Doug Wilson’s gut-punch to theistic evolutionists

Doug Wilson delivers a gut-punch to the theistic evolutionary group Biologos. You should read the whole thing, but here is an excerpt:

The clear tendency of the BioLogos outlook is to consider young earth creationism as the ultimate academic faux pas. Young earth creationists are not just in error, they are embarrassing. But students in our schools are being taught any number of embarrassing things — like marriage consisting of one man and one woman, for example. An essential part of our training is to show our students how scholarly tongue clucking is not an argument.

So learning how to resist the academic cool shame on this point is a most excellent exercise. And we can begin by making the arbiters of all intellectual rigor answer the most basic questions about their assertions on time and the age of earth. “You say that the universe is fourteen billion years old, give or take. Where is it that age? Is it the same age at the point where the Big Bang occurred as it is out at the edges? Are there any edges? What clock are you using? What Newtonian balcony are you standing on when you measure the age of the whole universe?”

Read the rest here.

24 Responses to Doug Wilson’s gut-punch to theistic evolutionists

  1. buddyglass December 6, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    First paragraph is weak. He draws a false equivalency between young earth creationism and opposition to same-sex marriage. BioLogos views YEC as embarrassing because it’s anti-intellectual and denies what they consider to be the plain evidence evident in creation. That’s not the case with opposition to same-sex marriage. There is no natural evidence to suggest that opposition to same-sex marriage is “false” in the same way BioLogos contends there is evidence that suggests YEC is “false”. That’s because opposition to same-sex marriage is a statement about the morality of a thing and not a claim about what events actually transpired in the past.

    • Esther O'Reilly December 6, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      I would agree, but I wouldn’t hold up BioLogos as a paragon of academic integrity either. There’s a difference between insisting on an evolutionary narrative and recognizing the probability that the earth is old. Unfortunately, most people on both sides of the divide seem unable to recognize the difference.

      • buddyglass December 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        Moreover, Wilson implies the BioLogos guys are pushing theistic evolution primarily because they’re embarrassed by non-evolutionary explanations. And, yet, some of the BioLogos guys nevertheless oppose same-sex marriage. So clearly they’re willing to adopt embarrassing positions. That does damage to Wilson’s implication that their preference for evolutionary explanations is born out of fear of man.

        • Esther O'Reilly December 6, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

          I think it’s entirely possible to believe something fairly traditional when it comes to marriage and still fall into the trap of assuming that “the Science is settled” when it comes to evolution. Wilson is right that there IS a lot of pressure within the scientific community to just accept this as a fact. But once again, MY point is that one can very comfortably accept an Old Earth and also be unconvinced by the “evidence” for evolution, even theistic evolution. Also, the BioLogos people go beyond arguing for evolution and have denied the existence of a historical Adam, which presents even graver theological problems. I have very little respect for Peter Enns in particular on these issues. And if we’re going to bring politics into the discussion, I wouldn’t lay money that Enns leans right on the marriage issue either, though I’d love to be proven wrong.

          • Ryan Davidson December 7, 2014 at 11:50 am #

            What is “the marriage issue” to which you’re referring?

            I can assure you that Pete Enns believes that the church should not consecrate same-sex marriages.

            I have no clue what his views are on civil marriage, just as I have no clue what his views are on other issues of civil law, such as intestacy laws, ademption by extinction, adverse possession, etc. Such matters, after all, are better resolved by reference to pragmatic analysis.

    • Ryan Davidson December 6, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Buddy,

      You hit the nail on the head with this and with your follow-up comment to Esther. The majority of the BioLogos proponents oppose same-sex marriage. So, it’s not credible to suppose that their efforts are simply motivated by a fear of man.

      Second, you could just as easily make the same claim with respect to Wilson and those to whom he writes. One generally gains credibility in the patriarchal homeschooling world by simply opposing everything that’s alleged to be liberal. So, there’s far more reason to suppose that Wilson is bowing to social pressure than those he’s attacking. After all, Wilson’s social status depends almost entirely on his opposition to what his followers perceive to be liberal.

      Third, the mere fact that there are disagreements about the age of the earth doesn’t make the YEC position credible. It’s not an either-or proposition. On a multiple choice exam, I may know that options (c), (d), and (e) are wrong, even if I haven’t figured out whether (a) or (b) is right. The mere fact that I don’t know whether (a) or (b) is right doesn’t lend credit to the merits of options (c), (d), or (e).

      Lastly, the Biblical text itself provides ample reason for questioning the merits of the YEC position. Many evangelicals disagree with YEC because it isn’t even the most sensible way of interpreting the opening chapters of Genesis, without regard to any of the scientific evidence.

      • Jay Ryder December 8, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

        Ryan,
        I do think it would be helpful if we could at least in fill in options (a) (b) (c), (d), and (e), rather than, as Doug has, making this strictly about (a) vs. (d/e variant)

        So, here are the main options:
        (a) Literal 6 calendar day interpretation – Young Earth Creationism
        (b) The Day-Age Interpretation – Old Earth Creationism/Genesis 1 as Historical
        (c) The Framework Interpretation – Old Earth Creationism/Genesis 1 as basically Non-Historical
        (d) The Analogical Days Interpretation- The basis for the theistic evolution of Biologos founder C. John Collins.
        (e) Atheistic Evolution/Neo-Darwinism

        (Some other options: The Gap Theory, “intermittent day” interpretation, etc…)

      • Jay Ryder December 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

        Ryan,
        I do think it would be helpful if we could at least in fill in options (a) (b) (c), (d), and (e), rather than, as Doug has, making this strictly about (a) vs. (d/e variant)

        So, here are the main options, imo:
        (a) Literal 6 calendar day interpretation – Young Earth Creationism
        (b) The Day-Age Interpretation – Old Earth Creationism/Genesis 1 as Historical
        (c) The Framework Interpretation – Old Earth Creationism/Genesis 1 as basically Non-Historical
        (d) The Analogical Days Interpretation- The basis for the theistic evolution of Biologos founder C. John Collins.
        (e) Atheistic Evolution/Neo-Darwinism

        (Some other options: The Gap Theory, “intermittent day” interpretation, etc…)

        I would say that (a) and (b) are legitimate options. (c) is definitely questionable and both (d) and (e) should be non-options for Christian theologians, pastors, and students.

        • Ryan Davidson December 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

          @Jay

          I agree, with one caveat. I don’t know that all of these views are mutually exclusive. For example, the analogical day view and the framework view address rather different issues, and do so in ways that do not render them mutually exclusive. So, in that sense, it’s akin to a multiple-choice test that asks you to pick the best answer (even if it may not be “the” answer).

          Never mind that the hope of finding “the” answer is going to elude us in a fallen world. That’s why I think biblicism can be attractive: In a time of intellectual laziness, biblicism proffers the false hope of having access to access to secret knowledge that otherwise eludes us in our fallen state.

          I think it’s fair to say that we probably know enough from biblical studies and archaeology to rule out options (a), (b), and (e) from your list. After all, it requires far less information to rule out a bad proposition than it does to demonstrate that that a more compelling proposition is so compelling that it merits being accorded the status of scientific law (e.g., like the ideal gas law).

  2. Jerry Corbaley December 6, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Thanks, Denny! I have written extensively about life before the Flood of Noah. It is historical fiction, though skeptics could still enjoy it as fantasy.

    It seems strange to me that folks who value the Bible care little or nothing about the 1600+ years of history that took place between creation and the flood.

    Not interested in arguing the points here. There is too much great information at creation.com and icr.org

  3. David Moore December 6, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    Hi Denny,

    I truly would appreciate the answer to the following question: Why do you guys make so much of this issue, but never call out Tim Keller? I have watched Al Mohler go hard after people who hold to theistic evolution, but Keller is left untouched.

    As Peter Vardy says, “It takes courage to stand up to your enemies. It takes more courage to stand up to your friends.”

    • Jonathan Bee December 8, 2014 at 5:20 am #

      because everyone know Keller likes to be the diplomatic stay on the fence guy.

      take an example on marriage, I have had friends justify role reversal and house husbands based on his marriage book from the quote that indicated the bible gives no roles to partners.

      yet his books are sold at places and he speaks at places where such a thing would not be tolerated.

      none of what he teaches is anti biblical , maybe a little wrong ( I do think the bible has more to say on roles than just leader and helper and there are countless verses)
      but it keeps more people liking him.

      • David Moore December 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

        Jonathan,

        Thanks for interacting, but I’m afraid you miss the nub of my concern. Regardless of what Keller’s personality and posture may be, I am asking why he gets a pass and others don’t. Others could also be categorized as “diplomatic,” but they are not part of the Gospel Coalition so they alone become the target of criticism.

        I will be writing up a large post on Jesus Creed so that will clarify my concern much further.

  4. Don Johnson December 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    On Scripture, one aspect is how does one see the intersection of Scripture and modern science. I do not think they intersect at all, that is, God fully accommodated to the ancient worldview of the way things worked, which is simply not the same as modern science. So it is an interpretation question, what is a believer to do with the text that puts some things into the terms of an ancient worldview that is no longer accepted as true by modern scientists. One was is to reject modern science or at least parts of it; but atheists rejoice when it is put that one cannot be a believer and accept some parts of modern science, as they know that many will reject Jesus.

    It is true that one cannot CHOOSE TO INTERPRET the Bible in some ways and accept parts of modern science. So if one accepts the main conclusions of modern science, one will be interpreting Scripture in an alternative way. When I became a believer this is something I put on the shelf, but when I started investigating, I was willing to accept a third best interpretation as long as it was possible. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there is no need for that, that there are scholars that seek the best interpretation and are aligned with Biologos, like John Walton.

    • James Stanton December 6, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

      I haven’t looked into the different theories all that closely but I thought the text gave enough clues.

      In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

      My thinking is that there were eons between this passage and the next. I think YEC clearly reflects the world as we know it but does not account for the world as it was prior to the six days of creation. I look at the creation process as the earth being unmolded clay that God chose to mold. The timing doesn’t much matter to me but I see no inconsistency with a literal six day work.

      All that said, I don’t much care about exactly how old the earth is, the age of the universe, or the Big Bang theory. These are mostly distractions meant to divide the body and it seems to work beautifully.

      • Johnathan Youngs December 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

        I think you speak of gap theory, which is a good theory in my opinion. The creation account is complete in the very first verse. Eons pass before we get to the second verse.

        This is bolstered by Ezekiel 28:13-15. A pre-fallen Lucifer is described as being in Eden. Unless one wishes to believe there’s a second Eden, it would seem that the Earth was an angelic kingdom ruled by Lucifer prior to his fall. God judged him the same way he judged Noah’s generation. We see the results of that judgment in Gen 1:2.

        I say almost the same thing in a previous comment, but it awaits moderation. I don’t understand why some comments post immediately and others don’t.

  5. Johnathan Youngs December 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    It’s a good article. I did not read it with Buddy’s critical eye. He makes an interesting point. My critical eye was drawn to Burk’s excerpt. My response to that excerpt is Genesis 1:1-2 and Ezekiel 28:13-15:

    -God created the universe in Gen 1:1. The rest of the creation story is a recreation, a makeover if you will, of the Earth and perhaps our solar system. He had to fix it up because, as Gen 1:2 so plainly shows, it was a flooded and dark mess.

    -It was a mess because Satan fell, so God judged his Earthly kingdom. The last half of Ezekiel 28 isn’t there to confuse or deceive us. There isn’t another Satan or another Eden. A pre-fallen Satan ruled an angelic kingdom on this Earth long before we got here.

    Neither was redshift or a kajillion layers of Earthly strata put here to deceive us. God keeps secrets, but that which He revealed wasn’t revealed to deceive us.

    A young Earth is as fictional as theistic (or any other kind of) evolution. WE were created 6,000 years ago, not the Earth. Battling Biologos whoppers is made harder when we insist on telling a whopper of our own.

  6. Ken Temple December 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    This section by Wilson was also really good:

    5. Then there is the matter of physical death. The Bible teaches that death came into the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12). Theistic evolution has to argue that Adam came into the world through death. In the biblical view, Adam is the father of death. In the other view, death is the father of Adam. The difference is a stark one.

    BioLogos says this:

    “The curse of Genesis 3 was that Adam and Eve, not the animals, should die for their disobedience. Therefore, animal death before the Fall is compatible with Christian doctrine.”

    Note in the first place that this doesn’t even solve the presenting problem. If Adam and Eve were the first emerging humans from a crowd of primates, what is the sense of telling them that if they violated whatever our replacement was for the Forbidden Tree, they would surely die? “Die?” they might say. “Everybody dies. My parents just died last year.” Why is it a threat to go through something that has been the way of the world for millions of years already? Why didn’t God threaten them with having to eat breakfast tomorrow, just like always?

  7. Aaron Ginn December 7, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    I agree completely with Wilson on this and that’s saying something given that I find him morally repugnant on most issues and that I am a former evangelical now turned atheist. Without a literal Adam and Eve, there’s no explanation for a sin problem that needs correction. There’s no place for a Neo-Darwinian explanation of human origins in a Christian worldview. The fact that evolution by natural selection is true was one of the main reasons I jettisoned Christianity. Those ideas are incompatible with one another.

    So while I think that Doug Wilson is dead wrong about what he does believe, I respect that he understands the issues clearly and isn’t mealy-mouthed about it.

  8. Christiane Smith December 7, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    I think this ALSO is a viewpoint worth considering, even if there is serious disagreement
    with it:

    “”…methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith,
    because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God.
    The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself,
    for it is God, the Conserver of all things, Who made them what they are.”
    (G & S)

  9. Jonathan Bee December 8, 2014 at 5:15 am #

    surely evolutionists must support Same sex marriage and feminism, you cannot call yourself a supporter of evolution and NOT support these two
    either completely ditch the bible or follow it…

    Evolution teaches clearly that there was a point when all were females, everything was same sex reproduction and males came ONLY after as a mutation which because the mutant was beneficial ( sexual reproduction and sexual differences always produce more sustaining offspring).
    so you have to believe Females came first than males and at a point there was only same sex reproduction.
    if you believe God ordained all of this over billions of years- he clearly then ordained same sex reproduction and feminism (it is clear order of creation plays a role in authority as according to the NT)

    • Aaron Ginn December 8, 2014 at 10:38 am #

      Evolution teaches clearly that there was a point when all were females, everything was same sex reproduction and males came ONLY after as a mutation which because the mutant was beneficial ( sexual reproduction and sexual differences always produce more sustaining offspring).

      Citation please? Sexual reproduction probably dates all the way back to the first eukaryotes. I’ve never heard of the theory that there were only females at some point. There were only organisms that reproduced asexually, but that’s quite different from what you’re claiming.

      • Jonathan Bee December 8, 2014 at 11:56 am #

        All organisms are defined as female if there is not equivalent spore or sperm creator so yes asexually only females, reproducing quickly- is these were are ancestors and God ordained and living- that is a same sex relationship

        Males mutated later and is clearly shown with the fact that the Y chromosome is merely a chopped up ( mutated) X chromosome

        no it obviously was not organisms at our level doing it, although many lizards do reproduce asexually /sexually where they can just flip genders.

        but if they were our ancestors , technically the first human parents- there were no males involved – only females and same sex, so of you toss the bible into it, this was ordained by God for human ancestors.

        so God did not make Man and Woman from dust/rib – you have to accept the above- this is like basic evolution. first cells that came about reproduced asexually or with each other- like bacteria do now. no real sexual dimorphism or spore formation in the original human ancestors.
        our female ancestors came first
        then our males- and the new testament places emphasis on order of arrival into the world…

        It is no big deal really, if you are not going to follow the bible literally in Genesis- no real reason to do so for Gay sex or feminism etc as long as you believe the Gospel.

        i am just testing the Ideas here feel free to reply!!

        Since I am talking cellular level you can literally just google search the evolution of sex..

  10. Jay Ryder December 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    Biologos is not compatible, in my view, with reformed faith.
    But I sincerely believe Doug is wrong to attack Theistic Evolution on the point of the age of the earth.
    On the one hand, there have been a number of reformed theologians throughout history – dating back to before Darwin’s day even! – who have either believed or supported the notion of an older earth.

    On the other hand, we cannot allow an older age of the earth view to be the magic elixir / crutch that evolutionists depend upon for nearly all of their poor arguments.

    So, I’m a young earther, but I never allow young vs. old to be a barrier of sharing the gospel or having fellowship with other believers. And I don’t allow evolutionists (theistic or not) to imagine that extrapolating out micro-evolution over billions of years somehow = macro evolution. That is a logical fallacy that we should press evolutionists on, imo.

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