Evolution vs. the Bible

Evolution | Francis Collins and BioLogos seek a different story of our origins than the one told in Genesis
by Elizabeth Handford
Posted 11/18/17, 03:02 pm

The writer of this Saturday Series article, Elizabeth Handford, shared with me in an email that she “grew up in a godly home. (My father was John R. Rice, an evangelist and editor). In a secular high school, I came to feel I had to settle which was right, Darwin or the Bible. I checked Origin of Species out of the library, came to chapters 4 and 5, ‘Problems with My Thesis.’ I read Darwin’s agony because he could find no answers to his own questions (most of them still unanswerable). I became convinced that God’s Word was absolutely true. I still read copiously on both sides of the question.” 

Elizabeth Handford graduated from Wheaton College in 1948. Elisabeth Elliott was her debate partner in intercollegiate tournaments. Her husband Walt was a pastor and chaplain in Greenville, S.C., for 48 years. Along with being a licensed private pilot and a Bible study teacher, she has to keep track of the birthdays of 33 grandchildren and great-grandkids. After she read Francis Collins’ The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) and saw how it undercuts the inerrancy of Scripture, she carefully examined its premises and evidence and sent me the essay that follows. It’s important, because 10 years after publication the paperback edition of The Language of God is still ranks in the top 10 of Amazon’s “Science & Religion” category. Please read Elizabeth’s essay and think hard. —Marvin Olasky

Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, is the brilliant scientist who led the International Human Genome Project to map the entire human genome. He calls the human genome the “script carrying all the instructions for building a human being.”

Collins is an ardent, eloquent Christian who came to faith Christ in his 30s after reading C. S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. But he is also an ardent, eloquent evolutionist. He strongly believes that there is no possible explanation of the existing world except evolution.

“Science reveals that the universe, our own planet, and life itself are engaged in an evolutionary process,” Collins wrote in The Language of God. “Evolution as a mechanism can be and must be true.”

He coined the word “BioLogos” to describe his position and established an organization of great influence under this name. Collins wants to provide a “safe place” for people struggling to reconcile their faith with science.

So effective has BioLogos been that its June 7 bulletin reports: “The conversation on science and faith is shifting. A recent Gallup poll found that, for the first time since 1982, young earth creationist responses dropped significantly. And rather than losing their faith, people moved toward BioLogos views, seeing God as the creator over millions of years. … We are reaching millions of people every year.”

But Collins does believe the Bible is the Word of God. The BioLogos website says, “We believe the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God.” So Collins struggles to align his commitment to evolution with his own statement of faith. He attempts to do this, and dangerously so, I believe, by describing inconvenient Scriptures such as Genesis 1 and 2 as “poetic” or “mythical.”

Collins struggles to align his commitment to evolution with his own statement of faith.

“After all, there are clearly parts of the Bible that are written as eyewitness accounts of historical events, including much of the New Testament,” he wrote in The Language of God. “For a believer, the events recorded in these sections ought to be taken as the writer intended—as descriptions of observed facts. But other parts of the Bible, such as the first few chapters of Genesis, the book of Job, the Song of Solomon, and the Psalms, have a more lyrical and allegorical flavor and do not generally seem to carry the marks of pure historical narrative.”

Again, Collins wrote, “Many sacred texts do indeed carry the clear marks of eyewitness history, and as believers we must hold fast to those truths. Others, such as the stories of Job and Jonah and of Adam and Eve, frankly do not carry that same historical ring.”

But this idea is completely alien to the historic Christian position on Biblical inerrancy. As an example of this, the Wheaton College statement of faith says, “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.” (For a comprehensive presentation of this view, see the Chicago Statement of Inerrancy produced at a summit of evangelical leaders in 1978.)

The Scriptures do not claim to be mere “eyewitness” accounts. They claim to be the very Word of God. Note 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NKJV): “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.”

2 Peter 1:21 (NKJV) says explicitly: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Scripture is not “of any private interpretation.”

If a reader of Scripture can decide for himself what is true and what can be ignored, he is setting himself as arbiter over the Scriptures. He becomes the decider of truth. This is indefensible if the Bible is truly God’s inerrant Word. Scripture is not “of any private interpretation.”

This puts Collins in an ambiguous position. If a number of individuals began the human race, as he believes, then Adam and Eve are myths. But that puts in doubt New Testament Scripture that have serious theological implications. Chapter 5 of Romans asks, “How could the death of one man, Jesus, pay for the sins of the world?” The answer? “Because sin, and death, came into the world by one man, Adam” (Romans 5:13-21). If Adam did not exist, then all the Scriptures that refer to him (Genesis 5; 1 Chronicles 1:2; Job 42; Luke 3; First Corinthians 15; 2 Timothy 2; and Jude) must be stricken from our Bibles.

The same is true about Jonah. If Jonah “frankly does not have the historical ring,” then the Lord Jesus Himself was in error. And if that were so, then He is not the eternal Son of God! For Jesus said, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40, NKJV). Must we then also excise from our inerrant Bible the references to Jonah in 2 Kings 14 and Luke 12?

The issue here is not which scientific theory on the origins of life is correct. Our focus is only to show that the inerrant, verbally inspired Word of God cannot be reinterpreted simply to make it fit any theory of science.

This untenable position has contributed to the tensions we’ve witnessed recently on historically conservative Christian college campuses like Bryan. It seems conservative Christians are being blamed for the dissension. But the defense of a statement of faith in itself ought not to be considered contentious.

The inerrant, verbally inspired Word of God cannot be reinterpreted simply to make it fit any theory of science.

In the book, How I Changed My Mind about Evolution (IVP Academic, 2016), college professors at evangelical schools tell how they came to accept evolution. But the position they express is incompatible with the statement of Biblical inerrancy their schools hold.

Scot McKnight is a professor at Northern Seminary. His school’s doctrinal statement says, “The Bible is the revealed Word of God, given by the Holy Spirit through chosen men, and so is fully inspired, authoritative, and the sufficient rule of faith and practice for the believer.”

Yet McKnight wrote in How I Changed My Mind about Evolution, “Learning about science has taught me to be more scientific about the Bible, not less. It has taught me not to succumb to simplistic theories about the Bible, not to settle for less than rigor about what Genesis 1-3 are saying, and not to force an ancient Near Eastern text (Genesis) into the thought patterns and categories of modern science.”

Does not his description of Genesis simply as “an ancient Near Eastern Text” clash with his school’s view of the revealed Word of God?

Tremper Longman III is a professor at Westmont College. His school’s statement of faith includes, “The Bible, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, is God-breathed and true, without error in all that it teaches; it is the supreme authority and only infallible guide for Christian faith.”

But Longman wrote in How I Changed My Mind about Evolution, “If it turns out that there was no literal historical Adam and Eve, does that mean that the biblical creation account is not true?” Why the “if” in this sentence, if the Bible is “God-breathed and true, without error” as his school affirms?

Mark Noll, a highly respected historian from Wheaton College and now a professor at Notre Dame says of How I Changed My Mind about Evolution: “This collection of firsthand experiences is important for showing that firm belief in the truth-telling character of Scripture can support, rather than undermine, the best scientific investigations. It also provides more solid evidence for the good that BioLogos is doing to transform science and religion from a war zone to an instructive conversation.”

It is significant that these believer/scientists focus on Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Why? Because they seem to state unequivocally that evolution cannot be the method by which God created human beings. Genesis 1:21-25 (NKJV, emphasis mine) says, “So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. … Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind.”

Genesis 8:19 repeats the phrase “after their kinds” concerning animals after the flood.

This is reiterated in the New Testament: 1 Corinthians 15:37-40 (NKJV, emphasis mine) says, “And what you sow … God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.”

An honest scientist who believes the Bible is the Word of God must deal with these Scriptures. They cannot be written off as having “a more lyrical and allegorical flavor and do not generally seem to carry the marks of pure historical narrative.”

An honest scientist who believes the Bible is the Word of God must deal with these Scriptures.

Tim Stafford, senior writer for Christianity Today, writes in his book The Adam Quest (Nelson Books, 2013), “Evolutionary creationism’s greatest problem is the Bible. Evolution tells a story about our planet, and it is far from obvious that it fits the story we learn from Scripture.”

Francis Collins yearns for a safe place for perplexed Christians to find answers for their questions concerning Biblical truth and science. I also yearn for a safe place for people to express their doubts and get sure answers. But there is no “safe place” anywhere if human being must carry the burden of deciding which parts of Scripture are true and which are not. Thank God, He has given us His Holy Word, without error of any kind, trustworthy far beyond what our puny minds can understand.

All of us need humility of mind and heart, admitting that we are fallen human beings without the capacity to understand all God is. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV).

True science and the Bible do not conflict. They cannot conflict. We simply do not yet know enough science to discern the answers. Meanwhile, we can trust our great and holy God to teach us everything we need to know about this wonderful world. After all, He created it simply by His command. He sustains it (Hebrews 1:3). He knows how it all fits together. We can trust His infinite wisdom and goodness.

Elizabeth Handford
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  • Woodman
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 04:02 pm

    Clearly positioned  yet respectful critique of a Christian scientist attempt at threading the needle. Ms Handford rightly points out the dilemma scientists like Dr Collins have answering the various compatibility questions between evolution and scripture that refers to Adam. I’d add that there’s no conclusive evidence showing one ‘kind’ evolving into another. We hear from secular evolutionists about the stickleback which is one fish adapting in to another. 

  • beep523
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 04:13 pm

    I fully agree with Elizabeth Handford's reasoning. It is said that the Bible proves itself if you let it. The issue of creation versus evolution was settled for me when God highlighted Hebrews 11:3 to my understanding. In the NIV, it reads "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Some folks still argue that God made things that were not complete and they advanced to what we know today. However, that doesn't fit the experience of earth that things are in the process of deteriorating from the moment they exist, be they plant, animal, or human. No one has ever witnessed something born and being improved after birth, or growing from a cell and becoming something different unless it is an intervention of man. 

  • Fuzzyface
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 04:22 pm

    Good discussion of the contortions people go through to make the Bible and evolution coexist.

    I've found that people don't usually base their belief in evolution on their Christian faith.  They usually come from a belief that science supports evolution and contort their belief in the Bible to try to make it fit.

    Therefore, whenever I'm discussing evolution with someone I don't argue from the Bible but argue from scientific evidence.  I state the scientific problems I've found with the theory.  When people see that there are many reasons to doubt evolution theory from a scientific standpoint they are free to be comfortable believing the Biblical account for what it says and not through the evolutionary lens. 

  • OldMike
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 04:33 pm

    The God who created the Universe and all it contains, including man, is quite capable of doing so in exactly the way it is given to us in Genesis.

    EVERYTHING we see was created by God, including rocks with apparent fossils millions of years old, light that apparently shone from distant stars millions of years ago, and DNA that apparently demonstrates common origins of distinct species. 

    From the very beginning in the Garden, God has told us, “Choose what you will believe—Me or something else.  Choose whether you will follow Me, or not.”

    When men have found what appears to be evidence of the origins of the Universe, earth, and life, differing from the way we are told in Genesis, we must choose which we will believe. Always, the Tempter says, “Did God really say that?  Or maybe here is something else that makes more sense.”

    It is no wisdom at all that says, we have discovered another explanation that “makes more sense” or “fits the scientific evidence better” than the explanations God has given us. 

    I believe God desires we CHOOSE to follow Him, rather than follow Him because there are no other options. 

  • scienceguy567
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 11:39 pm

    No, God did not create rocks with fossils in them. Fossils are evidence of a worldwide flood that destroyed living things and buried them quickly in water-borne sediments. Nor did He very likely create light shining from stars millions of years ago. Relativity demonstrates the effect of time-dilation. What looks like millions of years to us could have happened in a few thousand years in a young, rapidly expanding universe. DNA does not demonstrate a common origin of living things. It is an information processing and storage system of mind-boggling complexity and efficiency, a language with grammar, syntax, and even punctuation that demonstrates all life has an infinitely intelligent Designer. The real evidence freed from naturalism's religious bias and prejudice agrees very well with what we're told in Genesis. 

  • Taylor Thornton
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 05:06 pm

    As with virtually everything else, the origins debate is an issue of authority. It seems to me that many believers hope to demonstrate a sort of intellectual “neutrality” when discussing the science relevant to human origins; as though they approach the subject with no presuppositions. But of course, such neutrality is impossible for both the believer and the unbeliever given the comprehensive and exclusive nature of the Bible’s claims (e.g., Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3; John 14:6; Matthew 12:30). Perhaps this is done in order to maintain a certain level of respectability within the academy, but whatever the reasons may be, it is tantamount to rejecting Christ’s comprehensive lordship. If God is the final authority and the Bible is His inerrant Word, then we must approach every subject with a willingness to acquiesce to its claims; even if those claims prove to be unpopular or seem to be counterintuitive from our fallen and finite perspective. After all, the foolishness of God trumps the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:25).

  • One of Many
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 05:24 pm

    Thank you, Mrs. Handford and World magazine.  As I read church websites, I am saddened by the frequency of doctrinal statements with gaping holes.  There is mention of sin but not of its origins.  Where is the rest of the information?  Even a reference to the Creator is oftentimes missing.  I almost sense the embarrassment they must have of mentioning it.

    The intellectually honest philosopher must acknowledge that the thread of the creation account runs all through Scripture and is contrary to the tenents of evolution.  One of these is a myth.  Choose wisely.

    Bonhoeffer was quoted as saying, 'One thing the Nazi's will not do and that is compromise.  That, they leave to the church.'


  • AW
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 05:31 pm

    To realize what is required to accept the inerrancy of Scripture, look up the word "faith" in the concordance section of a study bible and note how often God's Word refers to it.

  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 12/18/2017 01:56 pm

    Have no clue what you are getting at as far and the number of times the word faith shows up in the Bible means.  I expect you are implying not just “faith” but blind faith?  CRI says, “Hebrews 11 underscores the fact that we trust God to fulfill his promises for the future (the unseen) based on what he has already fulfilled in the past. Thus, our faith is not blind, but based squarely on God’s proven faithfulness.”

  • dlormand
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 05:41 pm

    America and the West will die because churches and pastors and seminarians refuse to go beyond the Bible lessons and the theology and the evangelism to the inculcation of a Christian WORLDVIEW in the believers.  Young people will continue to drain away from the church and from the faith because they have never been trained in a Christian worldview.  Most new believers will not become effective disciples or anything other than church-culture adherents because they are not being trained in a Christian worldview.

    Every worldview has an origins story.  Big Bang, stellar/planetary formation, and evolution are the only possible origins story for the atheist worldview.  These Christian scientists and theologians are not struggling with SCIENCE, they are swallowing the atheist origins story, because that's the only one that gets any significant public play.

  • kennethos
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 06:24 pm

    This is a dissapointing piece. Elizabeth Handford essentially goes through the English Bible, and a number of statements of faith on the inspiration of scripture of colleges and university, the Chicago Statement, and some Christian books on evolutionary views, in picking at Fran Collins' views on evolution and genetics (which I do not completely agree with either). She either ignores, or is unaware of, the vast world of the ancient Near East that informs and undergirds the entirety of scripture. This is an either/or viewpoint in a world (and canon) that is typically "both/and" when it comes to how "literal" certain passages are. If she were exploring what certain things said in the Hebrew (and diving into the exegetical details), that would be one thing. But simply to rely on English language translations in a debate that that revolves around manuscripts written in a different language, culture, etc., and never touch on this, except to dismiss the views of scholars she disagrees with? More homework needs to be done. 

    I'm sympathetic to her struggle. I learned years ago that reliance on only English translations, and viewing the text simply, isn't always wise. A fundamentalist view of the world, and scripture, is untenable. Let the Bible be what it is. 

  • Taylor Thornton
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 07:56 pm

    I would agree that studies in the original languages as well as an understanding of the culture within which a text is produced are quite helpful in terms of understanding Scripture. Indeed, this is quite consistent with the historical-grammatical hermeneutic espoused by Bible-believing sorts since the Reformation. However, few of us can read Genesis in the original Hebrew and must therefore rely on the knowledge of those who have; and there are plenty of scholars (even unbelievers) who understand the author of Genesis to be presenting an historical narrative in chapters 1-11. You said that we should adopt a “both/and” approach to understanding Scripture, but what exactly does that mean? Should we understand the creation story to be both an historical narrative as well as a bit of mythology? Is it factual at one level and allegorical at another? Perhaps you mean to say that some of it should be accepted as history while other parts should be understood metaphorically; but which parts should be accepted as history and would it be arbitrary to make such a distinction? If we only accept those parts we believe to be consistent with modern scientific theories of the origin of the universe and of human life as genuine history, aren’t we simply elevating the views of fallible men to the position of ultimate authority? At that point, as the article states, we, not God’s Word, have become the final arbiters of truth. 

  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 06:02 pm


    So are we to believe the scientists (who are not schooled in the original biblical languages) over biblical translators who are? This seems to undercut your argument about English language translations of the Bible. By the way, there are dozens of translations in English, and, lo and behold, they say the same thing (they read the same) regarding the passages in question. These translators (scholars) are schooled in linguistics and are quite familiar, for obvious linguistic purposes, with the historical context of the ancient Near East.

  • Yokefellow
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 06:45 pm

    Thank God for Elizabeth Handford's response to Francis Collins and BioLogos.  I would say she is extremely gracious in her response.  Francis Collins and BioLogos have done great harm to the Christian faith.  Any Christian that wants to seriously consider the science behind young earth creationism should visit the following three ministries websites:  Creatiion Ministries / Institute for Creation Research / Answers in Genesis.  Also take the time to watch "Is Genesis History" produced by Del Tacket.  The Trojan Horse of deep time has created havoc in our culture over the last 100+ years.  There is no reason to doubt the Bible.  I hope World Magazine will do features with scientists and theologians from the ministries mentioned.  It is time for all believers to realize they can fully trust the Word of God and that Genesis 1-11 is historical narrative. 

  • charles jandecka
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 07:31 pm

    So then, on what scientific basis do we accept the "Immaculent Conception'" of Mary, the mother of Jesus? Or his bodily resurrction from the tomb? Or a a spiritual world with demons, spirits, angels, creatures and ... God?

    "Proclaiming themselves to be wise, they became utters fools." (God)


  • Brian Mann
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 08:19 pm

    This is a very disappointing piece by World Magazine because I have come to expect it to be friendly to a Creationist standpoint.  This article definitely takes another direction.  In my estimation, World Magazine would do exceptionally better to commend organizations like Answers in Genesis as opposed to Biologos. Consider a recent ground-breaking book on DNA called Replacing Darwin by Nathaniel Jeanson (published by Master's Books). Such is more faithful to the biblical worldview that makes World Magazine worth picking up repeatedly.  This article appears to be out of step with what World Magazine regularly represents.  

  • EFC
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 08:59 pm

    So are you saying that this article is promoting the views espoused by Francis Collins and Biologos rather than challenging them?  Where are you getting that from?  Did you actually read the whole article/essay by Elisabeth Handford.  Unless I am missing something, it appears she is presenting a strong challenge to their viewpoint with the support of World.

  • Brian Mann
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 09:08 pm

    I stand corrected.  I read back over the article and it appears you are correct.  My glad apologies.

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 09:17 pm

    A presupposition that I see in Mrs. Handford's thesis and in most of the commenters is that The Bible is The Word of God. Or to use a mathematical equation, The Bible = Word of God, and Word of God = The Bible.  The problem is that the Bible does not say that about itself. Rather, in many places the scriptures speak of themselves as "witnesses" to the Word of God. Check it out.
    On the other hand, the Bible clearly says that Jesus is The Word of God. So let's hear Him. And as we hear Him, the scriptures begin to illumine and empower us to also be witnesses of the Gospel.
    I'm not so concerned about how old the rocks are and how the Earth came to be as I am about how we are going to faithfully follow Jesus. The scriptures authoritatively witness to Jesus and His Kingdom, and that should be our focus in our discipleship. 

  • Taylor Thornton
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 08:49 am

    Your claim is that the Bible does not claim to be the Word of God (pretty shaky ground in light of the many passages prefaced with “Thus saith the LORD,” as well as the passages cited in the above article). In any case, it would seem that you make this claim in order to grant the possibility of errors in the text, and of course it goes without saying that we would have to determine what is reliable and what is spurious in its pages. Nevertheless, you base your claim that Jesus is the Word of God on a text that is not, on your view, wholly inspired. So, one naturally begins to wonder why you believe those passages of Scripture if you have already rejected inerrancy? Moreover, because the Bible presents us with a comprehensive worldview, we must recognize that if the story of creation and the Fall are rejected as historical realities, the gospel itself becomes incoherent. To embrace the gospel while rejecting the redemptive history that provides one with the proper framework by which to understand it is inconsistent and arbitrary. Finally, you say that the Scriptures testify of Christ authoritatively, but from where is that authority derived? If Scripture is not inspired in the plenary verbal sense then I see no reason to trust in any of its claims much less those pertaining to my eternal destiny. Christ is the object of our faith, but where has Christ, the Word made flesh, been revealed to us? In the inscripturated Word. Thus, while I certainly agree that we should seek Christ and His Kingdom, we must do so by the means He has prescribed in humble submission to the authoritative Word by which He speaks.

  • timsmithlaw
    Posted: Sat, 11/18/2017 10:43 pm

    In my church, we have a Ph.D. Molecular Biologist who used to be an atheist and Darwinist who now fully accepts the biblical account of creation without reservation. He used to mock Chrisitians, but he now scoffs at the efforts of Darwinian evolutionists to explain the origin of life. We have Ph.D. Physicist who has a similar story and he fully embraces the biblical account. I think of Dr. James Tour, of Rice University, one of the 50 most influential scientists in the world, who fully rejects the Darwinian explanation of life. There are many other examples. It takes FAR more faith (in very faulty science) to accept a Darwinian explanation of life than to accept God as the creator of a fully functioning world. God as Creator is not a story confined to Genesis 1-2, it is restated as an absolute truth from Genesis to Revelation. Jesus appealed to the creation account. By the way, I have met the Assyrian Chrisitans who assure me that their ancestory as God worshippers started with Jonah and was passed on through the generations until the Gospel in the first century. Assyrian Chrisitans and Muslims trace their faith to Jonah. That is hard to do if he was an imaginary character. That is why, until ISIS, there were shrines honoring Jonah in Mosul for more than a thousand years. Biologos has been funded by the the Templeton Foundation, and has made it financially beneficial for professors to change their views. I would hate to underestimate the power of God and then show up in God's presence and try to explain that I trusted misleading science more than God's Word. I am sure that will not go over well. Can we overestimate God's power? Is anything impossible for God? Gen. 18:14.  

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Tue, 11/21/2017 01:32 pm

    Some observations:

    1.  Satan loves church divisions.  Therefore we need at all times carefully to consider what is truly at stake when we disagree with each other about something.  Is this truly central to the Gospel?  Is there no room for different interpretations of a passage?  Do I truly see in a mirror less darkly than another in this matter?  Am I being loving, or self righteous?

    2.  In this matter, specifically, I have watched people tear each other to shreds.  I have watched Kent Hovind treat Hugh Ross with utter disrespect in a debate.  I have heard an Old Earther call Young Earthers heretics in a Bible class.  I have read innumerable "so-and-so pwned so-and-so" posts, and heard so many statements to that effect, by Christians about each other.

    3.  This matter has unfortunately been framed in overly simplistic terms of Creation versus Evolution, which has in effect become Anti-Science versus Science.  Unfortunately Christians have fed this false dichotomy by treating with contempt valid science.  The Big Bang is an example.  This is one pastor's favorite whipping boy.  Every time he brings it up, he calls it a foolish idea.  Most lately he said that it was foolish because--and I paraphrase from memory--"if there were an explosion, everything would be going willy nilly hither and yon, and nothing could possibly be formed!"  This shows stunning ignorance and stubbornness:  ignorance, because he clearly has not studied the matter; and stubbornness, because he has not studied it for decades.  And he has the temerity to scoff at those who have studied it for longer than he has not.

    4.  We need to consider what we teach our children.  If we teach them that our faith in Jesus and the Resurrection is evidence based (John 20:30-31), then what are they to think when we teach them that they should ignore what science says regarding things like the Big Bang, or starlight, or geological ages, or other matters related to Creation?  Is it good to teach them non sequiturs like, in effect, that atheists believe in an old earth, therefore Christians need to avoid belief in an old earth like the plague?  Or that General Revelation can possibly conflict with Special Revelation?  We need to think about these things, or we will set our children up for failure.

  • mp
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 08:28 am

    Science should never be expected to “prove” that our religion is True. Science was not designed or intended to do that, however the Christian’s of the past who set the stage for science as we currently practice it unwittingly started us down the road that Science can explain all. Science can explain the mechanisms of what we see but cannot explain the why or the ultimate how of what we see. That is left to metaphysics. In that, God’s Word explains it all. God’s Word explains the ultimate how and why and we must always consider it to be True. Scientific truth can change, but the Truth of God does not. We get into trouble when we put Scientific truth on par with God’s Truth. We do have to be careful though when we see apparent confilict between God’s Truth and Scientific truth. We must ask ourselves if our interpretations of either are incorrect. The Church and Galileo were at odds for awhile at least in part because the Church assumed that the Bible was a scientific text of how things are. Darwinian evolution, one of the Zombies of Science (apologies to Jonathan Wells), is not even a serious contender anymore as an explanation of what we see in nature. It has been some time since I read Dr Collins’ book but I don’t think he is a proponent of Darwinian evolution ( by the way I don’t agree with his overall stance taken in the book). I think if we can let God’s Truth and science truth do what they were meant to do, our discussions would take on an entirely different tone.

    We Christians have been so indoctrinated by the naturalistic explanation of the world that even in our arguments about this subject matter the indoctrination shows through.

  • PaulC
    Posted: Mon, 11/20/2017 01:12 am

    MP, "Scientific truth" does not change.  What scientists or others teach, calling it "scientific truth" may change, but simply because men assert something to be true scientifically does not guarantee that it is so.  Likewise, if we misinterpet what the Bible is saying, that also will lead to confusion and conflict with what is observed in nature.  As others have pointed out, when the Bible is correctly explained, and observations about the natural world are correctly observed and explained, there is not a conflict.  That is the great challenge.

    To vantil:  A good book that is helpful in this discussion is The Chronology of the Old Testament by Floyd Nolen Jones.  He said that he wrote it in order to demonstrate that the details on dates provided in the Bible are accurate, and lay to rest (that is refute) the idea that it is possible to account for evolution or a long age of the earth from what the Bible teaches.  The Bible record is not compatible with an old earth or with evolution.  He has several Phds, and he also began as an evolutionist before his conversion.  I highly commend his book.  

  • vantil
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 09:26 am

    The "evolution/creation debate" described in this article is an issue that has interested me for many years and I'd like to make a few points that have helped me to shine some light (I think!) on this issue.

    First.  The major conflict between the Bible and evolution is really a battle between the Bible and neo-Darwinian evolution.  The simple term "evolution" is often forced to carry more weight than the simple term implies.  And, indeed, I believe BioLogos ascribes to neo-Darwinianism;  that is, a materialistic, undirected process that, over Deep Time, generated all the amazing complexity we see around and in us.  I agree that "nonsense" is the best descriptor of this view for the simple reason that neo-Darwinianism takes "the survival of the fittest,"  which is nothing more than a tautology, and makes it stand up and bark.  The real issue is:  How was the new information produced that resulted in a fitter whatever (abiogensis requires chemical evolution as well).  That is, the real point of conflict is the "arrival of the fittest,"  not its survival.  

    And here is where neo-Darwinianism is simply silent.  Much work has been done by many competent scientists (the most well-known are the proponents of Intelligent Design, e.g., Michael Behe) that strongly indicates that random genetic mutation doesn't have the squeeze to produce the juice of design that surrounds us.  Not even close...

    Second.  Accusing those who do not embrace a young earth creationist position of denigrating the Word of God is an unfortunate confusion of apologetics and polemics.  The issue is the interpretation of Scripture, not its truth.  It is naive, in my view, to expect Genesis, written perhaps 4,000 years ago, and spoken into the culture of the time, to adhere to modern scientific detail.  While NT Wright has embraced BioLogos, his work on the gospels is an excellent example of what we, as "moderns," need to do to understand what God was saying in the context into which it was originally spoken.   Only by understanding scripture in context can we hope to find meaning for it in our time.  Reading any of John Lennox's books or watching any of his many You Tube debates and presentations might be helpful to learn more about the intersection of biblical and scientific data.

  • D Wallace
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 10:18 am

    It's interesting that Biologos-oriented folk like Collins, Longman, et. al. attempt to make Adam & Eve metaphorical (non-historical) persons contrary to a sound, non-allegorical, plain sense reading of Genesis, Romans 5, etc.

    That attempt is to make Scripture conform to various current DNA / evolutionary theories about the origin of life / human life and is really an attempt to cram the round peg of Scripture and its sound interpretation into the square, highly provisional hole of one particular, current genre of scientific theory, doing serious damage to both Scripture and science.

    We know how many blind alleys into which the various sciences of the created order (creation), in its slow, stumbling (but also genuine) progress, has led us and should show a lot more humility and provisionality in our beliefs / assertions in those matters.  That progress is somewhat like the slow but solid (orthodox) progress in the science of God (theology) as He has accommodatingly revealed Himself in Holy Scripture and to which our historic, ecumenical creeds and confessions give an appropriate, secondarily reliable witness to.

  •  MIKE ROZMUS's picture
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 10:45 am

    "True science and the Bible do not conflict." Why?  Because God is the author of the Laws of Physics as surely as He inspired and preserved the truth of the Bible.  Therefore, true science -- not merely our current state of limited scientific knowledge -- is just as much the Word of God as the Bible.  When we Christians see an apparent contradiction between science and the Bible, we need to dig harder in prayer and humility.

    Scientists who believe ought to be inspired by Biblical scholarship to rethink scientific theories.  The Intelligent Design movement taking down Darwinian macro-evolution is a good current example.  But we also need theologians to be inspired by science to rethink interpretations of the Bible.  As hard as it is to bring together Hebrew, Greek, and the mathematics of theoretical physics, God wrote His Word in all of these languages. The Body of Christ must wrestle with all of His Word to pursue Truth and glorify His works.

  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 11:40 am

    I believe one of the strongest supports (although not the only one, to be sure) for reading the book of Genesis in a straightforward manner is the language that God Himself used with Moses when delivering the Ten Commandments. Read Exodus chapter 20, especially verses 8-11. 11: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them..." (NRSV). 

    Reread it enough times and you'll likely be convinced that the Lord was not speaking of eons of time, but actual days.

    The Bible does a good job of being its own best witness.

  •  Xion's picture
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 12:49 pm

    If Creation and the Fall of Man are myth, then why do we need a Savior?  If Gen 1 & 2 are not true, then the rest of the Bible falls apart.  As Tim Stafford says, “Evolutionary creationism’s greatest problem is the Bible."  

    The impossibility that "dirt + time = man" should be sufficient to convince everyone of the Creator and need for a Savior.  The ability to think is perhaps the most complex phenomenon in the universe and we do it without thinking about it.  We think, therefore God is.

    Romans 1 explains that people use their imagination to conjure up alternatives to what God has made obvious.  They imagine a world where Creation is the Creator, in order to worship the Creature, themselves. 

  • SodiumPowered
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 01:06 pm

    Many people approach Genesis 1-2 as if they stand alone on the subject. But the 4th commandment of the Ten Commandments, which according to Moses was written by God Himself, says the same thing, "For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day." (Exodus 20:11.)  Psalm 33:6, 9 says the same thing ("By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.... For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast."). Hebrews 11:3 says the same thing ("the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible"). The many NT references to Adam and Eve support Genesis 1-2 as historical. To set aside Genesis 1-2 as allegorical or mystical, is to start a domino chain that ends with the whole Bible falling over into mysticism.

  • Leroy Young
    Posted: Sun, 11/19/2017 08:16 pm

    Elizabeth Handford is exactly right on this issue.  Typical examples of the wisdom of man being foolishness with God. That, in God's inerrant Word, means the wisdom of any man - no matter how wise and intelligent he or anyone else may think they are. All the efforts to reason away the truth of Genesis is simply unbelief masquerading as sincere efforts to "understand."


  • philoxfordal
    Posted: Mon, 11/20/2017 01:51 am

    Thanks, WORLD for posting Elizabeth Handford's article. I appreciate all the comments and thoughts presented as well. I agree with the above comment that if God is the creator of all things, than all of life finds its reference point in HIm. In other words, before there was science there was God! Physics, astronomy, biology, government, marriage, family, etc. was first in the mind of God, before it ever existed. The Creator God is the unifying thread of all sciences. He created all things visible and invisible and sustains it! (Colossians 1:16-17)

    A few points to ponder.

    Proverbs 8:22, 27,30 tells us that wisdom was with God when He laid the foundation of the earth. A further reading indicates that an invisible God integrates spiritual truths into His physical creation pointing the casual observer to HIm. 

    Isaiah 28:23-29 Indicates that inherent in the seeds that God created is the law of agricultural wisdom. "God teaches the farmer his business, not through the law of Moses but through the revelation of creation. In listening to the voice of God through the work of his hands, the farmer gains agricultural wisdom." From Creation Regained by Wolters p. 28.

    Psalm 19 David tells us that God speaks to us through His creation AND through His law. "The heavens are telling of the glory of God and declaring the the work of HIS hands." Day and night the heavens are speaking without the use of words and through the language of creation the glory of God is declared. In other words, there are no language barriers! This is God's general revelation to all mankind, to all who would pay heed.

    Romans 1, tells us that the language creation speaks is clear. The visible creation declares the invisible attributes of God in such a way that it can be understood. 

    And the eternal God who sees the end as well as the beginning declares through the author of Hebrews anticipating the modern and post-modern critic...that the worlds (note the plural) were created by the word of God (the means), so that what is seen was not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:3)

    Often the debate centers around the first two chapters of Genesis.

    But in a careful reading of the Scriptures one will find an affirmation and reiteration of God as Creator in every section of the Scriptures...the law, the books of history, the prophets and the writings of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we see Jesus affirming the creation story in the gospel of Matthew. It can be found in the book of Acts, (history), the epistles (writings) and in the book of Revelation (Prophecy).

    I would like to mention a few passages:

    Col. 1:16-17 All things were created by Him and for Him...things visible and invisible.

    Acts `7:24ff God made the world and all things in it, gives breath and made from one (Adam) every nation of mankind

    Isaiah 45:12 It is I (says the LORD) who made the earth and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with my hands, and I ordained all their hosts.

    Ps. 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made

    Ps. 95:5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it and His hands formed the dry land.

    Nehemiah 9:6 The LORD made the heavens, the heavens of heavens with all their hosts, the earth and all that is in it, the sea and all that is in them...

    Job 26:7 He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.

    Ps. 33:9 He spoke and it was done, He commanded it and it stood fast. 

    Ephesians 3:9 God, who created all things.

    Revelation 4:11 Worthy art Thou, our LORD and our God to receive glory, honor and power; for Thou didst create all things and because of Thy will they existed and were created.

    Jeremiah 27:5 I have made the earth (says the LORD), the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by my great power and by my outstretched arm.

    1 Corinthians 8:6 There is but one God...from whom are all things, and we exist for Him: and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

    Revelation 14:7 and he said with a loud voice, "Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of water."

    One other thing, I would like to mention that I do not often see discussed is the theological implications of our view of creation. In doing so, I would like to mention just two. The theology of end times and the overarching theme throughout the Scriptures of the revelation of God through His word and His works. How do we know God? We know God, not only by what He says about Himself BUT also by what He does! 

    I. Theology of the last times.

    Where is our hope for the resurrection? Is God able to resurrect dead bodies which have returned to dust over the years...in the "twinkling of an eye" as stated in the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 15? Can the perishable, put on the imperishable? How long will this take or are we in limbo somewhere for a few thousand or million years??

    And what about the new heavens and the new earth? What happens when the old is passed away and God creates the new?? Is there a waiting place while...the improved and better creation evolves over millions of years??!!

    II. Overarching theme throughout the Scriptures of the revelation of God through His word and His works.

    This is seen in the story of creation (works of God) through the word of God as depicted in Genesis and in the gospel of John when the Word, through whom all things were created (works of God) put on flesh and dwelt among us. In Deuteronomy chapter six Moses is instructed by God to command the fathers to teach their children the word of God and to declare His works. In Judges 2, we see the downfall of Israel. The generation of Joshua and all who had seen the works of God, failed to pass on to the next generation what they had witnessed. The next generation knew neither the word of God nor the works of God and therefore succumbed to the ideology of the surrounding nations.

    Matthew also records a response that Jesus gave to the Saducees who did not believe in the resurrection, He states "that they were mistaken in their understanding, for they did not understand the Scriptures nor the power of God." (Mt. 22:29)

    The Scriptures are given to us to help us understand God and God confirms His word by His works. Simply stated, we know HIm by what He says AND by what He does.

    The same is true for those who follow Christ. As The Word of God became flesh so that we might see God; so we are to push our theology through our lives in such a way, so that others might see God in us. This is what it means to be transformed...the word of God becoming flesh through the renewing of our minds and the obedience of our bodies.

    In summary, the Scriptures are replete with references to God as the creator of the heavens and the earth. Understanding the power of God through what He has made is foundational and intricately woven through the doctrines of theology, (the study of God), soteriology (salvation), eschatalogy (end times), anthropology (the study of man), and Christology (the study of Christ), to name a few.

    One cannot pull out the thread of God as Creator without unwraveling the doctrines of the faith. This has present consequences as well. For when our souls get wreary, we lift our eyes on high and see who has created the stars, and we find hope and strength for the day. We lift our eyes to the mountains...and remember, where does our help come from? My help comes from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth! 

  • infohighwy
    Posted: Wed, 12/06/2017 10:58 pm

    Thank you for that very thoughtful and comprehensive comment! I may print it out and use it in my own personal Bible study and it may help me in sharing my faith with others diplomatically. It is hard to read all the references you listed and not see the obvious theme that is emerging about God and His sovereignty over Heaven and Earth. Thanks for sharing!

  • R Workman's picture
    R Workman
    Posted: Mon, 11/20/2017 07:53 am

    Keep this conversation going, World - worthy article. I look around Earth and sky and see the clear relicts of an ancient Earth everywhere. 

    One can see and map firsthand the progression of the land, and measure the trace of time so that the evidence of antiquity outweighs the postulations of imagination. 

    Not so for bioevolution.  To envision the chain of life transitioning from one kind to another still requires more imagination than evidence.

  • SuperBoppy
    Posted: Mon, 11/20/2017 08:48 am

    Evolutionism is in direct opposition with Biblical Creationism. If man had "evolved", and was not directly created by God, then the Bible is false and not to be believed, because that means that death was present before Adam sinned against God, which is in direction contradiction of Biblical truth. That also means that Jesus was a liar when He validated the Adam and Eve account of creation as described in Genesis. Evolutionism is not science, but a religious faith itself, which must be opposed by all Christians, since it is a lie straight from the Devil.

  • jclark53
    Posted: Sat, 11/25/2017 11:48 am

    Excellent article, and the comments are encouraging. I feel so alone in my beliefs too much of the time. Creation is a miracle. Would it be less of a miracle if it was done through evolution?  No, since evolution still requires things science cannot explain such as the existence of matter or the first spark of life somewhere in the past, neither of which humanity has been able to do from scratch.

    Since creation is a miracle whether or not it was done with evolution, why do so many people who claim to be Christian insist it could not happen the way the scriptures describe?  Faith means believing in things we can’t prove (see Hebrews 11:1.) In fact, the theory of evolution has so many flaws in it that people have to use a lot of faith to believe it is true, and faith in evolution means your faith is not in God.

    I believe in the inerrancy of the scriptures, in creation in 6 days (evening and morning being one day, not eons of time but one revolution of earth.) I also believe there are many things in scripture we cannot understand  (1 Corinthians 13:12.) 

  • SL
    Posted: Fri, 12/01/2017 11:29 am

    I'm a Ph.D. microbiologist and a believer for over 40 years. The central question here is on of authority. As young Christian and a postdoc, I struggled with reconciling the Bible with the scientific evidence on origins. Dr. Cleon Morrill, a professor, vetinarian, Department Chairman and Christian at Michigan State aided me greatly when he showed me Heb 11:4. It is by faith that I believe that God created the heavens and earth. The is the starting point. As time has passed, I see proof of this in the complexity the molecular biology shows us. Gene  expression in animals such as man is exquisitely complex, so much so that  it could not just have happened .

    I don't understand how all the scientific evidence lines up with the biblical account, but it does not worry me because these data aren't authorative. I agree with Elizabeth Handford that it is risky to place the Bible and scientific evidence on equal ground as if they are equally authoratative. A Christian worldview means to view things  through the lens of truth which the Bible is. 

    Genesis 1-2 gives us a brief outline of how things came about. God didn't explain to us every detail of creation, but we must trust that God has given all the information we need on the subject. Any theory, scientific or theological, that tries to discount or explain away the Genesis account is a path to error.



  • joelazcr
    Posted: Wed, 12/20/2017 07:46 am

    Genesis 1 and 2 must be allegorized, because a global flood would change scientific assumptions and

    However, Christ taught the flood as historic.

    Matthew 24:37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 
    Matthew 24:38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and
    giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark

    If Adam did not sin, why did Jesus die?
    If Adam was a myth, Luke's genealogy is fake news.
    No Adam, no return of Christ.
    1 Cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

    Luke 3:28 the son of Adam, the son of God.

  • beautifulberet
    Posted: Thu, 12/28/2017 07:01 am

    "It has taught me not to succumb to simplistic theories about the Bible, not to settle for less than rigor about what Genesis 1-3 are saying, and not to force an ancient Near Eastern text (Genesis) into the thought patterns and categories of modern science.”

    What then does modern science say about the virgin birth, the resurrection, manna from heaven, the sun standing still, miraculous healings, the plagues in Egypt, etc? Where does human reason stop and faith begin?