Question: What is a theistic evolution and how does the term “theistic evolution” enter into the creation discussion?

Short Answer: Theistic Evolution (also termed evolutionary creation) is the view that God used evolution to create humankind from lower forms of life.  Theistic evolution is associated the Big Bang, uniformitarianism, and an old earth.  Theistic evolution is an effort by some Christians to harmonize the Bible and science.

Expanded Answer: Wikipedia gives a good definition of theistic evolution.  The following was excerpted from Wikipedia on 4/17/16:

“Theistic evolution, theistic evolutionism, or evolutionary creationism are views that  regard religious teachings about God as compatible with modern scientific understanding  about biological evolution. Theistic evolution is not a scientific theory, but a range of views about how the science of general evolution relates to religious beliefs in contrast to special creation views.

Supporters of theistic evolution generally harmonize evolutionary thought with belief in God, rejecting the conflict thesis regarding the relationship between religion and science – they hold that religious teachings about creation and scientific theories of evolution need not contradict each other.”

The Wikipedia definition of theistic evolution has some interesting elements.  First, Wikipedia states that theistic evolution is not a scientific theory.  This is due to the fact that the positions of the scientific consensus are based on naturalism which does not require any god.  To the secular scientist, there is nothing scientific about theistic evolution.  As a result, theistic evolution fails to reconcile science to a god.

Second, Wikipedia states that theistic evolution is a range of views about how evolution related to religious views.  Basically, Christians who believe in theistic evolution state that their view harmonizes science and the interpretation of the Biblical account of creation.  An example of this kind of statement is found of the BioLogos website “About” section (excerpted on 4/18/16):

BioLogos invites the church and the world to see the harmony between science and biblical faith as we present an evolutionary understanding of God’s creation. “

The “harmonization” of science and the Bible achieved by theistic evolution is only one sided. Christians accept theistic evolution must harmonize their understanding of the Bible to whatever the scientific consensus calls for.  On the other hand secular scientists do not have to harmonize their belief in naturalism to the Bible.

Applications: There are a number of applications related to theistic evolution within the creation discussion.  Some are as follows:

  • Christians need to realize that secularists do not consider theistic evolution to be a scientific theory.
  • Theistic evolution is used by some Christians to harmonize the Bible to whatever the scientific consensus teaches. In contrast, theistic evolution does not harmonize the scientific consensus to the Bible.
  • The theistic evolution view is never stable due to the fact that the scientific consensus changes. The scientific consensus is establishing new theories for human origins.  This means that those who believe in theistic evolution must reinterpret the Bible to harmonize it to the latest position of the scientific consensus.  An example of this is the current discussion of the necessity for the historicity of Adam within the theistic evolution community.