Theistic Evolution

From Reconciling understandings of Scripture and Science
(Redirected from TE)
Jump to navigationJump to search

See also Theistic Heliocentrism and Theistic Meteorology.

Theistic Evolution is a 19th Century term that arose in response to the claim that the new scientific theory of the evolution of species by natural selection was contrary to belief in God. By describing evolution as theistic believers intended to emphasise that God was the ultimate Creator, in control of evolution.

A Note about Terminology

The abbreviation "TE" has two meanings:

  • usually, "theistic evolution" — the belief that God has created living things to evolve;
  • sometimes, with the pronoun they, "theistic evolutionists" — people who hold these beliefs.

For examples of this second usage see Colin's page Comment on Creation/EC/TE - Bible implications

Well known Theistic Evolutionists

Well known theistic evolutionists include
Francisco J. Ayala
Francis Collins
Theodosius Dobzhansky
John F. Haught
Denis O. Lamoureux as of 2013, previously YEC
John Lennox
C. S. Lewis
Arthur Peacocke
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Alfred Russel Wallace and yes, . . . 
Charles Darwin, as it seems:

Charles Darwin (1809 - 1882)

There have been many ideas about exactly how the Creator controls evolution. The classic theistic evolutionary concept, that God created the universe with natural laws and breathed life into it, was described in the conclusion of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species:

It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth,and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed [by the Creator*] into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

— Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species
* this phrase was added to "breathed into" in the second and subsequent editions. See Beliefs re the Origin of Life#Darwin.‎

See also Origin of Species, 6th Edition ending — Darwin speaks of "the laws impressed on matter by the Creator" and of God as the creator of all life.

A Modern Description of Theistic Evolution

A modern introduction to the concept of Theistic Evolution, by a Protestant-Catholic team of professors emeritus writing for, is Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design.

Less helpfully, theistic evolution was described on the defunct Christadelphian Answers website as a "current trend in popular thinking" (preserved on the Internet Archive here) — hardly doing justice to the benefits it has brought to medicine, public health, psychology, agriculture, genetics, conservation of the environment, and more.

Christadelphian "Evolutionary Creationists"

Christadelphians whose beliefs could be described as "Theistic Evolution" often prefer to describe themselves by the synonymous term "Evolutionary Creationists"; others dislike both terms — see following. Some of their stories are at EC Testimonials.

Objections to both terms

Sometimes Christadelphians who accept evolutionary biology reject both of these terms as labels that unreasonably combine their belief in God with their acceptance of evolution: they see evolution as a relatively insignificant detail about how living things have been created, and not to be compared in the same phrase with God the Creator himself.

Thus they see "Theistic Evolution" as an incoherent concept: there is no necessary connection between theism and evolution, and little value in putting them together. This can be clearly seen by comparing "theistic evolution" with "Theistic Meteorology".

Similarly, "Evolutionary Creationism" can be seen as an incoherent concept and unnecessary neologism.