Hi everyone. This is my first BioLogos post - feels good to be here. No doubt like many, it’s been a rough ride to get to this point. Rough, upsetting, even numbing sometimes. I’ve been poking around here and there trying to find answers to a burning theological question connected to Faith and Evolution; the ethical implications about God himself. So far, I haven’t found any in depth discussions about the questions I raise below. I know they’d be out there so this post is two fold:
Please look at my questions and if you know of (preferably easily downloadable on my phone) content that wrestles with the thinking in them - could you please send me the link (or just tell me about them) eg “one pages such and such of this book, the answers to points H and I are discussed in depth”.
Feel free to directly engage the questions/points yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate any help you can give me
Okay, I’m not wanting this to turn into a super long post so I’ll just get right to the questions - admittedly some of the below is a mixture of logic flow with ongoing associated questions. Please bear with me.
A. If God knew how the world came to be by Evolution, literally why didn’t he just somehow tell us in the Bible or at least place clues therein that would be clear to us later? Being told about the romantic story of Adam & Eve and it’s intimacy feels akin to a child thinking they were biologically part of one, special and sacred but fallen m family to then be told they were adopted - and find out evolution is the parent.
B. I know the immediate response in much of the literature on this I’ve come across is along the lines of “God revealed himself in history to people of a certain culture with all their particular understanding of the world … and it wouldn’t have made sense to them if he explained how the world actually came to be and God instead wanted to communicate other, more important things”.
But, I kind of don’t buy that. That argument wrankles me something chronic. It implies one of two things
I. that God was/is not capable of skillfully circumventing such cultural barriers to reveal actual truth
II. that God actually didn’t really care about revealing how we actually got here as it was far more important for him to reveal his true nature against the implications of who God/the gods were in alternate creation accounts
I take issue with both implications as the first - well that is obvious; if God is literally not powerful or capable enough to transmute the actual truth over cultural barriers and hinderances … how are we ever to really know what is actually true? NASA in the 1960s could use the power we now use ina. Tv remote to control a rocket - God in the same ends of invisibly guiding and transmuting information - is powerful enough to skilfully get around cultural barriers, if he wanted to. I think logical deduction would almost lead us to throw the argument that God couldn’t have really done this or made the truth make sense - out - God is plenty capable of doing so and in fact did do so all through the Bible, via dropping clue after clue about Jesus to the writers. These were clues about Jesus that perhaps did not make complete sense at the time but would later on - eg Isaiah seeing aspects of the suffering servant and David saying, as though speaking as Christ, that they have pierced my side and cast lots for my clothes etc - those things never happened to David yet he spoke of them.
So we have deducted that God very easily could have revealed, skilfully and carefully despite whatever culture barriers existed, how he did create the world (just like a good lecturer in the Bronx might end up teaching hardened pupils about all kinds of truths about history and the world Dead Poet society style) but evidently chose not to. This brings us back to the second implication above, of God feeling it more important to just reveal his true character against what other creation myths said the true God or gods were like
C. The further implications of this are … God allowed a creation/origins narrative to be written - and believed for Millennia - that was factually not true. God could have easily made it synch with science but did not. Even at a stretch simple things like swapping Day 2 with Day 4 in the creation account would have at least helped, but this isn’t what harkened. Indeed, sadly - there is no way to properly reconcile the science of how things actually happened and how Genesis 1 presents them as happening. if there is, let me know cause I’ve tried mighty hard and it’s like cutting the puzzle pieces with scissors to make them fit. Cause they don’t fit. God did not get a bunch of clay and mould it up and breath his breath into it for man to suddenly “come alive”. To argue that Genesis 1 and science can synch with evolution, I believe would require some mental gymnastics that would embarrass the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympians.
D. The way the early part of Genesis is written with its chronological lists clearly implies that the people mentioned were meant to be viewed as actual, living people. Why else would there genealogy be listed and the length of their lives listed? Genesis was meant to tie origins to the people or Israel. But we know fairly confidently these people - at least the early ones - were highly likely not real historic people. Is God inspiring falsehood then? Why do that? Why not phrase things differently?
E. So we have God who knew how the world came to be, had the means and ability to skilfully transmute this somehow while also not confusing ancient readers and yet who instead provided us a story which many, many people believed as actual fact for millennia … and which is actually not fact. Why on earth would God do that?
F. I know/am fairly sure, Augustine and a few others edged at some questioning of whether Genesis was literal … but if they knew the truth that it was evolution, I can’t see how even they - or anyone - wouldn’t have a crisis of faith, especially in connection with some of the points below
G. If evolution is true - I seriously cannot right now (and don’t know if I ever will be able to) reconcile how God could use a system so deeply based in the necessity of death when he then later in the scripture says “death is the final enemy”. It seems so contradictory! If biological death is not the death meant in scripture which says that Adam introcued death … whatever that death is has to be worse than the already very horrible death that has been present for eons prior described below
H. Evolution by nature teaches that countless Billions and billions of poor creatures died and suffered horribly. Many, by sheer statistics, died and suffered particularly horribly; e.g. the ones that starved to death or the ones that died incredibly slowly and painfully by some elaborate poison or by some other awful means. The ones that didn’t die - they were “the winners”, the survivors who went on to go for another round in the never, never ending Hunger Games (referencing the concept of competitive killing/survival in the movie). These survivors did so not by some heavenly virtue but by whatever means available to them - and if that meant stealing the food source of another competitor so they starved, so be it, or eating the young or another, so be it, or implanting their parasite selves in the eyes of some poor species - so be it. Survive, by whatever means - welcome to evolution.
I. If God has decided to use such a system to create everything on earth, what does it say about God? I’ve heard people say it means “he’s patient”. But if you really unpack that … it means so, so much more. How can it not mean that God doesn’t care about death? Like, really. It says God used a system fuelled by death as his means of creating. Great. And why didn’t God create as is presented in a literal reading of the Bible? It’s so, so much nicer and c’mon - would give way, way more glory to Him than evolution. Biblical creation is like a beautifully made Ferrari made, bang, right away. Evolution is like someone pushing the most rikety, crappy billy kart you can think of down a hill and it falling down and somehow killing many on the way down but somehow forming into an okay push bike toward the end of the hill (bad analogy). Who gets more glory - and the God of the Bible does talk about it being important for him being acknowledged and glorified - the creator of the Ferrari or the guy who with an unceremonious bump pushed the go kart down the Hill?
I2 (edit) How can we say that God cares about the suffering of the weak when the suffering of the weak was the inbuilt elimination factor within the system (evolution) He “used”? And how can we - honestly and truly - say it is wrong to steal, kill, murder etc etc - when many of the creatures and ultimately us humans - actually came about in the historical timeline of evolution by such means?? And then we need to square all this off with Jesus - the face and character of God, this beautiful Jesus who is such the antithesis to all the implications of what a God who would use evolution is like. It boggles - almost fries - the mind. I reckon I’d prefer the Babylonian God who slayed Tiamat over a God who used evolution - far out. I think the former is actually less scary than the later. I say that somewhat flippantly but with a definite hint of truth. Evolution says that the young monkey that cries over the body of its dead mother and then later that night is torn apart live by carnivores is just “part of the cycle”. And yet … the God of the Bible who we are to believe “used” evolution says in the Law that he is against the man who takes a cloak from a poor man as security for his loan meaning he is cold and shivering at night. Those two things are contradictory. Ah, the contrast is so deeply immense. One in evolution shows a God who literally could not care less and the other shows a God who cares quite a lot about even little, temporary sufferings. How can they be the work of the same spirit??! And to those who argue “well, God was waiting for us to arrive at that level of realisation” (of compassion laid out in that law about the cloak) … well, just think about that argument … that is a heck ton of deep, deep suffering and anguish that occurred before we developed tje cognitive and emotional capacity to be compassionate … and then ironically it results in us later for “developing” further a few 1000 years later to see evolution was used and then turn around and look at God and with fear think “you set up a system whereby billions of creatures suffered worse than the man who shivers at night because he is cold … but you tell me to make sure someone doesn’t shiver at night … you’re scaring me, who are you?”. The logical deduction of such a developed mind would be to think “hmm, yeah - that ‘God’ is way, way to contradictory… reckon he was just an imagination”. Sorry, I know it’s horrible to say and I’m not saying I believe that - I believe in God but - ah, don’t know how to believe in this God I’m describing. And I kind of don’t want to - I’m searching for something bigger but evolution is a horrid stumbling block for me, like a dog with rabies following me around - it’s awful and ugly and … just get it away from me.
I could go on and on here … but the basic point is that evolution being true raises intense and immense questions about the nature of God within a Christian framework. Answers like “Genesis shows us the who and why not the when and how” don’t cut it. Evolution showing us the when and how has very major, major implications about the who and at least for me, leaves me with a cold numbness about the why
Thank you for reading. I am truly hoping to respectfully engage with people in discussion about this. I’m in a funny (not in a good way) place right now - but somehow still feeling sustained and held by God’s spirit, hopefully in a way that “goes beyond our understanding” and not just because of my brain circuitry because … at the same time as feeling “held” beyond my understanding … I’m having my “understanding” show me some scary pictures that are like nightmares