Innocence and Evolution: You Don't Have to Choose Between Christian Faith and Evolutionary Biology

(system) #1

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Randy) #2

I appreciated this. I’m buying your book. It’s a good thought–doubts don’t make us lose our faith, but the perception that we’re not allowed to doubt will. I would expect that doubts will reshape our faith in reality. Given that God is truth and justice, as well as good, I would imagine that that means if we are honest with what we know, and cheers us on with looking for truth, we might find that doubt (and even agnosticism and atheism) are places where He wants us. He’ll be with us as we try to find answers. Thanks.

(Randy) #3

"Third, evolution exacerbates the problem of evil. Evolution is a brutal, vicious, wasteful process. It involves the creation of life through monstrous violence over immense ages of time. Why would a God of infinite goodness and beauty employ such a cruel means?

Though often overshadowed by the two concerns mentioned above, this is, to my mind, the only real challenge evolution poses to Christianity. Only a moral cretin could fail to hear all the blood crying out from the ground, asking for an answer. Yes, there is creativity and elegance and evolution, but there is also terror and annihilation.

So far as I can tell, there is no simple answer to this challenge. It is, however, merely a modern scientific iteration of the ancient problem of evil, and evil is terribly troubling whether it involves mass extinctions or the suffering of a single child. Evil is a blasphemy we either do or don’t trust God to sort out. And we must be careful, because while God has purposes for nature, those purposes are not always easily glimpsed within nature. Indeed, God’s ultimate purpose for nature is glimpsed only in new creation.:"

I agree that this is my biggest hurdle; and worse than the other 2 points. “It is…merely a modern scientific iteration of the ancient problem of evil, and evil is terribly troubling whether it involves mass extinctions or the suffering of a single child.”

(Lynn Munter) #4

The thing that really helped me to make sense of this question was to consider the alternative. If God declined to allow possible life on the grounds that he could foresee it causing pain to other life, he would be cutting out vast swaths of life that could thrive in the world. Whether that’s predatory microbes, bees or tigers, a God who does not allow for all possible forms of life to have their chance may be thought of as God the abortionist. That is not the God of this world, nor would such a God or such a world be an improvement, in my view.

My apologies if the strong language is distressing. If there is a better way to convey that a ground-level view of “Goodness” may actually be more like evil when examined from a different perspective, please do share.

(Randy) #5

I think that’s a good point, Dr Munter. I am sorry if I wasn’t clear–I was copying the first paragraphs from his Pastor Fischer’s post. But I appreciate and agree with his post, as well.

it also points out that our own definition of goodness is perhaps mainly adaptive–that is, we choose these standards as those with which to attach strong affinity or repugnance, to the point of labeling them as “good” or “evil,” because such a standard has historically helped us to survive. and not God’s (or an ultimate, from a secular point of view) definition. I’m not sure of what that definition is! But I appreciated his (and your) post.

(Lynn Munter) #6

I’m flattered but must admit I’m nothing of the sort!

Sorry I didn’t clearly mark the quote as being from the article rather than from you. I should have!

Yes, that is a good way to put it. It’s focused on what works for us and for creatures we perceive as being like us. It’s very hard not to be human-centric!

(Phil) #7

Speaking of goodness, Roger Olson reflected on that in a recent post:

It is interesting that God’s goodness is one of the primary reasons I believe in an ancient earth and a non-literal/historical interpretation of Genesis 1-11, as he would never deceive and draw us away from him by making an old appearing earth that was not what it appeared.

I enjoyed the article, and found it thought provoking and insightful, yet have a bit of disagreement with the statement
" Evolution is a brutal, vicious, wasteful process. It involves the creation of life through monstrous violence over immense ages of time"
My view is that evolution takes place in populations, not individuals, and to the individual rabbit, fox, or amoeba, they live their lives oblivious to the greater story. Certainly, life has struggles and death is inevitable, but still God’s eye is on the sparrow. But, a minor quibble, and one probably better answered in the full text of the book, which I will look for, as I want to support my Central Texas neighbor!


Glad to see BioLogos is posting things about the fall and Adam and Eve again. This seems to be the “fall scenario” accepted by Middleton, perhaps Longman (we’ll see, when he comes out with his new book), Robin Collins, Fr Thomas Hopko, Fr Andrew Louth, and others.

I would add Middleton’s suggestion that these human beings, had they not sinned, would have been brought into some sort of immortal existence. Humans are naturally mortal, but immortal by grace. Perhaps if the first humans would have fulfilled their duty as priests of creation, God would have brought them, as well as all creation into communion with Himself. But this is Christ’s job, from the foundation of the world.

One issue with a gradually evolving consciousness of God is the idea of a gradual becoming of human nature itself. If, as Chalcedon says (and I accept Chalcedon as absolutely true), Christ took upon HUMAN NATURE, we need to do some work on what properly qualifies as human nature given evolution. Is it possible for human nature to come about gradually? What then did Christ assume? I tentatively favor something like C.S. Lewis’s rather punctiliar understanding of the dawning of conciousness and human nature within the evolutionary process.

Anyways, good article. But as always, much more work needs to be done.

(Joshua Groves) #9

It is impossible to logically incorporate evolution into the Christian faith without rewriting the Bible. You would have to completely change the order of creation. The order of creation in the bible is: light; ground and plants; sun, moon,& stars; sea creatures and birds; land animals and man. Evolution says that earth was similar to it is now, and a single celled organism suddenly popped into existence and systematically evolved into water creatures, amphibians, lizards, mammals and birds, and the whales and people. In that order. Also, like you said

And God called his creation “good.”
And the bible literally says “six days”

(Laura) #10

Hi Joshua – welcome to the forum. BioLogos has lots of articles that touch on the days of Genesis if you’re interested in reading more:

Obviously Genesis 1 is not an eyewitness account as the gospels are, so context plays a large part in how we read these different genres.

(Joshua Groves) #11

This is a quote from another user on a different article
" Comparing Scripture with Scripture, we can see that this [evening + morning + numeric with day] means a ~24-hour day.

  • “Day”, singular or plural, with number, 410 times outside Genesis 1 - always normal-length day.
  • “Evening” plus “morning” without “day”, 38 times outside Genesis 1 - always normal-length day. “Evening” plus “morning” with “day”, 23 times outside Genesis 1 - always normal-length day.
  • “Night” with “day”, 52 times outside Genesis 1 - always normal-length day.

The above usages show that there is no reason in the text to deny that the Creation days of Genesis 1 are ordinary days in length. Thus the denial of ordinary days must be the result of imposing ouside ideas upon Scripture"

(Joshua Groves) #12

Context you must also look at the meaning of the word everywhere in the bible.
And that still doesn’t account for the order of creation vs evolution.


The Bible only tells us “why”. Evolution tells us “how”.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #14

That’s right! There is no reason to think that anything other than ordinary days were in mind when this was written (unless you are a day-age IDist or promote some similar flavor of concordism - which most here don’t) .

Also correct. Just like you are imposing your ideas on scripture. In fact it is impossible to read scripture without imposing all sorts of ideas onto it. There is no such thing as “contextless” reading.

So it would seem that it isn’t so much “rewriting” scripture that needs to happen here as maybe re-reading it!

(Laura) #15

There also isn’t really much doubt in the text that the author of the book of Joshua believed that the sun revolved around the earth, but that’s okay – it’s not a work of science any more than Genesis 1 is – it’s about God and his relationship to his people.

(Phil) #16

Regarding the cartoon, I am sure you recognize the difference in accepting a miracle outside of the usual natural processes initiated by God, and the things that happen within those processes. After all, that is what makes the resurrection special and meaningful. Still, it is a good starter for conversation, even if logically incoherent.

(Joshua Groves) #17

Creation was not a natural process it is a miracle as much as resurrection!

(Joshua Groves) #18

The main reason atheists cling onto evolution is that it gives them an origin story that doesn’t include God. It allows people to ignore their conscience and do whatever immoral stuff they want to.


The old “evil evolution “ idea. Sorry but that dog doesn’t hunt.

(Joshua Groves) #20

I would highly recommend the series “Answers in Genesis”. It is extremely enlightening.