Does the Bible teach evolution? The question is often posed and equally often denied. Creation or creationism is usually seen by modern humanists and Christian fundamentalists alike to deny the very idea of evolution. Of course, if we are talking of a purely naturalistic process, the Christian who of necessity believes in creation must deny it. But then the question must be posed: Does creation eliminate evolution? As I understand them, some modern evolutionists seem to think that evolution is a mysterious self-generating or self-creating force that does indeed do away with the need for creation by God as depicted in the Bible.
At this point I have a problem. Naturalistic evolution seems to have become a substitute for and to have displaced the aseity of God (1* The aseity of God is the notion that God stems from himself and from nothing external to him. He is deemed to be ontologically eternal.) which Christians attribute to the Creator God who is eternal and hence without beginning or end and has life in himself (John 5:26). So if the one causes problems, so does the other, and atheists are in no better case than Christians who try to answer the question of who made God (2* Cf. the book by Edgar Andrews entitled Who Made God?).
But I have another problem. Apart from its modus operandi and details like natural selection and the survival of the fittest, essential to evolution as I understand it is the idea of development. But for development to take place it must have a beginning or so our natural environment would appear to teach us (e.g. Mark 4:1-9, 26-28). In light of this I fail to understand how uninitiated evolution, unless it is regarded as an inexplicable, impersonal, self-creating force as suggested above, can take place. So while the Bible refers to a beginning of creation brought about by the eternal God followed by what is clearly providential and purposeful development or evolution especially with regard to man, naturalistic evolution seems to be a truly marvelous but inexplicable self-generating process without evident beginning or end. It appears to come literally out of the blue! While the Bible presents the Creator God as being eternal and unique (cf. Rev. 4:11), I myself am procreated as a product of creation and in the process of following its pattern on a smaller scale. I have had a beginning followed by growth and development leading inevitably to decline and eventual physical death (cf. Heb. 1:10-12). As flesh I travel from the womb to the tomb by divine design and can only escape, according to the Bible, by keeping the law to perfection and thereby gaining eternal life (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5). Since I am incapable of this, I look to Christ to rescue me (John 3:16, etc.).
There is yet a third problem which is perhaps the biggest problem of all. Since the church in general has uncritically accepted the unbiblical worldview foisted on it by Augustine of Hippo (d. 430 A.D.), it has assumed that like Athene in classical mythology who sprang full-grown out of the head of Zeus, man, that is, Adam was also created full-grown within a single 24-hour day and hence devoid of either physical or spiritual development. (3* See my Twenty-Four Hours? – Reasons why I believe the Genesis days are undefined periods of time) While on the one hand creation as it was originally made by God was deemed to be perfect (and not simply ‘good’ or useful as Genesis has it, cf. 1 Tim. 4:3f.), Adam was also held to be perfect, holy and righteous and even immortal from the very start. However, from this ‘high estate’ (Milton) he is said to have ‘fallen’, and, since he was the designated lord of creation, he brought a curse on the world as a consequence. So even creation was and is still in the 21st century regarded by many as ‘fallen’. Given this scenario, evolution regarded as the ascent of man is out of the question. (4* See my The Ascent of Man.) But not so descent or devolution! On Augustinian assumptions, general declension is evidenced by degeneration from the so-called “Fall” to the flood, by idolatry in Canaan and Egypt, abject apostasy in Israel during the period of the kings, spiritual backsliding after the exile in Babylon, general stubbornness in reaction to the ministry of the prophets and even to that of Christ himself (Acts 7:51-53), and the pervasive corruption of mankind as outlined by Paul in Romans 1 and Ephesians 4:17-19. (5* See Packer, p. 149.)
So while science, or at least scientism, seems to want evolution without creation, the church apparently wants creation without evolution yet opts instead for devolution. (6* In relation to this see my Romans 8:18-25.) In the Bible, however, the evidence in favour of evolution, or at least teleology or perfection (maturation, completeness), would appear to be overwhelming as I shall seek to show below. (7* See, for example, my Perfection.) The only real question is the nature of this evolution and, given certain boundary marks like the exclusion of naturalism, only science with its knowledge of genetics, DNA, etc., can give us the answer in detail.
Before going further, however, it is vitally important for us to bear in mind not only cosmological dualism (earth and heaven) but also anthropological dualism (flesh and spirit). If the latter is true and man is both flesh and spirit, he evolves both physically and spiritually. But more on this below.
So, what then can be adduced as evidence for evolution in the Bible? Let us begin at the beginning.
The Physical Beginning
After the creation of the earth out of water (Gen. 1:2,6,9, cf. 2 Pet. 3:5) Adam is said to have been derived from it (Gen. 2:7) along with animals (flesh) in general (Gen. 2:19, cf. Eccl. 3:18-20) in accordance with the word of God. This prompts the question of his condition. On the assumption of recapitulation, if we take our cue from David in Psalm 139:15 the suggestion is that he was initially formed in the depths of the earth (cf. Job 4:17-19; 10:8f.; 2 Cor. 4:7; 5:1) as we are later formed in our seed-bearing fathers’ loins (Heb. 7:10). When we recognize that the same thing is said of great David’s greater Son, the Second Adam and incarnate Word (Eph. 4:9), we are in a position to conclude by logical deduction or parity of reasoning that Adam was first created not fully formed or mature as traditional church dogma has led us to believe but as seed subject to growth (Mt. 13:3-8; Mark 4:28, cf. John 12:24). As such, like David his son at a later date (Ps. 139:13), he (Adam) was then transferred as seed to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8,15), the racial antitype of a woman’s womb (cf. Ezek. 28:13-15; 31:2-9). (8* Paul apparently sees reproduction as following the pattern of creation in 1 Corinthians 11:1-12. Just as God placed Adam as seed to gestate and grow in the Garden of Eden, so the individual man Adam, who was the image and glory of God, transferred his seed to gestate in Eve’s womb, cf. John 12:24. She thus became the mother of all human beings who are universally born of woman.) Similarly, Jesus himself, as the second Adam and son of the first (Luke 3:38) was made in his image (Gen. 5:1-3; Heb. 2:14). As such he gestated in the womb of a woman who was also dust since she derived from Adam (Gen. 2:21-23, cf. 1 Cor. 15:47-49). He was thus formed as a fetus and underwent embryonic development prior to his birth (Luke 1:35; Gal. 4:4, cf. Eccl. 11:5; Jer. 1:5). (9* Canonical reflection on this clearly undermines the traditional ideas, first, that Adam was righteous, holy and perfect at creation which even the sinless second Adam was not, and, second, that the days of Genesis were literal 24-hour days.)
On the assumption of recapitulation (10* By recapitulation I mean that the individual recapitulates the history of the race or that the individual is the race in miniature, or, again, that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. See my I Believe in Recapitulation, Recapitulation in Outline.), however, we are forced to recognize that Adam differed somewhat from his seed-bearing offspring who, though still dust as deriving from him (Ps. 78:39; 103:14; 1 Cor. 15:47-49), do not literally begin in the ground (Gen. 1:11 passim). Adam himself, however, clearly went through an animal experience during which he knew neither good nor evil even to physical adulthood. Alternatively expressed, in contrast with babies as we know them today, during the early history of the race man did not acquire the image of God as one who had understanding of the commandment (cf. Ps. 32:9; 119:34, etc.) until he was physically mature (Gen. 2:16f.; 3:5,22). Or again we might say that like a baby at the start he did not understand the minimal negative commandment, that is, the word ‘no’, until he had already acquired physical maturity. How do we know this?
There are various indications in Genesis and elsewhere. First, initially he knew neither good nor evil. (11* As with all animals, this would have been true both physically and morally. See further my Nature Red in Tooth and Claw.) Second, though like a fleshly animal he was unconscious of the fact, he had acquired Eve as a companion (Gen. 2:18,21-23) and with her he was able to produce other offspring in his own image (Gen. 5:1-3). Third, in Genesis 3:16 Eve’s pain on giving birth is said to be increased, but if she had never had offspring before, this was impossible and mathematically absurd since 10×0 = 0. Thus, we are forced to infer that as a mother she had initially given birth like an animal, that is, unconsciously and hence relatively painlessly. In other words, the suggestion here is that mankind went through a baby-like transition from being merely animal (flesh) to conscious human being made in the image of God, as Paul apparently recognized (1 Cor. 15:46). If man, as epitomized in Adam, was eventually able to sin, he must have had knowledge of the commandment apart from which sin does not exist (Rom. 4:15; 7:8, etc.). This being so, he must have gradually become conscious (gained knowledge) of pain and of good and evil in a way that he had never experienced before. Fourth, this is further borne out by Genesis 3:17-19 on which the traditional notion of cosmic curse is based. What these verses really teach is that having become a conscious human being made in the image of God (cf. Gen. 3:22a), rather than merely functioning like an animal and foraging or living off the land, as it were (cf. Gen. 2:16), he now had to till the ground he had as man been called to exercise dominion over (Gen. 1:26-28). His idyllic animal or baby-like life in the Garden of Eden, the womb of mankind, was now transcended and he had to work his passage, something to which both exiled Cain and rebellious Lamech were obviously averse (Gen. 4:12-14 and 5:29). After all, mutatis mutandis (making the necessary adjustments) we ourselves all go through a similar experience as we develop and mature. Repetition or recapitulation is basic to human life as was recognized in the early church (cf. Heb. 2:10-18) even if sin is avoided (Heb. 4:15). Fifth, it is worth making the point here that until he acquired understanding of the commandment, man had no more history than an animal or a baby has. The fact is that where there is no knowledge of good and evil, there is no conscious experience to record. Only the modern scientist or paleontologist can produce convincing evidence of death apart from moral evil prior to the arrival of self-consciousness. But the Bible itself, as Genesis 1:1 to go no further implies, teaches that death is a natural characteristic of the physical creation which was subjected to corruption from the start (Rom. 8:20, cf. Heb. 1:11). Since this is so, the creature that stems from it is also. Only Jesus ever overcame it (John 16:33) because he alone met its precondition (Lev. 18:5). So, the fundamentalist assumption, usually based on a misunderstanding of the import of Romans 6:23 that there was no death prior to Adam’s sin, is false.
The Cosmic Curse
It is at this point that the so-called ‘cosmic’ curse raises its head and demands answers. According to tradition, creation remains under the curse brought about by Adam’s sin to this 21st century day in November 2015. But is this a viable proposition? There are powerful, in fact, incontrovertible biblical reasons for rejecting this idea. First, the putative ‘cosmic’ curse is clearly brought to an end by the covenant with Noah (Gen. 8:21; Isa. 54:9f.) which guarantees the general fertility and productivity of the ‘good’ creation (Rom. 14:14; 1 Cor. 10:26,30; 1 Tim. 4:3f.) to the end of this age (Gen. 8:22; Luke 17:27f.). Despite minor curses that feature in reaction to minor sins alongside blessings (Heb. 2:2, cf. Lev. 26; Dt. 28, etc.), the covenant with Noah stands firm and is not rescinded (cf. Acts 14:17; 17:27; etc.). Next, in Romans 8:18-25 (cf. Heb. 1:10-12) where sin is not mentioned, Paul apparently pictures the physical creation as having been subjected to futility in the purpose of God from the start (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16f.). It was made that way. Why? Because the Creator has something better in view which Paul refers to as an invisible hope (Rom. 8:18,20,24f.). Obviously recognizing that whatever has a beginning (Gen. 1:1) also has an end (Gen. 8:22; Dt. 11:21; Heb. 1:11), Paul tells us that all that is visible is by nature temporary (2 Cor. 4:18). Elsewhere we learn that whatever is “made by hand” (Gk. cheiropoietos) even by God the Creator must be regarded pejoratively since it stands in direct contrast with what is “not made by hand” (Heb. 9:11,24, etc.). At this point it is useful to compare Mark 14:58 (which refers to the destruction of the physical temple) and 2 Corinthians 5:1 (which refers to the human body of flesh) which, though created by God, Peter like Paul dismisses as a tent (2 Pet. 1:13f.). Clearly, if this fleshly body which derives from the ground is corruptible by nature (cf. Job 4:19; 10:8f.; 2 Cor. 4:7), it follows inexorably that the ground itself is likewise. And this is precisely what the Bible teaches (e.g. Mt. 24:35; Heb. 1:10-12; 12:26-29; 2 Pet. 3:5-12). Without going into more detail here (12* See further my Manufactured Or Not So), we can safely draw the conclusion that historically the church has confused divinely instigated natural corruption apart from sin with curse on account of sin. An appalling consequence of this is that many argue even in the 21st century that the temporary visible creation (2 Cor. 4:18) is subject to redemption because its evident corruption is deemed to stem not from the intention and purpose of God but from sin. If at this point it is complained that apart from sin there is no death (Rom. 6:23), it must be promptly replied that Adam, who derived from the corruptible earth and so was naturally mortal and corruptible, was promised life if, and only if, he kept the commandment (Gen. 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5). When he failed, he earned the wages of death like Paul, for example, at a later date (Rom. 7:9f.). It is at this point that we see the difference between the two Adams: though the second was the son of the first (Luke 3:38), and created in his image (Gen. 5:1-3), he did not sin. As indicated above, this difference is implicitly pinpointed in Hebrews 2:14-18 and made certain by Hebrews 4:15.
The Nature of the Adamic Curse
However, the temporary curse that Adam brought on the ground is indisputable and it culminated in the flood that threatened to destroy the earth. So, the question we have to answer is: What did that curse involve? What do we understand by it? If we bear in mind that man’s (Adam’s) original call was to exercise dominion over the earth and gain perspective from the idea of recapitulation, we can make some convincing inferences. First, Adam’s ejection from Eden, the womb of the race, needs to be seen as his birth. Though comparable with our own birth, it differed significantly in that it occurred when he was physically adult. If as suggested above he had gestated and developed as an animal among animals (cf. even Jesus in his infancy in the stable), his transition from mere animal (flesh) to human (made in the image of God) (cf. 1 Cor. 15:46), would have been traumatic. Outside the womb (Eden) he had to fend for himself and work for a living, something he seemed like Cain (Gen. 4) and Lamech (Gen. 5) disinclined to do. In other words, during the infancy of the race exercise of dominion over the earth was minimal and, given modern knowledge of their part in the ecology, little better than that of animals. After all, infants as we know them today don’t work at all for three simple reasons: (1) they cannot; (2) since they do not know the law (commandment) and hence neither good nor evil, they are still lacking in self-consciousness, and (3) in contrast with Adam but like Jesus, the second Adam, they have parents to care for them. So far as they are concerned, the difficulties involved in exercising dominion do not begin until like obedient Noah they are able to recognize rainbows, appreciate their significance and so have the divine guarantee of success. Prior to this, there is conspicuously no covenant and until recently infant mortality was rife. (13* See my Did God Make a Covenant with Creation? and Nature Red in Tooth and Claw.) My conclusion is then that untilled ground like that of the sluggard in Proverbs 24:30-34 and God’s own vineyard in Isaiah 5:1-7 is desolate, fruitless like the temple (Mt. 23:38) and the fig tree (Mt. 21:19-22). In other words, it is cursed (cf. Mark 11:21). At a later stage in the evolution of man when it is expected to produce a harvest of faithful souls committed to its Creator (cf. 2 Sam. 23:6; Isa. 5:7; 7:23-25; 9:18; 10:17; 27:4; 32:13), it is fit only for burning (Heb. 6:7f.). And this is the predicted end of the present creation (Luke 17:28f.; Heb. 12:27-29; 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12) and of faithless men (Mt. 3:12; 13:42; 22:7; 2 Th. 1:8; 2:8, etc.) who like Ezekiel’s vine wood (Ezek. 15:4) are useless (John 15:6). (14* See also my Cosmic Curse?, Supplement to ‘Cosmic Curse?’, Understanding the Curse, Observations on The Curse.)
Intellectual and Spiritual Evolution After Noah
The covenant with Noah was made when he was already fully developed physically (he had a family) as Adam and Eve had been. On that level, however, like all flesh as an individual he was subject by divine decree to aging, decline and death. From this we infer that normal human physical development, like that of all animals which also follows the pattern of the transient creation, leads to natural corruption or aging (Heb. 1:11; 8:13). At this point it should be emphasized that even the sinless Jesus who was also born of woman and was dust got older and would have died naturally had he not kept the law which was the divine precondition of eternal life. (15* See my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities.) Despite physical maturity (or perfection), Noah, though ‘blameless’ in his generation (Gen. 6:9) was far from being perfect intellectually, morally, culturally, technologically, economically and spiritually. It was only after the inauguration of the covenant with Noah by which success on the earth was guaranteed that mankind as a whole continued on its evolutionary career towards maturity. Noah’s obedience, like that of Abraham later, gave it impetus and man began to spread throughout the earth (Gen. 10). Despite the Tower of Babel episode when man in true humanistic fashion sought to take matters into his own hands apart from reliance on God, that is, build his own earthly utopia, God in pursuit of his own purpose made a covenant with Abraham promising him that he would become a blessing to the entire world (Gen. 12:1-3). This was clearly a first step away from universal heathenism (=childhood). This being so, Abraham’s faith and obedience eventually led to both the establishment not merely of a new covenant of law under Moses but also to the formation of a new nation and a new dispensation in addition to that of Noah which continued to function (cf. Gal. 3:17). Though it was later supplemented and expanded by the kingship and covenant promises made to David, it remained under the law, and there it has remained to this day. In fact, the nation of Israel, despite its vicissitudes, is still prominent on our horizon in the 21st century, testament to the enduring faithfulness of the God who called it into being (cf. Rom. 9-11). In the meantime, before this occurred, the rest of mankind, the Gentiles, was confined to general revelation under Noah and, though aware of God (Rom. 1:19-21), wallowed in heathen superstition like children (cf. Eph. 4:14). To overcome this, greater revelation was necessary and this was provided under Moses after long years in heathen Egypt. It was the God-given law of Moses that made the elect people of God no longer slaves but servants (Lev. 25:42,55, cf. Gal. 4:1-4). This action on God’s part set them apart from the rest of the world (Ps. 147:20), for the law became a wall of separation, a dividing line, recapitulated in the individual, between childhood and adolescence. This in itself, partly on account of Israel’s own misunderstanding and rebellion, often became a significant stumbling block to the heathen (Rom. 2:24). While it was clearly meant to counteract the gross immorality and idolatry that characterized the universally pagan world that surrounded the Israelites, the law abjectly failed to change the Jews let alone the world they were intended to bless (Gen. 12:2f.; Isa. 42:6; 49:6). What was wrong?
The Inadequacy of the Law
The influence of God’s law given through Moses was meant to be felt universally (cf. Dt. 4:35,39) but the elect nation itself, though called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex. 19:5f.), made painfully slow progress being weaned away from heathenism, as the book of Judges amply demonstrates. Part of the problem was ignorance and lack of communication. Sometimes even priests did not know the law as in the time of the Judges (2:10; 2 Chr. 15:3, cf. Ezra 7:10,25; Neh. 8:1-12; 9:3). (16* Compare the Middle Ages during the Christian dispensation. The discerning reader will probably realize that in line with the recapitulatory nature of history my point here is that after general Hellenisation and Judaisation, complete Christianisation is always a goal to be achieved. Both the race and the individual graduate through heathenism (childhood) under Noah, and through Judaism (adolescence, cf. Gal. 3:24f., KJV) under the school master, to Christianity, or perfection, that is, maturity.) Even under the kingship of David and Solomon, the intention was that all the peoples of the earth should know God’s name (1 K. 8:43,60, cf. 18:39), but it did not happen. Why? As Paul was well aware the elect people of God themselves have proved wayward and, imprisoned under law (Gal. 3:19-24), they have failed to attain to the end or objective to which the law pointed (Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:25-29).
The plain truth is that the law was incapable of bringing to perfection the people who lived under it. There were two reasons for this: first, no one could keep it (1 K. 8:46; Jer. 31:32, etc.), but, second, even if they could, the law like creation itself was inherently defective and, as the author of Hebrews in particular well recognized (Heb. 7:18f.; 8:7), it was incapable of enabling the people attain to the perfection which was the goal of life (Lev. 11:44f.; 19:2; Mt. 5:48; 19:21; 1 Cor. 14:20; Phil. 3:12-15; Heb. 5:9; 6:1; 7:26,28, etc.). Even Jesus had to fulfill all righteousness above and beyond the law (Mt. 3:15, cf. Mt. 5:20).
Since the law, though keeping it is the precondition of life (Lev. 18:5, etc.), was inherently incapable of bringing human beings created in the image of God to perfection, the evolution of man was stymied. It simply ended in the death which characterizes the entire animal world. So, as we have seen above, while physical evolution in accordance with the pattern of creation was fully achieved (cf. Gen. 1:31-2:2), spiritual evolution or eternal or real life proved to be beyond the capability of ordinary man. H.W.Robinson once claimed that regeneration was the normal and “natural” completion of what was begun at our first birth (p.327) but since man was unable to keep the law, he simply could not take the next step and thereby bring the first birth to completion. In this situation, God himself had to act by means of a new covenant and a new creation (John 1:13; 3:1-8; 2 Cor. 5:17). If he was to be true to his word to Adam (Gen. 2:16f.), that evolution or perfection had to be achieved by man, but there was no man capable of achieving it. So again in accordance with his own word to Isaiah that he alone would be man’s Saviour (Isa. 45:22), God came into the world as the Word made flesh and accomplished what had proved beyond the capacity of all others. From this we are forced to infer that naturalism is a dead end. Left to himself man is lost.
A New Creature
So while the physical evolution of both the individual and the race is regularly though not universally accomplished, it inevitably terminates in death. This is verified, as has already been intimated, by the entire animal world which as flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). However, since Jesus, the second Adam, kept the law, he thereby broke the barrier and fulfilled the promise originally made to Adam (Gen. 2:16f., cf. Lev. 18:5, etc.). Thus, as spiritually born again himself at his baptism, he was able by his freely given physical death to inaugurate a new and eternal covenant which made a new or spiritual creation possible for all who put their trust in him (2 Cor. 5:17).
The Perfection of Jesus
It is vital to note, however, that the new birth itself is subject to development (cf. note 16 above). Though it is possible to argue that once we are saved we are always saved, growth or progressive spiritual sanctification is fundamental to the perfection which is our goal (Mt. 5:48; Heb. 6:1, etc.). Of this Paul was well aware both with regard to himself (e.g. Phil. 3:12-15) and to his children in the faith (Eph. 4:11-16). But it is the perfection of Jesus which is of prime importance. While tradition has underlined his ‘sinless perfection’ as a static attribute, the author of Hebrews in particular stresses the fact that he was progressively or dynamically perfected (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28, etc.) until he achieved as man the perfection of God (Mt. 5:48; 19:17,21; 28:18). Thus, at his exaltation transformation, he was seated at God’s right hand (Heb. 8:1) from where he will eventually return on the clouds of heaven (Mt. 26:64) to judge (2 Thes. 1:6-8) and to save (John 14:3; Heb. 9:28). To clarify, we must recognize that Jesus as man, the sinless second Adam, ascended from earth to heaven, evolving under God from dust, to animal, to child, to adolescent, to adult as our pioneer or trail blazer (Heb. 2:10; 12:2 NRSV). In other words, evolution defined minimally as development is absolutely fundamental to humanity and is far from being a problem to a truly biblical theology. (17* On this, see briefly my Thoughts On ‘Adam, The Fall And Original Sin.) And B.B.Warfield, who apparently did not fully appreciate the significance of his own contention, was unmistakably correct when he pointed out that Christ’s development as man has proved to be the only normal human development known to man (pp.158-166). (18* See further my Epitome – Jesus The Epitome Of Recapitulation.) But what is also of equal importance is that it is not merely a ‘natural’ process but a God-ordained one. With God creation, like procreation, is necessarily followed by evolution, development, growth towards maturity, and without it the plan of salvation is necessarily aborted as was threatened at the flood. As for the rest of us, as redeemed sinners under the leading of the Spirit we follow or recapitulate the experience of Jesus and like him are finally seated at God’s right hand (2 Cor. 4:14; Rev. 3:21). It is as his brothers (and sisters) that we finally attain to glory, an impossibility apart from him (Heb. 2:10-13; 11:40, cf. Rev. 6:11; 14:13).
So while naturalistic evolution ends in oblivion, divinely engineered and controlled evolution carries us into heaven and eternal life in the presence of God. There we shall prove to be more than conquerors (Rom. 8:31-39).
If my contentions above are justified, we must wonder why the church has gone so badly astray in the past. The answer is, of course, that following Augustine of Hippo it has operated with a false worldview. Like a person doing a jigsaw puzzle, it has sought to fit the pieces into a false framework with disastrous results. The truth is that traditional dogmas like original perfection, holiness, righteousness, sin, fall and cosmic curse are all gross distortions of what the Bible really teaches. The only real quarrel that the church should have with science is over the latter’s commitment to naturalism. Evolution itself, admittedly requiring definition and clarification by genuine scientific and theological enquiry, is simply not a problem for those who read the word of God with an open mind. After all, as a well-known book affirmed in its very title some years ago, all truth is God’s truth. And the truth of evolution accomplished in the providence of God is no more in question than creation itself. The two are indissolubly linked. If we have any doubts, we have only to reckon with our own individual pilgrimage from babyhood to adulthood, both physical and spiritual. It reflects or recapitulates that of the race. (19* Compare my Creation and / or Evolution.)
Our Evolution in Summary
If our physical evolution can be summed up as a journey from apeman to spaceman (as physicist Professor Brian Cox of TV fame would express it) or, more fundamentally, from the womb to the tomb, our spiritual evolution or perfection is one which begins with conception and new birth (cf. 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12f.; 1 Pet. 1:23; 2:2; 1 John 3:9) and ends with the crown of life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10), of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8) and of glory (1 Pet. 5:4). Viewed holistically, as believers who reach maturity (perfection) we undergo a pilgrimage progressing from ground to glory, from earth to heaven, from dust to destiny, from Eden to eternity, from Egypt (this world) to the heavenly Promised Land (Heb. 11:13-16), from the temporal terrestrial to the eternal celestial city (Heb. 13:14), from the earthly Garden (Eden) to the heavenly paradise (the Father’s house, John 14:2f., or bosom, John 1:18; Rev. 22), from distance to presence (Acts 2:39; Eph. 2:17-22), from darkness to light, and from blindness (John 1:18) to the vision of God (John 17:24; Rev. 22:4). As a race (cf. Rom. 1-3) we graduate from earthly bondage to heavenly sonship (Rom. 8:21. Regrettably, this verse is usually mistranslated on the basis of the traditional assumption of a cosmic curse stemming from the sin of Adam. It clearly refers to the ‘creature’ not the ‘creation’, though the Greek word is the same. See e.g. my Romans 8:18-25 in Brief.), (20* Note how the Israelites ceased to be slaves when they left Egypt, became servants, Lev. 25:42,55, and were collectively regarded as a son, Ex. 4:22; Hos. 11:1; Jer. 31:9. Both true individual and corporate sonship were eventually attained through faith in Jesus who was the true vine, John 15.), and, as individuals, we follow or recapitulate its pattern on the road to glory (Rom. 7-8; Gal. 4:1-7). In a word Jesus, the trail-blazing individual is the epitome of the community and he, having begun in the ground as born of woman, now sits at God’s right hand in heaven (Eph. 4:9f.; Gal. 4:1-7) but certainly not as flesh (1 Cor. 15:50). Despite his death which in any case was vicarious, he ascended as a sinless Adam and hence a conqueror (John 16:33; Rev. 3:21; 5:5; 17:14) to the glory he was promised at the beginning (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:16f.; Lev. 18:5; Ps. 8:4-6; Rom. 2:7.10; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 2:6-9). So, needless to add, we believers are glorified with him as those who, conformed to his image (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29), recapitulate the journey he has pioneered (Rom. 8:30; John 17:24, cf. Heb. 6:19f.). In him alone we are all fully perfected, our corporate, corporeal and spiritual evolution complete (Phil. 3:20f.; Rom. 8:31-39; Rev. 7:9).
I conclude then that Darwin, far from being the grand discoverer of evolution though to him must be given the credit for its scientific appreciation, was pre-empted long before 1859 by the Bible. Not for nothing is God regarded as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last (Rev. 1:8). But understanding of the Bible was cataclysmically obfuscated by the imposition on it of the false Augustinian worldview which remains a powerful agent of ecclesiastical confusion to this very day in 2015. (21* On this see for example my Topsy-Turvy Theology.)
Note on Devolution
While the Bible’s main concern is with man’s ascent, there is also a concomitant descent or degenerarion. Some who give themselves to evil are perfected in the image of the devil (John 8:44, cf. Gen. 15:16; Ezek. 13; 1 Thes. 2:16; Rev. 13), not that of God. And it is with the devil that they reach their final destination (Rev. 21:8; 22:15) and achieve their final destiny (Rev. 22:11). They are also likened to animals which achieve physical devoid of spiritual maturation (2 Pet. 2:12-22; Jude 10-23).
Food for Thought
On the assumption of recapitulation:
Creation without evolution is like procreation without development.
Creation without evolution is like procreation stillborn.
Creation without covenant is like procreation without a future. It is intrinsically futile and doomed to destruction as at the time of the flood.
Since creation is accomplished by a purposeful God (Isa. 14:26f.; 44:24-28; 46:10) who has a plan of salvation in mind (Heb. 6:17-20, cf. Rev. 4:8-11; 5:9-14), it implies evolution by its very nature. Earth was created to be inhabited (Gen. 1; Ps. 8; Isa. 45:18). Once creation has produced its harvest of ripened wheat, it will be destroyed (Mt. 3:12; 13:30; Heb. 6:7f.; 12:27-29, etc.).
Evolution fulfils creation.
For further clarification of aspects of the above see my Fruitlessness and Destruction, Biblical Dualism, Worldview, The Biblical Worldview, Correspondences, Death and Corruption, Death Before Genesis 3; Creation Corruptible By Nature, The Journey of Jesus, The Human Pilgrimage from Ground to Glory, Augustine: Asset or Liability?, Animal Rights.
Human Evolution Tabulated:
Child (baptized into Noah, cf. 1 Pet. 3:20)
Adolescent (baptized into Moses, cf. 1 Cor. 10:2)
Adult/regeneration (baptized into Christ, Mt 3:13-17)
Sanctification/perfection (Heb. 11:39f.)
Physical death/transformation/resurrection/spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:44; 2 Cor. 5:1, cf. Phil. 3:21)
Glorification (Rom. 8:30) and session in the presence of God (Rev. 3:21; cf. 7:9).
Edgar Andrews, Who Made God?, Darlington, 2009.
J.I.Packer, ‘Fundamentalism’ and the Word of God, London, 1958.
H.W.Robinson, The Christian Doctrine of Man, Edinburgh, 1911.
B.B.Warfield, Selected Shorter Writings, ed. Meeter, Nutley, 1970.
1. Initial creation.
The first creation is that of mankind. He is formed by God in the ground (mother earth) (Gen. 2:7, cf. Ps. 139:15f.; Eph. 4:9) and is dust (Job 10:9; Ps. 78:39; 103:14; 1 Cor. 15:47a). So it is as seed that he is transferred to the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8,15), the womb of the race (cf. Ps. 139:13) to gestate and develop physically. When he reaches physical maturity and learns like a baby to understand the commandment promising (eternal) life (Gen. 2:17), he breaks it and is ‘born’ by being ejected from the Garden (womb) to begin his ‘infancy’ in a harsh and intractable world subjected by God to corruption (Rom. 8:20, cf. Heb. 1:11). Apart from Abel’s and Enoch’s faith (Heb. 11:4f.), little progress is made under the curse until God makes a covenant with faithful and obedient Noah. From then on success is guaranteed until the plan of salvation is complete (Gen. 8:22).
(On the curse see my Cosmic Curse?, Supplement to ‘Cosmic Curse?’, Understanding the Curse, Observations on The Curse.)
2. Physical procreation (recapitulates creation).
The second creation is that of the modern individual. He (she) begins in the loins of his fertile father (Gen. 1:11; Heb. 7:10), is transferred to the womb of his equally fertile mother (Gen. 3:15, cf. 1 Cor. 11:7f.) and, after gestation, is born a baby who knows neither good nor evil (Dt. 1:39; Rom. 7:9f.; 9:11, etc.). Once at the end of infancy when the animal phase of his life nears completion and he understands the trans-generational commandment (cf. Prov. 1:8-10; 2:1-15; 4:10; 6:20), he begins his pilgrimage to glory depending less and less on his parents whose experience he largely recapitulates and whose ‘history’ (culture, etc.) he largely inherits (cf. Ps. 51:5 ESV. Contrary to the NIV, according to the Septuagint Psalm 51:5 should read: I was brought forth in iniquities (pl.) and in sins (pl.) my mother conceived me. The Jews and the Orthodox do not believe in original sin. See my Thoughts on Adam, the Fall and Original Sin.) Along with physical there is mental development as in Jesus’ case (Luke 2:40-52). Thus Jesus like Israel before him developed from seed (cf. Ps. 80:8f.) and was nurtured in the womb through birth, infancy, heathen childhood in Egypt to servanthood under the law (Lev. 25:42,55. Note also Ezekiel 16, Hos. 11:1.) This led in turn to baptism and spiritual birth (Mt. 3:13-17). All this is summarized by Paul in Galatians 4:1-7.
3. Spiritual creation.
The third creation is the new creation or regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17). As Jesus taught in John 3, man must be born again or from above in order to gain eternal life. Though supernaturally achieved, it is a ‘natural’ creation in that its indispensable precondition is fulfillment of the law (Gen. 2:17; Lev. 18:5). (See my Two ‘Natural’ Necessities. However, since sin is universal, no one apart from Jesus, God’s own incarnate Son, could keep it and as a consequence all must by faith in him accept his righteousness (Phil. 3:9, etc.) in order to be saved.
Like our physical birth our new or spiritual birth begins with seed (John 1:13; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23; 1 John 3:9, cf. Gal. 4:19). Thus the baby Christian is first fed milk (1 Pet. 2:2), then meat as it grows to maturity ((Heb. 5:12-14, cf. Gen. 9:3). In this way believers become the first fruits of the harvest (James 1:18, cf. Rom. 8:22; Rev. 4:4).
It should be noted that all three of these creations begin as seed and are succeeded by growth, development, evolution and ultimate maturation or perfection. Above all, it is vital for us to note that Jesus as man was like all the rest of us created imperfect (cf. Heb. 10:5), that is, immature but was finally fully perfected (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 7:28). He thus regained the glory that he had laid aside at his incarnation (John 17:5).
Our bodily transformation is not referred to as a creation though it is as intrinsically necessary as our new birth (1 Cor. 15:53). Whereas at our initial creation we are first flesh then spirit (1 Cor. 15:46), in the second as Christians we are first spirit then body (but certainly not flesh, 1 Cor. 15:50, cf. Gal. 3:1-3). In other words, our spiritual regeneration (John 3:7) is necessarily succeeded by our bodily transformation (1 Cor. 15:53).