Questions about Evolution and God

I can understand from where you come from. I tend to take a more intellectual view towards faith while i’m open towards emotional/spiritual experiences/encounters to faith due to me having both a Methodist and Charismatic background. I feel we need to have a good balance of the both as God want’s us to have a personal intimate relationship with Him while at the same time He wants us to “reason with Him”. Doubt should never bee seen as a negative and be seen as the building up of muscles, though it may hurt now it will build up your faith for later. I still have boggling questions about God and EC since my departure from YEC months ago and since I have taken a critical hermeneutical view of Scripture (mostly the Old Testament) it makes me wonder why God did and allowed all the things that took place in the OT. We are all on the same journey and we all need each other’s help and to lift each other up when these questions seem to hit us out of no where (I know many have wacked me a lot recently) What we need to remind ourselves is that God is Sovereign and has has a plan since the start of creation and all things are playing out according to His Will and we can rest assured that God will win in the end of all this chaos.

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I know it can be very intimidating (as a fellow born and raised Baptist who has similar struggles finding my heart and loosing my passion) to admit that there are spiritual needs that reading another book or doing a Bible study can’t meet. I also came to a point in life where I realized that knowing God was not at all the same thing as knowing truths about God and knowing truths about God is not love.

I will pray for you; that God meets you in your sincere desire to experience his presence and power. I love how the NLT translates Ephesians 3:14-18:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

It is a comfort to me to know that since the very beginning of the church, people have needed this prayer. I love how organic and experiential and free of striving the imagery is.

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I am such an intellectual person that it is pretty much inevitable that my faith will always be mostly an intellectual one. But my approach to emotions was a bit different than yours has been. Instead of looking on them negatively, I have always considered them part of the data along with everything else to be considered. Or take the highly religious behavior of the vast majority of humanity. Does it really make sense to simply dismiss all that as stupid and unimportant simply because it doesn’t fit into some rigid rational system of thought, or is that also part of the data along with everything else to be considered in understanding reality? To give you an example of how I do that… is it not easy to observe the diversity of human thinking in religion? For many that just becomes a reason for dismissal, but not for me. For me it suggest the possibility that there is a subjective aspect of reality which is not the same for everybody – that dreams, beliefs, and desires are a part of reality too – the spiritual portion of reality.

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Thank you! I love Andrew Peterson and my wife and I have ended up in a very good Anglican Church. Were excited by it.

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Interesting. Yeah, I’m not sure. I was taught that emotions were negative so I’m having to rework that myself!

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Thank you for the reminder that it’s about building muscle. I like that :blush:

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That’s the most difficult part. Tearing down the old paradigms and reconstructing. But not sure how to do that. But yes. It must be built on Christ.

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Thank you very much. It is felt and appreciated!

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I had a pretty rough last two years. I would listen to Andrew Peterson’s We Will Survive on repeat sometimes, because that was right about where I was at. I cannot underestimate the importance of other people’s faith when my own spiritual and emotional resources were exhausted. We really do need other Christians to look us in the eye when things are hard and hopeless and tell us again all the things we are forgetting and hold for us all the things we just can’t hold onto ourselves at the moment. I hope you find a real life community of grace like that where you can lean on the faith of others while all those broken straight lines are healing. And you can come share your musings here with us any time. :slight_smile:

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Christy,
Thanks for your warmth, encouragement, and kindness! :slight_smile:

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Reflecting on that question of how do we reconstruct, I realize it is not a project that is ever finished, as i continually am seeing new insights and correcting things I have gotten wrong, and expanding my understanding of those things I think I have rightly understood.
The mechanism on that includes reading various views, listening to learned and spiritually mature Christians, and just looking at others with love and giving grace, trying to follow Jesus. What Christy said about community is important. While community includes groups such as this online, a physical community is important. I find myself changing in that I go to church not to hear the sermon or out of a sense of obligation, but to reconnect with fellow people in life’s journey.
There are a lot of great writers and blogs out there, and I find reading them has greatly increased my understanding. As a lifelong Baptist myself, I am somewhat disappointed in the denomination in its teaching, as it has ignored a lot of what is out there in mainstream Christian thought to only teach a narrow interpretion and to ignore competing ideas rather than engage with them. Not to pick on Baptists, as most denominations do the same thing. Enns was mentioned, I personally enjoy his somewhat cheeky style though I do not fully agree with him, N. T. Wright has probably affected my belief and understanding the most, and I also have enjoyed Walton. For a fun book if you are a little bit of a science geek, Walsh 's Faith across the Multiverse is a recent favorite.
If your physical community has holes in it as mine does, this forum helps fill a few and I feel is a part of community. I look forward to seeing you around.

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If evolution was the mechanism chosen by God to create man, how would this diminish His role as Creator? I found the Dallas Theological Seminary free online course on Genesis a great encouragement to my faith and a great resource in explaining the plan and purpose of God. Natural explanations do not answer the question of why which I feel the Bible does.

Personally, I have to say that I depend on God more than I would like to admit. We are given freedom from fear and death and all we need to do is ask.

I have a fundamental view of the Bible, only I have shown that it is more consistent with the Biblical text that Genesis 1 and 2 are sequential, which eliminates any conflict with evolution.

Hopefully the responses of this forum can help you in your search.

Tom

Austin, I doubt that much is out of bounds for this forum. You ask questions that everyone asks from time to time.

The first thing you mention is doubts “concerning the truthfulness of Christianity.” The second seems to be “if we have natural explanations, why do we need God?”

The reason you and others have these questions is because nothing is so simple. The matter of “the truthfulness of Christianity” gets into lots of issues, many theological and/historical – not so much related to evolution or science, per se…Unrelated to the matter of evolution is the reality that many in the centuries around the time of Christ were expecting a messianic figure — divine and also human – and that many felt that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the details of that expectation. Loooo-oooong explanation here. The gospels and letters of the NT date back to the earliest years and are not so far removed that they were manufactured from no event at all.

As for why we need “God” if evolution is true — some would say that this is too extreme an assertion. Science talks about science not religion. As has been said by others with a more scientific bent, the universe and all its complexity came up too soon too fast for it to have just bumped around and gotten together haphazardly and by accident.

I think this is the short answer and others will add or subtract to what I have said.

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I have found this explanation helpful. Science answers why questions with ‘because’ answers. Why was the man born blind? Because of a genetic defect. Theology answers why questions with ‘so that’ answers. Why was the man born blind? So that God could be glorified in his healing.

Why do humans exist? Science: Because of common descent. Theology: So that they can glorify God and enjoy him forever.

The Bible isn’t going to provide scientific causes and science is not going to provide theological ends.

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I am not sure “because” can be shortened to “cause” Reason and agent are not necessarily the same thing. Science is not a cause either. Science is a set of objective methods through observations and testing to produce an understanding by removing mistakes as much as our ability allows. Evolution is a concept we refer to as a cause that produces change. It is change in motion. Many agents work as causes in the process. Evolution as an agent only causes creationist some sleepless nights every once in a while…

God is the ultimate cause, and is still in control.

Austin, thank you for your transparent question.

I believe you have connected the dots correctly. ‘If evolution is true, if we have natural explanations, why do we need God?’ The answer is simply ‘we don’t!’.

Which is just one reason why I - along with so many faithful Christians throughout history - take God at His word when it comes to Creation - and everything else!

May God bless You as You seek Him to hear His word correctly and personally.

“By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3, NASB)

I was not “shortening because to cause.” I was talking about efficient cause vs. final cause, both of which can be encoded in the English conjunction “because.” You know, the classic Polkinghorne example “Why is the kettle boiling?” Because of the increase in kinetic energy of the water molecules (efficient cause). Because I want some tea (final cause).

Contrary to widespread misunderstanding, doubt is not the same as unbelief, so it is not the opposite of faith. Rather it is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief.

To believe is to be of one mind in accepting something as true; to disbelieve is to be of one mind in rejecting it; to doubt is to waver somewhere between the two, and thus to be of two minds. This important distinction uncovers a major misconception of doubt—the idea that a believer betrays faith and surrenders to unbelief by doubting.

This twoness or doubleness represents the deepest dilemma of doubt. The heart in doubt is a divided heart. Here is the essence of the biblical view of doubt, which is echoed in human language and experience from all around the world.

All of the New Testament words for doubt—for example, dipsychos, diakrinō, distazō, dialogizoma, and meteō rizomai—have this sense of doubleness.

But because doubt is not unbelief it is not terminal. It is a halfway stage that can lead on to a deepened faith as easily as it can break down to unbelief.

The world of doubting feels like a world with no landmarks and no bearings.

Learn to anticipate and resist the confusions of doubt.

Followers of Christ are realistically committed to truth, people who “think in believing and believe in thinking” as Augustine expressed it.

Faith’s rainy days will come and go and dark nights of the soul may threaten to overwhelm, but safe flying is possible for those who have a solid grasp of the instruments (God’s truth and promises) and a canny realism about the storm and stress of doubt.

Doubt is confused with unbelief, which reinforces doubtfulness by adding guilt.

Others divorce faith from knowledge.

Knowledge becomes assigned strictly to the realm of certainty and faith to uncertainty. There is the confusion of thinking that, because God is the answer to all doubt, only answers that are theologically correct “God-talk” are sufficient.

Such confusions are an aggravation of the doubt, not its real source.

Without remembering the character of doubt, any outbreak of uncertainty can call faith into question before doubt ever specifically doubts anything. Without resisting doubt’s confusion, the symptoms can sidetrack a serious investigation of the root causes.

Doubting is specific, and doubts strike everyone differently

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Starting with your last questions first, if you want to experience nearness to God more than you are currently . . . find some way to help others more than you are now. If you are not up to helping someone else spiritually, then help them physically. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or for a literacy program or at your local Red Cross. Just a suggestion.

How can you trust that the resurrection occurred? Clearly, a group of Jesus’ earliest followers believed with great conviction that he had risen from the dead. That’s not the clincher, however. For me, it’s the way the resurrection fits the larger picture of a loving God working to regenerate the world and bring and end to corruption, evil, suffering, and death. And also, the way the resurrection illuminates the story of Israel. Joseph, Moses, and David all had to become dead to their family/society before they could become the leader-savior of that family/society. Just read their stories to see. The story of Israel is a story of God bringing life out of death, even at the start, where he brought life out of the reproductively dead bodies of Abraham and Sarah (Rom 4:17-20). No part of that story was under the control of a little band of Jesus’s followers or their imaginations.

You give too much credit to evolution or any natural process if you think it provides a sufficient explanation for morality, values, creativity, rational judgment . . . or even consciousness itself. It does a good job of accounting for physical structures, physical processes, external behavior–but none of those are of much interest apart from the transcendent properties of mind and heart.

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