Do 46% of evangelical scholars support creation by evolution?

Bruce Waltke recently conducted an interesting survey “each president of the Fellowship of Evangelical Seminary Presidents (FESP)” and wrote a 13 page white paper detailing his results: Barriers to Accepting the Possibility of Creation by Means of an Evolutionary Process (PDF).

  1. The creation accounts of Genesis 1 and 2, when interpreted by the grammatico-historical method [hereafter assumed], cannot be harmonized with creation by the process of evolution. (44%)
  2. The genealogies of Genesis do not harmonize with evolution (23%)
  3. Evolution does not harmonize with the doctrine that Adam brought death and decay into the world (34%)
  4. Evolution calls into question Adam as the father of original sin and of Christ as the Redeemer from the effects of sin (28%)
  5. Evolution is bad science in part because it presumes an old earth (19%)
  6. Evolution is bad science, even though the Big Bang occurred 13.73 billion years (8%)
  7. ID explains the origins of species better than evolution (36%)
  8. “Scientists only have the present—they do not have the past,” ruling out the possibility of science to theorize the history of origins (17%).
  9. The apparent age of the universe can be explained by reckoning that God created the universe with apparent age (18%).
  10. The gap theory explains the fossil record (6%)
  11. The framework hypothesis does not harmonize with evolution (7%)
  12. None of the above. I can accept the theory of theistic evolution (46%)

659 Evangelical professors visited Waltke’s (Zoomerang “radio button”) survey site, but only 264 completed it. (I wonder why the other 60% chose not to participate.) You might find Waltke’s  survey details and conclusions interesting; he notes some definitional problems.

I’d be interested to see more surveys of this kind distinguish the opinions of different types of evangelical scholars. For example, I’m guessing that there might be a significant difference of opinion between Old Testament scholars and systematic theologians. Environment–the  kinds of people they generally interact with–likely makes a big difference too.

Some of you might also be interested in this paper from the BioLogos foundation:

  • “Adventist Origins of Young Earth Creationism” by Karl Giberson
    Download full PDF
    Many evangelicals believe that young-earth creationism is the only authentic and Biblical way for Christians to understand origins, and that until the advent of Darwin’s theory of evolution, young-earth creationism was the only view held by Christians. However, in this excerpt from his book, Saving Darwin, Karl Giberson explains that young-earth creationism is a relatively new phenomenon that stemmed from the 20th century fundamentalist movement.

HT: Thanks to Karyn Traphagen via Twitter. Karyn’s Boulders 2 Bits blog has had a lot of fun posts lately including Shewa fight (for you Hebrew scholars) and 21 Reasons why the English language is so hard to learn (for the rest of us).

5 thoughts on “Do 46% of evangelical scholars support creation by evolution?

  1. Marty says:

    Der Ben,

    Thanks for the info and links. This is really useful.



    • Ben says:

      Thanks for stopping by Marty. I remember you telling me how your school starts their hermeneutics course by seeking to understand Gen. 1-2 in their original literary context.

  2. Karyn says:

    This was an interesting article by Waltke. I’ve only just begun to explore the resources at BioLogos. It is definitely worth taking the time. They have some excellent resources for teachers (or parents), which includes not only their own material, but quality links.

  3. J. R. Daniel Kirk says:


    I filled out the survey. It was poorly styled. The questions weren’t all on the same page, so you’re looking at three or four options and thinking “none of the above?”

    Moreover, I got the feeling that the results of such a survey could only be used in a very simplistic fashion. There was only one question and thirteen possible answers. How much can answering one question really tell you about how someone is reading the Bible? And why is there only one answer for believing in evolution, while there are 12 answers for not?


    • Ben says:

      Thanks for posting your experience here. It helps explain the results a bit. I’d love to see the results of a better survey on this and a couple of other related topics.

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