For the first time questioning traditional creationism, few questions about evolutionary creationism/theistic evolution

Good evening everyone!
I am new to the forum, and beyond to considering/thinking of this perspective, and am still absorbing/reading, so I apologize if a few questions are already answered here (still researching/learning).

Quick background:

I have 5 kids, and my oldest son, is 16 and questioning a lot of things about his faith, and what he has been taught and believed about his faith in church and christian school. One of his big stumbling blocks is creationism, and I can understand that. I have never been a young earth creationist, but more an older earth creationist, which my dad (a high school teacher) always taught us (as it about 15,000 years old, and that God created with age (ie - Adam and Eve were created as adults, so it made sense that the earth was created with age as well). That makes sense to me, but my question now is , if created to appear with age, why would things not have evolved, if that makes sense.

In my readings, I have been learning about the disconnect between Genesis 1 and 2, and different interpretations that 1 is historical and 2 is poetical, which also makes sense to me. If you look at Genesis 1, there is an order there, similar to evolution (simple to more complex).

However, one question that I do have, is reconciling Adam and Eve and the fall, with evolution. How do we reconcile that God decided on these two to be the start of his relationship with humanity? What about proto-humans in this view? If that makes sense.

I have never been a fan of the Ken Hamm, Ark experience, as it seems just based on dubious science (even for a creationist), so that has had me questioning things. Answers in Genesis is really becoming prevalent in our area (they are coming to our church next month). We are at a Harvest Bible Church, with a lot of Reform overtones (Piper, etc) and I find the literal 7-day view predominates (not excluding Tim Keller, in fact , his article on biologos, several years ago, made/makes a lot of sense to me).

My kids as they age are asking more and more questions, that I am finding harder to answer, and have made me think harder about this perspective, but it is so entrenched that an evolutionary viewpoint is at odds with orthodox christianity, that it is hard to move past that.

It is interesting in my readings, that CS Lewis, the great apologist viewed evolution as the means of creation, among others, and that most of Christianity takes the evolution view, or some variant of that. My brother, and a few of my Anabaptist cousins, hold this view, and we had a lot of discussion over the holidays, and really made me consider another point of view. My brother uses the example from the movie Noah (not the best movie), but the introduction really presents the evolution view of creation/origins well.

Anyway, thanks for any direction, and will continue to read here.

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Welcome to the forum, Kellyanna. While we have discussed many of these issues, it is always good to get a different perspective and revisit topics to check our clarity of thinking.
I think you will find many articles on the site that address some of your questions, and would suggest this one regarding the fall:


When the inevitable questions arise, you are likely to find a number of opinions here on the forum, none of which may be adequate or totally correct, but may help you in navigating a difficult course.

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Thank you Phil! I will take a look there. There is just so much to absorb, it is hard to know where to start. My sons is rather surprised for me to say, that I do not rule it out, and as I read more, I am leaning more that way. I definitely hear more and more in our faith/church circle, that evolutionary thinking is not compatible with faith, only atheism, and that bothers me more, then considering a different creation narrative. There seems to be undercurrent of arrogance from many of the YEC view, that I do not like, if that makes sense.

There is a lot to absorb, and not sure where to start, so I appreciate the direction!

Hi Kellyanna, and welcome! Don’t worry about asking things that have been asked before – we’re all approaching the questions from our own points of view so thanks for sharing a bit of your story.

Yeah, I know what you mean. It seems like battle lines are being drawn more and more. One thing that I appreciated when I first visited BioLogos was the absence of that same antagonistic tone, so I hope the resources here will be helpful to you too. I’m still not 100 percent sure in my own views of how Adam and Eve fit in with those “outside the garden,” but I believe that since Genesis 1 mentions creating humans in the image of God, then this was not limited to Adam and Eve. As to why God chose to have a special relationship with them, I don’t know – I think there is a lot of symbolism going on in that story (the fall can be viewed as a sort of “coming of age” story too), but I believe Adam and Eve were still real people that God used to show others truths about our human condition.

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Welcome, @kellyanna_99

You ask some difficult questions. I think that is a real sense they are best answered in the NT, not the Old. Why did God reach out to create a relationship with anyone? We really do not know, except to say God did.

God loved us before we loved God. God so loved the world that God gave His One and only Son so that whosoever trusts in His goodness will not be lost, but have everlasting life with God.

We know that God is Love, because God loves even us. That love does not need an explanation. That is where faith is important, just like all relationships.

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Whereas I couldn’t be a Christian without evolution, for otherwise I would find the problem of evil and suffering to be a game ender.

But the evidence shows that everything evolved. So I think the question is, why would God create things with necromancy when they are already being created by evolution???

God has a long history of choosing people to start something with. Adam and Eve would simply be the first of these. I would read Genesis 2:7 as creating our bodies from matter according to the laws of nature (i.e. evolution) and then speaking to Adam and Eve so that the inspiration (divine breath) gave birth to the human mind. And thus we have a biological (genetic) inheritance which makes us brethren to all life on the planet and a divine (memetic) inheritance which makes the children of God. And this memetic inheritance being passed on by human communication would spread out over the world through the existing homo-sapiens population quite a bit faster than biological reproduction.

Starting as a scientist myself, that could never have interested me in the first place even for a second. Christianity could only work for me IF it has a place in the scientific worldview, which I think it does.

Some very small changes may be required in the theology of a few Christians, but without such changes Christianity is doomed. The thing is to beware of are those who go too far and just make this an excuse to rewrite the Bible. But frankly I think you can stick with the Bible and show it is more compatible with evolution that creationism, with no need to write in sisters and incest or explain away Cain’s fear in Genesis 4:14 of all the people in the world who would kill him if he were a wanderer. And Genesis 6 works better as an explanation of who Cain & Seth married with no need to change angels into something which can breed with women to give birth to fairy tale giants.

Indeed, we have many examples like C.S. Lewis who never found evolution to be an obstacle to becoming a Christian. The biggest obstacle is the opposition to evolution in a few odd sectors of Christianity.

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Welcome to the forum, @kellyanna_99!

Sounds like you’re on an interesting journey, and as one who has taken the same one recently, I sympathise with how difficult it can be to handle a big theological paradigm shift.

The Biologos common questions are a good resource that address some of the questions you’re wrestling with. You’ve read the Tim Keller paper, which I think is a pretty good place for any evangelical considering evolutionary creation to start with. I’d recommend you read @jdhardin1959’s paper on evolutionary creation. It’s particularly good because he addresses some of the questions you have, and outlines the possible evolutionary models that faithful Christians could adhere to. I think it’d be really helpful to you (it has been for me!).

If you wanted to read a book-length treatment on evolutionary creation I’d personally recommend Denis Alexander’s Creation or Evolution: Do We Have To Choose?. It’s an excellent resource because it covers the science of evolution as well as both the biblical and theological issues. If you get it, make sure you get the revised second edition (2014).

I’ll pray for you and your family this morning.

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Thank you to everyone for the insightful responses, they have all been very helpful! Much appreciated!

I’m so glad you’re taking this journey with your son and helping him remain a Christian! That is wonderful.

I highly recommend John Walton’s The Lost World series (Genesis One, Adam and Eve, The Flood) to see how some conservative scholars look at it. Another book I found helpful recently was Gregg Davidson’s Friend of Science, Friend of Faith. He takes the pieces of Genesis 1-11 and looks at how science interacts with it. I think it would be very helpful for you and your son. And it’s an easy read (Walton is more academic… my son couldn’t get into it, but I got a lot out of his books).

I had a crisis of faith a couple years ago, falling into atheism for a while, and it’s been a difficult road back. I attend a church that teaches YEC, and I’ve heard over the years that the Bible and evolution are mutually exclusive. It is a real stumbling block to someone who sees through the falsehoods and inconsistencies of the YEC “scientific” explanations. Because of my experience, I’ve been talking a lot with church leadership, and it has been good. They recognize that it’s not a salvation issue. I do believe Adam and Eve and the fall are historical. I get the same theological message out of Genesis 1-11 as they do. I just have some different interpretations of what I think actually happened.

In talking to the younger generation, I’m seeing more and more that aren’t believing the earth to be 6000 years old. The older generation is often still believing it, but they haven’t been taught the modern science that the younger generation has been taught. The older generation were taught by their preachers that dinosaur bones were put there to test their faith! But these folks don’t believe what they were taught about that. Likewise, the young people aren’t believing everything being taught now. So I see the tide changing. We just need to keep these young people IN the church. The danger is that they see the science being taught is wrong, and they wonder what else being taught is wrong (that’s how my own faith crisis began). And they’ve been told that the bible and evolution are mutually exclusive, so when they realize evolution actually happens, they throw out the Bible, since they were told they should.

My 15 year old thought that you had to choose between Christianity and evolution when we started doing a Biologos homeschool supplement last year. We did another unit recently, and I think my son has changed his mind about that. :heart: It is so very important to me that he understand that accepting modern science does NOT mean you have to throw out the Bible. A false dichotomy has been presented at church, and there is a third way.

I’ve seen some minds change about the false dichotomy presented. These minds still believe in YEC, and I’m ok with that (though scientific literacy would be nice). The change is that they realize that someone accepting evolution isn’t necessarily dangerous or an atheist. We can worship together, no problem.

As far as Adam and Eve and the fall go… I believe Adam and Eve were called by God much like Abraham was called by God - and whether they were born from the existing population or specially created (but biologically the same as the other people), I don’t know. I lean toward born, because there is so much in chapters 2-3 that scream figurative language at me. But even if they were specially created, as long as they interbred with other existing humans, science can’t rule out their existence. I believe Adam and Eve sinned, and now all humans sin. I don’t think we’re guilty of Adam’s sin, but we all sin ourselves and have that guilt.

Once you step out of the narrow YEC view, you start to see more in both the Bible and creation. You’ll see deeper meaning in those Genesis passages, and you’ll see such awesomeness in God’s creation of the evolutionary process. It takes some time to get out of the YEC mode, and it’s a bit scary at first, but then it’s like opening windows to a whole new world and really seeing the glory of God.

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Hi Kelly. Take it easy : ) In your culture, church, with your kids. What works for you in what well intentioned people have said may work for your son for a while. But I doubt it will be for long. That’s OK. There are far more important things than what differentiates us. My beloved stepson and I have utterly different views, positions, beliefs; far more polarized than what you have yet with your son, but I treasure our relationship too much for them to ever come between us. I always find a way with him. Thanks be to God.

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It’s something many have faced.

For me my processes was this. The first thing I started to notice as I started digging deeper was that the Bible mentions things , such as stories and books, that the bible does not mention elsewhere.

Few examples.

Joshua 10:13

13 So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

The Bible mentions this book in a few places, including the New Testament. But it’s not in the Bible. There is a book with that name but it was rejected.

Jude 9

9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

We have no account of this argument in the Bible.

Jude 14-15

14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Again in scripture we don’t gave a account of these things. But we do have a book called the Book of Enoch. But it’s rejected also.

Then there was other issues that i ran into. It was the issue of which manuscript. The Masoretic or Vulgate and ect… when reading mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible or not. Should acts 8:37 be included or not.

Then once you get past that what scriptures ever indicated that various groups of men throughout history was given the authority to unquestionably determine what’s in there or not.

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Then I came to the second issue by studying these questions out. What about the things in scripture that just is not proven, and contradicted, in scripture against the overwhelming majority of scientists and historians.

  1. Creation of everything in 6 days.
  2. A flat earth with a dome over it. ( firmament )
  3. A woman made from a rib.
  4. Enough “space water from above” and enough water from within the ground. If earth had a atmosphere with solid ice or water wrapping it then a magnifying effect and everything would die. Or if it had a broken one of dust and ice everything would be cast into dark and coldness. If enough water to cover mountains came out of the ground it would be like a boiling and steaming hot water eruption.
  5. Even if we take away bred species and descendants there would be way to many to fit into a boat even a hundred times the size of the ark.
  6. No way the whole world sent people
    From every country to visit Joseph in Egypt for grains. Chinese people could not travel thousands of miles for grain for their whole country. A hundred thousand Chinese people could not travel theremfor their families. The aboriginals of Australia could not travel by boat at that time thousands of miles for grains and so on.
  7. The sun does not move ever regardless if some dude holds his hands up or prays and so on.

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Then I realized thst a Jesus spoke in parables and metaphors all the time. The same Holy Spirit that guided the writings the metaphorical verses of revelation, the poems in the Old Testament, and the analogies Jesus used also guided the men who wrote the rest of the Bible.

Then I was faced with three choices.

  1. The Bible was wrong.
  2. Science was wrong.
  3. My interpretation was wrong.

I decided my interpretation was wrong. If my interpretation was wrong then why was it? What was the issue? The issue was I was taking the human aspect out of the Bible. The Bible was not these golden tablets that feel from heaven. They were wrote by men, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

So then I had to reason through that. If it was wrote by men, despite being inspired by God, then it must have been something that fit with their understanding.

If a being from another dimension inspired me to write about their world to other earthlings I would have to shape their concepts into earthly experiences and thoughts.

So then I started wondering what did a ancient Jewish man, along with other Semitic and Sumerian people believe? They did not have the wisdom we have now. So the wisdom God have them had to be something they could accurately express in their own way shaped by their own worldview. Once I realized that it made a lot of the Bible make more sense and come together.

Ancient Jewish people who marched with Joshua did not know the details of astrophysics and cosmology that are know nowadays. To them, it looked like the sun moves.

I also started to realize part of their Mesopotamian mindset could be found in other faiths. They all have very similar concepts. Even with creation. 400 years before Moses begin writing the Torah there was books and stories. Just read Sumerian creation stories and so on. Those were around before Moses wrote his. Those would have been part of his understanding on life. So God worked with them where they were. Look at how the apostles wrested with concepts to teach us. You can see it in Paul’s writings as he came at the same subject in different ways. A new world, a new heaven, new bodies and so on. It’s all things we can’t really fathom in their totality so God uses concepts to help us grasp it. The same was done with genesis.

Sorry this is so long. Just wanted to explain all my thoughts in one setting to how I worked trough these same issues and came to the best I have ever been with my faith.

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Good point Klax. Wisdom is sometimes not confronting fools, sometimes it is. That is not to say the other side of the argument is foolish, but referring to the Proverb verses.
In this case, is tough to say what is wise, as a 16 year old is questioning and how those questions are answered has implications as one of the major reasons youth leave the church is the failure to honestly address these kind of issues.

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Also concerning original sin and the fall. Here are a few things to think about.

  1. What is original sin? It’s not a phrase in the bible. It’s a concept certain people came up with to explain
    their thoughts. The original concept of original sin was a argument used by infant baptizers who taught baptism was necessary for infants because of a baby died without being baptized it would go to purgatory or hell. A modern example is how the horror film, The Witch, portrayed the boy’s anguish as he was dying over his younger sibling who died without being baptized.

However over the years as reformation moved some Protestants further and further away from Catholicism it seemed to have taken in a new concept. Now original sin seems to imply the struggle of our flesh against our spirit and why we sin.

But reasoning through scripture shows that’s also a bit illogical.

First what is the fruit of the flesh? It’s sin. Galatians 5 maps some of it out. We have a internal war on choosing Gods way or our own way. But was that any different from Adam and Eve? If sin , the act of purposely disobeying a god is something that was created after the “fall” then how did Adam and Eve do it? How could the act of sin, create the ability to sin. The ability to sin was always here.

Adam and Eve sinned, meaning they had the ability to sin, and reject what God taught.

Jesus himself faced every temptation and overcame it. To face and overcome means to be able to fight against it which means it was possible for Jesus to have sinned. But he did not. Humanity from Adam to Jesus to You and to Me and beyond had the potential to reject what God taught. Look at the angels. They are not humans. Yet scripture shows Satan chose to sin along with other angels. Look at pets. Don’t you have rules that your pets understand as your will and yet they will do wrong and before you even know and scold them they act ashamed?

Sin is not something inherently inside of us. Sin is a choice to choose the tree ( unrighteous thing ) over Gods commands.

Consider this verse.

Isaiah 7:15-16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

15 He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.

This verse mentions that at a young age (no specific age) kids are not yet able to choose good or evil. So they can’t sin. Just like dogs a kid can be ashamed of a bad choice but they are not able to be accountable to determine the act of rejecting Gods wisdom for their own.

So original sin is not really something with a strong biblical backbone no matter how you cut it despite it being ingrained for centuries into disciples.
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With Adam and Eve this is my intake. What makes the most sense to me fulfilling what I see as a sort of biography in scripture, and with evolution , and reading between the lines.

I believe it’s an ahistorical account. ( not a historical account ). A story that’s true and told by combining facts with fiction. A hyperbolic account.

We see a pattern with God though out scripture. Out of the many he always calls a few. He always picks a remnant to make a covenant with. Sometimes it’s from specific people ( he reached out to Abraham, Moses, and even Paul ) despite them not necessarily pursuing him. He seems to always choose a few out of the many and them when that few grows to many and reject him he finds a faithful few within it to preserve.

Genesis 1 mentions male and female created on the same day. Genesis 2 makes it seem like Eve was made way after Adam. It’s definitely not read as the same day. When we read genesis a chapter or so later we read or Cain and Abel. Cain killed a Abel. Cain then was scared to leave because others would kill him. He was clearly not afraid of his parents killing him. No verses imply he had other brothers and sisters. Mary rejoiced when Seth was born saying Abel was replaced implying no other kids. So there was other humans no mentioned that lived further away. Perhaps where God did not walk and talk with them.

So I essentially believe that evolution happened. Eventually a primate evolved to a human and was able to freely communicate and understand God. God selected a couple from them, or at least a man and later a woman. So he choose Adam and Eve as his remnant and brought them to a promise land that was a garden. He then begin to teach them about life and gave them access to a special life extending fruit. They sinned and were kicked out but God being merciful still worked with them. They had two kids and one killed the other and was banished even further and by grace a God marked him somehow to protect him from those outside of that area.

Consider why would a immortal pair of human beings have need of a fruit that made you immortal? God banished them so that they could not eat the fruit and be immortal. Thus, making the tree absolutely not needed if the beings were immortal.

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Hey, Kellyanna –

I can think of one other here who besides myself who has come to accept evolutionary science fairly recently.

His story is Why I’m Reforming My Views on Evolution, and mine is summarized here.

There is also a forum discussion linking Liam’s story, New Article: Why I’m Reforming My Views on Evolution.

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Aye jpm. We’re all fools. Grammatico-historical churches cannot otherwise honestly address such issues. They can only honestly address them in that light.

What about the parable of the mustard seed? First century Jews thought that a mustard seed planted in the ground died and was resurrected as a mustard plant. Today we know that is not true does that mean we toss out the Bible.

The fact remains the Bible is allegedly divine communications to humans. On Earth from God in heaven couched in human language using human grammar syntax vocabulary including idioms & World view.

If you don’t fault God in heaven for communicating in ancient Hebrew. Then you shouldn’t fault God in heaven for utilizing ancient Hebrew idioms and. Worldviews.

God chose the best human language available on the surface of the planet at those ancient times. It might well be that had God chosen to communicate to any other group in any other language. The idioms in world views would have been even less scientifically accurate. In our modern times.

God in Heaven communicates through human mediums on Earth. Obviously that is going to color the divine message as it were with human foibles and. Ignorance.

But the same doesn’t necessarily reflect on the God in heaven himself.

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And you could say even more scripture says that God made informed and fashioned humans, obviously that. Crafting process requires some amount of time.

You could identify that formation process as evolution or at least cultivation as it were artificial selection.

Evolution is mutation and selection but this selection can be natural or artificial guided by an intervening intelligence.

Mutations arising naturally, but God in Heaven, choosing and selecting those that best serve him.

The widespread human sense that “God in Heaven favors some over others” Could be construed completely consistently as God’s “divine hand” intervening into evolution on earth and guiding it. Turning it into a cultivation process of artificial selection.

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Then I would say the mustard seed story fit exactly with what I said.

I mentioned that if my interpretation of scripture was that it was based around modern world views then perhaps I should change my interpretation is wrong and what needs to be considered is what was an ancient Jewish persons worldview and reflect on scripture from that paradigm.

After all a ancient Jewish persons understanding of the world was that they were living on a flat earth floating or supported by pillars with a dome over it that protected them from space water. There is even a strong possibility that they believed that the stars were celestial intelligent beings moving about as a sort of living clock.

So that was the minds that God had to convey his message to in a way they would understand it and be able to reflect on it.

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I agree completely with your theological point, Erik.

From the scientific viewpoint, evolution involves a lot more than mutation and selection. The theory also includes factors such as (off the top of my head) competition, cooperation, recombination, gene flow, and drift.

Best,
Chris

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I find your contribution to this Forum most welcome, Kelly. It deals with the most important reason for Biologos’ existence: at adolescence , reconciling religious Faith and the world of Science that surrounds us . In my case, I was educated K-8 in a sheltered parochial school and began high school on a ‘science track’. I was about your son’s age when I was introduced to the ‘theory of evolution’. It excited me so, and I could hardly wait to get home and discuss it with my Mom. This was 1937 and I was 13.

Her response: Maybe YOU descended from monkeys, but I DID NOT!!

I was disappointed. Luckily, I had enough good sense, even at that young age, to realize that up to that point. (40+ yrs), she had lived a happy, purposeful life based upon ( Catholic-based) YEC principles, and thus, until I knew more about the theory of evolution, I should NOT try to ‘fix’ something that wasn’t ‘broken’.

I continued on with a lifelong career in science (I am a 70 yr. member of ACS), and since evolution made better and better sense to me as I progressed, I admittedly came close at times to casting aside my Christian Faith for atheism or at least agnosticism. Works by the Jesuit, Teilard de Chardin (and his interpreters (e.g. Ilia Delio) helped keep me on track, as did the contributors to this Forum. I am sure you will find the earlier responders to your post have some very helpful suggestions based on several points of view: e.g.

(1) @Relates; (perhaps the most ‘orthodox’)

(2) @mitchellmckain; (perhaps the most science-based)

(3) @Boscopup; (like me–the Prodigal returns)

The ‘Al Leo’ Worldview is somewhat a blend of the above, but it may be a bit too UNorthodox for your liking. I believe in a God who dearly loves what He has created but has infinite patience and, rather than give each ‘created element’ some sort of 'perfection ’ at the beginning, He gives each some sort of freedom to interact with its changing environment. Elements in the Cosmosphere interact according to physicals laws, but evolution allows elements of Life (after He began the Biosphere) to struggle somewhat to survive in a changing environment. Thus the life forms that He created on planet Earth become more complex, more capable by passing on somewhat Selfish Genes.. Not entirely Selfish, though. Some co-opertive, altruistic behavior began to take hold in the later stages (beginning with symbiosis in eukaryotes, and becoming noticeable much later in birds and mammals). So I believe that God saw the potential of one of His creatures having the potential to strive to become a True Image of Himself (or better ‘of Herself’) To do so, these creatures (Homo sapiens, it turns out) had to ‘die to their Old Selves’–their Selfish Genes–and to perfect their Love of Neighbor. To overcome the innate reluctance for humans to do so, God sent Jesus into this world, a human who was so perfect and loving that He rightly could claim Sonship with God.

Jesus calls each of us to ‘take up the Cross’ (cast aside selfishness) and follow Him to create a New Kingdom. When we cast aside this generous invitation, we sin. In other words, I believe we were not created Perfect and then Fell; rather, we were created to become Images of our Creator but declined the invitation.

Kelly, I pray that you and your son find the Truth which you seek.
Al Leo

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