Is Evolution Biblically Acceptable? The Question of Genesis 1 – Reformation21

Is Evolution Biblically Acceptable? The Question of Genesis 1 – Reformation21.

One of the main articles last month at the Reformation 21 website (December 2014) is this significant one by Dr. (PCA pastor) Richard D.Phillips. By it he begins a series in which he does and will argue that evolution is incompatible with the Bible’s teaching.

This first installment focuses on the issue of how Genesis 1 is to be read (he defends its full authority and historicity).

Below are a few paragraphs from it (follow the link above to find the full article). I believe this is must reading (and understanding!) for Reformed Christians, as it focuses on the issue facing us at the present time.

Given what World Magazine has called a “major, well-funded push” to promote the acceptance of evolution among evangelical Christians, the case must be persuasively made against the compatibility of evolution and the Bible.  In answer to this pro-evolutionary stance, I am one of those Bible teachers who believe that the implications of evolution involve sweeping changes to the Christian faith and life.

While I appreciate the moderate spirit of many who want to find a way to accept evolution alongside the Bible, I find that the more radical voices are here more helpful.  For instance, I share the view of Peter Enns in the conclusion to his book The Evolution of Adam, writing that “evolution… cannot simply be grafted onto evangelical Christian faith as an add-on,”[1] but requires a fundamental rethinking of doctrines pertaining to creation, humanity, sin, death, and salvation.  But Christian ethics must also be revised.  Enns writes that under evolution “some characteristics that Christians have thought of as sinful,” including “sexual promiscuity to perpetuate one’s gene pool,” should now be thought of as beneficial.  Even so foundational an issue as the Christian view of death must be remolded by evolution.  An evolution-embracing Christian faith must now see death as an ally: “the means that promotes the continued evolution of life on this planet.”[2]

I am not a qualified scientist and have virtually nothing to contribute to the science involved in evolution.  As a Bible teacher and theologian, my concern is the necessary beliefs that flow from the Word of God.  For the ultimate issue involved with evolution is biblical authority: must the Bible submit to the superior authority of secularist dogma? Or may the believer still confess together with Paul: “Let God be true though everyone were a liar” (Rom. 3:4).  From this perspective, I plan a short series of articles arguing against the idea that evolution is biblically acceptable.

…One of the grand motives, I believe, for accommodating evolution in Genesis 1 is so that evangelicals can stop arguing about science and start teaching about Jesus.  But do we fail to note that Jesus’ story begins in Genesis 1?  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God…” (Jn. 1:1).  In fact, when the interpretive approach used to neutralize Genesis 1 as history is necessarily extended by evolution, then the reason for Jesus’ coming is lost?  After all, without a biblical Adam as the first man and covenant head of the human race, then what is the problem for which the Son of God came?  Here we see just how right Peter Enns is: evolution is not an add-on to the Bible, it is a replacement.

Dr. Richard D. Phillips is the senior minister of Second Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, SC and the chairman of the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology

See more at:

In this connection, a great resource to read is this one by Prof.David J. Engelsma: “Genesis 1-11: Myth or History.”

Interpretive dance: BioLogos and the Promotion of Evolution| Daniel J. Devine | World

WORLD | Interpretive dance | Daniel James Devine | Nov. 29, 2014.

Creation vs evolutionThis is a significant “exposure” article by World magazine and its reporter Daniel J. Devine on how BioLogos – headquartered right here in Grand Rapids, MI – is pushing evolutionism in the name of Christian science on a broad spectrum of Christian institutions (posted today, Nov.29, 2014).

There are some familiar names given here, many of them with ties to Christian colleges well known to us. The issue of the historicity, accuracy, and authority of Genesis 1-3 (especially), God’s “book of beginnings”, continues to generate heated debate in Christian circles.

But it ought not, if we hold to the clarity as well as to the authority of Scripture. Truly Reformed Christianity posits that God’s Word sheds authoritative light on science and determines how we understand the things that we see (and don’t see!) in creation, not the other way around. We need to continue to keep our biblical “glasses” on straight in order to see the world right.

Here’s the opening paragraphs to Devine’s article; find the rest at the link above.

Just a five-minute stroll from the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., sits the brown brick building that is home since last year to BioLogos, a foundation pushing churches and believers to embrace evolution, and in the process change how they read the Bible.

The brainchild of Francis Collins, who now heads the National Institutes of Health, BioLogos has taken in nearly $9 million from the Templeton Foundation and millions more from other donors. BioLogos in turn offers grants to church, parachurch, and academic leaders and organizations that promote “evolutionary creation.”

BioLogos president Deb Haarsma, former chair of Calvin’s physics and astronomy department, says churches that support evolution will be more effective witnesses in a culture that reveres science, and will help college students avoid a crisis of faith when biology professors argue for evolution. The BioLogos website states, “Genetic evidence shows that humans descended from a group of several thousand individuals who lived about 150,000 years ago.”

Word Wednesday – R.C. Sproul on Words and Ideas

NotaChance-SproulOur last book club title (which we finished and discussed last Saturday morning) was R.C.Sproul’s Not a Chance: God, Science, and the Revolt Against Reason (c.1994 by Baker Book House), recently updated and reprinted after twenty years. At the beginning of chapter 5, “Light and the Light”, Sproul launches into a treatment of words and their meanings, including some references to the Dutch.

So, for our Word Wednesday” feature this week, I will let him tell you about the importance of words and how they relate to the world of ideas – vital for whatever science you are treating, including the “queen of sciences”, theology.

We return now to the complexities of speech We begin with the simple question, ‘What is a word?’ In English we have twenty-six letters in the alphabet. We combine these letters in a huge variety of ways to form discrete units we call words. We use these words to speak and to write. When we write words we use letters. When we speak we use sounds in various combinations. Many different languages emerge using the same alphabet. There are still other languages that use different alphabets. Sounds are more common to broader groups of people than are letters. There are only so many different sounds the human voice can make. Some people master sounds that other people have difficulty with.

The Dutchman struggles (here we go! -cjt) if you ask him to say quickly, ‘Throw those things there.’ The ‘th’ sound is not a familiar sound in his language. Likewise Americans struggle to imitate certain vowel sounds that are easy for Dutchman to speak. We do not infer from this that Dutch babies are born with an inability to voice ‘th’ but with an innate ability to make vowel sounds that befuddle us.

The combination of sounds seems to be an acquired ability. By hearing these sounds often enough the infant learns to imitate them.

Apparently cows speak in different languages and make different sounds (sic). In Holland cows say ‘boe,’ while in America they say ‘moo.’ Not really. Cows don’t say either ‘boe’ or ‘moo.’ Rather they make sounds we seek to imitate in our own respective languages.

Words are composed of sounds and letters. These words are written or spoken representations of ideas. but wait a minute. How can we have ideas without words? Do we not also think with words as well as write or speak with them? The written or spoken word uses visual or aural signs and symbols to express ideas.

Then we ask, ‘What are ideas?’ Is there an identity between ideas of reality and reality itself? This is the old question with which Plato wrestled. Are ideas real ontological entities or mere abstract names used to point to reality?

Though we presently think with words, it is highly unlikely that our thought process began with words. How does language actually begin?

I have enjoyed watching not only my own children but my three grandchildren learn to speak. …The youngest, Michael, only recently learned how to speak. I was involved as a tutor in his learning experience. We played a little game of show and tell. I would point to objects in the room or in pictures and say the name or word for him. I would point to a chair and say, ‘Chair.’ Then Michael would mimic my sound and repeat, ‘Chair.’ We did this exercise daily. Michael was in the process of associating sounds with objects in his field of vision.

What was going on inside Michael’s young mind before he had words to speak with? Certainly he was conscious before he could speak. Consciousness preceeds language. Of what was he conscious (79-81)?

That’s as far as we will go with Dr. Sproul. Is your head spinning? Have you ever thought so deeply about words and ideas? How would you answer these questions? They are important, you know.:)

Story Time from Space!

Teaching Science in Space – Earth Science Picture of the Day.

Story time in spaceReally? Truly? Story time from space?! Yes, with real astronauts up in space reading books to children on earth. In the Earth Science picture of the day that came into my email box last week (posted June 19, 2014) I learned about this new program that teaches science to children (see the intro below).

I would be dreaming if I thought the program did not teach science from an evolutionary perspective, but I can at least take pleasure in knowing the program is teaching children the joy of books and reading. For your part, you may still be able to use this program for your children, but of course, from the viewpoint of the truth about God’s world, including space (Ps.19:1).

Imagine if astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) could read books that teach aspects of Earth and Space science to kids, teachers, and parents down on Earth. Well, there’s no need to imagine because it’s already happening, as part of the new Story Time From Space program. In this photo we see JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata as he prepared to read “The Wizard Who Saved the World,” by Jeffrey Bennett. The Story Time From Space program will also include videos of science demonstrations performed on the space station, curriculum materials and more, all posted freely on the web. Photo taken on March 13, 2014.

Why Books Have Such A Distinctive Smell – Business Insider

Why Books Have Such A Distinctive Smell – Business Insider.

Keepcalm smell booksI have posted something similar to this before (although that was about old books), but this article on why books have that alluring aroma (old and new) is also interesting. So, on this Friday, I hope you will show some more interest in the scientific side of the smell of a good book – musty or fresh. Visit the link and you even get a helpful infographic to assist you!

And perhaps it will even persuade you to do a little book shopping this weekend and get yourself some good summer reading! That would make me even happier.:)

Posted June 2, 2014

Everyone’s familiar with the smell of old books, the weirdly intoxicating scent that haunts libraries and second-hand book stores. Similarly, who doesn’t enjoy riffling through the pages of a newly purchased book and breathing in the crisp aroma of new paper and freshly printed ink? As with all aromas, the origins can be traced back to a number of chemical constituents, so we can examine the processes and compounds that can contribute to both.

As far as the smell of new books goes, it’s actually quite difficult to pinpoint specific compounds, for a number of reasons. Firstly, there seems to be a scarcity of scientific research that’s been carried out on the subject – to be fair, it’s understandable why it might not exactly be high up on the priority list. Secondly, the variation in the chemicals used to manufacture books also means that it’s an aroma that will vary from book to book. Add to this the fact that there are literally hundreds of compounds involved, and it becomes clearer why it evades attribution to a small selection of chemicals.

It’s likely that the bulk of ‘new book smell’ can be put down to three main sources: the paper itself (and the chemicals used in its manufacture), the inks used to print the book, and the adhesives used in the book-binding process.


Read more:

Published in: on June 20, 2014 at 6:50 AM  Leave a Comment  

Sci-Fri Video! Camouflaging Cephalopods!

The heavens [and octopuses] are telling of God’s glory | Denny Burk.

This could become another regular “Friday Fun” feature – “Sci-Fri” videos (Science Friday)! I found this one yesterday on Denny Burk’s blog, and I am hooked! Amazing underwater pictures by a marine biologist of camouflaging cephalapods! OK, I will tip you off a little bit – these creatures include octopuses – and you will stand in awe of how God designed and created them!

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: Paper versus Screens

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens: Scientific American.

KindlePicAs studies continue on the difference that digital reading on a screen makes for our reading skills, this article (posted April 11, 2013) helps put things in perspective and offers preliminary insights. As it turns out, reading physical books may be better for us in the long run, though e-reading continues to rise. Read the entire article at the Scientific American link above. Here is part of it to show you what studies are showing.

Nevertheless, the video brings into focus an important question: How exactly does the technology we use to read change the way we read? How reading on screens differs from reading on paper is relevant not just to the youngest among us, but to just about everyone who reads—to anyone who routinely switches between working long hours in front of a computer at the office and leisurely reading paper magazines and books at home; to people who have embraced e-readers for their convenience and portability, but admit that for some reason they still prefer reading on paper; and to those who have already vowed to forgo tree pulp entirely. As digital texts and technologies become more prevalent, we gain new and more mobile ways of reading—but are we still reading as attentively and thoroughly? How do our brains respond differently to onscreen text than to words on paper? Should we be worried about dividing our attention between pixels and ink or is the validity of such concerns paper-thin?

…Even so, evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper.

litclassics“There is physicality in reading,” says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, “maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading—as we move forward perhaps with too little reflection. I would like to preserve the absolute best of older forms, but know when to use the new.”

Milky Way arching over La Silla, Chile – EarthSky

Milky Way arching over La Silla, Chile | Today’s Image | EarthSky.

Last week (April 5-11) was International Dark Sky Week! At the EarthSky website (one I discovered recently and for whose daily emailings I signed up) you will find many beautiful pictures of the night sky, including this one. The glories of our Father-Creator are evident all around us, including high above us. Don’t forget to “read” (I.e., properly, through the lens of Scripture, such as Psalms 8 and 19) this most elegant book too! And to think that our God knows all these stars by name (Isaiah 40:26).

Milky Way Galaxy arching over ESO in La Silla, Chile.

“Imago Dei” (The Image of God in Man) – Mark E. Ross

Imago Dei by Mark Ross | Reformed Theology Articles at

TT April 2013As we noted last Monday, this month’s Tabletalk is devoted to the theme of “Defining Personhood”, being a form of “pro-life manifesto”. The second feature article on this subject is written by Mark E. Ross, associate dean and associate professor of systematic theology at Erskine Theological Seminary in Columbia, SC (tied to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church). In this article he ties the theme of personhood and the Christian pro-life position to the image of God in man (“Imago Dei” is Latin for “image of God”).

We may have some theological points of difference with Ross on the nature of the image of God in man especially after the Fall (One has to be extremely careful about the language he uses about and the content he gives to the image of God in fallen man.), yet I believe Ross does a commendable job of showing how our Biblical view of life and personhood is also tied to the “Imago Dei”. You will not have to agree with every point to appreciate the God-centered perspective we must have as we look at our neighbor – and especially that unborn neighbor.

Her are a few paragraphs from Ross’ article; read all of it at the Ligonier link above.

When God makes man, He breaks the pattern that He has set by creating living things according to their kinds. The tenfold mention of this pattern causes us to expect it with each new living creature to appear, but something quite different happens when man is made; he is not made “according to [his] kind.” Neither is man created according to any other kind among the living creatures. Man does not, therefore, belong to their kinds, whatever similarities there may be between him and the other creatures. To put it in modern scientific language, he is not a particular species within a given genus of living creatures. Man is unlike any of the other living creatures (v. 26). Surprising as it is, man is made according to God’s “kind,” made in the image of God (imago Dei). Man, like God, is a personal being. God Himself, as the Bible later reveals, is three persons all sharing one divine essence. Human persons are created beings, and in that regard (as in others) they are similar to and share characteristics with other created beings. But what is most important about human persons is their likeness to God. This likeness is so very special that it sets them apart from all the other creatures God made. Man is not made according to their kinds; he is made according to God’s “kind.” In other words, man is made as the image and likeness of God.

…Further, as we are to respect God and bless Him by our words, so we must never curse those made in the likeness of God (James 3:9). The whole of human ethics is grounded in the imago Dei. Husbands must love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25–27). Fathers must discipline and instruct their children as the Lord does His children (6:4). The comforting love of a mother is the image and likeness of the comforting love of God (Isa. 66:13). Earthly masters should reflect the justice and fairness found in the heavenly Master (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1). Though sin has greatly defaced God’s image in us, by God’s grace in Christ that image is renewed (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Living by that grace, people see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:16). When our restoration is complete, we shall forever live in the presence of God, clothed with His glory (Rev. 21–22), having truly become His “kind” of people. Thanks be to God.

What’s Wrong with Theistic Evolution? – Kevin DeYoung

What’s Wrong with Theistic Evolution? – Kevin DeYoung.

On this Tuesday we will stay with a creation theme, and also post this fine 8-point summary by Wayne Grudem on why theistic evolution is at odds with the Bible and the historic Christian faith. With the historicity of Adam and Eve the current “hot button” in theistic evolutionary circles (so-called Christian science), this is a crucial matter for us who believe in the truth of literal creation (according to a literal/historical interpretation of Genesis 1-3) to face and be prepared to defend. At the end, pastor Kevin De Young gives his own conclusions (posted April 19, 2012).

Listed below are eight problems Wayne Grudem finds with theistic evolution. I realize he may not be an authority on these matters, but in typical fashion he distills the main points nicely and explain succinctly what unbiblical conclusions we must reach for theistic evolution to be true.

(1) Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, but they were just two Neolithic farmers among about ten million other human beings on earth at that time, and God just chose to reveal himself to them in a personal way.

(2) Those other human beings had already been seeking to worship and serve God or gods in their own ways.

(3) Adam was not specially formed by God of ‘dust from the ground’ (Gen. 2:7) but had two human parents.

(4) Eve was not directly made by God of a ‘rib that the Lord God had taken from the man’ (Gen. 2:22), but she also had two human parents.

(5) Many human beings both then and now are not descended from Adam and Eve.

(6) Adam and Eve’s sin was not the first sin.

(7) Human physical death had occurred for thousands of years before Adam and Eve’s sin–it was part of the way living things had always existed.

(8) God did not impose any alteration in the natural world when he cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin. (Should Christians Embrace Evolution?, 9)

These are other questions theistic evolution raises for the Bible believing Christian. How can we uphold the special dignity and majesty the Bible accords human beings when we are only qualitatively different from other life forms and continuous with the rest of the animal world? How can God impute sin and guilt to all humans along the lines of federal headship when some of us have no physical connection with Adam? Likewise, if we are not all descended literally from one pair, how can we all have an ontological connection with Christ who only assumed the flesh of Adam’s race?

Of course, these problems are no problems at all (conceptually) without the Bible to account for. But theistic evolution purports to bring together the evolutionary consensus and a faithful doctrine of creation. That’s the whole appeal. And yet, I don’t see how the two are compatible, whether Adam really existed or not.


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