John MacArthur on the “lie” of Evolution:

“The evolutionary lie is so pointedly antithetical to Christian truth that it would seem unthinkable for evangelical Christians to compromise with evolutionary science in any degree. But during the past century and a half of evolutionary propaganda, evolutionists have had remarkable success in getting evangelicals to meet them halfway. Remarkably, many modern evangelicals . . . have already been convinced that the Genesis account of creation is not a true historical record. Thus they have not only capitulated to evolutionary doctrine at its starting point, but they have also embraced a view that undermines the authority of Scripture at its starting point.” (from “The Battle for the Beginning“).

There was a time, ten or twenty years ago, when I would have taken the bait and swallowed this hook, line, and sinker. Today I won’t. Not because I am now convinced about a God-guided theory of evolution, but because I just don’t know. I am not confused or disturbed about the issue, nor does it put any of my faith in jeopardy in any way. I just don’t know whether or not God used evolution as a means to create humanity. Neither do I know how long it took to create the earth. I don’t know if Genesis 1 is meant to be taken literally, metaphorically, symbolically, ideologically, mythologically, or accommodatingly. I simply believe that when it is interpreted rightly, it is true.

But I don’t think that it is here we find the central battle for our faith. I believe that there are more important issues. Much more important issues.

What I do find is that if Christians get sidetracked on these type of things, believing that if this city goes undefended then the Christian empire crumbles, we are in trouble. The “Battle for the Beginning” is not the battle, at least in my book.

But John MacArthur is a man I respect very much. While he is not a scientist, he does seem to be a very wise leader in many respects and he knows the Bible well. This is why I have to pause at what would otherwise seem to me to be an over-the-top statement. He is right that the last two decades have seen many (if not most) evangelical leaders concede to the real possibility of a God-guided use of evolution. It would seem that there is quite a bit of pressure out there to do so. Evolution is quickly becoming the if-you-don’t-accept-it-then-you-are-committing-the-same-mistake-that-the-church-did-in-the-Galileo-incident type of issue. You remember: back when we insisted that the Bible said the earth was the center of the universe and then ended up with egg on our face.

I don’t really see evolution in the same light. There is quite a bit of observable data that shows us the earth is not the center; it is not quite as cut-and-dry with evolution (I think).

Either way, the gauntlet is going to continue to fall and Christians who believe in evolution are going to continually be accused of compromise. Maybe they have compromised; I don’t know. But to me, it only makes a difference when people push for it to make a difference.

What do you think? Has Christianity been compromised?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    668 replies to "John MacArthur on the "Lie of Evolution""

    • mbaker


      Again, you miss the point entirely. Please reread my post.

      The argument is not about incorporating creation science or intelligent design into natural science in education, but giving separate, alternative beliefs to evolution, so all the possibilities can be explored. If you doubt that’s a good thing, think about all the comments on this blog. Many different views have been offered here, some more valid than others, some less. However, I would venture to say it has been a learning experience for all in comparing the possibilities there are to choose from, and why. This, if nothing more, causes us to think more critically and cogently about what is presented to us and what we present to others, no matter what side of the fence we’re on in the creation/evolution debate.

      Teaching of all sides is routinely done in political science, philosophy, religion and other venues, so there is a basis for comparison. Why not offer everyone that opportunity to explore all the possibilities out there regarding the origins of man? Why would doing that compromise evolution, if it believes it’s case is so strong to begin with? Why should one science be the judge of another anyway? Do human biologists and microbiologist say each other’s research is falsifying theirs? Perhaps in some cases, but an objective comparison of both sides gives us a more clear picture.

      Since you signed yourself off as doctor, what is your doctorate in specifically?

      So that we don’t get off the subject of the post, which is about whether evolution compromises Christianity or not, (at least in our opinion on this blog) I believe that one way it does is exactly for the reasons I stated above. Because only one side of the origins of life is presently represented in education, it forces the church into a position of referee between evolution and creationism, in regard to Christianity.

    • #John1453

      RE post 650 and junk creation science

      Renton makes an unsubstantiated claim: that there is little or no good science in “Creation Science”. He also makes the unsubstantiated claim that “creation science” is an oxymoron. Since he makes the claims, he bears the responsibility of substantiating those claims, otherwise his claims can be properly ignored. Renton also does not define his “scientists’ idea of science”. There are several competing and disputed definitions of science; which does he choose? Where does he get his 1/3 statistic from? the thin air? a hat? an overfevered imagination? In what way could theistic evolution be said to stretch the limits of science? It doesn’t seem to stretch the limits at all, nor pose any research programs. Renton makes the unwarranted claim that the Bible allows an open-ended reading. Really? I don’t get that at all. Lastly, does Renton seriously mean to claim that Jesus never spoke except in parables? Or perhaps that the Bible records nothing of Jesus’ sayings except parables? And anyway, how is that relevant to this thread? Here is my attempt at replying to Renton:

      As autumn approaches, the Highways Agency and partners in The Deer Initiative are asking drivers to watch out for deer as part of a new campaign, DeerAware.

      Dr. J (seeing as I’m a 1984 basketball champ)

      evolution and natural theology

      Natural revelation refers to God’s revelation of Himself in nature. It is an activity of God and so exists independent of human activity. It is frequently called “general revelation” because it is general in content and audience. The content is general because it yields only general knowledge about God, and its audience is general because it is available to everyone. Natural theology refers to the knowledge of God acquired from natural revelation, and so is a human activity. It is thus subjective because it involves the human subject’s apprehension of and reasoning about natural revelation.

      The question then arises, what are we to make of such natural features as common DNA, or common morphological features, which are an outgrowth of the former? (I say it’s up for grabs, but special creation is a sufficient answer) Is it proper to assume some sort of materialist evolution? (I say no) Or should we come to some other conclusion? (I say special creation is a sufficient conclusion) Is it necessary for believers of special creation who reject evolution to propose an alternative? (I say no).


    • mbaker


      You said:

      “Jesus “never spoke to them without a parable”; following the “letter of the law” is not good”

      That is not correct because Jesus often spoke in common sense parables which connected the natural to the supernatural, and morals and ethics to make people think about their behavior, as well to give them a common basis for comparison. When He was teaching direct theological truths, however, He did not speak strictly in parables, but in plain terms which can be clearly understood.

    • #John1453

      My conclusion, FWIW, is that Renton (a.k.a. Dr. Renton, Dr. G., Joe) is a poseur on this blog, that is, a person who habitually pretends to be something he is not, or one who affects some behaviour, style, attitude or other condition, often to impress or influence others. I think he gets his jollies mucking up the threads and seeing how everyone reacts, like a farm kid putting a fox in the henhouse.


    • cherylu

      # John,

      You missed a few: aka Buzz, JJ and Henry if my memory is correct! I think there were more too way back when. He said he had a PhD in something then, never would tell us what.

    • mbaker

      I’m thinking it’s a PHD all right (Public High school Diploma).

    • Greg

      mbaker, re post #647,


      Whether creation science or intelligent design is considered folk science is not my point here, nor should it be for you. Many theologians consider TE folk religion, and could make a good case for that not to be taught in seminaries as well. The point is that evolution is being taught as the ONLY valid source of the origin of man, while still being a theory with a lot of holes in it as well, as Michael T. admits. Defining it as a science doesn’t change that.

      These statements couldn’t be more wrong. Common descent meets all the requirements of science, including being published and critiqued in peer review journals. That’s something creation science and ID do not do. They are folk science, and that does change everything. They don’t belong in the classroom because they will only confuse people over what science really is and what it can do.

      I don’t think you’ve thought through your statement on folk religion too carefully. As you define it, you’re guilty of it too, so be careful in that. God works through evolution in the same way he works through gravity, and meteorology, and the same way he knitted me together in my mother’s womb despite our extensive knowledge of human embryology. If you believe in gravity, meteorology, or embryology then you are as much of a folk religionist as some theologians may claim I am.

      BTW, if you can explain how God works through gravity, I’ll explain how God works through evolution…..again.

      Folk religion is the syncretic blending of indigenous religion with organised religion. (And don’t go the tired route of trying to argue that common descent is a religion. Its no more a religion than gravity is.)

      And to everybody who rales against methodological naturalism: That’s hypocrisy.

      You pattern your entire life around the results of methodological naturalism, not only when you take advantage of science but also in your day to day living.

      The argument is not about incorporating creation science or intelligent design into natural science in education, but giving separate, alternative beliefs to evolution, so all the possibilities can be explored.

      I’m all for presenting alternative scientific theories on a given subject in the science classroom. That’s routinely done with a subject that is still being explored.

      Key words are “scientific theories” though, of which ID and creation science absolutely are not. Teach science in the classroom, not folk science. That only exists to reassure people that the rest of their worldview is OK, even though its based off of a faulty interpretation of a book they can’t even read in the original language.

      I’m sorry, but that’s a horrible foundation to build an “alternative theory of origins” off of.

    • Michael T

      John 1453,
      Re: Lawyer slur

      Dude lighten up!!! That was intended as a joke. Remember I’m one too???

      In fact I have no problem with the “technicalities” people get off on and understand their purpose. The point of my jab was that delving into technicalities of language to make what Johnny Mac said technically true would be inappropriate here because of (given past statements) the intent of what he said.

    • #John1453

      re post 657 and the definition of science

      The Theory of Common Descent (TCD) does not, in fact meet all the requirements of a definition of science. It is not emprically verifiable, nor is it falsifiable. Moreover, Greg does not acknowledge that there is no universally accepted definition of “science”. He also does not acknowledge the significant critiques that have been made of the definition he apparently uses. Though I have read various critiques, here’s a quick quote from wikipaedia that reflects what I have read in other places:

      “Philosopher of science Paul K Feyerabend advanced the idea of epistemological anarchism, which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge, and that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious and detrimental to science itself. Feyerabend advocates treating science as an ideology alongside others . . . He also contended (along with Imre Lakatos) that the demarcation problem of distinguishing science from pseudoscience on objective grounds is not possible and thus fatal to the notion of science running according to fixed, universal rules.

      “Professor Stanley Aronowitz scrutinizes science for operating with the presumption that the only acceptable criticisms of science are those conducted within the methodological framework that science has set up for itself. . . . Aronowitz also alleges that while scientists consider it absurd that Fundamentalist Christianity uses biblical references to bolster their claim that the bible is true, scientists pull the same tactic by using the tools of science to settle disputes concerning its own validity.”

      Greg, using his definition, would have to concede that science is not the search for truth. If Science is restricted to methodological naturalism then a more accurate definition would be: Science is the search for exclusively materialistic theories of the world. That is a much narrower and more agenda driven than simply “the search for truth.”

      Western science arose in a theistic environment, and its early practitioners were almost all Christian. They saw the universe as a rational place that could be investigated because God himself was rational. Current science is living off the interest accumulated from that early investment, and operates on basic assumptions about the world that are theistic (so yes, there is a Christian theory of gravity; it’s the one we are currently using). If there is no God, we have no reason to expect the universe to operate rationally and regularly or to be understandable by us. In fact, given the random nature of evolution, it’s far more likely that humans should have developed without the capacity to understand the universe. Or we should not reject the possibility of cows popping out of nowhere and appearing in our living rooms.

    • Michael T

      First off you read a post that was a reply to you when you replied to the “in your mind you can’t separate evolution from naturalism” thing.

      Second off you again are so prejudiced that you are seeing what you want to see in the statements of others. As John 1453 pointed out no one said what you are accusing them of saying with the meaning you are accusing them of conveying. And even if someone did IT WOULDN’T MATTER. If I went and asked 100 Evangelicals about Calvinism I would probably get 1/3 that say “evil”, 1/3 that say “Truth”, and another 1/3 who don’t know what I am talking about (I’m completely making this up as an example btw). Now despite the fact that 33 people said Calvinism was evil would it be proper to conclude ALL or even MOST Evangelicals think Calvinism is evil??? No, that would be a logical fallacy.

      I’m still interested in hearing your thoughts on CMP’s article.

    • #John1453

      Re 658. Sorry, my skin thinned there for a moment. Musta been the hand cream I used this morning. I’ve washed my hands and am back to my normal rhino hide.

    • Michael T

      John 1453,
      Re: Your objections

      1. it incorrectly empties Romans 1:20 of a great deal of meaning;

      I honestly don’t see how evolution robs this verse of it’s meaning. As has been said before (at least by me) evolution in my mind clearly points to a God because a process such as this wouldn’t happen without someone or something designing it.

      2. it unecessarily buys into philosophical or methodical naturalism or both;

      This statement if true wouldn’t make evolution false or inherently wrongheaded since the physical evidence would still remain. It must make us skeptical, but it doesn’t necessitate rejection.

      3. it leaves God as merely a ghost in a machine;

      Ultimately any discovery of natural laws that explain the universe leaves God as the ghost in the machine. Gravity removed the idea that God personally held the stars in planets in the sky.

      4. it divorces faith from science;

      I’m not sure there is a viable alternative to this divorce. Science seeks to understand the world around us by explaining it with processes and mathematics. Now again this limits science a people should be aware of these limits (there’s a reason we have philosophy of science courses). However, no creationist has yet to put up a viable theory for the evidence short of saying God made it that way. Now I’ve heard you say that you don’t think that you have to put up an alternative theory. This is true philosophically, but not practically. Philosophically all you have to do is prove your opponent false (which I would say you haven’t done yet for evolution). However, practically we have all this physical evidence which is currently understood in an evolutionary framework. If you don’t offer a viable alternate explanation people just aren’t going to go along with you.

      5. it accepts an atheist alternative explanation for the origins and development of the biological world; and

      It is only an alternative explanation if it is false which is something that hasn’t been shown. Furthermore, I would disagree that it is a necessarily atheistic alternative explanation. Ultimately it is agnostic and doesn’t care whether there’s a god or not. Science is just interpreting the physical evidence and postulating laws and processes that could allow for that evidence to be formed.

      6. it is a primary faith commitment to something that is non-falsifiable and which was explicitly developed on materialist principles in order to exclude God and special creation.

      I’m not sure how it is non-falsifiable. If you could elaborate on this a bit cause the predicative power of evolution seems to be to be insanely strong.

    • mbaker


      “I’m sorry, but that’s a horrible foundation to build an “alternative theory of origins” off of.”

      Sorry, I’m not trying to be combative, but simply I don’t agree with your conclusion, even if some of the rest of your arguments have merit.

      True, we operate on a certain type of methodological naturalism in much of our everyday physical habits. We eat, we sleep , we procreate, we breathe, and so on, in order to physically survive. These are necessary survival tools , with which all animals are equipped, however, not just man, and are more a matter of instinct than choice.

      And, yes, we can and should rely on doctors who have verifiable physical skills in performing complex procedures such as surgery. But, because I require someone to have the necessary credentials and the knowledge to successfully perform surgery that does not mean I can’t look for other types of medicine such as herbs, homeopathic, or other alternative methods. Or, if I want, I can ask for another medical opinion. Why? Because I am given an alternative choice in those matters, although granted it may not be the best one to pursue.

      And, isn’t this what you just did in interacting with my points by giving an alternative view? And, why were you able to do that? Simply because this blog gives you and me and others like us the opportunity to do so, even though evolution isn’t theology either, and this is a theological blog.

      That’s my point.

    • Greg

      John 1453,

      Aside from what philosophers are theorizing, the common use and practice of the scientific method works pretty well today. Its not perfect, nor have I ever claimed it to be, but it is sufficient, and you acknowledge that in your everyday living, as does everybody in the Western world.

      Common descent is falsifiable, but that requires looking at evidence, both pro and con, and I know you don’t like to go there. Further, the thousands of anti-evolution websites believe it’s falsifiable too, or else they wouldn’t be amassing all this “proof” that its wrong. Heck, even you believed it was falsifiable in a small way when you talked about feathered dinosaurs!

      Evolutionary biologists demonstrate various aspects of it as being falsifiable when they take part in the peer review process.

      Of course, since the overarching theory of Common Descent is so well supported, its very unlikely that it will ever be “proven wrong”. A new theory may come by and supersede it, but it would have to explain all the evidence in a better fashion. The probability of ever reaching a point where we say that all life does NOT have a common ancestor and deferring to some special creation model is incredibly slim, if not nonexistent. Any new theory must account for whats already known.

      I’m fully aware of the soil that gave rise to modern science. I gave a presentation about it in my Evolutionary Biology class a few years back. I simply don’t like the accepted scientific theories determining the conclusions of my theology, nor do I like my theology determining the conclusions of any scientific theories.

      Anything else is compromise, and I know you don’t like that.

    • #John1453

      I disagree that we live our lives based on methodological naturalism. Early scientists practiced science quite fine without methodological naturalism, and we live our everyday lives without it as well. The difference between scientists who practice methodological naturalism and those who don’t is that those who don’t have a teleological view of the universe. They believe that there is an end and a purpose to things. They also posit a divine being who imposes order rather than chaos. That is why people expect water to come out the faucet and fall down into the sink when they turn the tap. Not because they are methodological materialists / naturalists, but because they observe and expect regularities in the natural world and (if they are theistic) because they expect that a rational God would have the natural world work in an ordered and consistent manner through time.

      Plantinga writes, “The theist knows that God created the heavens and the earth and all that they contain; she knows, therefore, that in one way or another God has created all the vast diversity of contemporary plant and animal life. But of course she isn’t thereby committed to any particular way in which God did this. He could have done it by broadly evolutionary means; but on the other hand he could have done it in some totally different way. For example, he could have done it by directly creating certain kinds of creatures–human beings, or bacteria, or for that matter sparrows and houseflies–as many Christians over the centuries have thought. Alternatively, he could have done it the way Augustine suggests: by implanting seeds, potentialities of various kinds in the world, so that the various kinds of creatures would later arise, although not by way of genealogical interrelatedness. Both of these suggestions are incompatible with the evolutionary story.

      A Christian therefore has a certain freedom denied her naturalist counterpart: she can follow the evidence where it leads. If it seems to suggest that God did something special in creating human beings (in such a way that they are not genealogically related to the rest of creation) or reptiles or whatever, then there is nothing to prevent her from believing that God did just that. Perhaps the point here can be put like this: The epistemic probability of the whole grand evolutionary story is quite different for the theist and for the naturalist.”

      Thus, for the theist, the probability of the story of evolution with respect to the evidence together with the views a theist typically holds, is much lower than its probability for naturalists with respect to the evidence together with the views the naturalist typically holds. That is to say, there is no necessary straightforward incompatibilty between Christian teaching and evolution. Rather, it is more a matter of probabilities given the same evidence but different a priori beliefs. And there is no sufficient reason for the theist to adopt naturalist beliefs.

    • Michael T

      John 1453,

      “And there is no sufficient reason for the theist to adopt naturalist beliefs.”

      I’m not sure what you mean by this. Is there never sufficient reason? What is sufficient reason? What exactly are naturalist believes? Is the simple fact that most if not all naturalists believe something make that a naturalistic belief?

      Furthermore this again gets into the relative weight of the evidence and as I stated that is something we are going to disagree on. It doesn’t address whether evolution is incompatible with Christianity on its face.

    • Michael T

      Oh crap….I just made post 666 and we all know what that means…

    • mbaker

      I guess the next person that responds to it is doomed too, by virtue of being an accessory, unless we stopped the discussion. Having evolved from a leperchaun though, I wonder if it applies to me?

      NOTE FROM MICHAEL PATTON: Good comments, but its time to close. Thanks so much.

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