Sunday, February 24, 2019

Cake on a Fence

Theistic evolutionists attempt to reconcile the claims of secular scientists with the claims of the Bible. The idea is that by allegorizing or mythologizing the early chapters of Genesis, Christians can retain the important moral teaching of scripture without losing their audience.

It is an increasingly popular position, though hard numbers of Christians who hold it are difficult to come by. On the low side, a Gallup poll taken for the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday showed only 24% of frequent church attendees believe in evolution. On the high side, a more recent study claimed almost 50% of Roman Catholics believe it.

That’s an apples/oranges comparison, of course, but the actual percentage of Christians who feel comfortable acknowledging some form of theistic evolution probably falls somewhere in between those two numbers.

On the Fence

Fence-straddling may allow Christians to maintain a degree of intellectual respectability along with their faith, but it is still an uncomfortable exercise. Jesus taught that no one can serve two masters, and no serious, mature Christian would ever argue the point. To get around this, the theistic evolutionist must claim that his two masters are really one: that God used evolution as the mechanism by which a single species developed more-or-less naturally and randomly to the point where it can now be invited to enter into a relationship with its Creator. If evolution is really God working, there is no conflict in believing both, right?

The difficulty, of course, is that one can only maintain the “single master” fiction by playing fast and loose with the text of Genesis. Theistic evolutionists reliably avoid peering too closely at the creation story. Mythologizing will only take you so far.

After all, even a myth is telling you something. There are things in Genesis that are awfully hard to allegorize away.

Getting Miyn-Spirited

Here’s one: the Hebrew word miyn. (It rhymes with “clean”.)

In English, miyn is translated “according to its kind” and “according to their kind”, or something similar. The word is used in Genesis 1 of plant and animal types. It occurs again in Genesis 6 and 7 as the criteria by which Noah was to choose pairs of animals to bring aboard the ark to be preserved from the coming flood, and yet again in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as the criteria by which the Israelites were to determine which reptiles, birds and insects they were not to eat.

These latter usages demonstrate miyn refers not just to categories of birds, beasts and fish, but to subcategories of each type. There are “kinds” of lizards, “kinds” of locusts, and “kinds” of grasshoppers. There are differences between types. There are differences between subtypes.

Yes, I’m avoiding the word “species”. Notwithstanding the fact that Darwin wrote about the “origin of species”, the viability of species as a method of classification has recently been questioned by evolutionists concerned that acknowledging species exist works against their case. My point is that whatever you choose to label the categories of creatures that exist, there are observable categories.

Categories and Subcategories

This is what we all witness in nature. A kite is not a raven is not a falcon is not a seagull is not an owl. One does not have to have a degree in the sciences to make that observation. They may be related. They are not the same. Further, my cat is not my dog, and we do not currently find “cogs” or “dats” occurring either in nature or in the fossil record. If one day gene splicing does bring us similar monstrosities, it will not be evidence for natural selection but rather for unnatural selection.

Now, in Genesis 1, the word miyn is used ten times in the space of 16 verses. In other words, it is not a slip or an incidental occurrence. The Holy Spirit was not trying to say something else. He says fruit trees have “kinds”, birds have “kinds” and sea creatures have “kinds”. He says the beasts of the earth and livestock and creeping things all have “kinds”. They exist within fixed categories, whether or not scientists are inclined to set aside the prevailing narrative and correctly identify those categories. (Oddly, a child will recognize a truth that scientists increasingly do not. He has no difficulty determining that the rhesus monkey in the zoo is not his mother — or anything like his mother — notwithstanding the fact that they share 93% of the same DNA.)

Adam was no geneticist, yet God expected him to recognize these categories and subcategories without difficulty. He expected the same of both Noah and the children of Israel: Adam, in order to name the animals without confusion, omission or duplication; Noah, in order to preserve all the required kinds; and Israel, in order not to eat the ones God called unclean for them. I bet you can recognize them too.

Reproducing According to Kind

Further, the Holy Spirit says plants and animals naturally reproduce “according to their own kinds”. Whether we speak of one generation or a thousand generations, their “seed” produces something like they are, not something wildly different. Without compromising anything taught in Genesis or elsewhere, we may certainly recognize the likelihood that natural and sexual selection play their part in producing comparatively minor variations within kinds — skin color, eye color, IQ, plumage, hair texture and so on — but there are still significant, observable categories within nature that only the most well-propagandized intellects can be persuaded to overlook. A bird that changes color or gets bigger or smaller over generations remain identifiably a bird. It is reproducing “according to its own kind”. A dinosaur that ultimately becomes a bird is not.

It makes little biblical sense for a Christian to argue for the impermanence of kinds, and yet that is precisely what evolutionists do. That’s fine for them, but Christians, especially evangelical Christians, generally claim to believe in the inspiration of scripture. Theistic evolutionists who believe in the inspiration of scripture must argue for the validity of evolution by natural and sexual selection, which of necessity denies there are unbreakable boundaries between kinds, while simultaneously arguing for the inspiration of a book that teaches not only that fixed kinds exist, but that these broader categories do not change at all; they have existed from the very beginning and were designed by God to continue existing.

So what does an evangelical theistic evolutionist do with miyn? Perhaps he just avoids looking at it.

Literal and Figurative

Back to mythologizing Genesis. There are indeed certain words and expressions used in Genesis that one may legitimately allegorize. One such word is “day”, as in “there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” Elsewhere in scripture, the same word is used in ways that are inarguably allegorical. Peter, for instance, writes “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The expression “day of the Lord” in both Old Testament and New is manifestly a period significantly longer than 24 hours. Thus, “day” may be legitimately used in a figurative sense, and those who argue that it is being employed this way in Genesis 1 have plenty of perfectly scriptural reasons to do so.

But note this: the figurative usage can only exist where there is a well-established literal sense to a word; when we have a clearly-defined way to measure both a literal day and a literal year. Remove the literal sense and the figurative immediately becomes meaningless. What does “one day is as a thousand years” mean to us if we have no means of calculating the actual duration of days and years? It’s as useful as saying “one @#!&$ is as a #!^$*”. You know there’s some sort of comparison going on, but that’s about it.

Allegories of Allegories

Now, the theistic evolutionist does not take miyn literally. He can’t. For the evolutionist, fixed kinds are merely an illusion that only our inconvenient inability to travel millions of years into the past prevents us from easily debunking. How then can the theistic evolutionist further allegorize miyn? For him it is already allegorical, and he has no means of identifying the basic truth it was intended to depict.

So then, what exactly is the Holy Spirit’s creation “myth” trying to tell us here, not just once but ten times? (If you want to mythologize the Genesis flood, you need to explain seven more uses of the term.) Why say something meaningless seventeen times … unless it’s actually not so meaningless?

I’d love an answer, but theistic evolutionists generally do not read the text all that attentively once they have pronounced it mythological. When they say “myth” then, what they really mean is that the Genesis account means nothing at all. They are not reinterpreting it so much as they are simply dismissing it.

Pardon my jumble of metaphors, but that is not having your cake and eating it too, and it’s not fence-straddling either. In reality, the theistic evolutionist has scarfed down his cake and jumped down squarely on the wrong side of the fence.

Most of them just don’t realize it yet.


  1. The Catholic Church embraces an old earth theory, but it won't ever turn it into a Dogma (necessary belief). We don't even require people to believe the earth is round, even though science has proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. We don't have to know everything about science to be saved. We simply need to belief in Jesus, surrender to him, and be baptized. Thank God.

    The Church does not have an official teaching on the origin of the human body. There are several faithful Catholic positions which are not contrary to Catholic theology.
    1. Special creation: God directly created human beings.
    2. Theistic evolution: God designs the laws of the universe, so that they will produce the human body through natural processes (like a sculptor uses a chisel as a tool to create a statue - Indirect design).
    3. Intelligent design: God designs the laws of the universe and intervenes directly in history. To create life in general and specifically human body.
    A Catholic is free to believe that God formed the human body out of the dust of the earth in an instantaneous action or by a series of steps. Any of these theories may be accepted by a Catholic until God reveals to us otherwise. 

    Taken from:

  2. We simply need to believe in Jesus, surrender to him, and be baptized. Thank God.

    Compared to being obliged to believe the earth is round in order to be saved, I could be totally down with this.