Most Christian College Professors Teach Evolution, not Creation
The results of a survey reported in April 2023 show
Christian Colleges buckling to Darwinist groupthink
by Jerry Bergman, PhD
A survey by Calvin University (Grand Rapids, MI) was recently completed to find out what position Christian college biology professors take on teaching evolution. Many Calvin University professors teach, in stark contrast to the beliefs of John Calvin, that evolution was the means that God used to create humans and all life as well. Calvin University sponsors the BioLogos organization which aggressively opposes even the concept of intelligent design. Instead they support non-theistic evolution covered with a Christian veneer.
The study found that “the majority of biology professors at many Christian schools teach evolution as the best explanation for the development of life, but they teach it at a lower rate than their secular peers.” Before I analyze the study, let me present some background on the magazine that sponsored the study, the colleges that responded to the study, and where their affiliated churches stand on this issue.
The survey was sent by Chimes magazine to more than 730 biology professors teaching at colleges belonging to the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), a higher education association of more than 185 Christian institutions. Specifically, CCCU is a higher education association of
Christian institutions around the world. Since 1976, the CCCU has served as the leading national voice of Christian higher education. With campuses across the globe, including more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and more than 30 from an additional 19 countries, CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. Most also have curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.
The Calvin University Chimes magazine is Calvin University’s official student newspaper which has been publishing since 1907. Calvin University was founded in 1876 and is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church. Their official position on evolution is as follows:
Humanity is created in the image of God; all theorizing that minimizes this fact and all theories of evolution that deny the creative activity of God are rejected.
However, they, to some degree, negate this statement with the following caveat:
All of life, including scientific endeavor, must be lived in obedience to God and in subjection to his Word. Therefore we encourage Christian scholarship that integrates faith and learning. The church does not impose an authorized interpretation of specific passages in Scripture; nor does it canonize certain scientific hypotheses. Instead, it insists that all theological interpretations and all scientific theories be subject to Scripture and the confessions.
They added that
Synod 1991 adopted six declarations regarding creation and science. It intensively debated the matter of evolutionary forebears of human beings. In Declaration F of that decision, synod stated that the espousal of theories that posit the reality of evolutionary forebears of the human race is ruled out by Scripture and the Reformed confessions, but it also added a note that this declaration is not meant to limit further investigation and discussion on the topic.
From my long-term personal acquaintance with both the faculty and students at Calvin and their writings, this statement, “…declaration is not meant to limit further investigation and discussion on the topic”, allows one to present information that, for all intents and purposes, supports evolution with, at best, a veneer of theism. They are close to the view that evolution explains all life, even the origin of life.
Only 168 responses were received from the 730 biology professors that were emailed questionnaires about their teachings on evolution. The response rate of 23 percent was the first problem, albeit it can partly be explained by the fact that some institutions’ websites didn’t include emails or would not release them to Chimes.
The survey reported that fully 63 percent of biology professors from CCCU institutions that responded said that they teach evolution as the best explanation for the development of biological life. This echoes secular statements, such as the following:
evolutionary biology is … one of the crowning achievements of modern Western civilization. It should be viewed not as an acid gnawing at the bones of civilization, but as a jewel. The science built upon the rock of Charles Darwin’s ideas is a reflection of Western modernity’s commitment to truth as a fundamental value. And many Christians well-versed in evolutionary science find it entirely compatible with their religious beliefs.
Only 37 percent of professors don’t directly teach evolution as fact. And a mere 18 percent of survey respondents teach that evolution is inferior to another model such as creation, or is completely inadequate. This is unfortunate, because evolutionary theory is not just an inferior position, but the evidence against Darwinian evolution is beyond overwhelming. The rest of those who stated in the survey that they do not teach evolution take a “neutral stance” or do not take any position. This is the classic cop-out. To just ignore the question is a position that does little to help students deal with the central problem of biological origins.
The percentage of CCCU professors supporting evolution resembles the general public’s 60 percent support. One bright spot is that their support for evolution is significantly lower than that of most scientists, (97% of whom believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time). Furthermore, 87% of these scientists believe that the process was fully natural, meaning atheism. The official CCCU discussion of the evolution issue attempted to be consolatory, but in fact strongly supported evolution (note the sections where italics was added):
Scientific consensus aside, the council doesn’t take an official stance on evolution, according to Stan Rosenberg, the director of Scholarship and Christianity at the University of Oxford, the CCCU’s UK subsidiary. Rosenberg said “The CCCU’s role is not to be an apologist for a position … but to encourage serious conversation, research and education.” He continued, citing support from the council, “[but] I have no qualm indicating my support for Darwinian evolution.”
Apparently they will only tolerate someone who opposes the scientific consensus (supposedly “all scientists agree Darwinian evolution occurred”) and Rosenberg, the CCCU’s UK subsidiary director, makes it clear which side he is on. The CCCU report did admit that some professors from the survey supported the only alternative to evolution: young-Earth creationism.
Why Do So Many Christian Biologists Accept Darwinism?
The CCCU report opined that, as one biology professor put it, disagreements stem from the “theological problems that arise [when] the scientific evidence for evolution is accepted.” Of course, there exists no valid confirmed scientific evidence for the secular view of evolution from molecules to man. The CCCU noted the experience of Olivet Nazarene University biologist Richard Colling and his “book reconciling Christianity and evolution” which encountered problems at his college. His book, titled Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with Creator does not even come close to reconciling Christianity and evolution. One review on Amazon by a person who was acquainted with this Olivet Nazarene University wrote:
Colling’s book is an uncritical, actually a very naive, review of orthodox naturalistic evolution, very close to the same presentation one would find in any atheist book written to convert the reader to atheism. In the chapter on evolution (11) Colling has simple molecules becoming complex organic molecules, then prokaryotic cells, then eukaryotic cells, then multi-cellular organisms, then plants, then fish which evolve into amphibians, which evolve into reptiles, that evolve into mammals, which evolve into primates, and, last, humans, all due to the occurrence of damage to DNA selected by natural selection. I was amazed at the large number of basic mistakes that he made, such as the conclusion that “most mutations in living organisms are harmful” (p. 79) and the inclusion of ideas that have long been refuted by scientific research, such as the idea that “nearly 99% of the DNA is junk” (p. 59). He accepts the intelligent design of the natural laws such as gravity, but not much else. Colling is best described as a Deist, one who believes that God set up the laws of the universe, and let time and chance take it over from there, a view close to agnosticism. I have talked to several of his students and they claim that his class and others like it was part of the reason they became atheists or agnostics. Parents spend a fortune to send their children to a Christian college, such as the Nazarene University Colling teaches at, to ensure that their faith and Christian values remain intact, only to have their children reject the values that these parents worked so hard to instill in their progeny. Colling stresses he believes in God but gives no valid reason to do so, and many reasons not to. Lastly, he negated the reason most people give for believing in God, namely that an intelligent creation requires an intelligent creator, a conclusion Colling argues against in most of his book. Colling’s conclusion is damage to the genome called mutations selected by the survival of the fittest struggle for existence is the creator, not God. In other words, we are the result of billions of mistakes, not intelligent design. What is the point of spending tens of thousands of dollars to get the same ideas one would get at a state university where I teach for far less the cost?
It is no wonder why so many persons were upset with Colling’s book. Yet the CCCU report attempted to defend Colling. I met Colling at a scientific meeting, and found him sincere and knowledgeable about the “evidence” for evolution, but totally unaware of the evidence against evolution. He accepted the vestigial organs argument, the argument from homology, the idea that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, the genetic similarity of ape and humans argument, the whale evolution story, and numerous other evolutionary arguments. This would be expected in view of his secular and even his Christian education. Unless he takes it upon himself to read extensively on both sides, he is not going to be exposed to the other side at a secular university. And evidently this is also true at a Christian University. The CCCU report noted the many Christian professors that affirmed evolution, one professor even stating that evolution is “the best idea that God ever had.”
The results of this survey support the findings from other research. Most Christian colleges either openly, or indirectly, teach evolution as the correct explanation for our origins, leaving the door open for a possible role for God. Few show that the case for Darwinian evolution is not only nonexistent, but overwhelmingly opposed by the scientific evidence. It is clear that many Christian college professors are woefully uninformed about the evidence against Darwinian evolution, and this ignorance is part of the reason they uncritically accept evolution and teach it to their students as science fact. A friend of mine who was working on his degree at Texas Christian University after the professor in one science class detailed lectures on evolution asked “What role did God have in all of this?” answered “this is a science class. If you want to know what role God had in creation you will have to ask your Bible professors!” His Bible professors responded they taught the Bible and did not teach science.
 Polanski, Joshua. Evolution debate continues amongst Christian biology profs. Chimes, 9 April 2023.
 Kkan, Razib. Conservatives should embrace evolution ‘as a jewel’ of modern Western civilization; https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2019/05/20/why-conservatives-should-embrace-evolution-as-a-jewel-of-modern-western civilization.
 Pew Section 5: Evolution, Climate Change and Other Issues; https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2009/07/09/section-5-evolution-climate-change-and-other-issues/, 2009.
 Polanski, 2023.
 Colling, Richard. Random Designer: Created from Chaos to Connect with Creator. Browning Press, Bourbonnais, Illinois, 2004.
Dr. Jerry Bergman has taught biology, genetics, chemistry, biochemistry, anthropology, geology, and microbiology for over 40 years at several colleges and universities including Bowling Green State University, Medical College of Ohio where he was a research associate in experimental pathology, and The University of Toledo. He is a graduate of the Medical College of Ohio, Wayne State University in Detroit, the University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State University. He has over 1,300 publications in 12 languages and 40 books and monographs. His books and textbooks that include chapters that he authored are in over 1,800 college libraries in 27 countries. So far over 80,000 copies of the 60 books and monographs that he has authored or co-authored are in print. For more articles by Dr Bergman, see his Author Profile.