Mohler on theistic evolution

In a recent post on his popular blog, Al Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, presented a predictable take on the origins debate. He states,

I have not said that one can’t be a Christian and believe in evolution. It is entirely possible to be a confused Christian or a confused evolutionist . . . or both. Nevertheless, the dominant theory of evolution — the theory as taught and defended by the world’s leading evolutionary scientists — explicitly rules out any supernatural design or interference at any point in the evolutionary continuum. That fact alone makes the theory incompatible with any legitimate affirmation of divine creation or of biblical theism.

I am frankly amazed that one so learned and esteemed should display such an obvious oversight concerning the most fundamental of the philosophical and theological grounds for theistic evolution (TE). Even in the purest form that affirms absolute naturalism and denies overt divine intervention in the process, theistic evolution affirms that God alone is responsible for setting the universe as we know it into place, but that the “divine creation” occurred by laws He and He alone created and set in motion. It does not rule out supernatural design but rather views God’s design as taking place at a higher level of sovereignty. The universe was created and life developed into human life because God purposed that they do so. TE in its fullest form does indeed rule out “interference at any point in the evolutionary continuum”, or rather, it renders such interference superfluous. The Author of nature did not need to step in and manually execute the actions of the Creation subroutine after He struck the “enter” key to run what He had already carefully programmed.

Later he triumphantly quotes a TE who happens to be a theology professor at the Claremont School of Theology apparently partial to open theism who tries to argue — with no success, from my vantage — that “[t]heologies that emphasize God as deeply involved in natural, open-ended processes seem better able to make sense of evolution than do the classical accounts of an omnipotent God.” I can’t see how this helps anyone’s case, but Mohler doesn’t even attempt to deconstruct that argument analytically, choosing rather to herald it as proof that TE “is not biblical Christianity.” Of course, I can see why he accepts that theologian’s understanding of TE: Mohler agrees with this mistaken theologian that evolutionary advances which appear random preclude any intentionality, even on the behalf of God. I don’t understand how any theologian, whether at Claremont or SBTS, can accept such an anemic view of the sovereignty of God. Scripture consistently declares that God ordains events beyond our purposes.

Another thing that really bugs me is how TE opponents speak incessantly of “Darwinism” and reference Darwin as the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings for evolutionary theory despite his reported demise in the nineteenth century; they don’t consistently apply their criticism to Christians who accept the theory of gravity as “Newtonists” or some such. Both Darwin’s and Newton’s views have been tremendously modified and/or overhauled since they originally formulated them, so the men who first hypothesized what later became accepted as a workable theory can hardly stand in as representatives of the current views, unless of course you need to demonize those views and need a voodoo doll to burn. “Darwin” becomes a boogieman, used to marginalize the theory of evolution as a personality cult. This tactic is manifest in Mohler’s closing stinger, so typical of anti-evolutionists, “…and that is why there is such panic in the temple of Darwin.” Two favorite red herrings here: 1) evolutionary theory is a religion and 2) Darwin the man = the mounds and mounds of scientific evidence that have confirmed some of the basic notions he first articulated.

Come on, Al. You may have reached the top of evangelical academia’s heap, but that doesn’t give you leave to stop thinking critically.

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