Ethical implications of God using Evolution

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:

  1. 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”.

  2. Feel free to directly engage the questions/points yourself. I’d love to hear your thoughts and appreciate any help you can give me :slight_smile:

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

God uses evolution by creating at all, creation evolves, it always has, from eternity, it can’t autonomously not. Creation and evolution are synonyms just as life and evolution are. Evolution is inseparably intrinsic to life and existence itself from whatever has always driven it. It applies chance and necessity to the natural selection of universes in the multiverse. I fail to see any ethical implication whatsoever. Apart from it is good.

Hi Christopher,
I only have a few minutes this morning but I just wanted to say a quick welcome to the forum, and thank you for sharing some of your thoughts and questions with us. I agree with you that wrestling with these questions can be rough, as well as lonely, so I’m glad you’re here.

Here I think it can be helpful to draw some distinction between people and animals. Is it immoral for one animal to kill another? Is it immoral for a person to eat a hamburger? I think on some level we understand that mere “killing” of a living thing isn’t always wrong – the question is when does it become so? I would think that some kind of moral sense or conscience is necessary for something like murder to actually exist.

When I held a YEC view I struggled with the idea of “death before sin,” but now I would question whether calling animal means of survival “sin” is accurate. So referring to evolution as “fueled by death” seems a bit dramatic to me, as death seems to be more a function of the material nature of the world rather than of evolution specifically. Which in turn brings up the question, why did God create a material world rather than just skipping straight to the afterlife? I’m still unsure about that one. :slight_smile:

If you were sure that would be worrying Laura.

Yes – that is one of the difficulties of wrestling with questions of origins though – figuring out which things we can know something about and which we can only conjecture (and how much energy it’s wise to spend on such conjecture).

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And as you say, it brings us to the question as to why there has to be a material creation that looks God-free. It won’t be for any moral reason. It would have to be that God has no choice; for creation to metamorphose in the transcendent it must be from material larvae; caterpillars, maggots!

Welcome Michael. I hope you find what you’re looking for. I’ve had some meaningful conversations here and I’m not even a genuine Christian, just culturally at best. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the Bible I value literature a great deal and I know that sometimes, somehow language can be successful in communicating things that are true. I also believe there is something which gives rise to and supports God belief even though I don’t think what this is is entirely and adequately understandable by way of language. No wonder so many incongruities arise when we’ve become so reliant on an inadequate medium to understand something which probably just is ineffable. I think the way out of this mess is to just leave some space for something which we and our powers of expression and understanding are insufficient. Rather than spinning our wheels trying to pin down what it is why not just hold that as an open question?

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Thank you for the welcome Laura, good to be here. I appreciate your validation of not just the questions/thinking but also some of the emotion. It can be quite emotional/disillusioning to go through such questions. At this stage, I feel determined - even desperate - to gain some answers or at least something of more solid ground in understanding God.

I agree with your pointing out the differences between humans and animals.

I suppose my main question is on understanding the ethical implications - dare I say - about God himself or whatever character would use evolution when they had other means and basically described the use of other means of creation - even though that’s not what were used and then who presents themselves in such a way that is such a sharp contrast with the implications of evolution. It’s a frightful puzzle - at the moment it feels a bit like putting together puzzle pieces of that famous “scream” painting. But I believe - I hope - it is something else - Something more than just that even if it includes a perennial scream. I feel this is the community to help try and out the puzzle pieces together …

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Can’t be done Christopher_Michael, but love can.

Hi. My understanding of what you are saying - wrong though it may be - is that evolution and God are virtually one and the same thing. If not, how do you believe they differ? Do you believe God is an entity outside of evolution who used evolution?

Welcome to the forum! Glad you have brought up all these topics.

I’m assuming “us” means 21st century Westerners who have such concerns. I guess my response is why should God privilege our epistemology and place in history over other peoples’? We are not the primary audience of Genesis or the rest of the Bible. All of it needs to be interpreted in light of what it meant and contextualized to figure out what it means for us. There are lots of things I wish the Bible spoke to more directly, namely sexism and racism. I wonder why God would allow stuff in the Bible that he must have known would be twisted over the centuries to oppress and women and justify racism. The best answer I can come up with is that he left the Holy Spirit so that the church could wrestle with the message of Scripture and take it beyond its original applications to apply it to new contexts in light of new understandings. The word of God is living and active in that sense.

I have done some academic research recently into the metaphor theory. (Who knew it was a thing?) One takeaway is that people often assume that something we access via metaphor is somehow just a stand-in for an underlying “literal” truth. But that is not really how our brains work. We actually use metaphorical thinking to understand things we cannot otherwise understand. When people demote the Adam and Eve narrative to a fanciful story that merely packages the “truth” (i.e. science and history) in poetic language, they are insisting that the metaphor itself is unnecessary and even “in the way” of the important stuff, whatever propositions or objective facts they believe Genesis is there to communicate. But we need metaphorical thinking to access the truth in this case. It can’t be stripped away to get to the real message. The story is how we access the message conceptually. In our culture we have been conditioned by Enlightenment thinking to dismiss stories as somehow deficient or untrustworthy when it comes to communicating truth, but in many (most?) cultures of the world throughout history, story is the primary vehicle for communicating the deepest kind of truth. There is a basic understanding that the really deep things can only be understood via metaphorical conceptualizations and all the affective domain responses they bring with them; they can’t always be reduced to propositions and facts. Evolution is not the parent. God is Father. That is a metaphor you can never get beyond to something more basic. You have to understand that truth via the metaphor.

It only implies that if God is bound by your assessment of what “actual truth” is. Like I said above, the idea that “actual truth” is something different than what God gave us is part of our cultural heritage as post-Enlightenment Westerners, not some absolute reality God is bound by.

My background is in linguistics and anthropology. I work as a minority language Bible translator. I think you are seriously overestimating how much of the world cares about sacred text “synching with science.” Most people of the world do not approach Scripture this way. So the question again is why would God privilege a small percentage of people (21st century Westerners) so much? Genesis 1-4 isn’t about the Big Bang or evolution. It isn’t supposed to “synch.”

Histories served different purposes than recording objective facts. I don’t think the phrasing was confusing to the original audience or that anyone in the original audience would have called God a liar if they were aware of the objective facts.

Here is a nice article on death in the Bible: https://biologos.org/articles/does-the-bible-teach-that-human-death-is-the-result-of-sin

Here is one on animal suffering (Many of the linked articles go even further on the topic): https://biologos.org/common-questions/is-animal-suffering-part-of-gods-good-creation

I know you realize that this is a purely subjective assessment. :slight_smile: Many of the Christian scientists I know say that the more they learned about the amazing intricacies of the biological processes that drive evolutionary mechanisms, the more awe and wonder it inspired for the Creator of it all.

I wanted to acknowledge hearing this and extend empathy and affirm that it is really hard and most of the “answers” you will hear will not be all that satisfying at first. At least in my experience, I was hoping to exchange one set of black and white certainties for a different and better set of black and white certainties, but that was not part of the deal. It was disillusioning and something that took time to come to terms with. And it takes a long time to sort through and I have never arrived at some glorious place where everything makes sense and I have all the answers to all my questions. I hope you can surround yourself with people who will extend God’s grace to you in meaningful, embodied ways, and put yourself in places where you see God actively transforming lives so you keep the essentials of your faith in perspective. Jesus is Lord and his Kingdom is coming. That is our rock bottom inspiration and hope.

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God is panENtheistic. All is in Him. Of Him. He is the ground of all being. Infinity is in Him from eternity. If He is at all. Evolution is one with material creation, with all physical stuff that he grounds, sustains, ‘thinks’. There is no need for Him to do anything else. Apart from incarnate in every inhabited world of infinite for eternity. And transcend us. It, the material, the physical, stuff all autonomously sorts itself out. Evolves. All by itself.

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Hi Christy, thank you so much for that thoughtful reply. So nice to have people put their thoughts out there and help work something through.

There is so much to unpack and work through as you say. It is not surprising but nonetheless quite disheartening that many do not find the big answers. It’s depressing actually to think I’d probably end up in that place too - having all these questions of the “God, why??!” flavour but without the answers. I suppose such questions are all throughout the Bible.

I of course agree with you about the Bible not being written for us privileged 21st century Westerners. The themes of the Bible are deep, human themes that could be argued to have an element of “transcending” investigations about whether something was actually real or not. I guess one of the ethical based questions I have that flows from this though is that … if God knows what is “actually real” in terms of our origins but has chosen to not reveal that in his word … what’s that about? What is “actually” real? The implication to my mind is to have to divorce considerations about what is “actually” tangibly, physically, historically real and leave this solely to the realm of science etc and only engage the Bible within the territory of the emotional, the relational, the spiritual etc. That is a particularly hard thing to do. Of course it is not that cut and dry either - some of the Bible is “actually real history” - lots even. Not all, and all flavoured by motive. I’m listening by audio book to Peter Enns “Inspiration and Incarnation” which explores so much of this - very interesting.

And then another huge line of thinking in all this is that … if the Bible primarily resides and talks to this territory of the human soul in a space akin to Jungean archetypes and Freudian subconscious and that deep human ‘inner’ space … well, plenty of other Ancient texts and practices deeply explore that space, and if one was to be objective I imagine probably more deeply than the Bible - what is there to restrict us from truly trying to find this transcendent God within those pages and practices too - acknowledging the power of Jesus as the ultimate logos that holds everything together but wanting to know and pursue that Logos via other means, it being revealed how imperfect it is to view the Bible in a literal way??

Hi Christopher. You really know how to start a topic with some meat! Right now I just have time to dip my toe in, but here’s a partial response to your first point:

As the proverb goes, “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” Genesis 1 portrays God creating humanity with a kingly vocation – as God’s image bearers to the world. To rule in God’s image we’ll need to understand the kingdom entrusted to us. That task is part of our work. It’s not done for us, any more than God supernaturally revealed to Saul everything relevant about ancient Israel and its neighbours. Even Solomon’s wisdom seems to have required his own effort and study cooperating with God’s gift. Throughout Scripture, God doesn’t spoil every secret, blurting scientific discoveries before people could experience the thrill of seeing clear to something new.

Looking back, maybe we can see clues. “Let the earth bring forth” suggests life is created through earthly, natural means (Genesis 1); both humans and beasts are “living creatures” formed from the same stuff (Genesis 2); the Psalmist declares that nothing inherent in humans makes us deserving of being elevated over other animals (Psalm 8); the Teacher reveals that the way humans eclipse other animals must be perceived by faith because we are naturally alike (Ecclesiastes 3).

Anyway, note that this answer doesn’t imply that God was incapable of answering our scientific questions more directly. God could, but that wasn’t the plan. Rather than seeing this as a flaw in God, I see it as ennobling human beings through giving us work to do. Because humanity at large couldn’t just look up answers in the back (or front) of some book, learning about our world is real work that can make a real contribution to reflecting God in our lives.

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I wonder if that misses his concern about why choose such a bloody road for creation. I suppose as long as one believes that God is a creator of unlimited means and supreme beneficence this will be puzzling. Personally I always wonder how people can become so certain about something so far beyond themselves.

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It would be like teaching quantum physics and relativity to infants. It is not what they need to learn at that stage of their development.

First of all, the oldest stories are ones told in fireside story telling to the whole tribe long before there were any such specializations into law, history, philosophy, science, theology, and entertainment. So these stories are serving multiple purposes and imparting different information to different people according to their understanding and needs.

Secondly I don’t agree with your characterization of the first chapters of Genesis. It is not just a romantic story, but indeed historical albeit using considerable symbolism. There is nothing more obviously symbolic than the names of those two trees in the garden, and we are informed by other parts of the Bible of the symbolism with regards to the tree of life and the serpent. This leaves us with figuring out the symbolism of the other tree as well us understanding that this is not about magical fruit or creating golems with necromancy.

Why? Are you simply unaware of the developmental stages of human beings? Have you not raised children or seen a comparison of kindergarten with college classes? Or are you simply distorting reality for an ideological agenda?

And have you ever considered how you as teacher would handle a class with all different ages and abilities? I know what I would do. I would provide people with means to learn according to their abilities, which obviously means that those with greater ability would be figuring things out for themselves while spending most of my time with those who need the most help just to make their first steps into understanding anything.

Yes if this is about proof that God even exists you are quite correct. But the most you can conclude is that if God exist, then making people believe that He exists is not His highest priority. And I think the evidence is quite good that a belief in God is not of benefit to everyone.

Which suggests that what this was teaching was something entirely different than cosmology or geology – and there are excellent explanations of what Genesis 1 was about available if you do the research. You remind me of that dunderhead in the movie “Arrival” who says, " Well, the cornerstone of civilization isn’t language, it’s science" …which is total baloney. I am physicist but I know better! Civilization exists long before science and its foundation most certainly is language not science.

Yep. The historical intent of Genesis is quite apparent. BUT modern standards of historical scholarship is a complete different matter. So if you insist that this fits the modern specialization of history apart from other literary forms and roles then your are being unreasonable.

The only thing highly likely is that whatever average individual you pick from 2000 or more years ago is that science cannot tell us anything about them personally.

For understanding how things came to be, God was already providing all the information necessary in the earth and sky. And since the process learning to acquire and understand that data is even more important than the understanding and data itself then why would God infantilize the human race by doing all that for us?

And because of the problem of evil and suffering, I cannot see how anyone can believe in Christianity without knowing evolution.

How you can quote this out of context of the whole chapter of 1 Cor 15 is quite astounding to me. The only true death is spiritual death. Thus Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead.” Physical death is of no more significance than leaving the womb and being born. But the death which is the wages of our sins is quite a different thing altogether - that is the destruction of everything of value within us – our love, our integrity, and our relationship with God.

The evidence is overwhelming. Evolution most certainly is true. But this is just science. To be sure the living of our lives is more important and for that Christianity is more important to most people than science. But shouldn’t Christianity also be accessible to those who do use science? Isn’t it a bit hypocritical for you to take advantage of all that science provides you including the internet you are using right now while sending all the scientists to hell?

LOL Does not the Bible teach that God ordered the genocide of countess people as well as personally wiping out all but a single family in a flood? LOL Can you spell hypocrisy? At least evolution shows that all this death and suffering is an unavoidable necessity for life itself. Looks to me like the Bible is much more compatible with evolution than creationism. And creationism would go better with a delusional namby-pamby religion like positive thinking.

I disagree with the idea that God’s omnipotence means that God can do anything you say by whatever means you care to dictate. I disagree with Kax’s notion that evolution is the essence of creation but I certainly think that it is the essence of life.

The creation stories of Genesis 1-2 deals more with the issues of who the Hebrew people where in Yahweh and their place in the universe. The creation story deals more with the issue of the role of the people and their purpose then with the issue of material cosmology as we in the West assume of the issue. The issues the Jews would have been concerned with were: 1.Yahweh is the one and only God and made the universe with no aid from other gods or had to fights any gods or chaos creatures to make the universe. 2.That people are in the Image of God and are co-ruler and co-care takers of the earth with Him and He want’s relationship with us.

I feel my answer at the top answers this issue. The people had another concern for creation on the issue of purpose over material creation.

He knew we would find out progressively the truth and creation and wasn’t so concerned about speaking in modern western details. The concern He wanted the Hebrews to know is that God and God alone is the maker of the universe and there is none other then Him.

Some like me do believe in a historical Adam, Noah, Enoch and etc. But, feel that these real people have a mythological bit added to their lives which would have been common in ancient near eastern myths and fables for real people (i.e kings for example) to have some fantasy added into their life to make a point or example of them.

Because He was speaking to a people over issues that concerned them in that local period of time.

Why would that cause a crisis of faith unless its the way YEC has taught it to which it isn’t unless ones goes down that path?

Death itself will be done away but the death that is heavily talked about in Scripture is spiritual death which is far worse then physical death. As Jesus said, “Don’t fear man who can kill the body but not the soul, but fear God who can kill both body and soul.”

We may not understand or even agree with the methods that God uses His Divine Will and Providence to bring out His Will, but we can trust that God is doing a good thing and leading us to a good thing. Jesus death may of seemed like a bad thing but it turned out to be a good thing in the end.

Again, we may not understand God’s methods or works in creation but we can trust Him in His Wisdom that He is leading us to a good thing in the end. Evolution to me makes God seems more amazing and real then the YEC understanding of creation as the typical 7 day creation seems far and out there while evolution is real and it shows God as the master painter taking His time working on His work of art.

God has put morality in us humans to live good and peaceful lives. The cycle of life is not the same as morality. Animals have no concept of right or wrong and thus cannot be held accountable to sins.

Two books that were meaningful to me as I worked through approaching the Bible differently (even though they are not really all that related to creation/evolution) were Philip Yancey’s Disappointment with God and Christopher Wright’s The God I Don’t Understand. Such questions are indeed throughout the Bible, and it is interesting to see how God responds.

Exactly. Enn’s book comes up a lot. I’ve never actually read that one, though I’m familiar with the thesis. When you get done, if you’d like to discuss anything from it, start a thread, because lots of people around here have read it.

I think we sometimes get into trouble when we try to tease apart “fact” from “fiction” when it comes to biblical narratives, as if the “fiction” part isn’t valuable and should be discarded. It’s not really taking the Bible on its own terms. Just like the people who want to separate out a nice cohesive systematic theology from all the narrative and law and lament and worship. As if that is the heart of what God should have given us and everything else is extraneous and distracting.

I guess it comes down to your view of revelation and the relationship between God and his word. I think a lot of people get it backwards and think that if the Bible can pass a bunch of rigorous fact-checking tests that we subject it to, than we know it is God’s revelation and can trust it is true in what it says about God and Christ. I don’t think we can ever actually prove the Bible is trustworthy without making some other faculty (our reason, logic, observations, historical or textual analysis) the real foundation of faith. I think you just have to a priori accept it is God’s revelation. You know it is true only by experiencing its truth in relationship with the God it testifies about. I know this feels scary and unsatisfying to people who are used to discounting experiential knowledge as inferior to knowledge gained by reason or empirical study.

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Amazing answer, thank you Marshall. Would love to hear more from you - if not too much trouble - about some of the ethical implications of God using evolution but seeming to contrast the character of someone who would use such a method …
Thanks

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I would bring up a few things.

  1. He dedicated only 2 chapters to the entire story of creation in the beginning. He spent more time
    Going over how much grain and goats different tribes had. It seems that the origin story, regardless of what you think it is, was not very important to God to explain to us. The story, was not focused on that regardless if you think it’s literal or metaphorical. So why would God not dedicate a entire book laying out the technical details of creation? We don’t really know. It seems like he was just simply covering the basis of him being our God and then moved on.

  2. Who was the original audience? It was ancient Jewish men and women out in a desert wandering for 40 years after being freed from the Egyptians. They were were one of the several Semitic tribes from Mesopotamia and went by the term Hebrews and Israelites.

From all the metaphors used, and so on we can see a God spoke to them in a way that they would understand. He was not blowing their minds away with technical details. They already believed he was a God because by the time the story was being told and wrote to them by a Moses they were free and have witnessed his power. So they were given a short intro. They were not needing to be convinced by words.

One thing is to look at other Mesopotamian faiths. The faiths that these people grew up knowing. All the Mesopotamian faiths followed a very similar pattern. The stories from the Sumerians, and other Semites. When you read their creation accounts, and compare it to the one in the Hebrew Bible IRS super similar with a few differences.

So when God have the words to Moses what he simply did was work with what they already believed as their world view, their mythologies, and tweaked it in very beautiful insightful ways.

We see God using the same approach throughout the entire Bible. Such as in Joshua. We know the sun does not actually move yet Joshua believed the sun moved around the earth. He was wrong. Yet God still used that worldview. Or in psalms we know the world is not flat, resting on pillars, or fear a multi headed fire breathing sea dragon serpent. But ancient Jewish people die. We can scientifically disprove dozens of things in scripture and it’s ok. It was wrote by men, inspired by God. We can see the different ways the authors wrote. We we their individual personalities coming out. God used them, he did not control them. They wrote from their personalities and worldview and understandings so that what God wanted you share was something reasonable to them.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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