Theistic Evolution

Picture from Apollo 17

What is Theistic Evolution?

Theistic evolution is the belief that a Creator God and biological evolution are compatible ideas.

In this view, evolution is a method that God used to bring about life forms. God is given the credit for creating an environment whereby living things could experience evolutionary development.

Theistic evolution is criticized by both sides of the creation/evolution discussion. Young Earth creationists (e.g. Ken Hamm) dismiss theistic evolution for incorporating evolution into theology. And some evolutionists (e.g. Richard Dawkins) dismiss theistic evolution for incorporating God into their science.

Is Theistic Evolution a Scientific Theory?

Theistic evolution isn’t considered a scientific theory; rather, it’s a vision of how religion and evolution can co-exist and perhaps even complement one another.

Theistic evolutionists reject the idea that God and evolution are opposed to one another, which is why adherents are often called “Christian evolutionists” or evolutionary creationists.”

How has Theistic Evolution been Received by Religions?

Each religion, and each wing of each religion, has responded to the rise of theistic evolution differently. In fact two people who go to the exact same church, synagogue, or mosque, can have different views on the idea. Still, some general observations can be made.

There are theistic evolutionists in almost all wings of Christianity, including the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Episcopal Church, and some Protestant denominations, for example, Lutheranism.

While the Vatican has never issued a direct statement on the topic, there have been popes, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, who have stated that evolution is compatible with biblical faith.

Most Jewish denominations accept the idea of theistic evolution. While the Reconstructionist, Reform, and Conservative wings of American Judaism have largely accepted the idea of theistic evolution, segments of the Orthodox wing has been more reserved.