Theistic Evolution – PCA

by Reed DePace

Some of you already know this, but it may be new to others. Please do not think I am writing against theistic evolution because I want to drive adherents to it out of the PCA. As men formally acknowledged to be called by the Spirit to undershepherd Christ’s Church, the teaching and ruling elders of the PCA are already in agreement that theistic evolution is inconsistent with the gospel that we are to preach and teach.

A number of items demonstrate this:

One, while not as explicit, the PCA Creation Report does provide exceptional nuancing into the issues surrounding this whole topic. It is a must read starting point for discussing this topic within our circles. At the very least this report is unfriendly to theistic evolution.

Two, one of the decisions at this year’s PCA General Assembly makes it clear that at least in regard to a theistic evolution understanding of Adam and Eve, this is already out of bounds for the PCA. In response to a number of overtures to issue an in thesi statement on the historicity of Adam and Eve’s creation, the PCA GA went with an overture that rejected issuing such a statement. Among the reasoning for this was that the Westminster Larger Catechism already provides sufficient clarity to deny a theistic evolutionary model for Adam and Eve’s creation. In other words, the GA decided that there was no reason to issue a statement saying what we already say we believe. The PCA is already on record as saying that any teaching that Adam and Eve were created through evolutionary means is contradictory to what we believe the Bible to teach.

Three, the teaching of theistic evolution in the PCA has already been explicitly denied in a previous judicial case involving this question. This was a matter that eventually found its way into the hands of our Standing Judicial Commission, where the decision to declare theistic evolution out of bounds was upheld. As all such SJC decisions must be accepted or rejected by the GA, and this one was accepted, this is a formal and explicit declaration on the part of the PCA –

The teaching of theistic evolution is contrary to the Bible and not to be taught in our churches.

If someone believes this is wrong there are reasonable biblical-ecclesiological options to address this and see the (supposed) error corrected. Among those options IS NOT to ignore the decision of our fathers. Brothers, let us not be among those who takes vows lightheartedly.

by Reed DePace

POSTSCRIPT: here is a good starting article to consider problems evolution: What Are the Top Ten Problems with Darwinian Evolution? This is a scientific perspective, not a biblical perspective. For those interested in an informed and reasonable critique of evolution from a science perspective, I recommend this site.


  1. July 11, 2012 at 1:09 am

    It seems that most Reformed supporters of theistic evolution nevertheless hold to all of the doctrines that others believe are “destroyed” by it, like marriage, original sin, salvation, covenant. etc. For instance, those who hold to 1) the Framework Hypothesis, and 2) that at a certain point God adopted a hominid named Adam, who rebelled. (I believe in #1 as far as exegesis, but I don’t believe #2. I’m not ordained anyway.)

    I do fail to see how those who hold to #2 are necessarily undermining anything. Do you think they are just deluding themselves?

  2. paigebritton said,

    July 11, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Question for those with presbytery experience: to your knowledge, has any candidate for ordination ever expressed an exception to the Standards with regard to the historicity of Adam & Eve? Or has any TE or RE ever revisited his ordination vows because he has become convinced of this view since his ordination, and now must declare his differences?

    It may well be that this is a new enough discussion that neither of the above has yet occurred in the PCA. But by linking theistic evolution with the Standards regarding Adam & Eve, the GA has essentially placed this challenge on the table.

  3. Andrew Buckingham said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Hey, Paige:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say any candidate as such would not pass the credentials committee.

    People here should find out about the Terry Gray trial in the OPC in the 90’s. A teaching elder in the OPC wanted to hold to the fact that Adam had animal ancestry. The OPC GA took this up, and it was very strongly determined that this ruling elder was not allowed to hold this view.

    It’s detailed in the OPC creation report from 2004. Check that out if you like.

    In the northern California presbytery of the OPC, that has been precisely the issue. Over confession subscription. The 2009 conference about this issue was illuminating.

    I’m also going to say that for those here who know church history, and specifically Presbyterian history, the idea of exception taking is perhaps more often gravely misunderstood? The 2009 animus conference deals with exception taking at length.

    With my very limited knowledge, I’m just going to state at a high level that exceptions really shouldn’t be taken to the confession, not in the way that they have been. Again, the conference lectures, which are available audio files, on our presbytery website, really should be digested, if anyone here reading is interested. They are fantastic. Dr. George Knight III gave an excellent lecture on strict subscription, and he personally was mentors by none other than John Murray.

    I said way way back, that this is where the creation question ultimately gets back to. Over confession subscription for officers.

    I will also point out the presbytery of southern California in the OPC has a lengthy report explaining why, if a man for ordination does not hold to 6/24, he is not required to take exception, even in light of the language, ‘in the space of six days’ which our confession reads as.

    Hence, as a deacon when I was ordained and asked how long the Genesis days are, I said ‘i don’t know.’ Then they asked if I had any exceptions, and I said no.

    Had they asked me questions more related to historicity of Adam or whether he has animal ancestry, I know my OPC history enough to know where that boundary was drawn. Had I answered something contrary to the church’s teaching (see opc creation report) I should have been rejected, even as a deacon. The same is true for now. I do not deserve to be an officer if I don’t agree with the OPC on those issues which are core.

    But not all issues are core. Take eschatology. There is an ‘elasticity.’ Meaning multiple views are allowed.

    And as I see, there is allowable in the OPC for a candidate for ministry to remain agnostic as to the length of the genesis days (ie solar or are they longer). Not everyone is happy with that. I happen to think remaining agnostic on the length of days does not indicate a secretive TE mind that lurks in the candidate. I think some are not so sure.

    I’m done posting, but Paige, your question is too important not to comment.


  4. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:52 am

    Hi Reed,

    Among the reasoning for this was that the Westminster Larger Catechism already provides sufficient clarity to deny a theistic evolutionary model for Adam and Eve’s creation.

    I’m curious, maybe others as well. What specific parts of the WCF were citied to support this?

  5. Andrew Buckingham said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Hi Jeremy,

    I don’t fully understand what you mean by your #2.

    But the language of Genesis seems rather clear on Adam being formed of the dust and Eve from the rib of Adam.

    One could say that Genesis is clear on they being days of ordinary length.

    I still wonder how the days are of ordinary length is something that mustso dogmatically be defended, in light of what seems to be a lack of an sun before the 4th genesis day. Now, I am sure there is a steamroller of YEC comments coming as a result.

    But let’s make it more simple, then. Do not our current solar days change ever so slightly over time? I don’t know how much, but I think is very very small, but yet still noticable. I don’t know whether our days are getting shorter or longer.

    But I mean, come on. If that is true, then the days on ‘day 1’ must not have been the same length. Even today is not as long as yesterday.

    What we do know, my Christian brothers ans sisters, is that the sands of time are sinking, however you subscribe to the WCF. How well are we loving God and our neighbor, as Jesus taught us to? I for one have been spending way too much time sending my opinions to the world over these blog outlets.

    To those in my immediate circles, I know attend to,

  6. Andrew Buckingham said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Even quakes can maybe change the length of days:

  7. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi Reed,
    I see my error. I read WCF, where you stated WLC. My question should read, ‘What specific questions/answers in the WLC were cited to support this? Is it only Question 17, or are there others that GA used to support the statement?

  8. Reed Here said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Steve, no. 4: the overture that was affirmed in this regard was OVERTURE 26 from Potomac Presbytery, “Response to Requests for in thesi Statements on Evolution and Adam”. This overture specifically mentioned Larger Catechism no. 17.

  9. Andrew Buckingham said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:24 am


    I am explaining in bits and pieces:

    “I do fail to see how those who hold to #2 are necessarily undermining anything. Do you think they are just deluding themselves?”

    The way I see it, those who hold #2 are denying the plain teaching of Scripture, and WLC 17. The fact that the Bible and WLC are clear here, leaves little (and really none) for the adopted hominid theory, if I understand your nuancing.

    Take with a grain of salt,

  10. Jared said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Andrew- Do you know where to get an audio file/mp3 of Knight’s lecture on strict subscription?

    Paige – The answer to that would actually be yes, to a degree [depending on what you mean be a historical Adam]. I watched as a Presbytery approved a man who expressed agnosticism over the origins of Adam from the dust.

  11. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:56 am


    As men formally acknowledged to be called by the Spirit to undershepherd Christ’s Church, the teaching and ruling elders of the PCA are already in agreement that theistic evolution is inconsistent with the gospel that we are to preach and teach.

    You mentioned in the other theistic evolution thread that you had ‘several’ other posts coming on this topic, so perhaps what I’m about to say is a topic of one of your next posts, but I think it is important then in light of your statement above, to continue to break-down theistic evolution into its components, or parts. I know you’ve done this already, but I think it’s important to continue to do this, so that your statement above concerning PCA TE’s and RE’s, are ‘really’ in agreement as to what they are saying is inconsistent.

    In other words, to break-down the constituent parts of theistic evolution piece by piece. I realize there are slight differences for example between the theistic evolutionary BioLogos adherents who are PCA, ( Peter Enns, others?) and Tim Keller. Enns denies an historical Adam, Keller does not, both are old earth advocates however with its corollary of millions and millions of years of death, disease, suffering, bloodshed, natural disasters and mass extinctions before Adam.

    To do so, to break it down, will bring much clarity I think.

  12. July 11, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Yes, Jared. Here they are:

    Lecture 3. You can also read the transcript. This conference was very good.

    And don’t listen to close to the Q&A lectures 5,6,7 and 8. You’ll hear some very poorly worded questions by a younger yours truly. I think I mention something about my daughters and how they need more time than I am able to give, which is why I needed to jet out of that conference. I digress.

    Peace out,

  13. July 11, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Oh, and Jared, I am sure that some presbytery (or ecclesiastical judicatory / decision making body) has some form of acceptance of theistic evoltuion, or a whole range of things.

    But what that church a member of NAPARC? If so, that would be news.

    Remember, we in the OPC have been fighting a battle since Machen produced, “Christianity and Liberalism.” We are not very surprised to see the sad affects of liberalism on the broader church. But that doesn’t change our committment to the Truth and our fidelity to the things of the faith.

    And if Machen can be rightly understood as an heir to Old Princeton (i.e. Warfield), I still think these words by that prolific Princetonian professor (which, when taken in context, speak volumes here, I think)

    “Over-strictness demands and begets laxity in performance while a truly liberal but conservative formula binds all essentially sound men together against laxity. In pleading for a liberal formula, therefore, we wish it distinctly understood that we do not plead either for a lax formula or much less for a lax administration of any formula within which an essential dishonesty lurks.”

    Now, I am really off the rails,

  14. Jim said,

    July 11, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I’m a layperson in the PCA. I believe in evolution. I believe that evolution ought to be permissible for a TE or RE to hold. How does one make that change? All ordained men in the PCA are not supposed to believe such things. How then is change to be made? It is a practical impossibility. The change much begin with those that are ordained and decide that the Standards are wrong and must be change as the risk of their ordination because they would most certainly be brought up on charges for such beliefs.

  15. George Crow said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:15 am

    Well stated, Lane. Thanks.

  16. George Crow said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Oops. Make that, “Well stated, REED.”

  17. Reed Here said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Jim: as a fellow PCA’er I urge you to remember God’s promises to bless us as we study the peace and purity of His Church. There are very reasonable and biblically sound means of going about securing the change in the errors you perceived.

    It begins first with prayer, both for yourself and for you brothers who you think are in error. A next step for you as a layman is to seek your Session to sponsor an overture at your Presbytery.

    We can trust God to lead us to those results which are pleasing to Him, even where we may still disagree. Consider me as one who is already praying with you and for myself in these things.

  18. Reed Here said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Thanks Dr. Crow.

  19. July 11, 2012 at 11:27 am


    I do fail to see how those who hold to #2 are necessarily undermining anything. Do you think they are just deluding themselves?

    It is common for men to be temporarily inconsistent and hold views that are logically contradictory. Over time, men – and especially bodies of men gathered as churches — will inevitably drift toward consistency/ That’s why it is vital that we strive for the truth and hold to the truth on seemingly less central doctrines that nevertheless have implications on those doctrines that are clearly central to the Gospel.

  20. July 11, 2012 at 11:28 am


    You are free to your views on evolution, of course.

    Just sometimes, the answer is to “part ways.”

    For example, if I found myself at odds with the teaching of the OPC, as an ordained officer, I would pursue one of three paths:

    1) Seek counsel to determine whether I have faulty thinking
    2) Seek the approrpriate means by which are provided by my church government (i.e. petition the session/presbytery, or other governing body, or at the exhaustion of all such appropriate avenues;
    3) Leave ordained office or the church entirely.

    At least in the OPC, we have a strong rich history of fidelity to the Westminster Standards. As I understand evolution as you are defining here, that viewpoint is not welcome within the “officer class.” of the OPC.

    I would advise, however, that lay-people may hold such views. I would encourage such a lay-person to seek out the counsel of their local OPC or PCA session on these matters. It’s possible that there is faulty thinking on behalf of said layperson.

    That’s not meant to be condescending. I am just revealing my thoughts and heart.

    With that, I’m falling silent, for reals,

  21. July 11, 2012 at 11:30 am

    * I would advise that IF (IF!) a lay person.

    I am not advocating laypeople to be evolutionists.

    I need to stop now.


  22. Jared said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:52 am

    Andrew, you asked: “But what [was?] that church a member of NAPARC? If so, that would be news.”

    It was a PCA Presbytery.

  23. July 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm


    Sure, that may be true. It would seem that “the powers that be” have work to do.

    I think I’ve created too many problems for you all. Thanks for your friendship!


  24. July 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Oh, and the option, “leave the church” sounds harsh.

    It’s better stated as “peaceable withdrawal.”

    WIth that, I need to peacably withdraw from GB for a while. Again, I can’t thank those of you readers enough for your friendship.

    I’ll be reading.


  25. Jim said,

    July 11, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Reed @ 17: Hence my qualifier “practical.” Well I understand there is a process, it is exceedingly unlikely to happen that way. I do appreciate your admonition to prayer.

    Andrew @20: I don’t want to part ways with the PCA. I believe there is a undercurrent of change, positive in my opinion. I’d like to be a part of that, albeit a small part.

    Change of hearts and minds is a necessity, increasingly so. I’m not sure how those who reject scientific consensus can live in a world of Higgs boson and Maiacetus inuus (See without serious cognitive dissonance.

  26. July 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm


    I think it’s worth reflecting on what you mean by, “scientific consensus.”

    The professor who taught me evolution at my leading public insitution had an amazing amount of humility about his class. It was called, “the history of life.”

    You should read “A short history of nearly everything” by Bill Bryson.

    Listen to what a well respected thinker in intellectual circles, such as Bryson, says about how much Science really, “knows.” He’s got a great chapter on the Higgs, I actually re-read that a few weeks ago.


  27. July 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    “I believe there is a undercurrent of change, positive in my opinion. I’d like to be a part of that, albeit a small part.”

    As for this, yes, please continue. If you feel strongly, you should use the avenues that the presbyterian church provides for you.

    I for one, have been using this blog and the readers and ministers.

    It never ceases to amaze me – presbyterianism works!

    Rather, Christ works, but I love to see how I perceive He is working in the presbyterian and reformed churches here in America.

    My two sense, nothing more,

  28. July 11, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    PS, I think if we can talk positively about Bultmann here (see other thread) we can say that Bryson may be worth the price of admission. There’s major flaws and I don’t like how Bryson ends. But, “not everything a heretic says is necessarily heretical”???

  29. July 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I keep saying I’m done. Time to keep my word.

    That whale thing is interesting. In my class at UCSB, Ichthyostega was all the rage:

    Amazing how google can help me remember these things.

    And this was the textbook of Geology 30 – History of Life:

    Just sharing,

  30. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Jim @ 25,

    I’m not sure how those who reject scientific consensus can live in a world of Higgs boson and Maiacetus inuus

    Hi Jim,
    The Higgs boson is part of operational science, but has nothing to do with origins science. It is the interpretation and theory laden application of how the HIggs boson ‘may’, or ‘possibly’, or ‘could’, or ‘thought to’ explain the origin of mass that must also be considered.

    Particles are thought to have mass due to their interaction with a quantity called the “Higgs field.The Higgs mechanism does not miraculously create mass out of “nothing,” however. Rather, the mass is transferred to the particle from the Higgs field, which contained this mass in the form of energy. Thus, the Higgs mechanism does not account for the origin of mass in the ultimate sense.

    If God chooses to use a Higgs field to set the masses of all particles, He can certainly do so. The fact that such physics is possible or even meaningful would only make sense in a created universe that is controlled by the mind of God anyway. The study of how God upholds the universe today is the very essence of science. So the possible discovery of the Higgs boson falls under operational science, not origins science.

    (from Have Scientists Found the ‘God’ particle?,, July 6, 2012, accessed July 11, 2012).

    As to Maiacetus inuus, again an ‘interpretation’ that these so-called primitive whales made a transition from land to sea. Theory laden and dependent.

  31. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm


    Please humor me for a moment. What would count as evidence for evolution for you? What would it take…not so much to convince you, but for you to acknowledge that there’s compelling evidence?

  32. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Stephen @ 31,
    I start from the presupposition of Scripture, not with any evidences from science that cannot come to any ultimate conclusions on origins in the first place. I trust that what God has revealed in His Word comes from a God that can clearly speak through fallen man His intentions and meaning. That He is quite capable of expressing Himself in language that I can understand and trust. That when the written Word says ‘day’, is modified by evening and morning, a cardinal or ordinal number, it means the same type of day that I live under.

    As I continue through God’s Word I understand that Adam was created from the dust of the earth, that Eve was created of a rib from his side, and that it was all ‘very good’. I read of God’s provisions for them and the animals that plant matter was to be their food. I read further and understand that God gave them a command about two trees, eat of one, don’t eat of the other, that they ate of the one God commanded them not to eat of, and suffered the consequences of His command.

    I could go on about God’s curse, the global, universal judgment of God in the Flood of Noah, the animal sacrifices required for the remisssion of sin, Christ’s purpose in settling it all on the Cross, etc., etc., which I read about and believe and trust from Scripture that God is telling me accurately.

    I then go to the claims of science (remember my starting presupposition), its interpretations of the evidence (facts are never neutral, and neither are scientists, but must be interpreted through a paradigmatic grid), and compare it against the claims of Scripture. I find that they are vehemently in contradiction to one another. That they are saying two different things. When I read history and understand the man behind the theory, its origin, its start and promulgation, when I read the history of how modern geology got started, the debates at the time, the ‘dating-game’ that ensued, and the philosophy of the men who wanted to stretch time to once and for all get rid of the notion of Noah’s Flood and the Biblical timeline, when I read the history of the theories of cosmology that have come and gone and the men and philosophies of these men, I come to the dilemma of who am I going to trust, God or fallen man’s interpretations.

    For me it’s a no-brainer.

  33. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 7:20 pm


    So…there’s nothing you would accept as evidence for evolution. Got it ;)

    More seriously, I truly understand where you’re coming from. I used to hold similar views about the Bible, science, their proper relationship, the classic evangelical (version of) Kuhnian discourse about science, and so on. I just no longer think that way and, scandal, consider the Bible itself to have factored into my change in thinking.


  34. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    Stephen @ 33,
    Yes, but just remember that there are an equally number of men and women, who as scientists, steeped in evolutionary thought, came to the opposite conclusion. My example of Nobel Laureate Rick Smalley on the previous theistic evolution thread, is just but one example.

  35. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm


    With respect, I highly doubt “that there are an equally [sic] number of men and women, who as scientists, steeped in evolutionary thought, came to [reject evolution].” I know you have produced an example on the previous thread and could probably produce plenty more. But I doubt you have the data to substantiate this point. Do you also keep track with equal assiduousness of YECs and anti-evolutionists who come to adopt evolution, especially such people who became working scientists?

    In my experience, as someone who works in a university setting, it’s exactly the opposite situation: many people who hold to YEC and anti-evolution kinds of views, especially upon attending college, come to affirm evolution. This is why, for example, evolution is affirmed and even used as a research postulate and working explanatory framework by probably 99% or more of practicing scientists in the academy and labs in the US when it comes to evolution-relevant sciences.

    Also, to be clear, I wasn’t offering my change in views as evidence in favor of evolution or anything along those lines. Was letting you know that I understand where you’re coming from; that’s all.

  36. Brandon said,

    July 11, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    I just wanted to add a brief comment to this discussion.

    A year or so ago I had a conversation with a friend and leading neuroscientist at a prestiguous institution. He has not been a believer a long time and I asked him what is thoughts were on evolutionary theory and biblical Christianity. He told me,

    “All I know is that in my work evolutionary biology yields succesful results. I don’t know exactly what that means for the Bible. I am not a Bible scholar. I believe that the Bible is the Word of God but I don’t know how they are reconciled. I just know that in the lab evolutionary biology is the paradigm that consistently provides me with reliable data to test hypotheses.”

    I’m not trying to advocate for theistic evolution but I think that there are serious pastoral ramifications for Christian academics. How would you respond to this statement, Reed?

  37. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:18 pm

    Stephen @ 35,
    Humor me for a moment, can you? What key doctrines of Scripture do you wish to deny to cling to your evolutionary paradigm? Can you list them for me?

  38. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 9:56 pm


    To my knowledge I do not deny any “key doctrines of Scripture.”

    I also don’t consider myself to be “cling[ing]” to an “evolutionary paradigm.” I affirm evolution because it seems to offer a very productive positive explanatory framework for all manner of things, and, related to that, a useful working research postulate that enables a great deal of medical and other scientific advancements. As best I can tell, it also seems to be upheld and continually nuanced (not overturned) by our analyses of both old and new evidence.

    I understand that you would object. I’m just laying out how I perceive things and what, from both (inter-related) empirical and theoretical standpoints, works for our continuing quest to understand God’s creation and how it operates.

  39. Elliott said,

    July 11, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t think you saw the same GA I did. There was ample hedging to allow for theistic evolution. Did you attend this year? It looks like the pca is divided deeply and headed for a split in the next few years.

  40. July 11, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    My 400 level biology class “Evolution” actually helped clinch my rejection of macroevolutionary theory and solidified my recent conversion to Christianity. The leaps made to reach the conclusions claimed were quite extraordinary, IMO.

  41. Steve Drake said,

    July 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    So…there’s no key doctrines of Scripture you wish to list, and discuss against your evolutionary paradigm…got it. :) It may be you’re not very familiar with the key doctrines of Scripture, and therefore can’t list them. That’s okay, brother. We all have to start somewhere.

    I affirm a 6-24 recent creation because that’s what Scripture teaches and what the Church has believed for millennia. The evolutionary paradigm started with a false premise, could never get enough coal in the engine to get it moving, and has been ‘off the rails’ ever since. It does not and never has aided us in understanding God’s creation and never will.

  42. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    Good point Steve. Even though I have two degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, I am probably unable to list key doctrines of Scripture ; )

    As for “The evolutionary paradigm…does not and never has aided us in understanding God’s creation and never will.” Fine assertion, but I know of many biologists, chemists, cognitive scientists, evolutionary psychologists (ok, subset of previous category), and so on that would find your assertion bewildering since evolution provides the primary explanatory framework with which they work and successfully advance knowledge, science, and technology.

  43. July 11, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Doctrines of Scripture, eh?

    I still like the Doctrine of Scripture, WCF ch.1. I’m just glad it takes the Holy Spirit to open my heart to understand what Scripture teaches.

    Steve Drake, are these strong feelings about your view of the days coming from your personal study, or from a church, or from some parachurch organization? What do you think of the OPC and PCA creation reports that are now 8 and 12 years in the past. A lot of readers here are Presbyterians in either of those denominations or some similar NAPARC branch. I was thinking maybe you are Baptist? No biggee, you just seem really into this stuff, and I understand why some of the scientists throw their hat into this francas, but I want to hear more of your background, and maybe also why you seem to have strong feelings. You’ve been going at this almost as long as I have. I would enjoy getting to know you better.

    I was reading the YEC books. One from Kevin N, he said was a good YEC treatise, had a section explaining why Jesus was YEC. I think I will go read that now, and maybe more from that book. Anything you want to share about you, I want to know. Hey, do you blog?


  44. July 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    “evolution provides the primary explanatory framework with which they work and successfully advance knowledge, science, and technology.”

    Nah, MICRO-evolution does that. No controversy there. The unproven, philosophical presuppositions of MACRO-evolution, on the other hand, don’t add a thing to practical applications of science and technology.

  45. July 11, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    I’m interested to hear more from anyone who knows of a necessary link between Ussherian cosmology / length of the creation days (which is more the topic of the creation reports, I think, at least the OPC one) and theistic evolution.

    I know this thread is about theistic evolution. But since I am an officer in the OPC, which is a denomination I believe is strongly in favor in allowing elasticity over the length of days question per our creation report, should I be worried that our denomination is this way? Do some of you see elasticity of the length of days as necessarily leading to an evolutionistic paradigm?

    At least to me, it seems there is room on the day issue,but not room on the hominid adoption question. And in my feeble mind, this seems to make sense.


    PS I will no longer say I am “leaving the talk.” This stuff is just too interesting and exciting. Some of us just can’t get enough!

  46. July 11, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    @Reed: For “intellectual” laypeople not seeking ordination (like me) what do you think our strategy should be regarding issues on which we disagree with the PCA, but about which we are nevertheless very interested? I do not usually discuss weird views with those in my church who are not ordained, so that I don’t create dissension. What would seeking the peace and purity of the church look like re: evolution? Besides changing positions, of course!

    @Andrew: “I have a weak mind about this issue” (I’m quoting my pastor about political theology, which is more up my alley), but I find it compelling to see the unwitnessed beginnings of Genesis as in the same genre as prophecy. It would be absurd to take Ezekiel literally about the temple, and Reformed theologians have (for the most part) rejected a literal 1000 year reign. Oh, and I bring up #2 because the idea that God adopted a hominid (a view that I do not find compelling) was presented in the PCA conference, but it is also the Roman Catholic position since Humani Generis.

    @Eric: Well said and point taken, but sometimes I think we overestimate how doctrines relate to each other. For some reason this reminds me of arguments that we have with Catholics that presupposed a metaphystical substance/accident distinction. Since no Catholic or Reformed theologian I’ve ever talked to believes in that metaphysics, what is the state of our disagreement? Then the conversation gets really interesting, and we start talking about what happens when a dog eats the Eucharist. I had a Catholic theologian at University of Chicago actually tell me that the dog does not eat Christ, because it’s the Spirit that communicates the real presence to us in eating. What a good Calvinist!

  47. Stephen said,

    July 11, 2012 at 11:48 pm


    Thanks for your comments. As to your first, you thus exemplify one of the many examples of the phenomenon discussed in, for example, Paul Bloom and Deena Weisberg, “Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science,” Science 316 (2007): 996-97.

    As for the second, only people who reject evolution make the kind of distinction between micro and macro-evolution that you posit. It’s one of their standard apologetic tropes. The qualitative use of that distinction (i.e., affirming micro and denying macro), however, is not recognized by practicing scientists.

    Since you want to use discourse with academic valences here (e.g., discussing “philosophical presuppositions” and whether or not something is “proven”), I’ll direct an iteration of my question to Steve (31) to you. What would count as an analysis that could “prove” to you the “philosophical presuppositions” of evolution? Also, what to your mind are these unproven “philosophical presuppositions”?

  48. July 12, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Hi Jeremy, thanks for clarifying on the adopted hominid stuff.

    Yeah, on Genesis as prophesy, I think I tend to view the Book of revelation as looking into the way way future (ie eschatology, where we find elasticity in our churches, rightly) and Genesis looking into the way way way way past. I think I am saying a variant of what you are saying.

    I am basically not yet ready to assert such strong opinions on how long those days in Genesis are. I see no harm in my position, nor did the church that ordained me. Does that mean anything? Should we be afraid of lurking TE’s driving this desire for elasticity over the length of these most extraordinary days in Genesis? However long they were, can’t we at least see they were pretty awesome? Debating about the length kinda takes away from some of the other cool stuff to think about, about what was going on during those first ‘days.’ I think that’s what keeps me coming back. Plus, that Stephen Jay Gould text book had lots of pretty pictures :-)

    Good to digest, for feeble, weak minds like mine ;-)

  49. Eric F. Langborgh said,

    July 12, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I was a Biology major with focus in microbiology. Neither is my professional practice now, but there is some of my background. Let it suffice to say there is a world of difference between adaptation (“microevolution”) of populations and fundamental change of forms (“macroevolution”). Thousands upon thousands of fruitfly generations continue to frustrate Darwinists.

  50. July 12, 2012 at 12:27 am


    And I think thats what my UCSB prof kind of admitted. Of course he was hard core evolutionist. But he admitted he had a hard time defining ‘life.’ For example, is a virus something that has life? It depends on a host. My only point is, things are a little more complicated sometimes than we wish to admit. The prof alluded to ‘punctuated equilibrium,’ as regards macro-evolution. But I remember thinking he admitted macro-evol is a toughie.

    Here’s a book I started reading, and will get back to. Another paradigm shift, even within evolution proper? I guess this stuff has always fascinated me, since freshman high school biology, I enjoy hearing what leading thinkers are discovering.

  51. Eric F. Langborgh said,

    July 12, 2012 at 12:41 am

    “Philip Johnson Reflects on 20th Anniversary of ‘Darwin on Trial'”

  52. July 12, 2012 at 12:47 am

    We may not agree with everything Shaprio says, but look how he criticizes Dawkins. I like Shapiro because at least he sounds humble.

    No more posts.

  53. July 12, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Some have questioned what key doctrines are under threat if one adopts TE. Given history and some basic theology, I would have thought that should have been obvious, but perhaps some explanation is required.

    First there is the hermeneutical inconsistency of those who adopt TE and claim or hold Reformed credentials. This is a real inconsistency, by that I mean I am not questioning their faith, but they hold to something contrary to the faith and have arrived at that position in a manner contrary to the faith. If one wishes to deny the biblical account on creation, as read and understood in as straightforward literal manner, because of the pressures of rationalistic science, then one is duty bound to examine all of Scripture in that light, or should I say darkness. After all rationalistic science doesn’t just speak to origins does it? Neither does Scripture.

    No, if one is to be consistent one must apply the same hermeneutic to miracles, the virgin birth & the resurrection etc, not to mention the principle of federal headship and salvation itself. With such presuppositions, one must allow Scripture to be guided, shaped, interpreted by science. Pleading the case of genre here will not do: genre of literature is frankly irrelevant IF rationalistic science is one’s guide – whether Scripture is exalted poetry or plain historical narrative, it must conform. There is not room for a supernatural resurrection if rationalistic science is in the mix, nor a virgin birth, nor water to wine. Let’s just be honest about that. To my mind, that makes the faith very unattractive. To have such glaring inconsistencies in Scripture and one’s view of it, to any mind (regenerated or not), is simply implausible. It has no credibility. And yet that is the very reason cited by so many TE’s for holding the position – that they want to remove the stumbling block from the faith. Well in removing one, they create another.

    Secondly I think we have to acknowledge that there is a “slippery slope”. Now I know the “slippery slope” is logical fallacy per se, and that most who adopt non-literal views of Gen 1-2 never actually slip down that slope. At least not in this generation… history tells us that as soon as we subject Scripture to the forces of the unregenerate mind, within generations the heart of the gospel is under threat – ref my earlier comments about the federal headship, the nature of sin etc. Is this not the very real tragedy of the church of the last century or so? As soon as origins came into question (not by sound biblical exegesis I might add) but by the pressures of Darwinian evolution it took only eighty 75 years for the Auburn affirmation to be realized – and with it the gospel was lost.

    So please, let’s not bury our heads in the historical sands, pretending we can avoid consequences to our actions, dismissing history by citing logical fallacy. It simply won’t do. We have seen time and again (in the US – PCUSA and in the UK – Church of Scotland) what happens to the church when the matters of origins are denied as a result of Spirit-less thinking imposed on the text of Scripture.

  54. July 12, 2012 at 7:36 am

    In northern California, the very real outworking of the issue of genesis days and creation reports manifests itself in how does a Presbytery view candidates for ministry in light of a potentially ‘slippery’ position on behalf of potential ministers.

    What I am saying is, as some of you readers, who are ministers, and presbyters, are you willing to basically disregard the OPC creation report when, say, a framework guy is before the floor of presbytery, seeking licensure.

    I’d like if any other northern Californian OPC fellows or presbyters could chime in on what I am saying.

    I want us in the OPC (and holds true for the PCA and her creation report) to read those documents seriously. They tell us dialogue and further study is wanted. That’s all I wanted here, with my questions. And with the Holy Spirit’s guiding, maybe we can be a church that not only preaches a clear Gospel, (which I know is no easy task in a dying world, I am so thankful for you ministers) but one that realizes we can move forward on any issue unafraid. I sense fear over the advances of scientists and practitioners in relevant fields. Do we want to be a church who is known for our fidelity to some specific Genesis hermenuetic? Or will we be known for our love? For our undying devotion to Christ and the Word? What is it that will attract the lost sheep, convincing the world we can stand up to their scientists? Or showing that the issue is something we trust will be handled in God’s time, and instead of focusing on it to much, we proceed to explain the basic truths of who Jesus is and what that means to the individual sinner that walks into our church, evolutionist that they may be…

    It’s a risen Lord we serve and preach, brothers. What do we have to fear, in light of the Truth?

  55. July 12, 2012 at 7:53 am

    PS my sense is the church broadly speaking may not be ready for the intellectual challenge that science is laying before her. I for one want my children to want to go into scientific fields if they want to, when they go to college, etc. We need to all ask ourselves, given America’s shifting landscape in so many areas, what will we do when, after many see the Love manifested inside our Church walls, then (gasp!) evoltutionists start showing up at our churches. I dont know, but maybe that PCA church in Manhatten, with it’s explosive growth and really, a movement that is inspiring churches around the country, to follow that church’s lead, how are they handling this very real issue? What will we do when the evolutionist shows up. Cold shoulder? Or, having read an article or two, and maybe a book, state, “the advances of science are interesting, and I love the pictures in Gould’s book. But since you are at church, let me tell you about the One who created all that organic matter, the One who not only knows whether the wolves were eating each other before the fall, but who experienced death itself so that we don’t have to.”

    Maybe we will find the hypothetical evolutionist to be more like a pup, looking for Christ’s gentle love, and even those of us who have spent our days pouring over Scripture, leading us to the one true desire of our hearts – union and communion with God. For me, the questions here are fun to blog and spar about, but with my security in life fastened by the Love of Christ, I just don’t get worried about the guy or gal who has reservations about Ussherian cosmology.

    My two sense only,

  56. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Stephen @ 42,

    Even though I have two degrees from Westminster Theological Seminary, I am probably unable to list key doctrines of Scripture

    ‘Double’ jeopardy then, brother. James 3:1 comes to mind. I’m sure you take this verse seriously, but need to rethink it in light of your apostleizing of the false, dangerous, and gospel-denying theory of evolution. I’m not laughing, it’s a deadly serious matter.

  57. July 12, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Steve Drake,

    I mean no offense, but do you have formal theological training?

    I don’t. I just like to blog and golf.


  58. July 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I’m very curious about what is driving you, Steve. No need to share, or if you already said, than my apologies. I think you believe someone like me,who is not 6/24, is in danger of taking evolution hook, line, and sinker, because I am on slippery ground. But isn’t our God big enough to take care of these things? All this creation talk was, I think some thoughts by, and here we still are. Why are we doing this?


  59. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 8:17 am

    Andrew @58,
    Thanks Andrew for your thoughts.

  60. July 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

    No problem, Steve. Keep in touch.

    Oh and I do want to hear from other northern Californians, with regard to above. My hunch? They are too busy golfing. We’ve got nice courses here.


    Speaking of which….

    Gotta run,

  61. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Stephen @ 42,
    Dr. John Byl, Phd. Astronomy, and author of several books, over at his blog, has a post on Dr. Wayne Grudem in the Forward to the book, ‘Should Christians Embrace Evolution‘. It’s worth a read as it pertains to our discussion.

    In his Forward Grudem writes, “What is at stake? A lot…” . He then lists the following eight reasons (my numbering):
    (a) the truthfulness of the three foundational chapters for the entire Bible (Genesis 1 – 3),
    (b) belief in the unity of the human race,
    (c) belief in the ontological uniqueness of human beings among all God’s creatures,
    (d) belief in the special creation of Adam and Eve in the image of God,
    (e) belief in the parallel between condemnation through representation by Adam and salvation through representation by Christ,
    (f) belief in the goodness of God’s original creation,
    (g) belief that suffering and death today are the result of sin and not part of God’s original creation, and
    (h) belief that natural disasters today are the result of the fall and not part of God’s original creation.
    Dr. Grudem concludes, “belief in evolution erodes the foundations.”

  62. July 12, 2012 at 8:31 am


    Maybe this is your hobby? We had a guy like you in the San Jose church, he led a monthly meeting on such issues, brought in guest speakers, even evolutionists. Gasp, I know.

    We all need outlets. Mine is golf.

    Stick a fork in me,

  63. July 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

    PS.I recall, Steve,you were quoting Mohler (former president of Baptists) in comment 232 on the previous string. There may be some good soteriological books. Coming out of a Baptist upbringing, it was RC Sproul’s ‘Chosen by God.’

    I guess, maybe,I would recommend you focus on soteriology proper, instead of pushing your view of the salvific consequences you see in anything but 6/24. You say Stephen needs to confront a deadly serious matter. We all do. It’s called our sin. None of us escape this fact.

    Calvin and RC explained Scripture so I could see, so, maybe focus on some reformed sotrriology, and not creation, form a while?

    With a grain of salt,

  64. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Eric @ 51,
    Your link to Johnson’s article Freed Science was a good read. Under the paragraph heading ‘Confusing Evolution with Adaptation’, Johnson says this about evolutionist and Harvard professor Edward O. Wilson and their equivocaton:

    Wilson calls his example “evolution,” but in fact it is merely adaptive variation, not something that could produce a new kind of creature. Species have the ability to vary in some characteristics to cope with a temporary environmental crisis, and then to go back to their original form when the crisis is past. Natural selection in this sense is a conservative force that allows a species to thrive in different environments without undergoing any basic change, and thus to avoid extinction. As a witty critic explained the point, despite its title, Darwin’s Origin of Species explained the survival of species, not the arrival of species.

    Wilson implies that his relatively trivial example of adaptive variation is the same process by which humans supposedly evolved, over geologic eons, from single-celled predecessors like bacteria or amoebae. This illustrates the characteristic Darwinian use of equivocation, employing vaguely defined terms like “evolution” and switching definitions whenever it is convenient.

  65. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Andrew @ 63,

    You say Stephen needs to confront a deadly serious matter. We all do. It’s called our sin. None of us escape this fact.

    Yes indeed. The sin of false teaching, the sin of not trusting God’s Word, the sin of proselytizing a false gospel and false philosophies of men. Deadly serious indeed.

  66. July 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Calvin says as unregenerate, we are dead in sin. Ephesians 2 paints a bleak picture…

    BUT GOD!!!!

    Read Eph 2.

    I actually am not as casual in my use of the word ‘dead’ as I perceive that you are being.

    Grain of salt,

  67. July 12, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Note we are not dead in the sin of (blank).

    We are dead in SIN

    I see what you are getting at. I just don’t know where you get your zeal and the fire in your belly.

    It reminds me of when I was a Baptist…

  68. July 12, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I think you need to let this go. As Christians, we are dead to sin. We are not afraid when you say Stephen needs to rethink his position in light of your charge that he is in danger of sin. He says he is Christian. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

    We have died to sin:

    Let God be the one to change the heart of the evolutionist, as is necessary. I see you by your posts trying to do this.

    God will do it, and all things, in His time.

    Grain of salt,

  69. July 12, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Oh, and this is me, letting go.


  70. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 10:27 am

    It is interesting to note this quote from Dr. Michael Ruse, former professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada, concerning evolution:

    Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit that in this one complaint—and Mr [sic] Gish is but one of many to make it—the literalists are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today. … Evolution therefore came into being as a kind of secular ideology, an explicit substitute for Christianity.” Dr. Michael Ruse was professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph, Canada (recently moved to Florida), 13 May 2000.

    (from Has the God Particle Been Found,, July 7, 2012, accessed July 12, 2012).

    Why a Christian would add ‘God’ to a secular and false philosophy of fallen man, that was true from its very beginning, true today, and will be true tomorrow, is exactly what Jesus warns about in Matt. 7:26-27, of the man who builds his house upon sand, and how does He conclude, ‘Great was its fall’.

  71. July 12, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Dear Steve,

    I have no idea what any of what you just posted is supposed to mean.

    Do you think you are following Jesus’ commands when you are posting these things?

    You might be. But I am lost as to what is driving you. Or what comment 70 means. It’s probably me, the weaker brother.

    Please view me in light of my admitted weakness. I am a sinner. But am forgiven.

    Kind regards,

  72. July 12, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Oh, maybe you were reading Eph 2?

    Thanks be that Christ is our cornerstone, Steve.


  73. July 12, 2012 at 11:25 am

    Steve @64:

    Thanks. And yes, that paragraph is a good example of Phillip Johnson’s good work. He is being brief there in an interview, but elsewhere you will read him explain that this adaptive variation (aka micorevolution) does, of course, extend to speciation within form or kind. Think Darwin’s finches. Many species of the same kind come about through genetic, physical or geographic isolation. Of course. This is not at issue. MACROevoloution goes much further and says not only can one population of finches become separated and become a new species of finch, or even another bird altogether over time, but that it can become a fish, or dinosaur, or whatever. Nonsense. And there is no hard evidence to prove it. Hence my fruit fly example, which the Darwinists thought for sure would provide realtime laboratory confirmation of their theories. Whoops! Doesn’t even happen with microbial organisms, were generation times are even faster. These adapt, for example, to become resistant to drugs, for example, but we’ve yet to see anything close to a staphylococcus become even a streptococcus. (In fact, microbiologists and biochemists tend to become much more skeptical of evolutionary theory over time than macro biologists of other sorts, because what they see under the microscope and in genetics doesn’t give with the various Darwinian expectations.) To make matters worse, the fossil record is open to very wide interpretation (even within the scientific establishment) and reinterpretations to the point of complete reversal of previous interpretations.

  74. July 12, 2012 at 11:33 am

    To Andrew, Stephen and others:

    The starting point for the Christian has to be the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Resurrection validated the truth of all Jesus’ claims, as He was raised according to His own word of prophecy, and He prophesied as the great I AM, hence the charges of blasphemy and His own words. As such, Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets – the Old Testament – and all Scripture point to Him. So we are to approach Scripture through that prism.

    This means, for instance, since you have expressed misgivings with creationist accounts of Genesis, that God did in fact create the world as the Bible relates it and that there was a literal Adam and Eve, and that Noah’s flood was an historical event. Why? Because Jesus validates the testimony of Scripture on these and other counts (see Matthew 19:4-6; 24:36-38; Luke 17:26-27.)

    Therefore, it all comes down to the Resurrection: was Christ raised from the dead, or not? If so, everything else soon falls into place.

  75. July 12, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Therefore, it all comes down to the Resurrection: was Christ raised from the dead, or not?

    Right, Eric.

    But it’s the Spirit that convinces me of this. Not my Genesis hermenutic.


    That’s not to make like of our hermenuetics. Just looking for clarity.

    Thanks, Eric. I love to hear from people who take the resurrection as seriously as I do. I don’t mean another dig, but it is still a shock to hear about Bultmann on other other String, about John 1. I don’t want to beat a dead horse. But if you know anything about the moderns, yes, they will reject the resurrection. It’s so central.

    So I appreciate a high view of the centrality of the resurrection.

    Bultmann, I think, was trying to make Christiainity more amenable to modern ears. The question was and is: at what cost?

    So I hear ya!

  76. July 12, 2012 at 11:40 am

    By way of contrast, here is how the god “science” regularly proves itself an unreliable master: Science is like a mystery, in which evidence is marshaled to solve a problem. Who killed the maid? Like a good detective story, science often brings the reader, viewer, or scientist all the way up to the climax, with everyone in the theater sure that the butler did it with the candlestick. But the last piece of evidence finally comes in, completely disproving what everyone was sure was the answer. And it is not just the conclusion that changes; that last piece of evidence is often the rosetta stone, demonstrating that the way we were looking at all the rest of the evidence, and the way it all fits together, is much different than what we originally assumed. It was all so obvious to everyone before that previous assumptions were even deemed “scientific fact.” But now we have new “scientific fact” to replace the old model.
    Hermeneutically, then, the ever-changing decrees of science and history – as valuable as they are as a servant – are a dangerous lens through which to interpret and accept portions of Holy Scripture. Christ and the apostles treated the whole of the Bible, including Genesis 1-11, as factually true, not just theologically so.
    Christ rose from the dead according to his own prophecy, so we accept his Word as absolutely and infallibly true and trustworthy. The problem is with us, not His Word. As others have demonstrated in this thread, “theistic evolution” logically undermines the gospel by making the doctrine of substitutionary atonement completely nonsensical – if Adam was not a man, then Christ is not the new man. And man is not made in the image of God in any unique way that is not also shared by chimp, frogs, and the HIV virus.
    So, as one who takes great interest – and study – in both Science and History, I very much appreciate their utility as a servant. However, they are dangerous masters.

  77. July 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

    ” The problem is with us, not His Word.”


    Indeed, we can not serve two masters.

    Only one.

    Reed’s words were: Bible over science.

    I like it.

    He’s a wise guy (positively speaking, no double speak),


  78. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Andrew @ 71,
    Perhaps this might help. From the Answers Research Journal at

    Theistic Evolution: An Incoherent and Inconsistent Worldview?

  79. July 12, 2012 at 11:52 am


    I will read hopefully tonight when I get off work.

    Remember, I’m a young dude. Many college tuition payments ahead! And if my kids are like me and go to secular school (because it’s so darn cheap) I will need to be up on the latest in evolution, etc, from the secular academy.

    A man on a budget, both money and timewise, you friendship and help is valuable to me, Steve.


  80. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Eric @ 73,
    Thanks brother. Beautiful explanation.

  81. Steve Drake said,

    July 12, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Eric @ 76,

    So, as one who takes great interest – and study – in both Science and History, I very much appreciate their utility as a servant. However, they are dangerous masters.

    Again, beautiful. Your post #76 was a refreshing reprieve to the morass we find ourselves in. Keep it up as you are able.

  82. July 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement, Steve. :)

  83. Reed Here said,

    July 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Brandon, no. 36: not enough information to give a sufficient answer. I’ll give a tentative one. Some here have noted a distinction between macro- and microevolution. I’ve checked with a couple of science friends and they indeed confirm that this is a currently ruling paradigm in the understanding and teaching of evolution (that is, they themselves us it in their own teaching, as they were taught for their degrees).

    What your friend is observing is evidence that at least micro-evolution appears to be supported by commonly repeatable applications of the scientific method. This is credible evidence that in terms of things as they are now microevolution does in fact seem to be a functionally valid hypothesis.

    Affirming this does not contradict the Bible. First, microevolution could be true without macroevolution being true. There might be another reason for the evidence of microevolution.

    Second, we must remember that the Fall did occur. If we go with the interpretation (Rom 8:20, etc.) that in some manner all physical creation was affected by the fall we should see evidence of this in two supposed contrary ways:

    1. We should see death-decay-destruction principles at work, especially at the macro, ultimate level. This we do – no system of energy has been demonstrated to over time be transformed into a better system of energy. E.g., everything dies.

    2. We should see renewal principles at work, particularly at the micro, immediate level. This we do, systems of energy can be maintained, repaired. E.g., we can recover from illnesses.

    Evolution holds that the first category of evidence is the cause of the second category of evidence.

    The Bible says that both categories of evidence flow from God’s hand. The first is evidences of the curse on sin, i.e., temporal judgments. The second is evidences of the mercy on sin, i.e., common grace. The first is not the cause of the second.

    Your friend sees evidences that fit either the theory of evolution or the Bible’s explanation of the nature of things. Both are credible explanations of the evidence. Deciding between the two then is a matter of faith born of the Spirit. I’d urge your friend to continue in the grace and mercy of Christ and ask the Spirit to answer these kinds of questions as he has need.

  84. Reed Here said,

    July 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Elliot, no. 38: no, I was not at GA this year. My point is taken from the language of Overture 26 which GA approved. In denying the need to issue a statement against theistic evolution explanations of Adam’s creation, the overture specifically argues that our standards, especially WLC 17, are sufficiently clear to already deny such errors. Since this was the overture that was approved by GA I am conscious bound to take my brothers at their word. Their act of approval serves as their affirmation of agreement with the reasoning of the overture.

    I am not able, nor am called to measure the degree of competency and/or integrity with which they approved this overture. Your assessment may very well be right. If I may summarize what I think I hear you saying, your assessment is that some approved this overture because they found it not a challenge to their personal convictions regarding theistic evolution.

    You may be right. I pray you are wrong. More importantly, I’m seeking here to act in faith that trusts in God’s rule over our denomination, to lead her to greater peace and purity.

  85. Jim said,

    July 12, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I wouldn’t make much hay out of the distinction between micro- and marcoevolution. Though used sometimes by biologists, the terms mean something different for evolutionist than for the creationist. For the evolutionist, there is no real difference. Macroevolution is microevolution over a long period of time.

  86. Eric F. Langborgh said,

    July 12, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Mighty convenient for a Darwinist to equivocate. They are making an unwarranted leap. In truth , there is a world of difference. What they assume is mathematically impossible. Creatures and esp. populations of creatures adapt to their environment. They don’t become different creatures entirely. There isn’t enough time in eternity for that.

  87. Jerry said,

    July 12, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Creationists don’t deny increases or decreases in the frequency in which a particular gene is seen in a gene pool. That is a straw man.

    New information is different than that

  88. Elliot said,

    July 12, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    I did attend this year and sat in on the Overtures Committee and entire floor debate. I must say it was rather disheartening. I am pretty sure not a single person who spoke in favor of the In Thesi overture spoke against theistic evolution. I would encourage you to (a) to read the overture as it says nothing about our standards being against theistic evolution — only that they are sufficient on the subject of creation, and (b) listen to Rick Phillips evaluation of GA on the Greenville Seminary website. Among other things, he said that the PCA issued an in thesi statement against evolution over ten years ago when no one was teaching it, but now that the battle is raging (to wit: the seminar by a theistic evolutionist at the invitation of the PCA with the attendees laughing when he said was not under church discipline), our answer was that we didn’t need to issue a statement. We never needed it more than this year. Now it will be up to the Standing Judicial Commission to clarify what our standards really say. It should be the role of our denomination to clarify our standards and set the course for the future, not a small group of men, whom 99.9 % of the PCA cannot even name, much less know anything about. From the comments and attitudes I observed at GA, as well as the resulting animated conversations in the hallways, there is no question very deep division exists. I do not believe theistic evolution will be confronted, which will cause many to leave the PCA. As you do, I pray that I am dead wrong. If you have any encouraging statements from those who attended, please pass on.

  89. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Thanks Elliot for your comments. I did read the overture carefully, and have only referenced it for the one specific point relating to the historicity of Adam and Eve. I do understand that it says nothing more about theistic evolution than that.

    I did listen to Rick’s take on this year’s GA. In part I’ve chosen to make this series of posts in hopes that transparent and respectful communications on this subject, something Rick models so well, might be helpful.

    And, of course, prayer is even more important. Again, thank you for your comments.

  90. Reed Here said,

    July 13, 2012 at 12:10 am

    Jim: I think my comments presumed exactly what you’ve said. The evolutionist believes that macro is the source of micro. Or, to put it another way, the relationship between the two is contiguous, they are different aspects of the same thing.

    I think it unreasonable to say that creationists use these terms differently. They do not. Instead, they understand their relationship to be different than what the evolutionist holds. This is not an argument for or against. Rather, we do need to be careful to treat each other’s arguments reasonably if we are to together strive for the well-being of Christ’s Bride.

    Not saying anything I don’t expect you know and agree with. Merely suggesting a clarification to your comment.

  91. Brad B said,

    July 13, 2012 at 12:21 am

    @Eric #76, I appreciate the storyline to illuminate the shortfall of naturalistic science to deliver reliable truth. Utility within its boundries notwithstanding, within a particular paradigm, answers seem to fit the sense perceptions, but one thing has always plagued the scientific method, new paradigms. The next discovery may be the game changer that turns inside out the current systems. One would have to possess infinite knowledge to rule that the product of physical science is ultimate.

    Somewhere, it is written:

    “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,”


  92. Jim said,

    July 13, 2012 at 12:44 am


    My point is really that the distinction doesn’t exist. They simply describe different aspects of the same thing. To have one implies the other.

    Probably not an issue we need spend much time debating but when someone affirms micro but denies macro, it doesn’t make any sense. To the degree the creationist does this, they introduce new meaning into each concept.

  93. Heath Hanna said,

    July 13, 2012 at 3:20 am

    I think evolutionary creationism is a good solution to this debate. God created using evolution as evidenced in the Bible and the fossil record. It also allows for a historical Adam.

    We have demonized the term “evolution” so much every God-fearing Christian is afraid to utter it or they may be deemed a heretic in danger of the eternal lake of fire. There is no verse in the Bible that explicitly says God did not use evolution in His most holy work of creation. There is a difference between taking the Bible literally and ultra-literally (i.e. I do not literally cut off my hand if it causes me to sin, I can’t afford to – all my limbs would be missing).

    The Bible is fact, the fossil record is fact. In God’s wisdom and providence they coexist perfectly.

    My fear is that this has become an emotional debate and emotions can be used to manipulate. If we manipulate people with emotions we will never solve this problem.

  94. Richard said,

    July 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Just a fly by I am afraid; I recognise that as a body the PCA will have its own official view that it expects its officers to adhere to, but Frame has warned correctly of the dangers of traditionalism:

    1. “Traditionalism”

    2. “In Defense of Something Close to Biblicism: Reflections on Sola Scriptura and History in Theological Method”

    Especially pertinent is:

  95. Richard said,

    July 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

    The argument of this paper, however, should help us to guard against certain abuses of the confessionalist position, such as (1) emphasizing Confessions and traditions as if they were equal to Scripture in authority, (2) equating sola Scriptura with acceptance of confessional traditions, (3) automatic suspicion of any ideas which come from sources outside the tradition, (4) focusing on historical polemics rather than the dangers of the present day, (5) emphasizing differences with other confessional traditions to the virtual exclusion of recognizing commonalities, (6) failing to encourage self-criticism within our particular denominational, theological, and confessional communities.

  96. July 13, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Going forward, my thoughts on these matters will be issued through my Google plus public posts. What’s clear is how these issues are cutting to the core. Feynman was quoted as saying the relationship between Christianity and Ethics is the most important question of our time (this was in the 60’s).


    Your comment reminds me of an essay by the German Philosopher Gadamer that I read, about the nature of tradition. There’s probably too much there for my feeble mind, but what I took away is that tradition is important, and people tend to want to throw it away in favor of the new. But the standard by which we are adopting anything new must be evaluated. I can not explain well. My words fail. But I am only seconding your comment, Richard, and i want to thank you for the links to Frame. Richard, your point #6 in comment 95 is worth reflecting on.

    Hey, and my latest post on Google plus is something I found yesterday at Carl Trueman’s blog, which you can find at the website ‘reformation 21.’ Google that, if interested.

    Its a lecture by a man who studied under Muller, and it centers on Machen’s view of Christian education. Its fantastic and applies to issues seen here.

    If you can’t find the YouTube, send me an email, and I will send to you: andrew (dot) d (dot) buckingham (at) gmail (dot) com


  97. July 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

    *Christianity and Science.

    I told you I am bad with words…

  98. Steve Drake said,

    July 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

    JIm @ 92,

    My point is really that the distinction doesn’t exist. They simply describe different aspects of the same thing. To have one implies the other

    I think we understand your point Jim. We are disagreeing with it. They are not the same thing. Eric has said in #86 that this is the classical example of equivocation that evolutionists use all the time. Adaptive variation through natural selection ‘within’ a species is not the species into different species, dinosaurs into birds, apes into men grand theory of everything that evolution is postulating. Did you by chance read the article by Philip Johnson posted by Eric in #51? Johnson explains the problem here very well.

  99. Steve Drake said,

    July 13, 2012 at 8:24 am

    Elliott @ 88,

    I do not believe theistic evolution will be confronted, which will cause many to leave the PCA.

    It’s already happening. I personally know of several families who have left over this issue in my town. The tide will continue unless the men who are TE’s and RE’s within the PCA, root it out once and for all. The problem for Reformed folk who have left, but love the PCA, is that there are not very many other churches with the same Reformed traditions they have come to know and love, to go to. As you have inferred in #39, it looks like a new denomination will be needed. An attempt, once again, to establish over just this issue, the purity of Christ’s bride IMO.

  100. Jim said,

    July 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    With all due respect, Steve, you don’t understand my point. Nor do you understand evolution very well if you insist on your distinction. Basic reading in the are, should you be interested, will illuminate my point. I recommend The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Wiener. I don’t argue that we can’t speak of the two concepts independently, but that the distinction insisted on by creationists creates new definitions for those concepts.

    I don’t want to beat a dead horse; I’m getting close to that point. But this highlights a basic problem in these discussions. We come from very different perspectives and process the same information very differently. It can be a difficult task to fully grasp the other side at times. I admit to this failure time and again even though I was held those other views!

    I’m also not a fan of just recommending a book although my recommendation is a fascinating, well-written book that I highly recommend. Here is a quicker reference that explains the distinction better than I am doing:


  101. Steve Drake said,

    July 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Jim @ 100,
    So you believe Philip Johnson is incorrect

    From the link you cite:

    Microevolution is defined as the change of allele frequencies (that is, genetic variation due to processes such as selection, mutation, genetic drift, or even migration) within a population. There is no argument that microevolution happens (although some creationists, such as Wallace, deny that mutations happen). Macroevolution is defined as evolutionary change at the species level or higher, that is, the formation of new species, new genera, and so forth. Speciation has also been observed.

    I have no problem with the definition of microevolution stated above. I believe that this is what Johnson is referring to when he speaks of adaptive variation, and I prefer this word over the word microevolution. Beaks change shape, feathers change color, iguanas differentiate into land varieties and marine varieties, etc. (still iguanas however). (Recent findings indicate the two varieties on the Galapagos can interbreed.) (Maybe not two different species after all).

    The problem that ID’ers and creationists have is with the definition of macroevolution above: ‘evolutionary change at the species level, or higher, that is, the formation of new species, new genera, and so forth’.
    It is the ‘and so forth’ that is the question. What does the ‘and so forth’ imply and mean? Does this imply fish into reptiles, reptiles into birds, apes into hominids, and hominids into men? Therein is where we see the problem.

    But this is all a hill of beans compared to the theological implications that Reed has addressed in these theistic evolution posts, which I don’t see you addressing.

    My question above ‘why a Christian would want to add “God” to the mix of a philosophy of man which started at its inception and came into being as a secular ideology, and explicit substitute for Christianity’, seems irrational to me. You seem to be holding to a philosophy that has as its very purpose the express denial of your very Christianity.

    As Jerry Coyne, professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago has said:

    “Attempts to reconcile God and evolution keep rolling off the intellectual assembly line. It never stops, because the reconciliation never works”

  102. Brad B said,

    July 14, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Hi Steve, I’ve been following along from the previous threads, and will now move along to “Fall, what Fall?” thread. I’ve agreed with most of what you’ve stated from the previous threads and this one. I just wanted to make a point to you that I agree that “a philosophy of man” is visible all over this, I pity those who cannot see it clearly.

    I followed some of the links on the talk origins site from Jim’s referenced definitional link. Interestingly, nearly all of the questions/answers have as thier intent, an attack on “creationism”. Natural science has been hijacked to provethings it cannot and the discipline is made to be the sword of the world by its practitioners who are not governed by higher disciplines that are necessary to give natural science any possibility of yeilding trustworthy knowledge.

    This is why science should not be done unfettered of philosophical underpinnings that in effect temper the products of naturalistic scientific inquiry. If natural science were done in a God honoring way, the theological questions regarding this topic would be answered first to see if the risky business of proving anything by sense perception can even be valid and true. As it is, so far the theological concerns are just being brushed aside, too much skepticism there to interfere with the important and accurate work being done by the modern day practitioners of natural science. : (

  103. Steve Drake said,

    July 14, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Brad B @102,
    Thanks Brad. Your statement:

    If natural science were done in a God honoring way, the theological questions regarding this topic would be answered first to see if the risky business of proving anything by sense perception can even be valid and true. As it is, so far the theological concerns are just being brushed aside, too much skepticism there to interfere with the important and accurate work being done by the modern day practitioners of natural science. :(

    So true.

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