A Theistic Evolutionist Turns Off the Light

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Does theistic evolutionism lead to atheism? If I were to say that, I would be accused (with justification) of an overheated argument. But what if America’s leading theistic evolution proponent says it, about himself?

Howard J. Van Till of Calvin College is the most lauded and prolific defender of theistic evolution among American evangelicals. He authored the monumental work defending a Christian “integration” with Darwinism, The Fourth Day (Eerdmans), and penned the chapter on theistic evolution for Three Views on Creation and Evolution (Zondervan).

Van Till has long argued that there is no fundamental disagreement between the Scriptures (rightly understood) and evolution through natural selection (rightly understood). Now he’s changed his mind.

Bill Dembski points out the truly sad address by Van Til to the “Freethought Association of West Michigan” in which Van Till outlines his “journey” from “Calvinism to freethought.” For those who aren’t familiar with it, “freethought” is a synonym for an atheistic or agnostic version of secular humanism. Dembski asks whether Van Till would even accept the label “Christian” at all anymore.

Of course Van Till is right. Genesis doesn’t square with a Darwinian account of human origins. The biblical framework of providence doesn’t fit with blind processes of natural selection. A biblical view of theodicy doesn’t give room for a nature that, from the beginning, is red in tooth and claw. I only wish he had found the freedom he seeks in the wisdom of Christ, not the wisdom of the scribes (1 Cor 1:18-31).

Let’s pray for Howard Van Till, not for his scholarship but for his soul. And let’s pray for all the students and pastors and scientists he convinced over all these years that you can follow Christ while looking back to see if the research scientists applaud.

You are part of a family and family is difficult because family – every family – is an echo of the gospel.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency 
of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.