Instigator
Points: 6

Is theistic evolution biblical?

Voting

The participant who scores the most points is declared the winner

The voting period will end in:
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Debate details
Publication date
Last update
Category
Religion
Time for argument
Two days
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
Two weeks
Point system
Four points
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Rated
Characters per argument
10,000
Points: 14
Description
Yes, is it biblical, once you have done the scholarly research for it. And, it's been proven that Genesis might be a poetic creation account against the pagan gods. And, there are Bible passage that may hint evolution (E.g, Ecclesiastes 3:18) So yes, theistic evolution is biblical.
Rules:
1. Don't uses logical fallacy (E. G, Strawman, Ad hominem, False cause, Burden of proof, Etc, Etc. )
2. Stay on topic.
3. Give your opponent evidence, and not feelings.
4. Don't mock or call someone names.
5. Don't disclare victory.
Sources:
https://drmsh.com/genesis-1-2-as-polemic/
Ecclesiastes 3:18
Round 1
Published:
Yes, is it biblical, once you have done the scholarly research for it. And, it's been proven that Genesis might be a poetic creation account against the pagan gods. And, there are Bible passage that may hint evolution (E.g, Ecclesiastes 3:18) So yes, theistic evolution is biblical.
Published:
I will answer the two claims you seem to be making and provide an argument against theistic evolution.

And, it's been proven that Genesis might be a poetic creation account against the pagan gods.

It is not proven that something “might” be true. Either you prove it to be true or you hypothesize it might be true. It seems misleading to present a recent interpretation of Genesis as “proven” while also admitting the questionable validity of it. The view that the creation account in Genesis is not a historical narrative goes against the traditional interpretation held throughout most of church history. While tradition alone should not determine doctrine, I don’t think we should simply dismiss it because something new might be true.
 

And, there are Bible passage that may hint evolution (E.g, Ecclesiastes 3:18)

The use of Ecclesiastes 3:18 as a possible “hint” at evolution is still just a hypothesis and is not proven. As with the first argument, it is very difficult to rule out all possibility of a certain interpretation. However, Ecclesiastes 3:18 is referring to the mortality of both man and beast, as can be seen in verse 19. In fact, verses 19-21 seem to make a sharp distinction between man and beast except for that both will die. Psalm 49:12 reiterates this point by saying man is like the beasts regarding death. If Ecclesiastes 3:18 is a reference to evolution, then wouldn’t the spirit of man have to be the same as the spirit of the beast in verse 21? This leads me to an argument I believe needs to be answered.

 
If humans came about through theistic evolution, why do humans have souls and animals do not?

I am assuming you would say that humans evolved from apes. Regardless of one’s view on evolution, it is clear that humans are distinct from animals because humans have souls and animals do not.  I do not believe that theistic evolution can allow for the distinct creation of man as a creature with a soul who is made in the image of God. How can you biblically explain how humans acquired a soul outside of a historical reading of Genesis?

Round 2
Published:
"It is not proven that something “might” be true."
Kinda think of it. Maybe I shouldn't use "might".

"The view that the creation account in Genesis is not a historical narrative goes against the traditional interpretation held throughout most of church history."
Then, how come there are early fathers who didn't take the days literal? (E.g Irenaues, Origen, Augustine of Hippo, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr.)

"I am assuming you would say that humans evolved from apes."
Ape like creature*


Published:
While not all the early church fathers held to a literal six-day creation, nor did I argue for that point, none of the names mentioned held to an old-earth creation account that is required for theistic evolution. Therefore, the point still stands that the traditional interpretation of the church does not agree with your position, regardless of how they viewed the days in Genesis.


You made the correction that humans evolved from an ape-like creature but you did not address the question:

If humans came about through theistic evolution, why do humans have souls and animals do not?
Regardless of one’s view on evolution, it is clear that humans are distinct from animals because humans have souls and animals do not.  I do not believe that theistic evolution can allow for the distinct creation of man as a creature with a soul who is made in the image of God. How can you biblically explain how humans acquired a soul outside of a historical reading of Genesis?

Round 3
Forfeited
Published:
Come on bro...
Round 4
Published:
"While not all the early church fathers held to a literal six-day creation, nor did I argue for that point, none of the names mentioned held to an old-earth creation account that is required for theistic evolution"
Then, how come young earth creationism wasn't a thing until the 19th century?

"Regardless of one’s view on evolution, it is clear that humans are distinct from animals because humans have souls and animals do not."
But, the Hebrew word for soul is apply to both humans and animals.
Published:
To the contrary, young earth creationism was the traditional interpretation of the church until the 19th century when atheists and rationalists needed a theory to explain the origin of humanity without God or the supernatural. For just a few references to the early church view on a young earth, see Ante-Nicene Fathers vol. 1 pg. 557 (Irenaeus); vol. 2 pg. 9 (Theophilus); vol. 7 pg. 333 (Victorinus). I will provide more references if needed. Do you have any specific sources of the church holding specifically to an earth that was millions or billions of years old, or to a view of theistic evolution prior to the 19th century?
I will mention that I believe Augustine has a somewhat complicated view and I don't think should be used as evidence for a young or old earth without very clear reasoning and sources. 

That is true about the same word being applied to both animals and man in Ecclesiastes. For clarification, it’s the word for “spirit” not “soul.”  However, before giving a meaningful response, I have to ask something:
Do you believe there is a difference between the spirit of humans and the spirit of animals?
It seems that you are implying there is no distinction in the immaterial part of both humans and animals.


Round 5
Published:
"To the contrary, young earth creationism was the traditional interpretation of the church until the 19th century when atheists and rationalists needed a theory to explain the origin of humanity without God or the supernatural."
Have you read any books on this topic?
Published:
Well that isn't much of an argument and you seemed to have missed my reference to a direct source showing the beliefs of a few early church fathers in young earth creationism. Perhaps I wasn't clear so I will just include a few sources (I won't bother with proper citations) and encourage you to view them when you have time. Even if you don't agree, I think it is important to study what opposing views are arguing for. This will either strengthen your own convictions or reveal inconsistencies that will bring you to a better understanding of the truth, which is the whole purpose of debating. Thanks for the dialogue.

Ante-Nicene Fathers (see previous references for volume and page numbers to that person's view, others can be found as well) https://www.ccel.org/fathers.html

As it is Written: The Genesis Account Literal or Literary? Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., 2016 https://books.google.com/books?id=3Ap7CwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ViewAPI#v=onepage&q&f=false (it looks like almost all of it can be read for free at this link)

Link to a sermon exploring the biblical account of creation, part 1 of a series https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-208/creation-believe-it-or-not-part-1
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
Re purpose
Im glad we agree that the bible had a very clear purpose, guidance on how to live. And it was not contested that the bible has no mention of very vital scientific information on disease and medicine, as well as other fields like physics. I would understand the reasoning behind, that is up to us to discover with our hands, not questioning god, but i am building up to the terribly untechnical 7 days of creation. Along with some chronological contradictions, can we at best say that god didnt give them the full story, as that was not why he came.
He told them he did it, he told them it was good, then he got them to shut up and listen. Why would he get into details of atoms and energy with people who couldn't even get along properly? He is many things, he is not a public library. His focus was on law and morality. The science is non existent. The history was probably not spoken by god, why would he dictate that? And as my purpose, it is that the bible should not be used as a source to contradict the findings of science.
#25
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
Re: science
You are wrong that science cannot prove stuff. What you are referrencing are 2 notions. 1) science does not seek proof, because if you seek to prove something, you will. Coincidence can be seen anywhere, and poor experiment design can confirm anything. Instead, you make a hypothesis, and do your darndest to *disprove* it, with repeated failure by yourself and your peers being a success. And 2) some wiggle room to acknowledge our ignorance and refusing to declare closed case incase of new evidence.
Science has proven the existence of atoms, cells, particles, many many many new forms of life. As well as the mechanisms behind a significant portion of creation.
We do not know it had a beginning. The big bang is the beginning of everything we know of, but any legitamete source will tell you we have zero clue what was before, during, and for a few fractions of a second just after the big bang. The idea that it is a definitive nothing is a layman misconception. Also... its a 50/50. Personally i have my money on ever existence, just like you. Because before the universe there was god, and he simply always was. No? Me, i believe the universe always came and went, in an infinite regression. I know, infinite regression is not a satisfying answer, but neither is eternal existence, nor ex nihilo.
#24
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
I will just mention that the Old Testament contains an extensive history of the nation of Israel, including ancestral records. Those portions do actually claim to be historical records and can be cross-referenced with extra-biblical sources. But since the historical aspect doesn't interest you, let's move on.
I think we at least have some common ground on the point of the Bible being primarily, in a general sense, a moral guide or a book on how to live. *digital high-five* let's move on.
Since science is where your interest is, let me make two comments that you may be more inclined to interact with. First, science cannot "prove" anything. The mere notion is an impossibility. So if your primary source of belief and truth is from science, then you are basing your belief and truth on a system that has no way of definitively proving anything, no absolutes, and is in a constant state of change. I would genuinely like to hear any thoughts that you have on this idea, or clarification on what informs your beliefs in addition to science.
Here is a point that may pique your interest and show a biblical contribution to science. Many people believed that the universe had no beginning until the early 1900's. However, the discovery that the universe was expanding was evidence that the universe did have a beginning. Was there anyone who hypothesized this theory? "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." While you may not find the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 very convincing, it is at least interesting that the Bible has made the bold claim that the universe has a beginning, even when "science" disagreed.
Contender
#23
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
I think i may have been a bit unclear. When i said it was incomplete, i meant it wasnt even trying to be complete. The explanation for creation simply involved "i did it, it was good." Thats a sad excuse for an explanation. My point was that even high school textbooks have more information on the science then the bible, and even they are incomplete and dumbed down significantly. This is not meant to be a jab at the bible as explaining scientific principles was not its purpose. So rather then not being complete knowledge, i will change that to the bible provides zero scientific knowledge. Many books, including fiction and historical.documentaries do not contradict science, while at the same time.explaining exactly zero science. Those 2 positions are not exclusive.
I accept both versions of "how to live". Both direct dos and donts, and plea for redemptions due to sin by default are both instructing you to take action rather then just miscellanious knowledge that can be used as a tool.
The book about the battle of Gettysburg is likely comprehensive of the battle of gettysburg to its desired level of detail. The bible is an inadequate history of even jesus and christians as we are.missing most of his formative years. To be honest, i dont care about the history angle. I believe ive said it before (perhaps not here) i have no desire to debate religion unless it is to defend science. I will say tho that mentioning real events and corresponding to history doesnt make it a history text. Not to say (or deny) the bible is fiction, many works of fiction mention real dates, events and people. They are still fiction. The titanic for example, or most war movies.
#22
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
No problem.
Instigator
#21
Added:
--> @Dynasty
No worries. I know there are far more important things in life than posting debate arguments online so sorry if I seemed like I was getting on your case! You definitely made me have to think through my position and I hope you consider looking at any of those resources I recommended. Thanks for the debate!
Contender
#20
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
That was a good debate. I will try better next time.
Instigator
#19
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
I can also address the science and history issue, but I just need some clarification. You seem to be implying that the Bible should not be viewed as historical if it does not contain a comprehensive record of the history of ancient Rome for instance. If so, I think that is an unfair standard that would not be placed on any other book. For example, a book about the Battle of Gettysburg would not have to have a comprehensive history of American politics, slavery, and a list of all Civil War battles. You would only expect it to list pertinent people and events, and that those events accurately correspond with that time period.
In the same way, the Bible is in agreement with historical records. Many people, places, and events accurately correspond with the historical record of those time periods. I can definitely make a case for its agreement with history and science, but you would be correct if you said that the Bible is not intended to deal with those topics comprehensively. So, before I address the issue of history and science, let me ask this. Does the Bible have to give a comprehensive detailing of science and history to be taken seriously? If so, how much science and history must be explained before it can be taken seriously?
Contender
#18
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
If you are saying that you don't think the Bible is God giving complete knowledge to the world, I would agree with you. Only God has complete knowledge. If we could obtain complete knowledge, then we would also be omniscient as God is. However, just because we do not have complete knowledge of something does not mean we cannot understand it. I don't have a complete knowledge of an internal combustion engine, but that doesn't mean I can't have any understanding of what a car is or how it works.
I would also agree that the Bible was not intended to reveal the secrets of creation. We can see this in Job 38-41 where God gives a scathing rebuke to Job to show that God has an infinite knowledge of the world He created, and Job knows next to nothing compared to Him. Again, God knows all, we know some.
I think I could also agree with you in a general sense that the Bible could be summed up as a book about how to live properly and why, but I think we would mean two different things. The way you describe it would actually be a better fit for the Mosaic Law than the entire Bible. God gave Israel the law to show them how to live. Much of it was a form of "do this" or "don't do that." But giving us a perfect moral standard doesn't fix the problem. The problem is that every one of us has broken the Law and will be punished on Judgment Day. So if you stop at just being a list of "do this" and "don't do that," then we'd all be justly condemned to hell. It has to go one step further.
So to sum up, I would agree that it is a moral guide that actually shows us our absolute inability to live up to God's standard, and points us to our utter need to trust in Jesus to pay our fine so that we can escape hell.
Contender
#17
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
I think we are talking about different layers. While you are saying the books were on different subjects (sins and redemption, praise of god, how to interact with your neighbors), i am saying they are all of the same genre, how to live properly, and why. I think this is indisuptable.
But as far as science and history, you have not contested my claims of its lack of focus. There is almost no science, and sporadic incomplete history.
With that i would like to add to this by asking: when did god declare that he was giving people the entire truth of the world? It seems to me he focused mostly on his law and often mentions a *message*, not complete knowledge. He wanted to instruct them on proper conduct, not the secrets of his creation. Like a 5 year old asking his 12th why, God probably gave them the perfect answer to promptly shut them up and make them focus.
#16
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
-They all provide a firsthand account of His life, death, and resurrection. Why? For the specific purpose of conveying the message of “the gospel” to mankind:
“but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
-The Bible is intended to draw a response from the hearer:
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
First and foremost, the Bible is God revealing to us our problem (“sin”), and pointing us to our solution (repent and believe in Jesus, or “faith”). After a person does that, it does serve as a sort of moral guide, but more so than just a book of rules. It has little value as a moral guide to those who are “unsaved” because our natural tendency as humans is toward evil (lying, cheating, stealing, envy, etc.), so we wouldn’t want to follow it anyway. Therefore, I don’t think we can simply classify it as a moral guide, at least according to its own claims. Therefore, I don’t think it fits into an either/or categorization like that.
Contender
#15
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
You’re right. I see in trying to be somewhat brief, I did not clearly answer the question. It is also hard to summarize the purpose of the Bible in a short time because it actually has many, even strictly according to its own claims. I think we need to start by making a distinction between “the Bible” and the “books” in the Bible. The Bible as a whole is simply a collection of ancient documents. Some even refer to it as a library rather than a book. The “books” of the Bible are the individual documents written over the course of about 1,500 years by about 40 different authors. Each book has an individual purpose for being written. For example, Psalms was the written record of the songs of Israel. However, each book and its individual purpose also points to the main purpose of the Bible as a whole. In a general sense, it is God’s revelation to humans about who He is and who we are. It reveals a personal God who can be known because He chooses to reveal Himself to us.
With that distinction, let’s just focus on the Jesus narrative to define a specific purpose. This narrative is most clearly found in the four gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They each give a unique perspective on the life of Christ. In Luke 1:1-4, Luke clearly states he is carefully recording eyewitness accounts. A later letter by John also states he proclaims an eyewitness testimony about Jesus (1 John 1:1-2).
Contender
#14
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
The narrarive of the bible that you describe doesnt seem to answer the question of the purpose of the bible. Or in other words, what is the purpose of the jesus narrative you described. It certainly does give an answer to those question but i doubt those questions were answered just to satisfy our curiosity. It was meant to change behavior and to guide people in the way they act and live is my opinion. Thus i am certain god intended the bible to first and foremost (and possibly nothing more than) be a moral guide.
Stating that it is in agreement with science and history does not mean it is an adequate description of either. Assuming it doesnt contradict science (although creating the earth before the stars is quite the contradiction), it certainly doesnt describe any physics, chemistry, or biology. There is no mention of atoms, bonding, cells, germs (which would have been very helpful back in thise days). No explanation of how to create medicine or predicting storms. No mention of the amazing potential of electricity.
Similarly when it comes to history, it occasionally names a ruler or 2, but only state his actions when they intersect with jesus or his followers. You dont know when the ruler came to power, when he left, any important dates not directly related to jesus. No actions, policies or battles that happened between other nations. Rome has a rich history with many power struggles, battles, controversies. However rome is only mentioned when they captured and killed jesus, and when they converted to christianity. There is much more to the story of rome, just as there was much more to the story of the nations around judah besides that one time David killed their goliath. Its pretty bare bones history from a very limited perspective.
If the bible was meant to be a history/science book, it is a terrible history/science book. But thats ok if that was never its intended purpose. The best science books are terrible moral guides.
#13
Added:
--> @Nemiroff
It certainly won't shut off debate. I enjoy a good logical discussion. I just find it helpful to have a general idea of the viewpoint people are arguing from to give a more meaningful answer.
The Bible was not intended to be either of those. I would argue that the Bible is in agreement with history, archaeology, and even science (outside of the recorded supernatural events, which by definition defy natural laws as we understand them). I would also argue that it contains a better standard for interpersonal relationships than any other religion/worldview/etc.
However, the Bible has one central message. It all points to the person, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Now don't lose me here because this is usually where people tune out, but I'll try to briefly sum up the main purpose that the entire Bible points to:
Jesus, the Son of God, became a man and died on a cross to pay the penalty we deserve for all the evil things that we do. He was resurrected from the dead and will judge all mankind. Those who recognize they have committed evil acts against God, ask for forgiveness and mercy, and trust that it is only Jesus of the Bible who can save them will spend eternity in heaven. All others will spend eternity in hell. At least, that's what it says.
To put it another way, it gives answers to those four nagging questions:
Where did we come from? --> We were created by God somewhere between 6,000 and 4.6 billion years ago, depending on who you ask
Why are we here? --> We were created to worship and glorify God
What is wrong with the world? --> Through Adam's evil committed against God, humanity "fell" and everyone became inclined toward evil and is under the wrath of God
Where are we going? --> Heaven or hell on judgment day
Let me know if you were trying to go in a different direction with that question, but I think that is the best answer for the purpose of the Bible.
Contender
#12
Added:
--> @Fruit_Inspector
I hope it wont shut off debate if i say i am an atheist. However when discussing god i tend to assume god, as debating his existence is friutless not only due to stubbernness, but the impossibility of definitive proof.
I see no logical contradiction to a creator a priori, i simply find it unlikely posteori. However it is not impossible, and worth considering.
I agree any god is likely unknowable by humans, but we do presume to know some things about the biblical god. His omni characterics, particularly omnibenevolence.
With that in mind i will ask you a question. Was the bible intended to be a comprehensive testament of science and history? Or was it primarily a guide on how to live and how to treat one another, along with a handful of lines to describe creation.
Sorry, turned into 2 questions.
I try not to debate religion itself too much, but what i do believe in are the findings of science. If there is a god, he created and moves this world via the processes discovered by science.
#11
#2
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
Con successfully redefined the meaning of verse cited by pro, while also expanding it using the context that surrounded it. After that pro seemed to have gone on defense as con made successful arguments, backing them up when challenged.
#1
Criterion Pro Tie Con Points
Better arguments 3 points
Better sources 2 points
Better spelling and grammar 1 point
Better conduct 1 point
Reason:
While not everything always needs to be responded to, pro kept dropping the wide sweeps of cons concise case.
Con repeatedly pointed out the soul issue, and the Imago Dei not applying the animals (which feeds into genesis of us lording over them rather than being equals). Pro's only (eventually) response was to say that there might have been a translation error.
Whereas pro's case was disproven on the grounds that it implied a vague possibility for reinterpretation, rather than actually proving anything.