The character of God and evolution


(Ben Woollard) #1

What does evolution tell us about what God is like…

Have recently discovered this fantastic community .
I’ve been in a real journey reading up on evolution mainly driven by a conviction that Jesus is truth and therefore truth tells us something about Him.

I refuse to have a worldview that supresses the search for truth or a faith that can’t handle questions.

SO …

As far as I see it theism and evolution match up well.
However , I see some tension between our Heavenly Father , his character and evolutionary theory .

God being happy with animal suffering ( what does this say about what he is like)

Animal mutations and diseases pre fall.

Creating and wiping out the dinasours by smacking an asteroid into the earth (what does this communicate about His character ?)

Choosing at one moment to turn a a non human into a human.

To clarify - I’m not looking for someone to explain these away , rather to look them in the face - pre suppose they are all true - and then ask what does that say about what God is like ?
Any thoughts ?


(Christy Hemphill) #2

Welcome to the forum, Ben.

Great questions. I’ll take a shot at mulling over one.

The idea that God is happy with animal suffering is a deduction from two premises.

  1. God created the world and is sovereign over it, so everything “natural” is what God intended/wanted.
  2. Animals suffer in the world God created.
    Therefore, animal suffering is what God wants.

I would say you have some work to do to establish that first premise. I don’t know why I should “presuppose” it’s true.

I take the Bible to be God revealing his character and how we are to understand him. Often he must reveal himself through metaphors and stories because this is the way our limited minds can access truth about the divine. Some of the metaphors and stories we are given to understand God depend on us resonating and relating to the idea that animals are worthy of care and compassion:

He is a shepherd lovingly caring for sheep: (Psalm 23, the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the hired hand and the shepherd)

He knows when sparrows fall, and cares. (Matthew 10:29)

Jesus assumes that everyone would recognize the wrongness of leaving a donkey, ox, or sheep to suffer in order to keep the Sabbath laws. (Luke 14:5, Matthew 12:11)

Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. So, I think any deductions we make about what God must be like because of our observations about the world must be held up next to what God has directly revealed himself to be in the images and stories he has given us to help us understand him.


(Christy Hemphill) #3

This was a really good N.T. Wright lecture coming at the question from a different angle. If creation is through Christ, (and we know what Christ is like and that Christ reveals God the Father), what should we expect to see in creation?


(Jennifer Thomas) #4

Hello, Ben. I do have some thoughts about what God is like and how we can better understand who God is and how we can be in relationship with God. I think it’s a lifelong challenge for us to always keep our eyes and ears open to God’s voice. One thing I’ve learned through many years of practice as a cataphatic Christian mystic is to always look for several layers of meaning within any single problem. There’s never a single answer to any of the most difficult questions about Creation.

Several years ago, it was pointed out to me that the metaphor of a human hand is good way to understand God’s reasoning in any given situation. There are always at least five different “branches” to the way God holds and embraces us as we go about our human lives. And like the digits of the hand, there are multiple ways for the fingers and thumb of God’s love, forgiveness, reason, patience, and courage to create new ways to express complex emotions, thoughts, and actions.

So to know God better, it’s always a good idea for us to be open to the possibility of multiple but equally important shades of meaning for any of the questions we have.

God bless,
Jen


(Phil) #5

Those are some good thoughts, and while we are not going to solve everything here, I would like to just throw my observation in relating to asteroids and dinosaurs, and suffering in general.
I have used this example before, so if redundent, am sorry. About 10,000 teenagers die yearly in auto accidents. Yet, when my daughters came of age, I helped them get a license and provided them with a car. Did I not love them and care for them? Did I wish to see them suffer? Of course not. But I also wanted them to mature, to grow, and to reach their potential, and doing so required that they engage the world and experience it in order to grow, despite the risk.
I may have threatened their suitors with bodily harm, but that is a different subject.:wink:
. I think God wants creation to mature and reach its potential also. Thus, to make a solar system, you have to have some flying asteroids, and they are going to crash on a regular basis into planets. And sparrows will fall prey to cats and so forth.


(Jennifer Thomas) #6

Yes, I think what you say is true. God has created a universe that’s constantly shifting and changing and being rearranged, so I think we have to trust that God knows what God is doing here in our solar system.

As human beings, we can’t help spending a lot of time and energy pondering the theodicy question. But every time I start to get carried away with my own human cleverness, I go back to the hard sciences and remind myself how much we don’t know about the physics of Creation and how much we don’t know about gravity, dark energy, magnetism, etc., and then I’m content again to let God be God.

I’ve also noticed that even with the avalanche of research data we have about human physiology, we can barely figure out how to live our lives in balanced ways without wrecking all the good stuff like ice cream and books printed on paper and singing our hearts out in church. So I figure we should be humble about the big questions and let God gradually teach us what our potential is and what God expects us to do with it.

There are more mysteries out there than anyone can stumble on in their lifetime. And the mysteries seem to propagate, which means there’s a never-ending unfolding of inquiry and learning and more inquiry and more learning followed by gobsmacking hits of awe and wonder and bliss and joy – which I think probably tells us something important about God.


(system) #7

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