Some have speculated that while these ideas could be tossed about in academia and scholarly treatises, once it reached the laypeople, who actually fund evangelical enterprises, the "party was over."
The President of Reformed Seminary, Michael Milton, according to a USA Today report, said that while the Seminary allows a diversity of views on creation and Genesis (essentially around whether the 6 days of creation are 24 hours each or long periods of time), he acknowledged that Darwinian views, and any suggestion that humans didn't arrive on earth directly from being created by God (as opposed to having evolved from other forms of life) are not allowed, he said, and faculty members know this.
The evangelical blogosphere has been ablaze with discussion on this issue. Some agree with Waltke and think that conservative Christianity cannot survive if it refuses to accept and then harmonize the findings of science with their faith, while others say it is sacrificing the authority of Bible on the altar of modern science. A sharp distinction is being draw in evangelical circles that could lead to a major realignment within evangelicalism.
On the left are those evangelicals who agree with Waltke. For example, on the BioLogos website, there is an article by Darrel Falk, a biology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, entitled On the Courage of Bruce Waltke, in which he says:
Decades from now, when the Evangelical Church has come to terms with the reality of evolution, we hope she will look back at those who were the pioneers on its journey toward a fuller understanding of the manner by which God has created. I could list other pioneers, a number of whom are good friends and colleagues. Right there alongside them will be Dr. Bruce Waltke who, in the latter phase of an extremely distinguished career, had the courage to tell the Church what it needed to hear.Falk laments the fact that the majority of evangelicals refuse to embrace evolution. He cites a Pew Forum poll from 2008 which concluded that only about 25% of evangelicals believe in evolution, and only 10% believe that evolution occurred through natural selection. As a professor of biology and an evangelical, he finds this appalling.
Rod Dreher of BeliefNet.com, wrote:
it is all but incomprehensible that in 2010, any American scholar, particularly one of his academic distinction, could be so harshly bullied for stating an opinion consonant with current scientific orthodoxy.On the right, the majority of evangelicals have applauded the decision and warned about the implications of accepting evolution. For example, Rick Phillips of The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, says that theistic evolution is the trojan horse in the camp of the evangelicals. He says Waltke and those who hold to it represent the conviction that where secular science speaks to history, it must be accorded a superior authority to the Bible. The Bible must be "reconciled" to accommodate the claims of secular science and archaeology. Any biblical reflection is offered after the history has been decided by secular orthodoxy. He continues that once science is given supremacy, all the major doctrines of evangelicalism will be "up for grabs." He writes:
Do they think they can restrict the hegemony of science over Scripture to the realm of creation issues? What will science make of the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, and the resurrection? The 20th Century gives us the answer. Moreover, do they think they can avoid worldly scorn merely by jettisoning biblical creation, while still holding to even more obnoxious doctrines like substitutionary atonement? The hermeneutics behind theistic evolution are a Trojan horse that, once inside our gates, must cause the entire fortress of Christian belief to fall under the humanistic sword.
For Jeff Straub of Central Baptist Theological Seminary its very simple.
If God did not mean what he said in Genesis 1, why didn’t he just say what he meant? Pardon my rather simplistic read (or as Longman disparages it, “a very literalistic way”) of Genesis, but if God had wanted to tell us that he created the world in six literal 24 hour days, what more could he have said to convince us? ”Hey humans, I really, really mean this!” The Bible taken without evolutionary thinking leads to creationism. Evolution is only necessary as a mechanism of explaining origins in a world where God does not exist. At its root historically, evolutionary thought is atheistic. Evangelicals who pander to it do God and the Bible a great disservice.John MacArthur, of The Master's College and Seminary, has had a series of audio posts on his blog over the last week on this issue. He maintains that the subject of origins is a watershed issue, that if one accepts Darwinian evolution then one must conclude there is nothing special about the human race and certainly man is not made in the image of God. In typical fundamentalist fashion, he argues:
Evolution was devised to explain away the God of the Bible—not because evolutionists really believed a Creator was unnecessary to explain how things began, but because they did not want the God of Scripture as their Judge.. . . To put it simply, evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and thereby to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (cf. Romans 1:28). By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility, and guilt. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences.Note that evolution was "devised" and "invented." It was not a genuine discovery of science but rather a grand conspiracy hatched by Satan himself to drive people away from the Bible. This kind of preaching may be popular in the pulpit and among the crowds that gather to hear John MacArthur and other leading evangelicals but, as Waltke implies, it makes them a laughingstock among those who are not blinded by faith. What amazes me is that evangelicals will accept the findings of modern science in every area except where it contradicts their interpretation of the Bible. If they get sick, they go to the doctor and follow what medical science prescribes. If they need to travel somewhere quickly, they board a plane and trust in aeronautical science to get them there safely. If they have outdoor plans, they will listen to a meteorologist to guide their activities. But when it comes to the common descent of life through evolution, they don't care what science may say. If they continue with this obscurantist attitude, they will, as Waltke says, become more and more marginalized.
So, evangelicalism is on the horns of a dilemma. Acknowledge the findings of science and admit that the Genesis story really is a myth including the fall of Adam and Eve (which effectively eliminates the need for redemption and the coming of Jesus) or pretend that science is wrong and continue to claim that their holy book is the supreme authority. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
Here are three fundamentalists (R. C. Sproul, Al Mohler, Ravi Zacharias) discussing evolution:
Contrast that with Michael Specter on the Dangers of Denying Science