Saturday, November 05, 2011

Peter Enns' frank admission: Evolution is antithetical to a biblical worldview

Peter Enns recently gave a talk to a gathering of pastors from Tim Keller's presbytery, NY Metro Presbytery of the PCA, as he shared on his blog here. In his sharing, Peter Enns made a few revealing points.

Enns has rejected the historicity of the Genesis creation accounts and instead render a significant portion of the Bible "myth." In this light, Enns in his presentation to the Metro NY Presbytery lay out what he thinks are the available options for Christians who decide to affirm Evolution as being scientifically and factually true. Here are a few choice quotes from his blog post:

Evolution can either be accepted (in some form) or wholly rejected. If rejected, one has no problem with an historical Adam as first man, but then one has to find ways to neutralize the scientific data, which is attempted in various (but unconvincing) ways. (Google Al Mohler, Ken Ham, and Hugh Ross.)

No need to get into that here. This group of pastors was already (largely) aware that evolution cannot be dismissed, and so we proceded [sic] to other things.

If one accepts evolution, the first thing to note is that one has left the biblical worldview. I think this is an obvious point, but needs to be stated clearly. As soon as evolution is accepted, the invariably result is some clear movement away from what the Bible says about Adam.

Hence, if one wishes to bring Adam and evolution into conversation, one is left with the theological burden and responsibility of bringing them together somehow in a manner does justice to both.


If one wishes to retain a historical Adam, the two options I am aware of (if you know of others, please let us know) are:

(1) “Adam” was a hominid chosen by God somewhere along the line to be the “first man”;

(2) “Adam” was a group of hominids (a view that accounts best for the genomic data that the current human population stems from a few thousand ancestors, definitely not two ancestors).

In my opinion, these two options fail for the same two reasons:

(1) They are ad hoc, meaning that are invented for the sole purpose of finding some way to align the Bible and science. It is generally a good idea to avoid ad hoc explanations, and we rarely tolerate them when others make use of them.

(2) The “Adam” that results from these ad hoc maneuvers is not the Adam that the biblical authors were talking about (a chosen first pair or group of hominids). No biblical teaching is really protected by inventing “Adam” in this way.

This brings us to a non-historical Adam–meaning Adam in the Bible as parabolic, metaphorical, symbolic, or “supra-historical” (a term I learned from Richard Clifford, meaning a truth transcends history but told in historical terms, and therefore not meant to be taken literally).

Some notes:

1) Notice the admission by Enns that belief in evolution means one has left the biblical worldview

2) Notice that Enns believes that attempts to hold on to a historical Adam given the 'fact of evolution' is a mere grasping at straws.

3) One wonders how belief in evolution can be embraced by pastors who are supposed to hold on to the Westminster Confession of Faith

4) One wonders if the PCA in general has any issues with pastors in Metro NY Presbytery who think that evolution cannot be dismissed, which means that evolution for them is either a given or a strong possibility.

[HT: Johannes Weslianus]


Anonymous said...

It bugs me that so many embrace evolution and that so many are unwilling to address it. Thank the Lord for those brave men who do.

Daniel C said...


indeed. It bugs me that so many people have a naive view of science, even more than of evolution.

razzendahcuben said...


First of all, great blog. I appreciate your attention to detail and logic, and your willingness to call out falsehood and talk on the issues that many won't discuss (e.g., separation)---all without resorting to arrogance and hostility.

Anyway, on the topic: I was frustrated in my last church (a PCA church) that the pastor was unwilling to even *warn* the congregation about the theological errors arising from progressive creationism and theistic evolution. The official PCA position paper on the topic is hardly a position paper, as you probably know.

My pastor at the time is a young-earther, but I asked him how he thought an old-earther could reconcile death, bloodshed, and suffering existing before the fall. He agreed that these couldn't be reconciled, but since it is still possible that an old "perfect" earth existed, he couldn't discount old-earthism as certainly unbiblical!

So that's a new one for me: a 4.5 Ga old earth that only very recently became corrupted. Ever heard that one?

Daniel C said...



Actually, I have no idea how the PCA uses its paper on creation. I was just told it was a position paper so I assumed it was the stated position of the PCA General Assembly.

As for the ad hoc thesis to reconcile an old earth with Scripture, well... I'm sure there are as many ad hoc arguments to "reconcile" Scripture with the scientific hypothesis of an old earth as there are old earth theologians. I've yet to find any that is convincing, and I doubt I'll find any in the future.

Brandon said...

Here's another lecture Enns gave:

Daniel C said...