Rebuttal of Theistic Evolution

There are now a range of excellent books within our community showing how theistic evolution (TE) or God-directed evolution can be rebutted. While taking on the false theory of TE, Brother Peter Heavyside set his goals a little broader. In showing the falsehood of TE he wants to demonstrate a sound approach to reading the Scriptures and dealing with all ‘problem passages.’ In this regard, it has been suggested to him that perhaps he was being a little over-optimistic when he wrote in the preface that after the current fad of TE has passed the essential arguments in the book will be useful. TE, sadly, doesn’t disappear – but tragically its adherents seem to leave the body of Christ.

The book supports the defence of brothers and sisters against false teachers who would bring a liberal critical reading of the Scriptures into the ecclesia. Instead of reading the Scriptures as the inspired word of God, they ask us to read the Bible in the light of human knowledge (e.g. science and archaeology). The assumption is that the words of the Scriptures are words of men and women with the expected failures of historical accuracy and inconsistencies. In chapter 1, Brother Peter expounds the critical importance of our understanding of the inspiration of Scripture (as outlined in the Foundation statement of the BASF). Unfortunately, false theories like TE are not built on this premise. For example, these false teachers – who believe that the Bible is built on the mythology of the time – read Genesis 1 as if it were inspired by Ancient Near Eastern cultures, rather than being inspired by God. Hence they develop the unscriptural idea of the firmament as an iron dome.

The structure of the book is to take each of eight reasons established on the blog of a group called Biologos as to why we should not accept the creation record of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 as a consistent harmonious account of God’s creation. The author defends a reading of the Bible which is harmonious, “that every part of the scriptures is in agreement with every other part to form a unified, while richly symphonic, message” (p.11). It is also historical. Events recorded in Scripture actually happened, as they are recorded. This does not deny the richness of the meaning and signification of the record, but “scripture is not subordinate to history but history to scripture” (p.12).

Genesis is a reliable historical record

Early in the book in chapter 2, Brother Peter works through Jesus’ reading of Genesis 1 and 2, as recorded in Matthew 19 and Mark 10. The power of Jesus’ argument is based on relying on Genesis 1 and 2 as reliable history of the one event: “Jesus regarded both Genesis 1 and 2 and the events described in these chapters as historically true across the entire span of their record, including at the level of detailed and specific events” (p.27). Jesus then used the harmony between these two records to give counsel about marriage and divorce.

The next chapters, 3 to 11 contain the substantive argument against the eight points. For example, in chapter 5, Brother Peter demonstrates that there are not different orders of creation in Genesis 1 and 2, but they are harmonious records of the same event. His argument in chapter 6 concerning literary styles is useful in many biblical contexts – changing styles don’t need to represent new authors or new events. The Spirit chooses different styles of communication to speak to men and women. Brother Peter steps aside from his argument in chapter 7 to look at figurative language, and whether such language in some way compromises the historicity of the record. In a well-argued chapter he shows that figures are based on the reality of the events. There was a real woman called Eve which provides a profound symbol of the ecclesia being “built,” like Eve, and in a figure, married to Christ. The use of the name of Yahweh is explored in chapter 9 and shown to be not the name of a tribal god, but the name by which the Creator manifests Himself, and in the table on p.101 he demonstrates how one writer can use multiple titles of God without confusion.

Source of error of TE adherents

Towards the end of the book the reader will find three powerful chapters, 12 to 14. Chapter 12 argues that if we assume that evolution is true, we will make continual mistakes in our reading of Genesis 1 and 2. When we commence our Bible reading with a wrong premise, we must end up drawing false conclusions. In chapter 14, Brother Peter lays out two competing inspiration frameworks – the God manifestation view which, thankfully, most of us have been well educated in. The alternative framework is what some TE’s refer to as the incarnation model – like Jesus, the Scriptures are both human and divine. Here is a key part of the problem. Some TE’s assert that Scripture is a human artefact, and this explains what they consider inconsistencies and disharmony as the text emerged from its cultural and social context. At this point, Brother Peter demonstrates that TE is not just a challenge to God as Creator, but it challenges the truth of the Scriptures God gave to humans: “It is clear evolutionary creationists’ believe scripture’s origination lies principally or significantly with the human writers rather than with God. While evolutionary creationists declare unequivocally that scripture is God’s word, they plainly see that this latter aspect arises from God cooperating with the human writers in their own endeavours” (p.147).

In summary, the reader will find this an excellent book which confirms the Scriptures as truth. Readers will find the author’s language is generally accessible, with the occasional word like “phenomenology” providing a little challenge. Some might find the book a little heavy and occasionally laboured, but this is a result of how Brother Peter deliberately and carefully weaves his argument. The book cannot be viewed as too negative; it has a genuinely positive goal and demonstrates positive messages about how to read the Bible. Even to the reader who is not particularly interested in TE it provides excellent guidance as to how to read God’s Word with care. The book is permeated with Brother Peter’s clear understanding of the Scripture – every word is God breathed. It is not common for proceeds of a book to be devoted to a cause, but purchasers of the book will not find any concern with this. In closing, it would be useful to have this book available electronically for those who prefer reading books on devices than in physical form.

Availability

The book is available from the Christadelphian Scripture Studies Service: www.csss.org.au.