Christianity & Evolution

Until my senior year of high school, I had always planned to become an astronomer.  That obviously didn’t happen, but I have always been fascinated with the created world.  Homeschooling two boys who had all of the usual fascination with animals, bugs, dirt, fire and anything gross and/or big has further heightened my appreciation for natural science.  Having been raised Catholic, I was thankfully spared the ridiculous idea that one couldn’t been both a faithful Christian and accept reality.   I believe that this issue is so destructive to our faith and witness that it goes well over the edge from “one of the weird but fairly harmless things some Christians believe” to “evidence that Satan is trying to bring the church down from the inside”.  But you know, jmo.

I Love Evolution! – A Christian’s Perspective:

Interestingly, the set of details which religious people are most likely to insist aren’t there – evolution – points us to those spiritual truths which are pretty much completely lacking in most people’s theology as well.  Like growth.  Like getting down to tiny details.  Like knowing that survival relies on adapability and that life is moved forward by mutations, not preseved by purity.

Why Creationism Does Not Honor God

 Many Christians have bought into the idea that if evolution is true, it discredits God as creator and our special place in the universe.  Which is absurd.  If evolution is true, it is because God made it true.  Who are we to tell God how he may and may not create his own universe and the creatures who bear his image?  Who are we to deny the evidence of God’s own creation by insisting, “well, I read your book and as I understood it, it says you did it this way – not the way that your creation points to you making it.”  Doesn’t that just sound ridiculous?  It’s our understanding of scripture that is flawed, not the testimony of creation!

Fundamentally Flawed Podcast

Listen in as I discuss the problems with teaching kids literal creationism or “Intelligent Design” with an atheist. You’ll be mesmerized by the melodious sound of my voice!

Teaching Creation Science or ID?  A Formula for Putting Your Child’s Christian Faith at Risk:

Even if you are absolutely certain that biblical creationism is scientific fact, I think it would be foolish not to consider for a moment what would happen if your child, presented with the evidence which has been uniformly accepted by mainstream science, begins to question the veracity of creationist science. Are you setting your child up to experience a crisis, not only of trust in a particular set of beliefs about how God created the world, but in his or her faith in Christianity, the bible and God altogether? If you are educating your child to think that biblical creationism is the only acceptable opinion for a Christian to hold, then odds are pretty good that you are sowing the seeds of their spiritual destruction.

In Which I Call Creationism Demonic

My opinions about the theological viability of creationist interpretations aren’t something I’m shy about.  I truly believe that it’s demonic.  Whether you understand that to be a metaphor for our ability to create and perpetuate evil or as satan whispering in your ear, the answer is the same; it is demonic.  It feeds on lies.  It depends on (and obviously encourages) fear.  It is driven by profit posing as prophet. These organizations (and just like corporations aren’t actually people, neither are organizations) are shrieking banshees in the marketplace sent by our enemies to deform and discredit us. 

Raising Christian Evolutionists:

The first thing I tell my kids is that God is always willing to meet us where we are.  He doesn’t wait for us to get it all together or have a good grasp of life to reach out and reveal himself to us.

Ancient Hebrews and Creation

Much of the thinking which underpins today’s objections to evolution would not have made any sense at all to the ancient Hebrews. Their understanding of their text hardly allowed, much less required what we in our modern thought process view as a literal understanding of the creation story.

Scientists Disproving ID by Unlocking Cell Secrets

The insistence of IDer’s that some cells are just too complex to have come about through natural processes has always reminded me of the false, but funny story of the guy at the patent office who wanted to close shop in the mid 1800′s because there was nothing more to invent. Just as the man in the story was doomed by his short-sightedness to be proven wrong by the next invention to come along, IDer’s are doomed to be disproven by scientific discoveries. It’s just never a good idea to base an idea on what we don’t know rather than on what we do know.

The Platypus and Evolution

One of the things which people often do not realize is that evolution is not nearly as random or unintelligent as it is sometimes portrayed.  For example, we know that there are genetic sequences which can cause similar but different outcomes in different animals, depending on how it is tweaked.

14 thoughts on “Christianity & Evolution

  1. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

    Since there was no death before sin, there couldn’t have been millions of years of evolution before sin either.

    And then there is “irreducible complexity,” the fact that organisms need ALL their compatible parts functioning fully and simultaneously in order to survive and reproduce. Where are the fossils of transitional forms? There are none that haven’t been proven hoaxes.

    Geological data points to a young earth and a worldwide flood, IF you are willing to consider that possibility.

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    • Sorry, but not only is that not true, an insistance on reading the bible as a history book has born nothing but BAD fruit. It and not Christ has become a stumbling block for many, many people. Trying to make creation say things that it clearly does not (young earth, the god of the light switch, etc) and ignore what it clearly does say (evolution, big bang, etc) is blasphemy. Scriptures tell us that creation is part of the testimony of God. When it appears that creation and scripture have come into conflict, we need to be humble enough to consider that that it could be our understanding of scripture that is flawed. Right now hundreds of thousands of people are dedicating their lives to the study of God’s hands. And we drive them away from the very maker whose work they are studying with our stubborn insistance that protecting our own understanding and interpretation of scripture is somehow faithful. It’s not. It is a blasphemous denial of the work of God’s own hand which the church needs to repent of. Jesus told us to judge a thing by its fruit and the fruit of creationism has been division, anger, distortion – no good thing has been born by that tree. To continue to cling to it is to cling to something which by the standards of Christ have shown themselves to have their roots in our enemy’s work, not in the hand of God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

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      • Alice: The Bible also says that people who believe like you are without excuse:

        For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Romans 1: 20)

        This means that a crafter or maker leaves behind information about himself and the way he creates in the things he makes. God does the same in the things He makes. Science clearly shows how things were made, and it is very different from the story in Genesis 1.

        Evolution is part of God’s creative process—a process that is still underway. Speaking as a Christian, the thing that troubles me most about creationism/ID are all of the lies and deceit people who claim to be Christians erect to defend an interpretation of the Bible that we know know FOR CERTAIN is wrong. I think the following video, pretty much sums up how many of us Christians in the scientific community feel about this subject. You might be offended by it, but it is how we feel:

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  2. I heard Ravi Zacharias today on the radio and he said something that made me LOL. “beleiving in the big bang theory is like beleiving that the dictionary came out of an explosion in the printer” hope it makes you laugh also. I think that it puts into focus the difference between evolution and creation. To me to think of something so complex as the dictionary, which is such a simple thing in relation to a person, coming from some accident in the printer, brings to light the ridiculousness of the big bang theory.

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  3. I may regret to enter in this discussion, but there are several things that need to be said.

    **Biological evolution and the Big Bang are two different things.
    **We do not know God’s frame of mind when he (it is the easiest pronoun to use and it’ll have to do; God must be so different from anything else that we will never be able to properly describe him) chose to create our kind of life, but we are based on carbon, and for carbon to be made within stars, we cannot have a young universe.
    **Finally, I have said this before and I will keep saying it. How much more awesome is a God who is so incredibly smart that he was able to come up with (1) an universe that generated matter (2) matter that generated life and (3) life that generated sentience compared to a god who just snapped his fingers?

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  4. Thanks Rebecca and Baldscientist. Good article. Solid comments. Don’t despair, eventually Christianity will catch up with today’s evolutionary commentaries. The old line arguments of creationism fail to convince any longer. A figurative reading of Genesis 1-11 goes a long way towards helping rectify the idea of God and evolution. Today’s scientific discoveries put a whole new spin on how we read the bible today. We read it to know God, His love and redemption. Not as a science book filled with exactness and rigor. These things the ancients could not understand. They spoke of God from what they knew (or imperfectly knew). As historical literarists we are to read the bible with this discernment while not imposing our dogmas upon God’s Word. When we do we come up with untrue statements of God, of His creation, of ourselves. Part of the mystery of revelation is that it is equally as powerful and spiritually discerning then, as it is now, though it requires the fluency of contemporary discernment set into the midst of epistemic humility and self-doubt. To think we have all the answers about our incomprehensible God is to no longer comprehend the mystery of the divine nor the miracle of creation. Evolution is but one of those marvelous mysteries. The other (amongst many) is that God would create a freewill creation using death as its mechanism (atomic decay is a constant) while knowing sin would enter to corrupt and ruin. The mystery then is that of redemption. Also planned and requiring God’s personal response in relationship to both the universe and ourselves eventuating in the mystery of Jesus’ atoning incarnation, life and death. Through all does God rule (but not “control” as a freewilled universe). His rule is sovereign. In accordance with wisdom and by His incredible, all-consuming love. The mystery is why would God do this? Why begin at all? The costs seem so high. The work so complex. The energy spent all-consuming. I submit I do not know but know that part of the answer lies with the fact that God did so with the joy of an artist, the spirit of a visionary, the fulfillment of a lover, and with the desire of endless passion. To create, and never stop creating, until all is redeemed, renewed, and rectified. These mysteries confound us to which our only reply is that of reverential gratitude, humility and grace. Thanks Rebecca! Russ @ http://relevancy22.blogspot.com.

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  5. As a believer who is discovering all perspectives on this issue, can anyone explain how death could come before sin? Seriously, this doctrine of sin entering into the picture is proposed in Genesis but how is it explained by an evolutionist Christian? How does anyone understand this? I am DONE reading one-sided sites but seek to find the solid ground.

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    • A couple of thoughts. God told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the fruit “on that day you will surely die” and clearly that didn’t happen as we understand it. Really, the idea that death entered the world through sin goes beyond the actual text. Elsewhere in the NT, it says that the wages of sin are death, but it also says that Jesus paid the price, yet we still die. It is possible that the death of Genesis is probably a spiritual death. Most likely death went from being simply a passing on from this life to the next to being a terrible end. As Christians, because we know that our sins are forgiven, we can return to an understanding of physical death as simply a moving on. Thus the consequences of sin regarding death have been removed through the work of Christ. I know it’s not as simple or definitive as the creationist “this is the way it is” approach, but life is what it is, eh?

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  6. I’ll be thinking more but my first response is the whole doctrine of atonement gets muddled here. The first recorded death was the animals God killed to ‘clothe’ Adam and Eve, to cover them by the shed blood of an animal, the innocent dying for the guilty. I understand Adam and Eve didn’t drop dead at first, but they were kicked out, sent away from access to eternal life in their current state, dying an eventual physical death. Imagine living forever with sin… ugh. I still can’t jive the evolutionist view here with creation. How do you define sin? And how it entered the world, it’s penalty within the framework of Big Band theory and Evolution?

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    • Pam, here’s the truth: accepting the testimony of creation does wonky things to our theology. Those who fight the reality of an old earth, the big bang and evolution are right about that. However, this is only a terrible thing if we pre-suppose that our doctrines are already flushed out pretty well accurately. However, if that were the case, couldn’t we expect the faith that grows out of them to bear more fruit and have more power than they do?

      (Just to give a little background, so you know who you’re dealing with, I was raised Roman Catholic. I left the RCC in my early 20s and joined Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington IL. Since moving away from the Chicago area, the churches I have attended have been evangelical churches. I’m on the fence as to whether I still qualify as evangelical at this point, but what keeps me tethered to that branch of Christianity is my love of and reverence for scripture. So that’s me.)

      But back to the issue at hand. The problem we have is this: scriptures speak of creation as a testimony to God which is so clear and powerful that even those who have never heard the name of God can be judged on the basis of it. At the same time, I also believe that we need to hold scripture in high regard and are not free to simply discard or dismiss parts of it as we see fit. So we have these two things which tell us about God: creation and scripture. As our understanding of creation has changed, this has created a conflict with some Christian’s understanding of scripture. However, truth cannot contradict truth. So, not wanting to let go of their understanding of scripture, some Christians have tried to insist that the truth of creation is something other than what it has been shown to be. That the world is not incredibly old. That the universe didn’t likely start with a big bang event. That life, up to and including human beings weren’t created through a process of evolution.

      However, this requires denying one testimony (creation) while simultaneously doing serious violence to the text of the other (scripture). In the past, this was fairly understandable. Lacking a solid understanding of creation, people could ignore the rather obvious: that the Hebrew creation stories are dream-like poetry, much more like Song of Songs than the gospel accounts. And so they could just assume that they gave a more or less historical account of creation, just told in poetic form. And with two different accounts. But with our growing understanding of creation, we are being forced to re-examine our prior assumptions.

      Instead of pitting God’s two testimonies against each other, accepting both put us in the position of wrestling – almost from scratch it often seems – with the creation stories to discover their true meaning. If they aren’t historical accounts, then what are they? It’s not an exaggeration to say that I have been meditating, off and on, on the creation accounts for well near two decades. I have come to see them as puzzles. They contain the secrets to what is wrong with us, what God’s intentions for us are/were, and other very deep mysteries. What is most interesting to me is that each time I am finally willing to let go of some prior idea about the stories, I find that the stories start to make more sense rather than less sense.

      One of the real problems with our reading of the creation stories which ends up skewing our whole theology is that we are told that they say things which they simply do not. For example, the Garden of Eden is usually described as a paradise. However, God doesn’t say that, nor is it indicated by the text. Instead God says that the creation is “good”. Adam and Eve are also said to enjoy ongoing, perfect communion with God. Again, not supported by the text. The text says that God came to walk around the garden in the cool of the evening. A visiting time, perhaps. Adam and Eve are said to be perfect, but God had declared them “very good” and their thinking and behaviors are consistent with creatures who were very young and lacking in any guile or sophistication – mere children, if you will.

      At any rate, I have obviously given a good deal of thought to this matter and yes, the theology which flows out of it does differ with what is commonly taught in western churches. (Interestingly, it is largely consistent with the theology of Eastern Orthodox Churches. I am not EO, nor have I studied their theology, so I find this synchronicity telling.) However, if I would argue very seriously that the theology which I have come to is FAR more consistently with what scripture actually says and the historical doctrines of orthodox Christianity than what is considered “biblical” by most evangelical churches.

      As to the specifics of sin, atonement and the rest, the best place to explore the ideas which have come out of my own journey of reading, meditating on scripture and studying while not denying life as it actually is would be on my “Theological concepts” page. The link is here if you’d like to explore it more:
      http://theupsidedownworld.com/hot-topics/theological-concepts/

      I hope this helps! Many blessings on your journey,
      -Rebecca

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      • Pam. What I hear you saying is that you cannot possibly believe in Jesus unless you have a “complete little story line” or what the women here in East Tennessee would call an “ar tot leedle seestum” with no loose ends. Truth is, if the Old Testament had never even existed, we could still take the word of the New Testament that people are sinful and have no power to control it or make themselves sinless and perfect. Even if the New Testament did not exist, anyone with half a brain can sense the evil and imperfection that resides in others and within one’s self. Secular writers and philosophers have wrestled with this problem for centuries and completely apart from the Bible. There is no rocket science here; it is really pretty simple.

        The notion that the Genesis 1 story of Adam/Eve and the fall is a requirement for belief in salvation through Jesus Christ that is just plain not true. The reason Christian fundamentalists insist it is essential is because they are on a mission that began in the 1890s to SAVE THE BIBLE from what they deem apostate christians. This is their real mission, and they have carried it to ridiculous extremes—so much so that many Christians accuse them (rightly I think) of being Bible idolaters. The New Testament says plainly that Jesus “is the name that is above every name.” If you tell that to a Christian fundamentalist, he will point the crooked and gnarled finger of error at you and say, “No, you are wrong!!! There is one name that is higher even than the name of Jesus—and that name is “Bible.” This person is almost always a young Earth creationist.

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  7. Well, maybe. But I learned to trust in Jesus by understanding all his revealed truths about substitutionary lambs dying to cover sins, the innocent dying for the guilty, the lead up to his final atoning sacrifice. My analytical mind needed to understand how Jesus’ death paid for my sin. I am one to ask “How does that work? How does his death get me fogiveness?”
    Some things are mystery but some have been revealed. Thanks to God, who knew me, who made me and provided Genesis to open my understanding SO THAT I would believe.

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  8. Well, good for you Pam. If that is what your unique brain wiring requires and you could get there no other way, then so be it and glad you got there. I am extremely analytical too, but I do not need a lot of detailed window dressing and sewed up loose ends to believe in Jesus. I can go straight there to HIM and HIM only. Maybe that is just my unique brain wiring. Perhaps what we both might need to understand is that everyone is different, walking their own path in life, and has different individual needs in their road to Jesus. I guess what POs me about Christian fundamentalists is their insistence that they and only they are the unique possessors of the only road to Jesus. That takes an awful lot of spiritual pride and arrogance if you ask me. Its like Tigger bouncing around and declaring “I’m the only one.”

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