, and they rebelled against God causing the Fall and curse of sin, a global Flood destroyed all land animals and humans except those in the ark, etc.). After he told me he had this list and would provide it, it took me a few attempts to actually get him to produce it. Unfortunately, his list did not contain any explanations, so I’m forced to decide on my own how these Scriptural references support a theistic evolutionist’s theology and how they create issues for those of us who believe what the Bible actually says on the topic of origins. Let’s take a look.

His first reference he includes is Genesis 1:11-12:

Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

I’ll include his next reference, which is Genesis 1:24, because it is very similar.

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so.

I’ve seen this before from other theistic evolutionists, and I have questioned our local Hebrew egghead Katie Erickson on it. I try to go back to the original language when I can to see if there is some sort of clue in the meanings, translations, or conjugation of words. She’s very knowledgeable on Hebrew and Greek, so I take these questions to her as well as looking through commentaries and such. Her take on it was this:

The verb for “produce” can also mean bring forth, or cause to come out, or something like that. But the earth is clearly the subject of that verb, and it is a jussive, meaning it's translated as “Let the earth bring forth...” rather than a more indicative statement like “The earth brings forth.” But yes, I'd say that translation is accurate. I don't understand how that could indicate abiogenesis or evolution.

The issue being raised here is that, according to this odd interpretation of Genesis 1:11-12 and 24, God is telling us that He allowed the earth or nature to produce all the life we see on the planet. It evolved from non-living matter and began as some sort of scum that eventually, through a series of lucky mistakes in copying itself, diversified into the millions of various species we see on planet earth right now and in the fossil record. That is what they claim the Lord is telling us when He says He told the land to produce vegetation and animals. I know it’s hard to believe this is where they think this passage is going, especially since no one noteworthy in the Hebrew/Jewish people or Christendom remotely suggested this until about 300 years ago.

As Katie suggests above, we can see the word usage here indicates that God was drawing out living things from the earth. He created them and caused them to reproduce after their own kind. The text this theistic evolutionist uses here to support his beliefs in evolution fails miserably and actually quite strongly supports the fact that God made everything (not nature or the earth) and that He produced them to create after their own kind. Both of these things stand in strong opposition to universal common descent. I would suggest, as many ministries around the world have done, that this verse actually is strong evidence for the Biblical worldview and interpretation.

If you look at the references again, you’ll see that not only did God command life to come about, but it clearly tells us that this is exactly what happened immediately. “The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” He commanded living creatures (animals) to come forth and produce after their own kind as well. So, we have no evidence for evolution at all here. None. The contrast couldn’t be more corrosive to the idea that universal common descent is what the text is trying to get across to us. If the land produced vegetation and animals that produced after their own kind, where is there room for abiogenesis and universal common descent? Short answer: there is no room at all.

Note that the texts above do not mention single-celled organisms or life coming from non-life in a simple form that would mutate over time into humans, bananas, honeybees, and anemones. It says the land produced vegetation and various kinds of animals after their kind. This is the exact opposite of what evolutionists believe the text says, or what they need it to say. It clearly does not support universal common descent and in fact strongly speaks against it.

It could just as easily be argued, using the “logic” of theistic evolution as applied to these few verses, that according to verse 20, sea life evolved from water. Does this mean fish and the other numerous kinds of sea creatures evolved from water? No. Because verse 21 tells us that God created all the creatures of the sea. “So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds…” The same idea can and should be applied to the verses in question here — that God created life, both plant and animal, on the earth. The same is said of our passage in verse 25 — that God made all the creatures of the land. It does not say that the land produced animals. Had our theistic evolutionist continued reading rather than stopping where it suited him, perhaps we could have avoided this strange situation of injecting a desired meaning into the text when it obviously isn’t there.

Contrary to what this evolutionist is telling me he believes, I believe that God, by the awesome authority of His will, produced the universe, the earth, and life in all its various forms. In other words, He commanded creation to happen, and it did. All the glory for such a creative act rests on God Himself. He created light by speaking. He created the earth by speaking. He commanded living things, both plants and animals (and other varieties), into existence with nothing more than His will. He required no assistance. He did not allow something or someone else to have any role in it aside from doing as He willed. He was the sole Authority that made it all happen. This is very different than the tale spun by evolutionists who want to walk some sort of imaginary line between Biblical truth and humanism/secularism.

In my view, God is the center and focus of creation, and He alone is the creative force behind all that exists. Therefore, He wields authority over all of it including myself. This is why I submit to Him and His plans and purposes for my life. I don’t feel the evolutionist can say this. At least, it does not seem possible to me that they could draw out their purpose from their Creator in the same way when they don’t believe they are a special creation made by God uniquely on day 6 of the creation week. They are the result of an accumulation of copying errors that brought fortune to them by allowing them to be. The difference seems like this to me: God has a special plan and purpose for my life so He created me vs. God wound up nature and allowed it to do whatever the heck it was going to do and it luckily spat me out because it messed up enough times.

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Anonymous said...

There are two problems which I have with the evolutionist viewpoint:

The first is why God felt it necessary to say, "after their own kind" - how can one have this statement if there is a fluid connection between kinds, (however they are interpreted)? How can the statement >not< become a meaningless term?

More importantly, the second is that any evolutionist must reject any passages which speak of a direct cause-and-effect between sin and death. This is not an incidental issue! Inescapably the whole basis of Jesus' coming is to conquer death and sin. Anything less turns Jesus' death into "Well, it's a swell idea, really nice of God and all that, but not necessary to have ALL that great a suffering and agonizing death."

How does Paul's, "if Christ be not raised, we are then still in our sin" make sense?

Shepherd Heath said...

Thanks again, Steve always, I enjoy reading your blogs.

I am not very good on the computer, and can't even follow simple tasks, I leave well enough alone, to avoid messing things up even further. And that's why my pen name keeps coming up. We had a Shepherd dog named Heath, and when he got hit by a car, our children spent time together coping ...and one of our activities was creating a pen name together.

Of course, you know me as Stephen Meiner. And I agree that we have a very personal God, who takes it very seriously the relationship He has with us ...and Jesus allowing Himself to be crucified should be sound evidence for this.

I could accept God using evolution to bring about humans, but that is not at all what I read in the Bible, I believe Jesus testified to the legitimacy of the documents they had (now in our Bible), and as in any relationship it is important not only to know of love, but also of the one who claims that love.

I look forward to reading the other comments. Thanks again, Steve.