Grudem's objections to Theistic Evolution

If this is the best anti- evo’s have, then they are in trouble. Some of @swamidass work shows a lot of these aren’t necessary to affirm if you accept evolutionary science.


Yes, he is an interesting case. Grudem’s work also figures heavily into my book. I can show how all his objections aren’t not intrinsic to evolution.

Of note, I sent him an email several months back, and his assistant sent me a terse and apparently annoyed email back saying he had no interesting in discussing how the Bible and evolution could be compatible. In his view, they never could be reconciled. However, I’m not sure if his assistant actually passed on the email to him. We will see what happens.

This article from @Andrew_Loke is a worthy read. He might be willing to share the PDF if you email him.

Reconciling Evolution and Biblical Literalism: A Proposed Research Program.

Many leading Christian thinkers today accept evolution, but others worry that certain incompatibilities with Biblical doctrines concerning Adam remain. In Should Christians Embrace Evolution, theologian Wayne Grudem succinctly summarizes their main objections when he claims that adopting evolution leads to eight positions contrary to the teaching of the Bible. In response, I show that, regardless of whether evolution occurred or not, there is no incompatibility even when a consistently literal reading of the relevant Biblical texts is maintained

For reference, these are his objections:

  1. Adam and Eve were not the first human beings, and perhaps Adam and Eve never even existed.
  2. Adam and Eve were born from human parents.
  3. God didn’t act directly or specially to create Adam out of dust from the ground.
  4. God didn’t act directly to create Eve from a rib taken from Adam’s side.
  5. Adam and Eve were never sinless human beings.
  6. Adam and Eve did not commit the first human sins because human beings were doing morally evil things long before Adam and Eve existed.
  7. Human death did not begin as a result of Adam’s sin because human beings existed long before Adam and Eve and they were always subject to death.
  8. Not all human beings have descended from Adam and Eve for there were thousands of other human beings on the earth at the time that God chose two of them and called them Adam and Eve.
  9. God did not directly act in the natural world to create different kinds of fish, birds, and land animals.
  10. God did not rest from his work of creation or stop any special creative activity after plants, animals, and human beings appeared on the earth.
  11. God never created an originally very good natural world—a safe environment, free of thorns, thistles, and other harmful things.
  12. After Adam and Eve sinned, God did not place any curse on the world that changed the workings of the natural world, making it more hostile to mankind.

Good for you for directly trying to communicate with him. Soft answers are what seem to make others want to listen. I’d thought about emailing him, too.

I was just posting this 12 point list on Biologos last night–weird–great minds :); Grudem’s work reminds me that Romans 14 admonishes us not to judge other Christians for both extremes–either being too lax, or too scrupulous. I can be too judgmental of those who appear judgmental, not realizing that the difference can be from fear. The early Christians had the same sort of problem, I guess.

If ok, I’ll post this link to the journal article you put up there, too. Thanks.(it’s paid access, but maybe someone will have access)

Another interesting topic we discussed recently was Randal Rauser’s Top Five Problems with Contemporary Christian Apologetics–it made me think. It would be interesting to hear what you all think about them.

Thanks, and God bless.


Seems to me that “biblical literalism” and “consistently literal” are not very useful terms for describing a hermeneutically aware conservative Evangelical approach to the Scriptures. Indeed, I think the term “literal” has almost no usefulness as a hermeneutical term. Everyone reads obvious figures of speech figuratively, and everyone but the avowed allegorists reads what appear to be nonfigurative language literally. What is really at question is what is and isn’t figurative in any particular genre.

And as for speaking about an ancestral pair common to us all who were God’s direct creation, the theological point comes less from the creation account in Genesis than from Pauline theology (Romans 5:12-21). And to me, that directly created ancestral pair common to us all is a necessary part of Paul’s argument. Not sure I like Grudem’s twelve-item list of objections, but he and I are talking about the same thing.


Welcome @DaleABrueggemann.

I agree with what you are saying here. This is why the Genealogical Adam be the game changer. Have you seen it yet?

@DaleABrueggemann can you tell us more about yourself and how you found us? Thanks.

Do you mind posting a link to this thread there? Seems like we are taking a very different tact than us.

Sure, Thanks. The Randal Rauser is a different thread, which some agreed with and others didn’t. He does mention Grudem, and that’s one of the reasons I thought it was a bit related.

I want to emphasize that Grudem’s address to Biola College actually praised Francis Collins for being an evangelical and a good witness, though he disagreed with him. I can learn more about God by realizing the common ground we have with those with whom I disagree (accept him whose faith different/ “weak,” without passing judgment on disputable matters).

I think it boils down to how TE is interpreted.Perhaps some who hold to TE will object to the below definition of TE.

Theistic evolution is a viewpoint that God created matter and after that, God didn’t guide, intervene, or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes.

Is the above definition fair?

I think some TE may agree, my guess is many won’t. I think most would say something like “God created the universe and used evolution to produce the biological diversity we see today over a long time span.” without wanting make a specific claim as to God’s activity/direction. Frankly, just saying “God used evolution” has been enough to get people fired or kicked out of the tribe, I think that’s where most TE have seen the “battle” being.

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I have yet to see any TE or EC agree this is a fair definition. It is a strawman that no one seems to actually believe.


It seems to me, that what you have defined is closer to “deism” than to “theistic evolution.”


@swamidass, @nwrickert, @Jordan
The reason I asked was because this is the definition given by Grudem in his article.
Can anyone suggest an alternate definition that is more universally acknowledged?

Frankly, just saying “God used evolution” has been enough to get people fired or kicked out of the tribe, I think that’s where most TE have seen the “battle” being.

I have been come across such comments in this forum before. I am curious to know.Is it such a serious problem? If so how can institutions that employ scientists claim to be secular or non discriminatory?

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I can list 5-6 faculty members of universities affiliated with the denomination that I work with that have been fired/forced out/asked to retire due to being TE/EC.

Part of the dynamic is that there are 3 times as many private universities as public in the US. About 1/4 of all college students in the US attend a private university. So lots of small private schools. Many of these are Christian universities that are allowed to set religious criteria for employment. Public universities, in general, have much better employment protections for faculty, although they are then subject to the “establishment” clause and @Patrick will make sure you’re not mixing religion with science :slight_smile:


The pain is real.


So why have it? Just say evolution.


In my estimation, it all boils down to this statement:

Grudem reads Genesis a certain way, and he probably won’t be budged from that position.

My EC is pretty modest. I just define it as the position that God used a process of evolution (common descent) to bring about life on earth. At this time I believe God did it in a way that isn’t empirically detectable. But I’m open to it. But I do see evidence of biological and geological fine-tuning that greatly influenced what kind of life came about. I don’t think God had to intervene to bring about his desired results. Evolution fits well with my Molinism. And you can create a system that uses randomness to bring about your desired result. A casino is a good example. So I have no hard stance on how God did it. I just know God was and is in charge of it


Thanks @T.j_Runyon.
Your view sounds more or less the same as what Grudem has written. I.e God did not intervene in an empirically detectable way.

But if I was convinced that God had to intervene and it was scientifically detectable I would still considered myself an EC. I’m still not sure what scientifically or empirically detectable means in this context. For the sake of discussion let’s assume the fine-tuning of the initial conditions and parameters of the universe is a successful argument for God’s existence, would you call that data empirically and scientifically detectable? I like to make the distinction between perceiving and scientifically detecting design. I without a doubt perceive design. The universe is full of purpose. I’m just not sure if it’s emprically detectable even if scientific discovery and research leads me to see purpose. Just one of those things I haven’t worked out in my head yet