After the second coming of Christ, does evolution continue?

Revelation 21 states…

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,a for the first heaven and earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

John the Revelator is clearly quoting the prophet Isaiah above…

A New Heaven and a New Earth
(Revelation 21:1–8)

17For behold, I will create

new heavens and a new earth.f

The former things will not be remembered,

nor will they come to mind.

18But be glad and rejoice forever

in what I create;

for I will create Jerusalem to be a joy

and its people to be a delight.

So what becomes of evolution when Satan and all evil is purged from the universe?

I assume respondants are already familiar with biblical theology on the model of salvation. I extrapolate this from the bible statement Christ died once for all sin Heb 9:28, and from the model of the sanctuary day of atonement service which describes how salvation from sin works. Lev 23

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That’s an interesting question!

I suppose whatever it means to be set free from sin and death and transformed into a new heaven and new earth - the same is supposed to apply to all life (all creation) and not just us. At least that’s how Paul describes it in Romans 8. And just as we are at loss to explain what it means to live in a transformed state, so I imagine it will be hard to come by any explanation of what that looks like for the rest of creation as well!

Of course, if one follows Isaiah (or it may be among the other prophets), they speak of that glorious time as place where he who dies at a hundred will be thought a youth. References in the new testament to that deathless future state are also made - sometimes in the present tense, as in stating that he who lives in the spirit will never die. If one is to insist on seeing that as including (or even exclusively referring to) physical death (echoes of modern Genesis YEC confusion, anyone?), then one is faced with the dilemma of why death is still pretty much a 100% diagnosis ever since. Either absolutely nobody has ever succeeded in actually being “in Christ” … or we misunderstand what is taught if we claim it as applying to physical death as we now think of it.

All I can say is that our bodies / creation as we now see them do involve physical limitation, both spatially and temporally. It’s hard to conceive what “bodily resurrection” will do so that we transcend some of those limitations! But … it’s in God’s hands! We are told that this creation is good. And nor does there seem to be any hint from the testaments that the wedding feast of the lamb will be entirely veegan. So … if you’re into thinking all of that must be understood literally as we now understand living and feasting, then death must still be involved for some organisms somehow! Unless God just magically creates all such food ex-nihilo. But why we would even need to eat (in transformed - and after all, deathless bodies) is beyond me. So I suspect that most of such enthusing is just the gospel way and apostolic way of saying - “whatever all you wholesomely enjoy here and now - it will be infintiely better there and then!” Which, to my mind, doesn’t necessarily translate into just taking our present pleasures and amplifying / extending them. There must be some actual continuity with our present existence - yes - (Romans 8 again); but whatever that final transformation involves - it must be more significant than what our paltry imaginations are capable of doing with it. And yet - we feel a need to imagine something - hence all the hopeful language and metaphor.

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I may be misunderstanding your answer…surely even biologos must have a philosophical position on this? The founder consistently aligns with and claims to be Christian does he not?

According to Biologos world view (or TEism, i dont mind which) does evolution continue and what theolgical referencing is used to support that position?

You do know that there are at least three views of ‘the millennium’, right? If not, why not, and if so, why do you expect BioLogos to pick one? It looks more and more like you are here only to make noise.

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Since no scriptural authors ever knew (much less wrote) of evolution in this world, it would have been exceedingly strange for them to imagine it of the next!

So you are correct that I never answered your question - and still haven’t. My post above was just a long-winded expression of my doubt that anybody will be able to provide you any coherent answer.

But if you do want a whole lot of very coherent insight from a new testament scholar about the subject of the new creation and how all that eschatology will or has already unfolded, then listen to the eighth and final Gifford lecture from N.T. Wright (link below) where he wraps it all up. And he does so drawing from all over scriptures - both testaments. No, it still won’t answer the specific question you put forward here, wondering whether evolution continues. But evolution and modern science are discussed at one point in his lecture and he finds a biblical / eschatalogical context for them. So while it might still leave you with questions, it should also point you toward good answers to much of this - and maybe toward even better questions.

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This is a highly intriguing question, but if meaningful debate is to proceed then establishing some parameters is probably necessary. What do you consider to be evolution? Are you limiting the scope of inquiry exclusively to mankind, or is all of living creation included? If it is limited to mankind, what type of evolutionary events (i.e: physical, technological) would qualify as our metric?

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Hi Mervin,
Im sorry, I wasnt meaning to claim you didnt answer the question, just that your answer in my comprehension of it, your answer appeared as if it may have travelled a bit sideways.

I havent ,istened to the video yet, however thisis what i was thinking…

The creation of a new heaven and new earth could be suggesting evolution is ongoing…a cycle.

However, there is a big problem with that…loss of information.

If you’re wishing to get into the technicalities of that, then I defer to others of more technical expertise. Though I also note that the issue of information (and what qualifies as such) is a current topic over in another thread. If that’s what you want to pursue, then I leave it to others.

This is a time-honored tussel of historical models - do we see the world as a more-or-less linear progression toward some evolutionary goal? (This view has been decisively put down - there cannot be any goal, or at least not one that is within evolutionary aim, anyway). Or is the world one of cycles (somebody recently asked me about “The Fourth Turning” which is a cyclical historical view of things). It’s hard to imagine evolutionary history following anything that could be thought of as cycles, beyond obvious environmental cycles (ice ages, Milankovitch cycles, etc.). But biology itself? The imposition of something so mathematially simplistic as either linearity or periodicity are both going to be vastly inadequate as any sort of understanding of biological evolution. If the many here who know more want to correct me in that, I’ll happily learn otherwise. I suppose one can think of the long sweep of evolutionary history from less complexity to more (single cellular to eukaryotic to now) then there may be a rough linearity (or perhaps exponentiality, rather), but only as some broad observation, not as any kind of detailed understanding.

But again - this would all just be yet more ‘sideways’ stuff from what you’re asking.

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An interesting question, and thinking about it brings to mind a few things.

First, biologic evolution is a scientific concept used to study the development of life in our present world and reality. To apply it to a new heaven and a new earth would be inappropriate. Perhaps some change over time will take place there, but it may have a completely different basis than the evolution of life here. It is sort of like asking if meteorology will take place in the new earth. If weather happens, it may not adhere to current weather models. And with no more sea, it will play havoc with the water cycle. (Tongue in cheek, as I read no more sea as being no more chaos and sea monsters, real or imagined, not no more large bodies of water.)

Next, to look at applying evolution (or weather forecasting) to a new heaven and earth is to give it a spiritual dimension, which science and I think I can say Biologos denies. While some of those outside of EC (including YEC, ID, progressive creationism, and atheism) try to spiritualize evolution and conflate scientific naturalism with philosophic naturalism, those in EC are generally aware that they are not the same.

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Interesting question.

According to the Bible humans are resurrected to new, imperishable bodies and there will be no “marriage” in heaven. I take that to mean no sex, no reproduction, so even if those new bodies were made of DNA and functioned like our current ones, there would be no evolution of humans because in more complex life forms, evolution requires the recombining of DNA through meiosis and reproduction.

What happens to all the other plants and animals though? Who knows? Maybe the natural world is recreated in some way, maybe it continues on without human sin interfering with its flourishing. Maybe animals will still reproduce and die. Only people are offered eternal life.

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Ouch. Very good insight there!

Isaiah tells us that the great banquet will have choice meat with marrow and the finest of wines; I presume he’s talking about the same feast.

That’s the answer an Australian Lutheran theology professor gave to his young son when asked if his dog would be in heaven – that if the dog wasn’t there, God would have something even better. The son’s eyes went wide and his mouth hung open, then he asked what could be better than having a faithful dog.

My older brother imagined having an IQ sixty points higher so he could do even more high-level math, and of programming planets and not just computers.

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I’ve been watching the Wheel of Time series on Netflix, and your sentence brought this to mind –

The Wheel of time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten…

When I read the first book – the above starts every book – I remember trying to figure how that might work in this universe given that Christ is to return and everything will be renewed. The problem I saw is that at the present we know of angels and humans who are referred to as God’s offspring, so that in a new cycle it wouldn’t be humans but some other creature on the world, while humans and angels dwelt in a heavenly realm. Then in the next cycle these new creatures would presumably be able to be in Christ and thus would be added to the heavenly ranks, so the next mortal race would have to reckon with three ranks of beings in the heavenly realm – and so on with every repetition, leading to having thousands of ranks of heavenly beings. This seemed obviously unworkable! An alternative would be that all the different races of the redeemed would just be considered angels, which would allow for an infinite past with infinite members of infinite races before us humans who would just be angels to us.
But if evolution continued from where things are now the future worlds would become strange indeed as predators became better at pursuing and catching prey while prey got better at eluding the predators, to the point that mere humans would be puny and weak in comparison – which I figured meant that a new race would gain intelligence, fall into sin, and thus be in need of redemption. So would Christ have to be incarnate again, and die again? That to me was the sticking point since as far as I can figure the Incarnation ought to be a completely unique event; though I admitted that this might be due to a lack of imagination on my part.

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Lab-grown meat? :grin:

A lot of fellowship takes place over meals. And I expect we will still be remembering The Lord’s Supper.

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I’ve thought that too, and it’s as repulsive to me as the re-institution of blood sacrifice that Pre-mils imagine.

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Indeed! Meals represent the Lord’s provision for us at so many levels! And seem to also be at the center of our fellowship with each other too.

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After the second coming of Christ, does evolution continue?

After thinking about this for a while and then sleeping on it I have to say I could argue this either way. If evolution is indeed God’s method of running Creation and thus an expression of Who God is, then presumably it would continue in some fashion; on the other hand, if evolution was just the means of running Creation until humans arrived, sinned, and were redeemed, then something would change – and imagining how things might work at that point would veer into science fiction because we have no basis for even making sensible conjecture.
Of course the big problem comes from the biblical declaration that the lion shall lie down with the lamb and they will get along: what will today’s predators eat? or will they even need to eat? And if they don’t need to eat, what will be their energy source? That same question applies to us, of course, yet that link raises another question: if our exalted bodies won’t need food for energy, and those of the animals also lack that need, does that mean the animals will also have exalted bodies?

Once when pondering that I came up with the (definitely science fiction) idea that somehow the mitochondria in our cells will draw energy from the fabric of the universe as needed, so we wouldn’t need to eat. But while this could deal with this important aspect of mortality it hardly covers everything!

At any rate, I’ll restate what I said at the start: I can make arguments either way. I think that to a large degree this should be expected since we aren’t really told anything about how we will be transformed in the resurrection – all we really have to go on is what we can glean from how Jesus’ resurrected body worked – we just lack enough information to answer the question.

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I read a piece of Christian fiction once that had meat growing in pods on trees. I guess those would be arboreal laboratories?

It seems to me that we will have no need for the Sacrament since Christ will be right there with us.

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There are many views on this. Revelation is just as much as an end times end times myth with history dashed in as genesis is a creation myth. We see also see that places in the New Testamentj presents a different version than Isaiah 65:17+.

It seems no one who wrote the Bible, including Jesus being quoted, seemed to understand for sure what was next. So likewise, neither can none of us really.

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Good point! There’s a whole lot of stuff that will no longer be needed in the same way. I believe one vignette in Revelation even speaks of there being no night anymore since the eternal Light is right there in the midst of the city. Again - whatever points of continuity this all has with creation as we now know it remain mysterious to say the least. Will sun and moon no longer be around then? And as Phil mentioned somewhere above … no more oceans? All of that would hardly seem to preserve any continuity with creation at all! It seems much more reasonable to me to think that so many of these functionaries (the sun - to illumine the day, the moon for the night, the sea representing chaos, etc.) will simply see their functions transformed - as in they are all still there in their created glory, but now seen and recognized with redeemed eyes in a redeemed creation.

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I wasn’t thinking in terms of the sacrament, but we will be remembering and celebrating a more than special event somehow. Maybe the Resurrection and Christian Sabbath still?