The creation / evolution debate still rages, and many Christians believe it is both scientifically untenable and scripturally naïve to accept a literal account of the beginning of Genesis. Some even charge creationists with pushing a teaching that is a hindrance to conversion.
In this excellent and very readable book, Philip Bell investigates how theistic evolution (TE) squares with Scripture. Though able scientifically, he directs the reader to other resources to address the science. Successive chapters assess TE in the light of biblical teachings on the attributes of God, Christ’s manhood and deity, the problem of evil, the nature of mankind, and the doctrines of sin, death, salvation and the new creation, concluding with the impact of TE on mission and on society.
He shows powerfully that TE belittles and hides God’s ‘eternal power and divine nature’. With TE ‘God’s invisible qualities’ are not ‘clearly seen’, contrary to Romans 1:20. He quotes atheists who have cited evolution as a reason for their unbelief. In the chapters on Christ he argues that TE attacks Christ’s trustworthiness and deity in his comments on origins.
The chapters on evil, sin and death are particularly compelling. Bell shows that TE, with its millions of years of death, must logically (though contrary to Scripture and reason) place sin, suffering and death in God’s ‘very good’ creation. God then becomes the author of evil, and is not good. Bell stresses that even atheists can see that for God deliberately to engineer evolution as the process of ‘creation’ is totally incompatible with him as good and loving.
Furthermore Bell helpfully highlights the Bible’s emphasis that the future new creation (which echoes the original) will be made rapidly, and have an absence of suffering, death and carnivory – even in the animal world. That strongly implies that the original creation was swift and involved no process of suffering and death as evolution stipulates.
The chapters on sin and salvation reveal the insidious threat of TE. TE logically makes certain sins, like rape and murder, part of a ‘good’, God-designed process of creation. More seriously, many theistic evolutionists deny a literal Adam and an historic Fall. This undermines the argument of Romans 5, that those who in Adam stand condemned can in Christ come to be justified. TE threatens the whole doctrine of salvation.
Bell’s final chapters show how TE has blunted the church’s evangelism and how evolutionary theory itself has blighted once-Christianised societies.
I did not always find the author’s logic persuasive, and thought he was pushing some Scriptures too far. However, his conclusions were sound, and those drawbacks certainly do not negate what is otherwise an excellent, powerful and convincing rebuttal of TE.
Bell persuasively exposes how TE is itself anti-scriptural, offensive to the glory of God, and undermines the gospel. He also points out the serious scriptural problems with an intelligent design stance that nonetheless holds to an old Earth with millions of years of pre-Adamic death.
This is a must-read for those who think that TE is compatible with Scripture and the Christian faith, or who think that this is an insignificant secondary matter. Bell reveals the gravity of the issue. He concludes by calling for TE to be recognised as heterodox and unbiblical: ‘It is a danger to the church of Jesus Christ, a false teaching that needs uprooting and casting out’ (p.292). When you take seriously the Scriptures he discusses, it’s hard to disagree with him.