LOUISVILLE, Ky. (ABP) — According to the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, evolution and Christianity are not compatible.
"The theory of evolution is incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ even as it is in direct conflict with any faithful reading of the Scriptures," Albert Mohler, head of the Louisville, Ky., school, wrote in his blog.
Mohler's Aug. 25 blog posting was an open letter in response to an Aug. 21 Huffington Post article that accused him of making false statements about Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who originated the concept of natural selection to explain the diversity of life.
Karl Giberson, vice president of the BioLogos Foundation, a Christian group formed to promote harmony between science and faith, reacted in the Huffington Post to comments critical of Darwin by Mohler delivered June 19 at an annual conference of Ligonier Ministries, founded by Calvinist theologian and pastor R.C. Sproul.
Giberson first questioned Mohler's critique of Darwin in an open letter July 6 on the BioLogos website. After waiting two months for a response, Giberson concluded in the Huffington Post article that Mohler "does not seem to care about the truth and seems quite content to simply make stuff up when it serves his purpose."
In his June speech, Mohler argued for the "exegetical and theological necessity" of affirming the universe is no more than several thousand years old and was created in six 24-hour days as recorded in Genesis.
Mohler said Bible passages like Romans 8 attribute death, pain and disaster to the fall of Adam as recorded in Genesis 3.
"We end up with enormous problems if we try to interpret a historical fall and understand a historical fall in an old-Earth rendering," Mohler said, referring to the school of interpretation that views a metaphorical reading of the creation passages in Genesis as compatible with both Christianity and evolutionary science. "This is most clear when it comes to Adam's sin."
"Was it true that, as Paul argues, when sin came, death came?" Mohler asked. "Well just keep in mind that if the Earth is indeed old, and we infer that it is old because of the scientific data, the scientific data is also there to claim that long before the emergence of Adam — if indeed there is the recognition of a historical Adam — and certainly long before there was the possibility of Adam's sin, there were all the effects of sin that are biblically attributed to the fall and not to anything before the fall. And we're not only talking about death, we're talking about death by the millions and billions."
Giberson, author of Saving Darwin: How to Be a Christian and Believe in Evolution, objected primarily in the Huffington Post article to Mohler's suggestion that evolution was "invented" to prop up Darwin's worldview rather than to explain observations in the natural world. He called it a "common misrepresentation" that evangelicals use to discredit evolution.
In his earlier blog post, however, Giberson questioned other statements in Mohler's address. They included: "We need to recognize that disaster ensues when the book of nature or general revelation is used in some way to trump Scripture and special revelation."
"I am taking you to mean that we should not let information from outside the Bible change our minds about what is inside the Bible," Giberson wrote.
"The example in your talk would suggest that information from geological records, radioactive dating, cosmic expansion and so on — all of which suggests that the universe is billions of years old — should not persuade us to set aside the natural reading of Genesis which suggests that the Earth is young," he wrote. "Is this a fair statement of your position?"
Giberson observed that the "natural reading" of Psalm 93 is that the Earth is fixed and cannot be moved. "Indeed this was thrown at Galileo and got him in trouble for proposing an 'unbiblical' astronomy."
He said "natural" readings of other Bible passages also suggest that slavery is OK and the moon is a light-creating body similar to the sun and "not just a big rock."
"Is there not a long list of examples where general revelation has forced us to set aside special revelation?" Giberson asked in his open letter to Mohler.
Mohler conceded in his blog to one statement that "appears to misrepresent to some degree Darwin's intellectual shifts before and during his experience on the Beagle" but otherwise proclaimed that "I stand by my address in full." He said he plans to address some of the issues raised by Giberson in the coming months.
"If your intention in Saving Darwin is to show 'how to be a Christian and believe in evolution,' what you have actually succeeded in doing is to show how much doctrine Christianity has to surrender in order to accommodate itself to evolution," Mohler admonished Giberson.
"In doing this, you and your colleagues at BioLogos are actually doing us all a great service. You are showing us what the acceptance of evolution actually costs, in terms of theological concessions."
Bob Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.