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In 2017, I was a coeditor for the book Theistic Evolution: a Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique . in my introductory chapter to that book, I defined theistic evolution as follows, using a definition jointly authored by the editors of the book:
God created matter and after that did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes (p. 67).
But after the book was published, some reviews on the Biologos website objected that our definition had misrepresented their position. The primary statement of this objection was in a thoughtful and gracious review by Deborah Haarsma, President of Biologos. She proposed an alternative definition of theistic evolution (though she prefers to call it “evolutionary creation”):
God creates all living things through Christ, including humans in his image, making use of intentionally designed, actively-sustained, natural processes that scientists today study as evolution.
Haarsma adds, “God guided evolution just as much as God guides the formation of a baby from an embryo” (in the previous sentence she had cited Psalm 139:13, which says, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb”). She also says, “Although God in his sovereignty could have chosen to use supernatural action to create new species, evolutionary creations [sic] are convinced by the evidence in the created order that God chose to use natural mechanisms.”
However, Haarsma’s new definition does not actually conflict with our definition, but rather confirms the essence of our definition given above. We could modify our definition to add more things that she advocates, but the substance of the definition would remain, as in this example:
God created matter [with intentionally designed properties governed by “natural law”] and after that [God continued to sustain matter and preserve its natural properties but he] did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes [which God actively sustained but did not change].
In this modified definition, I have explicitly added the Biologos belief that God actively upholds and sustains the activity of the entire natural world (as affirmed in Col. 1:17 and Heb. 1:3). I agree with that belief. But to define creation this way is to confuse God’s initial work of creation with his ongoing work of providence. (Note the present tense verb in Haarsma’s definition of theistic evolution: not “God created” but “God creates,” thus drawing no distinction between God’s initial creative work at the beginning of the universe and his subsequent sustaining work that continues today.)
The key point in our definition is the theistic evolutionist claim that God did not “cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter” until all living things “had evolved by purely natural processes.” Haarsma does not raise any objection to this crucial part of our definition, and in fact her proposed definition affirms the same thing: “God creates all living things… making use of intentionally designed, actively-sustained natural processes.”
In another Biologos review, Jim Stump writes, “Yes, we believe that God guides evolution, the same as we believe God guides photosynthesis.”
But this is a misleading use of the word “guide.” People ordinarily use the word “guide” to refer to an action that influences the course of an object so that it changes the direction it was otherwise going. But the Biologos explanation shows that they use the word “guide” to mean “does not change the direction of an object but sustains it so that it continues in the direction it otherwise was going.” So ordinary English speakers understand “guide” to mean “change the direction of something,” but the Biologos foundation uses the word” guide” to mean “not change the direction of something,” which is just the opposite.
I conclude that our definition of theistic evolution remains accurate. The advocates of theistic evolution who are affiliated with Biologos support a viewpoint that is correctly summarized in this statement:
God created matter and after that did not guide or intervene or act directly to cause any empirically detectable change in the natural behavior of matter until all living things had evolved by purely natural processes.
 Edited by J.P. Moreland, Stephen Meyer, Chris Shaw, Ann Gauger, and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017).
 See Deborah Haarsma, “A Flawed Mirror: A Response to the Book ‘Theistic Evolution,’” dated April 18, 2018: https://biologos.org/articles/a-flawed-mirror-a-response-to-the-book-theistic-evolution.
 See p. 65, n. 6 for a discussion of why we retain the term “theistic evolution.”
 Jim Stump, “Does God Guide Evolution?” at https://biologos.org/articles/does-god-guide-evolution.
I voted for Donald Trump twice. I published several op-ed pieces defending him and his policies. I spoke in support of Trump on podcasts and before live audiences. I do not regret those decisions and I remain convinced that, given the alternatives (Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden), supporting Trump in 2016 and 2020 was the right choice.
What Trump Did Right
I also think that Trump accomplished a remarkable number of good things for America. He placed three outstanding justices on the Supreme Court. He slashed taxes and cancelled thousands of government-imposed regulations, and these two actions spurred vigorous economic growth while bringing inflation down to just over 2% per year. He reduced the flow of illegal immigrants from 297,898 to 143.099 per year. (By way of comparison, under Biden the numbers are 2.76 million for 2022 and 3.2 million so far for 2023.) Trump built over 200 miles of effective border walls and would have built many more miles if construction had not been blocked repeatedly by liberal judges and by a Democratic Congress that refused to appropriate money for a wall.
In addition, President Trump negotiated the Abraham Accords, which established normal diplomatic relationships between Israel and four neighboring Arab countries and gave hope for continuing peace in the Middle East. And he moved the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I also note that Russia did not invade Ukraine and Hamas did not invade Israel while Trump was president – they were afraid of how he might respond.
With regard to energy policy, Trump gave approval to the Keystone pipeline, the Dakota access pipeline, and oil production from the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, a region which could produce up to 20 percent of our petroleum needs. His administration also granted significantly more permits for mining of oil, gas, and coal from federal lands. The result was lower energy prices, a benefit to everyone. (The average price of gas in the United States was $2.42 per gallon in January, 2021, Trump’s last month in office, compared to $3.74 today – a 54% increase under Biden.) At the end of Trump’s term, the US was energy-independent and was on its way to becoming the world’s leading exporter rather than a net importer of energy.
And the list goes on. Trump built a stronger US military, expanded educational freedom, defended freedom of conscience for artistic professionals, defeated ISIS, persuaded several European nations to increase their NATO funding, protected freedom of speech on college campuses, and instructed the Department of Education to protect boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams.
Speaking as a professor who has taught theology and ethics for 46 years, I can say that all of these actions seem to me to be consistent with a Judeo-Christian world view as found in the Bible as a whole. And, as an evangelical Christian, I appreciate that Trump welcomed several evangelicals into cabinet posts and other positions of high influence in his administration. (Biden has none in his cabinet so far as I know.)
Democrats Oppose Trump’s Accomplishments
But President Biden has steadily rolled back many of these achievements, and if a Democrat wins the presidency in 2024, more and more will be nullified. Democrats will appoint liberal justices to the Supreme Court and lower courts; they will continually increase taxes; they will fuel inflation with runaway government spending, which will drive our nation ever further into debt. They will place nearly impossible requirements on the use of coal, oil, and natural gas, thereby giving us ever more expensive and less reliable energy. They will keep our borders open because they hope millions of illegal immigrants will eventually become millions of additional Democrat voters. They will also increase their attacks on religious freedom and freedom of conscience. They will continue to weaken our military through relentless cuts to military budgets. If we have to endure another four years of a Democratic president, nearly all of Trump’s legacy will be lost.
Why Trump should drop out now
Why then should Trump drop out of the current presidential race? Because he is a weaker candidate than in 2016. In fact, Republican pollster Frank Luntz recently called Trump the “weakest” Republican candidate for the general election. While Trump remains popular among conservative Republicans (and thus he could win the GOP nomination), his support among independent voters is abysmal, and independents will decide the general election.
The latest Gallup poll showed a remarkable decline in party loyalty for both parties. 28% of Americans now consider themselves Republicans, 24% now consider themselves Democrats, and a whopping 46% say they are “Independents.” A candidate will have to win a majority of Independents in order to win the election. And that is where Trump comes up short.
A New York Times/ Siena College poll of over 3,600 registered voters in six battleground states in October, 2023, found that 57% of respondents had an unfavorable view of President Biden, a highly unpopular president (41% were favorable). But 56%, almost an identical number, had an unfavorable view of Trump (42% were favorable). Voters don’t like either of these candidates. And among voters who are “undecided and persuadable,” only 20% think it would be good for the country if Trump became president again. And 54% believe that Trump has committed serious federal crimes. If those numbers are anywhere near the actual situation, it will be impossible for Trump to win the general election.
Therefore if Trump collects a majority of delegates in the early Republican primaries and thereby secures the GOP nomination, Republicans would be facing a huge risk that Democrats will find some way to dump Biden and then quickly select a fresh, younger candidate (like California governor Gavin Newsome) and win the general election in a landslide.
Seven negative factors that diminish Trump’s support
Here are seven factors that have driven away large numbers of independent voters since the 2020 election:
But what about recent polls?
What about the polls that show Trump ahead of Biden? To me, they mean nothing because I don’t believe for a minute that the leadership of the Democrat Party will allow such an unpopular president as Biden to be their 2024 presidential candidate. I think the Democratic leaders are wrong about many policy convictions, but I don’t think they are politically stupid. They are politically shrewd, and their eventual candidate will be much younger and much more popular.
The mainstream liberal press continues to run stories about Trump’s huge lead among Republican voters and about polls showing that Trump could beat Biden, but I think that is because they recognize Trump’s weakness among the general public. Therefore they want Trump as the Republican candidate, knowing that he would lose the general election. They will mostly hold off on running negative stories about Trump until after he wins the GOP nomination, and then the avalanche will start.
No successful sports team continues to talk about how they can beat their weakest rival, but that is similar to what Republicans are doing if they continue to emphasize Trump’s lead over Biden in recent polls. It means nothing against stronger Democrat opponents.
Will the election be about Trump or about issues and policies?
If Donald Trump becomes the Republican candidate, the election will focus more on Trump than on the policies of the two parties. We will have endless media coverage of Trump’s trial, Trump’s lawyers, Trump’s friends and enemies, Trump’s health, Trump’s conduct on January 6 — and endless media delight in asking speculative questions such as: Could Trump actually go to jail? How could the Secret Service protect Trump in jail? How could Trump meet foreign leaders in his jail cell? Could Trump pardon himself? and so forth. Because he is such a forceful personality, and because he is so controversial, and because any story about him attracts viewers and readers, all of the 2024 election season will be Trump, Trump, Trump stories all year long. Is this really what we want as a nation?
But if Trump drops out and another Republican is nominated, the election will be much more about big issues facing the nation. The election will focus on inflation, taxes, securing the border, crime, support for police, school choice, Israel, Ukraine, our military preparedness, race relations, abortion, climate change, the role of judges, the Supreme Court, the national debt, etc.
And if the campaign is about issues, Republicans will likely win the presidency because the mood of the nation has shifted to much stronger support for Republican policies (for example, smaller government, lower taxes, a secure border, a stronger military, more availability of school choice, judges who interpret but do not create laws, etc.) than for the policies of the Democrats.
Trump’s legacy: Plan A or Plan B?
Donald Trump now faces a difficult choice.
Plan A is that Trump stays in the race and wins the Republican nomination but loses the general election. His legacy then will be that he made a good start in 2017-2021, but after that he and the candidates he supported led the Republicans to defeat in 2020, 2022, and 2024, and all his reforms were lost.
Plan B is that Trump drops out of the race and a younger Republican wins the nomination and the general election. This new president will support policies similar to those that President Trump so effectively advocated. Therefore, Trump’s legacy will be secured. He will be remembered as a remarkable change agent who began to free us from the domination of a federal government that had become far too big and far too powerful.
If Trump follows Plan B, he will still be remembered as a president who brought millions of working class Americans into the Republican fold, including millions of Black and Hispanic voters. He will also be remembered as a president who rebuilt our military, restored the dominance of originalism in our courts, cut taxes, strengthened the economy, showed us how to effectively secure the border, brought new hope for genuine peace in the Middle East, made us the dominant source of world energy, deterred aggression by Rusia and China, defeated ISIS, and did many other good things.
And if he drops out now, Trump will also be remembered as the ex-president who with commendable humility put the good of the country ahead of his own personal ambition and withdrew from the race so that a more electable Republican could become president and could spend the next eight years solidifying the policies that Trump began in 2017-2021.
Yes, dropping out would require a dose of humility, a quality not common among politicians. But humility is frequently recommended in the Bible: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6; also1 Peter 5:5).
A pardon for Trump
Finally, I hope that the new Republican president on January 20, 2025, will issue a wide-ranging pardon to Trump, thus rebuking the Democrats’ shameful attempts to use the Department of Justice as a political weapon to persecute members of the other party. This is a practice followed in corrupt third world nations, but it is a practice unworthy of this great nation, and no honorable president or political party should tolerate its existence in the United States of America.