This question pertains to your response regarding “Evolution” posted on September 15, 2022. I was somewhat surprised that you weighed in on Calvinist theology as the question was not overtly suggestive of that theology. (I was once espousing that theology until I came across your website). But that made me curious of what you think about a non-Calvinist opposing your support for evolution. (PS: I am not sure if you respond to article suggestions due your schedule, but I would be immensely grateful to see your response to the “Theistic evolution” portion of this article: Only True Christianity is Defensible; Kyle Butt, M.Div.). Thank you.


This is certainly a fair question.  Perhaps the tone of my response was too negative.  If so, I will readily apologize for that.  Two things:
1. Clearly and even obviously, not all young earth creationists are Calvinists.
2. But, there is a version of young earth creationism which is strongly influenced by Calvinism to which I responded (and some non-Calvinists are influenced by this Calvinist-derived view of creation, which can make the situation confusing).
Let me address point number two.  There is a very strong view of the “fall” of man in the garden which is closely linked to Calvinist theology.  This is the idea that when Adam sinned, humans became totally depraved.  It is the false view that humans became completely unable to respond to the love and grace of God, and that salvation is given by the preordained choice, not of humans, but of God.  I can provide multiple quotes from Augustine, Zwingli and Calvin to this effect.  I will just provide a couple from Calvin himself here.  You can find others in my series on Church History, The Christian Story: Finding the Church in Church History   Here are the quotes:To quote Calvin:  “God is said to have ordained from eternity those whom he wills to embrace in love, and those upon whom he wills to vent his wrath.” and  “For all are not created in equal condition; rather eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.”

This is the troubling doctrine of double predestination. Calvin and those who followed him, like Theodore Beza, created the vocabulary that there are two classes of people: the elect and the reprobate.

But… returning to the creation story.  It was Calvinists who created the exaggerated view that there was literally no death of any creatures before Adam sinned, as well as the rather silly (in my opinion) idea that lions and other carnivores were vegetarians before the fall.  Calvinists have a rather extreme (again, in my opinion, and you can decide for yourself) interpretation of Romans 5:15-19 and related passages.  Let me say this a third time, but this is my opinion, which is that Calvinists, for theological reasons, tend to overstate the consequences of the fall of mankind, implying that it changed the nature of virtually all of nature.  This is problematic for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the attempt is to support the false idea of total depravity, which is not a good position to support.  According to thorough Calvinists, even animals became corrupt and depraved in the fall.  Another reason that this is problematic is that the scientific evidence makes it abundantly clear that this is NOT the case.  There is a mountain of evidence that carnivores ate other animals many millions of years before Adam and Eve lived, and that animals had been dying for hundreds of millions of years before the fall of mankind. Even if we take the young-earth view, lions were not eating vegetables between the time they were created and when Eve and Adam sinned!  This exaggerated, Calvinist-influence idea of the fall falls in light of incontrovertible scientific evidence.  Animals, like humans, were never intended to be immortal (although we will be given immortal bodies in the afterlife 1 Cor 15).

Next point:

Because Calvinism is the most influential theology in Protestant Christianity, even Arminians are influenced by these ideas, so that those who do not agree with Total Depravity and Original Sin will occasionally buy into some of the ideas listed above about the depravity of the animal and plant kingdom.  They do not accept Calvinism, but they accidentally accept some of the things that Calvinists propose to be “common knowledge” to believers.

But, on to the first point. Yes, many who are not Calvinist in their theology are young earth in their view of creation.  The young earth view is held by many Methodists, and Church of Christ, as well as Seventh Day Adventists and others who are not Calvinist.  There is a connection between Calvinism and some of these strange views of creation such as lions being vegetarians, but the young earth idea is pretty much equally spread across many branches of the Christian faith, including those who do not agree that the “reprobate” are predestined for damnation.

This is not surprising, as the young earth interpretation is a fairly natural one simply from reading Genesis 1.  Many in my own wing of Christianity are young-earthers, and I have no problem with this. This is not an important doctrine.  Salvation is not determined by our view of the age of the earth.  If you want a thorough explanation of my view of why I reject the young earth interpretation personally, you can get a copy of my book Is There a God? ( or spend some time at my web site.

But then, you are asking about evolution, not the related question of the age of the earth.  Evolution is a scientific, not necessarily a theological question.  The theory of evolution fits every criterion for a good scientific theory.  It is falsifiable, it is generally (but not always) consistent with the evidence, and it makes predictions which have later been confirmed by further evidence.  But… it is just a theory, as we should remember.  God could have created the earth several thousand years ago, and put the evidence in the ground in the form of fossils and in his creatures in the form of genetic information which would make it APPEAR as if evolution has occurred.  Maybe that is what he did.  But the fact is that the theory of evolution is broadly consistent with the genetic and fossil evidence.  Proved?  Absolutely not!  If you read my materials you will see that I believe in a theistic idea of evolution–with God stepping in at various times and in various places, such as in the Cambrian explosion to direct the course of specie creation.  But the evidence broadly supports evolution.  I suggest you consider reading The Language of God by Francis Collins or another book titled Coming to Peace with Science to get a sense of what a faithful scientist might say on this topic.

I do not expect all non-Calvinists to agree with my limited support for the theory of evolution, and I respect their sincerity and their right to think differently on this.  I am close friends with many people in this category!  However, I do ask such people to at least consider the evidence in support of the theory before they reach a final conclusion.

As for the article: Sure, I will read it.  Can you please give me a link or some means to find this article, and I will tell you what I think. Fair is fair, and I suggested you read a few things above, so I will be happy to read this article.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.