Thus far this year I have not yet written a new blog post. Between preparing for the new semester, to the “snowpocalypse” of northern Alabama (one day of snow totaling 1-inch that brought about a close of school for 5 days, thus meaning instead of getting work down during the day, I was entertaining my 6-year old), to then my computer being in the shop for another four days as soon as school started up again—well, I haven’t really had the chance to write much.
But a couple of weeks ago, someone brought to my attention a short AiG article by Bodie Hodge entitled, “Can an Evolutionist be a Creationist?” in which he discussed the meanings of terms like creationism, theistic evolution, and evolutionary creationism. In most ways, it was really nothing new: just the standard AiG shtick. Nevertheless, a couple of things in the article stood out to me…enough to save the article with the intention of writing a short post on it myself at a later time.
Well, today happens to be that latter time.
What Hodge’s Article is Basically About
Hodge begins his article by telling the story about a conversation a friend of his had with a local college professor who what a theistic evolutionist. Essentially, the college professor wanted Hodge’s friend to acknowledge that he, too, was in fact a creationist because he believes in God, confesses Christ, but simply believes that evolution is the method by which God creates. Well, Hodge’s friend would not call him a creationist, for he (and Hodge) accused this college professor of trying to change the definition of creationist for nefarious purposes. This college professor, in Hodge’s view, was a “word-wrangler.” What is a “word-wrangler”? Hodge gets that from II Timothy 2:14 (“…solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers”).
Hodge then proceeded to wrangle about words for the rest of the article.
The long and short of his argument is that theistic evolutionists are not creationists, because creationism means YOUNG EARTH creationism, which is the BIBLICAL view. Therefore, the more recent term some theistic evolutionists are using (i.e. evolutionary creationism) is intentionally trying to confuse Christians to get them to accept evolution, which really is just the religion of atheism.
So, What’s Wrong with That? Well…Everything
Let’s cut to the chase: if you believe in a God who created everything, you are a creationist, biblically-speaking. You may think God creates through the evolutionary process—and that would make you a theistic evolutionist, or evolutionary creationist. Pick whatever label you want; the point is that you believe God created via evolution. Or you may think God created everything in six literal days, 6,000 years ago—that would make you a young earth creationist. But neither young earth creationism nor evolutionary creationism is synonymous with biblical creation, because the biblical account of creation is not attempting to give us a scientific explanation of precisely how God did it. And so, when Hodge claims young earth creationism is the “biblical view,” he is wrong, plain and simple.
“I’m Not Saying Francis Collins isn’t a Christian, but…”
Now, I’ve heard discussions about those terms before, and by and large think they go nowhere. I for one do not call myself a theistic evolutionist, or evolutionary creationist, or even creationist (I don’t need to say I don’t call myself a young earth creationist, do I?). I am a Christian, plain and simple. I have no problem thinking that evolution describes the natural processes by which God creates, but I don’t “believe in theistic evolution or evolutionary creationism,” any more than I “believe in” photosynthesis, gravity, or germ theory. I am convinced of the evidence that evolution happens, just like photosynthesis, gravity, and germs happen, but I don’t “believe in” photosynthesis; I don’t label myself a “theistic gravitationist.”
And so, if Hodge wants to “wrangle” over labels, more power to him—I think it is largely kind of silly. But what did concern me in his article were numerous little things he peppered his comments with to insinuate that Christians who accept evolutionary theory are really…probably…not Christians. He doesn’t say that in such an overt, stark manner—but come on, passive-aggressive comments that question the faith of someone aren’t that hard to miss.
First, consider the way in which he compares and contrasts Bill Nye, Francis Collins, and Ken Ham: (A) Bill Nye is an atheist who “believes in” evolution; (B) Francis Collins is a well-known scientist “who professes to be a Christian,” and who also “believes in” evolution; and (C) Ken Ham is “a Bible-believing Christian who believes God created all things by the power of his word in six days,” and he “rejects evolution in favor of the biblical view of creation.”
Did you catch that? Collins professes to be a Christian and believes in evolution; whereas Ham IS A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN who believes God created in six days, and who rejects evolution in favor of the biblical view of creation.
Translation? “Collins may claim to be a Christian, but he believes in evolution (just like Bill Nye…the atheist). He’s not like Ken Ham who really is a Bible-believing Christian who (as every real Christian does) rejects that evolution that atheists like Bill Nye believes in and accepts the Bible!”
I can almost hear Hodge say, “I’m not saying Collins isn’t a Christian…he professes to be so I have to accept that…but…”
What’s Ken Ham’s Real Religion?
The next thing that stood out to me was how Hodge described the difference between Bill Nye and Ken Ham: “Bill Nye is an evolutionist, and Ken Ham is a creationist—with two opposing religions.” (For the record, Hodge follows this statement up by saying he can’t really be sure which of these two men Collins has more in common with). But what struck me about the above statement is that not only does Hodge call evolution a religion, but that he also calls creationism a religion—so what is Ham’s religion? Christianity or young earth creationism?
To the point, if someone believes the first chapters of Genesis claim a 6,000-year-old earth, fine—I think they’re wrong, but it’s ultimately a minor point. But if someone is so insistent that he calls belief in a 6,000-year-old earth a religion—well, I think that is very telling.
There are numerous other smaller quips Hodge makes, but I want to focus on one more. Since Francis Collins founded BioLogos, Hodge feels the need to (obviously) question the motives, and dare I say faith, of BioLogos.
Near the end of the article, Hodge says we need to look at the “fruit” of theistic evolution/evolutionary creationism, and then quotes Jesus in Matthew 7:16 (“You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, of figs from thistles?”). The implication is clear: “Now we’re not saying BioLogos isn’t Christian, but…can you get grapes from thornbushes???”
And then immediately after that, Hodge questions the motives of people for using evolutionary creationism:
“What is the apparent objective of organizations like BioLogos or individuals who want to be called evolutionary creationists? Are they focusing on evolutionists who are atheists, trying to get them to become theists and come to faith in Christ? Or do they target members of the Christian community and the objective to promote evolution to Christians? Is use of the term evolutionary creationist meant to persuade atheists to accept them because they believe in evolution? Or is the term used to confuse and persuade Christians to adopt an evolutionary perspective?”
So there you have it: BioLogos is intentionally trying to confuse Christians.
And finally, Hodge doubles down on the whole “What is theistic evolution really?” thing: Atheistic evolutionists aren’t Christians—they hold to the religion of atheism and a pagan view of nature. Creationists (by which Hodge means YECists) has another religion (i.e. “biblical” Christianity).
But what exactly is theistic evolution? To Hodge it is obvious: what BioLogos is doing is the equivalent of the syncretistic practices of ancient Israel when they mixed their worship of God with Baal: “Just as when Old Testament Israelites mixed their religion with the Baal worship of the day, that was syncretism, so when people mix their Christianity with paganistic origins like evolution, that is also syncretism. Theistic evolution is really just another form of syncretism.”
That’s right, in AiG’s eyes, the scientific theory of evolution is the same thing as the worship of Baal. In AiG’s eyes, evolution is both an atheistic religion and paganism at the same time—(which of course is a nonsensical thing to say: you can no more be an atheistic pagan than an atheistic Christian, or a Christian pagan).
…but again, Hodge isn’t saying BioLogos or Francis Collins isn’t a Christian. Francis Collins is just like the atheist Bill Nye (and not like Bible-believing Ken Ham), and BioLogos promotes syncretism with atheism and paganism, just like the Israelites in the Old Testament did…but they profess to be Christian, so…well…can you get grapes from thornbushes?
Hodge then ends his article by reminding his readers that God judged the Israelites for their syncretism, so we need to be watchful for false teaching within the church.
…gee, I wonder who he has in mind?
Hodge’s article is just the same ole, same ole from AiG, and so it really isn’t surprising in any way. In fact, such rhetoric is getting rather stale. Nevertheless, it is important to continue to point out the subtle ways they routinely question the faith of Christians who do not hold to their YECist claims, because sadly they are gaining influence within many American churches. I have no doubt that, within time, YECism will run its course and wither on the vine. To be blunt, it isn’t biblical, it isn’t scientific, and it has no real connection to the faith of the early Church. And oh, it tends to be a wee bit divisive.
But until it does go the way of the velociraptors in Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter, YECism will continue to flood both biblical and scientific discourse with nonsense and pharisaical judgmentalism.