Friday, April 9, 2010

Reformed Academic Endorses Evolution 2

Reformed Academic has replied to my post Reformed Academic Endorses Evolution (see the comments at that post for their full reply). Here is my response:

1. RA: "You say Reformed Academic endorses evolution. This is simply not the case; we instead simply insist upon space for the discussion of evolution, and point out that such space exists within the bounds of the Reformed confessions."

JB:  Not true. This debate is not about simply discussing evolution. Nobody--least of all myself--disputes that the Reformed Confessions allows space for the discussion of evolution. After all, the Belgic Confession (Art.7) urges us to the test the spirits in the light of Scripture, "rejecting with all our hearts whatever does not agree with this infallible rule." Hence we should discuss what evolution is, examine whether it passes the Scriptural test, and act accordingly.

The debate is about whether evolution is in fact consistent with the Bible.

I maintain that evolution clearly contradicts the Bible.

Reformed Academic, on the other hand, asserts:
"Theistic evolution is accepted, however, among an increasing number of Bible-believing, orthodox Christians."
"It is not Darwinian evolution which is “the enemy,” opposed to Christianity, but evolutionism"
"Theistic evolution is not outside the boundaries of the TFU (i.e., Three Forms of Unity)".

Note the last statement--it says explicitly that evolution itself , not just the discussion of it, is deemed to be within the Reformed boundaries.

What other conclusion can one draw but that Reformed Academic wants space not just to discuss evolution but to approve it as Biblical and Reformed?

2. RA: "Neither “Ten Reasons” nor our response to it is a critique of evolution. Our response is largely a clarification of the distinctions between the biological theory of evolution and the philosophical worldview of evolutionism."

JB: Not true. Many of the “Ten Reasons” (1,2,4,7,9,10) are in fact a critique of how evolution contradicts the Bible in its account of past history; your response defends evolution against the traditional reading of Gen.1-11. Nowhere in your response--or in this reply--do you ever say anything against evolution. Indeed, Dr vanderMeer has posted three papers on your blog in which he argues for evolution, including animal ancestry for man; none of you have given any detailed rebuttals. What else is all this but a further endorsement of evolution?

3. RA: "There are no atheistic or theistic versions of evolution, any more than there are atheistic or theistic versions of the theory of gravity. There are instead different perspectives upon, or ways to see, or grand worldview packages into which one places, the biological theory of evolution. For example, some consider that the theory provides evidence against Christianity,...."

JB: Sorry, but I don't quite follow you. It is my understanding that Darwinian evolution holds that all earthly life evolved from one initial cell via purely natural, undirected processes. Theistic evolution, on the other hand, holds that God somehow guided evolution, possibly using also supernatural events in such special events as the formation of man.

Are you now saying that your theistic evolution is actually the same as Darwinian evolution--that only natural causes play a role in evolution? Is that what you mean with your claim (see above) that "Darwinian evolution" is not “the enemy,” opposed to Christianity"?

4. RA: "Finally, we do not endorse the views of Alexander, Lamoureux, or Collins. We simply suggested that these are examples of Christians who “fully affirm that the creation of man is a special creative act of God...."

JB: If you do not endorse the views of Denis Alexander, why is your blog "highly recommending" that our pastors attend his upcoming speeches at Regent College?

As to Collins, as I pointed out already, what he actually says is:"We cannot say that Adam and Eve were formed as acts of special creation." This is the exact opposite of what you claim he says.

Further, how can you object to such views when these are merely the logical conclusions of embracing evolution, which you deem to be Biblical and Reformed?

Finally, a word of concern.  The evolutionary views you are promoting clearly contradict God's Word. This is bound to undermine the faith of not just yourselves, but also those whom you reach and teach.  Remember, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness" (James 3:1).

I thus urge you to prayerfully reconsider your erroneous teachings.


George van Popta said...

John, I like your last two paragraphs. I was visiting one of my kleyne luyden this morning who is confused and upset by recent writings of people he knows and respects as intelligent.

Anonymous said...

I see Bruce Walkte has resigned from RTS because of his evolutionary views. Hopefully more will come out of the closet, and stop confusing those who hold to the faith once delivered (Jud 3).

john byl said...

Thanks for your comment Slabbert, as well as the links you give at your site. One quote:

“Michael Milton, president of the Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte)… confirmed that the scholar had lost his job over the video. Milton said that Waltke would "undoubtedly" be considered one of the world's great Christian scholars of the Old Testament and that he was "much beloved here," with his departure causing "heartache." But he said that there was no choice.
Milton said that the seminary allows "views to vary" about creation, describing the faculty members there as having "an eight-lane highway" on which to explore various routes to understanding. Giving an example, he said that some faculty members believe that the Hebrew word yom (day) should be seen in Genesis as a literal 24-hour day. Others believe that yom may be providing "a framework" for some period of time longer than a day….
But while Milton insisted that this provides for "a diversity" of views, he acknowledged that others are not permitted. Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn't arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life), are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this.” (

Anonymous said...

John, in the light of Milton's comments, my question would be: where must one draw the line in the debate about the reformed doctrine of creation, to say this or that view is not in line with 'reformed orthodoxy', i.e. that a certain belief about Genesis is in our outside the reformed congessions ?

I myself believe in 6/24, young earth and global flood, etc, but the Dordt Confessions has no direct or detail statements on this (I believe it were not needed in the 16/17th century, all assumed and believed it from Scripture). The WCF does have the more clear 'in the space of six days', but not much detail, because of the same reason mentioned above.

I think that the doctrine of creation (together with the doctrine of the infallibility/inerrancy of Scripture) maybe demands a new reformed confession for our times, in the same lines as the Synod of Dordt (1618/19) produced with/against the Arminian heresy.

I know individual churches and seminaries has allready done some work on these issues, but it could be good to bring all together via Reformed and Presbyterian churches gathering around God's Word, and through His Spirit, decide on this very important issues, which are central for any further Gospel preaching, missions and societal reformation.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the typo: congessions = confessions ! ... just another proof against the theory of evolution ... or am I just not one of the 'fittest' ? ;-)

Henrietta said...

Dr Byl, thank you once again for being a watchman and blowing the trumpet(Eze 33:3) on this important issue! Henrietta Klaasing, South Africa

john byl said...


The only Reformed Church that officially endorses 6 literal days is the Reformed Church in the US (RCUS). Others, such as the URC, OPC, PCA and CRC draw the line at the direct creation of Adam, as Milton does. A gathering of Reformed and Presbyterian churches would likely result in a watered-down common denominator statement.

The problem with allowing an old earth but drawing the line at Adam is that the direct creation of Adam is very plausible within the biblical, young earth framework but no longer so in an old-earth framework. The same scientific presuppositions leading one to an old earth will lead also to an evolved Adam; the same hermeneutical gymnastics leading to a non-literal Gen.1 will lead also to a non-literal Gen.2-3. In allowing a non-literal Gen.1 one has already given away the farm.

Hence, if one is to apply a logically consistent biblical worldview, based on an inerrant and fully authoritative Bible, the only feasible place to draw the line is at Gen.1—the creation days. If you can't believe everything the Bible says, how can you believe anything it says?

I do not insist on 6/24 days ( the first 3 days may have been longer periods of light and darkness, for all we know), but since the last 3 days—on which all the animals were created—were solar days, this already rules out an evolutionary origin of animals and man.

RubeRad said...

This has nothing (or at least not much) to do with this post, but I thought I'd FYI you this link:

Anonymous said...

Here is my comments at the White Horse Inn/MR blog:

What is the link between the first words about the Waltke issue (denying the historicity of Adam) and the rest of this article about the age of the earth ? Does the latter lead to the first ?

Is Waltke consistent, but others, accepting old earth but still holding to a historical Adam, inconsistent ?

The article also seems to say that we must listen to certain (evolutionary) views about the age of the earth (old age) more than the other view (young age). On what grounds ?

And, why not also listen to that growing body of theologians and evolusionist proclaiming that Adam was not historical ? Where will MR draw the line, and how do you determine who to listen to, democracy: if the most theologians/scientists deny it, then it is correct ? (contra Ex.23:1-3)

And, why then do we only believe the evidence of certain theologians and certain scientists on certain issues, and not on other issues such as the resurrection. Why do we not listen also to the 'overwhelming' evidence of liberal theologians and scientists who 'confirm' that people cannot be raised from the dead, it is unscientific. Yes, "a large number of observations over a long period of time will likely be the telling factor", and has confirmed that people are not raised from the dead. So, maybe the Gospels are trying to teach us something else than that Christ bodily and physically and historically raised from the dead, contra 1 Cor.15 ?

Where do we draw the line what to accept from modern science and what not ?

You write: "Likewise, in the present controversy, a large number of observations over a long period of time will likely be the telling factor."

In the present controversy, over a long period of time (and still continuing), it becomes more clear that there are many theologians and scientist who reject (or compromise) the tradional view of Genesis 1 and especially the length of the days, who are also now starting to deny the historical Adam and the historicity of Gen.1-3.

Meanwhile, I do not know of any theologian or scientist (past or present) that holds to the traditional view of Genesis and the length of days and a young earth, that in any sense deny the historicity of Genesis 1-3 or Adam. Indeed, they hold even more firmly to the faith once delivered (Jud.3)

Prov.4:23 indeed.

Once again, how do you decide what theologians/scientists to believe on a certain issue, and who not to listen to (The 'creationist' theologians and scientist has the same degrees and academic pedigree, why are some biased against them and prefer the atheistic and theistic evolutionist theories more ?)

In Noah's time the the majority, and it was a great majority, could see no 'evidence' for a coming world wide flood, but Noah was right according to Special Revelation. Once again Hebr.11:1-7.

It all boils down to, not the 'large number of observations' and how many telescopes and scientists using it, but through what lenses (pressupositions) both the theologians and scientists read both Scripture and nature, both special and natural revelation.

So, if it is so called 'modern reformed' to read Genesis and the rest of Scripture through the lenses of of modern (evolutionary) science; and 'fundamentalistic' to read nature/general revelation through the lenses of Scripture (Calvin, Luther, etc !), then I prefer to be a 'fundamentalist' in the biblical orthodox reformed historical sense of the word.

John 3:12 12 "If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?