Famous Christians Who Believed Evolution is Compatible with Christian Faith

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/famous-christians-who-believed-evolution-is-compatible-with-christian-faith
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If you think I’ve missed any important people here, please feel free to comment below (bonus points for great quotes).

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Billy Graham surprised me – when I held to YEC I knew there were Christians who accepted evolution in the “high church” traditions, but I didn’t have much exposure to others who were conservative Baptists like me. I appreciate though that that’s not what Billy Graham (or most others on this list) was known for – it was just one facet of his theology and not something he decided to make into a hill to die on.

I really like C.S. Lewis’s use of “in the fullness of time” in his quote. It reminds me of the Incarnation which took a fair amount of time (from our perspective) but was not somehow “unguided” because of that.

One that comes to mind is Keith Green, though I don’t think he wrote or spoke much about it at all so I doubt he’d fit the list – but I do remember a quote from his song “I Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven” (something he said before the song, actually, since it was recorded live)

“…I look around at the world and I see all the beauty that God made. I see the forests and the trees and all the things. And it says in the Bible that he made them in six days, and I don’t know if they were a literal six days or not. Scientists would say no – some theologians would say yes – it doesn’t matter to me.”

That’s not really a strong statement, especially since the song is about comparing a six-day creation with a two-thousand-year preparation of heaven. But it was still unnerving to me as a kid that he could say it didn’t matter to him. When you view something in stark black and white, any kind of gray is jarring, and has to have an explanation.


Well , sometimes you have ambivalent feelings, but here is one not on your list:
Pat Robertson: "“There ain’t no way that’s possible,” Mr. Robertson said Wednesday on his show, "The 700 Club,” taking issue with the “young earth” version of creationism, which holds that the universe is about 6,000 to 10,000 years old. “We have skeletons of dinosaurs that go back 65 million years,” Robertson said. “To say it all dates back to 6,000 years is just nonsense, and I think [it’s] time we come off of that stuff, and say this isn’t possible.” Pat Robertson rejects 'young earth' creationism. 'Nonsense,' he says. - CSMonitor.com


16 posts were merged into an existing topic: Michael Behe’s view on common descent

Hi Brad,

Though I agree with Dennis Venema that evolution could be a completely stochastic process that God used to create, I’m not sure that the list of Christians you offer would have agreed with him. I suspect that most or all of them would have believed that God guided evolution, either detectably or not.


Where is NT Wright?

Alas, fame is a relative thing. N T. Wright is well known in many circles, but if you asked the average Joe sitting in church in the USA, he would have no idea who he was. I know tht is true, because I have quoted Wright at times and no one knew him. It would be interesting to know where some of the famous popular Christian figures stand. I suspect most just pander to whatever their audience is, and for the most part would not take a public stance unless forced, cynical guy that I am. I really suspect there are a lot of what the comic labeled “Sunday Creationists” in this post: Humor in Science and Theology - #89 by MarkD


Does it seem to anyone else but me that the real issue isn’t whether evolution is compatible with Christianity? Evolution is demonstrable. The important question is whether Christianity is compatible with evolution. Given the views expressed on this site and the caliber of the people who express them, I’d say Christianity is still viable for educated and critically minded folks. There is no need to squelch any part of science to make room for God belief.


I think you’re right in the sense that theology can probably be more open to interpretation than science can, and therefore “consensus” on some things is harder to reach. But, for many Christians, their faith is one of the most important things to them – I believe the spiritual is ultimately more important and longer lasting than the physical (which encompasses things observed by science), and therefore it makes more sense to prioritize the spiritual and expect that science will either be compatible or at least not interfere.

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Phil, I enjoyed your post, particularly the ones in humor. However, I have to confess that I still don’t understand the idiom of a Sunday creationist. What exactly is that? Does that mean that someone is a creationist because their nominally Christian? sorry, I really sorry, I really want to get the most out of your humor, so I’m asking this

My thought is it is referring to someone who says the earth is 6000 years old when asked on Sunday, but when looking at a dinosaur fossil that is dated 65 million years old on Monday, has no problem with it being that old. They may be great loving Christians, but espouse belief in mutual exclusive realities depending on the situation.
I really do not mean to sound harsh or judgemental as I think we all do similar things to some extent, and it is not hypocrisy as much as it is lack of concern or will to resolve those conflicts, because it can be painful to do so. Just an observation about human nature.


That’s good insight. I agree–what is it, cognitive dissonance? I certainly have lots of those. I was reminded of them with your post on our presuppositions. Thanks.

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Loved the note on demographics!
We could add quite easily:
Charles Kingsley “I have gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of Deity, to believe that he created primal forms capable of self development into all forms needful… as to believe that He required a fresh act of intervention to supply the lacunas which he himself had made.” (An Anglican priest, university professor, social reformer, historian and novelist)
Frederick Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, 1896-1902
And for modern day:
Rowan Williams: “The heart of the conflict between faith and science as it’s frequently presented these days is no longer a simple stand-off between what people might regard as two rival accounts of how the world came to be. In spite of all the fuss about creation science versus evolution, that’s actually not where the intellectual energy of the debate lies. The real issue is in this extension of Darwinian principle and theory into an entire theory of culture and intellectual life.” -rather like Lewis in this regard.
Alister McGrath - no quotation, but certainly accepts evolution.
Antje Jackelén - Lutheran Archbishop of Sweden, and our first woman on the list!


Don’t forget Pope Pius XII in the Humani Generis encyclical: “the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter - for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God” - Humani Generis (August 12, 1950) | PIUS XII

And Pope John Paul II - Today, more than a half-century after the appearance of that encyclical [Humani Generis], some new findings lead us toward the recognition of evolution as more than an hypothesis: http://www.casinapioiv.va/content/accademia/en/magisterium/johnpaulii/22october1996.html


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