Help for a Former Atheist Family Member

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Puritan Board Freshman
I have a dear family member who was formerly an atheist but has since come to believe in Christ. She has always been very scientifically minded in her thinking and passions and has spent much time in the past acquiring scientific information from an atheist, materialist perspective. Now, however, after a few years since her conversion and within the walls of a solid Reformed church, she is coming to more closely examine the doctrine of creation and is really struggling to accept any non-evolutionary theories. She knows that evolution is incompatible with other vital Christian doctrines, but she also admits that, having formerly collected so much information on evolution during her atheist days, it just feels wrong to not posit (at the very least) a theistic evolutionary theory of creation. She says that she is most uncomfortable with a young earth creationist view (my own view) and is more comfortable with a theistic evolutionary view.

She has likened herself to those individuals who are nonspecific in their eschatological claims (your pan-millennialists, if you will) and will only publicly assert that Christ is coming again... everything else will pan out in the end. Similarly, she only publicly asserts that God is responsible for everything in creation in some sense, but the details are bringing her challenges. Nevertheless, she feels like evolution is right, all the while knowing it is incompatible with other revealed truths. Yet, she does propose good points on the reality of observable adaptation occurring in nature on some level, and she is still very interested in investigating and cataloguing natural occurrences; so, to be fair, she has a good head on her shoulders and is not reacting strictly out of gut-reaction.

Still, I don't want her to remain with this dissonance, if I can help it. Are there any good book recommendations, online lectures, YouTube videos, or general advice that can help with this matter?

Thanks so much! Grace and peace.


Puritan Board Professor
No specific recommendation other than time, maybe even years. Many of us were theistic evolutionists.


Puritan Board Sophomore
I really liked Creation and Change and it might be a very good help for her to see how much science has changed over time. Might help decrease her confidence in man's wisdom.

The problem with some strong "science" adherents that I have talked with, who may be similar to your familiar member, is that they can be completely ignorant of epistemology. They have a blind devotion to science and treat its findings as practically "unassailable" but don't know the first thing about the weaknesses of empirical knowledge which of course all science is based upon.

For me, John Frame's presuppositional approach to these kinds of issues I found extraordinarily helpful.

At the end of the day, I see the issue as basically a "wisdom of man" vs "wisdom of God" issue with the heart of it being "Who are you going to trust?" Old earth vs. young earth I see as a different debate between two groups that largely hold to the authority of Scripture and battling over interpretation. I don't see the theistic evolutionist in the same category so their root problem is different in my opinion.

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
My friend Noel Weeks, in a variety of works, is excellent on the early chapters of Genesis.

I find this book, particularly, to be a spot-on refutation of theistic evolution: J.P. Moreland, Stephen C. Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann K. Gauger, and Wayne Grudem, eds., Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. I reviewed it back when it came out.



Puritan Board Freshman
I clung to theistic evolution for 5-6 years after becoming a "serious Christian." I'd talk about the poetic nature of the Gen 1 narrative and so on. It took me becoming Reformed and seeing the necessity of a historical Adam to even begin to consider the literal interpretation. The deeper I came to understand theology, the more necessary a literal interpretation became. As Jim said though, taking epistemological considerations was also a big part of it.

The Divine Challenge by John Byl doesn't engage directly with evolution but does engage with the main worldviews found in modern culture. It's not strictly speaking a work on epistemology but it helped me in that area.

I can also reccomend Creation and Change, as others have.


Puritan Board Post-Graduate
My friend Noel Weeks, in a variety of works, is excellent on the early chapters of Genesis.

I find this book, particularly, to be a spot-on refutation of theistic evolution: J.P. Moreland, Stephen C. Meyer, Christopher Shaw, Ann K. Gauger, and Wayne Grudem, eds., Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique. I reviewed it back when it came out.

This! I bought it for my kindle from that Crossway sale. It's very comprehensive.
Noel Weeks is great too!


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
There will be people in heaven who all took the creation-accounts in widely divergent, even incompatible ways (meaning one interpretations, if true, completely invalidates one or more other views). More likely, everyone in heaven will have some adjustments made to their thinking about creation in the previous world. Some views taken in our time possibly could be the effect of a "skewed hermeneutic," yet not be the slippery-slope to general abuse of the biblical text. In other cases, men may offer up a "most literal interpretation," and seem so devoted to the text, having what some consider an impeccably orthodox creation doctrine; but be works-righteousness oriented, or vicious, or more proud than pious.

Persons of the latter sort will go to hell with an ideal creation-doctrine in their heart, entirely lacking a redemption-doctrine. Some creationists like to say that the truth about salvation starts right in Genesis, "in the beginning," and make getting precisely the history of Gen.1-11 essential to the gospel. They allege (not entirely without evidence) that some portion of the church has lost faith in the reliability of the Bible for truth generally, for vital truth, due to doubts nurtured on page one. Sometimes, one thing leads to another.

Well, I suppose some people will get the saving message correct because of the Genesis factor; it will be shown in glory to be their path to redemption. Others will come to glory without much concern at all about the ultimate origins of their existential crisis. Creation doctrine is not trivial, but saving union with Christ does not come about because of how long creation took, or how long ago it happened. There is elegance to the Bible's creation account that speaks to its truthfulness, at least as much as whether a scientist is able to favorably compare in his own mind the facts of the text to the facts of his environment. There will be both scientists and artists in heaven, and scientists and artists in hell, each after its kind and in great variety.

Some scientifically minded people have changed their mind on creation, becoming more in tune with the idea that the early parts of Genesis should be taken "at face value." Others of that bent, still believing the redemptive message of the Bible, remain content to leave those matters obscure as to harmonizing the details. They agree that God has spoken, that he is true and his words are true. They have friends and brethren who have a different read of the mechanics of creation. But when it comes to the cross of Christ, when it comes to the church and the means of grace, when it comes to a Spirit-led life of love, they stand united and undifferentiated.

Pursue knowledge, truth, accuracy, faithful interpretation of the Scriptures, which were given to the church to cause us to know the God who reveals himself there. Whatever one extracts from Gen.1-11, or anywhere else in the Bible on any subject, if it doesn't lead one to doxology, it is just the knowledge that puffs up.
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